Lon’s Favorites of 2016

2016 was my first full year using the Nikon D800E DSLR and my first of many, many years not shooting film.  I’ve come to embrace the technology and even learned new techniques in processing digital images.  While 2016 was another slow year in terms of photography, I did manage to capture some and perhaps enough to be able to claim my favorites for 2016 and submit once again to Jim Goldstein’s annual Blog Project: Your Best Photos from 2016. 

Some might recognize that all but one image in my favorites list are from three visits to Yosemite Valley in 2016.  I did have a few other local outings and perhaps could have included some of those, but I wanted to showcase the Yosemite work.  It’s a challenge, but I strive for finding unique images from a place over run with tourists and photographers. Despite the crowds and lunacy, I still find peace and solitude visiting this magical place.

The highlight of the year though was the birth of my Grandson Brixton Jay in May of 2016.  Our first grand child.  We’re so proud and I look forward to many photo ops with this wonderful little boy.

Have a Great 2017 and don’t forget to check out Jim Goldstein’s best of project.

 

 

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Thank You! All my best to you in 2017!

Lon’s Favorites of 2015

2015 was a year of significant change for me photographically.  I haven’t posted to this blog since 2012 as there were significant personal challenges and life-changing circumstances that put my photography on the back burner for a while. And while my photo outings were very limited this year, I did manage to capture some and perhaps enough to be able to claim my favorites for 2015 and submit once again to Jim Goldstein’s annual Blog Project: Your Best Photos from 2015.

What changed for me photographically in 2015?  Well, after 23+ years of shooting film exclusively with a 4×5 field camera, I’ve thrown in the towel and got myself a DSLR.  The major factor in the decision was simply economics.  The cost of color transparency film has skyrocketed in the past several years and E6 processing is becoming harder to find and also more expensive.  Even buying out-dated film, the cost per image, was $6-8 each.  I’m fortunate to have acquired a nice 4×5 kit over the years and selling all my gear will more than pay for my first DSLR purchase.  Because of the cost and personal challenges, I just wasn’t motivated to do a lot of large format film photography.  When one feels pressured in to making a decision whether or not to expose a piece of film because of cost, well, it got frustrating and seriously began limiting my freedom to create fine art images.  

I had my first DSLR experience with a borrowed Nikon D700 on a trip to the Eastern Sierra this past October.  I also shot with the 4×5 in parallel.  I’ve yet to even send the film in for processing.  I discovered after this trip that my ability to “see” and create images didn’t change because I had a DSLR in my hand.  What did change is that I had 10X the number of captured images!  I was fearful of the “spray and pray” pitfall that it doesn’t cost anything to capture digital images…. and I did find myself capturing a LOT more images that I could have with just film.  In the end though, what I learned is that I came home with the same quantity and quality images as I would have normally with film. I also came home with a lot of “extras,” but a large portion of the extras were a result of capturing multiple images per scene for things like focus stacking and exposure blends: and so many iterations when shooting moving water…. or having fun with zoom and pan blurs.  Oh, and the Milky Way….. 

As much as it saddened me to leave film and the 4×5, I knew it was time. So before an annual trek to Yosemite Valley for fall color in early November, I set my sights on a DSLR.  My first and only photo excursion so far with my new Nikon 800E was this trip to Yosemite Valley.  Many of those images are included in this year’s favorites.

So one chapter is closed and a new one is being written.  What remains to be seen is whether or not I can equal or surpass the quality of images that I’ve come to expect from myself.  And to that end, I have a challenge for anyone who may come across this post.  Are you able to tell which images below are originally from film, or if they are from a DSLR?  Some of you who have already seen my work, or can decipher some clues already provided may be able to correctly choose.  But I’ll put this out there as a fun exercise.  Can you tell the difference? Which ones are film and which ones are digital? (No fair looking at metadata…)

So in no particular order, here are my favorites from 2015:

Select any Image to begin Slideshow, or scroll down for individual views:
Select individual images for larger view:
Dawn Over Yosemite

Dawn Over Yosemite

 

Black Oak and Frost

Black Oak and Frost

 

Merced, River of Ice

Merced, River of Ice

 

Autumn Leaves, Yosemite

Autumn Leaves, Yosemite

 

River of Blue & Gold, Yosemite

River of Blue & Gold, Yosemite

 

Frosted Leaves & Grass, Yosemite

Frosted Leaves & Grass, Yosemite

 

Edge of Frozen Light, Yosemite

Edge of Frozen Light, Yosemite

 

