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.

Advertisements

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: When the Water Speaks

When I drive an overpass, I often get out and scout what's under it.  In this case, it is Annie Spring.  Two hours later, it was "in the can". ©Kit Frost

When I drive an overpass, I often get out and scout what’s under it. In this case, it is Annie Spring. Two hours later, it was “in the can”. ©Kit Frost


Art Making in Crater Lake National Park

One of my missions while in residence at Crater Lake is to photograph the Lake while chasing the light.  My accommodations are three miles from the rim of the caldera.  So it’s easy to drive up there every few hours to see the color of the light, reflections and to talk to the park visitors.  I brought my bike for a daily workout and to access the park without the windshield in my way. But the healing process on my new hip is slower than I hoped, so I’ll be gentle.

What are the voices of the flowing water telling me.

What is the silence of the local stream telling me?

Today, as I stepped back away from the Lake, I explored a few of the creeks in the park, I connected with a beautiful stream adjacent to the Goodbye Creek.  After scouting, I plan to photograph at that location in morning or late afternoon light.  I prefer very little light on creek falls, as contrast can be a real challenge. It’s not impossible to photograph, but when faced with bright light of water against the darkness of the stream it helps to use a graduated neutral density filter in the field and underexpose.  Later, using Lightroom, I adjust the dark shadows to reveal their texture and beauty.  In this case, I am exposing for the highlights of the water and “developing” for the shadows.

Annie Spring

Annie Spring leads to one of the biggest creeks in the Park, Annie Creek, flowing along Highway 62 and the entrance to the Park. It’s very seductive to hear the creek and to follow it’s flow along the pullouts on the road.

“Take only photographs, leave only footprints”


Annie Spring is a trailhead leading up to the Pacific Crest Trail. I will hike up to the PCT before I leave.  Cheryl Strayed’s book, and movie “Wild” is about her thru hike of the PCT and I’ve hiked a bit of it in Lassen Volcano National Park and want to add a bit of my own footprints to it.

Stay tuned.

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

Crater Lake National Park Artist in Residence

Map of Crater Lake National Park

Map of Crater Lake National Park

The Application Process

I spent the last two years applying to the National Parks Artist in Residence Programs.  The application processes are thorough and the competition is intense. Most of the residencies last two to six weeks, and are designed to give established artists an opportunity to concentrate on a portfolio of images with little interruptions and a break from daily life, and to “give back” to the Parks through a public event each week.

google image of Oregon's Crater Lake.  Image courtesy of forcechange.com

Google image of Oregon’s Crater Lake. Image courtesy of forcechange.com

The selection as an Artist In Residence at Crater Lake National Park is one of the big thrills of my life. I have photographed along the Umpqua and Rogue Rivers in Oregon, exploring waterfalls and lush forests, but to be given a solid two weeks to work in and around the Park is a real treat.  I will also escort visitors on a walk to demonstrate seeing and recording water, flows and movement. And will present a slide show of my inspiration and techniques.

It’s important to get thick-skinned with when applying for exhibitions and residencies and as an artist, over the years, I certainly have learned not to take a “rejection” personally. There is a lot involved in a jury choosing one artist over another, and since many of us applying are established artists, it’s important to be a good fit, whether at a gallery or residency.

Travel to Oregon

The Crater Lake residency is coming up fast. The application was submitted in February, and I heard from the Education Coordinator in March. I’m scheduled to leave Durango on about April 19, drive west to Lake Powell and the Paria Canyons, and spend a few days in Zion National Park too. I scheduled the Zion Trip before I was offered the Crater Lake Residency so although it is along my route to Oregon, if I feel a “push” I may skip it. I love the drive up Hwy. 395 in California, so I will set up my route to follow the Eastern Sierras and take about 5 days to get from Zion to Oregon. I’m due at Crater Lake on May 1st and will be there for two weeks of a residency followed by a week of play, art, play, photography, play.  I hope to “pick the brains” of the Rangers to get the scoop on their favorite hikes and viewpoints.

It’s the journey, not the destination

In planning for a road trip, one of the first things I do is look at a map and explore some possible routes and see how much mileage I want to drive each day when towing my Saturn travel trailer, versus driving my jeep.  I usually only want to tow about 250 miles a day and so I set up a compass on a map to see how far I can comfortably drive.  It looks like a doable pace for this trip is to take about five days to get to Oregon from Zion.

This journey will take me through some of the most beautiful places in the West from Durango to Lake Powell from Lake Powell to Zion perhaps an overnight at Valley of fire State Park then drive the Eastern Sierras.  I follow Wheeling It blog and Nina and Paul love the Alabama hills and I’d like to spend the night or two there.  This trip is a mix of going with the flow a bit as well as a destination drive.

Screenshot 2015-04-02 09.03.46

I really have a blast when planning my adventures and road trips. I can choose to tow my Sunline travel trailer up to Oregon and I may choose to leave it there. That option gives me a reason to go back to Oregon in the fall to go get it. (Do I really need a reason!)

The thing is that when I leave Crater Lake National Park I have about 15 days to drive East because my next Artist Residency is in Acadia national Park in Maine in June. I don’t treasure towing on the freeways across the country, as I tend to “white knuckle” passing 18 wheelers. I am leaning towards safely storing my trailer.

