Posts Tagged ‘photography’

My First Essay for Outdoor Photographer in 1997

Sunday, April 2nd, 2017

 

Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada 1995

 

NOTE: This article is reposted from the original essay in 2012…

Today, I had a request from my long-time friend and master photographer Michael Frye to post the essay in which I tell the story of making my favorite image, Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada 1995. Here it is as sent to Outdoor Photographer for first my On Landscape column in 1997.  For more of my essays, see the OP site here.  Michael is mentioning this story is his upcoming blog post:   In the Moment: A Landscape Photography Blog

 

Landscapes for my Spirit
© 1997 William Neill

 

Welcome to Outdoor Photographer’s new column on landscape photography!  I look forward to sharing my thoughts with you on all aspects of the landscape genre.  I have been an avid reader of OP since its beginning and I hope that I can contribute to all the exciting ideas and images that are regularly offered here.

The best way that I can think of to launch this column is to put forth the underlying motivation and inspiration for my photography. Any future discussions on light, or composition, or equipment, or technique will be based on this foundation.  I am not one for learning an approach to creating images unless that route allows for a direct connection with the subject and helps me to communicate my own response to it.  In other words, I keep my approach very simple and pragmatic.  We, photographers as a group, tend to let the technique of photography get in the way.  Ansel Adams often complained of the overabundance of sharp photos with fuzzy concepts!

The beauty of nature is the foundation of which I speak; it motivates and inspires my photography.  When I stand before landscapes of silent rock, reflecting water, and parting cloud, I feel most connected to myself and to life itself.  Seeing and feeling this beauty is more vital to me than any resulting imagery.  Still, I am compelled to try to put on film some visual representation of the sense of wonder I feel, and I suspect that you know that feeling!

In my new book, Landscapes of the Spirit, I describe my evolution as a photographer, especially emphasizing my belief in the great value and need for the wildness and beauty of nature.  This belief emerged from personal experience— a death in my family when I was eighteen.  That summer I happened to be working in Glacier National Park.  My immersion in that landscape during a time of great personal distress opened my eyes to the restorative powers of nature, and led me to a life in photography.  At some deep level, the beauty of my surroundings seeped into my subconscious—the lush colors of a meadow dense with wildflowers, the energy of a lightning storm, the clarity of a mountain lake, the splendid perspective from the edge of a desert canyon.  In an effort to capture and convey these life-affirming discoveries, I began to photograph as I backpacked throughout Glacier.  Within a few years, all I wanted to do was make photographs!

Ansel Adams, in paraphrasing his mentor Alfred Stieglitz, used to remind his students that a great photograph was the emotional equivalent of the photographer’s response to his subject.  Such a lofty goal is rarely achieved.  We are all lucky if but two or three or four times a year we make an image where technique and emotion converge to create a transcendent photograph.  I don’t mean simply a technically excellent and beautiful image.  I mean a photograph that rises above your best and reveals a deeply personal and creative perspective.  In this regard, I am not so sure that pros can claim to have a better “batting average” than the amateur given their relatively different expectations of their work.  In any case, it is good to have reasonable expectations for your own progress.

Over the years, I have continued to search for imagery that, in the words of the great black and white photographer Paul Caponigro, can”… make visible the overtones of that dimension [of Nature] I sought. Dreamlike, these isolated images maintain a landscape of their own, produced through the agency of a place apart from myself. Mysteriously, and most often when I was not conscious of control, that magical and subtle force crept somehow into the image, offering back what I had sensed as well as what I saw.” I think that the photograph here, Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada, 1995, is one of those photographs Caponigro describes.  Rising very early on a summer morning, I hoped for a dramatic and brilliant sunrise on Lake Louise and the glaciers above.  Perhaps it was the two weeks of photographing in rainy conditions that biased my hopes!  I waited patiently for sunrise, but my preconceived vision failed to appear as persistent clouds shrouded the mountains. It was a silent and mysterious dawn.  I simply sat and soaked in the scene.  Finally, I made two exposures, but expected little. I completely forgot about this session during the rest of my trip.  When I saw the film after returning, I was amazed.  I had to think hard about when and where I had made this photograph.  Unconsciously, but facilitated by my experience and instinct, the power and magic of that landscape, at that moment, had come through on film.

