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.
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.
Michael discusses his opinions of F-Stop Gear's newest pack called the Shinn - a pack designed with the cinematographer in mind, which is proving to be perfect for his large format 8x10 setup.Read More
Big Sur landscape photographer, Michael Strickland releases a new large format photograph from his favorite stretch of coastline in California.Read More
I've now had my Arca Swiss F-Line Metric with Micrometric Orbix for a few months now and here are my initial thoughts regarding the camera's performance and functionality, along with the quality of one sheet of 8x10 film.Read More