Late last week, it was asked in a group forum what was everyone’s “must have” photographic piece of equipment (excluding the camera itself). While I understand the bases of what was being asked, I was too focused on the words because “must have” is very different than “nice to have”.
So I type this from my bed watching the sun rise from my window knowing that I should be outside. And after reading this growing list of “can’t live without” gadget suggestions, my opinion strengthened that I (and you) don’t actually need to buy any of these – we only need the motivation and desire to get out of bed.
Today’s Image – Exposed Coral Reef on Haena Beach, Kawa’i Island
It’s so easy to delay the task of processing images. Knowing that the image files will still be there tomorrow is a great encouragement for procrastination. By accepting an invitation to share a small slideshow with the local photo clubs, I now have a hard deadline to prepare 3 weeks of images from a late 2012 visit to Hawai’i. This presentation will discuss the locations visited, the resulting images, and how some of the images were created.
If you’re local to Prince Edward Island, The PEI Photo Club meeting in Charlottetown will be May 28th and the Red Sands Photo Club meeting in Summerside will be June 10th.
After discovering that finding flowing lava in Volcano National Park was not going to happen, it was time to go on a search with fingers crossed. At this point, all I knew was that the Puʻu ʻŌʻō vent was active, it was on private land, and the nice lady at our hotel gave us a mans name who had access to this private land.
Equipped with only a first and last name, my best guess was the east side of Chain of Craters Road. There we were greeted by a team of security to a single private road to homes rebuilt on top of the lava fields. The effort to keep people from venturing out alone was high. I told security who I was looking for and although they knew him, they wouldn’t tell me how to contact him. They said I could watch from “the viewing area” – which happens to be 5km away.
This viewing area had another security guard – who was much more willing to provide information. After 30 minutes of chat and learning how the homes survive without water, heat or utilities, I had 3 possible names that I could hire as guides and within 2 hours, I was scheduled to meet back in Kalapana the next day to start the hike before sundown.
Today’s Image – Red Hot Lava
After the 5km one-way hike, I found myself standing face-to-face with the most intense heat wave imaginable burning through my skin. From 10 feet away, it felt like I was sitting an inch from a camp fire.
After almost 2 weeks exploring the Hawai’i islands, it was time to finish the adventure on the Big Island with only one goal in mind – the active volcano. Created when 5 volcanoes erupted and overlapped each other, several lava trails are visible when looking at the Big Island on Google maps. As a result, it’s very easy to find a mix of ʻAʻā lava (stony and rough) and Pāhoehoe lava (smooth and unbroken) everywhere you look.
Today’s Image – Road Closed
A road sign marks where the Chain of Craters Road once was before the 2002-2004 lava flow. An eruption that started on January 3rd, 1983 which still continues today earns Kīlauea the title of most active volcano in the world located on the eastern edge of Hawaii’s Volcano National Park. For a better understanding of the activity and scale, take a look at this map of recent lava flows from the Puʻu ʻŌʻō and Kupaianaha vents.
After spending a week in Las Vegas as part of the website support team for Essentials of Emergency Medicine, we (silverorange) went to Zion National Park for the weekend before flying back home. Several hours after hiking out to Canyon Overlook this afternoon, it still amazes me how quickly it went from solid white, can’t see anything, to clear blue skies with grand views. It could have been measured in minutes.
Part of what I remember from my previous visits to the National Parks in the Southwest is how quickly the weather and light changes. With photography, light is everything. And with outdoor nature photography, that light source is only what mother nature presents on any given day. It’s not Zion, but this next series of images shows Monument Valley over a 17 hour period last November.
For the past three weeks, I have been living seven timezones away exploring the state of Hawaii. Ignoring the recommendation to slow down, the decision was made to experience the four major islands in five days or less for each. While I have no regrets earning this high level of appreciation on how each island differs, it would have also been an interesting experience to take a full week or two and hike deep into the many areas not accessible by car.
Today’s Image – Na’Pali Coast State Park
The central to north coast of Kaua’i has amazing views and a network of canyons and valleys deep between the landscape that are mostly only accessible by hiking trails. Kaua’i truly earns the name “Garden Isle”.
It’s that time again when I must recheck and recheck again to make sure I have all the necessities before packing the camera on a plane and traveling off to a location not-so-close to home. I will soon be in Iceland with a few photographer friends and while packing light is always the priority — having enough to get by for a couple weeks is a concern as well.
My pack list from my American Southwest adventure this past fall proved to be successful but I must admit with all the restrictions and frustrations of travel — I do miss the days when all I had was a small pocket camera.
Today’s Image – Virgin River in Zion National Park
In the spirit of travel and because I’m not yet in Iceland, today’s image is flash back from my November trip to the Southwest National Parks. The first stop was Zion National Park and here I am along side the Pa’rus trail (N 37 12.894 W 112 58.524) in the Virgin River looking south.
I’ve been slowly reading the latest book from David duChemin since Christmas (it’s been a busy year) and he never fails with his ability to start an internal discussion to critique ones work. The message is always well beyond the many how-to step-by-step guides and much more about aesthetics. His suggestions may not have clearly defined answers but are always based on a solid foundation.
