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Chris Kayler's Blog

The blog of Chris Kayler, nature photographer & artist.

"Idealist's Viewpoint" - Sunset at Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

As I began my travels home from the New River Gorge in West Virginia, I knew the potential for a stunning sunset was high. A massive 1,000 mile long patch of moisture hung overhead, with the east full of clouds and the west (where the sun would be setting) completely clear. Since the cloud pattern had remained this way for almost a full day, I found the nearest picturesque location that sat right in the middle of the transition from cloudy to clear. That spot happened to be at one of my favorite locations, Blackrock Summit. I made my way to the summit a couple hours early and perfected my compositions. As the sun began to set, fog lingered on the ridges to the east, while autumn foliage was backlit by the intense setting sun to the west. The shapes of the clouds lined up perfectly with my composition. It was certainly a great afternoon to be up in the mountains! Up next ... an image taken after this one when the clouds began to turn pink. Keep watch!

"Idealist's Viewpoint" - An autumn sunset from atop Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 10mm. .4 seconds, f/14, ISO 100. Blend of two exposures, one for sky, one for land.

Foggy forests along the New River Gorge, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

I may be done with the focus shifted images for a while, but to ease the transition here's a couple of subtle and soft foggy atmospheric photos. Both of these images were taken on the same foggy morning on the steeply wooded banks of the New River as I ascended up the canyon. Enjoy, and thanks for reading.

"Released, Again" - Foggy foliage near the edge of a pond, New River Gorge, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 87mm. 5 seconds, f/13, ISO 100.

 

"The Sound You Made For Me" - Foggy forest, New River Gorge, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 98mm. 4 seconds, f/14, ISO 200.

"Falling Leaves" - Fall foliage in a reflection, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

This is the last in my mini series of focus shifted images (for now!). Quite different from the ethereal feeling evoked by my previous two images, this photograph of fallen leaves floating on the surface of a colorful reflection tells a story and contains much sharper detail. By starting my exposure while focused on the upper canopy of the trees in the reflection, and then defocusing my lens as the exposure commensed, I was able to show the sharp details on the tree canopy and create movement and blur in the leaves on the surface. I thought the end result told the story of a tree transitioning from fall to winter, as it appears that I am looking towards the canopy as leaves plummet towards me.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 70mm. 1 second, f/10, ISO 100. Focus shifted during a single exposure.

"A Shift of Focus" - Cottongrass in a bog, Dolly Sods, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Continuing with the subject of my prior post, here is another image that I created during that particular photography session on top of Dolly Sods, West Virginia. Much like my image of the blueberry bush, this image was a macro photograph using the 70-200 f/4 lens. When admiring the expansive bogs that occupy many high altitude plateaus in West Virginia, one cannot help but to notice the tiny puffs of white garnishing the top of a plant known as cottongrass. By using my focus shifting technique, I think that I was able to better show the spirit of the cottongrass.

"A Shift of Focus" - Cottongrass in a bog, Dolly Sods, West Virginia.

echs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 1.4x teleconverter @ 280mm. 1 second, f/5.6., ISO 100. Focus shifted during a single exposure.

"Dying Flames" - Blueberry bush at dusk, Dolly Sods, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

This image was taken in the beginning of October as I first arrived for my autumn trip to the highlands of West Virginia. As mentioned in previous posts, I tried to keep a patient and open mind during my trips into the wilderness this autumn. While working slowly on that first night of the first day, an idea came to me ... change focus during a relatively long exposure to create an in-camera dreamy look. Well, I tried it on many different subjects and must say that I fell in love with the technique. By shifting the focus during the exposure I was able to create many different images that were unique from the rest of my work. In this image, I put on my 70-200 f/4 + 1.4x teleconverter and zoomed in to create a shifted-focus macro photograph of these amazingly colorful blueberry bushes as the shadows turned to blue at dusk.

