North Sand Photography: Blog https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog en-us (C) North Sand Photography northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) Sun, 06 Feb 2022 19:42:00 GMT Sun, 06 Feb 2022 19:42:00 GMT https://www.northsandphotography.com/img/s/v-12/u970275783-o457713306-50.jpg North Sand Photography: Blog https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog 120 96 Sleeklens Review https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2020/1/sleeklens-review Sleeklens Lightroom Presets Workflow Review                                                                         

I was recently asked by the folks at Sleeklens to provide a review of their “Aura Laborar” presets and brushes plugin for Lightroom.

Sleeklens is a company located in Denmark that offers a wide variety of post processing options for Lightroom, Photoshop and Luminar. They offer preset/brush combination workflows for everything from landscape to wedding, portrait and food photography…and at a very affordable price.

The “Aura Laborar” workflow is designed to enhance tone and sharpen your landscapes with the focus being on dramatic skies and night photography.

There are 122 presets and 10 brushes that become part of your Lightroom workflow after an incredibly easy download process.

The presets and brushes are applied in exactly the same way as you would apply them in Lightroom. They can be found in the Lightroom preset module and in the adjustment brush module.

The 122 presets fall into several categories, All in one, Basic, Base, Black & White, Color processing, Vintage and Lights.

While the All in one preset impacts the entire photo, the brushes can be used to impact a specific area of your photo.

The Adjustment brushes are applied by selecting the desired effect and painting over the area of the photograph that you want to impact.

The presets are stackable so if you are feeling especially creative then feel free to stack as many as you want.

Also, when you apply a preset it is basically moving all of the Lightroom sliders in the panel workflow module so if you don’t like how it looks or want to make some subtle adjustments, you still have the ability to do so. You always have complete control.

My Initial thoughts

 I typically like to work my photos from top to bottom and make my adjustments at each part of my normal Lightroom workflow, so I was a bit hesitant to use global adjustments from a preset……but the Sleeklens “Through the Woods” presets convinced me that there can be a great time savings to post process, while serving the needs of my artistic vision.

Deciding on a base preset is easy. Hold your cursor over each preset to get an idea of how it will impact the photo. This is a good starting point and can help determine what the photo needs to improve it or give it the artistic vision that you are looking for.

When I first started doing digital post processing I would have never considered using presets but I now see how valuable they can be for starting a base. Rolling through the Sleeklens presets can produce some very artistic results, ones that you may have never imagined.

There are always photos that deserve a more artistic look and the Sleeklens presets are perfect for those. I did an earlier review on the “Through the Woods” presets from Sleeklens and found that they promote a more realistic impact while the Aura Laborar presets, in my opinion, promote a more artsy effect.   

Bring in the brushes to fine tune regional areas of the photo, make some additional adjustments using the Lightroom options…and you’re done.

You can make your adjustments with RAW or JPEG images. Stick with RAW as they provide more manipulative options.

Results

My first photo of a lighthouse on Lake Superior was taken on a cold overcast day. I did not want to blow out the highlights so I underexposed the photo.

I started my workflow by applying the “Color Splash” (all in one) preset which added great definition to the sky, popped a little color and opened up the shadows. The only adjustment I made was to open the shadows a bit more, but that was it. It took all of 30 seconds and produced a more appealing and realistic version of what I was actually seeing when taking the picture.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My second photo of the Milky Way was dull and didn’t provide the pop that I had envisioned. I found that the “Winter Afternoon” preset gave me a good base. From there all I did was up the exposure a little and add some vibrancy. Once again, all it took was 30 seconds to greatly improve the photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My third photo was taken on Lake Superior at 3am. A photographer friend and I were shooting the lighthouse against the night sky. To show you the artistic impact of a Sleeklens filter, I selected the “Let the sunshine in” preset. The only adjustment I made was to reduce the noise.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Final Thoughts….

   Even though I prefer total control over the creative process, I found that the Sleeklens presets and brushes were a true asset to my workflow. Depending on my vision, some of the presets were spot on or at worst, required minor adjustments. They provided me with a great starting point and saved me the many hours that it would have taken me to create them on my own.

The additional adjustment brushes also are value added from a time and vision perspective.

Another plus is that you can take their presets, make minor adjustments and create your own set of customized presets. The great thing is that they have done all of the hard work for you.

The Aura Laborar and Through the Woods Lightroom plugins are something that I will definitely use going forward. I can see it becoming an important part of my normal workflow. It allows you to explore creative vision while saving time…something that I never seem to have enough of.

For more information on Sleeklens products go to:

https://sleeklens.com/#

https://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets/

 

 

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2020/1/sleeklens-review Sun, 19 Jan 2020 20:20:08 GMT
Winter Waterfalls…..and Death Defying Acts https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2017/1/winter-waterfalls-and-death-defying-acts Late last week I set up home base on Island lake in Manitowish Waters while I made a winter waterfall photo circuit in northern Wisconsin and Michigan. My goal was to spend a couple of days shooting some off the area waterfalls. Little did I know that there would be “death defying acts” as part of the itinerary.

My first stop was Superior falls on the shoreline of Lake Superior. It’s located slightly north of Saxon Harbor and during this time of year is extremely less traveled. At 6:45am GPS told me that I had reached my location but the icy backroad that I was on told me different. I back tracked and eventually found the entrance.

Following the path to the falls I came across a ten-foot-wide section that resembled an old dirt road. The 70-foot decline that led to the base of the falls/Lake Superior shoreline was solid ice and in no way was I going to attempt that hike. Looking for a possible alternate solution I found that a heavy metal cable had been embedded in the ground and could be used as a railing.

So, I sat down, grabbed the cable with my left hand and slid all the way to the bottom. Getting back up was another issue but I’d tackle that when I returned.

I had two options at the bottom. Turn left and head to the falls or turn right and head to the icy shoreline of Lake Superior. It was a windless overcast morning so I decided to head to the lake to see if I could get a glimpse of the sunrise. Even on overcast days, sunrises on Lake Superior can be magnificent.

The silence was overwhelming and once again made me appreciate the peacefulness that nature has to offer. I was fortunate to catch the sunrise and spent an hour sitting on a block of ice, taking in the beauty of a calm Lake Superior.

It was another 10-minute walk to the falls but they were completely frozen over, so I explored the base for a while and then headed back to the icy path. The only way I could figure to get back up was to kneel and use my upper body to pull myself along the cable line. It actually worked pretty well but my arms disapproved the following day.

On to Saxon falls…..

Located on the Montreal River, Saxon falls is only a few minutes from Superior falls. The falls sit in a deep gorge which I found was not easy to get to, at least not in the winter.

The journey started with a 50-foot eighteen-inch-wide footbridge over the river. The floor of the bridge had a 2-inch snow base on top of solid ice. Horrible conditions for crossing and based on lack of footprints it looked like I would be the first in a while. Thankfully the steel cables on each side of the bridge provided something to hold on to. After crossing the river, I found an additional 75 yards of bridge to hike before making it to the top of the gorge. Every step took about five seconds to ensure that I had a secure grip. I typically like an adventure but this was a bit nerve wracking.

When I reached the end, I found an 8-foot metal ladder that I had to crawl down only to find another ladder a few feet away that led back up to the continuation of the foot bridge……..of course the ladders were ice covered.

After scaling the second ladder I came to a small deck with a very long metal staircase. The staircase dropped deep into the gorge and I estimated it to be about 100 feet. I couldn’t tell if the staircase had a thin coat of ice on it so I decided to make my first common sense decision of the day and stay put. Slipping and falling on that staircase would have been disastrous.

I could see the falls from the deck so I got out my 70-200 zoom lens and photographed it for 15-20 minutes before heading back across the footbridge.

I spent another few minutes shooting the water flow at the Saxon dam before heading to Potato falls near Gurney.

Potato falls was easy to find, located off hwy. 169, outside of Gurney, WI.

Once there, you have the option of hiking to the upper falls or lower falls. My first choice was taking the path that stated “trail closed”. I soon realized how serious the sign was when I came to a 75 foot drop straight down where the earth had just eroded and fallen away.

 I then chose the lower falls and once again was faced with long stairways of ice covered steps. Made of wood and slightly less treacherous than the metal stairs, it was still a decent 20-minute hike to the base of the falls.

Hiking to the edge of the river, I found that it was half frozen but running freely. I hiked up stream but could not get to the base of the falls without walking across the ice, not something that I was willing to chance. I realized that I was now standing directly below the closed trail where the ground had eroded and soon began to see and hear rocks and dirt fall all around me. I am sure that the waterfall is spectacular during the fall, but on this day it was not worth hanging around for and possibly being buried in a landslide. I walked back downstream and took a 30-minute rest to enjoy the sound of running water before heading back up to the top.

Rain moved in and ended my day but after several hours of climbing I was ready to head back to home base.

 Bond Falls

Up the next day at 5:30am and off to Bond Falls. Another overcast day so I wasn’t counting on much color. I had decided early on that I wasn’t going to spend much time photographing the waterfall itself. Anyone can do that, so I focused on more of the intimate features of water flow and ice.   Bond Falls 3Bond Falls 3MIchigan UP

Bond falls is located in Michigan’s UP, just east of Paulding, MI. It is an impressive waterfall and considered to be one of the best in the area. It is well worth the trip and I am sure it gets a ton of visitors during the summer. Today I was the only one there. Due to the closed road I had to park about half a mile and hike in, which was fairly easy.

The base of the falls is surrounded by a boardwalk that provides for easy viewing. Getting to the top of the falls was a little more difficult seeing as that the stairway was completely ice covered and non-existent to the naked eye.

With the stairway out of commission, I used some trees for leverage to get me to the top. Looking upstream, the river is made up of numerous cascades and rapids. Although snow covered, the paths upstream were easy to navigate and got you up close to the edge of the running water.

I spent 5 hours there and never saw another person, in fact I never saw anyone at any of the places I visited…..just how I like it.

On my way back to the entrance I hopped over a dead tree, caught my cargo pants pocket on it and ripped a huge hole in my pants leg. I didn’t think anything of it until I got back to the truck and realized that I had lost my driver’s license, debit card and some cash.

So, it was back into the park, re-tracing my steps to the tree, hoping to find my stuff. Fortunately, it was another windless day and I soon found my cards and money sitting under the tree that had taken out my pants leg.

Back at my truck the rain started and once again ended my day.

During my three-day trip, I took about 125 pictures and wasn’t overly excited with any of them, but the adventure was amazing……and in the end, that’s what it’s all about.

