Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Winter Solstice

It is Winter Solstice, the longest night of the year and the start of winter. It is also one of those rare nights where there is an lunar eclipse. That sounded like a great photo op to combine the two. It would be perfect to be out someplace in west Texas and stay up all night to photograph it over some desert mountains.

Sadly that was not an option for me as it was a work night and staying up late on a work night (make that any night) is a no go for me. So I did the next best thing. I went out to photograph the moon before the eclipse started and put some trees that still had fall color-yes fall color the week of Christmas-in the image.

So here is the full moon on the longest night of the year.

Welcome to winter.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Sierra del Carmens

The Sierra del Carmens are a major landmark on the eastern side of Big Bend. The stark escarpment of the range is visible for miles.

However the range is not actually in the park. It is not even in the United States. The Carmens are in Mexico.

The Rio Grande flows past them and then cuts through them to form Boquillas Canyon. The continuation of the the mountains in the United States is the Dead Horse Mountains which run along the eastern edge of the park.

Here are a couple of images from last month that show the range. First a stitched panorama showing the entire Carmen escarpment. If you click the picture to look at the larger version you might be able to find the Tornillo Creek bridge. Tornillo Creek is the dry wash you see in the image. The big bridge has almost had flood waters go over the top. When it flash floods here, it really floods.

The second image is from the soft light of evening after the sunset. The Rio Grande is visible and the last light of day still lights up the ridges of Mexico.

Also I have added several images from my Big Bend trip to my gallery. See them here

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Road to Big Bend

Road to Big Bend. Kinda sounds like a Bob Hope-Bing Crosby movie.

The wide open of west Texas may not be the ideal setting for a comedy but it sure is a great location as a photographer.

Or even just as a place to truly get away from it all.

I headed west on the open road into clear skies. It is a ten+ hour trip from Cowtown and it is a good drive. I always like travelling west as the farther you go the few people there are. Nothing like going east where there are little towns every 5 miles. Go west and you start to understand distance.

West I went. Across the hills, mesas, and rolling prairies of Texas. Then across the flat Permian Basin. That's the object that foils most people. But get past it to the Pecos River and things start to change.

Get past Fort Stockton and you are into the big country.

Mountains. High grasslands. Big ranches. Bigger views.

Finally arriving in the ranch lands around Marathon you truly feel you are out west. It is like walking into the movie Giant (which was filmed outside Marfa about an hour west of Marathon).

It is when I get here that I know I am out in the good country. The big open.

I have included a few images from that big open range around Marathon. The vastness of the land here is awe inspiring, I can only hope an image can begin to even capture it.

My trusty Honda Element loaded with camping gear and ready for a big adventure.

Another of the signs of the ranchers out here.

The third image is of the Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park-this is my destination. After leaving the highlands around Marathon the road slopes down toward the border. The land becomes drier and hotter-the desert comes into full force. Then after one crosses Persimmon Gap you finally see the Chisos in the distance.

There they are after 10 hours on the road.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Shapes, Patterns, Colors

Photographers often talk about ideas like composition, color, shapes, patterns, etc. I recently came across a great example of seeing and then really seeing those ideas.

While chasing fall color and hoping for big landscapes across Acadia National Park I spent a part of one morning at Bubble Pond. It was a morning I had started at another location early and sometime after sunrise I thought I might be able to still find some soft light or even nice reflections at Bubble Pond.

This was the scene I found there. Just a hint of clouds, some nice fall color, smooth water. Yes, things were looking nice.

Using a combo of ND grad filters and bracketing I was able to bring back images that stacked fairly nicely to capture the entire dynamic range of the scene. I had the color landscape I was after.

I pulled out my trusty LX3 to take some black and white images to see what fall looked like in monochrome. It was then that I saw something more.

The far end of the pond had the shape of a goblet (or wine glass if you prefer) when viewed as a monochrome.
I liked what I was seeing so I walked around and reframed the scene to give it even more of the look of a goblet.

Now I have an image to show people to see if they "see it".

On another note, I have added a few of my favorite images from Acadia to the galleries. Take a look if you get a chance.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thinking Inside the Box

Thinking inside the box.

Maybe I need to set the scene first. After several mostly clear days in Acadia last month a Nor'easter blew in and did it bring the rain. I photograph in the rain. I also always go out on a photo trip regardless of the weather. This rain was a challenge though. Buckets of rain and wind gusting past 40mph made things really tough.

