Skagit Valley Daffodils and Snow Geese
Daffodils and Snow Geese in the Skagit Valley, two sure signs that spring is here in the Northwest, even if the weather says it isn’t.
If you’re planning on visiting this famous destination in the coming weeks here is the latest report from RoozenGaarde. As you probably expected, blooms are a little behind schedule this year due to the prolonged cold weather.
Samish Bay Bellingham Bay
Once again its time to post some new photos from my favorite winter doldrum photo haunts, Larrabee State Park and Bellingham Bay. These locations are only a few miles from my home, so when I can’t get out on some winter ski trips I head to the local beaches for some fresh air and inspiration. These photos were made within a two day period when there was a lively mixture of sunny and stormy weather, a time during which you can usually get a wide variety of lighting conditions. To read more about Larrabee State Park check out this post from last year.
This new year is marked with an attempt to return to my creative roots. Last year there were many events and signs urging me to review the direction of my photography. I began to realize that over the years I gradually lost touch with my creative side. I was making better images as time went on, but I wasn’t growing creatively. Without actually realizing it, I was following a safe mainstream path and not pushing myself.
Over the past year I began to go through my files looking for images which could be used to illustrate an idea I was forming. The images appearing in this post represent the beginning of a project called Poles of Light. In this project I am trying to create images which reflects a character of light present in subject. Since I don’t express myself very well verbally, it’s difficult for me to describe in words exactly what I’m trying to convey. Hopefully I will be able to elaborate on this theme as the project matures. However, for now I will let the images do the talking for me.
Photo Highlights 2016
Another year come and gone already, it seems like just yesterday I was writing about the 2015 Photo Highlights. For me, like many others, 2016 had some great highlights that were overshadowed by sadness and uncertainty. So many creative and influential people had passed this year, famous public figures I admired and close family members. It often made me pause and wonder.
On the creative side, 2016 was a year that saw me finally visit and photograph several locations that have been on my list for many years. New Mexico and the Canadian Atlantic Provinces of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, to name a few. Perhaps even more important were a number of events and realizations that had me look back into the roots of my art and photography, resulting in a growing awareness of the direction my photography should take. Several of the images shown below represent the beginnings of this effort.
So without further ado let’s look at some of the Photo Highlights of 2016, and please feel free to vote or comment on your favorites!
My first major trip of the year was a return to the Desert Southwest. Beginning in Anza Borrego Desert State Park of California I met up with my good friend Cyril Albrecht, visiting from Belgium. Although we both had different itineraries we were able to photograph together in a couple of locations, Fonts Point overlooking the Borrego Badlands was one of them. During one evening while waiting for the light I noticed this wonderful cloud formation developing in the opposite direction. I loved the abstract graphic qualities and how the round softness of the cloud contrasted with the harsh desert environment below.
White Sands National Monument in New Mexico was one of the new locations I visited this year. Sand dunes are always fun to photograph, and the white gypsum dunes in the monument added an extra level excitement to my visit. The area is wide open for roaming and exploration. Due to the amount of tracks in the sand created by visitors, it was necessary to hike further out for pristine conditions. Although the area is fairly small it is extremely easy to become disoriented and lose the path back to the trailhead. This image is definitely one of my favorites that I brought back. The cool tones, layers, angles, and ripples in the sand created a pleasing composition.
Another new location was the fabled Bisit/De-Na-Zen Wilderness, or simple Bisti Badlands, of northern New Mexico. Badlands and hoodoos are among my favorite subjects to photograph, and Bisti contains some of the best examples of these whimsical eroded rocks. I stayed there for three days and managed to just scratch the surface of creative possibilities. On the second evening I was treated to some of the most dramatic light I’ve seen in years. On that evening, after finishing photographing my prime subjects I hurriedly scrambled around to locate more compositions. This nearby hoodoo exemplified the oddities of Bisti, and post-processing the image to reflect the harsh alien-like environment added to this feeling.