Bond Falls 2Bond Falls 2Michigan UP

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) michigan photographs waterfalls wisconsin https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2017/1/winter-waterfalls-and-death-defying-acts Mon, 23 Jan 2017 22:06:18 GMT
Photo Workshops are for Beginners too https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2017/1/photo-workshops-beginners-wisconsin

You are beginning your venture into photography and have thought about participating in a photo workshop but feel that your skills aren't where you'd like them to be. You want to love photography but it seems so difficult at times, or you have dabbled in it enough to understand basics but still struggle with camera functionality and technique. If this is you, then photo workshops are your path to knowledge, creativity.....and a little adventure.

You can read a lot of educational material, experimenting with what you learn, and if you have the time you can apply this trial and error method until you figure things out…..but it can be frustrating when you can’t find the answers to your questions when things don’t work out the way you thought they would.

You see these great photographs and wish that you could document something like that, but every time you try, it just doesn’t look the same.

Let’s face it, how many times have you put your camera down in frustration and told yourself that it’s just too difficult to get beyond the “Automatic” process of taking photographs.

A great learning tool to offset this sometimes frustrating and dis-heartening process is to participate in a photo workshop.

Little Manitou Falls SunsetLittle Manitou Falls SunsetPattison State Park
Superior WI

There’s a big creative world out there. Why not learn from someone who has already worked through the educational and creative challenges that you are currently experiencing.

No matter where your experience level is, you will always benefit from attending and participating in a photo workshop.

I have had countless conversations with people who would love to take part in a workshop but don’t think that their photo skills are good enough. This is where my confusion sets in…..what you have just told me is the single most important reason for attending a workshop.

I have participated in workshops as a student and have found them to be invaluable. I not only learned how to navigate my camera settings but also built upon the experience of “seeing” things in different ways.

What I have learned over the years, the trials and tribulations of camera navigation and understanding the impact of creative vision has taken my evolution from student to teacher.

So, put aside your fear of “not being good enough” to attend a photo workshop and consider these points:

 

  • There will be people just like you who desire to become better photographers. They have the same fears and you’ll find that you have many things in common with them in regards to where you think you are in your journey into photography. You will meet great people and most likely develop some long term relationships.
  • One on one instruction. We all have a different learning curve. Yours will be addressed by one of the instructors in a way that makes you feel comfortable and more confident.
  • The workshop makes photography the priority. You may feel that this is the first time that you have been able to seriously focus on it. Think of it as a vacation that lets you concentrate on improving something that you really love to do.
  • Inspiration. You may have lost that passion but I guarantee that you will find it again and walk away more inspired than ever before. Education is an amazing thing, the more you understand, the more you’ll want to learn.
  • Through workshops you will find that you are beginning to develop your own style or build on one that is just waiting to become a creative force. Fall Color ReflectionFall Color ReflectionWebster, WI
  • You can’t learn without some constructive critique. You’ll learn how evaluate and process your photographs through sessions that are geared around respectful feedback. 
  •  Workshops are not “boot camp”. Our goal is to teach you and to help you grow as a photographer, but we’ll do it in a way that is enjoyable and satisfying.
  • You’ll get to practice what you learn. You can watch and learn all you want but actually doing is when all of the learned functionality and techniques come together.
  • You have a personal guide to some amazing locations that will not only inspire you but also teach you how to plan a shoot around lighting and conditions.
  • You’ll have access to the instructors long after the workshop is over to answer questions and to aid into your further development.

Sturgeon Bay LighthouseSturgeon Bay LighthouseSturgeon Bay, WI

Workshops can be incredibly beneficial to your growth as a photographer. You’ll learn alongside people just like you, develop some great relationships, experience amazing photo opportunities and walk away with an increased knowledge of camera functionality and technique. You’ll gain insight into the creative process and put yourself into a position to move forward with confidence.

I hope that this has put some of your fears to rest and that it has opened yourself up to the possibility of participating in a photography workshop.   

Interested in attending one of my workshops?

Door County May 2019

Lake Superior/ Waterfalls  September 2019

Questions?

 

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) Beginner Door County photo wisconsin workshops https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2017/1/photo-workshops-beginners-wisconsin Tue, 10 Jan 2017 15:22:59 GMT
Door County, Abandoned Farms and Neutral Density Filters https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2017/1/door-county-abandoned-farms-and-neutral-density-filters

During a workshop scouting trip to Door County my workshop partner Cameron Gillie and I came across and old farm that absolutely needed to be photographed. We took a location setting and through some great investigative work by Cameron we were able to track down the owner and gain access to the property for one of our workshop morning shoots.

It was a mild day with light winds, perfect for spending the morning shooting several buildings and their contents, old tractors, windmills and detailed metal works such as door knobs, hinges and light fixtures. It was like stepping 70 years into the past.

Two of the students had set up and were taking pictures of the old home and windmill when i approached them and brought up the idea of using a neutral density filter to show movement in the windmill. They had heard of ND filters but neither had used one, so i set up next to them to demonstrate the impact of what the filter can do.

ND filters are extremely dark and are used to show motion during times when lighting forces a quicker shutter speed to produce a correctly exposed photo. They are great for shooting water, waterfalls, clouds, etc......anything that is moving. It adds a nice effect that produces photos with impact. Just make sure you compose and focus before you put it on. Like i said, the filters are very dark.

You can find ND filters where the number of stops are fixed or variables where one filter allows you to access multiple shades of darkness. Variables are typically more expensive.

On that morning, lighting conditions had us shooting with an exposure time of 1/125 of a second and the pictures that the students produced were freezing the motion of the windmill.

I added an 8 stop Hoya ND filter to my lens and shot the above picture. The filter slowed down my exposure to 2 seconds and allowed me to present the illusion of a fast moving windmill.

In post processing i added an analog filter from NIK software to give the picture a "weathered" feel.

Workshops are a great environment for picking up small but effective educational pieces like this. I hope that you'll consider attending one of our Door County workshops and/or some of the others that we are planning for the future.

Questions about workshops?? Please feel free to contact me or Cameron

 

 

 

 

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) Door County Filters Workshops https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2017/1/door-county-abandoned-farms-and-neutral-density-filters Sun, 01 Jan 2017 16:48:39 GMT
Sleeklens lightroom workflow review https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2016/12/sleeklens-lightroom-workflow-review Sleeklens Lightroom Workflow Review                                                                         

Seeing as that I am primarily a landscape photographer I was recently asked by the folks at Sleeklens to provide a review of their “Through the Woods” presets and brushes lightroom plugin.

Sleeklens is a company located in Denmark that offers a wide variety of post processing options for Lightroom and Photoshop.

The “Through the Woods” workflow is designed to enhance, tone and sharpen your landscape photos while retaining a natural look.

There are fifty landscape presets and thirty landscape brushes that become part of the lightroom workflow after an incredibly easy download process.

The presets and brushes are applied in exactly the same way as you would apply them in lightroom. They can be found in the lightroom preset module and in the adjustment brush module.

The fifty presets fall into several categories, All in one, Exposure, Base, Color correction, Tone/tint, Polish and Vignette.

While the All in one preset impacts the entire photo, the others will effect a specific part.

The Adjustment brushes are applied by selecting the desired effect and painting over the area of the photograph that you want to impact.

 

My Initial thoughts

  I am not a big preset guy, I like to work my photos from top to bottom and make my adjustments at each part of the lightroom workflow, so I was a bit leery with allowing global adjustments from a preset……but I am always open to trying something new so I agreed to give them a shot for providing a review in return.

I selected two images that were blah, had some toning / exposure issues and needed some pop. Oh, one more thing about the presets, they can be stacked on top of one another so you can use multiple presets to get to the end result that you are looking for.

Also, when you apply a preset it is basically moving all of the lightroom sliders in the basic panel workflow module so if you don’t like how it looks or want to make some subtle adjustments you still have the ability to do so. You always have complete control.

The workflow is easy. Hold the cursor over each preset to get an idea of how it will impact the photo. This is a good starting point and can be approached by determining what the photo needs to improve it or give it the artistic vision that you are looking for.

Bring in the brushes to fine tune regional areas of the photo, make some additional adjustments using the lightroom options….and you’re done.

You can make your adjustments with RAW or JPEG images. Stick with RAW as they provide more manipulative options.

 

So, here goes….

My first photo of Half Dome in California’s eastern sierra’s was taken at dusk and has an unattractive blue tone to it. It certainly was not what my eye was seeing.

I started by applying the “Shine into the Sunset” preset, made some minor adjustments to the sliders and then finished up by applying the “Warmer” brush and the “Add Golden Sun “brush to the sky. It took all of 90 seconds and produced a more appealing and realistic version of what I was seeing.

My second photo of Mono Lake was dull and didn’t provide the pop that I had envisioned. I started by stacking three presets. I used “Warmer Shadows”, “Deep Blue Skies” and “Medium Blk Vignette” in collaboration with one another to create my initial vision. I then used the “Cloudy Sky Definition” brush on the sky, made a minor noise reduction adjustment and was finished…..once again in under 2 minutes.

 

My take away….

   Even though I prefer total control over the creative process, I found that the Sleeklens presets and brushes were a true asset to my workflow. Depending on my vision, some of the presets were spot on or at worst required minor adjustments. They provided me with a great starting point and saved me the many hours that it would have taken me to create them on my own.

The additional adjustment brushes also are value added from a time and vision perspective.

There are times when I have a specific end result in mind and prefer to start from scratch, but opening up to the sleeklens presets has opened my eyes to places that I may have never gone with my usual workflow process. They provide a creative advantage that even the best photographer will benefit from.

Another idea is to take their presets, make minor adjustments and create your own set of customized presets. The great thing is that they have done all of the hard work for you.

The “Through the Woods” lightroom plugin is something that I will definitely use going forward. I can see it becoming an important part of my normal workflow. It allows you to explore creative vision while saving time…..something that I never seem to have enough of.

For more information on Sleeklens products go to:

http://sleeklens.com/product/landscape-lightroom-presets/

http://sleeklens.com/product/professional-photo-editing-service/

http://sleeklens.com/product-category/lightroom-presets

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2016/12/sleeklens-lightroom-workflow-review Sun, 18 Dec 2016 22:18:34 GMT
All is good in the world https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2016/12/all-is-good-in-the-world It was the first snow of the season this morning so i decided to head out and see what i could capture. Hadn't been to Parfreys Glen for a while so i decided to start there. With light snow falling i began my hike, soon realizing that the only sounds were my footsteps and the calming sound of water moving through the rocks. Looking to my right i noticed two deer silently watching me as i made my way through the gorge.....and then after a while I realized that all of the stuff that we all seem to stress over on a daily basis was no longer in my head.

