Reflections of Creation

One of the greatest things that God has given humans is the ability to see beauty in the world around us. I have never noticed my dog stop and stare at the beauty of a forest or the incredible colors of a sunset, but these things have the ability to stop me in my tracks in wonder and awe. This website is my attempt to capture some of the beauty and glory of an indescribable God by capturing reflections of Him that I see in His creation.


glen canyon dam Wednesday, March 30, 2011 | 1

It's huge! How huge? Did you see the rv about to go on it on the right hand side of the picture?

hiking in zion national park Tuesday, March 29, 2011 | 0

waterfall from the keychain camera Sunday, March 27, 2011 | 0

nap time Friday, March 25, 2011 | 1

This is using the "grainy film" art filter on my camera.

"Newspaper Rock" Wednesday, March 23, 2011 | 1

i love red rocks Tuesday, March 22, 2011 | 1

This was taken between Sedona and Flagstaff. There may not be many in this picture, but there are red rocks all over this area.

snow at the grand canyon Monday, March 21, 2011 | 1

the state of photography today Saturday, March 19, 2011 | 4

Ok, I am going to go on a rant today, so I must warn you: don't read on past this picture from Antelope Canyon if you don't want to be bored:

Ok, Alison encouraged me to share all of this with you, so here you go. You can blame her for my ranting today. :-)

An added note: I want to make sure that I point out that my post today is about landscape and nature photography. While there are points you might want to apply to portrait photography and the like, that is not what I am doing. I am a nature photography guy, and that is what I am focusing on today. Thanks!

Early on in February, I got disgusted with the state of photography today and I quit posting regularly. And when I did post, it was only because I forced myself to. I stopped on the day I got a magazine in the mail. I had never read a photography magazine before, but I recently have subscribed to 2 different mags (one was an awesome Christmas gift). I had gotten my first copy in the mail early in February and excitedly flipped it open to a random page. On the page was a gorgeous landscape picture of some flowers growing in front of these beautiful mountains. I was mesmerized by the pic. It was really beautiful and I couldn't understand how it was so crisp-the flowers inches away were just as in focus as the mountains miles away. It wasn't until I read how he took the picture that it made sense: I had made the mistake of thinking he took one picture. This one picture in the magazine was a composite of several pictures. He took several pictures all focusing on different spots and then merged them all together so everything is in focus. That was seriously impressive work. I thought the picture was impossible and it was: the human eye cannot focus that way much less a camera.

So, here's what gets me. I always saw photography mainly as capturing what we see, not going beyond what we see. And let me say this upfront: I am an amateur in every sense of the word. I take pictures solely for fun. I have not ever sold a picture. I've never had a picture published (added note: well, I guess I had one in a newspaper photography contest). The only money I've ever made was $250 for a photography show and a $25 gift certificate (to a woman's makup shop no less - ha!) for winning "shutterbug of the year" by our local paper a couple of years ago. And because of my amateur status, I am not a fan of altering pictures. I truly feel that most photography should capture what you see and not go really far beyond that. But that is not what photography is today. I like to look at other pictures and I enjoy seeing photography contests, but I am getting tired of seeing every amateur photography contest won not by the use of cameras, but by the use of professional tools like photoshop. I see lots of amateur photography contests won with mediocre pictures altered with excellent photoshop work. Those two magazines I have subscriptions to spend far more time talking about how to alter your pictures than they do about how to take great pictures. And I am guilty of it as well; that "shutterbug of the year" award? I won that for the middle picture posted here. It's obviously altered and I even cropped it before I sent it in. After I won, I later heard from the judges - it was the photoshop that won the award. They had never seen a look like that; it would not have won unaltered.

Of course, I am not selling pictures. This is not what I am ranting about. I just do not like there being more emphasis on the altering of pictures than the taking of pictures, and that is what I see in the state of photography as it is today. My personal rule is that I shouldn't spend longer altering a picture than I spend setting up and taking a picture. And it should stick true to what is seen. Let me give you another example.

