Spring Sunsets

I have spent many years chasing sunsets partly because I’m too darn lazy to get up for sunrises. I always tell myself to but I never seem to manage it. Over the years I have managed to come up with a few good spots to go for sunset to make up for these lack of early mornings. One of the things that I have learned is that Spring sunsets can be amazing here in Bozeman.

They aren’t what you would expect. The way the weather moves through the valley often only a sliver of light is left on the mountains to the east as the clouds cover everything else in the sky. This narrow opening out west lets in just enough light to make some magic happen. It’s like that single ray of light on a dreary day to make everything better.

It Only Takes One

It really does just take one image to make that whole time out with the camera worth while. When a storm is rolling through, dramatic clouds in every direction and the shots are plentiful then you know you have something good. But then they close up and that small window is gone leaving nothing but darkness, what do you do? You wait.

When it comes to working the clouds of a storm it’s a matter of hurry up and wait. You rush out to where you want to be standing and then you wait for that moment when the heavens open up. This particular evening it didn’t open up like I thought it would but what did happen was pretty amazing. With the D5 and 24-70 AF-S I blasted away. Everything from 24mm to 70mm to high speed crop I kept looking for that one shot. This one was close but still not quite it. In all honesty the only way to get the shot was a 360 because everywhere was dark except this one spot. That’s when it pays to be out with the camera.

Long Lenses and Landscapes

Your longest lens maybe better for landscapes then anyone has ever told you about. A long lens, not a 70-200 but a 200-400 or bigger can be a great tool when it comes to landscapes. Not only does the extra focal length allow you to isolate small pockets of dramatic light but the nature of that glass combined with a shallow depth of field will really compress everything in your composition. This combo can lead to some very interesting images.

Finding blog material isn’t always easy but sometimes it comes to you. This is one of those times. I was watching the storm of the Bridger Mountains all day and wouldn’t you know this one small spec of light opened up. 200-400 and the D5 was all that I needed to capture this brief moment and as you can see besides the little bit of light on the peak the rest of the sky just kinda sucked. So long lens technique for Landscapes should be in your arsenal.

Working that One Light

It’s not always easy to be inspired to shoot when the whole sky is nothing but a grey cloud. It happens a lot in the mountains especially the further north you go and sometimes you just have to get over it. It only takes a few seconds where the light pops through and then that whole wait and searching becomes worth it. It only takes that one little light.

Now that Bozeman is back in the swing of having days of nothing but cloudy skies I think about the need to go versus the expected results. After many many trips out and not capturing anything because of the dark boring sky I can honestly say it can be disheartening. But occasionally, and last year proved that for me, there are moments that make it all worth while. This particular shot wasn’t planned but merely was the result of driving around with a camera in the lap chasing the light. You’d be surprised what you can come up with by driving around.

Winter Weather

Despite the fact that it is spring right now, we are getting snow. While this is great for water content, we need as much as we can get, for photography it’s a little boring. Grey skies never make for really interesting subject matter but the key thing to remember is that they don’t always last. If you’re patient, between snow showers comes small openings that let in light and drama in the clouds. That’s when it’s best to be ready to shoot.

Sometimes you Just Have to Go Big

There really is no other way to say it. Sometimes the best photograph is the big one. Pano’s have always been a specialty item when it comes to photography because it encompasses so much that every detail has to be important to the overall story. Then once you have the image how do you go about displaying it? And for the longest time taking all the separate photos and merging them was an art. Thankfully today it has all become a little bit easier to do those things allowing every photographer to go big.

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This shot I took last year of the Bridger Mountains is one that I always liked because it really represents what it’s like to live here in Bozeman. Thankfully with the tools now in ACR it takes very little time to create a Pano.

Early Bird Gets The Worm

Fall and Winter are two of my favorite times of the year but not for the reason most people think. I truly enjoy sleeping in making getting up for sunrise extremely difficult even though I know that getting up for sunrise often leads to better photographs. In Fall and Winter the days are shorter. Sunset is earlier and sunrise is later making getting up easier. Well Fall also brings in great storms, thus making for really interesting skies to work with. this past Saturday was absolutely gorgeous as the sunrise was delayed due to clouds on to the east but as the cleared those clouds the rest of the sky light up with basically god beams.

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In all my years living here Bozeman I have not seen a morning sky like that. Naturally I was prepared for landscapes as I was about to go out fishing. Usually when I hit the water I take the 24-70 AF-S or 18-35 f3.5. But I was trying something new using the 85 f1.4. The longer range and narrower depth of field can make for some interesting images. However, for the sunrise it wasn’t quit what I needed. Nevertheless you have to make do or else you miss out.

A Little Bit of Light in The Evening Thunderstorm

It’s gotten to be that time of the year where we start getting great thunderstorms rolling through in the afternoons in the Gallatin Valley. While this forecast does call for some snow this week, odds are it will turn to rain in the lower elevations and anything that accumulates will be gone in a day. Well over the next couple of months the weather will be some of my favorite to shoot in as the skies are always filled with drama.

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Yesterday was lining up to be one of those evenings where the skies were great but not a lot of light popping through the clouds. That’s alright there doesn’t always needs to be lots of light to make a great shot. In the absence of light comes drama and that’s what the skies did. With the D4 and 24-70 this was one click while underexposing -2.0 stops. When you don’t have a great foreground or great light, just focus on the clouds.

From Warm to Cold in a Heart beat

Snow can be so deceptive. I love it! Working with snow can be as great a challenge as working with light. It just keeps changing. With the tiniest amount of direct light it becomes so bright that you can’t look at it but then as soon as that light disappears it becomes dark. Such a fun challenge to work with.

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We’ve had some beautiful sunsets in the Gallatin Valley, many of which I didn’t have my camera present, but some I did. This one wasn’t the best but the speed in which it changed from being warm enough to have an open coat, to zipped up and gloves on was mere minutes. Feeling it was one thing capturing it was another.

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Just up in one of my favorite retreats with the D4 and 24-70 AF-S, nothing much but simple clicks that show just how fast everything changes. What was fun to watch was how fast the light on the snow changed with the light in the sky. That’s why I love snow.

Playing With Boundary Warp

Ever since the new boundary warp came out in ACR a couple weeks ago, I’ve been wanting to play with it. I really enjoy making Panos because they tell so much. The story is just so expansive with a Pano and at the same time you can really be specific when choosing what to add. With the Merge to Panorama in ACR it’s become very easy and enjoyable to make Panos and thus capture the world around us.

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I was out Saturday doing the one thing I enjoy the most when not working on a specific project, cruising. I’ve found more great photographs by driving around, with a camera on my lap, watching the sky and the light then anywhere else. That’s the best part of being a photographer is discovering new places. This place I knew about but hadn’t shot there because I needed the right sky. I didn’t quite have it that day but there was one great cloud and that’s all it took.

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To see the pano bigger click on the Image.

Now the top shot was the first image I took but I knew the moment I stopped this was a Pano opp. Using the D4 and 24-70 AF-S, I closed all the way down to capture as much detail as I could because when you’re doing a Pano, it’s going to end up really big! You want that detail if you are ever going to print it out. This was six frames that I then merged in ACR and converted with SilverEfex Pro. Now on this image I tried boundary warp to fill in the edges that weren’t there when the images were merged together. Normally I use Auto Crop which normally makes the Pano narrower, one of the disadvantages of that method. That didn’t happen with Boundary Warp. Now I was wondering if it would look off anywhere but it didn’t. Perhaps that’s because this was a landscape and there were no definitive lines, like with a building, but it’s definitely something I’m going to have to keep playing with and studying.

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