After waiting out the gray light of dawn I sat up my tripod put on the camera and used a large plastic bag as a rain cover. It worked ok at first but after several stops and some walking it was starting to be a losing battle to the wind and rain.

Not wanting to give in yet plus wanting to drive up Cadillac Mountain, I did a little thinking inside the box. Here is where the car came in. My rental car had rear windows the rolled down all the way. So I rigged the tripod in the back seat facing out the passengers rear window. This allowed me to be able to operate it in Live View mode from the drivers seat. I could photograph from the car.

Viola-a dry place to shoot from!

Now, I was ready to go, all I had to do was stop and aim the side of the car at what I wanted to photograph. Roll down the rear window. Focus with Live View. Get the image.

It actually worked out quite well. I was a bit more limited in what I could photograph but I made up for distance from the road with distance on the road.

This plan worked great in the sheltered forest and even worked out on the more open Cadillac Mountain. The winds were worse there but I was able to make images and stay dry.

I was the only fool, er photographer, out on the mountain that day.

Here are a couple of images from the mountain. First up the lead image of the waterfall. I had seen a trickle of water here when it was sunny. However, with all the rain from the Nor'easter, it was a raging waterfall. A rare moment and one I was happy to photograph.

I also spied this lone tree. A day earlier it was full of fall color, but the wind and rain had claimed most of its leaves. I hoped a long exposure would show the full fury of the storm.

Challenging weather conditions turned out to be a fun morning where I was able to photograph. It might be a popular thing to say think outside the box. On this day however it was thinking inside the box that really paid off!

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Glory of Fall

Fall color in the Maine woods! Ahh, now that is what autumn is all about!

Timing my trip to Acadia for mid October, I hoped to both avoid the summer crowd as well as catch the colors of the fall season. I have been to Vermont and New Hampshire and really enjoyed the colors there and was hoping that Maine had the colors and that I had timed the peak well.

I may have had too much blue sky, but I sure enjoyed got the right time down to really get nice fall colors.

With the color it gives me something to work on and try to work the color into the scenery. Even a simple look up at the forest canopy changes with the reds, yellows and oranges of autumn.

There is also the bigger landscape of the granite mountains of Acadia that come to life in a fantastic way with fall colors.

Here is a view of Eagle Lake from Cadillac Mountain that I liked.

Lastly is a quiet morning scenic along Jordan Pond before the sun rose.

I had hoped for the magnificent sunrise but when the sky was clear, I turned to the quiet side of the pond for this.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Coastal Maine

The rugged Maine coast is one of those places I have wanted to go to for a long time but had never had the chance to get to. Well, I finally made the time and just spent a week in the northeast.

Even better I got to see that rugged coast in fall color. Now you're talkin!

Started off with the coast of Mount Desert Island near the Otter Cliffs and the Thunder Hole. I spent two mornings here and I picked the right two days as both had just a few clouds on the eastern horizon to give just a hint of color to the sky.

As a photographer I always want clouds and in what seems the norm, I did not get many of them. But I was in Maine with fall color, so you work with what you have.

Even without the overcast I was wanting, I still managed to get some nice soft predawn light along the coast.

I was also able to get some early morning warm sunlight on the trees and coast. The fact that the color goes almost to the ocean's edge was something I had not really expected but was pleased to find.

I also found that even with all the fall color that even black and white had a place. You can see the image I got of the rocky beach but I'll post a few more next week of the trees in black and white as even with all this color, I still found some great monochrome scenes.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

The Wide Open

The wide open country of west Texas as seen out beyond the Guadalupe Mountains.

The images tell all the story here.

The first is salt flats looking toward the distant Sierra Diablo. Windy, rainy, and moving clouds. My kind of photography weather.

The second only a short ways away from the salt flats an almost different world of high desert grasslands with the Horned Mountains that straddle the Texas-New Mexico state line.

Both are examples of that lonely wide open country that I like so much.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

The Edge of the Llano Estacado

I had been driving across the open rangeland of eastern New Mexico for a few days and then need to turn for home I made my way back toward Texas. There I found the western edge of the Llano Estacado-the staked plains.

It is a pancake flat plain surrounded by dramatic 200-300' drop-offs to the rolling plains below.

