Sandstone Tower

Here’s another perspective of the sandstone formations I saw while visiting Wisconsin Dells. We took a boat tour up the river and made a couple of stops to see the formations. These are the kind of things I’d expect to see in Arizona, not Wisconsin.

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Sandstone Tower
One of many sandsctone towers at the Wisconsin Dells

We were here at the hottest time of the year. It’s funny because when we leave Florida in the summer and head north, we expect we’ll be getting moderate weather. During peak summer months, that’s not the case; it’s hot all over.

landscape gallery

To create the star effect I set the aperture to f16 and positioned myself with the sun peeking out. F16 makes the aperture opening very small, and that creates a flaring or starlike effect with bright lights. However, it was so sunny I couldn’t be sure it worked until a few weeks later when I got home to look at the results on a monitor. Here, in the comfort of A/C, I can confirm we have a hit.

Key Biscayne Layers

This image was a bit of a project to create. I stood on the South Pointe Pier facing Key Biscayne in South Beach. I took three pictures, each focused on a different point. The first was the railing, the next was the jetty and finally Key Biscayne off in the distance.

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Key Biscayne Layers
An abstract composition with Key Biscayne off in the distance.

I combined the images into a composite using a technique known as focus stacking. After that, I kept working on it until ending up with an abstract rendering that is neither real or imagined; it’s somewhere in-between.

abstract gallery

I could say something smart about layers, like how they are metaphors for something, but not today. The result is the product of a study in technique and abstraction. I had an idea when I took the shots, and I practiced various methods to get the image I wanted. Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it.

Last Call at the Pier

I love the pier at Fort Desoto Park in St Petersburg. Not always, but often at dusk, the colors in the sky get so amazing that I go a little crazy with my camera. But the sun eventually sets, and I head home after an hour like a drunken patron after the last call. I wish it would last longer, but I’m glad its over. I know I have to leave so I can get up and go to work the next morning.

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Last Call at the Pier
As the light fades at Fort DeSoto Park Pier

One of the places I want to go (big time) is Iceland. But in the back of my mind, I wonder how I would survive. I see myself getting in a photographic frenzy, taking photos of waterfalls and landscapes to the point that I drop dead from exhaustion. But then, I can think of far worse ways to die.

more images with waves

But back to the beach here in Florida. When the conditions are like this, I go into hyperdrive. My mind is simultaneously racing and remaining calm. If I get too excited I’ll make mistakes or worse, drop my camera. It’s important to keep moving, but not frantically. And I don’t even know what the next image will be. I walk on when I finish one and look for another. Imagine if I did that all day in Iceland. I would inevitably end up lost or dead or at the bar until the last call.

Stand Rock

One of the first stops on our summer road trip was in Wisconson. While there we took a boat up the river at Wisconsin Dells in an area known for rock formations like this. I can imagine seeing these in Arizona or Utah, but here in Wisconsin, it was a big surprise.

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Stand Rock
Stand Rock in Wisconsin Dells

This formation is known as Stand Rock, and during the summer, trained dogs will leap from one surface to the other. If you look closely, there is a net in the space between the rocks. When we arrived, it had just rained, so the demonstration was canceled for safety reasons.

Nevertheless, there is a famous image of this rock taken by HH Bennett over a hundred years ago. That image is in the lower part of the frame, and it depicts his son jumping from one rock to the other (without a net). Among other things, Bennett was a pioneer in photography because he invented the shutter which freezes motion.

my portfolio

Back then there was a lot of logging here. If you look closely at the old image, Stand Rock is mostly exposed. Today it’s covered in a thick canopy of trees as logging has long since ceased. Anyway, I thought it was cool that not only is there an old photo of this rock, but it is related to photographic history as well.

The Good and the Bad

This is another HDR photo that I created using AuroraHDR 2018. Actually, this was a little tricky to make because it’s a long exposure using an ND filter shooting directly into the sun. The aperture of F14 is what creates the starburst effect. I combined five photos ranging from one to six seconds in length which gives the water a smooth quality.

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The Good and the Bad
On average I like the photo, despite some flaws

Even though I spent hours on this I’m not totally happy with it. That’s because I’m aware of all the technical flaws it has; noise in the shadows, lens flare and lack of detail on the rocks. I’m posting it anyway because I like the overall effect and feel. And also, each time I work with photos I learn a little more. In this case I know what I need to do next time I have a similar scene; each time I get a little better.

more from san francisco

In the end, it’s the scene and the mood that are most important to me. The technical aspects are important also, just not as important. I was able to recreate the idea I had in my head at the time, so it’s a win. I’m posting it because on balance, I do like the image. And to tell you the truth, that’s why I do photography in the first place.