Ask for help

At this time I’m recruiting some friends to meet me along the way and caravan for a few days or travel for a few days taking turns driving. I had hip replacement surgery on March 25 and gave myself a month to recover, and I’m devoted to the PT involved in being flexible and being able to drive.  But 4,000 miles across the country from Crater Lake to Acadia is a long drive. I think I can do it in about 15 days. I need to be in Acadia by June 5 and, frankly, the road trip from Oregon to someplace beautiful Idaho to an overnight at the Grand Tetons and then on to someplace beautiful South Dakota is pretty enticing to me.

I set up a rough map on Google with ideas for exploration and a bit of pedal to the metal driving too. In some ways I’m tempted to take my camper all the way across the country but I’m really thinking that it’s best for me to just load up my sweet ride (Jeep Grand Cherokee) and go ahead and make some time. My comfortable towing speed is about 58 mph and I can do 75mph in my jeep.

Screenshot 2015-03-30 04.23.10

I’d love to hear about some of your favorite spots to spend the night, especially eastward from Wyoming.

What Inspires Me

I have been planning, dreaming and scheming about this time in my life for many years. In July, I retired from a sweet job working as a graphic artist for a corporation, and I’m a retired teacher.  When I moved out West from New Jersey in 1995, I built a terrific, fun, business, teaching photography and darkroom skills; private and group lessons.  My career spanned the last twenty years and continues to fulfill me.  I take folks on photo adventures all around the Southwest and teach them how to properly use their digital cameras and develop their vision.

I am driven, and at this point I am teaching a few hours a week, privately, and teaching Photo Workshops about 5 times a year (this fall I am leading a group of Road Scholars around the Southwest).  I am learning to paint with oils and love to set up my pochade in the field and have fun.  I find that my life, although very balanced, is sometimes so full that I treasure the Artist Residencies in order to devote long periods of time in beautiful places to make art.  It’s amazing to me that the National Parks’ Service understands the need for art in the Parks and gives artists the gift of time and access.

Next applications: Joshua Tree National Park, Zion National Park, Denali

Schoodic Institute at Acadia National Park

Crater Lake National Park

General Information about Artist Residencies in our National Parks

Wheeling It, Great travel RV blog

Artist in Residence at our National Park

How to Apply for Artist Residencies in our National Parks

Late January and early February were quite busy.  I applied for eight Artist Residencies in our National Parks.  Each application was challenging to write, demanding of my time and a huge commitment, requiring a thorough examination of my portfolio for the “right” kind of images to send.  Most of the applications require a 1-2 page statement of intent, a small sampling of  4-8 images, letters of recommendations, and curriculum vitae.  And all applications include a proposal for the project I plan to complete during the residency. Most residencies offer an opportunity to devote 2-4 weeks’ time in a cabin or other rustic accommodations.  All offer a considerable chunk of time to make art. All require a public presentation each week of the residency, few offer a stipend, except for nominal travel, many require comfort in wild places.

The biggest challenge in the application process was to select a small sampling of images that speak to each park’s specific need. Some, like Crater Lake in Oregon, asked for projects that focused on Climate Change; many parks have a set of specific goals that the committee would like addressed in the application.

I chose to apply to the following parks as I would LOVE to spent time in each of them, increase both my time lapse and still image portfolios and since I love teaching, I submitted plans for “walks in the parks” to share with visitors my vision, techniques and suggestions for digital photography.

Part of the research involved googling each park and reviewing the artists chosen for previous residencies. It’s best to google the parks you’d like to visit.

North Cascades ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Glacier National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Great Basin National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Isle Royale National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Acadia National Park  ………Chosen for 2015, June
Crater Lake National Park ………Chosen for 2015, May
Petrified Forest  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Sleeping Bear Dunes  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Great Smoky Mountains  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015
Zion National Park ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015, Application pending 2016
Joshua Tree National Park  ………Not Offered a residency in 2014-2015

Results, so far

As you can see, just like submitting art for exhibition, it helps to get thick skinned and to keep plugging away at the applications.

Crater Lake National Park, Chosen as one of the Artists in Residence, May 2015
Here’s a sampling of the images and video clips I made while in Residence.

Acadia National Park, Chose as one of the Artists in Residence, June 2015, wow, was that some cross-country travel.  Oregon to Maine.  Here’s the portfolio I posted of my time in Acadia.  And some time lapse instruction on my blog.

Inspiration

I decided to research the Photographers and Artists who have been chosen in the past or are currently in our National Parks as Artists in Residence.

Rick Braveheart, Native American Fine Art Photographer (blog with link to his website too) Rick is currently At Zion National Park, writing a weekly blog about his residency.

Many of the artists, painters, who participate in Plein Air competitions in our National Parks also have experience as Artists’ in Residence.

Grand Canyon Celebration of Art
Grand Staircase, Escalante Canyons Arts Festival
Zion Plein Air Arts Invitational

Other Links for Arts in Our Parks, please let me know if you have a special event you like to attend or a Park you’ve applied to as Artist in Residence.