Topic: Color (119 posts) Page 2 of 24

Utah Day 7

This was my last day in Moab and I used it to drive  40 miles south to the lower entrance to Canyonlands National  Park, then another 40 miles west  into the park itself. A lot of driving but some of it was very beautiful

This is also where the petroglyphs are at Newspaper Rock on the way into the Park

160 miles of driving for just a few photographs but we cannot live by photographs alone and I enjoyed the day, nevertheless.

Back in Moab I downloaded the files as usual

on to an early 2013 13 inch MacBook Pro that is everything when I travel, never having let me down and a real workhorse. It is how I write blogs while on the road, place new works on the site, teach from, edit my work in Lightroom and send files for publication, plus do all the things we need a computer for these days, including streaming.

One thing I don't do often while away is prepare files for printing, saving that for the studio when I return home and can work on a 33 inch Sharp display. 13 inches is small for deciding how a file will print, at say 17 x 22 inches. As it is really past time to replace the MacBook I have been thinking of replacing it with a 15 inch one, the idea being that it would be large enough to prepare files for printing while on trips, and therefore cut out or reduce one very large step in the workflow. I do love how small the current MacBook is, but perhaps the bigger laptop would be a better solution. Any of you out there use a 15 inch? Your thoughts on this much appreciated. Neal's email: here

After another trip at dawn to photograph the upper Canyonlands Park I will head up to Salt Lake for a couple of days. I plan to continue daily posts until Tuesday the 13th, when I fly back home.

Topics: Color,Digital,Southwest

Permalink | Posted November 10, 2018

Utah Day 5

From downtown in Moab on the way to Arches, turn right just before the bridge and head north on Rt 128. This heads you up a canyon close to the Colorado River and eventually, a couple of hours later, to Interstate 70. From there drive west and meet up with the main drag back to Moab at RT 191. Total time: maybe six hours, more if you stop often.  What a trip.

Of course, the dilemma is what do you do if you are an artist that uses a camera? Succumb to the beauty and the temptation to photograph this glorious scenery? Part of the trap is to "acquire" pictures as proof that you were there or perhaps to share with those back home. I am as guilty of this as anyone else, yet it isn't quite what I do, is it? But it all is incredibly seductive, and this trip up the canyon is among the most seductive I have ever seen.

Will I use these? Will they end up as framed prints in a show somewhere? Not likely, for they don't do anything or say much besides where I was and it was very beautiful there. Of course, you might think that is enough. To chronicle the place, to document something so exquisite as lit up Aspen trees in autumn, all gold and shimmering in late afternoon sunlight.

Of course, if you practice photography to a larger stage than just yourself, your family and friends, this then does become a dilemma. What are you known for? And what contribution do pictures like this make to your overall body of work? Real artists don't make pictures like this, or perhaps it is safer to say, a certain kind of artist makes pictures like these. 

I used to deal with this problem when teaching in Italy in Venice. I would tell students in the first class that they had the next couple of days to make all the pretty touristy pictures they wanted but after that I didn't want to see them. Once done, then I would assign them to work in very specific ways, to search to tell a story, to make pictures as an investigation into something that caught their interest, to begin to make pictures that were specific and intentional instead of ubiquitous and generic.

Last, what if you feel you can make pictures like these from the drive up the canyon that are better than anyone else's? What if you know you can make a contribution to this way of seeing that is unique, has your own perception as a creative individual  and is motivated by your passion, commitment and hard work as well as the considerable cost of the gear you use to make pictures that are truly magnificent? Then by all means have at it but know the world is a competitive place and count me among the skeptics.

Programming note: Bringing you this blog every day is a lot of work. I get up early to work on it for a couple of hours before heading out to shoot. I am happy to do it as I know I would love to travel vicariously with someone who was making pictures daily in Moab. But, let me know you're along  for the ride, if you can. There are lots of ways to share your thoughts with me. Put a comment  on my Facebook page or on Instagram. Or shoot me an email: here.

And thanks for coming along.

Topics: Southwest,Digital,Color

Permalink | Posted November 8, 2018

Utah Day 4

Dilemma: passenger or pilot? Make a photograph or take a photograph? Go along for the ride or drive? Okay, you get the distinction. Allow me to explain.

First, logistics and a few thoughts. After photographing the Factory Butte area on Day 3 I stayed in Hanksville and got up at dawn yesterday morning to be back to see it as the sun rose,

which had a theatrical quality to it, as though a Wagner opera was playing. This was so good the actual making of the photographs seemed perfunctory.

After heading back to the motel and loading up I was off, heading back to Moab, about 3-4 hours away. Take note here if you choose this trip: fill up in Hanskville. There is no gas or anything for well over 100 miles of endless desert. The southern route back to Moab takes you through Hite and the northern tip of Lake Powell which is in the Glen Canyon region.This is simply breathtaking country, big and unfathomable on a scale difficult to understand. I found myself thinking of when this was all formed, how huge forces acted to make this landscape, how erosion, wind and water sculpted it and, today, how years of drought and over utilization of the Colorado River's water makes for a lake lower than it was even eight years ago. 

This a bank of rock I have been photographing for years:

First 2010:

and yesterday, November 6, 2018:

It seems a picture can speak a thousand words.

Did you know that by the time the Colorado River winds its way through the American West and exits in Mexico, it isn't? There is no water left for we have used it all, for irrigation, but also for human consumption as well.

Well, I have more to write but will save it for perhaps this post as part two, we will see. I still have to address the "Dilemma" part.

