Fall Workshop All Wrapped Up

The inaugural Fall Foliage of the Wasatch Workshop is officially finished. What a great way to spend an extended weekend up in the mountains, teaching eager photographers how to better their skill and vision (not to mention further my own at the same time). Special thanks to Pictureline, Canon USA and Singh Ray Filters for helping me to turn this workshop from dream to reality. A huge thanks to my workshop attendees who were receptive, enthusiastic and (most importantly) punctual for those early morning starts! I’ll have guest testimonials and images up on the website soon, so check back to see the results.

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Day 2 Fall Photography Workshop

Day two of the Fall Foliage of the Wasatch Workshop dawned mild and relatively clear. As the sun crested the horizon, pink clouds lit up the western sky over Solitude Mtn. Resort and the Big Cottonwood Canyon ridge line. Today, lessons and field work focused on engaging the viewer through composition. Sunrise shoot tomorrow on the Alpine Loop, and then it’s sayonara…

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Fall Foliage Workshop Off to a Blazing Start!

Day 1 off my Fall Foliage Workshop kicked off with a veritable explosion of color in Big Cottonwood Canyon. We’ve got a stellar group, and conditions for shooting couldn’t be better. BCC is ablaze with Aspen in every color from green to gold to orange. If you haven’t had time to check out the fall foliage, this weekend is a must see. More from the workshop tomorrow, as we continue to shoot in Big Cottonwood Canyon.

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ABP Featured in ForbesLife Mountaintime

Big shout out to the crew at FLMT for featuring my Fall Photography Workshop (and two of my images) in a workshop feature they recently published in their mag. FLMT is an insert mag that is distributed in mountain town newspapers like Park City, Jackson Hole, Sun Valley, etc. It’s also distributed at numerous outlets in those places. I’m off here to teach the workshop–will look forward to giving an update upon my return!

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Fall is Here

Yes–that magical time of year when the air grows cold, the leaves turn colors and mountain storms thunder in and out with little warning. I absolutely love fall. Maybe it’s because it means that winter is close at hand, and soon enough I’ll be neck deep in Wasatch pow. Maybe it’s simply because there is such an array of beauty around every canyon corner. Color and contrast take on new meaning for anyone that has witnessed the sun rise over the Alpine Loop. Aspen leaves seem to be painted with pure gold at Guardsman Pass (some with a hint of red!). Seriously–I have a huge man crush on Fall and I don’t know that it will ever leave me.

Couple quick thoughts on fall photography:

1. Compose with light. At times it is difficult to capture the three-dimensional beauty of a fall scene because many mountainside vistas are fairly flat. Shoot when the sky is filled with spotty clouds and it the light will illuminate your scene in different areas, giving it a sense of depth and dimensionality.

2. Be there for first light. While some mid-day shooting can actually work ok in fall, nothing can showcase a grand vista like early morning light. I find that you have about 15-25 min. to really work a scene after sunrise before the reds and oranges being to appear a bit harsh. Aspen, on the other hand, hold their color much better towards the middle hours of the day.

3. Strive for dramatic skies. Need I say more? It adds an element of mystery and drama, and also helps the fall colors to pop.

4. Use a polarizer. It will deepen blue skies, make clouds pop, and most importantly–it will remove the natural sheen on fall foliage allowing its true color to be captured without reflecting light (instead of absorbing it).

Have fun out there!

First light  on fall foliage near Cascade Springs on the Alpine Loop, UT Storm clouds over golden aspen trees and fall foliage near Guardsman Pass, UT First light  on fall foliage near Cascade Springs on the Alpine Loop, UT

AST Dew Tour

Adrenaline junkies everywhere were in heaven this past weekend as the AST Dew Tour came to town. It’s definitely impressive watching these athletes throw down, risking life and limb for a small cash prize, lofty sponsorship dreams and big-time bragging rights. I was particularly excited to put my new Canon 1DMkIII to work. This was the first opportunity I have had to really flex the autofocus and ridiculously fast shutter (10 fps) muscles on this beast of a body. I had some reservations about purchasing this body, as I’d read a number of photogs who’d been disgruntled with autofocus issues. I can say without a doubt that this is the most amazing camera I have ever used. Auto focus is precise and unbelievably quick. IQ is fantastic, and even though the official mpx count is “only” 10.1, the images I’ve shot appear every bit as clear, colorful and contrasty as those from my 5D.

Anyway, enough techno talk. I really wanted to capture place and environment in as many of the images as possible. The fact that the Dew Tour takes place in downtown SLC is killer, and I wanted to capture some unique images with the LDS Temple in the background, and as much SLC skyline as possible. The BMX park prelims took place under spectacular sunset light, and I came away with a number of keepers.

Another area of focus for me was frame-filling action. If I couldn’t show place, I wanted crisp, clear images close enough to show the dirt flying and the expressions on the athletes’ faces. BMX Super Cross proved just the venue to get up close and personal. Fast, fast, fast. Man those guys are in a hurry to reach that finish line. It was a riot trying to capture the action with each round of qualifying flying by. Hope you enjoy the images–I hope to post up a slideshow with more soon.

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The alarm on Labor Day morning was particularly piercing. It was 5:00 am and the night had passed with loud cracks of thunder and heavy rainfall. I knew this morning would be full of potential, or just plain gray and boring. I was almost hoping for the latter as I poked my head out the door to inspect the skies above. “Better get geared up,” I thought to myself, trying to ignore the urge to crawl back into bed and sleep in on this national holiday.

I had a particular image in mind as I drove east toward Park City and onward to the Heber Valley. Constantly evaluating the shooting conditions as I drove, I realized the image I had originally envisioned would not be possible on this particular morning. Heavy cloud cover and steady rain caused me to turn around and search for something else. I drove back towards Park City, my mind cluttered and startled from having my plans foiled. I couldn’t think of anywhere else to go. The sky had great potential, but there was no image calling out to be captured. My thoughts turned suddenly to the iconic Osguthorpe Barn. Surely I could capture a memorable image at this location–the challenge would be in capturing something new and different.

Fortunately, I had just the tool. Weeks earlier, I had gotten my Singh Ray Vari-ND filter in the mail and had yet to really let it open the creative floodgates for my photography. Sunrise was a bit more subdued than I had hoped for, yet the brooding clouds were perfect in creating a longer exposure and juxtaposing the streaked, grey sky over the crisp white barn. Think of the Vari-ND filter as a (high grade) tinted window for your camera. It simply lessens the amount of light that enters the camera, allowing one to extend shutter speeds in brighter conditions where it wouldn’t otherwise be possible.

I experimented with different shutter speeds and settled on this particular image with a 54 sec. exposure. There is just enough definition in the clouds to still accentuate the subtle tonal differences, yet the longer shutter speed smoothed the clouds out and added interesting contrast to the stark lines of the barn. To keep the sky in check (and hold detail in the brighter parts), I also used my Singh Ray 2-stop hard step Grad ND filter and employed a method of “dodging and burning” at the time of capture to avoid a filter line across the roof of the barn, and to evenly distribute the filter effect. This was done by hand-holding the rectangular filter in front of the lens and moving it up and down, and side to side for the duration of the exposure.

This image resembled nothing even remotely close to the one I had envisioned in my head when stepping out the door that morning. That, however, is the beauty of photography. Creativity and spontaneity sometimes trump tradition. The most important part is having the technical skill to carry out the creative vision.

Osguthorpe Barn in Park City, UT with Storm Clouds