A Place Called Enders Falls

I took this in Connecticut several years ago at a place called Enders Falls. It’s a small gorge off the side of the road with a set of waterfalls that stretch about a quarter of a mile. The trail is short but steep and you arrive at the falls within three minutes of leaving your car.

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A Place Called Enders Falls
A Place Called Enders Falls in Connecticut

I was with a couple of friends as we climbed up and down the falls taking pictures. That was a long time ago and I just happen to notice this image in the archives.

There are no bridges, so to get to the other side of the stream you must cross the water. It was spring so the water was flowing well and I chose a shallow section to walk cross. I remember how icy it was as my feet submerged crossing the water. Despite the chill I managed to stand several minutes while I setting up for a shot from the middle of the stream. It’s funny how we can block out pain in pursuit of a photo.

more waterfalls

In the end it is a happy memory, spending the time with friends doing what I love to do. After we finished we drove to town and had some amazing burgers and talked about photography.

Bridal Veil Falls

This is Bridal Veil Falls near Salt Lake City. To get here it’s just a short drive from the city into the bordering mountains. In a previous post I mentioned that it’s a routine for us to go for a drive on Sunday. As we were in Utah we decided to take the Alpine Loop, which is a scenic drive that winds through the mountains. The road traverses mountains with switchbacks that are open only during the warmer months. There are spectacular views all over and we found ourselves stopping nearly every mile to see one sight after another.

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Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls along the Alpine Loop in Utah

I’m related to some of the original settlers of the area and I couldn’t help but think that they had a much harder time of it. For us it was a Sunday drive through the mountain passes on a paved road; for the settlers in covered wagons it was another thing entirely. It’s little wonder they decided to stop after making it through the mountains; I would have done the same. I have no idea which route the settlers took, but back then there were no highways so it was no Sunday drive.

To get a sense of scale of this waterfall you can see a couple of people at the very bottom of the image. The falls are over six hundred feet high and were once serviced by a gondola and a restaurant at the top. That’s gone now but the falls remain and you can take a short hike to the base or just look from a parking lot next to the highway.

other waterfalls in the gallery

Anyway, the Alpine Loop is a spectacular drive and the parks within it are open to hiking, camping and fishing. And not too far from this spot is where the Sundance Film Festival takes place each year. All in all the Alpine Loop is a must see if you’re in the area.

Outside of My Comfort Zone

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.

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Outside of My Comfort Zone
Outside of My Comfort Zone in the alps of New Zealand

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.

new zealand gallery

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.

Waterfall from British Columbia

I was flipping through some old photos and I found this waterfall from British Columbia. What caught my attention was that it was taken exactly three years ago today. This is just below the massive Shannon Falls north of Vancouver. When I took this it was in full flow from the spring runoff, so I imagine it would be the same now.

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Waterfall from British Columbia
Waterfall from British Columbia just north of Vancouver

I took this with the Sony A7R, which was still fairly new at the time. I had had it for only a couple of months and was still learning its ins-and-outs. Looking at this now makes me want to take a trip back to the Pacific Northwest and go waterfall hunting. For a landscape photographer waterfalls are big game.

A lot has transpired in the last three years. In that time I’ve taken close to a hundred thousand images. They’re not all winners mind you, in fact only a very small percentage of them are what I’d consider “good”. In one sense photography is a numbers game. The more you do the better your odds. Eventually you get some good ones.

Canadian gallery

When I get asked how I got to where I am the answer is simply that I take a lot of photos; some turn out good. That’s not to diminish the effort, but it’s more repetition than anything. If you get out and take pictures, magic eventually happens. If you want to take good photos, take a lot of photos. Eventually you’ll get some real winners.

Time to Chill

I never get tired of taking pictures of people fishing. I’m not sure why that is other than it’s a common pastime where I live. Maybe if I lived in a landlocked region it would be farmers. Nevertheless, my favorite time to catch someone fishing is when the light is softer in the sky. I think that time also generates a sort of tension with the people fishing because if they only have a few minutes left. But I am clueless when it comes to fishing so take that with a grain of salt.

Time to Chill
Fishing in Florida is the perfect time to chill

I took this while standing next to the fishing pier at Fort DeSoto Park in St Petersburg Florida. I have several shots from here, each a different composition. Just like the fishermen, I know the light is about to end so I’m working feverishly looking for different compositions. I try get as many different shots from my outings because there is a lot of effort in just getting here.

Florida gallery

Maybe I was just projecting my own sense of urgency on the fishermen. Come to think about it, fishermen never seem rushed. If ever there were a group of people with time on their side its fishermen. Maybe that’s the draw of it, it takes you outside the daily grind and allows you time to slowdown and think. Again, I don’t really know but that’s what I imagine.

Maybe these are just all questions that don’t need to be answered and are just the product of too much coffee. I think its time to chill.