Posts Tagged ‘williamneill.com’

The Long Road

Friday, August 4th, 2017

 

Introductory Essays by Art Wolfe and John Weller

Size: 280mm x 280mm (11×11 inches)

Pages: 214

Photographic Illustrations: 151

Available: October, 2017
Standard Edition £49.50 ($64.00 USD)

YOUR own poetic sensibility has greatly enhanced your ability to create realities that transcend surface realities… Your images have a presence that very few photographers achieve.
 -Jerry Ueslmann

There is wonder all around us; William Neill translates it all
into photographic poetry
-Art Wolfe

William Neill is one of the great landscape photographers of the last hundred years. His images – stunning, haunting, breathtaking, poetic – speak for themselves. There are no words necessary, just admiration. Through, in his own words, “observation and immersion” he has seen and recorded the beauty of the planet. But, more than that, he had captured its spirit. Again and again he shows us “the thread which holds all things together”.
This book is an instant classic; truly one for the ages.
– Dewitt Jones

William Neill has been an inspiration to me since my earliest days photographing the American West. His quiet and thoughtful compositions always inspire contemplation and solace.
-Guy Tal

During a recent workshop someone asked me about my favorite photographers, and one of the first names that came to mind was my friend William Neill. Bill has been producing consistently beautiful and innovative photographs of nature for decades,
and his new retrospective book looks wonderful.
-Michael Frye

Though Bill is a consummate artist, his drive is not to create art. Bill’s drive is to communicate the importance and fragility of nature. He does so through intimate details and sheer majesty. But photography, for Bill, is not the end in and of itself, but a means to his end, a tool. He has devoted all of his unique skill, and his entire life, to connecting people
with our endangered natural world.
 -John Weller

William Neill is widely recognized as one of America’s finest landscape photographers. Widely published and exhibited, his work is truly inspirational.
-Michael Reichmann, 2008

Neill is a master who has been an inspiration to me for over two decades. His images have a delicate elegance that few others achieve.
-Sean Bagshaw

 

The Long Road
(originally published at The Luminous Landscape)

We all walk the long road. Sometimes the light is all shining on me, sometimes I can barely see. What a long strange trip it has been, on this long and winding road. These lines from classic rock and roll songs pop into my head as I try to write about my four decades as a landscape photographer. You may ask yourself, how did I get here?

When I was growing up, my family often spent time outdoors. On weekends, we’d picnic in local redwood forests or beaches near our home in the San Francisco Bay Area. During most summers, we’d spend a week or two visiting National Parks such as Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, Sequoia or Yosemite. These family road trips sparked my love of nature.

This passion became solidified in the face of personal tragedy when I was eighteen. While working a summer job in Glacier National Park before starting college in the fall, I learned that my brother had died of a brain aneurism. My immersion in that mountainous 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. 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!

 

Just a few years after buying my first camera in 1974, I moved to Yosemite and never left. Living in or just outside the Park continuously since 1977 has been key to my development as an artist. After a few summers working for the National Park Service, I was hired to be the photographer in residence at The Ansel Adams Gallery. I was able to get to know Ansel and attend his workshop summer sessions; meet other world-class photographers such as Ernst Haas, Paul Caponigro, Joel Meyerowitz and Jerry Ulesmann plus Ansel’s stellar assistants John Sexton, Alan Ross, Ted Orland and Don Worth. I started teaching photography to park visitors, taking them for daily “camera walks” in the meadow near the gallery. I learned to make my own color prints, ironically, in Ansel’s Black and White darkroom. I listened and learned and explored.

As my career developed over the past 40 years, through many ups and downs financially and creatively, I slowly found a few key themes. (See: Thinking in Themes essay) Naturally, one of those themes was Yosemite. Through my connection to Ansel’s sphere of influence, I was inspired to discover new ways of seeing this grand landscape. I hiked and camped and climbed on my weekends, always with a camera. In 1994, a book of my Yosemite photographs was published entitled Yosemite: The Promise of Wildness.

 

Along this road, a new theme emerged that focused on intimate landscapes, isolations of the broad view. Rather than try to describe everything in front of me, I searched for simple design and magic light that moved me, and the viewer, beyond a literal description. “Landscapes of the Spirit” became the central theme in my landscape photography, and the theme took form in a major monograph book (in 1997) of my best photography to that date.

