My Summer Vacation Part V – Yellowstone!

We chose to enter Yellowstone through the northeast entrance, from Silver Gate MT. We drove over the Chief Joseph and Bear Tooth Highways (see Part IV) again. Boy, was that tough to do.

The road from the northeast entrance into the Park parallels Soda Butte Creek, past the Yellowstone Association Institute to the Lamar Valley. The Lamar Valley is famous for the Bison herds and other wildlife. The Lamar Valley is wider than the Madison Valley near the west entrance, with grander vistas. And the Bison were very photogenic!

My Bison wildlife panorama.

Obviously, these Bison were crossing the Lamar River. There were several babies (more appropriately called calves, I’m sure) with this herd.

Watching the calves was very entertaining. They run and play just like happy children should.

As we continued our drive across the northeast portion of the Park, we encountered lots of wildlife. We saw a Wolf, but from too great a distance for pictures.

The Pronghorn were still shedding their winter coats.

This Osprey was nesting on Lava Creek, I think.

We saw some Bear in the distance in the Lamar Valley, but this one was napping in the trees within camera range.

A final Bison shot with my ‘camera that also makes phone calls’ just a few minutes away from Mammoth Hot Springs.

We arrived in Mammoth Hot Springs shortly after noon. We scouted the area, visited the Visitor’s Center, and found the hotel and some lunch.

The Elk are plentiful in and around Mammoth Hot Springs. As it was calving season, the Cows were very sensitive to people.

Happy to be out of the car but too early to check into the hotel, we explored Mammoth Hot Springs. The mineral springs are a marvel.

A shot of the Lower Terrace with my trusty Canon PowerShot G9X Mk II, a compact point and shoot camera that I always carry.

I walked the path to this spot above the Lower Terrace, looking back towards historic Fort Yellowstone.

Of course, my lovely bride and sometimes model also enjoyed the walk to the Terrace. Even though we arrived on June 3, temperatures were cool for most of the week.

After our walk up the hill to the springs, we were able to check into the hotel. We met our tour guide and the other members of the Old Times on the Grand Tour (aka the Yellow Bus Tour) that evening. Nancy, our tour guide, reviewed the itinerary and provided other information. Our group included visitors from Illinois, Maryland, Wisconsin, and Thailand. We became good friends with them over the next week. Our accommodations in Mammoth Hot Springs were a ‘cabin’ – half of a duplex a nice walk away from the main hotel. Clean and comfortable, but no TV or internet. Pretty good shower, tho’. In the other side of the duplex were Stephanie and Carol, new friends also on the tour.

This is Cabin A26 with my favorite model relaxing on the porch.

The end of a very exciting day, but the beginning of a marvelous adventure! Stay tuned and enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part IV – On Top of the World!

After a very successful wildlife picture day, we headed into the high country for some gorgeous scenery. Traveling northwest from Cody on the Chief Joseph Highway, we were headed for Bear Tooth Pass. The views were stunning and the light cooperated nicely.

This area is known as the Sunlight Basin, for obvious reasons.

The view from Bear Tooth Pass, elevation 10,947 feet. The road had just opened the day before we were there (June 1), and then closed again a week later (June 8) by a late spring snow.

Sometimes, one must let the images speak for themselves. Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

My Summer Vacation Part II…

After our wonderful experience in Twin Falls, we ventured north to Yellowstone National Park. As we traveled, we saw in the distance the west side of the Grand Tetons. We entered Yellowstone through the west entrance and experienced our first ‘Bison Jam’ a couple miles in. A herd was crossing the Madison River and we were at the head of the line. I was unprepared, but was able to grab a couple shots. Here’s one of a youngster just out of the river.

As we continued into the Park, we were awed by the beautiful scenery and by the shear number of Bison. We stopped several times to marvel at where we were. At one stop, I watched a Bison in a river in the distance. I grabbed a few shots from far away and, as I was shooting, he came out of the water and started walking across the meadow. I moved down the slope to the meadow and continued shooting. He crossed a second stream and started walking in our direction. I grabbed a few more shots and hustled up the slope.

