In the Spring of 2016, I visited Capitol Reef NP in Utah again. I’m keeping this post short as an introduction to an idea which I’ll expand upon in my next post. I’ve questioned myself whether time is needed between shooting a landscape image and sharing the image. I question how much time is needed? One day? One week? One Year? I don’t know this answer but I’m getting closer to coming up with a timeframe that works for me.
I find myself becoming too attached to the experience while in these places to be objective enough when selecting, creating and editing images. I need time to pass before I can return to an image that I captured previously. Shooting on film has made this separation easier but I think this idea goes beyond what format I use to create images. It’s been over a year since I’ve captured these landscapes but in the larger scope of time, one year is insignificant. Would these images look any different to you if I told you they were photographed 10 years ago? 20?
I’ll discuss this topic in greater depth in my next post or two.
Thanks for reading,
Late in 2016 I had a chance to go to “The Wave” in Northern Arizona. Permits can be hard to get but I think I had some luck on my side and drew a permit on my first attempt. I didn’t make many images from this trip but I did take a lot of phone pics! The Wave is a highly sought after location for tourists and landscape photographers because of the incredible formation of sandstone. Only 20 permits per day are allotted to keep the impact to a minimum and to ensure a better experience for those who are there. You’ll appreciate the lack of crowds if you do get lucky and get a permit.
Because of its popularity, the wave has been photographed many times. There are some incredible images of it and you can google it to see for yourself. Its a treat to the eyes but there’s far more to see than just the actual wave itself. WAY more. Exploring around this incredible area will lead you to some unusual formations of sandstone, but I won’t get into that here. I only have some phone pics of these other places. Part of my goal as a photographer is to create images that are unique to me. I’m also working on creating images that are difficult, if not impossible, to recreate. This is easier said than done, especially in a place that has been photographed a million times.
I’ll keep this post short and save my thoughts on creating distinguishable work for a more in-depth post. For now, here’s a few images from The Wave. Go see this place for yourself if you get the chance and be sure to explore the area!
Thanks for reading,
In December 2016, I visited Bryce Canyon National Park once again. I’m fortunate to live relatively close to Bryce Canyon and have been there many times over the past few years. It can be crowded at times but there are also times when you feel like you have the place to yourself. On this morning, we arrived and very few cars were in the parking lot. There was a little fresh snow and the temperature was fairly mild at 27℉ which may sound cold but this is warm for Bryce Canyon in the Winter! It can easily be well below zero with wind! As we approached the rim, we were greeted to an amphitheater full of fog and a clear sky.
There were very few people and I headed away from the group I was with. I didn’t see another person over the next hour or so as I wandered to various locations on the rim yet was only minutes from the parking lot. On this morning, I was alone with the hoodoos, light and my camera.
The 9 images you see here are the only images I made on this morning. You’re seeing everything, the bad ones and the good ones, to illustrate a point. Shooting on film has changed the way I photograph landscapes and I’m far more selective in what I photograph than I was when shooting on a DSLR. You can also see that I don’t bracket my images. I do shoot a 2nd frame occasionally to ensure I captured a moment of light. Shooting with film has taught me to read light better and I’m not too concerned with exposure bracketing because exposures are all measured, not guessed.
Speaking of light, you’ll notice a few of the images have a distinct light leak. This is an issue with the camera that I discovered after I had exposed many rolls of film. I have more than a few ruined images! I’m not really too concerned with this as I’ll explain in a moment. I could’ve easily not shared these images or cropped the images to squares and nobody would know. I’m choosing to share them though so you can see everything I shot in one morning. There are only 9 frames here and out of these 9 frames, 3 are ruined and 6 are acceptable in the full size.
6 images. For comparison, on a different morning with a DSLR, I took over 200 photos and have about 6 acceptable images from that morning. Learning to evaluate light before clicking the shutter along with being more selective in what I photograph has allowed for more time observing and being present. I spend less time behind the lens and WAY less time behind a computer. During mornings like this one in Bryce Canyon, I also spend more time simply enjoying the moments of spectacular light.
This is why I’m not concerned over 3 ruined images. In no way do these detract from the experience of experiencing, creating and sharing. None whatsoever. On this morning with no people around for over an hour, I saw light over an incredible landscape that will never be repeated exactly the same. Nobody else saw this, just me. As an expressive person, seeing and experiencing isn’t enough for me though. There are so many people out there that don’t have the opportunity or ability to see these places and conditions in person. One of the wonderful aspects of photography is that pieces and moments can be shared with others and can bring so much joy to other people.
