Wow! I came across this wonderful time-lapse photography of Slovenia and Croatia in the autumn by Enrique Pacheco. The timing and conditions for our Oct. 2017 photo tour should be perfect. At this time we have one spot for Slovenia and a couple for Croatia. The tour leaders will be David Cobb, Luka Esenko and myself. Truly a trip of a lifetime. Join us! More information here: http://www.outdoorexposurephoto.com/photoblog/category/photography-workshops/
Check out the video I put together from a recent bout of photo-wandering I did in California with my good buds, Zack and David. Apologies for all dorkiness in advance.
The rain this winter allowed a thin layer of water to pool on the Badwater salt flat in Death Valley National Park. Zack, David and I spent the twilight hour exploring the patterns, reflections and glowing light one evening on our recent road trip. The next day my shoes were completely encased in a crusty rime of salt. For scale, if you look closely you may see another photographer out in the water toward the horizon.
Canon 5DMK4, 22mm, polarizer, 1 second, f/16, ISO 100. The expanded dynamic range of the 5DMK4 allowed me to capture this scene in a single exposure quite easily. The dynamic range wasn’t extreme, but too much to get it all in one exposure with good shadow quality on the 5DMK3.
I finally made it out to the Racetrack in Death Valley while road-tripping with the boyz a couple weeks ago. Super clear skies were calling out for a starry night shot. Zack and I spent a chilly hour or two experimenting with different light painting techniques. The one I liked the most was the red “night vision” setting on Zack’s headlamp. We selected this particular sailing stone because it had a wonderful S-shaped track. For the land exposure, we set the long exposure timer for 4 minutes, carefully walked the track with the light pointed at the ground, groped our way back to the cameras in complete darkness…and then adjusted our technique and repeated. We had lots of screw ups. For developing I blended one 2-minute natural starlight exposure together with the red, light painted exposure. The starry sky is from a third25-secondd exposure to avoid star-trailing.
If you aren’t familiar with the Racetrack or how the famous “Sailing Stones” move around the playa check out THIS VIDEO.
Canon 5D4, Rokinon 14mm lens. Natural light exposure: 2 minutes f/5.6, ISO 6400. Light painted exposure: 4 minutes, f/5.6, ISO 1600. Sky exposure: 25 seconds, f/2.8, SIO 6400.
Working on some images to submit for a book on Costa Rica gave me a chance to revisit photographs that were forgotten in my archives from several years ago. This image of a moody sunset at Playa Manuel Antonio, Costa Rica apparently fell through the cracks the first time around. I remember the sky that night was ominous and mesmerizing. I took advantage of the darkness to take a 25-second exposure and create the velvety surf.
Canon 5D3, 24mm, polarizer, F/18, ISO 100. Two exposures, 2.5 seconds and 25 seconds, blended for dynamic range and water texture.
Yosemite Falls resplendent in frost and glancing morning sun with the valley still shrouded in shadow. I took this while out on road trip with my good buds, David Cobb and Zack Schnepf last week. We shacked up in the Falcon for seven days. More bad jokes, laughing and flatulence than most people could handle.
Canon 5D MK4, 47mm, polarizer, 1/20 second, f/11, ISO 100.
Fires have burned large sections of Torres del Paine NP in the last 20 years, many of them apparently set off accidentally by backpackers. I never like to see beautiful landscapes burn, but fire is part of the ecological process and these burned out trees do create impact and help tell this particular visual story.
Canon 5DsR, 25mm, Polarizer. 1/10 second @ f/18, ISO 100.
“Moments of Light”
It rained ferociously during our Photo Cascadia gathering in Bandon, Oregon the weekend of January 8th, 2017, but we did have a few beautiful moments of light at sunset our first night. It was great to be there on the beach with good friends, enjoying the sights and sounds. Moments like these are the ones that can last a lifetime.
Canon 5DSR, 25mm, polarizer, 1 second, f/22 (for sun star), ISO 100. Two exposures blended for foreground wave motion and reflection color.
As 2014 draws down to it’s final day, I’m reminded that it is time to write this once yearly article and share my favorite images from the last 12 months. All credit actually must go to Jim Goldstein, who for the past eight years has curated his now famous and highly anticipated Best Photos project. Every year Jim invites photographers from around the world to look back at their year, reflect on their images and agonizingly select just a few that feel significant. Over 300 photographers contributed last year alone. The 2014 edition will come out the week after New Years and the previous seven editions of The Best Of articles are always available on Jim’s blog.
