Stuart L Gordon Photography: Blog en-us (C) Stuart L Gordon Photography (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Sat, 01 Oct 2016 17:22:00 GMT Sat, 01 Oct 2016 17:22:00 GMT Stuart L Gordon Photography: Blog 120 80 Turning a Weakness into an Advantage SparksLake2016_0008_V2SparksLake2016_0008_V2Starry night over Sparks Lake, Oregon. I occasionally  suffer from a touch of insomnia. Sometimes, however, that can be a good thing – like when it gets me out of bed in the middle of the night to do some night photography. That's how I came to make this image of a Starry Night Over Sparks Lake in the Oregon Cascade Range outside of Bend, Oregon. Rather than toss and turn trying to get myself to sleep, I drove the 30 minutes to this alpine lake and then it was just me and about a quadrillion stars in the night sky. The solitude was breath-taking. The view humbling and inspiring. Contrary to what I expected, I felt invigorated and wide awake the rest of the day and excited to see on the computer screen the results of my efforts fumbling around in the dark at the lake with my camera. Of course, missing too much sleep is not a good thing. Fortunately, I usually sleep like a log the night after a bout of insomnia.

This is why I love photography – it motivates me to be in so many beautiful places at wonderful times of day. It's an incredible gift with so many rewards. I've lost count of how many incredible sunsets and sunrises I've seen as a result of following my photographic muse.

Autumn has arrived through much of the USA, and nature is getting ready to celebrate with a showy display of color. I'm happy to help the celebration along by slashing 15% off my usual prices when you purchase any print out of my featured Autumn Gallery & Collection – Autumn Potpourri, Eastern Sierra Nevada & Western Colorado Fall Color – which you will find on my home page. The offer is good through the month of October, so don't let the opportunity to add some vibrant fall color artwork to the walls of your home slip away! Just use the code "Autumn" at checkout.

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Oregon Sparks Lake autumn fall nature night photography night sky stars Sat, 01 Oct 2016 17:18:08 GMT
Visualization: Using it in Photography and Life? Renowned 20th century photographer Ansel Adams coined the phrase "pre-visualization" when it came to imagining a scene and how it might look when photographed and printed. Sometimes he was referring to a scene that already existed, and he was using pre-visualization to imagine what part of that scene he would include in his camera's viewfinder. Other times, he was pre-visualizing a scene that was before him with different conditions – different quality of light, different time of day, different direction of light, different season.

The scene in the photograph above, which I took out at Tumalo, Oregon a few mornings ago, falls into the category of one of those I imagined in my mind when I first visited the site and returned to it several times until the environmental conditions matched my vision of the scene. I visited the site when there wasn't enough snow on the mountains or the alpenglow just didn't materialize. I also visited the site when clouds obscured the mountains completely. It was only on this particular morning that "I got lucky." Another way to put it might be to say that I knew what I was after and waited for it to appear. In fact, I remember that on this morning I was waiting in the dark thinking to myself that the alpenglow probably wouldn't materialize. It was too dark to see the thin veil of clouds that were behind and over the mountains. When it got light enough, I could see those clouds and I thought it just might happen. And it did.

Now, I'm not purporting to be a self-improvement guru. My wife is the Life Coach in the family. But I have to wonder if you can use the same power of visualization to move your life forward; to achieve your goals; to fulfill your destiny? Of course, you have to have a certain amount of faith and determination that if you keep at it, what you visualize for yourself will come to pass. See it. Believe it. Create it.

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Alpenglow Cascade Range Central Oregon Three Sisters Tumalo dawn mountains pre-dawn sunrise Sat, 20 Feb 2016 18:26:58 GMT
Autumn Potpourri Since returning from the Canadian Rockies in early October, I've been enjoying the spectacular autumn in Central Oregon. I've visited some photographic locations in the area around my home in Bend that feel like old friends to me. I've posted nine images from a few of those places. I love fall weather in the Pacific Northwest – still warm during the day so you can walk around without a jacket but brisk in the mornings and evenings. It's also the season of my birthday, which my family helped me celebrate a few days before Halloween. I've seen some very colorful sunsets and sunrises this fall around Bend, most of them occurred while I was busy doing something else beside photography. I've taken so many images of wonderful light on the landscape now during my travels that I can relax and just enjoy the beauty of a sunset and sunrise even when I don't have my camera with me. Either way, with or without the camera and tripod, it's good for the soul.

Let's hope we have a wet winter with a good snow pack. We need it here in Oregon. I noticed the Cascade lakes, especially Sparks and Scott lakes, were lower than I've ever seen them this fall. They looked more like mud holes than lakes. The autumn colors along the Deschutes River Trail, especially at the aspen groves, were especially good this year compared to recent years. These locations are best in late morning when the sun illuminates the colorful foliage and highlights the reflections in the river.

