I received notification this morning that the image below was selected for the Autumn Photography Exhibition, 2016 at the Emerald Art Center. The image was taken last September in Yellowstone National Park. I shot it early in the morning in the Firehole River Canyon and converted it to Black and White using Photoshop CC and NIK software. I do not expect to win as I am sure there are many wonderful images – this is a national juried show. I will let you know when the reception is but the show will be up most of September. I am a happy camper!!
“I only went out for a walk and finally concluded to
stay out till sundown,
For going out, I found, was really going in.”
My going out/in last evening had been in the planning stage for a while – checking weather and the Photographers Ephemeris. The goal was to wait until clear sky and no moon were forecast and last night I hit it right on. Nice when a plan works out!!
Went to the top of Old Mckenzie Pass, set up and waited for the night to unfold. My friend Leslie from Sisters drove up and met me – so nice to have some company. We both got more and more excited about what we were seeing and I was photographing, as the evening deepened and the stars filled the sky. It could not have been a more perfect evening.
I have been reading and practicing night photography and a recent article by Tony Rowell in Outdoor Photographer magazine was a technical help and a bit of a stimulus to search out time and place. The image below was shot with my Canon 5D3, a 16mm lens, f2.8, ISO 800 for 45 seconds – taken about 10:45PM. I noticed that the exposure time was a bit long as I did get some star movement so next time – hopefully the Perseid Meteor shower – I will have learned more and be able to improve. However I am pretty happy with this image. Be sure click on the image to get a larger view.
Home by 1:00AM with classical music on the car stereo all the way – seemed an appropriate choice of music to accompany a night filled with natural wonder.
“The expanse of the playa reflects back the perfect combination of silence and possibility.
To be granted a stay here, held in the palm of this grace, is to restore belief in the self and the value of one’s artistic yearning.
There is no bigger silence than this one”
—Melanie Bishop (Resident 2012)
Early this morning I made coffee and headed east with the intent of paying a visit to the Playa at Summer Lake, OR. Their wonderful brochure describes the purpose and the location much better than I ever could.
“On the edge of the Great Basin, PLAYA is a retreat for creative individuals who are committed and passionate about their work, and who will benefit from time spent in a remote location.”
One has to apply and be accepted by a review committee before being granted a Residency which vary from 2 to 8 weeks. There is no fee for a stay. Lots more information on their website: http://www.playasummerlake.org
After heading southeast toward Lakeview on the Fremont Highway I was more and more charmed by the landscape. I saw Fort Rock in the distance but opted to continue down to the PLAYA and stop at Fort Rock on the way back. It is about 75 miles from LaPine to the facility. I got there pretty early but was still warmly greeted by Deb who I think is one of the managers. We had a nice visit and she allowed me to wander down along a pond that is just below the main building. I felt a bit intrusive but she assured me that it would not be a problem. Interesting clouds forming from a weather front that was due to move in on Friday.
I took some of the farming back roads to Fort Rock hoping for an interesting landscape shot. The weather front that was just touching the PLAYA was more pronounced and made for a dramatic shot. (There seems to be a figure coming out of the clouds looking down at the top of the structure. You can see it better if you click on the image for a larger view)
It was a bit of long drive from Eugene but sure worth it and while I doubt I would ever qualify for a Residency it sure is country that would be fun to hang out and shoot in this autumn — rabbitbrush and bitterbrush in bloom against the sage – wonderful.
I went out to the wetlands last evening mostly to reconnect with myself and recharge my spirit after my photographic show in Springfield last Friday evening. Being ‘ON’ like that takes a toll on me. Being a true introvert I find that I recharge my batteries by being alone in nature and so last evening helped to fill that need. It was what Guy Tal calls “the siren call of solitude”. I needed solitude last night even more than is normal for me.
There were big fluffy clouds forming west of town last evening and I went out with the hope of photographing their reflections in the open water. Unfortunately it was also very windy and there was a moderate chop on the water so much so that the hoped for cloud reflections were not going to happen. The winds were very gusty and blowing the tall grass around. It seemed a perfect opportunity to capture that spirit/feeling of movement. These images were both shot with a 6 stop NF filter. Probably not to everyone’s taste but it is sometime necessary to get beyond the crystal sharp images that if find myself posting most of the time and experiment with the conditions presented to me.
One of the fun things when camping in a remote area like the east side of Steens Mountain is waking in the middle of the night to the yipping of coyotes in the hills above camp. That happened a couple of times during the night I spent at the Alvord Hot Springs camping area. Helped to confirm the solitude of the place for me.
I left my little tent at 4:15AM – time to get down to the playa for a 5:30 AM sunrise. As I started down the access road – just past the first fence row – I was welcomed with this image. What a nice way to start a fresh new day. The light was just beginning to come up and the tips of some of the vegetation were just catching it. I was going to write about all the techie camera stuff that went with capturing this image but I decided that it bored me so — enough to just enjoy it.
