Ranch and Storm, Park County

Ranch and Storm, Park County

Ranch and Storm, Park County

I have a habit of venturing out into the worst kinds of weather: blizzards, electrical storms, violent thunderstorms. Why? Bad weather makes good photographs. So as powerful thunderstorms charged with strong lightning moved east of our cabin in central Colorado, I jumped in the truck and sped toward them, hoping for strong evening light as a visual emphasis as the sun broke beneath the clouds.

I turned onto a muddy forest service road, threw the truck in 4H, turned my back to the sun, and composed my shot–and waited. And with the last gasp of daylight, the sunlight broke from the clouds and lit the ranch. Magic, I say. Magic.



  1. Thanks! I appreciate the praise, but one can never discount the role of luck in image making. If you’re familiar with Ansel Adams’ “Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico,” and its backstory (I won’t bore you will details, but if you’re not, it’s a neat vignette), you’ll also be familiar with one of Adams’ favorite quips: “Chance favors the prepared mind.”

      1. Thanks again, and I’m glad you like it. I’m excited to make the print (and apprehensive, as always). I’ll be teaching a course at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops July 1-5 next year in taking visualization of photographs into fine art prints called “The American West: Crafting Digital Prints,” in large part because I still content a photograph is far less impressive on a monitor than on fine paper. My personal opinion (and thus, not dogma) is only when printed does the image reveal its soul.

      2. That is interesting. I have only printed a couple of images since I got my DSLR, not having a printer nor a market for pints. However, last week I did get one printed and framed quite large for a fund raiser and I found it had a very different feel, pleasingly different, than on the monitor. It has given me an itch to have more printed, or to print my own.

      3. I don’t think you’re in the minority when it comes to printing. Photographs become infinitely more difficult to store when they move to physical form; but I think a strong print–one where the photographer is intimately involved in the creating, mastering and production–truly releases the essence of the image. In one of the advanced photography courses I teach at my college, students tend to be skeptical of such blather (after all, they live almost exclusively in a digital world), but when those prints come out of the Epson on one of the papers I let them choose, they light up. “Oh! That’s amazing!” they exclaim. “Can I print some more?” 🙂

        I also think the Web tends to obscure the details in carefully constructed images, so here’s a link to a larger version of the photo: https://brettlerickson.files.wordpress.com/2013/08/ranch-and-storm-lrg-park-county.jpg

      4. Thanks for sharing all this information. I used to print in the darkroom, even had one at home, but I was lousy printer – did not know what I was doing and had poor enlarger/glass. Even so, the pleasure of making a print is something I understand. I also understand, from what I hear, that having a good digital printer, and learning to make it work properly, can bring the same kind of satisfaction. More so than taking a file (or a negative) to a good quality shop for printing.

        Thanks for the link to the large version. That is very nice to see, such stunning light on the ranch.. I love the texture/grain in the clouds and sky which seems strangely absent (but effective) from the ranch area. Is this something you chose in post, or is it related to the amount of light?

    1. Aw, gee, thanks. Unfortunately, it’s not mine in genesis, but was taught to me by my mentor, Sam Abell, who both uses it and practices it, though I’m not sure he ever put it in print. Needless to say, he’s right, and who am I to argue with the master?

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