Archive for category The Weather

Ma Nature Comes Through

I’m the kind of guy who thinks that if I get up in the morning, especially early, the whole world owes me something. I just hate getting up. Add that to the fact that I sleep a lot lighter as I ripen and you’ll understand that I have a lot of mornings where I’m kind of growly.

This was one of those days when I set the alarm for 4:30 in order to be awake, coherent and pleasant (at least as pleasant as I can get) by the time the group left for a sunrise photo shoot.

Well, the group was small: five of us. We set our for the Lonely Dell Ranch by Lee’s Ferry to see what the sunrise would bring.

There was a lot of promise. Photographers love to see some clouds in the sky at sunrise, as long as those clouds aren’t low on the East horizon. A few clouds promise a little warm color to offset the otherwise bald blue of a clear sky. Another plus: the color in the sky will often match the color of the earthly features as they get lit by the early sun’s warm light as the rays get refracted by the atmosphere.

But early in the day on this trip the clouds were not only overhead but also along the Eastern horizon, so we were kind of skunked. Not to worry, Brian serenaded us with his ukulele while we watched the sunrise do not too much.

I made the first image during the concert. Not much color but some interesting light on the mesa to the North and a spectacular sky.

We packed up and headed out only to find that a few miles up the road, conditions were more conducive to sunrise color. To our right, the cliffs were lighting up like crazy with early morning light. We stopped, grabbed our gear and started photographing. The scene was just too wide for one image, so I captured about a nine-image panorama. Then, when I stitched the frames together and did a little cropping, I ended up with this rather nice sunrise view.

 

Here’s a look at sunrise when the colors just aren’t there (You know, click on the images):

 

Sunrise #1, Lonely Dell

Sunrise #1, Lonely Dell

 

And here’s that panorama:

 

Sunrise Pano, Lonely Dell

Sunrise Pano, Lonely Dell

 

Yes, the world owes me something if I get up in the morning, and Ma Nature certainly came through on this day. Thanks, Ma!

More to follow

Bob

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The Oregon Coast 4

It’s interesting to watch people with cameras at sunset. When the sky gets all pretty and the sun hangs on the horizon they snap away. Rightly so, of course, because that nice, soft, colorful sunset light makes for some interesting compositions. But as soon as the sun drops below the horizon, most people put their cameras away and disappear. I’m always glad to see that happen because I know I’ll get the better photographs. The light continues to get interesting and colorful after the sun goes down, but most people think that when the sun sets it’s all over.

I showed you some pre-sunset images the other day. After I made them, I moved on along the beach to see what else was there and to see what would happen after the sun went down. Sure enough, there was some good photography left in the day. Here are a couple post-sunset images. See what you think.

Click to see them full size and properly colored.

Post sunset Seal Rock Beach

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach

 

In the waning light, the sky took on a very dramatic appearance.

Post sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Post-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

 

Yes, it’s always a good idea to wait just a little longer to see what happens.

More to follow,

Bob

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The Oregon Coast 3

Our trip along the Oregon coast was easy to take because we didn’t have to get up early for sunrise. And sunsets were easy to stay awake for. I like shooting sunsets because you can find all sorts of colors and tones in the light. The problem sometimes is that there’s a lot of haze in the sky at sunset. Daytime warming by the sun stirs things up, the wind blows and stirs more, so sometimes sunset shots just don’t look right. Add to that the fact that most of our sunset photography tries were ‘clouded out’ and you get a limited choice in exposures to make.

We went to Seal Rock Beach for our first ocean-facing sunset images. While my friends were out photographing seals and pups, I was fiddling around, trying to catch some color and some mood. I think I got there. These two images show how a photographer can capture some nice colors and silhouettes just before the sun goes down.

Of course, it helps to have a very active ocean to provide some sense of movement and some nice reflections. The cormorants and gulls flying out for supper make some nice points of interest in the sky, too.

Click on the images for full resolution and proper color.

Seal Rock Beach Before Sunset

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach

 

Seal Rock Beach Before Sunset #2

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

Pre-sunset Seal Rock Beach 2

 

There’s a little bit of Photoshop magic going on here, of course, but I don’t mind ‘fiddling’ with an image if I get decent results. I think this worked.