By the time I got back in the truck, my lovely bride was taking pictures of him where I had been standing just a few moments before. He walked parallel to us for a bit and we moved on. We were due at Susan’s brother’s house for dinner, so the rest of the drive through the Park was uneventful.

The next day, we headed into Cody and a trip to the Buffalo Bill Museum.

It’s been 40 years since I was in Cody and it did not disappoint. The portion of the Museum formerly known as the Winchester Collection was being remodeled, so we weren’t able to see much of those displays. The rest of the Museum, however, was incredible. We really enjoyed the several hours we spent there.

We had a bite of lunch in the Museum and then caught the Raptor Show. They had a Red Tailed Hawk and a Screech Owl on display. Neither was allowed to fly, but I had brought the big camera in and I got a few pictures. Here’s the Screech Owl – a real cutie!

We encourage you to visit Cody and see the Buffalo Bill Museum. The gun collection is opening this month.

Until next time – enjoy! PHOTOROGR

Things to come…part 1!

Or, how I spent my summer vacation…part 1! The drive there!

In my last post, I showed images of the Yellow Bus we rode in around Yellowstone National Park and introduced our trip. In this post, I start sharing our trip with you. Enjoy!

We spent our first night in Twin Falls ID. We went to Jaker’s for dinner – great place, by the way – and our server asked if we had ever seen Shoshone Falls. Since this was our first time in Twin Falls, we obviously said no. He happily gave us directions and sent us on our way.

Simply put – FABULOUS! And we hit it at a perfect time for photography. If you’re going through Twin Falls, make time to go! You will not be disappointed.

This is an iPhone shot, specifically, a panorama. Then processed in Photoshop with a Nik filter. It’s amazing what that little camera (that makes phone calls, too) can do!

 

I let the pictures speak for themselves. Lots of fun in the digital darkroom with these.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Preview of things to come…

Last January, I discussed my photo goals for the coming year. My goals are simple – shoot more, share more! It’s been a while since I posted, so I haven’t been meeting my second goal. In my defense, however, I have been exceeding my first goal. My lovely bride and I took a vacation to visit family in Wyoming and then we spent a week in Yellowstone National Park on a yellow bus tour, more formally known as Old Times on the Grand Tour.

I spent a day and a half downloading files from my cameras when we got home, and have been slowly working my way through them, turning the RAW files into images. Emphasis on the SLOWLY!

As a preview, here’s a few images of our Yellow Bus – a 1937 White body with upgraded drive line and brake systems for dependability and safety. They chose a Ford drive line. Smart people!

Stay tuned. We had a wonderful adventure! Yellow Bus is a great way to see the Park!

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

We started our 5 day adventure at the Mammoth Hot Springs Hotel. Matt, our driver, is at the back of the bus.

Our first stop was a pond with some waterfowl and Yellow Headed Blackbirds. I experimented with the panorama feature on my mobile phone.

In the distance, one can make out some Pronghorn in the distance. Day 1 was touring the Lamar Valley.

Silhouettes!

A couple weeks ago, I participated in the Winter Wings Festival in Klamath Falls OR. I took several classes to improve my photography skills and got to see a presentation by George Lepp. George has been taking pictures for over 50 years, and was recently presented with  Lifetime Achievement Award by the North American Nature Photograhy Association. He is a regular contributor to Outdoor Photographer magazine. I was able to visit with him for a few minutes before his presentation – a true gentleman, wonderful photographer, and a great presenter.

One of my classes was silhouette photography. The timing wasn’t great for the field portion of the class, but we did the best we could and I learned a lot about the technique. The key to a successful silhouette image is the background. For those fine art shots that people like to hang in their homes and offices, black outlines with a brightly colored background works great. Think sunsets and sunrises. Another key element is to be as low as possible to ensure that there’s a clear connection with the ground. Get low to ensure that feet aren’t lost in the foreground, for example.

For the images from class, I relied on pretty skies and the details in the trees to make the composition work.

Here’s a few images from the class.

I made this image with my trusty Canon PowerShot G9X Mk II. The instructor, Lisa Langell, told me I passed the class when I showed her this image in camera.

Not a perfect silhouette but still a fun image. Everyone was making images of the Eagle in the tree.

