When it comes to outdoor photography, many photographs have a star subject in them. It could be anything in the scene and often it is something that caught your eye.

Sometimes the star of the photo is obvious and other times it is not. When I find a star to photograph I often look for other features in the landscape that support the star and when those work well, you have a well composed image.

But in today’s digital world, composing and capturing the star and the supporting elements, is only half the process to a great photo. The other half of the process is in the digital darkroom. That is where you complete what you started in the field and that is the case here with this image.


Scott Lake in the Oregon Cascades is a popular viewpoint for nature photographers. I was up there several times over the last month and captured this image on the first visit in July. We are in a terrible drought so the water was very low. That is of course terrible but also a blessing because this rock is right up close to the shoreline as a result of the low water and makes a great foreground element.


Without a doubt concept is the biggest ingredient in a top selling stock photo. This image screams farming, agriculture, Heartland, and more, and has made good money.

 wheat farmer

I was actually on assignment for the former America West airlines when I was shooting this guys cornfield. He drove up and asked what I was up to. We chatted and later became friends and I was invited to photograph anytime I wanted including wheat harvest where we set up this photo.

It was shot before sunset so it had the golden light of the setting sun. Having them in the foreground with the combine in back added a great sense of depth. It has been on brochure covers, bank ads, and more.

Capitol Reef National Park in Utah is without a doubt one of my favorites parks to photograph. I have been there many times and and even taught a workshop there once and I got to thinking about it as I archive some of my photos from there.

This is not a park that is heavily over run by people and photographers like Zion and Bryce. Yet, in my option it offers a more diverse landscape for photography with some remote locations that are quiet stunning.

I have been there many times, I have yet to reach some of the furthest reaches of the park like the far southern end around the Halls Creek Narrows, but have photographed quite a few locations within the park. There are many great places to shoot like Capitol Gorge, the schoolhouse, and more and I have shot them all, but these are my 5 favorite places to shoot:

1) Chimney Rock

You cant miss this location because it is right next to the highway with a large parking area. You can get close or some great angles from across the highway as well. I think sunset is the best time.

I was teaching workshops in South Dakota a few months back and before catching my flight I had the afternoon to kill so I zipped out to Badlands National Park and spent 4 hours shooting.

It is a great park to shoot and I had a great time, albeit brief. I am also a big fan of Topaz software and processed some of the images in B&W Effects from Topaz. The reason i did that was because early in my shooting the sun was quite high and there was haze on the horizon.

When you have the haze it desaturates the sky and is not so appealing. Convert to B&W and the sky is a shade of gray and works much better. Here are some shots: