Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Ocotillo Cactus

Ocotillo Cactus
(It is not a real cactus, however, and has other names which include coachwhip and desert coral)

For much of the year this strange looking plant looks like a bunch of long, dry, gray sticks reaching from the ground toward the sky.  But in spring, especially during a rainy spring, tiny green leaves cover the canes and a beautiful orange flower adorns each tip, making these plants strikingly beautiful against the backdrop of the red desert cliffs.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Snow Canyon

I took this photo last night in Snow Canyon, just outside of St. George, Utah.  It was a beautiful evening, around 7pm and the 'golden hour' enhanced the red cliffs and sand.  
 (I thought I would like this with a 'soft' background so that the yucca in the foreground would stand out, but now I'm wondering if I should have had a greater depth of field so the red cliffs would be in sharper focus.  Humm, decisions, decisions.)

Did I mention that we have just had a Casita built, which is a small vacation home?  Snow Canyon is about 10 minutes away from our Casita.  We are about 45 minutes to Zion National Park,  about 1 1/2 hours away from Las Vegas, 3 1/2 hours away from our home in northern Utah, and closer to our married kids in Arizona.  There are ATV trails everywhere, (great for RZR riding year round), and most important, there is NO snow.  This will be my 'happy place' during the winter months!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

Mother & Son
Daughter & Grandson

I have two daughters and one daughter-in-law who are wonderfully devoted mothers,   (I also have a daughter-in-law who will soon be a mother, and another daughter-in-law who is looking forward to being a mother).  I am so grateful these young women see the value in spending the majority of their time mothering their children.

Please send the following video to all the mothers you know and love:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Phun Phriday

I thought this was funny......two types of transportation, one slow and one fast!

    Here's my philosophical caption for this photo:
"It doesn't matter how fast you are going if you are headed in the wrong direction"

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Thanksgiving Point - Part 3

Several of the numerous falls that make up the huge Waterfall feature at Thanksgiving Point, Utah 

The Thanksgiving Point Waterfall structure is one of the world's largest man-made waterfalls, featuring man-made rock formations over 500 feet long and with peaks 25-50 feet tall. The four story pump station drops 40,000 gallons per minute over the formations, creating a dramatic waterfall backdrop for weddings, performances, and other events. The Waterfall Amphitheater can seat up to 3500 guests. This waterfall is a popular tourism spot with many festivals and events.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Thanksgiving Point - Part 2

Looking for an 'S' curve!
Finding a curving line that leads the viewer into the scene makes for an interesting photo.  
(By the time I took this photo the sun was fairly high in the sky creating bright, almost harsh lighting,  so I used a little post editing magic to soften it up a bit.)

Looking and finding something different, often makes for an interesting photoAnd this composition also includes an 'S' curve.
This tulip was/is growing in a bed of tulips right at the edge of a path.  Someone had either stepped on it or bent it so that it was laying horizontal and resting on the wet walkway.  I loved the dark textures of the path that created the background.  There were reflections in the water puddle that were distracting, but were easily eliminated with a twist of the polarizing filter I use when shooting outdoors.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Thanksgiving Point - Part 1

I have to get my Spring tulip 'fix' quickly, because they don't last long, so Saturday morning I spent a couple of hours at Thanksgiving point.  This is my second favorite place to photograph spring flowers.
Last post I mentioned a couple of ideas to help add some pizazz to your flower photos.  Here are a few additional ideas about flower photography.  

When you are shooting outdoors without a flash, you are at the mercy of the natural light available.  And as you know, lighting is critical.  I rarely if ever take photos of flowers in the middle of a sunny day because the light will be harsh, flat, and the colors will look all bleached out.  So as with most outdoor photography, the golden hours of dawn and dusk are best.  

I didn't manage to get out this day until early morning, but certainly after dawn, and so I had to play 'cat and mouse' with the sun to find attractive light.  In this photo, the sun was still soft enough that it highlighted these two flowers beautifully.  I try to find compositions where my subject flowers are in light, and the background foliage is in natural shadows.

This single tulip was lit by a ray of sun, while surrounding foliage is in shadow.  In addition, water droplets can add dimension, reflections and interest to flower photos.  These are natural, but no one says you can't carry a spray bottle of water as part of your photography gear!

If I am shooting in large flower gardens, I try to to find 'the loner', that is, the one that doesn't belong.  This flower becomes my focal point and makes for an interesting composition.  I also look for flowers that are back lit which creates dimension and a soft glow.

I love when I can capture water sprinkles glistening through the sun.  Another part of this composition that makes it interesting to me is that I've included a layering effect with the second row of flowers at the top.

Sometimes a single color palette with different shapes and sizes of flowers is eye catching.  Here the tulips are the subjects and the forsythia is the backdrop.  I also like that there is a soft diagonal line through the photo.

This photo combines several of my favorite things:  a simple composition with one flower as the main subject, with several 'supporting' flowers, beautiful side lighting on the subject making it stand out from the shaded background, and dewdrops.  A perfect combination for me! 

Thursday, May 2, 2013


I just taught a photography class two nights ago.  The title of the class was 'How to Shoot a Publishable Photo.'  In other words, how to shoot a photo that a photo journalist would have a chance to have accepted by a newspaper, magazine, website, stock photo site, etc.  Here is my definition of a 'publishable photo':  A photo that catches (grabs) the viewer's attention, tells a story or is relevant to the main objective of the story, and will entice the viewer to stay and read the story.  Usually one looks at the photo that accompanies a story before reading the story, so the photo plays a critical part in whether the viewer will actually continue to read the story.  This means that the photo must be different, eye catching, or unusual in some way that will attract attention.  

This isn't only important for photo journalism, it is important for most photos in order to be really good photos.  In other words, the photo must have something unique that makes the viewer want to stay and look longer.

Lets talk about flowers and sunsets, for example.  They are beautiful and colorful and often photographers can't resist shooting them.  But they are so commonly photographed that to take a photo of a flower or sunset that really stands out from the millions of photos of these subjects, the photographer has to get his creative juices flowing.  

Creating a unique photo can be achieved in many ways such as with composition, lighting, mood, perspective, depth of field, etc.  The possibilities are endless but the photographer must take the time to think about how to accomplish this before she clicks the shutter.

Like many photographers, I can't resist taking photos of flowers.  I have hundreds (thousands) of them and part of the joy of photographing them is just seeing and enjoying such beauty.  But how do I try to make my flower photos stand out?  There are many ways, as I mentioned above, but two of my favorites that serve me well are as follows:

1.  Literally, get down close and shoot sideways or up Most people look down on flowers from a standing position.  They rarely look at a flower from ground level up.  The most interesting photos you will take will be the ones where you hold your camera either four feet above or four feet below your eye level.  I can't remember who said this or something similar to this, but it is so true!

2.  Use a narrow depth of field and a wide angle lens up close, to emphasis your flower focal point.  Once again, people viewing a flower garden from a standing position, see a mass of color and shapes, all competing for attention.  They don't see the details of one flower that stands out from the rest.

The photo above and the two below were taking several days ago on Temple Square and demonstrate these techniques.  Of course, these are not the only techniques to use to create good flower photos, but they might give you some ideas about how to make your own flower photos more interesting. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Spring on Temple Square

Salt Lake Temple

One of several photos I took a couple of days ago on Temple Square.  It was a beautiful, warm day, and I was sure that Spring was finally here to stay.  WRONG!  I woke up this morning and it was snowing like crazy.  At first I thought it was the 'cotton' flying from the neighbor's big cottonwood trees, but not so.  Winter is not going to give up gracefully this year!