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Into the Deep

Straight down at my feet and out - and into the deep. The golden hour is a time of beauty in the Southwest.
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Crater Lake Rising

First light reflects off the clouds as the stars begin to disappear. The last snow of the year slowly dissipates as summer approaches. Wizard island juts out of this mysterious Calderon as the trees glow in twilight bliss.
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The Thaw

Snow melts. The milky way falls in line with the Banner peak. Reflections on snow melt outlets. The stars here are always unreal. Nearly no light pollution as we're deep in the mountains. Such a joy to connect with this place - I try to do it at least once a year. For some reason it calls to me.
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Desert Light

Deep in the desert sometimes light dances across the sky in mysterious ways. I simply love this part of the world and will probably spend a good portion of my life revisiting the SouthWest due to it's splendor and the power in which nature displays itself here.

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Meltoff

Heavy snow year in the high sierras this year. I tried to take a trip up earlier and there was too much snow, bridges were out, construction on the dam, things were all awry. This location is so often elusive for me, it's about 11 miles in the winter which is tough in snow - that's the easier way. The more difficult way is shorter but more elevation gain, with a steep pitch on the entry way that has a runoff into the lake. One winter I'll head out here... but for now I'm content chasing light and shooting astro. The night sky up here is extremely satisfying this time of year. Everything lines up exactly how you'd like.
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Smokey Tetons

The smoke this year both hampered good sunset opportunities and created spectacles of light. I would have vastly preferred no smoke in my sky for a variety of reasons, but as we crested Hurricane Pass late in the evening the spectacle of light that confronted me was both awesome and humbling. As a side note - when they name a place Hurricane Pass and its located in the Tetons... there appears to be a reason for such a name. Quite the wind tunnel testing spot if you're looking for that. Also a great place to install some wind turbines if it wasn't a national park. Naturally we might have slept on top...
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Northern Cup

The Southwest has a plethora of rock formations and interesting landscapes.

Stud Horse point is a lesser known location in the Southwest but worth visiting if you've got a jeep. Some interesting formations, and not too far off the beaten path. Just don't go when it's too wet.
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Imperial Pinnacle

It was approaching the afternoon during this shot, I almost didn't drive out here as I was tired from trying to catch sunrise at the north rim. The entire place was gray clouds that morning, and there wasn't much to see. I still don't know what the North Rim looks like - I decided to pull out and took some of the side roads over to the eastern vistas. Luck was on my side as the canyon emerged from the shrouds - leaving clearing storm mist and patches of light.

I sat watching the fog dance through this part of the valley as tourists came and left. It was enchanting to watch the dance of light and mist - had it not been mixed with sporadic rain I would have shot a time lapse as this was basically some of the best conditions for time lapse I've ever seen. I was so enchanted I could barely shoot, and just sat on my perch below the typical tourist vista laying down and soaking in the awe that is the grand canyon.

Scale here is hard to convey in this image, but compare a tree to the rock jutting up... those are big trees. I wish there was a little person down there to help with scale - but nothing short of being there will really communicate the awe.
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Barnacle Slots

I've realized this before but I often hold back on releasing photos that are simply spectacular because I compare myself to other photographers. The fact is that there are many talented photographers out there, each with their own unique style and take on capturing the natural world. I respect so many of them so greatly that I've become modest about releasing my own work.

Another thing that I've found interesting is that most of the work that I really admire requires an exceptionally high level of skill with photoshop. Techniques like focus stacking, exposure blending, double processing, luminosity masking, layer separation, orton softening, contrast and clarity adjusting, sharpening, noise reduction, web sharpening, color theory, and any other number of skills are nearly common practice on a single photograph.

What non-photographers tend not to realize is the tremendous amount of work that goes into a single well produced photographs. Usually people insert these techniques to enhance the overall impact of the image while attempting to create a more vivid realistic scene. Many would claim they are trying to replicate what they saw with their eyes. Since our eyes see a much higher dynamic range than any camera, these skills are required to produce an image that mimics what our eye might see. That being said, the reality is that we see many images that are simply not possible.

At the end of it all, sometimes an image with nearly no post production work (I single processed this, curve adjusted and web sharpened this image) is simply good enough.

I'm also quite happy that I didn't get washed down this slot canyon this day. Monsoon season and slot canyons is outright foolish. Just Youtube "slot canyon flash flood" and the proof is easy enough to find.

Another day in the life of a landscape photographer - adventuring with new found friends that helped pull my jeep out of the mud after hiking 10-miles in the desert to find them...
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Twilight Monsoon

One of the many reasons I love monsoon season in the southwest. I've never been disappointed by the accumulation of storm clouds during the day and their typical release into twilight before seemingly evaporating. Sometimes it's scary, other times it's beautiful, but overall the adventure and experience is always world class.

I could go to the same places each year and still enjoy them because of the constant shifting of weather. This year there was low fog at the north rim, and incoming storms, flash floods, crazy goblins, slot canyon adventures, jeep got stuck in the mud ten miles in the desert, and culminated by this shot - an epic lightning storm in a grove of Joshua trees.
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