Crater Lake: Photographing the Moods of a Landscape

Photographing the Moods of a Landscape

While here at Crater Lake National Park I’ve been blessed with a wide range of light, clouds, weather and the luxury of photographing whenever the spirit moves me (and the muse strikes). Last week, the first week of my residency, the sky was what I normally call “boring blue sky”. But my experience here is that the lake is stunning when the sky is blue, with lots of deep, clear water and the sky reflected. It was great to open my eyes to the idea of photographing a big blue lake with a big blue sky.

There's nothing quite like seeing the sky reflected in Crater Lake.

There’s nothing quite like seeing the sky reflected in Crater Lake.

I made this

I made this “sketch” with my iPhone.

As the days flew by, the weather became more interesting for me.  Artistically I am inspired by clouds and cloud shadows, cast shadows on the snow, incoming and clearing storms, and the mountain hemlock, and whitebark pine.

I enjoy incoming and clearing storms. I photographed a series of images and created a time lapse sequence too.

I enjoy incoming and clearing storms. I photographed a series of images and created a time lapse sequence too.

Each visit to the rim, I was able to capture the changing color of the lake, and the clouds pouring white over the surrounding cliffs.

Each visit to the rim of Crater Lake inspired me, as the lake and landscape was ever changing.

The cliffs surrounding Crater Lake inspired me, as the lake and landscape was ever changing.

Hillman and Lookout Peaks, with Wizard Island.

Hillman and Lookout Peaks, with Wizard Island. I was hoping to know the land forms, trees and rocks by name during this residency.

I knew there was a possibility the sun would light up below the snow and fog.

I knew there was a possibility the sun would light up below the snow and fog.

I photographed while protecting my camera lens under my umbrella during this dusting of snow.

I photographed while protecting my camera lens under my umbrella during this dusting of snow.

And throughout the two week residency, I have been created time lapse sequences of each of the compositions that inspire me.  I set up my tripod, compose, and use the intervalometer of my Nikon gear.

Honored to be chosen as one of the May 2015 Artist’s in Residence, I have been given the opportunity, time and access to photograph at Crater Lake National Park. This video is a collection of time lapse photographs put together to show the Changing Moods of Crater Lake.

In most cases, the images were created at 5 second intervals, sometimes up to 300 photos at a time.

Crater Lake: It’s Raining Cloud Shadows

It's fun to play with the panoramic mode using my iPhone.

It’s fun to play with the panoramic mode using the iPhone. But when I see these kind of clouds, I run for my Nikon gear.

The Luxury of Time

I can’t really say there is a typical day at Crater Lake National Park. The luxury of time afforded by the Artist in Residence program allows me to follow my bliss.  One morning I woke up before sunrise and did some painting, another day I began with a period of meditation, and I often have an oil painting in progress.  Primarily I start the day with a good cup of coffee.

Today, while meditating, I spied the clouds in the sky.  I knew a storm was coming in and hoped for cumulus clouds over Crater Lake.  Since I don’t know the storm and light patterns up here in Oregon, I scout photography locations many times during each day.  Typically I use my iPhone when scouting and then return to the subject with my favorite camera gear and tripod. Unless of course, the light is perfect, then I take it all seriously and get er done.

A Double Tripod Kind Of Day


As Crater Lake’s current Artist in Residence I am experiencing the luxury of daily photography adventures along the rim.

I drove up to Crater Lake three separate times today.  My first mission was to set up my wide angle lens for a time lapse.  I really enjoy cloud shadows, and time lapse image making is the perfect way for me to capture a series of images.  The first location today was fun, and the time lapse of 400 images at 5 second intervals lasted 33 minutes.  I enjoyed a little walk while the photos were being made, but I also needed to stick close as the wind was gusting at 15-20mph.  I strapped my camera bag to the tripod to weigh it down.  While the time lapse was in progress, I set up my second tripod for more image making. Double fisted, three camera, kinda day.

I’m going with the flow, I feel charged up, inspired, and blessed to be gifted with this residency.

Crater Lake: Time Lapse at the Lake

Crater Lake: A Time Lapse.  

This video was created by photographing 300 digital images with a Nikon D5300.  The camera was set to record one image every nine seconds.  I choose the interval based on watching the subject, in this case the clouds, move across the sky.

I enjoy time lapse photography as it allows me to set up my camera and then enjoy the view, talk to visitors on the rim at Crater Lake and other locations.

The Process

  1. Set up a sweet location for photography
  2. Focus
  3. Choose the proper shutter speed and aperture, consider depth of field
  4. Set camera to manual
  5. Shut off auto everything
  6. Set up Intervalometer, it helps to have a minimum of 200 images for a good time lapse
  7. Upload to Lightroom
  8. Edit and export images as jpegs – I photograph RAW files (Nikon NEF)
  9. Place images in a timeline in iMovie
  10. Set duration of each photo to .1 or .2 seconds
  11. Add transitions, titles and audio
  12. Export .mov and share

Monument Valley Photo Workshop: Participant Photos

As a student of Kit Frost’s 2014 Monument Valley Workshop, I was very impressed with the entire experience. Having been an amateur photographer for over 40 years, I had never attended a photography workshop and had yet to explore the Utah Southwest. Kit was an extremely capable teacher / mentor and has a unique way of connecting with individual students to help instill their own unique way of seeing the world and capturing their vision within their own photographs.

Aside from her technical knowledge and her ability to capture amazing images, Kit was able to help me “feel” the geography and connect with the natural world in which we were situated. Her personable style and excellent communication skills then helped me to capture imagery that was forming in my mind. 

