My Best Photos of 2013

My Best Photos of 2013 began with a look at 56,721 selects from this past year. I think it is safe to say that I shot a LOT of photos in the past 12 months. Out of those selects I narrowed my image selection down to 100, had my wife further refine the collection down to 50, with the final goal being 13. 13 images that would represent an entire year of assignments, commercial contracts, and travel. And then I hit a speed bump. I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t meet my goal of 13. Through struggle, deletion, careful thought and consideration I got my best photos of 2013 down to 18 then added 2 back in – hey this is my blog and I can do what I want, when I want. And how couldn’t I celebrate 2013 with more images than 13 when I have traveled to 3 continents, 4 countries, 12 states, countless National Parks (U.S. and International), Multiple UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and finally my own back yard (old and new). Yes, we even pulled off a move from Washington to Jackson, Wyoming! It has been a pretty crazy year and 2014 is shaping up to be even better. Can’t wait. So without further delay here are those images and few reasons as to why they are the BEST to me.

Skinning Shadows Early Light Cascades by Jay Goodrich

Tyler Hatcher and I spent an entire winter season hiking and skinning the backcountry around Mount Baker Ski Area in the Northern Cascade Mountains of Washington State. Out of 52 days on snow, I rode a chairlift one day. This was one of the first days we went out.

Skiing Mount Baker Winter Cascades by Jay Goodrich

And one of the last days of the season had Tyler and me skiing 4 feet of blower powder. This was the second best day I have ever skied in over 30 years. The only day that beats it, is a day in the Southern Chugach in Alaska many, many years ago, when a heli dropped us into 6 feet of blower powder for fifteen consecutive runs.

Cerro Torre Peak Argentina South America by Jay Goodrich

Cerro Torre in Los Glaciares National Park near El Chalten, Argentina. The Patagonia region of South America has stolen my soul. I am so in love with this region of the world right now, I will stop at nothing to head back. Truly some of the most unique mountains I have ever had the privilege to explore.

Owl Branch Chile Patagonia Glaucidium nahum by Jay Goodrich

An austral pygmy owl. My first. So tiny and so cool. They will literally just sit on the branch and stare. Just another reason that Patagonia is such a special place. This little guy was in Torres del Paine National Park where I am taking a very small group of clients this coming spring. Again, have to go back at all costs.

Gum Wall Window Drip Seattle by Jay Goodrich

Sony contracted me to walk around Seattle for one day to create a unique series of images that they could display in their downtown store. I brought the whole family and we discovered places that were beyond cool.

Yoga Silhouette Desert Sunset Arizona by Jay Goodrich

What do you do if you have a certified yoga instructor in a workshop? When she is done taking photographs, you have her pose on a rock for the rest of the class.

Work Bench Garage Bicycle Washington by  Jay Goodrich

My wife and I received a bunch of mountain bike sponsorships for an article that we were contracted to produce for DirtRag Magazine. This is what my workbench looked like during the multiple bike builds before our trip.

Tetons Mountains Wyoming Jackson Summer by Jay Goodrich

It was mere moments after I took this photo, just prior to a workshop I was about to conduct in the Tetons, that my wife called and told me she was hired by the Teton Valley School District. Life altering.

Grizzly Bear Eating Alaska Summer by Jay Goodrich

Shortly thereafter, I went to Alaska – to say ‘hi’ to some old friends.

Mountain Biking Seward Alaska Singletrack by Jay Goodrich

Then my wife joined me to photograph the article that DirtRag hired us to complete. It will be on sale in January of 2014. This is the best single track ride I have ever ridden. The Lost Lake Trail out of Seward, Alaska. We rode it on our 15th Wedding Anniversary, almost 15 years to the day that we rode it the first time.

Abstract Metal Rust Chinese Painting by Jay Goodrich

Then I headed to Astoria, Oregon to lead a workshop with my dear friend Art Wolfe. We focused our group on the abstract. Nothing like finding birds in flight within the rust of of a trolly car.

