October 31, 2012

Creative Juices: Giveaway

It seems I have inadvertently taken a leave of absence from this blog. The past few weeks have been pretty busy; most of my after-work-time has been towards training for a sprint triathlon and catching up on everyday life. My creative juices have been sucked into the wonderful/dangerous world of the iPhone camera and my Canon 5D Mark II camera has taken a backseat. I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing; using different "mediums" can be both refreshing and eye opening. It's incredible to have such an impressive camera on something you carry 24-7. I'll still wish for my camera when I've left it at home for one reason or another, but now I at least have a semi-decent camera that gives me a brand new way to create. I know, welcome to 2012 Lindsay, but this is the first time I've had a phone capable of creating images I can actually be proud of. Speaking of creating images on iPhones, I am now on instagram (lindsaydanielsphotography) and also twitter (lindsaydaniels3) so check out my profiles and follow me on my photo adventures!

With the days getting shorter and daylight after work getting tighter and tighter it's been harder to get somewhere and shoot before the sun goes down. This next weekend with daylight savings time ending is going to make getting any kind of daytime/sunset shots nigh impossible on weekdays. I've made a plan to keep things local, to make the most out of the little window of daylight between work and sunset I'll have during the next few months. Weekends will still flourish with plenty of photographic opportunities, but with the holidays coming up, those too will be eaten up by family and holiday traditions. I have several goals for the coming months to keep the inspiration coming and motivation high. I figured I'd share them on the world wide web to entice me to keep my word.

1. Keep this blog full of interesting and engaging content. I've got some ideas I want to implement including interviews of other photographers, guest writers (let me know if you're interested), equipment reviews, travel tips and more. Tell me what YOU want to see on the blog. I'd love to get your feedback and please my readers!

2. I've already got a few "long" travel plans for the winter, but I need to plan some short local plans as well. I've had Lucin and the sun tunnels on the brain lately, but I'd also like to plan a winter camping trip in the good old Wasatch Mountains. Anybody else have some exciting winter plans?

3. Create workshop videos and offer workshops to photographers wanting to improve their craft.

4. Create. Build. Produce.

That's it for now. I'm sure I'll come up with more, and when I do I'll be sure to let you know. I am eternally grateful to those who read this blog. I hope you have enjoyed reading and viewing it as much as I have had creating it. I'd like to show my gratitude by giving away a 4x6 print on 8x10 photo rag paper, for archival quality and room for framing. Just leave a comment below and I'll pick the winner at random. Tell your friends and leave a comment today!

I will announce the winner Wednesday, November 7, 2012, so get commenting!

*I'll contact the lucky winner for mailing info on the announcement date. Good luck!

October 22, 2012

Choosing the Right Lens

Near the Utah Nevada border north of Wendover. This scene beckoned for a telephoto lens to compress the layers of desert mountains. Used a 70-200mm telephoto at 200mm. 
Choosing the proper lens for any photographic scene is an integral part of producing your vision as a photographer. Your lens choice can produce radically different images of the same scene. Wide angle lenses (ex. 16-35mm, 17-40mm, 18-55mm) tend to distort the image, making objects look stretched out and elongated; perfect for wide open landscapes, not so perfect for somebody's nose. Speaking of people's faces, if you're into portraits the best lens to accurately portray someone's face is 50mm. This focal length is the closest to how we see. If you put your camera, with the lens at 50mm, up to your eye and then take it down, the scene should look very similar. Cropped of course, but as far as distortion and size, it should be the same.* There are some amazingly priced 50mm prime lenses that give you fast glass at a classic focal length. My favorite being the Canon 50mm 1.8, sitting at a cool $107. I like to use anything 50mm+ when shooting portraits and will oftentimes use my telephoto 70-200mm lens with fantastic results. Telephoto lenses (70-200mm, 300mm) are great for compressing a scene and bringing foreground and background layers closer together. Seeing in telephoto may be a little difficult, and you can miss a potentially great shot if you're not used to it. Something I do often is put the camera to my eye and scan the scene with my telephoto lens in search of nice compositions. I may not always see those shots in the beginning, but I've been successful using this technique and I think it is a great way to practice "seeing" in telephoto.

 I like to have a vision going into a scene, but if something unexpected unfolds right in front of me I'm going to want to be able to make the most of it. This is where knowing your lenses, and how they capture a scene, will set you apart from the crowd and keep you coming home with an arsenal of images. 

Beautiful Ogden Valley at sunset. Using a wide angle lens allowed the fence in the foreground to lead the eye into the scene and wide open background. I used a 24mm tilt shift lens. 

*Of course, there is a difference when dealing with camera bodies that have crop sensors compared to full frame sensors. Some photographers prefer an 85mm lens on a full frame body for portraits, but the idea that the focal range between 50mm-85mm being similar to the eye is still applicable.

October 04, 2012

Canada: Going Back Home

Self Portrait at Peyto Lake, Icefields Parkway, Canada

OK, OK, you're probably sick of hearing about my trip to Canada by now, but I promise, this will be my last Canada post for a while. 

