Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Mesa Arch & The Washer Woman

When the first light of the day hits the underside of an arch in Canyon Lands or Arches National Parks they glow a beautiful shades of crimson much like those found in slot canyons. A magnificent example is Mesa Arch located in Canyon Lands, Utah. However, as with many of the more popular photography spots, if you want to get a good shot you have to be there early. We were staying in Moab and it was about an hour’s travel time from the motel to getting on site at the arch. But arriving at or near sunrise would not be sufficient, we had to be there at least two hours before sunrise in other to have assurance of a front row seat.

This is one of the parts shooting sunrises that I enjoy tremendously. Getting up around 3 am, traveling to the site under the stars, walking in to the location in the dark and setting up without being able to see the whole scene that is going to unfold. On this morning we had a treat. We were the first ones there so we could pick our spots. But more than that, there was a moon over the arch! So we started the day by taking night shots. By setting the camera for a long exposure we were able to get in some light painting by spraying the arch with a flashlight, just enough but not too much. With a bit of experimentation we captured some early morning images with just the beginning of color on the far horizon under the arch.

As the sun made it’s appearance so did a hoard of photographers, but we were firmly ensconced in our places, snapping away as the light went through its morning routine. I was very happy with the morning and surprised and pleased with the star burst I captured in this image.

In the distance, under the arch, is a formation that should not be missed. It is called the Washer Woman. A shot I thought best in black and white.

After a shoot like this it is back to town, breakfast in a local cafe, work up images and experience some down time before heading out for the evening location to shoot some more of God's beautiful creations.

You might also be interested in viewing my post on the Costa Rican Tree Frog

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Bass Harbor Head, Maine

When I began wanting to know more about photography a friend of mine told me it would be a good practice to look at lots of photographs. So I bought gads of photography magazines, perused the internet, and read books with great images in them. One evening I stumbled upon a picture of Bass Harbor Head and knew it was definitely a place I needed to visit.  Now, I believe that every place in the world is special, it’s just that some places are a little more special. One such place is Bass Harbor Head, a lighthouse on the Coast of Maine, not far from Bar Harbor.

I had never been to New England so going to get an image of this lighthouse was doubly exciting. I booked a trip in early October to be there when the trees were in color and made my way to the lighthouse. The first night I was there it was high tide.  In the best of conditions there is not a lot of room for photographers to shoot this location, but at high tide the situation can get pretty dicey. Most photographers want to be in front of the lighthouse a little to the side on the rocks shooting up at it. The problem was, with the tide up, there was only one bunch of habitable rocks available, and as you can see there wasn't much room for me.

I could have gone down there and scrunched myself into a little nook or cranny but I was not willing to endure the heckling other late arrivers were receiving so I contented myself with shooting the lighthouse from higher up getting more of a side view.

But this was not what I came for. I wanted an image from down below looking up at the lighthouse. I wanted clouds in the background and the light of the setting sun hitting the rocks under the lighthouse. So I returned a few days later, this time arriving well before sunset. Being the first ones there, and with the tide much lower, my friends and I were able to grab the most desired spot on the rocks.

Fortunately the sky cooperated, sending these clouds over in just the right position at the appointed time. A few minutes later the sky was a cloudless blue.  Ah, but there is always more to do.  With the sun setting and the clouds gone, getting an HDR image seemed a likely thing to try.

Oh, Yes, the joy of photography.  It gets me on location in the most exquisite places at the best time of the day to experience them, with the tools to capture and re-experience and share what I found. Praise God. 

You may also be interested in viewing my post about the Costa Rican Tree Frog

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Lumahai Beach

On the north side of the island of Kauai, just west of Hanalei Bay is a little beach called Lumahai. You can park along the road and walk down a well maintained trail to the beach. The beach is quite different from most of the others in this area as it slopes steeply into the ocean. This affects the wave motions, preventing them from breaking in the usual way. Watching them you can see that the water that is receding back to the sea is moving very fast, pushing against the incoming wave so that just as the wave crests, at the point it would normally break and wash onto the shore, the receding wave stops it and it just kind of collapses and washes onto the shore, without ever breaking. Here is a picture of it, just at the point most waves would break.

I was at this beach in the late Spring and the surf was fairly mild. I can imagine in the Winter when the surf is much larger on the north shore that the wave action at this beach would be spectacular.  Because of the steepness of the beach the rip tides are reported to be quite treacherous here.
On the east end of this beach there is a jetty of rocks shooting out from shore toward the west. As we were there at sunset it was a natural to climb up on these rocks to see what the scenery looked like from there. It was a natural for shooting sunset.

Unfortunately we were not able to shoot all the way through the setting sun as the tide was coming in and being on this rock ledge was not a good idea should a big wave wash over it with us out there.

We later learned that the locals call this beach “him a die” because so many people have been killed by the surf here, especially people who go out on the ledge we were on and get washed off or those who are unaware of the strength of the rip tides. It is a reminder that when at the beach it always pays to keep one eye on what the surf is doing.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Seize The Moment

One afternoon late in the day I was driving through Sebastopol on highway 12. The sun was low on the horizon, well into the golden hour, when I glanced to my left. I couldn’t have seen it for more than a fraction of a second, but it was unmistakable and it has been etched in my memory ever since. White blossoms set back in the dark of a thicket, framed by the trees and illuminated by the setting sun. Only the blossoms were lit, everything else was dark and undiscernable. I hesitated, should I stop, run back and see if I could get a shot of it? I had my camera, but the traffic, and where to pull off?  In the time it took me to debate it I was well down the road and I let opportunity slip away.  I have returned on subsequent occasions always looking to see if that scene would reappear. I am sure it has, but never again in my presence.

Every time I think of those illuminated blossoms I remind myself, “If you see it, stop and shoot it”, even if I am a mile down the road: turn around and go back and get the shot. If I don’t . . .well it’s been a good six years since that day and I am still thinking about that missed opportunity, wishing I captured it so I could share it.

An Opportunity Realized

In 2008 it was a different story.   I was on a family vacation in the Hoh Rain Forrest on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State. It was a misty, rainy morning when we rounded a turn in the road and there it was, just plopped right into our laps, so to speak:  this amazing scene. “Stop the car! Stop the car!!” I jumped out and stood in the middle of the road and took this shot. I am so glad there was no debate in my head, it was a clear and decisive I HAD to take the shot and I did.  Lesson learned.

Though this image is among the first of the landscape images I have taken it remains one of my favorites. I will never forget taking it to Longs to have it blown up to a larger size. When I came back to pick it up, the lady who worked there retrieved it for me and holding it in her hands started exclaiming, “Oh my God, Oh my God!”  She liked it!! Whooppee!   What a gratifying and encouraging experience that was. It played a big part to help me along the path to photography.  So glad we stopped!