Tag Archives: National Parks

How I See in the Field: Simple.

Ice Reflection, El Capitan, Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park is an interesting place to photograph. To call it iconic is an understatement. However, while the iconic vistas are a must do for photographers, the conditions must be amazing to make those images successful. After many years of visiting and observing this alluring valley, I’ve found that its beauty really lies in the subtle details found in the shadows of the “giants of the valley”. (I actually find this to hold true almost anywhere I explore!)

Now, here is where my style diverges from many. Most photographers, especially when shooting digital, will “work” a location. They will start quickly with multiple obvious images of the icon, even with mediocre conditions, and continue to change focal lengths and bracket exposures, capturing every possibility so as not to miss anything. This is more of a photojournalistic / must have volume immediately approach. I prefer to stay relaxed and open, observe, and see what I am drawn to, visually and emotionally. I don’t want to gather hundreds (or thousands) of snap shots in hopes of finding “something good” several days later while weeding through “the pile” on the computer. I am looking for one or two moving pieces of art. I want to ‘Bring the Fine Art of Nature Home”!

When I am drawn to a subject, I take my time. I don’t want to force it. I look at the main subject that grabbed my attention, and then look at the context. If I am still drawn to the subject, I see if there is a specific composition that feels right. If so, I take out my camera, choose a lens (my large format cameras only have fixed focal lengths) and look at the rough composition. Next I settle on my focal length, choose my perspective (camera height, distance from the subject, side to side angle, etc.) and finally, ELIMINATE anything I can from the composition. I prefer clean and simple. I then decide as to whether or not this composition still pulls me in. If so, it’s on to the technical stuff (which I keep minimal!).

Now that I have composed THE image, and the light is or will soon be ideal, I decide whether or not I need to use a filter. (Most often I am filter free, with a few exceptions:  Split ND filters to even out exposures, polarizers for removing glare on wet rocks and foliage, and contrast filters for black and white film photography.) Finally, I calculate the exposure, load one sheet of film and capture one exposure.

The image above, Ice Reflection, El Capitan, is a stunning example of this process. With no clouds to make El Capitan appear unique and interesting in a more direct composition, I put myself in a position to explore something unique. I relaxed and maximized my chances by choosing this location (you can’t force it). I was there early, knew the light to expect, and just went with it. I walked along and let the shoreline ice grab my attention. I checked it out, moved around and watched the reflection change as I moved. The ice patterns alone were worthy of an image. When I was able to add the contrasting reflection of warm light on El Capitan with that of the blue sky, the dimension changed dramatically. For me, this image is now about pattern, detail, light, color and place. Amazing!

I shot this image using my 4×5 inch film camera. This large format equipment has numerous benefits: The film size captures a huge amount of information. It is relatively slow to set up (encouraging me to be very considerate in my image choices). It is quite expensive to shoot (again encouraging me to be very considerate in my image choices). I can change the shape of the camera, and thus change the focal plane to match the image needs (this enables extreme critical focus and allows me to use the lens at its strongest working aperture). Each of these factors leads to the finest print quality available. I created one exposure. The exposure of the shot.

Importantly, this process of how I see, work with my large format gear and focus on “THE SHOT” is what has made me a successful gallery owner and workshop / tour leader. I am able to make photography a relaxing endeavor focused on the feelings that brought each of us to outdoor photography to begin with. I am eliminating the intimidation factor of technological overwhelm, and I am sharing the strong basic process of seeing, feeling and composing “The Fine Art of Nature”. When participants visit my gallery and view my large fine art prints on the wall, they find great relief in learning that you don’t have to be a computer engineer to do photography at the highest level. Please join me in the field!

Photo Tip:
The lesson learned here is one of the biggest I share with my workshop / tour participants. Relax, stay open and don’t force an image. The art of landscape photography begins with seeing in a way that communicates what we feel when we are lucky enough to experience natures beauty. Especially when we have travelled somewhere with the purpose of doing photography, the natural (modern) inclination is to shoot all we can. The reality is, the shot isn’t always there. I believe it is better to come away with a few beautiful, heartfelt pieces of art, than it is to grab hundreds (or thousands) of images that are mere snapshots. Furthermore, I never shoot with the mindset that “I can fix it later” or “make it art” in the computer. Enjoy the beauty in these inspiring natural places, immerse yourself in your surroundings, and use the basics to compose the art that moves you.