I drove down the road onto the playa and found a place to set up and wait for the morning light and full on sunrise. I put on the warmest coat I had – actually think it was warmer than that awful sleeping bag I had. It was not all that cold but there was a fairly stiff breeze that made it feel much colder. I found myself retreating to the car from time to time in search of warmth only to turn around and see the color and cloud pattern developing in the sky. Those are times when you forget you are cold.
The image below is about the full development of the morning color. When the sun did pop over the distant hills things washed out pretty fast. (If you click on these shots you will get a bigger, and I think better view on your monitor)
After the sun filled the sky and the color dissipated I headed back to pack up camp and think about heading down the road. I stopped at the store/hot springs for one more view of the Killdeer egg and to bum a cup of coffee from Rose who was so gracious.
After a while I said Good-bye and headed south with the intent of stopping at Andrews which is the site of an old school that served the residents of the Alvord area, I think back in the 30’s. Have to do a bit more investigation.
After seeing an episode of Oregon Art Beat on John Simpkins, a fine art painter, who lives at Andrews, I hoped to be able to connect with him and see his work. As I cautiously turned into the driveway I found he and is co-worker sitting on the steps of his house, morning coffee in hand. I was a bit nervous just driving up on a place like that but they were so welcoming and kind and we struck up a fun and wide-ranging conversation — painting, photography, poodles, winter existence over there and how one gets supplies – they have Wi-Fi and UPS drives by almost every day but grocery stores are a long drive.
The link below is of the Oregon Art Beat episode featuring John and his life and work at Andrews. It has been nominated for an Emmy award.
When I walked into his studio – the old one room school – my first reaction was “This would bring tears to my friend Lillian’s eyes” – a huge space – 5>6 times bigger than her studio – outfitted with a wood stove, a bed, tubes of paints, huge work tables, north light and rows of prayer flags. He paints large canvases but most were rolled up so I only got to see the one he was currently working on.
I headed back south on the road toward Fields Guard Station and then around the loupe and back north to Frenchglen and breakfast. Following that I slowly drove down the Central Patrol Road on the Malheur National Wildlife refuge hoping to capture a few bird images. I am such a terrible bird photographer. I did see many common birds such as Red-wing Black birds etc. and took a few shots. I did manage to find one that was a bit unusual and I stumbled my way into a reasonable image of it.
Back to Burns for the night and then early the next morning I headed west over the mountains after a short stop in Sisters to see my friend Leslie. (lite snow in the trees on Santiam Pass – that was fun)
It had been a couple of years since I made a trip to the southeast corner of Oregon to take in the beauty of Spring on the east side of Steens Mountain. I was not disappointed by the trip this week except of a very lousy new sleeping bag from REI. It is going back.
It is a long drive from Eugene to the Alvord Desert and then down to Fields Guard Station near the Nevada border. Once past Burns on Hwy. 78 you turn south onto the gravel road that becomes the wonderful High Desert Scenic route — lined with flowers in many places with the snow capped Steens Mountain in the distance.
I have been reading “The Immortal Irishman” by Tim Egan. He talks a bit about ‘the browning’ of the land in the West as it drys out in the summer months and while I am sure that happens here as well as Nevada, Colorado and Wyoming right now the hills are lush and green and painted with wildflowers.
I made my way down to the Alvord Hot Springs where I had planned on camping for the night. Things have changed a bit since I was last there – for the better. Now there is a small store, a bathroom and camping facilities all managed by a remarkable woman — Rose. As I got out of the car and looked around from behind me I heard a cheerful greeting – Yup – Rose. She showed me all the improvements and I paid my minimal camping fee, set up my tent and was ready for the night. We walked down to the hot springs and she showed me something I would have walked right by – a Killdeer egg — so well camouflaged. However, it is right along the trail leading to the pools – hope no one inadvertently steps on it. This is about as good as I can do when it comes to bird photography.
Following a soak to get off the road dust and a sandwich for dinner I headed for the playa hoping for a sunset. The moon had risen mid-afternoon so I was not hoping to get much help there but the playa is so interesting – some would say lonely but for me it is a wonderful feeling of solitude and warmth that just seems to wrap around me.
As the evening shadows of the mountains played out on the playa I started looking for some details and patterns. I like the color blocks and detail in the cracks of the following image. Last one before heading for my camp.
When a photographer presents us with what to him is an Equivalent, he is telling us in effect, “I had a feeling about something and here is my metaphor of that feeling.”
Minor White — Equivalence: The Perennial Trend
My friend Amy Isler Gibson sent me the article in which the above quote is found and so much of it is typical of the wisdom and philosophy that can be found in Minor White’s writing. Worth a read and certainly worth spending some time viewing his images. You can decide for yourself the “feeling” I had while gathering these images.
