Tag Archives: Informational

Reaction vs. Expectation



Part of being successful as a landscape photographer is learning to react to conditions, as opposed to expecting things to happen. When we expect things to happen, we naturally get upset when they don’t. Getting upset kills the creative spirit, and we tend to abandon what ever it was that we set out to do. On the contrary, when we learn to react to a situation, we will strive to do our best with whatever conditions are at hand. That is exactly the mindset I had the night I created the two images in this post. Let me explain.

Reaction #1:

I originally set out to photograph the Grand Wash Cliffs area about an hour and a half away from my house. This is one of my favorite locations close to home to shoot, and I’ve been there many, many times. While traveling out Stockton Hill Road, a very long desolate stretch of road, I got “squirreled” by God’s Rays breaking through the clouds to the west. Those of you who liked the movie Up will know exactly what I meant by …. Squirrel. After shooting there for about twenty minutes, we continued on our journey. Upon reaching Pierce Ferry Road, and having about twenty miles left to get to our destination, I realized we weren’t going to make it by sunset. Instead of getting upset, I reacted to the situation, and immediately started searching for an alternate location to shoot. Problem solved, and creative spirit still intact.

Reaction #2:

_KPH0139After finding an alternate location to shoot, I began my normal routine of scouting the area for potential compositions. I always try and find at least two-three different compositions, and one that is fairly open, and uncluttered that I can set up quickly if I need to. The image at the top of this post was my prime composition, and I caught it with the perfect clouds and the last light of the day glancing off the distant Cerbat Mountains. Shortly after I took this shot, the clouds started breaking up and didn’t compliment the scene anymore. I then started shooting some close-up shots, all the while keeping an eye on the sky to see what it was going to do. This close-up of a Joshua tree was one that I kind of liked. All of the sudden, one of the broken clouds in the sky decided to light up like a fire ball.

Remember the open, uncluttered composition I talked about earlier? That was my quick reaction composition for a situation exactly like this. I snatched up my camera and tripod, and ran about _KPH0146-Editthirty yards across the desert to that location, set up and began shooting. The first two frames I shot, I didn’t fully get the cloud into, as they were moving fairly quickly. Since I had a wide open space to work with, recomposing was easy, and the third shot I nailed it. Shortly after, the light faded and the nights shoot was done. In my opinion, that image turned out to be the best one of the night.

So, the moral of the story is quite simple. React, don’t expect. When you can learn to do this, good things are bound to come your way. Mother nature is very unpredictable, yet in her own unique way, always beautiful. React to her nuances, and your images will take a giant leap forward.

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The Home Field Advantage


Whether you’re an aspiring photographer new to landscapes, or a seasoned professional, we all have our bucket list of locations we want to photograph. But the truth is, a lot of us spend most of our time in our home town dreaming about getting there. Stop dreaming, and get out and do what you love. No matter where you live, there is an abundance of photographic opportunities just waiting to be had. Start taking advantage of your knowledge of your local area. Just as it is in sports, you’ve got the “Home Field Advantage”.

Sometimes it’s hard to get inspired to photograph the things we see day in and day out. They just don’t compare to the epic dreams we have on our bucket lists. You have to find a way to break this cycle. Photography is a perishable skill. If you don’t use it, you lose it. The intent of this article is to give you some ideas to get that creative process going, and get you out in the field creating images.

Human nature gives us a weapon we can use to fight off our procrastination and start being productive. It’s called the competitive spirit. Who says you need a competitor? Challenge yourself! One of the ways you can get yourself out in your local area is to find something you have always wanted to learn, and challenge yourself to do it. Whether it be a new technique, using a lens you don’t normally shoot with, or a different compositional style, set a challenge for yourself. Human nature will kick in, and you will set out to accomplish your goal.

The shot of the sun star at the beginning of this article was accomplished in this manner. Although I have photographed sun stars many times before, it’s not something I always look for when I’m in the field. On this day, I was scouting an area I am planning on using for my local workshops. I challenged myself to find a location I could shoot a great sun star from. Viola! Challenge met, shot bagged. Not bad for being a twenty-five minute drive from my house.

