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.
I've come to the conclusion that I'm about as least traditional as they get in terms of interior photography. As of right now, I don't own a wide angle lens (though one is on its way). The top and bottom photos below were taken with a 40mm f2.8 prime, and the middle was shot with a 70-300mm. If you don't understand what any of that means, then don't worry. It basically means that some of my favorite interior shots were made with gear that most enthusiasts would deem unsuitable for the job.
The photo above was made at the Red Iguana in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah. It was a spur of the moment thing, as I hadn't anticipated having time to thoroughly photograph the unique building that houses that fantastic restaurant. I looked over, saw the beads/artwork with the subtle light coming in at just the right angle, and snapped a single shot. The framing isn't perfect, but neither is the building or the decor. It's straightforward but unique, pure and simple.
This photo was sort of a fluke. I was walking through one of the buildings at the Snowbird ski resort, having just been outside photographing just about everything in sight. My 70-300mm (aka, starts out zoomed in, then goes even further) lens was still on my camera which, given the fact that I bought it for $5 and its optics are pretty mediocre, made indoor shooting out of the question. Regardless, I happened to glance behind me and notice this decal on the sliding glass door. I kneeled down and photographed it, right as two people entered the frame behind the plane of focus.
Out of these three shots, however, this one takes the cake. I had just gone to the restroom at the former-resort-twice-burned-down-turned-concert-venue Saltair along the banks of the Great Salt Lake, and I instantly noticed this archway intensified by an all-around grunge feel. Though I had to wait a minute or so for the other guy in the restroom to leave, I managed to take this shot with minimal awkwardness. Yes, it really looked that worn-down in person. But the smell was surprisingly not much worse than the stench floating in from the polluted water that was once this venue's claim to fame.
I love film, don't get me wrong. There's something just insanely special about permanently capturing light onto a physical object, as opposed to mere digital image sensor. The whole concept of that particular frame on the negative actually having been where it was taken just makes the photograph feel more intimate and personal. Call it nostalgia (even though I'm a youngin'), or call it hipster vintage. Either way, film is something that I just can't seem to detach myself from.
That being said, dealing with film is one of the most annoying things in the entire world. First of all, it costs a lot of money. If you can manage to find cheap C-41 film for $2 a roll, then develop just the negatives at a big-box retailer for another $2 a roll, you've already cost yourself $4 for anywhere from 24 to 36 exposures. Add on top of this the time you spend having to scan the negatives into a digital environment, and multiply this by however many rolls you plan to shoot, and you've just gained yourself a load of misery. To make matters worse, the film cameras I use are both unreliable. Sure, the results are often interesting and add a level of charm to the image, but I just wish my FED-3 at least had an exposure meter.
Still, I just can't shake the desire to shoot on film. Last year, I would shoot on cheap black and white film from China and develop it myself in a daylight loading tank with my trusty bottle of Diafine. Sadly, I needed money at the time, and decided to sell off much of that equipment. No matter how hard I try though, I know that I'll always come back to film, if only for a roll or two a couple times a year.
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.