Graffiti Reykjavík Iceland Wall Child by Jay Goodrich

Next up was Iceland with Gavriel Jecan. In a downtown Reykjavik Square I discovered courtyard covered with graffiti. About the same time, some young kids ran through trying to break into every nook and cranny. Kind of a reflection on my past, and present.

Cotton Grass Rhyolite Hills by Jay Goodrich

I loved the softness and coarseness of the volcanic countryside in Iceland. So unbelievable. Can’t wait to head back and mountain bike here very soon – hint.

Light Sunset Iceberg Iceland by Jay Goodrich

Not to mention the ice formations in the lagoons at sunset.

Sunrise Mountain Biking Tetons Wyoming by Jay Goodrich

And finally after not seeing my family for 6 weeks, I got to meet up with them in Jackson, Wyoming. I also received a project from Bike Magazine. You will find out more about that later in 2014. As I progressed through the project, I wanted something different. So I strapped my Canon 1DX to the chest of multi-sport athlete and friend Andrew Whiteford and had him launch a thirty foot drop on the single track off of Teton Pass at sunrise. The goal was to get the star burst just under his elbow. It only took a half a dozen attempts to get it just right. You can see the cliff he is leaving at his left foot and the landing ahead of his front tire. Did I mention how much of a badass he is? Yes, the camera is fine.

Night-Camping-Stars by Jay Goodrich

Then I received a very secretive phone call and a contract that was almost as secretive. For a guy who I can’t tell you about. For some products that don’t exist. Of people who you will only know if you lose your life. On a mission for something we really can’t talk about here. Just know that it was also VERY badass.

Autumn Color Aspens McClure Colorado by Jay Goodrich

Autumn came and we headed to Colorado and were hit with the first snow of the season. During peak fall color, I couldn’t have timed it better if I tried. Wait, I think I did?

Sunset Autumn Altitude Pass Colorado by Jay Goodrich

I brought my group up to Independence Pass (12,096′ above sea level) for sunset one evening. It was bone chilling cold, but we discovered some of the best light of the trip.

Cholla Cactus Desert Mojave California by Jay Goodrich

I finished out my 2013 workshop schedule in Joshua Tree. We marketed the trip as an escape from winter. Only mother nature had some very different plans. The forecast read upper sixties the morning I left. The day the workshop began the temps dropped to 17F. In Joshua Tree? We froze, but we discovered that Chollas look just like a coral forest in the right light as the sun dips below the horizon. Where’s Nemo?

Hiking Backcountry Jackson Cody Wyoming by Jay Goodrich

And now I am back where I started. In the heart of winter. Getting ready to create my best photos of 2014. Only in my new home of the Tetons. Skiing and shooting every day that I can, while fulling yet more contracts, that will have this office looking towards an even more exciting 2014. Here Andrew Whiteford and Natalie Segal climb up the cliff on our route to ski a meager 1 inch of snow near Cody Peak in the Teton Backcountry. Just before the storm of the year dropped 31 inches on Christmas Eve. Didn’t I already tell you Andrew was a badass? Well, so is Nat.

I have had one of the most successful years in a brief 10 year career that I could have ever imagined as a full-time adventure photo journalist. My catalog of photos in Lightroom blew through the 200,000 image mark this year with the force of top-fuel dragster. It wasn’t easy. Downright stressful on many occasions. As I reflect on this portfolio of images, I am grateful for every person I was able to work with, every company that contracted me, and every experience I had the privilege to be a part of. I know sweetie – don’t ever end a sentence with a preposition – dummy. I can’t wait for 2014. I can’t wait to meet more people, in more workshops, at more photo shoots, in more locations, around our world. And let’s not forget the time I will spend with those who have been there before – the old friends. The ones who ride really fast, drink really good tequila, and make me laugh till I feel like I am going to puke. The adventure has already begun. Join us next year with 30% off of select 2014 workshops right now. And a small (or large) New Year’s Toast to all of you! May you live down every one of your dreams, now and into the distant future.

