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Any One Want To Go to Cuba?

Photo by Elizabeth Rylan

I am going to Cuba with a few of my closest photography friends and you could be one of them. This is a rare opportunity to go to Cuba, meet the Cuban people and photograph a country that has been inaccessible to US citizens for over 60 years. I am looking forward to photographing some of that great architecture before it falls apart or changes when it opens up to the US and tourism which I believe will happen with in the next 5 years, and Cuba will not be the same.

If you are interested in coming with me on this incredible photo experience check out my web page or drop me an email.

Olympic National Park Workshop

This was the first time for “The Digital Photo Workshops” in Olympic National Park in Washington State. Now when you think of Olympic Coast, you think of rain, fog and clouds with very soft light, but not for us. We had four days of bright blue skys, which can be a challenge when you’re in a dark green forest. As a benefit of these bright days we had clear nights too, and the light painting we did on Second Beach was just phenomenal. We had a great sunset and were able to capture stars as we light painted one of the sea stacks.

This is one of my favorite shots from that workshop.

Workshop With My Brother

In Moab right now for the digital photo workshops and this is going to be a special workshop for me as my brother Dan will be on the workshop with me. My brother Dan and I started out photography together in high school and he is now a fashion still life photographer in Grand Rapids Michigan. Dan’s work is incredible and I’m sure I’m going to laugh a whole bunch during this workshop can’t wait to get started and him to show up.

Hand Of Man in Death Valley

Rick Sammon posted an image and question from our past “The Digital Photo Workshops” that asked what we thought about the hand of man in his image. I have two thoughts about this:

First, if showing what effect man has on the planet is your goal for your image, then by all means include that. If it is there to evoke an emotion that we are a part of this earth and that we do effect and change the planet in time then show it. It should not be a distraction or overpowers the viewers “sense of place” which I think is very important in a photo.

Second, my thought is that I want to show the beauty of the place I saw. Did I see all those foot prints in the sand, maybe, but the emotion I felt did not see them. I saw an incredible vista in front of me and I want the viewers of my photographs to feel and experience as much as I did. If that means that I spent the time to remove all the footprints, than that is what I am going to do.

We live in a time where we see the hand of man everywhere, we can go to very few places where we cant see it’s effects. I want people that see my landscape photography to be able to leave man’s footprint on the world and rejoice in what is incredible and beautiful all around us. 


A Different Look

This year I had the opportunity to teach two workshops in the Tetons/Yellowstone National Parks. Before I go any further, I want you to know that before teaching a workshop I arrive a few days early to check out the areas we will be photographing and to take a few personal shots for myself. In Teton National Park there is a row of barns called “Mormon Row” and this is where we took many of the students to photograph.

When I started going through all the photographs I looked at these barns and I discovered that I had a lot of photographs, but what I also discovered was how different all these images looked. I had images that I had light painted, shot with water in front, had bison in some, different angles and had one that was lit by moonlight only.

I have noticed that a lot of photographers will set up the tripod in one spot in order to get the iconic image that they have seen. These photographers are the “Checklist Photographers”, they have seen this image, and they have now taken the shot that everyone else has taken and are ready to move on to the next spot on their list. They now have that pretty photograph that they can show everyone where they’ve been and photographed, instead of exploring and looking for a different angle that people have not seen. This is not to say that I haven’t done this, because I have, but I have learned that you need to explore and look for new angles or different views so that you will come up with your own interpretation of the subject.

I had the opportunity recently to photograph Mesa Arch in Canyonlands National Park and this image has done very well for me this year winning the first place in landscape photography at the Florida Professional Photographers convention. In the past few days as I have been clearing out a lot of old magazines and I have seen a lot of images of Mesa Arch that are all of that same iconic image. It is a very nice image, but the image I took by going off to the side and coming in at a very low angle has given a different view to something that has been photographed by tens of thousands of photographers.

My point here is that after you get your “checklist shot” pick up your tripod and move around, look at a low angle, try from a different spot that you haven’t seen anyone try before. Try to get the shot that no one else is taking, it may be bad, it may be great, but if you don’t try you will never know and you’ll really never grow as a photographer.

Here are a number of images from the two workshops of the Mormon barns:

Photos From Death Valley – 2012

I finally had some time to work on a few images from The Digital Photo Workshops Death Valley trip and I am really happy with some of the shots I came back with. We did a little light painting at both Zabriskie Point and the ghost town of Rhyolite, and I am getting excited about light painting with Dave Black when we do our workshop in MOAB next month.

Last time I was in Death Valley I wanted to photograph the Racetrack, but was informed by the park ranger that it was a very bad idea in 125-degree heat. I went there this time and was not disappointed. It is about an hour drive on a very dusty and bumpy dirt road to get up the mountain and photograph the moving rock that marks trails in the playa.

We photographed the Mesquite Sand Dunes on two different days, the first day was nice and warm, and the second was a little different. It was very cold and the wind was kicking up the sand so bad you didn’t want to change lenses on your camera, but then we went to the bigger dunes in the back and it made it all worth the journey.

Here are a few photos from Death Valley: