In this crazy world we live in, it is necessary (for me anyway) to have diversions. Something to occupy time, mind and soul. What better way than to create photographs, or in my case to share some that already exist. Each of us must carry on in our own way.
Abstract skies need not be only the upper section of a landscape photo, they are a subject in and of themselves. In fact, abstractions to me, usually do not include many or any obvious literal signposts if you will. For me, they are about color, contrast, shape, and they can include either obvious markers, very few, or none at all. My abstracts whether of skies or other things, were all made of rather obvious subjects, but frequently without obvious signposts. Skies, especially at or about sunrise or sunset, are for me, a subject in and of themselves.
The first four images below, are absent the earth. Terra Firma if you will. Or for that matter, water. My next statement is not meant to infer in any way, that I myself possess any artistic skills. It is just that at times, it takes a bit of artistry or something, to subtract the obvious and only show what attracted you to the scene in the first place. Take note, that some clouds lit by a sun that is below or in back of them, can produce wonderful rim lighting. In some cases below, my exposure was arrived at with spot metering, and other times with a patterned mode, but in all cases my reading came from close to but not on, the brightest location within the scene.
Winter skies are a whole different animal.
The contrail you see behind the jet flying within the photo below, is so prominent and so visible, partly due to the December sky. The temperature and low angled early winter’s sun, helped keep the sky a deep, deep blue, which contrasted (there’s that word I use so much) with that contrail. I used a 1% spot meter reading, likely from the contrail, and then I surmise I opened up around one stop.
Winter skies, can also help to produce nice winter landscapes.
This early morning winter’s day led to some moody “winterscapes“ Lowlight levels can be a good thing.
That does not mean that an hour or so later, one can’t produce some cheerier visions that can also invoke some nice moods.
A “western landscape” can mean a lot of things. In general, to me it means any image that says “I am the west”. Anywhere in western North America.
A few mountains, a lake, and some nice shadowy light. This shot was made in south central Colorado, and it proves that manageable shadows can enhance a scene. Here they are just dark enough to create some contrast and dimension, without losing any detail or texture. It is the essence of a western scene.
The San Juan district of the Colorado’s Rockies at the right time of year, is colorful and alive. They can at times remind me of summer images I have seen that were from Norway or Sweden.
Anyway you look at, an amazing place for a summer hike. My concept here was to create a composition that showed that everything here is made of hills. Beautiful hills!!
Sometimes it is all about a specific subject. An animal or maybe even an old tree.
This gnarled and twisted old Juniper tree, not far from the edge of a mile deep canyon, was not a part of a photo. It is the photo. The mix of sun and shadow (contrast again), helped to add dimension to the tree.
Finally we move from Colorado to Utah. This old land arch is seen by thousands of people every year. It is right along a two lane state highway. I would bet there are at least a few thousand compositions that can be created here. Some can be busy and complex, and others more simplistic and organized. A thousand photographers, a thousand images. I photographed this arch twice over about fifteen years. The place remained the same but my photos were amazingly different. Below is what I saw the most clearly on that second trip.
Let is visit with some avian friends.
I love the way pelicans, in this case American White Pelicans, fly in such tight almost scary formations. I was always anticipating a crash, but alas, they are good at what they do.
The farther they flew, the tighter their formation got. They of course did so without incident. Years of panning race cars with a camera, made flight shots like these fairly easy for me. Very often, the race cars and drivers, were not as coordinated as these guys and a crash would ensue.
A new species.
A big part of bird photography is about adding a new species to your list. Hopefully with sellable images. I have seen my fair share of western Stellar’s Jays when I lived in the west. The only images I ever made were on a return trip years later. I never acquired the quality or quantity of images of them that I desired. I would have loved a cleaner background with this one. Despite what some people might think, I very rarely edit a background dramatically to enhance a photo.
Back to the landscapes of the west.
I first visited the Badlands of South Dakota with my parents while on vacation. The first images I ever made were likely captured there at that time. I came to consider this location, my “gateway to the west”. Having been there many times, allowed me to create images in several seasons, and under an unfathomable number of different types of light. Days of mixed sun and clouds, provide nice opportunities.
Have a great day,