First Snow Has Come!

This past week we saw our first snow fall of this upcoming winter. Every year we usually get some snow on the ground in the beginning of September and right on cue after a few days of rain that snow showed up. It was a welcome sight to help deal with the many fires in the state currently. The crisp days are going to hang around for a few days this week which means some great photo opps.

Fall is one of the best times to be in the Rockies. Between the snow, changing colors, clouds, constantly changing light and the generally feeling of the land just makes for some great opportunities. The one big tip I can give for this time of the year is to be outside as much as possible. I fortunate to be in Yellowstone fishing on the Madison after the snowfall and it was just beautiful.

Images Captured with D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Working Flare

It’s interesting how photography keeps changing. For a long time flare was very popular and then it slowly started to die out and with nano coating on the lenses it’s even harder to get flare. But now it’s making a slow emergence and while I can’t say I embrace it, at times it can be a very powerful tool.

First off I love images that come naturally. Forced images never feel complete to me, there’s always something that could be done to make it a better image. This wasn’t forced, it was life. Walking back after a long day on the river, we passed by a campground and the sun popped out from the clouds long enough for a few clicks. Now when it comes to flare, your subject will always be darker. The flare will mess with the exposure often making your image look like there’s a layer of fuzz to your image. When this happens you’ll notice your subject disappear a little bit so it’s important to either light the subject or have something brighter behind that subject to make it pop. That little bit of smoke hanging in the background from the camp fires is giving me that extra pop needed. So if you’re going to play around with flare remember the light and remember the background because your subject might suffer otherwise.

Images Captured with Nikon D750, 24-70 AF-S, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

If You’re Going to Stop and Smell the Roses

Well frankly if you’re going to stop I would recommend a different Rose. These Thistle flowers are really nasty. After a handful of thorns from a fall, smelling them would be a whole lot worse. On the plus side they do make for a good foreground.

When it comes to working with flowers I have limited experience. Macro photography isn’t my strong suite but like most landscape images you want to remember lines and distracting elements. The whole point of stopping at a giant field of flowers is to show off the natural beauty of the world. It’s hard to do that is there is a trail in the middle of the field. Just three feet to my left is that trail. By simply moving my feet, not stepping on any flowers, I was able to hide that element. Staying planted is one of the worst things you can do with your photography and like this example, a few feet can often times make a dramatic difference.

Image Captured with Nikon 1 V3

Big Storms, Big Drama

I always love chasing a good afternoon summer thunderstorm. Each one is different and each one can have some serious drama in the clouds. This brings up the old adage of the rule of thirds and a foreground anchor. Both of these are long held beliefs in the landscape world but both rules are easily broken when you start thinking more about the skies as the subject and not the earth.

This style is something my Dad had me start thinking about when I was younger and I still do. Thunderstorms are great examples because all you really want is the sky. The earth can be rather boring at times. So why have a log or rock as an anchor detracting from the gorgeous sky? Why worry about having a foreground, middle ground and background when 3/4’s of the photograph becomes a canvas of clouds? If you’re really trying to become better as a landscape photographer then you have to be willing to break your normal habitats and break the rules.

The Salmon Flies

Yes those are bugs. No I’m not going into another field of photography. This just happened to be one of those moments I couldn’t pass up. This past week the Salmon Flies have started to emerge from the water which for fly fisherman is a really big part of Spring fishing. Salmon flies are very unique insects. The larvae will live in the water for three to four years before they emerge. Then the nymphs crawl to the shoreline where they shed their exoskeleton and are ready to mate. This activity makes for some amazing fishing but it is also a huge part of the ecology of the river system.

While I don’t usually photograph insects, the significance of this species is important information for the files. When it comes to storytelling or say writing an article, having spent time watching and photographing these insects is a necessity. Now I’m also trying out new equipment. Everything you see here was shot with the D750, 24-70 AF-S, and SB-5000. Why the D750 you ask? Well it’s an FX body which works with my contingent of lenses, the image quality and video quality are excellent. The big thing is size and weight. If you spend a lot of time hiking, with your camera gear on your back, then you know that all that weight really starts to zap your strength. The D5 is 3.1 lbs but the D750 is 1 lb and 13.7 oz. That’s a big difference in the end. So when it comes to you’re projects and gear, you gotta think about more then just image quality. That’s the lesson I learned here. Quality is still great with the D750 but with a whole lot less weight.

Be Safe While Shooting

It’s that time of the year again when it’s great to be out hiking and shooting. Some of the best photos are off the beaten path but sometimes that path can be dangerous. It’s crucial that you remember that no photo is worth endangering yourself so here’s a few quick tips to stay safe to get that shot.

First, go light. Don’t bring everything in your arsenal, just one lens and a body. That weight can be brutal given enough time. Second, bring a buddy. Shooting is always more fun when you have someone to share it with even if they aren’t into photography. Lastly, make sure someone else knows where you’re going. No photograph is worth getting hurt for so be careful while you’re having fun.

Color Composition

Color composition is an important tool when it comes to photography because it can really dictate how your eye moves through the image. Our eyes are trained to go to light and bright and that’s the same with color as well. Brighter colors we naturally look at first before darker ones.

While I was out yesterday I noticed one of my friends sitting down while wearing his very summery shirt. The contrast between that bright shirt and the dark forest made for a quick click. Color Composition can be just that simple.

Images Captured with Nikon D5, Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED Lens24-70 AF-S on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Quick Portrait Tip

I’ve had to learn how to be a better photographer when it comes to portraiture and I know I have much more to learn but the one thing I have already picked up is to remind your subject before you lift the camera to do certain little things. A simple reminder to relax, smile, look at the camera, etc. Those little things make a difference because the model will always be thinking that what they are doing looks great, while what you see in the camera might not be. As the photographer you also have to be the director. You have to explain simply and clearly what you want.

Images captured with Nikon D5, 24-70 AF-S, SB-5000 Flash, on Lexar UDMA Digital Film

Those Aren’t Dust Spots

Have you ever had a photograph ruined because of a million bugs flying in front of you? Well I can’t say that it had ever happened to me before last Saturday bu that day one of the largest hatches I’ve ever seen occurred. There were literally millions of caddis’s everywhere along the Madison River. You couldn’t look anywhere without seeing them and you couldn’t go anywhere without them being on you.

After a five days of cold wet weather the Spring insect activity finally picked up like it should be this time of year. Everything was stalling last week and Saturday it all came out. It was actually pretty entertaining to watch. Although, the fish didn’t seem to take any interest in it.

Hurray for Thunderstorms!

Spring has become one of my truly favorite times of the year. Not only is it the start of the airshow circuit, fishing begins to pick back up but also the spring storms are back giving way to some amazing landscape opportunities. Almost daily you can find something interesting somewhere in the skies. The best part is that it’s always different. There is always something between the light and the formation that keeps it interesting.

This day started out with snow and over the course of the day it changed to an absolutely beautiful storm. You know it’s a great landscape day when you are wishing for a wider lens. Even with the D5 and 24-70 AF-S, I was wishing I had my 18-35mm. The sky was brilliant. One trick I learned long ago was to find an area where you didn’t need much land in the foreground to tell the story, because the story was in the clouds so why have a lot of land in the composition? Close down a little bit to make sure everything is sharp and then just fire away. It’s pretty darn simple but can be a lot of fun.

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