May 26, 2013


You know what Paradise is?

Well, for starters, it's a little town in the south end of Cache Valley where the mountains converge, and the hills roll on forever. It's very small, with barns and horses and stables and mountains and rivers and fowls and fine people. There's a picture to be made everywhere you look, and that's paradise, too.

But really, paradise is friends. It's Neil dropping you a line when he hears you're in town and inviting you to go shooting. It's driving and talking and debating where to shoot and wishing for better light and hoping the sun will come through the gap above the hills and razzing Mel for not making it and being happy just to get out and expose too many frames of trees in poor light. 

You should go; I highly recommend it.

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @19mm, f/8, 9 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2 & Silver Efex Pro 2.

May 14, 2013

Mono Lake

Mono Lake (pronounced Mona) is in California on the border with Nevada, and it's a special place. There are springs under the water that are rich in carbonates that built up these pillars while they were under water. Nowadays, the lake is receding and revealing the pillars underneath. It's pretty interesting. I made this image between snow flurries and salt flies as my buddy, Jared Burns, and I were driving to Las Vegas in March.

Nikon D800, 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6 VR lens @ 52mm, f/16, 5 frame HDR, ISO 100, HDR Efex Pro 2, Mono Lake, California.

May 12, 2013

May 11, 2013

à la Robert Hall

There's a fine photographer I think you should know. His name is Robert Hall; click here to see his work. I met him six years ago at Summerfest in Logan, UT, and I bought two of his pieces. His work so intrigued me and reminded me of how much I loved photography myself. I was happy to invest in his works, and it's been a pleasure having his work hanging in my home. 

Well, after having seeing works hanging for a few months, it motivated me to find my high school work and hang it up. Before long, I'd bought a camera and here I am.

Each time I go out to shoot I think to myself, how would Robert Hall interpret this? Where would he put his camera? What height would he set his tripod? It's not like I channel Mr. Hall, and my work is not like his, but it gets me thinking, get me considering, and that stops me from just showing up and shooting.

Except for this one. I'm trying to copy the look and feel of one of the prints of his I have on my wall. Look on his sight under art cards, and you'll find an image of a Dahlia; that's one I have before me now. Please click on the image for the full view.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/4, 1/100s, ISO 400, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2, Luscher Farm, Lake Oswego, Oregon.

Mother's Day

Where would you be without your mom to laugh with you?

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens @150mm, f/3.2, 1/200s, ISO 100.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens @150mm, f/3.2, 1/200s, ISO 100.

May 10, 2013

Reminder: Mother's Day

It's Mother's Day this weekend, guys. Yeah, it's sneaks up on you. Here's a little something a couple of guys could give their lady love for the holiday.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/20, 1/160s, ISO 100.

May 9, 2013

Working It

You know how it is: you get in front of the camera and you start working it, moving and making different poses, puckered lips, sassy eyes, a little GQ, perhaps. Well, it's different with waterfalls. When they are in front of the camera I'm the one who has to work it, hiking, squatting, rolling in damp leaves,  standing on my head--whatever it takes to get the shot. Especially at Multnomah Falls, which I've already photographed three times, I'm really trying to find a different picture to make.

And it's hard at National parks and famous places because I've seen thousands of pictures that are all really good, so finding something unique isn't always my goal. Just making a good one myself is quite satisfying, something I haven't shot. It's also hard at these places because you walk down the path and there's a beautiful picture, and you turn this corner and there's a beautiful picture...and that's it. You're not allowed to venture off the path in search of a different vantage or a fresh perspective. William Henry Jackson was the last one to shoot a unique picture of these places. Sigh.

So, I'm pretty pleased with this image I made with Mel Torrie last week because it's a view I've not made before, and it's one I've not seen, either. It's a panorama of six images using a 50mm lens tipped vertically, so it's a pretty detailed view at full resolution. 

Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/11, 1/3s, ISO 100, 6 frame panorama, Nik Color Efex Pro 4, CS6.

May 8, 2013

Are you sick of Waterfalls...?

...'Cause I'm not. Having lived in Deserts for most of my adult life, waterfalls are a fresh view that I won't soon tire of. I visited Yosemite as a kid, and falls there were impressive. Taiwan held the largest I have ever seen. Now that I live in this wonderfully lush land, I'm really enjoying discovering all kinds of waterfalls and the challenge of photographing them.

These happen to be on Mill Creek right outside the town of Prospect on the Crater Lake Highway. I've shot these before, but never shared that image online; it's my masterpiece to date, and I'm really proud of it. I may be a little scared that if I throw it out here it will under appreciated. "I'm just not sure I can take that kind of rejection."

Nikon D800, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens @16mm, f/8, 9 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik/Google HDR Efex Pro2.
Creating this image was tricky. Last time I photographed it, I stood on the top of the cliff opposite right in the center of the frame. That was at the end of a road, and a pretty simple approach. This time I walked down a trail to access the creek, but it put me too low. See, the river falls about 100 feet in a very shoot distance right here, and it took me a long time scrambling over basalt boulders polished to glass by the stream and scaling the biggest manzanita trees I've ever seen to find a spot where I could photograph the tumble of water and the bridge without driftwood sticking straight up into the image or a boulder obstructing the view. This with my tripod and shoulder bag and my dress clothes on. Pretty fun, I must say. 

