Archive for the ‘People’ Category

Single Image Sunday: Fearless   27 comments

Like many Sundays I am posting an image that dovetails with this past Friday’s topic on negative space.  This is not a particularly great photo but it certainly draws your eye.  It’s also a reminder to myself that I do not include enough negative space in my people pictures.  In this picture the negative space is perfectly placed in the upper left quadrant.

A friend of mine brought his girlfriend along on a hike high up on Mount Hood and she turned out to be a mountain goat, totally fearless.  And it’s not like she’s particularly young (hope she’s not reading this!).  I used to have similar inclinations, but I’ve certainly mellowed.  Here she simply wanted to perch somewhere with a good view of Hood.  She seemed so relaxed up there, which you absolutely need to be in order to do it safely.  It made me very nervous!  I hope your weekend is going well.

On the Knife Edge

Friday Foto Talk: Reflections, Part II   8 comments

A calm wetland in the Montana Rockies greets the morning.

A calm wetland in the Montana Rockies greets the morning.

This is the second of two parts on that particular part of the light we encounter as photographers: reflection.  Reflected light can really enhance your images, but it is also a potential distraction.  There are several ways to control and use reflected light to your advantage during the capture phase.  There are additional things you can do during post-processing, but this post will focus on the capture phase.

By the way, I’ve been not posting this week because I’ve been offline, enjoying Mt. Rainier and Olympic National Parks.  Stay tuned for posts on these destinations. Meanwhile here’s a teaser:

Mount Rainier reflected in Bench Lake.

Mount Rainier reflected in Bench Lake.

Note that the images you see on my blog are copyrighted and not available for download without my permission.  If you do have interest in any of them, just click to go to the main gallery part of my website.  Once you have the large, high-res version of the image you like before you, just click “Purchase Options”.  Thanks for your interest, and please contact me if you have any questions.

The upper Snake River, between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, flows across a wildlife-rich and lonely valley.

The upper Snake River, between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, flows across a wildlife-rich valley.

Here on a frigid night at Yellowstone National Park, the moon is reflected in a hot pool even though the steam obscures it's shape above.

Here on a frigid night at Yellowstone National Park, the moon is reflected in a hot pool even though the steam obscures it’s shape above.

USING REFLECTIONS TO YOUR ADVANTAGE

      • First the bad news:  Reflections can be distracting, unattractive, and rob your scene of color.  The reason why I often use a circular polarizer on a drizzly cloudy day in the Oregon forest (all 8 months of it!) is that the leaves and needles, the rocks, even the soil, all of it is covered with a thin sheen of water.
      • What to do: If you want to bring out the verdant green of those leaves, the subtle hues of that rock standing in the stream, you need to at least partly block that reflection.  That is what a polarizer does for you.  It will also block the reflection from the top of the stream or lake, allowing you to see (if it’s shallow enough) the color of the rocks, gravel or logs beneath.  Be careful though.  Don’t always rotate the polarizer until the maximum reflected light is blocked. You might want some of that reflection in your image if it’s attractive.  Essentially, if a reflection is not adding color or depth to your image, it is usually taking away in some way.
The evergreen trees are turned gold and reflected in a mountain lake just outside Cave Junction in southwestern Oregon.

The evergreen trees are turned gold and reflected in a mountain lake just outside Cave Junction in southwestern Oregon.

Black and white works well for reflections too, as demonstrated here in the morning mist and fog at Mount Rainier National Park.

Black and white works well for reflections too, as demonstrated here in the morning mist and fog at Mount Rainier National Park.

      • A little more bad news:  Reflections, especially strong ones, can fool your light meter.  The light meter in your camera does not like extremes of light or dark. So it can mess up and underexpose your picture.  This is especially true if you place the center of your frame right on the brightest reflection in your composition.  If you use Live View, the little white square (it’s white on Canon cameras at least) that floats around inside your frame will read mostly that part of the scene and adjust exposure accordingly.
A Himba girl in Namibia is perfectly lighted by virtue of standing in the shade of a hut with blazing sunshine being reflected off the light-colored ground and back up into her smiling face.

A Himba girl in Namibia is perfectly lighted by virtue of standing in the shade of a hut with blazing sunshine being reflected off the light-colored ground and back up into her smiling face.

      • What to do:  Be careful where you place that white square when using Live View.  If you use Live View to frame and focus your shot, you can turn it off right before tripping the shutter.  That way you can use your camera’s (normally excellent) evaluative or matrix metering.  Basically, you want to meter off of not the absolute brightest thing in your frame but a peg or two down.

