Last Thursday was Thanksgiving in the United States. I’m thankful to live in such a place that can give sunrises like the one I found on Thanksgiving morning. Normally, you need clouds in the sky for good sunrise or sunset shots, but in this case, I thought I might have something even without the clouds because I knew the sunrise was going to be close to Mount Rainier. Using the Photographer’s Ephemeris, I saw the sun would rise along the flank of the mountain as viewed from the Fox Island bridge, about 14 miles from my home.
The morning was crisp and cold, just about freezing, which made for a few low-level clouds and a scattered mist on the water. As the sun was rising, the moon was setting in the west, near the Olympic Mountains. It couldn’t have been a more beautiful morning. The official sunrise was at about 7:40 a.m., but because it rose in line with the mountain, it didn’t crest the mountain until almost 8:00 a.m. And crest it did, over the very top of the mountain. Being out there on the bridge, photographing the sun and the moon in a beautiful setting, I was very thankful on Thanksgiving morning.
Sometimes I feel like I get in a photographic rut – stuck on the same subjects, the same compositions. I need to refresh my creative, photographic juices. One way to do this is to take on a series of topics you might not otherwise and to look for new perspectives. That is the motivation behind a photographic scavenger hunt – shoot a list of topics in a limited amount of time trying to come up with fresh new interpretations. I have blogged about scavenger hunts before (here and here), and that is my subject again today.
Yesterday I organized a scavenger hunt along the Gig Harbor waterfront for my two local photography club: Sound Exposure and the Tacoma Mountaineers. I’ve organized a scavenger hunt for one or the other of these groups for about four years now. I love doing scavenger hunts because they are a great learning tool for photographers of all skill levels. They force a photography to challenge themselves, to look beyond what they normally photography.
If you are in a club doesn’t have a scavenger hunt, you may want to suggest one. They are really a fun learning experience. But you don’t have to be in a club to do a scavenger hunt. You can do one all by yourself or with a couple of friends. First pick a place and time. Your time should be limited to about 4 hours or less – long enough to shoot all your subjects, but short enough to put a bit or pressure on yourself to get “good” shots of all the subjects. Develop a list of 20 to 24 subjects, and go shoot!
Here’s a list of subjects from the scavenger hunt I ran yesterday. You could apply most of these to your own scavenger hunt.
- Odd Number
- Break the Rule of Thirds
- Stop Action
- the “Perfect” Photograph
- Photographer’s Choice
- Self Portrait
Although I didn’t participate in the scavenger hunt because I was the organizer, I did take a few photos to help illustrate for this post. If you want more some more advise on how to run and organize a scavenger hunt, send me an email.
Go ahead – challenge yourself and do a scavenger hunt. Have fun!!!
I haven’t been able to post as much this month as I had wanted. And now Christmas is upon us before I was ready. How come when you are a kid, it takes forever for Christmas to arrive and now that I’m middle-aged (leaning toward advanced-aged) Christmas comes so fast?
I don’t have much to offer you but a photograph. The above photo was taken in Gig Harbor 5 or so years ago. Normally we do not have much snow here during the holidays, and this year is no exception. It is relatively warm out right now and rainy, of course. But when we do have snow, it is so beautiful.
Happy holidays to all the readers of my blog, both casual and dedicated. I wish you all the best this holiday season. Be sure to remember to take some time for yourself and do something fun. (Hopefully, I can follow my own advice!)
I must be obsessed with the moon lately writing two posts in a row about the moon. Yesterday I joined others from the Tacoma Mountaineers photo group in shooting the full moon from Gig Harbor. Actually, yesterday was the day before the full moon, or what some call the Photographers Moon, since it looks full and rises before the sun sets. As viewed from Gig Harbor yesterday, the moon rose north of Mount Rainier, and by sunset was near the mountain. Unfortunately, the clouds did not cooperate, and the late afternoon sunshine was blocked by high clouds in the west. The beautiful sunset light on the harbor and mountain did not materialize. The golden hour turned pale.
The featured image above was taken shortly before sunset. Not a bad image overall, but a pale imitation of what it could have been. Imagine what it would have looked like if clouds in the west had not been blocking the sun. Imagine Rainier lit with a warm glow and the clouds burning with pink. Yesterday, it was not to be.
I’ve been thinking of this shot for several years, and last night just didn’t cut it for me. In looking ahead, the Photographers Moon next month (on June 11) and in July (also on the 11th) will rise closer to the mountain than yesterday. I think I will go back and try again. Anyone want to join me in my moon madness?
I haven’t been out shooting lately. I’m planning to go out tomorrow, but with a forecast of rain, I’m not sure how much photography I’ll be doing. While it is rainy here now, that wasn’t the case six years ago, when we had a big snow storm here in the Puget Sound region. I was still living in Gig Harbor then, and risked life and limb to drive down a big icy hill to get to the city waterfront to take get some shots of a rare case of snow on the harbor. These images are from that snowy January day in 2007. If you lived around here at the time, I’m sure it’s a day you remember.
Sometimes it seems like the new year has addled my brain. I wanted to put out a new blog post, but my brain fog wouldn’t let me think of a topic. So what does a photographer do when they have nothing new to show, pull something out of the archives of course. Thus, this post, complete with photos from January 2007.
