Alex Mody Photography

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  • Washington, Workshops

    WORKSHOP ANNOUNCEMENT – May 18-20, 2013 – Olympic National Park, Washington

    02.05.13 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    Location: Forks, Washington
    Dates: May 18-20, 2013
    Tuition:
    $895
    Instructors:
    Joseph Rossbach and Alex Mody
    Group Size:
    Limit of 10 participants
    Rec’d Lodging: Forks Motel

    Click here to register!

    For more information, click here.

    Join Joe and I for a weekend of fun, exploration, and learning amongst some of the most diverse and incredible scenery in the Pacific Northwest!

    timeless,coast,rialto,beach,olympic,national,park,washington,usa,rain,scene,rainbow,double,coast,light,photograph,sunset             queets,rain,forest,olympic,rainforest,national,park,washington,usa,fern,clover,wildflower

    Overview: Referred to by many as being three parks in one, Olympic National Park is an incredible and diverse place. 95 percent of the park is designated wilderness. In this wilderness, one can find three drastically different ecosystems which exist in perfect harmony: thousands of acres of lush temperate rainforests – complete with massive old growth forests, over 60 miles of rugged coastline, featuring sea stacks and picturesque rocky beaches, and layers of jagged, glaciated mountain peaks that stretch as far as the eye can see. There is nowhere else in the contiguous US where all of these ecosystems may be found so close to one another, and it makes Olympic National Park a dream destination for a nature photographer of any skill level.

    through,the,storm,second,beach,olympic,national,park,washington,usa,storm,break,sunset,pacific,coast

    Throughout this workshop, we will photograph as much of what Olympic National Park has to offer as we can in three full days. We will have sunrise and sunset shoots along the coast, including but not limited to locations such as Second Beach, Rialto Beach, and Ruby Beach. We will venture up to Hurricane Ridge at least one afternoon, in search of wildlife and scenic alpine vistas, and during the day, when the light is soft, we will photograph lush, jurassic-esque scenes of mossy trees and gigantic ferns deep in the rain forests.

    Joseph and Alex will teach a variety of techniques—both in the field and in the classroom—that will allow you to advance both your technical skills and artistic vision. We focus on a number of professional field techniques to help you create dramatic and powerful nature images, including:

    • Working with dramatic light, including sunrise and sunset
    • Using less-than-dramatic light to your advantage
    • The fundamentals of powerful compositions
    • Abstract techniques for creating artistic photographs

    We’ll also teach you a number of professional “digital darkroom” secrets as well. Our hands-on intensive seminars – held during the middle of the day when the light is not conducive to successful photography – will teach you the fundamentals of image processing, and allow you to master important techniques including:

    • Working with adjustment layers
    • Layer masking and image blending techniques
    • Making difficult selections
    • Color management
    • Special effects techniques used for artistic expression
    • Exporting, sharpening, and saving images for optimum web presentation

     For more information, click here.

    Questions? Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.

     

  • Oregon, United States, Washington

    Wildflower Season in the Columbia Hills, Oregon/Washington, USA

    05.15.12 | Permalink | 58 Comments

    Each year, from the end of April, through the middle of May, an amazing springtime bloom occurs alongside Oregon and Washington’s Columbia River. Brilliant yellow Balsam root and blue-purple lupine blossom for miles across the meadows, hillsides, and oak-dotted ravines of the Columbia Hills. Being a somewhat recent transplant to the Pacific Northwest, I was very eager to try my hand at capturing these vast, beautiful scenes that did not occur during last year’s very odd spring season.

