Photo Cascadia Blog
Posts Tagged ‘Desert Southwest’
Lucky number seven in 2016 for Photo Cascadia. Seven for the first full year with seven team members and seven for the number of years Photo Cascadia has been around. Speaking of luck it was honestly mostly luck in the beginning that this specific team of photographers formed, have become good friends and enjoy sharing experiences and knowledge with all of you for as long as we have. During this time we have seen similar groups form and fold. We hope this seven year stretch is only the beginning of our journey as you join us along for the ride. In the end it’s you, the readers, that continue to provide energy for what we do at Photo Cascadia. For this we are extremely grateful and thankful… thank you!
Where did 2016 take you for adventure and photography? I am sure it was similar to many on the Photo Cascadia team where we spent time in our own backyards, crossing state lines as well as some continent hopping. If you have been watching our blog for more than a year now you will know that mid December is when Photo Cascadia takes a break from our weekly posting until mid January. It’s our time to step back and reflect on the year that has past while winding down with family and friends.
As we reflect on things it’s a good time to remember that all the places we get to visit should be available for those that come after us. It seems 2016 we unfortunately saw a rise, at least in the media if not reality, around people doing permanent damage to places we all want to enjoy and photograph as well as companies and political forces looking to seize locations set aside for long term preservation. Now days, perhaps more than ever, we all need breaks into nature whether some of us realize it or not as the number of us living in a concrete jungle grows. With that I leave you with one of my favorite quotes.
“May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds.” – Edward Abbey
We take this time to provide a year end visual show of where we have traveled with some behind the scenes clips. Take a four minute break and check it out.
May your year close out with many lasting memories and the new year start with a trail full of endless possibilities.
I did a blog post a number of years back on abstract nature photography yet it’s been a long time and thought I would revisit this topic. I really enjoy this type of photography especially when you find hidden gems that others may not have seen or might have passed over many times before you. Often what ends up being the final photo doesn’t jump out at you without surveying a scene for potential compositions. Sometimes I dig in and strike it rich finding those gems and other times I come up empty handed which is part of the fun.
Rather than a lot of typing for this post I will let the video do most of the talking this time around. I am not normally the video tutorial kind of person yet I am getting myself to branch out into this type of work. Below is the video and three photos I discuss in greater detail. For each scene I show several compositions I took leading up to the final to help understand my thought process to build a compelling abstract or intimate nature photo.
Standing Tall – In cold wet forest of the Columbia River Gorge in early winter
Desert Lizard – In the dry cool desert Southwest in Fall inside Zion National Park
Final Flames of Fall – Above a forest in the Columbia River Gorge during the final days of fall
Video covering the three photos above in much more detail. Happy viewing!
An Interview with David Thompson by David Cobb
1. Tell us a little about yourself David.
I was born in Las Vegas, and I consider myself an
ordinary guy. Both my parents were in the military and I’m the only child. From Vegas we
then moved to New Mexico. While living in New Mexico I spent quite a bit of time in the
outdoors. I use to hike and ride my bike in the deserts, and also did some camping and
fishing in the nearby mountains. From New Mexico, we moved back to Las Vegas in
1993. I’ve lived in Vegas ever since.
2. When and how did you get your start in photography?
I got my start in photography in 2004. My father gave me a Pentax ZX 35mm
film camera. I didn’t know anything about compositions, exposure, or how to use the
basic functions of the camera. After many months of failed attempts to take a decent
picture, and the high costs of film development, I gave up. In 2008, when my son was
born, I got my first digital camera which was a Canon Rebel XTI. I started with just family
pictures at first, and honestly I wasn’t good at that either. During my travels, I
would constantly see these amazing sunsets/sunrises and I wished I could capture what I
was seeing. One day I decided to go online to do some research on landscape
photography. Once I saw all the fantastic images online……..I was hooked! I had to
learn more! From there, that’s where my photography journey began.
3. Much of your landscape photography is centered in the America Southwest. What do you love about this area, and what keeps you coming back?
