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.
I love the traditional landscape shot with a foreground, middle ground and background but every now and then I like playing with those elements in new ways. Don’t get me wrong finding that perfect combination that sums up the entire story of what you’re seeing is something that i can’t always find but it is sure is great. Personally one of the best ways I feel to tell the story is with a road in the image. A dirt road always seems to symbolize the never ending journey out west, always another place to go and another thing to go see. As you can see, I find these shots everywhere and I enjoy them. But one thing I keep playing with, especially up here in Montana, is the Cottonwoods.
Back home in California I would be doing this with Aspen trees, and I still do when I find a good grove up here, but man I love the patterns the branches make with Cottonwood trees. You can do so much with so little it amazes me. Now when I first saw this image (above), my mind first went to another photographer and educator, Julianne Kost. Something about this grove caught me eye and I was entranced. I swore I was looking at a grove of trees she planted just to mess with my head. I love those patterns that occur in nature. they just fascinate me.
The further I got up into the Crazy Mountains, via the national forest access, the more I was saying to myself of just how beautiful it was up there. I love being up in the mountains mostly because you can look out and see nothing but land and almost always here nothing but the wind. It really does create that feeling of majesty. Well I lucked out and the clouds stuck all the way up and stayed there until i started to drive down and the mountains were in the rear view mirror.
Theses really are just simple conversion black and whites. Nothing more than a little ACR and SilverEfex Pro. One of the features I liked the most that day were the shadows on the snow created by the low clouds. The other thing I found interesting was how dark the sky looks even though the clouds weren’t, there was just a lot of blue sky popping through. Always things to think about when working with B&W.
One of the realities of photography is that you can’t get the same image every place you go. There are certain regions that you have to go to in order to find those unique area based images. Montana is one of those out west states that has that already built up reputation as being Old Western Cowboy. For the most part this is actually quite accurate. But it does tend to yield certain images more often than others.
While I was out driving this weekend, I decided to ignore my past experience and knowledge and just followed the light up the road to see where it would take me. I saw these clouds over the Crazy Mountains and I said to myself, “hmm those are nice.” So I drove up the road, not knowing where it would end, and along the way I found this old wagon. It had been placed there but with the background available I couldn’t resist. This is one of those objects that screams “out west” to me and when you have great skies you know you have to do something with them.