DoMoBA the story the book the movie

DoMoBA, (Dotty Molt BadAss), That’s Victor Cooper’s name for me. He owns The Rocking V, a wonderful restaurant in Kanab, Utah. I met him in 2013 on one of my solo trips out to photograph the Desert Southwest. As it turns out, he’s become one of my best friends, and one of my angels.

This selfie, taken with my IPhone tells a story all by itself, but you have to know the whole story to understand it. From beginning to end, from stuck to unstuck, from veils to spiritual enlightenment. It’s the inspirational story of my 25,000 mile road trip which propelled me, a free spirit hippie princess, cross country on an empowering journey.

The story begins in Incline Village, Nevada, where at fifty-six, the surface of my life was perfect. I lived in a beautiful home on Lake Tahoe with a handsome boyfriend. We were Barbie and Ken smiling at life from the pages of Facebook.  But beneath this exterior, we’d lost our passion, our souls and paths in life sadly disconnected.  Feeling alone and stuck in a privileged life, I grabbed my camera, packed too much of everything along with one long slinky dress in Ruby, my Jeep Rubicon, an off road warrior with the balls to match my repressed wild side, and set out to find the person I used to be.

Fearlessly off roading in deep sand, stealth camping under infinite stars, I found freedom and self reliance on the road.  Shaman and angels appeared on my path, offering subtle guidance and encouragement.  I hiked to sacred spaces where my soul found perfect joy and tearful loneliness. I found a short lived relationship with another photographer, then found myself stuck for far too long after his abrupt unexplained change of heart. Twenty five miles away from civilization, stuck in deep viscous mud after a night of torrential rains, I found the power within myself to get unstuck physically and emotionally.

Traveling south to Florida, I found Jesus on the beach, and on the mat next to me in a yoga class, the third Shaman of my journey found me. He cracked my heart wide open allowing me to see the spiritual path I’d traveled, the daily synchronicity which had brought me to the presence of God, to spiritual enlightenment.

I have been a professional photographer and yoga teacher for more than ten years.  I am passionate about inspiring those who dream of being free to take action and drive, hike, walk, run, or crawl to their destiny.  Today.  I have images and videos from this journey, some of them are on my website in the Every Image has a Story folder, along with the short stories I’ve written to accompany a motivational speaking tour.  I’m seeking representation from a Literary agent or a publisher who is willing to take a leap of faith and help me tell my story to the world.

It’s time.

The Best 2016

Every Image has a Story


It’s that time of year where we post images which we think represent our body of work from the past year, the Best of the Best.  Usually limited to 12 images, one from each month, it’s really hard to decide which moments from our life to include, which images really speak to us.

Because I’ve been blessed to be able to travel extensively this year, I’ve chosen the images that tell a story.  If you’re on my Facebook page, you’ve read some of these stories, laughed at my silly videos, hopefully been inspired to get off the grid and into the world to live your life larger than you ever have, to find your True North, to become the person you’ve always dreamed of being.

I’ve traveled through eighteen states this year, from the foggy West Coast, through the hot dry desert, up into the Rocky Mountains, the Smoky, very smoky, mountains, finally ending up back home after ten years living in Reno just 25 miles from Lake Tahoe, in Sunny, hot, humid South Florida.  I thought I might stay in Florida, but the mountains are calling me, there’s more to see, more stories to tell, more beautifully brilliant light filled with vivid color to witness and share.

The Kindness of Strangers

The kindness of strangers

I’ve been on a road trip for almost 4 months now.  I’m collecting stories, and collecting friends.  My biggest adventure to date has to be the trip out to Alstrom Point, a location near Page, Arizona which looks out over Lake Powell.  It’s a 25 mile drive on a combination of clay and soot and ash, that is completely benign when dry, but absolutely impassable when wet.  Absolutely.

Ruby, (my Rubicon), and I made the drive out to the point around noon, watching the clouds start to pile up, expecting that we were going to be in for a real treat at sunset.  I spent the day reading, practicing yoga, and generally wasting time.  That’s what you do when you think the sunset is going to be incredible.  Stay for the shot !  But as sunset appeared the clouds continued to thicken, until there was no light anywhere in the sky, just huge thunderclouds.  Everywhere.  I checked my phone, and sure enough, the forecast was for thunder and lightning all night long.  Not a good thing where you’re on the edge of a cliff in the middle of nowhere.  Then the first bolt of lightning struck, way off in the distance but definitely headed our way.


