Sunday, February 22, 2015
This is my newest release from my Easter Island series (yeah finally!) entitled, "Ojos Fantasmal" which translates in English roughly to spooky or ghostly eyes...
While I spent time on Rapa Nui ( a.k.a. La Isla de Pascua or Easter Island) , I kept coming back to this lone moai (sacred statue) that's right next to the ocean on a cliff close to the island's only town of Hanga Roa which is located on the west side of Easter Island. Hanga Roa is quite small and is the only place to find lodging and modern amenities while visiting this remote island. Since this is where I was staying, and this moai is located just north of town, it was an easy hike to visit this statue almost daily (either at sunrise or more often at sunset).This particular statue stands alone on the north section of the ceremonial Ahu Ta'hai and is named the "Ko Te Riku" which translates to "with abundant growth."
I was absolutely entranced by the eyes on this particular moai...a unique trait of the Ko Te Riku that set it apart from all the other moai on the entire island, for no other moai on any ceremonial ahu have eyes. The whites of his eyes are made of white coral and the pupils are made of red obsidian and are really offset beautifully by the Ko Te Riku's maroon pukao (tophat). And under the moonlight, his eyes glowed with an eerie effervescence which is what instilled the desire in me to capture this impression as I did.
All of the moai on this tiny island (it is only about 35km across) in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean were symbols of authority and power, both religious and political. But they were not only symbols....to the native Rapanui who erected and used them, they were actual repositories of sacred spirit and centers of ancestral respect. Carved stone and wooden objects in Rapa Nui, when properly fashioned and ritually prepared, were believed to be charged by a magical spiritual essence called mana. Mana is a form of spiritual energy and also healing power which can exist in places, objects and persons. Also, almost all of the moai (statues) face away from the ocean and inland towards the settlements as if to watch over the people of the island. The lone exception is the seven moai on Ahu Akivi (that are inland but much higher in elevation to the coast) which face out to sea...myth has it to they were placed to help travelers find the island. There is a legend that says there were seven men who were waiting for their king to arrive. Sorry, I guess as I ramble here, you can see my fascination for this special little island in the middle of nowhere...
Anyway, this new image is just the first of a many compositions of this moai that I will be releasing since I was so transfixed with the eyes of the Ko Te Riku, I was almost hypnotized by them....
Camera settings: ISO-100, 24mm at f/4 for 30 seconds at 10:05pm under moonlight and clouds (about 45mins after sunset) on December 27, 2014...using one Lee Proglass .6ND filter (2 stops) and one Lee .75ND Grad filter to balance down the sky 2.5 stops...and for two seconds using flashlihts, light was painted on both the right side of the moai (by me) and the left side of the moai (by my friend Sam)
I hope this message and image find you well.
#Nikon #D800 #Nikkor #Dolica #LeeFilters #EasterIsland #RapaNui #Ahu #Tahai #KoTeRiku #HangaRoa #Chile #Isla #Pascua #Expressionism #Surreal #Impressionist #SouthPacific #Moai
Friday, February 20, 2015
This night was a beautiful evening that I got to share with my dog and my muse, the Dude. And I think that this photograph does manage to give the scene justice for what I saw with my own eyes...which is difficult at times for a photographer to translate from what is actually seen into what is actually captured by their camera lens
This was taken both before and some time after (I explain this more below) my other image of the same natural bridge in southern-central Utah (my previous image is called Owachomo and can be seen directly below this post). This is very much a similar capture, except I stepped back from the edge of the pool about 10 feet to create closure with the pool of water at the bottom of the composition which also creates a bit more of a wider view of the entire scene as well...
I consider this one as the expressionistic version and the previous one as the impressionistic version. For this composition, I used the stars more boldly and aggressively to create a different mood and bring out other stronger emotions. This one is not soft and subtle like its predecessor--this one is more vivacious, dynamic, and resonating. Both taken together, the two different compositions really evoke quite separate moods of mine under this spirited sky on this particular night.
Like all of my recent images, without planning, this composition could not have happened (unless someone was just crazy lucky). The correct conditions were absolutely perfect for this image to be possible and it will be quite some time before all of those wide-ranging variables align once again. This is yet another example of what I call "Planned Chance" in photography,which is the title of my upcoming book on photography due out sometime this fall of 2015.
