Tag Archives: sunrise

Elysian :: TN

19 Dec
Elysian :: TN

Elysian :: TN

 

I saw something over the weekend that reminded me that your perception of the world has a lot to do with how happy you are.  The basic idea is that things happen – good, bad, mundane, extraordinary –  but the way you interpret and react to them determines how successful and happy you are.  It goes hand in hand with one of my favorite phrases, “It’s not what happens to you, but how you react to it that matters.” (Epictetus).

That’s a powerful sentiment, when you think about it.  There will be difficult things in your life.  There will be speed bumps, there will be days where your entire life plan goes off course.  But you have a choice.  Do you choose to rise above, and embrace the positives?  Or do you choose to be defeated by it?

In my own life, I try (and frequently fail, but then try again) to meet challenges, to accept that things are difficult and to either see the positives or to keep my head down and push through until the difficult season has passed.  Hell, this past year alone has challenged me in a lot of ways, with serious family health issues, with heartache, with changes within the circle of people I rely on for support, financial challenges….  But in the end, we have just a finite time on this earth and I try to choose, every day, to work towards my best possible self, to tell myself that this too shall pass, that there is joy around the corner, and in the meantime, to work towards leaving the world a bit better than I found it.

That can mean any number of things.

You can choose to see the best in a bad day – the beauty of a beautiful sky, the opportunity to learn from a mistake (even if you frequently wonder when your “lessons” will start paying off), having a grateful attitude for the blessings you do have…

You can choose to do something kind for another person (or living creature) – a smile or bad joke when needed, verbalizing something you appreciate so they understand their worth to you, all the way up to grander gestures like gifts, or volunteering for a cause, or giving blood, or adopting from a local shelter and advocating for spaying and neutering…

You can choose to use your voice – we are all complicit when we remain silent about things that matter.  The problem, these days, is that we have so many wrongs to right that it can be overwhelming and difficult to know where to start.  Politics is hairy.  Tax laws, health care, the national monument debate…where do you even begin? Global warming is a thing (that recent starving polar bear video from NatGeo just hurts to watch).  There is genocide going on in the world.  Sex trafficking.  Sexual harrassment.  Discrimination.  Religious aggressions.  Civil wars.  It can be overwhelming, but we all have a responsibility to, at the very least, have civil discussions.  We can’t improve any problem by ignoring it.  So find your causes, the ones that are near and dear to your heart, and have a difficult conversation.  Listen to the opposing views.  Find some common ground on which you can begin to build a bridge.

In the end, how you react to the things life throws at you will determine things like how much joy you feel, or how much hope you feel.  Don’t get me wrong.  There are going to be overwhelmingly sad, or angry moments.  But if you keep this idea in mind that you can get through it by being aware of how you perceive a situation, then you will get through the difficult times with grace and find your way back to happiness quickly.

This particular photo was taken at Cades Cove in Great Smoky Mountains National Park in TN.  So much thanks to Ed and Zach Heaton for showing us around to their favorite spots in the area!  They’re talented guys, make sure to check them out!

Also, big shoutout to David Pasillas (as always) for his patient feedback about my image edits.

Sanguine :: ME

2 May


Sanguine :: ME

(Alternate working title: “Dat Light Tho”.) 

For those of you without the Googles handy, Sanguine means “hopeful, upbeat, positive”….and these days, who couldn’t use some hope? Also, it’s a funny looking word and I wanted to use it. 😂
Nerdy Stuff: This is a composite of three different exposures, for focus stacking, foreground and sky.

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Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat ….I also have G+ but I rarely use it.

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Shadows and Swirls :: NV

28 Mar


“Not all who wander are lost.” ❤

I’m not entirely sure why I never got around to editing these. I think it might have had to do with how special this sunrise felt to me….like I had the whole desert to myself, and I was hesitant to create something that wouldn’t live up to my memory of it. But in the end, beauty is meant to be shared. 😊
Quick shout out to David Pasillas Photography for his help with this edit. He’s a creative powerhouse, editing wizard and all around great guy….make sure to check out his page and leave him some comments to remind him he has a blog. Lol
This is a blend of 3 shots, two foreground (one with sun flare, one without) and the sky, combined to recreate the morning.

