Zephyr Evening, Lake Tahoe is a traditional black and white photograph composed by internationally collected landscape photographer, Jon Paul. Jon Paul captured this image on 4x5 inch black and white film at Zephyr Cove, Lake Tahoe, Nevada.Read More
High Sierra Snow Cave is a traditional black and white, large format film image captured by landscape photographer Jon Paul, owner of the Jon Paul Gallery. Jon Paul used a 4x10 inch sheet of film on his 8x10 film camera. The image was captured near Carson Pass in the Mokelumne Wilderness area south of Lake Tahoe.Read More
The light of the Milkyway dances above the turquoise light in Lake Tahoe. Bonsai Rock is a beacon in the middleground, as boulders fill the water below. Photographer, Jon Paul, created an amazing vision of this High Sierra Gem in the middle of the night. Another Jon Paul Gallery masterpiece.Read More
I was never formally trained as a photographer, or artist for that matter. I was moved to begin taking pictures through outdoor experience. Although I was an outdoor athlete, I was drawn to fine art landscape photography. I never thought too deeply about it. I wanted to capture the beauty I experienced and I wanted to produce beautiful prints for people to hang on their walls and enjoy. It was that simple.
Almost two decades later I realize that I still haven't dug too deeply into the conscious aspect of being an artist. It is what I do. Perhaps it is what I was meant to do. However, I do have moments of clarity where I realize I am being compelled to do something. The image above, which I have titled "Loch Fallen Leaf", is a wonderful example of this almost involuntary drive to produce a particular image.
You see, I didn't have this exact image in mind. I really didn't have a specific vision. I simply felt the need to continuously visit this area numerous times per day for several weeks. I was pulled there. I felt there was something special and different I needed to compose. I just didn't know what. In hindsight, I must have had faith that something was going to present itself. When it did, I felt it! I knew it, I acted upon it, I composed the image in the format that worked for me and I had it. I was rewarded for my patience even though I had no idea what I was waiting for. Sometimes the magic happens. I just keep coming back for more.
So, where does the name, Loch Fallen Leaf, come from? In a past life I was an endurance athlete. I did long triathlons. As part of my training I would do long runs. The run around Fallen Leaf Lake (around 9 miles) was one of my favorites. The far side of the lake (pictured) is basically a goat trail. Rocky, overgrown, quiet. Many mornings I would zen out and run solo along this amazing stretch of rock. Surrounded by mountains and a glassy lake, I would hear the sound of bagpipes reverberating from a canyon above. I never met the bagpipe player, but I imagine, as he stood in that rocky canyon and looked out over the calm waters, he felt the same sense of freedom I did. He transformed my runs into truly inspired odysseys. I imagined I was running in the highlands of Scotland. This image brought that feeling back, and enabled me to express what I felt, all those years ago in this amazing place, through my photography. The image happened!
Camera: Canham 5x7 Metal Field Camera with 6x17cm roll film panoramic back
Lens: Rodenstock 90mm
Film: Provia 100F Transparency film (6x17cm frame)
I chose a panoramic format for this image for a couple of reasons.
1) I wanted to accentuate the length and pattern of the shoreline. The mirror reflection created a balance and accentuated the details that were there.
2) If I had used a traditional horizontal or vertical shape for the composition there would have been too much empty space (cloud) for my liking.
I find it is very important to slow down and make these sorts of aesthetic decisions in the field while composing the image. All too often people will bang away so as not to miss anything or lose the opportunity. More often than not, when you shoot with this urgency expecting that you can figure it out later when you are in front of a camera, you end up with nothing, or something that is "good". As an outdoor photographer, the outdoors is where I create my art, as that is where I feel it. Immersing ourselves into a scene and consciously composing one image that moves us is far superior to machine gunning with our digital camera and hoping we got it. One great shot far surpasses 1,000 nice ones.
One of the things I have been rewarded with through my photography experience is the gift of becoming very observant. I seam to notice little details in the world around me that most people simply walk right by. I take advantage of this ability when I go out scouting for my large format film images. I often hike around my home in Lake Tahoe with a Nikon DSLR while scouting for possible film images and searching for wildlife. I use the time in the field to find potential foregrounds, backgrounds, main subjects, etc. Most often there is not a combination of these that equates to an image worthy of a big sheet of film. However, I have found that some of these individual elements make for amazing natural abstracts all by themselves.