What I love about the Southwest, is all the amazing landscapes here. What
keeps me coming back is the landscapes are constantly changing. The light is never the
same, the atmosphere is always different, there are so many different variables that make
photographing these landscapes interesting.
4. You recently travelled to Iceland, tell us how it is similar and different from the
stark landscapes of the desert southwest?
Iceland……the landscape of Iceland is beautiful and unique in its own way.
Iceland is very similar to the deserts of the southwest, particularly the areas around Death
Valley National Park. The landscapes are very similar in terms of their otherworldly/lunar
features. They are also similar with their rugged appearance and treeless vistas. Where
they differ, obviously the climate is different, but in Iceland there is water everywhere.
Waterfalls flowing from every cliff in sight. You will see random tarns amongst
the volcanic landscape. Another feature that was very different from the deserts of the
Southwest, was the contrast in colors. There were so many color variations throughout
the landscapes in Iceland.
5. When you’re not photographing the desert southwest, where do you like to travel and photograph and why?
When I’m not photographing the deserts, I like to photograph anything that is the
complete opposite of the desert. Whether it be the lush canyons of the Columbia River
Gorge, or the shores of the Pacific Ocean along the southern California or Oregon coast,
anything that is different than the desert works for me. I love shooting all landscapes. I’m
not too picky.
6. What are your top three personal favorite images and why?
“Hoodoo Magic” With this image, I have seen virga numerous times here in the
desert. But this display of virga was something like I had never seen. On this particular
evening in the Bisti Wilderness area of New Mexico, my buddy Paul and I were just
watching this storm develop for about 45 minutes. The sun eventually broke through the
clouds giving us an amazing display of light. The sun really brought the landscape to life.
“Nuclear Dunes” (see top image) The light I witnessed on this evening was in my top three
sunsets I’ve seen in my photography journey. I had gotten off work late that afternoon.
My plan was to drive to Lone Pine, California for sunset on my way to the Eastern Sierras but
there was no way I was gonna make for sunset, so I went with my alternative plan, and hit
the Mesquite Sand Dunes for sunset instead. I remember complaining to myself because
the sky didn’t look like it would have any potential, but I hiked out onto the dunes
anyway. I sat there for a little while contemplating if I should leave or not. As I started
packing up my gear I saw a little glimmer of light creeping through the clouds on the
horizon. I didn’t think much of it, until I saw a little glimpse of pink in the clouds. I turned
back around, and within seconds that sky was ablaze with color. That light lasted a good
hour after sunset. I only saw one other person shooting that evening. Talking
about that image gives me the chills.
“Peeled “ This small scene is one of my personal favorites. A couple friends and I
stumbled upon this area while exploring a section of the Painted Desert in Arizona. This
section of cracked mud was very interesting to me because of the peeling features of the
mud and the natural gradient in colors. I waited about 25 minutes before sunset for the
sun to get lower to the horizon. The timing couldn’t have been any better. For me, the
mix of golden light and shadows looked incredible on these cracks.
7. Explain your nickname D Breezy, and what it means to be D Breezied?
The name D Breezy is a name I came up with some time ago when I initially set
up my account on Flickr. It’s basically D, for David, and Breezy for my easy going
attitude. I’m the type of person that just goes with the flow. For some reason the name
has kinda stuck with me over the years. It’s funny because I never thought that the name
would stick like that. What it means to be D Breezied is when you miss great light due to
daily life, family, or sitting at home instead of being out shooting. I seriously can’t believe that the
term D Breezied is being used on a regular basis now. It started off as a joke years ago.
8. What is the most important piece of photo equipment you can’t live without?
The one piece of photograph equipment that I can’t live with out with would have
to be my Really Right Stuff TVC33 tripod. It took me some years to understand how
important a sturdy tripod is. Once I got the RRS legs, I was thrilled to have legs that I
could use in any type of shooting situation. Probably the best piece of photography
equipment that i’ve purchased.
You can see more of David’s outstanding images at: davidthompsonphotography.com/