I am writing this post today because of a question I was asked yesterday. There is an amazing photographer by the name of Peter Lik. This guy takes unreal pictures, and I am constantly floored by what he does. He has a new tv show coming on the Weather Channel that I can't wait to see. I think it is great of The Weather Channel to air a photograph show, so on March 31st, tune in and watch From the Edge with Peter Lik. I hope to someday be half of the photographer that he is, but someone asked me about one of his Antelope Canyon pictures they had seen on the website for the show. Check it out here. I was asked how he took this picture to get these great colors, and I want to deal with that for a minute. It is a truly amazing shot. In his description he talks about waiting days for the light to be just right, and I believe him. While the light is great, the colors are not true to life. But I doubt a professional like him is taking pictures to represent what you and I would see if we were in Antelope Canyon. That's not his job. But I do want you to realize this is not what you would see there. I don't really want to get too far off track here, but let me say that he is not adding to what is there, he is just enhancing the colors that are there to help bring them out and not be so subtle.

So, I wanted to experiment. I decided to alter my camera's raw file for the shot I posted at the top of this blog post. I tried to bring out the same colors that the Peter Lik shot shows, and I think I got close enough without spending a lot of time on it. I altered the raw file using the canon software and did not use photoshop. Here is what I came up with:

That is a much more dramatic look than the one I posted on the top of the blog. The colors are gorgeous and it looks really impressive. But here is what gets me: this is not a realistic picture. In my mind, this is no longer a photograph but digital art. Even the top shot I posted is altered. Here is the shot straight from the camera:

So, here is a look at all 3 versions of this picture. The left hand side is straight off of the camera while the middle is sharpened with some white balance work done to it and the right is my attempt at Peter Lik colors:

So, what has led to the norm for photographers to alter their pictures so drastically? In truth I could talk for a long time about it and it's not all bad. But my point with this post is simply this: I believe a lot of what you see today should not be classified as photography but digital art.

And now here is where I get off my high horse and ask, "where the line is between photography and digital art?" I obviously do some sharpening and some post work on my pictures (which dslr people should). Does that take me out of the realm of photography and into digital art? I'm not sure. My favorite tool for a landscape photographer is a polarizing filter, yet isn't that itself already cheating? In a way I think so, yet I am unwilling to quit using it. I have posted a number of pictures altered with the "retro love" photoshop action, and I think they look neat, but I never meant to claim it represented reality. And since I feel the pictures look altered, I was okay posting them. Does that make me a photography hypocrite? Maybe so. I'm just sharing my unresolved thoughts on the issue. I just feel sad for people who travel somewhere to see something they saw pictures of online or in a travel book only to be disappointed with the real thing because the reality is far from the pictures they have seen.

And just because I wanted to try, here is my attempt at post production work with the closest thing I have to the Peter Lik shot. He was using a much wider angle lens that I was (which is pretty obvious to see). I could go on for a while about about how his is superior in just about every way (I would like to see the original-this guy is really good). My focus here was just to get the colors to match without spending a lot of time on it, so I didn't do any work fixing the "blemishes" in the rock.

Oh, and I promise to be less whiny tomorrow. :-)

vermilion cliffs Friday, March 18, 2011 | 0

petrified forest Sunday, March 13, 2011 | 0

This is from the aptly named Petrified Forest National Park. I think God turning wood into stone is a very creative thing. He's amazing!

looking up in antelope canyon Saturday, March 12, 2011 | 1

Yeah!!! Antelope Canyon!! Thursday, March 10, 2011 | 2

Okay, I have wanted to go to this place ever since seeing the video for Amy Grant's song, "Lead Me On" way back in 1988 or 89. She was walking around through a slot canyon, and I was fascinated by the concept of a slot canyon. One of the most famous slot canyons in the world is Antelope Canyon around Page, Arizona. There are two canyons here, and we went to Lower Antelope Canyon today, which is just about the top location ever on my photography dream place list. The picture above is Alison climbing down into Lower Antelope Canyon. And here is an idea of what we were going through. There are amazing colors down there.

zion national park Tuesday, March 08, 2011 | 1

And before you ask, yes, that is the sun behind the clouds. It was actually snowing on us where I took this picture.

I have a little time tonight, so for anyone who is interested, here is a quick rundown of where Alison and I are and what we are doing. I am tired and so this will be rambly and even pointless, so reader beware. You've been warned. Okay, here we go.

