Tips from the Field #2: Who Inspires You?

In this tip, I invite you to consider all those who have inspired you, then write down their names and how each one inspired you. Through that journey, I hope you will strive each day to become each of those things, becoming an even more terrific instance of yourself.

I am reminded of a quote from late 1800’s Irish poet Oscar Wilde, “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery,” that might well be true. When it comes to bringing into my work certain elements that I have discovered in the work of others, I can’t help but do it.

Those who know me best will attest to the fact that I am often guided by quotes from the past. “The best camera is the one you have with you,” is one that I often quote, from Creativelive founder Chase Jarvis. “Never try to catch falling knife,” from CNBC anchor Jim Cramer. And this quote from Margaret Thatcher on the perils of socialism: “The problem with socialism is that you eventually run out of other people’s money.”

It turns out that Wilde is correct, at least for me. I don’t recall even one quote that I find offensive or that I find lacking in inspiration. I don’t believe these flashes of inspiration actually changed or educated me to believe something new, but rather they help me crystallize concepts that represent how I am or how I desire to be.

The year 2020 has provided me with time to reflect on inspirations that have significantly impacted my work, my art, and me as a person. I would like to share just a few of them with you.

Harry Rogers, the Author, Norma Curby (October 2015)

Harry Rogers. My only sibling, Harry was born ten years and 7 months after me. I was able to watch him develop from infancy into his early teens, after which life intervened from time to time as first me, then both of us, followed the path of life through college, military service, marriage, divorce and career. As the ‘big brother,’ it appeared to me that Harry looked to me for inspiration, coaching and experience whenever he encountered a roadblock. It’s a role that can be challenging – keeping ahead of a growing, developing, sibling in a way that I could always deliver on the next ‘roadblock.’ Thank you, Harry, for helping me remain relevant.

Larry Williams (July 2012)

Larry Williams. The absolute best photographer and artist known to me, Larry does his work without fanfare. He has taught me the fine points of wildlife art, willingly and from the heart. You haven’t seen his work (yet) because notoriety is not something on which Larry places a high value. It is Larry who instilled in me perhaps the most important aspect of wildlife art: The photo or wall hanger is not the primary reason we do what we do. No one will ever understand why we spend hour upon hour, day after day, waiting for a special bird to appear in perfect light. We do it for ourselves – it is the experience, not the picture, that keeps us going back.

Norma Curby, 2015

Norma Curby. One of my best friends in life, Eric Curby, often travels with me to really remote, wild places where we can experience a place so wild that everywhere you look, the hand of man cannot be detected. Norma is now in her early 90’s. Being Eric’s mother, she has gained some insight into why Eric and I do what we do, seeking out the wild instead of the beach. Norma never ceases to amaze and inspire me, as she not only accompanies Eric and me on these trips to the edge of humanity, but she participates step-for-step. Often, these are places none of us have seen before. Traveling with two photographers would bore some, as we set up tripods, move from place to place for better compositions – not Norma! The sheer wonder in her eye as she gazes around, picking a pine cone here, a rock there – reminds me just how blessed we are!

These are only a few examples from a treasure trove of influencers who have challenged me on the one hand, and kept me grounded on the other. I am the product of all those who have inspired me.

Who inspires you? I invite you to write it down. Do that for yourself – the experience of compiling your list of names and inspirations will exceed the value of the list itself.

Think about it. Who inspires you?

Resources

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on YouTube

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on Instagram

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on Facebook

Larry Rogers on LinkedIn

Larry Rogers on Twitter

Photo Trip Journals by Larry Rogers

Tips from the Field #1: How I Plan for Better Shots

Hint: It’s All About the Light

This article is for anyone who enjoys taking pictures or shooting videos outdoors. Your camera does not matter. Whether you typically take pictures with your phone, tablet, or a professional interchangeable-lens camera, this tip about situational awareness will help you take command of your environment to get the results you expect.

Get great pictures and videos like you see in magazines and on TV by planning for the best light

For background, I’m a wildlife and nature photographer. A good day for me is any day that I’m outdoors with a camera. My first Tip From the Field (TFF #1) addresses an issue that has been my nemesis for many years – a nemesis in the sense that my primary light source, while working outside, is quite often a difficult partner to work with. If only I had chosen to shoot indoor portraits! To adjust the light, I would have the option to move a light box or a reflector and life would be good.

Being an outdoor photographer, I had to think of a way to ‘move the sun’ in a way to get the best possible light on my subject. What I do now is plan in advance, by creating a ‘shot list’ with GPS coordinates for each subject location, planned camera location, camera angle to the subject, and best time-of-day to have the sun properly illuminating the subject. Most times I can do all of this from my computer using free tools. Then, once I have visited the actual site, I use actual experience to update my shot list archive for future planning.

