I was gearing up for a recent workshop and reviewing notes from the participant and saw that she had done a number of photo workshops in the past. I was familiar with one of the photographers listed. It had been awhile since I’d checked out his website, so in one of my many daily distractions, I headed over to see what was new. The first thing I noticed was the steady dose of “Master” that was dropped all over the website. Master this, Master that. Learn from the Master. Buy the best book ever by the Master. Background of a Master. Initially, I thought it was kinda funny. Then, kinda embarrassing. Who does that? (Besides Lik, of course!)
When I think of a Master, I think of a Kung Fu Master who can be challenged by 20 men and overcome them all with one hand behind his back. Or, a Zen Master who is awakened and fiercely present, burning so bright that those in his company taste nirvana. Li Mu Bai from Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon was a badass Master! Fo’ real!! He certainly didn’t need to go around calling himself Master. Everyone else recognized him as Master and referred to him accordingly. He had reached a level of such mastery that it spilled into all aspects of his life and rendered him egoless. Awake.
That’s what I think of when I think of “Master” – where such mastery in one area spills into all the other areas of one’s life and the result is a certain level of heightened awareness, egoless-ness, and inter-connectedness. And, let us not forget – humility! Is a Master really a Master if he/she is obviously ego-based? Ego-driven? And going around saying, “I am Master. Bow down before me.” Not in my world. Not in my eyes.
Of course, I do think there are Master photographers. Michael Kenna is a Master. Christopher Burkett is a Master. Edward Burtynsky is a Master. David Fokos is a Master. And you know what? You won’t find the use of the word “Master” anywhere on their websites!! Let us not forget, “Masters” do not have to announce themselves to the world and convince us of their mastery.
I’m excited to say I’m tuning out. Turning the auto-responder In-the-Field ON with my email, and generally tuning to “travel mode”…starting now.
Becca and I are heading to New York City and plan on eating, walking and photographing our way through a week in the city. Yep….that’s the type of places we like to go while living in Maui.
Last time there for only 24 hours, I was pleased to make Times Square, an eight-minute exposure made early in the morning. I used a Pentax 67 and shot it on Fuji Velvia 100 and only made one exposure, so very stoked I figured the exposure correctly. Using 10-stop nd filters is one thing with a digi, but when you’re using film, it’s a different animal. I love how the passing cars and pedestrians all disappear with the time.
What I’ve read online makes me think NYC has become much more strict regarding tripods, so we’ll see what I can get this time around. I plan on attempting to be very sneaky with the tripod. As backup, I’ll have a beanpod and a Gorillapod – neither of which I have ever used. Will report back.
I’ll be posting to Instagram (scottreither) with iPhone pics along the way.
I have two favorite artists – you and Vik Muniz. I have been lucky enough to see Vik’s work in an extensive exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla a few years back, but had not yet been fortunate enough to see your work in person. I follow your website and own your book, Wall and Piece, so am familiar with the work. While strolling down a street in San Francisco’s Chinatown a few days back, I was totally surprised to glance down an alley and see one of your works! I immediately knew it was one of yours, and the plexiglass covering the original work was obvious confirmation. Unfortunately, some friggin’-idiot had totally defaced the plexi so that the work was barley recognizable!
It seems nearly every time I go out shooting, I find myself in a stunning location at the magic hour to enjoy the clouds passing by and the sounds of the ocean, and if I’m lucky, the chance to get a sweet shot in my camera. Continue reading →
1. Be willing to miss Happy Hour and dinner at a popular dinnertime.
Most people seem to eat dinner around sunset. If you’re an outdoor landscape photographer, you’re not sitting at this table. Happy Hour…fuhgeddaboudit! Dinner and drinks both have to come later, after dark, and after the nights shooting.
2. Be willing to wake up earlier than you’d ever consider otherwise.
Most people I personally prefer to sleep in to reasonable hours like 7 or 8am (or, even 9am on occasion), but when you are driven to get dynamic images with Sweet Light, there are times when you have to get up at 0′ Dark Early – times that begin with a 4 !?! Yes, I know…it sounds inhumane, but all is soon forgotten when the magical morning light begins – mixed with your 1/2 sleep stupor, a feeling of harmonious bliss can take you over for a righteous and pure morning Happy Hour that leaves you feeling peachy all day. (Afternoon nap may be required.)
