Cloud forest, Glacier National Park, Montana
In today’s mobile world of social media and online everything we are exposed to more daily imagery than at any previous time in history. As a result, our visual sensitivity is developing at a rapid rate along with the need to mentally process these images in a timely manner.
Much the same way we have a hard time watching the dated animation from old sci-fi movies, it’s easy to become more critical of what we like (and Like on Facebook). And with all of the various processing techniques (HDR, focus stacking, exposure blending to name a few) it’s also easy to be lulled into sensory overload from this highly polished visual world. But whatever technology may hold for the future, one thing will never change and that’s the need to create an emotional response with our images.
A technically perfect image may have the wow factor of a Hollywood blockbuster, but perfection does not necessarily create heart - and that’s really what photography is all about. Regardless of the subject matter, lens used or processing applied, convey the mood and emotion in your images through lighting, weather or technique and your photography will always rise above the crowd.
Don’t shoot what it looks like. Shoot what it feels like. -David Alan Harvey
Bonsai Rock at sunset, Lake Tahoe, Nevada
Lake Tahoe is a land of superlatives. Straddling the border of California and Nevada at over 6,000 feet, it’s the deepest alpine lake in North America and second only to Crater Lake in overall depth. It also has the largest volume of any lake in the United States behind the Great Lakes. By day, the crystal clear waters of this mountain oasis entice with a cerulean hue that sparkles like a jewel amid the surrounding peaks. But dusk and dawn have a special quality all their own for photography or just soaking up the magic hour experience.
Bonsai Rock shown here has become an icon of the lake, and the partially submerged boulders surrounding it make this a wonderful destination at sunset. Located on the northern Nevada side not far from Sand Harbor State Park, it’s a bit tricky to find but well worth the short hike down from the road (providing you find parking along the narrow highway, and have a headlamp for the return). The wind really sets the mood here for photography as it can be strong or non-existent, but a long shutter softens the scene when the lake is restless and adds to the timeless feeling of this beautiful location.
The Channel Islands of California are a chain of eight islands located in the Pacific Ocean off the coast of Southern California in the Santa Barbara Channel. Five of the islands (San Miguel, Santa Rosa, Santa Cruz, Anacapa, and Santa Barbara) were designated Channel Islands National Park in 1980, and are co-managed by the National Park Service and the Nature Conservancy.
Often referred to as America’s Galapagos, the Channel Islands are home to over 2,000 plant and animal species and 145 of those are found nowhere else on earth! The island fox (shown here) is one example – a dwarf fox native to six of the eight Islands. Due to their geographic isolation these curious creatures have no immunity to disease brought in from the mainland, and as a result their population dwindled to near extinction in the 1990s. Fortunately they were federally protected as an endangered species in 2004, and efforts to rebuild fox populations and restore their ecosystems have been quite successful.
In addition to the unique flora and fauna, the archeological and cultural resources on the Channel Islands span a period of more than 12,000 years of human habitation. The Chumash Indians lived off the sea for thousands of years followed by Spanish and American cattle ranches that thrived in the nineteenth century. Over the years, archaeologists have unearthed an amazing timeline dating back to the Pleistocene, including the world’s most complete pygmy mammoth specimen discovered on Santa Rosa Island in 1994.
The Islands are also part of one of the richest marine biospheres of the world. The Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary protects the surrounding waters six nautical miles off Anacapa, Santa Cruz, San Miguel, Santa Rosa, and Santa Barbara islands, where a whole new world invites exploration above and below the surface.