How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep Moving

How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep Moving

Dead Horse Point State Park, How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep MovingDead 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 State Park, How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep MovingDead 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, How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep MovingPhotographers 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.

Trail repair sign at Picture Lake, How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep MovingMount Shuksan, North Cascades #54384

So here are are my tips for today:

  1. Arrive early for scouting. A day ahead of time is ideal for complex locations.
  2. Explore the entire area. There may be an entirely different view or better compositions just beyond site of the initial main attraction.
  3. Be mindful of safety hazards and fragile environments.
  4. Have your shooting plan ready and arrive with plenty of time to evaluate the light.
  5. Prioritize your compositions and be flexible, be ready to abandon a spot if another is looking more attractive.
  6. 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.
  7. Get higher up or low down, don’t be afraid to get in a prone position.
  8. Change up formats, vertical may work better the horizontal.
  9. 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 State Park, How To Boost Your Creativity | Keep MovingDead Horse Point, Utah  #40240

 

 

 

 

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New Images Part 2 New England

New Images Part 2 New England

Bass Harbor Lighthouse Maine  New Images Part 2 New EnglandBass Harbor Lighthouse, Maine  #59018

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!

Click here to go to the portfolio of New Images

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

 

Foster Covered Bridge, Vermont  New Images Part 2 New EnglandFoster Covered Bridge, Vermont  #59335

Peacham, Vermont New Images Part 2 New EnglandPeacham, Vermont  #59321

Bennington Battle Monument Vermont  New Images Part 2 New EnglandBennington Battle Monument, Vermont  #59477

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New Images Part 1

New Images Part 1

Medicine Rocks State Park Montana, New Images Part 1Medicine Rocks State Park, Montana #58398

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

Check out the New Images gallery here

Watkins Glen New York New Images Part 1Watkins Glen State Park, New York  #58452

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse Nova Scotia New Images Part 1Peggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia #58901

Bay of Fundy New Images Part 1Bay of Fundy, New Brunswick #58518

Cape Breton Highlands, Nova Scotia New Images Part 1Cabot Trail, Cape breton Highlands National park, Nova Scotia  #58638

Rainbow, Nova Scotia New Images Part 1Rainbow over Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia  #58796

 

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New England Atlantic Canada Images

New England Atlantic Canada Images

Peggy's Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia New England Atlantic Canada ImagesPeggy’s Cove Lighthouse, Nova Scotia #60039t

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.

Bennington Battle Monument Vermont New England Atlantic Canada ImagesBennington Battle Monument, Vermont  #61860t

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

Blue Rocks Nova Scotia New England Atlantic Canada ImagesBlue Rocks, Nova Scotia #59775t

Vermont fall foliage reflection New England Atlantic Canada ImagesFall foliage, Pauline Lake Vermont #61708t

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New England Fall Photos

Peacham Vermont New England Fall PhotosPeacham Vermont

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.

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New England Nova Scotia Fall Photography

New England Nova Scotia Fall Photography

 Farm near Newfane Vermont, New England Nova Scotia Fall PhotographyFarm near Newfane Vermont #7691

We have officially begun our fall photography trip, currently on the road in Ohio with our first stop being Watkins Glen New York. On this trip we will be traveling to numerous locations in Nova Scotia, New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine, in search of classic autumn scenes. In addition, of course, we’ll be looking for images and styles that offer a fresh perspective on the region and season.

This trip will also mark the beginning of a long-term project to make substantial additions to our New England and beyond archives. Already having in-depth coverage from most of the western states our goal is to offer clients images from a wider range of locations. Starting this fall with New England and expanding to include Atlantic Provinces, the Midwest, UK and Scandinavia.

We will be out the entire season with a packed itinerary, photographing everything that looks interesting. If there are any locations styles or subjects you would like to add let us know, we’ll do our best to work them in!

