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Leaves and Creek, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

Posted by
Gary Hart (California, United States) on 23 July 2009 in Landscape & Rural and Portfolio.

One of my favorite things when I'm out by myself is to simply explore with no agenda or expectations. Lundy Canyon near Mono Lake is a great place for this, especially those few days in autumn when the yellow aspen leaves are evenly distributed between the trees and the forest floor. If I don't take a single frame, I'm still richer for the experience.

The entire length of Mill Creek west of Lundy Lake is great for this kind of exploring. I've been to Lundy Canyon enough to have favorite spots like this one, originally uncovered on one of my private explorations, and now a must-stop on every visit. I like the way the creek tumbles down the rock and bends abruptly before continuing its race down the canyon. Getting down to this spot is an exercise in dedication (how much do you want it?) because the branches are dense (and sharp!), the slope is steep, and the footing along the creek is treacherous. (I'm not comparing my effort here to the death defying lengths Galen Rowell went to for his images, but it is a reminder that the most memorable images are usually those that require the most work or discomfort.)

I've been thinking lately about what photography means to me, and how I've managed to maintain my enjoyment despite the fact that it's my livelihood. I contrast my experience of photography with others I observe in the field, on forums, and in blogs, and sometimes can't help but wonder why they do it at all if photography is such a source of frustration and even anger.

For myself I can say that my decision to pursue photography as a career came with the very conscious decision to continue photographing only those things I want to photograph: That is, I want to photograph natural light, landscape, fine art. I feel very fortunate that the approach I envisioned as I embarked on this quest has worked for me.

But what's with all these "photographers," amateur and pro, who seem to spend their time ranting about other photographers, their own equipment, the other brand ("My camera can beat up your camera"), and pretty much anything else having to do with photography? A few weeks ago I came across an entire website dedicated to maligning another landscape photographer. Seriously, somebody thought it was a good idea to spend significant quantities of their precious time tearing down another photographer who, as far as I could tell, had done nothing wrong besides violate some vague and previously unspecified landscape photography code of conduct.

Fortunately the antidote for this negativity is simple: Grab your camera, run outside, and photograph something beautiful. (It's out there, I promise.)

A few words on water motion blur: There is no magic shutter speed that will blur water. Rather, several variables determine the degree of blur (if any): focal length, distance from the water, and the speed of the water. Also, white water blurs much better than smooth water. Until you're comfortable with blurring moving water, bracket your shutter speeds and examine your LCD closely (even magnifying the preview image if necessary) after each capture. Be aware of the degree of blur, as sometimes a very slight blur works best, and other times completely smoothing the water is best.

Next post: July 26 (please view my previous posts by clicking the arrow in the upper left of today's image)

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Thanks for visiting. Even if I don't respond, your comments are always read and appreciated.

Bill Jennings from (Bay Area Northern Calif), United States

love it, great image, love the warm leaves and the cool waters.

23 Jul 2009 6:36am

@Bill Jennings: Thanks, Bill. Of course what a photo can't capture is the sound of water, which is mesmerizing in these isolated creeks.

Ana Lúcia from Leiria, Portugal

Marvelous image. We live in such a beautifully colored world.

23 Jul 2009 7:58am

@Ana Lúcia: Yes we do, Ana, as your post today certainly demonstrates.

dobbino from Cape Town, South Africa

5 stars from me, Gary - don't quite know what to say other than this is just natural beauty superbly photographed. The contrasting colours add such a vibrancy.

23 Jul 2009 8:41am

@dobbino: Thank you, Rob. Fall is probably my favorite time to photograph. In California we don't get the color they get in other parts of the country, but the Eastern Sierra is pretty nice, especially when you factor in all the other sights there.

Anina from Auckland, New Zealand

Spectacular shot!
Well done!

23 Jul 2009 8:41am

Scott Schilling from San Martin, United States

Gary, a wonderful photograph and I like the shutter speed on this - the water is blurred but still has some texture and detail to the flow! I also like the simplicity of the scene! I think I saw this one in your new book also - the leaves add great tones and interest to this image! Great work!

23 Jul 2009 11:48am

@Scott Schilling: Thanks, Scott. Yes, this is in the book. The publisher said September, but it seems like everything so far is a little ahead of schedule--I'll post details as soon as it hits the stores.

Elora from Genoa, Italy

beautiful! I am so glad that you still have enjoyment from your job. I wish I could make it mine ;) Love the simplicity of this one! Lovely!

23 Jul 2009 12:23pm

@Elora: Thank you, Elora. I think we should all have jobs we enjoy, and if we don't, it's time to reevaluate. That's what I did, and I haven't looked back. (But it isn't always easy.)

Vitor Martins from Lisboa, Portugal

Nice composition. I like the yellow tones of the leaves and the "silk(y)" water.

23 Jul 2009 1:49pm

Claudia from Illinois, United States

Your images are always gorgeous and perfect. Thanks so much for taking the time to write at length about your process/thoughts etc. I have been reading and learning from your blog (and website). How was that other CC concert? :)

23 Jul 2009 3:45pm

@Claudia: Thank you, Claudia, I appreciate hearing that. I was a writer before becoming a photographer, and writing is something I still love, so these blog posts are (usually) fun for me. The concert is Sunday--can't wait.

John Maslowski from Dallas, PA, United States

Simply gorgeous, waterfalls are one of my favorite shots. Perfect capture, love the angle of this waterfalls.

24 Jul 2009 1:11am

pernilla from Andonno, Italy

Beautiful waterfall. Great composition with the eye catching yellow leaves and the white waterfall. I enjoy reading your posts. It's a god way of learning reading about peoples thoughts when they took a picture. Not just the technical spec, but all the rest.

24 Jul 2009 7:10am

@pernilla: Thank you, Pernilla. I'm glad you like reading what I have to say about the images. I think there's so much technical talk in photography, I try to avoid that as much as possible, and instead stick with the "approach" side of the craft. It's always nice to hear when somebody appreciates it.

Food from Las Cruces, NM, United States

Thanks for your words about photographers tearing each other down. I think individual photographers can be their own harshest critics, and then here come other bozos to tear them down more. A lot of the time those that rant about others don't have that much to contribute otherwise. You have certainly spent a lot of time honing your craft, and are obviously are well deserving of praise for you efforts. Then you take the extra step and teach the younger generation. My hat is off to you!

25 Jul 2009 3:16am

@Food: Thanks, Food. It's important to remember that destructive criticism reveals far more about the critic than the target.

Didier DE ZAN from somewhere, France

Very beautiful composition I like the waters at this speed great shot

28 Jul 2009 5:06am