Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Last 30 Minutes of the Day

The days are definitely shorter, almost too short.  Frustratingly short, especially when the weather is decent and the early-evening light is good and it seems like you're just a few minutes too late to get the picture you want.  I can't tell you how many times in the last couple weeks I've missed opportunities at some great shots, but I keep reminding myself that more opportunities will pop up.

Such was the case Thanksgiving evening.  We spent the early afternoon with my wife's family, stuffing ourselves with amazing holiday treats.  I planned on relaxing and catching some of the football games that were being contested, but that never really took form.  After getting back to our house and getting the kids settled down (Ainslee was melting down!) I noticed that some good late-afternoon light was beginning to take shape outside.  Whatever I was doing at that moment, I remember looking at my watch and telling myself, "Ok, finish this and get out for the last 30 minutes," and that's exactly what I did.

I grabbed my camera and headed out through the back pasture toward the creek.  This is a route I've taken several times and it never gets boring.  I like the challenge of seeing the same scenery, but trying to find different angles for pictures to represent everything in a different way.  As it turned out, the setting sun's light was extraordinary and, although there wasn't a lot of cloud cover, what was there offered great contrast.  This contrast really came to light when in these black and white images.  As the final light disappeared on the western horizon, I couldn't help grinning and thinking, "what a great 30 minutes!"


Fiery Sunset

Old Stump

One More from the River

This is a photo that I spent a great deal of time on in the field trying to get it exactly how I pictured it in my head.  Unfortunately, I never got it to work...at least not in color.  I knew it still had potential, so I started messing around with it in Aperture and finally ended with this black and white version, which I really like.

Kansas River

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Banks of the Kaw

Taking advantage of the incredible weather we've enjoyed, I made a late-afternoon trip to the Kansas River (aka The Kaw) last Sunday.  Growing up in Wyoming, I'm not accustomed to such warm and calm weather this late in the year, so taking advantage of it is a must.

Although one of the most polluted rivers in America (sad, but true), the river and it's surrounding ecosystem are quite beautiful.  This time of year the scenery is complimented by abundant waterfowl, extremely active deer, and wintering bald eagles.  I've heard comments from several people that the color of fall foliage was not as spectacular this year due to below average rainfall and, for the most part, I agree with them.  However, the colors displayed on the banks of the river are stunning, especially in good light.

Having arrived a bit later than I wanted, I was in a hurry to get right on the bank to see what would catch my eye.  To my luck, the light was gorgeous and the water was like glass.  I was hoping to catch some geese or ducks on the water, so I began the night with my 70-300mm lens.  However, the only disturbance on  the water were leaves and the occasional rising fish (most likely carp).  Still, I managed to get a few landscape shots with this lens that turned out nice, which is rewarding since telephoto lenses are not typically known for landscape use.

I eventually switched to a more normal zoom lens and found a trail that paralleled the river through trees and brush.  My goal was finding another route back to the water to provide a different perspective of the river.  Unfortunately, the light was fading faster than I wanted and I found myself trying to create my own trail back to the river, which was unsuccessful.  I managed to grab one good shot of the setting light popping through the shadows and falling nicely onto the trees.

With very little light left to help me, I started the return trek to my truck.  It was an enjoyable walk back as I simply listened to the sounds of the approaching night.  As I emerged from the edge of the trees I kicked up  four deer, all does, who were probably more surprised to see me than I was to see them.  I couldn't help but think that, earlier, I probably walked right past them in my rush to get to the water.  Oh well, you can't get every picture!

The only negative for the night was arriving back at my truck only to discover a flat tire.  Nothing like changing a tire in the dark!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Just a Quickie

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMugI'll admit to being rather lazy in my outdoor photography the last few weeks.  Just one of those weird slumps that I think all people get into at some point.  Not that I haven't been photographing because I've taken tons of new pictures in the last month, but mostly covering the activities of my kids around the house.    So, with that, I want to make a quick little post with a couple pictures that caught my eye during the last month while going through my library.

For this first photo, I have to thank my Mother-in-law because it's her decor.  We were picking up the kids from her house and I happened to have my camera with me and this little scene jumped out and I loved it.  It reminds me of something out of an old mystery novel.  In fact, it reminds me of a book cover for a mystery novel.  Is someone waiting for a call?  And where did the flower come from and who's it for?  The way the light from the lamp falls on everything is perfect.

This second photo is an example of something very simple making a decent photograph.  According to my wife, this is an abandoned strawberry planter.  Now, my kids find several uses for it, but mostly as a sidewalk chalk holder.  I was sitting on our front porch watching the kids play when I captured this photo.  I think the primary reason I enjoy this photo is because this planter is used by my kids so much, so there's a big personal attachment.  I like seeing the touch of color (blue and pink/purple) from the chalk marks my kids placed on the wood bench.  Had I included more depth-of-field, those chalk marks would be more apparent.  But, limiting the depth-of-field makes one wonder what is that color and how did it get there?