2013 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 13,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 5 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Fall Color and the Big Scenes in Zion National Park

I just returned from 5 nights in Zion National Park. I camped at the Watchman Campground.  The weather forecast predicted rain and show at higher elevations, my kind of trip.  What I love about photography in general is the excitement I feel when planning a trip, getting on the road, and then I feel like a kid in a candy store when I get to the location.  When rain is in the forecast in the Southwest it usually is accompanied by beautiful clouds, cumulus, and if I’m lucky, cumulus- congestus too.   This trip was like that.  I drove my camper from Durango to Lake Powell, stayed one night at the Wahweap Campground, took off for Zion in the morning.  And each day that the weather stayed changeable, I enjoyed playing with light and cloud shadows in my photographs.

As you can see by the scene below, the cottonwoods in and along Highway 9 through Zion were really stunning.  Closer evaluation shows that it’s really about a week late for full bloom.  But there are plenty of opportunities to get your “fix” of fall color in Zion.

Photographing the Big Scene

What do you think?  Compare these two images and comment on the "right time" to press the shutter. ©Kit Frost

What do you think? Compare these two images and comment on the “right time” to press the shutter. ©Kit Frost

I climbed high along the Watchman trail, and set up this image.  Two hours later the light I was hoping painted across the scene.  Patience people.  ©Kit Frost

I climbed high along the Watchman trail, and set up this image. Two hours later the light I was hoping painted across the scene. Patience people. ©Kit Frost

 

Why go to Zion in the late fall?

  1. Autumn Color is at it’s height from mid-October through early November.
  2. Zion National Park is awesome year round but especially beautiful in it’s fall glory
  3. The Zion Shuttle system runs until November 3rd, 2013, it is a brilliant system for exploring the park, no need for your car once you get to the park.
  4. Cooler fall days make the steep hikes wonderful.
  5. It’s a quiet time of the year, less visitation than in the summer.
  6. Bring a bike, you can have the Canyon to yourself at times.
    Load up the bike on the shuttle bike rack, or walk from shuttle stop to shuttle stop.
  7. Amazing Photography locations throughout the park.

Tips for Photographing in Zion National Park

  1. Bring a tripod, 98% of my photos are made with a tripod, I like the slow, methodical way of composing images, the ability to choose slow shutter speeds, and deep depth of field.  Yes, you can choose to “up” the ISO but I prefer printing large, so I like low ISO settings, around 100-320.  A tripod is not simply about steady images, it’s also about the ability to refine my composition.
  2. Explore the park, watch the light move through the canyon. Take a round trip shuttle, getting off wherever you like, and set up an important composition.  Many digital camera users simply shoot lots of images, moving to the next location, repeat.  I like to come away with a few “scouted” images. I like to commit to a few great compositions, then plan for the best light.
  3. In October and November, the days are short, sunrise hits the narrow canyon at around 8am and sunset is at around 6pm, so plan accordingly, wear layers, scout your locations to be at the “right place, right time”.  The sun didn’t hit my campsite until 11am, so next year I’ll plan better for morning warmth at my “cafe”.
  4. I underexpose all of my images by at least 1/3 and sometimes 2/3 to hold detail in the highlights.
  5. Plan for post-production, as Ansel Adams would suggest, pre visualize your final print.

Iron like a Lion in Zion – Zion National Park, UT (travelpod.com)

Join me next year on a Photography Adventure of a Lifetime, in Zion National Park. October 26-30, 2014.  Right place, right time.

Here’s a time-lapse from my first morning at camp.  This series of 320 photos was made into a time lapse sequence using the Interval Timer setting on my Nikon D300. When I got back in the studio, I uploaded the images to Lightroom, edited each one of them to fix the sensor dust, then exported jpegs to iMovie for sequencing and additional story board.

Photographing under mixed lighting conditions

In this exercise, I set up my tripod to compose a beautiful group of wild lupine.  These wildflowers bloom in late June at altitudes around 10,000 feet.  On days when the sun is hiding behind clouds and the clouds are moving, there are plenty of opportunities to see the light travel across the subject.  I usually like when the sunlight is slightly diffused by the clouds.  Which one do you prefer?

Wilds-2013-8-2

Full shade was on this bunch of lupine, the cloud cover was heavy. ©Kit Frost

Wilds-2013-10-2

Bright, speckled sunlight was painting across the same bunch. ©Kit Frost

Wilds-2013-11-2

I really like the subtle light as it flowed over the lupine. I waited until the foreground lupine was well, but not too harshly lit. ©Kit Frost

 

Lupin Lupinus Nederlands: Lupine (Lupinus) Fra...

