Sky Light, Grand Teton NP – Landscape and Nature Photography by Edward Mendes
Dramatic light makes for great photographs and storms, because of the clouds they bring with them, are often the starting point for something dramatic to happen. I was driving through Grand Teton National Park looking for an image to present itself and noticed the clouds breaking and shafts of light bathing the valley below. Just what I was looking for but I needed a strong foreground subject to anchor the image and remembered this grove as Aspens up the road a bit. The composition was a fairly difficult one for two reasons. First the aspen trees in the foreground of the image run at a bit of an angle and secondly the use of a wide lens to show as much sky as possible meant that a large amount of open, uninteresting land consumed the foreground. After a moment of though I decided to crop the finished image as a panoramic which would remove the open sage from the foreground and allow the view to focus on what drew me to the image, the light, clouds and trees. At that point it was just a matter of waiting and hoping the light would return to the trees, luckily everything fell into place and the clouds open up right above the grove. I hope you enjoy Sky Light.
Sky Light is available in sizes from 10×20 to 30×60 and would make the perfect compliment to any home or office decor. Purchasing information can be found here. Art consultant or Designer? Please contact me for a quote based on your project’s needs, 209-541-1815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikon 18-200mm VRII lens
Cokin 3-Stop Graduated ND Filter
Tonal Work in Photoshop CS5
Black and White conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro2
New Image – Silos and Storm Clouds
|Purchase This Print|
One of the most beneficial aspects of having a formal education in photography, or any art, is the opportunity you have to be introduced to, and as a result, influenced by the work of others in the field, especially historical work. Seldom I’ve found do those self taught in any avocation take the time to divert their attention away from the act of doing long enough to properly focus on the works of those that have come before them, drawing instead on the works of their peers as a muse. There’s something to be said for being familiar with the evolution of any art.
I remember sitting in class and seeing the work of Charles Sheeler and the images he made of the Ford production plant for the first time. I was drawn to the images, by the way the sun light seemed to make the metal buildings glow. Sheeler was able to turn something as mundane as a factory into a piece of art. Charles Sheeler’s work along with John Sexton’s Places of Power portfolio continue to affect the way I see the world and helped me recognize this composition when I saw it.
I was driving along Idaho’s highway 26 just outside Idaho Falls when I noticed the wonderful cloud formations that were filling the sky. I had made this drive a few times in the past and had always wanted to photograph the silos scattered throughout the farmland between Idaho Falls and Jackson, Wyoming but never seem to be there with anything but boring clear skies. I knew today was my chance to finally create a few of the images I had been visualizing for years. This tight grouping of silos is one of my favorite in the area, the vertical composition allowed me to include as much of the interesting textures in the sky as possible and I used the silos as a foreground subject and allowed them to anchor the images a bit. After finding my composition I simply waited for the clouds to open just enough to put a little glow on the silos and their surround area. It’s taken me seven years for the conditions I visualized upon my first visit to the area finally present themselves but and after seeing the finished print, I think it was well worth the wait. I hope you enjoy Silo and Storm Clouds as well.
Silo and Storm Clouds is available in sizes from 8×10 to 40×60 and would make the perfect compliment to any home or office decor. Purchasing information can be found here. Art consultant or Designer? Please contact me for a quote based on your project’s needs, 209-541-1815 or email@example.com
Nikon 18-200mm VRII lens
Cokin 2-Stop Graduated ND Filter
Tonal Work in Photoshop CS5
Black and White conversion in Nik Silver Efex Pro2
Eastern Sierra Fall Color Report
I’m here in the Eastern Sierra’s near the towns of Lee Vining and Bishop getting ready for my annual fall color workshop. I’ve spent the last two days driving up and down highway 395 to some of my favorite fall color locations scouting for the workshop and thought I’d put together an update for anyone else thinking about heading to the area while the colors are still around. Forgive the lack of images but my laptop is having some major problems and has decided it’s better to crash than process any images. Here’s what I’ve found so far…as of October 4th 2013.
