Monthly Archives: June 2013

Roxborough State Park Calendar Launch

This Saturday is the launch date for the 2014 Friends of Roxborough State Park 2014 Interpretive Calendar. I entered the contest with a little prompting from my wife, and a ton of help from friends helping me select which photos to submit. I was blown away and beyond happy when I got the news that 5 of the 6 images I entered were selected, and that I had won Grand Prize, 1st place, 3rd place, and a cover. Wow.

Here are the winning shots:

Grand Prize: May – Lightning

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First Place: March – Bluebird

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Third Place: August – Sunflower

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Back cover: Sunset

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February: Doe Munching

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I am so grateful for all of the positive words of encouragement I have received from family and friends. Sharing the photos I take has been an incredibly rewarding experience over the past year. I typically post them on Facebook several times a week and will get better about organizing and posting here from now on.

So if you’re in the area, swing by Roxborough State Park Saturday morning and get your 2014 calendar! They are only 10 bucks and the money benefits the park through the Friends of Roxborough State Park organization.

Here is the press release:

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And the bio I wrote up for the award ceremony:

Chris Boyack
Married, 4 children (1 boy and 3 girls)
Age: 43
Hometown: Springville, Utah
Roxborough Village resident since 1998

Being outdoors is one of my favorite things in life. Photography gives me an excuse to get out and experience nature. Sharing what I see with others through a picture I take is an unexpectedly rewarding bonus.

Pursuing activities such as hiking, backpacking, rock climbing, skateboarding, skiing, fly fishing, bow hunting, mountain biking, and road cycling enabled me to reach the goal of being outside through different ways while mastering new skills and staying physically fit. My latest hobby involves running ultramarathon races through the mountains, which is yet another means to that end. I have completed eight 100 milers, and many more events in the 30-50 mile range.

Get outside, move, observe, breathe, sweat, feel. These are my most basic needs.

Through it all, I was a picture-taker. My dad was the greatest influence on me in that respect, as he documented our lives growing up with an ever present camera of one kind or another.

Recently I shifted my thinking; how could I make the leap from simply taking pictures, to being a photographer? Starting in the spring of 2012, I set out to answer that question by selling a bike I wasn’t riding anymore and buying my first DSLR camera. I concentrated on learning and practicing new skills, which requires spending a lot of time in the field. Do you see the pattern?

Practicing photography has been an immensely satisfying process and is a good fit for my personality. I am a technical person with a career in the computer industry, but I also posses a strong creative side that was dormant for far too long. To me, photography is the perfect blend of science and art. It feeds my soul and teaches me new things about our world.

Light(s), camera, action! Ordinary to extraordinary in three easy steps.

Okay, maybe not that easy. It does take some practice.

What I am trying to say is that by taking a tiny bit of extra time and putting some thought into your shots, you can end up with dramatically superior results.

Sure, there are times when you have to literally point and shoot. When I came across this burrowing owl and we locked eyes at the same instant, I could tell it was milliseconds away from flying off. Fortunately, I was able to raise the camera and fire in one smooth motion, getting the shot before it launched.

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When you have the luxury of an extra minute or two, try challenging yourself to come away with the best image possible under the conditions you have to work with. I think these two photos of a mallard hen demonstrate the concept well.

The setup:

A duck. Sitting at the edge of a parking lot. In water an inch deep.

The response:

Oh, look! Click! Share. Done.

The result:

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There is nothing wrong with that. Consider it a success if your principal intent is to document the fact that you saw a mallard hen.

Why not use the moment to try taking your photo to the next level? It only takes a little thinking and practice.

Here are 3 concepts to work on:

1. Light

Consider the available light. What direction is it coming from? How is it hitting your subject? Are there harsh shadows to avoid?

Normally it’s best if the light is coming from behind you so the subject is illuminated well. This is not always possible, but at least think about it and do what you can. Sometimes you can use less favorable lighting to your advantage and still come up with a unique image.

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For the shot of the mallard hen, I had wonderful light to work with. The key phrase is ‘to work with’. The first shot totally ignores that fantastic golden goodness filtering through the trees. Work with the light, use it to achieve the best possible effect.

2. Camera

Where should you position the camera for the best effect? This step is all about angles. Shot #1 is taken from eye level looking down on the duck. Accurate? Yes. Compelling? No.

Getting away from eye level works wonders. More often than not, this means going low. Other angles can work, too – but for starters, just get below eye level and see what happens.

While you’re at it, pay careful attention to the composition in your viewfinder. Especially the background. You don’t want some random stick coming out from behind the head of your subject.

Move around. Experiment. Then evaluate.

For the final duck shot, I was sitting on the ground. I carefully scooted close enough to eliminate all traces of the parking lot in front of the duck. Then I moved to the side, changing my angle so the area behind the duck would be clear.

3. Action!

You’re all set. Great angle, great light, great background. Now you click, right?? No!

Wait.

Even if it’s just a second or two. The most beautiful conditions will be wasted if your subject comes out looking like a lifeless statue. Remember, this is wildlife – emphasis on life. Your photo (where possible) should capture some aspect of that, no matter how subtle. This duck was dozing off and on, but I have learned that even the most motionless of creatures always end up doing something. They stretch, look around, fluff their feathers, etc. Wait for something. I waited for the eye contact.

Click.

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That photo was taken under the same conditions as the first one. Same camera, same lens, same light, same subject, same photographer (me). Sure, the second one is post-processed and looks much nicer as a result. That is a topic for another article. For now just realize that you could process the first shot all you want and still not come up with anything great. You need to have a great image to work with first!

Next time you find yourself taking a photo of an ordinary subject, remember these three things and see what you can do:

Light, camera, action!

Black Forest Fire

I don’t have a “Chris Boyack Photography” website, I’m not selling prints, I don’t even watermark my images. I like to share the beautiful things I see. I don’t ask for much, if anything, in return. The one exception is when I find an opportunity to do some good.

Sometimes the beauty I see can be destructive, as is the case with the Black Forest Fire in El Paso County, Colorado. I took this shot last night with mixed feelings as it was an incredible sight, but at the same time feeling sad for the 60+ families that had already lost homes since the fire started earlier in the day. If you like the photo, please consider donating $10 to the Red Cross by texting REDCROSS to 90999 and then share this message. Thanks!

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