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on May 21, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Do Clouds Set The Story?

“Dances with Clouds,” what my good friend Joe McNally called me once. That’s because I turn to the heavens every opportunity I can to get help telling my visual story. Clouds can set the stage, be the background that will make or break your photograph. That is if you take in all the other elements in the frame and incorporate them along with the clouds. Here is my favorite little church out on The Palouse. I visit it at least once every time I’m on The Palouse because it is never the same. When there are no clouds, it is a photographic challenge. When there are clouds, the challenge then becomes what I want to say. Look at these two photographs of the same church shot on two different trips. Do you see the one thing that made me change where I stood and the lens I selected? You might be fooled and think it was the clouds but actually, it was the trees! The trees not only changed...

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on May 20, 2020 in Landscape Photography

The Skies are Lighting Up!

The skies lit up last night here in Montana with some great lightning. It’s coming on summer and with them, afternoon thunderstorms which mean great light shows. When the skies start barking, I’m often running to the truck with a camera in hand to chase the storm. These days though, it’s a whole lot easier to work with lightning with Miops! This simple, small, and incredibly effective tool permits you to shoot lightning any time of day with any rig with ease. You can even update the firmware via the mobile app (Mobile App is the why to go!). Charged via a USB port, the Miops simply can’t get easier, well, at least the shooting part. I like to grab the Z7 / Z24-70f2.8 / Miops and sped down the road. The real challenge is finding a spot with a great 360 vista because lightning can be in all directions. To be completely honest with you, I saw much better lightning than I captured but I was having so...

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on May 13, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Save Them Afternoons!

With summer heat comes summer afternoon thunderstorms. And with those come great photographic opportunities. Get yourself an app like Dark Skies and tap on the Map function to see how and where the afternoon thunderheads are forming (hit the Play button to see the convection). Then look at a map to find topography that brings the last little bit of drama to a photo and head out. Take a variety of focal lengths from Z14-30 to 180-400VR providing yourself lots of flexibility to work the potential storm. Situate yourself so you are looking either west or west by northwest so you can take advantage of the light. Watch your white balance shooting on Cloudy / 6000k or higher to capture all the subtle shades of red, pink, and orange and underexpose to give them colors punch. Then include something in the frame to give scale making those thunderheads look as powerful as they really are. It’s a great time to get a little wet, a little adventurous, and a...

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on Apr 17, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Landscape Out The Window

Cabin fever, landscape photographers are really feeling it judging from the emails of the past week. Getting out on the road, starting the day with a vast landscape stretching before you and then the celebratory breakfast with friends recounting the wonders seen and memories made. I know of no substitution for this marvelous experience other than the real thing. Good thing it’s not too far off in our future. In the meantime, can you sharpen your landscape photographic skills without leaving your home? I think you can and it starts with stretching your imagination! I selected two photos I took standing inside and shooting out a window to illustrate my thought. One is with a very wide angle lens, 14mm and the other shot with a long lens, 200mm. The goal, of course, is to tell a visual story about the landscape and that comes from inside you. The challenge comes from taking what YOU see every day and making a photo that others don’t see every day and...

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on Mar 24, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Emotion a Subject?

Every time you put your camera up to your eye, you gotta ask yourself, “What’s the subject?” Without that key element in the photograph, it is really, really, really hard to then arrange the rest of the elements to tell your story. With a photo like this of this lonely church on The Palouse, deciding what’s the subject can be a challenge. You might think it’s the church itself. But then you see the clouds and then you’re vision is brought down around again to the church. What is the subject? Is it possible the subject isn’t a specific element but all them wrapped up together to express an emotion? If you think an emotion you are invoking can be the subject, then how can you tell its story? Can shooting in color or B&W be a way to arrange the elements to instill that emotion that is the subject of your photograph? I think so, I do that all the time as I think emotion can be a...

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on Mar 20, 2020 in Landscape Photography

Little House on, The Palouse

The Palouse has an incredibly rich history that you can see in its people, land, and buildings. They are all very independent, strong and very much part of the fabric of the region. There are hundreds of old barns and homes that dot the vast landscape and I think I’ve stopped and marveled at least at half of them. I continually return to ones I’ve photographed before, check out ones that I would love to photograph but didn’t before and search for new ones. No matter what, every trip to The Palouse is always filled with old treasures. This trip to The Palouse, I had for the first time the Z and its very fun #17 Charcoal setting in my arsenal. Not B&W, not Sepia, #17 I think of as a “tintype” kind of look. While perhaps a tad older than the structures themselves, this look I think brings a little something extra to the story I want to tell about this part of The Palouse history. You might...

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