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.

I made the cover of RV West Magazine

Wow, how thrilling to receive the link for the Fall 2014 Edition of RV West Magazine and see they chose my life and art/photography workshops as the cover story.

Wow, that's my sweet ride on the cover of RV West Magazine.  Chasing Light and Adventure.  Click on photo to read the magazine online.

Wow, that’s my sweet ride on the cover of RV West Magazine. Chasing Light and Adventure. Click on photo to read the magazine online.

Last year RV West Magazine did a story about Chase the Light Adventures as part of their online issue, now the print edition features a story about my search for “unpeopled” landscape.  Thanks Jessica for a great article, I’m honored.

RV West Magazine link to article about Kit Frost.


Learn to Edit your RAW files

Capture the best information

When I capture an image, at the location, I pre-visualize the post production.  I learned when studying Ansel Adams, the Weston Family and John Sexton.  In the camera, we capture the detail needed to create an interpretation of it later.  In the past, using film, I used the mantra “expose for the shadows, develop for the highlights”.

Digital cameras do a great job of recording a broader range of tones than black and white and color film, but it’s still important to remember that if you are lacking detail in the file, although not impossible, it’s harder to “get it” later.

My thinking process in the field runs something like this:

On location, in the camera

  1. Seduced by the light, I choose the proper lens for the composition.
  2. Many times my hot spot on the lens is somewhere around f16-22.  I like deep depth of field when the subject calls for it.
  3. Evaluate the highlights and see how much underexposure they will need. Clouds in particular need quite a bit of underexposure to hold detail.
  4. Let the shadows fall where they will.  Oftentimes the LCD view of the images will show and image that looks too dark and lacks shadow detail, but this is where digital captures really shine.

Upload and Process the RAW files.

In the LIGHTROOM, I still use the important technique of proper edit, exposure, development.  Mike Yamashita, a National Geo Photographer once told me that if I get any more than 4 good images on a roll of 36 exposures, my standards are too low.

Using Adobe Lightroom:

  • Import from SD or CF Card, add keywords, copyright, organize.
  • Run through the first edit for out of focus, overexposures, boring images. (x-mark for rejection). Be honest but not brutal.
  • Create Collections of my favorites from that photo adventure.
  • Begin using the Develop Mode.
  • In Develop Mode I open the panel (Command/Control D)and usually begin with exposure, white balance and contrast adjustments, saturation and clarity are also important.
  • These days I like the fine tuning available to me in the HSL Panel.  Sometimes when warming up and image the sky turns a bit aqua so HUE is the adjustment. Specific saturation is then applied to hues in the image, and I really like the ability to adjust LUMINANCE at will on individual colors.
  • Compare these adjustments to those we used to employ in the DARKROOM, like dodging, burning, edge burning, contrast filters, etc.
Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.11.38 PM

Before edits, RAW. 1/8 second at f22, -1/3 EV

Canyon hiking, Zion National Park

After editing in Adobe Lightroom. I underexposed the image in the camera to hold detail in the highlighted sandy floor of the canyon. ©Kit Frost

As you can see from this example, the RAW file looks bad, boring, and dark in the shadows while overblown in the highlights.  But since I underexposed by 1/3 EV, the highlights maintained detail as I had planned.  I knew it “felt” like a warm subject, so I interpreted it with a bit of saturation, clarity, highlight recovery and added a vignette. I often use a vignette to create a subtle or not so subtle darkness at the top of the photo.

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.12.24 PM

Before Lightroom, 1/8 sec at f22, ISO 100, 1/3 Exposure Bias

Screen Shot 2014-11-17 at 12.12.14 PM

After Lightroom adjustments, warmed up the sky, Contrast, Opened up the shadows at the bottom, added a vignette.

In the case of stormy weather, the white balance tilts closer to cool.  And I tend to respond to warm tones better so I often adjust the white balance and tint accordingly.  Interpreting landscape to “feel” like it did to me at the capture is my constant challenge, and when I achieve it, my great joy.