Canham 4×5 Metal Field Camera, Rodenstock APO Sironar-S 150mm lens, Fuji Provia 100 Transparency Film, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo 1325 Carbon Tripod, Sekonic Digital Spot Meter.

Private Workshops:
I am available for private individual or group workshops and tours near my home in Lake Tahoe, or anywhere in the world! join me when you are ready to take your photography to the next level, when you want a guide for the sweet spots of Lake Tahoe, or when you want to improve your photographic success on your next photo trip! Contact me directly: 530-544-4269  jonpaul@jonpaulgallery.com   www.jonpaulgallery.com

Posted in 4x5 film, digital photography, jon paul gallery, Landscape, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Uncategorized, Yosemite Also tagged , , , , , , , , |

Grand Tetons Workshop / Tour Offerings for 2013

Oxbow Bend Fall Reflection Panorama

(See more images an testimonials below!)

Grand Tetons in the Spring & Fall, 2013: June 20-23    and    September 26-29
This will be a four day adventure focussing on iconic Teton landscape images, as well as wildlife photography (baby critters will be out and about). Along with putting us in the right place at the right time to capture our dream photos, I will be teaching about composition, exposure, light, perspective and proper technique. 100% of our time will be spent in the field, where we will learn while doing. While our days are long and tiring, they are also extremely rewarding both photographically and personally. Comeraderie is a huge part of our experience. We will have a great time in a world class wilderness environment and come away better photographers for it. This will be limited to a small number of participants so everyone has all the personal attention required to get the most out of the experience. This is not a physically demanding tour, but participants should be able to walk on uneven ground with distances ranging from 1/2 to 2 miles. You will be expected to rise early to start the day, and be considerate to the groups time requirements in order to ensure that we can meet our “magic light” timelines!
Cost: $975
NEW Private Workshop Days available in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone!
I have added the option of private, one-on-one workshops, both before and after the official Grand Teton dates. I will offer these private sessions at the same price as my local private sessions! Call to arrange your custom dates 530-545-2896. Cost: only $500/day

Jon Paul with his 8x10 film camera near his home in Lake Tahoe

Jon Paul’s Approach to Workshops / Tours?
“Bringing the Fine Art of Nature Home”
Many participants come to me believing that all of the functions on their digital camera, their Raw converter, HDR software and editing software are photography. They are quite overwhelmed by “everything they have to learn”! I have created a methodology that eliminates the intimidation factor and brings you back to the reasons you wanted to do photography in the outdoors to begin with:)
As my catch phrase, “Bringing the Fine Art of Nature Home”, intimates, we look through the lens together and create a simple procedure, consisting of just a few steps, that enable you to enjoy photography and increase your success rate. This process has been a great success for participants ranging from relative beginners to professionals. From scouting and planning to composition, solid technique and filter use to light and exposure, and using your “digital cheat sheet”, we will learn while doing!
Each one of us learns differently, has a different ability level, and wants to do photography for their own reasons. I work with each person individually every day, at each location. I address each participants needs one-on-one, along with sharing details with the group as a whole. The natural world is our classroom, and I will help you reach your personal photographic goals while also creating a fine portfolio of images in this amazing location!
The combination of my teaching methodology, a world class location, diverse wildlife, small group size and and enjoyable camaraderie make this an experience of a lifetime! I look forward to sharing this time with you.

Please call to discuss any details that may help you make your decision.
Dates: June 20-23, 2013
Cost: $975

Schwabacher's Beaver Pond Reflection

“Jon, I would just like to thank you for the amazing workshop in the Grand Teton NP this fall. It way exceeded my expectations as a professional photographer and you have all the social skills, technical talent, great sense of humor and the “7th” sense to find the coolest spots and make a special visit even more special! You have to use your amazing talent and lead many more. I would highly recommend you as a workshop LEADER in the photo community ! ”
Marcell Puzsar Tetons 2012

Grand Tetons and Horses Black & White Panorama

“I really would like to encourage those that interested in photography (at all levels) to sign up with Jon. I recently completed a photography workshop with Jon and learned so much within a short time. Jon has an incredible eye for detail and is so willing to share his ideas and knowledge. With his encouragement and enthusiasm, you will not only leave with a better knowledge of photography but also, take a little of piece Tahoe memories with you in your camera!”           Ju Shen, Singapore 2012

