Tag Archives: Argentina

Loose Ends and Random Thoughts

“Haunted By Waters” Spruce Flats Falls, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee

The image above was taken in April of this year in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee. This is an excellent example of what I try to teach my students when photographing waterfalls: We are not taking a portrait here. We are creating a landscape image with a waterfall as one of the elements. Walking up on the rocks and filling the frame with the waterfall would have been an easy thing to do but the end result would have been boring and banal. This composition includes the waterfall as a crucial element – as well as the primary focal point – but the image has an elegant visual design that goes beyond being just a portrait or documentary photo. Primarily, the flow of the stream and the placement of the rocks below the falls gets the eye moving back and forth through the frame giving it a dynamic quality that a static portrait would lack.

“Haunted by Waters” is a new addition to my Smoky Mountains Galley and depending on the conditions, is a location we will be visiting on the Smoky Mountains Autumn Workshop in October.

WORKSHOPS

Speaking of workshops, there are two new workshops listed for the first quarter of 2014. For the 4th straight year, Ian Plant and I are leading another tour to Patagonia on March 10 – 19.

For the very first time, I am offering a Winter in Yellowstone photo tour and workshop in February that will combine the very best winter landscapes with wildlife photography. Jackson Hole professional wildlife photographer, Jared Lloyd will be my partner on this trip.

I’m sorry to announce that Arches and Canyonlands, Utah in November is now full, as is Acadia in October. Joe Rossbach and I still have a few openings for the Tetons in September so let me know if any of you have questions about this trip.

Photographer Christina Donadi has written a detailed review of my Smokies workshop from this past spring. Check out the rest of her blog for more excellent photography!

TRUE MODESTY

Last week I was listed as one of the top 100 travel photographers in the world for 2013 by ChiliSauce, a travel blog in the United Kingdom.  When I made the announcement on Facebook and Twitter, as a courtesy to the the owner of the blog, I made the announcement with a controversial preface: the words, “For whatever it’s worth…..” This was met by more than a few emails and private messages by annoyed fans and followers. Most began with a mocking, “For whatever it’s worth….” and eventually got around to making the point that I was not being grateful or gracious about the “honor.” For whatever it’s worth, you’re acting like an ass.

Look, this is not merely false modesty on my part. I do appreciate being listed with at least 99 other very accomplished photographers. But the list is just one person’s opinion and there are some very conspicuous names missing as well as some people I’ve never even heard of. So that’s what it is, one person’s opinion and that’s about what it’s worth. Sorry to offend.

So now I’m off to Africa for two weeks. I’ll try my best to post some crappy phone images here as well as a report or two on how I’m doing. Be sure to Subscribe to Earth and Light to keep up with my  latest travels realtime.

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Image Round Up from Patagonia – January 2013

Here are a few final images from my January trip to Patagonia. I’ll be heading back down that way next month for our annual Ultimate Patagonia Workshop and Tour that I co-lead with Ian Plant. Enjoy!

Cordillera del Paine

Under Malbec Skies

Siempre

Paine Paradise

Rift

Guanaco Heaven

Pehoe’s Fury II

Red Hot

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Ancient Ice

Ancient Ice, Perito Moreno Glacier, Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina

Here is one of the results from the Perito Moreno CPCD last month in Argentina. What you’re seeing here are ice spires on the front face of the glacier, which is shaded, and the river of ice trailing behind which is in brilliant sunshine. The weather was partly sunny (or partly cloudy – it all depends on your disposition, I suppose) so I stood in the same place for quite a while and waited for the sun to appear and reappear from behind clouds as I experimented with different lighting conditions. Of the four variations – all sun, all shade, front glacier face in sun with the background shaded and front glacier face in shade with background in sun – I preferred the last choice, the result which you see here.

I can’t stress enough the importance of light and how it reveals the landscape. For example, with the lighting option where the entire scene was equally sunlit, there was not enough contrast between the foreground spires and the background. The same goes for the all-shade option. This lighting option provided the maximum drama that was available to me.

Canon EOS 5d MarkIII, Canon EF70-200mm f/4L USM +1.4x III @ 280mm, 1/500 second @ f16, ISO 200

For more about natural light and it’s impact on landscape and wildlife photography, please check out my Essential Light eBook.

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Breaking Storms

“Breaking Storm”
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA

For landscape photographers, storms are a double-edged sword. Too much storm stuff – you know, clouds, wind, rain, etc. – and you can be shut out. Too much storm stuff is almost as bad as no storm stuff – clear, blue, cloudless skies. Oh yeah, that’s bad too.

I can’t remember where I was at the time, but I was staying at a hotel doing photography for an extended stay. Every morning, the front desk clerk commented on the weather, knowing I was a nature photographer.

“Looks like you’re in luck today,” he would say happily. “Beautiful sunny skies ordered up just for you.” I would explain that sunny blue skies kind of sucked, but I would do the best I could in spite of them. He seemed confused, but after some explaining on my part, I think he understood a little bit.

