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Technical Details: Canon 5D MkII, Canon 16-35mm @16mm, ISO100, f/16, 3 brackets at +-2 stops
Welcome to today’s post. Over the weekend I attended a family reunion in Estes Park, CO and had a very little time to shoot. What time I did have was put to good use with a morning trip up to Bear Lake and then further on to Nymph Lake. As I’ve written in recent posts, the scout is a necessary part of success for a landscape photographer. I didn’t have the opportunity to scout, so I just relied on luck.
We (my niece, cousin and his wife) all made the trip, with my cousin and I shooting. In the field we discussed how the scene could be post processed and this, in turn, affected how we shot. For today’s image from Nymph Lake I used just a Singh Ray warming polarizer and bracketed images. I knew I WOULDN’T use Photomatix Pro for HDR imaging because I really wanted a pristine, eye catching, photo realistic image. Photomatix would leave a halo around the tree – sky interface and would have required a great deal of work to eliminate. The light and colors were perfect. I bracketed to ensure I had a full range of detail in the scene and used various brackets as layers with masks in Photoshop to create the final tonal range that best represented what my eye saw at the time. I then used a Selective Color adjustment layer to finish off the image. I hope you enjoy this image as much as I do. I can’t wait to go back and spend more time shooting in the Rockies.
Technical Details: Canon 1Ds MkII, Canon 16-35mm @ 16mm, ISO100, F/14, 0.3 second exposure, 3 brackets 2stops, Singh Ray 2 stop Rev. ND, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
Welcome to today’s post. Last week I ran my Lake Superior workshop. Students were instructed on the concept of dynamic compositions and techniques used in creating them. One tool is the a strong foreground, and sky that connects with the foreground, in a way that creates a whole image. The presence of a strong horizon line and a disconnect between sky and foreground can inadvertently create two different images from one. Generally, this is not a good thing. This is a particularly challenging tool to work with in landscape photography and really stretches one’s ability to see and to use a lens that creates/aides the relationship between foreground and sky.
Dynamic compositions are created by capturing dynamic color combinations, use of leading and diagonal lines, movement of light, strong foreground/middleground/background relationships. Dynamic compositions can take your mind’s eye on a visual trip through the image. These aren’t requirements for an image to succeed, just helpful tools to work with along the way. In today’s image, I would have loved some additional dramatic twilight color in the sky, but it just never came around, so I get to go back and try again! I did enjoy the shape relationship and visual movement created by both the foreground rocks and cloud structure. For better or worse, I don’t generally shy away from tricky compositions and in this case I put on my rubber boots and risked limb and photo gear, traversing very slippery rocks, to find today’s image. Thanks to Robert Clark for the great capture.
Technical Details: Canon 5d MarkII, Canon 24-70mm @ 24mm, ISO100, F/16, 20 sec. exposure, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
Welcome to today’s post. I just completed my 2011 Lake Superior Landscape photography workshop. My next post will be a tribute to the wonderful participants and images they created, but today’s post is about the process we put them through that resulted in so many wonderful images. I’m going to call it “stretch.”
This year we focused on scouting locations as part of developing students’ approach to landscape photography. This is an exercise very few had been through, let alone taught to do in other workshops. My assistant, Robert Clark, also wrote about this in his blog (http://roberthclarkphotographyblog.com/ ). Many of the students wanted practice shooting moving water so we went up on Glen Avon, on the Beaver River. I’ve shot and previously posted about this very special, but very challenging, landscape. With many potential perspectives, severe contrast on jagged rocks in evening light, difficulty working with the variety of lines created by moving water, getting exposure just right for all of these issues – no wonder the students struggled with compositions. It really stretched their mind’s eye to see better. We scouted it in hard light, shot it in evening light, and returned to shoot it in morning light so students could get the full view of how to approach and see a landscape. In evening light the water compositions are back into the sunset, giving rise to very dark shadows on downstream faces of the rocks and glare coming off the water and into the camera. Students were having difficulty composing such busy, high contrast scenes. In morning light the upstream compositions were all in even, soft light, allowing for more gentle, eye-pleasing perspectives and by then they were very familiar with the landscape. Both Robert and I were amazed by the progression of images from scout to morning light.
Today’s image was in morning light, a shot I saw during the scout in the previous evening.
Technical Details: Pouring rain, slippery granite, treacherous, but in the game (feel free to click on the image for a larger view)
Last weekend my good friend Travis and I spent three days on Lake Superior battling non-stop rain, fog, mist and generally poor photography conditions. I shot over 300 frames, mostly pure garbage. This particular image was shot out of stubbornness and as I consider getting into the rain to take it, I heard in my head the words of another dear friend commenting on an entirely unrelated situation. “Pissy Shmissy. Grab a mit and get in the game.” These words stuck with me right down deep in my gut and I spoke them to Travis as I headed out to set up the shot. To avoid the wind and rain falling on my equipment and on me, I posted up underneath the Hwy 61 bridge over the Beaver River. Equipped with decent rubber boots for footing and paper towel to dry my lens, I began to shoot. I was in the game.