After a very unsettling night of constant thunder, lightning, torrential rain and gusts of wind which made me think that Ruby and I might just slide right off the side of the cliff into Lake Powell, I finally woke up at 530am, peeked out the window of my penthouse and got out to photograph the moon dancing behind clouds. I photographed sunrise, and low lying clouds which filled my camera with specters dancing through the frame. 


We sat and watched the light changing, and then Ruby decided she was ready to off road into deep thick mud that turned to clay as we attempted to make the 25 mile trip back to civilization.


Ruby must not have gotten enough sleep as she stopped after two miles, and refused to go another inch, in foot and tire sucking mud that’s still caked on my shoes. I called a towing company, who told me that they would just send a Rubicon out to get Ruby, and proceeded to help me put her in the right gears to get her moving again.. I also gave her some coffee.
We traveled a few miles, and then sat 30 minutes basking in the sun, (actually waiting for the mud to harden a little). A Ford F150 pulled up behind us, and I jumped out to find two girls driving, Shyanne Yazzie and Erin, my Heroes, who were just as surprised to see “a chick” driving Ruby. They stayed with me the whole way out, showing me how to test the rivers created by the flash floods, filming me going through one of them, and then heading to Page together to wash the mud off of our vehicles. I washed Ruby for 30 minutes, and realized that the driver’s side fender was gone – nothing left, just the buttons that held it on ! I guess the mud sucked it off of her !

She looked pretty clean, but when I got her on the road, she was bouncing all over the place making me think she was out of alignment, or drunk on tequila. We made it to Kanab at 5pm, I pulled into a tire and brake shop, and Shannon, the owner, after hearing about the mud, and even though it was closing time, proceeded to take the rear tires off Ruby, showing me how much mud was caked on, under, in, around, over, in every crevice imaginable, and getting harder by the minute !!! That was why Ruby had the death wobble – she was trying to bounce off all of that irritating mud. It took 2 hours to pressure clean, poke and prod the mud off of the tires and brakes, and everything behind and under Ruby. My Hero.


I decided that after camping in a thunder and lightning storm last night, that the Parry Hotel, the cutest hotel in Kanab, would be the perfect place to regroup for the night. The front desk clerk, after hearing my Alstrom story put me in one of the nicest rooms they have, the Julie Newmar room, ( she was Catwoman in the old Batman and Robin series), a room with a jacuzzi. Another Hero.

The kindness of strangers.


One of my most favorite locations to photograph in the Desert Southwest is White Pocket in the Vermillion Cliffs area of Arizona. I’ve tried to drive out to this location by myself, and completely wimped out because of the deep sand.  I have a Rubicon now, so there’s absolutely no excuse,  yes, the sand is deep, but you just have to air down your tires, and don’t stop. Sort of.

I have some beautiful images form here, but this one has a story. This is my absolutely favorite image from the Monsoon Workshop I attended with Mark Metternich Photography. Mark is really awesome about showing you all the best locations to shoot when you get to an area. It helps tremendously because it’s a huge area, and the lines are absolutely crazy. They twist and turn all over the place. I wandered around the area in the morning and in the afternoon, so by the time we went out for sunset, I knew I really wanted something original, and for sunset, I really wanted the light on some of these red rocks. So I found this crazy rock, and set up my tripod. While I was standing there, waiting for sunset, and watching an incoming storm, this crazy guy from Switzerland came up behind me and tried to move me out of the way. I knocked him off of the ledge and watched him tumble down into the sand. No one saw me do that, so don’t tell anyone. He’ll recover eventually.

The light started going crazy and Mark tried to flag me over to another location to shoot, but I held my ground. He finally came over to where I was and then he tried to comp stomp me, too ! Jeez, I get no respect.
I’m totally kidding, Mark gave me one of his big smiles, told me it was awesome, moved the tripod a little to the left and then went down into the sand to help that Swiss guy.

Not quite sure what to title this yet…Maybe something like UnStompable ?

