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Entries in Nature (3)


Photographing Water Reflections to Mirror the World's Beauty

Photograph: Dichotomy by Stefano Corso
A still lake, pond, or puddle .. the reflections of solid objects in water ... that's been a favorite subject for countless painters and photographers. Capturing the shapes and colors of trees, rocks, and people in softer, muted hues is what reflection photography is all about.

There are many good tips about the best conditions and techniques for taking photographs of water reflections. Here are a few tips I snagged from a forum string:
  • The best reflection shots happen with well illuminated subjects against a clear blue sky. That means the sun should not be in front but in back of your position.
  • Its often more interesting to have something in the water itself be visible, either by sticking or growing out of it. 
  • Shallow bodies of still water make for excellent shots, including small ponds and even puddles.
  • Use a tripod. Smooth out the water a bit with long (1 to 4 second) exposures. Stop down. Use f/16 or smaller for great depth of field. Expose for the reflection and then drop down on shutter speed.
  • Polarizers are worthwhile when working with reflections because they help control the amount of reflected light you get. 

In my Video Pick for this week, I wanted to show some photographs that Suellen, an otherwise unnamed photographer from Canada, shot on a beautiful Thanksgiving Day on Lac Philippe in Quebec. I was struck by her skillful piecing together of the shorelines in multiple images - the strong line emphasizes the strength of the real-life shapes on top of the shoreline and the symmetrical-but-shimmering reflection in the water below. These pictures, even though taken of a still and quiet series of reflections, show tremendous drama, movement, and color. So go out and take some water-reflection pictures to capture the natural majesty of this colorful season!



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Capturing the Majesty of Nature


On a recent trip to Vegas, a friend and I were in Salt Lake City with a four-hour layover. As luck would have it, there was a hotel up on the mountains that I was dying to visit, the Waldorf Astoria Park City.

It all started when I was in Park City at a good family friend’s Bar Mitzvah for their son, Bryan Hinden. During the golf outing, I was making infrared pictures of the golf course. It was good timing - or luck or both - as they were just building the Waldorf Astoria, previously known as the Dakota Mountain Lodge.

I made a trip out to Park City with camera in hand during the fall to make images that would be considered for decoration in parts of the hotel. As I was watching hot air balloons rise over the valley at sunrise, I met a photographer named Steven Friedman. We spent some quality time working together with our coveted toys.

He and his wife were a very gracious couple, and through long dinners at night and some 5:00 am calls, I had plenty of time to learn some great tips on landscape. Steven’s work is truly some of the best you'll find; click here for a look at his portfolio.

And some of his tips were very similar to my own portraiture techniques.

  • Find a good background first.
  • Then arrange the composition.
  • Then, light from God is the final refinement.  

I do the same thing with a simple portrait: Pose, Light, Refine!

I visited the hotel after a whirlwind 14 days … two impressively large and beautiful weddings, back to back. I arrived at the model homes and found a FEDEX package from my studio.

The Waldorf Astoria clients had taken a look at them, and the art buyer went wild for the infrareds. She said it was the best art she had ever seen! She commented that they were simple, direct, and dramatic, making a powerful statement for the hotel.

The hotel placed a huge order: 1,500 framed pieces - and they needed them ASAP! They were in the middle of getting the property ready for ski season. I was worried, with my Cameracraftsment trip to Alaska only two weeks away. Alaska seemed like the farthest place in the world at that moment, but I knew I had to go. Missing this meeting might have meant it would be my last.

My wife Lilia and I headed to Alaska, and I found myself in infrared heaven. The energy continued to flow with infrared collections of some of Alaska’s premium landscapes. It was paradise.

Once my associate Ben Banks arrived at the VisArts Center back home and began printing with accurate profiles using Canon’s top-of-the-line printers and inks, the fun really began. We made catalogs that organized the art for the hotel. This was truly one of the most difficult tasks, to select the appropriate images for each room, where vertical and horizontal displays played such a significant role. Measurements, visuals, and emails were flying fast and heavy.

U-Hauls were filled to the brim and delivered on time, each print matted, signed, and framed. The slideshow above is a taste of these magnificent natural images, and the following video takes you through the whole exciting process.


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Saving Big Cats in Africa

Photography allows us to raise awareness of important topics and make a difference through our shared images and video.  A terrific example is the conservation work of Beverly and Dereck Joubert who have dedicated their careers to protecting big cats and their habitat.  In the video below, they describe the trials and tribulations involved with capturing some rare behavior and powerful footage. 



Don't fret if your frequent flyer miles won't get you all the way to Africa right now.   Perhaps there is a story in your hometown just waiting to be told.  As Elliot Erwitt said, "To me, photography is an art of observation.  It's about finding something interesting in an ordinary place"


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