"Dying Flames" - Blueberry bush at dusk. Focus shifted during a single exposure. Dolly Sods, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 1.4x teleconverter @ 280mm. 20 seconds, f/5.6., ISO 200. Shifted focus during a single exposure.

"Release" - Clearing fog from Grandview Overlook, New River Gorge, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

The morning I crafted this image will not soon be forgotten. After photographing in foggy forests along the banks of the New River early in the morning, I made my way up to the canyon rim. The fog above the river was beginning to break up here and there as I drove along, so I decided to head to Grandview Overlook to try to catch some of the action. As I walked up to the cliff's edge, the whole area was enclosed in dense fog. However, within 10 minutes, the fog suddenly began to break up and reveal shapes of the distant ridges, sunlit clouds from above, and even the New River below. It really was a special moment. Enjoy!

"Release" - Clearing fog from Grandview Overlook, New River Gorge National River, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 70mm. 1/30th second, f/14, ISO 100. Polarizer.

"It Grows from Within" - Lichen on a boulder, Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

I've always enjoyed the patterns of lichen and moss atop the many boulders at Blackrock Summit in the southern portion of Shenandoah National Park. Oddly, however, I was never in the right mindset to photograph them. I was always rushing. Rushing, for some internal unknown reason. There were always "better" things to photograph than some lichen patterns on a rock. Well, that mindset is in the past now. These tiny silent subjects are just as beautiful, captivating, and worthwhile as the most majestic sunset. Enjoy!

"It Grows from Within" - Lichen on the surface of a boulder, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 81mm. .6 seconds, f/16, ISO 100.

"Gaea's Wedding Veil" - Marr Branch, New River Gorge, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

During my visit to the New River Gorge located in West Virginia last month I was plagued with the landscape photographers ultimate curse - perfectly sunny blue sky days. While there are exceptions to all rules, during times like this, I typically try to focus on smaller scenes in shade, or photograph during the morning and afternoon when the sun is closer to the horizon. This small cascade along Marr Branch was still in shade while I found it, and I ended up really liking the intricate lacy details and structure of the rocks, as well as the accents of color in the form of fallen leaves. The curse turned to a blessing, and a new image was born.

"Gaea's Wedding Veil" - Marr Branch, New River Gorge National River, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22mm @ 11mm. 1 second, f/22, ISO 100. Tripod. Polarizer.

"Contentment in Solitude" - Autumn Waterfall, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Here's another fresh image straight from the wilds of West Virginia. As mentioned in my previous post, I worked really hard, yet patiently during my trips this autumn. After visiting this area of West Virginia for 7 years in a row, I figured that I had already seen (but not photographed) almost everything that the area had to offer. Boy, was I wrong. During my last day of the trip as I drove down a small forest road, I decided to make my way along a small stream that crossed my path. After several hundred feet of bushwhacking, I heard the familiar roar of the waterfall and found myself above a towering 60 foot tall waterfall. With camera gear in tow, I made my way down set after set of beautiful waterfalls. This image captures a small whirlpool below what was my favorite of the waterfalls found on this stream.

"Contentment in Solitude" - Secret waterfall in autumn, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22mm @ 13mm. 6 seconds, f/16, ISO 100. Polarizer.

"Vision Quest" - Autumn Reflections, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Hi there! I've been really busy traveling this past month and have many new images to share. My goal as I began my series of autumn trips this year was to change my mindset. During previous trips I had a lot of trouble calming my mind. It is hard to transition from fast-paced modern society to a relaxed mental state in only a few short days. By actively thinking about my goal, however, I found some success and felt much more patient and managed to work in a methodical and slow-paced way. No matter the light, I continued working and trying to create art. I firmly believe that there is a photograph to be made in all situations. Only a lack of creativity can hamper our vision.

"Vision Quest" - Submerged maple leaf, oil, and reflections. Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 + 1.4xTC @ 176mm. .4 seconds, f/7.1, ISO 400.



This first image was taken in early October in the Monongahela National Forest of West Virginia.