Bull Moose in Evening Light

“I want to thank you for an outstanding workshop in the Grand Tetons. The camaraderie and team interaction was awesome. I think it is a tribute to you that a group of total strangers could come together and feel as if they knew each other for years.The photography experience was one of the best I have ever had. Your ability to blend both the technical and creative is outstanding. I learned as much about the art as the photographic skills.The selection of the locations and your knowledge of how the weather and conditions would play out was both impressive and a critical factor in creating a great experience. Thanks for an outstanding workshop.”
Mike Miller   Grand Tetons 2012

Sunset Reflection, the Oxbow

“I took part in the Tetons fall workshop offered by Jon Paul and couldn’t be more happy about that. Besides being a master photographer Jon is also a great teacher and a super friendly person to be around. The workshop was well structured yet flexible, the scenery was stunning and the atmosphere of camaraderie provided an additional icing on the cake! Jon was very personable and freely offered his advice making sure all of the participants were progressing with their skills and vision.I’d highly recommend his workshops to anyone interested in taking their photography to the next level.”
Anna K.  Grand Tetons 2012

Bison & Snowfall, Grand Teton

See Grand Teton National Park Thru the Eyes of a World Renowned Gallery Photographer!

www.jonpaulgallery.com     530-544-4269     http://www.facebook.com/JonPaulGalleryLakeTahoe

Posted in digital photography, Grand Tetons, jon paul gallery, National Parks, photo tour, photo workshop, Uncategorized, wildlife photography Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Seeing an Icon Differently (Firefall in B & W)

Firefall V.S. Silver Light

The Story:

The digital world is affecting landscape photography in many ways. Advances in digital equipment have made photography accessible and enjoyable for millions of people that never would have picked up a film camera. Digital communication has made many beautiful places “known” to the masses. This combination of factors is encouraging large numbers of people to make pilgrimages to these beautiful iconic spots with the purpose of re-creating images they have seen in magazines and on the web. While these locations have become icons for a reason (beautiful is beautiful!), there comes a time when they have been overdone. We can get so caught up in shooting a scene the way we expect to see it, that we often miss, or even consciously pass up, spectacular alternatives that Mother Nature presents to us in the exact same location. We shut down to the many possibilities that create real magic and excitement in nature.

The above images are perfect examples of the iconic expectation v.s. an unexpected possibility. The image on the left, known as the “Fire Fall” is the expected image. During a brief window of only two weeks each year, the sun sets at just the right angle to illuminate Horsetail Falls, in Yosemite National Park, with beautiful sunset color as the cliffs on either side of the falls become shaded. While this image would have benefitted greatly from heavier water flow, it is still a pleasing representation of an iconic event. I like the image and will make it available to my collectors.

Now, let’s consider the black and white image on the right. I created this image while most other people were merely viewing the scene waiting for the expected “Fire Fall”. I noticed that the evening light, as it narrowed toward the middle of the cliff, gleamed with a magical silver light, creating what appeared to be an elongated heart around the waterfall. This light created a monotone scene, contrasting strongly against the shaded areas of the cliff face. Importantly, I felt this image, and envisioned it in black and white. Like most successful images, this was not an afterthought. I was emotionally moved to create this composition. There was purpose to my shooting (although unplanned). I had to do this! People kept asking what I was doing, and even after I shared what I was envisioning, they were quite content to wait for the same image the crowd was there to see. Fair enough. I now have an image that I am extremely moved by, and which is vastly more dramatic than the light show we had expected. Being open enough to allow your emotions to move you toward a vision is where “the fine art of nature” elevates photography to an art form.

The lesson here is, while it is certainly fine to let the possibility of an iconic image motivate you to visit a particular location, stay open to all possibilities that may present themselves. Often, the unexpected image is the one you will be most proud of. Don’t force the issue for the sake of being different, let it happen naturally. As you build experience, your personal style will develop. Be your own artist, not a copy of someone who has probably copied someone before them.

Enjoy the View!