There were several Eagles in the area while we were there, and this one was circling before landing in the nest.

The sun was still in the sky, so I took advantage and made it a part of the composition.

This wasn’t my first attempt at silhouettes. In 2015, I made this image of my neighbor’s house and yard.

I was intrigued by the moonlight and the warm colors in the yard lights, but the tree silhouette on the right became a critical element of the composition.

And this from the Siskiyou River in Florence, OR.

I chose to not make the pilings and birds totally black, but it still counts as a silhouette.

My best silhouette to date was shot in 2016 in the Pinenut Range just east of my home.

A moonrise always makes a good picture – even better with a creative foreground.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

Double D and PSC…interpretations on the Sierra Nevada Range!

In my last post, I talked about the Digital Darkroom (or Double D) and the fun I was having while exploring the application of creative filters. For today’s post, I used an image made with my PowerShot G9X Mk II point and shoot camera (hence the PS Challenge piece of the title).

I don’t remember where I was going last week, but I remember that the light on the Sierra Nevadas was gorgeous. I pulled over and got out of the truck, grabbing my trusty PowerShot, and began clicking. I always bracket exposures for my landscape shots to decide during post processing what I am going to do. I bracket up and down one stop with this camera. I used all 3 exposures to merge them into an HDR in Adobe Camera Raw, then applied filters using Topaz Studio.

Just for fun, I processed this using three different filters.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

 

The Digital Darkroom – How Much is Too Much?

“Owing to an inherently mechanical nature, a camera (be it film or digital) essentially produces raw images that, on their own, are rarely able to adequately communicate the enigmatic complexities and expressive nuances of a subsequently crafted fine art photograph. Post-camera image manipulation has always been a basic tenant of the photography process.”

That’s how Huntington Witherill started his article ‘Beyond the Camera’ in the November 2018 issue of Outdoor Photographer magazine. It caught my attention immediately! I enjoy reading Outdoor Photographer and have used information from its wonderful articles in previous posts. In the article, Witherill describes the time he got to visually inspect an original 8 x 10 inch negative produced by Edward Weston circa 1930. The negative had “…what appeared to be a considerable amount of pencil scrawling on the emulsion side …” Kim Weston, Edward’s grandson, explained that “…Edward had often used very soft pencils (and a small light-table…) in order to build density in chosen areas of his negatives…” After this experience, Witherill realized that what he refers to as ‘post-camera image management techniques’ “…comprise not only a significant part of the overall photographic process but also, in many respects, the very essence of photography technique.” He continued, “…post-camera image management techniques are a necessary and integral part of the overall photography process.”

Witherill talks about having a strong foundation in “…photography technique and craft…” to take what one sees, combined with knowledge of what a camera can record, and create a finished visual record. His process begins with knowing your equipment so you can start with a strong foundation (what I would call the best exposure) to build on using post-camera tools and techniques. The article talks about artistic expression and making the image say what the photographer wants it to say.

In the several years since I’ve been pursuing photography seriously, I’ve had similar discussions with my friends and mentors. Many of my friends have backgrounds in photojournalism which doesn’t allow for manipulation, save for minor dodging and burning (darkening or lightening) areas of an image. Other friends document events for clients, where the volume of images made does not allow time for post processing.

I consider myself an artist. I am not documenting, rather I am recording for artistic purposes. I have always favored manipulating my images, and have worked to make the subjects closely resemble the moment as I remembered it. After reading this article, however, I decided to pursue more artistic interpretations, depending on the subject.

I think it’s gonna be a lot of fun! And so, how much is too much? Only time – and future images – will tell.

With this new creative process, I have been playing with some images. The images below show a ‘straight’ version compared to  what I call a ‘more radical’ interpretation. As always, feedback is appreciated.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

This is an American Kestrel, processed to highlight the details of the raptor.

Same image, a little softer.

The beautiful Sierra Nevada Mountains. I used a Topaz filter to make the composition a little bit abstract. I think this filter minimizes the foreground, accentuates the sky, and maintains the integrity of the beauty of the mountains.

The same image with a Nik filter to maintain the details but give more depth to the colors.

Shoot More….Share More!