Even on a day where the sky is a boring clear blue sky, Sparks Lake is worth a visit. The mountains viewed from the lake shore are impressive. Smith Rock is another location I'm drawn to visit again and again. The best light is at sunrise when the colors in the rhyolite monolith explode. But I caught Smith Rock on a dull gray cloudy day and still came away with a keeper.

I can already feel the weather reaching the frigid zone – hovering around 32 degrees Fahrenheit in early mornings and forcing me to reach for my ice scraper to clear the windshield of my vehicle. Enjoy the remaining days of autumn. A chilly blast of winter can't be far behind. I'm hoping looking forward to pink/blue alpenglow on some winter mornings.

Best to you all,

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Landscapes aspens autumn dawn fall foliage mountains nature sunrise Fri, 06 Nov 2015 04:12:55 GMT
New Art Book Strange World_1962_63_64Strange World_1962_63_64After waiting patiently for more than an hour for color to appear in the sky, the sun set behind the Sierra crest and there was an explosion of color in the clouds and sky that reflected in the lake, turning the world into a surreal pink dream.

This image of Mono Lake is one of several of mine featured in a new art book entitled, "International Masters of Photography" Volume 3 just released by World Wide Art Books of California. You can thumb through it online at:

Although, I understand they are having some problems with the portions of the digital version that contain two-page spreads, so you might want to wait a day until they fix that.

Enjoy each and every moment,

Stu Gordon 

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) art photography Stu Gordon Mono Lake publication images Wed, 21 Oct 2015 18:40:05 GMT
Gone Globetrotting Boise Old Dairy_0034_35_36Abandoned Dairy ShedA study in disintegration, a run-down dairy farm buildings and silos near Eagle Island State Park, Idaho. EagleIslandSP_Boise2014_0013_14Abandoned Dairy, Eagle Island, Boise, IdahoA study in disintegration, a run-down dairy farm buildings and silos near Eagle Island State Park, Idaho. Some people close up shop and go fishing. Others, like myself, need more stimulation than baiting a hook and waiting for a fish to bite. On Father's Day, June 15, 2014 my family and I will be off on an epic global adventure that takes us to 22 countries in just under 12 months. Our plan is to return June 1, 2015. In between our departure and return, amazing things are bound to happen. I welcome all of you who have been so encouraging and followed my photography to visit our family travel blog at GordonFamilyRTW and become our virtual fellow-travelers as we travel through Europe, Southern Africa, Southeast Asia, Oceania, South America and finally, Central America.

During the trip, I'll be focusing on taking photos with my camera rather than editing the photographs I do take. In fact, I'm not even taking a laptop with me in an effort to both travel light and devote myself to picture making rather than image editing. I will have an iPad with me to enable me to upload selected images to illustrate our travel blog. But for the most part, post-processing of images on a computer will wait until I return. At that point, I'm sure I'll be spending most of my days at the computer working on images from the trip preparing to make them available for purchase on this Web Gallery. By all means, enjoy our travel blog! Once you visit it, you can subscribe to an RSS feed to be alerted to any new blog posts.

I hope you have a wonderful year ahead. Meanwhile, I leave you with an image from a brief visit in May to Eagle Island State Park near Boise, Idaho. These dilapidated structures from an abandoned dairy provided a nice distraction during the long drive from Boise to my Central Oregon home.

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) blog globetrotting photography round-the-world travel trip Tue, 03 Jun 2014 23:02:41 GMT
Chasing Rainbows When I first stepped outside the cabin I was staying in that morning, the sky was dreary gray and it was drizzling. I questioned whether it might be wiser to go back to bed and catch up on my sleep. But I forced myself out into the wet, cold autumn air because I had been through mornings like this before and knew that you just never know what to expect from the weather. My intent was to find autumn foliage to photograph along the banks of Suttle Lake, Oregon. As I was looking for subject matter, the sun began to break through the cloud cover — the remains of an overnight rainstorm. The sunrise bathed the west and north bank of the lake with a beautiful warm golden light. I already had my 16-35 mm lens on my camera and began to look for some foreground driftwood or other options for a wide-angle shot across the lake. I left my heavy camera bag on the ground and wandered along the lakefront with my camera on a tripod. I had gone about 75 yards when I noticed the rainbow forming in a graceful arch over the lake. I realized with a moan that my 16-35 mm lens wasn’t going to cut it. Not enough of an impact. I needed something with more reach, like my 24-105 mm, which was in my bag almost a football field away. I knew how quickly rainbows fade, so I tried to prepare myself for an emotional letdown by telling myself that I wouldn’t have the time to get my other lens before this beautiful scene evaporated, so why bother trying. Despite that bit of negativism, I bolted for my camera bag anyway. I was careful to trot rather than run because the last time I ran full bore I pulled a hamstring playing soccer with my son. I grabbed my other lens and a polarizer filter and ran back to my camera and tripod all the while expecting the rainbow to disappear before my eyes. I was thrilled when I finished switching my lens and screwing on the polarizer to find that rather than having faded, the rainbow had gotten even more distinct. I turned the polarizer one way and the rainbow evaporated. I turned it the opposite way and the prismatic effect intensified, with the rainbow’s colors getting richer and darker. Perfect. I was able to fire off three shots before the rainbow lost its pop. Like I said at the start, you never know what to expect from the weather, so don’t scrap a photography outing just because things initially look bleak. Have some patience and you might just be rewarded with an awesome image.

