July 26, 2011

The Reward for Waking Before the Sun

In Landscape photography, some of the best light is the first light of the day.  Sunrise can be very rewarding, and usually is if you can just pull away the covers and fight the temptation to crawl back in bed.  I usually scope out the sky before I really commit, and other times I just go hoping for good photographic conditions.  This last weekend I decided I was going to get up or miss another great photo op in the beautiful mountain town of Midway, Utah.  I had a shot in mind that I've wanted to get for a while:  The Provo River leading the eye to Mt. Timpanogos with pink morning light highlighting the ridge.  I kind of went out exploring and used my sense of direction to scope out an area that would fit the image in my mind.  Despite being the only car in the lot to the trailhead with signs of recent bear sightings covering the posts I headed out along the river with my tripod in hand and pack on my back.  I started to scope out "Plan B" locations thinking I was going to miss the light and scene I was hoping for when I found a branch of a trail skirting towards the mountains.  I trudged through wet weeds up to my waist and was soaking wet after the first hundred feet.  I crossed a flooded area and was glad I wore my L.L. Bean Hunting Boots.  And then I saw the river again.  It was the spot I had been hoping for.  I set up my tripod, got my camera ready and just as I clicked the shutter for a test shot, the sun hit the high ridge of the mountain.  Perfect timing.  Although I was hoping for a little more drama in the sky and maybe not as high a river, I was still excited about the scene that lit up before me.  Just getting out and witnessing such beauty before most people have an alarm set can be so rewarding.  There is nothing like sunrise.  It's still pure.  Unadulterated.  A day reborn.
The light I had chased lasted only minutes.  Every time I finish a sunrise shot I wonder to myself why I don't always shoot this early.  Then next time rolls around and I have the sleep devil on my pillow convincing me only crazy people wake up before sunrise.

July 17, 2011

Photo Series: Bull Rider

When witnessing a "moment" through the viewfinder all you can do is keep shooting.  Emotion and shock are for afterwards.  Focus on the task at hand and you'll get the shot(s).  As I shot this series I couldn't help but think about the photojournalists I look up to and how they photograph what they do. 

Note: The rodeo clown ended up saving the rider from further injury by sitting on the bull's head, as seen in the last photo.  After the bull was corralled the rider got up seemingly unharmed.  

July 16, 2011

Adjusting to the Light

These past few weeks have produced some great summer light with the late gathering storms coming over the Wasatch Mountains.  Some of the best light and color comes from dramatic clouds.  Which is why getting out before and after the storm can produce some really stunning imagery.  So, don't shy away from clouds.  Even complete cloud cover can break up at the last minute and give you a light show at sunset.  It's all about being patient.  Even if nothing happens nine times out of ten, it's that one time that will keep you coming back for more.  

Salt Lake City Downtown Library in the foreground of summer storm lighting

You don't always get that light show you were hoping for, so what do you do when the sky is boring?  Cloud cover can be a great "soft box" for flowers and moss and produce much needed saturation in foreground elements.  It can also be useful for slowing your shutter speed for river and waterfall shots.   With a boring sky, go to the ground.

Cloud cover at midday made this photo without a filter.

Most people head in during a storm, but for photography, getting out in the wet and cold can be very gratifying in the end.  Note: Just make sure to protect your gear and yourself.  Plastic bags are a must in wet conditions.

The subtle snowfall and icy conditions give this photo depth.

Being a weekend warrior of adventures and photography, I find myself taking what I can get.  Weather and light conditions can make or break a photo, but being able to adapt to those different conditions can make the photographer.  Sure, that one photo you were hoping to capture may not work out, but try something different.  What makes the conditions unique?  How is the scene different?  Explore, discover, adapt.  

July 13, 2011

Location: Grand Tetons and Yellowstone

f/8 35mm 1.6 sec ISO 100. Singh-Ray ND Graduate Filter.  Grand Teton National Park, Snake River Overlook.  
N43.77439 W110.57102.
f/8 40mm 1/500 sec ISO 200.  Grand Teton National Park, View from Inspiration Point.  N43.79753 W110.71724.

f/10 20mm 1/200 sec ISO 100.  Midway Geyser Basin, Yellowstone National Park.  N44.51404 W110.85095.

f/8 40mm 1/25 sec ISO 100.  Somewhere in Idaho.  N42.43209 W112.23316. 

July 05, 2011

Fourth of July, Independence Day

There is something about the Fourth of July that makes me so happy.  Maybe it's that the average citizen allows themselves to make their driveway a complete blast zone, or that neighborhood streets are lined with American flags.  People are out and about and it's officially summer time.  I'll be honest, there have been things that are embarrassing about this country, but when you get past all that is shameful you get the true America most of us hold dear in our hearts.  The America men and women have fought and died for, and not just on the battlefield.  The America that gets up after being knocked down.  The America that lends a hand to a struggling neighbor.  Washington may be the face of America, but the people are it's soul.  It's the everyday people who get up, work hard, and take care of the people around them.  Individuals make America great and when the true hard working Americans come together great things can happen.  That is what July 4th is all about.  The reminder.

Saddleback rider takes control of his horse at the Independence Day Celebration at Oakley Rodeo.  July 2, 2011.

Fireworks over the Utah State Capitol.  July 4, 2011.