Last Rock from the Left

Last Rock from the Left
Last Rock from the Left

Being Wild

I recently spoke at the 2016 Shooting the West Photography Symposium, in Winnemucca, Nevada, talking about being able to get off the grid and find your wild side.  I was super nervous, maybe because I had at least 30 minutes worth of content which I had to squeeze into 15 minutes.  I skipped around a bit, jumping over some of the information I planned to share, but the feedback was supportive, and everyone seemed to enjoy the presentation.  I’m posting the entire speech below, just for posterity.

Dotty Tree Squirrel

I am a Florida native and happily moved to the Mountains above Reno, Nevada in 2006, taking a giant leap of faith and following a boyfriend all the way across the country. My friends have told me that they are now living vicariously through me, and that I inspire them with my adventures. They call me a trail blazer. I Laugh at that, BUT
I think I’ve always been fearless. As a child, I loved to climb trees, spending hours in the tree fort my Father built which towered, (in my eyes) a good twenty feet off of the ground. I swung down from the fort from a rope swing, which would rocket to the ground then fly right back up in the air taking me with it. It was exhilarating, but the best part was being up in the trees, looking down on the world from up in the sky.

I read science fiction, and fantasy novels, where worlds were beautiful beyond imagination, where the land was colored every shade of the rainbow. As an only child, I spent hours alone, learning to enjoy being alone with myself. I chose to stay away from the herd mentality, instead choosing to do things my way. Not one to settle for an ordinary life, I chose paths, and made decisions that led me ultimately, to the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range over Reno, Nevada.

I’ve had a camera, like most people, since I was a teenager, but my semi professional photographic journey began with a Canon Rebel, which that same boyfriend bought for me after I moved to Reno. I saw the images of Elizabeth Carmel, and others who captured light and color on Lake Tahoe and started to started to read about how they achieved the results I desired, reading about Magic Hour and how light reflects and refracts. How clouds affect everything you photograph adding depth to an image, texture, color. My photographs lit up! Color everywhere, but especially at sunrise and sunset. The Magic hour! I found what I’d been seeking, the magical landscape described only in novels. Lake Tahoe became my playground, until I grew bored with the same lines and shapes of the beautiful images. Isn’t it true that when you go somewhere new, your creative mind lights up? You’re inspired? Time for a change!

CB Kaleidascope (^ dpi

My other half has no desire to leave Lake Tahoe, having traveled extensively in his younger years. That’s what he says but I think that’s actually just an excuse, he doesn’t like road trips, hiking or backpacking either. I think that some people just have wanderlust.

So, I started traveling alone, which is easier than asking someone else to get up at O Dark Thirty to photograph sunrise, or to skip dinner because the clouds look like there are going to blow up at sunset. I was a little uneasy at first, but since there’s nothing to fear but fear itself, I Jumped in the Jeep and started driving. I started with weekend trips, Yosemite, Mono Lake, Lundy Canyon. Just 3-5 hours away from Reno. Then I ventured down to Death Valley, got lost in the Valley of Fire, and hiked all over Big Sur. I photographed wildflowers and fall foliage, sunrises and sunsets to my hearts content. How peaceful to be alone on the road, to make U-Turns without anyone complaining, to follow the clouds, to wait for the sun to set, to stay out till midnight photographing the Milky Way! And then I found an Extreme photography workshop in The Narrows of Zion. Hiking in the Virgin River, wearing a dry suit, wet shoes, walking into the current of a cold river ,it sounded extreme so I signed up as fast as I could.

I fell in Love with Utah !

Pillar of Light pano©DottyMolt2012

After capturing one of my favorite images, Pillar of Light on that workshop, I decided it was time to really get off the grid so I planned a road trip for April of the following year, driving from Reno down to Death Valley, up through the Valley of Fire, through Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef, over to Canyonlands and Arches, Moab, Antelope Canyon, Vermillion Cliffs, South Coyote Buttes, Kanab, Coral Pink Sand Dunes, then Yosemite, and back home. I drove in deep sand to South Coyote Buttes, and hiked all the way down to the Subway and Archangel Falls. Over 3000 miles in two weeks…Heaven ! The layers of color in the Desert Southwest are amazingly beautiful, magnificent mountains, stark desert landscapes with HooDoos and Toadstools. Places where you felt like you’d stumbled into another world, one that you’d read about, or seen in a movie. And only a few hours away, off the grid, out of the mainstream, into the Wild. I stayed in hotels, did laundry on the road, had the best time! It was empowering !!!

