composition, education, photography, random thought, writing

PICTURE OF THE WEEK – MARCH 6, 2021

Background

So for quite a while I have admired Benjamin Everett. I mostly follow him on instagram for inspiration. He is a photographer, but more than that, he is an artist. He makes no bones about the fact that he digitally manipulates his images to achieve dreamy, otherworldly scenes. For the purist, set aside your expectations of what you think photography should be, and behold what is in the minds eye and skilled digital artistry of Everett. You will be enriched if you do.

Image © Benjamin Everett

Why I Think This Image Works (Color, Light, Subject, Moment, Emotion)

Maybe I am just naturally drawn to blue in general, but I love a cool toned image. It is also slightly desaturated, which is calming to the eyes. The light draws the eyes along the leading, wavy lines in the ice, growing lighter as they eventually reach the peak at center-right. The eye then moves to the upper left of the frame to linger on the gentle storm passing. It is reminiscent of the old romantic painters, like Albert Bierstadt. A characteristic of a Bierstadt, or any of the romantic painters of the day, was the trademark light vs. dark motif. Everett clearly evokes this sentiment, minus the settlers and natives that were common to the 19th century paintings. This is the dark and light of a desolate landscape devoid of the human presence.

Simplicity is Everetts forte. He is a master of distilling his scenes down to the most important visual elements, and this image is no different. Starkness. Coldness. However, I wouldn’t go so far as an emotional loneliness. The eyes are soon drawn to the blue sky with sunlit cumulus clouds in the distance, conveying a feeling of hope and warmth. The storm is nearly passed. All sweeping lines flow directly to warm rays of a sunnier day somewhere in the near future.

It is romantic, yet simple. Cold, yet hopeful. Stark, yet lovely.

Please, if you aren’t familiar with his work, go spend some time admiring the photographic artistry of Benjamin Everett.

I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below to start a conversation about this image… do you like it? If so, why? If not, why not?

— Andrew


I had an idea a while ago to feature an image once a week by other photographers that I find interesting. In the effort to provide inspiration to myself by enjoying the work of others, I hope it will serve to inspire a wider audience as well. I will write a short bit about what I like about the image, and why I think it works.

You can expect a wide variety of photographic art, so not just landscapes and nature! I hope you find this as fun and enriching as I do.

Let me also offer an invitation… if you come across an image you would like me to see, and perhaps feature, please shoot me an email with the subject “Picture of the week.”


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composition, education, photography, random thought, writing

PICTURE OF THE WEEK – FEBRUARY 27, 2021

I had an idea a while ago to feature an image once a week by other photographers that I find interesting. In the effort to provide inspiration to myself by enjoying the work of others, I hope it will serve to inspire a wider audience as well. I will write a short bit about what I like about the image, and why I think it works.

You can expect a wide variety of photographic art, so not just landscapes and nature! I hope you find this as fun and enriching as I do.

Let me also offer an invitation… if you come across an image you would like me to see, and perhaps feature, please shoot me an email with the subject “Picture of the week.”

And now, to the first picture of the week…

Image © Ryan Dyar

Background

This lovely capture was created by a fantastic photographer I have admired and followed for years, Ryan Dyar. He is an accomplished landscape photographer with mastery of a post processing landscape style that is emerging as the new standard. But what I find truly sets him apart as a great photographer is his seemingly effortless mastery of composition. Knowing how difficult great landscape composition can be, I am certain he works hard to find his excellent arrangements.

This image of a pelican in flight is so different from what he usually produces, and I admire his exploration into unfamiliar territory.

Why I Think This Image Works (Color, Light, Subject, Moment, Emotion)

The soft light and tones are soothing and convey a sense of calm immediately. It is low contrast, but the pink/ orange complimenting the blue/ green seascape immediately grabs me. He allows the subject to dance to the middle of the frame, a usual no-no. But here it works because the subject makes direct eye contact with the viewer creating a feeling of connection and intimacy. There is also clear motion from the slow shutter speed showing us the path flown in from the top right of the frame. Another pleasing movement/ leading line in the image.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was considered the master of the decisive moment. That term has been described as a “split second that reveals the larger truth of a situation.“ This image for me captured that culmination of split seconds strung together to convey something deeper. A moment too early or late would not have had quite the impact. Now, one could argue with current technology, the art of the decisive moment is lost. Think “spray and pray.“ In Cartier-Bressons day of 8×10 cameras and single frame film holders, capturing that singular point in time had an element of supernatural patience to it. However, I would argue that the moment still exists, there are simply new tools and techniques to more easily capture them. It is no less artful. Its just different.

The slow shutter speed is utilized perfectly, as the birds head and eyes appear to be sharp, while allowing the motion of the flapping wings to blur, giving the viewer the feeling of flight. It is a lovely, and difficult moment to capture so elegantly, as Dyar has.

