Wetlands Pond, Reflected Winter Sky

Posted on 23 July 2014 | Comment

Wetlands Pond, Reflected Winter Sky

Wetlands Pond, Reflected Winter Sky

Wetlands Pond, Reflected Winter Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 14, 4014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A seasonal wetlands pond reflects a foggy winter sky

This is the third in this series of photographs from a beautifully atmospheric winter day in California’s San Joaquin Valley last winter. Although I shot the three scenes nearly a half year ago, it took me that long to return to the original files and understand what I wanted to do with them. All three depict a type of atmosphere than has long intrigued me — fog and mist-filled atmosphere, illuminated by sun, and so bright as to be almost difficult to look at directly.

These are minimal landscapes — there is little in them that is concrete and fixed stuff. Here the only “solid” elements are a few distant birds scattered on the surface of the water, a small island, and a faint line of the horizon further off. The rest of the scene is almost entirely ephemeral, consisting of the fog-obscured sky with its high winter clouds, and the reflection of these elements in the surface of the wetlands pond below. There isn’t a lot in this image when you come right down to it, but for me it evokes a quiet sense of great distances and space.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Pond, Trees, Reflected Winter Sky

Posted on 22 July 2014 | Comment

Pond, Trees, Reflected Winter Sky

Pond, Trees, Reflected Winter Sky

Pond, Trees, Reflected Winter Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 14, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A seasonal wetlands pond reflects a tree and foggy winter sky

This is the second in this sequence of three photographs that I’m sharing this week. All three were made nearly a half year ago on a foggy winter day in California’s San Joaquin Valley, where I had gone primarily to photograph migratory birds — geese, cranes, herons, egrets, and more. Although I knew what attracted me making photographs of these three scenes, as I wrote in the commentary on the first of them, I couldn’t quite figure out how to “see” them as final photographs back then, and they sat in my raw file archive until I recently reviewed this older images and saw how I could work with them.

There is a thread (among many) in my photographs of shooting very brightly lit fog, clouds, mist, and haze. I love the way that these atmospheric conditions can seem to glow from within when the conditions are right, and I’m especially attracted to such light when it is both slightly transparent and so brightly lit that it is almost hard to look directly into it. In these three minimalist landscape photographs I have pushed things back toward that very bright end of the luminosity scale. There are some black tones in this image, but they are very small, and almost everything else is much brighter.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
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Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Pond, Fog, and Sky

Posted on 21 July 2014 | Comment

Pond, Fog, and Sky

Pond, Fog, and Sky

Pond, Fog, and Sky. San Joaquin Valley, California. February 14, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A few migratory birds on the reflecting surface of a wetland pond on a foggy morning

This is one of a series of three photographs that will appear here during the next few days. As I post each of them I will have a bit more to say about the ideas behind the series, which means that story will be incomplete until they are all posted. (It may remain a bit incomplete even after I post them all, but that is a different issue.) I’ll use the first photograph to say something about the circumstance that led to them. I’ll also point out that if your taste runs to big, monumental, extravagant landscapes… these don’t work that way. They are, I think, much more quiet, subtle, and introspective images. I have made small test prints, and I think that these may perhaps lend themselves to large prints on matte paper.

Nearly a half-year ago I was in California’s San Joaquin Valley, with the primary goal being to photograph migratory birds, but also with the companion goal of photographing the minimalist landscape, the expansive sky, and the changing winter atmosphere. At one point I saw a scene that was mostly sky — the actual sky and its reflection in large, still wetlands ponds — and light diffused by tule fog. I had a sort of intuitive idea about what I saw in these scenes (which I may describe more in a follow-up post) but I wasn’t quite certain how to interpret them in the post-camera part of the process. I looked at them shortly after making the images and then left them behind as I moved on to other work. Very recently I was going back through older photographs, came upon these, and a way to interpret them as black and white photographs immediately seemed obvious. I’ll write a bit more about that soon, but here I’ll end with the thought that sometimes photographs have to “age” a bit before I/we can see them for what they are and what they might be.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Brown Pelicans, Fog, Water

Posted on 20 July 2014 | Comment

Brown Pelicans, Fog, Water

Brown Pelicans, Fog, Water

Brown Pelicans, Fog, Water. Pacific Coast Highway, California. July 4, 2014. © Copyright 2014 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A large flock of brown pelicans flies above the Pacific Ocean on a foggy summer morning

I have a thing about pelicans. They seem to me to stand apart from other birds along the California coast, most often coasting sedately on the wind, either high above as they pass along and above coastal cliffs or else down so close to the water that it seems like they will touch it. I have learned to watch for them, and I know of some places where it is likely that I’ll be able to see them close up, often by going to places high along cliff-top bluffs along which they frequently fly.

This large group completely surprised me — they came out of the blue, and I had not even been thinking about pelicans as I finished photographing a landscape scene from the tripod. I was just about as unprepared as possible for photographing birds in flight. Everything on the camera was set to manual — focus, shutter speed, aperture — and the camera had been in live view mode and on a low ISO. I was at the back of my car removing the camera from the tripod to put it away and probably was in the middle of collapsing the tripod legs when I looked up and saw a huge flock of pelicans just above the roadway to my south. I knew I had just seconds to reconfigure the camera before they arrived at my position — at least I had a long lens attached already! — so I did what I often do in these cases. I ignored the birds as I instinctively went through a bird photography set-up routine as quickly as I could: auto-focus on, stabilization on, camera in aperture priority mode (that’s a long story), ISO jacked up to 800. The only thing I forgot was shifting into burst mode, but that isn’t totally necessary. Finishing this quick sequence, I looked up to find the birds just about at my position, raised the camera, quickly tried to frame the birds against the background of the foggy Pacific, and made a few quick exposures before they moved out of range and faded into the fog.

G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

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