    Springtime on the Dalles Mountain : Prints Available

    This month, I was fortunate enough to spend a week or so photographing these areas by myself, with friends, and with a few private workshop clients as well. The wildflowers were amazing this year – with balsam root blooming in slightly higher numbers than the lupine – in the areas I managed to visit, at least. Unfortunately, favorable conditions seemed hard to come by. For all but a handful of shooting sessions, the wind was very intense, with sustained speeds of 15-25 MPH. To my dismay, these windy days happened to coincide with much of the better light, which made for some very challenging focus bracketing and depth of field blending.

    dalles,mountain,ranch,washington,usa,columbia,hills,balsamroot,flowers,oak,spring,

    Dalles Mountain Morning : Prints Available

    Out of all the areas I scouted, I found the most profuse blooms within Dalles Mountain Ranch State Park, and Columbia Hills State Park, both near Dallesport, Washington. Due to this, as well as the oak-decorated ravines I came across, I chose to focus the majority of my efforts on these two locales.

    dalles,mountain,majesty,ranch,washington,usa,blooming,balsamroot,majestic,spring,scene,sunset

  • -Articles-, Oregon

    Temperate Rainforests of the Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA

    03.11.12 | Permalink | 4 Comments

    Spring is just around the corner, and I can’t help but catch myself drooling yet again over the endless photographic possibilities that will soon unfold within Oregon and Washington’s Columbia River Gorge. Home to 115 officially named waterfalls – and many more unnamed, off trail, and/or ephemeral falls, this 85-mile stretch of river boasts the highest concentration of waterfalls in the world!

    The area boasts an impressive average of 70-90 inches of rainfall a year, and some pretty hefty snowmelt to boot. All of that water has to drain somewhere, though. Thanks to gravity, and an average wall height of 1500-3000 feet on the south side of the gorge, that water has cut dozens and dozens of deep valleys, gorges, and streams into the walls of the gorge. Thanks to historical volcanic activity in the area, these slopes consist of basalt, a rock that is not easily eroded by water. As the area’s many streams and creeks try to erode their way into the gorge, they are forced to flow over the basalt they cannot effectively erode, thus creating a enormous quantity of tall and spectacular waterfalls.

    Thanks to the damp and cool weather of the Pacific Northwest, there is no shortage of moisture in the area, making for an impossibly lush and beautiful temperate rainforest ecosystem in the gorge. You can’t beat that setting – each and every stream or waterfall is strikingly gorgeous. With vegetation covering everything in sight, this place truly feels like a scene out of a dream. Spruce and Fir trees tower hundreds of feet above, vine maples sprawl across the forest floor, five-foot-tall ferns evoke a prehistoric, primordial feeling, and the thick coats of moss and epiphytes covering every possible surface bring about a certain feeling I can’t say I have found anywhere else.

    From a photographer’s standpoint, this place is almost as good as they get! Photographing picturesque streams, huge waterfalls, insanely lush greenery, and a host of amazing birds and mammals, one could keep busy for days on end in the gorge, as I know I have.

    Information regarding access to the many waterfalls of the gorge is very readily available, by a quick Google search and/or purchase of an area guidebook, such as Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest, by Gregory A. Plumb, or Day Hiking Columbia River Gorge, by Craig Romano. Most areas in the gorge may be accessed without any visitor fees, but some locations require purchase of a NW Forest Pass to park at the trailheads.

     

  • Oregon, United States, Washington

    Snowy Columbia River Gorge, Oregon, USA

    02.07.12 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    The grey, drizzly skies of the winter season here rarely loosen their grip upon us Northwesterners. The sun remains hidden behind the clouds, and temperatures are generally not cold enough for much snowfall to accumulate in the lowlands.

    Just two weeks ago, however, a blast of arctic air made its way down into the region, and along with it came a massive low-pressure system. Depositing over a foot of snow in Olympia, this storm quickly shut down much of Western Washington – I had no electricity in my home for five days! So, with classes canceled for the week, I set out to make some wintry images of some generally not-so-snowy locales. Braving the downright terrible roads, I headed to the first area that came to mind – the Columbia River Gorge, along the Oregon/Washington border.

