A Great 100 yard Photowalk!

Broadway Street Bridge, Little Rock captured by Z 9 / Z24-120

Bedford Camera has his marvelous event going on this weekend, their Photo Expo in Little Rock. I was very fortunate to be invited to speak last night and then lead a photowalk this morning. It was a complete joy to do both as these are marvelous, passionate photographers hungering to learn more. How so? They got up and joined me this morning at 06:00 for a photowalk along the River Walkway. It was to be just a 90 minute walk. With the classes that started at 09:00 and the incredible heat and humidity, besides being my favorite time out shooting, it just made sense. And in those 90 minutes, we might have gotten only 100 yards but they were a great, 100 yards!

Na, there was no amazing photographic opportunity that kept us in place, just a real teachable moment and a group of very willing and open minded visual storytellers. What you see above it the Broadway Street Bridge. It has some elegance to it but the skies, they couldn’t be any balder if you tried. How do you make a click of it bringing some drama to the engineering? That what we explored for 90 minutes. The photo on the left was taken at 06:31 and on the right at 06:51. There is just 20 minutes and -1 stop difference (photo on right was shot at -1) between the two technically. But visually, there is quite a distance. And that’s what made the morning so great as we talked through the technical and mental hoops to jump through for each photographer to bring their own drama to the moment. It was a great morning and I was honored to be amongst such a great group of folks! And for me in this humidity, I so welcomed a great 100 yard photowalk!

And Before the Kaboom!

The Sapphire Mtns captured by Z 9 / Z24-120

Forth of July fireworks start a little later here in Montana than most locals, last night it was 22:35. Thunderstorms had been floating by all day lighting up the skies and soaking the plants. Then around 16:00 they started to move on towards the east. Sharon & I decided to have dinner at home and then head to Hamilton for their 4th of July fireworks. We arrived three hours early so we had some time to kill. What to do? Well like any good wildlife photographer, I headed to the homemade ice cream shop and got a double scoop of Huckleberry Fudge (yes, I shared some with Maggie of course). With some time to kill still we cruised around and then drove to the pulloff on the Eastside to wait for the show. In front of us to the west were The Bitterroots with clear skies starting to appear behind them as the last clouds floated by. Then I looked in the sideview mirror at The Sapphires behind us!

The Sapphire Mtns captured by Z 9 / Z24-120

While the storm in front of us was for the most part gone, behind us it was still in the process of fading. The winds, moisture and light, Mother Nature was working her magic putting on a spectacular show. The Sapphire Mtns where we make our home were lit up with drama and it was real simple to make the clicks. Both photos are right from the camera, my simply standing up out of the truck and shooting. Maggie was still working on the ice cream as I was shooting. With the setting sun at 21:31 so went the drama. But more was to follow. mtc

The Power of White & Bright

Helmet Mountain, Kodiak captured by Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8

It’s pouring raining, I mean giant Alaska raindrop rain. The wind could pick you up and set you down not so gently. It’s perfect wx to be out shooting, if, if you can find that one element the eye wants to latch on to in its journey to make sense of a scene. That’s when the power of white and bright comes into play. In a scene like you see above, the amount, percentage of total image the white inhabits is a really small percentage. Yet it’s enough to grab the eye first and then the rest of the image moves the eye around the frame taking in the storm until moving back to white & bright. Light & Bright at the top of the frame is the mind’s eye happy place but you can place it anywhere in the frame to grab the viewer’s attention. The question is, do the rest of the elements in the frame support that arrangement of elements to delight the eye and tell a story. Keep in mind that while light & bright can be an positive, it can also be a negative pulling the eye away from the subject. It’s totally up to you to control the power of white & bright!

Ice of the Ages

Portage Glacier captured by Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8 w/Z1.4x

It’s totally abstract, not just the image but the concept that the snow and ice in the photograph could be thousands of years old. Now being exposed for the first time and the glacier melts away, time is literally being exposed to light for the first time. The patterns of how the snow was laid down, then slide around and finally carved by the winds of time so intrigued me. Shooting with the Z 9 in B&W, I went from shooting the Z24-120 to the Z70-200, back to the Z24-120 then to the Z70-200 with the Z1.4x. I couldn’t get enough of all the ice carvings glaring in the bright noon sun. It was a great hour just exploring the mountains with my camera looking for patterns the matched up with my vivid imagination. I have the feeling it’s one of those “you had to be there” kind of photos since there is no reference to place. But it was a place where I loved just staring at the ice of the ages.

The Power of White

Electric Peak Yellowstone captured by Z 9 / Z24-120f4

Landscape photography is so much easier when you beat the sun up and outlast it when it sets. At those moments, you can cherry pick the light like on this morning in Yellowstone’s high country. The first light of the day strikes the high peaks with the valley floor below still in shadow. This is very dramatic light and then you add in the effect of the clouds, well it’s like shooting fish in a barrel photography. Setting the Z 9 to Monochrome (B&W) it was just that simple to make the photo. Then the power of white grabs your eye, takes you to the top of Electric Peak and then around and back to it. The only hardship this morning, doing all of this with no coffee yet. The photograph left me a warm glow though so I made it until I had a cup. The power of white!

Old Faithful … Keeping it Young

Old Faithful captured by Z 9 / Z14-24f2.8

Old Faithful is an iconic symbol of so many things. While mostly of Yellowstone Nationals Park, but also of the west and those first explorers who brought back its wonders to the world. It got its name back in 1870 from the Washburn-Langford-Doane Expedition because it seemed to spout “faithfully” every 63 to 70 minutes. It can push out nearly 8400 gallons of very hot water when it erupts! I don’t know how many times I’ve stood there and watched it go over our forty years of visiting it, but it never grows old. I’ve been very fortunate to see Steamboat blow which is much larger but there is just something about Old Faithful that never gets old!
While I watch it blow every time I’m there, I don’t always photograph it. The photo above is the only photo I took of it on this last trip that was two weeks long. I watched it with the camera at my side but no clicks. Why? I think sharing my favorite of mine of Old Faithful photograph (below, from 2020) probably explains it the best. I’m looking in my photo of Old Faithful the power it brings to the landscape. I want a combination of that powerful background with a great eruption which for me is not height, but vertical strength. I like it best when it’s cold so you can see the steam really well (-10 or colder) and no wind. I then stand where I can have that column of steam as vertical as possible. Then I want to be able to go as wide as possible because Old Faithful belongs in that vast grand landscape. She’s not the same as first described in 1870, not the same power, and doesn’t blow as faithfully. They say it’s possible she might go away in our lifetime which would be a great loss to me. Such a grand symbol of our wilderness and exploration. It’s why I try to capture its power, Old Faithful, keeping it young.

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