We should have known something was up when we had Mesa Arch all to ourselves. A fellow photographer and I had been in the backcountry of Canyonlands National Park all week, isolated by location and design. It had been 85 each afternoon so it was a surprise when this spring snow storm rolled in just after dawn. White out conditions and 3 inches of snow would cover the slick rock before noon. This dashed our hopes of backpacking down to the Green River…..we actually lost the trail….which was mostly over bare rock. This was a good thing because neither of us would pull the rip cord, stupid and stubborn. I would not have wanted to be on the edge of a narrow canyon trail in a blizzard….is exactly what I thought when I completed the journey in much better weather. Either way was a hell of an adventure. And that is the point. Get out there and see what Mother Nature will throw at you.
Sugar cane fields on fire create a dramatic haze in the South Florida sky.
Tropical Storm Isaac brought flooding to South Florida, particularly Palm Beach County. What was surprising to most residents was that this one storm brought worse flooding than a secession of Hurricanes in years past. Those Hurricanes were only weeks apart. I happen to live in one of the hardest hit areas and was standing in over a foot of water (on my street) when I made this image.
“Next to the recording of a fugitive expression, or revealing the pathology of some human being, is there anything more elusive to capture than cloud forms!” -Edward Weston
Memorial Day, remembering those that have fallen while defending all of us. This flag is as old as Memorial Day itself and if you look closely bares a hole, possible that of a bullet.
From Canyonlands National Park. Island in the Sky District. The First of my new Limited Series. A selection of Master Prints that will be available in runs of 25.
Sometimes images wait in my archive to have life breathed into them. I had known at the moment of capture that this would be the image of the day…..an good indicator that it will get immediate attention. Life might have other plans, I was on my cross country trip from Seattle to West Palm Beach and soon after my Mother went in for surgery to repair her broken vertebrae. I took over caring for the horses here on the ranch, the heat and work can be exhausting, leaving little time for creating images. So there it sat until yesterday, around noon, when I needed an image of my truck with storm clouds over head…….it made me think back to the day, watching the clouds first build over the La Sal mountains. The storm seemed to grow….to radiate from the peaks….making an improbable journey West against the wind….against the jet stream……until it was over head, some 100 miles as the crow flies. In times like these there is often a bit of inner debate. What’s the light going to do, is the storm going to break……how long before I can get to shelter. If nothing else I’m a good judge of weather. It’s an obsession. One that comes from spending countless days backpacking, with nothing but stretched nylon as a shelter. This day I was lucky, I had my truck within a close proximity. This enabled me to wait until the very moment the storm broke, so I could make this image, and then sprint for the safety of good Detroit Steel.
Smokejumpers, an elite group of firefighters, are a quick response unit. They will parachute into a remote wilderness area and extinguish the blaze before it gets going. Smokejumpers have been around almost as long as aviation, established in 1939 in the US….and were the model for the 101st Airborne Division. One of the original Smokejumping camps in Winthrop Washington is not far from this location.
These Pines are amazing trees. New comers to the area, as compared with the ancient Cypress, the Pine root system has adapted to the extreme wet/dry conditions of Everglades. Even being able to endure the regions hurricanes.
Liberty State Park, New Jersey
The story of working on the cover art for Laurence Hart’s new album Closed Station Platform.
After watching “Joe Strummer – The Future is Unwritten” I began to think about how much music was an influence on my early on in photography. After listening to “all lost in a supermarket” I did a shoot with my friends on a shopping run in college. (Largely due to the fact that the photo essay had a deadline of the next morning and I had no day light left….and oh I was hungry.)
Not just the music and lyrics but the photography that went along with an album.
Anton Corbijn’s work with U2 on the Joshua Tree was huge…..here was black and white landscape and portrait work helping to shape the theme of the album.”
This is on my mind because I’ve been working with Laurence Hart on his new Album, Closed Station Platform. Larry has been great to work with letting me listen to his early demo’s so I could get a feel for the album and giving me free rein on the cover art. Turns out I had the perfect shot, a Closed Station Platform, Liberty State Park….a place where many would enter America proper for the first time after getting off the boat at Ellis Island. Coming full circle….a shot made during those early days when Anton Corbijn, U2 and Joe Strummer influenced my thinking and creativity.
Last week I had the pleasure of shooting with photographers Raymond Gehman and Greg Matthews. Raymond has worked for National Geographic for many years and has had the cover 3 times. He’s always encouraging and it’s impossible to have a “bad day shooting” with him around. If you want to learn from one of the masters check out http://www.raymondgehman.com/ for upcoming workshops. Greg is one of the hardest working wildlife photographers I’ve ever met. Drive, passion and energy combined with talent make Greg a Wildlife photographer on the rise. Check his latest work out on Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/gregmatthews
The Live Oak was planted by Spanish Explorers for use in ship building because of the curved branches and strength of the tree. Spanish moss an air plant “likes” to grow on Live Oaks because the tree has a high rate of “foliar mineral leaching.
