While driving through the desert a couple weeks ago, I departed under the same clear skies we’ve had for most of the summer. After a couple hours, I noticed a tiny cloud or two on the horizon. I was headed in that direction, but didn’t think the situation would be the same in two hours. When I arrived, there was an hour or more of daylight remaining, and to my surprise, the cloud cover appeared to be getting better. I stuck around until sunset before continuing on to my destination, glad I had my camera along.
I’ve seen many beautiful sunrises and sunsets, with most of those happening in Arizona and New Mexico. Many times I have been in exquisite surroundings, only to have a faint hint of color, or to have the color burst through in a different part of the sky than I was hoping for. There have only been a couple occasions where the entire sky has lit up and I’ve been in an excellent spot to capture it. This was one of those moments from Chiricahua National Monument, Arizona.
Just because the sun has gone down for the night doesn’t mean it’s time to put away the camera. For some of us, it’s the opposite. This is when the best photos can happen, starting with the blue hour (above). Once the blue hour has passed, you might be lucky enough to catch some stars.
While some don’t venture into the great outdoors after dark, city streets can always provide subjects for your camera. Perhaps you will even encounter some ghosts.
It wouldn’t be much fun watching fireworks in daylight, whether manmade or natural.
If you ever have a chance to witness lava flows up close, you will want to do this after sunset. It’s quite difficult to see the lava underneath the surface, and you might be on top of it before you realize where it’s at.
Back when I shot with a large-format view camera, I would certainly agree with Mr. Adams. Now that I use a camera that can shoot hundreds of frames in a day, oddly enough, I still agree.
I spent time in Hawaii this summer, and I’m sure I have twelve photographs that I like from just the first couple days. When I look at all of the images I have captured this year, and try to envision those which I will still cherish years from now, the process of choosing twelve became clearer. My time in nature was limited this year, but I made those moments count. In some situations I had similar lighting or compositions where I couldn’t really define one shot as a clear favorite, but in the end, I think I’m very happy with these 12.
I don’t own a drone, but I love taking photos from airplanes. This photo from over White Sands, New Mexico looks amazing at full size, with all the dunes at the edge looking like bubbling foam.
My ‘backyard’ location of Red Rock Canyon didn’t see me as much as in years past, yet I had plenty of images which made the A list.
Oregon was another place I spent some time last summer. Although the trip was mainly for a family gathering, I had time afterwards to head to the trails in the Columbia River Gorge.
As I mentioned earlier, Hawaii was part of my travels this year, and gave me many great photo opportunities. My time on the lava fields at sunset certainly stands out as one of my favorite experiences, not just for this year, but for a lifetime.
My recent trip to Hawaii provided me with the perfect shot for this weeks Daily Post Challenge of Elemental. Earth, air, fire, and water are all there, but you can’t tell that the air is not exactly the best for you from this shot. I probably could have gotten a little closer if this hadn’t been the downwind side. I was fortunate to grab a couple shots before retreating to cooler non-toxic air. In full size images enlarged on my screen, I can see the distortion from the heat.
As I headed out to meet with friends the other night, the skies looked as though they might light up a bit as the sun headed down. I didn’t take my real camera along, as I knew I didn’t have time to make it past the city limits. Almost nearing my destination, I stopped a couple blocks short, where there was a decent sized clearing away from structures and power lines. I snapped a couple shots on my phone, but mostly I just stopped to take it all in. Here in Las Vegas, we’ve had a couple really spectacular sunsets this spring, but this might be the best one we’re going to see all year. This photo can’t possibly bring justice to the surroundings that night, not all of which would fit in the frame. There were so many variations in cloud shape, texture, and color that a phone camera just can’t pick up. After getting back in the car, I realized the heart of the city was the best viewing angle, and any trip I would have taken to the nearby desert or mountains would not have yielded similar results. I wasn’t planning on printing this one, and besides, thousands of people saw, and possibly captured, the same thing.
Upon showing the photos to some friends the next day, one remarked, “You should always have your camera with you. You could have just added a different foreground to it, and it would have made a really amazing photograph!” That comment reopened a can of worms that had its origin a few years ago. I was at a highly attended event where one of the major camera manufacturers had a photographer with his powerpoint slideshow. As he neared the end of his talk, he said “and this is one of my favorite photographs from the trip, but it didn’t really look like this. I started with this sunset, then added this group of animals (a shot taken in the middle of the day), to get my final result.” At that point I thought you’re not a photographer, you’re a graphic designer and completely lost interest in anything else he had to say. I felt his presentation would have been better suited for the folks at Adobe.
A couple of my non-photographer friends have made comments in the past stating that they don’t know what to believe anymore when it comes to photography. The deluge of imagery on social media has them distrusting of anything they see, and significantly less appreciative of the medium.
When Ansel Adams was photographing, b&w sheet film was his preferred method of capturing images. His real masterpieces didn’t happen, however, until he got into the darkroom. If you or I used those same negatives, our results would probably look nothing like the prints that Adams produced. Yet nobody ever said his work didn’t represent photography accurately. Darkroom manipulation was considered part of the process that allowed each artist to put their signature on their work. Now that the majority of images captured around the world are in the form of pixels, and a large number of those go through some form of editing software, it’s not reasonable to expect many photographs to be exactly the same as they came out of the camera.
But how much is too much? I know in several large photo contests, there are separate categories for lightly retouched images and full-blown manipulations. That makes me believe that images once considered graphic design have come to be accepted as photography if the elements were all captured with a camera. My friend’s comment has stirred up a debate, so I’d like to know how you feel. Is there a point where you don’t like or at least appreciate someone’s work if you feel it has been over-manipulated? Or the opposite….completely untouched? Should I have taken my camera along to capture this sunset, then gone out next week to add a Joshua Tree forest to the foreground?