The classic wide view of the lake, in the general area of the dock, is beautiful with the color in the groves running up the mountain side on the far side of the lake as close to ideal as I’ve ever seen it during my many visits. As you walk around the lake the color near the shoreline is brilliant from afar but is mostly past prime with many brown spots on the leaves as you get close.
The cottonwoods and other trees that dot Round Valley as you descend Sherman Grade into Bishop are just starting to turn yellow. Most trees are still dark green with some lighter shades mixed in. There are a handful of cottonwoods bunched together in a few spots that are almost completely gold, but those are certainly the minority. The sage brush in most areas look great, bright yellow.
Color near Aspendale is in full force, particularly along Cardinal Road and the aspen groves just south of the town as you drive along highway 168 towards North lake. The view from the highway down the valley is beautiful with most trees showing yellows and gold.
The Aspen grove at the beginning of the road that leads to North Lake from highway 168 offers some beautiful views as you travel up the road and look down the canyon. If you stop to get a closer look however you may be disappointed as most are showing brown spots. For the most part this is true of all the color around the lake and road leading to it, much like the perfect 10 you saw at the club last night, once you get a closer look you’ll be disappointed by the liver spots. The exception are the groves near the trail head parking area which are mostly completely bare.
The Aspens surrounding the lake are mostly bare, which is fine considering the lake is mostly drained and therefore doesn’t lend itself to full lake images with the first rays of daylight touching the upper ridges on the far side of the reservoir. The trees on the road leading up to the lake however look very good from a bit of a distance but feature brown spots upon closer inspection. There are a few trees however along the edge of the creek just before reaching the lake that are on fire right now, but they won’t last long.
Most of the trees that make up the big grand view on Conway Summit are past prime and while the color is still OK they appear a bit dry. The first two groves you come to as you drive up the road have some nice trees with yellow leaves on them and would make nice candidates for some detail work. Beyond these first two groves however there isn’t much going on, you’ll still see yellow trees but most have brown spots on them.
Lee Vining Canyon
I forgot to write down the name of the road, sorry, but it’s the one that ends at a power station and heads the deepest into the canyon (not much help I know). Anyway, there are a few areas along the dirt section of the road that are incredible, bring yellow!
June Lake Loop
The loop looks pretty good in general but I wouldn’t say the color is at peak as I think that may have been a few days ago but it’s still very good with groves on the mountain sides near Silver Lake looking great.
In general most of the color is a bit past it’s peak in most areas but looks stunning from a distance, just concentrate on larger compositions and you’ll be happy with the results. There are some nice pristine color still to arrive in some areas as green trees liter most areas to different degrees so the season for color is far from over but has made the summit and is starting to descend back down to camp, if you’ll allow me a climbing analogy. If you’re planning on checking out the color in the Eastern Sierra I hope this helps.
The above new image, Incoming Tide is a result of making the most of what you have to work with, both in the equipment you have on hand and the subject which presents itself. I was walking down Garrapata beach along California’s stunning Big Sur Coast during a recent photography workshop I was leading in the area. I generally don’t make my own photographs while I lead the workshops as I want to dedicate as much time to my participates as possible and because of this I don’t carry my tripod with me, just the camera so I can demonstrate certain things in the field.
As I was making my way from one student to another I noticed the waves crashing on the beach and really liked the soft cool pastel tones and the patterns that were being made. The sun had yet to rise and I didn’t have my tripod with me so I decided to try a motion blur image where I move the camera in a certain direction during the long exposure to create an abstract image focusing on just tone and texture.
This is the result and I think it turned out pretty nicely considering it’s a major departure from my usual images. I have a fine print of Incoming Tide coming soon, a 30×30 gallery wrapped canvas that I’ll finish by brushing several coats of lacquer onto which will help to protect the image but also add a beautiful texture from the hand laid brushstrokes. I’m excited to see it!
