Reminder: There are two days left for the Special Ansel Adams Gallery Print Sale

September 17th, 2016

Reminder: There are two days left for the Special Ansel Adams Gallery Print Sale, which ends on Sunday at 6PM West Coast time!

​​​​​​​Thanks so much to all of you who have purchased prints already. I am excited to start making the photographs and to have my art in your home!


Cheers, William Neill
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Unique Offer from The Ansel Adams Gallery – Photographs by William Neill

September 11th, 2016

 

It is my pleasure to announce that The Ansel Adams Gallery is once again sponsoring a special print sale of two of my photographs, offering a 25% discount off the normal price. The two images we selected for this offer are Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California, and Autumn Sunset on El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California. These two photographs have never been exhibited at a gallery or sold before. My signed, open edition 13×20 prints usually sell for $325, but during this sale, you can get one for only $243.75. Or you can purchase a 16×24 print, normally $450, for only $337.50. Most of my prints have been issued as limited-edition and are more expensive than the open-edition photographs. This is a rare chance to purchase one of my photographs at a reduced price, but the sale lasts for just six days until Sunday, September 18th at 6:00 PM Pacific time. Please visit The Ansel Adams Gallery website to purchase a print or get more details.

Making photographs is not only about the technical “capturing” of the image but also about the sensory experience with the landscape itself. Strong images can reconnect us with the experience and the people with whom we shared that time. Here are the stories behind the making of these two images.

Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California, 2014 (image above)

One October morning in 2014, I was teaching a private student in Cook’s Meadow at sunrise. As a longtime Yosemite resident, I anticipated great photographic potential there. We started out photographing with a classic view of Half Dome, but as the sun first struck the damp meadow, we raced to where the sun was rising directly behind this extraordinary elm tree. An amazing confluence of peak autumn color and morning mist unfolded before us, with sunbeams bursting through the graceful branches. Knowing that the mist would burn off soon, we worked rapidly to find a strong composition, shading our lenses from the sun using the tree’s limbs. As the sun rose higher, the beams shifted with the rising mist until they disappeared after only ten minutes. To me, this image captures a sense of hope, of “a new day shining out of the darkness.” This elm, which I’ve been photographing for 40 years, was once again a magical and wondrous sight.

 

Autumn Sunset on El Capitan and the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

I have been photographing Yosemite and living in the area for nearly forty years. The wonders of this cathedral in stone never ceases to amaze me, especially during the changing seasons. The day I made this photograph began with pouring rain at dawn. Then by mid-morning, it began to snow leaving a white dusting on red dogwood and golden oak leaves. By noon, the storm began to clear with clouds and mist ascending off of granite cliffs. After a thrilling day of chasing this extraordinary light and weather around the valley, I started for home. The clouds looked like they were closing in, how could any more epic conditions appear after so many blessings of the day? While driving past El Capitan, I noticed a small patch of light breaking through the clouds on its cliffs. I raced down to set up my camera along the Merced River, finding these wonderful reflections and sunset colors. The incredible light lasted only a few minutes. After a day full of catching my breath in awe of such beauty, I finally, slowly exhaled with a peaceful sense of bliss.

If you have any questions, contact me by email or post below in my blog. Please click here to purchase or for more information.

 

Focus Your Fall Portfolio

September 4th, 2016
Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook's Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California, 2014

Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California, 2014

Focus Your Fall Portfolio

Below is an essay  I wrote last year for my On Landscape column published in Outdoor Photographer Magazine. I would love to hear feedback on your favorite images, and share links to any “epic day” images you wish to share!

With autumn photography approaching soon, I want to share some ideas that may help you develop an excellent portfolio for this fall season. I have found it useful, for myself and for teaching my students, to think about creating a story line, or clear thematic focus, for your work. Consider what specific locations or aspects of autumn inspire you the most. The location could be your backyard, a nearby park or reserve, or a travel location where you can spend at least a few days to explore the area fully. A favorite aspect might include colorful reflections, or the patterns of fallen leaves, or a series focused on branch-filled tapestries of color. This approach of specialization will help distinguish your autumn images from other photographers’ work.