Chasing RainbowsChasing Rainbows

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Central Lake Oregon Suttle dawn forest lake landscape nature photography rainbow storm sunrise vistas Fri, 04 Oct 2013 00:44:17 GMT
The Photos We Almost Didn’t Take  

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told myself it was okay to pass up a shot when in my heart I knew I should stop, get out my camera and tripod and snap away at a scene. When I do fail to stop, I usually end up looking longingly at the fast-receding scene in my car’s rearview mirror. I might pass up a landscape photo opportunity because: 1) I  believe I already have taken too many photos on this outing; 2) the weather looks pretty crummy, or is bone-chilling cold; 3) the light isn’t dramatic or interesting.


As I watch the scene in my rearview mirror get smaller and smaller, I might hear an inner voice chime in: look, the weather is clearing up; OMG, the light is breaking through the clouds; or, there’s no such thing as taking too many pictures.


I look back on my collection of images and definitely can see there are some nearly aborted images that became my favorites. Thankfully, I tell myself, I didn’t listen to that naysayer inside my head telling me to “Keep driving and don’t look back!”


The images in this post illustrate this point, perfectly. They came close to being passed up. Fortunately, I lingered at the location long enough to see conditions change until the true beauty of the scene revealed itself. Usually, it was light that transformed the scene. Which makes me thankful to be out on location during the margins of the day — sunset and sunrise — when magical things really do happen before our very eyes.


The shot of the Three Sisters I took while out driving around one morning before dawn in anticipation of the sunrise. At first I passed this location thinking it was too familiar and easy, being that it was right off the road connecting my hometown of Bend and nearby Sisters, Oregon. But then I thought to myself, "It's not how far you hike, but rather than quality of light that makes a beautiful image." So I made the choice to stop, park and locate a good spot off the side of the road and wait for the sunrise. Glad I did.


The other image is of sunrise on Easter morning at Pine Mountain in the high desert east of Bend. I had gone out there early to get a shot of sunrise light on one lone tree that I had seen while scouting the area a month earlier. I got the shot I had envisioned, but when I walked around exploring a little more on my way back to my car, I spotted this scene and wondered what it might look like when the sun came up over the horizon. I started telling myself that the shot I had come after was already in the can, and was ready to call it quits because my fingers were numb from the cold. But something nagged at me to wait and see what materialized. Then I told myself that it would be an impossible shot because the contrast looking into the sun would be too great for my camera to capture. As I was about to leave the idea of using the outcropping of rock to block the sun itself popped into my head, so I stayed. Again, glad I did.


Three Sisters in Sunrise Light




Easter Sunrise_130331_0026

High Desert Sunrise

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Central Oregon Dawn Events High Desert Hills Landscapes Mountains Nature Oregon Oregon Badlands Other Keywords Pine Mountain Places Seasons Sky Snow Sunrises The Badlands Vistas Winter Sat, 20 Apr 2013 04:56:52 GMT
Love The Light You're With Photographers are always looking for the "right" light to enhance their subjects, whether it be a portrait, landscape or product shoot. In landscape photography, for instance, we're always looking to the "golden" light around the time of sunrise and sunset to give our images that "wow factor." Sometimes, however, due to constraint of time, we have to learn to make the best use of the light we are given. This was the case when I recently visited Valley of Fire State Park in the Mojave Desert north of Las Vegas, Nevada.