Camera Settings:

  • Most of my photos are either under or overexposed to hold shadow or highlight detail. I use Aperture priority mode and the exposure bias button.
  • I use AUTO White Balance and if I need more warming or cooling, I use Lightroom’s develop mode.
  • In the camera menu I set the picture control to VIVID, this gives me a tad more saturation and contrast in my jpegs (choose high quality jpeg if you don’t care for post-production)
  • I prefer ISO 100 for large prints, but will sometimes photograph using higher ISO when I’m not pre-visualizing a print.
  • I photograph using RAW and normal jpeg
  • I edit the RAW capture using Adobe Lightroom



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.


Five New Years Resolutions for Photographers

Improve your Photography in 2014

Commit to photograph a minimum of once a week.

  • Photograph subjects that are available to you.
  • Something in your home, office
  • Use your iPhone or digital camera.
  • Make it easy for you to keep this commitment

Buy a bunch of flowers and practice at home, or on your lunch break.

  • Use your iPhone, smart phone or digital camera
  • This is NOT about great photos, but like any sport, you need to practice seeing.
  • Don’t complicate this one, KISS (Keep it simple, stupid)

Selfies are the easiest subject, go for it.

  • Include some hint of your location in the frame, a “sense of place”
  • Sitting at your desk, on your coffee break, lunch
  • No need to share if you’re shy, this is about practicing using your camera

Upload your photos to your computer, tablet

  • At the end of 2014, you’ll be glad you can see your improved skills
  • Share with your friends
  • Share on your blog
  • It’s fun to get comments as your vision improves in 2014

Once a month, go out and make a day of making photos.

Nothing improves my photography more than practice
If you’re serious about your desire to improve then give yourself the gift of time


Join a Photo club
Take a class
Go spend money on that piece of gear you’ve been drooling over
Take a workshop, spend time with other photographers who love to be behind their cameras. (shameless advertising,





Tips for entering and winning photo contests

I recently won the First Place Price in the National Parks Foundation Photo Contest.  The winning photo was taken at Zion National Park, Watchman Campground.  In fact, the photo was taken very near my campsite.

Flowing water over rocks in the Virgin River, Golden sunrise in the background

It’s important to read all of the contest entry rules before submitting. ©Kit Frost

I wrote a few short blogs recently with examples of entries into photo contests, and gallery exhibitions. A few of those examples won the contests. And with a little help from my friends, are hanging in galleries too.

I thought it would be helpful to share my process of selecting images, the research involved, the rules and requirements, the jurying process to have your photos exhibited online, and at galleries. Additionally, keep in mind the cost of matting and framing if required. many online submissions simply require a login, and fee, and a jpeg of high quality. Galleries, once accepted, require that you ship, or hand-deliver your artwork ready to hang.

Start with concentrating on the theme of the contest.

  1. What is the contest about?
  2. What kind of theme is the gallery showing in its call for entries.
  3. Are you submitting an idea for a one or two person exhibition, or for a specific call for entries?
  4. Are entries free, or do you pay per image, is the contest a fund raiser?
  5. Read the fine print, find out the size restrictions for your online submission.
  6. Read carefully to see who is the final judge of your entry, fans? Favorites, a juror, a group of other artists (jury).
  7. Galleries will often have open calls a few times a year, either juried by the owner, or a guest juror. Find out what you can about the juror’s own work. But remember, most exhibitions are a collection of images meant to be shown as a whole, so I’m often surprised at the final selections.
  8. Black and white or color?
  9. Digital capture or film? Yes, we still use film!

Choose carefully

Here’s where I enlist the help from my social networks, especially facebook.
Often the image i think is the strongest representation of the theme, rates 2nd or 3rd when I put it up for a fan vote on facebook. I think I get really attached to one image over another, based on how challenging it was for me to capture it. It helps to back off from that, post a handful of possible picks and see what my peeps think. Another cool thing about sharing and asking for help is that my followers and friends feel involved in the process and celebrate with me.

Take a look at these online contests.

  1. Share the experience, the grand prize is $15,000. plus seeing you image on the Annual Federal Recreation Lands pass.
  2. Nikon Inspirations, Zoom and Telephoto, the current theme.
  3. The Nikon Everyday Cinema contest
  4. Cafe, For Artists, is an online registry and call for entires all over the world.  Login, upload your portfolio images, be sure you are uploading the correct sizes, then apply to calls.  You will be charged when you submit to calls that are not free.  Higher end management system for artists who what to show our work, apply to Artist in Residence programs.

Next blog:  Winning entries.