(White)stone National Park

When I planned my fall trip to Yellowstone National Park, I had certain expectations for the types of art I would have an opportunity to create: fall colors, wildlife, spectacular sunsets, etc.

So much for planning. Mother Nature, it seems, had another idea.

Snow.

We had heavy precipitation every day that we were in the park, with five days in a winter weather advisory. Areas of the park accumulated over 10" of snow in one night, closing many roads and restricting travel through the park for a number of days.

In the midst of this surprise cold, there was still a great opportunity to capture some landscape images.... just not the ones I had planned on! With the sky hidden behind low, snow-filled clouds for days, I focused on more white landscapes to capture the essence of Yellowstone's first snowfall of 2017.

These photographs were all made with the Leica SL. Steam from active geothermal features and snow melt where warm ground met frozen tundra can be seen in a number of the finished prints.

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Quick Shot: A Little Bit of Fall

These photos need little introduction! Fall is here, pumpkin spiced drinks are in vogue, and my camera has been busy soaking in all that action. Here's a collection of my favorite fall images from this season, taken with my Leica Camera SL Type 601 and 24-90mm lens.

Reflections on a perfectly calm day at one of the Tarns in the Lake District

Pine trees starting to yellow on the banks of Lake Buttermere

Yellow leaf on a log 

Quick Shot: Single Leaf

Every so often I make a point of digging through the photo archives to see what I've "lost" in the midst of all my work. I think of it as the spring cleaning for my hard drive!

I took a few hours today to dig through some older photos that never made my website because they were overshadowed or lost in depths. I came back with several finds and decided to dust off one of these oldies for today's quick shot.

This single leaf was photographed last fall along a waterfall hike. I don't remember exactly where I took it, but I do remember being struck by the perfect contrast between the bright leaf and dark rock. It's an incredibly simple photograph and even simpler scene to photograph, but that's what makes photos like this so fun for me - I enjoy the challenge of making a simple scene worth photographing.

Don't worry, I've got plenty of new stuff on the way (including some new equipment reviews), but today, we'll enjoy an image that got lost in the archives.

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Quick Shot: Colorfall #2

On Sunday I unveiled "Colorfall #1" as a Quick Shot post... if you missed that story be sure to read it here

Like "Colorfall #1", the second print was taken at Blackwater Falls State Park in West Virginia. Sitting at the base of Elakala Falls, I marveled at the opportunities before me. The lighting was perfect. The colors were bright. The water was muddy. Everything was ideal to get a series of abstract shots.... so I did!

I got a few questions about the bright colors and how I managed to get them. It required a significant amount of experimentation to get the shot exactly like I wanted. The water was very muddy and was pretty drab, unless I composed water moving at a variety of different speeds!

To get this shot, I positioned myself so that I had one current moving very fast in front of my camera sidewise (giving the white colored water) and with slower moving water behind. The result was water that differed in color just because of the speed and direction it was traveling.  

Just like I did with "Colorfall #1", this was shot with the Nikon D800 and Nikon 24-70mm lens with a neutral density filter. This image was around a 6 second exposure. 

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Quick Shot: Colorfall #1

I've been very busy the past few days working on getting some new work together and I'm pleased to be showing off the first of this latest work in today's Quick Shot blog. 

A few months ago, I saw some photos taken of Blackwater Falls Park in West Virginia. It's a three hour drive from my house and it wasn't something to photograph on a whim, so I saved the location and would visit when I had a day to dedicate to the project. 

On Friday, I packed my bag and embarked on the drive to Blackwater Falls. The weather forecast called for rain most of the day, which was a blessing and a curse. Bad weather tends to make for great photos, but any rain meant I'd be leaving the large format film camera at home and just shooting digital. 

Blackwater Falls Park is relatively small - you could drive from one end to the other in just 15 minutes. The park surrounds a canyon and has a river flowing down the middle of it, which is the perfect recipe for a variety of waterfalls. The most popular waterfall is Blackwater Falls, but I scouted a few other smaller falls during the day. 

I arrived at the trail head for Elakala Falls and decided to switch into my knee high rain boots and rain gear before hitting the trail - good thing because no sooner do I set off then a large rain cloud comes to dump on me. The walk to the top of falls was relatively short, but I knew I needed to get down to the bottom. The park doesn't maintain a trail to the base of the falls and the heavy rain made the footing challenging as I did my best mountain goat impression to get down the side of the cliff.

Once at the bottom, I knew I'd hit the photographers pay dirt. The clouds were giving a soft light to the river and making the muddy water more colorful and bright. I wanted to shoot a series of long exposure shots to get some abstract water effects and this was the perfect site! I could have made hundreds of exposures, but found one that I really liked. The rock was covered in a variety of bright algae, giving the flowing water some magnificent colors (hence the name, "colorfall")

To get all the colors you see here, I experimented with a variety of shutter speeds and camera angles. This image was a 4 second exposure using a neutral density filter.

Photoshop CS6 and Nik HDR Efex were used in post production to highlight the colors and remove some sensor spots. Shot with the Nikon D800, Nikon 24-70mm, ND 8 filter, Gitzo tripod.  

PS- stay tuned for Colorfall #2!

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