Sunday, July 19, 2020

Lake Powell 2020

LAKE POWELL 2020

Just returned from one of our best Lake Powell houseboat trips ever! With 26 people ranging from ages 1 to 75, there was a lot of craziness, fun, laughter and action...skiing, wake boarding, tube riding, jet skiing, water sliding, fishing, swimming, kayaking, cliff jumping, paddle boarding, canyon exploring, game playing. And the only 'fighting' was with water balloons and squirt guns. So thankful that everyone stayed healthy and safe! And so blessed to have a family who enjoys being together. Even 'Mother Nature' smiled on us with this incredible view. One day at sunset, a brief storm front quickly passed over us but stalled over the cliffs at the end of the bay leaving this glorious rainbow that seemed to last forever. It was a perfect ending!

Friday, June 5, 2020

Sunday, May 31, 2020

Snow Canyon, Utah

A Geologist's Dream!
I love my little corner of the world. Snow Canyon is a geologist's dream, with exposed layers of red and white sedimentary Navajo Sandstone layered with black volcanic basalt lava flows, dating back as far as 190 million years.

Friday, May 29, 2020

Desert Sunset at Kayenta, Utah

Desert sunsets in Kayenta, Utah can be so beautiful, but also deceiving, as it looks like I'm far away from civilization. In reality, this is a community of desert homes that sit on very large lots. When I shoot here, I always look for angles that don't show the houses. Additionally in this case, I'm standing just off a road in a new section being developed, and on my right just out of the frame, sits a big construction truck!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

Cactus Bloom Drama

Don't believe photographers who say you shouldn't bother to take photos in the middle of the day because of poor lighting. There are always exceptions to the 'rule'. Joel Sartore, (long time NatGeo photographer), said, "There are 2 rules in photography. No. 1: there are no rules. No. 2: refer to Rule No. 1. (This photo was take midday. Blooms were in front of a wall. The position of the camera in relation to the sun created beautiful back lighting on the flowers and put the background wall in deep shade, creating a high contrast, dramatic scene.)

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

Sunshine, Wind, Yellow Wildflowers!

Windy day, narrow depth of field, bright sun, fun and artsy result!

Saturday, May 16, 2020

Dragonfly - Red Cliffs Desert Garden

Second time in a couple of weeks I've actually shot something alive and moving, and have it in focus! (A record for me!) Just before sunset the light was amazingly warm and made this dragonfly brilliant, showing the amazing detail in its wings.   This shot is straight out of the camera as a jpg image, camera set to Velvia simulation. Did not increase saturation or vibrancy in post processing. Here's the back story: I went to the Red Cliffs Desert Garden shortly before sunset yesterday and sat down on a bench. I looked across the path and 6 to 10 of these red dragonflies were going crazy on a bush. I immediately put a telephoto lens on my camera, and from the comfort of the bench took all the time I needed to fire off a ton of shots. The dragonflies were so in love with that bush that I could have spent an hour sitting there shooting. So after taking a gazillion shots, I was able to get a couple that were actually in focus.

Desert Bird of Paradise, Ocotillo

 Desert Bird of Paradise
Ocotillo
Two of my favorite desert plants.  Both were taken on different days at or after sunset, and in the same area, with Red Mountain in the background background.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Darn Photo Bomber!

 A Beautiful Desert Morning!

If there is ever something alive and moving in my pictures it's usually a mistake and I don't realize I have a photo bomber until I look at it on the computer!

Sunday, April 26, 2020

Cactus Drama

Cactus Drama

Another 'drive by shooting' in my neighborhood. I wait every year for the ONE day when most all the buds on this cactus are in full bloom at the same time.

(For those interested, this cactus sits in a pot next to the east side of a neighbor's house. My best shot is in the late afternoon when the sun hits the tops of the blooms and makes them glow while the wall in the background is in deep shade making dramatic lighting.)

Friday, April 24, 2020

Snapshot Shooter or Image Creator


Are You a Snapshot Shooter or a Photo Image Creator?

Whichever you are, if your photos are pleasing to you, that's what matters most!  
(Unless, of course, your photography is a business and you want to sell your photos.  Then what pleases the client matters most!)

Here's what I would consider before answering the above question, using flower photography as my example, since that's what I'm mostly shooting right now.  If I were a Snapshot Shooter and saw a brightly colored Claret Cup cactus in full bloom that attracted my attention, I would probably pull out my camera or phone, bend over the plant, snap a shot, then upload it to my Instagram account.

