On a trip through Montana, I went into the Beaverhead NF to explore the ghost town of Coolidge.

While the ghost town was not that photogenic, Elkhorn Creek was lined with some great color.

This fallen log was jammed with debri creating a cascade in the creek. Throw in the rocks and you have a nice balance of blurred water, the still creek leading you to through the picture, and the lines of the colorful willow.

Elklhorn Creek in Beaverhead NF Montana.
Elkhorn Creek in Beaverhead NF Montana.

For processing, I used luminosity masks to add detail to the flowing water by darkening it slightly. Then selecting the colorful willows and bumping contrast and saturation, selectively.

Finally, I selected the green forest in the background and darkened them to allow the colorful willow stand out more.

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Related Posts: HDR and Exposure Blending in Glacier NP, Compositing 6 of Me Into One Image

This is a fall color mosaic of maple leaves that I setup. They were on a lawn and spread unevenly, so I arranged them to fit the frame to my liking.
 

While some might feel this is not nature photography because it is arranged, it sold as a stock photo a couple times including a cover. So who cares, right?

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I truly believe if you are in the business of pro photography, that you Make photographs, not just Take photographs.

On one fall photography trip to New England, I had spent about 2 weeks in New Hampshire and Vermont, capturing an amazing array of rivers, mountains, waterfalls, country scenes, and ponds.

I had shot so many ponds and lakes with amazing color reflecting in the water that on the day I shot this, I felt I did not need another pond reflection.

vt_pond_near_glover_mg_9267So after parking my car and walking through the forest to see this pond near Glover VT, I felt I had to find a different view.

That need to for something different is what had me stop and look at this scene through the trees and branches. So I set up and framed the pond and reflection between the trees and this is the shot. The trees place visual boundaries on the sides and that helps keep the eye centered on the background, through the branches.

I must have had a decent idea as this was published once in a Vermont book.

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Related posts: Window to the World, I love photographing in Crappy Weather

 

Oregon’s McKenzie River flows down the western slope of the Cascade Mountains, heading towards Eugene.

It is a designated Wild and Scenic river that flows through old growth forests, is lined with a series of incredible waterfalls, and is a popular area for kayakers, hikers, and rafters…

…and photographers. Anytime of the year is amazing to photograph along the river but fall is special. The river is lined with a variety of maple trees, river rapids, small cascades, and in the deeper pools of water, the color is a tropical blue.

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1o days ago or so, I taught outdoor portrait lighting techniques at the Cascade Center of Photography in Bend, Oregon. I demonstrated multiple techniques including reflectors, diffusion panels, and wireless flash.

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We went to a location where there was a field of wildflowers that we could use as a background, or in this case, our entire scene. Our model here is Justine and she was gracious enough to kneel in the flowers on a small trail that goes through the field.

This portrait was taken last week during my Outdoor Lighting Portrait workshop at the Cascade Center of Photography. We chose to shoot at a field of wildflowers for this colorful background. The model is Kim and the purpose of this portrait example for the students was to shoot after sunset and then light the model with flash.

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The reason to wait for the sun to set is to reduce lighting contrast substantially, then reintroduce light by adding flash to increase lighting contrast-but contrast that I am now in control of.

We all dissect photos! Each time we observe and analyze a photograph, we are mentally dissecting it into what we like and dislike about it. It’s a great way to learn from others and apply what we learn to our own work.

I shot this picture here on a 4×5 camera probably 25 years ago and I have not looked at in many years as it sits in my film files, which rarely get opened anymore.

It is enjoyable to sort through my massive film files and find images I have forgotten about and then, as  teacher of photography these days, I dissect them into what works and does not work, and share that. I even try to see if I can remember what I was thinking when I captured the image.

I see a lot going on in this photo.

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There is a term used a lot in photography these days called ‘lighting in layers‘ and it really has more to do with Photoshop compositing (at least to me) and I think I can look at this image and say the same thing.

When I was photographing this dune in Death Valley, I was very fortunate to be there after a storm which added ripples to the dunes but also erased footprints, which these days, are challenging to get away from.

To the right of the position seen here, was the top of the dune which curved to the right and downhill again. What I mean is that to the right, the dune was more evenly lit and the ripples of sand not so apparent.

By moving left or down slope, the light exaggerated the ripples more. Those ripples also point into the picture and that is a great example of leading lines, guiding the eye into the picture.

There is also a second layer of dunes beyond the foreground dunes and those are followed by the furthest dunes, which are lit with pretty even light due to the angle of the dunes.

All this, plus a little more, adds to an image that incorporates a lot of different elements. You have layers in the three sections of dunes that lead into the picture. Each section is lit differently, going from a dark foreground to the next section of dunes and finishing at the brightest section, which is where the eye finishes. Then there is the bush on the left, strategically positioned in the composition.

The result is an image that has various levels of brightness on each dune section along with leading lines and all this directs the eye to the brightest dune, and the visual destination.

As I mentioned previously, dissecting photographs is a great way to explore what works and does not work with an image and is a great aid when developing your own vision.

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Several years ago I was teaching at the Black Hills Photo Shootout in South Dakota and when the event wrapped up I headed off to Badlands NP.

I had a half day to shoot there before returning to Rapid City for an early morning flight and I arrived in the early afternoon.

I drove the loop road heading west and stopped at each point to see what could be captured. It was unfortunately a perfectly clear day and I adapted the the harsh sunlight and did pretty well.

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