Topics: Southwest,Color,Digital

Permalink | Posted November 7, 2018

Utah Day 3

Yesterday was remarkable. I left Moab early and drove about an hour to Thompson Springs to revisit a town I'd photographed in 2010. Little had changed. The series is here.

From there I drove east on 70 to Green River which I will write about later then on to Hanksville, and then west to Factory Butte, where I spent the rest of the day.

Something from another planet. Factory Butte is close to a wasteland of epic proportions. In fact, it is an"Authorized Play Area" allowing all sorts motorized vehicles to do whatever they like to it.

I had photographed here before. It is safe to say that this one place was the key motivator for me to come on this Utah trip in the first place.

Factory Butte itself is difficult to describe. Thanks to the miracle of photography I can let the pictures show you.

I will stop here as it is getting lighter out and I want to be back at Factory Butte for early morning light.

Topics: Color,New Work,Digital,Southwest

Permalink | Posted November 6, 2018

Utah Day 2

I'm going to try to post daily for this trip. In the context of showing you what I am photographing I want to do a couple of other things too. One is to speak about how these trips work, how my experience is my guide to know what to pack, where to stay, how to bring home meaningful pictures and how not to screw up.

This may sound like advice to photographers who take trips to photograph, and it is, but it will also address overall professionalism and the discipline that is entailed in making work that is first rate.

Gear: bring what you need and only what you need. Always travel as light as you can but don't leave crucial things out either. Don't bring stuff or lenses you won't use. Figure out some way to move your gear safely. I use a Think Tank rolling case and always bring it with me on the plane. I also bring two hard drives with me (one is now an SSD) and my laptop on the plane as well. As nice as it would be to not bring a tripod I always bring one and don't skimp on its quality (RRS carbon fiber and large ball head). This is so important. Nothing will help your work more than using a good tripod. And, oh yes, don't bring new equipment on a photo shoot trip unless you've throughly vetted and tested it before you leave.

Rent a car, unless you're staying in a city and shooting there. For this trip to Moab I rented a Jeep so that I could go on 4 wheel drive trails.

 You should rent a vehicle that is suitable to the kind of driving and photographing you need to do. I used to advance reserve a white car so it would stay cooler when I shot film. Like that. Also, I like unobtrusive here, something that will fit in and not stand out.

Research your destination and then lodge as close as you can to that place. Whether a motel or  AIRBNB-type lodging, it should be comfortable and a good place to crash after long days shooting  and/or driving. We can't photograph all the time. What are you going to do with down times, bad weather, the wrong light? It's good to think of that in your planning. Another kind of trip is driving, shooting every day with a new place every night. Those are harder, of course, at least for me. I find I can get one thing done in that night's place, if I am lucky. 

I use my destination as the hub of the wheel, and think of day trips from the hub as spokes. At times, I'll go farther from the hub and spend a night on the road. While I may have gone to an area for one thing I consider it my job to look elsewhere, to try to find other places to photograph. Stay flexible and creative. A trip like this is your chance to stretch, breath and experiment. There to make landscapes? What about a day at an amusement park, a subway ride to a different part of town, a ride up a chairlift, a Saturday flea market, etc.

If possible, plan the time of year and the kind of weather you're likely to encounter. When I fly to the Palouse to photograph the wheat fields I have to choose what stage the crops are at, where they are in relationship to harvesting.  As a landscape photographer the time of year you go is the most important decision to make. Then, on any given day, blue skies and bright sunlight is hugely different than a cloudy day. For the most part, cloudy and flat is what I prefer for it allows longer days shooting, with less difference from am to pm and avoids the problems of shooting midday on sunny days when it is bright, harsh and not very pleasing. Flat light models form better without the deep holes of shadows. On the other hand, contrasty days can show depth better and can add drama to your photographs. Mostly, I don't care for spectacular light, highly dramatic scenes and honey highlights with the sun going down, although there are exceptions. My pictures are perhaps quieter and rely on  intention more. 

I look at shot files every evening when I download my files to my laptop. I then back those up to a second hard drive. I can then format the card, charge the camera battery and start fresh the next morning. Old habits die hard. I used to have to unload and load my 8 x 10 film holders every night or I couldn't photograph the next day.

What else? Mostly, I do these trips solo for I am there primarily to work. This is just me, but I am not particularly social or outgoing on these expeditions I take. I am shy yes, but I am also focused on an objective, to make the best work I know how to make. This takes concentration but also means I am a little single purpose, inside my own head. That makes it hard to relate to others, strike up a conversation or meet new people. That's okay. You may be different, or may want to do a trip like this with someone else, not me so much. My worst nightmare is to be in a group, standing in an epic location, all making the same photograph as if from a check list. 

Last, days like these and the trip I am on now, days spent looking for and making photographs, can be as several days in one. At dawn, into something specific, the sun just touching the top, a break for breakfast or coffee, then driving, coming across something new, photographing that, from a long lens on a tripod reaching across a valley, to hand held with a wide lens and a higher ISO down a back alley in town, to some graffiti along the RR tracks, to some wild flowers in the grass of a rural cemetery. So amazing, this thing that has led me to a lifetime of discoveries, of a life rich with experiences and as rewarding as I could ever wish for. This, of course, is the foundation of the trip to make photographs. To be open to new experience, to be a clean slate to what is around the corner that you've never seen. To understand that it is up to you to make art from all this, there for you to figure out the puzzle, to work with it in sympathy for all it has to offer, to coerce meaning from the banal and ordinary. To make special that which is not.

I leave next for Hanksville for one night, then back to Moab for several more. Weather's been good so far, flat and not too cold, with little wind. So far wonderful.

Topics: Color,New Work,Landscape,Digital,Southwest

Permalink | Posted November 5, 2018