When I say “meter off of” I mean being in manual mode and pointing the center of your frame at what you wish to meter, setting aperture & shutter speed, then re-framing to get the image you want.  Or you could, if you prefer to be in another mode (say aperture priority), simply point the center of the frame at what you’re metering and press the exposure lock button.  Then while keeping it pressed, re-frame and take the picture.  Whatever you do, it is safest to review your picture on the LCD (including the histogram) right after capture, so you can re-shoot then and there if necessary.

A frog in a high mountain lake at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington is reflected in waters near the shore.

A frog in a high mountain lake at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington is reflected in waters near the shore.

      • Yay, the good news!  Reflections can really add to any image.  The better your sky looks, the more opportunity you’ll have to make y our foreground look better by using reflections.  Let’s take an example.  You are shooting a mountain lake with a beautiful sky where the sun has just set behind the hills.  The light from the sky bounces off the water and gives that part of your photo a lot of interest with the shadows of colorful cloud and azure sky being accentuated in the water.  Instead of getting too excited about that and framing your picture with only water down to the bottom, find an interesting part of the near shore (mud ripples, round rocks, etc.) to include.  If you position yourself right (often you’ll need to get pretty low), the light reflecting off the water can help to light up that extra foreground.  It might just provide rim light around the edges of the rocks.  All this adds depth and texture to your image.
Mount Rainier is reflected in a subalpine pond lined with avalanche lilies.

Mount Rainier is reflected in a subalpine pond lined with avalanche lilies.

A building in downtown Portland reflects the golden light of the setting sun.

A building in downtown Portland reflects the golden light of the setting sun.

      • More good news:  Reflections give you so many more options.  They are really a good friend if you’re into abstracts.  The way sunlit water behaves in streams or in the wind provides fascinating compositions.  In cities you can much more easily shoot into the sun when there are abundant reflective surfaces.  You can put away the flash when you’re photographing someone under a tree or the eave of a building if there is an adjacent marble patio or walk.  You can play around with mirror effects, using store or car windows to put figures & faces in very compelling spots within your compositions.
An example of an abstract composition using reflections: water from springs collects in Snow Canyon, Utah.

An example of an abstract composition using reflections: water from springs collects in Snow Canyon, Utah.

Reflections are all around you.  They make up, after all, approximately one half of the natural light you use as a photographer.  Use them to your advantage, be aware of their ability to intrude on your images, and above all, have fun with them.

An empty beach along the lower Columbia River in Oregon glows with a colorful summer sunset.

An empty beach along the lower Columbia River in Oregon glows with a colorful summer sunset.

Friday Foto Talk: Reflections, Part I   18 comments

The Grand Tetons in Wyoming are reflected in the Snake River.

The Grand Tetons in Wyoming are reflected in the Snake River.

Although I should probably get busy and write the follow-up posts to those series I have going right now on this blog (patterns, life in the universe, the Cascades, etc.), I just can’t help going with what is on my mind at the moment.  What I’ve thought about off and on all day long is light, so that is what I’ll post on for this week’s Friday Foto Talk.

Photographers of all stripes know the importance of good light.  You either create it in the form of strobes, flashes and such, or you take advantage of nature’s own brand (which is of course the finest).  Here in the Pacific NW, we have seen a seemingly unending succession of clear days lately.  Although you can always find something to shoot no matter the light, clear skies mean high contrast and a short golden hour.  But we’ve had clouds move in the last couple days, and I’m elated.

This simple shot from Oregon's Cascade Mountains takes advantage of water's ability to reflect beautiful light that is being itself reflected from the fir trees.

This simple shot from Oregon’s Cascade Mountains takes advantage of water’s ability to reflect beautiful light that is being itself reflected from the fir trees.

If you are serious about photography, you should (no MUST) take advantage of good light.  That means getting  out during the golden hours straddling sunrise and sunset.  You might be excused for not doing this when skies are clear.  But when clouds move in, covering part of the sky, you need to do your best to drop everything and get your butt out there to shoot early or late in the day.

This shot from the Okavango Delta would lack a clear subject if the tree was not reflected so nicely.

This shot from the Okavango Delta would lack a clear subject if the tree was not reflected so nicely.

When the light turns beautiful, I typically seek out ways to magnify that great light.  What can I say, I’m greedy!  There are two ways that light rays can interact with a nice cloud-studded atmosphere in order to sweeten themselves.  One way is refraction, the bending and skittering of light rays between and through molecules of cloud and air. The other way is reflection, the simple bouncing of light from some reflective surface.  Great light is always a combination of these two, and this post focuses on the second: reflection.