3. Be willing to struggle, suffer, and otherwise torture yourself.
Unless you find satisfaction in only making images alongside the edge of the road or parking lot, the same images anyone else can easily make, then as an outdoor landscape photographer, you’re going to have to suffer at the hand of nature. You will have to spend many hours in the elements, hiking and climbing and waiting in the hot or the cold or the wet, all the while quieting your mind which can get extremely noisy during these uncomfortable times. Fortunately, most of us who choose this photographic path do so because we love nature, whether punishing or not. I always feel that the more one pushes up against the comfort zones of the ego, the more of a gem there is to be found – especially while in the stillness of nature.
This past weekend, myself and a couple of friends decided to push up against these comfort zones and hike from close to sea-level to 8,000 feet over a course of 17 miles and 48 hours – UP! the Kaupo Gap and through the Haleakala Crater of Maui. I carried 50 pounds of weight which in addition to all my camping gear, included my camera and lens, filters and a tripod, with hopes of being able to make an image or two along the way. As it turned out, not much success in the way of an image for my limited edition collection on this journey, but there was still a gem there to be found, shining amongst the struggles and efforts required to make it through this demanding hike.
A couple nights back, I was just about to go to bed when I glanced out over the ocean and saw a full moonbow! “Holy shit! Becca! Come quick!” I blurted out without hesitation…or thought as to how this reaction might sound from her end. She bolted out of the bedroom wondering what the hell was going on, relieved to see that I was losing it over a moonbow. (Gets her back a bit for all the times she freaks over a mouse, cockroach, or some other little critter – at least once a month, she screams from another room for me to “come quick”, giving me a partial heart attack. Of course, once my heart is back on pace, I always secretly find this extremely cute.)
Even here on Maui, you don’t see moonbows all that often, especially not full ones from end to end. I rush to get my camera bag and tripod and in the 13 seconds this takes me, half of the moonbow has already dissipated. I jam to get setup and only have time to take 4 frames before it’s totally gone. Dealing with a new camera and lens, a loving relationship hasn’t yet formed and the first 3 frames are totally out-of-focus. I recognize this just in time to make this one last exposure. Yeah…I know the composition and overall scene leaves little to be desired, but it is my first moonbow captured-by-camera…so, it’s a start.
Have you captured a moonbow with your camera? Any stories? Come on, let’s hear ‘em.
Someone on Google+ the other day recommended I put some slideshows on You Tube to help generate some online traffic, and the recommendation was just the push I needed, so I’ve posted a slideshow of Maui photographs. If you wanna chill out for a few minutes with some nice photographs, take a look.
The views of the Cannon Beach coastline in Oregon from Ecola State Park are unrivaled and not-to-be-missed if you are anywhere in the vicinity. Even a snapshot in middle-of-the-day bad-light isn’t too bad!
It was December and the weather was actually pretty nice, though the time is extremely sleepy – not much going on there. In fact, many businesses appeared closed for the season. I wonder where they go? Maui…
Yesterday I woke up at 4:20 am and headed out to meet a friend for an early morning hike along Maui’s Pali Trail. After nearly two decades of residing off and on on Maui, this was a trail I had never previously hiked – with the rumors of it being so dry, hot and exposed, it never held much appeal to me. With the early start and an added sense of adventure, I was finally game.
Surprisingly awake, or delirious, we started our trek on the Maalaea side at 5 am in the pre-sunrise darkness. The trail was rugged as we made our way up the 1600 feet of elevation gain. Had it been mid-day, it would had been semi-awful, but with the early hour and the high winds, it was quite nice.
Near the high point of the hike, we made our way through the Kaheawa wind farm. Since 2006, twenty windmills operated by First Wind have been generating nearly 10% of Maui’s electric power, enough energy to power about 11,000 Maui homes annually. They are near completion of adding on 14 more wind turbines, enough to power an additional 7,700 Maui homes annually.
The image above are some of the new wind turbines and they continue up the slopes of the mountain. In this case, a longer exposure and passing clouds help create the feeling of wind, and makes for a more dynamic image of some much appreciated clean energy.
While living here on Maui, I try and get up to the Haleakala Crater National Park every chance I get. One of my favorite things to do is to head up on the afternoon of a full moon, hike down the Sliding Sands trail at sunset, loop around the cinder cone a few miles down, and head back up the trail to the rising moon and the darkening sky. This is what I was doing a year back when I captured Stillness Speaks, and what Rebecca and I were planning on doing yesterday. With Haleakala being over 10,000 feet tall, it is often engulfed in weather. From the sea-level perspective, you can never tell for certain whether or not you’ll be able to get above the weather, so I generally just go for it and hope for the best. If it’s socked in, as was the case yesterday, then it’s a chance to enjoy a drive.
The University of Hawaii has a live webcam looking into the crater from the summit, but it hasn’t been working for quite some time. Can we get someone on this, please?