Friday Inspiration: Pete McBride

Pete McBride is an award winning photographer whose commercial and editorial work has taken him to 60 countries. His most powerful work, for me at least, started with a simple question ‘How long would it take the water in the local creek to reach the sea?’. That simple question led him on a 3 year, 1500 mile quest to document the colorado river from source to sea resulting in the book The Colorado River: Flowing Through Conflict and the award winning short film Chasing Water.

Watch Chasing Water below:

Flowered Up

For a number of reasons I’ve been relatively house bound for the last couple of weeks. Finally last weekend I took some of the flowers that had been sent to the house. I don’t normally gravitate towards photographing flowers but I was getting slightly stir crazy. While our house is relatively dark, the garage gets a really nice light in the afternoon. So I took the flowers out into the garage, set up the camera and flowers in the entrance of the garage and spent a happy hour photographing the flower arrangement. Of the many images I captured this was the one that I like the most. As usual, I’d be happy to hear your thoughts.

Digging Deeper

I think everyone must experience the same thing. When you go to a place for the first time there are the obvious photographs that you have to take. With time however, either in the span of a single shoot or several shoots digging deeper to find the images that are truly a unique expression of our voice is surely what we should be striving for.

I have photographed intensively at the same location for at least a year now. I keep surprising myself in that I can generate new images when I give myself the chance. Returning to the same place in different weather, different times of day, different times of year more or less guarantees that you’ll have photographs that are different from one another even if they contain the same recognizable elements.

What I’m finding is that returning to the same place time and time again, I have to get out of the way to make new photographs. I have to drop the preconceived notions of what I’m going to find and of what I’m going to shoot. When I let these all go and be open to what’s there and what catches my interest then I’m able to make something different to the time before and the time before that.

For me being open and receptive can be touch to attain some days others I’m there almost immediately. It means slowing down. It means take time to wander around and look to get a sense of the place before getting out the camera. And then spending time with the camera off the tripod exploring options before locking into any one thing.

I suspect that the process will be different for everyone but the goal should be to slow down sufficiently so that you really see the options available. I’d be interested in hearing how you go beyond the obvious.

Purple, The Most European of Colors

Increasing I find that while I’m happy to get up for the sunrise, I’m often less than pleased with the results. The vibrant colors that come with the early morning sunrise are increasing dissatisfying. While I can’t quite put my finger on why, purple bugs me the most. While I deal with my issues with purple, the most ‘European’ of colors, I’m trying out many of my images in black and white to see whether they can stand up on there own. I’m not totally sold on this solution but I’d be interested in your opinion of the black and white image above with the color ‘before’ image below.

My 2012 To Do List

Happy New Year!

I’ve had an extended break from blogging in a vain attempt to catch-up with all of my other responsibilities and draws on my time. I’m not fully caught up but I’m back.

I know a lot of people look forward to the new year with a list of resolutions. I do something similar to that too, although my list is usually a combination of the pragmatic and the impossible. Things that I absolutely need to get done and things that only in my wildest dreams would come true. Usually there’s not a lot of stuff in the middle. In no particular order here are a few of the things from my list:

1. Publish a book of my photographs

It is becoming easier and easier to self-publish. The recent announcement of the Beta version of Lightroom 4 includes integration for Blurb. One can only imagine that a raft of self-published photobooks will ensue. Makes me think that if everyone’s going to be doing it then I’ve missed the boat but then I could say the same thing about photography too!

2. Complete the planning for a trip to Shikoku in early 2012

Shikoku sounds like an interesting place to visit. A little off the tourist path but there is a well known pilgrimage around the 88 temples here. There was an interesting article in the National Geographic Traveller about the island. Check it out here: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/countries/shikoku-japan-traveler/

3. Learn Japanese in anticipation of my Japan trip

While languages are certainly not my forte Shikoku appears to be far enough off the regular visitor trail that some Japanese could come in handy. The Rosetta Stone language immersion program looks like it would be a good way for me to get started.

4. Complete preparation for the show at RMSP gallery

An exhibition of my photographs will be up at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography gallery for 3 months starting the first week in May. Very excited about that. Please stop by and say hello if you’re in Missoula the first Friday in May.

5. Live more sustainably

I’m not much of a tree hugger but when I see things such as the albatrosses that Chris Jordan shows with his work it makes me want to be more conscious of the things I buy and how I get rid of it. Quality over quantity has to be a good thing.

Still on the sustainable living theme – the image below is taken from Azby Brown’s book ‘Just Enough Japan’ which is a look at how the Japanese in the 1600’s facing a lot of the same problems that we face to day dealt with them. Very interesting reading.

Happy Accidents & Other Surprises


Were getting to the time of year when people review the year just gone and plan for the year ahead. I guess I’m doing the same, although I will leave the ‘my 12 best images’ post to others.

It’s interesting to look back over the last year and see what images I consider to be my best how these compare to last years work and how they relate to one another. I started the year with the intention of making a set of color images of the coast on clear mornings. This idea began to evolve during the course of the year as I made a number of images during foggy conditions, trying to make the most of my time photographing. Even with a clear plan of what you want to achieve, being flexible enough to respond to the situations you find yourself in, can lead you in directions you hadn’t expected. Perhaps for you, as has been the case for me, these photographs will be standouts and serve as jumping off points for new projects.

There’s Only Light

‘There’s no such thing as bad light, only light that’s inappropriate for the subject you’re shooting’.

Increasingly I’ve found that I limit my photography to the edges of the day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is restrictive. Choosing the margins of the day for photography is largely because I have yet to figure out how to get the kind of pictures that I like in full sunlight without carrying around diffusers and other bits of gear. This doesn’t stop me from carrying a camera though. I’m particularly interested in what light works for what subjects.

I was pleasantly surprised that the reflections that I caught above we’re taken at noon on a bright sunny day. Something to store away for future reference. Naturally I’ll be back at this harbor, and others, on bright days looking for more of these reflections.