Fields of Gold

FIelds of Gold
(please click to view on black // canon rebel xsi, canon 18-55mm f/3.5, 18mm, f/10, 1/160th, iso 200 // buy print)

I was going through some old images from 2010 this weekend and while my processing methods back then horrify me, I found some RAW files that were actually pretty good shots and just needed to be re-edited with the way I do things now.

The above photograph was taken with my first DSLR…a Canon Rebel XSi, plus the kit lens that came with it. I merged two photos to get the panorama. It was such a stunning sight that afternoon. I don’t remember ever seeing it like that before or since. It must have rained a lot that winter, because the gold wildflowers were just everywhere. I had Lyla with me (around 1 and 1/2 at the time) and she was in awe of the flowers. It was also awesome to get some beautiful clouds to complete the scene.



The NeverEnding Story

I have to say…coming up with movie titles has been getting tougher and tougher. Because this series has kind of become popular among those who read this blog, I’ve ended up holding onto some of my more favorite recent images until Wednesdays when I can unveil them along with a great movie title. But with that comes the problem of having an image and being unable to relate it to a film without wracking your brain for hours.

This particular image is one I had stashed in the archives long before the movie series ever started. Back from July. But when I was scrolling through some older photos tonight, I found it and the title of it kind of came to me quickly so I went with it.

The NeverEnding Story. Wow…talk about a movie from my youth. Things I remember immediately about the film: Artax. Rock Biter. Luck Dragon. Atreyu. And my biggest memory of all is friggin’ bawling my eyes out when Artax sinks into that swamp. You try to watch it now and it seems kind of silly and lame, but back then it made a big impression on me.

How does it relate to this image? Well obviously there isn’t an Ivory Tower in the photo, nor an Oracle or even a little girl named Moonchild (btw, wow what a weird name to yell out at the top of your lungs). What there is though is a path that doesn’t seem to end. And not only that, but the trees never change. It’s like the same story going on forever and ever.

A few regrets about this photo and this scene. It was taken near the small town of Damme, Belgium while I was over there for work with other guys from different companies. Work was done for the week, so a few of us rented a car to check out Bruges. On the way, the GPS steered us wrong (or right depending on how you look at it) and we ended up passing by here. What I regret is being with a group of people and not having a chance to walk down this path. It was like out of a storybook for a guy from Arizona. You just don’t see stuff like this in the desert.

I also wish I’d had my tripod with me and could have done more than three hand-held brackets for this. I like how it looks, but I think a little more data captured in 6+ brackets would have made it perfect.

This shot was taken about 50 feet to the right of a canal that you may remember me posting a picture of awhile back. You can see it right here if you missed it. It was one of those places that I’ll never forgot. I believe I wrote this already, but I could have stayed there forever just gazing at the symmetry and the neverending line of trees, paths and water.

Well, that is until the Nothing showed up to destroy it all.

Save us Bastian!

Call my name!

Ooops, sorry, got a little sucked back into the movie for a second.

Wandering with the Arizona monsoon: On the Apache Trail

What’s amazing about Phoenix is that stuff like this can be seen on just a short drive east of town. Now, it’s not Grand Falls or anything spectacular in the sense of landmarks or stunning vistas…but if you take the time to stop, get out of the car, walk down a short path and look around…you can see beautiful scenes everywhere.

This was a short distance from a pull-off on Apache Trail, a road that takes you to Canyon Lake and eventually Roosevelt Lake. My buddy Bryan (Whom I made famous yesterday) and I made all kinds of stops along the way to Canyon Lake to snap photos of the desert landscapes mixed with the monsoon clouds of the afternoon.

That was essentially the goal of the summer and my “wanderings with the Arizona monsoon.” This coming week I’m headed further northeast into the pine trees for a little camping and hope to get a different angle on the monsoons with the evergreens and mountain lakes.

Definitely click on the larger version of the photo because I think it actually looks a little sharper than the scaled down image above.

A canal near Damme, Belgium

Just as Bryan was responsible for my photo from yesterday, a goofy GPS in our car we rented in Holland may have been responsible for this photo.

We were headed to Bruges, Belgium and the route was fairly direct, but somehow we found ourselves down a small farm road in the middle of nowhere and had at some point veered off towards the north. The GPS was leading us down some winding road for no apparent reason. Perhaps our driver turned right when he should have gone straight, but regardless, we were pretty happy where we ended up.

As we crossed this bridge over one of the many canals in the region, we just had to pull over. The scene before us was breathtaking. Lining these canals (not just here, but most canals we saw) was an endless line of very, very tall trees all spaced evenly, and perfectly, apart.

The sheer scope of a project that required trees to all be planted at the same time, the same distance apart and then to be trimmed and maintained to look mostly uniform was mind-boggling.  Only in very rare spots did you find a tree missing to break up the continuity.

Not only this, but on each side of the canal, just on the other side of the first line of trees, were pathways, and then MORE trees lining those. I have a shot of one of these sidewalks as well that I’ll post at another time.

This shot was difficult to process for some reason. The sun was overhead and bright, the wind was strong and the sky kind of intense. I’d love to find this spot again someday around dusk or dawn and see what I could do again.

It was was a magnificent place…I could have sat on the railing of that bridge for hours and hours.

(More shots from Holland: My Holland Trip)

The Beguinage Convent in Bruges, Belgium

This is the Beguinage Convent located in the middle of Bruges, Belgium. We saw this place on the little tourist map we grabbed and figured it would be an interesting contrast to the cobblestone streets and alleyways we had seen so far.

The first thing you see before entering is that no commercial photography was allowed and no tripods. Which would mean this photo of mine is not for sale. The convent is actually still functioning, which we kind of discovered when we entered into the old church that was on the grounds here.

The nuns inside were all praying aloud, in a sort of musical unison…it was amazing. It definitely caused me to lower my camera, place it behind my back and just listen to the beautiful melody they were creating.

Upon leaving, I felt so moved by this place…these nuns still serving God, allowing us tourists to visit this place, that I ended up feeling protective about it you might say. There were signs about the photography yes, but also about keeping off the grass. The trees are very old poplars, the grass well maintained…I mean, the whole place has buildings dating back to the 13th century. They wanted to keep it from being trampled to death by people.

So I come out of the church, look up and four tourists, all with gigantic Nikon cameras, are trouncing all over the grass, posing for portraits, shooting up into the trees, etc. Now, I don’t care what language you speak: the sign to stay off the grass was universal. Not to mention, as a photographer, I would rather not have idiots giving us a bad name.

I let out a big “Psssst!” (it was incredibly quiet there), and they looked at me, and I motioned them to get off the grass. They got a guilty look and quickly shuffled out onto the sidewalks. They knew they shouldn’t have been there. Tsk tsk.

My buddies I was with kind of laughed at me, but I felt good about helping these sweet old nuns out. I may return and apply for a job as the Beguinage Convent Bouncer. Pretty sure I saw a sign for that job opening somewhere…

Oh yeah, the photo…some dude on Twitter once said they “abhorred” HDR because it sucks all the life out of shadows. Well…okie dokie.

The sun was starting to get lower in the sky and I absolutely loved the way the shadows played on the grass and the path in front of me. The old buildings in the background give it some nice depth as well. And I kind of dig that you can’t see the tops of these huge trees…it definitely adds some scope and height to the photo.

(More photos from my Holland trip)