Today's Guest Blogger: Kevin Brown

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Thank you very much Rick for asking me to be a guest blogger, it’s a great honor.  I first met Rick at his Mount Rainier photo workshop in September 2011.  Rick’s personality and enthusiasm for helping his students learn is what sets him apart as a photography teacher.

I live in Eugene, Oregon near some of the most beautiful scenery in the world.  My love of photography began when I was about 13 years old on a family vacation to Yellowstone National Park.  My dad gave me his old Kodak camera, with a fixed focal length lens and aperture settings such as “sunny” and “cloudy bright” and a bag of film to preserve the family memories. 

One of my favorites National Parks is Yosemite, in California’s Sierra Nevada mountain range.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to have visited there several times in the past few years.  Many famous photographers, including Ansel Adams and John Sexton, have created iconic images at Yosemite over the years. As a “mere mortal,” to be photographing in their shadows can be quite intimidating.

After arriving at Yosemite and before heading out to photograph, I like to visit the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite Village. I find inspiration by studying the photographs on display for their composition, subject and lighting. Besides the photos by the “The Master” himself, there are several portfolios of professional photographers along the back wall.  One pro photographer’s book had only one photo that included any sky in the image.  I like to keep that in mind when shooting on days with boring skies. 

Opening image for this post: Nothing Beats Golden Hour Light

John Muir called the Sierras “The Range of Light.”  A sunset at Glacier Point can be captivating.  Make sure you stick around after the sun goes down or you may miss the best part.  The composition of this photo reminds me of a portrait of a person sitting next to a flag.  The photo was cropped to a square to eliminate distracting elements.

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Above: There are Exceptions to Every Rule

This image of Cathedral Rocks was made a couple of hours after sunrise, well after the Golden Hour.  The horizon was placed near the center of the frame to help emphasize the symmetry of the reflection.  Side lighting brings out the texture in the rocks.  As Rick likes to say, “light illuminates, shadows define.”

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Above: Get in Tight

I was awestruck by this rainbow at the base of Bridal Veil Falls.  This image was made with a medium telephoto lens to isolate the brilliant rainbow against an almost monochromatic background of rocks and water.

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Above: Movement is Essential

A moving subject is not required, but helping the viewer’s eye travel through the image makes for a more pleasing visual experience.  Maximum depth of field and a wide angle lens close to the bridge was used to emphasize the texture in the stones and give the viewer’s eye a starting point, The bridge was used as a leading line and frame, directing the viewer to the smooth water illuminated by the late afternoon sun at Pohono Bridge and then on to the opposite river bank.  A vignette was used to keep the eye from travelling out of the image.  A neutral density filter was used to get a longer exposure.

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Above: Chase the Light

I had planned to spend this evening photographing Half Dome from Yosemite Valley at sunset.  As the afternoon wore on I noticed some intriguing light developing at the other end of valley.  So much for Plan A.  This image of El Capitan and Bridal Veil Falls was taken from “Valley View.”.  A variable neutral density filter was used to slow the shutter speed to smooth the water, yet retaining some texture.

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For more of my work, please visit my web site.