I was in the moment, no worries, no stress, no anxiety.....it was me and nature and at that time, all was good in the world. It's a pretty amazing feeling, hard to put into words but definitely euphoric.

Some of you will know exactly what i am talking about. For those who don't I highly encourage you to allow yourself to connect with the outside world...alone. Find a quiet place where you can walk, no talking, no cell phones, just the sounds of the natural world. Let yourself take in all that surrounds you and soon you will be one with the environment.

I know it sounds hokey but i am telling you that it is one of the most life balancing feelings that you'll ever have. You will see things that you've never looked at before. You will hear sounds that are soothing and you will know that life is truly amazing.

Being a photographer it is important for me to connect with my photo opportunities on an emotional level. I am not the type to just click away at whatever is out there. The scene or subject needs to draw me in and make a personal impact.

Photography is subjective. You may love a picture or hate it...or have no feeling about it at all, but always remember that the photographer was somehow drawn to shooting it. In some way they connected with it.

I love shooting color but this morning it was a black and white world. I've always felt that color was about emotion and that black and white was about drama and mystery. You see differently in black and white as shapes and shadows take over your viewpoint....but you wouldn't know that if you didn't take the time to actually look around and see things without the cloudiness of everyday life.

You don't need to be a photographer to connect with the natural world. Allow yourself the quiet time to see, feel and listen and soon you will know, even for a short time, that all is good in the world.

 

Winter WonderlandWinter WonderlandBaraboo, WI

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2016/12/all-is-good-in-the-world Sun, 04 Dec 2016 17:49:40 GMT
California's Eastern Sierra https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2015/10/californias-eastern-sierra Snow Caps above the Alabama HillsSnow Caps above the Alabama HillsLone Pine, California Fire in the SkyFire in the SkyOlmstead Point
Yosemite National Park
         A year ago I signed up for a photo workshop in the eastern sierra of California with photographer Gary Hart. I knew that I would have the opportunity to see and photograph amazing landscapes but I wasn't sure how much I would learn because I already considered myself a competent photographer. By the end of the workshop Gary had taught me how to see beyond what I already thought was a good eye for composition and how to be patient while seriously work a scene. Those two lessons went beyond my expectations and going forward will make me a much better photographer. It's more than just having a good eye. It's actually taking the time to really analyze every part of your composition and having the patience to find the unlimited opportunities in every shot.

The week started in the Alabama hills just outside of Lone Pine, CA. This area is full of rocky outcrops and looks like the perfect landscape for a western movie......in fact, if you research the area online you will find that a number of movies were filmed there. The hills sit at the base of Mount Whitney and provide endless photo opportunities. We climbed 10,000 feet to a summit area for climbers attempting to scale Mount Whitney where we shot waterfalls in the rain. unfortunately, conditions were not favorable for good shooting. The rain stopped as we descended down the mountain range which enabled us to get some great shots of a rain cloud making its way across the desert.

On Tuesday we began our day back in the Alabama hills for sunrise shooting. I focused my efforts on panoramic shots of the mountain range and managed to get some real winners.

Later that morning we packed up and headed for Bishop, CA to spend the evening shooting night skies at 10,000 feet in the bristle cone pine forest. Bristle cone pines are some of the oldest trees on earth with some dating back 5,000 years. The night was windy and a bit cold, getting down into the 30's. The skies were overcast but cleared as the night sky opened up above us allowing for some great photo opportunities.

On Wednesday morning we were up early to shoot fall colors at North Lake, just outside of Bishop. It's a beautiful lake surrounded by mountains and flanked by golden aspens. After spending a few hours shooting the lake and surrounding streams we packed up and headed for Lee Vining, CA. Lee Vining overlooks Mono Lake, an iconic landscape that features large Tufa towers. Tufa is a variety of limestone that grows out of the lake. It is hard and extremely sharp and unlike anything I have seen before.

We arrived before sunset and set up hoping for color enhanced skies as day moved into night. It didn't happen, so we went back the next day for sunrise and the light show was nothing less than spectacular.

On Thursday evening we traveled into Yosemite to Olmsted point to shoot Half Dome at sunset. It was a small hike to a huge slab of granite that overlooked the valley and provided a great view of Half Dome. As the sun set, the skies lit up like fire, mixing pinks with intense reds and blues. I got some great shots. I have seen some fantastic sunsets in Wisconsin but have never seen the deep red color that I witnessed that night.

On Friday it was off to Lundy Canyon for more fall color shooting. I spent the morning shooting close ups of the aspens.

Later that day, on my way back to Reno, I stopped at the Bodie historical site. Bodie is a mining town that thrived in the late 1800's and had a population as high as 8,000. The town has been preserved and is in very good condition. I suggest you research it online because there is a lot of great information about it. It's incredibly interesting.

Saturday was a full day of travel, taking three planes to get back home.....exhausted but extremely lucky to have experienced the prior five days. I had a wonderful time, met some amazing people and got to watch and learn from a truly great photographer.

Although I took some 500-600 pictures I can't wait to get back out and re-discover some of my favorite Wisconsin shooting spots.

Think I’ll head out on Sunday.... 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2015/10/californias-eastern-sierra Tue, 20 Oct 2015 00:23:03 GMT
Night Skies, Dark Woods and Wildlife https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2015/9/night-skies-dark-roads-and-wildlife This last weekend the northern Wisconsin skies were clear and made for perfect conditions to photograph the milky way. For effective night sky shots you need to be in extremely dark surroundings which brings up a couple of issues......you're out there in the woods, all alone, with wildlife and in my case, a wild imagination.

The first night out i left the cabin about 11pm to find a dark spot with some dead trees....speaking of dead trees, I'll get to that later. I wanted to use the trees for a good foreground silhouette against the night sky. I found a spot, set up my tripod and because i was using a 14mm lens, programmed my camera for a 25 second exposure with an aperture of 2.8 and ISO of 5000. At 14mm any exposure over 35 seconds will allow the stars to trail and take away that pinpoint effect. The calculation for determining how long of an exposure you can allow is based on your lens. Divide 500 by your lens focal length to get the number of seconds you can open your shutter before stars begin to trail. 500/14=35. 

I shot about ten pictures over a thirty minute period. While shooting my last picture i heard bushes rustling nearby which caused some concern but not enough to stop the shutter. I flipped on my flashlight immediately after the exposure ended to find three red foxes staring at me from about 5 feet away. That's how dark it was. I'm thankful that it wasn't a bear. I packed up and took the twenty minute walk back to the cabin.

The next night i decided to shoot star trails. This would require about ninety minutes of shooting time and a darker area seeing as that the exposures would be longer. Ninety minutes in pitch dark woods is a little unnerving. It's true that your hearing senses get better when you can't see. I heard everything from an acorn dropping to coyotes howling and owls hooting. An owl's hoot is pretty soothing but an owl's screech is downright terrifying. My defense method was to pull my keys out and jingle them every time i heard something close. Not sure how effective that is but it's all i had other than whistling and stomping my foot which probably looked pretty stupid.

I found another good spot near a pine forest that i like to shoot in. Now here is the dead tree story. In this pine forest there are only tall pine trees......with the exception of two dead oak trees that stick out like a sore thumb. I saw these trees for the first time two years ago and they were so out of place that i needed to do some exploring. When i got to the trees there was about an 8x10 foot spot roughly cordoned off by some barbed wire. The barbed wire surrounded these two dead trees and embedded in one of the was a large blade. It is a very creepy spot.

So here is what i found out about this small area. The story goes that many years ago during the 40's or 50's a women was murdered in this spot and it is either a grave or a marker of where the crime was committed. I have heard stories about people seeing her ghost walk through the pines, so why did i pick this spot to shoot night skies? I don't know, I must be crazy. I have seen too many movies that involve dark woods, unmarked graves and ghostly figures to think that this was a good idea.

So, putting my uneasy feelings aside, i set up my gear and shot a series of forty-five two minute exposures that i would eventually stack together to create a photo with star trails as a background to the pine trees.

Everything went as planned except for the intermittent clouds that rolled overhead. Those clouds put some pretty hefty gaps in my star trails and my ninety minutes of shooting resulted in a less than satisfying picture. Another great learning experience.......oh, and no ghosts.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2015/9/night-skies-dark-roads-and-wildlife Mon, 14 Sep 2015 23:56:34 GMT
Hiking up the Black River https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2015/8/hiking-up-the-black-river

Hiking up the Black River

After spending Wednesday night shooting at Quarry Point on Lake Superior’s south shore I headed west to Pattison State Park to make another attempt at hiking to the base of Big Manitou Falls. I pulled in to the park about 6:30am, double checked my camera gear, put on my knee high rubber boots, grabbed my bear spray and headed down the half mile path to the edge of the Black River.

I have made two previous attempts at this and have given up both times. I tried last fall but did not have the proper footwear for water so I tried hiking to the base of the falls through the dense forest. The difficulty of doing that was too much and after 45 minutes I gave up. Going off path is never easy and besides, it appeared to me that even if I made it to the falls I would still have to find a way down the cliff walls.

My second attempt was in early spring. I had my rubber boots on but the snow melt had raised the water level and the river was about 40-50 feet wide and moving fast. The speed and strength of the rapid water would have easily taken me down….and the water was cold! I hiked along the edge as far as I could but needed to cross when the rock wall became too sheer for me to continue. That’s where the problems began.

The river bed is comprised of rock, anywhere from a couple of inches to several feet in size. It is impossible to guess the depth of your next step. It can also be very slippery. So, with those challenges, no walking stick to check depths and the rapid water, I turned back and headed back to the top.

My most recent attempt found me fully prepared to take a decent shot at completing the task. I knew that the water level would be lower than earlier in the year and I now had a walking stick to check depths and provide additional balance as I moved through the water.

I was encouraged as I reached the bottom of the gorge, finding that the river was only about 25 feet wide in some spots and as little as 10 feet in others. The depth was mostly ankle deep but I soon found my boots filling with water as I hit the knee high areas. Walks over to the edge for boot water removal were frequent but not too bad. The falls are only about a quarter mile away from my river starting point but it feels a lot longer due to the length of time it takes to maneuver through the rocky river bed.

I was able to make it up the river without to many obstacles but eventually I ran into a wall of boulders that I probably could have climbed over had I been able to get to them. Unfortunately the only path was scaling a sheer rock wall. It didn’t help that the water below was now 5-6 feet deep.