The band Against Me has a song “Spanish Moss”…..”Look into the Spanish moss. Let your mind conjure up old ghosts. Ride your bike through lost Florida streets.”
That’s how I felt on Dinner Island Ranch. Located on the southwestern end of Lake Okeechobee the Dinner Island Cattle Ranch is in the middle of nowhere. An old Ranch owned by the State it leases the grazing rights. If you end up out there keep an eye out….if you are luck you might just have a Florida Panther cross your path.
Mesa Arch 2001
Mesa Arch 2008
Minus the little Mormon Tea fellow that had been waving in the winds at me.
Canyonland’s NP guessed that the Mormon Tea plant’s demise was from high traffic around Mesa Arch. Mormon Tea also known as Cowboy Tea or Tuttumpin by the Paiute people. Is a plant from the Ephedra genus. A settlers brew with a kick. Native peoples utilized its medicinal properties for stomach disorders, headaches and fevers. It’s most colorful common name is Whorehouse Tea.
Stay Late it’s a simple tip and one I’ve taken to heart from Photographer Galen Rowell. After everyone packed up and gone, fight that urge to get a hot meal and or a cold beer. Bring a flash light and some snacks and watch nature unfold.
If you look close to the profile picture you can see a red streak near the eyes. The Pigeon was doing this head bob strut very much like the funky chicken.
Interior Secretary Stewart Udall who served under Presidents Kennedy and Johnson pushed for the Canyonlands to become a National Park and on September 12th 1964 President Johnson gave the Canyonlands National Park status. It was the first park in almost a decade. In 1971 President Nixon expanded the park to its current size of 527 square miles.
The Canyonlands Half Dome is adjacent to the Willow Flat Camp Ground in the Island of the Sky District.
Recently the Movie 127 hours with James Franco depicts how climber Aron Ralston became trapped in Blue John Canyon, part of President Nixon’s Horseshoe Canyon District expansion, and had to amputate his hand.
President Ford despite the urging of the Forest Service preserved the Alpine Lakes of Washington State on July 12, 1976. Having thought to have said “anywhere so beautiful should be preserved.”
Sol Duc is from the Quileute word meaning “The people living at the place of the clear sparkling water.” To this day people go to soak in the hot springs.
Devils cloak in blue hour. This day remains one of the most spectacular displays of natural light I’ve ever witnessed.
Little did I know that this spectacular and calm sunset would usher in one of the wildest nights I’ve ever experienced. The reason why I now car camp with a Mountaineering tent is this: The day had been windy not uncommon in Canyon Country, first clue….I came back from an afternoon hike to find my test acting like a kite. It had blown away and somebody had hunted it down and roped it to the bumper of my truck. Everybody pretty much hunkered down no stoves or fires could be lit….until just after sunset. The wind stopped it became eerily still. It was one of the most amazing displays of light I have ever witnessed. It would change from gold to a red and blue just incredible. Because it was a late dinner everyone pretty much left their camps out and just went to bed. I threw my stuff in the truck and crashed hard. At some point the wind hit like a hurricane. I spent the night howling at the wind, daring it to blow faster. I learned quickly that i had to stay at the edge of the tent. If I didn’t the wind would get under the tent and lift me in the air. It was like a roller coaster for most of the night. My poor little dome tent held but the fiberglass poles were shredded. They would buckle and slap me in the head painfully. As soon as day broke everyone bailed. I figured it would be a good time to get a few hours sleep before heading over the Rockies to Denver. It’s a long drive and if the weather is bad you want to be firing on all cylinders, not sleep deprived as I was. When I did get up it was devastation. The debris field from the camp ground was amazing. Everyone’s stuff had blown away or was torn away. I spent a few hours helping to clean up. The wind was so strong that it sent something into my passenger side window and shattered it. It was going to be a cold drive, at least I’d be awake! Anything in the campground that was a structure was gone, bathrooms had no roofing, the large solar panels shattered. I saw more than 1 Tractor Trailer blown over on the Freeway. Now that’s a powerful storm. I was really happy my little Kelty tent stayed together. But I would never assume that car camping meant anything less that proper gear.
*Photographer’s Post Workshop Review*
I had the pleasure of being one of the first to take advantage of Lewis Kemper’s Digital House Calls. These are 1 on 1 computer to computer at your desk lessons in Photoshop, PhotomatixPro and Lightroom. As a die hard Photoshop guy my Lightroom skills needed some tuning. Little did I know just how invaluable the session would be. I can do more in less time and I’m much better organized. I could stop the lesson to take notes, or clarify something and the lesson was pinpointed to what I needed to go over. I’m already planning my next class in PhotomatixPro. Lewis is one of Canon’s Explorer’s of Light and Contributing Editor for Outdoor Photographer. A Master Photographer he worked for the Ansel Adams Gallery in 1978.