As I encountered these amazing natural gems more often, I began capturing them with my professional digital camera. The ability to shoot at very high speed with the professional DSLR makes it possible to capture abstract images that are caused by motion. The above grouping of images is a perfect example of this. As I stood on the river bank scrutinizing a clear reflection of the foliage on the far shoreline, a light breeze began to blow. To my amazement, the gentle, and non-uniform waves that criss-crossed from side to side created extraordinary patterns within the reflection. As I composed one small piece of the waters surface, the image changed noticeably with the motion of the waves. It was exciting to click away, realizing every image was unique.
The benefit to observing strong abstracts like these is twofold. Firstly, I have now begun to create an entirely new and different portfolio of work that is a complete departure from my "brand" of large, finely detailed traditional landscapes. Secondly, my large format film compositions are being further strengthened by my heightened awareness of each piece of the composition. I am now seeing a little differently, and I'm a bit more open to the strength of the whole image based upon the sum of its parts.
I hope this post will encourage you to see things outside of your "normal" style. Not only might you find a new style of image you enjoy, but it may add something to the style you have been working on. That is the beauty of photography, the possibilities are endless. Ironically, as I have opened up to this new way of seeing, I have also moved toward a more traditional methodology with my big film work. Every aspect of photography seams to compliment the others, if you stay open to it.
I have created a new "shop" on my website which is comprised entirely of natural abstract groupings of images. I hope you enjoy the diversity found within this portfolio. I'd love to hear what you think. If you are interested in purchasing from the shop, use discount code FIRST20 at checkout for a 20% discount. Visit the shop
Enjoy the view!
Compositions in nature grab my attention with the way they make me feel. My art is the translation of that emotion. I use my big film cameras because they enable me, more than any other media I've tried, to do justice to how a place makes me feel. This image is not the result of capturing 1,000 images and choosing which one works. This is THE composition and exposure that I was moved enough to create. These experiences change my life. They keep me going. The final images I produce are my attempt to share that with you. That is "The Fine Art of Nature".Read More
“Winter Blanket, Lake Tahoe” has a dreamlike quality. A calm exists here, at this moment in time, that I envision for my art, but I seldom find in nature. The rare atmospheric conditions created a stillness that seamed to wrap the beauty of Lake Tahoe’s grandeur up in a blanket and present it to me. The monotone snow and cloud gently surrounded the rich color of Tahoe’s crystal clear waters, granite boulders and pines. The scale of this place is immense, but this scene creates an intimate feel. This idyllic cove was all that existed, with just our imaginations left to contemplate what beauty lies beyond the blanket of mist. Truly “The Fine Art of Nature”!Read More
The final image, Christmas Valley Blizzard Panorama, was taken in January 2017, just up the pass from my house (literally a 3 minute drive from home). I had visited this grouping of trees several times and knew I wanted to compose a soft image of them, using the the far side of the canyon to add depth. I waited for a heavy snow, which was easy given our record winter (200% of normal snowfall), and headed out the door. As the sun dropped behind the mountains, I was able to get a nice even light with minimal contrast for the mood I had envisioned. I chose the panoramic format to eliminate sky, further minimize contrast, and simplify the focus on the trees. Given the low light, slow speed film and small aperture required for focus, I ended up with a 2 minute long exposure. This eliminated the ability to see falling snowflakes, and added a bit of detail to the trees, but maintained that soft "foggy" look of the background, as a lot of snow was falling.Read More
This is an image I've wanted to compose for years, but Mother Nature just wouldn't cooperate with my schedule. Fortunately, as we hit the right weather pattern for an inversion effect here in Lake Tahoe this winter, I was able to make the time to be in the right place at the right time. The patience and effort paid off.Read More
I occasionally go back through my film files and "see how I saw". I have reinforced the idea that I had a latent ability to see "The Fine Art of Nature" before I truly became a photographer. The above image, "Foggy Forest Detail", is a prime example of a hidden gem found in my film archives. Early in my career I captured imagesRead More
As a professional, and as an artist, I have set very high standards for my fine art landscape photography. Given the medium I have chosen, large format film, I put myself out there in the elements where special light is possible, but only expose film when the conditions are worthy of my vision. Simply, I only expose a sheet of film when I feel I have "THE Shot".Read More
Often times, we look outside ourselves to find our path. As an accomplished professional of almost two decades, I occasionally look outside myself to see what I should be doing. How I should be doing it. Which path is being followed by others. It can appear as though everyone else is right. I often feel lost. The self doubt of an artist is difficult, but can be re-affirming.Read More