    The Columbia River Gorge is an area renowned across the globe for having one of, if not the highest concentration of beautiful, photogenic waterfalls in such a small area. Most images one might see of waterfalls in the gorge are typically taken in spring, summer, and now and then, fall, but wintry images are quite uncommon, because wintry conditions rarely occur there.

    frigid,spirit,columbia,river,gorge,washington,usa,fresh,snow,snowfall,icy,blue,water,frigid,presentation,spirit,falls,se

    Frigid Spirit : Prints Available

    To make this image, I slowly trudged for two steep miles off-trail, with 12 inches of snow underfoot until reaching these incredibly picturesque falls. It was fairly difficult terrain, with rope being a necessity in one particular location, and a lot more slipping and sliding than I would like to admit. After far too long spent perched atop mossy, slippery rocks, struggling to find the right composition while managing to keep my front element dry in the snow and sleet, I came away with this photo.

    dry,creek,winter,columbia,river,gorge,oregon,75,foot,falls,located,columbia,river,gorge,photograph,after,light,snow,snow

    Dry Creek Winter : Prints Available

    These falls are located at the end of a steep and narrow 4×4 track, which was a total blast maneuvering in the snow. Photographing image, I chose a simple approach. I set up a very similar composition to the one I had shot last time I visited these falls, but this time around, the fresh snow brought out an entirely different dimension to the photo, and I am quite pleased with the end result.

    I’m not sharing any particularly groundbreaking advice here, but I’d just like to remind you all that when abnormal or unseasonal conditions occur, it can be pertinent to use them to your advantage – because you never know what new photographic opportunities they may afford. So, next time you’re thinking of going out to shoot in the snow, and that little, lazy voice in your head suggests otherwise, ignore it!

  • Utah

    Subway Hike, Left Fork of North Creek, Zion National Park, Utah, USA

    11.17.11 | Permalink | 3 Comments

    The Left Fork of North Creek is one of the most beautiful canyons, and certainly one of the most most popular day hikes within Zion National Park. The canyon carved by the Left Fork is home to many picturesque waterfalls and rapids, but the most memorable section of the canyon is called “The Subway,” an incredible, tubular, half-mile stretch of slot canyon that, well, resembles the shape of a round subway tunnel!

    The Subway is most easily accessed by a 9.5 mile round trip hike, from the Left Fork Trailhead, in the west side of the park. It is not hard to reach, by any means, but the hike is fairly time consuming due to the fact that once you descend the 400 vertical feet of switchbacks into the canyon, there is no official trail along the rest of the way. Hiking, wading, bushwhacking, and scrambling up and over gigantic boulders and river banks for four miles each way can take hours, and be downright exhausting at times – despite presenting little to no physical challenge to the average hiker. It is worth noting that the National Park Service issues a quota of 50 daily hiking permits for this area, to control erosion and other damage to natural resources. So, to complete this hike, you must pick up a permit from the park office in Springdale. They can be reserved online here.

    In the autumn, when the cottonwoods and box elders are changing colors, many trees drop their leaves into the creek upstream of the Subway. These leaves, trapped in the Subway’s many shallow pools, swirl around in eddies indefinitely until water levels rise enough to push them further downstream.

    subway,left,fork,north,creek,zion,national,park,utah,leaves,swirl,shallow,pool,iconic,slot,canyon,backcountry

    Subway Swirls : Prints Available

    Just a few hundred yards downstream of the Subway, the Left Fork has cut a narrow fissure into the sandstone, creating the famous and aptly titled, “Crack.” In the autumn, many leaves are blown from trees, and stick to the wet rocks that surround the Crack. I took it upon myself to re-arrange them in a slightly more photogenic manner. Some people may frown upon this, including myself at times, but in this situation, I just couldn’t resist the urge.

    crack,left,fork,north,creek,zion,national,park,utah,channel,sandstone,autumn,leaves,fallen,yards,hundred,downstream,subw

    The Crack : Prints Available

    Additionally, a few hundred more yards downstream of the Subway and Crack, are the 30 foot-tall series of cascades that tumble over layers of sandstone, combining to create Archangel Falls. This waterfall, located underneath a massive sandstone enclave and surrounded on both sides by cottonwood and juniper trees, is an amazing sight to behold – especially in the autumn. I can see how a waterfall in the Utah desert could be a bit of a strange concept, but the stark contrast between the rushing water and red sandstone is a feast for the eyes!