Winter's Hold of the Merced, Yosemite

Winter’s Hold of the Merced, Yosemite

 

Splendor in the Grass, Yosemite

Splendor in the Grass, Yosemite

 

Found Nature, Yosemite

Found Nature, Yosemite

 

Rock of Ages, Merced River Canyon

Rock of Ages, Merced River Canyon

 

Black Oak Leaves, Golden, Yosemite

Black Oak Leaves, Golden, Yosemite

 

Puzzled Char, Yosemite

Puzzled Char, Yosemite

 

Grass Diversity, Leidig Meadow, Yosemite

Grass Diversity, Leidig Meadow, Yosemite

 

Merced Calm, Yosemite

Merced Calm, Yosemite

 

Impressions in the Merced, Yosemite

Impressions in the Merced, Yosemite

 

Fractured Runes

Fractured Runes

 

River of Gold II, Yosemite

River of Gold II, Yosemite

 

Got Aspens? Silver Lake, Eastern Sierra

Got Aspens? Silver Lake, Eastern Sierra

 

Red Sage, Mono Craters, Eastern Sierra

Red Sage, Mono Craters, Eastern Sierra

 

Aspen Grove Panoramic, Silver Lake, Eastern Sierra

Aspen Grove Panoramic, Silver Lake, Eastern Sierra

 

Aspen Fortress, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

Aspen Fortress, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

 

Gold, Rush Creek, June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

Gold, Rush Creek, June Lake Loop, Eastern Sierra

 

Trunk Full of Aspen II, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

Trunk Full of Aspen II, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

 

The Forbidden Zone II, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

The Forbidden Zone II, Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

 

Glory of Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

Glory of Lundy Canyon, Eastern Sierra

 

 

 

Thank You! All my best in 2016!

Top 12 of ’12

 Ok, everyone’s got a top 10 list these days; no claims of originality here. I had my first list last year and thought I would do so again for 2012. This year however, it just made sense to me to make it a Top 12; 12 for ’12. So here we go.

 2012 was a little slow for me as far as photography went. Knee surgery at the end of 2011 completely stymied any photography outings until early May when I made my first visit of the year to Yosemite. As you might guess, Yosemite is my favorite place; not only to photograph, but just to be there; just to walk the meadows, sit by the Merced and of course drink from the Fountain at Fern Springs. Yes, it is one of those places that most times is simply overrun with people. But anyone who knows Yosemite also knows when to go and where to go to lose themselves and feel like you are the only inhabitant. It is a special and magical place.

 In recent years I’ve set out to learn how to “see” Yosemite by photographing the little nuances and intimate scenes that really make it a special place; really get to know the light, the backdrops, combing all the different elements and moods. And in a place like Yosemite with monstrous granite domes and towering waterfalls, it’s nearly impossible to not look up and marvel at the grand landscape. So at the end of 2012, I felt I was getting closer to my goal of showing the quieter and more intimate side of Yosemite; and not just the obvious. I don’t have a single image this year that shows El Capitan, Half Dome, Bridal Veil or Yosemite Falls. Some images are distinctly Yosemite, while others not so.

 It wasn’t easy choosing 12 out of the 50 or so images I thought were decent enough to scan and process. Here are some of my favorites from 2012:

“El Capitan’s Court” may be my favorite of the year. Not necessarily because it’s the best image or most spectacular – it’s certainly nothing extraordinary as far as subject matter, composition, etc. This image just means more to me personally. I felt like this image captured so many of the wondrous elements of Yosemite and specifically Yosemite Valley. From the stately and brittle Black Oaks, the delicate and diversity of grasses and plants of the meadow floor, to the Ponderosa and Cedar, the guardians of the valley, all in the shadows of the towering walls of granite. A simple landscape – yet showcasing Yosemite in all her glory.

El Capitan's Court, Yosemite NP. #42113SVSTOR

El Capitan’s Court, Yosemite NP. #42113SVSTOR

During my last photo outing of the year, I had a goal of really trying the capture the grace and elegance of the grasses of Yosemite Valley. Four days in early November and many hours wandering Leidig and El Capitan Meadows and I felt like I was able to capture some of that. No powerful or dynamic sunset or spectacular light; just some elegant details of a place that far too often simply get overlooked and most certainly stepped over. 😉

Meadow Elegance, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42124SH

Meadow Elegance, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42124SH

A Fern Among the Grass, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42126SHCR

A Fern Among the Grass, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42126SHCR

These grasses and ferns weren’t found in a meadow, but right along side the Merced River. In a little garden patch that is only revealed at the end of the fall season when the water level has dropped, the waterfalls have dried up, and the Merced is but a trickle. This particular year saw the lowest water levels in the river I had ever seen. This revealed so many new scenes and opportunities for little gardens like this to photograph. Already by now this little garden is underwater as the winter storms have started bringing flowing waterfalls back to Yosemite.

