Chasing the Wave

Northern Lights captured by Z 9 / Z24-70f2.8

First appearing like faint green stream, Northern Lights are a wave of particles that light up the night in a magical show. Reds, yellows and the most common green pulse back and forth, come and go and the earth spins below them. Just back from Alaska photographing them and filming a new class for KelbyOne. It’s a case of “planned” luck going on a northern lights adventure as you are counting on two segments of Mother Nature. You have the Aurora Borealis that is always in flux in intensity and the weather. Nothing more frustrating to know the lights are dancing overhead only to see the bottom of clouds. But when they do appear they are like nothing else you’ve ever witnessed! It’s a challenge to tell their story as it’s like chasing a wave!

It Takes Just the Slightest Wisp

Moose Creek captured by Z 9 / Z14-24f2.8

I’m up in beautiful Alaska chasing Northern Lights and part of that process is scouting during the day for where you want to park at night. I went to Moose Creek yesterday (no relation) to find the tiniest of wisp of clouds and I knew I had to make a click. How do you talk about big skies when the viewer is not standing next to you to experience them themselves? I instantly went to black and white because the “gray” background makes the white pops. You’ve gotta know you have the killer tool in ACR, B&W Mixer where you can take the blue slider and move it just a bit to the right and makes those clouds pop. You have Sky Masking where AI selects all the sky so you can move the Clarity slider a tad to the right and with that, those wisps now are working so show expanse. With these tools in your pocket, it takes just the slightest wisp.

Not So Fast There

DC-6 “The Lucky Duck” captured by Z 6II / Z24-70f2.8

As much as I am looking forward to spring, I was going through my files and this photo reminded me that there are still some killer photos to take with snow. With the recent storms in some locales and melting in other, snow right now with the coming spring light can make some very cool opportunities! With the sun a bit higher on the horizon brings with is a mood that can set off snow that you won’t find in mid winter. The trick to it is to find a subject where the snow is just an element of the photograph and not the subject. Like this DC-6 up in Fairbanks, AK on a pizza parlor I believe. We actually have a short period of time with this kinds of images with snow on its way out and the light with a slight edge to it. Have fun, tell your story, share it and make someone smile knowing the snow is on its way out and spring is around the corner!

A Sweet Adieu

Sunset of Fort Desoto captured by Z 9 / Z24-120

It was a delightful evening with the gulf breeze on our back as we photographed the gathered birds. Then the light turn that color, you know what I’m talking about, the color and feel signaling the end of the day. I turned to see a flaming orange ball coming down on distant Fort Desoto. This is why I have that “landscape” lens in the bag. I took off the Z400f4.5 and attached the Z24-120 and enjoyed the brief show. It was quite the fiery end to the week but it a solid week of really good bird photography. It was like it was all planned for our parting, a sweet adieu.

Wind’s Snow Sculptures

Yellowstone snowscape captured by Z 9 / Z50f1.2

Snow is this magical form of water that dances down to settle on the landscape at the will of the topography and wind. Often it’s just a carpet of white undulating with the land reaching for the horizon. Then there are times when the lands and wind come together to create the softest of sculptures lasting at times, just for hours. It requires cold temps creating very light snow that doesn’t stick to itself. It seems forever, these natural art forms have fascinated me causing me to point my lens at them trying to capture their fleeting time. This past week in Yellowstone i think, think I might have found my own personal recipe for bringing those sculptures home.

It all starts with a snow storm dropping a minimum of an inch of new snow. If it’s falling on old snow that has already started to melt, if can take more than an inch of new, You then need that breeze to work its magic, Finally you need the soft light so you have the ever so slight shadow, It’s that shadow that brings life to the sculpture. What I found this year bringing home so many images I like is the lens. The Z50f1.2 with its “normal” angle of view and its really shallow DoF brought to the viewfinder what I’ve been looking for. The final ingredient I like to add is exposure, top photo was +1/3 and the bottom was +2/3. Might not have been enough but it works. I realize snow for some does nothing for them and while others, they don’t wanna see anymore of the white stuff. There’s no question I’m a bit different. I go out when it’s -26 with the Z 9 looking for winds snow sculptures.

Yellowstone snowscape captured by Z 9 / Z50f1.2

The Kiss of Hoar

Hayden Valley Tree captured by  Z 9 / Z70-200f2.8

The tree is not new to me been looking at it for decades. Not as a possible subject but for what critters but be using it. So yesterday as we were approaching it I did as always, checked for critters. Last critter I saw in its shade were coyotes. This day, nothin. But then I saw the glint of sparkle on it from the hoar frost. Then I saw the slope, then I saw its shadow. By the time my mind processed it all I had to yell STOP! The snowcoach pulled over, I grabbed the gear and walked back the could of hundred yards to make the click. The making of the photo was pretty straight forward. But the Z 9 into monochorme, focus and click. Done. In the end, it because one of my favorite winter tree photo from Yellowstone. And I’ll never think of this tree the same way except for with its kiss of hoar.

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