  • Mountain Biking Galbraith Washington by Jay Goodrich

    Owen Dudley takes it easy on his first ride after reconstructrive knee surgery in Bellingham Washington.

Speed Freaking Photographing

I met and began photographing Owen not too long after I moved to Washington. He was the ski school instructor at Mount Baker Ski Area that my daughter Jade gravitated to on her first day of non-dad lessons. He was responsible for getting my well-opinionated daughter to listen and actually make turns while hauling ass over snow. I remember the first day we shot skiing photos together and I remember the first day he schooled me on the art of downhill mountain biking like it was this morning. I have seen him injure himself every season that I have known him. And if there is anyone out there that is a testament to the human’s ability to heal it is definitely Owen.

Yesterday, I had a couple of hours before having to pick my daughter up at school and was on my way out the door for a ride when Owen called. He had just been cleared to ride some mild trails and wanted to know if I wanted to shoot. I looked at the clock and hesitated, knowing how often I am late to pick Jade up. Okay let’s do it. There is a trail in Bellingham that I have come to love for its amazing trees, and you already know how much of a tree whore I am, so this was a no brainer with fall color beginning to set in around here.

By the time we actually found the parking area that I always ride my bike to, but never my truck, I realized we were screwed for time. Owen may have been cleared to throw a leg over a bike, but he couldn’t climb, and definitely couldn’t crash. That left me to ride his new Transition 29er into where we were going to take some shots. Just one more reason for me to be jealous. As I looked down at my phone when we started shooting I had 15 minutes to pull something from nothing. The song Ten Seconds to Love by Motley Crue came to mind as I fired off 371 frames. I almost made it look as if I knew what I was doing. It’s safe to say that Owen still knows how to ride. And, at least I am learning how to not be as late. Speeding always helps. As does the song Breakin the Law by Judas Priest. Allegedly.

  • Post-It Notes in a Cabin by Jay Goodrich

    Notes line the walls and ceiling of a guest cabin on the McConkie Ranch in Vernal, Utah.

Chaos Theory

I wanted you to have a brief look inside my head lately. Complete Chaos. That is what it looks like to the naked eye, it’s safe to say that it’s a little bit of a chaos theory. I see complete organized disorganization. Ah, I think. There are places in our country that offer such unique perspectives, a photographer would be insane to walk past without capturing a single frame. Let alone making the drive to discover and visit, if only for a brief moment. Chaos that is. Notice the Donation Box. More soon.

  • Melting Ice Cave Mount Rainier by Jay Goodrich

    Winter snow melts from summer run off in Mount Rainier National Park, Washington.

Retract that Last Statement・A Contradiction of HDR

“Do I contradict myself?
Very well, then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)” – Walt Whitman

Okay, so I know that I have been discussing my lack of exposure merging and use of any HDR software in recent posts and articles. Now it’s time for a little contradiction. I have been completely content with my results from graduated neutral density filters in the field. So have my clients. For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction though. Right? Enter the snow cave from stage right. Now, can I retract all those previous statements about tossing HDR techniques to the wind? Unless they devise some kind of special graduated neutral density filter that can mask an irregular object, or better yet be adjustable in the field, I will need to do what is best for my vision. That would be some really cool James Bond type tool wouldn’t it though?

When I saw this composition, I knew what I wanted for my final image, I just needed to figure out how to get it. Once I was back in my office, I quickly performed a few trial and error solutions in various softwares, I came up with this final workflow. I merged four of the exposures that I shot in Photomatix 4, then I took that composite image and hand blended in the sky and the Tatoosh Mountains beyond in Photoshop. I wanted my viewer to see a hint of the streaming water that was blowing in the light breeze, feel the coolness of my surroundings, and finally visualize the color coming through the thinner areas of the snow roof.

This final, final image was then mastered in Photoshop accounting for contrast, dodging and burning, color saturation, and vignetting. I think I was successful?