    archangel,cascades,left,fork,north,creek,zion,national,park,utah,falls,peak,autumn,foliage,series,layered,sandstone,ledg

    Archangel Cascades : Prints Available

  • Utah

    Hidden Wonders, Kanarra Creek Canyon, Utah, USA

    11.05.11 | Permalink | 2 Comments

    In the desert of Arizona and Utah, slot canyons come in many shapes and sizes, but very few offer colorful red sandstone, brilliant reflected light, and are fed by a perennial spring – with multiple waterfalls along the way. It’s always a treat to find photogenic water features in an otherwise arid desert, but to find a mile-long slot filled with rapids and waterfalls is just incredible. If we had visited a week or two earlier, during the apex of the fall color action, we would have been able to throw striking yellow foliage into the mix as well. It’s all good, though, as I will save that for one of the many more times I plan to visit!

    chamber,light,kanarra,creek,canyon,utah,reflected,light,glow,slot,spring,southern,utah,

    Chamber of Light : Prints Available

    On a blustery 35-degree day, my friend Chris Kayler and I set out to hike, wade, and climb our way into the slot, photographing along the way. After being abandoned by the deceivingly warm sunlight, it was far from comfortable in the dark canyon, even though we had armed ourselves with multiple layers of synthetic clothing, and chest waders to keep dry. There were a few waterfalls we were able to easily scramble over and around, but particularly memorable, was this slippery ~20-foot high log ladder (photo found on Google) toward the bottom of the canyon, that we very gingerly stepped our way up.

    kanarra,creek,canyon,utah,usa,flow,waterfall,slot

    Kanarra Flow : Prints Available

    Almost like a pint-sized version of the Virgin Narrows in Zion, Kanarra Canyon’s tall, wide, openings allowed for strong, unhindered sunlight to shine in and bounce from wall to wall, naturally creating the brilliant red-orange glow seen in these photographs. When this saturated, vibrant natural glow is juxtaposed with shaded canyon walls, cool blue water, and even foliage, truly magical things can happen. The subtle beauty of this intimate canyon has had a lasting effect on me, and has easily been one of the highlights of this autumn journey I am on.

    Hidden Beauty : Prints Available

  • North Carolina

    Autumn Foliage on the Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina, USA

    Before making my way out west to Arizona and Utah, I made a brief visit to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Having just had such great conditions in West Virgina, and wishing to squeeze what I can out of this (seemingly rare) stroke of good luck, I figured it would be a good idea to head down the Allegheny and into the Blue Ridge Mountains, in western North Carolina. Just as had been the case in West Virginia, most of the foliage reports proclaimed “past-peak” conditions for all of the the high country, yet conditions were incredible all over the region, save for the absolute highest elevations in the area. I think from this point forward, when planning autumn photo trips in the east, I will simply aim for mid to late season, and try my best to remember that many foliage reports or updates are just flat out wrong.

    fall,foliage,fogliage,colorful,maple,fog,foggy,autumn,forest

    Fall Fogliage II : Prints Available

    Anyhow, those of you familiar with photographing fall foliage may know just how magical it can be in a brilliant, autumn-hued forest on a foggy, misty, or drizzly day. I was lucky enough to have an entire day and a half of near-perfect conditions for photographing waterfalls and forest scenes; bright overcast skies, with a (usually) light mist falling from the clouds, patchy fog, and relatively calm winds. The bright overcast skies allowed me to keep my shutter speeds reasonably quick, while the precipitation brought water levels up considerably, and allowed my polarizer to do its job eliminating glare from wet and colorful leaves. On top of that, the intermittent pockets of fog provided an extra degree of dimension to many of the scenes I photographed, adding layers to otherwise flatter-feeling compositions.

    autumn,boquet,nantahala,national,forest,north,carolina,brilliant,hue,photograph,rain,north,carolina,highlands

    Autumn’s Boquet : Prints Available

    I finally made my first visit to the Glen Falls, a spot in the Nantahala National Forest that I have wanted to visit for years. I was initially a bit disappointed by this fallen tree, and the way the deep green rhododendrons had come in and choked out many of the other plants growing alongside this stream, but as soon as I looked through my viewfinder, and that light fog blew in, I was absolutely elated. Sometimes I can be such a baby!