Another technique you can use to start shooting more in your local area is get to know what I call “the green space windows”. Almost every city has little green space areas that are free of the chaos and clutter, and offer a view of the natural world. Get to know these locations and cherish them like gold. Epic light has the tendency to rear its head at the most inopportune times. You’re on your way to the grocery store to pick up a gallon of milk around sunset. The sun decides to peek out from behind the storm clouds that have shrouded the city all day, and put on a light show to die for. If you know where your green space windows are, your chances of capturing a great shot just increased tenfold. Otherwise, you’re going to be left sitting in your car, spouting out words I can’t disclose here. Not that I have ever done this myself.

JKP_00005-4-EditThe image of the Cholla cactus and stormy sunset sky was taken in one of those green space windows in my hometown of Kingman, Arizona. I had just dropped my daughter off for piano lessons when I noticed a little color starting to come through the storm clouds that had been around all day. A quick two or three minute drive put me in a location I could capture this incredible sunset right when the light was at its best. Just outside the frame to the left is a housing development, and to the right is a five lane street filled with retail stores. Straight ahead, Bliss.

Next step. Stop thinking on such a grand scale, and focus on the smaller things nature has to offer. Nature comes in all shapes and sizes. The truth is, we allOE0055 walk past photographic opportunities every day of our lives and never realize it. Why? Because we haven’t trained ourselves to look for the smaller things. As nature photographers, we’re always on the prowl for our next grand landscape. If we took the time to look up, down, and all around, we’d realize there’s five more shots just waiting to be had. This is especially true on your home turf. Conditions may not be right for a grand landscape, but I’ll guarantee you there’s some more intimate shots just waiting to be added to your portfolio if you take the time to look. This shot of a barrel cactus was taken less than 500 feet from the sun star shot at the beginning of this article. Two shots, one location. I’ll take it.

Last of all, return to the same locations under different conditions. Often times we’ll find a composition that we really like, but the conditions just aren’t right to get a great shot. When it’s a location close to home, the cost of returning is next to nil, and you have the latitude to get there quickly if conditions start to set up favorably. When I originally found this composition of a hiking trail outside my hometown, I had nothing but a blue sky to work with. Although I really liked the shot, it just didn’t have the punch I was looking for. A week later, the southwest’s monsoon made one final push into our area, bringing with it my missing ingredient. Clouds. I returned to this location two nights in a row, and on the second I hit pay dirt.


It’s ok to have dreams of getting to the epic locations on your bucket list. But don’t let it get in the way of your passion for photography. Chances are, you’ve never heard of Kingman, Arizona. It’s not on the short list of locations to photograph before you die. It’s not on the longer list either. However, beauty does exist. I’m sure it’s the same in your hometown. So get out, start shooting, and make the best of your “Home Field Advantage”.

If you liked this post, please click on the social links below and share it with your friends. If you have any questions, feel free to start up a conversation in the comments section.

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Black Mountains Workshop


I had my first private photography workshop in the Black Mountains yesterday, and had an absolutely awesome time. I spent the entire day with a local Kingman area photography enthusiast. We spent the first half of the day talking about the more technical aspects of photography and working with images on the computer. We then headed out to the Black Mountains, and spent the afternoon right up till sunset photographing some incredible locations. The image at the top of this post is one of the locations we visited. My student can be seen high up on the hill to the left side taking advantage of one of the many composition opportunities in the area. What a great day!

If you have an interest in landscape photography, or know someone that does, be sure to check out our workshops page on this site. If your interested in private lessons, send me an email with what you have in mind, or give me a call anytime. You can find my contact information by clicking here.

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Coming Soon To A Desert Near You!


March, 2008. One of the best Poppy blooms I can remember. Black Mountains of Northwest Arizona.

For many people around the United States, the thought of Spring is nothing more than a dream as winter still has a firm grip on the weather. However, here in the southwest, Spring has already began to show it’s glory with wildflowers starting to bloom in the lower elevations. I spent the day with my family at a Bluegrass Festival in Bullhead City yesterday, and noticed a lot of species of wildflowers were starting to bloom along the highway just outside town. It’s been pretty dry here in Arizona this winter, so I don’t know how extensive the bloom will be. Looking at the wildflower reports, southern Arizona appears to already have some impressive displays popping up.

