Colorado

Not Your Typical Spring Photo

It was a particularly warm day in the Roaring Fork Valley on Tax Day April 15, 2008. Nothing was planned for my day except some finish work on a weekly photo package for The Aspen Times.

Encroaching Flames

Carbondale Wild Fire House Threatened - Flames explode behind a home Tuesday afternoon Apr. 15, 2008, in the Ranch at Roaring Fork subdivision along Highway 82 in Carbondale. Heavy winds caused a ditch fire to become out of control, jumping the Roaring Fork river and eventually jumping Highway 82 just west of Catherine Store threatening homes in Missouri Heights. Several structures were lost and a fly fisherman severely burned his left hand and head fleeing the fast moving fire. (© Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

Carbondale Wild Fire House Threatened – Flames explode behind a home Tuesday afternoon Apr. 15, 2008, in the Ranch at Roaring Fork subdivision along Highway 82 in Carbondale. Heavy winds caused a ditch fire to become out of control, jumping the Roaring Fork river and eventually jumping Highway 82 just west of Catherine Store threatening homes in Missouri Heights. Several structures were lost and fly fisherman Larry Garfinkle severely burned his left hand and head fleeing the fast-moving fire. (© Paul Conrad/The Aspen Times)

As I headed into my job as the Chief Photographer, I started my Jeep, turned on my scanners, and began listening to firefighters concerned about a grass fire near Carbondale 25 miles away. As I drove to the newspaper about a mile from my apartment, the Incident Commander requested mutual aid from all available fire departments.
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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Weekly Photo Challenge: Carefree

Being avid outdoorsmen, living in the Pacific Northwest has a distinct advantage: It’s not a far drive to either the ocean nor the mountains. You practically live in the outdoors.

Sunset Kayak:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A kayaker paddles on Bellingham Bay under a brilliant sky near the Boardwalk in Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash.

This week’s Weekly Photo Challenge is Carefree. Living up here promotes a carefree lifestyle and encourages one to visit the Great Outdoors.

On weekends and even during the week when neither has work to do, my wife Heidi and I like to drive around and enjoy the area. We are both from Colorado. She’s from Colorado Springs, and I from Aspen. I worked at The Aspen Times for over 7 years as their Chief Photographer. After living in Colorado for many years being and avid camper, hiker, backpacker, biker, snowboarder, and Jeeper, we needed someplace in the great outdoors.

Joy at Sunset:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - My wife and Sweetpea Heidi takes in the sunset at Larrabee Beach south of Bellingham, Wash, on her birthday in 2012.

Before meeting my wife, I moved out here after the newspaper industry began taking the big economic hit in Jan. 2009. I pulled roots from the great little town which I have great friends, some of those I almost consider family.  Heidi moved out here after we met in 2010.

Dancing With Itself:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) appears to dance on a piling in Bellingham, Wash.

Blazing Fast:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A runner jogs along the Boardwalk at Boulevard Park in Bellingham, Wash., during a blazing Sunset on Sunday evening April 14, 2013.
***The photo above won Best of Show Third Place – Professional in the City of Bellingham, Wash., photo competition Essence of Bellingham***

We live now in Bellingham, Washington, where we go on drives to enjoy the carefree outdoors of the Pacific Northwest.
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Trying His Luck:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad PhotographyA fisherman tries his luck at Deception Pass on Whidbey Island north of Seattle, Wash., as the setting sun washes the sky with its hues.

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Paul “pablo” Conrad

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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Vietnam veteran Howie Berg of Aspen, Colo., touches the facade of the Moving Vietnam Memorial while building it in Rio Grande Park in Aspen.

Why We Are Free: Remembering Those Who’ve Served

As a U.S. Navy veteran, I would like to thank all those who’ve served, and especially all those who have made the ultimate sacrifice upon the Altar of Freedom. Thank You.

Friend and Vietnam veteran Howie Berg touches the names of some of the fallen at The Moving Wall Vietnam Veteran Memorial:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Vietnam veteran Howie Berg of Aspen, Colo., touches the facade of the Moving Vietnam Memorial while building it in Rio Grande Park in Aspen.

Reading the names at The Moving Wall:
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A visitor at the Moving Vietnam Memorial Wall at Rio Grande Park reads names inscribed upon the memorial during its stop in Aspen, Colo.

Folding the flag during my dad’s funeral services at Fort Logan National Cemetery:
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - The Fort Logan Burial Detail folds the flag over the urn of SSgt. (Ret.) Robert L. Conrad during services at the National Cemetery in Denver, Colo.

The Color Guard at the Pitkin County Veteran’s Memorial:
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - A USMC Color Guard performs during Memorial Day services at the Pitkin County Veteran's Memorial in Aspen, Colo.

Army “Old Guard” veteran Pepper Gomes of Aspen, Colo.

Lauren Twohig, left, Jake Ferlisi, and Sloan Stryker, of Aspen, Colo., listen to Veteran’s Day services.
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Lauren Twohig, 10, left,  Jake Ferlisi, 6, and Sloan Stryker, 11, of Aspen, Colo., listen to Veteran's Day services at the Pitkin County Veteran's Memorial.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography The last rays of the setting Sun bathes the snow-capped peak of Mount Baker in alpenglow as the lights of the city of Bellingham, Wash., begin to turn on during evening April 23, 2013.

