Mar 30, 2013

Phoenix: Mythunderstood

A Phoenix is a bird which is supposed to have burst into flame and then rise again from its own ashes. Many people think this is a story about rebirth; but after my recent visit to Phoenix, AZ, I'm thinking the poor bird is just making the best with the hand it's dealt. Stick with me and I'll explain.

I spent all day with three other talented Photogs, Matt Suess, Nick Pappagallo, and Scott Wyden Kivowitz. We meant to start early, but we stayed out late with the PAC the night before and sunrise came and went before we knew it. Shooting at sunrise is great because the low sun casts sideways shadows on everything and it's much more interesting and reveals the true form of objects and landscapes.

Still, our first stop yielded some fun pictures. The Superstition Mountain Museum is the site of many classic western films and tv shows (including "Charro" with Elvis Presley), and I met a classic Westerner on site.  L. volunteers at the site, teaching people about the history of the region and the studios. He thinks it's a real kick that he's from Alberta and he's come down here to teach American history. He's got that look of a salty cowboy...

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 23mm, f/2.8, 1/500s, ISO 250.
...but he was actually quite friendly. He was a gem, letting me make several portraits with him.

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 23mm, f/2.8, 1/1000s, ISO 250.
Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @14mm, f.8, 9frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.
After the Museum, we continued into the hills, searching for a great picture. We talked as we drove and enjoyed the morning. We reached Tortilla Flats (no, not that "Tortilla Flat") and were amazed to find a stream flowing after the recent snows (it is a bonafide desert, after all).
Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 20mm, 5 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.

By now it was lunch time, so we ate at the saloon, which, interestingly, is wallpapered entirely in dollar bills, and it's a big place (the food, however, was nothing to blog about).

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm, 5 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.

As we talked I learned that +Matt Suess's full time endeavors in photography take him all over the region making pictures and peddling at the various arts faires. His work is really stunning and I think you'll enjoy viewing it--keep an eye out for him at the Logan Summerfest this year, as well.

Many of you know that I'm a snob about light in my pictures. I often won't even take pictures if I think the light isn't good enough, and in my portraiture I go to great lengths to make sure it is good enough. (for instance there was one time when my assistants and I climbed and scampered all over the canopy of a huge tree to hang a ginormous diffuser so that the light on my subjects' faces would be even and soft...took us an hour and a half).

So, I assumed that Matt spends a lot of time researching when the best time of day to make a picture at a place is, and plans to be in the right place places at the right time. His answer really gave me some things to think about, though, and made me a little wiser, too. 
Nikon D800, 28-300mm f3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 28mm, f/11, 1/160s, ISO 100, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

See, Matt was a photojournalist on the East Coast for a lot of years. That means the everyday when he walked out the door his responsibility was to come back with a picture that was important no matter what. He had to make a useable, salable image every time for every assignment. He could never say, "Sorry, boss, but the light was poor." So, when goes out shooting for his artwork, he has the same idea in mind: he always makes a good picture. The really great ones are fewer, but he always makes a good one.

That got me thinking about my own work, and even life in general: always make the most of what you're given, and no excuses. Lemonade from lemons. Turn that frown upside down. Burst into flames and make the best of the situation; might as well rise up and go at it again. Thus, I'm made more pictures and concentrated on what I could control--light was out of my hands, but composition and fellowship were still mine to make the most of.

It was a good trip.

Mar 21, 2013

Oregon Trail

Isn't it amazing? You can start your day in the desert and finish it off in the rain forest. A twelve hour drive will take you from Logan Utah to Portland Oregon. That's what I call the Oregon Trail.

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 14mm, f.8, five frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @ 20mm, f/8, 9 frame HDR, ISO 100.

Mar 9, 2013

Nearly Death Valley

I drove with my buddy Jared Burns to Las Vegas this week...from Portland. It was a long drive, and totally worthwhile. More to come, but I wanted to share this one before I go back to bed to try and catch up on the 23 hours of driving...

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 28mm, f/11, 1/160s, ISO 100, Nik Color Efex Pro 4.