Snapshot Shooters are especially suited for photo genres such as photo journalism, street photography and animal or sports photography, as well as other situations where quick thinking and fast action are necessary to capture a fleeting moment in time, when the action is more important than having the ideal composition, lighting or camera settings!  When Snapshot Shooters 'see' a potential photo opportunity, they take the shot without hesitation.

On the other hand, if I considered myself a Photo Image Creator and saw that same cactus, I would take some time to study it, think about how I could make that cactus look beautiful and interesting, and maybe a bit more unique from all the other Claret Cup cactus photos I'm seeing right now.  I would want something different than a straight downward shot that would show part of the boring rocks and dirt surrounding the plant, or a macro like I've done so many times in the past.

I do consider myself a Photo Image Creator, for the most part.  I'll try to describe how I ended up with this image.  This cactus caught my eye, but it was sitting right by the road at the entrance of a subdivision, in an unattractive location.   When something in nature attracts my attention, I always ask myself, "Is there a picture here worth taking and creating" and try to visualize  a composition before picking up my camera.  As I walked around this cactus I noticed a clump of yellow flowers with green foliage a few yards away across the pavement.  Seeing cactus blooms along with bright green foliage in a photograph is not as common as seeing cactus in a natural desert setting, so I thought this might make an interesting background.  I visualized positioning my camera low and shooting horizontally to capture a side view of the blooms in the foreground against the green background with pops of yellow flowers, while hiding the road that was in between the two.  I could adjust my camera settings to blur the background so only the foreground blooms were in focus, or I could choose settings that would allow everything to be in focus.  That decision is a personal preference and there is no right or wrong answer.  (I tend to lean toward 'busy' compositions with interesting, softly blurred backgrounds.)

Then I had to consider the lighting, which was not good, as the late afternoon sun was very intense, creating deep shadows underneath and on one side of the plant.  I found an angle to point my camera partially toward the sun that lit up the tops of the flowers with no shadows, creating beautiful back lighting that made the colors pop, while hiding the dark shadows below.  (In addition, I could intensify the colors and reduce sun glare and hot spots by using a polarizing filter on my lens.)

I knew that by moving my camera just slightly in various directions, being careful to keep the sun just outside the frame, I might find a position where I could see a stream of sun flare, sun rays and/or beautiful bokeh that is created when the sun hits the lens in a certain way.  (Technical explanations are for another discussion.)  Including sun flare, sun bursts, bokeh, or other sunlight effects in a composition is a personal preference.  Some like it, some don't.  I love it!
 
The beauty of digital photography is there is instant feedback as to whether you have taken the image you have in your mind or in your 'mind's eye', but even so, things often look different when viewed at full resolution on a big computer screen.  So to have the best chance of ending up with an image I will like, I always bracket three different exposures, which my camera does automatically, as well as showing me whether or not I have parts that are 'blown out' or too dark for detail.  I also take numerous shots experimenting with different camera settings and compositions.

Back home on the computer I choose my favorite shot, then decide whether to edit a little or a lot.  I can crop and lightly tweak color, exposure, etc., or I can let my creativity run wild and end up with the floral fantasy I see in my 'mind's eye'.

Even though it is a joy to take a beautiful photo of a beautiful subject, set in perfect lighting, (when this happens), I often find it more challenging and rewarding to be outdoors taking photos while other photographers are waiting for better lighting or weather conditions, or to look for compositions others may miss, or to show the beauty of less flashy subjects in nature, or to capture and present a common subject in a unique or interesting way.

All of this sounds like a lot of effort for one simple picture.  But with my first few thousand flower shots behind me, I can now spot a possible composition within a scene pretty quickly.  For me, the fun and challenge of photography is combining what my eyes see, with how my camera reproduces what I see, with what my mind reproduces on the computer screen, and to ultimately end up with an image that is interesting, artistic and pleasing to me! It's a wonderful bonus if others enjoy it too!    

   

      

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Spring Cactus - 2020

The Siler Pincushion Cactus is a federally listed endangered plant and only grows in a small region on the Utah, Arizona border. The blossoms are small, about an inch, or around the size of a quarter.
View from Black Rock Road overlooking I-15 freeway.  The morning light creating a beautiful backlit desert scene.

Friday, April 17, 2020

Sunday, April 12, 2020

Easter Sunday 2020

His is Risen!  

This will indeed be a memorable Easter 2020.  Jesus Christ has been called the Prince of Peace and the Light of the World.  The world certainly needs peace and light at this time during the world wide Covid 19 virus pandemic.  Usually Christians go to their churches, chapels, meeting houses and temples to worship, but this year we will be doing it at home! 