Lastly, how does this image make us, the viewer, feel? My immediate emotion is loneliness and melancholy, mostly from the muted color and low contrast of the gentle seascape, but also the direct eye contact. But then there is a lingering element of hope rising that seeps in, perhaps from the flight motion, and again the eye contact.

It is a simple yet complex image. I think that is what I admire the most.

It is no easy task to create an image like this! And often, these are the images that happen when one is prepared. They simply present themselves.

Now, I would love to hear your thoughts! Comment below to start a conversation about this image… do you like it? If so, why? If not, why not?

— Andrew


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national parks, photography, travel

PARK PEEK // GREAT BASIN

Late in 2017, we ventured west from Wyoming to see new territory. New to us, at least. First up, as we crossed the Utah/ Nevada state line was Great Basin National Park. A relatively small, and unknown Park, Great Basin is a gorgeously diverse gem.

The visitor is likely first captivated by 13,000+ ft. Wheeler Peak. It is impressive from every angle.

But this is not just a mountain park. It boasts sage brush foothills, a bristle cone pine forest, and caves.

We boondock camped in the adjacent BLM land, but the park itself has several camping options for both tent campers and RVers.

The bristlecone pine forest is beautiful and ancient. These trees are gnarly, but the oldest living organisms on the planet.

We visited in October, so the temps were quite cold at higher elevations.

Great Basin is a really nice place to get a glimpse into the diversity of landscapes, plants, and animals in the Great Basin region. It’s a quiet park, remote and little visited, but it’s not because it doesn’t warrant interest.

— Andrew

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photography, wildlife

THE GREAT GRIZ AWAKENING

Just around this time of year, grizzly bears start to emerge from their winter hibernation in our little part of Wyoming.
I get so excited in the spring for this ritual of nature. My heart is breaking that I can’t be there yet, but we are hunkering down until the coronavirus outbreak calms down. So for now, I’ll reminisce over a few encounters from the last several years… I hope you enjoy!
Last year, I got to witness sow 793 with her two cubs. The cubs are both getting to the age where they are preparing to leave mama and venture out on their own. But there’s still important play and learning from mom that has to occur.
They follow her everywhere. But frequently break into play fights with each other when they get bored.
This was a large sow with two younger cubs that I found in Yellowstone several years back. She was gorgeous. And the cubs were so playful and curious.
It was a brief experience, as they moved out of sight only shortly after appearing near the road.
Then there is of course my favorite bear encounter of all time. The other many sightings of these incredible creatures are most often with dozens of other people. Usually on main park roads.
But this one, was just me and this young griz.
It was probably his first spring alone, judging by his relative small size.
I was driving down (what used to be) a little known, inner park dirt road one morning, when I spotted him digging in the wildflowers, looking for food. I slowly pulled up in my truck. He glanced over at me, took a sniff, and then got right back to business.
I likely watched him for around 30-45 minutes… just us. Toward the end of this magical experience, he got within 10 feet. Don’t worry, I was in my truck the whole time, and I never moved closer to him. He never really seemed bothered by my presence. 
Just before he moseyed off, he raised his head and allowed me to make a quick portrait.
I loved being able to capture the raw vulnerability of such a feared and powerful creature, out in his element, all by my lonesome. I will never forget any of my bear encounters, that’s for sure, but this one in particular, is one of my absolute most favorite moments of my entire life.
I don’t expect anything like it will ever happen again, but I pray that it will. 
— Andrew
P.S. Im in the initial stages of putting together a brown bear photography workshop in Finland for summer 2021. If you are interested, drop me a note so I can put you on the early notification list. More info here.

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photography, travel, workshop