Geologists will tell you it is not only the southern reaches of the Great Plains but it is also some of the oldest unchanged surface of the earth in North America.
Driving east on a two lane road (always the best way to travel) in the early morning light on a heavy overcast day I could see the the edge in the east. A hint of dawn light was sneaking through the clouds in the east giving that edge just a hint of color. So, of course, I stopped to get a picture.

I stopped on a regular basis and by the time I actually go to the edge myself the overcast was breaking up. Driving up to the rim I came across these three boulders. It was erosion in action since they had been part of the rim at some point in the past. Again, its picture time.

After another long stop with the camera I made my way to the top to take in the view into the distance. Decided the image would be best in b+w.

Looking back west the view is of the edge of the rim and off a great ways into the distance. Behind me to the east is nothing but flat. I am on top of the Llano Estacado.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Published Image-City of Dallas

My image of the Dallas Skyline at Twilight is cover of the 2011 Strategic Plan Report for the City of Dallas.

The image is here to the left and you can see the report here:

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Open Range in New Mexico

The open range of New Mexico is another fantastic location. The Llano Estacado of the Texas panhandle and eastern New Mexico is flat and is farmed and ranched. However once one drops off the flat, it becomes ranching country and home to big open range.

I was driving through Harding County, which is north of Tucumcari. It is off the interstate and well off most travelers radar. That pretty much means you will not encounter many people, except for some of the local ranchers.

This is the type big open country I always have liked driving across and photographing. This trip was no exception.

I had camped ate Ute Lake and driving north at dawn I got a chance to see the way the clouds and distant color touched the sky. It was not the dramatic sunrise you think about but became one of my favorite photographs of the trip.

As the morning went on the clouds became less overcast and more defined clouds. It was about then that I first saw the Black Hills in the distance.

A small range of hills east of the mesas and on the flat. I liked the view and stopped at several spots to chase an image of hills and sky.

When I finally reached the edge of the mesa the clouds were breaking and blue sky was shining through.

Here was a chance to go really wide to try and capture it all. As I have probably written before, I love the open range and I am always frustrated in trying to capture it in an image. There really is no camera or lens that can capture the incredible sense of big that the sky has here

I was very impressed with the country out here, I have always looked at maps and thought I needed to spend some time in the mesa and open range country, get away from I-40 and explore. I wish I had done it sooner and it will be a return destination

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Rolling High Plain of Texas

The rolling high plains of Texas are east of the caprock of the Llano Estacado. The flat gives way to a rolling prairie. I drove across that on a rainy and cloud filled day.

The sky was fantastic and I stopped often to photograph the fences and rangeland. There is something big about the open range and the sky made it even better.

I really like a sky filled with big thick cloud cover. It becomes a day a photographer can photograph all day. This was one of those days.

Along the way west I even passed through Turkey, Texas-home of Bob Wills. That reminded me to be sure to turn on the radio on Saturday morning to High Plains Public Radio (HPPR) to catch Western Swing and Other Things which is a great program of-you guessed it-Western Swing.

Now it was a perfect way to spend the day, some great views and some perfect tunes.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

High Plains Fence

High Plains Fence as seen on the road to Amarillo.

A location I saw on the road to Amarillo on a stormy day. I took this while scouting the scene for setting up a 4x5 image.

Love the sky and the bright green of the grass.

See the Arca-Swiss set up to do this image on my Traveling Camera large format blog linked to the right.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ranches of Parker County

Driving west of town has been a big activity this summer. Usually with the 4x5 and the quest for the black and white landscape of the ranches and grasslands west of Fort Worth.

Here are some examples of the what I was chasing on those Saturdays. Both of these were taken in Parker County. despite the growth of the Dallas-Fort Worth area and even the dynamic growth in Parker County along I-20 it is still possible to find the old ranching Texas.

My goal had been to photograph the the open range and the cloudy skies we had. It was something I thought would be a great classic black and white image. The ones you see here were the test shots as I was looking for the right composition. They are really fine on their own but since I was using the big camera and black and white film I was really only sampling with the digital and then getting it perfected with the 4x5.

That is one of the nicer features about having both film and digital. I can go crazy with the digital trying out many possible compositions, angles, and lenses. With the film camera I work slow, think, and previsualize. The digital is great for that last part. I especially like walking around with my little point and shoot to scout with.

So on a day like these here, I might take 150 images with the digital and 4 with the film camera.

