Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Familiarity breeds...better images.

Okay, that may not be what the 600 year old saying actually says but it’s still true.  This is a major topic early on when I lead travel photography workshops.  Frequently photographers share that they are not as happy with their travel images compared to photos they capture at more familiar environs around home.  I am reminded of this topic as I sit in the Sacramento Airport waiting for a flight.

To explore this more deeply during the travel workshops I use a little activity to drive this concept home.  Handing out for postcards of the State Capitol building in Sacramento, I ask the photographers what each of these images have in common, other than the obvious building as the primary subject.  The cards are passed around, some good guesses are made but I have yet to have anyone figure out the answer.  Then I tell them to turn the cards over and look for the photo credit (it’s not me by the way).  All the photos were taken by the same photographer.

The images are from different times of the year, from various angles and under a variety of lighting conditions.  The photographer clearly “worked” the subject and, in doing so, was able get the most out of the subject.  When we are traveling this is difficult at best, and often impossible.  After all, you can’t be in New England for fall color, in spring!

This is not to say that you can’t capture a good or even great photograph when you are just visiting an area.  It is just more difficult.  If you really want to return with better images I find it helpful to do some Internet research ahead of time.  Often times you can determine if a location is going to be a better morning or afternoon shot.  Sunrise/sunset times are also available for determining early and last light.  As you would expect, there is no shortage of helpful material online.

This image, I had to use Sacramento of course, was taken during a break in a dinner meeting.  I noticed the light was nice (often is at twilight) and I stepped out on the veranda for a quick image.  I have photographed the California Capitol several times but I had never spied it from this perspective.  As good as the postcards?  No, but after all, I was just a visitor.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Inland Empire Museum of Art

There is a new player in Southern California’s Inland Empire art scene.  The Inland Empire Museum of Art is now at the table and showing her hand, featuring a full house of artworks.  The permanent collection begins a run at the Millard Sheets Art Center at the Fairplex in Pomona beginning this weekend.  The free opening reception is Sunday, April 12th from 2:30pm – 5:00pm.

The exhibit, Contemporary Art from California’s Inland Empire and Beyond, features over 175 works from more than 120 artists.  To see more information about the exhibit and opening reception click HERE.

I’m honored to have two of my pieces in this diverse collection, one of which will be on display for this exhibit.  The above image (click on the photo for a larger view) was captured in the Monument Valley region, where sweeping desert visas surround you while driving long, sometimes lonely stretches of highway.  Often you find roadside stands operated by local Native Americans selling a variety of creative works.  The contrast of “OPEN” yet empty caused me to jump on the brakes and set up a shot.

Using wide angle lenses is often a matter of finding, framing and composing an image that only includes enough and not too much.  Fortunately I was able to use the desolation of the environment as an advantage for this image.  When working with photographers over the years I have found that wide angle lenses (approximately 28mm or wider on a full frame or film camera or about 18mm on typical cropped framed sensors) often present challenges. We tend to get too much in the frame and, even with a great subject, the essence of what we were trying to capture is lost.

Wide angle lenses can be great for certain subjects but watch what is going on with the rest of your frame.  Check the edges of the viewfinder and the background before squeezing the shutter.  A tripod can be a good friend for moments like this. 

For more information about the Inland Empire Museum of Art visit the Web site at www.iearts.org.  I’m looking forward to attending the opening reception – hope you can make it as well!

Monday, April 6, 2015

First Images for Oregon State Parks

We were able to find an opening in the weather this weekend to venture out among the ferns and early blooming trillium at Silver Falls State Park for our first “official” photos for Oregon State Parks and Recreation.  We are very fortunate to have this gem of a park close to home.  The numerous falls may be the main attraction but there is so much else to this park, one of which is mountain biking.

My son and I opted for the gentler road at the 214 trailhead due to the recent rains.  This wide dirt lane has plenty of room for multiple trail users, including equestrians and families, and is a nice climb on a mountain bike as it skirts the forested hills and meadows.  Later we explored the upper part of the single track which is amazing!  Imagine rolling through fern covered hills under tall conifers on the type of dirt that is nearly silent under your tires as you take in the scent that is only found in forests like this.  This image is of my son on the 214 trail on his new bike.

One thing to remember when photographing in a forest is lighting is critical.  If you are seeking overall even tones then you hope the sun decides to hide behind some clouds for a moment, like it did here.  If the sun is out then you may have the option to look for something dramatic, such as streaks of light bending around trunks of trees.  Due to the high contrast, overall landscapes will often not photograph well.

For more information about Silver Falls State Park visit the Web site by clicking here:
Silver Falls State Park
In addition to a trail that leads behind the 177 foot drop of South Falls, the park offers camping, swimming and numerous options for day use activities.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

We’re Going on an Adventure

We are embarking on a new journey with our photography this year.  Recently we met with some great people with the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Department and discussed helping them photograph areas around this amazing state.  After living in the Willamette Valley of Oregon for about 2 ½ years, we have explored many places but I feel as if we have merely ventured just inside the gate of Tolkien’s middle earth.  Forests, waterfalls, grand landscapes and maybe even a few Hobbit trails await!

Brochures are scattered atop maps next to computers, from the dining room table to the ottoman as we attempt to chart out our travels but…where do we start!  During the rest of the year expect posts from all reaches of the state, featuring an assortment of activities and reasons to come visit Oregon.  That’s how it started for us and now look where we live.

This volunteer opportunity will be a great way to keep looking for new ways to capture images that showcase all the State Parks, and other scenic locations, have to offer.  I bet there will even be some lessons along the way.  Check out the Oregon State Parks and Recreation Web site at www.oregonstateparks.org.  You will be hearing from us on the road soon.