PS#9: Cemetery at Night

This image was taken in the Terlingua Ghost Town Cemetery a few weeks ago and just prior to the start of my workshop. At this time of year, the Milky Way rises about 3:30~4am. Marti and I got up really early to catch this event.



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Shooting Specs:
Camera: Canon 5DII
Lens: Canon 24mm f/1.4L II
Filter: none
Shutter Speed: 25 sec.
Aperture: f/2
Focal Length: 24mm
ISO: 3200
Camera mounted on tripod

The skies were clear and the moon had set the evening prior. We started long enough before dawn that the skies were still very dark. Sunrise was at about 7:20am, so we had until about 6:00am before the sky started to lighten up.

The Milky Way was in a different position and orientation than I’m used to seeing. The bands of the galaxy were horizontal and positioned over the eastern horizon. I’m used to shooting in late summer and the fall when the bands are oriented more vertically and towards the southern or southwestern horizon.

This particular orientation (late Feb.) made a great landscape composition with the bands of the galaxy paralleling the horizon. I chose a spot in the cemetery that featured multiple crosses. Since the Milky Way had just risen, it laid nicely right over the crosses.

PS#8: Hoodoos

This image was taken in Big Bend National Park a few weeks ago. This location is about 7 miles north of Panther Junction and about 3/4 of a mile west of the road (hiking off-trail). You can easily see these rock formations from the main road as you drive through that part of the park.



click for larger image

Shooting Specs:
Camera: Canon 5DII
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Filter: circular polarizer
Shutter Speed: 1/8 sec.
Aperture: f/11
Focal Length: 105mm
ISO: 100
Camera mounted on tripod

I’ve seen photos of these hoodoos before, and I’ve always wanted to hike out to them. Wes and I scouted in that general area during our trip to Big Bend in October of last year. We agreed that it would be worth hiking out there early in the morning, but we didn’t find the opportunity to do it on that trip.

I woke up very early on the morning prior to the start of the workshop and drove across the park to this spot. I hiked, off trail, to a point just north of the hoodoos where the Chisos mountains could be seen in the background. I’d planned ahead of time that this was the view I wanted to shoot. The skies were completely cloudless, so I decided to minimize the amount of sky in the photo.

This brings up a debate on whether or not it’s advantageous to visualize your shots before you begin to photograph a particular location. I won’t get into the pros and cons of it, but I believe there is a happy balance between having no plans (and being completely spontaneous) and planning out all of your shots ahead of time. I usually go into my shoots with at least a rough idea of what I want to capture, but I also do not (or rather, try not) to get stuck or frustrated when my plans do not work out.

PS#7 Chasing the Clouds

In late February, I traveled to Big Bend National Park to hold a workshop with my friend, Marti Jeffers. Marti and I arrived in the park a few days before the workshop began, and we set out to explore the park and, of course, take photos.



click for larger

Camera: Canon 5DII
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Filter: circular polarizer
Shutter Speed: 1/320 sec.
Aperture: f/8
Focal Length: 32mm
ISO: 200

On our first afternoon out, we encountered this huge, beautiful cloud above the desert. It looked as if it was in the process of being sheared apart by the high winds from a cold front that had just blown through.

That began a whole afternoon of chasing the clouds through the park. You can see what this cloud looked like here, taken about 15 minutes later and from a different location.

One thing about Big Bend that always attracts me is the huge sky and the amazing vistas you can experience throughout the park. I try to incorporate that in a lot of my photos. I tend to shoot more of the sky than of the ground, and it is representative of my memories long after my visits to Big Bend. I love the sky there!

You can see how the shoot progressed that afternoon in the following series of images: one, two, and three. It was fun following the clouds and shooting where we could incorporate them into our compositions, and it was great being in the park again. This marked the start of a really great 9-day stretch that we spent there. More photos to come soon…

PS#6: Burned Trees

This image was taken in George Bush Park (Houston, TX) last November.



click for larger image

Shooting Specs:
Camera: Canon 5DII
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Filter: B+W circular polarizer
Shutter Speed: 1/6 & 0.3 sec. (blend of two exposures)
Aperture: f/11
Focal Length: 45mm
ISO: 100
Camera mounted on tripod

In September of 2011, there was a large wildfire in the park, and hundreds of acres burned. In the months after the fire, I made several trips to explore the burned areas looking for things to photograph.

The interesting thing was that nature was coming back strong and quickly. This field was covered in thick, green grass. The trees were still bare and charred, and the contrast between them and the grass was striking.

PS#5: Winter

Looking back at my lack of postings, it’s apparent that I’ve not given this blog much attention over the past several months. I’d like to blog daily or at least weekly, but life gets in the way. It also has not helped that I’ve not been photographing that much.

This image was taken about a month ago in the Addicks Reservoir (Houston, TX).



click for larger image

Shooting Specs:
Camera: Canon 5DII
Lens: Canon 24-105mm f/4L IS
Filter: none
Shutter Speed: 1/2 sec.
Aperture: f/11
Focal Length: 24mm
ISO: 100
Camera mounted on tripod

I’m posting this one because it was from my first serious photo outing in several months. The purpose of the outing was simply to practice photography and get the creative juices flowing again. I needed some practice before my Big Bend trip.

This marshy, dead scene on an overcast day really communicated winter to me. It looks cold to me, although I was wearing a t-shirt. It’s been unseasonably warm this winter.

This area has changed completely now. I was out there yesterday for a run, and there is green grass just about everywhere, even in the water. Spring is here.

Feb. 2012 Workshop Done!

My Feb. 2012 Big Bend Photo Workshop has completed with great success. My co-teacher (Marti Jeffers) and I had a great time and have come home with many great memories and experiences to share.



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The morning before the workshop started, Marti and I woke up at 4am and drove to the cemetery near the Terlingua Ghost Town. The skies were clear and dark, and the Milky Way had just risen above the eastern horizon. These two photos were from that morning.



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I have tons of photos to sort through and process. I will be sharing these with you soon. I just need to finish unpacking and catch up on my sleep :-)