This image from Arches National Park was made in the Klondike Bluffs area. Although I’ve been to Arches several times before, this remote section of the park was new to me. Klondike Bluffs offers several dramatic arches and lots of red rock pinnacles, in addition to lots of solitude. While the main park attractions were swarming with visitors I enjoyed sharing this beautiful area with just a handful of people. Once again, some wonderful clouds glowing in evening light added to the drama, here balancing the composition with red sandstone pinnacles.
Back home in the North Cascades, my first backpacking trip of the year yielded this image of an approaching storm over Gardner Mountain. A grueling hike, post-holing through snow and downed trees, led to the summit of Driveway Butte. Although my camp near the top had wonderful vistas, it didn’t really offer the compositions I had hoped for. However, as day broke my fortunes changed as the leading edge of the storm glowed with light and mirrored the angles of the mountain ridges. I made several photos of this event before sitting down to enjoy the show.
September marked the beginning of a long anticipated trip with my wife Coleen to New England and the Canadian Atlantic Provinces of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. The first new location on this trip was a brief stop at Watkins Glen State Park in New York. Situated in the Finger Lakes region, the main attraction in Watkins Glen is a beautifully sculpted narrow gorge. Only about a mile long with moderate elevation gain, the trail passes numerous pools, waterfalls, and hanging gardens. One of the highlights is this view framed by a stone bridge. Unfortunately, I only had a short morning to explore the photographic possibilities of this gem. Oh well, there is always next time.
Nova Scotia was one of the highlights of the trip for me. For many years I’ve wanted to visit and photograph the Atlantic Provinces. The colorful fishing villages and seascapes have a powerful attraction for me. One location was high on my must see list. Peggy’s Cove, is arguably one of the most photographed and visited spots in all of Canada. After spending several days in remote and quiet Cape Bretton Highlands National Park, we were unsettled to be confronted by endless tour busses and crowds of people swarming everywhere! While waiting for evening light and the crowds to thin, we spent a relaxing day picnicking and exploring the nearby granite shoreline.
Photographing sunset at the lighthouse was a bit disappointing due to the lack of clouds. The local weather forecast had predicted rain the next morning adding to our frustration. With a chance the storm may arrive after sunrise we spent an uncomfortable night truck-camping in the parking lot near the lighthouse. The next morning clouds began to move in just at sunrise. Perfect conditions for those extremely rare light shows that starts great and continues to improve over time. I ended up making many images before the clouds finally blocked the sun and everything went grey and rainy.
Next on our trip was Acadia National Park. The park, situated on Mount Desert Island, is said to be the most visited national Park east of the Mississippi. We had several instances of good light here, one of these being at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse. Photographers can’t visit this park without making a photo of this iconic lighthouse. On this evening I was among a sea of tripods. Everyone crowded into a very small space on the edge of the rocks. One photographer told me that it was a low turnout, the previous evening had twice as many photographers!
The next morning I planned to make some long exposures at a popular cobblestone beach in the park. Arriving before sunrise, there were several other photographers from the previous evening setup well above the waterline. I, however, wanted to get down to the water’s edge to create a smoky effect of water among the rocks. The wet bowling ball sized boulders were treacherous. Smooth and extremely slippery, I had to carefully plan every step, the effort was worth it though.
The last new location we photographed in 2016 was Ricketts Glen State Park, Pennsylvania. This park was only a little out of our way as we travelled back home, but it was worth the detour. I’ve seen many wonderful images come from this park, and like Watkins Glen it really needs time for exploring all the hidden gems in all seasons. The northeastern states were experiencing a drought, so the water flow through the glen was low during my visit. I didn’t mind since there still was an abundance of subject matter to work with. In the image above I utilized a long exposure to create a swirling pattern by the motions of the leaves.
With so many new images and locations added to our files in 2016 selecting the top ten was a very difficult task. There were many images from the SW and New England that I very much wanted to add. To see more from this past year please take a few minutes to check out the New Images Galleries. You can also search images by location or keyword.
