ECLIPSED – THE SPIRIT OF MOOSIE

ECLIPSEDECLIPSED  Joshua Tree National Park, California

At 7:01 pm, February 21, 2008, the shadow of the Earth covered the moon entirely, and the moon was in total eclipse.  An hour earlier, my sister Melissa and I realized we were lost in the rocky wilds of Joshua Tree National Park – with no food or water, in the dark, soaking wet from rain – on an evening that would dip to temperatures in the 30’s.

How did this happen?

Much easier than you might expect.

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JAWS – MAUI SURF BREAKS BIG

MAUI JAWS STUDY

In my last post, I mentioned having a workshop on the next day with big waves – and it did not disappoint!  Jackie and I had worked together the last two years and this year we decided to do a two day photo workshop, allowing us more time to get to some of the further out spots of Maui and the Hana side.  The first day, Jaws was breaking BIG – like, 40+ feet – so after a quick sunrise shoot at Ho’okipa Point, we made our way down the road to Pe’ahi.

MAUI JAWS STUDY

Over the course of the next 90 minutes, we both shot many frames of these incredible surfers riding these beautiful epic waves.

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BIG MAUI SURF ON MY MIND

BIG WAVES SERIES

We have had a number of large swells this winter here in Hawaii that has produced waves up to 30 feet and beyond – mostly on the North and West facing shores.  It sounds like the largest swell of the season is happening right now and waves are expected to get to over 40 feet!  I’ve got Big Maui Surf on My Mind!

BIG WAVES SERIES

A few weeks ago I made my way to Ho’okipa Point at sunrise to shoot this series of photographs in this post.  I assigned myself a mini-project so I sat down today, edited the images, developed them, and here they are!

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SILVERSWORD – REFLECTIONS ON A PHOTOGRAPH

SILVERSWORD  Maui, Hawaii 2015

The sun lowers into the ocean and the sapphire blue sky soon revises itself, deepening in shade first to lapis, then navy, and furthermore to an indigo blue with a deep purple influence.  By this time, my focus was no longer on the atmosphere above, but rather on the volcanic cinder underfoot.  My descent into the depths of the dormant volcano, the Haleakala crater of Maui, was underway.  Beginning from the summit, an elevation of over 10,000 feet, my attention was now solely focused on the few feet of area ahead, being lit by my headlamp.  Of course there was still some attention lingering with the atmosphere, but now it was focused on the cool, dry, crispness moving in and out of my lungs.  “That’s reason enough to hike on a mountain – it results in further attention to breath,” I think to myself, as I navigate my way further down the crater interior, nearly 3,000 feet below.

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BEST PLACES TO PHOTOGRAPH IN SAN FRANCISCO

You could spend an entire lifetime photographing the San Francisco Bay Area and still not capture it all.  It is one of those rare gems – packed full of scenic vistas and perspectives that can keep the passionate photographer endlessly inspired.  It certainly keeps me visually interested and coming back, year after year.  I still continue to find new vantages that compose nicely in the photographic frame.  But what if you are only coming to the city for a weekend, where do you go?  I will share with you some of my favorite locations to photograph in San Francisco.  Some of them are very iconic, some of them are a bit less widely known.  Alternatively, you could join me personally and explore my favorite spots alongside me during one of my SF photo workshops.

THE GOLDEN GATE BRIDGE TOWER AT SUNRISE

GOLDEN GATE SUNRISE  San Francisco, California

#1.  Battery Spencer     This spot is certainly no secret, but regardless, it is one of the most spectacular locations to photograph.  And not just in San Francisco, but perhaps the entire country!  This is called Battery Spencer.  Get up there at sunrise or sunset and be prepared to be blown away!  It feels like the Golden Gate bridge is close enough to reach out and touch, which is a very cool feeling.  If you can translate some of that feeling photographically, you are likely to make a powerful photograph.  You can use wide angle lenses all the way to longer lenses for countless perspectives.  Get creative and experiment.  For the above photograph, I was in position well before sunrise and prepared when the light started to get sweet.  The thick fog helped keep the composition simple and clean – making it all about the light, color and atmosphere.

