Spring in San Diego is a beautiful sight to behold. For most of the year, this lovely city is usually blanketed in a layer of brown and tan, due to the fact that we normally have very little water to let things grow. With the high amount of rain this winter though and a general warming trend, things have started to sprout. This is a perfect time to get out and photograph the green and rainbows of colors blossoming all around.
This photograph, though taken in August 2008, reminds me of this time of the year. It's a great example of using bokeh to enhance an image, and is one of my favorite stylistic tools for general use in photography. It was captured in Julian, California behind the Julian Pie Company restaurant on Main Street.
This photo was shot on Thanksgiving in a small canyon north of Pleasant Grove, Utah. Driving along the road heading up the canyon, we stopped every so often at little inlets to find some awesome photo opportunities. Aside from some tripod quirkiness and my batteries giving a false drained reading from the cold, I managed to capture quite a few interesting shots. The photo above is one such shot, incorporating the movement of water into the composition. This photograph was captured on a Pentax K-x with a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens.
The photograph above was taken during a short stop at Red Cliffs Desert Reserve in Southern Utah just outside of St. George. After about a fifteen minute hike on a cloudy day, I came across this bend in the canyon as it narrowed, and saw this tiny little waterfall. Though there was a group of teenagers goofing off just out of sight in this frame, I was able to stand there for a minute or so and snap a couple shots. I've yet to photograph Zion National Park (one of my dreams), but this came pretty close to what I'd hope to get. It was shot with a Tamron 28-75mm f2.8 lens on a Pentax K-x body.
One of the first things any photography student learns is the important of having a broad tonal range in a photograph. A photograph that is either too "bright" or too "dark" is, theoretically speaking, not aesthetically pleasing. Fortunately, in photography, rules are meant to be broken. Sometimes having a vastly underexposed image can hide certain details not essential to the main thought in a photograph, or add an air of mystery to an otherwise ordinary scene. Most important of all, composing a shot with the intention of underexposing the final image creates a photo that's out of the ordinary. In the photograph above, taken inside the run-down once-popular Saltair resort in Utah, the main visual element in the composition is the highlights across the handrailing. The staircase itself is merely an afterthought, and thus does not need to be emphasized to such a degree.
Another important reason to underexpose an image is to capture interesting or visually stunning light. The art of photography itself is the capturing of light, and a good photographer holds the ability to recognize worthwhile light in a scene. The photograph above was taken on the freeway near Pleasant Grove, Utah. For most, the dance between the mountains and the clouds wouldn't seem special in any way. But at the time, I recognized that underlying layer of light that, in its present form, was simply too bright to allow for its subtle intricacies to make themselves known. Lowering the exposure on the photograph and increasing the contrast reveled what I saw in the moment which, for me, is the best possible outcome one can achieve in the post-production stage.
Shooting photos in the rain is fun. Shooting photos in the rain with a camera that's not exactly waterproof? Not so much. The photograph above is one of many that was the end result of running to one of the gift shops in the Snowbird, Utah resort complex and buying a large $8 handkerchief to cover my camera with. The end result, in all its hazy and low-contrast glory, reminds me a bit of the scene from Paint Your Wagon with the song "They Call the Wind Mariah." Sure, the photo is nothing special. But it certainly does communicate a sense of the mood of the situation.
I love trying to find bokeh in unusual circumstances. In case you don't know, bokeh is (in simplest terms possible) the word used by photographers to describe the circles of light found in the out-of-focus backgrounds of images. Though it is often found in night photography, especially those which feature city lights or something of the sort, bokeh can also come about in daylight shots as well. In the photograph above, the sun's positioning combined with a (relatively) dark background and an abundance of dewdrops on the pine needles create the magical light show in the frame. This photograph was captured while hiking in Snowbird, Utah.
For only having roughly a half hour on top of Hidden Peak in Snowbird, Utah, I managed to capture quite a few memorable shots. I've found myself slowly acquiring the skill to work under pressure, and in this setting, I often create my best work. The weather up at the top was somewhat cloudy, granting me some great opportunities to capture the gentle dance between the clouds and the rocky peaks across the way. The only quaff in this visually-pleasing weather occurred when it started to lightly snow. While my old camera had great weather sealing, the model I downgraded to (for a variety of reasons) lacks any sealing whatsoever. Fortunately, it survived.
The photograph above is a shot that, in all honesty, shouldn't have worked. It was captured with a long zoom, facing downwards on the mountain. The framing isn't special whatsoever, and in terms of a nature photograph, the composition itself isn't what one usually sees. But where this shot shines is the lighting. Though it's often hard to capture the light that one sees in person with a simple camera, stopping down the exposure in post-processing really brought out the beauty that I witnessed in person.
In other news, I have yet to get the rolls of film I took during this trip developed. I've been trying since I got back, but the local Wal-Mart (which is the only place nearby that offers negative-only C-41 developing at a decent price) is having difficulties with their processing equipment. I've spoken to a few people in the department, and apparently they're waiting on a part to arrive. Till then, it's just a waiting game. Luckily, my Epson V500 scanner was delivered today, and the (unrelated) negatives I've scanned in so far have turned out fantastic. I highly recommend it.
This shot is an interesting one. Because I wanted to pack light on this trip, I decided against bringing a tripod. Though it came in handy while photographing outdoors in Colorado last year, I honestly didn't expect to miss it much. That thought went out the door by my first night at Snowbird. On my last day at the resort, while crossing a bridge that leads to some trails on the hillside, I glanced down to see a moderately-fast flowing river. With a cloud having just passed in front of the sun, I braced myself (and the camera) against the ledge of the bridge while snapping this shot, among others, with a (relatively) slow shutter speed. Though somewhat overexposed, as was to be expected, stopping down the exposure in the post-processing phase actually gave this photo some unexpectedly rich colors.