I did make one attempt but slipped on the rock wall and came very close to going in. In the past I have put myself in some dangerous situations but this time my common sense got the better of me and I threw in the towel.

So, I conceded my journey to get to the base. Was I frustrated?  Yeah, a little, but I had to laugh a bit knowing that this is how it usually goes when you go up against Mother Nature. Just because she has “Mother” in her name does not mean she is a kindly old woman that easily forgives. No, she will take you down if you don’t respect her. She is relentless in her pursuit to protect this amazing planet that we live on.

I also thought about the Lewis & Clark expedition. Their challenges were a thousand times harder than my small feat of going upriver on foot. It is truly amazing what they accomplished, in fact it’s impossible to comprehend. My trip took five hours, small in stature but it allowed my spirit to soak in the peacefulness, beauty and mystery of Wisconsin’s north woods.  In the end, that’s good enough for me.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2015/8/hiking-up-the-black-river Sun, 09 Aug 2015 19:21:45 GMT
Cold Morning-Making mistakes https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/12/cold-morning-making-mistakes         I got up at 4:30 yesterday morning with the intent to go out and shoot. I didn’t really have a plan so I just got in the car and took off. Seeing that the sky was finally clear of clouds I thought I would take some night sky shots but I needed some dark skies. All I could think of was Devils lake so that’s where I ended up.

I parked on the south shore and pointed my camera (with 14mm lens) north towards Baraboo (mistake one), then I tried to find the horizon by “eyeing” up the angle of the camera instead of using the viewfinder (mistake two). Sometimes you do things that make no sense. I can’t tell you how many times (after shooting) I spend the rest of a day thinking about how I could have done things differently.

Anyway, after shooting some night sky pics I decided to climb the west bluff. There was no wind and although it was very cold, I figured I would be ok spending a few hours on top of the bluff (mistake three).

The hike up was dark and very quiet but I generated enough heat to keep me warm….for a while. I found a place to set up and waited for the light that would wash over the valley at sunrise.....but it never did. I forgot to bring my graduated ND filters and bracketing was just not working so my options were limited and eventually I admitted defeat..

After about an hour and a half I noticed that my black fleece jacket had turned white. My first thought was that I wiped it on the dusty truck earlier in the morning. I soon realized that it was a layer of frost that had built up from the heat that I had generated on the hike up. Now I am getting cold, trying to shoot in disappointing light and getting frustrated with the lack of feeling in my fingers and left big toe. 

My newly acquired frost jacket has now turned me into a freezer…..but I keep waiting to see if the lighting changes. To pass the time i walked around the area and made up words to a song from the 70's group "The Spinners" that was making a non-stop loop through my head. You know how a voice can carry on a quiet morning....if anyone was in the area then they probably heard some interesting stuff. The sun finally moves above the clouds and I got a couple of shots of the glimmering water below. After two and a half hours on top of the bluff I decide to hike back down.

Due to the disappointing morning I thought i'd try and find some “intimate landscape” shots (leaves, frost on moss, mushrooms on dead trees, etc.) on my way down. That’s all great but it’s still cold and the heat packs in my gloves are losing their warmth. I found a few interesting subjects but rushed through them. I then spent the last few minutes of my morning standing in a shallow stream shooting some interesting ice shapes.

At the end of the morning I had taken 38 pictures……I deleted all but two. That’s how it goes sometimes but  I did get in a good hike and the peacefulness of being on that quiet bluff all by myself was something you just can’t buy. I am thankful for that.

Oh yeah, my mistakes….

One- Too much light from the city washed some of my night sky, should have faced south

Two- A horrible and unattractive horizon line. Still can’t figure out why I didn’t use the live view

Three- Underestimated the cold air and the impact on my senses.....Spinners songs??? really??

There’s always next time…hopefully the Spinners have moved on and have been replaced by ahhhh.....Pink Floyd (Dark Side of the Moon)....Yeah....much better.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/12/cold-morning-making-mistakes Mon, 29 Dec 2014 16:36:25 GMT
Take a hike....It's good for you! https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/5/take-a-hike-its-good-for-you Take a Hike……..It’s good for you!

      My type of nature photography requires a lot of hiking, uphill, downhill, through water, chest high grass, swamps, mud…. you name it, I’ve probably hiked through it. I once walked into a dense growth of some very sharp bushes that shredded my raincoat and pants beyond recognition and left me with cuts and scratches over my entire body. I was looking to shoot a grove of dead trees and needed to walk through the bushes to get there. Didn’t get any good shots…but what an experience!

And then a year ago there was the 9 mile hike that Lexi (my dog) and I took on through the northern Wisconsin woods. We walked a dirt road for a couple of miles and then took a path through the woods. I figured that it would bring us back close to our starting point. Boy was I wrong. It took us to no point and we had to stop, turn around and retrace our steps…….but once again, what an experience!

Now that the weather has finally turned, it’s a great time to get out and hike. Hiking is a great form of exercise and with all of the hiking trails available it can always be a new experience…….and it’s extremely beneficial to your health.

Here’s why:

Improved cardio-respiratory fitness

Regular physical activity substantially reduces the risk of dying of coronary heart disease by strengthening the heart and lowering the risk of high cholesterol and triglycerides.

Improved muscular fitness

     When practiced over a long period, an aerobic exercise like hiking assists in boosting your stamina and encourages treatment of natural fatigue. In addition, hiking also builds strength and flexibility. Hiking uphill firms the calves and downhill hikes strengthen the quadriceps.

Lower risk of high blood pressure

      Nearly one third of American adults have high blood pressure. Hypertension is often referred to as the silent killer since symptoms are often undetectable and it can lead to heart attack, stroke, and other serious problems.

Physical activity such as hiking lowers blood pressure 4-10 points and regaining a normal body weight can lower it 5-20 points.

Increased bone density or a slower loss of density

      Hiking assists in increasing bone strength and density. Regular hiking slows down the rate at which calcium is lost in the body, therefore strengthening bones and reducing their likelihood of breaking. Hiking prevents the onset of various bone diseases such as arthritis and osteoporosis.

Reduced depression and better quality sleep

      The current lifestyle that many people live is very hectic and stress causing. Hiking offers a great method of relaxing and spending some time in the wild. Hiking in natural and beautiful surroundings helps to calm both the mind and body. Endorphins released by your body during a walking workout can lift your spirits and keep them there throughout the day or night – keeping your brain as healthy as your body.

Lower risk of early death

       If you are active for 7 hours a week, your risk of dying early is 40% lower than someone active for less than 30 minutes a week.

Weight control; hiking burns up 400 calories an hour

      Hiking is a great method of losing those excess pounds. Actually, hiking burns about 400 calories in only one hour and it has the potential of burning even more calories when you hike in challenging areas like hills. Combining hiking with a good diet enables people to shed weight quickly.

 

     There are times when I am extremely sore after doing an extensive hike/climb…..but it’s a good pain, the kind of pain that makes you feel like you accomplished something, the kind of pain that exemplifies that inner drive to push yourself beyond what you might consider to be your limit.

I am not suggesting that you go out and kill yourself, only that you take the time to get outside and enjoy nature. I promise you that it will not only be visually entertaining but also great for your body and soul.

…..and make sure you take a camera. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll see

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/5/take-a-hike-its-good-for-you Sun, 11 May 2014 21:14:40 GMT
Doing My Best to Improve Your Health………and Make You a Nicer Person : ) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/4/doing-my-best-to-improve-your-health-and-make-you-a-nicer-person      I like to shoot alone. It’s not that I am anti-social, it’s just that being out in the middle of nowhere, alone, allows me to see, listen and visualize the world in a way that cleanses my soul from all of the day to day distractions that we all experience. It calms me and I truly believe that it has had a positive impact on my overall health and well-being.

I recently did some research on the effects of viewing nature and came across a couple of interesting articles.

“If it weren’t for Central Park, all us New Yorkers would kill each other,” says Ruta Fox, a 50-something jewelry entrepreneur from Manhattan. “It’s the saving grace of this city.” This is a current quote from an article by Diane Mapes, an MSNBC contributor, on how nature makes you nicer.

In a set of recent experiments, researchers at the University of Rochester in New York monitored the effects of natural versus artificial environments — and found that nature actually makes us nicer.

“Previous studies have shown the health benefits of nature range from more rapid healing to stress reduction to improved mental performance and vitality.”

For as long as man has pondered his role in the natural world, it has been assumed that having a connection with nature resulted in a happier, healthier, more stress-free life. Only in the last few decades has scientific research proven this assumption to be true. More recently, these findings have been used to create conditions where we can more easily interact with nature in ways that support health and happiness.

A considerable body of evidence proves that if you can't be in nature, you can still benefit greatly from just viewing nature.  Activities as simple as viewing a photograph, painting or any kind of artwork that represents nature can have a positive effect on your well- being.

 

That being said, I will continue my never ending quest to improve your health……..and possibly make you a nicer person : )

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/4/doing-my-best-to-improve-your-health-and-make-you-a-nicer-person Tue, 29 Apr 2014 00:36:57 GMT
Life's passions are good for your soul https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/4/lifes-passions-are-good-for-your-soul     I spent a good part of last Friday standing in an ice cold creek.....why?? Because i wanted to shoot some pictures that gave the viewer a sense of what it looks like when you are standing in the middle of a creek...crystal clear flowing water, rocks above and below the surface, pine trees on the gorge above me...a somewhat different perspective from what the average person might see.

It was a bright sunny day and with the sun straight overhead was not the greatest shooting conditions. Middle of the day sun makes everything look flat and the shadows are less than interesting, but I was outside enjoying nature and that's all that really mattered.

I went to the creek with the intention of shooting some long exposure pictures. The sun being as it was forced me to use an 8 stop neutral density filter to allow for a longer shutter speed that I had hoped would result in some interesting water motion.

With my knee high rubber boots on i carefully walked amongst the rocks and fallen trees hoping that a slippery spot would not take me down. Boots won as i managed to stay above water.

So, after looking for the best spots, maneuvering through the water, setting up and shooting for a couple of hours i managed to come away with nothing that interested me. Working with the long exposures taught me a few things about shooting in the middle of the day but other than that i can honestly say that none of my pictures were a success.

When i was finished i moved upstream to a small water fall and set up so that my camera was inches from the water flow. Now it was time to shoot some high speed exposures so that i could freeze the water movement. Twenty five shots later i walked out of there with only one (in my eyes) winner........