This truly proves that there is a tool for every occasion in photography. My goal is to never fall into the rut of shooting one or the other, but allowing for my scene to dictate which direction and approach I need to take in order for my vision to shine through to my viewer.

So what is your take? How do you feel about HDR and image blending? Do you regularly achieve the results you were looking for when you utilize it?

  • Mountain Biking Forest Bellingham Washington by Jay Goodrich 1

    Original RAW capture untouched.

  • Mountain Biking Forest Bellingham Washington by Jay Goodrich 2

    Mastered original.

  • Mountain Biking Forest Bellingham Washington by Jay Goodrich 3

    Mastered Black and White Favorite.

A Midday Sun Battle

There are many that believe you can only create a superb image at the edges of the day. The reality is, that even during the long days of summer, during midday sun, you can come up with creative ways of expressing your vision. Weather and schedules don’t always collide to provide you with the best situations. Sometimes you have to make it collide. You have to make your vision come through.

This is exactly where I was last week. When Heather and I left the house, we were enshrouded in clouds. The hillsides were covered with that misty drama that I love to shoot in. This was going to be the day that I was going to be able to get mist and mountain biking in the forest near my home. We dropped the kids off at day-care and proceeded north to the trail that we decided to ride on this day. It was only fifteen miles from our house as the crow flies and as we got closer and closer, the clouds began to dissipate. Before I knew it, we were in full-blown sun. This is where the words that can insult many of you begin to come out of my mouth. My favorite begins with the letter F. It was safe to say that I was generally aggravated with my choice to go further instead of staying where I knew we could succeed. A classic concept of the “grass is always greener” illustrated right in from of my face. At this point in my life and my career, I should know better. Learning experience number 2,546,300, some review of my life may be necessary again.

As I finished kicking the dog, the ground, myself, and my bike, I finished my coffee and decided to just simply go for a ride. I may have returned with something different and I may have not. My images may have all gone into the trash. Heather reminded me that this was all okay. I completely disagreed, but I cleared my head so I could be open to what the day sent me. We agreed to ride a bunch of trails that we have never ridden before in order to see what else was available for future image making. Climb after climb in the sun and heat, I passed by opportunity upon opportunity. The light just wasn’t right. It was high-noon after all.

Just as we came to the finish of our ride, I found what I was looking for. I wasn’t really sure how great the finished product was going to be, but I spent a few minutes having Heather ride my composition numerous times. I varied my exposure and my framing slightly for each image and gave her instructions on how I wanted her to tweak her body position and at which point on the trail. The beauty of digital is that I have the chance to see what I am creating as I create it, so I know when the moment is complete. Usually, it is that last sequence. As I shot the final photograph, I was pre-visualizing it as a black and white, but I wasn’t really sure of the technique that I was going to apply to it. After some trial and error, I ended up using the over exposed highlights of the backlit maple leaves as the whites in my final conversion and then added light to my shadows. I am really happy with the results and the final image, even though it was created in midday light it represents something unique and different.

Maybe the grass, or should I say the leaves, are greener on the other side of the fence if you go beyond those standard expectations?

  • Wildfire in Eagle, Colorado by Jay Goodrich

    In a moment a stray lightening bolt ignites a wildfire near Castle Peak in Eagle Colorado.

The Hotbox

We were getting ready to head out to the local Thursday evening concert. There was a charge in the air. As the hottest summer on record continued, we watched a thunderstorm create nothing but lightening in what we deemed the hotbox. A few specks of rain hit the ground and my arms like I was in the line of fire for a spitting competition from the heavens. The drops were cold, but there were so few of them they felt like acid, messing with my nerves and my senses. I wanted to be home, even though I was kind of already there. Virga was all around. Winds were howling. Then a solitary crack! Instantly, flames erupted like the reef break at Teahupo’o. Fueled by wind and the surrounding ultra-dry landscape, we watched the fire grow into a monster, multi-acre burn in mere minutes. A general “whoa” resonated from everyone. I grabbed a camera. I recorded stills and motion as the fire just plain exploded.