So, how does one become wild, to lead the way, instead of following the pack?

First things first. Get in shape…get outside, walk, run, hike, bike, climb. UPHILL ! If you don’t live at a higher elevation, remember that when you travel, you’re going to be challenged by altitude. Fitness is a daily activity. You’ll feel better, have more energy, and be able to hike down the side of a ravine to a creek filled with wildflowers. And climb back out again ! I’ve taught fitness classes for almost 30 years, and Yoga for 10 years, and being active will save you. You can start practicing yoga at any age, and you will develop flexibility, strength and balance. And that’s really what life is all about…balance in everything you do. I miss a lot of sunrises because I either teach yoga in the morning or I’m out running my 3 mile loop.


Eat healthy, processed food is killing us. The healthier you are, the more energy you have, the further off the grid you can travel.

Get up Early ! Most people start hiking after 9am, If you start hiking before the majority of the world, you’ll have better light, a more peaceful experience, and less people in your images.

We all have locations on our bucket list. Pick one and start researching the location. Find out where it is, and then what else is in the area. For instance, Antelope Canyon is in Page, Arizona, along with Horseshoe Bend, and the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, and if you head East, Monument Valley, Bryce and Zion are North West, and so on and so on. Sit down with Google Maps and plug in all of those places. Then start mapping out your trip. Now, just a side note, Antelope Canyon has become a huge tourist trap. There are, on average, 300 people in the slot canyon at the same time. They offer a photographers tour, which is a smaller group, but the rest of the people are still there with you. It’s pretty chaotic and when you’re photographing it there’s nothing peaceful about it. There are more slot canyons in the area. There are books about them. Grab one and start reading. Get off the crowded grid !

Lower Antelope Surfs Up 2 WEB
Find books about photographing the area where you’re headed. Buy a map and read it before you get in the car and the fine print is too small to see. Thank God for Siri and her friend Garmin. She is pretty efficient about sending you in the right direction, but if she’s sleeping on the job, or thinks you’re speaking a foreign language that day, the map always rules.

Be prepared for anything to happen in the sky, carry your rain gear, flashlight, water and food, first aid kit. If there’s a place to fill up your car in the desert, stop and do it now. Carry bear mace, the kind that has two long 17 foot shots, unless you’re licensed to carry more than that, then take lessons in self defense. It’s unlikely that you’ll experience any issues, but be prepared. Get used to peeing in the woods! Bears do it ! Men do it ! Know how to change a flat tire, carry a compass. Use common sense !

If you’re staying at a hotel, make friends with the locals who work there, ask questions, and if they know any places that are off the grid and worth investigating. Ro sent me up to the top of Winnemucca Peak last year, where I photographed a beautiful sunset.  This year I ventured off on a side road where I photogrpahed some lovely wildflowers at sunset and wandered through the Sand Dunes which continue for miles through the desert.

Winnemucca Windy Sunset 96 dpi

Explore side roads. I just got back from a trip to Hood River, Oregon to photograph wildflowers. I knew that the fruit trees would be blooming, too, so I found some backroads and just started driving. I found some beautiful compositions, and a hard cider tasting event. My favorite was the blueberry.

Cider Tasting Hood River

Be fearless ! Remember all the admonishments from your Mom to stand tall, have a strong handshake, and look someone right in the eye? Someone who can do that exudes confidence ! They also look taller and stronger. *-) I recently photographed street art in NYC, hopping on a subway near East 79th street around 7am, and getting off down in NOHO with camera in hand. I’ll have to admit, I really was nervous at first, but every time I came across someone on the street, I smiled and said good morning to them. I was rewarded with the most beautiful smiles from the scariest people, and even made a new Facebook friend. I wandered for a few hours, walking up and down alleys, keeping my eyes open, but having the time of my life. I went back again the next day! It’s empowering to be fearless !

Turtle web

Don’t forget to Hike with your head held high, and your core held tight, of course watching your step along the way, because there’s probably a 20 or 30 pound backpack hanging from your back. and if your body isn’t used to that extra weight, your experience out there will not be as pleasant as it could be.