The last bit of my trip was both depressing and exciting: Depressing because the freedom of my solo flight was coming to an end, and exciting because I was getting closer to meeting up with and being able to share my experiences with my best friend. I was at Peyto Lake hiking up above the tree line to catch the first bit of light on the mountains when it hit me, I was on the tail end of my trip and it was actually going to end. During the past few days I had lost track of time, living in a sort of virtual reality. My life consisted of sunrise, hike, nap, hike, sunset, edit, sleep, and it seemed I would be doing it forever.

Peyto Lake, Icefields Parkway, Canada

Remnants of Athabasca Glacier, Icefields Parkway, Canada

I made my way through the Icefields and into Jasper stopping at places like Athabasca Glacier and Athabasca Falls. The once amazing Athabasca Glacier is quickly receding and will be all but gone in the next few decades. All along the trail there are signs marking where the "toe" of the glacier sat in past years. It was startling to realize how far it has receded in just my lifetime.

Mountain Peaks Near the Athabasca Glacier, Icefields Parkway, Canada

Photographing the Athabasca Glacier, Icefields Parkway, Canada

Inuksuk Overlooking the Athabasca Glacier, Icefields Parkway, Canada

The Athabasca Glacier in 2000, Icefields Parkway, Canada

Elk in the Athabasca River, Jasper National Park, Canada

I sat at my campground picnic table, showered, sipping natural evergreen mint tea, listening to wild elk calls, and I couldn't help but think how lucky and blessed I was to be able to have such an awesome opportunity to come to the Canadian wilderness and experience such beauty. I thought back on my first day and how I was a bit unsettled as if I had just been dropped off in the middle of nowhere and had to find my way out...OK, maybe I was. My confidence grew as I orientated myself and became more and more focused on my photography. By the end of the trip I felt like I knew the ins and outs of the area: Where to sleep without being disturbed, what to keep an eye out for while hiking, and how the light would fall in certain locations. 

Athabasca Falls, Jasper National Park, Canada

Athabasca Falls Detail, Jasper National Park, Canada

The Highest Peak in the Canadian Rockies, Mt. Robson, British Columbia, Canada

After meeting up, my friend and I made our way back down past the border and into Glacier National Park. If we had known it was going to be so smoky we may have stayed longer in the Canadian parks. The pine beetle and fire laden trees just added to the apocalyptic scene. It took a bit of venturing off to find the beauty, but it was still there to be found. Glacier will definitely be on the list of places to come back, hopefully in better conditions, and fully enjoy the park's beauty.

Running Eagle Falls, Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Nature Trail Sunrise, Glacier National Park

Hidden Lake Nature Trail Sunrise 2, Glacier National Park

McDonald Falls Detail, Glacier National Park

I couldn't have hoped for a better first time in Canada. It was a fantastic opportunity and I hope to have several more just like it. I've got a feeling I will be back in Canada sooner rather than later...

October 01, 2012

Canada: Lake Louise and into the Icefields

Lake Louise at Sunrise, Banff National Park, Canada

Lake Louise is one of the most famous locations in the Canadian Rockies. I don't think I have been to a sunrise location with so many people! Mesa Arch has some competition! Despite the amount of flash happy tourists, the scenery did not disappoint. I took a late morning hike up to Lake Agnes and really wished I had time to come back for some better lighting. Unfortunately, I had to keep going. 

Cracked Mud Near Mirror Lake, Banff National Park, Canada

Moraine Lake is possibly the second most famous location in the Canadian Rockies and for good reason. I was able to shoot both sunset and sunrise at Moraine Lake, surprisingly, with only a handful of people on either end. My plans of trying to make it to Consolation Lakes for sunset had been squashed by the "rule of 4" stating that a minimum of four hikers must stay within site of each other or be fined up to $5,000. The rule is in place because of the amount of bears in the region. I hung around the trail head waiting for three willing suckers, but most of those I tried to convince were put off by the mere possibility of bears and the fact that it would be dark on our return. I have to say, it took all of my self preservation not to take the chance and go anyway. Clouds were hanging around the peaks near Moraine Lake (which was right next to the trail head for Consolation Lakes) so I figured I'd play by the rules and stay at the more populated area for sunset. The possibility of a $5,000 fine didn't seem too appealing anyway. Moraine Lake is known as a sunrise spot, since the sun hits the peaks at first light, but with the clouds that night it turned out to be an excellent sunset spot as well. 

Sunset at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada

Tower of Babel at Sunset, Banff National Park, Canada

Pine and Sky, Banff National Park, Canada

Sunrise at Moraine Lake, Banff National Park, Canada

After a successful sunrise shoot at Moraine Lake, I headed into the Icefields which are between Banff and Jasper National Parks and consists of several (dying) glaciers. This point of the trip was perhaps my favorite. I had the most freedom and solitude here. There was a lot of time to explore and I was able to find some really cool spots. One spot in particular I ended up renaming, "My Lake". 

Layers of Mountains, Icefields Parkway, Canada

Taking a Moment to Read at "My Lake", Icefields Parkway, Canada

The Flow into Mistaya Canyon, Icefields Parkway, Canada

Mistaya Canyon, Icefields Parkway, Canada

I found a beat up, duct taped together, aluminum canoe at "My Lake" and used it as both an office and a prop. I came back for sunset and enjoyed one of my favorite light shows of the trip. Every direction offered incredible color and I was ecstatic and grateful to be in such a picturesque location with such amazing light.

"My Lake" at Sunset, Icefields Parkway, Canada