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Chris Kayler's Blog

The blog of Chris Kayler, nature photographer & artist.

"Doubt Creeps" - Great blue heron fishing along the Potomac River, Great Falls National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

With the relatively warm temperatures of Virginia so far this winter resulting in a complete lack of ice and snow, I've been digging back into my archive of images that never got processed for one reason or another. I find that reevaluating older photographs is an excellent process as what I look for in a worthy image is always changing. I'll be frank, I love this image! Without looking back it would have sat there worthlessly on my hard drive. "Doubt Creeps" captures an image of a great blue heron fishing along the Potomac River last summer. This individual allowed me to approach quite closely and use the wide end of my 70-200mm lens to emphasize the bird in the foreground while also displaying the waterfalls in the background. It always amazes me that these birds choose to fish here among the turbulent waters. I can't wait for the summer of 2015 and the return of the herons.

"Doubt Creeps" - Great blue heron fishing along the Potomac River, Great Falls National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 70-200 f/4 @ 87mm. 1/5th second, f/22, ISO 100. Polarizer. Tripod.

"Autobiography" - Foam swirls in an eddy, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Using a slow shutter speed to capture motion of foam or leaves in a swirling eddy has become somewhat of a cliche in modern nature photography. Okay, that's an understatement. People seek "swirlies" with the veracity of a used car salesman who has just spotted a virgin car buyer. Nevertheless, they have become popular for good reason. The implied motion promotes the viewer's eye roam around the scene and create a moving (literally) composition. The eddy portrayed here is one of the largest I've seen, and I just couldn't resist trying my hand at capturing the flow of it.

"Autobiography" - Foam swirls in an eddy, Monongahela National Forest, West Virginia.

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

Two complex autumn scenes, October, West Virginia

Chris Kayler

Busy? Ugly? Relaxing? Subtle? Complex? These descriptors and more accompany the type of image that I will display in this blog post. In my opinion, there isn't another type of image that is as polarizing. Love it or hate it, these immensely complex images are among my favorite type of image to create and look at. I love the minutia of details that can be studied throughout the frame, and the subtle compositional elements that can be seen either subconsciously or actively, if one is looking hard enough.

"Mountain Music" - A tapestry of trunks and fall foliage, New River Gorge National River, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 17mm. 2 seconds, f/14, ISO 200. Polarizer.

 

"Wavelengths" - Backlit blueberry bushes and foliage, Dolly Sods, West Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 22mm. 1/5th second, f/14, ISO 100. Polarizer.

"Approach of Darkness" - Sunset at Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Chris Kayler

I wouldn't lie to you, would I? As promised, here is the second in the series of images taken during that wonderful autumn sunset on top of Blackrock Summit in the southern portion of Shenandoah National Park, Virginia. I actually created quite a few more images in between my previous post and this one, but I chose this photograph to best display the feelings of that sunset. Graceful pink light slightly kissing the edge of a massive storm front, ethereal fog roaming below. The conditions displayed here, as the darkness of night approached, pluck some hidden strings deep within my heart. 

"Approach of Darkness" - Autumn sunset from Blackrock Summit, Shenandoah National Park, Virginia.

Techs: Canon 7D, Canon 10-22 @ 12mm. 15 seconds, f/14, ISO 100. Blend of two exposures, one for sky, one for land.

"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.