There was a perfect alignment a week ago of a deep and dark Milky Way over top of Owachomo Bridge with close to a new moon cycle under crisp cold cloudless skies (gonna be a long while before it aligns overtop to the due north like this again)...no winds what-so-ever to keep the trees sharp...there still is water in the big pool to its south down below in the dry wash that will dry up soon without more rain....pre-scouting to find this elevated vantage point about 20ft above the pool to capture deeper reflections...and cold conditions to help limit some of the color noise pollution in the image (it was 20°F and I was freezing my rear off!)...
Result: A vivid reflection of the stars and Milky Way in the pool, along with the dark shadow of the bridge reflecting in the pool, and then a giant and vigorous Milky Way up above the natural bridge.
However, this ethereal image would NOT be impossible to capture in just a single framed exposure. To create this composition, I had to manually blend three separate images. Each were taken during the time span of about an hour, each with a different exposure. Because the images were taken with such a gap of time between each and at varying camera settings, Photoshop couldn't automatically photomerge the 3 images, so I had to go about the tedious and meticulous process of blending these together manually. It has taken me about 5 days to process this composition, with me having to walk away from it at times during periods of frustration. But alas, it is now complete, and you can witness my efforts here now for yourself. The first image was taken of the bridge and rocks; the second was used to capture the sky and get the Milky Way as deep and dark as I could; the third was to capture a reflection in the water of the stars as richly as I could. The result of this blending created this vibrant portrait view panoramic composition you see before you at about a 1:2.5 ratio.
I hope you enjoy this image as well as my efforts here to create an entirely different feeling in this composition. This evokes emotions that are quite different from my last similar composition of this same spot on this same night.
Camera settings were slightly different for each composition, but all were shot at 24mm. The ISO, f/stop, and shutter speed varies on each. The exposure on the rocks and natural bridge was ISO-100, f/8, for 1/13 sec taken right around sunset; the exposure on the sky was ISO-1250, f/1.4, for 15 seconds; the exposure on the pool was ISO-2500, f/1.4. for 13 seconds...
I hope this message and image find you well.
D. " Bodhi "
#Dolica #LeeFilters #Nikon #D800 #Nikkor #24mm #BodhiSmith #Utah #NaturalBridges #Stars #MilkyWay
Sunday, February 15, 2015
Here is my newest composition entitled, "Owachomo." I captued it a couple nights ago at Natural Bridges National Monument in the middle of Utah. To see the full image, you might need to click on the image. (btw, this is another LONG post). This image is also dedicated to my good friend's sister who just recently passed away the night after I captured this image...He stated it was a perfect image to symbolize her going up to the heavens (Jeff, this one is for your sister and please accept my humble condolences once again).
Sometimes my life is stranger than fiction...following here is a mega strange story of what happened to me while I was capturing this image.
Crazy story: the Dude and I hiked down to Owakomo Bridge about 2 hrs before sunset at 4pm and stayed until 10pm when the stars were brightest and the Milky Way appeared perfectly over top of the bridge and at the same time reflecting in the pool in front of me...
I chose to hike down so early so that I could scout the area and set up cairns (stacks of rocks that are like bread crumbs for a hiker) for my route back in the dark because I've never been there before and wanted to be extra sure the Dude and I could safely find our way back to the main trail... especially since there was some scrambling involved on some steep rocks to get down into the dry wash and then back up about 20ft again to this vantage point overtop of the pool of water...
It all went great as planned: had perfect stars to photograph; got to spend a beautiful sunset and a few hours under the brightest Milky Way I've ever witnessed; I was spending quality time with my muse, the Dude; I was on a beautiful hike in the middle of nowhere in the middle of Utah under a Natural Bridge that most people never see...perfect.
After I was done shooting and repacked all of my camera gear, I began to head back. My network of cairns to mark my path in the dark under stars worked brilliantly to reunite us safely to the main trail...but the steep hike back up to the truck made me quite winded (Dude was leashed and literally dragging me). Damn, he's in so much better shape than I am right now, especially with me fighting this flu cough thing that I have...but we got back to the truck at the top of the lookout feeling absolutely great about this fabulous experience.