I knew I had not even two days to spend in this geological wonder and photographic playground. I was interpreting that to mean one sunset and one sunrise opportunity to catch the really great light — that is if the weather cooperated. Well, the weather did cooperate, and I got my morning and sunset shots. But those are such fleeting moments that it's almost impossible to get to more than one or two locations illuminated by the light of sunrise and sunset before it vanishes. So what would I do with myself the rest of the day, I wondered. I figured I'd spend the rest of the day scouting out sunrise and sunset locations. Well, I did that, but I found myself getting the best shots in the middle of day, which is when all the experts say  you might as well go find a hammock and catch up on your sleep because the light will be too bright and contrasty for making fine images.

This is where the morale of my story makes its entry. If you spend enough time in a place using "photographer's eyes," you might just find how to use the available light to your advantage. Using photographer's eyes means not just looking, but really seeing and connecting with the landscape. The thing that I noticed about the Valley of Fire as I became familiar with it by traveling around its interior roads, is that the bright light of mid-day actually enhances the vividness of the colors in the Aztec and Navajo sandstone formations. Bright light really brought out some great things in the landscape, like the bands of yellow, rust, red, purple, gold and lavender colors. The one caveat was that it only seemed to work if you pointed the camera at the landscape with your back to the sun. This is called frontal lighting, and it enabled me to get some very compelling images without the heavy contrast you usually get from deep shadows at mid-day with side-lighting.

First, I was glad to be able to get "to know" the Valley of Fire well enough to recognize this about it. Second, I was pleased to see that my years of training in the Japanese martial art of aikido still prepares me in many ways in life to go with the flow of events.

As therapist and Holocaust survivor Victor Frankl once observed:

"When you're faced with a situation that you cannot possibly change, your challenge is to change yourself."

Ring of FireParallel Universe II, Valley of Fire_130304_0491 "Ring of Fire"


Valley of Fire_Panorama5 "Confluence of Land & Sky"



Cactus & Red Rock, Valley of Fire_130305_0159

"Cactus & Monolith"

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Desert Events Landscapes Nevada Other Keywords Photography Places Southwest Travel Valley of Fire State Park Valleys Vistas rock formations Tue, 26 Mar 2013 22:28:31 GMT
The Monet Factor Tumalo Dawn, Three Sisters and Broken Top

Three Sisters at Sunrise

Full Moon Setting Over Three Sisters


I'm assuming I don't have to tell you that the above three images were all taken at the same location, with the same lens and within minutes of each other. I might have changed the focal length of the lens ever so slightly. These images are pretty much identical, and yet they look so different. In fact, a casual observer might at first glance think they were taken at different locations and were completely different scenes.

Truth is, these images demonstrate that with very little change in where you plant your feet, you can obtain some dramatic changes just by waiting patiently for the light or atmospheric conditions to change. During the rapidly changing conditions bracketing sunset and sunrise, you won't have to wait long. The above images, for example, were taken within a 20-minute period.

I was inspired to make a systematic study of the changes that light and weather can create on the landscape after reading about French Impressionist artist Claude Monet. Monet often created "sequences" of canvases all of the same scene and same location as a result of his fascination with ephemeral light and weather conditions. In fact, Monet made light and atmospheric conditions the primary focal point of his paintings. Secondary was the subject of the painting — it could be haystacks, the facade of a cathedral, a stand of poplars, a seascape, or his beloved water-lilly pond and Japanese bridge in his own garden in Giverny. It didn't matter much because it was all about the light and ambient conditions. As Monet observed,

"For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but its surroundings bring it to life, through the air and the light, which continually vary..."

And so Monet would paint the same scene over and over again — sometimes dozens of canvases of the same scene — capturing the ephemeral light, realizing that each scene was a different and unrepeatable moment when light, subject matter and weather conditions came together to create an extraordinary scene.

The same certainly applies to photography, an art which by its very nature depends on light for its very existence. If you study the light, you can anticipate it. And if you can anticipate it, you can prepare to capture it. And if you capture it, you know that you have preserved a moment that will never happen again, not exactly as you saw it, no matter how long you live nor how many sunsets and sunrises take place.

And you might even want to think about applying the same philosophy to every moment of your life — treating it as unique and unrepeatable.