Alstrom Point wide open sky

All of this brings us to the ability to really get off the grid, and into the landscape where we’re able to find perspectives that echo our true vision. Sure, anyone can stand at the rim of the Grand Canyon, take hundreds of shots at different angles at sunset and get one beautiful photo….. that everyone else has already taken. And if you’re new to photography, that’s probably something that will make you happy. But when you venture down into the landscape, when you have the ability, and the fearlessness to go off the grid, to go deep into the world, your perspective gets much more unique. From there, shooting from a low angle, through trees, finding a composition that tells a story rather than just captures a pretty scene…that is an art. And that’s finding your wild side.

Scouting out your location

Finding the perfect place to photograph a scene when you’ve never been in the area before can be especially daunting, especially if it’s pouring buckets of water all over you and your equipment.

I think the hardest thing about photographing a location that’s new to you is finding the best place to set up for sunrise or sunset. You can read other photographer’s blogs, research the area online, map it all out with a pretty good idea of what you want to shoot, find the location, then realize that it’s bigger than what you expected, or the clouds are in the wrong position for what you thought was going to be the perfect composition.
That happened on my first day in Oregon last week. After driving to my hotel in a torrential rainstorm, which felt almost like a hurricane, dropping off my luggage, unpacking, then changing rooms because there was a party going on next door, I finally headed out the door at 4pm. I found the Tom McCall Preserve, and started hiking out into a beautiful field of flowers. The sun was still high, the clouds were thick, the wind was still steady and strong, I had plenty of time, so after an hour of dawdling there, I headed up the trail, passing photographers in another field of flowers that overlooked the Columbia River. Little did I know that I should have stayed there…
The climb up the Rowena Crest Trail was consistently steep, and slippery in a few spots, the rain kept coming and going, and the wind kept the fields of flowers dancing, making it hard to photograph. I kept passing signs that said the path was closed for reconstruction, so somewhere near the top, I turned around to make my way back down to a beautiful area that looked just right for sunset.
By this time, the sun was starting to vanish behind clouds, and I realized that the sunstar I was planning to shoot was going to happen sooner than I expected. I started running downhill.
I stopped when I saw the sun disappear behind the clouds, and pulled out my Sony, which I never use, but it had the wide angle lens on it, so I cranked up the ISO to 1600 to try and freeze the wildly dancing flowers, and hand held these images. I wasn’t where I planned to be, that field was another 5 minutes down the hill, but the light was right, right then, so that’s where I stopped for sunset.
I came back to the open field of flowers that overlooked the Columbia River the next morning for sunrise.  It was indeed beautiful, and there were about 20 other photographers spaced out all over the field.  Mainly men, (what’s that all about) ?  and a few latecomers who kept pacing around looking for the perfect shot, (basically a flower in the foreground that’s facing the camera).  One person was still walking around looking for a spot as the sun crested the mountains and washed out the scene, ruining the beautiful soft light that happens during magic hour.  Certainly there were still plenty of options for beautiful images, and I stayed there another hour playing with macros and compositions to the west where the sky was deepening into a beautiful blue.
I did hike up to the top of that hill the next day when the winds had finally died down, but that’s another story.  OR Rowena Crest Trail Sunset 96 dpiOR Rowena Crest Trail 2 sunset 96 dpi

Road Trip with my Buddy


I moved to Reno, Nevada back in 2006, leaving my, then, 18 year old son back in Florida.  Fast forward to 2014, he’s 26, handsome, happy, and the light of my life.  I don’t spend enough time with him, so we’ve been going on trips together.  Last year was a Backroads trip to Alaska, this year, a road trip from Reno to Yosemite, across California to Big Sur, up the coast to Carmel, Monterey Bay, San Francisco, Bodega Bay, Santa Rosa, and back to Reno.  1000 miles in 7 days.  

I live at 6000 feet and thought I was a pretty strong hiker, until we started hiking.  We headed up a mountain, and after about 10 minutes, I lost sight of him.  !  “Buddy, wait for Momma!”  He obligingly came back, and we hiked together for the rest of the trip.  I know I was holding him back, but he was the perfect gentleman, never complaining, and using his IPhone to take better photos than I was with the Canon 5D Markiii.  Ah, youth.

Our first hike was just past the East entrance into Yosemite, up to Gaylor Lake.  We found the lake covered in melting snow in the middle of June.


