Going through these images tonight gave me an idea for another post regarding photographing birds. This image will have to do for now though, so consider this a teaser.
Here is a quick snap from my early days of trying to figure this craft out. The outdoor mall in Loveland used to have this wall that would be painted a different color every few months. The window was highly reflective, which made for a pretty awesome combination. Have a great weekend!
Here we are. The last image in my photobook series. I started with a sunrise, and I am ending with a sunset. Every image in this series is about nature. The only thing man made in the last 23 images was the road in the shot of Canyonlands. Sure there are flowers and trees planted by man, and a couple of buildings in the image of the bison back at the beginning, but I chose all this images to show off the natural world. This is a fitting closing image. Taken at Barr Lake State Park, this was a magnificent sunset. One of the best I've ever seen. The whole sky across my field of view was every hue of orange and purple you can imagine.
So now the next step is to get the book printed. Good thing blurb is having a sale right now. Guess I should upload some pictures huh...
In 2008, my wife and I went for a weekend trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park. We stayed at Zapata Ranch, which is an awesome place to stay by the way. We want to take our kids there one day, as they have a complete ranch experience package. And it's run by the Nature Conservancy. Check it out here: (http://www.zranch.org).
Anyway. This is one of my first attempts at HDR. I just love this image. I love how the clouds lead your eye from the upper left, curving just as you arrive at the summit of High Dune. This is 800 feet of sand. It's also just a monster to climb. Very difficult. The sand is reflecting some early afternoon light, which is again giving us some red/blue color contrast between it and the sky. In retrospect, the HDR is probably a little over done. The sky isn't really that blue here all the time (although I have seen it that blue). There are highlights in the clouds that are blown out, but hey, I was working with an 8 MP camera back then. It's a solid attempt, and one from which I have learned. And I like that there are four people in this image.
I haven't done as many HDR's in the last couple of years. Mainly because I don't live as close to the mountains anymore. That's an excuse though, and one that needs to go away. I enjoy HDR, and tinkering around with all the plugins. It's cool, and it's all that should matter.
Only one photo left...
We've entered into the home stretch of the phonebook project images. In fact, there are only two more after this one. I remember this day quite well. It was New Years, and we packed five adults into my Jetta for a three hour trip south to the Springs. Then I couldn't find the road to the park because it wasn't well marked. And it was cold (did I mention it was New Year's?). But what a sight these rock formations are. The one thing I still wonder is whether or not I should have studied Geology in school instead of Biochemistry. I love rocks. I think it goes back to all my time as a kid spent on the Colorado Plateau. Striations are wonderful. Geologic uplift is inherently beautiful. And, I love the way this particular rock formation looks like an old man, covering his mouth as he yawns (the red/blue color contrast is also very nice). To this day, one of my favorites.
I've mentioned Florida a couple of times. My wife is from there. We got married there. Our favorite restaurant is The Jetty, in Jupiter, Florida. This place is awesome. It's so awesome we had our rehearsal dinner there those many years ago. The restaurant sits on the Indian River just as it approaches the Atlantic Ocean. They have a large patio where you can sit and watch boats returning home. The best part is that across the river is the Jupiter Lighthouse (http://www.jupiterlighthouse.org), which is just amazing. It's light is a Fresnel lens, which is capable of sending light some 14 miles out to see. Nobody really knows how Fresnel made his lenses, and it can't be duplicated. I need to do a post on the lighthouse specifically. Anyway, the restaurant is delicious, and satisfies our cravings for fresh seafood when we go down there. These palm fronds are in the parking lot. They serve as a great reminder of what we get to experience whenever we are fortunate enough to make it down to Florida.
