Posts Tagged ‘Zion’

My 2012 Best & Unique Landscape Photographs

January 8, 2013

2012 was a great year and I hope you all enjoyed it. I had a some photos installed in the McCarren International Airport in Las Vegas, Nevada (Food Court area) and an interpretive night pollution display set up in the newly remodeled visitor center in Death Valley. I’ll be getting married and having my first child in 2013 so I know it will be another great year. Looking forward to seeing all the 2012′s best from Jim Goldstein’s yearly list! I hope your 2013 is as great as you make it!!

A hidden sea arch along California's Central Coast
A hidden sea arch along California’s Central Coast

Cholla cactus garden illuminated by a spectacular desert sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park. The cholla cactus is famous for it's dramatic way of catching backlight from the sun for hours after the sun has risen and hours before it sets as well. Don't get too close or they may stick to you.
Cholla cactus garden illuminated by a spectacular desert sunrise in Joshua Tree National Park. The cholla cactus is famous for it’s dramatic way of catching backlight from the sun for hours after the sun has risen and hours before it sets as well. Don’t get too close or they may stick to you.

Wild yucca bloom in the Mojave Nature Preserve.  It's a beautiful place most photographers skip out on.
Wild yucca bloom in the Mojave Nature Preserve. It’s a beautiful place most photographers skip out on.

Death Valley Northwest Section
Death Valley Northwest Section

Death Valley Coyote Silhouettes
Death Valley Coyote Silhouettes

Death Valley Racetrack
Death Valley Racetrack Backlit Lenticular Cloud

Canyoneering in Death Valley
Canyoneering in Death Valley

Watchman Virgin River in the fall at Zion National Park
Watchman Virgin River in the fall at Zion National Park

Fiery sunsest through Elephant Rock Arch at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada's Mojave Desert.
Fiery sunsest through Elephant Rock Arch at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada’s Mojave Desert.

Eastern Sierra in Fall
Eastern Sierra in Fall

More Eastern Sierra in Fall
More Eastern Sierra in Fall

El Capitan and the Merced in Fall, Yosemite National Park
El Capitan and the Merced in Fall, Yosemite National Park

Canyoneer makes a 40ft jump in a very remote section of Jump Canyon in Sierra Nevada Foothills of California
Canyoneer makes a 40ft jump in a very remote section of Jump Canyon in Sierra Nevada Foothills of California

One of Zion's Canyons filled with fall color.
One of Zion’s Canyons filled with fall color.

Beautiful lone cottonwood tree on the Virgin River in Zion National Park
Beautiful lone cottonwood tree on the Virgin River in Zion National Park

Repelling a waterfall in Jump Canyon in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California.
Repelling a waterfall in Jump Canyon in the Sierra Nevada Foothills of California.

Canyon Intersection - Zion
Canyon Intersection – Zion

Thunderstorm above an arch in Joshua Tree National Park
Thunderstorm above an arch in Joshua Tree National Park

Sea Arch in Big Sur, California Central Coast
Sea Arch in Big Sur, California Central Coast

S Curve at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada
S Curve at Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Lone Cottonwood at Zion National Park

November 27, 2012

Virgin River Cotton at Zion National Park

Every year at Zion you find a tree that has changed color, this is this year’s tree. I’d ask if you guys were sick of seeing photos from Zion but this isn’t one of those icons that you’ve seen a thousand times before… This lone cottonwood tree stands all by itself next to this emerald river in Zion National Park. Per request, this photo can be deleted and replaced with a bridge shot of the watchman!

See it larger here.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Awareness

November 12, 2012

Canyon juction in Zion National Park

Do you ever notice when you’re out there taking pictures your level of awareness fluctuates?

It would be egotistical if if I said I’m aware 100% of the time when the camera is in hand, regardless of high end camera or Iphone. A person’s awareness fluctuates most of the time otherwise we wouldn’t have car accidents or a broken camera here and there, had a few occasions of both myself! I’ve past this scene so many times before and standing in this spot looking through the viewfinder wouldn’t show me this scene the way it’s being displayed on the screen. First you have the idea come to you at some point in time, either at the moment you’re there, or before or after. This isn’t one of the checklist shots where photographers gather and point the camera in certain general directions. It’s an idea that came to me just like every other photographer gets ideas. The idea was worked until everything that didn’t relate was excluded. Connect with your ideas until you are fully satisfied!

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Under the Bridge at Zion

November 30, 2011

Under the Watchman Bridge at Zion National Park

“Life isn’t worth living unless you’re willing to take some big chances and go for broke.”

- Eliot Wiggington

Earlier that day I was scouting for my Zion workshop further up the main canyon so I got here at the last minute and the huge mob was already 5 layers deep and in rows of 40 to 60 people across the famous bridge where everyone shoots the Watchman over the Virgin River.

I tried and tried to squeeze in to catch a view and maybe clone out a few ear lobes on the edges of my composition but it wasn’t going to happen. It was a game of tripod twister and I was surely losing. The mob wouldn’t let me in and I kept trying so they became angry and hurled me up and over the edge of the bridge towards the river bottom. After the impact from the fall I realized I was temporarily paralyzed from the pain and couldn’t try for another bridge shot so I just sadly shot from where I landed, knowing I wish I had the same old bridge composition. A minute later I was hit in the head with my cable release “ouch”, I must of dropped it and at least someone was nice enough to give it back. It’s better to be immobile for a minute then have the crowd of zombies on auto pilot eat my fresh brains!

