Category Archives: Image Thoughts

Exploring the Square Composition

One of the important compositional tools available to the photographer is considering the orientation and  final aspect ratio of the image. One option is the classic square format. The following images are all square compositions cropped from the 2:3 aspect ration of  35mm digital captures, and each of them illustrates the  strength of a square composition.  The next time you are out photographing and searching for an image try thinking square!

 

Gallery

Winter Colors,Textures and Patterns: Frosty Trees and Grass

This gallery contains 6 photos.

On a recent trip returning from Kansas I had a very  productive day photographing frosty grass and trees. The earth toned colors of the grasses combined with heavy frost and ice on the grass and bare tees made for some … Continue reading

My top ten “best” images from 2010

As the year comes to a close it is always nice to to reflect on and review images I have made during the year. I was very blessed this  year with many photographic trips and opportunities, foremost being the amazing experience  I had in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. Spurred on by Jim Goldstein’s call to photographers to  submit a ” top 10 best list” for a blog project, I have been scouring my files to narrow it down. Trust me this is not easy as I have added several hundred images to my worthy of printing category, and I seem to have an attachment to all of them.  So here is what I came up with in no particular order. Every one of them spoke to me. Some I have blogged about during the year and some are new ones you have not seen. I hope you enjoy them!


If you want to see more you can check my top 20 favorites on my Flickr site

Finding an Image: Chico Cottonwoods Sunset

I know I have not been posting much lately but I hope to remedy that in the coming weeks. With lots of activity and work at CC, attending the GSA meeting in Denver, and installing and getting to know  my new Epson Stylus Pro 7900 printer I have not been able to get out  much in the last month to do much shooting. This afternoon I decided I needed some fresh air and field time so I headed down to the Chico Basin Ranch, one of my favorite local prairie hot-spots,  to  see if I could catch some autumn  grass and perhaps some last bits of color in the cottonwood trees along Chico Creek. When I arrived in mid afternoon,  conditions were less than ideal with not a cloud in the sky and very harsh bright light and I was resigned to not making any new images. Not to worry, it was just nice to get out and hike a bit in the warm afternoon sun.. A couple hours later as I was driving along one of the rough ranch roads  looking for potential future compositions I passed by a row of cottonwood trees that had already lost all of their leaves. Looking almost due west toward the sun, they were strongly back-lit and silhouetted, and  I was immediately struck by the strong graphic lines of the bare branches and the way they formed a striking pattern together. The light was unworkable at the moment, but I envisioned an image with the orange glow of the setting sun on the horizon providing color to the bare silhouetted trees. The clear sky suggested that at sunset  that glow might just  happen. And so I waited. Here is the result:

The thought process that went into making this image centers on observation of the environment  with the recognition and extraction of a  composition coupled with the anticipation of  some vibrant light. So if you find yourself in a similar situation it pays to wait. Sometimes it works.!

Extracting good compositions from the chaos of nature takes time and practice . “Seeing” is the goal of all photographers and on that note I need to give a strong recommendation to  my good friend and fellow photographer Guy Tal’s new e-book on Creative Landscape Photography.  Not only is Guy an amazing photographer, but he is also a gifted writer, and in Creative Landscape Photography he has created a true gem that will get you focused and thinking about the thought processes and techniques for making  great nature photographs. Check it out!

In Praise of the Wild: the Importance of preserving ANWR

As the month of September draws to a close and the transition to Autumn is in full swing, I find myself thinking back to the last several months of Summer and the extremely satisfying time I spent in wild places photographing the amazing beauty and life of our planet. Personally,  wilderness and wild places have  always been very important to my life and it is in such places that  my senses are most alive and  connected to world. Perhaps it was my childhood growing  up in rural Pennsylvania , where my backyard and playground were  the local woods, fields and streams, that pointed me down this path of life, but as I grow older I seem to cherish more and more the time I can spend in truly wild places. It is with a bit of sadness that I ponder the fact that so many people have never had the opportunity to experience wild places and thus do not really understand the complexities and inter-relationships of  our environment  and life on earth.  Certainly one of the goals of my photography is to try to  capture the essence and sense of place that makes up the environment of natural and wild places so that people who have no personal experience may come to appreciate the  beauty  of such areas and then may at least consider why preservation of the environment and wild places is so important.