Thank you so much for visiting this post, and don’t forget to vote for your favorite image and feedback!
Photo Highlights 2016
How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep Moving
Dead Horse Point, Utah #57759
Sometimes giving your photographic creativity a boost can be achieved by implementing simple, but often overlooked, techniques. In this post we’ll explore one of these extremely simple tips, looking around, or scouting.
Just about every time I’m out photographing at a popular or iconic location I see something that never fails to bewilder me. That is, photographers appearing to be locked into a predetermined spot. Time and again I will watch them arrive at a scene and move directly to one spot. They will then set up their tripod in the chosen position and will not move an inch until the sun has set, or risen, depending on the occasion.
One of the many instances where I recently observed this behavior was at Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah. This small park is famous for its magnificent views overlooking the Colorado River as it winds its way though canyons and cliffs. Basically the viewpoint is a peninsula of rock with distinctly views in three different directions. This park has endless possibilities for compositions all along the rim of the plateau.
During this visit I watched other photographers stake out their chosen spot and settle in for the duration. Over the course of the next hour or two none of them raised or lowered their tripod, moved left or right, switch from horizontal to vertical, or even bothered to change lens in an attempt for an alternative composition. Most of them, for the entire time, just stood there like a statue and stared ahead. Now of course this is all just my opinion, but if you are a photographer traveling many miles, using precious vacation time and funds, I would think you that would want to maximize your chances of success by scouting out the entire area. This is especially true when you are fortunate enough to get some truly dramatic lighting.
Dead Horse Point, Utah #57754
My usual modus operandi is to try and arrive in advance of my intended photography session. That way I can scout around for the best compositions. Often at places like Dead Horse Point there are several options available. I like to prioritize them, moving from one composition to another as the light changes. In addition, I also like switch between vertical and horizontal formats, shoot low to the ground, and of course alternate different focal length lenses.
Above all, I don’t leave until it is very obvious that the light is gone. Many times other photographers will pack up and go as soon as the sun is set. Bad idea, often the best light occurs an hour before sunrise and an hour after sunset. It is during these periods that you can photograph beautiful glowing tones and well balanced light! Not to mention the wind is also much calmer then. But that is a topic for another post.
Of course there are caveats that you will need to take into consideration. First of all is safety. If moving around for a better composition means edging off a cliff or standing on slippery rocks or in surf, you’re better off passing it up. Secondly, you may be in a situation where the spot is so small or there are so many other photographers that you can’t move around! Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park, or Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse in Acadia National Park comes to mind.
Photographers at Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse on a quiet day #59012
Here’s another very important consideration to keep in mind when scouting compositions. Don’t trample delicate vegetation, soils, or rock formations just to get that trophy photo! In many locations there are signs and sometimes fences or other barriers. Usually they are set in place to protect fragile environments. Please, please, please, don’t be that jerk that everyone hates who ignores signs and causes irreparable damage! Always follow the rule of Leave No Trace. Visible in the photo below is the erosion damage which thoughtless photographers have inflicted while trying to get a better shot.
Mount Shuksan, North Cascades #54384
So here are are my tips for today:
- Arrive early for scouting. A day ahead of time is ideal for complex locations.
- Explore the entire area. There may be an entirely different view or better compositions just beyond site of the initial main attraction.
- Be mindful of safety hazards and fragile environments.
- Have your shooting plan ready and arrive with plenty of time to evaluate the light.
- Prioritize your compositions and be flexible, be ready to abandon a spot if another is looking more attractive.
- One spot may look better in certain light. A lower sun angle may reveal composition enhancing patterns. Or a ray of light may fall on a special rock or tree.
- Get higher up or low down, don’t be afraid to get in a prone position.
- Change up formats, vertical may work better the horizontal.
- Keep working until the light is exhausted.
If you work all of these tips into your regular location workflow, I can guarantee that you will not only come back with much better images but with a greater diversity of them to boot!
