Monthly Archives: July 2014

Unexpected Opportunities

Matchstick Trees. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2014.

Matchstick Trees.
Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, 2014.

Last week, I drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park (about an hour from my home in Northern Colorado) on a great weather day.  By great weather day, I mean stormy – rain, thunder, and lightening moving through the area in the late afternoon and early evening.  Stormy weather often creates great conditions for landscape photography, in the form of dramatic cloud formations, interesting plays of light, etc.  I envisioned these elements superimposed on the already stunning landscapes of the Trail Ridge Road area, and was really looking forward to seeing some expansive vistas and grand landscapes.

What I found when I arrived was – none of that.  The cloud deck had sunk down below the tops of the peaks, and the entire area was fogged in.  Thick, soupy fog of the kind where you can hardly see the taillights of the car on the road in front of you.  There was nothing to shoot, because there was nothing to see.  I figured the day was a bust and was about to turn around and go home.

But then I remembered a stretch of the road where there was a large grouping of tall, bare trees that, from a distance, look like a collection of matchsticks.  I had photographed these trees before, but was never pleased with the results.  The frames always looked cluttered (I never could seem to find a simple, clean composition), and the light on the trees always looked too harsh and with too much contrast to my eye.

How would these Matchstick Trees look in the fog, I wondered?  Quite nice, as it turned out.  The fog reduced the distracting clutter in the frame, enabling me to create more simplified compositions.  And, naturally, the fog diffused the light substantially, evening out the overall contrast in the scene.  My vision for the image was to create a high-key, almost abstract rendering of these trees, and the foggy conditions really played right into that.

When confronted with unexpected conditions, it can be difficult for me to let go of my expectations and adapt to what’s going on around me.  But, it’s my feeling that there almost always is something worthwhile to photograph, so I’ll have to remember to remind myself that it’s just a matter of being open to seeing it.

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Backlogged and Out of Season

Abandoned to the Snow Near Longmont, Colorado, 2014

Abandoned to the Snow
Near Longmont, Colorado, 2014

Well, it’s the middle of July here in Colorado, temperatures are in the 80s and 90s Fahrenheit, so naturally here’s an image that’s all about snow!

Why am I posting an image that’s so out of season?  For the simple reason that I’m quite backlogged in editing the images I’ve captured with my camera.  It’s actually quite ironic.  When I first began writing this blog last year, I wondered if I would be able to produce enough work to post a new image with each new blog entry.  What I’ve found is that I’ve accumulated far more image captures that I think have potential than I realistically have time to actually work on.

As a result, my criteria for selecting images to work on have changed.  Rather than simply working on my most recent captures, I find myself coming back to older captures that I meant to work on but never got to, or even simply just surfing through my archives and discovering things I had forgotten.  Sometimes I’ll begin with the intent of working on one image, but in the process of searching my files for it I’ll see another one that catches my eye and work on that instead.  Early on, I worked on image captures in a chronological manner because they were all I had.  Now, I’m more selective because the pool of images keeps getting larger.  It’s not unusual – in fact it’s quite typical – for me to work on images that have been waiting in my files for several years.  By that standard, this image taken in early 2014 is positively up-to-date.

Is this a good thing or a bad thing, I wonder?  Cameras enable one to capture many images very quickly, but taking the captures and making worthy photographs out of them is much more time consuming.  Does the delay between image capture and image editing sever the connection between what I felt in the field and what I feel after the fact?  Is it undisciplined to bounce around from photograph to photograph, rather than to focus on finishing a given subject or series?  On one level, it’s frustrating not to be able to get to all of the captures I would like to be working on.  On the other hand, it’s nice to have a pool of material to be able to draw on at any given time.

Regardless, that’s why I’m posting pictures of snow in the middle of summer.  If it’s warm where you are, hopefully you’ll appreciate the contrast, and if it’s cold where you are, hopefully you’ll enjoy its seasonality.

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