Monday, March 31, 2008

New Photos Online

I've just finished updating my website. You'll find several new photographs in my Newest Photos gallery - including shots from Ohio, Utah, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Nothing from West Virginia yet. I've also added our latest trips to the travel page. You can see where we've been this year, and you can see our travels from 2007 or 2006 as well. Every image on my website was taken on one of those trips - or right here in Ohio.

And now - I need to get back to work. I have stock images to process before I get to process these WV shots. I can't wait!


West Virginia. I love driving through this state - the roads wind through mountains and along rivers, and the landscape is gorgeous. We spent a couple of days near Beckley, WV - visiting (and photographing) Pipestem, Babcock, and Twin Falls State Parks. Babcock has a beautiful grist mill that stands over Glade Creek. We photographed the mill and the nearby falls in pouring rain - and then returned the following morning for a drier shoot. :) We'd like to shoot this location in Autumn - the trees will be fantastically beautiful when the leaves change. This was a scouting trip - it's still early in the year, and the trees are still leafless - so we weren't expecting to get fantastic photographs. Still - we're happy with the images we got.

Our next stop was Blackwater Falls State Park. We've been to this location before. Last time, we photographed Elekala Falls - and climbed down through thick forest to photograph several lower falls as well.
This shot is from our last trip to West Virginia - which was later in the Spring. We didn't visit this falls this time around. Instead, we photographed Blackwater Falls and explored more of the park. We'd like to shoot this area when the rodedendron bloom. So far, we haven't been able to get there at the right time. We also visited Canaan Valley State Park, and Dolly Sods.

On our last day, we took a look at the various pamphlets near the front desk at the Blackwater Falls Lodge. We had never heard of Holly River State Park - but the waterfall on the cover of the pamphlet looked promising (and it was located near our homeward route) so we hopped in the car and headed West.


The park is fantastic. We didn't have time to explore all of it, of course, but we did visit the falls along the Left Fork of the Holly River. We spent several hours in the wilderness taking photos. The lower falls were particularly impressive, and I'll get a shot up as soon as I finish processing.

We were also lucky enough to meet some great people at the Holly River State Park Restaurant. They knew the park intimately and were able to tell us where to find the most beautiful locations - and they were incredibly friendly as well. After photographing the falls they suggested, we returned to the restaurant for a very late lunch - delicious. We ended up staying for quite a while - just talking. They introduced us to the work of some excellent local artists - a photographer, a potter, and a historical writer. We're looking forward to returning in the Fall - we will definitely look them up again. Debby and Jeff - if you are reading this - thanks so much for the wonderful conversation (and the delicious cake). I hope you will pass on our thanks to your staff as well - we had a great time talking with all of you. And please tell the beautiful young waitress that we hope all goes well with her baby. We wish her - and all of you - all the best. I will send along some photographs once they've been processed.

Friday, March 28, 2008


So, here we are in a Super 8. Last night, we stayed at Motel 6 - but tiny little bugs were biting me all night long - which was itchy and unpleasant. So, we decided to get fancy and treat ourselves to a really nice hotel. Super 8 actually gives you shampoo, folks! And TWO miniature bars of soap. I kid you not. TWO! Next time you want to be pampered, try a Super 8!

I don't recommend Motel 6, but only because of the bugs - and the "nonsmoking" room that had clearly been smoked in - and the one tiny bar of soap that had to serve sink-side and in the shower... and ended up doing shampoo duty as well. But heck, it was cheap!

We travel a lot - we have to keep our costs low. What can you do? :)

We visited several state parks here in West Virginia, and photographed some beautiful waterfalls. I won't be processing these images on my laptop, as the monitor isn't calibrated - and it can't handle the colors anyway. Since I can't give you a photo from this trip, I'll at least give you something from W. Virginia. The falls we shot today looked absolutely NOTHING like this one. But there were pretty. :)

Thursday, March 27, 2008


Here's a shot that Jay took. That's me in the photograph. I decided to try to cross the river despite the high water - and the cold morning. I'm glad I did. The water was about 65 degrees - not too cold. The air was a bit chilly - but nothing to complain about. I was wearing my water shoes and my neoprene socks, so my feet weren't cold. And my waterproof jacket kept the water out despite the heavy mist from the falls. My quick-drying pants were soaked after this, but they are - after all - "quick-drying"... so they dried quickly. Aha!