I think about this morning in Bryce Canyon quite often but not to simply remember this landscape or sunrise. I remember feeling an intense desire to share this moment with someone else. To be honest, being alone and seeing this light over such an incredible landscape wasn’t a purely happy experience. I’m not sure how to describe this but it wasn’t the first time I’ve felt this and I’ve felt it since then. This may not make sense to everyone but I’ll try to explain. I felt hints of guilt and selfishness on this morning, mixed with intense joy and wonder. I questioned why I was there alone to see and experience this beautiful morning and why there were no other people there. It wasn’t cold, it’s not exactly a remote or hidden place and it was “perfect” conditions for many people. These hints of guilt hit me when I thought of all the other people in the world who will never be able to see this place in person. Why was I fortunate to be here while other people will never know this place even exists? Could I really just stand here and soak it all in and be present in the moment? I tried and this thought made me feel incredibly selfish.
These moments of solidarity in incredible places and conditions also bring about intense emotions of joy which far outweigh any others. These complex and opposing emotions inspire me to create and share as much as any landscape will ever inspire me. I’ll talk more about how I use this as inspiration in another blog post sometime. For now, enjoy a sunrise over a complex landscape full of light and darkness.
Thanks for reading,
In my previous post I mentioned that one specific day changed my view of landscape photography. I watched a storm envelop this butte and the surrounding badlands as the fierce wind and heavy rain changed the landscape before my eyes. At the time, I felt at a loss for how to create images with a camera that could show both my emotions along with the landscape. There was simply too much to see and I felt completely overwhelmed by this experience of a landscape changing so dramatically in such a short time. I put my camera down for a while before making a few more images that evening as the skies began to clear. Most of the images are just landscapes that show a place but show nothing of myself. They’re close to what my eyes saw and document what the place looked like.
I’ve looked back on this day many times to try to understand more about what I felt and how this relates to how I use my camera. I’m not particularly interested in showing what a place looked like to my eye. This may work for others but I don’t feel like it represents anything of myself when doing so. I’m interested in using a camera to show a part of myself through images of the landscape while allowing you (the viewer) room to interpret the image how you want. This can be accomplished in many ways and I’m only beginning to understand how to do this effectively.
The landscapes that inspire me are often vast and void of people. I’m fortunate to live in an area of the Western USA that has much of this to offer. Utah in particular is like a giant puzzle. The landscape is complex and varies dramatically over short distances. By combining small pieces of the landscape together, the image becomes more apparent. This happens piece by piece over a period of time and becomes easier as more pieces are placed together. It’s often overwhelming and seemingly impossible at first when presented with a box of loose pieces with odd shapes that don’t seem like they can fit together. One by one, piece by piece, a larger image is formed.
My view of landscape photography is similar to this giant puzzle. I see it as a lifetime of pieces to assemble, piece by piece. I’ll never finish this puzzle but I’ll continue to connect pieces to gain a clearer view of the landscape over time.
Thanks for reading,
Earlier this year I made several trips to this desolate area of Utah. A powerful Spring storm was rolling through and I was able to experience the dramatic changes as the rain, wind and light swept over this incredible landscape. There were no people for miles and I was alone with only my camera. I stopped at a vantage point not far from here as the storm passed, camera in hand, and I became completely overwhelmed by what I was seeing and experiencing. The massive desert landscape was changing by the minute as veils of rain, light and shadow drifted to the horizon. The colors of the landscape were also changing, from muted earth tones to vibrantly saturated colors, then back to muted colors. This all happened in a very short time frame over an expansive landscape. It was simply too much to attempt to capture.
I became overwhelmed with the landscape and felt at a loss at how I could express anything I was feeling or seeing. It was impossible to show everything as the changes were happening simultaneously in all directions and on a scale that is difficult to comprehend. I’d never seen anything like this before in my life. I’d never experienced this sensation of feeling overwhelmed by a landscape. I stood outside in the rain as water ran down my face, mixed with tears. My camera was with me yet I didn’t know how to use it, or why I should use it.
It was at this exact moment I nearly put my camera away and nearly walked away from landscape photography forever…
To be continued.
~ Changes Come ~
Utah – 2017