Incoming Tide is available in sizes from 8×8 to 50×50 and would make the perfect compliment to any home or office decor. Purchasing information can be found here. Art consultant or Designer? Please contact me for a quote based on your project’s needs, 209-541-1815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Nikon 18-200mm VRII lens
Minor Tonal Work in Photoshop CS5
I announced my new images for 2013 in my last post and mentioned I would feature each of them individually here on the old blog as time goes by. I’m excited to present to you the first of these new fine art images entitled Emergence. I was in Yosemite National Park to teach my annual “Winter in Yosemite” workshop (always a lot of fun btw, you should sign up for the next one), but did have an opportunity to do any shooting myself as I was too busy with my wonderful participates. On the morning after the workshop ended I woke up and headed into the park to find that it had snowed overnight and a beautiful fresh layer of snow was covering the valley. As I turned a corner El Capitan emerged from almost out of no where, covered powdery snow and framed by snow covered trees at it’s base. I jumped out of the car and spent a few minutes finding a composition that perfectly showcased each element I wanted to feature, the snow covered trees, El Capitan and the cloud filled sky.
As I worked the scene I made a number of images in both vertical and horizontal formats but eventually thought a horizontal image was the most powerful. The real struggle came in the quickly moving clouds the formations of which changed with each image made. This was my favorite. The image also works very well as a black and white and I struggled for some time on which version I was finally include in the collection. When the dust settled I decided to include both as I found myself second guessing my decision whenever I made one. I’ll post the black and white version in a few days and let you decide which is the better of the two. Until then I hope you enjoy Emergence.
Emergence is available in sizes from 11×14 to 30×40 and would make the perfect compliment to any home or office decor. Purchasing information can be found here. Art consultant or Designer? Please contact me for a quote based on your project’s needs, 209-541-1815 or email@example.com
Nikon 18-200mm VRII lens
Cokin 2-stop graduated nd filter
Manfrotto Tripod and Head
Minor Tonal Work in Photoshop CS5
Tags: Adventure, america, art, California, Eastern Sierras, el capitan, El Portal, Fine Art, home decor, horizontal, landscape, Mariposa, national park, nature, park, photo, photography, scenic, snow, travel, trees, west, winter, winter workshop, workshop, Yosemite, Yosemite Village
It’s been some time since I’ve released a new group of images, 2011 in fact. Over the last year and a half I’ve occasionally shown a new image or two on different social media sites but nothing with any type of regularity. The reason? Well actually it’s because of my workshop schedule. I’ve been teaching a lot over the last year or so and haven’t had time to travel much outside of where my workshops led me. During the workshops I try to dedicate most of my time to my students so I don’t shoot much myself outside what I may do in the days leading up to or just prior to the workshops, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been out there shooting.
Over the last year and a half I’ve had the opportunity to visit some of the most beautiful locations in the western United States, including Yosemite, Mono Lake, Zion, Grand Teton and more while teaching both group and private workshops. During that time I have managed to create a number of images that I’m very proud of and excited to share with you now. As I look at the images I’ve noticed two things, first many of the new images I’m making are ending up in a panoramic format and second I’m starting to regain my passion for black and white. Neither of these things are something I’ve intentionally set out to do but are coming about organically for one reason or another, it’s an interesting change in the way I’m seeing the world of late and something I’m assuming I’ll continue to explore in the future.
Ok, that’s enough talking. Below are my official 2013 fine art releases, a few you may have seen before but most are just seeing the light of day. Over the coming days, weeks or months (how knows) I’ll feature each one individually here on the blog and on other sites along with the story of how they were made but until then I hope you enjoy them as a whole. If you would like to view each image with it’s story you can head on over to the new release portion of my website.
- If you’re a collector and would like to own a print of any of these images please contact me or order online by viewing the image you enjoy via the link above. Images are available as fine prints in sizes from 11×14 to 30×40.
- Art consultant or Interior designer? Contact me to discuss your project and image needs. Images are available in any size and finish to fit your project, for more information visit the Home Decor Professionals section of my website.