It is a great tradition on many levels. Looking back at one’s work over an entire year is a valuable exercise for a photographer. It is a challenge to look through hundreds, or thousands, of images and decide which ones call out for a closer look, remind us of memorable moments, mark milestones or communicate something that will impact others. Being included in Jim’s list is also a fun way to participate in the photographic community, contribute to the growing interest in photography as an art form and connect with other like minded people who share a passion for outdoor photography. Furthermore, I look forward to spending a good evening, or three, exploring the photography of others who contribute their year’s best. Every year I am introduced to compelling imagery by people I wouldn’t otherwise know about and I learn from and get inspired by the creativity and adventurous spirit of others.
Without further rambling, I present my favorite photographs (and some short narration to go with them) from 2014. I hope you enjoy and I wish you many life affirming adventures in 2015! Please share which ones you like best, or anything else for that matter, in the comments below. (You can click on images if you would like to view them larger)
I enjoy the warm, saturated light, the symmetry of the rocks and the dynamic water motion in this scene I found just hours after arriving on the Big Island of Hawaii in February.
I was fascinated by the Seussian character of this forest in the Waipio Valley on Hawaii. Intrigued by the shapes, tones and subtle light, I chose to showcase these features and go without color.
The rugged coastline of Southern Oregon is some of the most dramatic on the planet as far as I’m concerned. One evening in March, after many previous visits to this spot, David Cobb and I were treated to a sunset that helped convey its beauty in a photograph. I particularly like the tree on the headland in the distance.
Lunar Eclipse Revisited
In 2007 I first photographed a lunar eclipse over Mt. Shasta. Since then my technique and equipment have improved but I had been waiting for a chance to revisit the theme. My opportunity finally came in April, with a total lunar eclipse on a cloudless night.
Now Comes Spring
Lupine may be my favorite flower on the earth so this meadow took my breath away. When I saw the sun sinking through a layer of thin clouds I knew the conditions for photographing the lupine with back light would be optimal. Their slender height makes them very challenging to photograph since the slightest breeze sets them swaying.
The Gift Tree
My favorite rhododendron in my favorite redwood grove. Myself and others have photographed it many times, but one evening in May all the elements for magic came together: flowers, light fog and soft, warm light from the setting sun.
Slovenia is perhaps the most picturesque small country I have visited, with craggy Alps, lakes, medieval villages, castles, church spires, waterfalls, canyons and enchanted forests. My childhood storybook vision played out in front of my camera one morning at Lake Bled.
Piran is a classic walled village on Slovenia’s coast. At night, light, shadow, color, setting and mood all play together. Through my camera I was transported to a past time.
Zack Schnepf and I were constantly on the job in Colorado during the fall this year. Out of all the memorable scenes we photographed on that trip, this sunset storm light in the Gothic Valley near Crested Butte stands out.
Aspen trees, in addition to having brilliant fall color, have a cartoonish, human quality. To me this grove looked like a group of old friends getting together.
Another spectacular light show in the mountains of Colorado. The quality of light combined with the dramatic peaks, dusting of snow and yellow aspen made this one of the best outdoor visual experiences I had all year.
Another wonderful year of traveling, exploring, searching, watching, waiting. These are the photographs I took in 2013 which are my favorites. Which is your favorite? (Each image can be viewed larger by clicking on it.)
The Imnaha River runs through a wild and rugged canyon in Oregon’s Hell’s Canyon country. I was absolutely taken by it’s beauty. Hard to believe such a place is hiding in a corner of Oregon. It’s a world apart from the popular Wallowa Lake area just 30 miles away.
5D Mark III, Polarizer, Handheld, 1/40 second @ f/16, ISO 200.
Hot air ballooning over the Cappadocia region of central Turkey at sunrise is a life experience. It’s an amazing place, geologically and historically. Give it a Google if you’d like to find out more. If you’ve never photographed from a balloon before it is quite a challenge. Everything is in motion so you have no control over the scene you will see and when something nice does line up it is gone within seconds.