Then we hiked The John Muir Mist Trail, which took about 4 hours, although we did stop quite a bit for Ray to use his IPhone.  We stayed up late to try and capture photos of the Milky Way from Tunnel View, but gave up when the moon came out and started shining all over the mountains, dimming all the stars.  I don’t think Ray wanted to stay up there until 11pm anyhow.  On the way back to the Yosemite Lodge at the Falls, we saw hikers scaling El Capitan, so I snagged a photo of that.  Kinda like that one.


The next morning we left Yosemite to drive 3 hours to Big Sur, noticing giant stalks of Broccoli growing along the side of the road as we drove through farm country, commenting on the fact that the produce was hopefully not organic, cause if it was, we were all eating car fumes.

Big Sur was beautiful, although our first hotel was a little disappointing…no coffee !!!!  And non in the lobby until 8am !  I’m up at 530am or earlier every day, and that just wasn’t working for me.  Call me princess, I don’t care.  Ray was upset because we didn’t have a TV, and the walls were paper thin.  He kept commenting that we were going to get killed in the middle of the night.  I was more worried about the hotel sliding down the side of the cliff!  Needless to say, we were safe and lived to tell this tale.  


In Carmel, we ate at the Dametra Cafe twice, (yes, it was that good !),  and visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium on our way to San Francisco.  Ray again outshined me with his IPhone.  We did a little exploring in Jenner, above Bodega Bay, and got stuck in rush hour traffic twice, once just outside of San Francisco, and then again in Sacramento, driving 10 miles in two hours both times.  We also did a wine and cheese pairing in Santa Clara, which we both thoroughly enjoyed.  The best shot of that day was this lizard which Ray put to sleep after he captured him.  They scurry off after you flip them back on their bellies.  


I almost forgot our hike along the Big Sur coastline.  I’ve seen McWay Falls before, so we skipped that, but this was a pretty amazing hike through the redwoods.  We found a beautiful stream, and took what we thought was a spur road to a beautiful overlook.  Turns out we were on the trial the entire time.  


Back in Reno, I was really excited because we had two more days to Kayak, hike, standup paddle board, and fly fish!!!  I asked Ray what he wanted to do first, and he told me, “All I want to do is workout at the gym, get massive, have you cook meatballs and fudge, and watch movies on TV”.  I was surprised, but I realized that even though he was 26, he was still my little boy who missed his Momma, so we watched Darkman 1, 2 and 3, Hunger Games, and Ace Ventura.  It was the best trip ever!

The Perfect Poppy


I have seen the most beautiful photographs of poppies, and up until now, I didn’t have any.  Back in April, at the end of my Southwest trip of 3000 miles in 10 days, I drove all the way from Death Valley to the Antelope Poppy preserve outside of Los Angeles, with every intention of finally capturing my perfect poppy shot.  Well…after driving through gale force winds, watching the hood of the Jeep jump up and down for miles and miles, seemingly about to come loose and fly up in my face, I made it.  Along with hundreds of other people.  The winds were still blowing, there was smog on the horizon, and my vision of the perfect shot went up in…uh… the smog.  

So fast forward to my trip to Napa with my Yoga teacher a few weeks later.  The morning everyone got up and had a massage, I drove about 30 miles south to a state park in Napa, walked up a lovely hill filled with oak trees and blankets of wildflowers and found a small patch of poppies on the side of the hill.  I spend an hour composing, shooting, waiting for the breeze to die down, and finally got what I wanted.  

Success !!!

Post processing for the best image


Over the years, I’ve gone from shooting ten or so rolls of film on vacation, being careful not to waste space because processing 36 photos plus the cost of the film was $15, to 500 photos a day thanks to the digital age, where we shoot from every possible angle, at every reasonable setting, sometimes in threes for HDR, (how much storage do you have?), to a much more reasonable between 10 to 50 at sunset, if the light keeps changing, finding a few perspectives which use the color in the sky to the best advantage. What a relief for me and the storage drive on my computer, which after 3 years of collecting images, is really getting full.  Time to delete.  

Which takes more time than you think, because there’s a possibility that you missed something the first time around, or you’ve learned something new about how to edit.  So, you need to look at your files before you delete the 500 you took on the Lake in August of 2011, or the 800 you brought home from Italy.  Trust me, it’s very time consuming.  

