— Dane Creek

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Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 14mm f/2.8L. ISO 400, 1/80 sec @ f/4.0.

It rained a lot this weekend. With the help of terrific weather reports from Weather Underground we made the most of it. Careful timing meant that we were on beaches exposed to the elements when the weather was (somewhat) drier. For the heavier periods of rain we retreated to the cover the forests around the coast.

The Hoh Rainforest is a very popular area for tourists to visit, but a very difficult place to photograph well. The forest floor is incredibly messy and finding shots that aren’t just a jumble of garbage is tough. It’s even harder when you decide in the parking lot to only take along a 14mm lens!

The vine maple above is the one worthwhile image from my trip in the rainforest. But man, what an image. I was grinning like a fool when I saw it on-screen, as I immediately knew it would be come B&W. But what kind? B&W images, at least when printed, are never truly black and white. The paper selection will add a warmth or coolness to the image, and the toning options are limitless.

My first pass at printing the image is much like you see above. A slight bronze tone to the highlights, with the shadows left as black. I printed on the new Red River Polar Pearl Metallic, Epson Exhibition Fiber, and Ilford Galerie Gold Fibre Silk to which I preferred, and the Ilford GFS was the clear winner. The Metallic was wicked cool, but just not right for the image, and the EEF wasn’t quite warm enough.

There’s more to come though. At some point I will print this as a digital negative and do a lith print of it to see what happens. David has also invited me to come over to his place to do a platinum/palladium print as well. I can’t wait!

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Keyboard box camera, magnifying glass lens, textured plexiglass “ground glass”. ISO 500, 1/100 sec.

As part of the long weekend I’m back on the Washington Coast, hoping to finish a series of photos from Second Beach, WA. At the moment the weather is not so promising: lots and lots of rain today. Outlook for tomorrow and Sunday is slightly better, which hopefully translates into some decent shooting opportunities.

On the drive over to the coast I took my new Canon S90 for a spin, but in a somewhat unconventional way. David brought along a keyboard box with a piece of textured plexi and a magnifying glass lens. I stuck the camera into the box and started shooting.

This is going to be a very, very, fun trip.

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Canon 5D Mark II, Lensbaby Composer with Zone Plate. ISO 800, 1/125 sec. @ f/19.

From a photographic experience the trip back to Manitoba was largely a non-event. As I’m sure many of you can relate, often times hanging out with family takes precedence over photography. Such was the case with this trip 🙂

I did manage to take a whole bunch of photos of new birds, but none of them were really interesting from a photographic perspective.

About the only “real” photographs I took were six quick shots from the Halfway Tree. What is the Halfway Tree? Well, it’s the tree that’s halfway between Brandon and Winnipeg on the Trans-Canada Highway. Anyone who ever grew up in Brandon knows the tree.

Is the photo spectacular? Nah. Does it have sentimental value? Yes, definitely. Sometimes those are the most fun photos to shoot.

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We’re heading out of town to Manitoba, Canada, for a much needed bit of relaxation. It’ll be an interesting trip as we haven’t been there in the spring for many, many, years. Not having to pack a winter coat and boots is a very nice change!

It will also be interesting to do some photography without snow on the ground. For the last several years all of my shots from this part of Canada consist of wide expanses of snow, roads, and the occasional shelter belt. Don’t get me wrong, I love the flat, but it’ll be fun to see what I can capture without snow, and yet before the fields are fully up.

Orders for folio covers can still be placed, but will not ship until Wednesday, May 26th.

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David, Vlad, and newcomer Teresa are headed to the Washington Coast on Memorial Day weekend. I’m really excited to head back there to try and complete my series of images for a new folio. Prior to the trip I’m planning on taking some ideas from the John Paul Caponigro workshop I attended to really think through the types of images I need to complete a full story.

I’m aiming for a folio of 7 images, and right now have 19 to pick from. That may sound like a lot, but honestly because they wre just random shots on the beach it’s tough to find 7 that work as a story. I have a lot of variations of essentially the same shot in that 19. I’m hoping that by pre-planning and even sketching out what I’m after will help. It will be weird: I’ve never pre-sketched images before.

Have you ever done pre-visualization through sketching before a shoot? What was the result?

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Canon 5D Mark II, Canon 70-200 f/2.8L IS II with 1.4x. 280mm, ISO 100, 1/250 sec @ f/8.0.

As promised in my previous post here’s a photo from the Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley, CA. I was apprehensive about shooing here as the world doesn’t really need more photos of rippling sand rolling across dunes. We saw many of those during the portfolio review, some better than others, but to borrow a term from JP I was suffering from dune fatigue.

At any rate, when shooting the dune field I really tried hard not to photograph the dunes. Instead I worked to make the dunes a supporting act for something else in the frame.

The above photo was taken while shooting with Glenn, a friend from Antarctica last year. We saw this scene from about 20 minutes out when walking and spent our entire shoot in and around it. I have at least 20 frames of this little scene from various angles and distances. But the second was the best!

Have you ever photographed sand dunes? What did you do to make them special?

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Canon 5D Mark II, Lensbaby Composer, zone plate optic. ISO 100, 1/15 sec @ f/19. 

