Monthly Archives: June 2010

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A Nature Photographer’s Most Important Tool

Balsamroot wildflowers bloom as a thunderstorm casts a rainbow in Grand Teton National Park.

Yesterday I pushed myself to be up for sunrise, crawling out of bed at 5am. Since I’ve recently moved from northern Jackson to Wilson, Wyoming, the drive is a bit farther to be in most areas of Grand Teton National Park. In this case I was heading out to Antelope Flats between Highway 89 and Mormon Row, hoping to be there before the sun hit the high clouds.

On my way out I was debating whether I should head there or to a field along Teton Park Road just north of Cottonwood Creek that I remember was booming with both balsamroot and lupine wildflowers. I opted this time to head out to Antelope Flats and save the other spot for another time. I caught a beautiful sunrise complete with plenty of balsamroot wildflowers and then began making my way back home via Moose-Wilson Road, not seeing much of a reason to stay out much longer since the lack of sleep was creeping its way back into my system. – Continue reading

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How To Unleash Your Creativity as a Photographer

We all hit dry spells. Sometimes photographers will complain that there’s nothing out there to shoot. Writers will come across a writer’s block. Many other artists will say they simply haven’t had enough to drink yet. Obviously with the lack of blog posts I’ve had lately, there’s a reason I’m typing this up. If you’re finding yourself in a similar state, here are some helpful tips to get through your photography block. – Continue reading

Spend an entire day in one area.
That’s right. Get up early, pack a lunch and spend sunrise to sunset (or longer) in one location. Here in Jackson Hole, I could choose locations such as Teton Village, Antelope Flats or any other location that offers enough variance so that I can move around and see new sights and angles, but small enough so that I’m forced to eventually begin getting creative.

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Yes, An HDR Photo of Sunrise at Schwabacher Landing

Sunrise hits the ponds at Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park

HDR (or High Dynamic Range) is a term thrown around the photography community quite a bit these days. If a graduated neutral density filter isn’t immediately accessible, then sometimes an HDR photo is the only way to capture the drama of a scene, such as the intense shifts in lights and darks at sunrise.

Much of the controversy around such scenes, however, result from the way the photo is actually processed. When most people hear of an HDR image, they think of the typical scene that, in my own opinion, looks a little over-processed with halos around many features of the photo. Some people love it, which is why it’s still around, however I personally prefer a more natural look. What’s happening with those images is typically, someone will take a series of shots of the same scene, 5-10 usually, all ranging from underexposed by a certain amount to overexposed by that opposite amount. – Continue reading

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Great-Horned Owlet in the Gros Ventre Campground

A great-horned owlet peeks from its nest in the Gros Ventre Campground in Grand Teton National Park.

I feel as though I haven’t been posting very much lately, and I’m going to immediately blame the World Cup. There are certainly other factors at play though. Summers are a very busy time in Jackson Hole and spring has officially begun winding down to make way for summer and in addition to that, I recently moved from northern Jackson down to Wilson, Wyoming, just west of downtown Jackson.

Given that though, I have made a few efforts to get out and enjoy the last signs of spring wildlife, especially with the two great-horned owlets at the Gros Ventre Campground in Grand Teton National Park. If this scene looks strangely familiar, it’s because the same great-horned owl in the campground had two more owlets in the exact same nest this year. – Continue reading

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Teton Sunrise from Schwabacher Landing

Sunrise lights up the clouds above the Teton Mountains as seen from Schwabacher Landing.

I’ve been working on getting up more often for sunrise while there’s plenty of green on the ground, something I missed out on last summer. With it being my first summer up here then, I was surprised at how quickly things change around here. As a result I’ve been pushing myself to catch more sunrises this summer and especially get out hiking once all the snow has melted from the mountains. The other day I woke up at 5:15am and just barely caught the sun beginning to hit the peaks of the Teton Mountains from Schwabacher Landing in Grand Teton National Park. There were a few other photographers there as well from out of town and each of us heard what sounded like a moose splashing behind some trees, hoping for it to make an appearance. – Continue reading

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How To Create a Dramatic Black and White Photo

A black and white photo of moonlight lighting up a section of Coyote Gulch in southern Utah.

Finding a good black and white photo isn’t always as easy as many people might think at first. The most important thing to remember is that color photos will always convert to a better black and white image than a photo shot as a black and white in the camera. Why is that? Because the camera is simply making an arbitrary conversion and once it’s saved, that’s what you get. On the other hand, if you start with a color image and proceed to make the black and white conversion in a program such as Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop, you have full control over the intensity of each color. Using these tools you can decide if you want an intense, bold look, much like Ansel Adams, or scale it all back for a more subtle and softer tonal shift. – Continue reading

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