Convergence :: NY

10 Jan
Convergence :: NY

Convergence :: NY

 

Sometimes that light is just so dang magical!

The snow finally arrived which has me thinking back to warmer days.  Is it Spring yet?? 🙂

Best Of 2016

28 Dec

 

2016 was a year of photographic growth for me.  I set several technical goals for myself as a way of pushing myself to be consistently better at my craft, and I’m proud of the progress I’ve made.  I’ll admit, it was often a mix of trial and error (a lot of error), persistence, and supportive people around me but I feel like I made a noticeable difference in the quality of my images.

This year, I made a consistent effort to focus stack where appropriate, to really keep an eye on my histogram so that I wasn’t shooting 12 frames when I really needed 1 or 2, and I tried improving both my night sky/milky way techniques and lightning images.  Those in-the-field efforts are represented in this “Best of…” gallery.

 

I’ve also grown in the editing arena, an area we can always work on, no matter how accomplished we are.  I feel like my ability to *see* the weak areas of a raw image, and my ability to enhance the light in a positive way with my edits has grown immeasurably.  Again, this was a matter of practice, feedback and support from my peers.  I’m particularly proud of my Opal Creek wilderness forest shot, as it involved some creative shaping of the light.

 

The winter image in the gallery was a conscious attempt to force myself out of hibernation.  Apparently, I need to do that more often – turns out winter light is lovely! Lol

And finally, the biggest reason I chose all of these images was the LIFE they represent.

I suspect it’s human nature to take things for granted – we developed our ability to tune things out as part of our survival mechanisms (because how could our ancestors focus on important things like hunting and gathering if they were constantly distracted by…oh, the wind!  Oh, shiny rock! Oh, noise!  Oh, a bird!  What was I doing again??).  Therefore, it takes a conscious effort to remember to appreciate the blessings in our life.

 

Write that life lesson down, folks.  It’s particularly important in the relationships you hold dear.

So where am I going with this?  Well, I’m an American woman.  Currently, that means the law considers me to be a person with inherent rights, one of which is the ability to obtain resources and pursue my life aspirations.  On the whims of fate, I was born here.  I am not viewed as property, or less than human.  I have the stability provided by a nation dedicated to protecting our freedoms.  I am educated.  Compared to so many places in the world, I grew up like a queen – I had food, clean water, health care, and never had the threat of war, unrest and violence looming on my doorstep every day.  Although America isn’t perfect, I am GRATEFUL every day for the progressive ideas that surrounds me.  As a country we can always improve.  We are but a nation of flawed humans afterall, and will always have room to be better versions of ourselves…. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t already holding the human rights bar pretty high and I desperately hope we continue to do so abundantly, and equally across the country.

Because I was blessed be born in a place that respects my rights and raised to believe in pursuing my dream (so much thanks to my family for always inspiring and encouraging me), I have seen and experienced SO MUCH JOY all in pursuit of a photograph.  I have traveled to places that have stolen my breath.  I have met some incredibly interesting, funny and supportive people who are a constant source of light in my life.  I have taken chances that have fed my soul.

 

In 2016, I was able to see the forest and seascapes (and….uh…wildlife) of Oregon and Northern California, the towering waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, try out the delightful food trucks in Portland and have my heart swell at the beauty of the Steens Mountains and the Alvord desert.  I soaked in a hot spring, while smiling with strangers.  I sat under the stars with friends, and pretended to play a violin under the Milky Way.  I explored NY and much of New England.  I was assaulted by a frog near the Adirondacks, got to see bald eagles in Acadia, the wild ponies on Assateague and black bears in Shenandoah.

I have taught photography students and built friendships around the world through Light & Landscape (thanks for that opportunity Matt!), I wrote another photography book with my business-partner-in-not-crime David, I was blessed to photograph weddings for some amazing couples with my other business-partner-in-not-crime Melissa, worked with one of this year’s 40 under 40 winners (you rock, Fitz!), refined my inner photo-journalist with freelance assignments through the newspaper (shout out to Jared and the staff at the paper for the feedback and encouragement), and saw AMAZING shows / met some wonderful musicians during my nights as a concert photographer (so much thanks to the venue, Kathy, Pat and Angelo).

 

In short, I have the freedom to LIVE THE LIFE I WANT and these photos represent the landscape side of that.  They are a reminder to be THANKFUL EVERY DAY.