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VISITING THE LOUVRE AND THE MONA LISA NO ONE SEES

MONA LISA AT THE LOUVREParis Journals, Part 3

We made our way into the vast interior of the Louvre within an hour of the museum opening the doors to the public that day, and still we were swallowed up and taken by the herd of visitors.  We figured we better try and b-line it to the Mona Lisa and then to Venus de Milo, in order to at least witness those two pieces before the masses made it impossible.  The museum strategically places these pieces deep into the maze of corridors.  By the time we made it to Mona Lisa, the large room was already thick with visitors.  Over the next 10 minutes, I was struck, sadly, by an obvious and ugly new truth about our civilization.

  • •We are totally and completely addicted to our devices.  And worse, we are seemingly attempting to experience life through the screen of a device and the resultant images and videos.

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STREET ART IN PARIS

PARIS-BLOG-2AThe Paris Journals, Part 2

Artist John Fekner defines street art as “all art on the street that’s not graffiti”, so please, when I say “Street Art”, do not visualize graffiti or worse, tagging (which I detest), that is not what we are talking about.  We are talking about very talented artists offering their creative works to the world on the most visible and popular canvas – the street.  The street art in Paris was one of the highlights to our time there.  In fact, between the artwork we viewed in the Louvre, the Pompidou Centre, Versailles, and elsewhere, the art on the street was perhaps the most exciting to me!  Yeah, I said it.  Of course, the Mona Lisa is a piece of art of great importance and the Venus de Milo is admittedly beautiful, but there is something wonderfully exciting about coming around the corner of a Parisian street and seeing a stenciled painting like the one above by Nick Walker.

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HIKING HALEAKALA CRATER AT SUNSET

One of my favorite things is to hike down Sliding Sands Trail in the Haleakala National Park, the night before the full moon, during sunset time.  It gives me a chance to get down inside the crater, one of my favorite places on the planet, during the time of optimal-sweet light.  With or without camera, I recognize this as an incredible life-experience – one that I always try and make time for, at least a few times a year.  Last night, I was able to share this experience with a Maui photo workshop participant who was looking for an adventurous photographic expedition during his island vacation to Maui.  It so happened that on this particular day, the moonrise was the most dramatic of the year!  With the sun perfectly opposite the moon, the light and size of the moon appeared to be 14% larger and 30% brighter than normal!  It only made sense for us to venture into the crater from atop the 10,023 foot peak, and put ourselves in an epic and otherworldly place (inside a volcanic crater) for this special moonrise!  As good fortune would have it, we were graced with an insane sunset and the light was so sweet.

The Big Island was clearly visible, seemingly close enough to touch, as the large and brilliant moon arose above it.  Me – as much as I was ooh’ing and aah’ing the moonrise to the right of this scene, I couldn’t resist focusing my photographic efforts on the sweet, brilliant, and colorful light that presented itself to my lens in this composition.  Here, in Hawaii, being much closer to the equator, this period of sweet-light does not last long.  It is fleeting.  Ephemeral.  You put yourself in in the right place, at the right time, and hope for the best.  Last night, I found myself at the right place at the right time – very cool to be able to share the experience with another passionate photographer!

WHY NOT TO PRESENT THE SAME PHOTOGRAPH IN BOTH COLOR AND BLACK AND WHITE

STRANGER.  San Diego, California

As I was scrolling through my Google + stream this morning.  I came across a post by a longtime, established, and relatively renowned photographer with an image posted two ways – both in color and black and white, with the question,

“Which one do your prefer?”

“I’d prefer for you, the photographer, to be decisive and choose which one works best!  I’d prefer not to see photographs in both color and black and white.”  I wanted to holler back.  But I didn’t.  I suppose I didn’t want to ruffle anyone’s feathers.  With that said, I think it’s a worthy topic to look at and discuss, and this is my forum – so it’s fine.  If I ruffle feathers from here – so be it.

