Tag Archives: Sunset

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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Fall Photographic Workshop in Grand Teton National Park!

A Fall Photographic Adventure in Grand Teton National Park

Grand Tetons in the Fall, 2012: September 27-30.

This will be a four day adventure focussing on iconic Teton landscape images, as well as wildlife photography. 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.Please call to discuss any details that may help you make your decision.Please call the gallery directly to inquire! 530-544-4269

Posted in 4x5 film, 617cm film, 8x10 film, aspen grove, Back Light, Barn, Bears, beaver pond, Bison, black and white, digital photography, Elk, Fall color, Grand Tetons, Jackson Hole, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, light painting, Moose, Mountains, National Parks, Panorama, panorama film, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Pine Forest, Ranch, reflection, Sunrise, Sunset, Twilight, Uncategorized, western, wildlife photography, Wyoming Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Monterey, California in Black and White


Black and white image of California coast, Monterey Peninsula taken with 8x10 inch film camera.

Monterey Dusk

 Using a large format film camera, like the 8×10 I used for this image, really slows my artistic process down and enables me to simplify my compositions and focus on the mood of the image. I took this picture about 10 minutes after sunset, as the light softened and the atmosphere became blue. The low light required an 8 minute exposure, which caused the waves to “dissapear” into an ethereal mist. The strong rock formations anchored the image, giving it strength and power. I chose black and white for both the classic, almost vintage look, as well as to simplify the  final print. I believe this image evokes a mood of relaxation and mystery that can only be found on the coast.

Photo Tip: Be there when the natural conditions enable you to take the shot. This sounds simple enough, but many people I know have become lazy, and aren’t willing to do the work necessary to get the shot right to begin with. If you would like to take a long exposure and create a misty look with moving water, don’t expect your 8 stop ND filter to make things right in the middle of the day. Shoot before sunrise, after sunset or on a cloudy day. Part of the joy in photographing nature is earning the image by experiencing nature when the light is right. Get out there, enjoy the experience and be proud that you earned the shot in the best natural light possible.

Equipment Used: Canham 8×10 Metal Field Camera, Rodenstock 240mm Sironar-S lens, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Gitzo 1325 Carbon Tripod, Fuji 8×10 Film.

Posted in 8x10 film, Beach, black and white, California, dusk, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, monterey, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Sunset, time lapse, Twilight, Uncategorized, waves 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 , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

A Peaceful Maui Sunrise

Pastel Sunrise, Maui, Hawaii

What better way to start your day than with a soul full of tranquility!  As I enjoyed the peace and solitude of the pre-dawn hour in reflection here on the beach in Maui, Mother Nature added just enough pastel color to spice things up. Given that the sun had not yet risen, there was an even, soft light that projects little contrast, and enables us to feel the calmness of the moment. The relatively long exposure time softened what little wave activity there was, the outgoing water blended nicely with the sand, and the puffy clouds were washed in the same colors and tones as the rest of the scene. The light reflection of of the water, mirroring the sky added to the cohesiveness. The different elements add a bit of interest, yet they are blending together in such a way that the feeling of peace is strengthened. I hope this image shares the with you the joy I felt while composing this amazing moment in time. Enjoy the view!

Photo Tip: Shooting pre-dawn or post sunset can enable you to capture soft glowing light not seen at other times of day. As opposed to direct light, these special times provide an other worldly mood created by light filtering through greater amounts of atmosphere and reflecting off of the atmosphere. This is a sure way to add drama to otherwise common or familiar locations. Given the low light, a longer exposure time will be required. Remember to use a sturdy tripod along with a cable release to avoid camera shake.

Details: Canham 5×7 metal field camera with 4×5 reducing back, 150mm Rodenstock Sironar-S lens, Fuji Provia 100 speed 4×5 quickload film, Gitzo 1325 carbon tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head, Singh-Ray 2-stop split ND filter.

