The Beach

Frank and I are enjoying spending a few days with our good friends, Mark & Mimi at their beach house on the Oregon Coast. This was the view as we made the last turn on the coast highway before dropping down into Manzanita…

It was an overcast, flat light afternoon with the sun breaking through and lighting the distant sea. I used NIK Silver Efex Pro to go B&W and then added even more punch by applying A B&W Infrared filter using Color Efex Pro 3.0. Yes, I needed to do it this way to get the effect I was after. Neither of the filters alone did the trick. Playing, exploring, wondering what if allows me to make an image that looks like this…

…finish up as the top image.

Image Created with Nikon D3X, AF-S 28-300mm VR on Lexar Digital Media. Finished using NIK Silver Efex Pro and Color Efex Pro 3.0 filters in Photoshop CS5

Tech Tuesday…Shoot From The Heart

Ya gotta love Facebook. Over the summer, I reconnected with several high school friends. It was great to catch up after all these years. I also recently heard from my friend Serge through facebook. We hadn’t seen each other in four to five years and here we were at Marco’s having breakfast and catching up. You wonder what this has to do with Tech Tuesday…well, stick with me and you’ll see where I’m going. As Serge was bringing me up to date he mentioned that he is at a point where he isn’t sure what kind of photographer he really is. He can shoot 4X5 film to high res digital, architecture to underwater, natural light to bringing his own light to the image and his fine art work is breathtaking. SO, I asked him…”what do you love to do the most?”, to which he replied…”I love photography! I don’t care what I am photographing, it’s the art of making images that I love.” I was struck by this comment and realized that he was describing my own thoughts and feelings about photography. I feel that same passion for making beautiful images. I love nature and sharing my passion through my images so that others may enjoy the wonderful locations and subjects I am fortunate enough to visit…

Our conversation then turned to a question we both get asked often enough…”How do you know when you have the picture?” That’s a very valid question and once again Serge had a simple yet heartfelt answer when he said “I feel it right here…” as he touched his heart. “I just have this feeling when I know I got the shot!” Yeah, I know that feeling. It’s the one when you have the opportunity to share a moment in the life of a coastal brown bear sow and her two cubs as she keeps her babies protected high up the mountainside. You aim your lens, compose the scene and when they all come in to a pleasing pose, click. Oh yeah, I knew right then that I had nailed it…

I can look back over the years and with a recall of intense clarity, see photographs that I have made where I knew at the moment I clicked the shutter that I had an image that would forever be imprinted in my mind and in my heart. Many years ago, when I was on a Safari with Moose we were forced by the high tides to photograph a bear with back lighting. Some of us embraced the challenging opportunity to make compelling images of a sillhouette and others didn’t even try, lamenting the fact that the light was not in our favor. I couldn’t have disagreed more and kept shooting as the bear worked the river looking for a fish lunch. At one point he climbed out of the water on the far bank, sat down on his hind haunches and began to shake. There was machine gun fire clicking all around as everyone fired away capturing the backlit spary agains the dark background. The resulting image is to this day one of my favorites. I knew the moment I made the image that I had one of my “life” photos…

There are many more such moments when I knew I had “the shot” as I clicked the shutter. I love fierce weather. It makes for dramatic photography. One of my favorite locations to shoot is Cape Kiwanda at the Oregon coast. There are a series of sandstone cliffs that make a great photograph and when the surf is up, watch out…seriously, I mean watch out as the waves can be so big that they crash up and over the 100 + foot cliffs that we are standing on. On a June visit to the coast we arrived at Cape Kiwanda right at mid-morning to see heavy surf along the coast through the lifting sea fog. I grabbed my camera and headed up the dunes to photograph the crashing waves. I had just set up my camera and begun shooting when the sun broke through the fog, lighting the water, making it look translucent and bathing the sandstone cliffs in a warm glow. With hardly a thought to the actual process of making the image (aperture, shutter speed, composition, etc), I became engrossed in the rhythm of the waves, click, click, click pause, click, click, click. I think I had an out of body experience as I shook myself and came back to the moment to find my husband had left to find shelter and sustenance at the Pelican Pub. I can’t blame him, it was a bit cold and we had stopped for lunch after all…a couple of hours ago. Oops. Yeah I knew that morning that I not only got “the shot”, I had many such images burned onto my CF cards…