So, if you are thinking that i was disappointed in my outing you couldn't be further from the truth. Photography is my passion and i am almost always "in my zone" when i am out shooting. Even those times (and there are plenty of them) when things just don't gel, i can still walk away energized about learning something or experiencing the peacefulness of what nature has to offer. It's hard to describe the feeling but i am sure it's no different than how all of you feel about the things in your life that give you that extra charge that just seems to make life a little better.

You could be a chef, a painter, a marathon runner, a musician, a volunteer or a mom or a dad, it doesn't matter. Having a passion for something in your life is a game changer for your soul. It can lighten it or pick it up when things aren't so great. Having a passion can make all the difference.

Friday night i sat in the driveway and took pictures of gravel. I looked at the way the light effected the shadows of the many different geometric shapes. Am i nuts???? no, not at all, I am passionate.....

See ya soon

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/4/lifes-passions-are-good-for-your-soul Sun, 20 Apr 2014 22:19:22 GMT
Long cold winter https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/3/long-cold-winter    What a long, cold winter it's been! I typically like to shoot during the winter months but the cold temps kept me at bay. After deciding that outdoor shooting was going to be minimal at best, i decided to educate myself and practice on using portrait lighting. I set up some studio lights in a spare bedroom and went to work. Using my dog Lexi (who would never sit still) and myself as models was not optimal but sometimes you just need to use what's available. I learned a lot durng the last few months and would actually consider doing some portrait work. I think that it will also make a difference in the field during times where i want to add some fill flash to my photos. I love working the outdoor light. How you play the light angles and shadows can take a photo from "ok" to "spectacular".  It also takes some time when you are waiting for the right light.....you need to be willing to sit and wait but when you are outdoors it never seems to be so bad.....you gotta love nature!

Late last summer i began a deep dive into night sky photography. I'll continue that this year and maybe try doing some lengthy time lapse videos. Like i have always said, "it's a never ending education".

One thing i did learn this winter is that i am not capable of taking a decent self portrait. The lighting was fine but the model never seemed to gel with the camera. Maybe that is why i stay behind it.....

See ya soon

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2014/3/long-cold-winter Thu, 27 Mar 2014 13:33:14 GMT
Big Sur https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/10/big-sur    Just returned from a week in Big Sur, California and can honestly say that it may be one of the most beautiful places in the world. The combination of mountains, rocky coastlines and raging seas are hard to beat. It is a nature photographer's dream that will require many trips to explore all that there is to offer. Point Lobos, located south of Carmel should be a definite destination for anyone who wants to experience the california coastline experience. Rocky shores, cypress trees, seals, pelicans and big time waves are just a few of the things you'll experience at Point Lobos. Andrew Molera state park and Julia Pfieffer state park are two other "go to" destinations. Both state parks are located about 30 miles south of Carmel.

The old coast road is also something you'll want to tackle (if you have the guts). It is a 10 mile, one and a half lane dirt road that winds through the mountains between the Bixby bridge and the entrance to Andrew Molera state park. You'll need to take your time on this one and i will warn you that it can be quite unnerving at times but the drive through the dark redwood forest and amazing panoramic views are well worth it. Good Luck!!

Of course, i spent most of my shooting time during sunrise and sunset. The lighting on the rocky shore cliffs is nothing less than spectacular. Throw in the blue aqua water and the colorful vegatation and you have everything you need to produce amazing photos.

I used my 14mm lens on a number of shoots to capture the vastness of the area, allowing the viewer to take in as much as i could see. I also used my ND filter quite a bit to slow down the exposure and capture that soft misty water effect.

I will post a gallery filled with shots from my trip as soon as i get them processed. I think you'll really enjoy them.

So, if you are heading out to the Monterey area make sure you jump on highway one and head south. You will not be disappointed. I guarantee it...

 

Fall is here in Wisconsin, time to get out a shoot some color.......

See ya soon

 

 

 

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/10/big-sur Thu, 03 Oct 2013 20:41:11 GMT
Night Sky Photography https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/8/night-sky-photography   

   I have been inspired as of late by all of the great night sky time lapse videos that I have watched on the net. Space is amazing in itself so being able to document it through photography has been an exciting venture. I have done my research and a lot of trial and error shots but think that I finally have a handle on understanding how the exposure time impacts each night sky photo.

   Standing in a dark field at one in the morning is a little unnerving but I have found that you eventually get used to it, although I have heard noises that are a bit frightening at times....  

    Dark skies (no light infiltration, although i have played a little bit with light painting) and a tripod are a must for successful night sky shots. I have done anywhere from twenty four seconds to twenty five minute exposures so hand holding the camera is completely out of the question. My lens of choice is a 14mm which allows me to shoot the vastness of the sky and I use an Intervalometer that allows me to set shutter speeds longer than the camera's limit of 30 seconds.

    I also use a headlamp with a red light to see where I am walking and when I need light for controlling camera settings. Bear repellant and a hunting knife are also part of my standard kit because you never know....

    I have just barely scratched the surface with this new interest but have turned out a few very nice shots. I have said it before and I’ll say it again, photography is a never ending education. There is always something new to learn and to experiment with.

    I know that I will eventually find myself creating videos from time lapse stills but for right now I will concentrate on the basics and see what kind of amazing photos I can produce.

 

  

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/8/night-sky-photography Thu, 15 Aug 2013 13:28:37 GMT
Trying something new https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/6/trying-something-new     

Early on I was so driven to do landscape and wildlife work that I told myself that I would never be interested in macro or flash photography. I think that making a statement like that was driven out of fear of not being able to do it correctly.........but then I thought about the early days of learning exposure, composition and the artistry of doing your own thing. I was afraid of not doing that right either, but I had this undying desire to learn. The more comfortable I got, the more experimental I became and that's when you become a true artist. I no longer look at something for only what it is but also for what it can be.

The same goes for your photographic knowledge. This year I started to use my macro lens a little more and then eventually figured out how to alter the shots in interesting and imaginative ways. I then started playing with my flash from a fill perspective but since then have purchased a 30 foot cord to allow me to try many different lighting angles. My fear of getting it right disappeared as I began to produce photos that looked the way I wanted them to look. Right or wrong didn't matter anymore and the art of the experimental took off. I have spent entire weekends shooting nothing but macro and flash altered pictures.....no landscapes or wildlife to be found......and it's ok!! 

I know who I am as a photographer and I think I know what people expect out of my work.....but I don't ever want to feel trapped into only producing certain types of pictures. I may live in the landscape world but will always venture into whatever I find interesting.

You may look at my new work and be slightly disappointed that it's not a grand landscape.......but I know that you will always find it interesting and hopefully emotionally moving. At a recent show, a visitor to my booth told me that looking at my photographs gave them "Goosebumps". To me, that is the ultimate compliment.

Another visitor viewing this photo http://bit.ly/1961mzh asked why I am only showing half the flower. They thought that it was a very interesting picture..................I rest my case.

I get asked all of the time if I do portraits or weddings. I am an outdoors guy. I like the freedom of doing my own thing.....besides, the thought of doing portraits and weddings terrifies me..........................hmmm, could that be my next frontier??? For me, learning macro and flash was like climbing to the top of Devil's Lake........Doing weddings......makes me think about Mt. Everest........the desire to learn says yes. The verbal abuse from an upset relative says........well, maybe : )

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/6/trying-something-new Fri, 07 Jun 2013 16:12:49 GMT
Devil's Lake March 2013 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/3/devils-lake-march-2013 Woke to the alarm at 4:15am on Saturday to head north to Devil's lake state park near Baraboo, Wisconsin. I grabbed a quick shower to wake up, threw my camera equipment and hiking gear into the car and took off. I thought that the weather report from the night before stated partly sunny skies and lite winds. They got partly sunny right.....

I pulled into the park about 5:30, put on my backpack and headlamp and headed up the west bluff trail. Three steps up the trail and i knew that i was in for a tough ascent. The trail conditions were equivalent to a frozen water slide so i had to walk on the side of the trail and grab trees for balance and stability. After about 60 feet, the water bottle that i was carrying in the lower pocket of my camo pants popped out and slid 40 feet down the trail. I knew i'd regret it if i didn't retrieve it so it was back down the trail for a little future hydration. Halfway up the bluff i realized that my pants were soaking wet. I checked my water bottle and found that the tumble down the trail had resulted in a crack in the plastic. I drank the remaining water.....so much for future hydration.

I reached the top about 25 minutes before sunrise and scouted out a couple of spots that i have shot from before. I set up my equipment and waited for the light. The winds were anything but lite but did not seem to bother me much. Sitting on the edge of the bluffs as the sun rises is an incredible feeling. It provides for a strong sense of isolation that ups your senses of everything going on around you. I guess the best way to describe it is like having total freedom from all of life's worries and the experience of truly appreciating life.

As i proceeded to shoot from several different areas and all kinds of angles i noticed a Turkey Vulture flying below me, then 3, then 10, then 25, then at least 60. Eventually their wings caught the updraft of the wind and they were soaring above me. It made me think of the cartoons i watched as a kid that depicted someone walking through the desert while a couple of talking vultures pursued them.  The thought made me laugh a bit as i moved back to my camera.

After spending an hour and a half on the bluffs i headed down the southwest trail. The trail conditions were just as bad but going down at least gave me the option sliding on my backside when necessary. The winds at  the bottom of the bluff were non existent so i was able to get some nice tranquil shots of a small creek that feeds off of the lake. My eye caught a kingfisher on a branch up ahead so i unsuccessfully tried to get close enough for a shot.........talk about an elusive bird!

I took the lakefront trail back to the north beach before taking the road back to the car. I figured that my total walk distance was close to 4 miles. It was well worth the hassle that goes along with walking up a frozen water slide and it finally gave me that sense that spring is right around the corner.

After months of winter i finally got back to my element....it's where i belong.

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/3/devils-lake-march-2013 Sun, 31 Mar 2013 20:26:02 GMT
Time for winter to end!! https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/1/time-for-winter-to-end 60 degrees yesterday, 8 inches of snow today and -10 to -20 wind chills tomorrow....welcome to Wisconsin.

I am so ready for spring. Looking forward to colorful landscapes and the emergence of new wildlife. Winter certainly brings a challenge to shooting outdoors but it also forces creativity and "out of the box" thinking.

Every night after work I grab one camera, one lens and one dog and head out for our daily walk along the north shore of Lake Mendota. The same winter landscape forces me to find different subjects to key on and taking one lens, whether it's a wide angle, zoom, macro or fisheye forces me to be creative on how I shoot. It's a great way to force you to "see" differently. Sometimes you miss things by not having the right lens, other times you get extremely lucky so it kind of evens out.  

