At the time I took this shot I was way outside of my comfort zone. This is a shot I took just before landing on a mountaintop in sub-zero temperatures while in New Zealand. In this case the scale is difficult to convey because there is nothing to use for reference. However the copter landed on the icy plateau on the upper left and it would look like a small toy if we could see it here.
I remember this stop in particular because I walked a little ways down that slope on the left. It was nothing but ice and the incline increased with each step as it dropped into the abyss. I realized that just in time and froze in my tracks then took several steps backward until my footing was sure and the panic subsided.
We landed in spots that were pretty much inaccessible save for experienced climbers. As it turns out our pilot was a mountain climber and used his knowledge of the area to choose our landings. In fact, he had been up in the area on foot a short while before. Some of the peaks seemed to me nearly impossible to reach and I was always looking for a route down should we get stranded. In places like this I’m not sure what options there would have been.
Despite the extreme landings I was so occupied with capturing landscape images that I had no time to be afraid. It’s only on reflection from the comfort of my home that thoughts of potential danger return. Certainly I had the same thoughts on that day as well, but they were crowded out by the task at hand and the rare opportunity to capture these images. In reality the pilot was super competent and never put us in any real danger. Lucky for me he was well within his own comfort zone.
Recently we drove through Park City Utah and stopped in at the Olympic training center. It was about eighty degrees outside yet skiers were practicing ski jumps at a specially constructed summer training facility. This athlete was practicing multiple rotations before landing in a pool of water. It was amazing because anyone could just walk up and watch and there were no crowds. Once I got over the surprise I setup to take some images sitting next to the pool.
After each jump the athletes would discuss the jump with a coach standing along side of the pool, then they would walk back up the ramp in their boots and carrying skies. I was thinking to myself the act of getting up to the launching point would be exercise enough, but from what I could tell they didn’t seem winded at all. I suppose that might be why they’re Olympic athletes and I’m not.
That aside it was a beehive of activity. Some athletes were working out on equipment; some appeared to be in rehab, ostensibly from recent injuries, and others were training on the ramps like this.
To be honest this was my first time seeing Olympic winter athletes in person. Normally I watch them on TV like everyone else, but being able to watch them train in the middle of summer was an unexpected surprise of our little day trip.
After watching for about an hour we headed into town for some lunch. With little shops and sidewalk cafes the town is pretty cool as well. Park City is an awesome place that reminds me a little of Banff, but different and unique. We only had a few hours but in that time we saw a lot. We decided right then and there we would make it a point to come back a stay longer.
Here is another shot of Miami that was taken as we were pulling into port after a three-day cruise. As far as cool cites in Florida go, Miami is number one. There are a lot of high rises and yachts at every turn and you easily get pulled into the alternate reality of South Beach. I can never get enough of this place and as I write this I’m talking myself into another trip down.
Speaking of alternate realities, have you ever noticed how different places have their own feeling? Cities and regions are made up of the landscape and the people that inhabit them. Together that forms a unique energy that you can almost feel. Take New York City and Des Moines Iowa, completely different. There’s no good or bad, just different.
Anyway, Miami is an international mix if hyper excess and tropical dream, what’s not to like? I have a little tradition in that every time I visit I go to South Beach for dinner, sit at an outdoor table and order Paella. There is nothing like the sites, sounds and flavors of Ocean Drive. Just don’t be in a rush, anyone who’s anyone cruises the strip in their hot cars and bikes and no one is going anywhere fast.
Then, after a few days, it’s back to small town I go. I live in a city where the population could barely fill a block of Miami. But that’s kind of nice. I’m no high roller and a small town suits me just fine. I love the suspended reality of places like Miami, but I can only suspend it for so long.
The other day I stood at the waters edge of Sarasota Bay and watched the skimmers ply their trade. To get this I used high-speed settings to freeze the bird in mid flight. The skimmer flies inches above the water while scooping up food with its beak and leaving a small wake. It’s a graceful act to watch or photograph on a warm summer evening.
I just returned from the high desert. It was beautiful and very different from the Gulf Coast of Florida. Photographing the desert takes a different set of eyes than those I’ve developed for Florida. The dry land made me realize how fortunate I am to live near the water. But I would say the same thing if I lived near the mountains.
