Thursday, July 22, 2010

A Tale of Light Chasing

On a recent family trip to Rocky Mountain National Park, I ventured out one evening by myself. The clouds and light looked perfectly set for a stunning, colorful sunset.

The spectacular light show took place while I was still driving. The clouds and peaks lit up with warm light. The colors changed from golden tones to pinkish tones. It was beautiful.

When I finally got to where I wanted to take pictures, the light had peaked and the colors were fading fast.

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I hung out in that grassy meadow (in Moraine Park) along the river for a long while. I sat on a boulder and watched the darkening sky and heavy clouds. It was so quiet and peaceful.

About 30 minutes after sunset, I got up and slowly walked back to the car. I was fascinated by some interesting clouds and couldn't figure out if they were lenticular or part of a thunderstorm or both.

A spot of white water in the river caught my eye and then the rhythm with the clouds stood out.

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I think I would have been pretty angry with myself just a couple of years ago for missing a sunset like that. Actually, I probably would have bailed out of dinner with my family just to be sure I was on location with camera in hand well before sunset.

Well, I stayed for dinner and even later with the family. We took our sons to ride go-carts after dinner, and we all had a blast. Those moments were far more important to me than that sunset.

I didn't capture the spectacular golden light on the mountain peaks. But I got 30 minutes of solitude in cool, clean air in a grassy meadow with a river flowing close by. My world slowed down. I only wished the rest of my family could have experienced that as well, but they were all tired from a full day of activity and back at the hotel getting ready for bed (I did indeed invite them along on my sunset photo-outing).

The point to this is that I was quite happy to be out there regardless of time and light. I was also happy with the photos, especially the one with the white water and interesting clouds.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

AR 16 - Dragonflies, etc.

The woods are hot, swampy, and full of mosquitoes right now.

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I saw two large dragonflies at battle. The green one hit the pavement after a rough tangle with the blue one.

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The blue one (above picture) is in flight but hovering (sorry, it's a tight crop and a bad photo). The one on the ground flew off when I tried to gently move it off the pavement. It then was immediately hit in a mid-air dive-bomb by the blue one (the blue one had hovered about and waited while I was photographing the green one on the ground). They both flitted off, tangled together in battle.

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I came across a bunch of purple passionflowers. These bizarre looking blooms caught my eye and I just had to stop for a photo (and drip sweat on the camera and let the mosquitoes bite me).

Benefits of the Project

I think I'm starting to see the benefits of this project (more of an exercise, really). On our recent trip to Colorado, I did a lot of photography while on the move with the family. I had little time to actually photograph and when I did finally grab some time to make pictures, I had to move fast, get it done quick, and continue on with the family.

I felt somewhat rushed, but then I also felt that I found plenty of things to photograph and was more satisfied with the photos than the photos from previous trips like that. The thing that has helped the most is being able to quickly see a subject that I want to photograph and then quickly and efficiently find a composition to feature that subject.

When I photograph on my afternoon walks, the photography is done on-the-move and quickly. I've learned how to see things on approach and how (and when) to stop myself to take a picture. That's one of the main points - when to stop and also making yourself stop (how many times have you passed up something interesting and later regretted it?).

Reminder: NEW BLOG!

Just a quick reminder that I've started a new photo blog to feature only photos. I've posted a bunch already:

Friday, July 16, 2010

AR 15 - Life's Cycle

Things live and things die. We rarely appreciate the cycle.

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The living feed off the dead.

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I inadvertently created two sets of images, each set featuring something alive and dead. The dragonfly was alive and kicking when I first walked past. It was flying madly in circles, tethered to a strong strand of silk. The spider above waited motionless for its dinner to exhaust its energy and succumb. On my return, the dragonfly had indeed tired and was hanging and waiting for the inevitable.

These details make me appreciate life so much more. And I feel that much closer to nature observing them.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

AR 14 - Details, Mosquitoes, and Heat!

It's been way too long since my last walk. Life just keeps getting in the way.

The mosquitoes and heat have arrived in full, brutal force.

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What I pondered during my walk, and have been thinking about the past few months, is the value and priority we place on locations based on apparent beauty. Some places are so grand that we have turned them into parks and flock to them to get majestic, high-on-life feelings while viewing the spectacular scenery.

Consequently, a lot of landscape photography seems to emphasize the importance of such places.

Then there are the spots that are commonplace, ordinary, and even ugly. Is it still possible to experience the grand thrill and wonders of the outdoors?

This photo project is allowing me to feel exhilarated and awed and get that satisfied feeling of being close to nature in this apparently dirty, flat, tangled area reserved for holding storm run-off so that the parts of Houston downstream don't flood.

Honestly, I was once fully married to that school of thought regarding the grand landscape. I never thought about doing serious landscape and nature photography here in the local reservoir.

The awesome, beautiful things I experience in the reservoir are often on a small scale, but no less spectacular than things I've seen in our national parks, for example. It's a matter of seeing instead of just looking. It's a matter of perspective. And a lot of times it's a matter of seeing on a much smaller scale.

It doesn't mean that I have no less desire to go to those grand landscapes and national parks. But I think I'm learning to appreciate this local world so much more and enjoy it (and photograph it).

Did I mention that it was HOT?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Blog Split - It Becomes Two

I've wrestled with this long enough. Despite the world not needing another photography blog (geesh, there's a ton), I've created a new one to only showcase photos:

The new blog will be photos with as little text as possible, i.e. it's just a place to view pictures. I will keep this existing blog for my writings on photography (and maybe other stuff, like beer :-) ).

My dilemma is that I dislike reading blogs that contain long posts and/or loads of full-sized images, and when I post to my blog, I tend to write more than I should and want to post more photos than necessary.

One of my compromises here has been to post thumbnails to keep the real estate used relatively small. However, that requires clicking by the viewer to see the full-sized image. I'm sure that's been annoying. It annoys me.

My new blog is a place for viewers to just sit back and look at the images with their morning coffee, afternoon beer, or tequila shots at work :-)