Photo Tip:
Tip number one, as mentioned above, use available knowledge of iconic locations and conditions to get yourself to the “right spots at the right time”. THEN, stay very open for new and different photographic possibilities. While other people lay around during the day (usually working on the computer trying to make a mediocre shot “good”), get out and scout. I like to fill every available minute on my photo trips with “being out”. Drive the area, look at maps, hike to spots that may be interesting, go for a trail run or bike ride, etc. Figure out your own vision for the area and plan the right time to return to that spot. I like to use the outdoors as my gym. There have been many times when I have done a trail run or hike and come across a new and exciting subject. This shouldn’t feel “hard”. Stay open and see if something presents itself to you. It is very gratifying to “feel” an image. That is “the fine art of nature”. Compare that to how you feel when asking someone in the lineup of photographers, “is that it?”. (Personally, physical exertion opens my mind and spirit to what is around me in a very different and positive way, truly opening my eyes to what I feel!) As the example images above show, sometimes staying open and feeling your own vision simply entails seeing a version of the iconic shot in different light, or with different eyes.

Don’t let yourself get caught up in a technical mindset. Their are so many possibilities with digital photography that many people get caught up in the “engineering”. A majority of people that come to my workshops/tours are overwhelmed with all of the functions on their camera, their raw converter, Lightroom, photoShop, HDR software, etc. (This includes aspiring and current professionals!) They lose sight of the joy of being outdoors (which is why they wanted to take photos to begin with!) and composing pleasing images. The most talented and successful photographers in the world use the most simple of precesses. Research beforehand, scout, observe, shoot in the right light relative to your subject and your vision, compose well, expose properly. The digital darkroom is really a tool to simply fine tune a well executed image. Many people are confusing digital art with photography. Please consider joining me on a group or private workshop/tour. I’d be happy to help you simplify the photographic process, making it both more successful and more enjoyable!

Equipment Used:
Nikon D300 DSLR, Nikon 200-400 F4 AF VR, Gitzo 1325 Carbon Tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Cable Release. PhotoShop CS4 used for stitching and B & W conversion.

Posted in black and white, digital photography, fire fall, jon paul gallery, National Parks, photo techniques, Yosemite Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , |

New Workshops / Tours Update! (dates approaching)

Field Photography Workshops / Tours

workshop sunrise, Lake Tahoe

NEW- February 22-24 Yosemite Semi-Private Tour – SOLD OUT
I will only take 4 people, offering us amazing camaraderie and teamwork. The intention is to enable you to experience the type of photography experience often reserved for my close friends and fellow pros. This will be a budget friendly trip with total immersion into the photographic experience, day and night. We will share in decision making, scouting and shooting. Weather, as always, dictates our shooting choices. This is the right time of year to capture the famous “fire fall” (conditions permitting). While I will be shooting with you, my main focus is your learning experience! You come first. I get us there, get us set up and answer EVERY question. I am working for you:)
Call me for specifics and to reserve your spot 530-545-2896.
Cost: only $479

Storm Light Tunnel View news

Grand Teton National Park Workshop / Tour Dates Set! (see flyer below)

Grand Tetons in the Spring, 2013:
June 20-23:
This will be a four day adventure focussing on iconic Teton landscape images, as well as wildlife photography (baby critters will be out and about). Along with putting us in the right place at the right time to capture our dream photos, I will be teaching about composition, exposure, light, perspective and proper technique. 100% of our time will be spent in the field, where we will learn while doing. While our days are long and tiring, they are also extremely rewarding both photographically and personally. Comeraderie is a huge part of our experience. We will have a great time in a world class wilderness environment and come away better photographers for it. This will be limited to a small number of participants so everyone has all the personal attention required to get the most out of the experience. This is not a physically demanding tour, but participants should be able to walk on uneven ground. You will be expected to rise early to start the day, and be considerate to the groups time requirements in order to ensure that we can meet our “magic light” timelines!  Please call to discuss any details that may help you make your decision.
Dates: June 20-23, 2013
Cost: $975
NEW Private Workshop Days available in both Grand Teton and Yellowstone!
I have added the option of private, one-on-one workshops, both before and after the official Grand Teton dates. I will offer these private sessions at the same price as my local private sessions!
Call to arrange your custom dates 530-545-2896.
Cost: only $500/day