It works and it works well. I can work slow or fast. I can be random or all planned out. It is a good time to be a photographer!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Open Range-Tarrant County

I have been spending many weekends this summer driving the roads west of Fort Worth. I am always on the lookout for new locations and places where I can find a great natural scene.

Here is one I found in southwest Tarrant County not too far outside Fort Worth. Open ranching country.

A little piece of the west and how all of Tarrant County would have looked before the city.

See my camera set up taking this image over on my large format blog linked to the right.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Published Article-Digital Storage

I was lucky enough to have another article published over at Nature Photographers Network, this one on digital storage. A little more of a technical piece than more normal location based articles but one I believe has merit in our ever increasing digital world.

You can check it out here:

To put it another way, I'd sure hate to lose the image at the top of the page since it only exists as binary code on my computer.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Published Article-West Texas

I recently had another article published, this one on NatureScapes. The article is an overview of the photography spots to be found in west Texas.

You can check out the story here:

The image included here is looking across the salt basin west of the Guadalupes, past the edge of the Sierra Diablo, the Black Mountains to the distant cone of Sierra Blanca. Here it lives up to its name as it is indeed snow covered.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Why You Keep Going Out

One of the great things about being a landscape photographer is that every day is different.

The weather is not the same. The clouds are different. The seasons change. No two sunsets are exactly alike.

It is completely different every day.

That makes this all the more exciting as every dawn has the potential to be something spectacular. So for me, just getting out there is it's own reward.

Here are a couple of examples to illustrate the point. Both images were taken from the east end of the Grand Canyon, near Point Lipan. The day I made the top image had started out overcast and then became a white-out of snow. That scares off most people, photographers too. I stayed out in it. I was rewarded. Suddenly the clouds started to part and for fifteen glorious minutes the scene looked like this. There were low clouds in the canyon and the sun was shining on the river.

It was one of those wow moments.

When I talked to other photographers later they told me what a terrible day it had been. I asked if they saw the clouds part. They said no, they had given up in the white-out and gone to the lodge. Man, did they miss out.......

The second image is from my last morning in the canyon. I had packed up camp in the dark and stopped again at Point Lipan to photograph the dawn.

Standing in the early morning predawn light with single digit temperatures I made this image. What a way to end a trip!

It is reasons and places like that why I keep going out and what I love about being a photographer and in particular a landscape photographer.

On a somewhat related note to getting out there, I'll be giving a presentation to the Lake Granbury Art Association at 7pm on Monday, July 12th in Granbury, Texas. The title of the presentation is "Thinking like a Landscape Photographer" and I'll have a slideshow, talk a little about why I like photographing rocks and trees (hint-they move in geologic time!), etc . If you live close, come on over to Granbury and see the show.

More info on LGAA plus map:

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Snowstorm from Hopi Point

Snowstorm over the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Here is a wider view of the entire storm. I could not put the entire storm in one frame so I stitched a panorama of several frames to try and capture the grand scale of the view.

I have visited the Grand Canyon several times and I have never had a finer afternoon here as a photographer than this view. As a photographer, it was everything you could hope for.

You might compare this image with the last post as the are both of the same day. Different formats and different images, but same awe inspiring day.

As I sit here in Texas summer I cannot help but be ready to go back to the Grand Canyon in winter!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Done Old School

One of the projects I have given myself this year involve working more with B+W. That evolved out of the coming demise of Fuji Quickloads and me having to learn how to hand load film holders. You can actually follow my "angst" on my other blog that is all large format oriented (see link to left).

When out at the Grand Canyon I still had a few sheets of Acros Quickload and put them to use working the Grand Canyon. After all, that is how Ansel would have done it.

Here is one from Hopi Point. The sun was in the west but a snow storm was over the north rim. The single best afternoon I ever had at the Grand Canyon.

This view has cropped out the snowstorm and concentrates on the light in the canyon. You can make out Cape Royal in the distance.

I'll be doing more landscape work this year in B+W sheet film and I will try to post more of that work here too.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

I'm Not Saying It Was Cold.........

I'm not saying it was cold at the Grand Canyon. I actually slept really warm and only even zipped up my bag when it got into single digits.

I will say most of my family and friends thing I must be a bit off my rocker to camp out in that type of weather.

I really think it is part of the fun of a trip like this!

Here are a few images from my stay at the Grand Canyon to show you some of the snow conditions I camped and lived in.

Start off with my campsite. I had to shovel some of it out to get a flat tent pad. Ahhh, home sweet home.