A couple weeks ago, one of my photo buddies asked the question, ‘What are your photography goals for 2019?’ It’s a powerful question, asked during the frenzy of Christmas preparations so I had to stop and think about it.  After a couple days, I realized that I only had a couple photography goals for 2019: Shoot More – Share More!

My world had been disrupted so much in 2018 that my shooting had slowed to just a few times a month and I was posting here once every couple months. I wasn’t sharing much on other social media sites, either. What’s a photographer to do then? Shoot More – Share More!

I appreciated the question on several fronts. I’m not much for resolutions, but I like setting goals. As I considered the question, I realized that I hadn’t been out there as much and I definitely wasn’t sharing as much. And I found that I allowed my passion for photography to take a back seat to other things, and it was time to become passionate again.

And so, get ready for the onslaught! Not really. As I have tried to shoot more, I have been more discerning in my image choices. I’m not stopping for shots for which I may have stopped before. Even if I did stop and shoot, I’m looking at my images in the ‘digital darkroom’ with a more critical eye. What that means is that I expect a higher level in my photography which means more enjoyable images for you.

Let’s get to some images. Several years ago, I started noticing interesting trees along the roads, back roads, and trails I traveled. I started a series that I call Special Trees. No captions – I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

 

Always be a Beginner…

From January to the end of June, I was in Wyoming with my Dad as he transitioned to life without my Mom. I had a birthday while I was there, and my lovely bride sent me a book titled zen camera creative awakening with a daily practice in photography by David Ulrich. The book has been an enjoyable read, providing insight into the creative process instead of technical information. In the last couple days, I read a section titled ‘Beginner’s Mind.’ Two paragraphs in, the author says, “Always be a beginner.” The discussion then focuses on past experiences coloring what one does and thinks, and transitions into a discussion of why photography can change the pattern.

“Photography is an ideal entry to the beginner’s mind. It invites fresh seeing. It enlivens the commonplace, and can radically open your mind to what is. Since the world is always new – no moment ever repeats itself – you must flexibly adapt behind a camera.” (emphasis added)

The format of the book is discussion followed by practical exercises, identified by the title ‘TRY:’ In the ‘TRY: Cultivate Beginner’s Mind’ section, Ulrich writes, “Artists and photographers often engage the unending search for what is new and fresh. They shake things up from time to time, trying to break free of well-worn grooves of thought and expression. They resolve not to solely rely on past accomplishments. Innovation looks toward the future. However, newness for its own sake is a double edged sword. It can lead to gimmicks or forced behavior just to be different. I prefer the word freshness, like ripe fruit before it stales.”

As I read the book, I reflected on my photographic journey – the excitement of learning a new technique, trying new camera settings, seeing a different perspective of a longer lens or shorter lens. I appreciated the information provided by the author as much of my passion for photography and excitement to continue comes from the freshness of these new or different concepts. For some time, I realized that my view of the world has changed. I look at the light and the contrast the light creates. I evaluate all that I see with an eye to composing an image and then consider how I would record it. In some ways,

In some ways, I have gotten complacent. I know what I like (and don’t like) in an image of a raptor. I have my workflow for shooting a landscape and processing the image on the computer. I’ll heed Ulrich’s advice, however, and try to look at the world anew, with a fresh eye.

Recall that during last year’s fall colors, I was on the road working for FEMA and missed it. I’ve made up for it a little this year, catching color in Colorado and Nevada.

Enjoy – PHOTOROGR

The Colorado Rocky Mountains south of Avon CO.

This was mid-September. They had color much earlier than we did in the Sierras.

But the Colorado Rockies are a little bit higher.

A view along US Highway 24.

Echo Lake, on the way to Mt. Evans.

Along US 24, just downhill from Camp Hale.

I took a drive up CA Highway 4 to Ebbetts Pass.

The colors did not disappoint.

And the skies cooperated as well.

A wonderful shooting day.

I put on my hiking boots and headed up the Pacific Crest Trail from Carson Pass on CA Highway 88. Not much color up there, but some beautiful photo opportunities nonetheless.

Downhill from Carson Pass is Red Lake. I found this scene on a back road nearby.