Click on the thumbnails to see larger images, and to comment.

While I have always felt I was a reasonably accomplished photographer, Kit taught me to see with light and “paint” my compositions with light and shadow in a way that elevated the final images to a level I had only hoped to achieve.

Friends and family have been astounded with the quality and composition of the images I made at the workshop and I am so very pleased with what I gained over the four days. I am looking at local scenes and geography much differently now. “Chasing the Light” has become much more than a catch-phrase, it has become a way of interpreting what I am seeing in everyday life and imagining how those scenes can be captured within the camera. Thank you Kit for opening my eyes to the light. My photography will never be the same.    Tom Fulton, 2014

 

Lessons Learned

We returned recently from our 2014 Monument Valley Photo Workshop.  And wow, the photo opportunities were awesome.  Although the spring winds in Utah and Arizona were sometimes epic, we explored locations to teach the participants composition, right place-right time, cloud shadows as subject, avoiding the “cliche” in a well-photographed environment too.

Our locations included multiple views of the San Juan River as it flowed through the canyons of Utah.  We made photographs using wide-angle lenses to capture the expansiveness of the Goosenecks of the San Juan, ate lunch at river level at the Sand Island Recreation Area, and photographed the big views from up on Muley Point to see the next level of the canyons and the tiny river cutting through.

iPhoneography, we hiked down from the Goosenecks overlook to get a better vantage point. ©Kit Frost

iPhoneography, we hiked down from the Goosenecks overlook to get a better vantage point. ©Kit Frost

We photographed with our iPhones, Smartphones, DSLR’s, and Point and Shoot Cameras.  And uploaded images to Instagram.

A mix of moments from our workshop.  Monument Valley

A mix of moments from our workshop. Monument Valley

Lesson: Find an interesting foreground. Lead the viewer through the frame.

Lesson: Find an interesting foreground. Lead the viewer through the frame. ©Kit Frost

Create a framing of positive and negative space to make a new image of a classic subject. ©Kit Frost

Lesson: Create a framing of positive and negative space to make a new image of a classic subject. ©Kit Frost

 

Monument Valley has been the backdrop of many movies, from Stagecoach to Thelma and Louise.  It takes some imagination to create images that are “different”.  We were blessed with clouds (and blown by winds) so we could use the sky in our images too.

Working with what is presented to us is very important in Workshop Photography.  We cannot control the subject or the sky or the wind or the crowds.  We CAN work with these elements to create images that are unique.

Keep coming back, as we will add more images as the participants submit them for this blog.

 

Use shadows to create positive and negative space in the big scene.  See if you can find a shape that matches the distant scene. ©Kit Frost

Lesson: Use shadows to create positive and negative space in the big scene. See if you can find a shape that matches the distant scene. ©Kit Frost

And just in case you think I’m kidding about the Epic winds.  John Ford’s Point was so windy, that we dared not take our DSLR’s out of the car.  Here’s a link to our You Tube video. And another short clip Here.

 

Aspens are PEAKing in the San Juan Mountains

If you didn’t get a chance to get out and make photographs today, tomorrow will do, as will next week. Although I’ll call it “peak” color, and there are plenty of places to get your fill of Colorado Fall Foliage, there is still plenty of time.

Now in bloom:

  1. Near Durango Mountain Resort, Engineer Mountain, Lime Creek Road.
  2. Along the Hermosa Cliffs about 17 miles north of Durango.
  3. Just starting to peak at Haviland Lake
  4. You can find “pockets” of color everywhere in the San Juan Mountains.

Give yourself till next weekend for peak color making it’s way down to Durango.

The view looking northwest from Haviland Lake.  Yesterday's snow was sure to melt so I hit the road for sunrise this morning. ©Kit Frost

The view looking northwest from Haviland Lake. Yesterday’s snow was sure to melt so I hit the road for sunrise this morning. ©Kit Frost

Multicolor Fall Hues from Haviland Lake. ©Kit Frost

Multicolor Fall Hues from Haviland Lake. And YES, that’s digital dust on my sensor.  I was in a rush to get a report out today.©Kit Frost

 

Set your f-stop for a small aperture and take a few images of backlit aspens.  Along Hwy 550 North of Durango

Set your f-stop for a small aperture and take a few images of backlit aspens. Along Hwy 550 North of Durango

Just south of the Cascade Village. ©Kit Frost

Just south of the Cascade Village. The shadows on the corral are from the low sun behind me. ©Kit Frost

At Purgatory, Durango Mountain Resort, just after sunrise. ©Kit Frost

At Purgatory, Durango Mountain Resort, just after sunrise. I used a 300mm lens to compress the “space” and create a painterly feeling. ©Kit Frost

I was anxious to photograph the spruce fir with snow on them, as I knew our warmer, sunny day would melt the snow and "clump" it up.  8am today. ©Kit Frost

I was anxious to photograph the spruce fir with snow on them, as I knew our warmer, sunny day would melt the snow and “clump” it up. 8am today. ©Kit Frost

Today’s Assignment: Photograph the Star of the Show

Make a tree the star of the show.  Although the hillside is full of golden Aspen, can you imagine this photograph without the dark tree in the foreground?  Comments?  email your Star of the Show for posting here.

Although the story here is all about the golden aspen up along Highway 550 between Durango and Silverton, the Spruce tree is the Star of the Show.  This image was created in 2010 ©Kit Frost

Although the story here is all about the golden aspen up along Highway 550 between Durango and Silverton, the Spruce tree is the Star of the Show. This image was created in 2011 ©Kit Frost