LOCATION FEATURE // THE WINDS

In 2005, I packed everything I owned into a Nissan Xterra and headed north, leaving Dallas, my home off and on for almost 25 years. Sure, I lived in Austin for 5, and a short stint in Telluride, CO, but Dallas was HOME, all caps. It was February 13.
The next day, Valentines Day, I arrived in the sleepy, frozen town of Pinedale, WY. The reason; a job as photojournalist for the local weekly newspaper. I had no idea, however, that it would utterly change my life in so many ways. But all of that is for a later post…
My first week, it reached -20ºF every day. Needless to say, not much going on outside, except for the occasional parade of moose clopping through town. Part of my job, aside from community journalism, was to get outside and engage in outdoor activities. I would shoot it, construct a story, and then write about it. This forced us to do something other than sit in the office, the bar, or in front of the TV. Well, needless to say, summer couldn’t come soon enough for us at the Pinedale Roundup.
Cue the Hallelujah Chorus. Summer did not disappoint. Though I did not work for the paper throughout that season, I remained in Pinedale. The draw, you might ask?
The Winds, of course.
Huh?
Sorry, the Wind River Range.
I developed an immediate infatuation. Maybe I should say obsession. Yeah, that seems more appropriate.
Every year since 2005, I returned at least once, sometimes twice or even three times. And over the last four years since we hit the road full time, I have spent more time in the Winds than I have anywhere else. By far. It’s now my home. Even if we only spend the summer and fall there… It’s only because we aren’t quite hearty enough to weather the brutal winter in our trailer.
The area encompasses 2.25 million acres, so although I have extensively explored it over the years, I feel as though I havn’t even begun to scratch the surface. I could easily spend the rest of my life walking those trails, and still never see it all, I suspect. None-the-less, I have made it my life’s work to become one of the few living experts on these mountains. I’m surely on my way.
So, what’s going to happen here is that I plan to open the faucet of images I have made over the joyful years of stepping into this incredible wilderness. During this time of quarantine and daily bad news, I simply hope to bring you (and myself) a little beauty and some memories of better times. I hope it helps, even if for a brief moment. Below are tons of images, and some stories I wanted to share as well.
Maybe just to remind us all of the good that there is out there. And perhaps it will help you hear the wind through the trees, the mountain songbirds, the mighty rushing creeks and the deafening quiet of the wide open wilderness. Maybe you’ll catch a whiff of the lodgepole pines and clean air. Listen for the cry of the eagle, the chirp of the marmot. These good things still exist.
And when all of this ends, I’d love for you to consider joining me out there. Amidst the unending beauty. Check out my newest workshop of backpacking and photography in the Winds.
  
Ellen and I developed an affinity for skinny dipping in these secluded, high mountain lakes during the summer of 2016, when we first hit the road. I dare any of you to tell me of anything more naturally exhilarating than jumping head-first into a 50ºF lake, with towering granite surrounding your fragile frame.
We’ve learned another simple joy these past few years with our wonderful pups; they love nothing more than bounding through open mountain meadows. Witness the pure ecstasy!
    
 
The night sky still elicits awe.
Let me be the first to tell you that hiking these mountains is not always romantic. It’s difficult as hell. Mosquito swarms, submerged trails, freezing temps, grizzlies and other critters of which to be mindful, high elevation and the problems to the human system that can arise from that. These mountains are for real, and quite unforgiving. But the beauty and solitude one can experience are worth every ache and pain.
  
Islay and me in Titcomb Basin…
Only one year later… and one more pup added to the pack, Skye.
More skinny dipping. Actually, this was our first time! Islay loved it from the get go. After a brief, breath-stealing swim, Ellen, Islay, and I sat on the shore in the sun eating cherries as the sun warmed and dried our frozen skin.
A mother moose and her littles (there’s another just out of frame). This is one of my favorite pastimes in this mountain range; it’s full of wildlife. I can spend hours just quietly watching wild animals live their best lives.

The fishing’s damn good too. Islay hasn’t figured out how to help just yet, but she’ll get there, no doubt. She tries.

Every year we spend up here, I find new places that leave my jaw on the ground. So many spots that I want to return to in the “good light” to capture something truly amazing. That’s the plan, Lord willing.

I always felt like this tree somehow belonged on the grounds near Hogwarts.

I’ve spent far too many nights (and it’s not even that many) tent camping in the winter in the Winds. Very little sleep occurs though. I highly recommend NOT doing this.

I truly hope you’ve had a nice little break from the “real world” going on all around us. If you ever need a break, I encourage you to come back and daydream for a bit of this lovely place of immense beauty. It’s what I do.

— Andrew
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SPECIAL OFFER for my blog followers – 10% off everything by using code “BLOG10” at checkout
VIDEO TUTORIALS
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NEW WORKSHOPS

Learn photography and enjoy a guided travel adventure.
INTO THE WINDS // BACKPACKING + PHOTOGRAPHY ADVENTURE
BIG CYPRESS // OFF-THE-BEATEN PATH // LANDSCAPES + WILDLIFE
TELLURIDE // FALL COLOR // LUXE LANDSCAPES
GIFT CARDS
Give the gift of beauty, travel, and knowledge… buy a gift card. Help a small business.
The Photographic Guide to Our National Parks” series of eBooks:
Rocky Mountain National Park
Grand Teton National Park
PRINTS
Andrew Slaton // Limited Edition Prints
Andrew Slaton // Canvas + Metal Prints
STOCK
Tandem Stills + Motion // Andrew Slaton
ASSIGNMENTS
andrew@andrewslatonphoto.com
Thanks for visiting AndrewSlatonBlog.com
All images and content © ARS Media, LLC 2020
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