My new book begins with a large portfolio of my Landscapes of the Spirit series. It includes key images made with my 4×5 film camera, but also very recent digital captures. There are also chapters featuring my Antarctic work, Black and White images, impressionistic photographs each reflecting creative tangents I’ve taken.

 

Another chapter includes a portfolio entitled By Nature’s Design. From the very beginning of my photography, portraying nature’s patterns was a main subject for me. The theme took full form in 1993 when I illustrated a science book entitled By Nature’s Design. I was assigned to photograph dozens of specific subjects to artistically and clearly show branching, cracking, and spiral patterns to illustrate the science behind them. A large portfolio of the book’s images appeared in the October 1993 issue of Life Magazine.

The lesson of working with concepts to bring deeper meaning to my portfolios led to new themes. The Black and White images emerged from a long-standing love of the images by Edward and Brett Weston, Paul Caponigro, Minor White, and Wynn Bullock. Seeing the paintings of Monet and other Impressionists inspired my Impressions of Light collection of photographs using the technique of intentional camera motion to create painterly images.

 

One never quite knows where the road of life leads us. With a great sense of wonder, a passion for making photographs, and a desire to celebrate nature’s beauty, I’ve stayed focused on the task at hand, the goal in mind, moving forward one step at a time. Now, I can stop for a moment, look back at the path I’ve traveled, as seen in the pages of this book, and breathe a deep breath of satisfaction. Now looking forward, head down again and back to work. The long and winding road continues before me.

 

The book includes a full index of each image, showing the camera and lens used.

 

 

For more information and to purchase, visit Triplekite’s website.

 

EDITOR’S NOTE: Text Box (I see the text below as a separate box to give your reader a direct sense of what the publishers were thinking about this book project)

As my conversations with Triplekite’s David Breen and Dav Thomas developed, I shared my book publishing history with them as well as the portfolios on my web page. To my surprise, they suggested a retrospective. It was a daunting prospect, but who was I to say no? Here is a brief Q&A with the publishers:

From the Publisher

What is your philosophy as a book publisher specializing in landscape photography?

“Our philosophy has always been to make the books that we would want to buy – which is also why we started; we simply couldn’t find many publishers making photography books of the natural world in any great quantity. We knew some great artists who couldn’t get a traditional book deal and self-publishing was pretty much a dark art, so we decided to make a stand against the traditional publishing world and prove it could be done in a newer, fresh and more personal way. Of course, things have changed radically in the five years since we started, but our philosophy stays the same – make great books, by great people, and they will sell. We have always been passionate about the product, its design as well as the content within it. We always strive to make a book which best represents the work within, that on occasion has meant books the size of an A2 sheet when opened out, or with quad foldouts over a metre wide. We still strive for these ideals as well as showcasing the best work, whether that’s from an established name or a relative newcomer, some of our greatest pleasure is derived from publishing someone for their first book.”

Why William Neill, and why a retrospective?

“William is, of course, a household name when it comes to Landscape photography, so maybe the question is ‘why wouldn’t we?’ Within our philosophy it is easy to see who we could and should be publishing, and it is often more difficult to see a way of making it viable – a relatively unknown artist will take a lot of marketing if we are to reach beyond break even and often we don’t. More established names are easier to make commercial decisions with but often are already tied into established publishing houses and contracts. When we approached Hans Strand about doing his “Iceland” book, we found a perfect mix of great work, great desire and a willingness to take a chance on a lesser-known publisher in ourselves. William was sent this book by Hans and really liked what it stood for, so he approached us about doing a book together. I remember looking through everything he’d already achieved and once over the awe of it all, thinking he’s never done a complete collection. I guess the idea came from there, and we have worked for a couple of years trying to capture the essence of a career which is beyond measure in its achievements and outputs.”

How did you learn about his photography?

“Personally, I originally knew more European photographers than Americans (apologies), but in my research, I have looked at all the great landscape artists throughout the world. Williams name comes up time and time again in my investigations. Doing polls of our book buyers, and his name comes up, he’s very much respected and followed across the globe and our pre-orders show that.”

 

Can you give us some insight into the design process?