There was a lot of mist from the waterfall, so I had to clean my lens constantly, and keep it covered between shots. I was drenched from head to toe by the time I got back to the other side of the river - and I didn't even fall in. Luckily, my camera didn't get too wet.

We're headed for West Virginia, today. I haven't finished processing shots from Arizona, yet. And I'm still working on Lake Erie shots from Pennsylvania. Plus some stock shots that are still hanging over me. I need a few quiet weeks to get caught up. Heck - forget that. I'd rather be out there shooting. I can process when I'm too old to travel. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

From the Bottom

It's been one of those days. The car broke down, the dishwasher flooded, the kids were... well... actually, the kids were really good. So never mind. It wasn't that bad. Still. I'm tired. Too tired to process any images. But, I have one I haven't posted yet. This is Havasu Falls from the bottom.

This shot was more complicated to process than some of the others. First, there's the sky. The horizon, here, is not straight, so using a Graduated Neutral Density (GND) filter doesn't help me. A GND - for those of you who don't know - is a (usually) rectangular sheet of plastic that fits neatly into an adapter in front of your lens. The top half of the filter is darker than the bottom half - so less light can enter the lens from the top than the bottom.

These filters are perfect for sunset or sunrise shots - where the sky is bright and the ground is dark... and the filter can slide up or down to allow the photographer to adjust for the position of the horizon. Different GND filters are useful for different situation - soft, hard, 1 stop, 3 stop... etc. I won't go into that too deeply for fear of boring everyone. Suffice it to say that these are incredibly useful little buggers if you enjoy landscape photography.

In this Havasu Falls photograph, the line between sky and ground isn't straight. So, a GND will make a dark line across the tops of the mountains - which is not the look I'm going for. Instead, I took three photographs of the same spot - using a remote release for my camera. The first shot was exposed correctly for the sky - so the sky looked great, but the ground was way too dark. The second shot was exposed correctly for the ground - which meant the sky was blown completely. And the third shot was in between the others.

I used Photoshop - my digital darkroom - to combine these three images and create a final photograph that looks as much like the real location as possible. It's a complicated process, and very time consuming - but I like the results. The image looks like the real location, so I think I've accomplished my purpose here.

You guys will have to tell me how much detail you want from my posts. Some people don't care about technical details, and others are hungry for them. So - if you have questions about GND filter - or anything else, please don't hesitate to comment on this post and ask. I'll see if I can answer your questions. And if I don't know the answer, I'll see if I can find out. That's how I learn. :)

Labels: , , ,

Monday, March 24, 2008

Stock shoot...

I know, I know... my blog jumps from one topic to the next without rhyme or reason. It must be pretty confusing. I'm sorry about that - but the fact is, that's how I work. I really have no choice if I want to make money from photography. I do a stock shoot when I have a model. I process those shots in between my landscape shots - and I update my website or write my blog posts when my eyes are too tired to deal with tiny detail and precise color balance. So - here I am. I've been processing images from a recent stock shoot. This model is one of my favorites -she has such fantastic facial expressions. Once I get a few more images processed, you are all going to be in for quite a treat. Just wait... you'll see what I'm talking about. This was SUCH a fun shoot.

But - I can't promise that my next post will be on this topic. I still haven't finished processing my photographs from Arizona - so maybe I'll continue with that story... or maybe I'll post some more of these stock images... or maybe I'll tell you about our trip to Presque Isle in Pennsylvania this weekend. I really don't know. I hope it isn't driving you nuts. And if it is - well - sorry. My job simply isn't linear. It jumps around like this every single day. To be honest - I love it. :)

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Continuing the Saga...

I promised to get back to our Arizona trip... so here you go...

Navajo Falls required a detour from the main trail - and a river crossing. We crossed with the help of a couple of logs that had fallen across a small falls. Just around a bend we found ourselves in front of a stunningly beautiful waterfall. The colors here were not so intense, and the drop was less impressive than Havasu Falls... but there was a serenity at Navajo Falls that gave it a life of it's own. Not the pounding of water falling from a great height - but a steady flow down the hill and over the fantastic formations at our feet. We tried hard not to damage the delicate underwater patterns, but it was impossible not to stir up sediment from the bottom, and the slightest mis-step could cause damage. It was clear - at least - that any damage we did would be covered by layers of sediment before long. Still - I hate to make marks when I pass through. Here, it couldn't be avoided... except by keeping out of the water.

