Image of the Month: March 2014 – Snowmen

Snowmen at Kind Coffee in Estes Park, Colorado.

Snowmen at Kind Coffee in Estes Park, Colorado.

One of the things I find myself saying while teaching photography classes is: “the best camera you have is the one you have with you.” I primarily photograph with an SLR, but carrying one of my bulky Nikon D300 or D800 cameras around constantly isn’t always feasible. On a morning coffee stop earlier this year I saw these guys outside in the chilly Estes Park weather. Thinking this would be a routine stop, I hadn’t brought one of my Nikons along but I did have a camera on my Samsung Galaxy mobile phone. Not wanting to miss the scene, I went ahead and used the phone to get this shot. It didn’t turn out too badly! Even if you only have an iPhone, Samsung or other mobile device, take advantage of its features and always be on the lookout for fun photo opportunities!

Image(s) of the Month: February 2014 – Scenic San Diego 2

The Embarcadero Marina, just south of Seaport Village.

The Embarcadero Marina, just south of Seaport Village.

I had so many favorite photos from my late-December/early-January San Diego photo shoots I had to spread them out into two posts. I hope you enjoy this sequel to Scenic San Diego!

Roosting seagulls from above the La Jolla Sea Caves.

Roosting seagulls from above the La Jolla Sea Caves.

Mexican wrestling masks at an Old Town vendor.

Mexican wrestling masks at an Old Town vendor.

Terracotta tiles from the roof of the Presidio of San Diego.

Terracotta tiles from the roof of the Presidio of San Diego.

Children flying kites in front of the historic Hotel del Coronado.

Children flying kites in front of the historic Hotel del Coronado.

Cigar store Indian in front of an Old Town store.

Cigar store Indian in front of an Old Town store.

Gao Gao, one of the San Diego Zoo's famous giant pandas, is getting his fill of bamboo.

Gao Gao, one of the San Diego Zoo’s famous giant pandas, is getting his fill of bamboo.

A surfer catches a wave at Pacific Beach.

A surfer catches a wave at Pacific Beach.

The octopus is one of the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade's most beloved attractions during Holiday Bowl season.

The octopus is one of the Port of San Diego Big Bay Balloon Parade’s most beloved attractions during Holiday Bowl celebrations.

A foggy mist blows through a palm tree near La Jolla.

A foggy mist blows through a palm tree near La Jolla.

A harbor seal playfully rolls ashore with the incoming tide at La Jolla Cove.

A harbor seal playfully rolls ashore with the incoming tide at La Jolla Cove.

Two pelicans fly over crashing waves during sunset at La Jolla Cove.

Two pelicans fly over crashing waves during sunset at La Jolla Cove.

Image(s) of the Month: January 2014 – Scenic San Diego

A view of San Diego's Embarcadero during a beautiful sunset.

A view of San Diego’s Embarcadero during a beautiful sunset.

Over the New Year’s Holiday I had the opportunity to travel to San Diego with rest and relaxation in mind. The trip ended up being far from the easy-going beach vacation I first planned. As a photographer in a beautiful new city, I couldn’t resist taking out my camera during the seemingly endless opportunities that presented themselves.  The following are some of my favorite images from the trip. Hopefully, I captured a little bit of the essence of scenic San Diego!

A crashing Pacific wave at La Jolla.

A crashing Pacific wave at La Jolla.

"Bianchi," a macaw at Catamaran Resort and Spa.

“Bianchi,” a macaw at Catamaran Resort and Spa.

A heritage dancer at Fiesta De Reyes in Old Town San Diego.

A heritage dancer at Fiesta De Reyes in Old Town San Diego.

The California Building, which houses the Museum of Man in Balboa Park, catches the last rays of afternoon sun.

The California Building, which houses the Museum of Man in Balboa Park, catches the last rays of afternoon sun.

Windsurfers at Pacific Beach near Mission Bay.

Windsurfers at Pacific Beach near Mission Bay.

The Shamu Show at Sea World San Diego.

The Shamu Show at Sea World San Diego.

Children enjoying incoming waves on Coronado Island.

Children enjoying incoming waves on Coronado Island.

The view from the U.S.S. Midway Museum at Navy Pier.

The view from the U.S.S. Midway Museum at Navy Pier.

The Presidio of San Diego at Old Town.

The Presidio of San Diego at Old Town.

A harbor seal satisfying an itch at La Jolla Cove.

A harbor seal satisfying an itch at La Jolla Cove.

A minimalist post-sunset composition at La Jolla.

A minimalist post-sunset composition at La Jolla.

