It was one of those travel days. Started off with a mechanical in Little Rock assuring I wouldn’t arrive home as scheduled. After arriving at DEN, found the next flight too had a mechanical. It’s parked there at the Gate 43 four hours later. The plane I was now scheduled to get on in thirty minutes was two hours out on its way from LGA. I sat there watching this thunderstorm brew knowing that would throw the next wrench in my dreams of getting home this day (which I didn’t). When the first bolt of lightning struck the runway, everything came to a halt. And while I settled in for another three hours of waiting, the light began to comes across the tarmac, and it was gorgeous light. It was real simple to grab my Z 9 / Z14-24f2.8 out of the Retro 20 and make a simple click. The light, like on any landscape there was there, then gone. As the sun set I looked at the vacant jet way at Gate 41 wishing my plane was parked there. As it turned out, it would be another four hours until is came. That was the view at gate 41.
It seems like a real disconnect but yeah, head towards the top of the globe and you’ll find summer winding down and fall start to make its presence known. The Moose will soon be shedding their velvet. The big game is growing the last of their winter coats. Bears are starting to think about hibernation and are porking down all the fat they can find. And the landscape and the light starts to take on that warmth that is so inviting. While Alaska is having one of it worse wildfire seasons this year, there are still many gorgeous locales just screaming for you to come and visit. A killer way to see and photograph this splendor is to rent a RV in Anchorage and then just drive north stopping where the mood strikes you. Now’s the time to plan it for next month because any later and you might just find yourself in winter’s first snowfall! I hope to see you up there!
It is called landscape photography after all, but do you wonder how much “land” you need to tell your story? When I shoot with others, they often look through my viewfinder and come away saying, “You’re including just the sliver?” I asked myself long ago the question of how much land I need to say landscape and in finding my answer, I found myself raising the camera higher and higher when … now that’s the part of the equation that’s a challenge!
There tends to be three elements in the viewfinder that I need in considering how high to raise the camera minimizing the land. The sky, the light and color seem to play the biggest part in the equation. You might think that when looking at the sky, clouds need to be present for this to work especially since my two examples have clouds. But actually I do the same thing with bald skies if the photograph is going to be a B&W. That’s because the natural gradation of a bald blue sky when turned into a gray tone can be incredibly stunning. But yes, generally clouds are part of the frame. But not just any cloud. Often there is a “unique” light, color and density that if you were there in person, would make you look up and that’s kinda the point. When the sky, the mood, romance, the vibe tell you to look above the land is when raising the lens makes sense to my visual storytelling. It is something to consider when telling your viewer the vastness of the world you’re exploring with your camera. You might just ponder, how much land in the landscape?
We received a lot of free water last week from the summer thunderstorms that rolled through. On the fourth day, the energy in the clouds let loose producing a hail storm of nickel-sized ice rocks for about ten minutes. With that quick expenditure of energy, the storm broke up and then tried to reorganize as it floated east but it was too late in the day. That was OK as it put on an aerial show for the next twelve hours all around The Ranch. The lightning though fifteen to twenty miles away to the east was spectacular and that’s what got me out to look overhead. The sun as it squeezes over The Bitterroots produces some gorgeous sunsets but not all are a photograph. On this evening the pastels were drop-dead dreamy so I ran out with the Z 9 / Z14-24 and pointed up to make the simple click. Then as the color faded the moon peaked out, so I switched to the Z70-200f2.8 with the Z1.4x attached and made another click. With the slow movement of the storm and with the humidity so high, my thoughts turned to the morning sunrise and the possibilities.
At 05:11 I was out with the Z 9 / Z24-120 and man, the heavens put on a whole new show that was glorious! I’m so glad we have no neighbors who can see what I do as I ran up the slope beside the ravine in just sweat pants and flaps racing the bursting color. The air was still on the ground but still moving overhead changing the light and color story with every step I took racing uphill. I didn’t need any coffee, I was already pumped up enough as the heavens exploded as light streamed around lighting up the snow-covered peaks to the west and the Sapphires to the east. Wow! By 06:00 the skies were nearly bald, the clouds continuing their journey east. What a treasure to witness! There are times, you gotta point up!
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