Navigating the washes of Zion National Park's eastern side is a peaceful experience. Compared to the hustle and bustle of the rest of the park, wandering through unmarked trails and into unmarked canyons is solitude at its finest. On my second day in Zion, I found this stand of gamble oaks surrounded by a group of young red maple trees and set up the panoramic camera for a shot. The reflected light from a canyon wall directly behind me was incredibly strong and I waited for it to nearly subside before exposing this scene, bringing out much more noticeable hues of blue and purple throughout the scene, accentuated by the bright red maple leaves.
One of my first trips after returning home to Kansas was spending a few days sleeping and exploring the open ranges of the Flint Hills in eastern Kansas. On the first evening, I returned to a familiar location, where I had exposed a few of my first sheets of 4x5 film and decided to give it another chance on 8x10. Flint and limestone deposits scatter the hills of the prairie and in early summer, after the annual spring prairie burns, they are exposed as the grasses begin to regrow around them. A summer thunderstorm moved north of the area and I had originally thought the light was going to be completely shut down by the cloud cover, but about 15 minutes before sunset, a brief window of golden light opened up for a matter of minutes. It was enough time for me to expose two sheets of film, one of which was subjected to a bit a bit of a light leak. I guess I could consider myself lucky that I pulled this one off.
The Flint Hills of Kansas is a beautiful place, both in its landscape and its details. Entire hillsides are dotted in limestone and flint deposits and can stretch for miles. These are evidence of an ancient seabed, which once stretched through Kansas and have since left gorgeous boulders scattered across the entire landscape. In late spring, after the annual prairie burns, the grasslands come alive with a brilliant shade of green that you have to witness to believe. Sunrise is my favorite time in the Flint Hills. Hearing the prairie awake for the day reminds me of a symphony tuning and preparing to perform a piece. The birds begin to chirp and sing, eventually taking flight, the wind slowly begins to blow, the cattle on the range awake and begin to rustle around until the sun crests the horizon, bringing light to the entire landscape. That's part of the reason the prairie will always be my home.
While spending a few nights out in the Flint Hills of eastern Kansas, I had the wonderful experience of waking up to this beautiful sunrise. Hearing the creak of the old windmill in the slight, early morning breeze, the whisper of the Kansas tallgrass prairie, and the whooping sounds of the common nighthawks is truly experiencing the open prairie and is unlike any other landscape I've ever photographed. It's home to me. This is the Kansas I know and love.
- Camera: Arca Swiss F-Line Metric with Micrometric Orbix 8x10
- Lens: Schneider Symmar-S 240mm f/5.6
- Exposure: 4 seconds @ f/22
- Film: Fuji Velvia 50
- Tripod Head: Arca Swiss Cube C1
This past December marked my first trip to Yosemite National Park in the winter. I had been watching the weather for months, waiting for the right weekend to drop everything and head out. My friend Mark Gvazdinskas (if you haven't done so already, check out his work) and I took off on a Friday afternoon, hoping for the best - the forecast showed up to a few inches of snow in Yosemite Valley. Mark had never been to Yosemite and I'd never spent much time in the valley itself, so it was a bit of a learning experience for the both of us. Temperatures on Friday night dropped well below freezing, and we woke up to a beautiful, clear winter morning - not ideal, but what can you do? A day spent outside is a day well spent. We continued to poke around the valley, photographing a bit, but otherwise just soaking in the beauty of the valley. When it finally started to snow on Sunday, we had to head back home, but not without stopping a few times along the drive home. In the high country of Yosemite, we found a pull-off that looked promising and decided to get out and look around in the forest. There had been a fire a few years before and the undergrowth was thick with young ponderosa pine trees. Ponderosas are one of my favorite trees to photograph, especially in snow. Their naturally red appearance contrasts the white and blue tones of the snow that can create absolutely wonderful scenes, so when I found this grove of ponderosas, I became quite excited. This composition originally sparked my interest due to the range of life present. The two old growth trees stood in a bed of young trees, while the dead looked on in the distance. Immediately, I grabbed my gear and set up the shot on my 8x10 camera. By the time I had found the composition, set up the shot, composed, focused, and exposed a sheet of film, an inch of snow had fallen on my vehicle. Keeping the camera dry and free of ice on the ground glass was incredibly difficult, but the scene turned out exactly as I had imagined.
This image is available as a limited edition fine art photographic print. If you're interested in purchasing this image, click the button below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me for more information.
Sand dunes are somewhat of a photographer's paradise - at least for me. After living on the central coast for almost six months, I had never so much as heard about these, let alone ventured out here. After just receiving my Mamiya 7ii a few weeks earlier, I decided there was no better place to give it a test run than out at the dunes, which was practically in my back yard. Late fall in California marks the end of the dry season, and the dunes were feeling it. The wind had been blowing all day, and about two hours before sunset, it subsided leaving the perfect ripples.
Clear skies are typically looked down upon with landscape photography. The texture in the sky adds interest and the reflected light from a layer of clouds illuminates the land. In the sand dunes, however, photographic opportunities are endless. With severe clear skies, I looked toward the texture in the sand.