Little Garden on the Merced.Yosemite NP. #42103SV

Little Garden on the Merced.Yosemite NP. #42103SV

Speaking of the Merced River… another major element I forgot to mention in the first image. While you can’t see the river in “El Capitan’s Court,” the Merced lies just a few steps beyond the Black Oak trees. For me at least, the Merced River is the lifeblood of Yosemite Valley; perhaps even more so than the valley walls themselves.

Dogwood Pastels, Yosemite NP.#42060SH

Dogwood Pastels, Yosemite NP.#42060SH

And to all the waters that feed the Merced River; The water falls, Bridal Veil, Yosemite, Cascade, Horsetail Wildcat falls, and even Fern Springs, the Merced, gives and sustains life to all those who call Yosemite home. During the spring the waters creating a rushing torrent of power and change; while in the fall and early winter, just a trickle, yet still giving of life.

Gentle Cascades, Bridal Veil Creek,Yosemite NP. #42071SH

Gentle Cascades, Bridal Veil Creek,Yosemite NP. #42071SH

Pool of Light, Wildcat Falls,Yosemite NP. #42070SV

Pool of Light, Wildcat Falls,Yosemite NP. #42070SV

Standing Firm Against the Raging Merced. #42012SH

Standing Firm Against the Raging Merced. #42012SH

Trees have long been a favorite subject of mine. And the trees of Yosemite make it that more special to me as I love photographing the trees of Yosemite. So my Top 12 list certainly would include some trees. Included in this list is one of my favorites just below, “Autumn Dimensions.”

Autumn Dimensions, Yosemite NP.#42085SV

Autumn Dimensions, Yosemite NP.#42085SV

Twin Oaks Autumn II, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42097SV

Twin Oaks Autumn II, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42097SV

I included this snag of an old Black Oak for a couple of reasons. One, was about capturing the fleeting light that so often happens – of course not just in Yosemite. But those dynamic moments when light comes and goes, the clouds quickly moving through creating constantly changing light. Yosemite seems to have the market cornered on changing light. How does the saying go? “If you don’t like the light now, wait two minutes…” Here, the light was changing fast and for brief moments lighting up this old tree as if a spotlight from above had the oak on center stage. So, it was about the light and secondly getting this accomplished with a film camera… well, sometimes you just need to be lucky, or burn lots of sheets of film. I think I made 4 exposures. Lastly, I don’t shoot with b&w film, but I often find myself wanting to, or envisioning scenes in black and white. This was one of those times; the contrasts, tonal ranges with the near stark white trunk and the fleeting light, I knew would be stronger without color. Yeah, just a tree, but a special one now.

Spotlight on Black Oak, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42025SVBWBL

Spotlight on Black Oak, El Capitan Meadow,Yosemite NP. #42025SVBWBL

Last, but not least, the oddball of the Top 12. Odd, only because it’s the single image I didn’t select that wasn’t from Yosemite. One of only three photo outings in 2012, remember, I said it was a slow year. This image was captured on a little unnamed rocky beach in Garrapata State Park along the Big Sur Coastline of central California. The combination of light, color, motion and texture make this one of my favorite images of 2012.

Surf and Stones, Garrapata SP, CA.#4208082SVBL

Surf and Stones, Garrapata SP, CA.#4208082SVBL

It was hard to get this down to only twelve images. For those who are interested in seeing what the rest of the year was like, including many more images from Yosemite, you can go to my website and visit the “New Work Gallery” OR I also have them up on G+ where you can see the photo album, “2012, A Year in Review.”

Thank You! All my best in 2013!

My Top 10 for 2011

     This will be the first time I have actually tried to pick my own favorites from a single year.  Thanks to Jim Goldstein and his annual “Your Best Photos From 2011” Blog Project  to get me motivated to make my own list. It was a fairly quiet and slow year for photography having only exposed about 200 sheets of film.  Yeah, I know some digital togs may do that just for one frame if you include multi-row stitching, focus and exposure blends…. 😉  that’s a lot of frames!  Just four weekend outings for me this year including three trips to Yosemite and one trip to the Sonora Pass of the Central Sierra Nevada.  About sixteen days total.

