a day on the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

These images and those in the subsequent post were taken in 2010. This was my first solo photo op to try to apply some book learning I had acquired. It is so much easier to read about art and photography than to develop one’s skills and practice it. But I knew I had a lot of work to do.

There are several artistic and technical aspects that I would like to bring up.
1. Always shoot in RAW format. This allows one to go back to the original file and re-process it years later. The quality will be the same in 2010 (or whenever) as 2017 as long as the original image is in a RAW format. Despite these images being almost 7 years old, the prints are as breath-taking today as then.
2. The RAW file never degrades and can be re-processed in the latest software and become a work of art, regardless when it was captured. One actually processes a copy of the RAW file, leaving the original unaltered.
3. A RAW file allows one to process the file years later in a manner consistent with one’s personal style years later. This means that you are not always tied to the same way you processed the image in 2010…or any other year. It is your digital negative. The film negative allowed the same for Ansel Adams, whose Moonrise, Hernandez shows progressive style changes over the decades that he produced over 900 prints from the negative.

As this was my first foray into developing a fine art approach to my landscape photography, I present these two posts and galleries as encouragement for those who are just starting out. I had been to one of Alain Briot’s workshops and spent some time with his mastery series DVD’s and was burning to give this new adventure a try. I remember working on several aspects during these two days of shooting: 1) paying attention to the corners and edges 2) composing the images artistically and 3) trying to understand what form and color meant in the world of art. (After all what does not have form and color?)

Looking back on these images almost 7 years later, I see compositional issues could be improved. Even though I was trying to focus on the edges, I obviously missed some, cutting clouds in half here and there. (The general thought being to either exclude or include clouds in their entirety. It’s someone’s “rule”.) Choosing the images to present and re-processing them years later, reminded me of my early journey and inspiration. Regardless of beginner issues, I consider it a successful early project and loved to relive the memories.

…(one’s photographic) art is created when one processes and presents one’s photography. That is where one’s personal style shows through.

Alain Briot

The north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison is visited well less than 10% of the time compared to the south rim and is a significant drive out of the way. It has basic accommodations and some overlooks that will make you have wonky dreams for a number of days. The trails along the north rim to the west provide views of the canyon from higher elevations. It is a much quieter place than the south rim. If you go from mid-November to early April, the park is free and minimally staffed. The visitor centers are not open. On the other hand you have the time and space to wander at your leisure.

On this trip the north side was the first day. The day was partly cloudy with bright sun and high contrast as only high altitude Colorado can provide. I wandered east and west from the parking lots, shooting more thoughtfully than I had before. I spent time thinking before pushing the shutter. This was a conscious effort, as my previous photo ops were designed to shoot whatever caught my attention. I thoughtfully and consciously considered: Was the image composed well? Had I looked at the edges? What was I trying to show and why? Had I compensated the exposure for the bright light? I was moving more slowly from image to image. Thinking about the process requires time. There is never a need to be hasty. One has to be careful to stay thoughtfully paced when inspired, as moments of inspiration tend to be enlivening and makes for haste if not careful.

This gallery shows some variation in style of presentation. At the end of my time at the Black Canyon, I had the lingering feeling of something surreal in wandering around the edge of  2000 foot cliffs for several days. Perhaps it was that I spend two days mindful of not wanting to fall into the canyon but wanting to get as close to the edge as possible. Therefore some of these images are processed in as surreal manner as I could imagine, trying to convey my residual experience. Most are vertical and dramatic. The canyon presents a vertical aspect to almost everything and is nothing if not dramatic. There is some inconsistency of time of day, some mid-morning to some late afternoon…different light and hence different colors. But regardless of all the inconsistencies, the project shows my amazement and sense of awe at the canyon and conveys an early attempt at presenting experience as art. I also hope it is encouragement for others just starting out. There are a number of “beginner” mistakes that I cherish as evidence of the path I have followed.

A day at the south rim is coming soon.

a day at the north rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison

click here to purchase any of these images

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