Been There, Done That

Nature photography subjects often get stereotyped. There are a million individual subjects to be found, and a never-ending cache of ideas as to how to render them, or as I like to say, how to interpret them.  Each subject, and each photo created, can and should be treated individually.

Sunrise/sunset is boring to many photographers because so many others have done it before. I suppose I can say as well as anyone, “been there, done that“.  Still. To me it is a premier subject, that can be rendered many different ways.

This Rocky Mt. sunrise, was an understatement in so far as how spectacular they can be in the mountains. The colors are fairly subdued as is the overall mood. That’s due to those clouds (yes clouds) which you see below the mountain ridge. As the high clouds caught the light from the rising sun below the peaks, the clouds down in the valley were somber and stark.

While this is anything but my most spectacular sunrise/sunset image, the mood is what I felt when I was there.  That is often what I was after.

Silhouettes come in many sizes and shapes. The morning skies were spectacular on that Wisconsin morning, but alas there were no mountains or rock formations to silhouette. I used a group of trees for some shape and contrast. Notice I placed a tree that was close to me (no not literally or physically, but by moving myself around)  to fill in the blank sky that was throwing the entire image out of balance. Look around, move around, and then take what you can get.

Then there are some famous silhouettes. It’s pretty hard not to like having the famous landmark Balanced Rock as a silhouette on a Utah morning. I managed to get the rising sun right in the notch to the right of the icon. Also, as if I ordered it, the rock base rose up (well, it was actually already there) and stood flawlessly in what would have been an uncomfortable open space to the right.

Sunrises/sunsets with silhouettes are wonderful, but sometimes you want detail.

I have spent a lot of time in my photographic life, capturing landscapes and other things in the Badlands of South Dakota. There is color, shape and texture to be found there. My biggest goal was usually to capture the shapes, and the textures, and let the color fall where it might. The color may not be that of something like say, Navajo Sandstone, but it is powerful none the less.

North of the Badlands, lies what is called by many, the badlands of North Dakota. Theodore Roosevelt N.P, has a different blend of texture and color. This view was captured at an overlook right next to the highway,

Of course, then there is that Navajo Sandstone I spoke of.  This one comes from Arches N.P. in Utah.

I have shown this photo and others like it many times before. For the first time I can remember, I actually reduced the saturation in Photoshop from the natural bold gold and deep blue that I captured on film way back when this was made.  The film was Velvia, which was a saturating film, but most of the “pop” came from getting up early and making images in the high desert, and not overexposing.  Also by visually laying contrasting warm colors next to cool ones.

I have noticed something unique among our latest generation of photographers, and when I say the latest generation, I do not necessarily mean their age.  They want their images to be a little duller and less contrasty. Even when that dullness is not reality. It makes me wonder if I could even teach outdoor photography today. Imagine, trying to underplay natural phenomenon, rather use it and share it with the world.

Then there is the animate image.

Everywhere you look, there is beauty and wonder.

Pied-billed Grebe mother and her children.

“Wild eyed” Common Grackle which is in the process of “chewing out” some other birds. This backyard image was made at the very moment the subject turned into the sun and let loose with some squawks. Wildlife photography requires patience.

Bluets in a woodland. I suppose by today’s standards I should de-saturate these wildflowers. It seems, that today too much beauty is a bad thing. I say, let the colors and contrasts fall where they may.

May your trails all be happy ones,

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