If you like photography then you will find something interesting no matter where you are. Being open to sights around you is not always as easy as it seems, it requires being flexible. Preconceived notions can block your vision when it doesn’t materialize. For instance, maybe you have a notion to capture a hillside, but there is an interesting wildflower right at your feet. It’s not just a matter of looking the other way, it also means adjusting your field of view.
When I took this I had setup to take pictures of the moon and a bridge. However I was drawn by the action of the skimmers. In the end I got different shots in addition to the one I came for. There will always be something unexpected, even in the most familiar setting. So put yourself in a setting and look around. You never know what you might see.
I just got back from Salt Lake City. It was my first time there and most of the time was spent in the valley or the mountains to the east. However on my last day there were flight delays so I took the opportunity to visit the Great Salt Lake before leaving. This is a midday view of Stansbury Island from a viewing platform at the state marina. The lake is big enough to have several islands that are extensions of the surrounding mountain ranges.
I was trying to figure out why it seemed so desolate and then it occurred to me there are no fish in the lake. No fish, no fishermen; it makes for a quiet lake. The lake is a terminus and has no outlet so the water simply evaporates leaving the minerals behind. In some ways it resembles desert filled with water. As such it presents an opportunity to do a study in minimalism, in this case I created a panorama consisting of two side-by-side images.
My ancestry goes back to the early settlers of this area. My grandmother used to tell us stories that were passed down to her about the hardships of the early days. My great-great-grandfather was the fellow that first spotted the lake as the early Mormons were looking for a place to settle. So I imagine this is not all that different from what he saw. I wonder if he was disappointed when they realized there were no fish in the lake.
My mother grew up here and once told me that you could just float in the water without swimming. I once tried an isolation tank that used salt water. Because the water is so heavy you float without sinking below the surface. It was a feeling of weightlessness; I wonder if the same is true for this lake.
I had a short stay here but plan to come back and explore. Salt Lake City is a growing city and surrounded by scenery on all sides. It’s no wonder the pioneers decided to put down roots here.
If you read this blog occasionally maybe you wonder why I write about images. It’s because it helps me to integrate with it on more than one level. After writing about an image it has it’s own story and it seems to take on a life of it’s own. Now when I go back to look at an image I remember it’s story.
This is St Petersburg Florida across Tampa Bay. At this time of year we get thunderstorms that clear in the evening around sunset. I took this right after the storms and about two minutes after at sun had set. The clouds are a peachy orange from the glow of that hour.
Most photographers post images without a word. Sometimes images are so strong they need no words. But, for whatever reason I take the time to write a story. It’s totally unnecessary but I do it anyway.
The urge to write is something I’ve had my whole life. My grandmother was a writer and maybe some of that rubbed off. Half the time I have no idea what I’ll write but it eventually takes shape. Once I write some thoughts I’ll revise, edit, and revise until it’s done; then the story and image are posted together.
Now having said all this about that, today’s images is created with post processing. I imagine the bay produces these reflections, but of course it does not. So to get the final result I took one part picture, one part imagination and a hand full of words and mixed them all together. This is what I ended up with.
The other evening I was standing along Sarasota Bay and there were all types of birds by the waters edge. This egret was picking through grasses exposed by the low tide. Egrets are accustomed to humans and will come quite close without feeling threatened. However if you’re fishing it’s a different story altogether. They have no problem walking right up and stealing fish or bait right at your feet.
This one thought I might be fishing and came to investigate. When he realized I didn’t have a net he lost interest. In this moment he seemed to lose interest and hop a few meters down the shore.
I love animals very much and tend to anthropomorphize them. For instance I would say this little fella is striking a pose, deciding on his next move. If they squawk I’ll attribute it to human emotions, as though they are complaining or mad about something. I do that with wild animals all the time and especially with my own pets. Sometimes if I talk to animals they’ll take an interest in me and look back quixotically. That’s because they’re not sure what to make of a crazy human like me. At least my dog understands me, but that’s another story.
I’m not so much of a wild life photographer, but I do like capturing birds along the shore, especially here in Florida. There are a lot of egrets and herons that make for good subjects with their graceful poses and antics. But real wildlife photographers are a different bred, they are patient and calculating, and will end up with spectacular shots of nature. Me, I’m more of an opportunist; I’ll capture the wildlife if I happen to be in the right spot at the right time.