Yesterday evening we got the first truly good light we’ve seen in quite some time.  I celebrated by going to my special spot where I never see another person, let alone photographer.  What makes this place so special is the quiet waters of the lower Columbia, ready to take on and make even better all the beautiful light that the heavens can give her.  I went to see her sparkling show, and as mostly happens, she did not disappoint (image below).

Color on the Lower Columbia!

Color on the Lower Columbia!

TYPES OF REFLECTIVE SURFACES

      •  Water: The most common of all reflective surfaces is really your go-to, especially if you’re a landscape photographer.  Whenever you’re looking up at the sky a few hours before sunset and thinking “this could really develop into something”, you should first think of places near water.  Even if you’re not much of a landscape person, maybe you like shooting people/action pictures on a pretty day, remember that everybody likes water, including your potential subjects.
The Lamar River Valley in Yellowstone National Park is a peaceful place at dusk.

The Lamar River Valley in Yellowstone National Park is a peaceful place at dusk.

      • Ice/Snow:  Okay I hear ya, these are really water in another form.  But their character is very different.  Ice can indeed act very much like water, in a mirror-like way.  Ice can also refract light, so you’ll get a great combination of effects in some circumstances.  Snow also reflects light, but in a very scattered way.  No mirror here.  I’ve found that depending on the angle of the sunlight and the character of the snow, you can get some pretty fine effects when the light bounces off snow.  You’ve heard Eskimos have a bunch of different words for snow.  Well I think photographers can learn something from Inuits (call them Inuits not Eskimos).
Snow reflects the setting sun from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Oregon.

Snow reflects the setting sun from Timberline Lodge on Mount Hood, Oregon.

      • Rock:  Light-colored rock can reflect light in a very unique way.  Some of the magic of Ansel Adams’ images of the Sierra Nevada were because of the play of light and shadow on the bright granite walls of the mountains.  The color of the rock can impart a definite tone to your subjects (see image below).  Even dark rock, like basalt, can if it is weathered smoothly reflect light in a subtle but attractive manner.
In this evening shot at Zion National Park, the old cabin takes on the color of the canyon walls after the sky's ambient light is reflected from them.

In this evening shot at Zion National Park, the old cabin takes on the color of the canyon walls after the sky’s ambient light is reflected from them.

      • Leaves:  Pay attention to small reflectors.  Leaves can act to bounce light toward or away from you.  Leaves transmit light too, so like ice the angle is worth taking note of and getting right.  You might have either a distracting or a pleasing reflection off the leaves in your composition.
      • Buildings:  The walls and especially the windows on buildings in your cityscapes will invariably reflect some light back at you.  Often the color saturation in light coming from the sky is enhanced when it bounces from the windows of a building.  With walls, it’s basically like rocks.  The lighter-colored and smoother they are, the more reflection you will get.  Again, you’ll need to decide whether the angle of reflection is giving you a distracting or pleasing result.
A Portland, Oregon cityscape is improved by the sky's beautiful light being reflected off the skyscraper.

A Portland, Oregon cityscape is improved by the sky’s beautiful light being reflected off the skyscraper.

      • Bright Ground:  The surfaces you walk on are natural reflectors.  Human-made surfaces tend to be brighter than natural ones, but there are exceptions. Beaches & snow are the best examples, but deposits of calcite (Pamukkale in Turkey or Mammoth in Yellowstone), white granite & marble bedrock, etc. can really bounce the light.  In areas where marble monuments or temples are found, or where the sidewalks and patios are particularly clean and bright, you can use reflection from the ground in several ways.  Providing fill light for portraits is the most obvious example, but you can also use it as you would a body of water during sunrise or sunset.
The nice directional light on this Nicaraguan man's face came largely from the strong sun being reflected off the nearby beach.

The nice directional light on this Nicaraguan man’s face came largely from the strong sun being reflected off the nearby beach.

      • Body Parts:  Eyes are very small but very important reflectors.  Everyone knows about red eye.  To avoid it, don’t use flash on your camera directed right at the person.  But plain old reflection from eyes is something to get just right.  Some of this is done on the computer, but it’s possible to have too much catch-light in a person’s eyes.  Some is good but too much light (or too obvious a reflection of the photographer) is often not attractive.  I won’t mention bald heads, since that is striking a bit too close to home!
This pretty young woman's eyes act as mirrors in this image from Cambodia, creating good catchlights.  But my own reflection is almost too obvious.

