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Technical Details: Canon 5D MkII, Canon 16-35mm lens, ISO100, f/16, 3.2 seconds, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer, bracketed +/- 2 stops for Photomatix (click on image, it always looks better when seen larger)
Welcome to today’s post. As promised, I have some new landscape images from Bandlands National Park to share with you over the next couple of posts, but I had to devise a strategy for sharing them. Options included sharing by order of life threatening moments (fell down a hill in Cedar Pass), by places I had a great conversation with total strangers (Panorama Point), or was nearly attacked by wildlife (Big Horn Ram near Visitor Center). Of course I could use a more conventional strategy, like color vs. BW, but that would be predictable. Since my goal is to share great images and give you a better sense of the park, I’ve decided to go out on a limb and share by location. If you’re thinking of visiting the park and taking some pictures, then these posts might serve as a guide for you.
My journey to the Badlands started late Tuesday night, about 10 pm, after working all day long – a straight drive through the night in hopes of making the east end of the park by sunrise Wednesday. That goal was never really in doubt, at least to the extent of my willingness to drive 90mph, which I did for the last 40 miles or so. Driving at night for over 8 hours is not for the timid. Its exhausting and requires a careful balance of tactics, including caffeine, light food, sunglasses, singing out loud, dimming lights on the dashboard, texting while driving and of course AM talk radio about excessive sightings of UFO’s in Missouri this year.
The good news about So Dak at night is the lack of any human existence and the lack of curves in the interstate. My powers of observation, which are, well…powerful…observed several 30-50 minute intervals during which neither car nor curve was detected. Its a great time to think through the problems in your life, but I will say this; contrary to common cultural wisdom regarding males, I did not think of sex every 7 seconds. Let’s do the math on this – nearly 9 hours on the road equals 32,400 seconds. Divide that by 7 secs and we have 4,629 times I would have thought about sex. No way did that happen. First, 2,117 of those opportunities were given to thinking about the Packers. I counted those. Another 1,977 were given to the show on UFO’s and how I hoped some would show up right there, near Kennebec or Murdo, South Dakota. Of the remaining 534 sex-thought opportunities, 521 went to photography, 11 went to gas/potty break stops, 2 to this blog post and 1 to sex. Truth be told, that 1 sex thought actually had to do with a question that’s plagued me for years now. How do porcupines have sex? Answer: Very carefully.
Ok, so I made it. Heart and nervous system no longer functional. Just twitching. Exhaustion, fatigue, dehydration, over-caffeination, excited with what I saw happening in the early twilight of sunrise. I came in to the east side of the park, near the Door and Window trails which are amazing at sunrise. And what a sunrise I had. I shot everywhere I could and needed at least 3 cameras in different locations to truly capture what was happening. But I don’t have three cameras. So I took shots, ran to another spot, took more shots, ran back to another spot, took some more shots and then went back to the car and nearly fell asleep at the wheel on my way to check in to the motel, while you were just waking up.
4 images from Door Trail. The last is a true, 5 frame pano composed of 15 total frames prepared through Photomatix and stitched together using PTGui.
Welcome to today’s post. First, I guess its only fair to acknowledge my misleading statements from the previous post. I promised to bring you some photography from a place other than Lake Superior, and its coming, but I haven’t shot it yet. I’m planning a trip to the Badlands next week, weather permitting. In the mean time I want to share with you an image I shot last week at Gooseberry Falls and use it to discuss the concept of The Hero, introduced to me by fashion photog Matthew Jordan Smith.
Hero: a subject of distinguished courage or ability, admired for brave deeds and noble qualities. Often understated or unexpected qualities.
A successful image has a hero. This may or may not be in your main subject. The Hero. The hero can take many forms in all styles of photography, but its worth asking in your photography, “Who is the Hero in this image?” Not a super-hero, like Super Man, with the ability to leap tall buildings in a single bound. The hero is often that understated or unexpected secondary subject, supporting subject, that makes the image move from good to great. In landscape photography it can be as simple as a small leaf of color in a big scenic that ties the image together, or a simple cloud structure that rhymes with the lines of the landscape, or the shape of rocks that repeats in some sort of rhythmic pattern. Who is the hero in your photograph? A successful photograph has a hero.