“The design process starts with an evaluation of the images that will form the content of the book, followed by a rough idea of how to sequence the images. In this case, William already had a rough idea of sections for the book which covered both individual styles as well as locations. The physical format of the book is often guided by the proportions of the images it is to showcase – early on in the design process we decided that a square format would work best in this instance. 


Covers were designed early on including the limited edition options and this was followed by the layout including type choice and image spacing. 


After a number of draft versions, with slight alterations to the sections and image selection, we end up with a final version ready for artwork
.”

 

For more information and to purchase, visit Triplekite’s website.

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!

Retrospective book now available to pre-order!

Friday, March 10th, 2017
This is the cover for the standard version, 20% during pre-order, available in the Fall.Standard Release Cover, available Fall 2017, pre-0rder 20% off now for only £40 (~$49US)

Greetings from the Sierra Nevada,

I am happy to share with you the pre-order information about my upcoming book. The collection will feature images, many never published before, from my very early years with a camera in the 1970s through four decades including very recent work created in the past year. Photographs included are: from my Antarctica series; an in-depth look at my “landscapes of the spirit” work; a Black and White portfolio; a series of patterns in nature imagery; a portfolio of my impressionistic, camera motion work; and last but not least, an extensive collection of Yosemite photographs.

The book’s release is scheduled for the Fall of 2017. Triplekite, the publisher, is now offering excellent upgrades to the standard hardcover version that are only available through them and only until publication in the fall. Don’t miss out on these very special and limited offers!

William Neill’s much-anticipated retrospective book is now available to pre-order. All books ordered before the general release in the Autumn will come with a limited edition cloth cover with foil embossing – this version of the book will only be available as a pre-order and will not be available once the book is on general release. We are also offering a limited edition slipcase version, plus special edition with one or two signed A3 (12×16 inches) prints. 
All slipcased, limited and special edition books will only be available as pre-orders.

For more information and to purchase, visit Triplekite’s website.

special edition william neill-retrospectivePre-Release edition: Cover: cloth cover, foil blocked, set-in image:
approx 300 Plates: TBC Size: 280mm x 280mm (11×11 inches)
Pre-order book with slipcase £57.50 ($70.00 USD)

 

William Neill – Photographer, a Retrospective

£49.50£195.00 £40.00£195.00

Released: Autumn 2017

ISBN: 978-0-957 6345-8-9

Release edition: Cover: Hardback cover printed directly with no dust jacket, matt laminated Pages:  TBC Plates: TBC Size: 280mm x 280mm

Pre-Release edition: Cover: cloth cover, foil blocked, set-in image:  approx 300 Plates: TBC Size: 280mm x 280mm (11×11 inches)

 

Reasons to pre-order:

Name printed in the book

Collectors edition cover

Slipcases and special editions only available until pre order closure

20% Reduced pricing

Pre-order book only  £40 ($49.00 USD)
Retail Price when available in bookstores or online  £49.50 ($60.00 USD)

Pre-order book with slipcase £57.50 ($70.00 USD)

 

Special Edition with one print £160 ($195.00 USD)

In limited edition slipcase with signed A3 print (12×16 inches) by William Neill

Special Edition A – with ‘Rock, Tree and Waterfall’, Yosemite National Park, California

Special A Rock,-Tree-and-Waterfall,-Yosemite-National-Park,-California

Special Edition B – with ‘Morning Mist Rising’, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

Special B-Morning-Mist-Rising,-Yosemite-Valley,-Yosemite-National-Park,-California

Special Edition with both prints £195 (~$230.00 USD)

Special Edition C – with both  ’Rock, Tree and Waterfall’, Yosemite National Park, California  &  ’Morning Mist Rising’, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California

To make your purchase, you will see the drop down menu where you can select the options as shown below.

Best Photographs of 2015

Friday, December 16th, 2016

It is that time of year again for Best of the Year photographs. Except that last year I did not post a Best of 2015. So here it is. Better late than never they say. I’ve included 40 photographs shown in chronological order, enough to give you a sense of the range of styles and subjects I explored.  No exotic adventurous travel in 2015 like my Antarctica trip in 2014.

In August, I made a switch in to the Sony A7R2 camera. I wrote an essay about the switch in my Outdoor Photographer Magazine column. Nothing revolutionary or new in my thoughts, just some excitement about the improved technology of the latest sensors.

I’d love to get your feedback in the Comments below.