This pretty young woman’s eyes mirror the light in this image from Cambodia, creating catchlights. But my own reflection is almost too obvious.

      • Clouds:  Yes, clouds themselves can be a very effective secondary source of light.  When the sun that just set (or has not quite risen) is bouncing light off a large bank of clouds turned a fiery color, you often have enough light (and gorgeous light it is) to turn away from the sunset and photograph the scene behind you.  After sunset it would normally be pretty dark and colorless.  But with this sort of reflection you are given the gift of golden hour plus!  I’ve even noticed that if you have clouds on the opposite side of the sky, light can be reflected twice.  So if you’re shooting a smaller subject that would otherwise be a silhouette, you get some fill light that provides some details. This is a fairly rare & special situation, more common in the desert southwest.  When this late light bounces around, off of different cloud banks & off rock faces, maybe even water as well, you should thank the photography gods and shoot like a maniac!
This picture in Death Valley, California is directed at an angle to the setting sun.  It takes advantage of red-orange light reflected (and refracted) by the clouds back down on the salt flats.  The salt in turn reflects the light, but with a unique tinge created by interaction of the warm light with the salt crystals.

This picture in Death Valley, California is directed at an angle to the setting sun. It takes advantage of red-orange light reflected (and refracted) by the clouds back down on the salt flats. The salt in turn reflects the light, but with a unique tinge created by interaction of the warm light with the salt crystals.

Stay tuned next Friday for Part II of Reflections, where I’ll discuss ways you can use reflections to your advantage when you capture images.  If you are interested in any of these images, just click on them to go to the high-res. version.  Then once you have the full-size image you’re interested in, click “Purchase Options”.  If you have any questions at all, please contact me.  Thanks for reading!

Much-needed light is provided by the moon's reflection from clouds in this evening shot from Mt. Rainier National Park

Much-needed light is provided by the moon’s reflection from clouds in this evening shot from Mt. Rainier National Park

Wordless Wednesday: Big Smile   Leave a comment

Genay_4-20-13_5D_008

Travel Theme: Sweet   16 comments

Wow, look at me posting one a day – sort of.  Since I normally don’t post on Monday, I thought I’d participate in one of Ailsa’s Travel Themes, this time Sweet.  Check out her blog post on the subject for interpretations from many more folks.

Guatemalan Sweets

These images were taken in a little town up in the Guatemalan Highlands.  Even in today’s modern world, some of these towns really seem to have been frozen in time (at least partly).  Since my little room was just a block away, I strolled the main square at night, coming upon these unusual-looking sweets.  They stuff limes with sweet rice?  Wow!  I love limes, I love sweet rice!

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Next day I came upon this little sweetie playing with her friends just outside a village I walked to (no road access).   There were no adults in sight.  They were wild and free!  It’s sad that in this country nowadays the kids are kept under supervision all the time, the parents being scared of dangers exaggerated by the media. Why in my day…nevermind.

Cahabon-11

Wordless Wednesday: Genuine   4 comments

Buckaroo

Friday Foto Talk: Travel Photography, Part III   9 comments

An empty beach invites exploration on Costa Rica's remote Osa Peninsula.

An empty beach invites exploration on Costa Rica’s remote Osa Peninsula.

This is the third and final installment in this series on travel photography tips.  I hope you’ve enjoyed and gotten something out of them.  Check out Part I and Part II if you haven’t already.  If you are interested in any of the pictures just click on them and you will see options for purchase of the high-resolution versions.  Please contact me if you have any questions.

      • What to Photograph:  You should have done some research on what to seek out and photograph while on your trip.  But if you didn’t do much, so what?  Just hit up a gift shop when you arrive and check out the postcards.  They will tell you what is often photographed in that place.  You might not want to take most of those pictures, but it is only a good thing to know what they are.  Don’t be shy, ask questions about the subjects in the pictures.  Hit up the proprietor or buy the card(s) and approach locals on the street with questions about what’s pictured.  This can yield much more than how to get to the particular spot.  Think of postcards as springboards for further exploration.

A boy in a village in northern India gazes with a peculiar intensity.

      • Roaming & People Pics:  I mentioned wandering above, but I want to stress that there is one good reason that a plan is not really necessary.  That reason is people.  There are almost certainly going to be people anywhere you go, and they are endlessly fascinating subjects for your pictures.  While I am normally quite reserved around home, I open up on the road.  Especially in different countries, I’m willing to sort of make a fool of myself.  I approach people readily, perhaps make a joke, and ask to take some photographs.  Most say yes.  Sometimes I even take their picture first then go up and explain why I just took their picture.  My reason is usually flattering.  As you might know, flattery will get you everywhere.

