Tuesday, August 31, 2010

It's clear that Jackson Echols is off to an excellent start as nature photographer and artist

In 2006, he was one of eight winners of college student scholarships awarded by NANPA -- North American Nature Photography Association. As he approaches graduation next spring with his studio art degree from the University of Alabama-Birmingham, 23-year-old Jackson Echols can look back on a number of extra-curricular achievements and some very fine images. In the first category, Jackson's photos have appeared in several exhibitions and publications -- including the 2010 Photographer's Forum Best of College Photography. As for his images, we're posting two examples here. (Be sure to click on each image to fully appreciate it.)

"I was traveling throughout the Moab area of Utah last summer when I created the image above during a three-day backpacking trip in Canyonlands National Park. I used my Singh-Ray LB Color Intensifier to subtly enhance the already-dramatic late summer light falling on the rocks beyond this teardrop-shaped cave opening. An interesting element in this remarkable scene are the scores of miniature rock towers that hikers before me had assembled around the opening.

"I composed this photograph to mirror the shape of the little ‘towers’ with the surrounding cave and the striking shape of the cave opening. In addition to using the LB Color Intensifier, I 'gelled' a small shoe-mount flash with a warm orange color filter and popped it while the exposure was being completed to light up the interior of the cave with light that would be similar to the white balance of the outside light. If I hadn’t used the flash, the cave interior would have become a flat silhouette, which would have resulted in a somewhat flat image with much less visual depth. While I might have used HDR techniques to simulate this look in Photoshop later, I prefer to carry several flashes with me so that I can augment the natural light and create my final composition in-camera. I used my Nikon D200 with a 12-24mm f/4 lens and a Nikon SB-600 flash.

"This next image was created on Fuji Velvia 50 color film in a Nikon F100 camera during my senior trip after graduating high school back in June of 2005. I chose to travel to Olympic National Park in Washington and then up the coastline to Pacific Rim National Park in British Columbia. This image is a variation on the classic view of Marymere Falls, near Crescent Lake in the interior portion of the park. The hike to the falls was an easy one, covering only half a mile from the lodge at Crescent Lake.

"Once I arrived at the viewpoint for the waterfall, I did a quick scout of the area for alternate views than the typical straight-on flat perspective. I was inspired by the sheer size and texture of the old-growth Douglas firs that stood around the falls and its runoff. I used my wide-angle lens (17-35mm) to incorporate a particularly interesting tree trunk into the image of the waterfall. After setting up my composition, I waited for the sun to pass behind the clouds in order to capture the scene with softer light. This soft light, in addition to a Singh-Ray Neutral Polarizer, provided both a longer exposure to blur the water and a soft glow to the surrounding foliage.

"Although my photographic career began with landscapes -- and nature photography will always run through my veins," says Jackson, "I have recently been working on a variety of fine art projects alongside my nature work." A visit to Jackson's website will reveal these efforts in greater detail.

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