Quick Shot: A Little Abstract

My favorite landscape images are hardly considered landscape photographs - they are abstracts. They are small extractions from a larger scene. They convey a grand vista in a tight frame.

This landscape is exactly that - although the sky isn't visible in the image, the reflection of the sky in the water gives a much grander image. I took this image at Blea Tarn, one of the more isolated lakes in England's famous Lake District. 

Photograph with the Leica SL Type 601 and 24-90mm lens.

Quick Shot: Dali's Tree II

I photographed this tree on film a year ago and dubbed it the Salvador Dali tree because of it's bizarre shape and surrealistic look. So when I returned to the Lake District this year, I was happy to see that the "Dali Tree" is still alive and crooked!

Shot with the Leica SL

Quick Shot: Never Too Late To Turn Around

I hate nothing more than a blown opportunity at a photograph. To think about the photos that "should have been" makes me sad and frustrates every part of my creative spirit. So, as a general rule, I try to avoid "should have been" photos.  

I flirted dangerously with a "should have" photo while in the Lake District. I had done the research to find a great location to setup for sunset and I went out an hour before sunset to setup and prepare for whatever Mother Nature had in store for me. The sun was slated to set around 9pm- at 8:30 it was looking pretty bad. The sky was full of a thick layer of grey clouds - the sun was lost behind it and there was no color to be seen. Cold and downtrodden, I called it around 8:40 - there was no way this dull sky was going to amount to anything. 

As I drove back to the campsite, my friend and I got busy chatting about the otherwise good day. About 10 minutes into the drive, I looked in the rear view mirror and all I saw was neon pink...... The sky had turned a shade of pink I had never seen before - I was incredible - and here I am driving AWAY from it! At this point the sun is about to set, but I peeled a quick U-Turn and hauled ass back to the spot we'd been setup at earlier. Thankfully I arrived in time to get some great shots of the neon pink reflecting off the water - there is very little editing in the images below... It was that good! 

There's a lesson here..... Don't give up on your photograph. And if you do, it's okay to turn the car around!  

Shot with the Leica SL and Leica f/0.95 Noctilux Lens.

Yes, it really did look like that. Very minimal edits done to this image.....

Yes, it really did look like that. Very minimal edits done to this image.....

The last drops of pink in the sky. I love how it turned the water pink.

The last drops of pink in the sky. I love how it turned the water pink.

Quick Shot: Lost in the Woods

Lake Buttermere is one of my favorite places in the Lake District - it's an hour drive from the central lakes and therefore a little quieter than many of the trails. With the silence and private feel of the lake, it's easy to feel like you have stepped into a magical place and become lost in the woods.

My hike around the lake was on one of the warmest and most beautiful days we've had in England this summer. The way the sun came through the tree canopy was incredible - it cast a soft light across a neon green bed of mosses and ferns. The result was too photogenic to pass up.... so I photographed virtually every tree in the forest! ;-)

After sitting down to edit the images, I felt these three best convey my feeling of being lost in a magical woodland, and I hope you enjoy them as much as I enjoyed taking them.

Shot with the Leica SL & Leica 24-90mm lens.

Quick Shot: Sunset at Coniston

I have now been to England's renown Lake District twice - exactly a year apart - and my photographic experiences could not be more different between the two trips. The first time I went was the first experience I had shooting a Leica rangefinder and the weather was terrible. This time, I took the Leica SL and my Hasselblad 503CX and the weather was perfect. I really can say that I've had a chance to point my cameras at every conceivable weather pattern in the Lake District.

Since the weather was so perfect, I spent every evening setting up the camera for what I hoped to be a spectacular sunset photograph. I'll elaborate on my experiences with the particular sunsets in another post, but today I wanted to share an image from my last night in the Lake District. We decided to setup at the northern end of Coniston Water, a popular site with day travelers, but on this night, I had the whole lake virtually to myself. I mounted a neutral density filter to the front of the lens and took a long exposure, resulting in the flat water that reflects the pink in the sky beautifully. Although it's not a brilliant neon sunset, I love the soft pink light that filled the sky and water.

Shot on the Leica SL with 24-90mm lens, 36 stop ND filters, and Gitzo tripod.

Quick Shot: Dali's Tree

"Of all the subjects in the world to photograph, why choose this one?"

It's a great question..... what makes this subject worth photographing at the moment of capture? In this case, the motivation to make the print was because my subject reminded me of one of my favorite painters, Salvador Dali. While it would be ta stretch to say any of my photographs are "Dali-esq", this tree with its twisted and mutilated shape reminded me of the sort of tree Dali would imagine and dream up.

We were walking along a trail in the Lake District on our last morning before heading home. I had just switched to a new type of 35mm film that is made in Germany called Adox Silvermax. The film has more silver content than most films and the manufacturer claims it can get up to 14 stops of dynamic range..... to put that into perspective, my digital camera gets about half of that!

I really liked this tree. It's warped from years of abuse by the wind and the morning light cast a nice glow on the surrounding grasses. Using my Leica MP and a 75mm lens, I composed and took the photograph, deciding that at that instant, this was the best subject in the world to photograph.

When I look at the negative (which I developed using Kodak HC-110 - same stuff Ansel Adams loved) and the scanned image, I can't help but think of the works of Salvador Dali. What do you think? 

Quick Shot: Boardwalk

Using my digital SLR camera, I was always taking a color image and converting it to black and white, but using black and white film opens a new world of possibilities. Suddenly I find myself evaluating a scene for contrast and tonality and trying to make an educated guess about how that will translate onto the black and white film emulsions.

I had been walking along a coastal section of England's Lake District taking photographs of the sand dunes and waves. While the images were interesting, I wasn't overly inspired with the subject and was headed back to the car when I turned around to see the path I'd just been walking. The late afternoon sun was casting a nice glow across the top of the grass, but there were some dark shadows along the path as well.... I figured it would make for a good black and white image, so I grabbed the Leica MP and fired a single exposure. Turns out, it was my favorite photograph from the walk on the beach!

Shot on Kodak TMax 100; developed in my home studio and scanned on an Epson V700 scanner.

Quick Shot: Misty Lake

I just returned from a long weekend trip to the beautiful Lake District of England, but this trip was a little different from most of my other ones. It's been over a decade since I didn't use a digital camera of some type on a trip, but I "cut the cord" and only brought film for this journey. 

Since returning, I've been busy developing and scanning lots of color and black and white film from the trip and I'm excited to finally share some of the images. This first one was taken at the end of a a boat pier on Lake Windermere. It was a foggy and drizzly morning, which gave the lake a mystic feeling. I really wanted to try and capture that mist, so I pulled out the Rolleiflex, which was loaded with Kodak Ektar 100 film and took this shot. I think it's a great way to tease some of the other Lake District prints coming soon....... what do you think? Ready to see more?