More to follow,

Bob

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More from Capitol Reef

If you follow my blog, you know that Capitol Reef and Factory Butte are my favorite places on the planet. We were there a couple weeks ago and I’m slowly poring through the several hundred exposures I made.

A few of them are worth sharing, so I’ll drop them in as time moves on.

Factory Butte is a real attraction for me. I’ve tried and tried to get a good image of it, and while I’ve got some that I’m glad to share, the perfect image is still out there. I’ll get it someday, but while I wait, here’s one that’s not too bad. A nice dramatic sky after a very disappointing sunrise (click to see the image full size):

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

Factory Butte, Sunrise April, 2015

 

And the skies were dramatic all around. This one was taken in Capitol Grand Gorge Wash (I can never remember if it’s Capitol Gorge or Grand Wash). Ma Nature really put on a show that weekend. As an added attraction, the moon appears in the only open piece of sky. See if you can spot it.

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

Canyon, Clouds and Moon

 

More to follow,

Bob

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More from the Desert

Our recent expedition into the desert was only a week long, but, man did we take pictures. The total for the five of us was a little over 8,000 images and I actually did more than 1,000. Back in the day, I would have likely done twenty or thirty, but digital photography offers a lot of options that require a lot of exposures. You might remember a couple weeks back I posted a panorama from the Totem Pole. That was made of about seven separate images. I’ve posted some High Dynamic Range images that take somewhere between four and seven exposures to blend into the final product. So it’s not all promiscuous shooting, sometimes the multiples are there for a reason.

Sometimes it’s necessary to do a lot of images just to get the one right shot. That’s the situation at Horseshoe Bend. The light is constantly changing, the framing always seems to be a challenge, so the photographer has the choice of either figuring out the exact right shot and being in the exact right position at the time the light is exactly right or finding a good frame and waiting, taking several images until the right one is there. (click on the images to see them full size and in the right color space.)

 

Horseshoe Bend

Horseshoe Bend

 

Or one might be driving up the road to Monument Valley and see a stunning sky outlining El Capitan. If you’ve watched the John Ford/John Wayne movies filmed in Monument Valley, you’ve seen El Capitan off in the distance. If you’ve driven by it, you’ve undoubtedly been impressed. I had to stop in two different places to make images. Again, if it had been in the old view camera days, I’d have carefully composed, metered the scene and waited for the clouds to be perfect and the light on El Capitan to be just right. With digital, we have the option of shifting our composition, our exposure and our zoom to capture the right image. It’s tempting to just blast away, but I hope that I’m thoughtful enough only to capture good scenes and only blast away when the light is constantly changing as it was in this situation.

 

El Capitan Navajo Nation

El Capitan Navajo Nation

 

I kind of like what I found in both circumstances.

More to follow,

Bob

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Sometimes it Rains

I remember parts of a song we used to sing when we floated the Green River a few decades ago:

Sometimes it rains, and 
Sometimes it rains, and
Sometimes it rains…

We also used to say uncomplimentary things about Ma Nature at the time. I won’t repeat them here, but they’re still true.

If you follow the blog, you know I had a few days off a while back and went to the Oregon coast looking for a geological and spiritual feature my friend Rick Sammon told me about: Minor White’s Wall.

It was a sort of pilgrimage, because White was a mystic as well as photographer and wrote some interesting thoughts on photography. Some of his ideas really strike home with me and because of that, I have a lot of respect for Minor. One of my favorite quotes from White regards the obsessive need some photographers have to document everything about making an image. Minor said, “For technical detail, the camera was faithfully used.” That’s enough for me. Besides, my camera records all the data anyway. Back in the olden days, I wrote down f/stop, shutter speed, film type, processing information and sometimes even some ideas about how to print the image (no blogs in those days). I guess I’ve gotten lazy in my old age, and Minor’s statement suited me to a tee.

