There's a welcoming warmth that comes with a stroll through the woods during fall season. The rattle of the crisp golden leaves will certainly leave a smile on your face as the wind blows through the groves of trees.
A photograph is a blank canvas. How the artist composes the photo, post processes the photo and crops the photo is all subjective to the vision that the photographer has. With all the millions of photographs from all the popular places, as a photographer, you always want to ask yourself this question, "How can I shoot this without it looking like the hundreds of thousands of other photos that are blowing up social media right now." You want to give viewers a fresh perspective, a new look, a vision of the exact same subject they just shot, but from a different angle.
One of my favorite things about photography is the different styles that exist within it. I often shoot with a buddy of mine and despite us constantly being at the same places, sometimes even the same exact spot, our photos always turn out different. He has his style, and I have mine.
When I'm shooting, I try to shoot the emotion that I'm feeling as I'm looking at the scene. When I process my photos, it's the same mindset. I want my photos to breathe, I want who ever is looking at my photos to feel what I felt when I was shooting. Sometimes, you'll notice my photography is dark and desaturated, I was channeling a mood, and the vision I wanted to share with the public's eye is that feeling.
Below are examples to show how you can have the same exact shot as somebody else, but its how you edit and process that photo that truly becomes your identity.
What does that photo make you feel? Think? Can you smell the pine from the deep green pines that are jumping out of your shot? Can you feel the chill of the air from the dark grey clouds? How do you want this photo seen by your viewers? Next time you're taking a photo and editing it, think about these questions. If you can connect the viewer to your photo, you've done your job.
My motto for 2017 is to be present, live in the moment, and to not take anything for granted. It forces me to be free, spontaneous, methodical and make instant decisions all at once.
So, when roundtrip flights back to California were $108 total, fees taxes and all, I lived in that moment and bought the tickets. Perfectly, it coincided with the Yosemite Fire Falls phenomenon. Not only did I get a trip back home, but I was going to shoot a photographer's bucket list item, all in one trip.
The plan was to arrive two days early, spend time with friends and family, drive to Yosemite, spend three days there, come back to SoCal and then fly home that evening. That gave us three shots of shooting the fire fall and three days of capturing everything else that is Yosemite. The universe had other plans however, and all the detours that were thrown our way, just made the trip that much more worth it.
Our camping reservation for Tuesday night was cancelled by the Yosemite rangers due to severe weather and flooding. That left just two sunsets to catch the fire falls. The day we were due to leave we learned about two highway closures, one of which led to the entrance that we were going to use to go to Yosemite, which happened to be closed too. The alternate route added two and a half hours to our drive. A detour I am happy we drove through. The drive up took us through hills and mountains, due to the relentless rain that pummeled California, it was a lush green landscape with streams and waterfalls flowing gracefully through every crevice of the hillside. It, was a beautiful sight.
The crisp chill crept slowly into my bones this trip. The sky moved furiously throughout the whole visit, allowing the wind to shift the weather from sunny, to hail, to snow, to just flat out freezing. The great thing about that is it allowed for a multitude of different photos, a variety of skies and lighting that led to a fun photo adventure.
We were lucky, the day I got my Fire Fall shot was a day filled with that bipolar weather. But the sun broke through the clouds for 20 minutes, and it so happened to break through at the perfect time, just enough to light up Horse Tail Falls and give the show it's star, the star hundreds of photographers were waiting for. Right after the sunset, the sky was back to grey and the freezing night of camping that followed that sunset was colder than the needles in my fingertips could handle.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Who knows where I'll end up next time I find $108 flights.
I took at trip out to Great Sand Dunes National Park. Plan was to camp two nights, get some sunrise and sunset shots and explore the dunes and the mountains surrounding it. Yeah, that didn't happen. The drive from my house to the BLM campground was 4 hours and 15 minutes. the last 25 minutes of that drive is off-road on a curvy, snow packed, unplowed path. The problem with that is that I have a 2WD Toyota Tacoma. I know I know, why in the world would I waste money on a 2WD truck. The time I purchased it, I was living in Long Beach, CA, there was no need for a 4WD truck there. Fast forward to an unexpected move to Colorado, and here I am. I was slipping and sliding everywhere, but gratefully made it up to the top. Unfortunately, 50 feet from the campground entrance I got stuck in deep snow. I jumped out of my truck, walked to the campground and saw that it was empty. I probably could've trudged my way through to a campsite, but I knew it was supposed to snow much more that night and the following day. I didn't want to chance getting stuck by myself, on a mountain in snow that my truck could not drive out of. So, defeatedly, I made the choice to forego camping on this trip.
"I might as well catch the sunset on the dunes, so the trip isn't a complete waste." I thought. I make my way to the park and find one single car in the parking lot. It's 4:50pm about twenty minutes until sunset. I know there is no way I can climb or even sprint up the dunes in time, so I just prayed that there was going to be something to shoot. By the time I got the dog ready to go, grabbed and checked my camera bag, it was already past five. I walked about 100 yards, saw a fallen tree in the middle of the sand field and figured this was as good as it was going to get for me. I got about six shots out before the storm hit. What felt like tornado force winds blew sand and snow across the dunes. The wind was strong, and made walking back to the truck difficult with some stumbles along the way.
Once we were back into the safety of the truck, it was time to go back home. It ended up being a 9 hour road trip where I spent 10 minutes at the dunes. Crazy, but sometimes, you've just got to go with the flow of things, and make the best out of what you have. I'll be going back to the Sand Dunes soon, you better believe that.
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