Ruined Dam

Dam
Abandoned hydro electric dam Sony A7 II 16mm, F8

Over the Winter I have found it very difficult to find things to shoot. Especially because everything is covered in the same white blah… This has made me examine places around me that might make for good subjects.

One place I have discovered is a great abandoned dam, that has been converted into a park!  Looking like some ruined civilization, this place looks great in the Winter as well as the Summer. With lots of photo ops. It’s amazing how much can be found right in your backyard if you look hard enough. And one thing I have to remember, is that is something is familiar to me, that doesn’t mean it will be to someone else. And having your own take on a location is worth it’s weight.

One cool thing to note about this one, is it was taking in almost complete darkness. Now the A7 II is not the best and most toted Sony camera in dark conditions. And you do get a large amount of chroma noise. Especially with a long exposure time. This one was 10 minutes long!!! It does take a little cleaning up in Ps or Lr. But when the sun goes down before you can get to a local… What are you supposed to do! Thank god for in camera levelling 😉

Advertisements

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.

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.

Explorer of The Dark

Explorer-of-The-Dark-3
Of the beaten path in Glacier park Canon 5D II 21mm, F16

I’ve been to a lot of national parks in the U.S. and Canada, and one thing is always present. Lots and lots of people. Everywhere. So this makes is more and more important to find some out of the way places to get some really genuine photos.

Don’t get me wrong, I like getting shots of the really recognizable sites in some of these parks. But sometimes it helps to get out of the limelight and focus on something smaller. Something that will mean more to you and your visit, than standing with the crowds taking the same shot as everyone else.

So I found this great little place in Glacier national park. No path or trail, just following a stream until I found an area that opened up a bit. And definitely no people to worry about 😉

Just a quick word about some of the shots I like to take in these sorts of places. Most of the nature shots I take are HDR images, even if it doesn’t show, there’s usually a hint of it in there. HDR stands for high dynamic range. For those not familiar, it’s a great way to capture more ranges of light than would be possible with a single shot. The short version, taking multiple shots of a single scene, than blend the images. The result can be quite, illuminating… ha ha… More on that later 🙂

Yellowstone Lower Falls

Upper-Falls
Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone Canon 5D II 200mm, f8

One thing I never get enough of when travelling, is the super cool, super huge waterfalls! they are so immense and shake you with their thunderous noise.

The falls of Yellowstone are awesome. There are hundreds scattered around the park. But none as impressive as the lower Yellowstone.

This place has many different viewpoints, all easily accessible  for some great shots. I knew when going here I would end up with the same shot as most people. But it’s what you do with it after that makes it your own. I like to process most landscapes I do in HDR. And most of the time you can get some great results. Especially in the middle of the day. I really wanted to highlight the shadow areas in the canyon. Without blowing out the water from the falls. Sometimes the two ideas never make it in one photo. I’m happy I was able to do it here without much difficulty.

Side note here! This is the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone area. If ever going there I highly recommend camping here. It can get cold if travelling outside the high temps of Summer. But being so close to the falls is pretty amazing.

The Waters of Larch Mountain

Larch-Mountain-Stream
Flowing Waters of Larch Mountain Canon 5D II 21mm, F16

When I drove into the Columbia River Gorge area from Portland it was quite late at night. I could still see the immensity of the gorge even though it was so dark. Instead of taking the freeway, you still have the choice to take the historic highway that runs along the side of the steep cliffs that start the mountain range.

Along the road there are a number of pull outs that have great majestic waterfalls running down and under the road. Almost like they were put there on purpose.

I rolled up and grabbed one of the last remaining campsites near Multnomah Falls. Probably the most recognizable one of them all!

In the morning I started at the crack of dawn and hiked up the trail. I know I say it a lot, but I’m used to flat ground. This is anything but. The trail heads straight up with no place to rest really until you reach the top of the falls. And there’s always that one guy in the morning running the whole thing. Makes you feel so crappy about yourself ;(

Along the trail, which is long and very winding, there are so many other amazing waterfalls. Each with their own dynamics. Very cool to walk under a bunch of them. Not to mention the greenest place I have ever been.

My goal that day was to reach the triple falls on the way up to Larch mountain. Unfortunately some kids got there before me, presumably from the other side, and would not get off the top. So I knew I was going to have to wait to get a good pic. So I went further down the trail and found this amazing little bend in the river. It was so quiet and amazing, with fallen logs and moss growing everywhere. So I stopped and got out all my equipment and started to set things up when I heard a “Hello” come from behind a huge boulder behind me.

I guess I didn’t get up as early as I thought. Because behind me there were two couples in about their 70’s set up for a picnic! With a table cloth and everything! It was like a mad tea party in the middle of the forest. Very cool, and super strange at the same time.

So I had a little chat with them, as every time you take a picture in the middle of nowhere, people always want to know what your doing. Not my favourite thing, but in a place like that, and no rush, it can be fun. Plus they had beer 😉

 

Cruising Through Navajo Land

Sacred-Land-2
Navajo sacred land Arizona Canon 5D II 21mm, F11

Where Utah meets Arizona is a magical place. Full of amazing rock formation that have the most otherworldly look to them. Getting to some of them to take a great pic was a more challenging thing than I realized when I first planned my trip there. And for someone from Canada, it was hotter than I anticipated. A lot hotter!

This shot was something of an anomaly for me as a landscape photographer. Normally my process involves setting up my tripod, spending some time focusing and working the exposure, and finally, taking a few bracketed shots to blend later.

Here I did none of those things. This shot involved nothing more than a good camera strap, and me hanging out a car window going 75mph down the highway… Not recommended. But when you see the shot you want, I suggest you take it. Even if it means pushing your iso to 2000 in the middle of the day.