Remember to count your blessings often, and appreciate the people and things that enrich your lives.  Dwell on the positive, and embrace GRATITUDE instead of criticism. Open your heart to the people that care and the endless possibilities in front of you.  Take chances, even knowing you may fail….failure can generally be overcome, but you’ll never get back the time you waste on “What ifs”.  Travel as often as you are able to responsibly do so, so that you can learn about the magical places in the world….how else will you learn to cherish and protect them?  As you travel near or far, make sure to appreciate that you have the ability to do so.

Wishing you all a wonderful 2017!

Rush Hour :: ME

22 Jun
Rush Hour :: ME

Rush Hour :: ME

This month, our students over at L&L wanted to learn about HDR.  Now, while some HDR created using algorithms is very good….well….some is not.  It’s very easy to go too far, to create halos, unnatural colors, unnatural light, etc.  Blending by hand tends to give you more control while still extending your dynamic range.

Similar to the last photo (Insomnia), this is a mash up of three different exposures – two for the sky, and one for the long exposure water/foreground rocks/lighthouse.  To create the base composite, I used layers and masked what I wanted from each shot into one final image.  That created a base on which to build, with the standard curves, levels, etc.

The final image is similar to the treat Mother Nature gave me the morning I took this.  This is sunrise at Nubble Light in York, ME from early June.  It was one of four light houses David and I stopped to see on the Great Lighthouse Tour of 2016.  This one, by far, had the best light of the day.

Interested in more in depth help with your own images? For more information about our teaching program over at L&L, go here. 🙂

Caliche

9 May
Caliche :: OR

Caliche :: OR

 

Strange name for a photo, eh?  Well, it’s actually quite literal.  This was shot in the Alvord desert of Oregon (a stunning place, in my opinion) on a mostly dry lake bed.  I say mostly, because when we arrived, the northern end of the playa still had some water – not much, but enough that there was a thick mud along the water’s edge called “caliche”.  (At least according to the locals!  I am certainly no mud expert.)

Anyway, this whole set up was interesting in a few ways.  First, in the span of just a day, a slight wind caused the water on the northern end of the lake to migrate significantly south vastly changing the face of the damaged playa in just 24 hours.  Anyone who was silly enough to park / camp close to the migration area would have been in for a rude surprise.

Second, I have never seen such sticky mud before.  Our hike across it got progressively harder…and taller, as the caliche built up beneath the soles of our shoes.  According to some of the people living on the playa’s edge, visitors can easily bury their vehicles up to the axle if they don’t heed the subtle color changes that signify the transition from hard, dry earth to mud.

As for the actual image, this was our first sunrise at the desert and obviously, it was pretty dang stunning.  This was shot with a wide angle lens and a grad ND filter.

It was also taken as part of a series of images to be used in this month’s lesson, Hyperfocal Distance, that David and I are teaching over at Light & Landscape (a fun, online teaching and critiquing program that we helped launch in February….we have an online image review planned for later this month, so if you’re looking for some feedback and a taste of what we do in the L&L Member’s Area, definitely contact us for more information!)

The camera settings:  f/11, 1/8 sec, 10 mm, iso 100

Sunrise Magic

4 Feb
Morning Glory :: NY

Morning Glory :: NY

Taken at the Ashokan Reservoir in the Catskills last fall.  This is one of my top two sunrises of 2015….not that there are many to choose from.  I have a tough time getting up early.  Days like this work hard to convince me it’s worth it though. lol

Top 6 of 2015

30 Dec
Nubble Lights :: ME

Nubble Lights :: ME

My top of photo of 2015 is hands down the night I got to see the Northern lights for the first time. 🙂  I sat on the rocks in front of the lighthouse, listening to the waves around me, and watched the pillars of light in the sky dance. All around me, I heard other people gasping and laughing at the magic of Mother Nature’s show. It was an experience that I will cherish forever.

The rest of the images, in no particular order are….

