Mountain Man….Having a Sense of Place

Today’s post is as much about places that make you feel great or unique, as it is about photography. Where does the mood or atmosphere, or maybe the actual lifestyle fit your personality?  In my own home state, our northern forests or maybe the Mississippi River
hold all of that criteria of mood and lifestyle for me.

America has the most diverse landscapes of anywhere in the world.
Landscape photography in the U.S. should be a goal of any landscape
photographer world-wide. Oceans, sub-tropics, swamps, prairies both flat
and rolling, northern forests, the low cactus and sand deserts, the
high desert and majestic mountains. That’s just the beginning.

The mood and lifestyle fits me best in the high mountains of the U.S.,
such as the Rockies, the High Sierras, or the Northern Cascades. I get no
feeling anywhere, like I get when I am above timberline in the mountains. I
have hiked it, camped it and climbed it, but I have also photographed

As a landscape photographer, the high deserts of the southwest are
supreme. Especially in red rock country. The opportunity to compose
color, light, texture, shape and the contrasts that it all provides,
is unparalleled.

Still in the end, I will take life above 10,000 feet. Now understand,
the high mountains also have immeasurable beauty for you to compose
with your camera, but there are a lot fewer graphics, and a lot more
hardships in getting there.

The first four images today were made in the high deserts of Utah. God
created Utah for landscape photographers, and red rock images like
those below, are busting down the seems of my image files and I am grateful for that.


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The mountainscapes I am showing today were all made in the late summer of 2007. That
should be the  last choice for a season to create images in the Colorado Rockies. Almost all of the snow is gone. Snow capped peaks are a part of what makes the high mountains the high mountains. Still, you’re in a great pace, so you make pictures.

Now making compelling pictures in locations like Summit Lake (1st
picture) which is above 13,000 feet, or the Maroon Bells is pretty
easy. Those few lines of snow being contrasted with the green and the
flowers in the Summit Lake image makes it pretty nice. The
Maroon Bells are the most iconic location for images that “say”
Colorado Rockies. The rest of my trip meant less dramatic photos, but
I did what I could, and I cherished every moment in the high country.

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High mountains provide nice opportunities to compress layers of
mountain with longer than usual lenses. I used a 300mm lens for this image. Telephoto landscapes are pretty common in the mountains and abstracts can be found everywhere.

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Mountain valleys produce streams that originate from pure melting glaciers. A
polarizing filter to remove reflections might have provided an even
better look into the water here. The problem is that blue skies at high elevation can
become black when polarized. In 1986 (or so) I spent a weak in the high country testing Fujichrome Velvia film and overused a polarizer to the point of having many black skies,

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Climbing into higher valleys increases your opportunities for pleasing pictures.

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As you move into those high valleys even closer to timberline, it provides not only
wildflowers, but better visual opportunities to use them for frames or
lead-ins to peaks.

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No matter what time of year you are in the high country, there are always some opportunities to use snow belts, clouds or alpenglow to make interesting pictures. Remember, you are often as high, and sometimes higher than those clouds.

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This is above a valley and I am at 12,500 feet and the peak is well over 14,000
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From the “top of the world”.

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I will always find the high desert to be the most photogenic landscape
in North America, but I will also always find the top of the world the
best place to be.  The lack of oxygen you have from being there produces a high that is both legal and exhilarating.

Everybody needs a place where they are at home. Somewhere that feels
like it was made just for them. I may currently “live” a little above sea level, but I can say I “was most alive” at two miles above it.

Where are you most alive?

God Bless, Wayne

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2 Responses to Mountain Man….Having a Sense of Place

  1. Darlene Jansen says:

    These are gorgeous landscapes and beautiful photography Wayne; loved this post!

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