But…imagine when you start bringing some of the images up in Raw, using new techniques, and create a much better image than your first version.  I started processing images in Jpeg in Photoshop 2.0 in 2006.  I switched to RAW files in 2012, and upgraded to Photoshop CC last December. I’ve read tutorials, played with settings, and finally gotten a good handle on how to get the most out of a photo.  Take for example the photos in this series.  The first one, above, is an image that has a beautifully balanced histogram. I darkened the highlights a bit, lightened the shadows, and voila’, a lovely sunset.


The next photo is a longer exposure which was done to soften the slight movement in the water, making the surface of the Lake looked dreamy.  But with a longer exposure, the highlights blow out a bit, and you lose the color around the area where the sun is setting.  So, to make myself happy, I took the sky from the first photo, and copy/pasted it over the sky on the longer exposure to create the image below.  I think.  It’s all subjective, isn’t it?  Now if I had taken one photo in RAW, I probably would have been happy with the image.  But when you’re shooting water, sometimes that dreamy look goes a long way.  What do you think?  


50 Below Zero ?

Last Fall, I drove with a friend of mine to The Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, only to be shut out of both parks by the government shutdown. A little frustrating, a little expensive and quite an adventure.  That was from 2013, the year of Murphy’s Law, rearing it’s ugly head over and over..

But that year is over, and I now have my Guardian Angel with me, so back I went to Yellowstone for a photography workshop in the park.  What attracted me to this was the fact that the photographer grew up in the area around Yellowstone, and knew the area like the back of his hand. Plus, you can’t just drive into the park, you have to ride a snowmobile, or rent a snow cat which is what we did.  

My friend and I started in Idaho Falls and drove to Jackson, which is a few miles outside of the Grand Tetons. We had planned to photograph the iconic Mormans Row at Sunrise with The Grand Tetons towering majestically in the background and Oxbow Bend at Sunset, with beautiful colors reflecting off of the …snow.

Oh yes, I forgot, it was snowing.  Kind of a light powdery snow that would have been fun to play in, but not so great for brilliant sunsets. And it hadn’t snowed like that for weeks.  Was it Murphy’s Law again?  We did see Elk, which my friend scared away by calling it BooBoo, a weasel in his winter coat, and some beautiful snowy landscapes.  

We spent the day exploring, had a wonderful dinner at an organic restaurant, shopped in town, laughed a lot, and headed to Yellowstone the next day, retracing our steps from October.  I’d call the drive through Driggs and Tetonia kind of a white out.  No clouds, just white everywhere.  And slippery roads! Needless to say, we didn’t turn around much, but we did stop to rephotograph a few locations we’d shot in the Fall.  My favorite was Hill House, which was surrounded by Aspens, so we have two seasons of that location.  And we found my red barn, which made my day.  As we got closer to Yellowstone, the wind picked up, I swear there were hurricane force winds driving us into the park!  something was up…or down.

After meeting the group we’d be photographing with the next day, we all headed to bed to get ready for a sunrise in Yellowstone.  The next morning It was cold.  No, not just cold, it was freezing! No, not just freezing, USA Today reported that West Yellowstone was the coldest place in the country that day at MINUS 50.  That’s 50 BELOW ZERO!  Have you ever ???  So, we found our place by the river, stood in the snowbank for 20 minutes waiting for some light to break through, it never did, and by the time we all got back in the snow cat, we couldn’t feel our fingers, toes, arms, legs, nose, I’m surprised we could even move !  The “warming hut” wasn’t open when we got there, but the bathrooms weren’t too bad.  They were probably 20 above zero.  So we warmed up a little in there.  I developed a headache that lasted 24 hours, and I think my feet finally thawed out around 8pm. Did I ALREADY say it was Cold?  50 BELOW?  Seriously?

But there’s always a silver lining, right? We drove through the park that day, stopping here and there, getting out for snapshots because it was too cold for anything else.  We saw a Bobcat, coyote, and the ubiquitous Bison, in fact a lot to them.  And we drove around again the next day, which was a warmer day with the temperature hovering around ZERO.  MY favorite part of our trip, aside from experiencing 50 below was the Norris Geyser Basin.  Beautiful!  

And I’m going back again in the Fall…but this time I’m headed to Bozeman and driving in from the Northern Entrance.  The Western Entrance just hasn’t been good to me.  If at first you don’t succeed, try try again !Image