This whole event, put an already uneasy town, into complete unrest. It was currently 106 degrees in Denver and the most destructive wildfire on record was burning everything in sight near Colorado Springs. At 6pm in the evening and only June the whole atmosphere was shrouded in the haze from fires throughout the west. This never happened before. At the concert rumors spread as fast as the fire. Eagle Ranch was burning. Abrams Creek. And the list went on. I watched the helicopters flying up to the locations where I believed they were getting water. I understood their flight patterns, because I myself had flown in and out of the Eagle Airport hundreds of times. I put my friends at ease. We continued to watch and consume cold beverages. Within hours Army Sikorsky Chinooks covered the blaze with thousands of gallons of water and there wasn’t even a glow to photograph after sunset. The devil inside me wanted more, but I was glad that it all faded into the darkness of the night. We would mountain bike through the leftover haze in the early morning hours.

  • Stars Above Castle Valley by Jay Goodrich

    The stars above one of the tower formations in Castle Valley near Moab, Utah.

Discovery

Some of the best mistakes in life come completely by accident. Kids, jobs, clients, and even education. If we are to truly learn from our mistakes we shouldn’t repeat them right? It’s the repetition portion that seems to be the hardest part of the equation to strive away from. Once we make that discovery though, our life, mission, and careers take on a building block mentality that allows us to reach the pinnacle of our existence.

I could sit here and highlight pages of quotes from those famous and not, about continuing forward, learning from mistakes, taking paths less traveled. And you can be inspired and you can move forward with whatever strikes you as important from those ideals. The cold hard truth is that at some point you are going to have to sit back and realize that you fucked something up. How you handle the breakdown when this occurs is where you fail or succeed beyond the common naysayer.

Risk. Realization. Forward motion. Learn. Adjust. Succeed. Adjust. Fail. Continue. Success again. Year in and year out. Then you can look back see the valley way below you.

“You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.” – Steve Jobs

The image included here was a fluke. A complete mistake. Half way through the darkness of night I realized that I did not set my lens to infinity. A quick turn of the dial during the exposure and a head shake that believed the shot was completely flawed. I moved on to the next image that fixed the condition. What I didn’t realize at the time, was that a new creation was writing to the card in the background as I re-shot. Realization. Learn. Success. Connecting the dots forward. I will try this again for sure. The road continues.

  • Air in the Mist by Jay Goodrich

    Owen Dudley catches air in the mist of the Northwest Rainforest near Bellingham, WA.

Adventure is Most Definitely a Journey

Or is the journey an adventure? I think the two are so interconnected and interrelated that you cannot have one without the other. I have been living an adventure for a very long time now and it is has definitely been a journey. An experience. Life like in all respects. There are those sayings–Life is like a journey…With age comes wisdom…etc. Full of twists, turns, ascents, and descents.

The whole concept of adventure and journey can fit into any aspect of life. Or life itself. Think about it. Creativity. Those who seek it regularly, discover it is full of twists, turns, peaks, and valleys. Life is the same way. Growing older. Peaks, valleys, twists and turns. Exploration. Peaks, valleys, twists and turns. All of it, every complete part of it is connected to the ideals. It doesn’t matter where, when, or how you are at any given point in your personal life, professional life, or creative life. You will encounter journey and adventure and life. Symbiosis. Very much like the relationship of aperture, shutter speed and iso.

The key to your success in any aspect of whatever is very simple and very hard. Recognize how to rise from the valley. How to prolong the peaks. To lean into the turns. And continuously grow and progress. The reason it is difficult is because the clues along the way may not be placed right out in front of you. Hence the reason the journey is an adventure and the adventure is a journey and it all corresponds to just about every scenario you can place in front of it.

To abstract? Maybe. Or maybe not? You be the judge. Think about it and think about every experience you have had to this date. Were the mistakes you made avoidable? If only one decision went a different way would have the whole thing turned out differently? Better or worse. With age comes wisdom, but does wisdom come if you are not open to experiencing all that life throws at you? If you don’t ride the mistakes and climb to the peaks, where will you be? And is the valley necessarily a bad place? Think about Picasso’s Blue Period. If you sit on the couch watching tv will you be a better person than if you make a mistake in the mountains and a death in your party results from it? All possibilities based on action and reaction.