Posted in 4x5 film, Beach, Hawaii, jon paul gallery, Landscape, large format, Maui, photo techniques, Photo Tip, Sunrise, Sunset, Twilight, Uncategorized Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Landscape Without the Land

Evening Cloud Reflections Panorama - Lake Tahoe

Late in the Fall (2010) Lake Tahoe was graced with a lot of stormy weather and dramatic skies. I happen to be a fan of softer, more pastel colored skies, as opposed to the over the top neon colors that have huge “wow-factor” (but I find hard to live with). This particular evening I visited the shore of Lake Tahoe to observe the sunset. While I enjoyed the softness of the sky, I wasn’t drawn to any particular foreground / background combination. I was, however, drawn to the reflection of the sky. The water turned my pastel “painting” into a water color. A bit of detail below the water adds a hint of perspective. This is the type of tranquility nature brings to me, and I hope to share with you. Enjoy!
(this image now available to collectors)

Photo Tip:
Remember, rules are a good starting point for composing images (they became rules for a reason), but the most important aspect of landscape photography as art is, paying attention to how the image makes you feel. The image above has no real foreground or background. I did, however, pay attention to the colors, tones and shapes in the image to make sure it had a natural flow and conveyed what I was feeling. I believe this image works because, it makes me feel the way I felt when I experienced this beautiful evening in person. Remember, it is easy to get caught up in technical minutia in this age of digital art. Try to put the technical aspects aside (or relax after you have mastered the basics) and focus on that feeling that gets you out the door to begin with!

Canham 5×7 Metal Field Camera with 6×17 cm panoramic back, 210mm lens, Fuji Provia RDPIII transparency film, Singh Ray LB Warming Polarizer, Gitzo 1325 carbon tripod, Really Right Stuff BH-55 Ball Head, Hasselblad/Imacon 646 virtual drum scanner.

Posted in California, impressionist, jon paul gallery, Lake Tahoe, Landscape, large format, light painting, Mountains, Nevada, Panorama, photo techniques, Sunset Also tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

November Blog Post

Lake Sabrina Sunset

I composed this image on my first evening of a three day trip to the eastern sierras. I had never been to Lake Sabrina (located 19 miles east of Bishop, California at about 9,200 ft elevation), but was immediately taken with the drama and beauty of the area. This beautiful little lake is surrounded by towering granite peaks that plunge strait down into this pristine little reservoir. I spent two days scouting and becoming familiar with the area. I chose this vantage point, on a small peninsula jutting into the lake, as it offered a clear panoramic vista of the mountains towering above the lake to the west in the direction of the setting sun. The previous night offered no special light, as I sat in the rain waiting for the sky to break for just one moment. On the second evening I was rewarded for my perseverence. The clouds filled the sky most of the afternoon, but I commited to this evenings shoot. After setting up early and observing the conditions, the sky opened up and allowed the sun to paint the clouds with pinks and reds. My sleeping bag always feels more comfortable after an experience like this. 
The Details: K.B. Canham 5×7 Metal Field Camera with 4×5 reducing back, Rodenstock 150mm Sironar-S lens, Singh Ray 3-stop soft gradation split neutral density filter, BTZS dark cloth, Really Right Stuff BH-55 ball head, Gitzo 1325 carbon fiber tripod, Fuji Provia 100 4×5 film.

                                                                   Private Field Seminars with Jon Paul
If you would like to improve the success you have with your photography, spend some time in the field with me looking through the lens! I offer private individual and small group field seminars here in Lake Tahoe, or anywhere in the world.
Find out how the pros capture those special images. I answer all of your specific questions as we discuss: natural light, exposure, composition, perspective, travel, planning, vision and proper technique with your format of camera. All field seminars are focussed toward your specific desires. All ability levels are welcome. Come shoot with a pro and learn to take the photographs you aspire toward! 

Posted in California, Eastern Sierras, Landscape, Mountains, Sunset Also tagged , , , , |