After shooting Mesa Arch, I drove a little bit further down the road to the main over look which marks the end of Island in the Sky. At the bottom of an 800 foot drop, there lies the true beauty of Canyonlands. You can see FOREVER. And part of what you can see is the wonderful work of water on sandstone. Erosion is beautiful. I watched a Jeep slowly drive along the trail. I remember them getting out at one point and walking towards the edge. Oh what fun it would be to experience this. Once you enter this trail, you're committed. There is no turning around. You can only go one way. You also have to sign in at the visitors center so they know you're there. That way if you don't come out, they can send out the rescue team to try and find you. Driving this trail just looks fun, and an incredible life experience. Maybe I should put it on my bucket list?
Arches is unlike any place on Earth. Utah is unlike any place on Earth actually. This is the famous Balanced Rock in Arches. It has been photographed approximately 140 million times since every one and their brother now owns a digital camera. Getting an original composition is difficult, and I image this particular scene from this particular angle has also been photographed by someone else. It's all good though. I don't care.
What I managed to capture is some gorgeous red/blue color contrast in sunset light. We have some foreground elements, and some nice shadows underneath the juniper shrubs. This image makes me feel the desert warmth, and it makes me remember the exact moment I shot it. How I walked around for 30 minutes looking for a foreground that would work. That was the first time I had really made a cognizant effort to search for a pleasing foreground element. I think my patience was rewarded. I love this image. It's one of my favorites from the trip.
I grew up in Western Colorado. That means I spent a lot of my time in Eastern Utah. There were many summers where every Friday afternoon, my family packed up, hitched up the boat and drove the four hours to Lake Powell. We'd come back late Sunday night. It was awesome. And it gave me such a deep appreciation for the beauty the desert holds.
In 2012, I returned to Utah for two days of solitude. I hadn't been there in ten years or so, and I had forgotten why I love the place. After I checked into my room, I drove up to Canyonlands to do some scouting. My heart leapt when I saw the sheer sandstone cliffs, and I was overcome with excitement. I was a kid again, back in my second home.
The next morning, I shot Mesa Arch at sunrise with 50 other photographers. That afternoon I went into Arches, and made my way around in the late afternoon. This is Double Arch, which is where one of the scenes in Indiana Jones was filmed. Definitely a majestic hunk of rock, and well worth spending some quality time here. If for nothing else, just to listen to the wind and watch the rock pick up the color of the setting sun.
I took a lot of photos on this trip. I need to go back soon. It's been far too long...
As I mentioned with the last black and white, I have really start to look for patterns and symmetry when I go on my hikes. Being able to see these types of things can really enhance the image when it is processed in black and white. It basically boils down to intention, and having a plan in mind when composing that particular photograph.
I don't always have a plan when I go out, other than to know where I'm going. I usually go out to look for birds and try to work on that life list. But I am always open to other images. Especially when there is great light.
If you head South from the parking lot at Barr Lake State Park, there is a boardwalk leading to a gazebo that sits on the water. The problem is that a lot of the water gets drained out of the lake by mid summer because it is used to irrigate farms out on the plains. What is left after the water is gone is this mishmash of dying water plants, weeds that aren't water plants, and stuff that settles in one spot because it has nowhere else to go. If you are paying attention while walking out to the gazebo, you might just spot something pleasing to the eye. Like maybe a pointy piece of driftwood, sitting in a bed of weeds. This was even on the shady side of the bridge. This image wouldn't have worked if we were on the other side.
I don't remember if I added any birds to my list that day, but I do remember being extremely pleased after processing this image.
Last time we looked at this same stream as we hiked up the mountain. Well, on the way back down the hill, I spotted this gigantic tortoise coming out of the water. What gorgeous texture on that rock! Add in the roaring water, and this is a just a wonderful photograph. It still makes me smile all these years after making the image. Absolutely one of my favorite photos from my earlier days.
Rocky Mountain National Park in the summer. Not a bad place to be. This little stream sits along side the trail as you hike up away from Bear Lake. I don't really remember how far up the trail we are here, but I do know it's leaving from the Bear Lake trailhead. What I like most about this image is the silky smooth water, and how green and vibrant the foliage is. This is an HDR image, so combining the images is what gives the water its look. The rest of it comes from being late spring and shooting at mid morning. Summer's heat hadn't taken hold yet, turning everything brown. I love Spring. Glad it's almost here...