- Please contact me for licensing information.
It’s winter and that means rain, snow and generally cold weather unless you live in a tropical climate, and if that’s the case then know I hate you. While a beautiful mountain summit covered in fresh snowfall makes for a great image it’s also makes for chilly conditions, something camera gear (and some photographers) don’t like very much. So here’s a few tips for making the most out of winter conditions.
Keep your batteries warm
Batteries don’t like cold weather and tend to discharge more quickly when exposed to the elements. To ensure your batteries give you as much use as possible keep them warm. I do this by keeping them close to my body usually storing them in an inner coat pocket however you could also keep them in some sort of pouch worn around your neck so they are held against your body. Another favorite way to keep batteries warm is to store them inside my camera bag along with a number of chemical heating packs.
As mentioned above batteries lose their charge when the temperature dips so always be prepared and have extra batteries on hand.
Keep those fingers warm
I’m not sure if there is anything more difficult to deal with in cold weather than cold fingers. I’ve been in situations when my fingers have gotten so cold that I literally could not move them, which makes taking pictures next to impossible. To help with that I now carry multiple pairs of gloves with me in my car and choose the pair that will best fit the conditions. I prefer a nice thin glove made out of water resistant material so they don’t stay wet when the snow on them later melts. A thin glove allows me to continue to manipulate the camera controls without removing them and exposing my hands to the elements. I try to stay away from the gloves with exposed fingers or with removable fingers as I don’t want to expose my fingers to use the camera. In very cold conditions I often wear two sets of gloves, my favored thin pair and a heavier glove over them. This helps to keep my hands warm in very cold conditions and by wearing the thinner pair also I can take off the heavier gloves and adjust the camera while still having my fingers protected.
Keep those toes warm
For some people cold feet are just as bad as cold fingers. Whether that describes you or not having warm, dry feet will make sure your much more comfortable and productive in the field. I like to wear water proof or water resistant hiking boots with at least two layers of socks, one of which are always heavy thermal socks. The water resistant shoe is important in even snow covered conditions because the snow on your shoe will melt and absorb into your foot as soon as you’re back in the car and traveling to your next location. You can also try water repellant spray on your shoes.
If you’ll be walking on snow or ice having the proper footwear or walking aids makes a world of difference. If you’ll be hiking over any distance a pair of snowshoes will make your experience a much more pleasurable one. Snowshoes look a lot like tennis rackets and usually attach onto your existing shoes, though there are many different types. Snowshoes distribute your weight over a much larger surface area then boots and allows you to walk on snow without sinking to your waist, which has happened to me many times.
If you’ll be doing any walking on ice or other slick conditions crampons are extremely useful and allow you to walk with confidence and safety. Crampons are basically small spikes that dig into the ice, giving you much needed grip and fit over your existing footwear. There are many different types of crampons for different uses. I personally use a very inexpensive one-size-fits-most pair that does a great job for the conditions I tend to visit. If you’d like to learn a bit more about which crampons are right for you check out this info on the REI website.
It may also be a good idea to carry a walking stick with you in extreme conditions as they can help tremendously when the snow gets thick or the ice particularly slick.
Drink something warm
A thermos of hot coffee, tea, chocolate or soup can go a long way in making your winter photography experience more enjoyable when you’ve found your sunset location an hour or two before sunset. Sitting in the snow for a couple hours waiting for the sun isn’t exactly the most enjoyable thing in the world but it’s made a little better when you can stay warm. So fill up the thermos with your favorite hot beverage and stop staring at your watch, the sun never sets when you’re staring at your watch.
