I’m a blogging slacker, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy!
I do love my job! This video gives a great behind-the-scenes look at how much fun we have when out on the Mountain Khakis Catalog shoots. Enjoy!
I was approached several weeks ago by German music label Deutsche Grammophon about possibly shooting some work for an album cover for one of their classical artists, Welsh opera singer Bryn Terfel. It all came together very quickly, as the shoot was just two weeks away or so upon initial contact. The work would be primarily environmental portrait work shot on location. I quickly pieced together some scouting images from a number of different locations and, upon a scouting trip with the VP of DG, we settled on Antelope Island State Park. In my opinion, it offers some of the greatest sunset light anywhere on earth! Despite hoards of biting gnats, the shoot went off without a hitch, thanks in large part to great planning and preparation with producer Samantha Mitchell.
The pressure was on! Especially given the fact that Bryn would be available for only a VERY limited amount of time. Between album recording sessions with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and many other commitments, I only had about 90 minutes total with Bryn on this shoot. However, when everyone is firing on all pistons, and Mother Nature cooperates, 90 minutes is more than enough to produce the goods. Check out the video above for an exclusive ticket behind the scenes at this particular shoot!
For those of you who live in or near Park City, UT, you will quickly recognize this barn. It is certainly one of the more photographed structures in northern UT. And rightly so! The Osguthorpe Barn (or McPolin Barn depending on who you talk to) has greeted visitors and locals alike traveling in to Park City since 1921. Simply put, it is a classic.
I have photographed here many times before, I’ll
I arrived at this location later in the morning, and low fog was just beginning to thin out. I was excited to be at this spot with conditions I’d never seen before! I worked through several compositions, but none of them really worked as a whole.
Finally, I settled on a wider angle image, utilizing cattails as my FG subject. I’ve shot from this exact location before in the winter, but this time the grouping of cattails seemed more elongated towards the barn, and a vertical composition seemed more appropriate.
I actually began composing this image with my 16-35mm lens. I wanted to incorporate a more complete wide angle foreground, but I still wanted to maintain emphasis and hold the viewer’s attention on the barn itself. With the 16-35mm stopped down for maximum DOF, the scene felt busy, and my eye simply wouldn’t settle on the barn as I’d like it to.
Finally, I chose to pull out my 24mm tilt shift lens. By both tilting my plane of focus and shooting at a wide open aperture of f4.5, I was able to have my cake and eat it too.
The cattails are selectively blurred, giving context and providing the FG filler that I was looking for. Yet the sharp contrast in sharp vs. blurred takes the eye directly to the barn. Why didn’t I just shoot my 16-35mm wide open? Being a super wide angle f2.8 lens, it wasn’t giving me quite the separation that I needed from a DOF standpoint. Why didn’t I throw on a longer lens and utilize a shallow aperture to achieve that separation? Throwing on a longer lens would have effectively flattened this scene. I would have gotten that separation, but I would not have achieved the depth I get from a wide angle composition–I would not have that immediate, engaging FG element grab the viewer in the same way it does from a wider angle approach.
Much of photography is about simple problem solving. It all begins, however, with a clear vision of what you hope to capture. Know what you want out of a location. Know what type of image you hope to come away with. This will serve as your mental blueprint as you work through the small problems to achieve your final photographic goal.
I want to take a quick moment and thank everyone who came out to the sold out event last night at Pictureline Inc. As always, it was a fantastic experience with a wonderful audience that was engaged and full of energy. If you didn’t make it out last night, you can check out my presentation above, thought it obviously won’t include my commentary throughout the presentation. As always, many thanks to all of my sponsors that help to do what I do! Thank you Arcteryx, Suunto, Mountain Khakis, Singh Ray Filters, Manfrotto School of Xcellence and Mark Miller Subaru!
Who loves photography in the fall? I do! And I can imagine you do too. It’s one of my absolute favorite times of year to capture Mother Nature at her finest. Join me this year in one of the most scenic locations for fall photography (as noted by MSN.com!) in the spectacular Ogden Valley. Click on the image for workshop details, and I hope to see you there!
Good times on the water yesterday. Once again, I can’t bring myself to pass up an opportunity to shoot some imagery underwater.