I tried hard to remember the scene as I experienced it. I don't want to visit these places and only make pictures. I want to be there, be present while I'm there, and then share an image with you that helps bring you into that instant as well. 

I used High Dynamic Range technics to create this one so that I could have both blue sky and bright sun on the bridge as well as running toffee water and detail in the shadows. HDR lets me show you the whole scene as I saw it. Less the raucous roar of the tumble, like a passing train and an airplane and a hurricane five feet away. 

May 6, 2013

Going on 5...

Paul deKruif wrote, "Creators need audiences."

I've been sharing pictures with you here for four years. I just want to thank you for visiting and supporting me and my family in this photographic venture. We rely on our clients and students for a living, and we can't thank you enough. I really appreciate everyone who visits and gives me kudos now and again--it keeps me going, and keeps me encouraged. When you view my page it's like giving a kid a gold star on his doodle. I'm on cloud nine when you stop by, so thank you. Thank you for being my audience.

A few days ago I shared a picture from K.'s senior shoot; here're the rest in a video.


In the last two months I have been shooting in five different deserts around the American West. It's incredible how diverse and unique each place has been. It put me in mind of the first great desert I ever Photographed. In Dubai.

If you go to Dubai, you've got to go dune bashing. You get taxied out to the desert, and join in a herd of off road vehicles to cruise up and down the gigantic dunes. It's pretty fun! We pulled up to a highpoint right at sunset, and I jumped out of the car and ran to the top of the nearest dune to find a trackless section of desert to shoot. Running up those dunes is like one step forward, three steps back. At the time, I had never made any HDR images, but I was shooting lots bracketed exposures thinking I might use them sometime. I'm glad that I did.

Nikon D7000, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, f/10, three frame HDR, ISO 400.

Nikon D7000, 14-24mm f/2.8 lens, f/10, three frame HDR, ISO 400.

May 5, 2013

Multnomah Falls

My wife and I had dinner at Outback Steakhouse last night; our first time there, and my second time inside in my life. The first time I was 15 years old, and an Outback had just opened right next door to Old Chicago in Colorado Springs, where I had just been hired as dishwasher; my first official job. One morning, the head prep chef asked me to go next door to the Outback and borrow their baking stretcher. I ran out the down and down the hill and inquired of the hostess if I could talk to someone from the kitchen. A chef came out, I asked to borrow their baking stretcher, and he said he'd be right back. About 15 minutes later, two guys came out of the kitchen laboring under a heavy box and placed it in my arms. It was heavy! They said to be careful not to drop it, and sent me back up the hill. I lumbered into the kitchen and set the box on the floor, heaving in deep breathes. The chef came over, giggling, and the rest of the staff gathered, too. He bent over the box, cracked it open and bust out laughing. He grabbed three other guys and they put it on the scale, tipping it to 80lbs! Finally, he opened the box for the rest of the staff to see, showing off the box full of garden gravel I had just 'borrowed' from the Outback.

That's got nothing to do with this picture. Mel Torrie was visiting this week, and we got out to shoot the last three sets of pictures you see here together. Be sure to check out his incredible work at the Summerfest in Logan in a few weeks. In the meantime, the only thing I'm lumbering around with is my tripod. Click on the image to view the whole layout.

Multnomah Falls, Portland Oregon. Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/11, 1/10s, ISO 100, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

May 4, 2013


Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/4.5, 1/200s, ISO 100.

It's time for summer block buster movies, so I thought it might be good for SEO to have a blog named for a famous comic book villain. Plus, this Ph.D. knows more about venom than you realized was possible.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/16, 1/200s, ISO 100.

She's a biology professor at USU's Uintah Basin Campus, and studies venom. Evidently, these little salamanders are deadly; if you eat them. Touching them benignly is no problem, just don't put them in your mouth and bite down (apparently, that's not common sense to certain frat boys). As a rule, don't put any brightly colored salamanders in your mouth, just to be safe. Newts, too.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/5.6, 1/200s, ISO 100.
Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/16, 1/200s, ISO 100.

May 3, 2013

The Mayor

USU is working on a campaign to show off their satellite campuses all around Utah, and they've asked me to help. I make portraits of students and faculty and staff and graduates, while a video crew does interview with all the same. The campuses are really wonderful and are fully equipped--students don't go there because they couldn't get into USU Logan; they go there because they are good schools, and I've enjoyed getting to know them all and photographing all around the state.

Nikon D800, 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII lens @ 70mm, f/6.3, 1/200s, ISO 100.