This one’s for your car. If you’ve ever fishtailed down a raised road in your four-wheel drive desperately trying to regain control before you head off the embankment and into a ditch then you know how hazardous driving in snow and ice can be. That’s exactly what happened to me a few years ago while traveling only 25mph down what seemed to be a dry road. Tire chains do for your car what crampons do for your feet. Having chains and knowing how to put them on can get you out of some pretty hairy situations while also allowing you to explore areas others won’t be able to get to because they aren’t carrying chains. A couple things to remember. First, tire chains are NOT one-size-fits-all, you must purchase chains to fit the size of your tires. So if you had chains for your previous car and now you’re driving something different you better check the tire size and see if your current chains will fit. Secondly, tire chains can be a bit tricky to put on, that’s why you’ll see guys charging you $50 to install them on the side of the highway. Practice installing your chains under different conditions so you feel more comfortable putting them on when you need them. Finally, chains do you no good if you don’t use them.
Winter is one of the most exciting times of the year to be a photographer as it offers some of the most beautiful moments our planet has to offer. In addition not as many people get out when the weather is cold and thus allows you to capture moments that others never experience. While I know it’s not as easy getting out there when you have to hike through knee deep snow or wait an hour for the sun to set when its 3 degrees outside there are a few simple things you can do to make your photography outings more enjoyable even if the weather doesn’t isn’t.
Join me for my upcoming “Winter in Yosemite” workshop, February 8th through 10th 2013. Visit my website for all the information.
The New Year’s confetti is vacuumed off the floor, the holiday parties are finished up and you finally have time to rip open that box of new photography gear and take it out for a spin. Before you head out the door however make sure you’re prepared to keep all those new goodies sparkling clean and in good working condition for years to come. There’s nothing worse than dirty equipment, the scratching sound of sand in your lens or spots on your sensor, it make me cringe just thinking about it. Not to fear however here are a few simple item to keep in your camera bag to make sure all your new toys always have that straight-from-Santa smell.
A lens cloth
These little pieces of micro-fiber cloth are great for removing light dust and dirt from your lens, camera or tripod and are inexpensive too. I always have a couple of these in my camera bag.
A small hand towel
If you shoot in the rain, snow, along the coast or on a cool morning you know your equipment, especially your lens can collect a lot of water for a number of reasons depending on the conditions. I like to keep a small terry cloth hand towel in may camera bag to help wipe off that excess water. In fact it’s a good idea to keep a couple in the bag as I’ve been in situations where my lens continues to collect condensation so badly that I completely saturate one towel, at which point it’s pretty much useless.
Lens cleaning solution and tissue
A lens cloth alone can do a relatively good job at removing smudges and finger prints in a pinch but nothing beats a couple drops of lens cleaning solution and lens tissue. The tissue, while perfectly safe for your glass, has a slightly abrasive surface which helps to remove just about anything stuck to your lens. Remember to apply the cleaning solution to the lens tissue not the glass. Also, if you find yourselves in the field without any cleaning solution and no camera store nearby rubbing alcohol works too.
Blower Lens Brush
These soft bristle brushes have a rubber blower built into them allowing you to blow off any loose particles from your equipment before wiping it down with the brush.
I don’t officially endorse or recommend cleaning your camera sensor as I don’t want to get blamed for anything that may go wrong. For the record I recommend having your sensor cleaned professionally if anything should appear on it. So, now that I’ve got the disclaimer out of the way, if you do want to give sensor cleaning a try I’ve used Sensor Swaps in the past with pretty good results. Before attempting to use this or anything else on your sensor I would simply attempt to blow it off with a rubber blower brush and see if that does the trick. NOTE: Never use compressed air to try and clean your sensor.
And now for a couple of hints to keep things clean.
Don’t remove your lens
I know this one may be impossible to do as no lens is perfect for every situation however remember that your camera is usually sealed and designed to keep out dust and dirt as long as the seal is intact. When you remove the lens you break that seal and all sorts of bad things have an opportunity to attach themselves to your sensor. I recommend trying to plan ahead, if you’re familiar with a location or have scouted it previously this is easier to do, and attach the lens you think you’ll need while still in the car, at home or in the hotel where there will be less dust in the air. Secondly, when you do change lens point the camera down so you don’t allow anything to fall inside of the camera and land on the sensor, it’s the law of gravity, fewer things float up then fall downward.