Two young Sherpa friends haul equipment on the trail to Namche Bazaar in Nepal.

      • Children:  I hate seeing tourists with cameras converge on kids and you see the kids aren’t into it.  It’s one thing if a group of laughing children approach you and ham it up.  But you should always ask about and look for their parents.  Ask the parents if it’s okay first.  Just don’t be one of those doofuses in the Himalayan village cornering a couple young friends just being themselves and feeling slightly threatened by all the pasty tourists pressing in with their cameras.

Upon waking very early on only my 3rd morning in Africa, I stepped outside to see this stately female Thornicroft's giraffe in Zambia's South Luangwa National Park.

      • Elderly:  There is a sort of axiom out there about travel photography that kids and old people are what you should focus on.  This might be true as far as the impact of the images, but I don’t generally go along with it.  I think there are all sorts of interesting people out there: young, old and in between.  But kids and the elderly are probably most likely to have the time to give you.  Just don’t treat the elderly like some people treat kids – as if they have no real say in the situation.  Treat everybody the same, with respect for them and their time.

A woman in the Himalaya of Nepal is proud of her vegetable garden, and her grandson.

      • Communication:  A nice smile and willingness to chat is always good.  Sometimes language is a barrier.  But you can just share what pictures you’ve taken with them (via the LCD) and have a laugh.  It’s important to make some kind of connection, and make clear from the beginning that you’re into taking pictures.  Don’t be shy about that.

In Etosha, Namibia, my patience paid off.  After 2+ months in Africa, I had not seen a cheetah.  Then I happened on a mother and these two cuties.

      • Sharing:  It goes without saying, if you promise to send pictures of people that you’ve taken, you need to follow through.  Doing it while on the road is the best option.  But I carry a Polaroid Pogo printer, a pocket-sized printer that uses no ink and connects directly to my DSLR via a mini-USB cable.  It produces wallet-sized prints.  I give out prints for people who cooperate and with whom I’ve spent time.  I don’t go crazy (you can only carry so much paper), but it has greased many a wheel believe me.  I just found out, however, that they have almost quadrupled the price on these.  The new ones have bluetooth, but I paid $45 and they are now about $160!  I can’t really recommend this thing (which produces, after all, rather poor quality prints) at that new price.  But if you can find an older one, go for it.

The spectacular peak of Taboche looms above the trekking route to Everest Base Camp in Nepal.

      • Money:  Should you pay for pictures or not?  If a person is dressed up like his ancestors and is accompanied by a bored animal, you can bet you need to.  But in most cases it’s optional; always has been.  I don’t generally do it.  But since in the case of other countries (where you are more likely to be asked to pay) the people I want to photograph are on the street and thus may likely be selling something, I will simply buy something from them.  Then I’m not some tourist with a camera but a customer.  Or if they ask for money I might offer them a small print (from the Pogo – see above), explaining that it’s not my “thing” to pay for photos.  Like all rules, this rule of mine has exceptions, but I try pretty hard to stick to it.

An attractive couple of locals from the Nicaraguan island of Omotepe take a break from riding their horses in a local parade.

      • Relax:  I think everyone should read Tao de Ching before they travel.  Trust me I’ve tried too hard when traveling, usually only for the first couple days though.  Just take it as it comes.  If it rains, get an umbrella and shoot interesting city stuff.  If it’s hot get out early and late, taking advantage of “pool light” in the mid-day.  Shoot what interests you in the place you’re in and don’t stress about things.  You want to have a good time on your trip, so you should be willing to miss some shots and keep your “let the good times roll” vibe in place.  For one thing, you’ll get better people shots with a fun carefree attitude.  Have fun!

A lone jet skier motors across Lake Powell, Arizona at dusk.

Okay, I’m tired of this subject for now.  There is more, probably much more, to say on this subject.  If you have something to add, or any questions, let it fly!  I’ll probably be posting on this subject in the future, and many of my posts are travel-related anyway.  Thanks for reading!

A relaxing walk on the beach is a great way to take life easy when on the road.  Get a picture while you're at it.

Friday Foto Talk: Travel Photography Tips, Part II   3 comments

A misty view of some of the major temples at Tikal, the huge ancient Mayan city in Guatemala.

A misty view of some of the major temples at Tikal, the huge ancient Mayan city in Guatemala.