Lupin Lupinus Nederlands: Lupine (Lupinus) Français : Lupin (Lupinus) Deutsch: Lupine (Lupinus) Español: Lupín (Lupinus) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Selling Art Online

I know, this article is NOT about photography.  But I found the information about selling on Etsy very helpful. Especially Joelle Latreille’s (an awesome jeweler) pricing formula.

Simply put: (Production Cost + Profit) x 2 = Retail Price

Read the whole article for an idea about how Joelle Quit her Day Job and concentrated on her business “June Designs”.

And here’s the long hand pricing formula from the highly successful Etsy Shop, the difference with this wholesale and retail formula is Materials + Labor + Expenses is equivalent to PRODUCTION COST (above).

Materials + Labor + Expenses + Profit = Wholesale x 2 = Retail

Etsy’s Seller’s Handbook featuring great information on Getting Found on Online Searches, Branding, Pricing, and Promotion.  Lots of great information for selling art, whether photography, crafts, paintings, your creativity.

I’ve always had a beef with folks who sell their photographs/art at wholesale prices to the public.  They will set their prices to sell, but not to VALUE the work and what it takes to make really good art.  I too think it undervalues the work of the entire artistic community, drives down the prices of all the rest of us out there selling, and doesn’t take into account the overhead, and realistic cost of doing business. Travel expenses, cost of equipment, gasoline, inkjet cartridges, overhead such as electricity and phone, should be considered the “expenses” in the formula above.   SELL TRUE RETAIL. Stop considering your work, and pricing, like an amateur. There, I said it with my outside voice.

Directly from the Etsy site:

Bringing It All Together

All right, this gets us to our wholesale price. Some of you might wonder if you can use the wholesale price in your Etsy shop. Wouldn’t this be a a great way to offer your work at an affordable price? No, no, no. Here’s why I’m going to beg you to double your wholesale price and sell your work at a true retail price:

  1. Selling your work at a wholesale rate undervalues those who price their work at the proper retail price. When the majority of sellers in a category price their work thoughtfully, the entire category benefits.
  2. Customers will wonder, “Why?” Why is your work so much lower than everyone else? Is it because it’s not handmade? Is it because you’re using cheaper materials? Your price tells a story: make that story a good one!
  3. You’re putting yourself at a disadvantage. Let’s say a big catalog reaches out to you and says, “We’d like to buy 100 of these items! Please let us know what your wholesale prices are.” This is a big opportunity; an opportunity you can’t afford to take.

Did you just come up with a price that you are sure the market won’t respond to? Here’s the trick: if the item is priced too high for the market, it’s not the price you need to alter, it’s the design or the way you produce your work. Get creative and see how you can adjust the item to reduce your costs. Can you buy your materials discounted in bulk? Can you produce the work in multiples, reducing the labor? Don’t take the easy way out by slashing your prices.

Remember, the right prices will allow you to reach your small business goals.

© 2013 Etsy, Inc.

Photographing in and around the Southwest’s Four Corners

Although the sky can be frequently obscured and hazy from the Navajo Generating Station, the road to Wahweap has some "big" views this one shows Navajo Mountain in the background. © Kit Frost

Although the sky can be frequently obscured and hazy from the Navajo Generating Station, the road to Wahweap has some “big” views this one shows Navajo Mountain in the background. The “yellow, green, tone is the outcome of the coal fired generating station. Nuf said. © Kit Frost

The drive from Durango to Page is beautiful, through some great locations for Southwest Photography.  the Four Corners Monument, Petroglyph Panel at Sand Island Campground, Comb Ridge, Monument Valley and Tsegi Canyon are all along the way.

Comb Ridge at Sunset, with frozen pond. ©Kit Frost

Comb Ridge at Sunset, with frozen pond. ©Kit Frost

I’ve driven the Comb Ridge Road from Bluff to Blanding, Utah many times, but this was the first time I encountered a frozen pond.  I love to play with reflections and this location proved to be lots of fun.  The challenge is to hold detail in the exposure of the well lit walls of Comb Ridge, while at the same time properly exposing for the reflection.

I underexposed this reflection by a value of -.7 or 2/3 darker.  In post-production I used my favorite tool, Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and opened up the shadows using fill light (LR3) or shadows (LR4).  It helps to pre-visualize what you want the final image to look like at the location, so that you capture all the detail possible.