Over the past year, I have been devoting a fair amount of time studying photographic art. I stumbled upon the work of Edward Weston when visiting Carmel, CA. Flipping through a book entitled "Dune" I realized the work was created less than five miles from my home in the Oceano Dunes. His work inspired this small I created on my Mamiya 7ii, all on transparency film. All are available for purchase, so please contact me if you are interested.
This image has been waiting to be released for quite a while. I found this vantage point almost a year ago now returned about five times waiting for the light to be just right. I exposed this image late last summer as a rare summer storm was about to hit the cliffs of Big Sur. As the storm moved in, about fifteen minutes after the sun had set, the clouds erupted in a bizarre purple hue unlike I had ever seen in this particular location. I only had time to expose one sheet of film for a 2 minute exposure before the light had changed and the color was gone. On the way home that evening, lightning was hitting the sides of the cliffs. Coming from Kansas, close encounters with lightning doesn't seem to be that big of a deal, but in Big Sur...or really anywhere in California, that's some big news. Talk about a crazy night!
I also had help on this particular evening. Thanks, Charlie.
This was also the first 8x10 image I have had professionally drum scanned on an Aztek drum scanner. For those of you who don't know what this is, it is essentially the highest quality digitally converted image you can get. To give you an idea of just how detailed this photograph is, below is a 100% crop of this image.
Yes, that's a house, and yes, we are all quite envious of this individual's back yard. But the point is, this is a single exposed image and I can almost bet none of you can find where this house is in the full sized image. With that being said, this image can be printed with incredible detail and clarity up to 48x60". Pretty awesome, if I do say so myself.
Because this was my first drum scan, I thought I'd go ahead and get it printed and framed as well, so a couple of months ago, I received the first edition, framed by my friend David at Saw and Mitre.
Here is the first edition. It's printed 24x30" on photographic paper and finished off with a beautiful walnut frame. When this image is hung, it really brings a sense of peace to the room. If you'd like this exact image (#1/90) framed as shown above, click the button below to add it to your cart!
If you'd like to purchase this image in a different size, follow the button below.
Well this is the "big" announcement you've been waiting the past few days for - I'm releasing my first book!
About a year ago, I moved away from Kansas and now live on the central coast of California. I was born and raised in Kansas and its the place where I began my journey as a photographer. From the farmlands and prairies of the west to the rolling Flint Hills in the east, Kansas is where I learned to see.
Most view Kansas as a "flyover state" or scoff at the fact that I called this place my photographic home. When meeting people and introducing myself as a landscape photographer from Kansas, their typical response was, "Wow! You must travel a lot." While I do travel quite a bit, even living in the state of California, their response was mildly insulting. Growing up, there was never a moment where I believed Kansas to be ugly and it was disappointing to me that even some of the residents of Kansas did not appreciate the beauty of the state. Until you've stood beneath a storm more powerful than you can fathom, or witness a sky light up like they do in the Great Plains, you have no justification what natural beauty is.
Leaving Kansas has been bitter sweet. It's a place I truly love to photograph, but given the opportunity to live and work in such a place as California is an opportunity I couldn't pass up this early in my career in nature photography. Galleries have began to approach me, I've gained more collectors in 2015 than ever before, and people are beginning to recognize me as a credible artist. This wouldn't have been possible, had I not loved the beauty of Kansas.
There is much more to photography than a beautiful image. When you all see my work I've created along the pacific, I hope you can hear the seagulls - smell the ocean air. If you ever been here, you'll know what I mean. But if you've ever been to Kansas, standing in the middle of a wide open grassland and watching the sun rise is unbelievable - that's where my drive as an artist is driven from. Emotion.
This book is for my home and the people who live there and appreciate where they live. It's for those who have believed in me and what I was doing and have supported me from the moment I picked up a camera and began this journey. It is a 70 page book that combines a collection of 33 of my favorite photographs I created in Kansas with a brief introduction of the motivation behind this project.
I hope that if you're reading this, you can understand the love I have of this place and can join me as I share what I've created while living there. If you'd like to purchase the book, you can follow the link below. I am accepting preorders as of today and intend on shipping out the first copies the first week of March.
Thank you again for all of your support throughout the years and I hope you continue to follow along with me as I take this next step in my journey.
Autumn is one of my favorite times of year, especially when it comes to photography. Aside from football starting up, the MLB postseason (go Royals!), and the weather finally cooling off after a brutal 75 degree California Central Coast summer, the aspens begin their annual transition. I chase the color every year, usually in the Colorado Rockies and Arkansas hardwood forests. This year, I had a chance to explore a completely new area - the Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain range in California.
I took off the weekend before my wedding to have a little bachelor getaway with my good friend Tyler Brigham and my dog, Charlie. We made a loop down past the southern region of the Sierras, through the Mojave and up to Bishop for the first night. The color around Bishop Creek and Aspendell was fantastic, but different compared to what I’ve been used to.