This is the second of three parts on travel photography.  Check out Part I, which covered gear & packing issues.  Given the time of year, this subject may be “right in your wheelhouse” , as they say.  So here are tips for when you hit the ground running (or jetlagged?).  Exciting stuff that first day on a long trip!  But how to go about getting your best shots?  Read on…

ON TOUR

      • Be ready:  While traveling, always be on the lookout for interesting photos.  This sounds obvious I realize, but many people seem to think their camera comes out only when they reach their destination.  As it is often said, it’s about the journey, and so should your photos be.  Many people get this of course, and I don’t want to preach.  Just keep your camera handy and ready to shoot from the time you leave home; that is my advice.
A common bird along Africa's waterways, the darter, is also known as the "snake bird" because of its sinuous neck.  I took a boat on the Chobe River to get this shot.

A common bird along Africa’s waterways, the darter, is also known as the “snake bird” because of its sinuous neck. I took a boat on the Chobe River to get this shot.

      • Start Slow:  If you fly a long ways, this is more important.  You will be jetlagged and/or adjusting to a completely different environment.  This is not a good time to be lugging all your photo gear around trying to imitate a crack photojournalist or Nat. Geo. stud.  In fact, this is a good excuse for pocketing your little point and shoot (which I recommend taking if you’re a DSLR person) and just wandering around shooting only when you see something you like.  Colorful murals, sculptures, you know, the easy stuff!  Beware:  that first day or so is by far the most likely time for you to be ripped off, or at least persuaded to buy something way too expensive.  You’re tired, naive and trusting.  It can be a good thing, just be careful.
Colorful murals like this one in Guatemala are an easy target for your camera while traveling.

Colorful murals like this one in Guatemala are an easy target for your camera while traveling.

      • Light is still important:  Get out early and be out late.  I see so many travel photos taken in horribly harsh light, even by people who usually shoot in great light near home.  The rules for good light, good photography, they don’t change because you are on the opposite side of the world.  Just because you are in front of a gorgeous and iconic sight like the Grand Canyon doesn’t mean your photo will turn out great if it is taken in bad light.  That said, when confronted with an amazing subject or event, shoot away, to heck with the light!
A young Mayan lady high up in the Guatemalan highlands, in the village of Todos Santos, one of 3 friends I met & had a barrel of laughs with.

A young Mayan lady high up in the Guatemalan highlands, in the village of Todos Santos, one of 3 friends I met & had a barrel of laughs with.

      • Wander:  There is nothing more exciting about travel than to head out with not much of a plan and an open attitude.  Seems obvious; that’s why you travel, right?  If I’m driving, I head down random side-roads.  In other countries, I will get off the bus if I like what I’m seeing and catch a later one.  Wandering the streets of a new town, especially in the early morning hours, gives you a different take on the place from those tourists who are sleeping in or doing the pool scene at the hotel.
Chili Peppers dry on a windowsill in the Himalayan village of Khumjung, Nepal.

Chili Peppers dry on a windowsill in the Himalayan village of Khumjung, Nepal.

      • Experiment:  You are traveling and in a strange place.  This is the time to take chances with your photography.  Try panning in colorful cities.  Look for unusual and gritty subjects.  Just take care to not exploit the locals, no matter their economic circumstance.  Another way to look at this is experimenting with your point of view.  Try new things!  It will get you into places from which you can take photos from a perspective that will definitely liven up your collection.  You might also meet interesting people you might never have run into had you not stretched your boundaries.
Experimental sunset, shot from a speeding boat in Sian Kaan lagoon in the Yucatan, Mexico.

Experimental sunset, shot from a speeding boat in Sian Kaan lagoon in the Yucatan, Mexico.

I climbed higher than I've ever done before while in Nepal - 6200 meters (20,350 feet).  Seemed like the thing to do.

I climbed higher than I’ve ever done before while in Nepal – 6200 meters (20,350 feet). Seemed like the thing to do.

      • Attend Local Events:  Related to the above point, be on the lookout for special festivals and events.  When the locals party, you can be sure there will be great pictures to be had.  If you have a little lead time, you can even chat up people you meet and offer to take pictures of them during the event.  You can even trade copies of the pictures for model releases.  I did this in Nicaragua for the family I was staying with, and oh boy what a party it was (see image below)!  I even ended up having my photography pay for my lodging and food too.
A wild and wooly Nicaraguan rodeo on the island of Omotepe was a riot of parades, parties and drunken bull-mania!

