Exceeding the sum of the parts

Gary Hart Photography: Heaven and Earth, New Moon and Venus, Sierra Foothills

Heaven and Earth, New Moon and Venus, Sierra Foothills
Sony a7R
Sony 70-200 f4 G
2 seconds
F/8
ISO 400

When I decided to make photography my career, I promised myself I’d only photograph what I love. Not because I believed that’s where I’d find my best images (I wasn’t that calculating), but simply because the only good reason I could come up with for leaving an excellent job with a great company was to do something that made me truly happy. And lucky me—today most of my time behind a camera is spent pursuing subjects that touch a special place in my heart, subjects I’m naturally drawn to, camera or not.

For example…

There’s Yosemite, for sure. And pretty much anything celestial. Dramatic weather, dogwood, poppies, oak trees, reflections all thrill me. I could go on…. And as much as I enjoy these subjects individually, I love combining more than one to create (what at least feels to me like) a natural synergy. I mean, photographing Yosemite Valley is always great. And who doesn’t like to see a rainbow? But finding a rainbow arcing above Yosemite Valley? Well, you get the point….

While Yosemite Valley is a bit of a drive, and rainbows are unpredictable, ephemeral phenomena, the oak trees I love so much are deeply rooted less than an hour from home. And the moon is nothing if not predictable. So combining these favorites simply requires mixing a small amount of effort with a little cooperation from the weather.

Over the years, I’ve accumulated a number of candidate views in both directions: east for a full moon at sunset, west for a new moon at sunset; the other way around for sunrise. The east views will work for late afternoon rainbows too, but I’ve yet to capture one of those (it’ll happen).

Marking my calendar

Anxious for something to photograph between my Death Valley and Yosemite winter workshops, I made a point of highlighting the evening of this January’s full moon in my calendar. And rather than return to one of my tried-and-true foothill oak views, I left early enough to explore. After a great afternoon and many discoveries, I finally landed at the end of a new, graded but unbuilt cul-de-sac with a clear view of a distant trio of hilltop oaks.

While waiting for the moon to appear, I fired a few frames, silhouetting the trees against the sun descending through the orange sky, an unplanned and special juxtaposition in its own right. When the moon finally emerged above the darkening horizon, it was flanked by Venus. And when Mercury appeared a few minutes later (center-right, beneath the moon), I had a celestial triangle balanced above the terrestrial oaks. Synergy.

Photo workshop schedule


A gallery of natural synergy

Click an image for a closer look, and a slide show. Refresh your screen to reorder the display.

17 Comments on “Exceeding the sum of the parts

  1. Gary, how do you like the A7R? How about the lenses?
    We met briefly on Mormon Row last fall when you were leading a group.
    Always love your work

  2. I marvel at your artistry, Gary. Thank you for sharing all your breathtaking images of natural beauty…it refreshes in a deep watering of the soul!

  3. Fantastic new moon shot, Gary. Your set of landscapes is really exciting and I particularly like your close-ups of the flowers. The poppy is unique and striking. Great post.

  4. Gary, How can you have both sunset and moonrise facing the same direction? I would think they would be opposite each other??? –BJ

    Date: Sun, 1 Feb 2015 16:57:11 +0000 To: bjsbirds@hotmail.com

    • The sun and moon are on opposite ends of the sky when the moon is full. This moon was a 5 percent crescent, so it was almost completely aligned with the sun. A crescent moon is only visible just in front of the sun at sunrise, or just behind the sun after sunset.

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