Category Archives: Thoughts

You know you’re a photography nerd when…

You start getting excited about setting up a new camera bag kit. 

“It will have this camera, and this lens, and this filter, and this Tripod. I’ll be setup to do anything in an ultra light package!”

Just thoughts I have while hiking on a trail. 


Vemödalen – Fear that your photograph has already been photographed.

Cool video and a problem I suffer from extensively.

I think it’s good to take the “Postcard Picture” that everybody takes, you want to say you’ve been there too.  But then the next step is to do your own thing with it.  For better or for worse try your own spin on it.  Too many photographers get caught up in chasing the amazing picture that everybody else took and you end up with a large group of sheep doing the same thing and a bunch of identical pics being sold to doctors offices everywhere.

Google search of the same picture
Google images of Turret arch through North Window

One picture I wanted to do was of Turret Arch being viewed through North Window Arch in Arches.  A quick google search shows the “Postcard View”, sunrise through one arch shining on the other arch.  Or just before sunrise through the arches, or just after sunrise through the arches.  But what did it look like at sunset?

I did some searching and found the sun would almost line up the two arches in winter (unfortunately not quite shining through both arches at the same time).  But it allowed me to get a unique version of the same perspective that I still haven’t seen anywhere else.

North Window Turret Arch Sunset
North Window Turret Arch Sunset. 4 Arches in 1 shot.

The perspective is identical because there is literally 1 place to stand, and maybe 5 other photographers can cram in to the side but they won’t have Turret Arch centered. Next time I’m down that I might take a picture of them taking pictures.  Sometimes it’s fun to turn the camera on the photographers themselves.

It’s not wildlife, and It’s not an erupting geyser, but it’s still pretty.

I was editing last night and came across the Yellowstone picture I mentioned other tourists being disappointed with.  As this is being taken imagine about 5 other people to my left and right asking me why I’m taking it.

Electric Peak Yellowstone
Electric Peak from Swan Lake

Sure there are no Bison.  There isn’t an erupting geyser (we’re outside the Caldera at this point). It’s just a picture of Electric Peak at the Swan Lake turnout.  I was driving north from my campsite to go photograph the Re-Dedication of the Horace Albright Visitor Center at 10am and through it was a beautiful area.  The storm the day before led to some interesting clouds over the plains.  A lot of the world would consider a place this pristine an beautiful a tourist location in itself.

It won’t be the front page of 500px and won’t end up in National Geographic.  It was just an example to me how Beautiful Yellowstone is even without all the wildlife and geysers,

Always check over the next hill. Even if you don’t make it to the next “photo-op”

Whether you’re taking pictures or just out on vacation always explore, don’t get in too much of a rush that you just try to hit a series of planned waypoints before moving on.  So may people go out to see such amazing places but they think that the parking lot viewpoints already have all the best views mapped so they just hit them all as rapidly as possible without discovering the hidden or overlooked details that really make a place beautiful.

When I was planning my trip to Cathedral Valley I marked a bunch of “points of interest” that I wanted to see.  Usually they were these main overlooks and features in the area.  When I drove down the Hartnet Road I planned on heading down to the Lower South Desert Overlook, mostly as a set turn around point because all the pictures I saw of it were pretty standard.  Another view of Jailhouse Rock from a closer angle where people pulled up, snapped a shot of the monolith, then hopped in their cars and left.

Jailhouse rock
Viewpoint view of Jailhouse Rock via Panaramio.

But there is so much more in this area just below the viewpoint if you continue all the way down the trail.  What I thought was going to be a casual shot of Jailhouse Rock ended up being one of the most interesting places to Photograph in Capitol Reef.

Hoodoos by the Lower South Desert Overlook
Lower South Desert Overlook trail continues down to the valley floor.

My shot above is about 500ft curving around to the left of the shot on the top.  The same white “goblins” are in the center of both pictures; it’s just that the first is looking west, the second is a bit lower looking north.  All of the crinkly detail of the cliff is hidden from the overlook.

The same thing occurred last week in Yellowstone.  People get obsessed with seeing erupting geysers, active hot pools, or wildlife wandering the country and overlook the fact that it’s some of the more pristine and beautiful mountain terrain in North America.  I frequently had photographers following me at pullouts in Yellowstone under the impression I was seeing something they weren’t; which was true, but even when I pointed it out to them they still didn’t see it.

At Swan Lake some Chinese tourists poured out of a van and started scanning the horizon in the direction I was shooting.
“You see animals?”, one asked in broken English.  “No, that mountain just looks amazing from this angle.”  They all looked defeated and immediately filled back into their van without taking a picture.

The day before at Vixen Geyser I was crouched for a while taking closeup pictures of the geyserite pearls around the gurgling vent.  A passing tourist (with a nice D810), asked happily if I knew it was going to go off soon.  “Nah, I’m just taking pictures of the smooth rocks here.”  He grunted a “Hrmp” and walked on.  The problem is about 2 minutes later it did start erupting and he rushed back to photograph it, glaring at me as he came back thinking I had deliberately lied to him to cheat him out of a shot.

By stopping to take in the little things I was favored with a surprise geyser in addition to the interesting formations; by rushing to get to the next “viewpoint” he was a day late and a dollar short having to play catch-up to something already in progress.  As it was going off I read in my trusty handbook and it turns out that the geyser goes off every 5-10 minutes so I stuck around and watched it again (he didn’t); but preparation and education is an article for another day.

Many famous photographers have said you can’t chase down photography, you have to be patient with your eyes open waiting for the perfect moment.  Don’t get so caught up rushing to the next photo-op that you miss what is already around you.

Time to Explore: Heading to Yellowstone

Haven’t been doing much photo editing, too busy taking photos.  I can’t sleep I’m so excited to spend 5 days in Yellowstone starting tomorrow.

I was watching Ken Burns Documentary “The National Parks” and it’s hard to watch that and not immediately book a trip.
I couldn’t resist.  How can you watch and not want to goto our first parks?

Anyway I hope to take some pictures, but I’m just excited to celebrate the park.  I got a bunch of historic photos, I want to try to re-create them from the modern day and then blend them in Photoshop.  Some juxtaposition of how we treated parks then vs how we treat them now.
We’ll see what I can get done while being distracted by the world’s wonders.

(Written last night but posted the minute I’m hitting the road.  Wish me luck.)

Just some fun on why it’s good to go back to film from time to time.

Just some fun via PetaPixel by Mason Resnick.

So few keepers
Evolution of Photography

Kind of sad but true.  Something about knowing you have 1000 pictures that cost nothing to develop makes you shoot everything and hope a couple good shots come through.

Everything has it’s place. Don’t think you have to prove yourself by staying in Manual mode.

PASM are all a set of tools, each has their use.

If you only use the hammer in your tool box for every job you’re probably not doing as an effective job as you could be.