Dave Hill and I headed for Central Oregon early Tuesday morning with the intent of photographing sunset in the Painted Hills near Mitchell, OR. Instead of a straight through trip we opted for a more circular route —>> Eugene, Sisters, Redmond, Madras, Antelope, Fossil. Clarno down the Service Creek Road to Mitchell. Found some very interesting landscapes along that route that I hope to post images from later this week.
We checked into an older, quaint hotel, (some folks describe me the same way) The Oregon Hotel, grabbed some dinner at local cafe and headed out hoping for good sunset light. It did not really happen as a storm was coming in and the clouds got thicker as the evening went on. There were some minor breaks but overall not a great night. I did happen to be in the right place when one of those sun breaks opened and the bare branches of a dead tree were silhouetted against a turbulent sky. (This is tough place to make a living if you are a tree.)
I did not get much more as the evening came to an end but I have many more images sort through. Hopefully like gold mining with a payoff of gold instead of the observation by Mark Twain my brother in law told me about – “A gold mine is hole in the ground with a liar at the bottom.
The next morning found us leaving the hotel about 0500 hours after coffee and a muffin – so nice they put that out for guests. It was still pretty overcast and I do not think either of us had a lot of hope for a great morning but we gave it a whirl.
In the Spring the hills are covered in part with tiny yellow blooms. In years past they lined the gullies but the folks at the National Park Service HQ told us much of the seed had washed out and to not expect color in the gullies this year. Partially true. The hillsides had lots of blooms as this morning image shows. I think it is my favorite from this shoot and gives a good ideas the conditions and the landscape.
We shot for about an hour and both of us were about ready to pack it in when I turned to the east and walked up a small rise and found the sun coming up between the hills and thick band of clouds. Really gives you an idea of how spectacular this landscape is. I read in a brochure that it is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Oregon. Works for me.
As I alluded to in a FB post of these images you can get a larger and better rendered view by clicking on an individual image. Also I have many more images from this trip to process and a cursory look gives me hope for a couple of them.
Enjoy and thanks for looking. Comments are always welcome. I hope you go over for a visit to Dave’s blog as well. See the links section.
I’m sure you know. If you’re an artist of one kind, you’re probably an artist of many kinds. Because like light, artistry and passion flood everywhere. They pour through cracks.
It seemed as if light conditions improved all day – heavy clouds finally dissipating and some sun breaking through. Dave Hill and I once again headed for the wetlands and the fields of Camas Lily. I sure hope you all are not getting tired of seeing them. I certainly am not tired of shooting them and I look forward to this blooming time every year.
Last night was dramatically spectacular and as sunset came on the colors changed almost by the minute. The three images below are a bit of a time sequence starting from when we first walked out into the blooms and ending on the way back to the car when Dave exclaimed about the ramp of clouds coming across the wetlands.
And finally the one taken on the walk back to the car.
Be sure to click on these images for a larger view.
T’was a wonderful night. I think we both used that adjective many times in the hour or so we were there. The blooms are still out there waiting for your visit.
It has been a long learning curve for me to begin to ‘see’ in Black and White. I have found that it takes more that just a simple adjustment in Photoshop to create a solid Black and White image and I have a trash bin full of failures to back up that experience. You can make simple Photoshop adjustments but I find you get mediocre images.
First comes the need to ‘see’ in the field in Black and White – to visualize the final image and then there are the changes and adjustments made in the digital darkroom – lots of time adjusting and creating an image only to then go back days later and review it. (I am assuming you have a calibrated monitor of high quality or else all this is for nought) Then comes the actual printing and that effort is not simply turning on a printer and letting it go – many tries are sometimes necessary and I can assure you that there will be frustrations. Recently I have been printing B&W images on Hahnemuhle-Harman Gloss Baryta Warmtone paper and I find that it comes as close to traditional wet darkroom prints as I have seen in the digital world – and I have tried a lot of different papers.
The two images below were from an early morning ramble through the forests along the Coast Fork of the Willamette River in Mt. Pisgah park and while they are of the same grouping of trillium they are two very different images and developing and printing them was a completely different experience.
Thanks fo looking.
Dave had a great suggestion yesterday that we head out along Camp Creek road to a grouping of barns in the fields next to the Mckenzie River. We both hawked the weather forecast yesterday and it seemed to indicate some clearing in the early morning which we hoped would give us some sunrise light. That did not happen but there was soft light and fog along the fields that both of us thought could make for some interesting shots.
The first shot below shows that fog hanging in among the trees lining the edges of the farmers fields and running up over the adjacent hills. (Click on any image for a larger and hopefully a more pleasing view) A bit further on we came to a single old oak tree standing along side the road. There are quite a few of these oaks in the valley and this one just seemed so iconic with the fence line and the road.