Friday, July 30, 2010

Pelicans of the Gulf

For nearly all of my life, I have been an environmentalist. I have taken pride in the fact that I have tried in every area of my life to make this world a better place, a place where the beauty that I have seen would remain for my children and grandchildren. Through my photography and my art, I have worked to show the world the wonders of nature, and the beauty it holds for all of us.
Several weeks ago, when we all heard the news of the BP oil leak, I knew the world was about to change. I sensed that this was not going to just pass, but that something major had just occurred and that the very nature of it would change our lives. Many of my friends thought perhaps I was just over-reacting to an event that would soon be cleaned up and forgotten. At times, I thought perhaps they were right......maybe I was over-reacting. But now I know better.
Last week something called to me to visit the Gulf and to see for myself what had happened. So, I and my wife decided to just go down for a few days and have a look for ourselves. We both had an idea in our minds of what we would find, but neither of us were prepared for what we saw. Beaches in late July empty of people. Hotels empty. Parks empty. Restaurants empty. Highways and roads empty. Retail stores empty. Million dollar condos empty. For Sale signs everywhere!
You really can't prepare yourself for what has happened and what lies in store for the people of the Gulf in the years to come. Keep in mind that only one well experienced a leak. Nearly three thousand wells remain in the Gulf, and every one of those wells was put there with the same lack of regulation as the BP well that leaked. Also, remember that those wells have been in place for decades and can potentially develop problems at any time. No sane person can look at this situation and believe that we are not going to see more failures in these existing wells. People in the Gulf know and understand that many more hammers are yet to fall. Tar balls on the beaches of Mobile are just the beginning of what is to come in our future. We, all of us, have stood by and allowed oil companies to drill off our shores with very little regulation and almost no enforcement. Our thirst for cheap oil has made us close our eyes to the dangers of this kind of environmental disaster. Not BP nor the government of the U.S. should shoulder all the blame, as we all must look in the mirror and admit our part in allowing this to happen. This is not about oil on birds or beaches, but rather about our willingness to sacrifice the planet to satisfy our desire for cheap fuel. You, me, our children, our neighbors.....all of us owe the planet an apology. WE DID and me. It's time to call those who represent us and say enough of this nonsense. Please......make one call and start a movement.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunsets in Smokey Mountain National Park

One of the things that I love about my job is that I get to spend much of my time in the outdoors. I never cease to be amazed by the sights and the sounds of nature, and I love the magic of her surprises. Sunsets are a case in point. You really never know how they are going to turn out, unless you are willing to stay the course and let them play themselves out completely. Just when you think it is over, more often than not, something magical will happen before your eyes. The magic moment when light and color come together to paint a picture for us. Sometimes we are lucky enough to have a camera in hand to record that special moment in time. How blessed we all are to witness nature's last show of the evening.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Stories Untold

A couple of years ago, while hiking near Yellowstone National Park, I came upon this old truck. Sitting in the middle of nowhere, this truck seemed oddly out of place, and I wondered how and why it had ended up here. There is, of course, a story to explain how and why it is here, but that story remains unanswered for me. I know that someone walked away from this spot and left it behind, maybe thinking he would return for it someday, but here it still sits parked. I can't help but wonder about those that must have used this truck to earn their wages, to haul what unknown loads to a job site. Looking at this photo makes me wonder the truth of this picture. Who owned this truck? Why was it left behind? How many others have walked this path and found it here? Photographs should make you think, and I like what this one does to me.

Keeping Images Simple

Most of the time, I find that simple images, those uncluttered with distraction, are the most effective. Photographs rarely need the "stuff" that we pack into them. Images often speak to us more clearly, when they have breathing room. The older I get, the more I am trying to unclutter my life, and my images. I think it's a good thing.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Working with Lightroom 3

This image of the Coyote on a snowy ledge is a very difficult exposure. With this kind of contrast, it is tough to process for both the light snow and the dark rock of the background. But Lightroom 3 handles it without any trouble.

The photo above was taken two years ago in Yellowstone National Park in early May. It was shot with a Canon 30D and Canon 17 - 85 lense. A fill flash was used to bring out some of the foreground detail. It was post-processed using the new Adobe Lightroom 3.

To say that I am excited by the new version of Adobe Lightroom is certainly an understatement. I love this new program, and I am blown away by the improvements from the previous version. Adobe has been listening to its' users, and they have given us the best processing program on the market. It's simple, and it's powerful. I am now reprocessing my older images, and the results are nothing short of amazing. Images that were once rejected are now back on the table, and many are just plain stunning. Thank you Adobe for listening to real photographers.