Friday, January 13, 2012

2011: Year in Review

The new year has begun and it is a good a time as any to look back at 2011 and review some of my favorite images. What follows are ten images, all made last year. I have a difficult enough of a time choosing my "favorites", so this list is by no means my "Top 10" in the truest sense. Instead, I will list them in chronological order with a reason or two as to why they made the list. How's that sound? And all of these images are on sale currently at my website. 50% traditional photo paper prints sizes 13x19, 16x24, 20x30, 24x36, and 30x45 until January 31, 2012.

10. "Dawn of a New Day" - Death Valley National Park, California

This image was made during the first sunrise of 2011. Back at camp, the alarm sounded at 5am and the sky was clear. Still, there is no excuse to sleep in. The conditions cooperated as clouds rolled in and ignited at sunrise. They stuck around for maybe an hour and then were gone. One might think "how lucky", but luck can only get you so far. Leading up to this sunrise, I had been in the eastern Sierras for a few days. Only upon hearing that the Badwater basin was still flooded, did I make the decision to head to Death Valley. A sunset and sunrise were spent scouting the area around the main parking lot. No strong images were produced, just the knowledge that this area was not very photogenic. More scouting during the day led to finding this area. A sunset on New Year's Eve 2010 was spent here and was quite nice. But it all came together on New Year's Day; the fourth session at Badwater. Persistence can lead to being rewarded.

9. "Golden Shores #2" - San Gregorio State Beach, California

Great light, unique wave action colliding with the heavy outflow of a wet winter, and being waist deep in water with drift wood banging into your tripod and legs. Seascape photography at its best. Enough said.

8. "Gateway to Another World" - Davenport, California

The coast of Santa Cruz County is so rich and diverse for landscape photography, I am constantly amazed at how many images can be made at a single beach. Despite visiting this beach and walking through this arch countless times, I had never stopped to seriously photograph it. Until this year.

7. "The Bride's Veil" - Yosemite National Park, California

Inspired by an image in the Ansel Adam's Gallery in Yosemite National Park (not an Ansel Adam image however), I was excited to find this specific vantage point with classic Yosemite conditions. I had this romantic notion that it would require some actual effort to find this vantage point, but the dedicated pull out and crowd of people kinda gave it away. Oh well, it is still a beautiful view!

6. "Forgotten Coast" - San Mateo Coast, California

Nestled in a secluded section of coast, these amazing sandstone formations really got me excited about finding something "new" again. Even though new images can be made anywhere, finding a new landscape certainly is fulfilling. Besides, who simply wants to live their photographic life simply going from icon to icon? Getting outside, exploring, and discovering the unknown (at least a personal unknown) can be much more rewarding.

5. "Guiding Light" - Davenport, California

This is a familiar location, but I put a spin on it for a completely different look and feel. Nothing ground breaking, but a reminder about how different light and a different mood can reveal a new image. Never think of photography as a grocery list where items get checked off once you've photographed them.

4. "Falling Light" - Santa Cruz, California

Yes, I am a sucker for icons, too. And I've always wanted an exploding sky to compliment the most iconic rock in my hometown. Let's hear it for Santa Cruz! :)

3. "Eye of the Alabama Hills" - Lone Pine, California

I've only been doing landscape photography for about three years. Night photography intrigues me. In California, there are a lot more clear days than cloudy. And the light at night, if nothing else, certainly is predictable. This image was my first star trails image I am happy with. By no means, am I 100% happy with it, but it represents one of the building blocks to (hopefully) better things to come.

2. "Reclamation" - Lee Vining, California

My first visit to Mono Lake was around sixteen years ago as an undergraduate in college. My future room mate was big into astronomy and volunteered at the Mono Lake Committee. The clarity of the night sky was amazing! We once took a canoe out on the lake in the dead of winter, creating a path through the layer of fresh water ice which floats atop the salty, brine filled waters. These early memories of Mono Lake make it more dear to me and I was excited to finally get great light on my final trip of 2011.

1. "Strength of Conviction" - Convict Lake, California

"You can't always get want you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need" - The Rolling Stones
I very much wanted a blazing color image of clouds igniting with fiery skies above Convict Lake on my recent trip. But as the blazing skies laughed at me from everywhere BUT above the lake, I was getting a bit disappointed. But one of my resolutions for this year and every year is to expect less and be happy with what I am given. Instead of having preconceived notions of what I want, only to be disappointed if things don't turn out my way, I want to live more in the experience, and less in the photographic results.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Where in the world is Jim Patterson?

A recent image: proof I still get out from time to time.