It can be challenging, but also very rewarding when you see the results of your efforts. This winter it was also painful, cold and dirty as I fell on the ice (numerous times), fell through the ice, slid down a muddy embankment and walked through some muck that almost swallowed my boot........but its all part of the adventure.

I hope that you have all enjoyed my winter offerings. It's been a blast finding and shooting them.........well, my knees may not agree or my frozen fingers or the massive bump on my right shin.....but what do they know....

See ya soon   

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2013/1/time-for-winter-to-end Wed, 30 Jan 2013 21:18:26 GMT
New Year https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/12/new-year         Well, 2012 was quite a year. I experienced the highest highs and the lowest lows. I guess that’s what life is all about. I recently saw a quote that read: "Some stories don't have a clear beginning, middle and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what's going to happen next."

That quote clearly sums up my year.

My passion for photography has allowed me to make a great number of new friends during the last year and I am truly thankful for that. I have grown as a photographer but more importantly as a person. I have been dealt some rough hands this year but have emerged a better person thanks to all of the people who found it in their hearts to support me. Thank you.

2013 will bring new challenges on the job front, but hey, it’s all about new beginnings…..right?

I am excited about 2013. Will there be hardships? I’m planning on it, but the thought of the unknown is pretty exciting……….

In 2008 I upgraded my camera equipment from film to digital with the hope that I could find the drive (that I had in the early 80’s) of becoming a good and knowledgeable photographer. That drive picked up right where it left off and I once again became obsessed with learning everything I could about photography. What I love about this medium is that it’s a never ending educational process. There is always something new to learn.

Four years later I have done things that I didn’t think possible and knowing that people like and appreciate the photos that I have worked so hard to produce is beyond anything I could have imagined.

To me, being an effective artist means never truly being satisfied with your work. I am always looking to take it to the next level through education and experimentation. It never ends……I love it!

So, 2013….the only thing I know is that it won’t be like 2012. It will be 12 months of new beginnings and I can’t wait to see what happens.

Looking forward to seeing all those friendly faces on the art show circuit and crossing paths with the ones that I have yet to meet.

Photography is my passion. My work may change but I promise you that it will never be boring. As I have said before, "thanks for hanging with me", the journey wouldn’t be the same without you….

 

Wishing all of you a spectacular new year…

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/12/new-year Tue, 18 Dec 2012 17:51:37 GMT
Back and ready to go https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/11/back-and-ready-to-go Well, that drive to get out and create great photographs is back. I cannot wait to get back out there to see what I can find. The last 8 weeks have been brutal for me and it feels like I have weathered the storm....at least this one for now. It feels great to have that excitement back. I have truly missed it.

So, what to do? Where to go? What new techniques do I want to try? Don't know.........best way to find out is to get out there and drive, find those back roads again and do my best to "get lost". Now that fall has passed, color becomes a tough find. For me, winter is all about barren landscapes and new weather obstacles. Do I attempt another early morning in the dead of winter hike to the top of Devils Lake?? I've survived two of those already. Will I be pushing my luck with a third?

I met a lot of great people during my shows this year and many of them gave me directions to places that they thought I would find interesting. Maybe that will be my plan. Follow the notes that I took and see what happens

All I know is that I belong behind the camera and that is where I am going to go.....back to my sanctuary, back to the place that brings me peacefulness. I'll do my best to continue to bring you the best photos that I can produce. Thanks for hanging with me.

 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/11/back-and-ready-to-go Tue, 13 Nov 2012 20:57:28 GMT
Tough Times https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/10/tough-times Going through a very difficult time right now. On a personal level life is changing fast and i am turning into a tightly wound ball of emotion. I have (hopefully for just the time being) lost the inspiration to pick up my camera. Here it is, the most beautiful season in Wisconsin and i am sitting it out. Inspiration is a tough thing. It seems like the smallest issue can either set it off or shut it down. I recently figured out that my inspiration for the photos i take revolves around one person.

It's been difficult for me to separate my personal issues from my love of photography. For me, they go hand in hand and when one is up, the other is flying with passion and adventure..............but when one is down the other takes a huge hit.

I recently canceled one of my upcoming shows because my heart was just not into it. If i am not bringing my A-game during shows then i am doing a huge disservice to the people who visit my booth. It kills me when i feel like this because i truly love spending the hours talking to people about my work. It charges me and inspires me to do greater things..............

Every artist is inspired by something or someone....................i desperately want mine back!

I am trying to be patient but that is not one of my better virtues......but if that's what it takes then i am in it for the long haul.

I am really going to try and break out the camera this week. We'll see if i can find my "eye".

TJH....this one's for you : )

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/10/tough-times Tue, 02 Oct 2012 18:44:56 GMT
Lake Superior/ Art show thanks https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/8/lake-superior/-art-show-thanks  Going to be heading up to the south shore of Lake Superior this weekend. Found a little known place called Wisconsin point and will spend a day shooting in the area. Most people would be looking forward to a nice sunny day....not me...I want fog and rain and clouds and.....well, anything that adds a certain mood to my photos. For most of you who have seen my photos you know that I am not a sunny day picture taking kind of guy. I want to be in the elements where life is just a little bit uncomfortable.

One of my pictures, Devil's Sunrise, was taken on a cold January morning. It was not easy climbing the bluffs at 5:30 but well worth it. It has become a very popular photo at art shows probably because it is a rare sight. Those are the opportunities that I am looking for, shots that are just not of the norm.

My camera equipment is weatherproof so there should be no reason why I can't put myself in some less than favorable conditions. Let's hope this weekend...(at least where I am going) is horrible.

 

I would like to thank all of the people who have visited me at the art shows that I have attended this year. It has been a very special year for me and I am humbled knowing that people like the work that I am so passionate about. It has been my pleasure to meet you and talk "pictures and places" with you.

I will continue to travel the state in hopes of finding photo opportunities that "speak to you".

 

Wish me a crappy weekend : )

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/8/lake-superior/-art-show-thanks Tue, 21 Aug 2012 17:15:57 GMT
Good Enough https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/8/good-enough Like myself, I am sure that most artists, regardless of the medium never think that their work is good enough. I struggle with it every time I take a picture. I have read numerous times that the "keep" rate for photographers is 10% at best. I have found this to be true more times than not.

You tell yourself that you're only going to take the good ones but there are many times when the good ones don't surface until a year after you have taken them. As a photographer you tend to "see" differently than most people. You find yourself looking at a landscape or a subject from angles and perspectives that the average person wouldn't look twice at. Sometimes it is torture. I have found myself stopping several times within a mile, while driving, because something interesting or unusual has caught my eye. It takes me forever to get anywhere.

You typically end up with a large number of photographs that most people would look at and go, Huh????

For most of my pictures I already have a pre conceived vision of how I want them to look but there are a lot of times when you take a picture just because you are thinking hmmmm....what are the possibilities????......and then you get home and wonder what you were thinking when you took that....and then 6 months later questioning yourself on why you didn't do more with this incredible photo.

You start out as a photographer taking pictures of things that interest you, and in my case hoping the photographs that you love to capture will make an impact on other people.

You end up becoming more than a photographer, you become an artist, a maker of pictures that are beautiful, mysterious and hopefully drive an emotion.

I consider myself very lucky. The pictures that I love to take are always received very well by the people who visit my booth during art shows. There is nothing I love more than to talk about the story behind a picture and I am always very humbled by the comments that I receive. I think to myself "you must be doing something right" and for a split second you feel like you're work is good enough....

Good enough for what????? I don't have that answer. It haunts me. In my mind I’ll never be the photographer that I strive to be.

I had dinner the other night with a good friend and he asked me what "good enough" meant to me. I stumbled for an answer and never found it. He pointed out that many of the great artists throughout history most likely never thought that they were "good enough".

An artist never stops learning or experimenting. Their vision is in a constant state of unrest.

My confidence always begins to waver when I step into unchartered waters.

What a great feeling.........it feels like life!

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/8/good-enough Tue, 07 Aug 2012 13:58:38 GMT
Kayaking https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/7/kayaking Heading up to the cabin tomorrow for four days of photographing and fishing......and kayaking!!! Went into Dick's sporting goods on Saturday to buy two fishing lures (Rapala Clack n Raps for anyone who cares) and ended up walking out with two kayaks (life is short, sometimes you've got to live a little). Since i don't have the finances to travel out west or to Georgia i need to do what i can). My son Jordan and i are going to hit a few backwoods rivers (Yellow & Namekagen) while we're up north. I know the scenery will be awesome so i hope to get some great shots. Eventually i'd like to work my way up to kayaking on Lake Superior but that brings a whole other element of adventure into it so i think i'll just do quiet rivers for right now. 