Breathing Dreams

Breathing Dreams

This shot of the mighty Taughannock Falls in NY was taken in March.  I have an ongoing photo file of places that I stumble across in my internet travels that have potential…  This location was one of them.  We spent 5 hrs in a car, each way, for a place that on the whole probably wasn’t going to offer many good vantage points for images. But then again, maybe it would. Maybe it needed to be explored. Maybe it needed to be worked at. Maybe… Well, maybe’s are intriguing…so we went.  After all, life is meant to be an adventure. 🙂

Elemental :: MA / NY

Elemental :: MA / NY

Elemental is a shot of Bash Bish Falls in NY.  Beyond having spectacular light luck, and great water conditions (the low water level here was perfect for photos…though maybe less perfect regionally for everything else) I like this photo because it comes with a sense of accomplishment.  I had been coming to this location for the last 17 years (give or take) and was never able to capture the sort of image that did it justice.  This image is a symbol of perseverance.  It reminds me that nature is so very changeable and that great images require patience and persistence to find the right set of conditions.

First Light :: NY

First Light :: NY

I saw two mind-blowing sunrises this year, and this was the first.  First Light was taken as the Ashokan Reservoir in the Catskills of New York state.  The reservoir is about 2 hours away, and believe me, when the morning came, I didn’t feel like getting up.  But I did, and we (Kyle Van Etten, Scott Davis, Kathy Malatesta and myself) drove there, and it was so very worth it.  The light was magical.  It was a reminder of one very important rule in landscape photography:  You can’t get the shot if you don’t show up.

Cavern Cascades :: NY

Cavern Cascades :: NY

Cavern Cascades is one of several great falls in Watkins Glen State Park in NY.  The thing I like so much about this shot is the way the light fell in the gorge, and the varied textures making it absolutely perfect for black and white, which – as you may already know – is where I started my photo journey years ago.  Oh, and the company on this trip was pretty damn nice too.  I met up with Ron Clifford, AD Wheeler and Derek Kind to explore the area for the day.  Such super nice guys and really talented photographers.  I’m very glad to have met them. 🙂

Of Fire and Waves :: CA

Of Fire and Waves :: CA

Last but not least, is a brand new shot from my last trip of the year.  Earlier this month I went out west to explore Death Valley (California) and Valley of Fire (Nevada).  This shot is from my second mind-blowingest (obviously, that’s a real word) sunrise of the year.  My fellow photographer, Melissa Couture, and I were treated to such a show that morning.  It was one of those times where the photographer and nature lover in me was at freak out level 10.  I felt incredibly blessed to have experienced those moments, watching the colors of the sky shift and burn across the clouds, while the rocks below were painted with a beautiful glow.  It made me grateful for the opportunities I have had in my life, for the chances I’ve taken, for the things I’ve seen and the people I’ve met.  Not a bad way to close out 2015, in my opinion. 😉

Thank you to each and every one of you for the continued support, the comments, the feedback and the love this past year.  It really means the world to me (and to David, my business partner-in-crime!).  Keep on rocking into 2016!

 

xoxo
Shannon

The Badlands

29 Dec
Of Fire and Waves :: CA

Of Fire and Waves :: CA

Earlier this month I went out west to explore Death Valley National Park in California.  During the month of October, they had a flood (yes, I said flood!  In the desert!) that changed a lot of the landscape.  Roads were washed out, some areas were completely inaccessible still, and the salt patterns in Badwater Basin got a bit of a reset.  Zabriskie Point though?  It was lookin’ mighty fine.  Especially draped in such dramatic light.

To say we lucked out with the skies during our trip is an understatement.  Like….the traveler/photographer/nature lover in me was literally freaking out.  A lot.  Because holy crap, that light. *swoon*

According to the Wik (always a reliable source of information), these badlands were the result of a little bit of water erosion (there used to be a lake here, with fish and stuff)…and then a little bit of lava action (so…also some volcano-y stuff).  The rock formations left behind were otherworldly and breath-taking, from both above at the overlook and below along the Badlands Loop trail. (To read more about our hike that day, check out my stuff on The Outbound Collective. They just released a brand new app for the iPhone and have a pretty rad new #protectthewild series of articles in their journal that are definitely worth a read!)

I had an awful lot of fun exploring Death Valley, and have put it on my “to re-visit” list, because a few days was just not enough time to see all of the awesome!  For now though, looking at these photos will have to suffice. 😉

Special thanks to David Thompson and David Pasillas for their help with this beast of an edit!

For those of you who like the details: f/9, 10 mm, iso 100, 1 sec