Lines are one of the most basic elements we have in creating a photograph. Lines can be horizontal, vertical, diagonal, S-shaped, and even implied. Obviously a photograph can be made up of more than one kind of line. And additionally there are other elements such as light and shadow, shapes, colors, contrast, texture, and tonal values that all contribute to the final image.
Hi everyone. 2014 has been a wonderful and exciting year of reflection and retooling. I spent a great deal of time this year creating a new website environment to showcase my images. The new changes give me better control of the design and presentation of my galleries and it allowed me to fully incorporate my blog into the site architecture. This simple change gives my subscribers complete access to my best work and stories all in one central location. I have also worked with Singh-Ray Filters this year to test a 105mm Variable ND Filter that will hopefully find its way into production soon. Additionally I will be working on new Portfolio piece for the fine folks at MOAB Paper. Their continued and generous support allows me the opportunity to print my work on some of the finest paper in the industry.
My time in the field was spent in a variety of diverse locations ranging from the strange stone formations of White Pockets in the Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona, to the Narrows of Zion National Park, Utah, the beautiful mountains and Fall colors along the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, and the wonderful waterfalls of Pennsylvania. This Best of 2014, Part 1, showcases some of my favorite color images from this year. I have selected My Top 15 images of 2014 that I think best reflect my journeys from this past year. I will follow up in a few days with my Best of 2014, Part 2 Post that will feature some of my favorite Black and White images from this year.
For 2015 I will be adding the options to purchase fine art prints of my work and continue to develop new images and content for the blog. New trips this year will include the North Carolina Mountains this spring, and travel to the Columbia River Gorge and Oregon Coast next Fall. I will also be writing some guest blog posts for my good friends at Mountains to Sea Workshops. If you are looking for a great workshop and learning experience I encourage you to give them a call. I hope you will all continue to check back here or visit me on my Facebook Site. Thank you to everyone who has visited for your continued support of my work.
Images often come with a story. And this one is no different. How I got to be at Toroweap begins when I landed at Las Vegas three days before. I had quite the photographic itinerary that included a stop at the Valley of Fire, near Las Vegas, followed by Zion, White Pockets in the Vermilion Cliffs, and finally the slot canyons of the Escalante. Hurricane Norbert however changed all of that. Hurricane Norbert blew up from the south and washed away sections of I-15 North. I was blocked from getting to the Valley of Fire and Zion. My only route, to my ultimate destination in Kanab, was a long roundabout eastward journey to Flagstaff and then North to Page. This was a 14-hour travel day that left me irritable and spent. The next two days sent me spiraling into the void as I discovered all routes into the Escalante were closed due to flooding and all of the slots were full of water. Well, there goes the trip I thought. Negativity was the standard feeling of the day.
But I hung on and managed to find several shooting venues including a return trip to Lower Antelope Canyon. The White Pockets trip went off without a hitch and things were beginning to look up. But still the rest of the days afterward were up in the air. After gathering myself I suggested to my shooting pal Bill Ratcliffe that we try for Toroweap, a remote over look on the North Rim of the Grand Canyon. 61 miles, remote. 61 miles down a washboard rutted road. 61 miles with the last 9 over some of the worst road I have driven. What I put that poor jeep through is exactly why I would never buy a used rental car. In fact I was calculating what this adventure would cost if we got the jeep stuck. But we got in, set up camp, and made the half-mile trek to the rim. I was here over ten years ago but my memory of the place did not serve me well. I had forgotten just how incredible this place is.
Looking east or west, the ribbon-like sliver of the Colorado cuts deep in the canyon below. From our lofty perch sheer, vertical walls fell away over 3000 feet to the canyon below. It was the grandest view. Sunset was beautiful and we shot looking west towards Lake Mead. With the evening shoot done we wondered about sunrise. Would we get the clouds along the horizon. Would we get that classic sunlight breaking the far horizon and lighting up the main wall. We did indeed. We arrived in the dark and for the next hour watched the world turn on. The sun broke through a small window of clouds along the horizon and the entire mass of sandstone exploded in an orange glow. What an experience. It more than made up for the troublesome beginnings of this trip. And like all sunrises seem to promise, everything that day was in harmony.
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Image Data: Both images Nikon D800e with a Nikkor 14-24mm, f2.8 lens at 14mm. Image ISO at 71. The top image is three separate exposures, processed in Adobe Lightroom, and hand-blended in Photoshop CC. The bottom image is one exposure, processed in Lightroom and finished in Photoshop CC.
From where I stand I am but a speck on a broken horizon. Far below, the land seemingly inhospitable, stretches away from me into a twisted maze of arroyos, buttes, and hoodoos. Red, blues, browns, whites, and yellows are stacked in striated bands that coarse through the rock. The landscape is a magnificent abstraction built by the forces of erosion–wind, water, and time–carving and sculpting the soft earth. Silence, complete silence, is broken only by a soft wind or the distant crack of thunder. I am as close to the edge as I can stomach. From my lofty position all scale is lost in the enormity of the canyon. How far across? How deep? Questions that ultimately do not matter. Ha Ho No Geh is one of several canyons carved in the Arizona plateau east of the Grand Canyon. West of this canyon lies another one without a name. It is altogether different in form and color. And beyond that lies Coalmine Canyon. Ha Ho No Geh is on Hopi Lands and it is a spiritual place. How can it not be? For the better part of the day Tony Kuyper and I watched thunderstorms move across the land. Huge anvil shaped clouds formed along the horizon, and driven by wind, cast a fine spray of rain on the parched land. Sunlight broke through on occasion and cast cloud shadows on the canyon floor. At times the clouds pressed in and pelted us with rain, ice, and snow. All of this movement played out against the backdrop of the canyons. To experience nature this way is too conceive that this grand and intricate land must have its own breath. And if you let it, the spirit will give you life.
Image Data: Nikon D3x, Nikkor 17-35mm, f2.8 at 24mm. Image exposed at ISO 50 at f11 for 1 second. (For the best viewing please click on the image to view in Lightbox Mode)