Shot on Velvia Film. A good example of previsualizing the shot. I knew that a long exposure and shooting Velvia in shadow would create a blue color shift in the film. This is exactly the result I wanted. The blue color would create a feeling of clean water, which was the topic of the article I was assigned to shoot.
I arrived to the Badlands late in the day. Usually I like to secure a camping spot, set up and the scout, by early afternoon. Today I was running way off schedule. I had been driving into the wind all across I-90. If I had it bad in my Truck the motorcyclists had it much worse. They were actually leaning to one side as the rode.
I hit a rest area and saw a 20 year old kid head in hands. He approached and asked if I had a cell phone. He was in the service, and in a spot of trouble. His truck was broken down and he was a day late for deployment. You really don’t want to miss that. This kid was in a real bind. I handed over my cell and it took him a half hour to track down AAA and someone in his command.
We talked as we waited for the Tow Truck. Being on the road is like that. Hours of isolation punctuated by conversations with complete strangers. Maybe its the road. I don’t know but you tend to open up to people a little more. He was a good kid earnest and had stayed a little longer than he should have with his girlfriend. If he drove straight through he’d still make it to the base in time to ship out for Iraq. Only his borrowed truck didn’t stand up to continuous drive. This could open him up to a whole host disciplinary action, from demotion to transfer, but what the kid really cared about is that his buddies would go off to war and he wouldn’t be at there.
That’s a stand up guy, more worried about letting his buddies down than the fact that his ass was in a sling. The sun was dropping, when the tow truck showed. We were in the middle of no where. I thanked him for his service and wished him good luck in catching up to his unit….and was off.
I sped to the park hoping to still make sunset. I just got into the park when I saw this scene. The Badlands seemed to glow from the heat of the day. I knew this was my shot. Pulled over got on top of my truck with my tripod and made the panoramic.
The Badlands seemed to go on forever.
Roadblocks and tearing them down.
Words that abound in Photography 2.0 like Sharing, Transparency, and Conversation were not always of value. Daily Topic is a collaborative effort and I want to thank everyone who has joined the conversation. I have learned every day reading the posts and I hope you have too.
If you’ve followed photographers for any length of time you’ve no doubt heard of +Chase Jarvis and the story of hostility he was met with as a young photographer in Seattle as he started sharing perceived “trade secrets.”
I agree, while Chase and I traveled in different photographic circles in Seattle, I was shooting primarily Black and White film, I hit some of those barriers, also. Fresh out of school and new to Seattle I was ready to move into the next phase of my photographic endeavors. Galleries hung up on me. We don’t show “Nature Photography”. Stock Agencies wanted portfolio’s of 5000 images, the front desk person at Tony Stone actually laughed at me when I walked in. My first boss told me I should take a career and an insurance salesman, not really an option as I am organizationally challenged. And most distressingly at my first ASMP meeting I was told Seattle was full up and I would do much better to get back in my car and move on down to Portland. Dejected I walked out of that meeting and never went back. “Should I move to Portland?” I thought. I didn’t much like the idea of being run out of town.
So I regrouped and asked myself one simple question who is best served by the work that I do? It was actually an easy answer. Conservation groups. Clean water, Wolf reintroduction, Park Space, Hiking trails….these groups needed photographers and photography. I worked my way up….Seattle area groups, Washington State, Pacific Northwest, National, and finally International. Early on my expenses were paid (which was considerable in the film days), I was building a body of work, and I was getting published. When REI rang me up to help because a fast developing suburb of Seattle was about to bowl over some valuable park space, I knew I was on the right path.
Find your path, don’t let obstacles deter you , and help others along the journey. It’s hard work but you can do it.
Lastly Photography serves a purpose.
Everglades Grassy Waters Preserve Restoration Area. West Palm Beach. Florida.
I was lucky enough to be invited into the Restoration Area of the Grassy Waters Preserve last week by a veteran preserve photographer.
The Restoration Area is closed to the public so this was a rare opportunity. Having photographed there over the last 5 or 6 years he knew many little details, things a wildlife photographer would be interested in. Game trails, natural food sources (swamp apples) and which plants when rubbed on the skin act as mosquito repellent (this I knew you quickly file oh this plant repels insects under good to know in the Everglades) .
We had a great conversation ranging from butterflies mating and dragons flies cannibalistic tenancies to the merits of Photoshop. He showed me where a alligator had rushed him….after uttering the words “oh don’t worry that gator will run.” Seems she was chasing him away from her nest.
I was interested in the landscape. The area had been restored on one side of the access road, pictured above. A beautiful forest of native trees. The other side left alone was a jungle of invasive plants that threatened to choke the native species out. I was able to get this one shot before we hustled back to the trucks. The man made good time he is I’m guessing 30 years my senior and I bike daily.
The impending thunderstorm made driving back to the ranch near impossible. Lightning struck within 100 feet 3 times. Sounded like a shotgun going off. I was grateful for the wide stance and new tires on my Truck. Most people pulled off the road. Driving in Florida can be like that. I’m glad the drought has broken. But out Everglades are very thirsty.