Five years ago I lived in Gig Harbor. Gig Harbor, like much of western Washington, doesn’t get much snow. In the typical winter, we might get snow two or three times a winter. In January 2007, we had a rather large snow storm hit the harbor. It was cold enough to freeze some of the water in the harbor. I drove down to the harbor before going to work that day and took these shots.
Back then was rather different from conditions today here in 2012. Today it feels almost like spring here; some trees in the neighborhood are starting to bloom, as are Tanya’s geraniums on the front porch. Of course, it still is winter, and it could get cold again any day. We might even have snow, like that day in January five years ago.
A couple of weeks ago, I participated in a “scavenger hunt” with the Sound Exposure Photo Club (of which I am a member). I thought I’d post about this event to give readers a break from my series about my trip to the Southwest.
Photographers participating in the scavenger hunt receive a list of 20 items or themes and must take photos of each within a four-hour window. This is an annual event with Sound Exposure. Themes on the list sometimes leave a bit of interpretation to the photographer. Included on the list this year were: texture, color, near and far, close up, symmetry, and abstract. This year’s event was held at Uptown Center in Gig Harbor, Washington.
Uptown Center is a shopping center; and to tell the truth, when I first heard that was the location of the scavenger hunt this year, I wasn’t overly excited. I felt a shopping center wouldn’t have a lot to get my creative juices flowing. However, it actually wasn’t a bad spot to have the event; and once I started looking around with the list in hand, I got into the swing of it.
You can shoot as many images as you want for the event, but only turn in one per theme. Only jpegs could be turned in. I set my camera to RAW+jpeg, and turned in the jpegs. The photos accompanying this post are the RAW versions processed in Lightroom similar to how the camera processed the jpegs (as I stated before in a previous post, I think I can do a better job of processing than the camera does; however, if shown here as black and white or sepia, the jpeg was as well).
The club will show the images taken at the scavenger hunt at our next club meeting (in November). Members attending will vote on which images they like best, taking into account what theme the image are suppose to represent. Each participating photographers votes are counted, and winners announced in December. How well do you think I represented the themes on these accompanying photographs? Would you vote for them?
The wind was so strong, the rain was falling sideways yesterday at Ocean Shores. As you might imagine, the beach was fairly empty, except for hundreds of seagulls, all standing at attention facing into the wind.
Carson, our Newfoundland, thought it was great out in that rain and wind. On the other hand, while Tanya and I both thought it fun to see these conditions at the beach, we spent little time outside the car – it was more fun looking at the surf through the car windows. And with blowing sand accompanying the sideways rain, I thought it best to leave the camera inside the car too, so no photos of the beach today.
Which is fine, because we weren’t at Ocean Shores do photography, but to pick up my entries in the 33rd Annual Ocean Shores Photography Show, which ran Friday through Sunday. I had eight entries in the Professional Photographer division. Of the eight, six won ribbons – both 1st and 2nd place in Seascape/Maritime category, 1st place in the Architecture category, 2nd place in the Miscellaneous category, 3rd place in the Flora category, and an Honorable Mention in the Landscape category. I guess you can say it was raining ribbons!
If you are serious about photography, you should always carry your camera with you. I’ve often given this advice to less experienced photographers. You never know when you will find fantastic light – and you can’t capture it without a camera. This is one reason, a little more than a year ago, I purchased a small point-and-shoot camera – so I could carry that one around when I don’t have my regular one. (Of course, I couldn’t just buy any small camera, I purchased a point-and-shoot that still allows me to shoot in RAW format and aperture-priority mode.)
About a week ago, Tanya and I traveled up to west Seattle to have brunch with family at a small restaurant on Alki Beach. Rounding the corner from Harbor Avenue to Alki Avenue, we were treated with an iconic Seattle scene – ferries plying Puget Sound in front of the snow-capped Olympic Mountains. The light was beautiful, the mountains were gorgeous with a background of stormy clouds. To make it even better, a strong north wind was blowing, and the Sound was covered with whitecaps. In addition to the ferries, there were several kitesurfers (or kiteboarders, I’m not sure of the correct term) jumping the waves, getting 20 feet of air.
So with these great subjects and that great light, why is this blog illustrated with a picture of Mount Rainier taken in Gig Harbor? Because I didn’t follow my own advice. My big camera was safely at home. And while I did have the little point-and-shot, the images I had in mind needed my telephoto lens. I wanted to isolate the ferry, with the mountains big in the background (similar to what I did with this shot of Rainier). Same with the kiteboarders. The little camera couldn’t do this. And I was disgusted with myself for not following my own advice.
Why the photo of Rainier? Because this is an example of what you can do if you carry your camera around with you. I captured this image about five or six years ago (when I lived in Gig Harbor, though not near the harbor itself). I was commuting home from work one day, when I noticed the lenticular cloud on top of Rainier. It was near sunset, and I thought something special might be up. So, instead of heading home, I went to downtown Gig Harbor and captured this shot. I’ve probably sold more copies of this image than any other photograph I’ve taken – all because I was carrying my camera with me.
So do as I say, not as I do – carry your camera with you.