Would you like to learn more on how to make better photographs? Contact me to set up a private instruction session for you and your friends!
Dead Horse Point, Utah #40240
New Images Part 2 New England
The last portfolio of New Images from our recent photo trip to New England and Atlantic Canada is now ready for viewing. You can check out the portfolio here. And, as always, all of the photos are ready to purchase as fine art prints and commercial licensing.
This portfolio wraps up the edit and processing of all new images from the trip. However, in the coming weeks and months I’ll most likely be revisiting many of the files to identify which can be processed into black and white or alternative styles. I’ve already began this procedure with a group I made early on in the trip in the Bay of Fundy. This group of images, composed of just sea and clouds, represents a more minimalist style of photography that I very much enjoy. Be sure to check back soon to see a new post regarding these photos!
Some of the locations included in this portfolio are:
- Acadia National Park Maine
- Mahoosuc region Maine
- Grafton Notch State Park Maine
- White Mountains New Hampshire
- Kancamagus Highway New Hampshire
- Franconia Notch New Hampshire
- Stowe Vermont
- Groton woods Vermont
- Woodstock Vermont
- Newfane Vermont
- Bennington Vermont
- Ricketts Glen Pennsylvania
New Images Part 1
I’m thrilled to announce the first group of new images from my recent photo tour is now complete. You can check out a portfolio of selected images here or by clicking on any of the images appearing in this post. To view the entire edit all of the newly added images, go to our Stock Images page and click on the location you’d like to see.
The second half of all the new images should be ready for viewing in the next week or two. That group of new images will include Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Pennsylvania, with the main subject matter being fall color. Check back here soon or sign up for email updates to be notified of promotions or image news. I’ll also be adding regular in-depth posts here about specific locations and subjects covered on this trip.
The following locations are represented in this first portfolio:
- Medicine Rocks State Park, Montana
- Watkins Glen State Park, New York
- Bennington, Vermont
- Fundy National Park, New Brunswick
- Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
- Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
- Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia
- Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia
New England Atlantic Canada Images
Wow, what a busy week since our return home after six weeks and over 10,000 miles on the road! Aside from catching up on household chores, filling client orders, and general business tasks, I have a mountain of new images to get to. I’ve just begun the lengthy task of editing and processing all the files, but have made an initial pass and found some photos that stand out. I’m getting a bit ahead of myself by doing this. I usually wait until I have completed the full editing and image processing is complete, but since this project will take several weeks to complete I’m anxious to share with you some of the highlights so far. We’ll also be sending out regular email progress updates in the coming weeks.
Within the next several days I’ll be posting a full gallery of new images from the first couple of locations covered on the trip, Medicine Rocks Montana and Watkins Glen New York. Make sure to check back often, here and on my Facebook page. And don’t forget, all of the images are immediately available for commercial licensing and as fine art prints!
Click here or on any image to view the portfolio of new work.
Locations and subject matter covered during this trip:
Nova Scotia: Cape Breton Highlands, Cabot Trail, Lunenburg, Peggy’s Cove, Blue Rocks
New Brunswick: Bay of Fundy, Fundy National Park
Maine: Acadia National Park, Grafton Notch
New Hampshire: White Mountains, Kancamagus Byway, Franconia Notch
Vermont: Stowe, Peacham, Groton Woods, Woodstock, Bennington, Newfane, and more
New York: Watkins Glen State Park
Pennsylvania: Ricketts Glen State Park
Fall foliage, covered bridges, barns, farms, towns, fall festivals, fishing, villages, waterfalls, historic sites, coastal scenes, seasonal farm stands
New England Fall Photos I’m back in the office today after six weeks on the road in New England and Atlantic Canada. This was a wildly successful trip with nearly all of my photographic goals met. New England foliage websites reported the best fall color in seven years, and we were there for most of it!
I have tons of work that will keep me very busy for the next several weeks, editing, processing, writing a detailed blog post, and filling orders for clients. Check back often as I will be posting new images and updates as soon as they are available.