I am hoping that this post forces you to think about your life. Your journeys and adventures. It may pose more questions than answers, but it is those questions that may have you realizing that at 2:01PM you have the ability to turn every adventure and every journey right around from whatever it isn’t to whatever it should be. The same holds true at 2:02PM, 2:03PM, and 2:04PM. Now stop reading.

  • Sunset over Mauna Kea by Jay Goodrich

    The sun reaches the horizon at the end of another day on the Hawaiian Volcano of Mauna Kea.

Well–We’re Back in the Plane–Again

Hawaii in November equals RAIN. Then, more rain. And then, some more rain. What most people don’t understand is that the island of Hawaii has two massive volcanos that rise over thirteen thousand feet bisecting the landmass and thus bisecting the weather.  These peaks are so high that in “man bar speak” they would be classified as fourteeners. Everything grows when men get drunk, come on you should know that by now. These two volcanoes are so massive that they get snow year round. This is great for me as a skier, but even better for me as a photographer. You want unparalleled light, just head directly up to the dividing line and you will find the light that causes a true photography addiction.

During my recent Hawaii workshop with Gavriel Jecan it rained nine out of nine days, and out of those nine days, we only missed a spectacular sunset once. The sea was a bit angry on that particular day and almost the whole island had rain and clouds. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Always remember though, weather equals drama and drama equals amazing photographs. Well, it’s time for me to board my private jet back to the mainland, re-enter society with the minions, and work harder to make enough money to pay my bills next month. Yes, I was fortunate enough to hitch a ride on a friend’s private jet into and out of Hilo for this journey and man that was an experience. Also remember, that reality can sometimes come crashing down upon you when you least expect it. God it is going to suck flying coach after this trip.

  • Riding the Pipeline by Jay Goodrich

    Jay Goodrich captures a self portrait while riding the Pipeline trail in Eagle, Colorado.

Just a Little Mountain Bike Porn

I had dinner with friend and fellow photographer Jim Goldstein in San Francisco earlier this week and the conversation covered the full spectrum of subjects. Kids, blogs, work, play, friends, future workshops, everything had a go at one point or another. It was a wonderful evening. During our discussions Jim told me about a blog post he did on HDR titled, “Why I Hate HDR: Photo Technology Porn.” And within a second, the synapses, began firing. Ah, porn…wait sorry, different thought. Actually, that is what came to mind first, but in the split-second, official review of the tape, I was actually thinking about something another friend of mine said to me while I was in Eagle, Colorado shooting an article for Dirt Rag Magazine. Bike Porn. “So we need to go out and get you some photos for that article that will make the bike porn fools drool over. Not a problem can do.”

Now before you all go to your bedrooms or bathrooms (showers more specifically), bike porn is not having sex on a bike. It’s having sex with a bike. No, kidding, it actually refers to watching crazy videos of crazy riders doing crazy shit on their bikes. You sit their jaw agape, bit of drool hanging out, much like you would if you were…watching porn. You long for the locations, the ability to ride the lines, and/or the actual bikes the athletes are on. It is the simplest of marketing concepts. Create something that is sleek, shiny, and desirable and you will sell millions. True porn has it, most sport industries have it, hell even camera manufacturers have it. So here, with a little sneak as to what is coming (no pun intended) is one of the 5400 images that I shot while working on my upcoming article. A little teaser. An image of myself riding a trail named Pipeline. Yes, I am in fact riding the pipeline. An homage to me, a self-indulgent artist. Now it’s time for a cold shower. This is just the beginning…of the porn.

Thank you Jim and Chris for enlightening my thought processes a little more than yesterday.

