Happy Earth Day to you, this April 22nd, 2018. I feel like I experience Earth Day every time I visit a national park. On this occasion, I was up with scads of other people at Sunrise Point in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah, watching: the sunrise.
I finished every single one of my errands/chores yesterday so I could drive out to the Brazoria National Wildlife Refuge this morning to see what might be there: tall grass and reeds and cattails with lots of water but not much birdlife – at least, not in the area in which I found myself and nothing near to me and my 500mm lens. The clouds on this morning, however, were dark and fluffy and big and presaged the coming storms predicted for today. So I pulled out the other tripod and my Canon 5DSR with the 16-35mm f//4 IS lens, affixed a circular polarizer to it and used my grad ND filter to bring out the texture in the clouds.
Clouds are a photographer’s best friend. They add drama and character to an already lovely scene and can really spice up an otherwise ordinary or ho-hum scene. The thing about photographing awesome clouds, though, is that you also need a frame of reference or some scale. So don’t just photograph the clouds themselves. Your viewers won’t know whether this was a horizon-filling scene or just a small spot in the sky. Add some ground or buildings or *something* to the cloud scene.
Copyright Rebecca L Latson, all rights reserved.
I had only 2 full days (plus a half day and a morning) within Arches National Park, Utah, but during those days, one of my favorite spots was a place near the park entrance called the La Sal Mountains Viewpoint. I’d stop there each day going into and out of the park. It’s the perfect place for sunrise images.
It’s also the perfect place to get an amazing overview of the La Sal Mountains, The Three Gossips, Sheep Rock, Tower of Babel, The Organ, and some amazing views far beyond of such formations as Balanced Rock.
From this viewpoint, you can see interesting things like the hot air balloon that rose above the rocks each morning I was there.
This viewpoint is also a lovely place to stop and say good-bye to the park until the next time you visit it.
I’ve booked my airfaire for a February 2013 trip back to Moab and Arches NP. If anybody thinks they might be out there during that time, give me a shout; it would be fun to meet you and enjoy some photographic quality time together.
No flags (can’t find any in my photo archives), no fireworks (my little town isn’t going to be having a fireworks display afterall) – just a beautiful July 4th morning with bright rays of sunshine, dramatic clouds, and a silhouetted symbol of the Texas coastal prairie.
For those of you who celebrate the 4th of July (or at least, get the day off), I wish you a happy day. For those of you who have not the slightest idea of what this day stands for in America (and for those of you who don’t even give a rip what day it is), consider this just a nice landscape for your viewing pleasure.
I was going to post this photo on one of the Montana- or GNP-related Facebook pages out there, only to discover, to my chagrin, that these pages not only do not allow for visitor uploads, but some of them are basically just place markers directing visitors to go to the actual website. Ok, that’s fine. I want people to visit my website (and maybe purchase something). And I don’t allow for visitor uploads on *my* Facebook page either (probably because the page says Rebecca Latson Photography – a rather specific page). Nonetheless, I have a bit of a beef with those public pages that *are* simply used as place markers and don’t have any interesting stuff or postings on them. It’s a bit of a turnoff. If you are going to have a Facebook page, then for heaven’s sake, post stuff to it! That way, if people really *are* interested in seeing more of your stuff (like your photo galleries on your website), then they will go visit that website. And, they will “Like” your page, showing visitors that your page actually has some merit to it.
Ok, I’m off my soap box. I admit to being a bit cheesed off about not being able to upload my photo to one or more of those specific pages. *Maybe* it hurt my inflated ego just a little bit, since I am proud of my work and want to advertise my photographic talents (in the hope of snagging some bizness). Nonetheless, I think what I wrote above is still true.
What do *you* think?
Rain has been predicted for the past couple of days. With that rain, I figured there might be some interesting storm clouds over at the Brazoria NWR. I woke up this morning at 6AM, peeked out the window, saw some big puffy clouds, and was on the road to the refuge before 7AM.
The morning did not disappoint: dramatic storm clouds, distant thunder, sporadic flashes of lightning, and hordes of herons, egrets, black-necked stilts, terns, some roseate spoonbills in the background, and four different sightings of American alligators.
For photography with storm clouds (or any kind of clouds, really), always make sure you have a graduated ND filter with you. During the really dark part of the morning, I removed the circular polarizer. However, as the daylight progressed, I placed the polarizers back on the lenses. Polarizers make blue skies bluer, clouds more dramatic, and can darken water and either enhance or eliminate reflections, depending upon which way you turn the polarizer ring.
My first stop was the refuge center’s lawn, where I photographed a bunny that looked a little the worse for wear, bless its heart.
After that, it was a few hundred feet to the boardwalk over Big Slough (pronounced “slew”).
Before getting into the car to head to Olney Pond, I stopped to photograph this little mockingbird. They are wonderful posers.
As I closed in on Olney Pond, I could hear a cacophony of noise before I even saw the birds. I couldn’t believe my eyes – it was a freaking heron and egret convention (along with some stilts, terns, and one or two alligators in the mix). So, if you ever are in the area and want to visit the refuge, I’d say the early morning is the best time to see the birdlife. Oh, and make sure you have your bug repellant. Those Cutter wipes are awesome.
This guy was looking for breakfast, and no, it did not get the heron you see in the background.
As the thunder rolled in the distance, and a teeny bit of rain sprinkled on the car, I continued along down the road and set up my tripod.
This is looking back up the road from whence I came. I could see a “thunder bumper” beyond, as the storm rolled over and past me with but a few sprinkles.
By the time 8AM arrived, the storm clouds had departed the area and the sky was starting to get its typical hot, hazy look on a humid Texas day. Plus, the mosquitoes were ganging up on me (but the Cutter wipes held true), and I wanted to get home to start working with my new photos.
All in all, it was a very good, stormy morning, at the Brazoria NWR.
I hear it all the time from other photographers: they hate shooting landscape images on a clear, cloudless, blue-sky day because it’s so “boring”. I personally don’t “hate” cloudless days, but I often agree with other photographers about the “boring” part.
Of course you can get stunning photos of landscapes on a clear, cloudless day. You’ll get no argument from me on that point.
But, you can get equally-stunning photos on a cloudy day. Clouds add drama, interest, and texture. They turn a great image into a fantastic image, and are a necessary ingredient to jazz up what might otherwise be a good, but ho-hum photo.
Don’t wait for a clear day to take pictures. Go cloud chasing! See what kind of images you capture.