The Lake Louise photograph was made with my 4×5 view camera and a 150mm lens.  Due to the use of slow film, small aperture and low light, the exposure was about two minutes long.  Of the two exposures I made, one was horizontal, the other vertical.  The horizontal image looks much like the vertical, minus the rocks in the foreground.  I often like to remove clues and context that show depth or scale in my images, and the horizontal exposure fit my standard approach.  However, the vertical image has a stronger feeling of depth and somehow this subtle sense of scale adds an essential dimension to the composition.  Since the foreground rocks are underwater, and the long exposure also blurred their appearance, they add a little balance and mystery.

 

I had an idea of what I wanted to photograph at Lake Louise that morning, but when it did not materialize, I didn’t feel as if I had to make an image.  The landscape itself presented another idea.  When a concept for an image is forced onto film, creativity can be lost.  By not needing to make an image, I found one.  This lesson is encapsulated by my favorite quote from photographer Minor White,

Be still with yourself until the object of your attention affirms your presence.

So wait, watch and relax!    It is these magical convergences of light and land and camera that keep us coming back again and again!

Yosemite Autumn Explorations

Wednesday, November 26th, 2014

During late October and early November, I spent seven days in Yosemite Valley working with private students.  We explored many of my favorite locations along the Merced River and in the many meadows around the Valley.

During these sessions, I worked closely with each student on refining their compositions, handling various lighting conditions and dealing with any technical issues that arose.  One of my main focuses while teaching is helping with aesthetic decisions to better enable them to express their own personal response and vision of the landscape before them.  When working one to one and side by side, I can show you my own decision-making process as I create new images. I also worked with those students interested in how I create my Impressions of Light images.

if you are interested in learning from me, see my Yosemite Private Workshops!  To see photographs by those who have attended my sessions, visit my Flickr group page which includes images from all seasons!

Below is a small portfolio from our sessions. Please let me know your thoughts in the comment section below, tell your favorite photographs, and share with friends.

To all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving Day, Happy Thanksgiving!   I am so thankful for the love of my friends and family, and the profound beauty I see in the world around me everyday.  I am also thankful for the gift of being able to share my photographs with others for the past 30 years.  Thank you for following!

Ride the Light,  Bill

 

 


Autumn Elm and Sunbeams, Cook’s Meadow, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/180 second at f/22, ISO 200
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Yellow Maples, Cedar and Pine, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1.50 second at f/16, ISO 640
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Sunrise over Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/20 second at f/19, ISO 200
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Cottonwoods reflected, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/6 second at f/22, ISO 100
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Maples Leaves and Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM +2x,
1 second at f/45, ISO 400
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Grasses reflected in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/2 second at f/22, ISO 200
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Grasses and El Capitan reflected in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/6 second at f/32, ISO 200
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Moonrise over Half Dome and Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM +2x,
1/60 second at f/9.5, ISO 320
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Grasses reflected, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/45 second at f/19, ISO 400
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Autumn Leaves and Ripples, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1/250 second at f/2.8, ISO 800
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Ripples, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1/500 second at f/2.8, ISO 800
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Grasses reflected, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1000 second at f/2.8, ISO 800
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Grasses and reflections in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/350 second at f/2.8, ISO 200
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Maple leaf reflected in the Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/60 second at f/4.5, ISO 320
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Yellow Maples and Granite Boulder, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1 second at f/22, ISO 400
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

 


Thimbleberry Leaves, autumn, Yosemite National Park, California 2014
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
2 second at f/32, ISO 400
Copyright © 2014 William Neill

William Neill Photography from 1996

Wednesday, September 17th, 2014

We have now moved on to 1996 in Celebrating 30 Years of my business.  1995 is a hard year to top, but here we go anyway!

To read my full post, see my 7 images selected and add your comments, please visit:
http://www.williamneill.com/blog/index.php/2014/09/celebrating-30-years-1996/

The photographs here reflect my travels that year, including a spring trip to New England to work on a New England book of my landscape photography.  Sadly, the publisher pulled my contract before I could finish.  I also photographed a major assignment for Canon USA’s corporate calendar for 1997 with the theme on national parks which took me to Texas, Kentucky, Florida and Colorado besides California locations.

Enjoy, and please Share if you Like!  All photographs created with a Wista 4×5 field camera, and 4×5 inch transparency film.