A wild and wooly Nicaraguan rodeo on the island of Omotepe was a riot of parades, parties and drunken bull-mania!

      • Variety is the spice with travel, so mix it up!  Get up close for detail shots, find expansive viewpoints, seek out very colorful abstracts (street murals are a gimme) and find good subjects for black and white.  Don’t eschew the over-photographed classics, just try to get a different take on them.  The goal is to not have any two or three pictures look very much alike.  Take a lot of pictures, yes, but make sure they aren’t all the same.
When on road trips, take pictures of the road!  But make it an interesting point of view.  This shot I got by climbing up well above this tunnel in Zion National Park, Utah.

When on road trips, take pictures of the road! But make it an interesting point of view. This shot I got by climbing up well above this tunnel in Zion National Park, Utah.

That’s it for now.  Stay tuned next Friday Foto Talk for the final segment, Part III.  If you’re interested in any of these images, just click on them to get pricing options for the high-resolution versions.  They are copyrighted and not available for download without my permission, sorry.  Questions?  Just contact me.  Thanks for reading!

A beautiful summer evening in Cape Town, and an illuminated Table Mountain looms over the city.  View from Signal Hill.

A beautiful summer evening in Cape Town, and an illuminated Table Mountain looms over the city. View from Signal Hill.

Wordless Wednesday: Bullrider   2 comments

I know you’re not supposed to say anything, but I’d like to note that this is my first post for Wordless Wednesday!  I like the concept.

Bullrider at a small rodeo in Oregon glancing back at the bull that just threw him.

Favorite Photos of the Big Western Loop   3 comments

A bison grazes the late autumn grasses on a cold sunny Yellowstone morning.

A bison grazes the late autumn grasses on a cold sunny Yellowstone morning.

I thought I’d put together a best of post featuring my idea of my best photographs of this recently completed mega-roadtrip.  In 14 weeks I visited Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California and Baja California, Mexico.  What a trip!  There are some star-scape shots that I’ll save for another post, but these are essentially my favorites.  Hope you enjoy them.  Please don’t try to copy or download them from here.  They are copyrighted.  Click on an image to be taken to my website, and if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.  Thanks a bunch!

A beaver-dammed channel of the Snake River in Grand Tetons National Park is the perfect mirror for sunrise.

A beaver-dammed channel of the Snake River in Grand Tetons National Park is the perfect mirror for sunrise.

The moon creates a surreal scene in Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.

The moon creates a surreal scene in Lower Geyser Basin in Yellowstone National Park.

On a cold autumn morning on the rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado, the fog spills ogg the plateau and into the canyon.

On a cold autumn morning on the rim of Black Canyon of the Gunnison in Colorado, fog spills off the plateau & into the canyon.

A frozen meadow at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, slowly thaws as the sun appears.

A frozen meadow at Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming thaws as the sun appears.

An older alpha male wolf in Yellowstone National Park is unsure how he happened to get so close to the human.

An alpha male wolf in Yellowstone National Park is unsure how he happened to get so close to the human.

The Animas River in northern New Mexico flows peacefully past cottonwoods and aspens in their autumn glory.

The Animas River in northern New Mexico flows peacefully past cottonwoods and aspens in their autumn glory.

Penyasco Blanco and the sky, at sunset in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.

Penyasco Blanco and the sky, at sunset in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.

A full moon shines on the Goosenecks, a series of incised meanders on the San Juan River in SE Utah.

A full moon shines on the Goosenecks, a series of incised meanders on the San Juan River in SE Utah.

Ship Rock stands under a glowing moon in the northeastern New Mexico desert.

Ship Rock stands under a glowing moon in the northeastern New Mexico desert.

A Monument Valley Sunset from the Mittens looking west.

A Monument Valley Sunset from the Mittens looking west.

The moon clears the horizon at Monument Valley, Arizona.

The moon clears the horizon at Monument Valley, Arizona.

The sun peeks into the narrow confines of Antelope Canyon, Arizona.

The sun peeks into the narrow confines of Antelope Canyon, Arizona.

Lake Powell along the Utah/Arizona border glories in sunrise.

Lake Powell along the Utah/Arizona border glories in sunrise.

The Page Balloon Regatta culminates in a panoply of glowing balloons.

The Page Balloon Regatta culminates in a panoply of glowing balloons.

This outcrop of sandstone at Spencer Flat in the Escalante country of southern Utah shows a complex pattern of merging dunes in ancient times.

This outcrop of sandstone at Spencer Flat in the Escalante country of southern Utah shows a complex pattern of merging dunes in ancient times.