New England Fall Photography, locations and subject matter on our list so far:

Vermont: NE Kingdom, Green Mountains
New Hampshire: White Mountains, Kancamagus Byway
Maine: Acadia National Park, Deer Isle
New York: Finger Lakes Region
Covered Bridges
Farms
Villages
Fall festivals
Fishing villages
Lighthouses

 Hot air ballooning Quechee Vermont, New England Nova Scotia Fall Photography
Hot Air Balloon, Quechee Vermont  #8234
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Glacier Peak and Image Lake

Glacier Peak  and Image Lake:

Glacier Peak and Image LakeGlacier Peak and Images Lake #58235

Glacier Peak Image Lake Glacier Peak  and Image LakeGlacier Peak and Images Lake #58240

Recently I made a five-day backpacking trip to one of my all time favorite areas in the North Cascades, Glacier Peak and Image Lake. Located in the Glacier Peak Wilderness this is one of the classic views of lake mountain glacier in the Northwest. The view at Image Lake is rivaled only by a few other spots such as Picture Lake/Mount Shuksan, and Tipso Lake/Mount Rainier. The big difference here is that you’re not likely to run into crowds, or more than a couple other people for that matter. My last visit to this outstanding location was back in 2000 and I’ve been wanting to get back there ever since.

Glacier Peak and Image LakeGlacier Peak and Images Lake #58248

Due to a series of winter floods, subsequent lack of repair funding, and environmental studies, the Suiattle River access road has been closed for nearly 12 years. I’m not very optimistic that the road will remain open for long. The whole length of the river valley is made up of ancient volcanic debris from past eruptions of Glacier Peak. During the rainy fall and winter months the river routinely eats away at this easily eroded material. Despite extensive repairs there are still several areas where the road is still very vulnerable. It won’t take much, I’m afraid, to put it out of commission again.

Image Lake on Miner’s Ridge is a fairly long backpacking trip that requires at least several days to justify the effort. The total roundtrip mileage is about 32 miles with 4500′ of elevation gain, most of it in the last five miles. Of course there is much more to see than just plopping down at the lake so figure on adding several more miles and another thousand feet or so of elevation to that. On all three of my visits I encountered parties that did it in two days. However, I really don’t see the point of carrying a full load that far and high to take a quick look around and head back the next day. I consider three days a minimum.

Hiker on suspension Bridge North Cascades Glacier Peak and Image LakeBackpacker on Canyon Creek Bridge #58176

The first nine or ten miles travels along the Suiattle River through gorgeous old growth forest with massive trees. One of the highlights comes when crossing Canyon Creek on a very well built suspension bridge. Generally such a large and sturdy structure is rare in the wilderness but this trail is shared with horses so it needs to be able to stand up to heavy weights. At around ten miles the real work begins, non-stop switchbacks from the river valley to the top of the ridge. Fortunately the upward grind is in the shade of forest almost all the way up. On this trip it was fairly cool with heavy overcast and fog. However, the intense humidity had me sweating like a pig while just putting my packing on! By the time I got to camp everything I was wearing was soaked.

North Cascades Old Growth Forest Glacier Peak and Image LakeOld Growth Forest Glacier Peak Wilderness #58192

Image Lake itself is nothing to go out of your way to see. It’s a very shallow lake with soft sediment bottom, and usually covered with hatching insects in summer. Image Lake is not the best for swimming, but good to cool your toes off. The real reason that makes the lake so special is its situation on Miner’s Ridge. At about 6000′ high it has a perfectly placed front row seat view of the heavily glacier-cloaked NE face of Glacier Peak.  At 10,541′ Glacier Peak is the most isolated of the five volcanoes in Washington.  It is definitely one of those views you could just sit for hours or days and admire, and since it so far you’ll most likely have it to yourself! On this trip I had the whole ridge and lake basin to myself for two whole days.

Hiker Glacier Peak wilderness Glacier Peak and Image LakeUpper Suiattle River Valley from Miner’s Ridge #58279

If you are looking for a truly extraordinary wilderness experience then spend a day or two at the lake before heading east along Miner’s Ridge. This route traverses through high meadows to Suiattle Pass and beyond to Cloudy Pass and glacier fed Lyman Lake. Nearly the entire length is above treeline and takes you through some of the most astonishing mountain scenery in the North Cascades accessible by trail. Seven to ten days would be perfect to enjoy such a trip and you’ll have memories to last a lifetime.

To see more images from this trip check out my New Images Portfolio.

