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.

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  

 

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Photographing a Photographer

As a photographer, I find myself extremely comfortable behind the lens.  In fact, if I see someone else pointing a camera in my direction, I tend to turn away, or duck behind someone or something.  It’s definitely not my favorite place to be.  But, knowing that to be a great photographer means stepping outside of the box, and putting yourself in places where you’re not extremely comfortable, learning to grow, I decided to get in touch with a friend of mine who’s an exceptional photographer, shooting people in their element, in studios, out on the road, even fishing in the middle of waist deep water.

Tom Winter and I met back in Boca Raton, Florida.  He was the president of our HOA back when I was selling Real Estate, in fact, his house was my first listing.  He and his beautiful family moved to Palm City, where he began to pursue his career as a corporate photographer. I sold Real Estate for two more years, and then took a leap of faith and moved to Reno, where I began pursuing a career in landscape photography.  Now, the bad thing about landscape photography is that there are a lot of us. So, you’ve got to find you’re niche, create a style that’s all your own, and support yourself in the meantime.

Friends continually ask me to photograph their families, and I’ve found that it’s a great way to increase your visibility in the community, along with adding to your income.  That’s where Tom comes in.  His photos are gorgeous, so I asked him if he could show me how he sets up a photo shoot.  He suggested photographing me, which would also help me understand how my subjects felt when the camera was pointed at them.  He was brimming over with information as we drove down to the beach, sharing knowledge and giving me advice on what to buy and how to market my work. After our photo session on the beach in Palm City, I discovered his secret.  It’s all about the light.  Off camera lighting, natural lighting, maybe from a golden sunset or reflected light bouncing along the rocks, where there’s light, there’s magic.  We shot for about an hour, before and after sunset, trying different Yoga poses,  (my other passion), and thanks to Tom’s expertise, we had a lot of keepers, and one favorite.  Which is all you need.

Tom asked me how it felt to be photographed, and I had to admit, I was a little nervous at first, but when I started moving, finding different poses, and forgot about the camera, it was a piece of cake.  I learned that the best place for a photographer to be is almost out of sight, quietly shooting.  And the best thing for your subjects is to let them be themselves.  Give them something to do, to play with, to take their focus off of you.  When you can successfully do that, you can really capture the person inside. And everyone can relax.

Vasisthasana
Vasisthasana

Lundy Liquid Gold

Lundy Liquid Gold

The Fall Foliage is over now, but I thought I’d share one of my favorite images from this season as my first post. This shot was taken after beginning a hike up Lundy Canyon in the Inyo National Forest at 630am. The sun was just barely rising over Mono Lake, the light was soft and gentle, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. Darn! The hike was pretty, but the foliage was a little past peak. Upon arriving at one of the last waterfalls, (there are quite a few on this trail), the sun was high in the sky, and much of the scene was contrasty. I used my 28-300mm lens to shoot closeup, to get any closer with my 17-40 would have meant standing in the middle of a pretty steep waterfall, not something I had planned for. At least, not today. The resulting image was golden from the reflections of the Aspen along the back on the waterfall.