I always seem to be torn about what to post on the blog, its' a constant search for something I never quite seem to find, so I end up thinking 'I'll go with this'. But not today, today I've been adding to the portfolio and one of the additions to the landscape section is this stark image of the 'Top of the Tetons'. Obviously I made the image in Grand Teton National Park in wonderful western Wyoming.
I've also added a Fine Art section to the portfolio recently. I don't want to get into a long winded discussion about what exactly constitutes 'Fine Art'. What I will say is that, for me at least, it is about the photographers eye. It's about seeing and capturing something ordinary in a less ordinary way, mostly, it's about the beauty of simple things.
For those who bemoan the fact that they live in a 'boring' place, take a look at the fine art section of my portfolio and it might just trigger a change in your approach to the simple things we see every day.
New Blog Header
Regulars to the site will have noticed the new header here on the blog page. I went to one of my usual shooting locations in kananaskis looking for a nice mirrored sunset, unfortunately the lake was not playing along and huge wind driven waves eliminated any hint of reflection.
Rather than seeking a new location entirely, I sought a new perspective on an old topic. My usual shooting spot was useless given the conditions, and my 'go to' wide angle lens just brought in the dark waters of the lake with no reflection at all, making a dull and uninteresting foreground.
I decided to climb to higher ground and set up the tripod with the 70 - 200 mm f2.8 and a 0.9 ND graduated filter to balance the dynamic range between the light, sun kissed mountains and the dark shadows of the mountainsides on the east side of the lake. I added my polariser to control the reflection from the white snow and further separate the mountains from the sky above.
I levelled the tripod precisely (not usually my way) to allow me to make panoramic shots with little effort. I initially didn't like the solid black of the forest in the lower portion of the image, but a change in composition left me enjoying the stark contrast from top to bottom of the shot.
The small cloud bank that crept through between the peaks added something to the shot but if I'm to be honest I would have liked a little more of it. Having said that, I found a 'keeper' from an disappointing start and that's always a good thing.
Thinking in Black & White
Shooting in black and white is an art form itself, I see black and white as a genre all on its own. It's difficult to see images in monochrome and it is a skill that needs to be rehearsed like any other. For me colour will always be my main focus because I love it.
I love the vibrance and the additional elements colour brings to my shots but that doesn't mean I'm entirely unaware of the stunning graphic nature of good solid black and white images. It is the very absence of colour that strengthens these shots and simplifies the topic for the viewer, forcing them to see exactly what you were seeing when the image was made.
After some consideration, I have added a category of black and white to my Series 5 project as I feel I have five strong images to share. For those who are unfamiliar with the project it is a collection of five images based around a topic. It's something I have really enjoyed creating and continually add to the collections when possible.
The page can be accessed using the link in the paragraph above or via the Tips & More section of the site. I now have eight galleries covering a variety of topics which will I continue to grow as time, and images, allow.
Morning Gold at Wedge Pond
Yesterday I found myself wide awake at 04:30. I contemplated enjoying a morning movie and cup of tea in the warmth and comfort of my bed but couldn't resist checking the sunrise predictor just in case. There was nothing definitive in the prediction but the potential was enough to pique my interest, so I packed the gear and set out to Kananaskis.
The Wedge Pond, beside highway 40, is a familiar location for me so it was an easy decision to pull into the parking area there and cut the engine. With the wonderful silence of the morning returned, I stepped out into the frosty air and pulled on the hiking boots.
It's a very short walk from the parking area to the pond but a three day winter storm had dumped plenty of snow over the weekend and night temperatures of -10 had firmed up the ground, hence the boots. I was a little concerned that the storm might have seen off the last of the birch leaves but enough remained to make the shot work well.
Much of the snow had melted and a soft mist rose from the perfectly calm water, the sunrise was indeed brief but the surrounding mountains still managed to bathe their tips in the golden light in the short time available. I made a number of shots and walked the circumference of the pond making more as time moved on.
Ultimately I chose to post this image because the vivid colours of the golden birch leaves reflected in the still waters of the pond, perfectly match the brief morning sunlight captured by the surrounding mountain peaks. It was a beautiful scene and one I would have missed had I opted for that morning movie and the comfort of a warm bed.
Beneath an Autumn Storm
After a week of badgering from people wanting to see more of the images mentioned in my last post, I have opted to post this wider view of the area to show the stunning conditions beneath the passing storms. It was a spectacular scene and one I was ill equipped to shoot at the time (I was out for a hike not a photo shoot).
Even with my lens limitations on the day, I couldn't let images like this one get away, so I opted for my tried and trusted 'handheld panoramic' technique. It's something I still use quite often and it really is as simple as the description might suggest. I take up a good shooting stance (I am the tripod here). Once comfortable I make a series of images across the envisioned shot leaving around a third overlap. In very complex scenes I will often leave half an image as overlap but usually one third is perfect.
I've made images this way for over a decade and it has always been successful in terms of producing the anticipated result. You must ensure that you leave sufficient space above and below the frame for the slight variances in camera height as you turn, but careful work will require little effort to stitch together later.
As you can see below (click for larger) the snow was flying from the dark skies over Highwood Pass, but there was enough break in the cloud behind me to illuminate the stunning autumnal larch trees on the flanks of Pocaterra Ridge.
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