If you’d like to purchase prints or license any image for commercial use just click on any image or search by keyword.

North Cascades backcountry camp Glacier Peak and Image LakeMiner’s Ridge camp, Dome Peak in distance #58268

Glacier Peak backcountry camp Glacier Peak and Image LakeMiner’s Ridge camp, Glacier Peak in distance #58317

Image Lake Glacier Peak Wilderness Glacier Peak and Image LakeMiner’s Ridge and Image Lake #58322

Glacier Peak  and Image Lake:

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North Cascades Washington

North Cascades Washington

As I’ve mentioned in many posts, North Cascades Washington is one of my favorite places to get out and enjoy a rugged wilderness setting, and since I live in Bellingham Washington it is also practically in my backyard. Over the past several weeks I’ve made a few leisurely hikes and backpacks to some of my regular spots. Below are some photos from these trips that help illustrate the wild and rugged nature of this magnificent range. Enjoy!

Nooksack Tower is, in my opinion, one of the coolest and most dramatic looking peaks in the North Cascades. Topping out at a modest 8268′ / 2520m it is an outlier of the Mount Shuksan massif. Nooksack Tower has also been famously  labeled by legendary climber Fred Beckey as one of the most difficult climb in the North Cascades, equaled possibly only by nearby Slesse Mountain (the “Fang”) in British Columbia. In this view from above Hannegan Pass a layer of fresh spring snow adds to the formidable appearance of the tower.

Nooksack Tower North Cascades WashingtonNooksack Tower #58069

Ruth Creek Valley and Nooksack Ridge. Also one of my favorite areas in the North Cascades, Ruth Creek Valley via the Hannegan Pass Trail has some of the greatest views of any low to mid elevation trail in the Northwest. Most other trails at this elevation are deep in dense old growth forest, however, the slopes in this valley are regularly swept clean by avalanches fueled by massive winter snows. This heavily traveled route is also one of the few trails that provide access to the heart of North Cascades National Park. Aside from the great views, Ruth Creek Valley is also notorious for plagues of black flies that swarm around hikers in the heat of summer, be prepared with lots of Deet if you hike here in July or August!

North Cascades WashingtonRuth Creek Valley, North Cascades #58068

Backcountry Camping in the Mount Baker Wilderness. This photo was made on the same trip as the two photos above. While it has the looks of a winter setting the amount of snow seen here is typical for late spring in the North Cascades. Most of the higher elevations are not snow free until mid-July, with wildflowers blooming in sub-alpine meadows soon after that. In the distance you can see Nooksack Tower and its relation to the rest of Mount Shuksan

North Cascades Washington Backcountry campNorth Cascades Backcountry Camp#58078

North Cascades waterfall. This is a typical view just about anywhere in the lower elevations in spring. Lots of snow melt streams and creeks rushing down the slopes into lush green forests. This nameless, as far as I know, waterfall is midway up the trail to Excelsior Peak.

Waterfall North Cascades WashingtonNorth Cascades Waterfall #58066

Fine Art Prints & Commercial Licensing are available by clicking on the image!

North Cascades Washington

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Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography Trip

Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography Trip

I’m very excited to announce tentative plans for a major photography expedition to some of the wildest and most dramatic scenery in all of North America. This incredible photography adventure will begin in mid-July in the heart of the wild Coast Range of British Columbia, proceeding up to Alaska, and finishing in the Yukon Territory just before the autumn snows begin to fall. Anyone interested in joining in on the fun at any of these locations feel free to contact me, I’m always looking for extra company/models!

Photo Editors and Buyers: If any of these or nearby locations can be used in your future projects or articles please contact me to discuss your needs!

Here are the locations on the itinerary so far:
British Columbia:
Ape Lake Monarch Icefield

Alaska:
Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park / Skolai Pass; Ross Green Lake
Denali National Park (locations to be determined)

Yukon Territory:
Kluane National Park
Tombstone Territorial Park
Dempster Highway / Arctic Circle, Richardson Mountains

To give you an idea of what some of these locations look like check out the photos below. Some of the photos are not from the exact locations listed above but are very close approximations of the scenery.

