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The True Beauty of Photography!


Cloud & Snow! Tushar Mountains, Utah.

In my posting two weeks ago, I talked about my latest journey with my wife Stephanie to one of our favorite places, Death Valley National Park. As always, getting there was only half the fun, and today’s story and images are part two as we headed home through the desert climate from California, through Utah, Idaho, Oregon and back to Washington.

Desert Texture! Zion National Park, Utah.

Once back, and after being on the road for two weeks, I was hard up against a deadline to prepare two separate photography presentations. The first was just outside of Seattle and the second to a group of incredibly talented photographers here in Bellingham. Friends all, but photographers can be picky and verbal on what they like and don’t like! I was looking forward to both evenings, but the pressure was on.

Second Sunset! Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.

Both events focused on “Texture & Light in the Wild.”  One was an introductory workshop at Glacier View Cellars for those wanting to learn more about photography, and the second was just one beautiful slide after another showcasing light, texture, composition, lines, and shadow. While I often speak to the value of great light, and how it sets the tone, mood, and atmosphere in any image, it is not the only prerequisite for driving your vision in the field. For making an image special, or turning a simple snapshot into art.

Water in the Desert! Gunlock State Park, Utah.

Beauty of place certainly contributes, and, if you look, you can find beauty everywhere. Uniqueness really helps, somewhere or something most people do not often get to see or experience (or showing a whole new perspective and visual insight). Like finding water in the desert with Death Valley’s Lake Manly, or enough rain to overflow and recharge waterfalls in Utah’s Gunlock State Park for a few weeks. Or desert travels with snow and ice on the horizon, clinging to those high elevation mountains like California’s Sierre Nevada and Panamint range, Utah’s Tushar and Wasatch mountains, or Oregon’s beautiful Wallowa’s.

King of the Hill! Mountain Goat in Oregon's Wallowa Mountains.

Reflections in water, weather, and natural patterns and lines all contribute. But texture is so powerful. It can help to put us into the picture we are looking at. A photo where you can feel the texture in your mind, careful not to run your fingers across a cactus (ouch!) or softly through fur… to feel water and/or sand pouring through your fingers… feeling cold looking at snow crystals, or hot with the texture of burning sand… your vision drawn immediately to the flashing scales of a swimming salmon or the tactile beauty of wood, rock, and the far mountains.

Snow & Rock! Outside Zion National Park, Utah.

But with all of this, you still need imagination and a sense of place to truly immerse yourself into an image and destination. Wonderful images are great at providing an immediate sense of place. Through a photograph, you can feel the magnificence, excitement, and anticipation of a vast landscape. You can look into the eyes, and perhaps the soul, of wildlife and other humans, and contemplate what they are thinking (maybe that you are far too close?).

Overview! Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.

But it is not only the visuals that create immersion, it is feel (texture) and sound. To really be a part of the image, you need to hear the wind in the trees…  the growl of a bear or the squeak of a pika… the hoot of an owl. As a photographer I try to help that along with words or music, but it really requires your imagination.

In Flight! Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, Washington.

As you look at my photographs, today and with all my postings, I hope you can actually sink into that visual before you and imagine the sound of walking through snow and ice in Cedar Breaks National Monument, the cry of a blackbird in flight, or the subtle, tranquil sounds of silence as you watch the sun set at the end of a long day?

Light & Texture! Snow Canyon State Park, Utah.

Add that imagination as you read my blog and take in my images. In your mind, join me in each photo, story, experience, and destination. Come with me to the wilds of Alaska and British Columbia. Hike along in the desert sand, share the vibrant presence and increased heartbeat while staring through the lens at the eyes of a wolf or bear. Feel the vibration of the road as we eat up the miles looking for that next piece of wilderness, of beauty and nature, and the value of eventually heading home to await (and plan) the next adventure. The ability to ride or hike along is the true splendor of photography!




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