“i am a slow walker, but i never walk back.”
― abraham lincoln
i’ve shared some images from the archives periodically. images that, for one reason or another, have never seen the light of day. i recently shared an image to my facebook page that was created back in 2014. if you haven’t seen that yet, check it out here…just a reminder that you can click on all the images to make them larger for viewing!
el dorado national forest
2014 was the year i decided to start doing something with my images. rather than just relegate them to a hard drive where they never see the light of day after i enjoyed looking them over, i made the decision to start sharing my favorite ones.
now, i’ve enjoyed photography for a long time…a very long time. i have slides from the days when i would shoot film. those were the days when one really had to make each image count. initially, i would carefully look at each setting before immortalizing an image on a color negative. aperture? check…iso? check…shutter speed? check…exposure looks good? check…over time, it became like breathing. i just did it without a second thought. i had to progress to that point or i would be missing out on images that could come and go in seconds or less. things like a certain way the light hit a scene or an atmospheric mood that gave a certain feel/look to a scene. those and more are fickle; you never know when and for how long they will appear.
with the advent of digital cameras, i have noticed one thing that was a constant for me at the very beginning. i learned early on the advantages of bracketing my exposures, meaning i would usually create at least 3 images of the same thing. the first image would be an exposure that was relatively balanced with light and dark throughout the image. the second image would be slightly darker to keep the highlights from being too bright. the third image would be slightly lighter to keep the shadows from being too dark. this allowed for blending of the three images so that everything from dark to light looked good in one image.
our eyes are pretty good at seeing light and shadow (what is called dynamic range or pure white and pure black) all in the same context. digital cameras, on the other hand are not as well suited to that. there is research that says even the best digital camera can only capture half the dynamic range of what the eye sees. so in a single image, to give an accurate representation of what my eye is actually seeing in a scene with both bright and dark areas, it is best to blend, for me, three images together.
“aha!” some of you might say. you are creating an image that isn’t really true. no…that is incorrect. for me, in scenes with a high dynamic range, if I want to show you what i really saw with my eyes, the blending of images is a necessity.
it is kind of the digital equivalent of ansel adams and other prolific photographers using techniques like burning and dodging on their images in the darkroom. yes, even the famous (and not so famous) photographers of yesteryear used editing techniques back in the day. editing images is not a new phenomenon by any means. most people are not going to say that ansel and others of his peers before and after created images that aren’t true to what they saw. and yet, they did edit their images to bring it to what they saw with their eyes.
back to me blending images of high dynamic ranges, a constant theme emerged as i was going back through my earlier images. i discovered i was an “expert” at doing this. i cannot believe the number of images i have that are three differently exposed images of the same thing where one image would have sufficed. it was a time where i created images of anything that slightly caught my interest. when i look back at them now, i have decided i had too much time on my hands 😂. “oh look, there is a drop of water coming off a tree branch!” “whoa! that single blade of grass is super cool!” “look! a turd on the ground from some animal!” for what seemed like every…single…scene, i would make three differently exposed images of the same scene even if there wan’t much dynamic range throughout the scene. ok…in my defense, i never did create an image of a turd 😉. but i think you get the point. i was trigger happy with the camera. if something existed, there was a good chance i was going to create an image of it! i was excited to have a digital camera; just a bit too excited!
with the walk “back in time” looking at my images, i am finding some that i do like quite a bit. i wouldn’t be able to tell you why i passed it over the first time other than perhaps my eyes see it differently now. it’s been interesting to see how i have progressed in my photographic journey. beginning with a trigger finger propensity to create an image, i see how my choices in photography have shifted from creating an image of anything that interested me to being more intentional and thoughtful about what i’m creating.
does that mean i create masterpieces every time i click the shutter button after all these years? nope! i still create images that make me wonder “what in the world was i thinking?” that will always be the case as i believe i can never reach the pinnacle of perfection. but each one of those kind of images is a learning experience. to paraphrase what thomas edison said, “i didn’t fail x number of times. i discovered another way not to create an image”.
with this blog, i thought i’d share some favorite images from way back in 2014/2015. back then is when i first started harboring thoughts of moving beyond just being a hobbyist photographer. i started to dream and implement steps to share my images with others and offer them for sale. almost ten years later, i have the good fortune of being able to say I am doing both. i have a long ways to go to reach a goal of saying it is my main source of income. but i believe it can happen if i keep moving forward.