All though this story didn’t really happen, the message is use your legs people. You shouldn’t take them for granted while they’re there working for you. You don’t need to do exactly what everyone else is doing. It isn’t necessary to go for broke but a small almost effortless deviation can change things dramatically.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

White Balance – Another Approach

November 10, 2011

Court of the Patriarchs in Zion National Park

This image was taken the previous year at Zion. At this location it can be a little precarious getting down to the water’s edge so the average group will not be found here. It’s a man made waterfall despite it’s realistic look. I’d like to disclose that I cloned out part of a footbridge in the far right hand side.

While I was processing this image, I found there were so many different white balances inside the frame. The blue sky at dawn had it’s own, the alpen glow had it’s own, the peaks were in between the the sky and the fall foliage, plus the waterfall had so much of a blue cast and the shadows in the far right corner were even cooler on the white balance scale. You may often see some guru talking about white balance and if you set it to an exact setting it fixes all your problems, I find that very hard to believe when many scenes have so many different white balances inside them so it helps but it’s not a fix all. A general setting will help but it’s highly likely you will need to make adjustments during your processing or blend multiple RAW files with different WB* settings. For this image I used Nik’s Color Efex Pro (sieren discount code). The brilliance & warmth slider made some of the white balance adjustments pretty easy and I masked them with a brush to keep the parts I wanted and discarded what I didn’t want to use. Also, I used the Remove Color Cast option for the “too blue” waterfall because the selective color adjustment in PS didn’t do enough. Although it still remains cool, it’s personal taste how warm or cool you may want something to be. Tonal Contrast was also used to bring mid tones to only specific areas I wanted them in. I thought I would share a few processing steps some people may have trouble with.

This year there was a log jam from a flood here at this waterfall so I didn’t bother shooting it but found another little piece of Virgin River shoreline with a couple of golden cottonwoods that I hope to share later after I get back from the Joshua Tree Light Painting Workshop this weekend.

*WB abbreviation for white balance.

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page

Mixing Color into Zion’s Fall Palette

November 15, 2010

You can find many colorful scenes in Zion especially along the Virgin River and it’s tributaries. The golden cottonwoods are plentiful along the water ways so it’s common to find them with their roots running into the streams and creeks but you’ll have to do quite a bit searching to find some red maples very close to the waters edge. They add a splash of color to your Zion scene even if they are red and orange just like the walls of the canyon, at peak they pop against colors in the canyon.

Zion's Virgin River with cottonwood and maple trees near the mouth of the narrows.

The large cottonwood is what initially drew me into the scene, after a student pointed it out but I couldn’t compose it into the scene the way I wanted to and include the maples and reflection so I shifted the lens and merged a couple of files in photoshop. By doing this I was able to include all 3 major elements, the giant cottonwood, red maples and the reflection in a way I found pleasing. By moving the camera you’re increasing you file size and you can easily remove the restraint of the rectangular box viewfinder or LCD. They both exclude the surroundings and help us compose but in a way the LCD and veiwfinder can be limiting so it’s best to keep your options open.

Fall Color Photo Tips; Part 1

September 23, 2010

A few tips and ideas to keep in mind.

Backlighting can be the most dramatic light for fall color.

• Back lighting can be the most dramatic light for fall color scenes and you can capture it all in one exposure most of the time as seen here. Backlit foliage can make some of the dullest pop. Next time you see a colorful tree take a walk around it and see how the vibrancy and glow of leaves change as you walk around the tree. In the image above I decided to angle the camera so I could pick up a hint of side lighting for the shadows on the trunks which added depth to the mostly backlit subject.

Singling out a set of trees against a contrasting backdrop can improve your composition.

• Singling out a set of trees against a contrasting backdrop can improve your composition. Look for patterns to lead your viewers into your scene. In the image above, the partially submerged rounded stones and the diagonal lines created by the moving water were used a two lead ins from both corners of the scene. These lead ins pull the viewer into the simplified middle ground and background.

You can simplify your composition by finding shapes and patterns

• The majority of landscape photography is shot in the golden hour and sunset sunrise light, but fall foliage photography is done all kinds of light. How many times have stood in the bottom of a canyon near the middelo fthe day and noticed one minute you were in shade and the next minute you were in full sun. You can point the camera straight up into the sky in the middle of the day. This image was photographed at noon, you can photograph autumn scenery all day long so make sure you have enough batteries to keep you out from twilight to twilight.

Autumn in Los Angeles

Don't knock your local fall color it can surprise even the best of photographers!

• Don’t knock your local fall color it can surprise even the best of photographers! I would be pretty upset if I missed out on this place that is only 15 minutes from my home. Try finding a creek full of trees close to your home and practice there before you make that long trip and spend all that money on airline tickets, car rentals and gasoline. A little knowledge might be worth more then cost of a trip.

Part II : Fall Color Photo Tips

Website: Portfolio
Workshop info: Scenic Photo Workshops
Private or small group workshop info: Learn.
Steve’s Photo Tips and How To Page
Steve’s Landscape Photographer Tools Page


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