I'll admit it. I avoid my blog. I avoid it like the dishes in the sink or the junk mail on the kitchen counter. I started this blog a few years ago because I thought that was something any self-respecting photographer should do. And years ago, it was one of the main ways to socialize on the internet.

Nowadays, there is Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Google+, LinkedIn, etc, etc, etc. As well, I somehow feel compelled to write about something "important". Like my blog is the doorway to some serious photography discourse. And it just shouldn't be that way.

So, where have I been? I've been busy, not busy, in a funk, uninspired, totally inspired, happy, sad, and occasionally, I get out and use my camera. Oh yeah! I got a new camera. My D300 went into a circular service nightmare where it traveled around the state of California in UPS or FedEx boxes for three months before I finally called off the whole ordeal. $800 to replace the sensor was the verdict, and I couldn't go through with it.

The good news was, I must have had some foresight into this debacle, and I purchased a D7000 the day I sent my D300 off on its multi-thousand mile journey. But alas, the D7000 is now with Nikon's service department after only five months of use. Over ten years of using Nikon, and I think I got my first "lemon". Not 100% on this, but I will update the blog (I promise) once I have more information.

I will find the time to randomly update the blog as much as I can. Photos, gear, techniques, workshop info, random thoughts, you name it.

I realize I may have lost my audience here, but for those of you hardy enough to still stick around, what would you like to see my blog turn into? Portfolio? Equipment reviews? Techniques? Tutorials? Let me know!

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

New Year, New Site

I hope everyone had a safe and fun holidays.  Except for spending about ten hours trying to rid my parents' computer of a virus on Xmas, I had a wonderful week off from work.  This year, I headed to the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains between Lone Pine and Bishop before heading over to Death Valley for a few days.

I wanted to mention how I am working on a new website through a company called Photoshelter.  I have been diligently working on my SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and as a result, I have been a slave to the computer while I keyword and caption all my images.

Anyway, here is a sneak peek of my Eastern Sierras Gallery.  Each day I am adding new content to the site with the next project being the underwater portion of my images.  You can view the slide show below larger, jsut click on the four arrows icon in the lower right to enlarge it.  And if you feel so obliged, you can share this with others via either the URL or embed code.  Until next time!

Thursday, December 23, 2010

The Importance of Preparation

Winter time in California can often be the best season for dramatic weather and light.  In the summer, however, landscape photographers along the coast such as myself, can often be found wandering around like zombies due to the mundane conditions which define California's warmer months.  Of course, there are always images out there waiting for you, in any weather, if you look hard enough, but you have to admit, there is nothing quite like some dramatic light and storm clouds at the beach!

As the past week has brought a very wet winter storm to California, I have been prepared for almost every sunrise and sunset.  Most of the time, the weather has not cooperated.  Last night looked to have the most potential all week and I rallied a couple friends, including my workshop partner, Josh Cripps, to go out for quick sunset photo session up the coast.

Big problem.

I had inadvertently left my camera bag at home.  There was no time to go back, so I called my friend Diego who hadn't left yet.  He grabbed a spare camera and a mid-range lens.  Once at the beach, I knew the light was something special and I was happily snapping photos and video with the only camera I had, my cell phone, until Diego arrived.

Tripod compatibility was an issue, so I simply fired off bracket bursts with the incoming waves as I tried my best to keep everything stable.  Of course, I would have preferred to be photographing with all my own equipment, but my borrowed gear and a make-shift stability system was ten times better than my cell phone.

My temporary lapse of reason cost me some creative flexibility once on location.  I realize now the importance of always being prepared and that means always having your camera with you.  It is extremely difficult to make images without it!

Happy holidays everyone!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Finding the Time

Taken back in February, this was one of those 'race to make it in time for sunset' shots. It was also one of those times I felt like I was just going through the motions. I was going to the same old spot, photographing the same old subject.

But I am learning something about myself and about creativity and feeling good about photography. It has little to do with "the same old spots" or "the same old subject". What it IS all about, is time. If I have time to wander the beach (or where ever I am), if I have time to watch the conditions change and unfold before me, I become more in tune with my surroundings. The landscape becomes more meaningful because I am not rushed into a formulaic style of photography.

In this day and age, many of us lead busy lives and taking the time to do photography can be challenging. Setting aside ample time to explore your landscapes will undoubtedly improve your photography. Even if the location you visit is one you have spent numerous hours or days at, you will see things you may have missed on all your previous visits. When you are rushed, you tend to see the same things you saw before, the obvious choices.

Growth in photography, and life, comes from the wealth of experience we draw from the past. But don't lose sight of the new experiences to add to that wealth. Take the time to explore and enjoy every minute of those precious moments we strive to capture with our cameras.