This is my favorite picture from the five campuses I've visited so far. This is the previous mayor of Vernal, photographed in the bookstore/cafe he and his wife run on Main Street.  My wife and I arrived first (the rest of the crew was lost in the desert after our session with the wild biology teacher) and we got to spend a few minutes with this great couple. We came in, ordered sandwiches (best lunch in town by a long shot!), coaxed his wife into being in the picture with him, and we were finished shooting before our delicious paninis were ready. They had a portrait on the wall of their progenitors, and I hope this one goes up, too.

I loved setting up this portrait. From the moment we walked in I knew I was going to photograph them in front of the books. I chose the 70-200mm lens because I wanted a little more environment than the 105mm would give me and I was already standing in the bathroom to get a little more space as it was. I could have used a wider lens, like a 50mm, but that would bring too much other stuff into the picture and make it too busy for the graphic designer to use and too busy for me to love. Aperture was set at f/6.3 in order to have enough depth of field to get both faces in focus, but still have some blur to the background and save my flash batteries a little. There was a window behind me to the left and another waaaaay at the front of the store to the right, and florescent lights over head. That means three colors of light and none of it very flattering. I used a small speedlight behind and to the right to put a pop of light on the bookshelf and as a gentle hairlight. The main light is a speedlight through a white umbrella from directly over the table. I wanted it to feel like the kind of light you often see over tables in a cafe, and I think it worked out nicely. The fast shutter speed ensured that those other lights in the room wouldn't influence this picture.

This picture is presented just as I got it from the camera, including the black and white; which just shows how silly it is to brag about not using Photoshop. I shot this image as a RAW image, which always comes to the computer in color no matter the settings on the camera. However, I wanted to leave a print with them, so I needed a jpeg image I could take to Walmart and have back immediately (my first, and hopefully last, experience printing at Walmart. I made two prints in black and white; one was yellowish and the other wasn't. I'm a snob about my prints for a reason.) so I used the in camera RAW processing to create a BW image with a red filter applied to add contrast and ease the skin tones and I brightened it a touch, then saved a jpeg copy. So, my camera has photoshop built in...but it's still right out of the camera! Sigh.

Sauvie Island

Sauvie Island is this wonderful little place. From driving around on it for a morning, I know there are farms, vineyards, bird refuges, historic sites, house boats, and lots of fishermen. I got to spend some time with a couple of best friends making pictures the other morning, and this is one from that excursion.

Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/11, 9 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.
Photoshop isn't the way to make the sun burst on the sun, nor is it a trick filter on the lens. It's simply done by using a small aperture (f/11, f/16, f/22). It's a cool feature of having blades inside the lens. The rays are accentuated by catching only the edge of the sun, obscuring most of the sun with an object like a tree limb, or the corner of a building. It should be pretty simple to do this even with your iPhone camera: looking at the screen (not the sun!) position the sun behind the edge of a building and snap away. I predict that you'll get pretty good rays.
Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/11, 9 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.

Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/11, 9 frame HDR, ISO 100, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.

All grown up...

K. is graduating in a minute, and she's really grown up since I met her four years ago. That's normal, I suppose, but it makes one feel that one is getting older oneself. When I was her age, four years was an eternity. These days, I can blow four years in a weekend.

Also, I've been posting lots of landscapes, and I just want you to know that that's because I've been shooting so many people I'm backed up a bit. The landscapes finish quickly, and they never need more consideration. My people pictures, however, get stressed about and revisited until I think they're perfect...or until they're needed for graduation announcements.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/3.5, 1/80s, ISO 100, Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

May 2, 2013

Glacier Lilies

One of the most beautiful places in Cache Valley is the Deep Canyon Trailhead in Mendon. Portraits there always turn out well for me, and there's always a new surprise every time I go. Last week we did senior portraits there and were pleased to find a dell full of Glacier Lilies. I recommend heading over there and enjoying a short walk up the trailhead to the dell to view the lovelies. 

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/3.5, 1/125s, ISO 100.

St. Johns

Now that I live in the Portland area, I can satisfy my need to go to this bridge anytime I want! Oh, Frabjous day, Caloo, Callay!

Nikon D800, 50mm f/1.4 D lens, f/11, 5 frame HDR, ISO 400, Nik HDR Efex Pro 2.
I love the 50mm f/1.4 D lens because it's old. It's two generations old, and it has some vestiges of the film days built in. It has a depth of field scale that says if I set the focus here, and use f/11, then the image will be in focus. The picture in my viewfinder looks out of focus, but the finished image always looks great. I love that ability, and it's especially useful at nighttime. 

May 1, 2013

Fashion Fun

Going through some previous shoots...

We made this during the fashion show at BATC, which happens every semester. The designers made the hats, but this gal is a drama major who was really hamming it up, making her the star of the image.

Nikon D800, 105mm f/2.8 Micro VR lens, f/8, 1/200s, ISO 100. Nik Silver Efex Pro 2.

One light, a big 86" umbrella up close makes the soft light. The 105mm lens is my favorite for nearly the last year--it's just the right amount of compression to create a lifelike perspective on people. Plus, it's ridiculously sharp, crisp, and fast focussing.