My musings

Lawton Landscape Photography | Wichita Mountains 2014

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

If ever you’re given the opportunity to watch a sunset or exercise your landscape photography skills from the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge, north of Lawton, please take it. Some of the best landscapes and sunsets in Oklahoma are visible from the roughly 59,000 acres of protected lands. Whether viewing from the summit of Mount Scott or the banks of one of the many bodies of water within its borders, the refuge will likely provide you with a memorable experience. I personally reside within a short drive’s distance of the refuge so I get to shoot the expanses more often than not. The unfortunate aspect of the refuge is the public visitation hours, which are variable throughout the year based on sunrise and sunset. Don’t get caught after hours. Dealing with federal law enforcement isn’t what I would label as enjoyable.

 

Crepuscular rays loom over Lost Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
Sunset captured from Lost Lake

The last light falls off behind the horizon in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
Sunset over Caddo Lake

A surprise explosion of color ignites as the sun sets for the day
Sunset from Mount Scott

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads
One of a few shots I snagged of lily pads on Quanah Parker Lake

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

The sun sets over Quanah Parker Lake in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge while covered in lily pads

A flourish of last minute color kisses the sky as sun sets in the Wichita Mountain Wildlife Refuge
The number of lonely trees in the refuge is very conducive to snagging a great shot.

Oklahoma Landscape Photographer | Chattanooga

The sun sets over a Southwest Oklahoma Cotton Field

 

I had been looking for this shot for a while. There are several hundred miles of back roads in SW Oklahoma begging me to leave Lawton on an exploratory excursion. Quite often I’ll find a scene similar to this but the environment contains a fatal flaw that will be a nightmare to remove in post; power poles, fences, random equipment, etc.. This was one of those moments where everything seemed to click. I anticipated a great sunset. I left with more than enough time to get the shot and found a scene with none of the aforementioned obstacles in my way. To passers by I create quite the scene while standing on top of my SUV with a tripod mounted camera intently focused on the horizon in front of me. This is the type of photography that I do just for me. It’s my sanctuary.

 

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Cityscape Photographer | Chicago 2014

Iconic Chicago Apartment Towers

Oh Chicago. You beautifully windy city. I love visiting you, even with your atrociously high crime rates. Your skyline in unmistakable and your visuals are unmissable. I went a few days in Chi-town for the Story 2014 conference in early October. I got up earlier than normal and stayed out later than usual to get some of these shots. I ended up in locations that didn’t feel all that safe but were probably complete innocuous. I captured more of my surroundings on film than digital during this trip. I’m not sure what inspired that decision but it was a blast to see what developed a couple of weeks after my return.

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park Pano

Cloud Gate

Cloud Gate at Millennium Park Pano

Downtown Chicago from the Gold Coast

CBOT Library from LaSalle LaSalle and Randolph

Washington Block Washington and Wells

VanBuren and Financial Place Cloud Gate at Millennium Park

Marina City

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Landscape Photographer | Oregon 2014

Japanese Maple in Portland, Oregon's Japanese Garden

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Landscape Photographer | Montana 2014

An old barn stands watch over the foothills of the Montana Rocky Mountains

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Landscape Photography | Glacier 2014

Bearhat Mountain looms over Hidden Lake at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park, Montana

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Landscape Photographer | Yosemite 2014

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park, California as seen from Four Mile Trail

Chihuly @OKCMOA

I’ve visited the Oklahoma City Museum of Art many times. I’ve seen the glory of its visiting exhibits and modern art, but one portion of the museum never ceases to catch my attention – Dale Chihuly: The Collection.

I had photographed portions of the exhibit before but never intently and intensely as I did upon this visit. I had been surprised with a visit earlier in the week but had very little time to really plan out or shoot any photos. Upon my return later in the week, gear in hand, I set out to capture Chihuly’s works as best I could. It’s really difficult to photograph glass like this in its resting environment. The light bounces in all different directions from multiple sources illuminating the exhibit.

I took my own approach to highlighting his work by separating it from the surroundings. When visiting in person, distractions aren’t as much of an issue. The human eye can focus on details and shutout the errata of the rest of the room. Taking photos of an exhibit like this isn’t as easy. I determined the best approach was to shoot bracketed photos at f/8.0 (for the most part) at varying shutter speeds with a fixed ISO of 100. I then used Photomatix to kick out a baseline HDR that appealed to my taste and then exposure blended it with a single modified frame (typically the 0 EV shot) in Photoshop.

The shot that took the most time in post is actually all HDR (no exposure blending). I took a complete shot (7 positions) of the Oklahoma Persian Ceiling. The length of the ceiling is (based on estimation of memory) about 50 feet. If this was a flat two dimensional element the process would have been automatic and painless but as you’ll see in the photo, I was dealing with two, three and sometimes four layers of objects resting on a clear glass ceiling. Each independent shot looked great but every time I moved there were serious parallax issues creating havoc on creating a clean, properly proportioned photo merge. It wasn’t really a panoramic shot because every frame was taken at the exact same angle and elevation. It’s more analogous to a photocopy or a scan of a document…I really big document.

Enjoy the gallery, but make a special effort to visit the exhibit, as well as the museum’s other offerings, on your own.