So here is the inane-weird part. A few feet away as I approached my Xterra, I noticed something on my truck's hood and scattered things under my windshield wipers that sort of looked like small branches. I quickly realized it was bird crap all over my truck hood, and it was everywhere. Great.
Upon closer inspection, those were not small branches, they were instead the thin metal strips that run along the length of the rubber in the wiper blades. My windshield wipers WERE shredded like they had been badly abused and became a very old set of windshield wipers. I was really cold, very tired, and this was the last thing I really wanted to have to deal with, especially since I had a new truck. At first, I was furious with what I saw in front of me. This is a brand spanking new loaded 2015 Nissan Xterra I just purchased in January.
So with my judgement clouded by anger, my first reaction was that some idiot had bad wipers and swapped them out with mine. Then common sense set it. Because, why in the world would a thief put their old torn apart wipers back on my Xterra? It just didn't really add up. I was perplexed.
Then, when I got in my truck to head back to my campsite, I noticed my side mirrors were all screwed up...they were not bumped out of place, the mirrors themselves were all pushed in...really, what in the world? I gave it all some deep thought as I drove the short distance back to camp...
So... My brand new truck now has no wipers, and I find myself literally in the middle of nowhere in one of the more remote places in the entire United States. I can't use my wipers to clean my bug-riddin dirty windshield or they will scratch the windshield...so, the mystery remains, what happened to them and why the messed up side mirrors? Was someone messing with me?
I put more thought into it and then I remembered seeing a warning sign posted on the bulliten board at the park visitor center earlier that day about ravens in the area, but I didn't read it (of course, why should I? Dolt=Me)... I put all of the different pieces of evidence together in my mind and thought some more. So, did birds eat the rubber off of my windshield wipers? And then try to get at the rubber in my side mirrors?
The mystery would have to wait till morning, I was tired, in dire need of some sleep, and I just didn't feel like driving up to the visitor center in the middle of night. It could wait until morning.
So the next morning, I stopped by the visiter center. Sure enough, that warning about Ravens that I did not read stated that if you're down underneath the Natural Bridges for any extended period of time, to be sure to take your windshield wiper blades off of your vehicle. Ravens in the area had been witnessed messing with windshield wipers on parked vehicles. So, if wipers were left on an unattended vehicle for an extended period of time, there was a high risk of the ravens tearing them apart.
Really?! You have got to be kidding! Who in the world would have the foresight to think to take their wiper blades off of their vehicle before they went on a long hike? Well, with this weird situation happening to me, I guess I do now wink emoticon
So the mystery was solved. It was NOT an inconsiderate self-absorbed thief stealing my wiper blades and then rearranging my side mirrors to mess with my mind, at least not one that was human anyway. I had devious ravens in the middle of nowhere eat my windshield wiper blades...birds with much bigger-than-normal bird-brains did this. Wow. Truly crazy stuff like this only happens to me I think... wink emoticon
Goofy wierd, eh?
The next day, I did end up stopping at the Walmart in Page, Arizona so I could buy new wiper blades for my truck and hose the bird crap off my hood.
Of course, I really really dislike devilish ravens even more now..."Nevermore" will I leave my windshield wipers on my truck for a long hike in Utah I guess. wink emoticon
So, what you see before you here is the image I took while the ravens were eating my windshield wiper blades....
Without planning, this composition could not have happened (unless someone was just crazy lucky)...conditions were perfect for this image to be possible and it will be quite some time before all of those variables align again. This is yet another example of what I call "Planned Chance" in photography.
There was a perfect alignment a couple nights ago of a deep and dark Milky Way over top of Owakomo Bridge with close to a new moon cycle under crisp cold cloudless skies (gonna be a long while before it aligns overtop to the due north like this again)....no winds what-so-ever to keep the trees sharp....there still is water in the big pool to its south down below in the dry wash that will dry up soon without more rain....pre-scouting to find this elevated vantage point about 20ft above the pool to capture deeper reflections....and cold conditions to help limit some of the color noise pollution in the image (it was 20°F and I was freezing my rear off!)...
Result: A reflection of the stars and Milky Way in the pool, along with the dark shadow of the bridge reflecting in the pool, and then a big giant long Milky Way up above the natural bridge.
You know I have to be charged up about a pic to process it while I am still on the very trip I shot it during...