In today’s photo, the heros (in my opinion) are the two tiny falls of water flanking the larger flow. They add that certain, understated quality. They are guardians and protectors of the image, keeping it from being a simple, cliche waterfall shot. They are not random – they are intentional. They are simple, balanced, noble.
Technical Details: Canon 5D MKII, Canon 16-35mm @16mm, F/14, ISO100, 4 Sec. Exposure, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer
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.
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.
Reminder, The Lake Superior Landscape workshop is starts August 8 and there are only 4 spots remaining. Click here for more info.
Well, as I write this post we’ve just come off another epic spring storm which brought several inches of snow to the north shore of Lake Superior on April 15th/16th. Also, the weather report has more snow in it for the upcoming week here in the Twin Cities. Might as well enjoy the ride, right?
So, storms it is. I got my tax return, which was just enough to cover gas to Silver Bay, MN and back, plus a flat tire and a few cups of coffee this weekend. What a storm it was…I started shooting at Lester River (Duluth) around 6pm, but the wind and spray were beyond manageable so I made a last minute decision, packed up and headed north to Silver Bay hoping to find shelter in a secret cove I found a few months back. There was no protection when I arrived and had to orient my camera to minimize the spray which was blown by 40mph + winds off the top of 10 foot + surf. It was HUGE surf. You just have to stand on the shore and experience its awesome power. From a photographer’s perspective it was all a Hail Mary. Wind shaking tripod, spray covering the lens, getting swamped by large wave sets. I did make a good decision to buy some rubber boots at Marine General and few hours earlier and they proved very very handy. I like getting in the water to shoot, but the conditions were so extreme that it would have made a boy out of Peter Lik (Weather Channel Reality TV show about a photographer). Sorry Peter, but its true.
These first two images were shot using a Singh Ray Blue/Gold polarizer. The first image was a 6 second exposure and the second was a 60 second exposure at f/11 processed with some fill light and range adjustments in raw converter. Canon 5D MKII and Canon 24-70mm lens.
That evening, April 15 the snow started falling and when I woke pre-sunrise there was nothing to shoot. So I grabbed some coffee and made my way from Grand Superior Lodge back down to Stoney Point to meet some friends coming up to surf. I’m including a few shots of that just for documentary sake.
By the late afternoon, after a flat tire repair and wonderful brunch with friends, I made my way back out to Lester River for some calmer surf, melting snow and clearing storm light. A great way to finish the trip. This image was shot using the Singh Ray Blue Gold polarizer along with a Singh Ray 2 stop HS split neutral density filter. Shot at ISO50, f/16 and 2 seconds shutter speed, Canon 5D MKII and Canon 24-70mm lens.
And a little chunk of video with filters for how this shot was made. Blue Gold on lens, 2 stop split brought in over that.
Hi Gang, today’s post is an image and video tutorial of a photo I captured on Oct. 2, 2009 in Duluth Harbor. Some may recall the storm that passed through there and I showed up on the back side of it, when things had calmed just a little. The structure in this image is the Fort Whitney unloading dock, used in the 1920′s to unload sand and gravel dug from the bottom of Lake Superior. To get a more complete story and great black and white photo from 1920, click here.
This image is also available for purchase in print form at my fine art site, ACJ FINE ART PHOTO, exclusively in 16×24 inches on traditional metallic photographic paper or canvas!
I’ve produced a 12 minute tutorial on black and white photography and the production of today’s image. I hope you enjoy it.
A previous take on today’s image was posted here. This past weekend I was shooting a friend’s house and had a few minutes to run out and work with some thunderstorms that were starting to roll in. I decided to head back and try a new composition on this location. Hope you enjoy.
Technical: Canon 1Ds MarkII, 16-35mm @16mm, Singh Ray Warming Polarizer, f/9, 1/20sec, ISO100
Raw Converter Settings: exp +.20, recovery 100, fill light 30, blacks 0, contrast 100, vibrance +20, saturation -20