The road in Zion Canyon, Utah is lined in places with cottonwood trees.

The road in Zion Canyon, Utah is lined in places with cottonwood trees.

In the Kolob Canyons of Zion National Park stands an old log cabin.

In the Kolob Canyons of Zion National Park stands an old log cabin.

Canyon Flow II

The sky and walls of LaVerkin Creek Canyon in Zion National Park reflect vibrant colors in the small stream that the trail follows.

The desert sun sets over the ubiquitous sandstone outcrops that surround Page, Arizona.

The desert sun sets over the ubiquitous sandstone outcrops surrounding Page, Arizona.

_MG_8972

A bull moose walks along the Snake River in front of the brightly lit peaks of the Grand Tetons in Wyoming.

The tilted layers of sandstone at  Snow Canyon State Park are moonlit and stand out against the starry sky.

The tilted layers of sandstone at Snow Canyon State Park are moonlit and stand out against the starry sky.

Water from springs collects in Snow Canyon, Utah.

Water from springs collects in Snow Canyon, Utah.

The tilted layers of sandstone at  Snow Canyon State Park are moonlit and stand out against the starry sky.

The tilted layers of sandstone at Snow Canyon State Park are moonlit and stand out against the starry sky.

A colorful dawn breaks over Death Valley National Park in California.

A colorful dawn breaks over Death Valley National Park in California.

A common animal for visitors to spot in Death Valley, California, is the resourceful coyote.

A common animal for visitors to spot in Death Valley, California, is the resourceful coyote.

The sand dunes of Death Valley National Park can turn golden in the first light of morning.

The sand dunes of Death Valley National Park can turn golden in the first light of morning.

The massive bulk of Tucki Peak looms behind the dunes at Mesquite Flat in Death Valley, California.

The massive bulk of Tucki Peak looms behind the dunes at Mesquite Flat in Death Valley, California.

The full moon sets just as morning light hits the cracked salt flats near Badwater, North America's lowest point, in Death Valley, California.

The full moon sets just as morning light hits the cracked salt flats near Badwater, North America’s lowest point, in Death Valley, California.

There are numerous sculpted caves in the granite of Baja California's desert.

There are numerous sculpted caves in the granite of Baja California’s desert.

Saguaro cactus are reflected in a pool of water left by a precious desert rainstorm in the northern Baja Peninsula, Mexico.

Saguaro cactus are reflected in a pool of water left by a rare desert rainstorm in the north Baja Peninsula, Mexico.

The crescent moon shines behind a towering cirios on Mexico's Baja Peninsula.

The crescent moon shines behind a towering cirios on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula.

The sun rises over the desert of Baja California Norte, Mexico.

The sun rises over the desert of Baja California Norte, Mexico.

A big saguaro cactus soars into the Baja skies.

A big saguaro cactus soars into the Baja skies.

A rare rainbow graces the desert during sunrise in Baja California, Mexico.

A rare rainbow graces the desert during sunrise in Baja California, Mexico.

A type of gall growing on a desert plant in Mexico's Baja Peninsula resembles a Chrismtas ornament.

A type of gall growing on a desert plant in Mexico’s Baja Peninsula resembles a Christmas ornament.

A young Mexican couple in love.

A young Mexican couple in love.

A cave on a northern California beach looks out on a sunny Pacific day.

A cave on a northern California beach looks out on a sunny Pacific day.

The Pacific Ocean and the day's last light stretch west from the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse in Shelter Cove, California.

The Pacific Ocean and the day’s last light stretch west from the Cape Mendocino Lighthouse in Shelter Cove, California.

The Lost Coast of northern California is the scene of a peaceful winter's sunset.

The Lost Coast of northern California is the scene of a peaceful winter’s sunset.

The fishing harbor at Monterey, California is illuminated with winter's late afternoon light.

The fishing harbor at Monterey, California is illuminated with winter’s late afternoon light.

 

 

Winter on the California Coast and a storm approaches at dusk near Cambria.

Winter on the California Coast and a storm approaches at dusk near Cambria.

The rocky coastline of the northern Baja Peninsula in Mexico is a peaceful place to be at dusk.

The rocky coastline of the northern Baja Peninsula in Mexico is a peaceful place to be at dusk.

Near Point Lobos on the central California Coast, the sunset illuminates the beautiful groundcover that characterizes this part of the coastline.

Near Point Lobos on the central California Coast, the sunset illuminates the beautiful ground-covering succulents that characterize this part of the Pacific Coast.

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