To create this portrait view panoramic composition, this is actually two images shot back to back (remember stars move pretty fast) at identical camera settings and then photomerged together to create a 1:2.5 ratio
Camera settings: ISO-2500, f/1.4 at 24mm for 15 seconds. I selected the higher ISO (2x higher than my usual star settings) so that I could better illuminate the bridge and rocks around the pool (with out light painting) as well as to better catch the stars reflected in the pool...
I kept the title simple and named the composition after the bridge itself, "Owachomo," which means "rock mound" in Hopi... Hope you like it.
I hope this message and image finds you well.
D. " Bodhi "
#Dolica #LeeFilters #Nikon #D800 #Nikkor #24mm #f/1.4 #BodhiSmith#LongExposure #expressionist #Impressionist #Surreal
Monday, February 9, 2015
Here is my latest composition entitled, "Repose" This image was captured a few weeks ago on January 18 during another one of our gorgeous California sunsets over the Pacific Ocean at the Huntington Beach Pier.
This is another extremely long exposure of over 11 minutes so that I could minimize all of the people who were roaming about on the pier and directly in front of me in the water enjoying the same sunset that I was...on this night, with this radiant sunset, there were ALLOT of people, so I need the extra exposure time to "erase" them from the composition.
The name come for the fact that the word "repose' has multiple meanings, each of which fits well for me with this image. Until this image, I had not captured a color image of the Huntington beach pier which even remotely overly thrilled me until this one, so this is another "reposing" of the pier before me. It also lives up a couple other meanings of repose--laying in tranquility or sleep, and situated in a particular place...this pier is "going to sleep" for the night as people leave after the sun went down....plus, it is a staple of Southern California culture and an icon in movies, music videos, album covers, pictures, and vacations.
Anyway, I hope this message and image finds you well.
Camera settings: ISO-100, 24mm at f/8 for 677 seconds (11mins, 11secs) about 15 minutes after the sun had set using one Lee Proglass .9ND Filter (3 stops) and one Lee .75ND Grad filter (2.5 stops) to balance the sky with the darker sand in the foreground.
#LeeFilters #Nikon #D800 #Nikkor #80-200mm #Dolica #BodhiSmith #Huntington #Beach #Pier #Pacific #Ocean #Sunset #LongExposure #LE #PCH1 #OrangeCounty #California
Monday, February 2, 2015
Entitled, "Coronación de la Puerta," this is my newest composition. It was captured last Sunday during a surprisingly low tide event at sunset on the extreme south end of Little Corona Beach in Corona Del Mar, CA. As the sun was setting, I never would have imagined that I would end up capturing this surreal little beauty with my camera.
Last Sunday, I was watching the clouds all day and hoping for something stellar at sunset. When it looked like maybe something special was going to occur, I headed off to Newport Beach with my dog, The Dude, as well as with my friend and fellow photog, Jeff Deveau. This area was selected for two reasons, Jeff had never really shot this part of Orange County, and it is a great low tide location to shoot, and it was a low tide on that evening.
We arrived slightly late after hitting a couple "detours" and traffic along the way, consequently it was only 20 minutes until sunset as we were walking down onto the beach at Little Corona. I quickly noticed that this low tide was much lower than it was supposed to be (according to my favorite app: "Tide Chart Free"). So, I decided to quickly hump the half mile trek southward down to the hidden arch; Jeff opted to stay at the north end of the beach by the sphinx and bypass the sketchy hike which can be tricky and slippery, especially when rushed.
The beach was overly crowded for a winter's evening, but I think that lots of people just all decided to try to watch/photograph a stellar sunset at this magnificent location on this particular night for some reason. Having all of the hordes of people present was yet another big part of my reasoning in my decision making process to head south to the hidden arch, especially since there is never more than 1-2 people tops ever down there as most people do not even know of the arch's existence.
My pup and I hustled down the beachline and actually safely made it before sunset in a record time. But, Wow, really?!? When I got there, I could not believe my eyes...there were 12 other people there. Twelve!? There was about 6 others photographing the arch, 3 on-lookers, and 3 people climbing on the arch. Never have I seen people climbing the arch, never. There actually might have been more people than pelicans and birds here for a change because of that fact.