We spent a few hours photographing Navajo Falls before heading back to our campsite. I would love to return to this spot later in the Spring - some fresh, green leaves would make the location even more beautiful. I'd like to convert that first image to black and white, too. The colors are beautiful, but I'm even more fascinated by texture and detail in that shot. I'll post it here when I make the conversion... you'll all have to tell me what you think.

I'd like to thank all of you who have sent me emails recently. It's great to hear from you, and I appreciate the time you take out of your lives to let me know what you think of my work. I try to make sure I respond to every email that comes my way - and every comment on my blog will get a response as well.

I'll write more about our trip as soon as I can - thanks for your patience with me.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Bryce Canyon on Outback Photo

Jay and I now have another article online at Outback Photo. This one has some nice shots of Bryce Canyon, and advice for photographers who are considering a visit to this spectacular place. This is truly one of my favorite locations to shoot - and my most popular image was taken there. Please take the time to tell me what you think if you read the article. We work hard on these articles and future articles will be better if we know what people think of them - comments and critiques help us improve our work. You can post a comment here on my blog, or you can send me an email at Either way, I'm listening.

I know you are all still waiting for more photographs from our trip to Arizona. I have a few more ready to go, and I plan to write a bit more about the trip today or tomorrow. Hang in there. It's coming.

Meanwhile - I hope you enjoy our newest article!

Saturday, March 8, 2008


Again. Lots and lots and lots of snow. This is getting ridiculous. Why do I live in Cleveland? Can someone please remind me?

We shoveled the driveway four times today, and we will have to shovel it again before we go to bed. We've had about 2 feet of snow this weekend. The kids built a tunnel after we shoveled the snow the last time... it was about 9 feet long, and large enough for them to crawl through. I kid you not. They had a blast. We came in for dinner when I realized my son was starting to show signs on frostbite on his cheeks. No harm done... happy kids... and they'll sleep well tonight.

Oh - and did I mention the 30 mph winds?

(The photo at the top is actually from out trip to Utah last month. You can take a look at my post from that trip by clicking here.)

Friday, March 7, 2008

Havasu Falls

We arrived at the trail head first thing in the morning. One heck of a sunrise greeted us there. Gorgeous pink clouds over a rocky landscape that dropped into the canyon below us. Wow. And my camera was packed under freeze dried teriyaki and fleece pants. Oh well - I put my 33 pounds of gear (10.5 pounds of that was camera gear and tripod) onto my back and the six of us headed for the trail.

Eight rocky miles to Supai - and two more to Havasu Falls and the campground.


Here's one shot I took - the only one I've had time to process. It's not even my favorite. But it gives a good view of this amazing place.
Supai is a tiny village - and the villagers aren't exactly swimming in money. There are no roads to the village. You can get there on foot, on a horse, or by helicopter. Not many jobs in the village, minimal medical care, etc. I've heard a lot of negative comments about the village from other people who have visited - and from information I've found online. There is a lot of trash around - I think stray dogs and tourists contribute - but some of the villagers are certainly part of the problem. It's not as bad as I thought it would be, though. The villagers were polite to us - they waved or smiled when we passed. They kept to themselves, but weren't rude at all.

A tourist was murdered near the village not too long ago, and I suspect that the villagers have made an effort to change their attitudes towards visitors as a result. I'd guess they are concerned about losing their major source of income if tourists stop visiting. They've hired security guards and installed composting toilets at the campsites. They're taking the problem seriously - as far as I can tell - and I'm glad to see it.

I hope visitors will act as guests here - it's a beautiful place, and it should be protected.

More to come... Navajo Falls, wet feet, a death defying climb, Mooney Falls, more wet feet, a mile of briars, two nights in a tent... and much more... including more wet feet.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Home at Last...

... but not entirely thrilled to be here. It's great to see the kids - don't get me wrong... but Cleveland is experiencing some seriously unpleasant weather. The last bit of the flight was very bumpy - they said they were dealing with 40 mile an hour winds. Good old Cleveland. Ugh.

Anyway - our trip to Havasu Falls in Arizona was incredible. We went with some great people and we had a lot of fun. I should have some photographs processed in a few days, and I'll get them online as soon as possible. We wrote up a first draft of an article on the plane as well, so that is in the works as well.I need a few hours to get caught up, and then I will forge ahead.

I hope your weather is better than ours!