The more you get out, the more of those “got it” moments you will have. The better you understand the workings of your camera, the buttons and dials, exposure, depth of field, the effects of shutter speed on motion, etc the less you will have to think of the details when a spontaneous moment arises. Early one morning at Fort DeSoto, I was following a Yellow-crowned night heron as it was hunting for it’s breakfast. It’s fascinating to watch them at work, they can stand perfectly still for the longest time as the listen for movement under the sand. He would wiggle his leg and then, with lightning speed, nail a tasty crab. When I dropped to my knees to get a lower angle, turned my lens on the heron and began firing as he lunged at a crab…click, click, click, click, click, I fired away from the moment he lunged to the last swallow of the crab, 11 frames at 9 frames per second. I anticipated the action and was ready when it happened. One second’s hesitation and it would have been too late. I knew when I released my finger from the shutter that I had an outrageous sequence of images…

I could go on and on but, I think you get the message by now. Shoot from your heart. Photograph the things you love. Practice, practice, practice so the details become second nature and when the moment presents itself you can click the shutter and have that wonderful feeling when all the elements come together and you “know” you got it!…

Images created (in order) with Nikon D2X, AF-S 12-24mm, Nikon D3, AF-S 600mm, TC-14E II, Nikon D1H, AF-S 400mm 2.8, TC-14E, Nikon D2H, AF-S 70-200mm VR, Nikon D3S, AF-S 600mm VR, Nikon D3, AF-S 600mm VR all on Lexar Digital Media

More From Yellowstone

When the temperatures begin to drop the steam around the geysers and pools increases making for some very cool photography. With that in mind we headed to West Thumb first thing in the morning. I headed to Black Pool to photograph but there was too much steam so, I continued around the boardwalk to Seismograph Pool where I could get into position to photograph the steam rising. As I took one extra step back and a plume of steam billowed I saw an awesome steambow. I attached my fisheye to capture the full circle of the steambow…

Fall is a great time to visit Yellowstone as the animals all have full, thick coats and look so healthy. We had the opportunity to work a few coyotes mousing in the yellow grasses…

We decided to head home through the Tetons and with overcast skies it was perfect mammal light. Luck was with us when we spotted a couple of Pronghorn off the side of the road. When I stopped to work them, the would look up for a minute and then go back to grazing unfazed by my presence…

With such a cooperative subject, I worked around until I could get the distant blue mountains as a backdrop…

Luck was with us as we came across four bull elk and two mule deer bucks with their small harems in a field. They simply watched as I approached them with camera in hand. I managed to work them for a bit before they moved off…

All in all is was a productive couple of days and I am looking forward to sharing this special place next fall when Excellent Photo Adventures heads to Yellowstone for the fall rut Sept 25-29, 2011. for more information or to sign up give me a call.

Images created with Nikon D3X, AF 16mm Fisheye, Nikon D3S, AF-S 200-400mm VR II, TC-17E II on Leaxr Digital Media

A Quick Visit To Yellowstone

It’s nearing the end of the fall season here in Yellowstone. The rut is near it’s end, the hotels, restaurants and stores are nearly all closed. There aren’t many visitors. It’s a peaceful time to be here.
We did get to see the Canyon wolf pack (through spotting scopes) on a kill. It’s good to know they are healthy and thriving. They have three pups this year. I can’t wait to see how they fare this winter and hopefully get some glass on them in the winter.

Every visit to Yellowstone provides new photographic opportunities and this trip is no exception. I did a five stop bracket using three of them to make an HDR at Mammoth Hot Springs…

We were able to find some of the last bits of fall color near Gardiner. The backlighting makes the colors pop!…

On the way out of Mammoth we stopped to photograph a small waterfall that I had never photographed before. I like the stair step of the rocks that the water flows over…

Images created with Nikon D3X, AF-S 28-300mm VR on Lexar digital Media