Coast Range British Columbia:

Coast Range British Columbia, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripCoast Range British Columbia #18242

Coast Range British Columbia, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripCoast range British Columbia #18259

Alaska:

Mount Sanford Alaska, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripMount Sanford Wrangell-Saint Elias National Park  #14340

Wrangell Range Alaska, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripWrangell-Saint Elias National Park  #14340

Denali, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripDenali #144788

Yukon Territory:

Tombstone Territorial Park Yukon, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripTombstone Territorial Park Yukon #15502

Ogilvie Mountains Yukon, Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography TripOgilvie Mountains Yukon Territory #15437

Alaska British Columbia Yukon Photography Trip

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Bisti Badlands New Mexico

Bisti Badlands New Mexico

Bisti Badlands New MexicoThe Egg Factory, Bisti Badlands New Mexico  #57385

Bisti Badlands New Mexico is one of those places that has an otherworldly beauty and mystique to it. Situated in the Four Corners area of Northwestern New Mexico, the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness is a land of layered sandstone, silt, shale, mudstone, and coal. Years of erosion by water and wind  have turned these layers into strange and whimsical rock formations, hoodoos, wings, fins, and mushroom shaped spires, seemingly straight out of a fantasy or science fiction story.

Always on the search for new locations offering dramatic landscapes, and being a big fan of geologic oddities, I was drawn to Bisti’s beauty many years ago after seeing some photos of it in a magazine. However, it wasn’t until this spring that I had my first opportunity to visit and photograph this wonderful wilderness. I had put off visiting this and other sites in New Mexico to photograph other more famous Southwest icons, such as Zion, Arches, Joshua Tree, and the beautiful Sonoran Desert, to name a few. So it was with great excitement that on this trip I was finally going to see one of the greatest concentrations of badlands in the Southwest.

Bisti Badlands New MexicoEvening storm over Bisti Badlands #57421

Bisti Badlands doesn’t flaunt it’s beauty like many of the well known and sought after locations in the SW. It’s one of those places where you’ll drive for miles on empty roads in a seemingly desolate landscape, only to arrive and wonder what the big deal is and where is all the scenery? It’s true that the Bisti Wilderness is situated in an arid, dusty, nearly flat and featureless high plain, arriving at the main parking area you are greeted by not much more than a wide dry wash framed by a few interesting hillsides, but there is much more to see.

Like many hidden wilderness gems you have to get out and do some legwork, spending the day exploring hidden canyons buttes and washes. This is where doing your homework and researching literature maps and photos comes into play. There are several key areas of interest scattered about and without some clues as to where they are you can spend many hours wandering about missing them and potentially getting lost in a very remote area. These days many people rely on GPS technology to guide them quickly to the best spots, but I feel this really takes away from that wonderfully satisfying experience of discovering something unique on your own.

Another way in which Bisti Badlands keeps it secrets is the light. You can spend several days wandering about and checking out all the best the Bisti has to see, but if all your time is spent during the middle of the day, and maybe in grey overcast conditions, you’ll miss out on the real magic. I was incredibly fortunate on my first trip to encounter some truly spectacular lighting conditions which made the badlands come alive with just about every adjective in the book. On my second day the weather was very cold and windy, with a solid grey sky that made even the most interesting hoodoos look dull and lifeless. Like a good photographer, and someone who has nothing else to do, I stuck it out and spent the time exploring and lining up compositions for when and if conditions were more favorable.

Bisti Badlands New MexicoSandstone Wing, Bisti Badlands #57500

To my surprise, and great relief, the clouds began to break up in the west about an hour before sunset, the time many photographers refer to as the “magic hour”. In the eastern sky was the remnants of a passing storm, sheets of rain and snow flurries against a dark grey background. As the setting sun broke through the clouds in the west it lit up the eastern sky like it was on fire, truly an experience that I will always remember. Of course in the midst of all this drama I was working in high gear to find and compose as many photographs as I could reach before it all ended. The next evening was more tame, but waiting around until dusk brought some interesting light on the badlands as alpenglow softly illuminated the formations.

To see more images check out this special Bisti Badlands Portfolio. As always all images are available for immediate licensing and purchase as fine art prints.

Bisti Badlands New MexicoBisti Badlands #57505

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