The Gentle Eye of the Beast

Amazing Time with the Wounded Warriors

Last night I had the chance to meet and present to a group of wounded soldiers that have recently returned from combat.

I’m still here at this ranch in Yellowstone, and we had some recent arrivals. There is a program called the Wounded Warrior Project, and many groups of soldiers come out to Montana to do a bit of fly fishing.

I sat by Dave Kumlien at dinner tonight (read about Dave here), who helps lead the Warriors & Quiet Waters program. He’s a master fly-fisherman (we call him the “Trout Whisperer” around here). He told me a bunch of different stories about this program over the last four years. He’s worked with over 150 vets and has 150 stories about how they have changed. I’m trying to convince him to write a book about it!

Anyway, after the big dinner, we all retired to the Great Room, and I gave a little half-hour presentation on photography. We had a great time during and afterward — and I was happy to meet and talk to them all.

Daily Photo – The Gentle Eye of the Beast

I gave a little impromptu workshop a few days ago.  I took a group of friends for the afternoon and we went out for an instructional photowalk, followed by a hardcore critique.

On the short walk, we visited a barn and a stable.  I gave assignments to people to all gather photos of the same subjects, find unique bits, and then submit a few photos for critique.  I’ve done this sort of thing many times before, and I’m always surprised at what I see.  Everything from the mundane to the stunning.  However, I am always impressed at what people find that I did not see.  I sometimes like to think that I can find many of the cool tidbits and angles, but then I am humbled when “newbies” find things that I completely missed!

Anyway, we had a great time milling about and comparing notes.  I did the whole assignment myself, and submitted this one into my own critique.

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Our Night Under the Stars

Daily Photo – Our Night Under the Stars

I’m in the middle of a great trip to a ranch in Montana that I’ll never forget.

The nights here are always strange and different.  I’ve only gotten outside a few times to take photos, mostly because of inclement weather.  During the first week or so, the moon so high and bright that it caused everything to get blown out.  That’s no good and makes for a boring night.  Who needs a boring night?

The moon was just about to rise behind the mountains, and the night air was crystal clear. The soft cloud from top left to bottom right is the Milky Way, and it gave the night a nice texture.

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Prismatic Steam in Yellowstone

The Geothermal Genie on Boing Boing

Xeni Jardin and Cory Doctorow at Boing Boing have always been supportive of the site here and are big proponents of Creative Commons. I’m speaking about this subject and more at Wordca.mp in Dallas in a few months, in fact.

Xeni recently ran a story about Iceland being a safe haven for new media, and they used this photo of the genie below.

HDR-Photo

Daily Photo – Prismatic Steam in Yellowstone

The photo above reminded me very much of this one below, which I had yet to release. This is the beautiful grand prismatic spring, which you have probably seen featured here before. This is the same scene from ground level.

Getting to this exact spot is not easy. There is about a one-mile hike to get to this area. The little trail is surrounded by trees, and there is no way to get a clear shot through the trees. So I had to bushwack to get through and then stand on fallen trees that jut out into this broiling lake.

HDR-Photo

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My First Released Painting – Yellowstone on Fire

I’ve been working on this for a small eternity, and I am happy to finally release it. It turned out to be a much different experience than I ever imagined. (It’s not for sale… just a personal experiment…)

The work is just below, and under that are a few zoom-in details of various areas, in case you have further interest. There’s also a bit of a how-to down there.

HDR-Photo

More about the work

Since seeing a painting over the internet is sort of difficult, I have a few zoom-in shots, both directly overhead and from the side with a 50mm prime, in case you are interested in the details.

I have some videos on YouTube where I do these in different ways. ArtRage is pretty good, but this one is PS, where you make an invisible layer on top then use the oilpaint tool (and about 10 brushes) plus a wacom tablet to mix it the paints together. It’s cool because the angle of the brush bristles are the same as the angle of your hand above the tablet!

Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

My goal was to deliver the feeling of a fire and a sunset, one in the same


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I think all the blues turned out really well. I was inspired by, among others, the work of Clyde Aspevig.


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I found the water very hard to perfect. I remixed my paint about 100 times before I got deep colors.


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I did my best to make the edge clouds a mix of fire, clouds, and smoke


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

This signatures ensures that it will be worth more when I am dead


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I repainted the transition clouds time and time again until they felt right. Half my life, it seems, is spent staring at clouds. I did my best to show various layers of clouds in the atmosphere — from the high, wispy, icy clouds to the low, full, clouds of tumult.


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

The canvas gave everything a nice texture… feels and looks good close up and far away


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

I kept trying not to sing “Happy Little Trees” during this bit


Trey-Ratcliff-Painting

This was one of my favorite bits of the work – it came more easily than the rest


HDR-Photo

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The Wall of Fog

Server Upgrades Almost Complete

My sincere apologies that this has taken four days so far.  I’ve got the full team working on it… all in an effort to make things faster and better!  Please be patient, and we’ll see how fast we can get this perfect.

Daily Photo – The Wall of Fog

The morning in Yellowstone had the most unusual weather!

While I was driving in, the Earth-heated river was steaming in the frigid morning air.  It looked incredibly awesome, but I knew it was the kind of thing that was really tough to capture in a photo.  After a bit more exploration and random turns, the road approached a giant wall of solid fog.  I popped out of the car for a shot before getting back in to drive into the wall.  Inside, the morning light was strange when it came in at sharp angles through the trees.  Since I had to drive so slow, I pulled over to the side and took out my pack for a morning hike into the trees…  I have more of those shots to post in the future!

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