Water…

every drop matters.

20160525-DSC_3855Keep close to Nature’s heart… and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean.

John Muir

This time of year as we head into fire season I am grateful for every drop that falls. Memories from last year as smoke filled the air day after day from forest fires are still too fresh.

On this morning as I walked amongst the tall grasses in my pasture that sparkled from the night’s rainstorm I spotted this one drop.

Sheer beauty in its delicate heart shaped form and so transient in its nature. One breath of wind and it would be gone.

I have a friend who connects deeply to heart shapes that she finds in nature and it brought a smile to my face knowing how much she would love this one drop.

Click…its the little things that matter and yes, it’s (almost always) about the water.

A little bad weather…

wasn’t enough to keep me away from this jagged peak..

Proton Arc and Aurora Borealis-“To the complaint, ‘There are no people in these photographs,’ I respond, There are always two people: the photographer and the viewer.”

Ansel Adams

There’s something about the mountains that puts things into perspective and I don’t think that I will ever grow tired of looking at them.

There is such magic in capturing a moment that is only fleetingly visible.

This was one of those times on a recent trip to the Rocky Mountains in Canada. Rain, clouds, and fog can be a little more challenging to work around but they also provide opportunities like this one where a crack in the clouds revealed this peak still frosted with winter snow.

I like to find the unusual in a landscape. That might take a change of lens, direction, perspective, settings or all of the above.

If you’re not afraid of getting wet the rain seems to add a vibrancy to foliage and a simple trash bag with your lens poked through a hole in the bottom can keep your gear dry if it isn’t weather sealed.

Great photo opportunities can happen anytime under any conditions so don’t let a little weather or less than perfect light keep your camera in its bag…

A rare proton arc…

was what appeared in the night sky alongside the aurora borealis!

Proton Arc and Aurora Borealis-2975
Proton Arc, Northern Idaho, USA

To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

Proton Arc and Aurora Borealis-2958
Proton Arc, Northern Idaho, USA
Proton Arc and Aurora Borealis-2986
Aurora Borealis, Northern Idaho, USA
Proton Arc and Aurora Borealis-2-2
Proton Arc, Northern Idaho, USA

“GET IN THE JEEP” I shouted to my husband, “I need you to take me to the lake right now!”

Moments earlier…

Not being able to sleep and unable to concentrate on the book I was reading I started checking my apps to see what I might be able to see in the night sky. The moon wouldn’t be a problem and for once the skies looked like they would be clear.

There was an expectation that in a couple of days we might be seeing the northern lights so I was looking forward to that having been shut out by clouds from seeing the Eta Aquariids meteor shower. When the aurora app showed a pretty distinct area of red I jumped out of bed and ran for my camera and tripod.

I quickly dialed in some settings, plunked the tripod down on the deck and took a test shot to the north, I could see that there were light fluctuations but my eyes had not yet adapted to the dark.

Sure enough, aurora borealis, and looking strong! Turning around I looked up and saw flowing from east to west overhead the most incredible arc. I didn’t know what it was, having never seen one before, but I knew that it was one of those moments not to be wasted. I had no idea how long it would last and wanted to get into an area that was not rimmed by towering cedars and grand fir to photograph it.

I didn’t bother to change out of my pj’s but threw a hoodie on to ward off the night temperatures.

Firing off shots to document overhead and to the west I yelled at my husband to hurry, which thankfully he did, ignoring my agitation and occasional expletive.

With camera already attached to the tripod I leaped from the jeep and ran to the water’s edge to start shooting.

And then the magic began…

I wish that I’d had a recording of the animals that night. On other occasions while photographing strong aurora events I’ve noted their heightened response to these energetic events. Bullfrogs croaked in deep, vibratory tones, coyotes howled, two different species of owls hooted, and a grebe’s haunting notes echoed from across the lake.

The aurora borealis themselves were spectacular, but the arc, that was simply unforgettable. My search for confirmation of the proton arc had me reaching out in many directions (thank you Lucy, my go to person for night sky questions!)

A proton arc occurs when massive protons ejected by a solar event bombard the earth’s atmosphere…and they’re rare events.

This is exactly why I shoot every day under all conditions. There wasn’t time to mess around with settings and fiddle with focus. This was a time to hit the ground shooting, quick check of the histogram and take full advantage of an opportunity that I might never see again.

Trifecta…new moon, clear skies, proton arc.

I’m a lucky girl.

The dragonfly…

on a dew laden morning.DSC_2721-Edit-2

In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous.

Aristotle

A foot to the right and I might have stepped on him. I love the mornings when the landscape is covered in dew. It’s rather like looking for a needle in a haystack but I set out into the pasture to look for this shot and there he was, clinging to a blade of grass.

They are very vulnerable until their wings dry and every so often he would flutter them to shake off more dew.

It’s the tiny moments like this that I enjoy…truly something of the marvelous!

Take creative control…

and see what’s in your camera!

DSC_2468-2Find beauty not only in the thing itself but in the pattern of the shadows, the light and dark which that thing provides.

JunichiroTanizaki

You don’t need to travel to exotic locations or buy expensive lighting to create unique photos but you do need to learn what your camera has to offer.

When’s the last time you scrolled through the menu in your camera to see what it can do?

When’s the last time you tried some of those features?

I can’t relate to the mindset of having a camera, setting it to auto, and then taking pictures. If that’s all you’re going to do you might be better served just pulling out your phone and using that to take the picture. I recently loaded the Lightroom ap onto my ipad and when I use that to take a photo I first jump into LR and click on the camera from there. Try it, you’ll see the difference!

Phones, ipads, and tablets have come a long way in the last while and can take some very nice photos especially for sharing on social media where the file size doesn’t matter. Try to blow those up though and you will run into some issues.

A good jumping off point from auto is to start using your scene settings. Match them to the conditions that you’re shooting in and then look at the settings that the camera chose. You will soon start to see what kind of settings are required for different conditions.

From there it’s a quick leap to going fully manual and taking creative control.

A feature of many of the Nikons in the DSLR line-up is the ability to do double exposure and then if the two shots that I want can’t be coordinated at the same time…in camera image overlay.

While you can create these types of shots in photoshop I like the challenge of combining them right in the camera.

Today’s shot was an image overlay. The secret to them is to visualize your lights and darks and plan where you want them to fall. They can be a lot of fun and really change the mood of a photo. I did a head shot outside and for my second image used the rainbow reflections that showed up when the sun hit my wood stove glass door. Beautiful, soft out of focus images can also be perfect for these types of shots.

What’s in your camera? What will you try today?