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"
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.