Summer is winding down and my photo shoots have been as diverse as always. This is a selection from some some of those shoots, as well as recent published materials. Looking at the photos reminds me that the best part of the work is visiting new places.
In the film days the standard 35mm 36 exposure film roll encapsulated so many hopes and dreams of the photographer. When on location where I might shoot 30 rolls of film a day, I was always asked how many good photos do I usually get off of one roll of film. My usual reply was 1 to 3 photos. The reason is in the time it took me to shoot 36 exposures I usually never experienced more than a couple of unique scenes. All of the other shots on the roll were part of my in camera creative process to get the right photo.
The creative process with shooting Polaroid or 'roid is the same, but things move even slower to get the right shot. A ten pack might get me 1 shot or maybe not. But the creative process is such a blast.
These are two photos I shot while out in Death Valley they are from one pack of instant film. First I worked a wide shot then moved in for a close-up, each image is unique. I made the file print using the not disposed of negative from the Fuji FP100c instant film.
More Black and White photos from this week in the desert under a nearly full moon. It's crazy and fun to explore the desert at night in Black and White. I am careful not to step on snakes, one close encounter is enough! This is for my personal project on Saguaro National Park I started last year and plan to finish this summer.
On the last day of the shoot I made this photo from Cape Solitude. It shows the location where developers plan to build a mile and a half long tram from the rim into the Grand Canyon. Construction of the tram can start as early as this year.
I liked Robert's and the Smithsonian's choice of a title for this story. It reminds me of the ad that the Sierra Club ran in the New York Times and the Washington Post in June of 1966. The NYTimes Sierra Club ad was a call to action when two dams were being proposed on the Colorado River up stream from the confluence. I believe the ad was the brainchild of David Brower who was president of the Sierra Club at that time.
The Canyon is under threat again, I wonder if the public will rally again to protect the Canyon?
This past week, like millions around the world, I spent hours following Tommy and Kevin's free ascent of the Dawn Wall in the media. The buzz surrounding the ascent was remarkable to watch unfold in real time. Both climbers were on Twitter posting messages and photos from the wall during their ascent. These were soon picked up by traditional media outlets and it wasn't long before TV and mainstream media including, the New York Times, ABC, NBC, the Guardian and others set up operations in El Cap meadows. There was even streaming video. It was great to watch such a worthy rock climbing ascent unfolding live and to know that the climb captivated and inspired both climbers and non-climbers around the world.
Back in 1988 I spent a month and a half documenting Todd Skinner and Paul Piana's free ascent of the Salathe, the first route to be freed on El Capitan in Yosemite Valley, I was the only media on the wall covering their ascent. There was no
media in the meadows covering the ascent, no iPhone or social media (since they didn't exist at the time), there was me and friends on the valley floor watching the climbers progress and giving them a nightly radio call with a weather report. Initially the first reports about the successful free ascent was word of
Months ago when I heard that a group of developers from Phoenix were planning to build a tram into the Grand Canyon from the rim down to near the confluence of the Colorado River and Little Colorado River, I thought it would never get anywhere. But now I learn the Navajo government has agreed to this project.
The confluence is visually the heart of the Grand Canyon and a place I have viewed from many vantages.
The photo below is at 60 mile Canyon on the Colorado River. In the distance you can see Cape Solitude. This location is less than a mile up stream of where the proposed tram complex will be established in the Grand Canyon.
Should the proposed tram be built you would see the cables and gondolas from where I took this photo. The inner canyon, in places like 60 mile Canyon, are peaceful and quite places to retreat. Even with 25,000 or so people a year who float past this location on river trips this place along with most of the inner Grand Canyon is wild. The developers for the tram proposal estimates they will be able to send 9,000 people a day into the Grand Canyon. Grand Canyon National Park intends to fight this as do other groups.
It will be interesting to see how this develops in 2015.
I spent a few days dodging scattered rain storms while hiking below the rim in the Grand Canyon. For the most part I avoided the worst of the deluge or found a good over hang during the heaviest down pour.This photo is out on the Dripping Springs Trail.
This week I returned to Saguaro National Park to rephotographed one of the cooler looking saguaro I had photographed last month. Here's a select from this recent shoot. I nearly always publish color images, but after looking at the color image on my home computer I thought the white flower and the cool lines of the saguaro ribs might have more punch if I converted it to Black and White in Photoshop.
But I am in a quandary here because I didn't originally shoot this image in Black and White and when I shot the image I was intent on a shooting a color image. So the question I ask myself is shouldn't this image remain in the original color?
I've often written and promoted the idea that in wildlife, landscape and news photography the photos should be kept as true to the original moment as possible. This means no excessive photoshop or editing to remove items other than dust from the photo. This concept is really just for images whose intention is to depict a real scene. Of course for creative sake an image can be manipulated to the extreme if the intention is to create an art work. I guess that's the threshold I crossed when converting this color image to Black and White. What do you think, did the Black and White alteration I made change the original intent of this photo? My answer is probably not by much, but it is a very different photo from the original.
That got me to thinking that most news photographers publishing black and white images are usually shooting in color with digital cameras then converting the image to Black and White for publication. This is the case with many landscape and wildlife photographers as well. The reason many still produce images in Black and White is not only a style choice, but the fact that a photo in Black and White will often depict a subject with more power and emotion than a color image. Is this kind of radical alteration to a color image true to the moment? It is if the intent when the photo was shot was to make a B&W image. The difference between what I did in altering my saguaro photo and what the B&W publishing photojournalist and wildlife photographer is doing, is their original intention is seeing the final photo as Black and White.