Mt. Shuksan in Alpenglow

***Before my computer hard drive failed, I began writing this post. Now that it’s up and running, I’ll be catching up on a few entries***

Late last week, I headed up Highway 542 in western Whatcom County east of Bellingham, Wash., to photograph Mt. Shuksan to bathed in alpenglow. Being typical Northwest weather, I wanted to head up while it was sunny and nice.

After a few stops including Horseshoe Bend Trail and Nooksack Falls, I arrived at Picture Lake in the Mount Baker Ski Area at the base of Mount Baker. Hopefully, I thought, the lake would be somewhat melted. However, as expected, it was still covered by deep, hard packed snow.

Using One Flash:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

No worries. I drove around a bit to find a good angle and wasn’t seeing any “sweeping vista” that excited me. So I got out of my car and just walked around the loop shooting generic “I was Here” photos. Nothing spectacular.

The light was somewhat late afternoon super bright sun. Taking a break, I noticed to trees growing by themselves and I visualized Mt. Shuksan between them. In summer, the trees would be on the shore of Picture Lake.

Using Two Speedlights:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

To get to the trees, I’d have to walk across a snowfield which covered part of the marshy area of the lake. Rather than chance postholing my way to the trees and possibly falling through the snow pack, I opted to find another angle.

But even after another half an hour of seeking, I couldn’t find something visually interesting. Time was running out so I just grabbed my ski/trekking poles, put on my ski jacket and walked down to the two trees.

I must mention, I lived in the Colorado high country for many years before moving up to the Pacific Northwest. Walking across snowfields is somewhat second nature. Caution is the operative word when doing so.

As the Pacific Northwest gets heavier snow, and ofttimes more, than Colorado, I found the traverse rather easy. I still took caution by using my poles to test the snow pack in front of me. I did not want to fall through.With ease, I made it to the base of the trees and saw my composition. Nothing super fantastic, but definitely something different. One caveat to work with: Lighting the trees with portable strobes/speedlights as they were in full shadow as the Sun was below the ridge behind me.

A few weeks ago I bought a set of radio slaves. One transmitter and two receivers. I’ve used them a few times before this, so setting up my speedlights wouldn’t be an issue.

Carefully I hiked back to my car to get my tripod, camera, lens, filters (Polarizing and ND64), radio slaves and speedlight. Upon returning, set up my tripod with camera and adjusted my composition. I then waked about 15 feet to the left to set up a speedlight with radio slave.

I had to move fast as the light was beginning to change fairly quick. As I took a few test exposures to get the light on the mountain balanced with the speedlight, I noticed I needed another. One speedlight wasn’t enough even in manual mode at full power. So I went back to my car to get a second speedlight.

I placed the second speedlight next to the first effectively doubling my light on the trees. I made sure neither had the diffuser and both were set to telephoto to narrow the light, therefore effectively increasing the output. Then I tested various aperture settings and shutter speeds. I found the one exposure that worked well.

REMEMBER:  When using an off camera speedlights, this basic rule applies: Aperture controls both the total image exposure and the flash exposure. Shutter speed controls the exposure of your ambient light. Read more on these earlier blog postings: Intro to Creative Flash Part 1: Shutter Synch, Intro to Creative Flash Part 2: Aperture, and Intro to Creative Flash Part 3: Using Speedlights as a Portable Studio.

With the above exposure “rule” in mind, I set my aperture to get correct exposure for the trees, and set my shutter speed to get a good exposure on the mountain.

I started figuring my exposure by using the “Sunny 16 Rule.” At 1/250th for my shutter speed, I began at f/16 on my aperture. The trees were underlit. So I opened my aperture 2 stops to f/8 and the exposure were a little under, but I liked them as they weren’t overly dominate.

Here’s a quick primer on the “Sunny 16 Rule:” Sunny 16: An old Rule for a New Age.

As I knew the light would wane dramatically as the Sun set, I stayed at that exposure. As the light waned, I just used longer shutter speeds to compensate for the loss. However, the exposure of /250th at f/8 seemed to balance the light the best.

The Final Result:
© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

As the Sun set behind me, the color began to change from a very light pink to red. It was very peaceful watching as Mt. Shuksan changed color. I noticed an odd noise that went “whum whum whum whum” every minute or so. It was low pitched and echoed. I half expected a bear to come investigate.

When the light faded on Mt. Shuksan, I packed up everything and headed back. I did fail to photograph my impromptu lighting setup. Didn’t think of it until I was back at the car.

When I was finished packing everything back up, I looked up to see my tracks to the two trees and noticed the pink afterglow in the sky and how it lit the mountain. So I took a few more shots.

My Tracks and Pink Glow:

© Paul Conrad/Pablo Conrad Photography - Alpenglow on Mt. Shuksan in the Mount Baker/Snoqualmie Wilderness in northwest Washington east of Bellingham.

Camera info:  Nikon D300s w/MB-D10, Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8, SB800 & SB80DX Speedlights, radio slaves & trigger.

Thank you for stopping by to read and view my work. All comments are appreciated.

Paul “pablo” Conrad

Pablo Conrad Photography

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