The groves in Colorado are something out of this world. Gigantic and mature, these organisms span entire mountain valleys and up into the alpine region of the Rockies. The groves near Bishop were small, young, and quite patchy. While still beautiful, many of the intimate scenes looking through the trees were snuffed out due to the forests being so thick and the trees being so immature.
The three panoramic photos you see above are all from the Crested Butte area near Kebler Pass. From these three photos, you can really tell the difference between the forests around the Bishop, CA area and the giant forests of Colorado. The spacious, mature trees make for incredibly unique and textural images.
Charlie had a blast on the trip. He had the chance to approve a couple exposures, meet some tourists, romp around in the wilderness, and even got to drive a little bit - his four favorite activities. The 8x10 got some good use on this past trip, and not including my evening through Yosemite on the way home (post to come later) I ended up shooting 3 sheets of film. Two of these were the aspen scene from above and the the third was from the scene below.
The aspen scene above, I've entitled "Autumn's Grasp." I spotted the scene earlier in the afternoon on the day we arrived to the area and knew I needed the perfect low contrast light to photograph it. I set up well before sunset and waited for the calm twilight to come. As the sun sank well below the mountains behind me, the warmth of the sky above reflected a gorgeous light onto the grasses and aspens. I have been forcing myself to see more "intimate landscapes." These scenes are quite difficult to compose and photograph, but I find that as an artist, I strive to search for these compositions. They can be incredibly unique and have so much to say if you let yourself into the image. I composed this photograph intentionally symmetrical. I loved how the textures and colors stacked into perfect thirds, the brown grasses, the almost purple brush, and the pine trees, with that pop of fall color directly in the center. Something new from me, that's for sure.
The white granite in the Sierra Nevadas is an absolute dream to photograph. Because of its silvery / white color, the stone reflects nearly every quality of light, especially during the twilight hours. In the photograph below, the calm twilight of sunrise sometimes known as "the blue hour" was reflected by the bright white granite foreground. Typically, I don't photograph many scenes with clear skies. Clouds add texture and interest to usually otherwise dull photograph, but this particular scene worked quite well with clear skies. With the small pops of fall color in the distance, you can almost feel the peaceful, crisp autumn morning when looking at this photograph.
Because these photographs are so new and need drum scans and go through rigorous dust and spot removal, these are all still in their early stages of proofing for print. If you'd like to get your hands on one of these early proofs, fill out the form below to shoot me an email for a chance to own one of the first prints!
Michael releases one of his newest photographs, a 4x5 photograph taken on the Central Coast of California, near San Luis Obispo. This was taken at the height of the winter storms, at a stream that met the sea.Read More
Big Sur landscape photographer, Michael Strickland releases a new large format photograph from his favorite stretch of coastline in California.Read More
In early July, I hiked into the backcountry of the Desolation Wilderness, for my first true experience of California's Sierra Nevada range near Lake Tahoe. Here, I exposed several different scenes on my large format panoramic camera. Read about the stories behind the photos and more.Read More
McWay Falls is located in a pristine cove on California's Big Sur coastline. In fact, it's one of Big Sur's main attractions, where hundreds -- if not thousands, of tourists gather each day to watch the spring-fed falls cascade into the ocean below. Typically, I don't enjoy photographing along a rail, especially among crowds of people, but this was a scene I really wanted to witness and photograph. On this particular evening, the sky was clear with a slight haze in the distance, which ended up working out better than I had thought. I exposed two sheets about 45 minutes before sunset to test the exposure latitude of two types of film, and my second two sheets I exposed as the sun barely started to touch the horizon. My positive film ended up being thrown away, as sometime during the 15 second exposure, the camera must have shaken slightly. This is the negative film, exposed for the shadows with no graduated neutral density filter, which definitely shows how much dynamic range Kodak Ektar can capture
It's definitely a beautiful location, and I hope to return again when the flowers are in bloom and the sky blows up. We can all dream, right?
- Camera: Ebony 4x5
- Lens: Nikkor 90mm f/4.5
- Exposure: 15 Seconds
- Aperture: f/32
- Film: Kodak Ektar 100
This is my first Limited Edition release of 2015, as I've started my new journey living on the Central Coast of California. Back in January, we took a quick weekend trip out to one of our favorite national parks -- Death Valley. I had never photographed DV on large format and it was only our second visit. We were greeted with an early morning sunrise that was absolutely spectacular, but due to the difficulty of focusing a large format camera in the dark and a lack of a strong composition, I did not expose a sheet of film.
That evening, the skies cleared out to our disappointment, but I went ahead and set up the shot anyways near the Devil's Golf Course, a part of Badwater Basin a bit farther to the north. About 20 minutes after the sun had set, I exposed one sheet of Fuji Velvia 50 for nearly 8 minutes. This long exposure captured the last light of day glowing above the horizon, which cast a beautiful glow across the valley.
I typically don't like to photograph scenes without clouds, but the clear skies allowed the texture and complexity of the foreground to pull the viewer into the calm, peaceful scene.
| Camera: Ebony 4x5 | Exposure: 8m | Lens: Nikkor SW 90mm f/4.5 @ f/32 | Film: Fuji Velvia 50 |