Rocky Mountain National Park

March 06, 2015  •  1 Comment


If you've been to Rocky Mountain National Park, you were probably there in the Summer Time.  If you have been to bear Lake, the destination for most tourists and the starting point for many hikers, this is the iconic shot for most, seeing the mountains over the lake, clear blue sky a gentle breeze, and curious squirrels and chip monks who come right up to you to see if you'll offer a goodie or two. 

I believe seeing the mountains in winter is just as important because you see the true power and beauty of the mountains despite the elements.  

I'll be honest, I came too late in the day to do any decent hiking, I arrived after 1pm, hiking around the lake wasn't recommended, because the trails weren't groomed past certain points, I went past the point on the Northeast part of the lake to get this shot above.  I was sinking in the snow up to my upper thighs!  I did go on another path that was trampled down, however it was all down hill, and I had to go back up.  At 9,450' above sea level and an out-of-shape man in his mid 40's isn't a good combination, so I chose to abort what I was doing and head back up the path toward Bear Lake.  I was out of breath by the time I got back there and my heart rate was about 170!  I know what I'm doing now, going to the gym to get in shape for hiking over the summer into next winter!  

OK I hear you photo enthusiast, what were my camera settings?  They were f/16 1/250th a second at ISO 200.  This was shot with a 50mm f/1.4G Nikon Lens on my Nikon D700.  This is not an HDR shot, it's a single shot.  I don't like most HDR work because most of the time the tonality is pushed from the white/black toward mid-tones leaving the shot looking kind of grey!  Not my cup of tea, if I want grey, I'll order Earl Gray! 


This shot is of Table Top Mountain.  I shot this from the East about six miles away, near Bear Lake Road, perhaps a ¼ mile down the trail.  It was about all I could muster without snow shoes, since, like Bear Lake, my feet kept falling into the snow up to my upper thigh.  Again the majesty of the mountain is seen during the winter, with the snow on the upper face, a little on the cliffside and angry clouds streaming overhead because of the high winds that were there.  

Upon leaving the Park, by the ranger station I looked up and to my right and saw Long's Peak.  I had to stop and get the photograph.   Longs-Peak-3Longs-Peak-3

Long's Peak is in the middle while Mt. Meeker is on the left and shrouded in cloud and Mt. Lady Washington is the peak on the right.  Again I love the clouds surrounding the peak, giving it power like the clouds surrounding the major Himalayan peaks, although the mountains are half the elevation! 

On my way home on the roadside on US 36 I came across three male Elk, one of which was close to the road by a chain station-where cars and trucks put chains on their tires to get over the pass during snow covered road periods.  As I got out of the car, I moved too quickly into position and startled the Elk, who had a little bird of a friend who was sitting on him.  I get the shot of the Elk as it was walking away. I only go one shot because two other cars pulled in too, and the elks went away.  


Photographing Without any kind of Fill Outdoors

May 08, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Outdoor Portrait Photography without any kind of Fill-or a Team of Assistants

Hi, I'm Erik Davis, one of the Administrators for Chicago Photographic Society.  I haven't been very active as of late, but now I feel it's my time.  

My first lesson is photographing outdoors without using any kind of fill!  Sounds scary right?  My first mentors told me to always use a reflector or fill flash at all times and that outdoor photography was something only done in the shade.  If the subjects were in the sun, they shouldn't look at the camera!  Also, if the portrait is done in the sun, you must scrim the light!  Monty Zucker, in a publishing I read and I paraphrase, stated he didn't like outdoor photography because I couldn't control the light.  I have since learned and practiced outdoor photography without fill flash or any kind of fill cards and have achieved stunning, natural looking results that brides love so much now!    

You have seen the articles in magazines or videos from preaching photographers who discuss outdoor photography almost always have at least on assistant if not a team with them to scrim, gobo, reflect, bounce, and the light.  Others will tell you the only way to do photography outdoors is to have their Profoto D1 with a slammin' battery pack, a beauty dish which require-a team of assistants.  Wait there's more, don't forget the willowy model, that's 5'11" and weighs only 108 lb. soaking wet! 

A little over a year ago I stumbled on a video by Cliff Mautner, on Kelby Training, who is a Philadelphia based photographer, used to work for the Philadelphia Enquirer for over twenty years, who successfully demonstrated outdoor photography in the sun, mid day with no fill.  No assistant either! Just Cliff and his subject.  Wow!  Not only was I curious, but encouraged too, little ole' me could do this!  The key that Mr. Mautner pointed out is that the sun must me behind the model (somewhere, not necessarily directly behind), using a telephoto lens, and the model juxtaposed against a dark background, i.e. a building, tree line, mountain, or other terrain, etc.  He would start with the camera on Aperture Priority, take some test shots, adjusting the exposure comp 'til the photo looked good-then switch to manual mode with the settings of the best photo.  One thing to remember is to reset the exposure comp!  The results: Stunning!  Here are some samples I have taken using those techniques.  

First is Michelle.  I photographed her while on a George Street Assignment a few days back.  This is the photo as is out of the box, except for the jpeg conversion.  

It looks like the photograph is in shade however, she is in the open, the tree and fence behind her are shaded.  


Here's another from the day:


Out in the open against a dark background.  She looks stunning!  

Here's another one, this is another George Street Assignment from 2010.

This photograph is edited, however the principle remains the same:

Erik Davis You can do this too!  Don't be afraid!  Take a few shots during an assignment or practice with a friend.  Once you get comfortable, and competent, you'll (almost) never want to mount your flash up again!  



My wedding photography style

March 15, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

Every photographer has a style.  The style of the photographer, I believe, is strongly tied to the photographer's personality.  That being stated, I am an easy going, yet passionate photographer, who's style easily blends in with the emotion of the wedding day.  I capture that emotion, as it is unfolding, like no other photographer around!  As you see my images, you'll find that the emotion is right there in front of you, as prominent as the heat in the desert at noon. 

Grabbing the day's emotion, in my mind, is a highest priority, greater than making sure each person is positioned perfectly or that everyone is a perfectly strait line, etc, because that would take the emotion away, leaving just a pretty picture without any spirit.  For me spirit is what makes a photograph work.  Imagine the photograph of the sailor and nurse in Times Square (at the end of WWII) just standing there looking at the camera?  Would it be famous like it is today?  My guess it would be somewhere deep in the Life Magazine's archives and forgotten.  

I feel right at home, photographing weddings, feeling and feeding off the energy the day exudes and capturing the energy into my imagery.  I'm always pushing my boundaries outward and expanding my repertoire.  

I am that photographic style, which is contemporary and modern, a photojournalistic style that captures the love, passion and beauty of the day.  I may not be famous, yet, get me now before the demand skyrockets.  

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