Earlier this summer we took a afternoon excursion to Dinosaur Valley State Park in Glen Rose, TX. Even as an adult seeing the footprints of dinosaurs along the riverbed of the Paluxy River was an exciting experience. Even with recent rain the water was still low enough to allow us to walk along a good section of the riverbed and view many of the footprints. We then took a hike along the Cedar Ridge Trail in the park and enjoyed getting away from the crowds to enjoy the scenery. Though there was a fair amount of hiking on inclines the panoramic views were well worth the walk. For being one of the few state parks near the DFW area this park seemed to offer a less urban feel for a nice getaway from the city life.
Yesterday we went for a brief hike (the sun and 100 degree weather were harsh) at Cedar Ridge Nature Preserve in the southern part of Dallas. The preserve was surprisingly scenic for being in the city of Dallas and offered quite a few different hiking trails. We walked the Cattail Pond Loop and were pleasantly surprised when we saw there was still water in the pond. While I took time to capture some images of the pond I was startled by the sounds of fish jumping from the water. No wonder there was a bird perched on a log fishing for lunch. The trail had a wonderful scent of cedar as we hiked along and took in the overlook of Joe Pool Lake. Was pleasant to find such an oasis near the DFW metro area.
I went out today with my D70 and an infrared filter and decided to play around a bit more with digital infrared photography. Infrared photography is always a finicky and tricky thing to do (especially well), whether it be film or digital. Most people find it hard to believe that this is how the images come straight out of the camera; no editing is needed to create these surreal images. The filter used for infrared photography simply blocks normal daylight (uv light) and only allows infrared light to pass through the camera’s lens and reach the digital sensor or film. Infrared filters are impossible to see through and make shooting a challenge as any framing has to be done before the filter can be put on the lens. The other challenge is that the focus plane of infrared photography is different than that of any other type of shooting. Most lenses have an extra dot, but it is still not precise and often needs adjusted to reach any kind of sharp focus. As with any digital shooting it is always much cheaper to experiment and try new things. I do still have some 35mm infrared film packed away to use at some point, but for now I am enjoying the ease of doing it on a digital camera. These are by no means exemplary, yet turned out better than expected. Infrared photographs create a dreamlike reality within the everyday world with the whites created from grass, leaves, and other plants. It makes an ordinary summer day seem like a world away in a place you only see in the deepest sleep. These photos are all taken in Maypearl, TX on a driving adventure I took today after the rain cleared and the sun came out (you really need bright sunlight to have effective infrared photos.
I recently had the privilege of visiting Summit County in Colorado. During my visit I spent one of the nights outside in the refreshingly chilly mountain air. Even in April there was still several feet of snow on the ground (not a huge surprise when you are over 10,000 ft. above sea level), though the daytime sun was warm enough to be outside in a t-shirt. Being out of the city the stars shone brightly behind the silhouettes of pine trees and mountains. These images reinforce the magic of the camera as the camera captured the stars moving across the night sky.
After moving to Texas I have been more drawn to trying to capture the magic of the sunset. The colors in the sky that are created during this time of the day are so vibrant and magnificent it is hard not to feel an appreciation for things beyond the control of man. I must admit I have not yet captured a Texas sunset I deem worthy of showing, but upon looking back on images I had taken I found this wondrous scene on the shore of Bear Lake on the Superior Hiking Trail (SHT). This section, the Twin Lakes Loop, is one of the most popular areas for many reasons. Foremost is it’s beauty, this section goes from rocky outcrops, through wooded marshes, scenic lakes, and more. It is also on the southernmost leg of the SHT; making it an easy weekend destination from the Twin Cities. Over the past several years I have found myself at this campsite countless times. This image is a perfect example of the serenity found at any given moment while sitting at this campsite. The subtle details in this image are overwhelming to anybody who has been to this location. The strips of birch bark along the shore are easily mistaken for litter, but are simply a sign of the beavers who have a den built at the southernmost tip of this lake on the stream that leads to Beaver Lake. Hidden in the water is the beaver swimming across the lake creating the ripples that are coming towards the shoreline from where the photograph is taken. The crystal clear water is all too inviting on the heated days of July and August after a sweaty hike through the ups and downs of the Sawtooth Mountains to get to this hidden oasis. This view accompanies every activity at the campsite from cooking breakfast over the propane stove, conversing over a campfire on a chilly eve in the north woods, lying in the afternoon sun to relax after a day hike, etc. Easily my favorite parts of the day while at this campsite are the sunrise and sunset. Even if you are not an early riser it is hard to not be awoken by the early morning sun heating up your tent on the shore. For these reasons and more this location is a place that in my heart has a feeling of home.
This image holds so much of the magic that photography consists of. I consistently look back upon this shot to dissect what in my mind makes a wonderful image. I think it began with the normalcy of the situation. This was not an out of the ordinary site to wake up to, and was therefore natural and relaxing for me to capture. The unplanned shots tend to be the most honest. Then the ice trail makes such a wonderful line to the island, which upon looking closely you can see the boat and person whom created this break in the ice. The little details add up to the big picture. The magical part of the image is the fog. The sense of mystery and intrigue that it brings to the scene glues everything together. To me it looks like something in a dream, yet it is a part of ordinary life. This is a cold and typical November morning on the lake in Wisconsin. It shows the slowness of life and the serenity of all activities. I was watching the rowboat make its way to the tiny island as I ate breakfast on the dock with my camera on a tripod capturing segments of time.
I have been reading through the Ansel Adams three book photo series the past month. To begin with these books are wonderful and any person interested in further developing the photography skills should give them a read. Secondly reading photography books always has the same result; it makes you want to go out and shoot. I was currently in the middle of the second book, The Negative, when I decided to go chase a sunset one evening. I took a few okay photographs of the sunset, but it just wasn’t a colorful night. I then began the walk back to my car and saw the moon behind the local food store and couldn’t resist stopping to give it a try. After moving in closer to the feed store I noticed the beautiful wood grain on the ceiling of the building and loved the colors it produced in this image. It felt wonderful to get out and put some of the reading to use in new surroundings.