Canon 5D III, 24-105mm lens @ 28mm, polarizer, 1/40 second @ f/13, ISO 400
A brilliant sunrise at the classic Bonsai Rock at Lake Tahoe from a couple years ago. David Cobb and I were headed to Zion National park when the Millenium Falcon broke down in Reno. We were stranded for a couple days, but if you are going to be stranded, the eastern Sierra is as good as it gets. We rented a car and made good use of our time shooting at Lake Tahoe, Mono Lake and Bode Ghost Town. The light we had on this morning just about made me forget the $1500 repair bill. One the VW was fixed we were back on the road and had an epic time is Zion as well.
I took this image on our urban night workshop in Portland last weekend during the super full moon. There was a lot of challenging light going on in this scene. I used layer masking techniques to combine five different exposures for the main scene in order to contain the high dynamic range. The moon was brought in from a 6th exposure. Using more than one exposure is the only way to get a properly exposed image of the moon within the landscape at night. The lighted side of the moon is always a daylight exposure because that’s what it is…sun shining on dirt and rock.
In Vermilion Cliffs National Monument photographers tend to focus a lot of attention on The Wave and, more recently, White Pocket. In many ways I find the formations, light and particularly the variety of sandstone colors at Coyote Buttes South to be just as compelling. This was one of the final images I took during this sunset I shared with +Tony Kuyper. The colors in the rock, which are fantastic at any time of day, went absolutely wild in the deep post sunset salmon light. Long exposures in such conditions allow color and light to be captured in a way that our eyes can’t perceive.
30 Seconds @ f/16, ISO 400.
The mariner remembers when a child,
on his first voyage, he saw it fade and sink
And when returning from adventures wild,
He saw it rise again o’er ocean’s brink.
Steadfast, serene, immovable, the same,
Year after year, through all the silent night
Burns on forevermore that quenchless flame,
Shines on that inextinguishable light!
– Henry Wadsworth Longfellow –
f-stop is a company that makes camera packs and bags for active outdoor photographers. I am a member of their professional photographer Brigade Team, along with the rest of the Photo Cascadia crew, but I don’t get paid to use their gear. I use their stuff because, better than any other camera bags I have tried, they fit my requirements for durability, comfort, features, innovation and versatility.
As one of their team of photographers they recently showcased my photography in their newsletter. I don’t have design skills to create such a visually captivating newsletter layout so I decided I would take advantage of the nice work they did and share their newsletter here on my blog. If you are looking for a camera bag I would certainly give them a look. I have extensively used their Guru, Loka and Tilopa packs with several different size ICUs so I’m glad to do my best to answer any questions about their products you might have.
Have you seen the time lapse twilight and night photography of Terje Sorgjerd? In his film, The Arctic Light, he shares a gorgeous high speed chronology of extended magical twilight hours he finds in the far reaches of Norway. In the spring sunsets and sunrises at this latitude can last for many hours.
Not counting people who live in such extreme latitudes as northern Norway, I don’t think we get frequent chances to carefully study a magnificent twilight sky show these days. Many of us aren’t awake and outside early enough in the morning to witness the sunrise. Much of our day in these modern times is spent indoors or within an urban landscape which significantly reduces how much time we spend viewing the sky. I have often noticed a faint warm glow coming through my east facing living room windows only to find I was missing a brilliant sunset in the sky to the west. Additionally, opportunities to linger in the twilight are commonly sacrificed to the pace of life, rushing from office to car with heads down or eating dinner while reading an iPad, sorting through junk mail and sending texts. Many of us can only remember a handful of times when chance and circumstance have enabled us to be in the right place at the right time to look up at the sky and be amazed.
As an outdoor photographer I have learned to revel in the light at the edges of day. I devote many mornings and evenings to searching for the conditions that will allow me to have an exhilarating sunrise or sunset experience just one more time. The process of photographing at the edges of day motivates me to watch with great interest and concentration. Some sky shows last for mere seconds, while others will linger for many minutes, colors changing and moving around the sky. I can only imagine witnessing a twilight that lasts for many hours, such as the ones Terje records in Norway.
Recently I came across a series of photographs I took during a spectacular sunrise in North Cascades National Park in Washington in the fall of 2010. It was one of those rare occasions in which the event played out over many minutes, allowing me to photograph it several times from slightly different vantage points. While I worked on each image individually I didn’t notice how, as a series, they illustrate the anatomy and progression of light, color and pattern in a way that is hard to share any other way.