NOTE:   I still am using my Canon lenses using the Metabones Canon EF Lens to Sony E-Mount Camera Lens Mount Mark IV Adapter. When I exported these images from Adobe Lightroom to my WordPress, the software reads the file data to show the wrong lenses, Sony instead of Canon.

 


Crystalline ice formation Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
3 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Ice Crystals, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1/2 second at f/6.7, ISO 100

 


Crystal Ice and oak leaf, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1/1 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Ice and Grasses, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1 second at f/19, ISO 100

 


Ice and Grass, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, TS-E90mm f/2.8,
1.50 second at f/19, ISO 100

 


Cottonwood Impressions, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/6 second at f/32, ISO 100

 


Winter Forest, Pocono Mountains, Deleware State Forest, Pennsylvania 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM,
1/6 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Dogwood Blossoms and Sky, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/750 second at f/9.5, ISO 800

 


Dogwood Blossom, early spring, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/90 second at f/5.6, ISO 400

 


Dogwood blooming, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1.50 second at f/32, ISO 200

 


Dogwood Blossoms, Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1 second at f/27, ISO 200

 


Dogwood Blossom Tapestry, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/22, ISO 400

 


Dogwood Blossom Sunset, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1.50 second at f/32, ISO 800

 


Bridalveil Fall, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/2000 second at f/8, ISO 200

 


Lupine Impressions, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/8, ISO 200

 


El Capitan reflected in Merced River, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM +2x,
1/4 second at f/19, ISO 100

 


Bridalveil Fall and clouds, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1000 second at f/3.5, ISO 100

 


Half Dome and Clearing Spring Storm, Yosemite National Park, California 2013
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/350 second at f/19, ISO 200

 


Morro Bay Impressions, Morro Bay, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/13, ISO 100

 


Sunset , Morro Bay, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/27, ISO 100

 


Sunset and surf, Morro Bay, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/2 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Gull, surf and fog, Morro Bay, California 2015
Canon EOS 5D Mark III, EF70-200mm f/2.8L USM,
1/1 second at f/27, ISO 100

 


Ripples and reflection #2, La Mirada, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/1000 second at f/2.8, ISO 100

 


Ripples and reflection, La Mirada, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/1000 second at f/2.8, ISO 100

 


Ripples and reflection #3, La Mirada, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1/640 second at f/2.8, ISO 100

 


Japanese Sea Nettle (Chrysaora pacifica), Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California
ILCE-7RM2, 16-35mm F2.8 G SSM II,
1/250 second at f/8, ISO 3200

 


Japanese Sea Nettle (Chrysaora pacifica), Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach, California
ILCE-7RM2, 16-35mm F2.8 G SSM II,
1/200 second at f/8, ISO 3200

 


Pebbles 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 90mm F2.8,
1 second at f/16, ISO 100

 


Rocks and Surf, Big Sur, California
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
30 second at f/14, ISO 400

 


Sunrise, Rocks and Surf, Monterey Bay, Pacific Grove, California
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
8 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Rocks and Surf, Pacific Grove, California
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
30 second at f/29, ISO 100

 


Calla Lily Flowers 2015
PureShot for Apple iPhone 5, iPhone 5 back camera 4.12mm f/2.4,
1/20 second at f/2.4, ISO 50

 


Big-Leaf Maple fallen on windshield, Yosemite Valley, Yosemite National Park,
PureShot for iOS, iPhone 6s Plus back camera 4.15mm f/2.2,
1/30 second at f/2.2, ISO 160

 


Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/8 second at f/16, ISO 400

 


Autumn Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/10 second at f/13, ISO 400

 


Autumn Oaks and Snowstorm, Yosemite National Park, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/5 second at f/16, ISO 400

 


Fog and Pecan Grove, Clovis, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/2 second at f/25, ISO 200

 


Pecan Grove, Clovis, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1/2 second at f/22, ISO 100

 


Pecan Grove and fog, Clovis, California 2015
ILCE-7RM2, 70-200mm F2.8 G SSM,
1.30 second at f/29, ISO 100

 


Forest, Padden Creek, Bellingham, Washington
ILCE-7RM2, 16-35mm F2.8 G SSM II,
3 second at f/16, ISO 125

 

Focus Your Fall Portfolio

Sunday, 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!