Printers Alley/New Orleans

Printers-3
A private place in Printers Alley Nashville Sony A7 II 15mm, F8

I have not travelled to the South of the United States as much as I should. I have realized over the last few years of visiting, just how amazing it really is.

One thing I can never get over is the heat… For a Canadian, we get about 3 weeks of the temp they deal with all the time. I don’t know how anything gets done down there. I would be napping all the time, with an Amaretto Sour in my hand.

This shot is from the Printers Alley in Nashville. A very small section of the downtown area. But packed with history. One guy was telling me that Presidents would visit here for some under the counter activity back in the day. To me it looks more like New Orleans that cowtown.

I really like architecture in HDR. It has a really unnatural/natural look to it. I know how that sounds believe me. But I don’t know how else to describe it. I find that playing with the light is much easier with street light than moonlit landscapes for some reason.

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Sunset #2

Sunset-2
Sunsets at the beach Canon 5D II 15mm, F16

Winter is almost over, and I can start thinking about going outside again. Winter here in Canada can be pretty rough. And long! But when it comes to Summer we have it made. This is a fantastic time to get out and shoot. For nature people like myself, it’s particularly amazing. Sunrise starts around 5 in the morning, and doesn’t go down until around 10 at night. So making the most of the days is paramount.

This is one of my favourite places to shoot in the Summer. And sunsets always make great shots 🙂

This is a really wide shot from up on a boulder. I love how the forced perspective gives an even grander sense of scale. The other thing I tried to focus on here is the colour. I love colour in my photos. Rarely do I process in Black and White. Not to knock it, I just really appreciate the warmth it can bring. Makes things pop a little more.

Glacier Fields

Glacier-Cloudy
Cloudy days in the mountains of Glacier National Park Canon 5D II 21mm, F8

One of the toughest things I find when going out to take photos, is weather. it can really mess with your plans something fierce! You plan and plan to be somewhere at a given time, only to find that mother nature has her own plans for you. What do you do? Go home? Well yeah sometimes… But most of the time no 😡 So you try and make the most of it only to get home and realize all your shots are grey and lifeless. This is a problem. Fortunately through the miracle of photoshop you can pull some life back out of that limp sky. And draw something new out of your photo that wouldn’t be possible during a sunny afternoon.

I like to accomplish this using just the curves adjustment tool in Ps or Lr. I can really do wonders with the contrast between the clouds that is not visible to the naked eye. It also helps as I always say, to bracket your shots. This way you can have an underexposed shot for the sky, and another one for this like the foreground, and other elements of interest.

Punch Through

Eye-of-The-Storm
Light punches through a storm cloud after a rain Canon 5D II 200mm, F11

One thing I try and do more and more with landscapes, is take them with a telephoto lens instead of a wide angle. This may come naturally to some. But for me it took awhile to get used to. Wide angle lenses have always been my go to. I like the size and scale, with the disappearing horizons. But with a telephoto you get this cool effect known as lens compression. This is often referred to as tunnel vision. This is where the foreground and the background appear to get closer together. Quite the opposite of wide angles which push these two elements further away. The result can be epic. Like a mountain range appearing to be towering over a valley, when it could be miles away. Or in this case, a storm cloud sitting onto of the lake!

One neat thing to try is to also widen your aperture, as to single out a closer subject, while leaving your background slightly out of focus, and therefore appear further still. But yet close enough that it looks like you can still touch it.

Laser Light Reflections

Lazer-light-reflection
Beams of light shine down through storm clouds Canon Rebel 2TI 70mm, F8

Photoshop definitely has it’s place in the photography world. Actually I don’t think any photographer would be where they are without it. Even in the purist days. Playing with colour, changing shades, anything done while developing film is still photoshop! No matter how you look at it, the definition is still the same. Though the rules have changed, the game stays the same. Relatively.

One thing that never seems to changed, which can be some of the most surprising things in a photograph, are anomalies. These can be anything from lens flare, to colour fringing, to what some people fondly refer to as ghosts!

This shot is a fun one for me. It really showcases something I was not trying to do at all. But came out really cool looking. I guess this falls into the flare category? It sure looks like one, and is caused by the suns direct light. But it really looks like aliens are coming to get us all 🙂 If I was a religious person I would certainly be looking a little deeper than that.

Cathedrals of Peru

Viva-El-Peru
The cathedral at San Blas square Canon 2TI 84mm, F8

As my Winter starts coming to a close, I start thinking about all the places I need to travel to get back my sanity! Winter can be fun… for a little while. Then you start going a little crazy with the cabin fever as we call it.

This morning I was thinking about this, as I need to find more and more places to take my kids. It was great travelling with just my wife for years. But now my kids have got to the age when leaving them behind is not really an option. Plus it’s cruel! And my son would die if he knew I was on an adventure without him 🙂

I remember when I told my dad (the original world traveller, with more than 200 countries under his belt!) that we were going to Peru a few years back. And he was so worried. He made us come over and talk about our plans to stay safe, and where we were travelling. He even made us watch a slideshow!!! I know what your thinking trust me… ;(

We found out once we arrived that his fears were unfounded. This country has dramatically changed since the “Dirty 80’s”, or so they are referred to. And the people were more than welcoming. Even in the quiet backroads that we found ourselves most days. I think the most important thing about travelling to unfamiliar countries where people don’t speak your language, is just have some common sense! Don’t go down that dark alley at night, don’t go to the bar at the end of the street with no street lights. You wouldn’t do that stuff at home would you? Maybe you would I don’t know. I’m from Canada, so it’s hard to find an unfriendly person 😉

Giants Foot

Giants-Foot
A giants foot in Olympic National Forest Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

I have had many photographs over the years that I really like. Some a lot more than others. Some of them I look at and don’t understand why I can’t be in the mind frame to take shots like that all the time. My favourites are probably not the most conventional, or properly composed ones I have ever taken, but they strike a cord with me.