Teton Workshop Flyer 2013 web

Winter in Lake Tahoe

I have left a large number of dates open and available for private one-on-one or small group workshops / tours here in Lake Tahoe (or wherever you would like). This is a beautiful time of year to photograph Lake Tahoe, aspen groves, rivers, waterfalls, ice patterns, mist, black & white, sunrises and sunsets. The sun is low in the sky, providing soft light and long shadows. We can generally shoot a little later in the morning, and earlier in the evening. Snow and ice provide a new look to the land, and very different opportunities for familiar subjects. Composition and metering, along with managing the cold and snowy conditions, however, become unfamiliar. Join me in the field and allow me to share my experience with you. Let’s create some unique images, while I help you gain confidence in the snow covered photographic world!
Cost: $750/day only $500/day

Spring in Lake Tahoe

Dates will be announced shortly! Private workshops / tours are still available!
This is the most popular time of year to photograph Lake Tahoe! A majority of my signature Lake Tahoe images were composed at this time of year.
Often the lake is calm, providing iconic clear water images, along with beautiful sunrise and sunset reflections. Waterfalls are rushing with snow melt, rivers are full, and there are still very few visitors. We have the place to ourselves! Honestly, this is the stuff photographers dreams are made of:) Please join me, as I share the most outstanding locations to photograph in this region, along with my knowledge and understanding of the art of landscape and wildlife photography. As one of the few successful gallery photographers in the country, I have a different approach to this art. I am not attempting to create huge volumes of work to fill magazine space. Nor am I attempting to produce “digital art” from mediocre images. I will share with you the simple steps and tools necessary to capture “the fine art of nature”, eliminating the intimidation factor of the digital world. All questions are answered, as we learn by doing. Let’s look through the lens together, create amazing images, and learn to become more successful photographers in the field.

Posted in California, death valley, digital photography, Eastern Sierras, fine art, Grand Tetons, impressionist, Jackson Hole, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, light painting, Moose, Mountains, National Parks, oxbow bend, Panorama, photo techniques, Photo Tip, photo tour, photo workshop, Salt Flat, spring, Sunrise, Sunset, Tutorial, Uncategorized, western, wildlife photography, Winter Photography, Wyoming, Yellowstone, Yosemite Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Special Moments Transcend Mere “Picture Taking”

Spirit of Yellowstone

The Spirit of Yellowstone:
Yellowstone is a place that evokes great emotion in people who appreciate solitude in the wilderness. I happen to be one of those people. I arose early on my last Fall morning in Yellowstone and set out for a sunrise photo excursion. With cold temperatures at night, the Hayden Valley filled with mist from the steam rising off the Yellowstone River. With only the Bison and Elk sharing the valley, there was a  feeling of solitude and peace that permeated the air. I found this quiet bend in the river that offered a visual translation of the tranquility I experienced at this perfect moment in time. Everything appeared soft, yet powerful, as the hint of sunrise color filtered through the mist and cloud. This is a truly special image. It is also an example of the type of experience that moves me to share my vision the way I do. My purpose in using the large format film cameras is to remind myself that my work is not about immediacy and volume. I only take my camera out when I am truly moved by a scene in nature that evokes an emotion I feel is worthy of sharing. When I believe a scene, combined with the light and atmospheric conditions present, have the possibility of transporting my viewers to a special place (inside or out), I know I am going to create a special piece of art. There is meaning in what I do, and my methods dictate how that meaning is presented and the impact that presentation has on the viewer. This is where my motto, “Bringing Home the Fine Art of Nature” was born. I hope this new image, as well as my others, brings you that inner peace I feel in these magical places!

Photo Tip:
Ironically, the simplicity of this scene is what gives it such great impact. The simplicity creates the ambiance. Quite often we will try to add everything we can into a scene; a strong foreground, a fiery sky, etc. This type of scene, which is based upon atmospheric conditions, has just enough landscape structure to draw the viewer in, and let the imagination run wild. The eye is drawn in along the river, through the mist, and around the corner disappearing into the distance toward the brightest part of the scene, the rising sun. With the simple foreground, we are left to wonder what is hidden beyond the bend, where we really wish we could go. The lesson here is, less is often more. Don’t force a composition, but feel it. Let it happen. Compose, with the camera locked on the tripod, then whittle away at everything that is unnecessary. Eliminate distractions whenever possible.

