Wednesday, November 30, 2011

My hero(s)!

Time for some positivity!

After last month's somewhat depressing blog post, in which I describe the trials and tribulations a landscape photographer often endures trying to get a hero image, I thought it would be nice to get back to normal and show you my most recent hero images. So, drop everything, clear your schedule, call all of your friends over, make some popcorn, fasten your seatbelt, and prepare to be utterly amazed. Or, you could just read on. I'll get over it someday.

This first image is, ironically, from the very same trip that produced the gut-wrenching incident on the sand dunes described in last month's blog post. I created it in the Pawnee National Grassland in northeastern Colorado.

Over the years, I had driven right by the Pawnee National Grassland countless times and never thought much of it. Imagine my surprise, then, when I finally decided to check it out and was completely blown away. (There's more of that "irony" stuff for you.)

Even though it's called a "grassland" there is much more to it than just grass, although there is, of course, grass aplenty. Much of the area is covered with large, dramatic cliffs and buttes. Impressive vistas abound at every turn. Within 45 minutes of arrival, the great beauty and splendor of the place had me grinning from ear to ear.

I made this image in a distant, little-traveled part of the grassland. The vibrant fall colors combined with the exquisite light of the setting sun made this one a no-brainer.

As I began hiking back to my car in the dark, coyotes -- lots of coyotes -- began howling en masse. My pulse quickened and my mind began to work overtime. I started worrying a bit too much about coyotes and mountain lions fancying me for dinner. I should've been calmed by the knowledge that surely no self-respecting coyote or mountain lion could possibly have such poor taste, but I was not.

All in all, I spent a half day in a place I'd never been to, without scouting it ahead of time, and came away with a hero image. To top it off, it was only about an hour away from my base of operations in Fort Collins, Colorado. It turned out to be far and away the best image from my entire trip to Colorado, and it took the least amount of effort.

Do I even have to point out the irony there?

Sunset Over Coyote Country (large version HERE)

This next image has a special place in my heart, which is really saying something considering how shriveled and black the thing is.

The subject is obvious: it's skyline of downtown Minneapolis, the glorious city I call home. What's not so obvious is the amount of time it took me to find this particular spot.

For over a decade, I looked for a spot just like this. One that overlooks the skyline, unobstructed, with cars zooming into and out of the city that I could use to make long-exposure lines which would lead the eye into the frame. Eventually, I gave up. If the spot doesn't exist, it doesn't exist.

Then, about six weeks ago, I found it.

I was elated beyond words. The second I saw it, I just knew it was the spot I had been looking for. All that was left was to wait for a day with a good sunset, then get there and make it happen.

On November 4th, that day came.

With the sunset looking promising, I fought rush hour traffic and made it to the spot just in time. I set up my tripod, composed my shot and readied myself. I knew the shot was going to be a knockout as long as the clouds cooperated and lit up with sunset color.

When the moment arrived, I started tripping the shutter... and got what I wanted within five minutes. I couldn't believe it: after a decade of searching, I had the shot! Even after finding the spot, I never dreamed things would happen so fast and that, a scant two weeks later, I would have the image of Minneapolis that I always dreamed of making. Damn, more irony!

So, I suppose you'd like to know exactly where that spot is. No problem, get something to write with. You ready? Here goes: it's at the corner of "Get A Map" and "F*ck Off". (Sorry, but whenever the chance presents itself I just have to quote lines from The Hangover.)

Seriously, though, you didn't think I was actually going to tell you, did you? Maybe in another ten years...

Bustling Metropolis (large version HERE)

Before I go, you may like to know that the aforementioned depressing blog post from last month got picked up for publication and will appear in the December issue of Nature Photographer's Online Magazine. Looks like even bad experiences can have silver linings.

Lastly, I leave on Saturday for a week in Banff National Park in the Canadian Rockies. My friend and master landscape photographer Marc Adamus will be joining me. Shooting in the field with him is always rewarding, so I am quite excited! I should have the images from the trip ready within a month.

That's all for now. As always, thanks for reading and take care! ^_^

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