Thursday, June 30, 2016

Palouse 2016, Part 3

After a morning at the western cottonwood, we moved to a stand of pine trees. I like trees in the middle of fields. Like the cottonwood, these trees create such a beautiful contrast with the smooth undulations of the surrounding fields. They stand like sentinels, guarding the new grains.

Fortunately, we had some wonderful skies at this site. And although I liked the site, I'm not sure I did it justice. I kept trying to find the right balance, so I shot a lot of different compositions.

This first image is an eight shot panorama, and I think it is the most successful composition. However, it has a serious issue that I haven't yet been able to solve. Because the clouds were moving so quickly, the sections of panorama don't quite fit together. Some of the highlights especially are obviously misaligned. I'm trying to fix those imperfections in Photoshop, but my skills are lacking. Even so I'm going to keep working on it because I think the image is worthwhile.

The composition of this is perfect - for my eye. The small strip of green along the bottom adds a necessary anchor and counterpoint for the beautifully active skies. And I'm especially drawn to the placement of the trees. They are almost centered but not quite.

Because the skies were so energetic, I wondered if I could highlight that characteristic by creating a silhouette. While I think it's interesting, I'm still undecided about how successful it really is.

This composition captures the scene as I remember it: flashes of light moving across the landscape, trees standing tall and proud, wonderful clouds over the scene. And I really like the contrast in this image of the cool blue sky and the green fields.

Because the clouds were so artistic, I took a lot of photos highlighting that element. This is another image that's almost successful - but it's missing something. It's good but not great. However, I think examining the near misses is good for my photography. Identifying why certain images almost work helps improve my skills and hopefully translates to better images in the future.

I'd be interested in what you think of the above images.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Palouse 2016, Part 2

Tuesday morning of our trip was supposed to start before dawn, meeting at 4am so we could make a sunrise shoot. But the weather didn't cooperate so we had a later start. I enjoyed the extra time to sleep in.

We started the day at a famous cottonwood tree west of Steptoe Butte. I don't know if the tree (or the other famous cottonwood) has a name, but it should. When we got there, nearly 20 of us, there was another group already there. Shooting with more than 30 other photographers is interesting, but not the best way to shoot. I know I felt crowded. Even so I think I got a few winners.

There are endless ways to shoot a tree in a field; there's always another angle. However, I don't think my creativity was working at full capacity. It could have been the crowded feeling of being around too many other people, or could have just been my issue.

I like this first one because it captures small glimpse of how expansive the space is. The Palouse is 4000 square miles, which means the beautiful blue skies are endless.

I think this composition is stronger. It contrasts the stormy skies left over from the morning with the blue skies that were creeping in. I also like that I can't see the base of the tree here. It's literally in the middle of the fields of grain - part of the field and yet also standing alone.

The morning's wind was brutal. I took dozens and dozens of photos trying to capture the motion of the crop. It turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. But I like this result. There's motion but there's also some clarity.

I think this image is the best from this particular site. I used Fuji's in-camera double exposure, just as an experiment. And I really like the result.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Palouse 2016, Part 1

My friend and fellow photographer Dan left Nampa at 6 am, headed for the Palouse area of Washington. Although it's about a six hour drive to Colfax, there's no way we would make it that quickly. We had stops planned along the way, and we knew there would be unplanned stops whenever a photographic opportunity presented itself. We'd be lucky if our trip were to take only ten or eleven hours.

These are some photos from that first day. Our first stop was New Meadows where we found this iconic pastoral scene.

Nearby we found some spectators, curious about these two photographers. I suppose this is a form of street photography. I captured these "people" just going about their lives.

If you're familiar with my photography, you know I like details - like a bit of moss on a fence post.

This doesn't look like much at first glance, but image is an example of forced perspective. The foreground plants are about three or four feet tall. The dead tree in the back is closer to fifty or sixty feet tall. By getting close to the ground, right in among the plants and shooting up, I create the illusion that the plants and tree are of similar size.

Although I like this old barn - I like old barns in general - this is an example of an image that just doesn't quite work. It's sort of interesting, but nothing special. It was good enough to be processed, but it won't ever be printed. I only share it here as a demonstration that I take a lot of unsuccessful photos.

This last image was mostly an experiment. My camera will shoot as fast as 1/32,000 of a second, which is pretty darn fast. The resulting motion freeze creates a scene we don't normally see. We can only see in real time. Freezing the motion of a waterfall shows the power of the water and intricacies of the movement. Sometimes waterfalls look best when they're shot for that silky smooth effect of long shutter speed. This one is intended to be crispy sharp.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Palouse 2016

Last week the Boise Camera Club took a trip the Palouse area of Washington. We based exploration in Colfax, Washington and had a one day tour led by Justin Reznick. Over the next few weeks I'll be posting some of the images, as I'm able to process. I took almost 4000 images, so the editing process to determine the keepers, and the processing workflow will take some time.

To start, here's a video I took (with the Fujifilm XT-1) of the wind we had on Tuesday morning.