Image of the Month: December 2013

Dallas Divide, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

Dallas Divide, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

This is one of my favorite images from 2013, taken after I attended the Colorado Governor’s Tourism Conference in Telluride last October. There had just been a dusting of snow in the photogenic San Juan Mountains. In this region, there’s probably no more iconic view than the Dallas Divide pictured here and I was lucky enough to witness this scene along the drive home. Happy Holidays and best wishes for a prosperous 2014!

Image of the Month: November 2013

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Lory State Park, Fort Collins Digital Workshop Event

I had a wonderful time teaching an In-the-Field nature photography course last month with enthusiastic students from The Fort Collins Digital Workshop. The course was held at Lory State Park west of Fort Collins. While the park is not known as a fall photography “hotspot” by some photographers, it has some amazing rock formations, brilliantly-colored cottonwood trees and bays where water from Horsetooth Reservoir provides crisp reflections. Opportunities abound for unique fall photos like closeups of leaves as well as examples of hikers, cyclists and horseback riders enjoying the outdoors. Other story-telling images of the resilience of nature are available due to the park’s brush with recent wildflowers. While I love photographing in places like Colorado’s Maroon Lake that are renown for their immeasurable, iconic beauty, I know when I go to places like Lory I won’t be locking tripod legs with dozens of other photographers and I’ll be getting images that are one-of-a-kind with every visit. Stop by the workshop sometime to see what other courses we’ll be offering soon!

Image of the Month: October 2013

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Aspen Impressionism

In the spirit of last month’s post about fall foliage, I continued to think about creative ways to capture the season. I have taken a few images like this one with the unusual goal of not making an image that was realistic and sharp but instead was painterly and blurry in a different, artistic way. This image was created by manually dialing in an exposure with a long shutter speed (about half a second, I think) and making circular motions with the camera and lens while the photo was being taken. It takes some experimentation to get the effect you want, and you can move the camera in several directions for varying results, but this image succeeded in expressing the movement of trees we can all observe during a wind storm. That’s a type of natural event that is difficult to communicate in a fast, sharp landscape.

Image of the Month: September 2013

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Silverjack Spires, San Juan Mountains, Colorado

I’ve overheard many photographers wonder out loud: “why would you want to convert a color photo into black and white, especially a photo of fall foliage?” It’s an interesting question. Often in autumn we seek out the most vivid examples of trees possible, traveling across entire states and regions to find and photograph “peak color.” Occasionally, I’ve tried to break out of this mindset, instead wondering what are some of the other aspects of taking pictures in the fall I can take advantage of? One of the great things about changing fall leaves is that they create variegated shades as well as colors. For example, this photo taken near Silverjack Reservoir in the Cimarron Range provides an extremely pleasing range of gray tones that otherwise wouldn’t be available during other seasons of the year. In this photo, I saw the added bonus of textured rock walls and deep shadows that help accentuate the grove of aspen trees too. Masters like Ansel Adams knew these advantages well also and didn’t hesitate to photograph in black and white during the fall color bonanza.

Image of the Month: August 2013

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Coke Ovens Morning, Colorado National Monument

I’m not naturally a morning person. Regardless of your predisposition, living and photographing nature in Colorado demands that you become one as I have learned to do. The sun shines its most extraordinary light in the morning on so many of our landscapes. From the peaks of the Front Range which reflect the warm light of the sun rising above the plains to the east, to the desert sandstone walls of the Western Slope that burn red with the day’s first beams, photographing in the magic first hour of light in the morning is a must. Being lucky enough to witness scenes like this one of the Coke Ovens in Colorado National Monument near Grand Junction makes it worthwhile to wake before dawn. As was the case while taking this photo, sometimes you might just get a scenic view to yourself. You can catch up on your sleep around noon when the light is much harsher anyway!

See this photo and many more like it in my book Classic Colorado. Copies are in stock and shipping today!

Image of the Month: July 2013

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Fireworks and Mummy Range from Loveland, Colorado

It’s rare that I get to photograph two of my favorite things at the same time: mountains and fireworks. One element exists in the natural world, the other in the man-made world. However, I noticed this private firework display while setting up to capture a time lapse video of the city of Loveland’s major display that was occurring about fifteen minutes later. There was still enough light to see the Mummy Range, miles away in Rocky Mountain National Park, far in the distance. I’m glad I took the camera off of my tripod at the right time to expose a shot of the fireworks going off in town to with such a spectacular backdrop. Sometimes adding a human element can even enhance a nature photo.

Image of the Month: June 2013

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Mount Baldy from Paradise Divide near Crested Butte

Reflections are one of my favorite things to photograph. I love scenes where it almost seems like two worlds exist in one place. At times near sunrise or sunset, the wind usually dies down enough for mountain lakes to provide a clear, ripple-less mirror image. Pictured here, a summer evening under Mount Baldy at the Paradise Divide was an especially tranquil spot to witness a sunset and reflection after driving a four-wheel drive road outside of Crested Butte.