Natural Spotlight

Nature does some pretty amazing things when we just stop and look to see whats going on. I always bring my camera with me when I go out fishing because I never know what will pop up. This particular evening nature brought out one of the best things for landscape photography, a spotlight. Spotlights and vignettes are great resources for landscapes because they focus the viewers eyes on what you want them to see and they ignore the rest. While often I use ACR to enhance such light, sometimes in nature it’s just there and you don’t have to do anything more then just point and click.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Having Fun in the Crazies

There is always something amazing about skies that are so powerful that they make the earth seem small. The Crazy Mountains are not as famous as the Bridgers or Gallatin Mountains but are still plenty impressive. I always loved days like this where you can capture the mountains that are so far away but still seem so clear. This was taken with the D5 and 24-70 AF-S and then finished in Adobe Camera Raw. What really makes the drama pop in something like this is focusing on the mountains and with a more shallow depth of field making everything feel smaller and further away. Then with the help of Dehaze the contrast just pops out.

Fall Fishing Fun

Fall color is great but finding those days where the color pops without a grey sky sure are hard to find here in the Rockies. So what do you do? I struggle with this question a lot of times because the color of the trees is always so seductive but I know that having any sky will just suck. Even so I have to try and get something out of it. When I came upon this scene I actually wanted to pass it over but Alex stepped in and made it a little more interesting. The big thing that I found really helps in these scenarios is your exposure compensation. It was a dark day so pumping up the exposure comp made a huge difference. Beyond that trying to minimize the amount of sky in the composition also helps.

Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Glorious Steam and the Challenges it Produces

Fall is one of my favorite times of the year for many reasons. The fishing is great, the days are colder, I’m still a ski bum at heart and of course the landscape is beautiful. Everyday it’s just a little bit different with more snow and a little more frost. With the colder temps at night, the heat of the day as the sun comes up and the free flowing water not freezing, one great element that is created is the steam coming off of the water. I’ve spent many Falls and Winters chasing those great steam images and each year I think I’ve found the best one until the next year rolls around. As for photographing steam, a lot depends on the volume that is being produced. When there is a smaller amount it’s harder to go wide so a longer lens would work better. If there’s dramatic lighting or a dark background behind the steam then those elements are definitely worth incorporating into your composition. It’s kinda hard to make a bad steam image but it’s easy to make one that is boring. You just have to play around with the amount of steam there is available.

Image Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

A Year Later

Photography is all about capturing those moments in time so we can go back and look at them. That’s why it’s important to take as many photos as possible so you can see the changes that are happening around you. From an environmental standpoint, every year you photograph landscapes or wildlife and then you go back and see those same areas or critters, you can see the changes that have occurred. Last year one important lesson I learned with the crazy weather system we had, was to go out more on the days that had terrible grey skies. I thought nothing would come from them but I learned that often times they would yield just a sliver of light and that sliver would be enough for a single image. Now I still go out to these same spots and still see the changes but every time I try to learn and improve on them.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Aerial Landscape Lesson

I actually have more of a question then a lesson here. If you get the chance to go up flying is it worthwhile to photograph the earth below you or not? Since I have never considered myself an aerial landscape photographer I can’t say that I really got into this sort of thing. But it comes down one of the basis of photography and that is every opportunity is a chance for another photograph. Since you never know when or where you might need a certain photograph, often times it’s best to just keep shooting so that you have plenty of options, right? Well that’s my thinking at least.

But to add another layer of thinking to this. When you’re flying and you have the chance for an aerial landscape shot, do you leave the strut of the plane in or take it out? The same could be said with a commercial plane if you have a seat over the wing. Do you even have to choose or can you just take both images? If both options are presented and you can do both I tend to lean towards that. Again it comes down to taking advantage of every opportunity that comes your way. In a travel piece having that strut in the photo could add a little more backstory. For an environmental or commercial purpose maybe having a clean look is better.  These are things to think about when you’re out shooting because you just never know.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Barn Macro

We have a lot of old buildings here in Montana and oddly enough people keep moving more into the state. It must be part of the appeal of the state to be old and rustic. I love working with the closeup parts of the rustic buildings. There is so much detail and color and intrigue with each building that sometimes the details are better then the whole picture. One great example is simply the light on one side versus the other side. Using the corner as the divider and the natural vertical lines of the boards, it’s hard to tell what’s light, what’s just the wood and what has just been aged over time. Fun simple way to play with depth of field, light and old buildings.

Summer Skies and Puffy Clouds

Since the cool temps of this past spring have finally ended, the heat of summer has brought many great days of cloud filled skies. As I have talked many times before about and will continue to talk about, puffy clouds are always a great element in landscape photography. You really just can’t go wrong with them no matter which way you compose. Minimal landmass and lots of sky is one way I learned a long time ago that works great with landscapes and puffy clouds.

Image captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Love Those Old Buildings

Old buildings are certainly common here in Montana but every time I find one I start getting excited. They just make great photo subjects. Each one has its own character and usually has some nice space around it. Add in a little bit of interesting light and boom, there’s a photo. I took this with the D5 and 70-200VRII, didn’t need much in ACR, just brought out what was already there. The one big thing about old buildings is be sure to remove, whether during composing or in post, anything modern looking. It kind of takes the viewer away from the scene having modern stuff in the frame.

Chasing Those Storms

The thrill of the chase, the camera in the lap and the light on the horizon. Sometimes it can be really rewarding being a photographer. While I have never considered myself a landscape photographer, just a photographer, I do enjoy getting those images that show off the world around me. How do I go about doing that?

Really simple. I sit inside and watch the weather until I figure out what it’s going to do. A storm went through the other night and after spending quite a bit of time watching, I could see that there was an opening out to the west and clouds to the east so the sky was going to pop. After that it was just finding a good spot. I went out with the D5 and 70-200 VRII getting some close ups of the light hitting the beautiful Montana landscape. Pretty simple click with a little bit of finishing in ACR.

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