This is another image I took from the slopes of Mount Bonpland in New Zealand. This location is above the northern tip of Lake Wakatipu. It was one of the last stops before heading back to the airport. We started early with subzero temps high up on the peaks and as the morning progressed and we headed to lower elevations we were peeling off the layers.
We made so many stops I can hardly remember them all save for the photos. The excursion was based on engine time so on some stops we’d jump out while the pilot kept the engine running, this was one such stop as the pilot was still at the controls up on the right. At other stops he’d cut the engine so that we had a little more time to explore and compose shots.
How I know where I was seemed nothing short of a happy miracle. I have an app on my iPhone called “gps4cam” that tracks GPS coordinates and then syncs them up with the photos using the image timestamp. I say it was a happy miracle because I wasn’t sure if it worked out of cell tower range. It does indeed because it uses the GPS receiver in the phone. So I ended up with exact locations of all our landings. That’s invaluable especially when I’m in areas I’ve never been before and want to review it later.
About three hours after leaving we returned to the airport. I’d taken about fifteen hundred images and seen many things I never imagined. The next time I go back I’d like to do something similar; it’s hard to imaging a better opportunity for a landscape photographer. Now if I could just manage to get back to New Zealand sometime soon.
Over the weekend we had a full moon and for some reason it’s called the strawberry moon. Apparently it’s the smallest full moon of the year, but I think that doesn’t means much in practical terms because we can’t see the difference with our eyes.
This is the Sarasota skyline from across the bay. It was one of the few nights we didn’t have cloud cover and this scene is one I’ve been waiting to capture.
In fact this is a large panorama consisting of twelve individual images in a grid of 2 x 6. At full resolution this is two by eight feet. If you are thinking of purchasing a print, be sure to select the wide panorama crop (20 x 80 or similar) when checking out or just contact me so that I can ensure you get the correct fit for the frame size you want.
I’ve been creating a lot of panoramas lately. I’m intrigued by the perspective and level of detail that’s possible. However the bigger the panorama the harder it is to put together. There are a lot of nuances that need to be fit just so. The software helps a little but most of the work is slow detail effort, although it’s something I enjoy a lot. The long slow process in kind of like a meditation for me, I’m in a different world when editing images.
I spend more time working on photos than taking them. That’s just part of my artistic process. Often I’ll come back to a photo a dozen times before I feel it’s ready. Many times it never gets there and is relegated to the reject bin. Every now and then I review the rejects and see something in a different light and bring it back to life.
In this case I had a strong idea of what I wanted so it was just a matter of taking the time to get it just right, in camera and in post processing. After all that work I still don’t know why it’s called a strawberry moon. I should just Google it but on the other hand I think I’ll just leave it as a mystery for now.
This is a long exposure that I took of San Francisco from Treasure Island. I took this at the beginning of the year but if I go back and take it again today it would look different on account of the construction. I never really thought about it but changing skylines seem to be a normal thing. Constant change is an oxymoron if there ever was one but it fits what I see each time I go back.
I guarantee you there are a million pictures of this same scene. Now there is one million and one. What I like about this one in particular is the detail and colors. I was here a month before and the same shot came out fuzzy. At the time I was using a light travel tripod that couldn’t hold the camera steady in a moderate wind. This time I took my Really Right Stuff carbon fiber tripod and it kept the camera solid as a rock.
I am born and raised in California so I know the area. Now when I go back I notice changes. I also used to live in New York. I’ll be going back there shortly so I’m sure I’ll be seeing a ton of changes there as well. The more we are gone the more we see.
Even when I leave home for a week or two I notice changes around my small town. It could be as simple as a new sign or a re-paved road. If I’d stayed it might have gone unnoticed, just part of the daily scenery. It seems we don’t notice gradual change, rather only when we’ve been away do we see the contrast.
I think it all boils down to our ability to adapt to change around us; we are wired that way. As long it’s gradual we seem to pay little heed. However the only thing that’s constant is change and, …that will never change. If that’s not a circular argument I don’t know what is.