Christmas morning…

in my place of magic.

20171225_090052-Edit-4When a moment in front of me appears to be particularly special, whether it be by beauty or experience, I capture it. I usually find a reason to justify taking that photo – symmetry, or color, or contrast – and it’s my hope that my photography sheds light onto what I see and do on a daily basis.

Connor Franta

This is a first for me I think.

As the chairlift neared the summit of Schweitzer Mountain I kept turning to look back with that feeling of anticipation that something was about to happen but this being my first time out for the season and there being only single digit temperatures, I left my Nikon at the lodge and only had my LG K10 smartphone with me.

And sure enough, for the second time on a Christmas morning, an incredibly bright and beautiful sun pillar appeared with diamond dust swirling in its bright light.

It’s easy for people to believe that their photography would improve if only they had the next best latest and greatest equipment. Fortunately that’s not the case and if you have a true passion for photography, you can capture moments with whatever device you have available to you in that moment.

I loved how the lens flare added to this image and worked with it to create this image.

Do I wish I had my Nikon with a wide angle attached? Sure, but on this day I was grateful to see this crystal phenomena and have the challenge of capturing it by cell phone.

January’s photo tip…

pay attention to your background.

dsc_9173Look and think before opening the shutter. The heart and mind are the true lens of the camera.

Yousuf Karsh

One of the most important things that I’ve learned over time is when photographing, don’t get so caught up with your subject that you forget to look past it at the background.

I like to photograph ice, snow, and frost and although this morning was a balmy 24 degrees and not cold enough for good frost development, I still wanted to have a wander about and try to coax some frost out of this bubble.

Good photography is about practise and in my opinion continual experimentation. It’s about learning everything that there is to know about your camera so that when your “moments” come you know just how to capture them.

This month’s tip is about the background and the need to also make conscious decisions in that part of the photo. So often I will see a photo posted that could have been amazing if only the photographer had noticed the background.

In this photograph since it wasn’t cold enough for those deep, cut frost patterns to develop I had to look for more to bring this to life. I found it in the background and yes, I was laying on the ground with my chin in the snow. Looking past my reluctant subject I could see some interesting lens flare and bokeh happening so I shifted my framing to include that.

A photograph is made, not taken, so learn to look at all that’s inside of your frame and make sure that it doesn’t detract from what you’re photographing. Watch out for those tree limbs that sprout from behind the head of your subject or those dark patches that just leave a hole in your image.

It’s certainly harder with action shots but with practice you can focus on more than one thing in your image at the same time.

January’s Tip: pay attention to your background!

If you’re not playing…

you’re missing out on the unexpected.

cloud play
cloud play

There is no abstract art. You must always start with something. Afterward you can remove all traces of reality.

Pablo Picasso

I think if you shoot a variety of subject matter you get pretty accustomed to quickly dialing in your settings. For the situations that I am not as familiar with, the ones that require more complex settings, I make use of the Nikon D7000’s two user defined  spots on the operation mode dial. This enables me to get a very quick starting point for shooting a scene without having to adjust multiple settings first.

I’m fortunate to have friends that tolerate my obsession with imagery and ignore my third arm…the tripod…that accompanies me most everywhere. In this particular case we were on a girl’s night up at the mountain and hanging  alfresco in the hot tub when I saw the moon slip behind some interesting looking clouds. I might add that it is a little chilly in the mountains of Idaho in March so I was grateful to not have to spend any more time than necessary adjusting my settings!

My Tokina 11-16 2.8 wide angle lens is prone to lens flare and since it was almost impossible to get away from all of the hotel and landscaping lights I thought it would be fun to try to use these flares in my “nightscape.”

I think we all have a pretty good idea of what we’re going to be shooting when heading out but for me I always find a little magic in those times when opportunity jumps in when my plans get shot down.

Have a great week and don’t forget to play…