Two key elements needed for your selection of an autumn theme are passion for the subject and easy access during the season. Passion is a must-have ingredient for creative, insightful imagery. Repeated access to your location will build your knowledge of the light, weather and seasonal changes, helping you find the best conditions for making great photographs. One idea would be to photograph the transition of autumn in your area, from the first hints of color in green trees to the last clinging leaves. This transition offers us great opportunities to communicate that visceral sense that we all feel of time moving forward.

Instead of trophy hunting for singular, spectacular scenic images, I like to explore around for quiet images, ones that don’t shout too loud. In Yosemite, for example, I often find exciting details on the forest floor, in river reflections or cliff details. I have included some examples here from last fall in Yosemite Valley. Over a two-week period in late October and early November, I worked with private students in Yosemite Valley. I enjoy the one-to-one process of helping photographers find their own vision, and share mine with them. Even though I usually focus on intimate details, that doesn’t mean I will avoid those epic, rare events where weather and/or light explode with drama and energy.

On one such dramatic morning, an amazing confluence of peak autumn color and morning mist, rising off a frosted meadow, unfolded before me and my student. We started out photographing from one excellent vantage point, then raced to where the sun was directly behind this extraordinary tree where we witnessed sunbeams bursting through the graceful branches. Knowing that the mist would burn off soon, we worked rapidly to find the best camera position for him to block the rising sun with the tree’s limbs. Even though the lens was shaded from direct sun, the high contrast and rapidly changing situation called for bracketing exposures to ensure a full range of data was captured. The end result, for both of us, were top portfolio “keepers!” The images portray the symbolism of “a new day” and “light shining through the darkness.”

Just as exciting to me were several quiet Yosemite images I photographed last fall. Quiet intensity in an image can endure and engage the viewer for longer in my opinion. With subtle imagery comes a depth that can be enjoyed more over time.


Yellow Maples, Cedar and Pine, Yosemite Valley.

When I pull together a group of photographs such as from last autumn, I edit by looking for the highest and most consistent quality, as well as looking for a balance of scale, light, weather and subject matter. I might use a wide-angle view or two to set the context of the portfolio in Yosemite Valley. However, my intimate landscapes would be my main focus, such as the river and trees reflections, or leaves floating through autumn-colored river reflections. When you see the selected images as a group such as in an exhibit or online gallery, they should create a visual story, a personal exploration, a creative viewpoint.

This fall, think about what thematic project you could develop. Selecting a title, even if you change it later, can give you additional focus for both your shooting sessions and editing. Think about what you want to say with your images. Your unique viewpoint will be better revealed, and the concept behind the photographs will heighten the portfolio’s impact.

Best wishes for great light, wondrous color and creative autumn photographs!

 

Open Studio – Sierra Art Trails on Sept. 30, Oct. 1 and Oct 2!

August 29th, 2016

Neill Open Studio

We are very pleased to announce that we will be open for Sierra Art Trails 2016, which is celebrating 14 years of supporting the Arts in the Yosemite Foothills! Mark your calendar for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, September 30th through October 2nd from 10AM to 6PM. My home studio will be full of my fine art prints, books, and posters. Come visit me, and you can also visit Yosemite while in the area!

INVENTORY SALE! Once each year, I offer discounts on a large number of prints in inventory.  The good news is that I have so many photographs, but not enough space in my office so CLEARANCE is the key word!

I hope to see many old friends and meet new ones too!  Let me know if you think you can make it, and ask any questions if you have them. Also, please share this with friends who you think might be interested. Thanks!

See the official website for more details.
http://www.sierraarttrails.org/index.html

Cheers,  Bill

The photo above shows what my living room looks like during Sierra Art Trails.