Then how I found camp one night after a day of snow. Nothing like getting back to this after staying out past sunset in the cold to do star trails.

Having a four season tent was nice on this trip. My other tents are great tents but being mostly mesh with a rain fly, I just don't think it would have been as comfortable.

The Tent is a Sierra Designs Tiros that I got on a model closeout sale. It worked well on this trip in the wind and snow.

I brought the backpacking stove and cooked a few meals. As you can see, I had to not only dig a path to the pick-a-nik table, but I had to clean the snow off of it for a place to cook.

Without a doubt, and in all seriousness, one of the finest meals I have ever had! Talk about ambiance.

Finally an image I will simply title "cold call". Man , I am glad I have a Sprint wireless phone!

Friday, May 21, 2010

Arriving at the Grand Canyon

There are few things as spectacular as the first time you see the Grand Canyon. Even on subsequent returns it is truly amazing and takes your breath away.

Arriving there on a February afternoon I felt that awe all over again.

If you arrive from the eat the first sight you see is actually the Little Colorado River Gorge as it winds its last few miles before meeting the Grand Canyon. It is a great view and a place that has always intrigues me as a place that I really need to explore more.

Then one arrive at Desert View and the amazing views and incredible vistas begin. I arrived to find that there was snow along the rim but the canyon was snow free. The view was as "WOW" as always but the snow adds something to it.

Here is one of those views. This is of Bright Angel Canyon and the distant north rim. You can make out the snow on the rim. It might look like its a nice warm day but it was in the 20's when I took this from Yavapai Point.

It was only the beginning of the three best days I had ever seen at the Grand Canyon and that includes the excitement of being trapped and locked in at the North Rim in 2006 when the Warm Fire jumped the road to Jacob Lake.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Published Article-The Everyday Camera

I had another article published on Nature Photographers Network on a take everywhere everyday camera.

The story covers my experience with my Panasonic LX-3 and also includes several images from the camera. Follow this link: http://www.naturephotographers.net/articles0510/dh0510-1.html

To see other articles I have written, follow the Articles link in the Labels secton on the left.

Friday, April 23, 2010

Rattlesnake Canyon

One of the bonuses to visiting Upper Antelope that we stumbled on is getting a chance to visit Rattlesnake slot canyon on the way out.

One of the guys I was with talked to our driver and he stopped at Rattlesnake Canyon and we had a few minutes to explore it.

It is shorter, shallower, and narrower than Antelope, but it was neat in it's own way. The fact we had it to ourselves was a huge plus.

Here are a few quick images to show it. Note how narrow the twists are. There are places you had to drop your pack and take the tripod through and then go back for the pack.

The light and color is not the same as Antelope since it is so shallow, but the rock formations are very interesting.
In the second image, it might seem I am in a big room but let me put that into proper perspective-this was taken with a fisheye lens. It still is not that big.

For those who get an opportunity to goto Upper Antelope, talk to your driver about a stop here.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Antelope Canyon

After a few days of snow in Monument Valley , it was time to move to Page and go for Antelope Canyon. I made the drive over in falling snow thinking so much for the slot canyons. However, about ten miles outside of town the skies cleared. I went straight to Lower Antelope only to find it flooded out from melt off and so had to goto Upper Antelope.

At first that was disappointing but it turned out to be a fun afternoon.

There are no lightbeams there in winter according to what I read on the web, but that was ok, by me. There was still a crowd even in the week during February. That's the part I was not looking forward to. It was noticeable but not near as bad as the summer.

I spent most of my time in the front half. One thing I found on my first visit was that you are best off maximizing your time in a shorter area rather than trying to photograph it all.

So here are a few images. Color in the first "room" and then a black and white. The was handheld with the little LX-3 in monochrome and I must say I like what it can do!

Finally an image of me photographing it for scale.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Before and After the Snow

A couple of last images from the Monument Valley area. This time with a little bit of the feel before and after the snow.

Both of these were taken closer to Kayenta on my drive into and out of the valley.

The first as I arrived in the area. It had been a partly cloudy day until I got close to my destination and then it clouded up and soon the snow would start.

The second was on the way out of the area. Snow was everywhere and more would fall on my way over toward Page, only to clear up just a few miles outside Page making it perfect for visiting the slot canyons, but that is for another post.

By the way, you may pick up that the same peak is in both images- look at the background of the top one.