#landscapephotography #nationalpark #largeformatphotography


Half Dome and Tenaya Canyon at sunset from Washburn Point, Yosemite National Park, California 1996
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 


Mt. Dana and Mt. Gibbs reflected in the Tuolumne River at sunset, Yosemite National Park, California 1996
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 


Kelp, MacKerricher State Beach, California, 1996
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 


Clearing storm at dawn, Santa Rosa Island, Gulf Islands National Seashore, Florida 1996
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 


Birches and mist, White Mountains, New Hampshire 1996
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 


Veratrum, Granville Gulf State Park, Green Mountains, Vermont
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 

Incense cedars with snow, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California  1996
Copyright © 1996 William Neill

 

Celebrating 30 Years – 1995

Monday, September 15th, 2014

My “Celebrating 30 Years” project moves on to the year 1995.  A few days after Labor Day in 1984, I quit my job as Photographer at The Ansel Adams Gallery, making the leap of faith to start my own business William Neill Photography.  In the process of posting a few images from each year, I am gaining a tremendous perspective on my efforts and successes as my work evolved.  The excitement has built up each time I have searched my massive Lightroom catalog for the next year’s selection.  Below, I have posted eleven images from 1995, and as I do so, I wonder if I will ever have such a spectacular year again!  I was 41, happily married, had been published in four books featuring my work and traveling often to teach workshops.  I was also working on a second book for the Exploratorium Museum and Chronicle Books called The Color of Nature.  My wife and I took to extended camping trips to the deserts of Utah, and to the Canadian Rockies and Glacier National Park as you can see in the images below.  We also traveled to the east coast, shown by two photographs below taken in Maine.

My favorite photograph, and happily my best-selling fine print is the first image shown below:  Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada 1995.  Only 15 prints remain in the Limited Edition of 150.

Enjoy, and please add your comments below.  All photographs created with a Wista 4×5 field camera, and 4×5 inch transparency film.

Thanks,  Bill

William Neill Books
http://www.williamneill.com/store/books/index.html

 

 


Dawn, Lake Louise, Banff National Park, Canada 1995

 


Sunrise storm clouds, St. Mary Lake, Glacier National Park, Montana 1995

 


Rock formations and surf at twilight, Big Sur, California 1995

 


Trees growing on moss-covered boulders, Baxter State Park, Maine 1995

 


Autumn Forest, Baxter State Park, Maine

 


Striated wall of an ice cave, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada 1995

 


Tangle Falls, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada

 


Pine tree and sandstone cliff, Zion National Park, Utah 1995

 


Eroded sandstone, Capitol Gorge, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

 


Buttes and storm clouds over the Green River, Canyonlands National Park, Utah 1995

 


Cliffs at Convict Lake, winter, Inyo National Forest, California 1995

 

 

From The Ansel Adams Gallery – Unique Offer in Fine Art Photography by William Neill

Monday, August 4th, 2014
Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica January 29th, 2014 09:42:19

Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica January 29th, 2014 09:42:19

Greetings from the Sierra Nevada,

I am happy to announce that The Ansel Adams Gallery is offering three of my images in their latest “Unique Offer in Fine Art Photography.”

The Unique Opportunity The Ansel Adams Gallery is thrilled to offer its collectors, friends and fellow art lovers, a chance to participate in a unique opportunity. From time to time on our website, we will be featuring a never-before-printed, hand-made image from one of our distinguished Gallery artists at a discounted price, prior to its availability within the general market place. This month, we have arranged to present three 16”x24” images from William Neill: two images from the photogenic landscape of Yosemite, “Winter Twilight over Half Dome, Yosemite,” and “Raindrops and Pollen on Corn Lilly Leaves, Yosemite,” both in an edition of 75, with the third in honor of his recent trip to another unique photographic frontier titled “Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula,” in an edition of only 30. While Bill’s original 16”x24” prints normally range in price up to $3,000, you can now add one to your private collection for 25% off the initial retail price. Each photograph is made by Mr. Neill, printed to current archival standards, signed and numbered, as well as mounted, matted and ready for framing. The time to purchase will begin at 9:00 AM Pacific Time on Monday, August 4th, and will expire upon the close of business, Sunday, August 10th at 6:00 PM.Once the offer has expired, we anticipate an order fulfillment time of approximately four weeks to ensure the quality of each individual order. This inaugural printing offer is available for a very limited time, after which, the print will return to full price.

Email our curator, Evan Russel, at evan@anseladams.com if you have any additional questions about the prints or shipping.

