The Endless Joys of Snow

I truly love Winter. Perhaps it’s because I grew up in the Sierra’s and spent every waking moment not in school on the ski slopes enjoying the fresh powder. I love it to this day but I enjoy it in other ways, by capturing the beauty of freshly fallen snow in my photography. Snow can be a great element in any photograph. It’s most versatile and obvious element is the fact that it adds a white point. If you are working on a black and white conversion, having an absolute white is important. Well it also adds more color to any landscape.


These normally brownish hillside would not look nearly as interesting if there wasn’t snow. I know this for a fact because I have driven by this hillside numerous times as I traversed I-80. The snow adds color by covering up some areas while leaving others exposed. This creates more dimension on the hillside as the sweeping, rolling hillside becomes more dynamic. With the help of ACR and the adjustment brush, a simple sweep in certain areas bringing down the exposure and a sweep along the tops bringing up the snowy covered mountain tops, brings out more of that dynamic look. Now I actually really like it like this but for this example, by using the ACR brush in this way we set the image up for a great black and white.


As you can see the result is a pretty compelling hillside. The clouds on the other hand were just something I lucked out in. They were there so I stopped. If it was a blank sky, the image wouldn’t be as good. Simple tools to bring out more in your landscape photography.

The Road Home Leads to New Images

At the end of every holiday season back home in California is the drive back to Montana. Now I’m no stranger to long drives, having done this particular drive more then three dozen times, but this one felt long. My original departure was actually delayed a day because of a big storm going through Southeast Idaho. By the time I left yesterday morning it had gotten better but remnants were still hanging around. Although the roads had me concerned, one thing that I knew would happen would be some good landscapes.



Right around Winnemuca some great puffy clouds had formed over the freshly snow covered desert landscape. It was pretty simple shooting with the D4 and 70-200 VRII. The real challenge, and is usually the case, is finding somewhere safe to pull over.

Go Black and White

Lesson number four is pretty straight forward, go black and white. Again it’s easy to be seduced by all that color but remember that all of that color when converted is just going to be bright white or grey against a dark background. It’s really simple to get a strong black and white out of fall color because there is naturally a lot of whites and blacks which are the two most important factors to consider. There must be an absolute black and absolute white in every successful black and white image. Don’t forget that.


One of the important factors to remember when working with Fall color and black and white is the composition. There has to be enough dark space in between all of those leaves in order to give a shape to the trees. If there isn’t the eye just gets lost. One of the great things about working with Aspens or Cottonwoods is the trunks are usually pretty bright surrounded by a pretty dark dirt forest floor. This helps to provide that shape. Keep in mind the gradient filter in Camera Raw can be very helpful when it comes to working with foregrounds and backgrounds.


Lastly for this lesson, remember to go small. One leaf can be a powerful image with the right help. What is the right help? Well go to my last blog post to see what that is. But here is a quick summary: quality leaf, good background, gesture, light and depth of field.

Never Forget Your Library

For some reason whenever I poke around in my image library without any real intention, some random thought just pops in my head that I would normal never think about. Of course that usual means a blog post will emerge next. I was looking through my landscape images thinking about which ones I wanted to make a print of and it occurred to me that I had forgotten when and where I had taken some of the images I was looking at. This made me wonder what else I had forgotten about the images I hadn’t processed yet.


As time goes on the natural progression of a photographer is to keep shooting and to keep building that library. Having more images to tell the stories that come up in life is important, it’s also how we stay in business. Remembering all those stories is the hard part.


Now you may be wondering if it were these black and whites that stumped me into my original confusion and they didn’t. They just seemed the proper way to illustrate my point. As if removing the extra information will lead to the answer.


In the end I don’t know of anyway to remember every image, or what it was like shooting everything that I have. That’s what the photos are supposed to be reminders of. I wonder if in the end that’s how every image is. For only the photographer knows the whole story and if he’s not around to tell it then we are left guessing. It’s our imaginations job to fill in the blanks when we take a photo and when we are looking at someone else’s.

Friday Fun with a Shelby…..almost

For a long time this has been one of my out most favorite cars. It’s just a beast and that I would love to ride in one day. Now I wish I could say that I had the opportunity to photograph a real Shelby Cobra but I didn’t. Nope this is just a toy that I have had for a long time as a reminder of what hard work might someday get you. And I mean a lot of hard work! But I was feeling goofy one day and took some pics of it. What better way to end a good week on then big dreams for the future.



Spring is so Black and White

I love Spring time in the mountains, there are always days with great clouds. I have always felt that Bozeman is rather unique in the sense that the skies always feel so low. The clouds seem to hang out at such a low altitude that there are days you think you can reach up and touch them. Those can be some great shooting days.




You know it really doesn’t take much to get going with these Spring days, just a D4 and 24-70 AF-S is all I need. When the office gets you down and the work seems inescapable grab a camera and just go drive. It may not sound like much but it can make a huge difference for your mental state to just drive along an open road and relax. That’s one of the luxuries that we photographers get to enjoy is knowing that even if that drive ends up right back in the office it alone can make a day great.

On the Road Again, Hurray!

Hurray for Spring travels! Tomorrow marks the first day of the new year where I will be traveling again for various events. the last couple of years have been great and I cannot wait to see what this year will bring. It’s fitting that the first event I will be going to is also one of my favorites, Photoshop World. For the first time it will be held in Atlanta, GA. I’ve flown through there a lot but I don’t recall every really stopping and shooting so I’m looking forward to what it has to offer. Better yet it’s what Photoshop World has to offer that’s the really fun part. Look out Atlanta.LCSDWC0057

Getting Used to the D4

I decided to get out of the office for a while and clear my head which never hurts to do. I grabbed the camera bag and headed south. Recently I was able to upgrade from the D3 to D4 and have been shooting with it over this past week. It’s a lot different than the D3 with the biggest being quality. Now I originally used the D2Hs as my first professional body and when I switched to the D3 I saw a difference. Now looking at these D4 files I’m just blown away. Everything you see here is pretty basic. Shot with the D4 and 70-200 VRII, and then finished in Silver Efex Pro. It just amazes me how going out and playing around can lead to something good. As for shooting with the D4, well I save that for another post when I have some more time in.





In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D4, 70-200 VRII, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Where’s the Cold Temps!

It’s January and we don’t have the great temps that we usually do. It seems that most of the country is in chaos when it comes to the weather right now, as I’m sure most of you out there can attest to. Well we’re kind of the same up here. Although the temperatures are staying cold and there is a good snow pact on the ground, we aren’t getting the snow and temps like we should be. It’s been interesting watching the weather as it keeps skirting us by the last couple of weeks and heads east. This sums up into two things, it’s going to be a rough Spring and photographically it’s not as good as it could be. That just makes it more challenging.



When the light fades

I’m sure it’s pretty obvious where I went with this. While I was at the Gallatin and the light went away, I started playing around with some black and whites. I switched to the 14-24 to play with the bend of the river some more but didn’t get it quite where I wanted it. I do like that lens but I have found that in low light the sides really do get distorted at 14mm. Then again at times it does work.


In the Camera Bag:
Nikon D3, 14-24 f/2.8, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

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