JENNY LAKE REFLECTION
I took another trip through my archives this week, and will humbly submit an additional two reasons why you should also consider such a journey through your photographic past. The first reason is to encourage you to make an attempt to improve images that you might have created more than two decades ago, because you would be amazed at how you good you actually were back then, now that you are liberated from the one-hour photo booth. The second more embarrassing reason is that you might have completely forgotten a few days from your past. Upon looking at the image above, I found it hard to believe that I had no real memory of such a place. I had to do a Google search for Jenny Lake to realize that it was located in Grand Teton National Park, and that I had spent time there during a trip to the Tetons in 1997.
HEROIC BLACK AND WHITE
Jenny Lake is one of the highlights of the park, but my memories mostly centered on some hikes we took closer to the center of the Park just North of Jackson Hole where we stayed during the trip. It's funny how our photographic memories become enmeshed in the general photo imagery that surrounds an incredible site like a national park. Recently I visited an art show in Seattle where one of my friends was exhibiting her images, and walked through about half a dozen booths of other landscape photographers in the show. These were all fine photographers, but they were showing mostly "greatest hits" imagery that I had seen ad nauseam on Instagram and even in several other booths in the show! When you say "Tetons" to a photographer two things immediately come to mind - a certain S curve of the Snake River, and the most photographed barn in the United States of America. I in fact complimented one woman who had managed to take a fine image of the mountain range without the barn, whereupon she sheepishly pointed out her standard shot with the barn, which of course sells much better.
The answer, at least to me, is to take the "hero image" because after all you are there, and probably won't be back - but try to capture your own imagery even if you are in an unfamiliar, and overwhelmingly beautiful place. Twenty-five years later you might surprise yourself. These first two images of Jenny Lake totally surprised me, and I was very pleased with the image once I massaged it in Lightroom. Like most photographs taken in the mountains, the first thing is to try to balance the exposure, bringing down the sky while brightening the foreground. Of course a reflection complicates matters, since the reflection has to "reflect" the exposure of the background. I cleaned up the lake, removing some random flotsom that had nothing to do with the image. While I do like the color version, somehow the black and white feels more heroic to me - but you hold to your own opinion.
JENNY LAKE VISTA
This second image feels more like my usual fare, where you can insert the title of the major magazine in the clouds without ruining the composition. Since I am playing with a silhouette, the black and white seems more pure to me. I could also darken the mountain a little more than I could in the color version without losing credibility. The waves in the lake are also much more interesting to me in the black and white.
Get closer, I always say - although I have no memory of how I got closer, but maybe it was on the boat trip we probably took on the lake. In any case I actually like the color version better on this image, but not because I love the greens and the blue sky. What is interesting to me is not only increased contrast that color brings, but that the mountain's gray tones allow me to play the same dodging and burning games in what is essentially a black and white subject in a color photograph!
JENNY LAKE SHORE
This image also seems to match my usual "intimate landscape" sensibility, focusing on a tiny portion of a huge lake. I probably like the color version better, since it is hard to argue with that blue lake. The only problem is that it is much "bluer" than the sky, even though my post-processing actually "corrected" most of that difference. I do like the rocks better in the black and white, but it is a little too dull for me.
After some research on Google, I realized that this is probably my attempt to capture the beauty of "Hidden Falls", which can't be too hidden since your non-intrepid explorer found it somewhere around Jenny Lake. I somehow did not blow out the waterfall, but as a result the rest of the photo appeared to have been taken in the evening. Raising the shadows to "infinity and beyond" allowed the forest to reappear. I lowered the waterfall exposure a bit to achieve more detail there as well. My attempts at black and white just muddied the waters.
IF YOU WANT TO CAPTURE MOUNTAINS, IT PAYS TO GO VERTICAL
Another heroic vertical to capture the magnificence of the mountains. I like both, but if you are going to play with silhouettes, perhaps black and white is the way to go. Black and white also allows me to darken the mountain edge against the clouds a lot more than the color version would support without appearing unrealistic. What is funny that I probably still had not broken my wide angle lens, which allowed me to take such wide shots that I can't capture now without stitching together multiple photographs.
SOMEWHERE NEAR JENNY LAKE, ON THE ROCKS
This final pair is probably the most "Rich" image that I discovered this week. This intimate landscape is all about the rocks, with no context at all. The black and white somehow seems richer. I love it, even though I have no memory of taking it, which is very rare for me. It could be any beautiful place in the world, but it just happens to be somewhere near Jenny Lake. I'm glad I rediscovered it, and hope you've enjoyed coming along on the journey.