The next time I saw him a day or two later, the weather was lousy. The sky was completely socked in with a featureless, grey pewter ceiling with the wind gusting.

“So, is this more to your liking?”

“Ummm. Not exactly. Say, do you have any of those fresh-baked cookies and coffee ready?”

This illustrates a couple of things. First, we photographers are never really happy with the weather. We too easily forget the fantastic successes we’ve had in the past and focus only on what the weather conditions are at the present time, and those conditions are usually the wrong ones – or at least appear to be wrong.

“Clearing Storm”
Fitz Roy Massif, Argentina

Secondly, “bad” weather for us usually applies to the extremes. Low pressure is bad. High pressure is even worse. What pleases us most are the edges – particularly rotten, stormy weather as it starts to clear. How many images have you seen with the title, “Breaking Storm” or “Clearing Storm?” Too many, you say?

That’s because for sheer drama, both light and clouds are what we want in our images. Approaching bad weather is usually slow and methodical with accumulating high cirrus clouds followed by flat grey skies. Before you know it, the sky is dreary and you’re getting drenched. It just sort of happened. There doesn’t appear to be any singular or dramatic event to capture. But a clearing storm always seems to have a defining moment when the clouds break and something magical happens. It doesn’t always happen, mind you, but I want to be in a good place, ready to go, if and when it does.

So if I’m home for a couple of weeks, – as I am now – and I want to go out in the field for a day or two, I’m going to watch the weather closely and pick my moment when a rain or snow system is breaking or a cold front is approaching. You can never control the weather but you can increase the odds of getting dramatic light by timing your photography trips around clearing storms.

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12 for ’12: The Year’s Best

It’s that time of year, once again, when we look back at the year that was and weigh our accomplishments. Well, you always hope that there are accomplishments worthy of looking back on. If nothing else, there’s always weighing the regrets.

Anyway, last year I posted my favorite images from 2011 – Eleven for ’11. Naturally, this year it’s 12 for ’12. They are all favorites of mine for a reason, although the reasons may not be so obvious to everyone else. Nonetheless, I’ll try to give some insight. So here they are listed in chronological order, starting this past January.

“Paradise Found”
Harrismith Beach, Barbados
January 21, 2012

Just another brutal day in paradise, I posted earlier in the year. I think what I liked best about this image is that it was completely secluded. I didn’t have to clone out a single human.

 

“Ahwahnee Dream”
Yosemite National Park, California, USA
February 15, 2012

One of my favorite things about this image is that it was taken from a very popular vantage point in Yosemite National Park. Still I was able to come away with something unique and original, thanks to the thickening fog in the valley.

 

“Red Patagonia Dawn”
Los Glaciares National Park, Argentina
April 6, 2012

The location, the light, and the effort to get there (I led three of my clients who opted for the backcountry extension to the Patagonia workshop up this steep, ice-covered trail to be here by sunrise) were all factors in this image making the cut.

 

“Crowning Glory”
Arches National Park, Utah, USA
May 18, 2012

The low-angled light sweeping over the textured sandstone, the dynamic leading lines, the cloud movement during this 30-second exposure make this a clear favorite of mine. I don’t practice many black and white conversions but I was surprised to find two in my favorites for 2012.

 

“Light Room”
Arches National Park, Utah, USA
May 21, 2012

I love night photography and Arches National Park is one of my favorite places to “do it in the dark.” Ok, shameless plug here: Night photography, Arches National Park, November 6-9, 2013. Thanks for listening.

 

“River of Light”
The Seine, Paris, France
June 24, 2012

Amazing sunset. Paris, France. What else is there to say?

 

“Chasing Magic”
Kirkjufellsfoss, Iceland
July 25, 2012

Persistance. I waited four nights in order to get light that I was looking for at this location. I was prepared for a 5th, if necessary.

 

“Blood Sport”
Katmai National Park, Alaska, USA
August 23, 2012

The Decisive Moment, as Henri Cartier-Bresson might describe this image. This is only one image frame in an entire sequence I posted back in September: Life and Death in Katmai.

 

“The Spine of Time”
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA
October 23, 2012

If I had a “home” national park, the Smokies would be it. This image captures the essence of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park perhaps better than any other I have taken in the past dozen years or so.

 

“The Lost City”
Machu Picchu, Peru
November 16, 2012

Rain, rain, and more rain with some impenetrable fog and gloomy skies – but for a brief 40-seconds of optimism. And I was ready.

 

“Winter’s Blush”
Horgardalur Valley, Iceland
December 9, 2012

This is as much sun and light as you will get in northern Iceland in December. But oh what lovely light it is…

 

“Midnight’s Children”
Trollaskagi Peninsula, Iceland
December 12, 2012

I had never seen the northern lights before, despite two previous summer trips to Iceland and two summer trips to Alaska. The aurora is what brought me to Iceland in the depths of winter and I was not disappointed.

Thanks for sharing 2012 with me.

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