A couple more quotes from Minor: [The ecstasy in photography is the] “Insight, vision, moments of revelation. During those rare moments something  overtakes the man and he becomes the tool of a greater Force; the servant of, willing or unwilling depending on the degree of awakeness. The photograph, then, is a message more than a mirror, and the man a messenger who happens to be a photographer.”  He added, “I believe, that, like Alice Through the Looking Glass, with the camera one comes so close to the real that one goes beyond it and into the reality of the dream.”

I’ve read a little about psychologist Carl Jung, too. He had the idea that every human being shares common memories. Memories buried so deep that we can’t call them up willingly. They’re buried in our unconscious (note, he doesn’t use the Freudian terminology, “subconscious”). That means we have a shared unconscious or, as Jung named it, the Collective Unconscious. American philosopher John Dewey said that artists (and, yes, photographers are artists) are popular and important because their images remind the viewer of something. That must be something deep, something buried in the unconscious. Something mystical (see, I got back around to Minor!).

Pretty heady stuff, and awfully deep. What I take from all that is that photography is more than just tripping the shutter and uploading the image. Much more. Minor gives us a hint when he tells us that when we photographers look at a subject, we should look until we see what else it is. That ‘what else’ is what makes a great photograph. I don’t mean dressing a cat up in an Abe Lincoln hat and posing him in a big chair in a memorial. I mean that there’s a lot more in nature than appears on the surface. And it’s the photographer’s duty so find that ‘what else.’ And to be able to show it.

So I traveled through the rain to do homage to Minor. Finally found Minor White’s Wall and in a brief respite between the storms, I found some features that were worthy of capturing. Are they the ‘what else?’ I’ll let you decide.

Click on the images to see the true colors and proper lighting (there’s something mystical about the way you have to take a second look, I suppose).

See if you can see the “What else?”.

 

Eroded Sandstone, Minor White Wall

Eroded Sandstone, Minor White Wall

 

Erosion Pattern 2, Minor White Wall

Erosion Pattern 2, Minor White Wall

 

Sandstone inclusion, Minor White Wall

Sandstone inclusion, Minor White Wall

 

I originally titled these with the “what else,” but then decided not to guide you to a conclusion. After all, it’s in our collective unconscious, so you should be able to see what they are.

More to follow,

Bob

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Moseying up the trail

Man, it’s taking forever to get off this beach. I finally started back up the trail. Along the way some plants started calling to me. The first ones I saw said, “Macro, Black-and-White.”

I agreed. Soon I found a whole group of the plants (no, I don’t know what they are. Definitely not Indian Paintbrush, though) and started working with my closeup lens.

Ma Nature, being the kind of entity she is, tried her best to assist with rain and wind. That always makes macro photography a challenge, but I persevered, and I think I’m glad I did. It may well be that the man who walked by and found me shading the plant with my fleece jacket thought I was nuts. But I figure it was worth it.

As always, click on the images to see them full size and with the proper color. Which, here, is no color.

Plant, Shore Acres State Park

Plant, Shore Acres State Park

 

A little way up the trail, one with berries showed up.

Plant with berries

Plant with berries

 

No, I didn’t taste the berries. I’m smart enough to avoid that.

Getting close to Minor White’s Wall.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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Toeing the line

OK, lame title. Acknowledged.

Our local photo club has a contest this month called “Leading Lines.” I saw some lines on Simpson Beach at Shore Acres State Park in Oregon and decided to record them. I was moving off the beach because it was starting to rain, but the first set of lines caught my attention and I had to record the lead. It looked a lot to me like a dinosaur was just surfacing from under the sand, but being soaked may have had an effect on my judgment. Still, I like what I saw.

Leading Lines:

Leading Line

Leading Line

 

And lines that leas somewhere, I’m sure:

Lines

Lines

I’m still going to tell you about Minor White’s Wall, so stay with me.

More to follow,

Bob

 

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Soggy Weekend

I had to go to Portland, Oregon last week for our annual conference. From Monday through Wednesday, we hosted 160 people who wanted to know more about Telehealth. Being in Oregon, I figured I might want to go to the coast. I’ve heard it’s quite spectacular out there and Rick Sammon told me about a place called Minor White Wall. Well, I’m a fan of Rick’s and of Minor White, so I decided to take a couple of our rare vacation days to see what I could see.

