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.
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.
Big Sur landscape photographer, Michael Strickland releases a new large format photograph from his favorite stretch of coastline in California.Read More
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 |