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Chris Kayler's Blog

The blog of Chris Kayler, nature photographer & artist.

"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!

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.

"The Oracle" - Foggy Forest in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

I photographed this scene earlier this year in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. Originally, it was a peaceful foggy scene with fresh spring greens. While processing this image, however, I decided to take a departure from my norm and really try to create something that captured what it felt like to be alone in that quiet, dark, rainy forest. Since I believe that part of the power of photography lies in its ability to depict reality, I want to fully explain what I did while editing this image. First, I did a simple black and white conversion. Once that was done, I gave it a slight blur to create a bit of "glow" and mystery. Next, I added some pretty significant vignetting around the edges to give it the appearance of looking down a tunnel towards brightness. It came out pretty dark and mysterious in mood, which I find represents that trip to the mountains better than the original.

"The Oracle" - A foggy forest in Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22mm @ 16mm. 1/15th @ f/13. ISO 800.

Two Black/White Rock Details, Great Falls National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

Just a simple post with some simple photographs today. I enjoy taking photographs of glorious sunrise and sunset light just as much as the next photographer, but on this particular visit to the Virginia side of Great Falls National Park, the light never came. Since I live so close to Great Falls, I'd typically just head home and catch a nap before starting my day, but on this day I was feeling a bit more inspired and decided to stick around and try to create some interesting photographs of miniature details I could find in the myriad of rocks surrounding the Potomac River. 

"Against the Wall" - Rock detail in Great Falls National Park, Virginia

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 22mm. 1 second @ f/11. ISO 200. Polarizer. Tripod.

"Portrait in Grayscale" - Rock detail in Great Falls National Park, Virginia

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 22mm. 4 seconds @ f/16. ISO 100, Tripod.

The first image is probably my favorite of the two. I really like the different types of lichen and how they all contrast and play off each other. I made sure to place the white "dominant" looking lichens at key points within the composition. I enjoy the second image because it reminds me of an aerial view of a lava flow. The rock pictured here had a seemingly high content of silica, as it glistened in the light. I intent on revisiting this location in the sun instead of during overcast to see if I can capture all of the sparkles better. 

Editor's Pick at Naturescapes.net for "Medicine"

Chris Kayler

I'm happy to announce that one of my favorite images from the autumn season has received the prestigious Editor's Pick award over at Naturescapes.net. I titled this one "Medicine" as I processed it during some ho-hum winter weather, and it was just the kind of Medicine that I needed at the time. I can still remember myself standing in the cool waters on a mild autumn day deep in the mountains of Tennessee. And what a fond memory it is!

"Medicine", Straight Fork, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, United States

This photograph was taken in the morning along Straight Fork in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. The color in the Smokies was quite lackluster (to put it lightly) during the past fall season, but there was still pockets of beautiful color to be found here and there. In this particular location, the lush rhododendrons along the banks helped to kick it up a notch. One of the main issues during this photo excursion was the abundance of high pressure days. During these times of high pressure, not a cloud was seen for days on end. Literally! By arriving at the stream early before direct sunlight filtered in, I managed to capture an image that had beautiful light that was soft, subtle, and directional. On a cloudy day, I would be happy with this image, but it would lack some of the "pop" and complexity that it currently has. The moral of the story: don't give up shooting certain subjects such as streams on sunny days ... just get out there a bit earlier (or later, in the afternoon)!

Techs: Canon 50D, Canon 10-22 @ 10mm, Polarizer, ISO 400, f/13, 0.8 seconds, Gitzo 1325 Tripod. Blend of two images, one exposure for the sunlit upper left, and one for the rest.

"Curves", Ice Droplets, McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Maryland

Chris Kayler

With the intense cold snap that occurred last week, I took the opportunity to get out and photograph some truly amazing ice patterns. On the first day, I visited McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area in Maryland, where I found this smooth, curved structure. At first I attempted to photograph the scene with only one capture at f/22 to maximize depth of field. However, my magnification was too high and the scene too minute to adequately record all of the detail from foreground to background. Knowing this, I chose to set my aperture at f/13 and take a series of photographs at different focus points, later blending the five images together in Photoshop. This was my first time using this technique, and it was painfully easy. I will certainly be utilizing it in future situations!

"Curves", Ice Droplets, McKee-Beshers Wildlife Management Area, Maryland, United States.

Technical Spectacles: Canon 50D, Canon 70-200 @ 163mm, 500D Close-up Diopter, ISO 100, f/13, 0.4 seconds, Gitzo 1325 Tripod. Five images focused at different points, later blended together in Photoshop CS6.

"People of the Place of Flint", Mohawk Falls, Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania

Chris Kayler

Just a quick picture to post for tonight. This image is of Mohawk Falls in Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania. One of the first of 22 named waterfalls along one of the park's relatively short hiking trails. That's right, 22 substantial waterfalls! This place rocks. A photographer's paradise. During my quick visit, dusk was quickly approaching. Using the "shade" of dusk, I was able to shoot on what would have been a bright and sunny day without capturing distracting shadows. Additionally, I was able to control the contrast found within this scene, from bright highlights in the water to dark shadows within the crevices of the rocks. In bright sun, this is simply not possible without taking several exposures and blending them together in Photoshop.

"People of the Place of Flint", Mohawk Falls, Rickett's Glen State Park, Pennsylvania, United States.

Technical Spectacles: Canon 50D, Canon 10-22mm @ 13mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1.3 seconds. Gitzo 1325. Polarizer.