In search of the next photograph...

 

I’ve been known to travel to a few and far off places in search of a photograph. Leaving at 3:00 am to travel to Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin with a fellow photographer last fall or traveling back home to Western Iowa. I always make time to head out and take a few photos when I am back home. It’s important as an artist to create new work on a regular basis.

Sometimes thats driving miles upon miles and weeks at a time to get a new photograph only to return home with no winners. I do not shoot a lot of panoramic images. Since my software now allows for easier panoramic images to be created. I have been experimenting with panoramic images as another avenue of photograph to create. I usually stitch around nine or so images to create one single image. 

Over the weekend I took time to head back home and headed out one evening in search of a new photograph. I stumbled across this barn on a gravel road. I am always looking at the sky in a landscape image. The sky should be just as important as the subject. I am not terribly excited for flat and bland sky in my image. This image had everything I wanted, a nice subject and sky. 

It never fails when I find a good image that something rises up. It could be a farmer, law enforcement officer or that annoying farm dog. This time is was the barking lassie dogs down the road. So I am trying to get my exposure right and settings to shoot my panoramic while I have to keep an eye on these dogs just down the road. 

After arriving home I loaded all my images into Lightroom. I stitched the images to create this panoramic image. This image took a little more time post processing as I underexposed(dark) to keep detail I'm my sky. I do not enjoy spending lots of time behind the computer editing if I don’t have to. This image took a little more time than usual to post process,in the end it was worth it. This has to be my favorite panoramic images to date.

Sometimes I get the question which is my favorite photograph I have ever taken. Most of the time I think it is the image I have yet to create. 

 

Please feel free to share this blog post and leave comments below. It would be greatly appreciated! 

Cabin Fever

 

Every year about this time I start to get cabin fever. I don’t shoot a lot in the winter months, I hate to bundle up and get in the car like a big marshmallow. We’ve had few days of nice weather, so I think that is what has started the cabin fever. This morning I decided to pack up the car and head out for a few hours in search of something to photograph. I headed towards Mt. Vernon east of Cedar Rapids. I took a few back roads that I have not traveled in a while. A nice clear blue sky helped this morning. The blue sky is the only color right now, a nice change from the drab gray skies we have had all winter. 

I found a few locations this morning that will lead to a good sunset photo this summer or spring. If I didn’t find a photo today at least I found a few future locations. I tend to have a rule that the only pavement I take looking for photos is the pavement I have to cross to get to the other gravel road. This morning was no different, I stumbled across this old barn and few early plowed fields.

I decided to take the pavement into Mt. Vernon looking for lunch. I stumbled across this old tool shed not far from a nice barn, the barn was to updated for me. I find the most interesting photos seem to be the simpler ones. I worked in Lightroom for a while on this image. I never intend for a photo to be black and white,it seems to materialize in post process. I have been on the look out for barns as I have been driving around. I have seen this little tool shed before on my travels. Today I guess it decided to present it’s self in an interesting way. 

I turned the car around after I zipped past the shed. I shot several of different photos of the scene. I settled on this one as my favorite image. Soon cabin fever will over and spring will be here, followed by summer. I am looking to get out more this year a photograph Iowa’s back roads. Please feel free to share my images and blog post with your friends and family. If you know of a fun place to go here in Eastern Iowa let me know! 

The Road Less Traveled

 

    On occasion, head out on late night adventure and travel these roads. Not the best idea, buts sometimes it leads to something. I was out one late night and stumbled across this tree along this gravel road in Harrison county. I placed the moon behind the tree since the moon has a tendency to cause me more issues than I care to deal with. On this night I decided to pack up and as I was placing gear in the car I noticed a truck traveling down this long stretch of gravel road headed towards me. 

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    I rushed over and grabbed my tripod, set it up and guesstimated my settings. I was hoping the shutter speed was long enough to capture the entire streaking of the vehicle. If it was to short the image was lost. I had one chance and only one chance. My one chance worked and I created one of my all time favorite images. I wish I could say it was well thought out and planned. But sometimes luck is the best tool in the camera bag.  


It wouldn’t be Iowa if there wasn’t an old car sitting around. Small towns are a dying piece of americana. The next generation moves out and only a few stay around. I grew up on the weekends and long summers on my grandparent’s farm just outside one of these small towns. Pisgah was my home away from home. Growing up I ate at the local Cafe and visited my Grandma when she worked at the local IGA grocery store as Pisgah was still some what surviving. 

    Now the town is quiet, the cafe less traveled and the grocery store is now a bar that carries a few necessities of life. Things have changed over the last twenty years. One thing hasn't and that guy is Eddie. Eddie I believed has spent his entire life in Pisgah. Eddie owned the local Ford Dealer that was on main street. Eddie has collected vehicles and parts for years. Storing them where ever he has a open spot. I ran across a few pieces of his collection on hot and humid summer. 

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     I was testing the Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 lens when I stumbled across these few old cars rusting away as the town has over the last twenty years. This time I was on the crumbling streets of a small Iowa town no longer in its heyday. Capturing these cars from a time when life was simpler. The drivers of these cars didn’t worry about their smart phones and playing candy crush. It was a time when you helped out a neighbor, weren’t in a rush and Sunday was a day of rest. 

    Eddie’s collection is to far gone to restore, but maybe it’s collection of simpler times and memories from a bygone era. These cars and their drivers are no longer on the road. Only memories of a era that is forgotten and put to the way side for the most part. Sometimes the road less traveled is the best road traveled. Even if all we have left is the memories. 