This Summer I was able to make a trip and experience a small part of what I consider to be one our most amazing and important wilderness areas in the US, The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in  Alaska. ANWR consist of over 19 million acres  of incredible wilderness  ranging from the stunning peaks and alpine environment of the Brooks Range to the  amazing Arctic “prairie” of the arctic  coastal plain and the shores of the Beufort Sea of the Arctic Ocean. I was lucky to experience a small part of it on two week river trip on the Canning River which we rafted for over  120 miles from the Brooks Range all the way to the Arctic Ocean . I have experienced a lot of wild areas but  this trip was  absolutely incredible, dare I say almost life changing. From fabulous  alpine peaks  and  the absolutely crystal clear Marsh Fork to the vast sky and grasses of the arctic plain the entire trip was a visual delight and as a photographer, being able to work  with the amazing  quality of the  ” midnight”  low angle sun light was divine. In addition, the wildlife was incredible , particularly the large concentrations of nesting bird life on the arctic coastal plain. Having a close encounter with about 1000 caribou of the Central Arctic Herd crossing the river , some within 100 feet of us, was a sight  I will never forget.   Which brings me to the point of all this. There are some places on this earth that need to be preserved as they are and not developed on any scale, and ANWR is one of them. The threat of oil development on the Arctic Coastal plain  in the Refuge is still very real, but we must resist. There is too much to loose for a few years supply of oil. I will leave you now with a few images. They are no substitute for experiencing ANWR in person but I hope at least they can convey some of the spirit of the place.

Caribou Antlers on the Tundra, ANWR, Alaska

Caribou crossing the Canning River, ANWR, Alaska

2AM light on the Arctic Coastal Plain, ANWR, AK

The Arctic Ocean shore, ANWR, AK

The Color of Light: Lessons from a Spring Aspen Grove

Cool light in the Aspen Forest

This past weekend I found myself photographing in the great aspen forest that covers the terrain west of Kebler Pass in the central Colorado Mountains. The fresh Spring foliage was a beautiful lime green and I started exploring looking for compositions  before sunrise and as time passed I made a number of images with different compositions. What was particular striking was the change in the color of the light as time progressed. The early images made just before and after sunrise with the aspen still well covered by shade took on a distinctly cool tone with subtle shades of blue reflecting off of the white aspen trunks.  Later images were distinctly warmer producing a very different look. The two images posted  show how photographers can take advantage of the “color” of light to make images  of similar subjects that have distinctly  different character. This is the essence of good photography;  using  the character  and “color” of light as an essential element of  a striking visual image.

Warm post sunrise light on the Aspen Grove

Mesa Arch Sunrise : Photographing the Iconic Image: There is a reason we do it!

Certain images in the nature and landscape genre have become what we photographers know as icons.  We all know what this means: these are  the ” famous” features and scenes that have been photographed countless number of times by countless numbers of photographers. Well known examples are  images like Yosemite Valley  from the Winona tunnel, and the Maroon Bells reflecting in Maroon Lake with Fall color. They are part of the “checklist” of images that serious  landscape photographers all  aspire to capture.  The reason we all love to  photograph icons is because they are such spectacular examples of the landscape of our planet. When photographers make images of “icons” are they doing something unique? At  one level probably not, but at another level,  at a  personal distinct  moment of time in their  life, each photographer making an image of an icon captures their vision of the icon and makes it their own. It is important to consider that at any given time the light and environmental conditions will be different which will result in an image that will be truly unique.

With this statement in mind,  I personally often return to areas over and over to  make images of scenes( icons or not) in different seasons, conditions and light.  A great example of this is  a recent photograph  I made of  of the iconic Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park photographed with  the reflected light of sunrise imparting a spectacular glow on the underside of the arch. This icon was  first made famous by  the great large format  landscape photographer David Muench.  I have visited Mesa Arch on at least 5 different occasions in different seasons  and light conditions  and have been fortunate enough to have made a few decent images of this  amazing feature.  This most recent image was made in February when I was on my way to Reno Nevada to attend the NANPA summit. What makes it interesting and unique to me is the presence of snow and the misty clouds glowing with the sunrise light. Only one other photographer was present to experience this inspiring scene, and even if I had not  successfully captured this image the experience of just being there and witnessing the amazing reflected  light and glowing clouds would have been reward enough.

Sunrise light at a snowy Mesa Arch in Canyon Lands National Park, Utah