Sunday, December 18, 2011

A Fun Photo Day

Thursday was a Plein Air Painting Day for Yosemite Western Artists at the Awahnee Hills Regional Park. Pastel artist Charlotte Hoffman and I decided to go early for the morning light since they weren't getting there till 9AM. It was hard to gauge if the sky was going to give us some great color or not. There were some interesting clouds but it was mixed with a lot of color muting haze.

Turned out to be a hazy day which made things a bit more challenging. Though we both have painted on location we wanted to do more exploring of the location so we opted for our cameras instead. I'm not a big fan of trying to capture the ever changing light with paint.  Maybe I'm just to used to using photography for my reference. Plus light can change in a matter of minutes and that can totally change a composition.

So we had fun exploring views and areas of the park we hadn't yet seen. A good way to scope out areas for future plein air painting or different light and weather conditions.

As often happens when using a camera I discover images that seem to work better as photos than for painting reference. Not that they couldn't be used that way but sometimes I prefer the photo over a painting. That may sound blasphemes to other painters. Oh well what can I say. I really enjoy both forms of artistic expression.

I took a lot of photos that day which I plan to use as reference of paintings.

After we were done with the park Charlotte and I went into Oakhurst where she treated me to a great breakfast burrito. Yum!  Learned it was her birthday and we got to talking about photographing the Sierra foothills. I was complaining how there wasn't any roads heading down the mountains in areas I really wanted to explore. She told me about one her and her very skilled photographer husband David had discovered.  Lucky for me she wanted to take some more pictures.  We stopped and asked David if he wanted join us but he declined so we headed toward some roads I'd never been on before.

I have to say it felt more like my birthday because I got to hang out with a great friend, who was driving, and discover new areas of interest for photos and painting. The lighting could have been better but it was still a totally fun day.

David may not like hearing this but we wound up chasing a couple cowboys down the hills. Totally classic looking honest to God cowboys that I'm anxious to put into a painting. The white hat one had that classic Sam Elliot look. We were looking out at this amazing view of rolling hills heading toward the valley when eagle eye Charlotte spots them down in the ravine below. They were moving faster than I hoped so I started clicking away as fast as I could until we lost them over a hill. Char drove down below them so I could get some better pics of them. It was difficult because there weren't a lot of places to pull over. Fortunately the road had very little traffic. I know now why David calls her the ever patient Charlotte, as I was constantly saying, "ooh ooh great shot, can you pull over?".

 There was a lot more to see than I'm showing here. Tombstone rocks covered in lichen, a old chimney, funky shacks, and hawks.  We went just a little further and stopped at this amazing view of the rolling hills. At this point the sun was getting ready to set soon so we rushed back to the upper hills hoping for some good sunset color.

With the sun setting at 4:30pm it didn't leave us much time. We immediately lost our sunlight driving back up the ravine but could see it still giving a hazy glow to the upper hills.

We stopped at a section we had viewed earlier just in time to see the sun setting below the haze of clouds. The wind was chilling and making my fingers sting. The sun was setting fast and didn't give us a lot of options for finding that one great shot.

For some odd reason the sun seemed a little squashed as it was setting. We photographed it until it disappeared in the the clouds.

Thanks Charlotte for a really great day!

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