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Joshua Tree Preserve, Utah

Joshua Tree Preserve, Utah

I took this photo last night around 8 pm, just before the sun set through a lightly hazy sky. It's amazing how warm sunset light can transform an ordinary landscape into something beautiful. I drove about half an hour away from home to a remote area near the border of Utah and Arizona for this view. Even though it is still a little too early for the cactus buds to bloom out, yellow wild flowers always make me happy!

A photographer friend asked if I would tell her the settings I used to take this photo, and how I achieve focus from foreground to background.  Below is my response:

Yes, but first a disclaimer. I am impatient when it comes to learning techniques and probably know less than a forth of what my camera can do, so I hesitate giving out technical info, not because I want to keep it secret, but because this is not my strong suit, and there are many photographers on this site who will tell you there are far better settings or ways to do what I end up doing. I'm mostly motivated by composition and color so feel more confident talking about those areas. Now, about the near to far focus, first let me say, I am not hugely concerned that my landscape or nature images with great DOF are tack sharp because most people normally don't see a sweeping landscape tack sharp from the foreground to the distant mountains...unless you are 10 years old!  If distant backgrounds look too sharp, it looks unnatural to me. (Personal preference.) So if I have believable focus that pleases me, I am good. (In this case, if you were to look at the full resolution file you would see that the background cliffs are a bit soft, but when I look at the entire image, that doesn't detract.) I can usually achieve acceptable focus fairly simply. I use a good wide angle lens (10-24mm), with an f stop usually between f/16 and f/22. I tend to like the closest foreground object, like a flower, to look larger than normal, (personal preference), and I achieve this with the wide angle lens and by positioning my camera so the flower takes up a fair amount of composition 'real estate', and typically within one or two feet of where I am standing.  Where to focus is the tricky part. One rule of thumb to get maximum DOF is to set your focus point approximately 1/3 of the way into the scene. In this case, I probably focused on some of the back flowers. But this varies with every situation. It's hard to determine the focus in this shot because the wind was blowing, causing some of the flowers to be somewhat blurry. Honestly, I take many shots of a scene and experiment with various f stops and various focal points. The more shots I take, the better my chances are that one or two exposures might work! How's that for confidence! I do know there are far more sophisticated ways of achieving perfectly sharp focus foreground to background, such as focus stacking. This is where you take numerous shots, each one focusing on a different point throughout the scene, then combine them using a computer program. I'm not sure it is possible to do this without using a tripod. So far I'm too lazy to do all this! 

Friday, April 10, 2020

Iris

Iris planted in front of a stucco wall.  
Photo taken on on overcast, shadow less day with my Lensbaby soft focus lens.  

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Super Moon April 2020

 'When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain'

Jeff came home last evening and said "Have you seen that moon?" 
I totally forgot about the super moon so I grabbed my camera and found the best composition I could find close to home. 
I pulled off the side of the road, (behind Harmon's in Santa Clara), and used the hood of my car as a tripod.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Little Pleasures

Coming home just before sunset, I spotted this little colorful plant on Santa Clara Main Street, so I had to stop. Since I was almost laying by the side of the road to get this shot, I'm surprised somebody didn't stop to help the elderly lady who it appeared had fallen off the curb!

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Spring means Lilacs

Spring means the heavenly fragrance of lilacs in the air. I always look forward to these blooms, however, they are much more common in northern Utah than in the St. George area. But yesterday I spotted a small bush by the roadside and right in front of a block wall. I couldn't resist stopping to breathe deep and take a few photos.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Pink & Orange

Pink Blossoms in Snow Canyon

One usually goes to Snow Canyon to enjoy a beautiful landscape of red and white cliffs, black lava flows, cacti and other desert vegetation and critters.  But there is this one flowering tree that I look forward to photographing in the Spring.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Stay Positive!

Beautiful Spring!

Stay positive! When Spring comes to your neighborhood, walk outside and commune with nature. You can 'safely' smell a flower, feel the sun on your back, listen to the buzzing bees, look up into the beautiful azure sky..... and know that God is in His heavens.

Thursday, March 12, 2020

Early Spring in Ivins, Utah


Every year starting about January 1, I eagerly anticipate the arrival of Spring!  This year, however, my excitement is tempered by the destruction and loss of life caused by both severe storms and the coronavirus.   Hope both end soon and we can more fully enjoy this beautiful time of year.

Friday, February 7, 2020

Snow Canyon in Winter

Snow Canyon, Utah In Winter

A great place for photography after a storm!

Friday, December 13, 2019

After the Storm......