this first image was made within the boundaries of tahoe national forest in the soda springs, california area. i loved this area of the sierra nevada mountain range as it is rocky and wide open spaces as well as trees. by rocky, i mean huge slabs that you could hike for a while as well as smaller boulders. you could hike pretty much anywhere. as long as you kept your bearings so you didn’t get lost, there wasn’t really such a thing as trails to follow for the most part. it was such a joy to just go exploring and wondering what i would see around the next bend or rise.
the south yuba river is the predominant river that runs through this part of the sierra nevada range. from it flows streams and tributaries that meander throughout, sometimes raging after spring snow melts and rains and sometimes gently in dry periods. waterfalls are common in this area particularly after rains and snow melts.
this particular waterfall is actually a convergence of two waterfalls meeting at the base here. the second one is behind the blue ice though you can see part of it arching over the blue ice on the right. while the overall scene was beautiful, what really caught my eye was the framing of the the ice, snow, rock and lichen around the waterfall, i just loved the contrast of the static surrounding the motion and power. the blue ice added a great mood to the image. blue and yellow are complementary on the color wheel so the yellow of the lichen worked well with the blue of the ice.
blue ice in tahoe national forest
this second image comes from a recreation area in sacramento, california where we lived for about 4 years. american river parkway - william b pond recreation area is the name of it. and what a recreation area it is! throughout is a wide range of terrain from forest to plains to grassy to marshy to rocky landscape. being in such close proximity to it, i spent a lot of time in this place. the american river begins as three forks near lake tahoe. the lower fork runs through this area and meets up with the other two forks (north and middle) in the folsom reservoir. from there it becomes what is called the main stem of the american river and eventually becomes a part of the sacramento river.
this image was created during the beginning of sunset hour. this sort of limestone/sandstone type rock landscape began to light up; it transformed from a tan/brown color to a deeper hue of orange/red. it also seemed to take on a bit of glow with the change in color. here the american river is very shallow allowing rocks of all colors and sizes to be seen and appreciated. as a rock picker myself, i found this site very enticing to pick but i managed to restrain myself. and a good thing as it is illegal to remove rocks from there!
american river parkway - william b pond recreation area
this third image also comes from william b pond recreation area. as the sun continued its descent, the clouds began to pick up the sun’s waning rays.. parts of the american river seem to glow where the river was still highlighted and not a shadowed reflection. this part of the park contains marshland and grassy areas. it is such a peaceful place to stand among. it’s a great spot to finish out the end of the day especially when clouds are in the sky to pick up sunset colors. i can’t help but feel rest and contentment when i look at this image.
american river parkway - william b pond recreation area 2
the final image here was taken in spokane, washington. i don’t remember if we were on our way to visit my brother and his wife or leaving to continue our move back to minnesota. but we stopped here for a good part of the day to explore spokane a bit along the upper and lower falls there. while admiring some old architecture, this bird came along and began flitting about along the old brick wall as well as actually walking on the brick wall itself. eventually it perched for a moment on a ledge protruding from the brick and i was able to create an image of it. i don’t create a lot of bird or wildlife images but i enjoy it when i do. if you look closely at the beak, you can see some organic matter of sort in it. i’m guessing he/she was building a nest nearby, i like how white belly of this bird stands out from the red of the bricks. the rest of its body provides a nice pleasing transition from the red to the white.
bird on historical building ledge in spokane, washington
i have many, many images sitting on my hard drive from years past. as i continue to go back through them all, most, if not all, have been long forgotten in my memory as i haven’t looked at them since i created the image. i hope to have the pleasure of finding more images that make a bigger impression to me the second time around. and maybe, just maybe, i might find some that will be worthy to share with you in another blog!
thanks for joining me on this memory trip as i go back in time to look at my progression as a photographer! while it can be painful to see some of the images that i thought were worth creating back then, it is also a reminder that growth is a constant in our life. we should always be moving forward in our personal life and our professional life. we should never feel like we have “arrived”. once we do, life, to me, tends to be boring and complacent. perhaps you have a hobby or an experience that moved you to the next “level” in your growth in life. i’d like to hear about it if you are willing to share it. please also feel free to comment on this blog, the images or anything that this blog may have triggered in you. i’d love to hear from you and have a conversation!
these images are for sale in my online store. go to the “recently added images” gallery and you will find them there. here is the link for that page if you want to check them out right now.
here are some sample wall arts to give you a perspective scale as to how it might look in your home and/or office space.
36"x61" el dorado national forest
24'"x36" blue ice tahoe national park
24"x36" american river parkway - william b pond recreation area
40"x60" american river parkway - william b pond recreation area 2
16"x24" bird on historical building ledge spokane, washington
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thanks again for joining me for this blog! i’ll see you soon with more “images from my quiet world!”