“You don't make a photograph just with a camera. You bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved.”
~ Ansel Adams
Welcome to the Edge of Day Photography blog! Photography is fun, exciting and sometimes hard. Photography makes you get out of the house and into nature. Photography tells a story and there is a story behind every photo. This blog is my little place in the internet universe to tell some of the stories behind my photographs. You will find out where some of the photos were taken and how they were captured so you can get a sense for the joy of photography. Enjoy!
It was a perfect Colorado night to catch the blood moon – clear skies and a wide-open cloudless view of the night sky. The only downside was the 24oF temperature. The upside is I was setup in my driveway so I could jump into the house to warm up and refresh my beer between shots.
In the photo below you can see the setup I had going. This photo was taken with my Fujifilm x100s at a little before midnight. The sunlight reflecting off the moon turned night into day as you can see by viewing the shadow from the tree on the right.
The camera on the right is my Canon Mark II with a 70-200mm f2.8. I was attempting to take a time-lapse of the lunar eclipse. This was my first attempt at a lunar eclipse time-lapse and I soon realized after an hour that the exposure for the moon vs the blood moon was two far apart. As a result the moon disappeared soon after the eclipse started. Chalk it up to a lesson learned. I need to practice my bramp timelapse exposure technique next time so I can capture the whole eclipse.
The camera on the left is my Canon 1Dx with a 300mm f2.8. This is the set up I used to take intermittent photos as the eclipse was occurring. The result is the eight-stage photo below.
These photos were taken over two hours starting at midnight mountain standard time and ending about 2am. I did not notice because the eclipse made it so dark but my camera was covered in frost when I came into the house – it was that cold! Luckily the frost did not cover the lens.
If you have never stayed up for the lunar eclipse I would recommend you do. It is a wonder of nature and well worth your time.
Washington DC, our nation’s capital, should be on everyone’s list to visit. The city is filled with history, politics, and some great site seeing. So over Memorial Day weekend last year Linda, Zach and I made a trip to see our nation’s capital.
We arrived in the mid afternoon and immediately headed out to see the white house and for me to see the longest anti-war protest in American history. The white house did not disappoint and the anti-war protest was still setup and going strong after 32 years. I am not sure how I feel about someone manning a protest for 32 years. I would think after some point it is fruitless. She has become more of a tourist attraction than a protester and it seems here message is being lost. Here is a picture of Connie Picciotto manning the protest.
Over the subsequent days we visited the Lincoln Memorial, Washington Memorial, Jefferson Memorial, WWII Memorial, Korean War Memorial, Vietnam War Memorial, Martin Luther King Memorial and the FDR Memorial. Whew! Yes we walked many miles to see all these sites and it was definitely worth it. If you go, pack your walking shoes.
And we were still not done. We visited the National Museum of American History, the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and the National Air and Space Museum. Zach really liked all the cool stuff packed into these free museums.
We also made time to see the Memorial Day parade.
The two things that stand out most in my mind are the Memorial Day Concert on the lawn of capital and the tour I took of the Holocaust Museum. Starting with the latter, the holocaust museum was somber and I felt like I was hit the gut. There was such suffering by so many people; it was hard for me to comprehend. It is worth the time to see the Holocaust Museum just so you can get a sense for what happen.
The Memorial Day Concert on the other hand was a mix of emotions. Parts of the concert were remembering those individuals that have given everything, including their life for this country. Other parts were celebratory and joyful like when the anthem for each branch of the service was played. Overall, I recommend seeing this free concert in person if you ever get the chance.
Overall it was a great trip filled with great sites and history. I highly recommend taking the time to visit our nation’s capital.
That is it for now. Mike.
What’s that sound? A bear! A wolf! These were my thoughts as I walked across a very foggy and dark Hayden Valley in Yellowstone National Park. I kept thinking, "why do I always think bad thoughts"? Was it from watching too many horror films? Was it instinct that was honed by ancient relatives and is now permanently part of my subconscious – fight or flight? Whatever it was, it kept me on edge for the walk to the Yellowstone River.
The drive from Grant Village to the Hayden Valley took forever. The fog was so thick I could only go 15 to 20 mph. Arriving at the scouted location I tagged on the car’s GPS the day before, I sat there wondering if I should just wait in the nice warm car for the fog to break up. As I looked out the window at the darkness, the easy answer was stay in the warm car. Instead, I told myself that some of the best photographs are taken when the weather is at its worst. Therefore, out into darkness and fog I went to find the edge of the Yellowstone River.
Walking in fog so thick it was like being under a blanket and darkness so impenetrable I could not see my outstretched hand, I made my way very slowly and noisily to the sound of the river in the distance. I sang some Bon Jovi and then some Pink Floyd in an attempt to notify any other mammals in my path that I was coming. All the while cursing to myself for leaving my flashlight in Grant Village. Every now and then something would make a noise in the dark and I would yell in that direction to make sure whatever made the noise knew I was human. After what felt like hours I finally reached the river’s edge.
I unpacked my camera gear, got setup and began to wait for the sun. I was still singing songs and talking to myself to make sure everything around me knew I was human and not breakfast. After some time, not sure how long, the predawn light started to illuminate the landscape around me. Soon there was enough light to take some photographs of the fog enshrouded trees and river. After determining where I was located on the river I moved to the river’s bend to position myself for sunrise.
