Grnad Canyon…It’s A Wrap

Wow, I can’t believe the week is over. It flew by! We had so much great shooting and working images that by the day’s end I simply dropped into bed. So, here’s a wrap of the week…

In addition to working the grand vistas, we worked some of the details like this lone tree clinging to a rock at Yaki Point…

And the last light of day as the shadows creep up the rocks presenting us with graphic images. I dialed in minus 2 exposure compensation to take the shadows to black making the colorful rocks at Hopi Point pop…

We worked our images in the digital darkroom each afternoon bringing out the details and nuances of the scene using the tools at hand. I find that I use NIK plug-ins on each image I finish. Whether it’s a simple Tonal Contrast to enhance the details or Glamour Glow for bringing romance to an image. I use both Infrared in Color Efex and Silver Efex to take my images into B&W where tonalities, shadows, shape and texture draw your eye through the image…

The same scene captured in B&W looks entirely different than it’s color counterpart. This image is a tighter composition of the top image and processed in B&W Infrared #2…

And, on our last day the Photo Gods smiled upon us giving us what I like to call a “Grand Canyon Day” where the sky fills with clouds, the shadow and light dances across the canyon quickly changing, playing hide and seek as first Isis Temple is revealed and just as quickly, it is once again cloaked in shadow as if to say catch me if you can…

For now I leave the Grand Canyon, new adventures await. But, like a moth to a flame I am drawn back again and again. Already, I am looking forward to what beauty and secrets the Grand Canyon will present to me in my next visit…

Thanks to JoAnn, Steve & Scott. The enthusiasm and eagerness to learn and create beautiful images you brought to this adventure is what kept me going on those twenty hour days!

Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF-S 14-24mm, AF-S 24-70mm, AF-S 70-200mm VR on Lexar Digital Media

Life is Grand!

How can it be anything else when sharing the passion for photography in such a grand location as the Grand Canyon! Yesterday was non-stop beginning at 6:30 am when we left the hotel filled with anticipation of the photo opportunities that awaited us on the canyon’s rim. We headed to Mather point for sunrise where we worked the many angles and changing light watching the play of light and shadows as the sun rose over the horizon. I love the challenge of making new images in familiar locations and one of my favorite images from the morning is a 5 shot HDR using a 16mm fisheye lens shooting into the sun with the lens closed down to f22 to create a starburst effect…

We ended the day with another star trail session. Wow, three hours to make two images. Luckily we had some entertainment along so, we sat in the warm car and enjoyed watching NCIS on Steve’s computer. It certainly helped the time pass. We’ll be heading out once more to do star trails and I’ll post more images with my take on photographing them.

Today we headed to Yavapai Point for sunrise where another perspective of the canyon gave us some new images to make, new techniques to try out. While I have an idea of what to expect at each shoot, the light and weather conditions make me need to be flexible and open to the moment. It’s great fun having Grand Canyon newbies along to share their first experiences of this amazing place…

Each afternoon, when the light gets hard, we head to the lounge in the Bright Angel hotel and work the morning’s images. It’s a great way to see what we did, what we need to do for the next shoot and to finish some images. I love comparing my vision of the day with others to see each of our unique perspectives. It’s a great learning experience for all of us…yes, I learn from my students each time we go out. Here are a couple more from the morning’s shoot…

Even though the colors of the southwest are spectacular, I always keep B&W in the back of my mind. I used NIK Silver Efex Pro Structure mode to finish this image…

Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF 16mm Fisheye, AF-S 24-70mm, AF-S 70-200mm on Lexar Digital Media

Grand Canyon…Special Adventure

When Steve, Scott & JoAnn contacted me about doing a private photographic adventure in the Grand Canyon, I said yes, immediately! First off, they are a top notch group of photographers who are down right fun to be with and second, who can pass up a chance to visit the Grand Canyon! So, here we are living on the edge…of the canyon that is for the next week. This morning we left our rooms and walked, yes, walked around the building and there spread before us was our first shoot. We worked on techniques that we would be using over the course of the week, getting comfortable with the elevation, the lighting, the photographic challenges that were before us. One technique that we worked on was making panoramas. We set up our tripods, leveled them, mounted our cameras with 70-200mm lenses attached and went to work. Later, during our midday break, we stitched the panos and applied the finishing touches. I used NIK Color Effex Pro 3.0 Infrared filter with some sepia thrown in to finish this pano…

There are some wonderful stone buildings scattered along the rim of the Grand Canyon and as I took a break from looking at the expansive landscape, I turned to see great light skimming one of the buildings. I called out that we should all go work the light from another perspective for a bit and off we went. In the end, it was the miniature door that won out in my quest for a cool image. Once again, I used NIK to finish the image. This time, I used the Infrared filter and then dragged the opacity down to about 50% to let some color bleed through. I rather like the contrast of the rock and old wood…

Our afternoon shoot was at the far east end of the park at Desert View where it turns out the Watchtower is undergoing renovation. Not to worry, there were images inside to be made. Up one level from the gift store is the very cool round tower with all the “Pictographs” painted on the walls and ceilings, a dizzying sight as you look up several stories. I attached the fisheye, laid it flat facing upwards and then finished the image running Tonal Contrast twice, Glamour Glow once (with the glow reduced) and once again I used Infrared B&W and lowered the opacity to get this look…

As if that wasn’t a full enough day, we had an early dinner and off we went into the dark recesses of the canyon to work on star trails. We aligned with the North Star, set our cameras on bulb with noise reduction turned on and waited for about ninety minutes. We whiled away the time enjoying a show Scott did on his trip to Africa a few years back. The results are good but, I know we can do better. Watch this week to see where we take our star trails…or maybe, more appropriately, where our star trails take us…

Images captured with Nikon D3X, AF-S 70-200mm VR II, AF 16mm Fisheye, D3S, AF-S 14-24mm (star trails) on Lexar Digital Media.

New Adventures On The Horizon

That’s right, “Excell”ent Photo Adventures is heading north to Canada for Polar Bears Nov 13-17, 2010.

Don’t miss this chance of a lifetime to photograph the great bear of the north…an experience you will never forget. This “Excell”ent Photo Adventure is limited to six shooters (four spots open) plus myself. $6950.00 includes five full days in a 26 passenger tundra buggy reserved for our exclusive use, single occupancy lodging, my professional instruction.

Also, back by popular demand…

Bosque del Apache Nov 29-Dec 3, 2010 Limit 5 shooters $2150.00 includes all transportation, individualized instruction

and…

Yellowstone Winter Wonderland dates in Jan and Feb, 2011 to be announced. Limit 4 shooters. $4450.00 includes all transportation, lodging (single occupancy), individualized instruction.