Help Support My Photography

To purchase prints of my work please visit my site linked above,, or email me at All proceeds go directly to this photography trip to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

More Light

There were a few other types of light talked about in my book. Backlighting can create very dramatic silowet. I was not the happiest with this one but thats not to say I dont like it. One thing that is important in silowets is that the subject be recognizable. Since I didn't like the silowet so much I took a shadow picture. I liked the design of the branches shadow on the parked car. I also liked how the picture is nicely framed with dark shadows on most sides. Finally I tried to practice making pictures with the light coming through thin objects. Being early spring before any leaves are out this was hard. I finally settled on trying to get the setting sun to shine through some pine twigs. It is not exactly the desired effect but did end up being a nice example of using depth of field to isolate a subject. It also had some interesting use of light with it highlighting the edges and tips making it stand out. All in all my favorite picture from this group. 

Trees Trees and More Trees

For today I read about the trees in Yosemite as it was when John Muir was there. He went into great detail about practically all the different species of trees. I will not repeat what he said, you can read about it yourself if you would like, but would like to point out some things I found especially interesting. I am also very excited to compare what the forests of Yosemite are look now vs. how Muir witnessed them.

Muir primarily wrote about conifers, pines, spruce, cedar, fir. The valley is at high altitude so this seems to be expected. All of the trees he mentioned finding at elevations in the thousands of feet above sea level. One thing that I was astounded by was the size of all the trees. I have seen some large pines, like 3-5 feet across, but these trees are way bigger then that. I expected big trees but it is still very amazing. This is one thing in particular that I am interested in seeing how it has changed. Are there still many massive trees? Of course the big sequoia gigantea are the grandest of them all. They live thousands of years, Muir believed up to 5000 although now have been measured that old. Muir measured one at 25 feet in diameter at ground level and 10 feet at 200 feet up. My wonder is how he was able to do that? They grow to over 300 feet tall.  What really put it all in perspective was seeing a picture of a whole grove of them with this tinny cabin sitting among them. This cabin was fairly large with two doors, three windows, and plenty of space between the doors and windows. Then all around it are trees that look to be as wide as the cabin. It was very exciting to read about all these impressive trees that I will get to see on my trip.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Using Light In Photography

Flash off roof
This week I have practiced many different styles and types of light the help prepare for my trip. One thing I played around with a bunch was my flash. The ability to make the best of the available light is important but a flash provides a way to add your own light where it will be helpful. I recently got the cord for my flash working so now I can point my flash wherever I want to. This has allowed for much creativity especially with indoor shots because I can bounce it off walls, floors or my favorite laps. I have been taking some really neat portraits bouncing the flash of of their lap. These two photos of Alejandro are an example of what it looked like leaving the flash on the camera and bouncing it off the roof compared to bouncing it off his lap. The one from the roof has dark shadows under his eyes but the one off the lap has a kind of eery glow.
Flash off lap
Little Shadow but high saturation
Sun behind me
I also Practiced with different directions of light the two pictures below were made with the sun behind me and off to my left respectively. As you can see in the one with the light from the side there is a lot more depth and you can tell how far the tree in the background is away whereas in the other picture it is very flat and hard to know if the tree is right infront of the house or a ways away. This is a very powerful tool that I can use to add depth to my photographs. Also on the small scale the shadows can add detail. However on the macro scale having it all in shadow can help the picture be much more saturated.

Sun 90ยบ to my left

Shadow adding detail
Thank You for reading and sorry about the layout organization I am having trouble getting the blogger editor to put the photos where I want them.

Monday, March 28, 2011


For today I read about storms in Yosemite. Like Yosemite is grand so are its storms. Muir describes great floods, blizzards, avalanches, quakes and rockslides. One massive flood caused all the edges of the valley to become full of water fall. "In all the valley there must have been upwards of a hundred [waterfalls]" (Muir 57). These pictures are not of the time he describes, they are not even of Yosemite, but they are of a great waterfall the Iguazu Falls in Argentina. I visited there a few years ago and made these photos.

Muir also described a time when he got to ride an avalanche. He did point out the danger of the ride but I do not think he stressed it enough. I am sure it was an amazing experience but not one that I would look for.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Technique Focus, Light

Part of this class is practicing three different areas of photography technique. This first week I am focusing on light. Light really is what photography is about, we are capturing the light reflected from an object not the object itself. Over the next week I will experiment with using different types of light. I will examine how brightness and darkness, contrast, black and white, color, soft light, front-light, back-light, side-light, and reflections effect my photographs. I will practice and explore the effects and strategies described in the book I am reading, Digital Landscape Photography. I will post examples of my discoveries and attempts here so look forward to it.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Yosemite Valley, Muir

For this class I am reading a Book by John Muir called The Yosemite. This is my resource for what Yosemite was like before it became the extremely popular park that it is today. I will be reading about Muir's experiences of the valley and surrounding area and write about them here in my blog. Then when I visit those places on my trip I will already know something about them. I will also add my own observations of the different areas and aspects of Yosemite noting how things have changed and how they are still the same.

John Muir writes about his experience entering the valley. He climbed thousands of feet into the mountains and into Yosemite. His first sights are of the water falls of magnificent sizes and varying flows. The falls grow in volume in the spring and some almost disappear durring the dryer months. Then the trees and cliffs towered around. There are not the great sequoia trees in the valley but there are still many great sized conifers. The valley was created by a glacier over centuries and the remnants of that can easily be seen in the shape of the land and the textures on the granit cliffs. Muir talkes artfully about the crystalline rocks carved by the glacier. Everything is massive in scale making it all the more impressive.

Capture The Redwoods, Photography Trip

    On this trip I will be photographing two high altitude National parks in western USA. I will stop for about 10 days each at Yosemite and Sequoias National parks. I am taking this trip to see a different part of the country while developing my photography skills. On this trip I will study photography techniques and former photographers of the parks I will be visiting. My primary goal for this trip is to improve my photography skills. Other goals are to learn about nature photographers, and use my photography to create awareness and love for the outdoors and national parks. 
     I want to through hands on practice, critical thinking, and following other photographers learn how to make better pictures. I want to make at least 100 photos each day, then organize them pulling out the great ones to share with others. I want to distribute my photography using many media forms, prints, slideshows, and online albums. I want photos of wildlife, landscapes, plants, people, and small objects. I also want to have a collection of photographs specifically from each of the parks that I visit. I want to try to recreate some former photographers pictures so as to learn about how they got the amazing shots.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Starting To Prepare

Today I am starting my trip preparation class. I am reading books about Yosemite and photography. I am blogging about everything I learn. Today I am getting everything set up so I am finishing the design of this blog and starting to read my sources. I have already done most of the trip logistical planning and packing so am now focusing on my photography skills and knowledge about the parks I will be visiting. I like sharing my photography so here is a nice picture I got a few days ago while practicing my wildlife photography.

Help Support My Photography

To purchase prints of my work please visit my site linked above,, or email me at All proceeds go directly to this photography trip to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.