Where to Go in August?

Monument Valley captured by Z 6II / Z24-70f2.8

The “end” of summer often means a slow down of my critter photography so I go looking for other drama to fill the viewfinder. I’ve wondered to many places in search of the light and one that sucks me in over and over again in August is Monument Valley. Landscapes need drama, romance to put the viewer into the landscape and for Monument Valley, the end of the summer monsoons add that last little essence of romance I look for to grab heartstrings! It takes a bit of luck, a bit of technology and a big heart to pull it all together in one click.

The luck is the monsoons perform as desired. At sunset they release their energy producing the lightning that can be absolutely magical! The technology in the form of a Miops for the lightning and a WB of 10k to bring out those reds. And the romance, that can start with a John Ford movie and a room at The View. Yeah, there are other options in August but most folks don’t think of heading to the desert during the heat of the summer. But that heat is what produces the monsoon storms and that creates the magic. Monument Valley, my idea of where to go in August!

What an Experience! – Photo, not so Much

Old Faithful captured by Z 9 / Z24-70f2.8

Old Faithful is so iconic American West and though I have seen it irrupt hundreds of times, I’ve gotta see it at least once every time I’m there. This last May I got to do something I’ve long wanted to do, see it irrupt under the stars. The skies are so large, stars so bright, they swallow you up and wrap you in a blanket of light. It was eleven o’clock at night so the only sound you heard was the low growl of Old Faithful organizing for its next show. Off in the distance this night we heard coyotes sing down in Biscuit. Then comes the show when is at first announced with sound but once it gets twenty or thirty feet tall you can see the column of steam rise. Shortly it’s at its height and this veil of white starts to float in front of you, you hear the water rush up and then crash down. It seems to dance in front of us with stars coming and going through the rising plume of steam. It was incredibly magical and an experience I will never forget!

Then there were the photographs, they too were an experience I will never forget. Oh, there are so many issues bringing that experience back in a photograph! There is so much light pollution the steam picks up. First, there is the dinning hall to the south with its sodium vapor lights. They were still in the process of getting it open for the season and it seemed to me they were having fun playing with the lights. It was an atomic glow! Then there were the delivery trucks headlights that came and went. At first I though it might be a cool form of light painting. I thought wrong. Lastly were the headlights of folks pulling into the Old Faithful Inn. The irruption went off around 11:30PM and you’d think these things wouldn’t be an issue. Despite all of this, I got a couple of clicks and while the experience comes rushing back to my memory, I’m not bringing you there. This was my first opportunity to make these clicks, it won’t be the last. Old Faithful under the stars, what an experience!

exposure note: ISO 6400 f2.8 1.5sec

Old Faithful captured by Z 9 / Z24-70f2.8

Have a Seat

Cape Spear Lighthouse captured by Z 8 / Fisheye

We are so fortunate to travel the world with our cameras! We have a responsibility to not only bring back the photograph we want, but one we want to share. And we need to do more than share but invite our viewer to come in and take a seat! These two very red chairs are on the lawn and the Cape Spear Lighthouse. As far out into the Atlantic as you can get and not get wet, Cape Spear is often blanketed in fog as it was this day. There was gray everywhere! Except these two chairs and the top of the copola. I wanted to put you into that scene and to do that, I grabbed the fisheye, got as close physically I could and not crop the chairs and went click. I wanted to match the curved lighthouse with the chairs, tie them in with shape and color. I want you to say to yourself, “what a fun place to sit and watch life.” The invite to the viewer goes with the way you arrange the elements in the frame. Please, have a seat!

It Was Calling

Uganik South Arm captured by Z 8 / Z24-120

I spent most of my time between sessions with the Kodiak Brown Bears just sitting on the deck literally watching the clouds float by. Most of the Z 8 was attached to the Z600f4 as I worked the sparrows flitting around. I always though had the Z24-120 handy for moments like this. As the clouds floats by they would pant the hillside with light bringing to life this or that section of the slope. I thought about doing a time lapse but that required me getting up and working. I was in chill mode and the mountain seemed to know that. Every so often it would light up like you see here, that’s when I switch lenses and make a click. It was real simple, just required switching the Picture Control to Monochrome, making the click and then goin back to the birds. It was my kinda of afternoon, landscape photography and way to pass the time chillin. It was calling me!

Backlight for Color & B&W

Mammoth Hot Springs captured by Z 9 / Fisheye

I love Mammoth Hot Springs! It never ceases to amaze me what Mother Nature has created and shared with us when I walk its boardwalks. The majority of the time I do it in the afternoon, the hours the critters are typically taking a siesta. When in Yellowstone my priority is the critters so landscapes are taken only when there is nothing else the majority of the time. This early morning though as we passed the terraces, the light and sky just screamed for our cameras so we hit the boardwalk. The backlighting is what made them jump out at us. As they are all white, the light is bouncing everywhere so then it’s just a matter of arranging the elements to move the eye through the frame. In the black & white, I closed the aperture down to create the starbursts to move the eye around. In the color version, it was the algae I used as an anchor for the eye. And in both the backlit steam set the stage and brought the romance of the landscape to the image. We so enjoyed our time on the boardwalk even after we learned we missed a bear. It was a gorgeous morning for backlight color & B&W!

Mammoth Hot Springs captured by Z 9 / Fisheye

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