I forgot to reckon with Ma Nature, though. From the time I left the conference hotel and headed for Coos Bay, it rained. It rained until I got on the plane Sunday morning. Fortunately, there were a couple breaks in the downpour and I found myself at Shore Acres State Park. I asked some of the volunteers if they knew where Minor White Wall was. They hadn’t heard of it. I got some input that it was near the abandoned tennis courts, and they had heard of them, but weren’t sure where they were.

Not being one to hedge my bets too much, I decided to go to Simpson Beach, down a trail in the park. There were some interesting rock formations there and, of course, water. It wasn’t raining at the time, but the waves came in relentlessly. I decided to make the best of the situation and capture a few pixels. I got a pretty good feel for the ocean, among other things. I even learned the temperature of the sea water when a “sleeper” wave came in. Sleepers are higher than the average waves and sneak up on you. This one filled my waterproof hiking boot. And, true to its promise, the boot didn’t allow the cold water to go out. Between the sleeper soaking and kneeling in wet sand to get a few shots, I ended up kinda soggy.

Ma Nature then brought on the rain again, and I headed to the car. But I did get to see what the ocean can do in that part of the country.

Here’s what I saw:

The waves are pretty good sized in places and when they hit the rock formations that don’t have the sense to move inshore, they make some spectacular splashes.

Crashing Wave

Crashing Wave

 

Then, when the waves roll onshore, they have to go back out. I slowed down the shutter and got this:

Wave outrush

Wave outrush

Did I ever find Minor White Wall? Yes. It was below the abandoned tennis courts.

But that’s a subject for another day.

More to follow,

Bob

 

 

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Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Fall, Winter, Fall, Winter, Winter, Winter, Winter

The title of today’s blog is a sort of recap of Wyoming’s seasons. At least what we’ve had so far. It’s snowing again, and I think Winter is going to set in for good now.

Between the two or three snowstorms in September and October, the cotoneasters in the front yard got all autumny. I went out several times to do some close-up photography (most photographers, including me, generally call this macro photography, but as I understand it, that’s wrong. It’s really micro photography. But if you’re in the .1% of people who insist on being right no matter what, one can sound kind of goofy. So what I’m about to show you are macro shots). (Oh, man, I love parenthetical phrases. They’re so confusing and cool. And they make even me lose my train of thought. Here’s what I was going to say before I so rudely interrupted myself.) Every time I went to make images, Ma Nature turned on the wind machine so I couldn’t get a good image. I finally sort of snuck up on here and got these shots.

Anyway, here are a couple new autumn cotoneaster shots and one you’ve seen before, but one that is something of a victory for me. I’ll tell you more later.

I’d say fall is my favorite season, followed by winter, then spring. I hate summer with its heat, bugs and heat and humidity (in some places) and heat. No, I can’t explain why I’m drawn to the desert, which invented heat. Here is why I like autumn best:

Autumn Cotoneaster 1

Click on image to enlarge

Here’s another example.

Autumn Contoneaster 2

Click on image to enlarge

This fern has driven me nuts. I photographed it in Alaska and put it on the blog as an hommage to Ansel. After all, when I saw this image, I instantly recalled his fern and horsetail shot in, I think, Glacier National Park. I had a poster of that image until life happened and in the transition I managed to damage it. But I always liked that image. I had to emulate Ansel with this scene. When I got home I started to get the photo ready to print. I still can’t explain why, but I can tell you what went wrong. No matter what kind of B&W conversion I used, I got a color cast to the image. Kind of green. Something I hated, but that people who looked at the print said they kind of liked. Well, being the potential-customer-oriented salesman I am I ignored their comments and continued to try to get the stupid thing black-and-white. I finally got there, although I can’t tell you how and probably can’t ever replicate the process, but here is the image I came up with.

Another fernBW

Click to enlarge

Ansel did it right, starting with black-and-white film. Cheers!

 

More to follow,

Bob

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