The cost of admission is $20.00 for all participating venues and includes the Sierra Art Trails Catalog, your “ticket for two” for the event. The catalog includes a list of participating artists, examples of their work, and maps to the locations of artists’ studios, galleries, and other viewing locations.  Artists are scattered throughout the area. Your catalog and map will guide you.

 

WHISPERS IN THE FOG

August 20th, 2016
Giant sequoia and fir tree in the fog, Sequoia National Park, California, 1993

 Giant sequoia and fir tree in the fog, Sequoia National Park, California, 1993

WHISPERS IN THE FOG

© 1999 William Neill

Here is an essay I wrote in 1999. Enjoy!

Simplicity. Subtly. These are words I value highly in my landscape photography. I love making quiet and simple images. I strive to distill those aspects of nature that whisper, that entice the viewer to delve deeper— into the image and, most importantly, into nature.

A common tendency for landscape photographers is to include too much information. Too many mountains or trees. Too much foreground or sky. It is a natural and enthusiastic response to a great location or scene. Let’s describe it all! After all, it is the entire 360-degree experience of sound and smell that makes us raise up our camera. It is difficult to tell the whole story in one frame so what happens, most often, is that the resulting image is merely a description. Including too much has the effect of diluting the composition. Had the photographer paused to consider how to create a composition that encapsulates the experience, the viewer will have a better chance to sense the place through the photographer’s eyes. To distill is the key idea here; to isolate and concentrate the key elements of the photographer’s interaction with the scene. Through this process of focusing compositionally, the selective process gives one a better opportunity to discover a new viewpoint.

A few years ago (1993), I traveled to Sequoia National Park on an assignment for Sunset Magazine. My job was to photograph the Sequoia groves in the park, and especially the less-protected groves south of the park. As I drove into the first grove on my assignment list, a thick fog enveloped the sequoia forest. These conditions were not exactly the ideal conditions for the work at hand. Yet I was entranced. Perhaps I could make an image that would evoke the Sequoia’s timeless and epic qualities in a new way. And happily, the magazine sent me right when the dogwood were in bloom.

I spent the next few hours wondering amongst the dogwood and Giant Sequoia as the fog sifted through the woods. Slowly and subtly, the fog thickened and lightened on a soft breeze. I listened to a tape of Japanese flute music while I photographed, intensifying the wondrous experience.

What the fog provided me was a forest simplified. The combination of soft light, and the reduction of depth and detail provided by the fog allowed me to distill the key elements around me. I photographed dogwood branches, with their blossoms seemingly suspended in air and floating in the fog. With my wide angle lens captured two lone sequoias soaring up into the fog, an image that was later used in a Nike ad! I photographed a dogwood tree growing in front of a sequoia. I made vertical and horizontal images in panoramic format. The creative juices were flowing, and I worked the scene until no more ideas would come.

In the photograph shown here, “Giant sequoia and fir tree in the fog, Sequoia National Park, California 1993,” I chose a normal focal length 150mm lens for the 4×5. I composed the image so that the tree filled more than half the frame. The small fir tree contrasts dramatically with the massive sequoia. Only a small part of the huge tree is included in the photograph yet its presence is felt. The forest floor was cluttered with fallen branches, so I raised the front standard of my view camera to eliminate the distraction. This movement also served to keep the lines of the trees parallel. By not settling for the obvious approach—describing the whole tree—I discovered a fresh viewpoint, one that leaves the viewer to imagine the rest of the picture outside my frame.

The fog was gone the next day; the sun came out so was able to make the type of images needed for the assignment. Not surprisingly, the magazine did not use any of my photographs made in the fog, but many of them have been subsequently published and exhibited in galleries. It was a successful trip on all quarters, especially for me artistically!

My mantra, once again, is Simplicity and Subtly.

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For on-line portfolios and more, please see William Neill’s web page at www.WilliamNeill.com