For me though, it’s not about how much time one spends in the field, it’s what you’re able to do while you’re out there.  Of course much of it depends on conditions, but I’m one who will try to squeeze as much out of a trip as possible, no matter what the conditions.  There will ALWAYS be a subject and a moment to capture.

Interesting exercise though.  How does one go about picking their top 10 from any given period?  Do you choose your favorite? Just like you were judging a contest?  Or do you choose because an image has more meaning? More effort to obtain?  Maybe it was extra tough to process and you’re proud of the results you were able to obtain?  What is your criteria to critique your own work?  Of course only you can answer than for  your own work…. Me, it’s as simple as the results I’m most satisfied with; whether it’s due to the original capture and moment of experience, the effort or the work that went in to creating the final presentation.  Most importantly, I’m proud to display these top 10:


Pacific dogwood over the Merced river from the Pohono Bridge, Yosemite National Park.Feng Shui, Dogwood Harmony. Yosemite National Park


Lupine and summer wildflowers on the Sonora Pass of the Central Sierra Nevada mountains. File#41082SVLupine Dreams. Sonora Pass, CA


Inner Sanctum II. Weathered Western Juniper on the Sonora Pass, CA. 41085SVInner Sanctum II. Sonora Pass, CA


Transitions. First winter snow on last autumn leaf of an Alder. Yosemite National Park. File#41153SVCLTransitions. Autumn Alder and Snow, Yosemite National Park


Have a Seat II. File #41105SVHave a Seat II. Bodie State Historic Park, CA


Cascading Geology. Intrusive rock wall guards the Merced River Canyon. File #41134SVCascading Geology. Merced River Canyon, CA


Alpine Lily in soft element. Sonora Pass, Centrial Sierra Nevada. File #41126SVAlpine Lily in Soft Element. Sonora Pass, CA


Black and Blue II. Scarred and charred insides of Western Juniper. Sonora Pass, CA. File #41074SVCR3Black and Blue II. Sonora Pass, CA


Winter's Dressing. Leidig Meadow after snow storm, Yosemite National Park. File #41162SVWinter’s Dressing. Leidig Meadow, Yosemite National Park


Leidig Meadow Panoramic. Yosemite National Park. File #41163-166PHBW4xLeidig Meadow Panoramic. Yosemite National Park

Thanks for looking in. Please feel free to leave a comment. For anyone interested in more of my favorites, click here.

“Through the Glass Eye” Photography Exhibit

Announcing a new landscape photography exhibit at Deer Ridge Vineyards in Livermore, California March 21st through May 21st, 2010.  I would like to cordially invite you to attend the Artist’s Reception Sunday April 18th between 2 and 4PM.

Deer Ridge  Vineyard photography exhibit Mar 21 thru May 21

Through-the-Glass-Eye Gallery announcement

Please feel free to stop by the winery for some tasting and enjoy some wonderful landscape photography by 5 local photographers.  Click here for a preview of my prints that are currently on display.  I’ll look forward to seeing you on April 18th.


Gallery Exhibit Oct 16th, 2009

I would like to announce the opening of the Photography Exhibit being held at the Four Seasons Hotel and Resort in Westlake Village, California beginning October 16th, 2009.

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The show will run through the end of January 2010.  The works of eight California photographers will be represented and on display.

"In the Flow."         File# 38097SH

"In the Flow" ©Lon J. Overacker Photography

You are cordially invited to attend the Artist’s Reception on Friday October 16th, 2009 at 5pm.  I will have eight 20×24″ fine art prints on display, matted and framed to a size 30×34″.  The prints on display during this show and a select number of prints in my collection are now only available as Limited Editions.

Portrait Corn Lily & Lupine    File# 38162SV

Portrait, Corn Lily and Lupine. ©Lon J. Overacker

An official announcement and Gallery press releases will be posted soon.  In the mean time, I’ll share a few of the images that will be on display starting October 16th.  Hope to see you there!

"Birds of a Feather"         File# 39171SV

"Birds of a Feather..." ©Lon J. Overacker

Quotas on Icon Photography!

Photographic image quotas set for Half Dome, Mesa Arch and other World Heritage Icons… Taxation to follow in 2011.

Yosemite Valley Panoramic

Yosemite Valley Panoramic ©Lon J. Overacker

Dateline: LA Times April 1, 2009
By Nomar Scruples, AP

Washington D.C., Department of the Interior.  At the urging of the United Nations World Heritage committee, the National Park Service has begun implementing a system to limit the number of photographs taken of famous, natural icons such as Half Dome,  Mesa Arch, The Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone and hundreds of other locations within the National Park system.  NPS spokesperson Deborah Spillman along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar unveiled the program during a ceremony staged at the infamous Snake River overlook in the Grand Teton National Park.