The year in review

 

“The Man”

Before we get to the year in review, we need a little back story. “The Man” also known as Larry Gilds. Larry is one of those customers that I work with that has become more than just a customer.He has become a good friend. Larry is the guy who drags you out of bed lot before the sun comes up, sometimes at 3:00 am. Then has a tendency to take you 200 or so miles from home to photograph.  If it weren't for Larry a few of these images I would have no created this year.

 

 

"The House Photographed A 1,000 Times"

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I grew up in a small Iowa town with roughly a thousand or so people. That may be counting the dogs and cats too. Not far from town stands this old house on a lonely gravel road. It feels I have photographed this house a thousand times. I have a tendency to re-photograph things when I am out and about and haven't found anything exciting. This house happens to be one of those subjects. I decided to travel back to Dunlap for vacation(exciting I know) this year. 

    On this night the plan was to photograph this house again. I wanted to recreate an image that I had done previously that I lost due to a Lightroom snafu. Instead, the clouds decide to roll in and hinder this process. I decided to stay and photograph this anyhow and turned my lemons into lemonade. I was struggling to create an image I was pleased with. It dawned on me that I never took a moment to walk down the road and check out a different angle. That's all it took and I created one of my most favorite images of this year. 

 

"Standing Alone"

I spent a lot of time growing up in the little town of Pisgah, Iowa, a whopping population of 241 in 2013. You may be familiar with the Old Home Bread commercials in the 1970’s (Pisgah is where they filmed those). My Dad grew up there and my grandparents owned a small farm outside of town. While on vacation this year I spent a couple days in the Pisgah area. 

    My dad and I spent the day driving around and traveling all the washed out dirt roads we both traveled all our lives. On our way back after lunch, we traveled north of town on a few gravel roads. This road I had never traveled before. I though I had traveled all the back roads in search of a photograph over the years. I have been in search of a very large tree in an empty field for some time. This old tree had been there for quite some time. The expanse of the summer scene makes a tree of it’s size just a small part of a large and rapid growing world.I guess no matter how many times you have been to a destination there is always something new you can find. 

 

"Marshmallow Clouds"

I had the chance this year to have on loan the new Tamron 35mm f/1.8 VC and 45mm f/1.8 VC prime lenses. I am not much of a prime lens shooter. I took short drive to test out these to fantastic lenses. One thing I love about Iowa summers is the large, marshmallow clouds that drift slowly a cross the landscape. I found this image along the Cedar River near Mt. Vernon,Iowa. an processed this as using Silver Efex Pro. Sometimes you don’t have to leave home to find a interesting image.    

 

"Fall Ballet"

Remember that guy from above? Larry set my alarm for a very early 3:00 am this fall. Our final destination, Devils Lake State Park, Wisconsin. Iowa sure wasn't producing a spectacular fall for photographers in 2016. Wisconsin didn’t let us down as our very own Iowa had. Larry and I had a couple adventures this year and hope to have a few in 2017 as well. Larry is the well-planned photographer, he knows where to be and when the light is at its best.

 

Early afternoon we headed to our last destination in the park as well as the most dangerous. One slip and down you go 500ft! We hiked to the top of what I call a small mountain. as we hit the trail Larry guided me to all the best spots for photos. There was a nice tranquil stream on the left side of the trail as it lead us to the top. We stopped several times to photograph what it had to offer. It was hypnotic to watch these leaves ever so slightly swirling in the water and create the ever changing patterns. They say you should always look behind and see what photographs you missed. My advice is you just might want to leave the beaten trail and just look down too.

 

"Solitude"

I fell in love this year with Silver Efex Pro, a great program for converting your images to black and white. This was adventure Uno with the Mr. Larry Gilds. Starved Rock State Park, Illinois is a fantastic place when the water is flowing.We were blessed by the photo gods as it had rained five inches the previous night. If you don’t mind lots of hiking up and down then you will be treated with several waterfalls. You can’t take in all this park in just one day. We were headed back to the car when we crossed this bridge of solitude.  Larry didn’t disappoint with this location. This photograph is comprised of five individual photographs of varying exposures and the processed with Silver Efex Pro. Sometimes the simplest subjects in life are the best. 

 

"Not the Norm"

Portraits are not the norm for me. I hate to pose models with a passion. To try something different, I attended a body painting workshop in late August. Otto Ott was the gentleman doing the body painting for the models. I have a tendency like moody and dramatic portraits. I don’t work with “real” models at all. This gal was a pro at modeling. She asked me what I wanted her to do and I said “ You do your thing and I’ll do mine.” Sometimes putting yourself out of your normal thing can make a fun and exciting day!  

 

"The Road Less Traveled"

    We were in the Guttenburg, Iowa area taking my daughter’s fall photos. After I had finished her photographs we headed for a little drive through the countryside. A disaster waiting to happen is what it was. We stopped at the first location to look around. I exited the care to only be attacked a several hundred of those Japanese Beetles. Back in the car I went! 

    I have a very scientific and unorthodox way of looking for a good photograph. Heres the secret, I drive and take random lefts and rights. Not much of a secret,but it seems to work. Many times I will run into many people while I am out on a gravel roads. I get the typical “What are you doing?”, “Are you a photographer?” and the infamous “Is your vehicle broke down?”. My typical reply of “Nope its running fine”. I usually keep my vehicle running if I have to get out of Dodge fast. This was not a place to break down. Nobody for miles. So, some times traveling the road less traveled is still the best chance for the perfect photograph.