Travis and I had to take whatever each day gave us, which was mostly rain and thick clouds. We’d end each day with a volley of sarcastic comments like, “worst shit I ever shot” or “I’m going to sell my equipment” or “Lake Superior can sure humble a photog.” I’ve spent hours mining my images for something I like from this trip and perhaps this is the one gem of the entire 3 days. It is my visual response to “Pissy Shmissy…” and the motivating quality of that comment. The words we choose matter and can stick with those around us. I’m constantly reminded of this fact. Perhaps some images have the same stickiness.
technical details: Canon 5Ds MkII, Canon 24-70mm, Singh-Ray Vari-ND filter, ISO50, f/11, 150 sec
I was having a few beers on the patio with a good friend recently. It seems we’re both going through some career transitions and he said, “We’re resetting our North Star.” This struck me. We get lost for many reasons: job circumstances change, relationships change, priorities and interests change. For any of us to grow through times of change we are well served to revisit the point of focus that guides us to bigger and better things. We need to reset our North Star.
The metaphorical North Star isn’t a goal or outcome, its a guide. A thing, a belief, an idea, or philosophy that guides us through transition. As a professional and fine art photographer, I find myself getting lost about once year, in transition from one place to another and always revisiting that North Star to guide my path from point A to point B. Choosing a North Star isn’t always a conscious, intentional act. Sometimes its identified after the fact, during some level of reflection. For me, it began while preparing my tax returns!!! Like Polaris, our guides can change over time and what served us in the past may not serve us today. I’m still searching for my new photography North Star for 2011.
A North Star for my photography that served me well in the past is I Am Not A Commodity.
Today’s North Star might include: Fine art or time with friends or zero commercial or different commercial projects or travel or educator or experimenter? A guide helps me direct my time, energy, and intention and I’m leaning towards Intimate Relationships. Let me explain while the snickering subsides.
In my photography this idea would imply that I don’t shoot anything that doesn’t create or arise from an intimate relationship. This might include dramatic effect, camera positioning, a preexisting and deep understanding of the subject (landscapes or people), all of them together. For example, tomorrow I’m shooting two UST athletes because of who they are as people. I feel a connection to their drive, passion, competitive spirit. I want to capture these ideas. My camera positions and lighting are all conceived for this idea of intimacy.
Well, in the course of writing this post I’ve reset my photography North Star. Intimate Relationships. What is your North Star?
Today’s image came at the tail end of a great, but interesting day. Weather on the North Shore was gorgeous and I had been out all morning looking a property to purchase. I went into Two Harbors for lunch and decided to return to a few lots for a second look. Upon returning I parked the truck into what could only be described as quick sand.
With no one around, no one to call, I got down on all 4′s and starting digging with my hands, uncovering both front wheels enough to insert some large rocks upon which my 4WD could find purchase. Of course I got out, but then the noise under the front end began. A mile down the road and I found myself here:
A guy I know who lives on this road came by with some pliers and I was back in business in no time and in need of some relaxation. I arrived at The Landing just in time to watch the Kentucky Derby and a little of this:
(sincere apologies to all my packer friends. The other side of the glass said “Miller Lite” and I had to make a quick photo decision). After all this I drove 25 miles back up the shore to the Beaver River, well above the lake to area some locals refer to as Avon Glen. My research reveals that an “Avon” is Celtic for river, and a “Glen” is more like a gorge and less like a valley. The area I was shooting was certainly more valley than gorge, but I do like the sound of Avon Glen, so we’re sticking with it. Some of the finest stretch of river I’ve seen yet on the North Shore. It will take me days to shoot it properly, but today we have an initial take on it.
Technical Details: HDR using Photomatix Exposure Fusion, Canon 1Ds Mk II, Canon 16-35mm, f/10, 10/5/30 sec exposures, ISO200, Singh Ray circular polarizer
Technical Details: 10 Minutes after sunset, ISO50, f/5, 10 seconds, Canon 5D Mk II, Canon 24mm Tilt-Shift, Adobe Photoshop Black and White Adjustment Layer Conversion
Technical Details: 10 minutes after sunset, ISO100, f/14, 10 second shutter speed, Canon 5D MkII, Canon 24 -70mm, Adobe Photoshop Conversion to B/W, with Blue/Orange Gradient Map applied in Soft Light Mode, 50% opacity.
Technical Details: 20 minutes passed sunset, Singh Ray Blue/Gold Polarizer, f/9, ISO200 61 seconds shutter speed, Canon 5D MkII, Canon 24-70mm lens.