This is how that morning unfolded. Chip Phillips, David Cobb and I had camped in a dense wood below Cascade Pass near Sahalie and Pelton peaks and the stunning Sahalie Arm trail. The night before we had been dismayed at the sight of a fallen climber’s body being lifted out of the mountains on the end of a rope beneath a rescue helicopter. It was still replaying in my dreams when Chip rose at 3:00 AM with the intent of hiking high above the pass before sunrise. David left camp second, about an hour later. I was last out of camp and wasn’t far up the trail when the sunrise light began to show itself.
Cursing myself for sleeping too long, I made this photograph along the trail still low in the valley in near darkness. The first light was just beginning to illuminate the clouds and the dark features of the land. A long 15 second exposure at f/13 and ISO 640 recorded the dim landscape much brighter than it appeared to the eye. A second exposure of just 4 seconds captured a good exposure for the sky and the properly exposed areas of each were blended together using layer masking techniques.
Aware that the best light would come rapidly and that I wasn’t in the ideal location, I ran up the trail, stumbling in the dark and breathing hard. The color intensified and I frantically searched for something to anchor the foreground of my next photo. I found a small mountain ash tree turning red with the coming autumn. At the same time I noticed the stream in the valley beginning to reflect the red-orange of the warming sky. Radiant light reflecting off the undulating under surface of the clouds back lit the foliage making it appear to be glowing from within. This wide angle, vertical composition turned out to be my favorite from that morning. I titled it Unforgettable Fire and it is now part of my print collection.
Satisfied that I had managed to take a good photo despite my late start I relaxed a bit. However, to my surprise, the color showed no signs of abating. I continued up the trail looking for other perspectives from which to photograph the scene. I scrambled around, struggling to find a composition as compelling as the last. While I didn’t find another that felt as good, I kept stopping to shoot because the color in the sky continued to spread and intensify, accentuating the shapes in the clouds. In this image the brilliant reds and oranges overpower the rest of the scene.
Further along my ascent of the pass the colors began to shift from deep reds to lighter oranges and yellows and cool light began to filter through the cloud layer from above.
Finally, as the day brightened, the sun rose above the cloud layer. The under-lighting faded along with the color, leaving the clouds flat and gray from below but giving a glimpse of blue sky and higher clouds above.
That morning, as well as many others, have become important and indelible parts of my consciousness. Through photography I have become better at being acutely present and attentive during such magical twilight events, making them that much richer, meaningful and memorable. Having the photographs as keepsakes gives me the opportunity to relive the experience and see it again in ways I wasn’t able to as I witnessed it.
Wow, I have really neglected my blog this summer. I put it down to a combination of focus on other projects, writing for other blogs and the opportunity to spend some quality time with my family during summer school holidays. I have plenty of great photography content to share so I just need to get back in the groove.
I can start out by sharing a podcast interview I did this summer with the talented and insightful Alister Benn at Available Light Images. Alister hails from Scotland, lives in Spain and travels the world with his wife from China making stunning photographs. Alister’s photographic talent combined with his enthusiasm for adventure, natural beauty and ambitious photography related projects make him one of the most intriguing new voices in contemporary photography. Add to that his really cool Scottish accent and he’s the full package. In July we sat down over a Skype connection and had a great chat in which Alister interviewed me about everything from artistic philosophy to cutting edge digital image developing techniques. I had a great time talking with him and appreciated his thorough and insightful questions.
You can listen to my conversation with Alister here.
He also has podcasts of interviews with two other talented photographers:
Guy Tal is one of my favorite contemporary photographers and writers from the American west. Few people speak on the topic of fine art photography as well as Guy. You can listen to Guy’s podcast here.
David Clapp is a British Photographer with a great reputation for superb images of many diverse subjects from Architecture, Travel & Culture, and of course, contemporary Landscapes. You can listen to David’s podcast here.
My most recent article on the Photo Cascadia blog explores the challenge photographers face in translating experience, inner vision and “voice” in a way that they still resonate within the static, two dimensional photograph. Ansel Adams’ advice to look beyond what is literally there and instead identify something from within you that draws you to the scene has been very helpful to me. To make our photographs more than just pictures of things it helps to identify the qualities of a scene that stimulate us and allow that information to guide what the photograph should really be about.
You are invited to read the entire article on the PhotoCascadia blog.