    autumn,colors,light,mist,north,carolina,200,foot,glen,falls,autumn,nantahala,national,forest,

    Autumn Glen : Prints Available

  • United States, West Virginia

    West Virginia Workshop Update

    10.18.11 | Permalink | 4 Comments

    The fall foliage this year in West Virginia’s Allegheny Highlands and Monongahela forest was absolutely amazing, though a bit earlier than usual. Many of the higher areas around Canaan Valley and Dolly Sods were already barren upon our arrival, we were able to find many amazing pockets of color in the lower elevations. We photographed mountain landscapes,  bountiful autumn foliage, and beautiful waterfalls, from sunrise to sunset for three full days, breaking only for the occasional omelet or nap.

    We were told by many that we had arrived to the area much “past peak” fall foliage, but we concluded that the ideas we have for “near peak,” “peak,” and “past peak” foliage are all a bunch of B.S., because great images can be made in any of these conditions, if you know where and how to look for them. These methods of describing the state of autumn foliage do little to tell one how things are actually looking, because they do not take into account the different species of trees, leaf drop variability on slopes facing different directions, intensity and type of color, or leaf drop in general. Take, for example, this stand of Beech pictured below. In what many would consider “peak” fall foliage conditions, these trees would all still be green. In addition, when “past peak,” many of the streams and waterfalls seem to look best since the majority of leaves have fallen from the trees, coating the wet rocks, and filling the streams and swirling eddies such as in this photo from 2008.

    I have quite a soft spot for West Virginia, as I spent quite a bit of time photographing there as I was just getting beginning with landscape photography. There is no other place in the Mid-Atlantic where mountains, sky, forests, and water come together in a truly “wild” place, and that is just what makes it so special. Many would argue that the autumn foliage in West Virginia can rival that of New England, and I agree, for the most part. I just wish I could have stayed longer. I miss it already, but there’s no time for that. I just got to North Carolina and it’s off to the desert in just a few days.

     

  • Vermont

    Fall Foliage Workshop in Vermont

    10.07.11 | Permalink | 8 Comments

    Despite the fact that Fall color has been quite rough this year in the Northeast (hurricane-force winds, catastrophic mold outbreaks, unfortunately high temperatures), the Vermont Workshop that I assisted Joe Rossbach with was a great success. Due to the aftermath of Hurricane Irene, the many road closures and washouts in South and Central Vermont forced us to move the workshop from Killington to Montpelier at the last second. Luckily, that allowed us much closer access to the Northeast Kingdom, which was coincidentally the area in Vermont with the “best” color this year.

    We made the most of our three days of shooting and scouting before the workshop, driving over 700 miles around the state in order to find areas that didn’t totally suck – and we were reasonably successful. We found some great pockets of color in the Northeast Kingdom, near Willoughby Lake, in the Groton Woods State Forest, around Noyes/Seyon Pond. Very surprisingly, areas around Smugglers Notch and the Green Mountains were, well, green. It was a weird year, for sure, but I am still very happy to have visited. I’m not sure when the next time I’ll be back East in the autumn will be, since I will be in school for at least the next three years, but I can’t wait until then.

  • Montana

    Avalanche Gorge, Glacier National Park, Montana, USA

    09.20.11 | Permalink | 1 Comment

    During my visit to Glacier National Park this past August, I photographed Avalanche Gorge on a few separate occasions, seeking whatever new perspectives I could of this oft-photographed, rather iconic location. Avalanche Creek, blue due to minerals and sediments in glacial runoff, cuts a narrow chasm into red rock for just a few hundred incredibly beautiful yards.

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    Looking down Avalanche Gorge : Prints Available

    Looking, Up, Avalanche, Gorge, Glacier, National, Park, Mineral, Tinted, Blue, Glacial, Runoff, Beautiful, Mossy, Canyon

    Looking up Avalanche Gorge : Prints Available




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