So, what’s my issue here?

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FINDING COMPOSITIONS IN THE LANDSCAPE

While working with a Maui Photo Workshop participant recently, I was asked a good question: how do you find your compositions?  It hasn’t been a common question among my students, even while discussing the many facets to composing mindful and compelling images, but I think it is a good question.  Of course, there is no one way I find my compositions, but there are a number of ways that seem recurrent.  Here are 5 ways I find my compositions.

The Jungle.  Maui, Hawaii

1.  I go where I feel compelled.  I explore.
Oftentimes when I go out shooting, I head out with no particular destination in mind, and with no image in my mind’s eye.  In these cases, I go where I feel compelled.  I often say that landscape photography is all about putting yourself in the right place, at the right time, with the right frame of mind.  So, where is the “right place”?  Anywhere you feel compelled to photograph, and where you can visually arrange the elements into a compelling image.  It’s enjoyable to work this way – to go out without expectations or pre-visualizations, guided by your feelings and intuitions, and see what happens.


Pier.  La Jolla, California

2.  I go to the same spots over and over.  I study the scene.
This is another common approach that I take with many of my compositions, and has led to many of my most successful photographs.  Once you find a composition that has promise, resonates with you, and is a place that you enjoy spending time, go back time and time again.  I have spoke about the importance to studying the subject HERE.  Whether working near home or while traveling, this is a strong approach toward making successful and compelling images.  Not only does your chances for dynamic light, exciting tidal conditions, or some other interesting element increase, but your relationship with the subject deepens and often comes through the final image, making it more expressive.


Surrendering.  Maui, Hawaii

3.  I allow the elements within the frame to dictate.  I am present and aware.
With landscape photography, it’s best to be present and aware to the conditions around you.  When you bring your awareness to the movement of the oceans water, the breeze passing through the trees overhead, the clouds moving through the sky, or the rain in the distance, you will often find that a composition becomes clear.  You can work backwards from there.  For example, with Surrendering, I noticed how the waves would come ashore, reverse back and collide with the next breaking wave, causing a unique vertical splash in one area.  After noticing this within the scene before me, I worked through composing the scene, making an optimal and creative exposure, and then waited for that one extra element that would set the entire scene off – in this case it was the color in the clouds from sunset.


Hoodoo Storm.  Near Bryce Canyon, Utah

4.  I allow the weather to dictate where I go.  I remain flexible while exploring.
Sometimes when you are out exploring to see where you may feel compelled to shoot or heading to a scene that you have shot many times before, the weather is playing a factor and you can’t ignore it.  Perhaps you have one thing in mind but it’s down-pouring there, so you have to adjust.  Such was the case when I made Hoodoo Storm.  I was at Bryce Canyon and was planning on shooting through the sunset light, when a thunderstorm moved in and unleashed a lot of rain.  I jumped in the car and headed west, hoping to get to the edge of the storm.  30 minutes later, I made my way out of the rain, found a promising hill to hike up from the road, and discovered a compelling composition directly before me as the sun-setting light lit the underbelly of the clouds, resulting in a dynamic and compelling image.


Moonset.  Bandon, Oregon

5.  I research and study the landscape before visiting.  I use technology to assist.
Although the 4 methods above are my primary approaches to finding my compositions, I do tend to add an element of research online, especially before traveling to a new locale.  Google Maps might be one of the most exciting online tools for photographers in researching a shoot to a new locale.  Before my last trip to Oregon and Washington, for example, I studied the entire coastline of the two states to determine the sea-stacks I might be most drawn to.  Then, I used Google Images to get a visual feel of the surroundings.  From there, I was able to pinpoint one particular sea-stack along Oregon’s central coast that I was very drawn to, and a couple months later I was able to commit several days to photographing it, resulting in a series of images titled Rock Study.