Recently, I wondered if other people might benefit from all of this research I have done, to get amazing light on their favorite subjects. So I have started creating a series of tip sheets based on my personal favorite places. Each tip sheet contains a specific subject, camera location, angle to the subject, and best time-of-day to get perfect light on an iconic outdoor scene, such as Mount Rushmore.

How Can I Find a Tip Sheet for My Favorite Places?

It will take some time for me to create custom tips sheets for every iconic place in the USA, let alone the world. So, for a limited time I’m giving away for free the process I use to create them. Along with each location-specific tip sheet, I will include a second sheet with detailed instructions about how I derive all the information I need from free resources like Google Maps. You can easily create your own tip sheets for better lighting on your favorite outdoor scenes. I get consistently better pictures and videos using this technique.

To receive a free download of the M0unt Rushmore tip sheet, plus the free instruction sheet entitled ‘Landscape Photography: It’s all about the Light,’ contact me using the CONTACT link at the top of the page. In the SUBJECT field, enter FREE TIP SHEET OFFER. Please allow five business days to receive your free PDF containing the Mount Rushmore Tip Sheet (TFF#1) and instructions for creating your own tip sheets and shot lists for places you plan to visit.

What about Cloudy Skies?

On cloudy days, use my tips sheets for light planning as a general guide, just know that cloudy skies are sometimes a blessing and other times a curse. Whenever my scene will include the sky, I consider it a blessing to have up to 40 percent clouds against a blue sky. A total overcast sky falls into the ‘curse’ category for shots that must include sky.

On the other hand, many of my outdoor shots need not include the sky. I often shoot in canyons of the southwest United States. Overcast skies do soften shadows, but the good news is many cameras these days produce better color reproduction on overcast days.

My experience over many years in the field has been that I almost always go to the planned location anyway, unless the forecast is for truly inclement weather that would endanger me or the equipment.

Does this System Work for Wildlife?

While the light planning approach presented in this post always applies to still subjects, anyone who has spent time photographing wildlife knows that animals are completely unpredictable. With that said, I have found some wildlife to be creatures of habit. In Yellowstone, for example, year after year I have found a small herd of bighorn sheep in the same exact meadow along the northern boundary road, and the same blonde Grizzy in the vicinity of Fishing Bridge.

If you are planning a first-time trip to a new location, you won’t have prior experience with local wildlife, so the technique described here should only be used as a reference in the field – whenever you can, get the sun behind you for better light on your subject. But, always take the shot when it’s there! It may be gone by the time you move, and a great wildlife shot in so-so light is way better than no shot at all.

Where Can I Get the Tip Sheets, and How Much Do They Cost?

To receive a free download of the M0unt Rushmore tip sheet, plus the free instruction sheet entitled ‘Landscape Photography: It’s all about the Light,’ contact me using the CONTACT link at the top of the page. In the SUBJECT field, enter FREE TIP SHEET OFFER. Please allow five business days to receive your free PDF containing the Mount Rushmore Tip Sheet (TFF#1) and instructions for creating your own tip sheets and shot lists for places you plan to visit.

Resources

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on YouTube

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on Instagram

Larry Rogers Art & Motion on Facebook

Larry Rogers on LinkedIn

Larry Rogers on Twitter

Photo Trip Journals by Larry Rogers

Monthly Update for October 2020

Channel Update video

What’s the old saying, “Days seem to drag on, but months and years fly by?” In this age of CoViD, self-quarantine, and eating at home every night, I’m staying busy building a brand new YouTube channel and learning how to create social media marketing.

Check out the video for a quick, four-minute update on what is coming up and a brief review of what has been posted since the channel launched two months ago.

Resources

Check out my trip journals here: Author Page on Amazon

Check out my YouTube channel, Larry Rogers Art & Motion

Wild Utah: Five National Parks and More

If 2020 were a ‘normal’ year, I might be reviewing my travel checklist about now. But, as everyone knows, 2020 is about the furthest from a ‘normal’ year it can be.

Many of us have needed to adapt our work to our current ‘normal,’ and I am no exception. When life serves lemons, we look for a way to make lemonade. The pandemic of 2020 opened a new doorway for me, and I’d like to share that story in a separate post. For now, I invite you to click the link below to enjoy just a small sampling of my 10,000-plus photos and videos from Utah’s National Parks and a couple of State Parks.

In this video, I had to make difficult choices. For instance, I dropped The Goosenecks State Park altogether, because from a travel standpoint it lies far off the path of parks in a line between Moab and Las Vegas, which is a convenient path to choose for a recommendation to those folks who will be visiting Utah for the first time. I decided that I’ll include it with a separate video on the Navajo Nation Tribal Parks of Arizona (coming soon), which will feature Monument Valley, Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon, and The Goosenecks State Park of Utah.