Equipment Used:
Canham 5×7 Metal Field Camera, Canham 6×17 cm panoramic film back, Rodenstock Sironar-S 150mm lens, Singh-Ray 2 stop split ND Filter (soft gradation), Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo Carbon Tripod, Fuji Provia RDPIII 100 Transparency Film.

Posted in 617cm film, Back Light, digital photography, fine art, fog, forest, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Mountains, National Parks, Panorama, panorama film, photo techniques, Photo Tip, reflection, Sunrise, Tutorial, Uncategorized, western, Winter Photography, Wyoming, Yellowstone Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Joy of Sunrise!

Sunrise, Misty Reflection, The Oxbow

Sunrise is a special time for landscape photographers. We venture out into a dark world with great hope and expectation. The world is quiet and still, with most creatures (at least humans) still asleep, and the wind waiting to be pushed by the suns first warming rays. Often times it is quite cold, but we come prepared. To endure the lack of sleep, darkness and bitter temperatures is a small price to pay to witness the first glimmers of light on a new day. At times this is looked upon as sacrifice. However, for those of us that have experienced the new dawn in a spectacular, and perhaps remote wild location, this is food for our soul. The image a reminder of the feelings we experienced in that spiritual place.
I have continued to use large format film in the hopes of doing justice to these special moments and places. I hope to share  more than just an image, but to give you, my collectors, the ability to be in that place, at that time, so your life can also benefit from what nature has to offer, if I am willing to endure a little discomfort. Soul food. May it fill you up.

The Story
Sunrise at Oxbow Bend is a classic! The anticipation of waiting for the sun to rise to the east and illuminate Mount Moran, the Teton Range and the yellow aspens in the foreground is fantastic. However, on this Fall morning, Mother Nature shared a visual appetizer! I looked over my shoulder to the east and realized the show was starting early, and in the opposite direction. Fortunately, I had time to move my 4×5 setup, compose and focus in time to capture this incredible light show. The shape of the clouds, the mirrored reflection and the mist rising from the river were capped off by the pastel colors of sunrise. The depth of this image draws us in, as this location draws me back year after year. Enjoy the view!

Photo Tip:
Everyone loves a colorful sunrise reflected in a still body of water. It’s a classic type of scenic image. Depending on the physical conditions of the location, it can also be very challenging to create a solid exposure. Most often, the sky is lit with the best color before the sun actually rises above the horizon. This leaves us with a larger dynamic range (from highlight to shadows) that the film or digital sensor can’t  handle in one exposure. You either end up with accurately exposed sky and black foreground and mountains, or accurately exposed foreground and blown out / white sky. While many people choose to use HDR software or image blending to put together two or more exposures in the computer, I prefer the simplicity of using a split level ND filter. This filter enables you to hold back the amount of light entering the camera from the sky, reducing the dynamic range, and enabling you to capture the scene in one exposure.
In the example above, I used a 3-stop split ND filter with a soft gradation. I was then able to expose for the foreground (bushes and fall color in mist), giving me an exposure latitude easily handleable by my transparency film. The result is a very true exposure in which I held the highlight detail and pastel color in the clouds, along with retaining shadow detail and subtle fall colors through the mist in the middle of the scene. Another bonus; very little computer time and a clean image that can be printed to 48×65 inches!
NOTE: Many people use split filters or image blending / HDR  and forget the fact that reflections are always 1 stop darker that what they are reflecting. To keep a natural look to your image (albeit subtle), make sure the reflection is a little darker than the reflected subject. It’s all about the details!

Equipment Used:
Canham 5×7 Metal Field Camera, 4×5 reducing back, Caltar IIN (Rodenstock) 90mm lens, Singh Ray 3-stop soft gradation split ND filter, Gitzo Carbon Tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Fuji Provia 100 4×5 inch Transparency Film.

Posted in 4x5 film, digital photography, Fall color, fog, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Mountains, National Parks, oxbow bend, photo techniques, Photo Tip, reflection, Sunrise, Tutorial, Uncategorized, western, Wyoming Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Look Beyond What You Expect To See!