My apologies for the lack of posts from Death Valley, but the Internet is both flakey and I’ve been incredibly busy. If we’re not waking up at some ghastly time (4am yesterday, 4:30am today), we’re either shooting, reviewing, or eating.

Yesterday was a tough day for me personally. I just didn’t feel the vibe in the morning (Zabriski Point) and our afternoon location was sand dunes. Having shot White Sands National Monument in the past it was hard to get excited about more sand. I did try to make the best of it though by going for shots that were different than undulating dunes with ripples. You’ll have to wait until later blog entries to see what I came up with, but I was pleasantly surprised and the feedback from others was positive (far more so than the crap I shot at Zabriski Point).

This morning we shot Badwater. It was awesome. 4:30am was, in hindsight, half an hour too late to get up, but I managed to get a spectacular shot of sunrise. Again, you’ll have to wait for a later blog entry for details!

For sunset today we shot Artist’s Palette. I didn’t get it. Some people were super excited, but to me it was more sharp hills with some colour. It will be interesting to see what people came up with, because I only shot 63 frames and I’m pretty sure they’re all junk.

My big success today was with the Lensbaby (photo above). For the first time I knew what I wanted the outcome to be, knew what Lensbaby widget would do it, and knew what it would look like when it was done… before I took the photo. That’s the first time I’ve managed to do that with the Lensbaby, instead of just shooting around and hoping something works.

What I like most about the image is it takes a very stark and barren place and brings a touch of colour and fun to it. I was apprehensive about including the photo in the review over lunch today, but figured I’d spice things up. I’m glad I did, as the image was very well received.

That’s all from Death Valley for now. Time soon for dinner and then sleep.

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Uuuugh. A 5am wake-up is never fun. But I’m safely at the airport waiting for my flight to Las Vegas for a four day photo workshop in Death Valley, NV, with John Paul Caponigro. It’ll be a reunion of sorts: at least four other people on the trip were also in Antarctica with me last year.

I’m really looking forward to shooting in the Southwest again, and having four dedicated days to do it without interruption. I’m also looking forward to getting critical feedback on photos, both from the trip and of prints I’m bringing with me for review. Several of the prints are part of the B&W square series I’m working on from the Washington coast.

It’s also a chance to test out some new gear. My workhorse backpack, a Tamrac Expedition 5, has been replaced with a new Clik Elite Escape. It’s the best I could find that would hold the gear I carry on a regular basis that included a cushioned hip strap. We’ll see how it works!

From a lens perspective this trip is exciting for two reasons: new lenses and borrowed lenses. On the new lens front my 70-200 f/2.8L IS II arrived yesterday, to replace my original model of the same lense. The 70-200 is my workhorse so I’m very excited to put the new version through its paces. I also caved and bought a Lensbaby Composer with soft focus and zone plate/pinhole optics. I blame David for this purchase, since he’s constantly lending me his when we head to the Washington Coast for photos. I also have a 17 TS-E on loan from lensrentals.com. I’m not expecting it’ll be used that often, but there will almost certainly be a few occasions where it’s a necessity.

So that’s the scoop. Hopefully I’ll have some Internet access while on the trip to post updates (assuming there is time between shooting, reviewing images, and eating!)

Have you ever gone to Death Valley? What was your experience?

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Canon 5D Mark II, 24-70 f/2.8L. 70mm, ISO 800, 1/80 @ f/5.0.

The only thing worse than rain and wind is rain at 6:30am after a 5:15am wake up. There was no sunrise this morning. Only rain. Our original plan was to visit Second Beach, but once we got there and looked at the sky we had no desire to walk 30 minutes each way. The radar report showed the rain was mostly north, so David and Vlad suggested driving south to Ruby Beach in the hopes of better weather.

The weather was marginally better (no rain) but the sky still wasn’t great and the beach had changed dramatically since the last time David had visited. There was no way to cross the stream to get to some of the more interesting angles. We made do, but honestly I didn’t find any of it interesting.

However, as I mentioned yesterday, you still try and shoot something. Anything. I messed around with some long exposure shots that I’m happy with. Then I saw the bubbles left on the beach by the outgoing tide.

Have you ever done a self-portrait? What did you do to make it special (besides having you in it, of course)?

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This weekend I’m off to Forks, WA for a three day photo session with a couple of friends from work. The area is much better known for vampires, thanks to the popularity of the Twilight series of books, but we’re not going for vampires. We’re going for the beautiful scenery of the beaches around the Quileute town of La Push. In particular we will be spending quite a bit of time shooting at Second Beach, even though low tide and sunrise/sunset times don’t exactly match. The weather looks to be just about what we expected: rain, rain, and more rain. But we won’t let that stop us!

Our last trip to the area was in very late December, just after Christmas. We spent three dedicated days shooting, and while there I forced myself to shoot everything in black and white, with a square crop. It’s amazing how a couple of simple restrictions on how you can photograph make such a difference. I was completely re-energized and had a ton of fun exploring textures and forms rather than smashing colour.

I haven’t yet decided what restrictions I’ll put on my shooting this time, but I’m thinking it will be something to do with odd numbers. We’ll see.

Have you ever put arbitrary restrictions on yourself when photographing? What were the restrictions? Did they help or hinder your creativity?

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