Google+ Landscape Photography, ‘My Special Place’ – 2nd Place

RJ Wilner Honors, Images, On the Road 0 Comments

Grandview Point Overlook, Canyonlands Nat'l Pk 046, 04/27/2005

Google Plus is one of the better social media sites for photographers to share their ware, IMO. And I’ve been an active participant there for a couple years now.

One of the more interesting features of G+ are the ‘theme pages’ that exist in various forms. A ‘theme page’ being something of a ‘categorized’ page curated by a single individual, or more frequently, by a group of individuals.  In the world of photography, one might find themes such as ‘Landscape Photography’, ‘Magnificient Monochrome’, etc. Some such theme pages are very active pages sharing many images daily, some are a little picky about the images they share, and some might fall more in the ‘mom & pop’ type operations.

In addition to sharing images submitted to the theme, some theme pages utilize a G+ ‘Events’ feature. And one of my favorite theme pages (and one with one of, if not the largest following on G+), +Landscape Photography’, hosts a weekly contest ‘event’ in which the theme of the contest changes each week, but always falls within the definition of ‘landscape’ photography.

Last week’s contest theme was entitled ‘My Special Place’ for which I submitted the image you find attached here. It is a shot from Canyonlands Nat’l Park just outside Moab, UT. The Moab area is one of my favorite places in ‘the Continental 48’ for a variety of reasons….(1) It’s semi lunar like landscape just differs so dramatically from where I actually live just south of St. Louis, MO…….., (2) it has 2 National Parks (Canyonlands & Arches) in it’s ‘back yard’…….., and (3) has been the base of operations for some of the best vacations of my life with a bunch of mountain biking friends.

This was one of 500+ images submitted, and it won 2nd Place. I was stunned…..and very honored for that placing. With so many submissions by so many fine image makers, it literally made my day to get notified of the award. I must admit it would definitely be in a ‘Top 10 Personal Favorites’ list of images I’ve captured over the years, but what I like so frequently differs from what ‘John Q Public’ likes that I would never have expected this one to do so well.

A little more ‘backstory’ on the image can be found in this portfolio post.

And if you’re at all interested in reading the details of this My Special Place contest, and viewing the other submissions, go here.

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Road Trip: Johnsons Shut-Ins State Park 01/17/2015

RJ Wilner Images, On the Road, Tips, Tricks, & Tutes 0 Comments

Johnsons Shut-Ins State Park 004, 01/17/2015
Johsnons Shut-Ins State Park 031, 01/17/2015

I made a short road trip yesterday to Johnsons Shut-Ins State Park in SE Missouri. The portion of the East Fork of the Black River that runs through the park has a couple large areas of ‘cascades’ in the river where it just dances around & between the large granite boulders interrupting it’s path. And given the rather extended, rather frigid (by Missouri standards) cold spell we’d experienced the last couple weeks, I had hoped to find some interesting ice formations in the cascades. To my surprise, there was none….nada. There was an area or 2 of runoff on the hillsides either side of the Shut-Ins area that had iced over, but nary an icicle to be found anywhere in the cascades areas. I’m left wondering if that phenomenon ever occurs here.

It was a strange day all around. I had awaken approx. 04:30 with plans on hitting the road in time to make it to the park around sunrise. But I’d neglected to prepare the gear the night before, so I scrambled a bit to re-arrange the day bag with the items I anticipated I may want to use on this adventure. Took everything out, left a few things out, and added an item or two. Now, pause here for a second, and take note of the activity I just discussed….we’ll be coming back to this later.

Eventually, I hit the road…even though it was probably a half hr or so later than originally intended. But on the road I go, and make it to the park in approx. 1.5hr…..having missed sunrise, but still good for some early morning light.

I make the short hike to the largest ‘Shut-In’ area and it’s cascades, and start eyeballing some compositions. Fire off a few shots w/ shutter speeds in the 1/4 sec range @ f16. Previewing in camera, I wonder if I shouldn’t pull out a Neutral Density filter to lengthen the shutter speed some and smooth out the water flowing through the cascades. So, I grab the day bag, and start digging through it. Now, refer back to where I said “We’ll be coming back to this.” Guess why….because guess what I’d forgotten to put back in the bag while re-arranging it.(?) My filter pouch. I dug through the bag a couple times in disbelief that I’d forgotten to throw it back in, but sure enough, it was not there. Ughhhhh…, no filters and the light is getting brighter, and the shutter speeds shorter.

The semi-good news is that I’d recently purchased a Lee Big Stopper, and because I’ve kept it in it’s original container from Lee, at least it managed to find it’s way back into the bag earlier. Unfortunately, the area I was shooting, was still largely shaded by a hillside the sun hadn’t quite climbed over, and the shutter speeds necessitated by the LBS were considerably longer than I wished for a ‘moving water’ shot. It turned the flowing water into the dreaded ‘white blob’. ‘IMO, the one aspect of long exposure photography shooters should avoid when shooting moving water is the ‘white blob’…..when the shutter speed becomes SO long the moving water just loses all detail, and looks like….well, a white blob.

Though I shot a number of shots with the LBS, none really stood out to me. But I spent a couple more hrs in the area, and shot a variety of compositions shooting with various shutter speed/aperture combinations. Which brings us back, yet again, to the “We’ll be returning….” refrain. This time because…..guess what else I neglected to throw back in the bag prior to leaving the house…..a fully freshly charged battery. Good grief, there I am having tripped the trigger maybe 75 times, and the in camera low battery alert is sticking it’s tongue out at me. “Are you kidding me” I muttered. “You act like you’ve never done this photo road trip thing before.”

I was surprised how many additional shots I was able to capture after the alert first appeared. And the battery never did completely shut down on me. And in the end, I got just about as many shots as I really wanted with the morning light getting a little long in the tooth.

So all in all, and despite my total lack of adherence to the old Boy Scout ‘Be Prepared’ motto, I’m happy to have come away with the 2 shots you see hear.

Tip of the day: How to Prepare for a Photo Road Trip…..NOT!

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