For the most part, the fish were somewhat uncooperative yesterday (can’t really blame em’!), but this healthy brown trout posed for the camera for nearly a minute after its release. This lighting conditions and exclusion of most of the angler lend a mysterious quality to this image. It begs the viewer to study it for a moment. Upon further inspection, it all comes together–fly fishing, small creek, catch & release, nostalgic moment, etc.
There certainly is a learning curve to shooting UW photographs. It’s taken me some time to dial in my methods, and I finally feel like I have a routine under the water, just as I do above the water. Two of the key steps in my UW approach:
1. Shoot in manual mode and pre-adjust your exposure before shooting. Most of the time, I point my camera down in the water and set my exposure for the UW light reading. If I’m shooting half in/half out shots, I may underexpose for UW by 1/2 to a full stop in order to maintain detail above water as well. If lighting conditions are just right, the two environments will actually balance quite well in terms of dynamic range.
2. Utilize your camera auto AF selection mode. This is a big one. One of the hardest parts of UW photography (without looking through the viewfinder or at the liveview display) is ensuring proper focus on the parts of the image that you want to be sharp. I’ve found the easiest way to do this is to let your camera select the focus zones, as opposed to pre-selecting a focus zone and trying to place the fish (or more precisely, the fish’s eye) in the perfect spot. This is literally the only time I ever use this function on my camera, as I generally want to have say over what the camera focuses on.
If you happen to venture into UW photography, the above tips should be useful. Most importantly, shoot a lot of images–the throw-away to keeper ratio is significant…
Are your landscape images teasers or pleasers? I ask this question of my workshop students all the time, as it really requires us to think about HOW we construct an image, and ultimately what kind of viewing experience results.
Think of each image as a visual journey. Just simply associating your image with a journey implies that there is a destination at which the viewer will arrive. Does this destination live up to the journey?
Take this image for example. Photographed during a particularly dramatic evening in Lake Powell, I was ecstatic when the storm clouds parted on the horizon and allowed for several minutes of intense gap light.
This visual journey begins in the lower right hand corner of the frame, winding up and through the image, finally arriving at the climactic “destination” of intense light on the sandstone butte above.
Think about the visual journey in each of your landscape images, and you’ll be creating pleasers, and forgetting the teasers.
Alright. I’ll admit it. I’ve long been both a consumer and yay-sayer of all things Apple. As much as despise the cult-like following (of which I’m admittedly a part) and the near idol-worship of anything with a clean-cut apple logo on it…they do, in fact, make stellar products, especially for those of us in the creative field.
One of the most sensible and useful products from Apple is one that you don’t even have to pay for if you’ve purchased a Mac in recent years. For those Apple-filiacs out there, or for those less-informed, here’s the nutshell: Time Machine is an integrated backup system that (when configured) automatically backs up your hard drive (and other external drives if you so choose) every hour. Cool? Sure–cool enough. The best part, however, is that you can actually then enter “Time Machine” and travel back to the state of your HD at the given time of backup. Why does this matter? Because we all screw up, and if we back up BEFORE we screw up, all is not lost!
I’m in the thick of submissions for all the ski mags for 2012/13. Upon relentless inspection of my library from this winter, I found one file to be (gasp) absent. How could this be??? There’s no way I would have knowingly tossed this file (shown above). With palms sweaty and heart rate rising, I dialed up Time Machine and toggled back to the date just after it was shot, but BEFORE the shoot day was edited. Annnnd….VOILA! File found. (Visualize: triumphant music filling my office, fists raised, tears of joy, victory speech…etc.) Apparently, I had edited and processed the file and somehow stripped it of its ranking. At the end of every edit, I delete every image that hasn’t received a (self-imposed) rating of at least one star or higher.
Is this the next Powder/Skiing/Freeskier cover??? Probably not. But it’s sure as hell worthy of finding its place in a submission (especially in a year lean with powder days).
Bottom line? Back up. Often. Better bottom line? Use Time Machine. It’s ridiculously easy, and, most importantly, if you do it right, it will cure you of sweaty palms and a racing heart the next time you realize you blew it. Now don’t blow it, and go back up.
We recently traveled south to Moab, UT on a location shoot for Lifestraw. If you’ve never heard of this amazing little water filter before, be sure to check it out. And enjoy the video! (many thanks to my assistant Nate Sorensen for putting this together!)