We left out on vacation last Thursday and have been seeing some AMAZING scenery. We made it to northwest New Mexico on Thursday night and spent the night there. On Friday we made it Flagstaff, Arizona, which is our home base while on vacation. We stopped off on Friday at the Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park, and we loved seeing the colorful landscape around there.

As for Flagstaff, wow, what a town. There is National Forest right outside of town with the highest peaks in Arizona - over 12,000 feet. Alison describes the town as a laid back, outdoorsy, college type of town with a forest and mountain range in its backyard. On Friday night we went downtown and found ourselves surprised by the night life and how vibrant it was. They were having a downtown artwalk which probably helped bring out the crowds. We ended the night up at the Lowell Observatory, which is nestled at 7,250 feet and is literally a mile from bustling downtown. Flagstaff is a spread out town and the Observatory is that close; although it has specific light rules so you still get a good view of the sky without a lot of light pollution from the town. We enjoyed our time there and really loved looking through the HUGE 115 year old Clark telescope at the place where Pluto was discovered.

Saturday was a visit to the Grand Canyon, and it was a great place. Neither of us had ever been there before, so this was a big deal. We took the east entrance into the park, which is something I recommend if you are going in the morning. The vast majority of visitors to the Grand Canyon come in the south road, and by coming in from the east, we had small crowds at the east overlooks. And the nice touch was getting to be surprised later in the day by how beautiful the landscape is around the visitor center. The picture I posted from the Canyon was taken at the far east viewing overlook - where the Watchtower is.

On Sunday, we took an unreal scenic drive down to Sedona. There is a 28 mile drive that has got to be one of the most scenic drives in the country. Awesome. It is a windy climbing road that will never be forgotten by us. Beautiful.

Today, we left for Zion National Park. What should have been a 4 to 5 hour drive turned into an 8 hour drive since we couldn't stop staring at the beautiful surroundings throughout the course of the trip. It's hard to describe the breathtaking view of the Vermillion Cliffs you see, and no pictures can ever capture what it is like. The drive was wonderful, and we even drove through everything: sun, fog, rain, sleet, hail and even snow. We came into Zion through the east entrance, and I really cannot think of what to say about that drive. The eastern side of the park is hard to describe. There are red hills and mountains (covered with snow today) and just randomly placed enormous ponderosa pines around. All of this while driving through a canyon and craning your neck trying to see everywhere. Once we got to the main road, the view changed into what we expected Zion to look like, and it is amazing. Still, I loved the snow covered view from the east entrance, and I highly recommend you come that way when you visit. AND EVERYONE NEEDS TO VISIT ZION AT LEAST ONCE IN THEIR LIVES! It's really amazing. We are staying at the Zion Lodge and it is indescribable what you see when you look out a window or step outside. That makes sense when you realize the canyon walls around you stretch up a half mile. Wow.

So, that's all for now. We will do some hiking tomorrow and then head back to Flagstaff on Wednesday (with a stop at the one place I have wanted to see and take pictures at since my sophomore year of high school, and no, I won't tell you what it is. You'll just have to check out the blog on Thursday).

I know this is long, but I knew some of you wanted an update. The scenery is gorgeous and it is a great reminder to us about the God who created all of this. And as beautiful as all of this is, it will pale in comparison to the beauty of getting to see Him face to face someday. Amen!

sedona Monday, March 07, 2011 | 0

As you can tell, I am on vacation, and I have been posting from wherever we saw things that day. Today, we went to Sedona (I post at night).

grand canyon Sunday, March 06, 2011 | 2

painted desert Saturday, March 05, 2011 | 1

Reflections of Creation

the most important part of this website

I enjoy photography and I always find myself wanting more time to be outside with a camera. The idea of posting my pictures was born out of the love for my wife, Alison (, who hates it when I do not take my days off. This website, reflections of creation, is a way to force me to get out of the office from time to time and putting me outside where I love to be. While a creative outlet for me, I hope this is an encouraging site for you, and one which helps point you to the Creator of all this beauty around us. God is so much bigger and amazing than we could ever imagine, and He loves you and me! What an amazing thought! He loves us so much that He was even willing to let His son, Jesus, die as a sacrifice for us. That fact is more beautiful than any picture you will see on this website. I hope you know Jesus, but if you do not, please email me or go to Thanks again for coming and stop by again soon.

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