This is another one of my favorite Rocky Mountain National Park scenes. Absolutely no wind to disturb the lake water, and a perfect reflection of the pine trees as the result. Yes this image is centered in the frame, but I think that is what makes brings out the brilliance of the reflection. If I had cropped off some of the lake water, the image loses its impact. It's okay to sometimes break the rules, as long as you do so with a purpose. This shot is worth it to me. That being said, I am curious about what others think. I know what my two image reviewers thought...
And, we're done with flowers already. Moving on to the next subject. This is another of my absolute favorite black and white images. This is palm tree bark, taken outside in my father-in-law's backyard during one of our Florida trips to see Grandpa. I had the setting sun behind me, which was providing some awesome Florida light. I never really considered this in color however, seeing it from start to finish as a black and white. The challenge was finding a composition through the view finder. With as many of these bark shards as there were, it was mostly about finding a pleasing pattern. After a couple of attempts, I saw the bark in kind of these diagonal rows, which helped me settle on an image with lines in it. After only a couple more frames, I knew I had the image. And I know to look for patterns in my images that I intend to convert to black and white.
This image was taken way back in 2008 before I really new what I was doing. This was in Spring time on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. Their little flower planters were packed with tulips. I remember having just purchased my 50mm f/1.8. I believe this was one of the first images I took with that lens. I think what really appeals to me here is the strong red/green color vibration. Color theory says these two colors together are supposed to be pleasing to the eye. You can't really argue here. Add in a little splash of purple, and a real shallow depth of field, and I think we really have something here.
And we're on to the next subject. Fauna. When I saw it, my eye was immediately drawn to this flower. The brightness of the pink against the muted green leaves just drew me in. I also really, really like how the leaves form three lines that go right up to the subject. There is also a lot of little details in the hair like structures that form the basis of the flower. It kind of reminds me of cilia, but that's just geeky science talk.
Unfortunately, I don't know what the name of this flower is. I shot it down in Florida over one of our Christmas vacations. I think it was in the Palm Beach area. I remember it being a cloudy day, which made the mid day light really muted. It's probably why this shot works so well. If it had been a sunny, spectral light day, I don't think I would have liked this image nearly as much. I might not have seen it honestly. I did though, and that's all that matters...
This is by far my favorite black and white image I have ever composed. The image was captured in Florida over Christmas break in 2013. There are so many lovely graphical elements in the image, repeating shapes, good range of highlights and shadows. Love this picture. Not much else to say about it really.
Red Winged Blackbirds are so cool. I attract them every day to my bird feeders in the backyard. Not surprising really, given they're everywhere. But there is just something about that red spot on each shoulder that draws me to them. Especially when the golden hour light hits them just right, and you can see how vibrant it can be.
This image isn't at golden hour, but it was at Barr Lake mid morning on a flat light day. Goes to show you what can be accomplished even under "crappy" lighting conditions. The bird saw me taking his picture, and wasn't afraid to tell me hits thoughts on the matter. I really like how you can see both of his eyes, and there is also a lot of detail in the feathers on his breast and tail.
Another reason this image appealed to me is the soft background. It really separates the bird and makes him stand out. The compression from the long lens does that for us. I also know that he is centered in the frame, but I feel the square crop works here. He is sitting high up in a tree after all...
This image here is going to be one of the more controversial for my portfolio book. It certainly was in the feedback I got from the two people I had edit my choices. There is just something about this photo that appeals to me. I don't even think the subject here is the bird, even though that's what it was intended to be. I think the true subject that came out of this photo is the red wing. There is just enough detail in that red, and in the flapping wings to make this photo look awesome. It ended up being a little, well, abstract, and I'm okay with that.