A review of my trip will be forthcoming granted that i live through the experience.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/7/kayaking Mon, 02 Jul 2012 16:54:55 GMT
Road trip 3/22/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/road-trip-3/22/2012 Last friday morning i left Madison for what would be a 1000 mile weekend. My first destination was Copper Falls State park located south of Ashland. I would have arrived there in record time if not for the small town of Phillip's police officer who pulled me over for speeding. I swear that i was driving in a 65 mph zone. Arrgghhh...not a good way to start...but i was on my way to doing what i love, exploring nature and taking pictures.
Copper falls is a beautiful area with waterfalls and rapids, great hiking trails and very void of people (which is how i like it). With no one around it made it much easier for me to sneak off the trails and get into some "forbidden areas" for some great photos. After spending 3 hours hiking i met another photographer from the area and we talked shop for about 45 minutes. He gave me some good info about the surrounding area and Lake Superior if i ever get up that way again....which i will.
My plan was to find an inexpensive motel nearby, spend the night and then leave early in the morning for the Spooner area. After getting a look at the local "bates" motel and knowing that Norman himself would not be caught dead there i decided to head for Spooner immediately.
The drive was awesome as i got to drive through the state forest that borders the area. I was hoping to see some Elk but no such luck.
Got to spooner in the late afternoon and headed off to the family cabin to see how winter had treated it.....more to come.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/road-trip-3/22/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:08:10 GMT
Can't i do this full time? 2/28/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/cant-i-do-this-full-time-2/28/2012 Well, the Eagle shooting trip to Sauk City was a major bust. I saw one Eagle but it was to far away to get anything resembling a decent shot. I also saw a Cardinal but he was again to far away. After two hours of sitting and waiting for something to happen I got up and got out of there. I drove for a while and finally decided to head back to Devil's lake and climb the west bluff. It was a nice day, sun was out and it was fairly warm so dealing with the elements was not going to be an issue. Got a few good shots, nothing spectacular but the exercise was great. After a walk on the ice and a few moments where I thought I was going in I headed back home.
Per my last post, I love searching for and shooting wildlife but I really prefer to be much farther north where things are bit more wild and where I actually know where to find what I am looking for.
I am seriously considering attending a photo workshop out west or in Canada where wildlife is more abundant. If this show season turns out to be profitable I may just look to do something like that in the fall.
Actually, I would love nothing more than to grab a small RV and travel the US for a couple of months. Go where I want to go and shoot what I want to shoot. There's no reason why I can't do this...............except for maybe a job that pays my bills and health insurance and car insurance........Arrgghhhh....do we really need all that stuff? I guess the responsible person does. I remember my youth when irresponsibility was a trait that you somewhat lived by. Hmmmm....I did it once, who says I can't do it again....
 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/cant-i-do-this-full-time-2/28/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:07:28 GMT
Wildlife 02/17/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/wildlife-02/17/2012 One of the things I love to do is shoot wildlife. There is something special about capturing birds and animals in their natural habitat. During the summer I have an abundance of opportunities with all of the time I spend at the lake but in the winter it becomes more difficult. I am dying to get out there again so I think that I’ll head over to Sauk City this weekend and see how the Bald Eagles are doing. I am going to experiment with back button focusing and see if it improves the quality of my shots. From what I have read it takes a little getting used to but is apparently much more effective when it comes to focusing on your subject.
I could just sit on the deck and wait for a Cardinal or Blue Jay to show up but that just feels too controlled to me. I much prefer to be out in the woods where circumstances are what they should be when you are looking for wildlife.
I am still waiting to hear if i was accepted into the Audubon art show in May. I'd like to have some new wildlife photos to show so that's what i'll focus on this week and hope for the best.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/wildlife-02/17/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:06:18 GMT
New Display 02/17/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/new-display-02/17/2012  took some time in December of last year to re-evaluate my display and after looking at it from a distance found it to be cluttered and unorganized. It had too much stuff, to many pictures, to many signs, just way to much to look at.
So, over the last two months I have invested a decent amount of money to "overhaul" my display. It started with gray display covers to cover up the steel mesh of the walls. I then made the move from framed photos to standouts and canvas. I will still display a few framed pieces but I think that the standouts display much better and are something that I haven't seen a lot of vendors doing. Going forward, each display wall will carry a maximum of 3 prints as opposed to the "get as many on there as I can fit" mentality. The photos will be larger and more eye catching than before. Also, there will be many new photos on display. After reviewing my sales over the last year I think I have found what people are looking for....at least for the time being.
I have also added a heavy duty pole that will hold track lighting. Lighting was one thing that I sorely missed for indoor shows. Gone are all of the price signs as I have now individually priced every print regardless of whether it is on the wall or in the display bins. Gone are the signs with the business name. I will still use my banner for outside shows but I will be relying on business cards and brochures to promote my business for the indoor ones.
The scary part about this is that 2011 was a decent year and the display seemed to do just fine. I am looking at this as taking another step to "professionalizing" my self. Considering the money I spent it is a big risk but I am in this for the long haul and if this new display makes people look at what I have to offer in a different light then that works for me. Change is good.........I have done my research and believe in what I am doing so I know that it's the right decision.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/new-display-02/17/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:05:35 GMT
Arrrghhh!!!! 01/31/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/arrrghhh-01/31/2012 It's now been one month since I turned out what I think is a quality photo. My "go to" spot (Governors island) located here in Madison is starting to get old. It's been impossible to get a decent sunset or sunrise shot when the landscape is scattered with ice fishing shacks. I have tried to get more interested in macro photography and have even tried out a fish eye lens but it's just not working for me. I need sprawling landscapes!!! What I really need is to get out of Madison and fast. I did the Devil's Lake trip twice this last month and that was great but I need to get out into some unfamiliar territory. Maybe I’ll head up north towards Spooner. Although I know the area like the back of my hand, there are always new photo opportunities. Last year at this time I spent 2 days on the North Shore of Lake Superior. Got some great shots but the cold winds and the 17 inches of snow that we got made it a little difficult to get around. Maybe it's time to take my chances with the weather and head back.
I have one month until my show season begins and that can become very busy so I need to take the time to get out and that's exactly what I am going to do.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/arrrghhh-01/31/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:04:51 GMT
Dog days 01/23/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/dog-days-01/23/2012 Some people talk about the "dog days" of summer when it's to hot to do anything other than lay around. Well, it feels like I am going through the "dog days" of winter. I am well equipped to handle shooting in any kind of weather but sometimes it's just so damn difficult. If it's not the cold then it's trying to manipulate your camera controls under cover or with gloves on.....or knowing that a long hike IN means a long hike OUT which can be unpleasant in some weather conditions. There is nothing worse than being out in the (rough elements) and returning to find that none of your pictures live up to your standards or just didn't turn out how you envisioned them. I guess you need to be able to accept it for what it is and to just enjoy the journey. Like I have said before, I am not one to just shoot, shoot, shoot. I like to see and then think about how I am setting up to get the picture that i am envisioning. What are the alternative angles and how can I make the photo interesting. I want to see what others don't. I thrive on doing some of the difficult things that it takes to get interesting shots but sometimes second guess myself on whether it's going to be worth it. I have hiked an hour and a half into heavy wilderness only to find that there isn't much of anything interesting to shoot. The experience is great but the disappointment can be maddening especially knowing that time is limited.
I think that's what it all comes down to.......time and not having enough of it. This is not a casual hobby for me. I could spend 24 hours a day living this thing. The problem (that I am sure most of us experience) is the responsibility of everyday life. Jobs, monthly expenses for things you have but probably don't need and everything else that goes along with trying to survive in this world seem to take precedent. I am convinced that I could easily live in a cabin in the northern woods of Wisconsin. Having only food, electricity, heat and hot water would work just fine for me. Unlimited time to explore and photograph nature is what I am dying to have.
So, all that talk about dealing with the elements isn't really the issue, it's time. Time to be inspired, time to experience the wonders that nature has created, time to waste and not care about it, time to learn, time to do what you love and time to be who you really are. That is what I am looking for. Sounds simple.............right?
 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/dog-days-01/23/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:03:51 GMT
Devli's Lake with Jordan 1/17/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/devlis-lake-with-jordan-1/17/2012 On December 31st of 2011 I took a trip to Devil's Lake state park. It would be my first of two consecutive trips to the park. The goal was to get there before sunrise, hike the bluffs in the dark and be set up and ready to shoot as dawn arrived. On my first trip I chose to hike the west bluff so that I could get the sun rising over the east bluff. Hiking in the dark and knowing that you are probably the only one in the park is a little unnerving but at the same time very exhilarating. The west bluff climb is moderately easy and doesn't require that you risk your life. I reached the top about 6:30, found a good place to set up and waited for the morning color to cover the horizon. It was a clear morning and not to cold so I was anticipating some nice opportunities. As the sun broke I could see a fog bank gathering over a valley at the base of the east bluff. This made for some great shots especially with the birds eye view that I had. I moved to several spots along the ridge during the next 45 minutes so that I could shoot different angles of the rocky bluff. I am not a religious guy but being alone on the ridge and overlooking the landscape as the sun rises is nothing short of a religious experience.
The crisp quiet morning, the white untouched snow, the different shades of blues, reds and oranges and the detachment from everyday life was an overwhelming experience. It's one that will stay with me for some time.
      About 7:45 the fog bank turned into a massive wall and filled the entire park within minutes. The big pines became shadows of grey and green and the lake disappeared. I took this as a sign that it was time to depart and head down to the lake front for another hour or two of shooting. As I hiked down the bluff I though about how lucky I was to be able to have these types of experiences. I have always loved the outdoors but having the ability to capture its beauty for others to enjoy has given me a second life and I will be forever grateful.
     A week later my middle son Jordan accompanied me on my trek up the east bluff. We arrived at the park around 6am, put on the headlamps and searched for the trail. This trail is a fairly steep hike and not for the faint of heart. It was probably a good thing that it was dark so that all I could see was the next rocky step and not the impending death that was two feet to my right or left. Both of us had recently seen the 60 minutes segment on a guy who climbs sheer cliff walls with just his hands and feet, no ropes, nothing. We laughed at our wimpiness of worrying about climbing a man made trail while this guy hangs by his fingers a mile above the ground. Jordan's a strong guy and very athletic so he brought up the rear in case I needed to be caught. I knew it was tough when he started to talk about how his calves were burning. He's a fitness trainer so you can imagine what my legs felt like. At this point all I could think of was what it would feel like to be dragged to the top. With the way my legs felt it was only a matter of minutes before that experience would come into play.
   Well, we finally reached the top and took a break. I enjoyed a bottle of water and a nutri grain bar that was in 7500 pieces. We found a spot and set up to shoot. As we waited for the sun to rise Jordan reverted back to his childhood and tossed stones over the side to see how long it would take before we heard them shatter against the rocks below. When we finished shooting we spent the next hour or so hiking off trail which usually led to "here, hold this while I jump from this rock". Finding the way back to the trail brought along a huge potential for ankle sprains and broken bones as we moved about the fallen rocks and dead trees. When we finally found the path you'd think that we had been out in the wilderness for 2 weeks. After the high fives and the water break we continued to the other side of the bluff and then down the icy path to the bottom.
   After some more childlike play of throwing big rocks on the icy lake and walking on thin ice we headed down the railroad tracks and back to the car. The shots I got on the first trip were 100 times better than this one but the company of my son was something I wouldn't trade for anything.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/devlis-lake-with-jordan-1/17/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:03:02 GMT
New Direction 11/18/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/new-direction-11/18/2012 Well, I have one more show this year and then a much needed break....(13 weeks) until the new season kicks off for me in March. During the interim I have decided to take my work in a different direction. I am going to focus less on the landscapes and wildlife and put more emphasis on my creative side......hmmm..my creative side...that thought alone scare me.
I will be looking at old photos and taking many new ones with the intention of exploring a more artistic feel. I will be using in camera effects as well as filters and layers to bring a different end game to my work. My goal is to cross photography with painting and see what happens. Fine art photography.....it's all about how the photographer wants to portray a photo. There may still be some landscapes in my future but I want to add a dreamlike effect to them and for the time being i will be taking a more minimilist approach to my photographs. The fun part about this is that the possibilities are wide open. Without worrying about the realistic impact of a picture I can now experiment with creating a different type of art. I am very excited about this and will soon add a folder to my website called Fine Art. Some people will love it, some will hate it, but it's my interpretation and that in the end is what's most important. More to come....it's time to grow.   