Salt Polygons, Storm Clouds & Magic Light

With my time being valuable, and with experience on my side, many of my strongest landscape images are born of research, planning and multiple visits to a single location. That said, there are quite a few gems that have come from being open to whatever Mother Nature offers up. The image above is a great example of this scenario. I had waited for days while Mother Nature handed up flat grey sunrises and sunsets. On this particular morning, I was rewarded with exactly what I had hoped for. Just 20 minutes before this image was taken, I was treated to the pastel pink and orange sky I had hoped for, adding the perfect backdrop to my strong salt polygon foreground. It was quite tempting, after achieving the “goal image”, to pack up and head back to camp to rest. However, I was willing to receive multiple gifts, if Mother Nature wanted to be generous.
I was intrigued by the warm morning light on the salt polygons and the distant mountain line, contrasted against the dark clouds of the approaching storm. I put my 8×10 away, and set up my 5×7 field camera with a 6×17 cm panoramic film back. The panoramic format accentuated the long lines of the mountain range, dark sky, sandy brown salt and white salt in the foreground. I also feel that the panoramic format accentuates the feeling of vastness I was struck by, while eliminating too much empty sky or overdone foreground. The drama and mood of this image conveys the desolate beauty I experienced in this unique location. If I had closed my mind to anything other than the image I had pre-visualized, I would have missed an amazing opportunity. Remember, it is nice to compose an image we have created in our minds eye, but we don’t want to miss that hidden gem (or the experience that comes along with discovering it!).
Photo Tip:
This one is basic, but shouldn’t be overlooked. Always stay open and receptive to whatever Mother Nature may offer you. I actually find that this is often an issue for more experienced photographers. As we gain experience, we often become set in our ways, focused on “the job” of creating a perfect image, or just plain lazy. I have seen people discover magic light, learn how to plan around it, become adept at planning the ideal shot (all good things), and then forget about the experience of being in nature. Light changes, occurs in different ways and transforms a landscape. While the perfectly planned shot is great to achieve, we should stay open to something different (and perhaps better) that shows itself to us. If we go beyond what we expect, and tap into the emotion and intuition that made us want to preserve these natural moments through photography, we can maintain our love for the natural experience and create images that are truly moving.
Canham 5×7 Metal Field Camera, Canham 6×17 cm panoramic film back, Caltar (Rodenstock) 210mm lens, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo Carbon Tripod, Fuji Provia RDPIII 100 Transparency Film.
Posted in 617cm film, 8x10 film, California, death valley, desert photography, digital photography, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Mountains, National Parks, Panorama, panorama film, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Salt Flat, Sunrise, Uncategorized, western Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Making Our Artistic Choices at Capture, Not as an Afterthought

Joshua Trees & The High Sierras

After a few days creating images in Death Valley National Park, my friend (and fellow photographer) Christian Fleury, and I ventured out of the park and into the desert for one final photographic opportunity. I was enamored with the starkness of the desert and wanted to share the feeling of vastness. I knew black and white film was a natural choice for the mood I was trying to convey, and the amazing cloud display begged for a this classic look.  I chose my 6x17cm film format for the wide view that accentuated the expanse of the desert. The widely spread Joshua trees growing in the sand redefined the traditional vision of “forest”. The wispy clouds danced overhead, celebrating the openness of this wild place. The mighty Sierra Nevada Mountains in the distance pulled the scene together. I truly felt the mood of this location, and reveled in the artistic process of choosing how to visually interpret, compose and capture this image. If I had taken a modern approach of shooting hundreds of frames in color, weeding through them on the computer, and finally deciding “how the image should look”, I would have lost the mood and message I wanted to convey.  As an artist in nature, I enjoy taking the responsibility of choosing my final vision while in the field. It is very gratifying to have that vision come to fruition through that initial emotion, successful choices, and an individual capture. That is the art I enjoy. Enjoy the View!

Photo Tip:
Slow down and trust your feelings. In a fast digital world, it is easy to get caught up in the whole mindset of not wanting to miss anything. Note that this is a human nature & societal problem, not a digital problem. The issue becomes a lack of focus on what is moving us and drawing us to the subject we want to photograph. In a familiar location near home, try the old method of giving yourself just one sheet of film (or one last spot on the memory card:) ). Observe what you are drawn to and take the time to conceive of the expected light, choose the composition carefully, clean up those edges, refine the focal length, pick the optimal camera position, carefully select the exposure, use solid technique with your tripod, cable release, etc. Make this one exposure important relative to what it makes you feel, and what it might communicate to a viewer. Enjoy the process, and take control of your art. Don’t go home with hundreds, or even thousands of images wondering if you may hove gotten anything. This practice will build your confidence in your skills, refine your artistic eye, and enable you to create a higher percentage of “successful images” in the future.

