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Sunset, Cannon Beach

Haystack Rock

Haystack Rock and The Needles

Recently I was on the Oregon Coast, hoping to photograph some great skies over the ocean. On most of my trips to the coast I have encountered a great deal of fog, which is interesting, but I was looking for something different. Several evenings looked very promising, and then at the last minute fizzled out. On this particular evening, we had a wonderful sunset, for about 2 minutes, and then the sun dropped below the marine layer and all of the color disappeared. I worked hard and fast to position myself to capture this scene, and it made the entire trip worthwhile!

As is so often the case, the light changed so rapidly that I was very thankful to understand the technical side of photography. If I had been relying on the camera to make all of my decisions, I highly doubt that I would have been successful here. With such a high contrast scene, maintaining detail in both shadows and highlights and keeping good saturation in the color is not an easy task. Some would say to shoot several exposures and layer them, or shoot for HDR. Why, when it can be done, in my opinion, better in a single image? I have been and always will be a fan of getting it right in camera. It makes the printing process so much simpler and usually cleaner and sharper.

To really understand photography to the point of creating what my minds eye sees, and doing so almost without thinking has taken a lot of study, practice, mistakes, evaluation, more mistakes, and on and on. All of that time and effort has paid off for me many times over. One of the hardest things to convince my students of is that it is OK to make mistakes. That is how we learn. I still, after 30 plus years of practice, make mistakes. The difference, though, is that I evaluate them and learn from them. They make be better!

Life in the Field

pacific morning

Lone Gull, Seaside,Oregon

Everyone thinks that the life of a photographer is a dream job. I do love my life and think this is a great job, but I must say it is more difficult (but rewarding!) than most think it to be. I just returned from a photography trip to the Oregon Coast, and I feel like I need a week to recover. While I did get to spend a lot of time doing what I love and visiting some of the greatest places on this planet, the schedule was brutal. It was so exhausting that I didn’t even get on the computer to blog, and I love blogging!

A normal day started at 4:30 or 5:00 in the morning. I would get up, get dressed and head out to a predetermined location. I would arrive enough before sunrise to allow me to get a feel for the area and determine what I needed to photograph. Due to the marine layer (fog) that I had all week, I was able to photograph for about two hours before the light became too harsh for my taste. I would then go back to the hotel and clean up for the day and get breakfast. Hiking and exploring were the days activities, often finding new places for the morning and evening photography sessions. After an early dinner, I would head back out with cameras for the evening light. The evening session would keep me going from about 7:00-10:00. I love photographing until it is too dark to focus, as I find some of the most interesting light is after sunset. I then go back to the hotel, download the days images, clean and prep my gear for the morning, and get to bed about midnight or later. After a week of four hours per night of sleep and rigorous schedules during the day I am ready for a break!

Even though I keep a crazy schedule, I love what I do. I have learned to see the world in a different light, one that I love sharing. Even when I don’t have a camera in hand, I see things in my own way. I have learned, as Dewitt Jones puts it, to “Celebrate what’s right in the world.” I look for the extraordinary, and have found that when you look with an open mind, you will find it. That is what makes it worth it.