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/new-direction-11/18/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:01:54 GMT
Safety 11/16/2011 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/safety-11/16/2011 Safety....I have to think about that a lot when I am out shooting. It's certainly not something to take lightly considering some of the areas and situations that I sometimes put myself in. I like to explore, I like to find places that many people don't see. Everybody has some type of camera these days so it makes it just that more difficult to find places and things that the average person wouldn't stumble across.
Prior to going out I have to think about the possible situations that I am putting myself in. I typically carry bear repellent and a hunting knife regardless of where I am going. I also have a first aid kit and always have a cell phone although I have been in many areas in northern Wisconsin where service is not available.
You may think it's strange but I am more nervous about walking the streets of Madison at night than I am being out in the middle of nowhere miles and miles away from anybody. Madison at night or during the early morning is a beautiful city to photograph but with the high volume of assaults and robberies you can never seem to relax. You may wonder why I carry bear repellent in the city.....if it can stop a bear at 35 feet just think what it would do to a person. You just can't afford to take any chances when you are carrying around a lot of expensive equipment, plus I am kind of interested in living a bit longer. It irritates me to no end to think that I have to be on the defensive all the time but better to be safe than sorry.
I have yet to have any bad experiences photographing around Madison, lets hope it stays that way.
Now, trekking out in the wild is a little different. I am not so much worried about getting mugged as I am getting stuck in a bog or getting eaten by the local wildlife.....although there are some crazy people out there so you always need to be on the lookout. I have considered a firearm for my hikes into the wilderness. I think it's the safe thing to do. I have stood 30 feet from a mother Black bear and her cubs, had a wolf run 10 feet in front of me and have followed fresh Mountain Lion tracks. I am not a hunter, never will be, but when it comes to protecting myself it is a priority.
I have also considered a spot tracker for those areas where cell phone signals don't exist. That would give me some piece of mind knowing that I could be tracked if I turned up missing.
The one thing that I am not very good at is letting someone know where I am going....the problem is that most of the time I take off I have no plan. I just go........
 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/safety-11/16/2011 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 19:00:54 GMT
Strip club on hwy 70 08/08/2011 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/strip-club-on-hwy-70-08/08/2011 Spent this last weekend at the cottage. It's located on beautiful North Sand lake near Webster, Wisconsin. Got out early on both Friday and Saturday morning, did a lot of driving but not a lot of shooting. Came across a cow pasture off of Blackbrook road on Friday morning with an old Chevrolet car sitting on it's side. The field was enclosed with barbed wire and considering my track record with photo shoot injuries I decided to bypass the opportunity. Not happy about the decision because I really wanted to have a look at the car. Got a nice shot of the sunrise overlooking the Yellow river but not much else......other than finding out that there is a strip club called Misty's on hwy 70.....who knew???
Could not get that car photo opp out of my head on Friday so I brainstormed on how to get over the barbed wire fence without having to make an emergency visit to Spooner General Hospital. Friday night I took the ladder out of the garage and placed it in a spot where I would see it when I headed out on Saturday morning. Figured that I would use the ladder to climb up and jump over the fence, then haul the ladder to the other side to exit out when I was done shooting.
Brilliant idea except that I forgot to grab the ladder as I was leaving on Saturday....somebody must have moved it??? Got to the fence before sunrise and found a corner where the top was made out of  weather beaten wood so I climbed up the barbed wire with plans to catapult myself over by stepping on the wood and pushing off. Note to self....weather beaten wood is not stable.
As I stepped off the wood the fence piece broke but by then I was in mid jump and landed safely......a 9.5 on effort but a 2.5 on form. Grabbed my tripod and camera from under the fence and took off for the old Chevy. Spent 20 minutes shooting HDR shots and even found the license plate dated 1961. I attached it to the car, took a few more shots, wondered if the howling hunting dogs that I heard in the distance were heading my way and decided to go. The return trip over the fence was a little trickier as I had to climb the fence and straddle  the barbed wire so as to not....well you get the picture. Success......feeling a little like a cat, 3 lives down, 6 to go.

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/strip-club-on-hwy-70-08/08/2011 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 18:59:49 GMT
Fish hook in hand 08/29/2011 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/fish-hook-in-hand-08/29/2011 Spent this weekend at the cottage. Wanted to focus on experimenting with panoramic photos and the color changes during sunrise and sunset. The panoramic shots turned out pretty good and I was just practicing for when the leaves turn. During Fall there will be great panoramic opportunities on some of the lakes around here.
I did find a small lake with a protected shoreline. It is totally wild, no cottages, no boats, nothing! We don’t have enough of those around here. Sat in the woods overlooking the lake for about an hour on Saturday as the sun rose. I took 11 photos at different angles and then merged them together in Photoshop to create a very nice panoramic view of the entire lake.
I enjoyed watching a couple of Beavers swim around while slapping their tails on the water. I am pretty sure that their home is on another nearby lake as I did not see any wooden structure. Their tails must be incredibly strong as their water slaps sounded like gun shots.
One thing I did learn this week is that there is no mosquito spray that actually keeps mosquitoes away from you. I have tried several and have had no luck. I even tried one that smelled so bad that even I wouldn’t come near me……yet they still swarm.
Two warnings that are probably on the cans of repellent (I don’t typically read, I just spray and go) is to not spray near mouth or eyes. I can tell you now that Deet does not taste good and will also make you cry if you happen to rub your eyes after you have sprayed your hands. Lessons learned.
I have also learned to live with the deer ticks but I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to do the same when it comes to mosquitoes……especially when you are trying to focus on taking pictures. You just can’t rush it sometimes.
They truly live up to the classification of a bug.
No real mis-adventures to talk about although I did manage to put two barbed hooks through my hand while fishing on Friday. I had just caught a Northern pike and was attempting to take the lure out of his mouth when he shook and drove the backside hooks into the area between my thumb and forefinger. One of the hooks went completely through and popped out on the other side. The barb does not make it easy to slip it back through so I had to:
  1. get the hook out of the fish’s mouth
  2. cut the leader off of the line
  3. drive the boat back to the cottage
  4. cut the barb off the hook
  5. slip the hook out of my hand
It looked worse than it felt and I lived to tell about it. Four lives down, five to go…
Anyway, after taking about 300+ photos this weekend I was incredibly disappointed by the results but that’s the way it goes sometimes. There is always next weekend…..
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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/fish-hook-in-hand-08/29/2011 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 18:58:29 GMT
Dangerous Situation 7/26/2012 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/dangerous-situation-7/26/2012 Sometimes you put yourself into situations that you typically would not put yourself into for a shot that you couldn't normally get. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.
On Friday morning I got up at 4:15 to drive 45 minutes to a wildlife preserve northwest of Spooner, WI. It is an area with beautiful valleys and hills surrounded by miles of dirt roads. I have been there several times and have never seen another person. I wanted to get there early for some sunrise shots and then hike to a hill that overlooks a quiet lake surrounded by tall pines. I can barely make out the lake from the road but know it's down there. I figured the hike would be 1/2 to 3/4 of a mile through two valleys and over two hills. I took off with camera, tripod and backpack in tow thinking that although the terrain looked rough I could make it without any problems. Wrong assumption. I figured that if I could get to the top of one of the hills I could shoot down on the lake. The sun had just risen and the morning colors were perfect.
As I progressed through the field I came to realize that the brush was a little heavier than I expected and very wet with the morning dew. I finally got to the top of the hill that I though would give me the best shot but found that the brush was so tall that I could not see down on to the lake so I decided to hike to the lake itself.
That was a poor decision on my part as the bush got thicker and thicker as I walked on, almost to the point where I could no longer move within it. Now I was soaking wet and so deep into the brush that I could not see where I was. After about 45 minutes I finally came to a wet bog that as I took my first step swallowed up my left hiking boot (the laces had come untied walking through the brush).
I recovered my boot, took a standing 10 minute break and deciding that I could go no further turned around and looked for a better path back. It didn't exist so I tried to backtrack but it all looked the same to me so I tied my boots and made my way through that hell that I had just walked out of. Had it been dusk I fear that I would not have found my way out of there.
Obviously I made it back but my arms and legs were scratched and bloody and my stomach was bleeding from a sharp stick that almost impaled me.
Lesson learned....respect nature, it's not forgiving. Last week 3 hikers in Yellowstone went over the falls because they were in an area that they were not supposed to be in. I shouldn't have allowed myself to get into the situation that I did. The bad news is that I never got the shot that I wanted. The good news is that I made it out.........the great news is that I didn't find any wood ticks.
 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/dangerous-situation-7/26/2012 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 18:56:41 GMT
Shooting in the heat 7/20/2011 https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/shooting-in-the-heat-7/20/2011 Out shooting last night in the heat. A lot of bugs to go along with humidity. Headed out towards Poynette to drive the back roads. I knew that the sun was going to turn into a deep red ball of fire and wanted to find a good place to set up for a sweeping landscape shot. Along the way I stopped for interesting subjects but forgot about the effects of bringing a cold camera (air conditioned truck) into extreme heat.......the lens glass will fog up. So, I got a few good shots that appear to be in heavy fog so all was not lost. After that I turned off the air and suffered in the heat so my camera could get back to a hellish room temperature of 101 degrees(heat index).
Looking for sweeping landscapes is a little more difficult these days due to the height of the corn. A solution to that would be to jump up on the roof or hood of the car but last time I did that my thumb got slammed in the door that I had used to get up on the roof..........so needless to say there was no roof jumping.
I finally found a nice shot with cornfields and a nice row of telephone poles. The sun was still pretty bright so I used a 3 stop neutral gradient filter to darken that area of the photo. Low bright sun (if you are shooting into it) plays havoc with camera exposure meters so you need to alter your exposure. 
As I was walking to the back of the truck I noticed the view through my back tinted window. I re-positioned my tripod and not caring about exposing the foreground got off some pretty interesting shots using the window as my filter. The photos look pretty good on the camera's LCD screen. We'll see how they turned out when I process them. 
Took a few more shots before the sun dropped and then drove to another area so I could get that 15-30 minute post sunset sky that is really incredible on these hot nights.
I am heading up to the cabin this weekend for some wildlife landscape shooting. Hope the wood ticks are gone by now.
 

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northsandphotography@gmail.com (North Sand Photography) https://www.northsandphotography.com/blog/2012/6/shooting-in-the-heat-7/20/2011 Tue, 19 Jun 2012 18:51:28 GMT