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Bend Central Claude Monet Impressionism Oregon The Three Sisters Tumalo dawn high desert landscape moonset nature photography sunrise Sat, 02 Mar 2013 16:58:15 GMT
Winter Solstice After a two-hour pre-dawn snowshoe up Tumalo Mountain this morning (Friday, Dec. 7 with a friend), we found everything socked in and snow falling lightly. With any visibility, you'd be seeing two gorgeous snow-topped mountains in the background (South Sister and Broken Top), but not on this day. I was tired and disappointed. But I remembered we are, after all, approaching the Winter Solstice. So here's my photo celebrating the approach of the long winter in Central Oregon.Winter Solstice_20121207_0003

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Cascade Central Events Keywords Landscapes Mountain Mountains Nature Oregon Other Photography Places Range Seasons Snow Trees Tumalo Winter Sat, 08 Dec 2012 01:15:14 GMT
Big Sur  

Big Sur is one of those places I could return to again and again and never tire of. The coastline is phenomenally rugged, craggy and drop-dead gorgeous. At Pfeiffer Beach, there's an archway in a giant shoreline rock formation that funnels shafts of golden light through from the setting sun around the Winter Solstice. At Julia Pfeiffer-Burns State Park, there's a picture-postcard waterfall that comes spilling out of a high bluff overlooking the Pacific. At the same location, giant waves pound the peninsula known as "The Saddle," exploding into an enormous white cloud of sea spray. At Andrew Molera State Park, old-growth sycamores grace the skyline with their beautifully intricate and shapes, and at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park ancient giant redwoods stand majestically in old-growth forests. And of course there are places like Garrapata Beach, Pfeiffer Beach and Rocky Point where you can catch wonderful sunsets with sea stacks and boulder-strewn beaches in your foreground.

I've included a few images here to try to give you a good sense of the place should you want to visit for the first time. If you've already been fortunate enough to visit Big Sur, perhaps you'll find something among these images that inspires you to return again for one more potential gallery shot. My personal favorites are the ones I took at Pfeiffer Beach of "The Golden Portal" and "Seastacks at Sunset." At Garrapata Beach, my favorites are of  "Calla Lilly Heaven" and "Garrapata at Sunset."

The image "Calla Lilly Heaven" taught me that I'm most likely immune to poison oak, because I was walking through it on my way to get this shot in the creek bed. "Seastacks at Sunset" definitely taught me never to give up hope. I had been chasing a good sunset shot in Big Sur four evenings in a row to no avail — an impenetrable evening fog bank on the horizon would swallow up the sun before it could color the sky. But on my last night in Big Sur, I got the feeling I needed to head to Pfeiffer Beach. The few of us on the beach waiting for a show were not disappointed, as you'll see by this image.

Always carry a 2- or 3-stop neutral density graduated filter with you when you're preparing for sunset shots, or be ready to spend some time in post-processing by taking multiple exposures of the same scene — one for the terrain and one exposing the sky properly — to tame the dynamic range of high-contrast scenes.

Have a blast.McWay Falls, Big Sur, CaliforniaBigSur_PtLobos_1163

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Beaches California Events Landscapes Nature Ocean Other Keywords Pacific Ocean Pfeiffer Beach Photography Places Sky Sunsets Travel Twilight Vistas Waves clouds sea stacks Fri, 18 May 2012 17:55:03 GMT
Oregon Coast OregonCoast_0221_0223Blend3


The Oregon Coast is crazy full of opportunities for anyone packing a camera. During a five-day visit there in early March 2012, I traveled up and down the coast between Astoria and Bandon hypnotized by the beauty of the rocky coastline, the gorgeous light at sunset and sunrise, the rapidly shifting transitions from storms to sunshine, the old-growth forests and the variety of shorebirds.


In Cannon Beach, I had the good fortune of hanging out with renowned nature photographer Art Wolfe as he led a workshop in and around Cannon Beach. Keeping up with Art is no small task, especially after he’s had his morning coffee. Art challenged all of us to see everything from the small details to the grand vistas wherever we went. We had to be ready to abandon plans and locations for new ones according to the changing light. With Art, the image reigns supreme, and if the light wasn’t right in one location, we had to pack it in and speed off to another more promising location in a heartbeat. It was fun and frantic. Art’s critiques alone were worth their weight in gold. After 30 years of photography, Art can size up ways to improve an image quicker than you can screw a circular polarizer onto a lens.


After Cannon Beach, I headed south to Bandon, where, in my opinion, the sea stack formations offshore are the best on the Oregon Coast. During this trip, I was fortunate to photograph some very colorful sunsets and sunrises, and the setting of a full moon above the sea stacks in Bandon left me breathless.


Technically as well as artistically, it was a very challenging trip that I know helped me grow as a photographer. My next stop is Big Sur, another beautiful coastline for me to aim my camera at. You can view all my new Oregon Coast images in the "featured galleries" section of my Web page: Or just click the "Home" at the top of this page.

]]> (Stuart L Gordon Photography) Astoria Bandon Cannon Beach Cape Falcon Ecola Bay State Park Nehalem Bay Oregon Oregon Coast Oswald West State Park The Three Graces coastline dawn moon sea stacks sunrise sunsets twilight Sun, 18 Mar 2012 18:31:06 GMT