Three of the photographers were set up pretty far back of the arch itself trying to catch reflections in the tide pools. This was not a composition I was crazy about, especially with the fact that the clouds were quickly dissipating at sunset as they often do here. Eventhough the climbers were in everyone's compositions as the sun was setting, I did not want to get in the way as well of the other photographers who were there before me by pushing forward to the spot I would rather have set up closer to the arch, so I set up in line with them and opted for my Nikkor 80-200mm f/2.8 lens for this shot.
However, it really looked like this was not going to be a night when I captured anything special as the sun was setting. The composition was really not doing anything for me. There were way too many people milling around for this spot, the light was off in the wrong direction, plus, the clouds and sky were stubbornly not cooperating well with me either.
From where I was set up, most of the rockband to the right of the arch was blocking out all of the wonderful colors in the clouds that were really glowing on the horizon five minutes after the sunset. The climbers were all standing on top of that side of the formation watching the cray reds in the sky absolutely going off like fireworks. Its brilliant colors pulled all of the other photographers around the side of the arch out of my sight to try to shoot it. This left the arch wide open all to myself for me to shoot. But, I did not move with them, for I was was just not crazy about the composition facing northwest, even though the colors of the sky were awesome. I decided to stick with my composition of the arch as "a door with no sky" in the scene except only those few glowing clouds that could be espied through the arch.
I actually could have moved forward to the spot I first wanted because everyone cleared out and headed back 20 mins after the sunset. But I was already set up and did not want to have to swap out my lens, filters, and then redial in my focus. I did get my wish of solitude, as all 12 people, including the climbers, evacuated the scene and were slowly making their way back north navigating through the slick and sharp rocks under the cliffs in the low light. Jeff said he saw the steady stream of headlamps slowly progressing their way towards his location. My pup and I were alone under the fading dim red glow of the sky.
I always overshoot. I usually will not leave the beach until the light is totally gone. I just do not give up that easily. Even on this night when I truly figured that a great shot was just not in the cards, I stuck it out just a little bit longer. More-often-than-not, I capture nothing as the light quickly falls of--it happens all too frequently, and unfortunately, is one of the banes of being a landscape photographer (if watching beautiful sunsets in isolated places on the beach can ever be any sort of a bane).
Ten minutes after sunset as the other people around me were clearing out, I had tried to capture a 15 minute (900 second) exposure using my Lee Proglass 3.0ND filter (10 stops) at f/11, but the image came out too dark in the dwindling light. Still, I decided one more shot (I am glad I made this decision!)...took the 3.0ND off and replace it with a Lee Proglass .9ND filter (3 stops), patted my pup on the head for luck, bumped my aperture up to f/8, re-focused at the new f/stop, set the timer for 500 seconds (8 mins 20 secs), and sat down on a rock next to my dog to enjoy the gorgeous colors still in the sky while my camera took its last shot of the night. Now, here before you are the results for your eyes to enjoy. :)
This ultra long exposure photograph helps me to ultimately fathom a deeper meaning of witnessing things before me that cross through into another dimension--sort of like the meaning behind the name of the famous rock group, "The Doors. " With chills running up my spine, I can imagine a partially delusional Jim Morrison watching a groovy surreal sunset such as this at this spot and afterwards finding enlightenment for a name that he would forever be linked with..
My title roughly translates in English to the "Crowning of the Door"... I was not going to put this image out there until after I finished processing my Easter Island series, but the Vice President of Sales at Dolica Tripods (Daniel C.) saw this image on the back of my camera when we were out shooting together last week. A big reason for me selecting my title in Spanish is to honor his heritage and parallel the name of the town where the picture was captured with my feelings of transcendence. Daniel's stoked reaction alone made me decide to process this image a little quicker...let me know if you think his reaction was right...
Camera settings:ISO-100, 80mm at f/8 for 500 secs using one Lee Proglass .9ND filter to drop the exposure 3 stops as the light was dropping off exponentially at 25 minutes after the sunset at 5:40pm.
This image is dedicated to VP of Sales, Daniel Calderon, at Dolica tripods for instilling the desire in me to process this image now and not wait until later...thank you Daniel.
I hope this message and image find you well.
#Lee Filters #Dolica #Nikon #D800 #Nikkor #Sunse t#Long Exposure #Orange County #OC #Corona Del Mar #Newport Beach #Low Tide #Arch #Impressionist #Surreal #Doors #Bodhi Smith