Although the sky can be frequently obscured and hazy from the Navajo Generating Station, the road to Wahweap has some "big" views this one shows Navajo Mountain in the background. © Kit Frost

Although the sky can be frequently obscured and hazy from the Navajo Generating Station, the road to Wahweap has some “big” views this one shows Navajo Mountain in the background. © Kit Frost

My plan was to spend a night in Page (about 3.5 hours west of Bluff Utah) continue west to the Arizona strip near Lee’s Ferry and Marble Canyon, hike in and around the area, explore the Vermillion Cliffs and see the Grand Canyon from Marble canyon.

At Marble Canyon, the Colorado River flows past a red rock mesa.  The "put-in" for 25 day Grand Canyon River Trips.  ©Kit Frost

At Marble Canyon, the Colorado River flows past a red rock mesa. The “put-in” for 25 day Grand Canyon River Trips. ©Kit Frost

Seeing the Colorado River from Lee’s Ferry is awesome.  Its powerful and runs clean.  This images was taken about 20 miles southwest of the Glen Canyon dam, so at this point you can see the water running clear, instead of it’s usual red color from the silt and sediment in the river.

The view from Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon. ©Kit Frost

The view from Navajo Bridge, Marble Canyon. There is a group of boaters at the curve.  The bridge I’m standing on is their last touch of civilization until they reach Phantom Ranch in 9 days. Awesome, jealous. ©Kit Frost

I was hesitant to hike into Cathedral Wash solo, wanting to see the drop off into the Grand Canyon, but I got over my fear and started hiking at around 1pm. The wash is beautiful, and the warm light of each curve in the canyon was seductive. I enjoyed lots of photography, and was grateful for the LCD to check my exposures.  I took my time, creating many new images.

The range of tones was broad, and I underexposed frequently. I was using matrix metering and did not carry my graduated neutral density filter (Tiffen, glass 0.6, 2 stop). I planned to bring up the shadow values that were underexposed using Lightroom. I reached the thirty foot drop in about two hours, traveling less than one mile, stopping frequently for photography, lunch and to enjoy the solitude. At the pour-over I hesitated to go it alone. Remembering Aaron Ralston’s solo hike and fall I always let my “go to” friends know where I plan to be and if injured by a fall or delayed for any reason.  We plan a call at the end of each of my solo adventures.

In canyons with frequent pour-overs and benches to navigate and when hiking solo the possibility of a fall is real,  so I spent some time above the 30 foot pour-over, making videos and photos, rather than risking a cold night in a canyon.

I was disappointed, felt old, but later was glad I made the right decision not to hike any further than was safe. I left the canyon making many more images in the sweeter light of late winter afternoon, returning to the trailhead and car at around 4pm. The drive home was sweet while the sun set, but dark from west of Kayenta all the way home. I got home at around 10pm and checked in with a text. I later realized that if i had gone further into the wash and reached the last pour-over in Cathedral Wash and the view of the Grand Canyon I would have driven home much later. And almost 6 hours of driving in the dark is very tiring.  There’s always another day, and another time.  I think I will get one of the SPOT location devices so my “go to” person knows exactly where I am in each canyon I explore.

Self Portrait in the Wash. ©Kit Frost

Self Portrait in the Wash. ©Kit Frost

Hiking in Shadow and Light, Cathedral Wash, Arizona Strip ©Kit Frost

Hiking in Shadow and Light, Cathedral Wash, Arizona Strip ©Kit Frost

Shadow and lIght, from Cathedral Wash ©Kit Frost

Shadow and lIght, from Cathedral Wash ©Kit Frost

What I learned:

  1. When I asked the Ranger about the canyon, and she mentioned just the one difficult spot, the next question should have been to ask her to explain the difficulties.
  2. In the winter the days are short so get going earlier. Even though the sweet light will elude me.
  3. Carry essentials for emergency. Warm clothes, whistle, mirror, phone, Buy SPOT
  4. Carry extra water and gloves, a power bar or two, and warm hat. Just thinking here if there was a solo emergency.
  5. Thinking of Aaron Ralston here too.

For Photography:

I carried my Nikon D5100, my favorite hiking camera, lightweight, with the 16-85mm lens.  I love that lens, versatile, good wide angle and short zoom.

Carry the Graduated ND .06, especially on bright sunny days as the range of tones in the canyon is great.  Underexposing helps generally in landscape, and specifically at times when the sky is in the composition.

Because of the range of tones between shadow and light, for many photographs I completely eliminate the sky, while in others I like to minimize it.  Later, in Lightroom I subtract Luminance from the sky.

In many of my “shadow and light” images, I make a decision as to how much detail I want to see in the shadow (dark) areas and expose for those areas.  In these examples you can see that I choose a bit of detail in the Hiking in Shadow and Light, Cathedral Wash, Arizona Strip, while letting the shadows create a silhouette in Shadow and light, from Cathedral Wash.