Tag Archives: sunset

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!

Location Planning and Anticipating the Light

My image Iris Meadow Sunset was recently chosen for  the September Cover of the Rocky Mountain Nature Photographers web-site. The story behind this image provides a great example of what some location planning  and the ability to react to  sky conditions quickly can do for the landscape photographer. I am a member of the Chico Basin Ranch Artists and this June we were down on the Zapata-Medano Ranch in the San Luis Valley for our annual Artists Gathering. Conditions on the ranch were perfect with fresh snow on the mountains and the  wet meadows ablaze with blooms of wild iris. During our first evenings dinner I was watching the sky through one of the windows and quickly realized the sunset light was going to be spectacular.  I excused my self and quickly jumped in the my truck and drove a  few miles to a location   I had scouted earlier in the day. I arrived just in time and  quickly set up on this  composition as the sunset  began lighting up the clouds over the Sangre de Cristo Range. The resulting image  turned out to one of the best I made during the trip. This light only lasted a few minutes and if I had not scouted the location and  been able to react quickly to the developing conditions, this image would have been lost.

Iris Meadow Sunset

Summer Travels #1

Ok here we go with my first real post.  I have been travelling quite a bit this summer and recently returned from my third major trip of the season from Oklahoma where I taught a photo  workshop at the Museum of the Red River in Idabel.  I will cover that trip in a future post, but for this opening I want to start with my first big trip taken in mid June through the upper midwest.  I was scheduled to attend a conference  and work shop on Field Computing in Education sponsered by the Associated Colleges of the Midwest (ACM) that was held in Door County Wisconsin at Lawrence Universitys Bjorklunden.  I decided to drive to the conference and do photography on the way and after over a space of about 2.5 weeks. It was a fabulous trip photographing  in Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Wyoming with total miles travelled being 5,312!  Photographically it was very productive, particularly with new prairie images from Nebraska and North Dakota.  My first day was spent in Nebraska in the Sand Hills region, an area I first visted last year. Because of lots of Spring moisture the grass was amazing. I camped at Smith Lake and made several really nice images at sunset and also sunrise the next morning. Below is one of my favorite images from that first evening

Sunset light on the prairie grass in the Sandhills, Nebraska

Sunset light on the prairie grass in the Sandhills, Nebraska ©Stephen Weaver

What  I was attracted to in making this image was the amazing warm sunset side light which illuminated the grasses as well as the strong layers with diagonals of the receding hills accented by the light. As with all strong photographs the presence and capture of dynamic light is the key that makes this image work. It was a great start to my trip!