After about an hour, I was having serious doubts the sun would ever break through. Based on my iPhone app I knew exactly where the sun was in the sky and it was well above the horizon. I just could not see the sun standing in a fog bank. I decided to wait for another 30 minutes and then call it a morning. All of a sudden the sun struck a blow to the fog! I started taking photos as the sun shined brighter and brighter. It was like someone turning on the light in a room-it happened so fast. Moments later everything was bathed in yellow as the sun battled with the dense fog in Hayden Valley. Too quickly the battle was over with the fog triumphant and the sun shrinking away in defeat.
One to two minutes, that was approximately how long the sun lit Hayden Valley that morning. I absolutely love this photo because it was just pure fun to take. After the sun lost the battle that day, I stood there and said “cool” out loud. It was absolutely worth the effort to capture that one to two minutes. That one to two minutes is why I love photography.
How close is too close when it comes to a brown bear? For myself, my wife Linda and our son Zach it is a question for which I now have the answer. Moreover, the answer is a memory that will last a lifetime for all of us.
It started back in 2012 with a chartered floatplane out of Anchorage that would take us to Redoubt Lake. Redoubt Lake is about an hour’s flight north west of Anchorage and is a beautiful lake at the base of a snowcapped mountain. If you are looking for a great place to charter a flight, please check out Rust’s Flying Service out of Anchorage http://www.flyrusts.com. Rust’s picked us up at our hotel and soon we were in the air flying to Redoubt Lake with high expectations of seeing some wild brown bears.
After arriving we met our guide, climbed into a pontoon and headed across the lake where a small stream flowed into a secluded cove. Our guide explained that the salmon were pooling in this small cove waiting for the right time to head up the stream to spawn. The brown bears also knew this schedule and would be coming down to feed -- and come down they did. One after another, brown bear after brown bear appeared and then went about fishing for salmon. Our guide nestled the pontoon next to the shore and I went about the task of photographing all the bears.
After a couple of hours of brown bears, and the ever-so-often black bear, we were settling into a routine. A bear would come down, do some fishing and then head back into the thick underbrush and trees. A short time later another bear would wonder down and do the same thing. All the while I am in heaven taking a lot of photos. Then I heard a gasp. A gasp you hear when someone is frightened. I turned to look and eight feet away, you see our guide anchored the pontoon eight feet from the shore, was a very, and I mean very, large brown bear.
My first instinct was being a dad and protecting Zach from a potentially dangerous situation. I placed a hand on his chest and quickly, and as smoothly as I could, moved him behind me. Linda had already moved across the boat to be further away from the bear. While all this was happening I was still taking pictures! Yes I know, stupid, but what a picture of a brown bear! I had a 70-200mm lens mounted and the camera was on my hip. As the bear walked by I kept pressing the shutter button taking photos! Way too cool for words. As you can see from the picture that introduced this blog entry, my focus was still pretty good even though my heart was racing at 200 beats per minute. It is hard to keep a camera steady in a boat, heart racing, and you are literally shooting from the hip - but it worked out.
The bear simply walked down the trail and never really paid us any attention. This was good because if the bear wanted to, it could have easily jumped into the boat and caused some real trouble.
Eight feet, even though it is extremely exciting, is a little too close. That is the answer to the question, “how close is too close?” Thirty to 40 feet away, which was how far the bears below were from us, is much more my style.
If you are looking for an adventure, be sure to check out the Redoubt Lake trip and I hope you have the luck we did. Just remember to look behind you if you are anchored close to shore.
On January 25th we headed to Breckenridge, Colorado to see the International Snow Sculpture Championship. The weather was perfect with temperatures in the low 40’s and lots of sunshine. The town was really hopping with lots of people there to ski and see the snow sculptors. After a quick lunch we headed over to check out the many snow sculptures on display.
There were two sculptures that were my favorite. If I had to pick, the dinosaur sculpture would be the number one sculpture for me. I also think the dinosaur sculpture was Zach’s favorite. He really liked the fact that the dinosaurs were battling. It is amazing being able to look at the snow sculptures up close. The amount of detail included in each is astonishing.
My second choice for best snow sculpture is the knight battling a dragon. The amount of detail in this sculpture was also incredible. It was sculpted so well you can almost see the determination in the knight’s face as he battles the evil serpent. It would have been interesting to see all the artists in action as they carved these beautiful creations out of big cubes of packed snow. It must have been time consuming and delicate work. I would hate to see the knight’s head fall off because of a miscalculation.
There were many other sculptures for viewing with some of them shown below. One even had a slide down the side that Zach got to try. In addition to snow sculptures there were also ice carvings. Most of the ice carvings were from various sponsors of the event but there were penguins and bears thrown in for good measure and to keep it interesting. There was also a large ice castle that you could have toured. The line to get into the castle looked a little long so we elected to skip and spent our time looking at the sculptures.
After a few hours it was time to leave because I had a plan to stop at the top of Wilkerson pass to photograph sunset. Looking at the sky in Breckenridge before we departed was not very encouraging because the sky was completely vacant of clouds. We departed anyway and headed for Wilkerson pass. Things started to look up as we got closer with some nice thin clouds hovering just above the mountains west of Wilkerson. I pulled over, got everything set up, and waited to see what would happen. About fifteen minutes after the sun went behind the mounts the clouds ignited. It was truly a grand sight to see – absolutely gorgeous.
If you really want to see some great art made from snow, be sure to see next year’s Breckenridge International Snow Sculpture Championship. And on your way back, be sure to check out Wilkerson Pass at sunset. Both of these activities will not disappoint and maybe I will see you there.