I’ve probably written about importance of light, of an interesting, beautiful light in landscape photography. And I’ll probably write about it many more times because it is worth it. This is one of those stories.
One of the places that we visited on the recent trip was Canyon De Chelly. When we arrived there the sky was gloomy. The light was flat and uninteresting. The images were flat and uninteresting too.
We started with the furthest viewpoint. In just a few minutes the sky broke into a small rain that within seconds turned into downpour and then into hail. There is nothing to do but to leave.
We dutifully visited every viewpoint on the way back. Eventually, the rain was over. When I walked to the next viewpoint the sun broke thru the clouds and lit up the canyon in patches of soft glow that added volume and magic to the scene.
From there on there were a lot of images worth looking at.
Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. –Lao Tzu
Thanks to the modern medicine I’m off on the road in less than 3 weeks after the knee surgery. Just in time to catch the last of wildflowers in Columbia Gorge. That’s where I headed the last weekend.
The first day of the trip I spent stopping at random places because the sky and the light was amazing. I could not just drive by it. I wanted to see it without rushing.
That meant that I got to Columbia Gorge late night and had no time to photograph wildflowers the first day.
The next day, I got on a hike. At first I walked just a little bit, trying to get a sense of it, if the hike was worth it. It was worth it. There was an abundance of variety of wildflowers on the trail. I got back to the car put my backpack, took tripod and went on the hike.
I completely forgot about my knee, hiking, taking photos. Until I got to a top of a hill. I was not even quite at the top yet, when the knee reminded me about itself. It was tired. So, I did something that I had not done since I was a kid. I lied down in the meadow of flowers to rest.
I was lying in the meadow of flowers and the life in the city seemed so distant and remote. All the rush, all the noise, all the chaotic motion seemed so unreal. I was lying in the meadow of flowers and thinking about how I’m trying to make as many pictures as possible on each trip and not giving enough time to take in the experience of being in the place. And just like that I fell asleep.
I woke up a couple hours later greeted by yellow flower hanging over me. I took my camera and captured that simple experience.
I cannot believe I have not published a post to my blog in so long. It is enough to slip one week without posting and then another week and then not writing becomes a norm rather than exception. Time to break out of that habit. Expect lots of image in rather random chronological order over the next couple months.
It is one of a rare hot summer weeks in Seattle. The temperature is constantly over 30 during day and nights are warm and humid. On the days like today I want to throw all food out of the fridge and close myself in it. It is a nice thought that I doubt I’ll ever make come true. I’m not that desperate. But that certainly makes a memory of the last winter refreshing. And that’s the memory I want to share with you today.
I love color to the point when I just photograph some color without even any subject. But sometimes the color is a distraction, a nuance that does not add anything or maybe even takes away something. In those case black-and-white image might still be more powerful. I find black-and-white especially working well in winter. One of the main reason is likely that there is not much color in winter in the pacific northwest mountains. The only color is the tone of the sun light breaking thru the clouds and that one is typically weird.
Like in this case the Sun broke thru the clouds just for a moment putting a spotlight on a bunch of trees in a valley. The color was strange but black-and-white tonality of the scene was beautiful.
I took this photo in the Palouse back in August this year but was holding it back to use it to wish everyone a happy Halloween. Enjoy this image of an abandoned house on one very stormy summer night. It looks very much like a haunted house.
Storm, be it by the ocean or in the mountains, presents the most interesting opportunities for landscape photography. (It also presents the most challenges.) The sky is changing rapidly and all kind of light show can happen.
One early morning, which most would still consider night, I went to Gold Creek at Snoqualmie Pass hoping to photograph a sunrise. The weather was not cooperating. There were too much clouds. Then the snow fall began and it was heavy. It stopped as suddenly as it started and the clouds started to clearing up.
Eventually, the sun started breaking thru and highlighting parts of landscape. It was the kind of thing I like the most about landscape photography – watch with fascination how light changes the landscape.
Of cause, I was photographing as conditions were changing. They were changing so rapidly that I did not have time to form the idea. I was photographing purely on intuition. Only when I reviewed my photos at home I noticed that I could a fleeting moment of sun streak by the tops of the tress. That’s the photo I liked the best:
Speaking of Gold Creek area I find it very interesting in winter. I’ve went there several times already. Here are some more photos from there.
Day 4, Dusk
At night dunes are calm and quiet. But as sun rises strong winds start moving sands. Dunes become violent and unpredictable.
Today I went into dunes for sunset. There was little to no wind at first then within a few minutes wind became very strong. It was not only moving dust, it was moving sand.
Would you want your skin be polished with sand paper? That’s how it felt standing in that sand storm. I had to hide behind a bush hoping that it will be over soon but it was picking up more and more. As I was standing behind the bush I saw sand settling on camera. I needed to get out.
I was walking backwards toward a road to keep my back against the wind. The fun part in walking backwards was seeing my footsteps disappear right in front of my eyes. The wind and moving send would repair the dune texture within seconds.
Sand Storm. No Visibility
Day 3, Sunset
Back in Death Valley I went to Mesquite Dunes – my favorite place in Death Valley. The wind was strong I saw dust storms on the way to Death Valley and there was a dust storm in the valley too.
As sunrise was getting closer the wind was picking up more and more. Visibility dropped. The wind was continuously moving sand. Bare legs were getting a treatment with sand paper. Sand was getting everywhere.
The sand was getting into my eyes, my eyes were teary and I could not see anything. I had to retreat back to the car, wait for my eyes to clear out and then drive away to observe this from safe distance.
"When you’re finished changing, you’re finished." – Ben Franklin
I’ve sent a photo that I posted in my previous post Stormy Sky to one photo community up for discussion. I’ve got a few interesting points that I need to think about. There was one common thread though all the feedback that it was not my style, that my style was more artsy images.
It was flattering that people saw style in my images. At the same time it showed that having style may box you in because people expect certain style of the images.
For me trying something new is what keeps me moving. And for those who like my artsy style here is a panorama that I made recently at Rialto beach in Olympic National Park:
Rialto. After Storm
Do you wait for sunny weather, clear skies? I’m waiting for a storm. Lately I’ve been fascinated with stormy skies. There is some wild unruly power in them, something that makes me appreciate the Nature and its rejection of a human will over it.
Rialto Beach, Olympic National Park
This photo was taken on a rainy, cold and windy day when most people stayed home warming up by a fireplace. Not me. I was out there, trying to capture a beauty of elements.
I admire stormy skies. There is just so much energy, power, emotions in it. Sometimes I just take pictures of such skies. On my last trip to California I saw just that kind of skies, when you can actually see a storm front with a blue sky on one side and wild darkness on the other.