Fire Lake
Ivins, Utah

Last Colors of Fall - 2019


Gunlock, Utah

The setting sun seemed to be saying to me, "Look, I'm spotlighting the last of these beautiful fall colors for you to enjoy today, because tomorrow they will be gone for another year."




Pals!

Penny - Watson

When it came time for family portraits during our Lake Powell family vacation this year, these two cooperated better than anyone else!!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Mesa Arch

 Mesa Arch
Canyonlands, Utah
Tourists and other photographers crowd around me in front of this smallish arch and wait quietly in the dark, some of us for many hours. Finally, we notice a faint glow on the horizon, and then the rim of the sun peaks up from behind the distant mountains.  Immediately the underside of Mesa Arch turns a brilliant fiery red.  Within a few minutes a slice of sun creeps far enough over the mountains to cast a soft hazy light that silhouettes the canyon and pinnacles below.   And finally, the sun makes a grand entrance and bursts into view, its light rays revealing the beautiful hues of oranges, corals, reds, rusts and browns in this awesome landscape.  I love living in Utah!  

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Better Butterfly Photos

A few days ago I spent a couple of peaceful hours at the new Butterfly Biosphere at Thanksgiving Point.  Butterflies are often hard to photograph for the obvious reasons.  They move quickly, they blend in with flowers and foliage, they're small and have tiny patterns, etc.  Below I've posted some of my favorite shots from the day along with some tips about taking better photos of these beautiful creatures.

1.  First and foremost, be patient and plan to spend a lot of time just observing and waiting.  
2.  Plan on taking hundreds, if not thousands of photos to get a few that you like and are in focus.
3.  Use any lens you have, however, for the photos below, I used a telephoto lens.  



4.  Look for a monochromatic background that coordinates and/or contrasts with the colors in the butterfly to make an interesting composition. 

5.  Fill the frame with the butterfly, (zoom or crop),  to show intricate shapes, colors and textures.

6.  Try to isolate the butterfly a good distance from the background and surrounding foliage to make it stand out.

7.  Coordinate the colors of the butterfly with a color in the background for a pleasing composition.

8.  Create a small depth of field that blurs the background so the butterfly is not competing with other objects surrounding it or behind it.  (Small f number.)

9.  Often we view butterflies from above, looking down as they sit on flowers or foliage.  Find different points of view, like this one that shows antennae and profile of head.





10.  Look for unique compositions that will be eye catching and interesting.

My goal was to make the butterfly in each of the above photos the focal point and subject of the images.  Below is an example of a photo that is alright but did not meet my goal  This is more of an environmental nature shot where the scene is as important as the butterfly.  It is not as impactful if the subject is the butterfly.

   

Rainbow Over St. George Temple

Rainbow Over St. George Temple

I was in front of the temple waiting and hoping for a pretty sunset, and looked behind me and saw this amazing rainbow. I was disappointed it wasn't over the temple. Then I realized if I hurried around to take a shot in the opposite direction from the back of the temple, I might see the rainbow. Sure enough, it was even more intense and beautiful! I don't think I've ever taken a photo of a temple with a rainbow.

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Summer Beauties

I love flowers! 

And I love to find interesting ways to photograph and present them to show off their beauty, color and unique qualities. This time of year I have to get my 'flower fix' in before they disappear until next year.....at least in my little corner of the world.

Friday, August 23, 2019

Monday, August 12, 2019

BUG and BOKEH

BUG and BOKEH

Bokeh: In photography, bokeh is the aesthetic quality, size, shape, and intensity, of the blur in out-of-focus parts of an image, that is produced by the lens hitting a light source. Bokeh has been defined as "the way the lens renders out-of-focus points of light". Avoiding compositions that will include bokeh, or looking for compositions that will purposely create bokeh, depends on the personal preference of the photographer.

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Cedar Breaks Wildflowers - 2

Cedar Breaks, Utah

I'm sure landscape and nature photography lowers my blood pressure, as well as being a respite from the desert heat, in this case! Another image taken at Cedar Breaks, Utah.

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah

Yesterday I needed a break from the desert heat of summer, and I knew just where to go. When we left St. George, the temperature was 105 degrees, (elevation around 2800 feet), and we ended up in Cedar Breaks National Monument where the temperature was 65 degrees (elevation over 10,000 feet). A 40 degree temperature change in a little over an hour's drive! Plus I get to see beautiful scenes like this! I love this little corner of Utah!!
Modern cameras and sophisticated editing programs make it possible to take photos in harsh, afternoon sunshine like this. Soft focus, contrast and shadows adjustments needed on these bright, backlit flowers.