In the Olympic forests of Washington there are plenty of quiet places to get away and take your time composing. I think this is what makes those shots some of my favs. It’s more about the place, and how it makes you feel that produces great photos. Even if nobody likes them, or you never sell a print. Or like me, you don’t even hang them on your walls. They mean something, and over time you look at them, and are transported back to where you feel good. And isn’t that the whole point in the first place?

For this one I wanted to focus on the massive structure of these great trees. They are so old, covered in fantastic moss, even the wood is so saturated with water that it is soft. And they just goes on forever.

I treated this like I do with most of my landscape shots. It’s an HDR, with a couple of soft tricks you can do in Ps, or Lr. It is a cool little trick known as the Orton Effect. This is where you use a Gaussian blur, and push it really far, so that the image is so blurry it looks like it’s underwater. Then start pulling back the opacity till it’s around 15% or so. And you will start to see the image as it was, with this amazing glow about it. As if it were shrouded in fog or mist. Really amazing for forest shots like this.

Karst Mountains of Guilin

Guilin-Rivermen
Guilin river men weave through the mountains Canon powershot S5 is 12.6mm, F8

A few years back, at the start of my photographic journey, we took an incredible trip to China. We travelled to three different corners of this amazing country, and met some fantastic people, and learned a lot!

One place in particular was the Southern edge of what I like to call tropical China. It’s very jungly and temperate. And where you will find the amazing karst mountain ranges. This is where you find all those great pics of fisherman, fishing with their cormorant birds on little Phoenix  bamboo rafts. The perfect mix of tourism and old world locked in an eternal struggle. The fisherman get so much attention from their practice, that they are not interested in progressing beyond the old ways. Which personally I hope never changes because it’s pretty amazing! And the Chinese do have a habit of getting carried away with things 😉

I’m not one for cruises. But I have tot say, spending the day floating down the Li river was pretty high on my list of great experiences. Snake wine and all. The place is very feng shui with water meeting rising bamboo, and the super tall mountains. Really is like no place I have ever been before. And a welcome change to the bustling cities we have become used to on our trip thus far.

The Watchman

The-Watchman
The Watchman stands resolute Canon 5D II 21mm, F

Standing high in the distance in a familiar site to anyone visiting the Zion national park in Utah. The Watchman mountain is to Zion, as Half Dome is to Yosemite, or even Old Faithful to Yellowstone. I had the pleasure of sleeping in the campsite beneath it, and it was amazing.

My friend and I had a few days traveling around the canyon taking photos and doing some crazy hikes. One in particular, the Angel’s Landing hike, is something I think everyone visiting the park should consider trying. It really is an endurance test. And if your totally out of shape like I am, it can be down right death defying!!!

Something I always find incredible when we talk to rangers in the parks, is the true power of nature that makes up these magical places. The river, quietly running through the park, can be turned to one of the most dangerous forces in the blink of an eye. It claims many peoples lives a year because of a hike they affectionately call “The Narrows”. Which is essentially a hike through shallow water in the gorge going up river. But if it starts to rain far off in the distance, the water can build and travel at tremendous speeds. Catching anyone in the tunnel completely unaware with very little to grab onto. The evidence of this is scattered all over the bank of the river where whole, mature trees, have been ripped right out of the ground with root still attached. Scary stuff.

I prefer to sit under the watchful eye of the Watchman, drink my Polygamy Ale, (Which is hilarious that they have this!) and watch the stars roll by.

Antelope Canyons

 

The-Tower
The towering sandstone of Antelope Canyon Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

One of the most photographed places of all time. Well, if you happened to live in North America anyway. But still a place that everyone should have the fortune to visit. It really is one of the most otherworldly sights I have ever seen.

A friend of mine and I arrived in Page Arizona the night before hoping to get a room at a hotel, or camp site, or whatever was available. No such luck. We were told that it was Summer. And if we had not reserved 3 months ago, than too bad. So we ended up camping in a camp site I can only describe as a parking lot. Parking lot that cost $20 a night! What a waste. We should have found the nearest Walmart and parked there. Wouldn’t be the first time 😉

The next morning we were told by a local coffee shop that if we didn’t head out at 8am we would miss our chance to be in the canyons by midday. Which is the best time to be there. So we slammed back some espressos and booked it to the canyons, which are about 10 minutes outside of town. Got in line with what seemed like every French tourist you could find in America, and waited.

After getting all worked up, we ended up being the first group of the day! Which was awesome because the guides were in great moods. They told us to pay the $5 Navajo passport pass, and that we would have about 45 minutes in the canyon as they guided us through. This was not going to be enough time for us…

We stuck to the back of the pack and let everyone go ahead… Far ahead. Next thing we knew there were group after group passing us, watching for tripod legs as they went. And one by one we started to pick up stragglers that caught on to what we were doing. After about 3 and a half hours we had a little group of our own. Going back and forth through the canyon, taking hundreds of shots. Teaching each other, learning from each other, and having a blast! Even our first guide came through at one point and said “You guys are still here! I’ll come back with some sleeping bags I guess…”

One note about shooting in places like this. You will want to get the clearest shots you can, so I recommend a tripod. This is one of the few, tight enclosed places that, last time I checked, you are able to bring one. Even though everyone has them, there is a certain amount of respect that comes with using it. Especially if hundreds of people are passing you. And even though you are in a small space, sometimes the focal plane goes further than you think, so I recommend a larger aperture than you are used too. I like F11, Or 16. These are usually the sweet spots on most lenses, and will give you the clearest view with the most in focus.