Parks that are featured in this video include: Arches National Park, Dead Horse Point State Park, Canyonlands National Park, Goblin Valley State Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Zion National Park.

It was really difficult to curate a ‘short list’ from so many photos and videos showing so many miles of wonderfully wild country. This being the third in my series of Virtual Field Trips under the tagline ‘A Photographer’s Journey,’ my initial timeline to create and publish was one week long. I missed the target by a mile (4x). I thought I had mastered the tradecraft of video making. I was wrong.

My journey continues. When I first thought about the tagline ‘A Photographer’s Journey,’ I was short-sightedly thinking of all the years between receiving my first camera as a birthday gift at age 8 and today. Somehow I forgot about all the times I’ve had to re-learn that my journey has barely begun, or so it seems. I had forgotten about all the equipment technologies I’ve had to learn from scratch, all the new techniques required of each technology, and yes, all the generous master photographers who shared their tradecraft with me. I’m a lucky man, I’m still confronting technology changes, still learning from those who inspire me, and my journey continues.

Want More of Larry Rogers?

Check out my book, Wind, Water & Time: Canyons of the Southwest

Check out my Author Page on Amazon

Check out my channel, Larry Rogers Art & Motion, on YouTube

“What is it about Yellowstone that keeps you going back year after year?” a dear friend asked

Since the Fall of 2018, about this time of year I am reminded of an event that changed me to the core and inspired me to share my experiences in the wild with as many people as possible.

The event that changed me forever was foretold in the early spring of 2018 during a FaceTime call with a dear friend who was challenging my choice of certain places as I planned my travel itinerary for that year. He knew that I had made countless trips to Yellowstone already, so he suddenly challenged me to explain it: “What is it that keeps you going back to Yellowstone year after year?”

His question caught me off guard. I had to think for a second or two. “It is wild,” I told him. Those words came from somewhere deep down inside me, and I know this because I had never said that before. But I immediately knew it was true. There was silence between us.

“It is wild,” I told him.

Larry Rogers

“What do you mean, wild?” he asked after a while. By the time he broke the silence, I had realized a couple of things. On the one hand, he had likely never experienced a truly wild place, and on the other hand I was suddenly crystal clear about the answer to his question.

“A truly wild place is a place where you can go, and you cannot see the hand of man from horizon to horizon, north, south, east, west, and yet you will see the hand of God everywhere around.” I sensed that he was happy with my answer.

Now, I’ll explain the event that changed me forever. Soon after the springtime FaceTime call, my friend made plans to visit Yellowstone. He and his wife visited Ohio and spent a couple of days here, during which I shared stories of Yellowstone and some advice for his first visit. I remember clearly discussing how to experience the ‘wild’ nature of a place like Yellowstone.

“You will need to leave the boardwalks behind for a full day. Just set one full day aside. On that day, leave the lodge area and drive out into the back country. After driving a while, find a safe place to pull over. Safely step out of the car, and turn 360 degrees watching the horizon. If you see any structure, other cars, or other people, drive a bit further. Once you find the right place, find a log or a rock to sit on or lean back, and read a book. Just listen to nature.” We had a great visit those two days in Ohio.

I talked to him again a few months later, after he had made final plans to travel. As fate would have it, his plans included exactly one day that would overlap with my plans for the Fall of 2018 when we would both be in Yellowstone. We tentatively made plans to connect and possibly have dinner in Yellowstone in the Fall.

My Fall travel for 2018 included making a presentation at a biennial conference of naturalists, educators, rangers and National Park Service folks. The conference lasted four days, and I planned a few days either side of it for hiking and photography. The timing worked out. We were able to meet at the Old Faithful Inn late in the afternoon one day, enjoy dinner and drinks for a couple of hours, and make plans to meet early the following morning at Midway Geyser Basin, where I would ‘guide’ the group to a somewhat lesser-known (at that time) trail to a feature called Grand Prismatic Spring Overlook. It’s a spectacular, colorful, and simply amazing sight to see.

At one point during our after-dinner conversation, my friend’s sister-in-law leaned over to me and said, “Larry, I’m so glad you shared so much advice to us leading up to the trip. I feel like I am witnessing something truly amazing – beyond anything I have experienced before. You told us to find a shady spot and just listen – we did that, and then I went off by myself so I could experience the sounds of nature for a while. Thank you from my heart.”

I went off by myself so I could experience the sounds of nature for a while. Thank you from my heart.

Name Witheld

Everyone in the group echoed the same sentiment. And that is the moment that changed me forever. I did not ever want to forget the magic that happened that week in a far off place in wild Wyoming, in the western United States of America. There were six other people at dinner that night, and we all felt the magic of a new perspective happening before our eyes.