Clean from the inside-out
Dirt loves to hide in the outer most area of your lens where the glass meets the ring. To minimize the chances of scratching your glass always clean from the center outward otherwise you run the risk of removing dirt from the ring area and moving it around the center of the glass.
Clean all your equipment after each session
This one is the most difficult to do simply because it’s time consuming and boring however it you clean all your gear (Camera, Lens, Filters and Tripod) after each use you’ll minimize the chance of anything messing up a future image and know your equipment is always ready to go.
A few final thoughts
Keeping your equipment clean is the key to getting years of high quality images from them. If you treat your gear well it will perform for you for a long time and doing so is a simple matter and diligence. So take a few minutes and make sure you’re stocked up with everything you need keep all your gear in like new condition.
I know it’s been a while between posts here on the old blog. I’m never as consistent as I need to be with releasing article, new images, updates, specials or whatever but I’m hoping to get better at it…a real work in progress.
2012 was a tough year. In early February I was diagnosed with both diabetes and a heart condition. The diabetes came as no surprises as I was exhibiting many of the notable symptoms that are associated with the illness for many months beforehand, excessive thirst,a lethargic personality, weight loss, nerve damage and others. The heart condition, as a result of the diabetes, came as a surprise. As it turns out there is a never in your heart that controls the speed at which it beats. Unfortunately for me this nerve was damaged by the diabetes and no longer reacts as it should. As a result of this my heart rate was very high, even while resting.
While my blood sugar was high and my diabetes was bad because of my own stubbornness and refusal to see what was right in front of me for so long, medication and a change in eating habits quickly got it to a manageable level. The reason for the rapid heartbeat and its eventual solution took much longer to figure out. For months my days were filled with doctor visits, specialist consultations, EKG’s, medication trials and even a trip to the ER which lead to a stay in the hospital all in an attempt to figure out what was going on. Eventually the reason was found and a combination of medications prescribed that has seemed to work pretty well. My lethargic attitude is gone, my energy levels are back up, I’m no longer dizzy and light headed when doing just about anything and best of all the extreme pain in my feet and legs (that I didn’t get into here) are gone. I can again get out and create!
The last twelve months has been somewhat of a lost year as it’s been difficult to get out and do much including teach, hike, create new images or even wear shoes, yep the foot pain was BAD, however I’m optimistic for 2013. The end of the most recent cycle in the Mayan calendar didn’t bring about the end of civilization as some had predicted and I for one couldn’t be more excited. After a year like 2012 I’m ready to start living again.
I’m happy to announce my newest fine art print release, McWay Falls, Big Sur Coast. McWay Falls is one of the most majestic waterfalls in the world with its elegant tumble over beautiful cliffs plunging onto the beach below and then flowing into the Pacific Ocean. I’ve been visiting McWay Falls inside Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park along California’s Big Sur coast for a number of years but never created an image I was satisfied with so I thought I’d try again.
While I created a number of images both before and during the golden light of sunset nothing was really stood out as a possible gallery image. As the day’s light continued to fade I decided to keep making images to show the movement of the water as the tide moved in and out of the small cove that the waterfall lives in. As the exposure increased the movement of the water became increasingly interesting and I soon realized I had the image I’d been waiting for.
McWay Falls, Big Sur Coast is available in sizes from 10×20 to 30×60 and would make the perfect compliment to any home or office decor. Purchasing information can be found here. Art consultant or Designer? Please contact us for a quote based on your project’s needs, 209-541-1815 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Mamiya 55mm f/2.8 lens
Manfrotto Tripod and Head
Minor Tonal Work in Photoshop CS5
Tags: beach, Big Sur, Black and White, bw, California, carmel, Central Coast, cove, Fine Art, Fine Art Print, horizontal, Julia Pfeiffer Burns state park, landscape, long exposure, McWay Falls, monterey, nature, photography, Rocks, trees, Water, waterfall