Photographically Speaking: A Deeper Look at Creating Stronger Images is the fourth book in the series following Within the Frame, Vision Mongers and Voice & Vision. This latest book is all about why a photograph was made and being able to describe in details the purpose or intent the photographer had. David challenges you to defend every element that makes up that single frame. It’s an interesting discussion and a slow read with each page making me pause to think or read again.
The readers of your photograph make an assumption. They assume that you know what you are doing, that you meant to say the things you did by including or excluding elements and making certain decisions, whether technical—that is, optics, shutter speed, and aperture—or artistic—that is, your point of view and use of perspective or your framing. The reader believes you meant to do it. So whether or not the idea of intent works for you, it is assumed by your readers. And because they believe this, all content—whether we intended it or not—has meaning.
As I continue to read through this book and think about my own work, it reinforces and reminds me of the one tool I use the most. I’ll spend a long time positioning the tripod and camera over and over making small adjustments again and again until I think I’m happy. And then I’ll adjust everything one more time. But back at home later that day, week or month when I’m looking at those 2×3 files, I’ll spend just as much time playing with the crop tool debating even more what should be removed from or aligned to the frame. It’s easily the most used tool in my workflow – everything else is secondary.
Today’s Image – Rolling Hills Near Sonora
Last fall, I spent a couple days renting a house in the hills near Sonora (N 37 56.768 W 120 23.026) and each morning I would venture out in the unfamiliar place, down the hill and work with the chaos of nature and the rising sun. It has now been several months since this day and I’ve revisited the many images from this location several times. Each time adjusting it but ultimately deciding something just wasn’t right. I’ve fussed over the small details but now believe I’m finally satisfied. So I’m not sure if it actually does work or I’ve convinced myself that it does because I so badly want it to. I can still hear that rooster.
I participate in several photography related groups and the question routinely comes up asking how the so called professional can convince clients that they offer a higher quality product than the so called amateur. Well, for starters, a self labeled professional never means quality so instead of this all too common campaign “Why hire a professional” to generate sales, they should be saying “Why hire me”.
As someone that will take the cheapest route in other industries, it’s all about the perception of value. What makes an art piece in a gallery worth more than those found at the local department store? It’s much more about the ‘who’ or the ‘why’ and less about the ‘what’.
For example: Joshua Bell is a Grammy award winning violinist that sells out concert after concert at $100+ per ticket. The following day he takes his $3 million dollar violin to the subway and plays that same performance again and earns $32 total while all but 7 ignore him. Without the ‘who’, the value is lost and nobody takes the time to see or hear the difference. (reference)
In the world of an artist, what actually defines value? Art has always been subjective and I’ll never understand several museum pieces that cost millions – but it’s worth something to someone. As I write this and look at all the books on my bookshelf or the prints bought for my wall, it’s obvious I spent money based on the name associated with it. Change the author and I never would have considered buying most of them.
This TED talk by Simon Sinek: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it” is worth the 18 minute investment.
Today’s Image – The Start of a Storm over Bryce Canyon
This is one of those images that has a much more interesting story than possibly the image itself. The weather conditions were the most memorable of my travels.
Patiently waiting high above Bryce Canyon National Park late in the day, the skies were clear with some clouds in the distance and shaping up to be an interesting sunset. I was not expecting how fast a weather system can move in and quickly turn into a snow storm. The high winds were incredible and something I can’t illustrate in a photograph. With the tripod weighted down and the legs spread as wide as they could go and as close to the ground as possible for this frame, I was the only fool not taking shelter. When I did finally pack up and started my route back to our hotel, the skies cleared up just as quickly before dark. Possibly some of the most amazing weather conditions I’ve experienced.
I have a love hate relationship with the term hdr. While I like to use it when the scene demands it, I hate talking about it because it has built up such a negative reaction that’s mostly associated with the images, in my opinion only, are over processed and often silly looking. At the same time, the realistic hdr images go unnoticed as a regular photograph. This alone gives the term hdr an unfair review as all being cartoony.
I realize this topic has been abused to no end but for those not familiar, the original purpose of hdr (or high dynamic range) was to deal with the range of light that the eye can see but the camera can not. Our eyes can adjust for high contrast scenes from the very bright to the very dark. The technology in today’s cameras can’t do that yet forcing us to make a creative decision to either silhouette the shadows or over expose and blow out the highlights. In these high contrast scenes, the camera can not physically record what the eye sees.
Today’s Image – South Rim of the Grand Canyon
In late October, I went on a trip through the American Southwest to experience first hand the landscape that has become so famous among photographers. My first night at the Grand Canyon was a good example of the vast range of light. With bright white snow at my feet, a dark and deep canyon in the distance and a bright setting sun behind a bank of clouds, the scene was simply more then a camera could handle in a single exposure without compromises.
Before and After
The technical difficulties are apparent. As a photographer with today’s limitations, you are forced to make an exposure decision. Make one area too dark or one area too bright. To record as much details as I could, I made 3 images from this location with the intention of using the best from each.