 

The Story of the Images – text by William Neill

Winter Twilight over Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California 2012 by William Neill

  Winter Twilight over Half Dome, Yosemite National Park, California
© William Neill, All rights reserved (text by William Neill)

Yosemite Valley after a fresh snowfall is one of the most beautiful places on earth. I’ve been photographing for 38 years in the national park, and winter is my favorite season. Taken after a late December snowfall, I was lucky enough to arrive at Tunnel View with great light and snow still sticking to the trees. Although more dramatic light occurred earlier this evening, I preferred these more subtle colors of twilight. While I have often avoided photographing the icons, focusing in on more intimate views of Yosemite, I am still entranced by the epic landscape of soaring cliffs.
To purchase, please click here.

 

Raindrops and Pollen on Corn Lily Leaves, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Raindrops and Pollen on Corn Lily Leaves, Yosemite National Park, California 2013

Raindrops and Pollen on Corn Lilly Leaves, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
© William Neill. All rights reserved (text by William Neill)

Patterns in nature have been a major theme of my photography for decades. When the corn lily plants spread their leaves during high country summers, I search for dense patterns of leaves like these to photograph. Living nearby, I timed my arrival in hopes of rain from an approaching thunderstorm. The rain drops combined with pollen to form a galaxy of water beads which heightened the magic of these leaves and their patterns. Processed as a Black and White image, I feel that the graphical pattern and mysterious field of possibilities shine through.
To purchase, please click here.

 

 

Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica January 29th, 2014 09:42:19

Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica January 29th, 2014 09:42:19

Blue Icebergs, Cierva Cove, Antarctic Peninsula, Antarctica January 29th, 2014 09:42:19
© William Neill. All rights reserved (text by William Neill)

On my recent trip to the Antarctic Peninsula, our group floated in Zodiac boats through sculpture gardens of ancient ice. The deeper the blues, the older is the ice. The crystalline icebergs glowed like magic in the morning light, revealing the patterns of weather and waves. It was especially challenging to compose precisely while moving, requiring speed in terms of focus, analyzing exposures that constantly changed, and timing to capture good spacing and compositions. It was a spectacular journey. A sweet Antarctic dream.
To purchase, please click here.

Story of the Artist
William Neill has been photographing continuously in his backyard of Yosemite National Park since 1977. Reared in California and Virginia, and educated at the University of Colorado (BA in Environmental Conservation, 1976), he has found his balance in the Sierra Nevada . In the early 1980s, he served as staff photographer at The Ansel Adams Gallery, where he was introduced to the work of Ansel Adams and other fine art photographers. The natural environment and spirit of Yosemite remains the constant inspiration for Neill. He pays special attention to the intimate detail and design of nature. His elegant color photographs celebrate the magic of our natural world.

“The reason I photograph is to experience the beauty of nature, of wild places. I explore the essential elements of rock and tree, of cloud and rushing water to discover the magic and mystery of the landscape. It is the spirit of the land I seek to reveal in my images.

“Photography is a quiet, meditative activity for me. I enjoy isolating the details of a scene. By creating photographs where the content or orientation is not obvious, an intimate and enigmatic feeling can come through. I enjoy making an image that asks a question, one that intrigues and arouses curiosity in the viewer.” He is the photographic author of many books including The Sense of Wonder, The Tree,By Nature’s DesignThe Color of Nature and Traces of Time. A portfolio of his Yosemite photographs has been published Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness as well as a retrospective monograph of his landscape photography entitled Landscapes Of The Spirit. In 1995, the Sierra Club honored Neill with the Ansel Adams Award for conservation photography. Also, he writes a monthly column, On Landscape, for Outdoor Photographermagazine. Neill’s assignment and published credits include National Geographic Special Publications, Smithsonian, Conde Nast Traveler, Gentlemen’s Quarterly, Travel & Leisure, Wilderness, Sunset, Vogue, Sierra and Outside magazines. Feature articles about his work have appeared in Life, Camera and Darkroom, American Photo, Photographer’s Forum, Outdoor Photographer and Communication Arts, from whom he has received four Awards of Excellence. Neill’s fine limited edition prints have been collected and exhibited nationally. Bill Neill resides with his wife, Sahdna, and their children in Oakhurst, California.

Please be sure to view more of William Neill’s photographs at http://www.williamneill.com/as well as at the Gallery’s site, www.anseladams.com