On any note, it’s time to get that macro lens dusted off, and gear up for photographing the upcoming wildflower extravaganza the southwest is so notorious for. For more information, and to see where the bloom is in full swing, check out the website link below.

Desert Wildflower Report – Desert USA 



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New Website Complete

I haven’t been on any of my social connections, or here lately, as I have been buried in my computer rebuilding my website and blog. I’m glad to report, my website overhaul is now complete. You can now access my website and blog from the same site! In fact, if you are reading this now, your probably here. Feel free to take a look around, as the look and feel have completely changed. I did all of this in preparation for some exciting expansions in my business, and I needed a site that I had complete control over. This required switching hosting services, transferring URL’s, and a whole lot of other things I’m sure you’re not interested in. It’s been a grueling process, but it’s finally complete.

Also, I’ve recently started writing a series of essays that I will be sharing here called “The Art Of Landscape Photography: A Beginners Guide”. The series will consist of nine essays focusing on teaching the beginner digital SLR user how to maximize the potential of their digital cameras, and take their Landscape photography to the next level. I’ll be posting the first essay titled “Inspiration” in the next couple of days. Once the series is complete, I’ll be compiling all of the essays into a free downloadable ebook which will be made available to you on my website.

Until my next update, enjoy the new website. Feel free to start up a conversation in the comments section below.

Gotta get to the Superbowl now! Go Denver!


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Website Overhaul

I am in the process of doing a complete overhaul on my website and blog. During this process you will not be able to access the website from jasonkeefephotography.com. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause, however, once this process is complete the old web address will be back up and running better than ever. I am integrating my website and blog into the same site,  and setting up for some expansions in my business. In particular my upcoming workshops. Yes, they are still in the works, I’m just waiting for my permits to get finalized. I will be posting more about this when they are complete.

Until next time, have a great day.


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Great Smokey Mountains


Canon 5D MKII, EF16-35mm f/2.8L USM at 18mm, 0.4 sec. at f/16, ISO 100

Just got back from attending a photography workshop with world renowned landscape photographer Richard Bernabe  in the Great Smokey Mountains. So why would a professional photographer attend a workshop you might ask. For a number of reasons. To think that you know everything about a specific field of work is just craziness. There is always something new to learn, different ways of doing and seeing things. Working with another professional is a great way to expand on your knowledge and skills in any given field. Also, Richard has an incredible knowledge of the area, which was indispensable for capturing a lot of great images in a short amount of time. If you have never attended a photography workshop, I would highly recommend it.

Here is a link to the gallery of images I created in the five days we spent in the Great Smokey Mountains. Also, Jason Keefe Photography will soon be offering Photography Workshops around the American Southwest. More information on that will be coming soon, so stay tuned. If you haven’t started following my blog yet, I would recommend doing so. I will have a new photography essay out in the next couple of days. Until then, enjoy the Great Smokey Mountains!

Smoky Mountains Gallery

Jason Keefe

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Welcome to the Jason Keefe Photography blog. I am a Fine Art Landscape and Nature photographer residing in the mountains of northwest Arizona. I launched my home based photography business in January of 2006, and primarily sell my work in Fine Art Festivals across the southwest United States. My work is also available online at my website: www.jasonkeefephotography.comMy interest in photography began at the early age of eleven. I was fascinated by the images I saw in magazines like Arizona Highways, and realized that I wanted to be a Landscape Photographer. I got my first camera shortly there after and began my journey into the photographic world. I studied photography throughout my high school years, and continued extensive self study of the subject after my graduation. Photography is now a full time occupation for me.

My purpose for creating this blog is to share my insights about landscape photography. I will be posting short essays about photographic techniques and mindset. This won’t be a technical blog, but more of a practical guide to improving your photography. I look forward to meeting all of you and sharing my knowledge of the photographic world.

I hope to post my first essay in the next couple of days.

Jason Keefe

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