Equipment used:
Canham 5×7 metal field camera, Canham 6x17cm roll film back,  Caltar II-n (Rodenstock) 90mm lens, Gitzo 1325 Carbon Tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Acros 100 black and white film, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizer, Red Filter.

Posted in 617cm film, black and white, California, death valley, desert photography, digital photography, Eastern Sierras, jon paul gallery, joshua tree, Landscape, large format, Mountains, National Parks, Panorama, panorama film, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Uncategorized, western Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Bison Portrait- Simple Symbolism


Bison Portrait, Yellowstone National Park

Bison Portrait, Yellowstone National Park

Most of my images are produced using feeling and emotion. My strongest images “just felt right” when I took them. This image, a portrait of a lone Bison bull wandering the open grassland in Yellowstone National Park, had that feeling. I had just taught a seminar in Grand Teton National Park and chose to take a longer route home, giving myself the opportunity to spend an evening in West Yellowstone. I was glad to be in such a secluded location, I was glad to be alone with my thoughts and emotions, I was enjoying the simplicity of being away. When this Bison wandered along, solitary, powerful, just being, I felt priveledged to share that time with him. This portrait symbolizes the power it takes to be strong, self reliant, alone and in the wild. Our wild spaces, and the creatures that inhabit them, do more than just create a healthy balanced ecosystem (which is very important); they are symbols of the strength and power we have within us (or strive toward building in ourselves). We need these wild places and creatures to exist for more reasons than most people realize. I hope this image shares that strength with you.

Photo Tip: Photographing wildlife is exciting. It can bring great joy to our lives. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in the moment and don’t respect the animals they want to photograph, taking a “get the shot at all costs” approach. Animals have a hard enough time making a living without people interfering. Study their habits and the natural signals they give. If you are causing them to alter their behaviour, back off. Wait until the opportunity presents itself appropriately. Not only can the animals be harmed by our thoughtless behaviour, you might get what you deserve in the end. Be respectful, revel in the experience, be grateful that you can come back another day and do it again.

Equipment used: Nikon D300, Nikon 200-400 F4 AF VR lens, Nikon 1.4x teleconverter, Gitzo 1325 Carbon Tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head. No camouflage was used in the making of this image! 🙂

Posted in Bison, digital photography, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, jon paul gallery, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Sunset, Twilight, Uncategorized, western, wildlife photography, Wyoming, Yellowstone Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

One Evening in Yellowstone

Madison River Sunset Panorama, Yellowstone N.P.

After photographing my last sunrise in Grand Teton National Park this Fall, I quickly closed up my camper and headed for Yellowstone. I only had enough time to visit the Madison area for sunset before I started my journey home to Lake Tahoe. Fortunately, a storm rolled in and made my 1/2 day a real treat. After a torrential downpour, the sky began to clear and the last light of day created some peaceful magic.

The expansive nature of Yellowstone has me intrigued. In this scene, the meandering Madison River, complete with a glorious sunset reflection, is set off against the simplicity of Yellowstone’s grassland. The two geysers in the background remind me how unique this environment is. The storm clouds above, complete with sunset light, add a mood and power to the scene.  This new image is a reminder of the tranquility I find through the power of natural experiences. I hope this image enables you to, “Bring the Fine Art of Nature Home”. I am motivated to return this coming Spring. Let me know if you might like to join me.

This image is now available for purchase through the Jon Paul Gallery !

Photo Tip: When the weather gets really bad, be patient and stay out there! Quite often, the most dramatic light exists on the edges of storms. Especially when dealing with an expansive landscape, clouds and reflection can open up the image and add depth and perspective. So, when everyone else runs for cover, put on the Gore-Tex, cover your camera with a plastic bag and wait for the magic.

Equipment: Canham 5×7 metal field camera, Canham 6×17 cm panoramic roll film back, Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-S lens, Gitzo 1325 carbon tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head, Fuji Provia 100 transparency film.

Posted in Geyser, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Mountains, National Parks, Panorama, photo techniques, Photo Tip, reflection, Sunset, Uncategorized, western, Wyoming, Yellowstone Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |