Scale in Photography

One of the hardest thing to do with landscape photography is to provide the viewer with a sense of scale. This is because while I’m on the scene seeing everything develop in front of me – I can see (in the example of the Grand Canyon) the shadows, the sky, the length of the canyon and the vastness of it as it stretches out in front of me. Of course, the photograph only shows what I’ve captured within the frame. I learned early on while studying landscape photography that placing an item in the foreground – a rock, boulder, tree, etc… – provided a sense of scale to say mountains in the background. This is because inherently as the person viewing the photograph your reference point (i.e the foreground element) makes sense to you. You can imagine yourself standing near that item and viewing the object in the distance.

Photo of the Day – Scale of the Grand Canyon

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In the lower left hand corner of this photograph – you can see a small figure which looks like a GI Joe from this angle. As I photographed the Grand Canyon from Yaki Point on this particular morning I noticed a man who climbed down onto one of the jutting points to get a better view down the canyon. While I tend to not like putting people in the photograph I knew when I saw him down there that he could instantly provide the photograph with a sense of size and scale because we all know what an ‘average’ man’s size is – yet the canyon completely envelopes him and makes him look so miniature (even while if you took him out of this picture it may not look as vast).

Grand Canyon Walls

One of the things that amazes me about the Grand Canyon was just the walls – from above they look one way but once you hike down into the canyon they take on a whole different meaning. If you ever visit the Canyon you have to hike down into it – you don’t need to go all the way to the bottom (although I think if you have the chance you should) but go at least half way down and look up. It amazed me just how deep it goes. Yes, you get a sense of it from the top, but you can’t comprehend it until you are below the walls – trust me.

Photo of the Day – Repetition

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Good set of meetings today – pretty packed agenda with little time to do any photography. I’m down in Dallas and will be teeing off tomorrow at 8:30 AM at Tour 18 golf course. Does ‘work’ get any better than that? Hopefully, I can tolerate the 90+ temps that we haven’t felt in Chicago in well over a month (Thank God!).

To Bracket or Not to Bracket? That is the question

I read an article today from Pro Photographer Ian Plant that I thought did a fantastic job of discussing when it makes sense to bracket your images and why it became so popular during the the time of film photography. Back when film was primarily used the brackets were seen as being insurance for not nailing the exposure the first time. Now, with modern technology we can instantly know whether the exposure is right – all we have to do is take a peak at the histogram. Even so, bracketing makes sense if you have a wide range of dark/light throughout the scene (like you often do during sunrise/sunset) where you will have areas of extreme light or darkness. Ian Plant also takes amazing landscape photos – he is one of the guys I spend a lot of time looking at photos from because the images are so perfect. Check him out – you won’t be disappointed.

Photo of the Day – The Trail

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We hiked this trail during our first day in the Grand Canyon. It is the South Kaibab Trail and each year 100s of people are rescued because they try to hike all the way down to the bottom of the canyon and back out in one day. This is a little ambitious – it is only around 14 miles round trip but you also descend (and subsequently ascend) around a 5,000 feet down (nearly a mile). We only made it to the tip (Skeleton Point) which is a 6 mile round trip hike but only 2,000 feet down so the climb back out wasn’t nearly as grueling. We made great time and I think we would have been able to go all the way down and out if we had started earlier in the day. That being said I know we wouldn’t have had ‘fun’ doing it and there would have been less time to take a nice relaxing (flat) trail around the outer edge of the canyon.

Mojave Point

This was our second night in the Grand Canyon – learning from the night before where we battled for space at Hopi point arriving only 60 minutes before sunset we got to Mojave Point 90 minutes before sunset. Mojave Point is the second most popular spot in the Grand Canyon to shoot the sunset from. It’s a little farther west but doesn’t jut out as far into the canyon. However, it still has great views to the East and the West and gives a nice glimpse of the Colorado river.

Photo of the Day – Changing Colors

Yesterday I talked about why I loved sunrise and mentioned the crowds as being a detractor from the sunset shots. That is certainly true in the Grand Canyon. Despite getting there 90 minutes before the 6:15 sunset we were still ‘late’ and there were several people with their tripods already setup at varying points. I quickly went and set mine up while G went and scouted for some other locations. She found another spot that was a little more secluded so we headed over there to shoot. I still had to battle with another guy for space but over the ninety minutes we started chatting. He was over from Australia for a one month trip across the US and was with his wife and son. They were early in their trip and were essentially hopping all over the country – Houston, Vegas, Grand Canyon, New York, Disneyworld, Chicago, etc…It was like my wife and I when we go to Europe except there the distances are so much shorter and the flights so much cheaper. It must have cost him a fortune – either that or he had millions of frequent flier miles.

Rattle the Cage

I randomly came across this video the other day via another photographer’s website – Blame the Monkey. He was involved in taking photographs for the promotion of the film. This film appears to have already been made and they are screening across the country now. I will be watching to see when it comes to Chicago but check your local listings to see if it is in your area. Elephants are perhaps my favorite animal and it breaks my heart in some of the first frames of this video to see them treated poorly.

Photo of the Day – Camelback Window

My wife’s flight got delayed and she wasn’t going to get into to Phoenix until 9:30 PM so I had about six hours to kill. Rather than just sitting at the airport twiddling my thumbs I decided to head out and explore Phoenix. I did a few google searches and decided to hike Camelback mountain which is a few miles from Phoenix and is considered to be an ‘urban’ hike. I rented a car and drove over to the trailhead and started my climb to the top of the mountain. 1.2 miles and 900 feet of elevation gain so it wasn’t a ‘huge’ hike but it was a challenge – but I was amazed with all the people doing trail running on the mountain because it was very steep in a lot of areas. As I hiked up the mountain I needed a rest and glanced over my shoulder and saw this so I pulled off the trail and went and sat in the shade. It was 104 degrees when I started the hike (How do people live in Phoenix?) so any shade where the temperature was ten degrees cooler was welcome. I enjoyed the framing aspect of this on the mountain in the distance.