“…No longer will the face of our nation’s natural wonders be plastered all over magazines, books or posted repeatedly on photography websites…”  Deborah Stillman proclaimed.  “These eternal masterpieces of nature have been exploited for too long.  For too many years, the trees, the rocks and the waterways have had no voice.  We must speak for them now so that their beauty can be preserved for future generations….”

Secretary Salazar was sporting his new government sanctioned digital camera.  These cameras are installed with the new PQChip (PhotoQuota.)  The combination of the established technology of GPS navigation and brand new technology of V.I.R.I.S (Visual Icon Recognition Implant system) now allow government officials the ability to track and limit the number of pictures taken of famous landmarks.

Hundreds of supporters and enthusiast attended the unveiling and with respect and reverence for the Snake River and the Grand Teton, no photographs of the event were allowed.  Joel Boringpic, a member of Photographer’s for the Ethical Treatment of Icons (or P.E.T.I.) expressed his excitement for the new program:  “Finally, we have a means of preventing the saturation and abuse of these treasured icons.  This will now help give voice to the pine needle, the mushroom, the forgotten pebble and the empty prairies of Kansas.”

While complete details of the plan have not been revealed, Stillman did provide some examples on how the program will work.  In Yosemite National Park for example, the number of annual visitors is well over 4 million people per year.  Recent studies by the National Icon Photographic Institute (N.I.P.I.) showed that while not every visitor has a camera, or took any photographs, results indicated some 1.3 Billion images of Half Dome were taken in 2008.  “This number is just way to high,” stated Secretary Salazar.  So after 6 months of studies, number crunching and negotiations, the following annual photographic image quotas (apiqs) were set for Yosemite National Park:

Half Dome: 575,000

El Capitan: 497,000

Yosemite Falls:  228,000

Bridal Veil Falls: 215,000 (waterfalls are only temporary, so the numbers can be reduced)

Tunnel View: 1.1 million (Photographers are encouraged to make this their only photograph, so this value is higher)

All the quotas for every National Park can be obtained from the newly created Department of Photography Exploitation, or D.O.P.E.   President Obama signed his first executive order creating the new department the day following his inauguration.

Although the new quota system sailed through both houses of Congress without opposition, there are still some kinks that need to be ironed out.   A small, grass-roots organization has surfaced in opposition of this new legislation and quota system.  Leroy “copycat” Bushwhacker formed the group called I.P.A.Q or Icon Photographers Against Quotas.  Leroy claims the new quota system is unfair and discriminates against autumn and winter.  He explains one of the reasons why he thinks the quota system is flawed:  “Basically, the quota system runs from Jan 1 thru Dec 31st and quotas are reset each year.   In popular places like Yosemite, the quota for Half Dome will likely be reached by July 1st; thus shutting out a photographer’s ability to photograph “Moonrise over Half Dome” in October.  It’s simply not fair. And photographs of El Capitan could potentially be cut off by early March if people needlessly snap images of Horsetail falls in February.  It’s just crazy.”

Salazar concluded the opening ceremony by acknowledging the unintended consequences of this new system are unknown, “… but we had to act now to protect and preserve the natural look, restore the untired beauty, and stop the ruthless image exploitation of these treasured icons.”

The Canadian Parliment is considering similar legislation that would also incorporate a tiered tax system.  Citing the over exposure of icons such as Mt. Rundle and Lake Louise, the Parliment wants to curb the number of photographs not only taken, but also distributed and published in online forums such as the Naturephotographer’s Network.  It’s unclear at this time how the taxation would be implemented, but anonymous sources say the taxes would certainly be weighed towards the bigger, more expensive digital cameras (dslrs.)  The consensus is that those who can afford the luxury of top of the line equipment would have the ability to pay the higher “fees.”  It’s only fair.  A member of the Canadian Parliment, who wished to remain anonymous was quoted as saying:  “…. with the proliferation of digital photography, we must have a means of limiting the relentless exploitation of our nation’s natural treasures.  It’s simply in the best interest of the people, and for our children’s future.”

In a related story, reports out of Washington indicate legislation is being drafted to also tax pixels.  Bushwhacker was incensed.  “I’m going back to film.  Let’s see them try and put a PQChip in my view camera!”

No animals were hurt during the writing of this story.  Any reference to persons, events or organizations is purely coincidental and/or completely fictional.

APRIL FOOLS.