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Near the end of my recent photography trip I met up with some friends near Casper, Wyoming to fish the North Platt – trout, catch & release.  The lodge gives out “25” logo hats to those anglers who land a 25 inch trout or better.   I am sure I hooked a 28 or 29 incher – a giant – but I didn’t land it – no hat.  Of course I (and my friends) have already signed on for same time, next year.  The “almost” gave me a taste of a truly great fish; I’ll definitely be back.  I love fly-fishing. 

Photography is not dissimilar.  We look for the “25” but often have to settle for the 18 or 20.  We can seek out the best light (dawn and dusk), but can sometimes get skunked if dense cloud cover obscures the rising or setting sun.  More often the problem is a lack of drama or moment – we want some clouds, a rainbow, lightening, a storm, unexpected wildlife showing up in the scene, but no – we make do and still celebrate the beauty, but miss getting the “hat.”

I spent two weeks covering Cedar Breaks, Bryce, Coral Pink Dunes, the Pawnee ButtesThe Grand Tetons and Yellowstone.  Maybe my inspiration level was low, maybe it was too hot to get enthused, maybe my compositions just didn’t click.  Most of the time “photographic weather” remained elusive, spooking the fishing.

So I am putting up a few of my shots, but like fishing the North Platt, a “25er” will require a return visit (and not in July or August).

 
 
Check out the link to my video page, where over the next several weeks I will try to show some hybrid video/still presentations of some of my work.  I am realizing that adding royalty-free music is difficult - I'm doing my best to find something compatible.
 
 
Recently I have been taking some pictures of National Historic Landmarks.  From the Web site:

“National Historic Landmarksare nationally significant historic places designated by the Secretary of the Interior because they possess exceptional value or quality in illustrating or interpreting the heritage of the United States. Today, fewer than 2,500 historic places bear this national distinction. Working with citizens throughout the nation, the National Historic Landmarks Program draws upon the expertise of National Park Service staff who work to nominate new landmarks and provide assistance to existing landmarks”.

Most of my photos are of Landmarks located near my home in Northern California, although I do have a couple taken during my trip to Savannah and Charleston.  I have submitted a few of these to the NHL Web site and perhaps one or more will be accepted and published.  Plan on visiting sites nearby your own home areas – definitely worth a visit.

 
 
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Historic Savannah is geometrically designed and contains multiple (at least 24) 2-block large “squares,” both beautiful and historically significant.  The terrain is flat, and the entire district is easily walkable.  Here are my top 10 suggestions:
1)   To get a layout overview, on day one walk as much of the city as possible.  Don’t miss the river walk along the Savannah River at the north edge of town.
2)   Take the free 5-10 minute ferry ride across the Savannah River for sunrise or sunset pictures of the riverfront area.

3)   Signup for a hugely informative historic walking tour with Savannah Dan – 2 hours.
4)   Go back to one or two of the squares for early or late pictures.
5)   Eat at the best restaurant in town, The Olde Pink House, 23 Abercorn, 912 232-4286.  Outside on the balcony is great, but try to get down to the basement bar for a drink and entertainment (Downey Mosley on the piano) before eating.
6)   Visit Tybee Island, an easy drive from town.  Get to the lighthouse area for sunrise pictures.  Walk on the great beach, and then drive over to the small town of Tybee.  Prior to leaving the island have lunch at the famous Crab Shack, and then take a very informative guided tour of Fort Pulaski.  You can easily be back in Savannah by late afternoon.
7)   Visit one or more of the historic homes in town – information at the Visitor Center.
8)   9)  10)  Drive to Charleston (100 miles), stopping at Bluffton and Beaufort along the way (lunch).  Lots to do in Charleston, the topic of another post.
Click to view a few pictures of Savanah and Tybee Island.

 
 
I am very fond of the California coast, particularly its northern half.  Nevertheless I have found it difficult to photograph.  Skies are (usually) not interesting.  Fog is hard to capture.  I have had a hard time creating interesting compositions.  Pictures of haystacks taken from the beach at sunset along then Oregon coast, with splashing waves and sun stars, are beautiful if more common; I want to go there next.  But I keep trying closer to home.  My new slide show (Home Page) gives a glimpse of our coastline.  I have included some lighthouses.  I have taken pictures from higher up, from the beach, standing far back from the beach and looking backward from the beach.  I have placed the point of emphasis miles from the shooting site.   I captured a family of whales (well, flumes).  At any rate I am trying, and will continue to do so.

 
 
This is a real photography tip, better than a stock recommendation or a winning parlay.   Obviously there are plenty of great and even extraordinary photographers out there.  Jackson Bridges is one of those, but more.  He has lots of experience.  I am not divulging his age, but I can tell you he doesn’t act it.  I had the privilege of shooting with him over parts of three days near his hometown of Page, Arizona.  This man brings a youthful joy to his work.  Yes we were seeking the golden-hour light, but he was not waiting for it nor abandoning his camera after sunset.  A daytime shadow, a cloud, a pattern – he’s out of his car firing away.  Moonlight is his specialty, but not enough? – add flash or a flashlight.   He loves taking pictures, anytime, day or night.  He’ll also talk you through technical or artistic issues.  If you plan photographing in that area, I would strongly encourage calling him and perhaps spending some camera time with him.  He knows the area, the timing of the best light, etc.  Click on his name to open his Web site – now that’s a guaranteed winner.  

 
 
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My daughter Audrey died way too young.  She was very artistic dating to early childhood, later excelling with the camera, producing mostly black and white images in her own unique style.  She modified many in the dark room. Her emphasis was clearly on the “B” half of “B&W.”  I have scanned several of her photographs on my computer.  Please click on her picture a view some of her work

 
 
I took the Bryce Canyon photo in 2007, in fact several.  But I couldn’t connect with any.  This one in particular was too broad, covered too much. I tried multiple crops, and performed the usual Photoshop manipulations.  Nothing.  In retrospect I know I was influenced by pictures from other artists – big mistake.  There are tons of gorgeous cropped shots of individual or a few rock formations.  But for me that morning was not about small but about big.  As the sun came up the entire canyon opened up.  Recently I went back over my rejects (and there are many) and begin looking at this picture differently.  How about the whole thing?  Morning light just a moment before the first sun rays appear over the horizon.  An Olympic Stadium, the Roman Colosseum.  So I accepted the full monty, but now had another problem.  What about that aggravating small tree in the mid-foreground?  This breaks composition rules.  So I tried cropping it out but lost the “stadium” appearance that I wanted.  So I cloned it out:
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Bryce Canyon
But now there was an unappealing rather large area of mostly “nothing” in the right foreground.  Okay, what about moving the tree?

Sitting in the lower right corner, it fits into the standard “rules.”  But I couldn’t see it there.  Out of place.  Did it really add value?  Finally I went back to my Colosseum comparison.  Where would I be sitting?  Right there in the middle foreground, taking in this spectacular view.  The tree is Me.  Bring on the Olympians.


 

Richard Gaston Photography