In November of 2018, I sat down to document that two-week period in September 2018 that changed several lives for the better. I know for sure it changed mine. My journal from that trip became a book entitled, Yellowstone: Engima in Fire & Water, which follows my small group of three around Yellowstone in text and pictures for two weeks. The book opens with a few pages about my friend’s question, “What is it about Yellowstone that keeps you going back year after year?”

As I am writing this post in the Fall of 2020, I keep hearing that question, “What is it…?”

I’ll never again hear my friend ask. In the months that followed, he shared with me that he was dealing with some medical problems. I visited him in a recovery center for a few days, during which we reminisced about meeting up at Yellowstone. We talked about doing it again as soon as we could. He told me how much he enjoyed his time time there and looked forward to the next time.

He is gone now. I am changed forever. I am a better person for it.

Virtual Field Trip: Yellowstone’s Old Faithful Loop Trail

We all want to get back to ‘normal,’ whatever that was. I’m optimistic that soon we will have confidence to venture out again. For those of us (yes, me too) feeling the urge to get back out, but perhaps aren’t quite ready for crowds and hotel stays, I am bringing you the best experiences from my travels in a new video series, ‘A Photographer’s Journey’ which just started production in July 2020.

New Video Series has Started Production

Just three weeks ago, I published a pilot video, ‘Virtual Field Trip: Bald Eagles in the Wild.‘ In that video, I explain why Bald Eagles migrate hundreds, even thousands of miles each winter and I share the exact location where I travel each winter to photograph hundreds of them congregating in a small area. As I will in all Virtual Field Trip videos, I share some of my favorite pictures from the past ten years, and basic safety and awareness information, just in case you decide get outside to see Bald Eagles for yourself. Be sure to check it out in the August 2020 archive.

Today, I am dropping the second video in the series, ‘Virtual Field Trip: Yellowstone’s Old Faithful loop Trail.’ In it, I share some aerial footage of some of the most awesome places in the national park, like the Yellowstone River flowing toward the Lower Falls, Midway Geyser basin and Grand Prismatic Spring; a slow-motion video of Old Faithful Geyser during an eruption; maps of the overall Yellowstone National Park highway system and a detailed Trail Guide of the Old Faithful Loop Trail. As always, you get to see some of my favorite videos and pictures, all taken along the trail you’ll see in the video below. As you watch, be understand that the images I show have been taken over a period of years, spending many hours patiently waiting for a geyser to erupt or for weather to improve.

I have bold plans for the video series,  including many virtual field trips like “the Old Faithful Loop Trail.” In each video I share deep personal experiences that moved me to become an activist for wildlife and environmental conservation. Standard content includes travel information to help you get to each place I travel, some of my favorite videos and photos from there, and I’ll de-mystify each of these places that may seem to be just out of reach for those interested in the experience.

Later this year (2020) or early 2021 I am planning a second series of videos in which I will share insights on some of the most difficult images shown in my videos, and how I created them. That series is tentatively titled ‘Anatomy of an Image.’ Also, I’m thinking about a third potential video series on the subject of tool tips – things like how I organize my photos so that I can locate almost any of my 120,000 images and videos in a matter of seconds.

Thanks for stopping by. Please check out the video above by clicking on the goofy image of me in my Tilley hat. Stay safe and healthy until next time.

Best, Larry

Additional Resources

Maps of Yellowstone

GPS Coordinates for the Old Faithful Area
44 27 37.31 (Lat) -110 49 41.59 (Long)
UTM Zone 12: 4923021 N, 513665 E

 

 

 

Virtual Field Trip: Bald Eagles in the Wild

For the past ten years, starting about the first of September I begin to look forward to my annual winter trip to the northern Mississippi River to observe and photograph wild Bald Eagles on their annual migration.

Winter is extremely hard on Bald Eagles that live in the far northern climates, because they are totally dependent upon a good supply small animals or fish as their primary diet. Winter temperatures at home dip so low that snow will completely blanket the land and rivers, lakes and ponds will freeze. There is nothing at all to eat. It is time to begin the long trip southward, in search of a deer kill or better yet, open water.

My trip this past February took me from my home in southwest Ohio to LeClaire, Iowa, a small town on the Mississippi River where it passes between Illinois and Iowa. Upon arriving at one of my favorite places to observe this annual event, I am immediately shocked, reminded once again of their severe hunger as they soar above me, then suddenly stop in in mid air before going into a steep dive that ends with talons outstretched, piercing the fish soon to become one of several meals that day.

In this video, I share the exact location of my favorite place to witness the annual gathering of dozens of Bald Eagles, and the answers to common questions:

“What do Bald Eagles eat?”

“Do some Bald Eagles have brown heads?”

“Do Bald Eagles ever fight?”

Thanks for visiting my blog. Please share my video with friends and family, and leave a comment to let me know if there are other questions you might have about Bald Eagles, or if there are other places for which you would like to see a future Virtual Field Trip video.

My best to one and all!