The Road Trip

The Truck Stop in Green River, UT by Jay Goodrich

I am sitting here reliving my youth. It’s the same damn nightmare I remember, just different. I am driving on Interstate 84 finally headed home from a two-week long trip to Colorado. And, I am in fact twitching like a patient in a mental rehabilitation center. Is that the politically correct way to say that? If not, Lord I apologize.

Do you remember that nightmare? I don’t think there is an adult in their mid-forties that didn’t have the same nightmare as I did. A dark green metallic station wagon, simulated wood grain side panels with dark green metallic vinyl upholstery. Windows sealed tight. Air conditioning off. Dad chain smoking Parliaments and on enough coffee to kill a small horse. Mom reading a book or taking care of the whining kids in the back. Kids almost in tears to the point of twitching themselves. Those kids were me and my sister. My father trying to break the land speed record that he apparently held from last year’s trip to Yellowstone, Yosemite, or Disney Land. It doesn’t matter. I remember the chatter on the CB radio. And the whip antenna on the back chrome bumper of the green machine. “We’ve gotta Kojak with a Kodak at mile marker twenty five.” “Breaker one nine, breaker one nine.” The CB was the size of a large toaster. The car had an eight track with some kind of country-western crap playing over and over. Finally, at the breakdown point, my sister asks, “Are we there yet?”

Campfire Movement by Jay Goodrich

These road trips were a right of passage for most kids my age. I remember writing of them often when I returned to the school year, as did most of my friends. This was our little part of history. We stayed in hotels, motels, parks, campgrounds, and even in the metallic green monster itself. We snuck sips of Budweiser from our dad’s beers when they weren’t looking. Sometimes too many sips. We peed on trees far and wide. Ate hot dogs, hamburgers, and beans. Tons of beans. Then of course there were the s’mores. Hershey’s, marshmallow, and graham crackers. Not to mention the snacks that were full of sugar along the way. A bribe, to keep our mouths shut. Didn’t they realize the sugar was the cause of all of their problems?

Heather Goodrich Dropping into "Flushed Away" by Jay Goodrich

Am I hitting a chord within your soul yet? Enter 2011. Road trip rights handed over from our parents to Heather and me now . I am thinking of that line in the Matrix Revolutions, Morpheus looks at his ex-girlfriend Naomi as she asks him to dance, “Some things never change.” Then they hear her current boyfriend call her name, and he finishes with, “And some things do change.” Yes we have traded the green machine in for a Toyota Matrix on this trip, sometimes we take the FJ. We don’t smoke, we do try to break our personal records, knowing all too well that it will only be possible if we actually break the speed limits in larger quantities than previously. I truly now know why you try to break those records though. Because the faster you get there, the faster you get out of the car and away from the screaming kids. Heather does read. I can actually type on the laptop thanks to learning to fly an airplane in IFR conditions-that motion sickness thing kind of goes away. We both drink tons of coffee. We both drive. And we both argue with the kids and each other. The car gets trashed. The kids freak out. Although not as much as I did. Maybe it’s all the movies on the iPhones and soon coming iPads.

Jade Goodrich Giving Mark Kogelmann some Attitude by Jay Goodrich

Is it worth it? Well as an adult, if you actually take the time to look around while traveling, yes it is. You will quickly realize that those pieces of Americana that you remember from your youth do still exist. There are places in Idaho where the seventies never left. The worlds biggest frying pan is still in Kansas or close to it. And now you can beat your parents records because your car can actually travel faster on less gas. All this is contingent on the fact that you can put up with your kids and your spouse long enough to survive the journey. Yeah it’s safe to say that I wouldn’t trade any of this. What’s that saying? “Life is worth the journey…” Good feeling gone. I have to go, Jade wants to know if we are there yet.

Deconstructing Zion

A Natural Spring with Mineral Deposits by Jay Goodrich

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, I was an architect–not a marine biologist. Even further from that point, I was in school to become an architect. My parents figured architecture would be a great major for me because I loved to draft in high school. What my parents didn’t realize, and what most people don’t realize, is that architecture has a closer relationship to fine art painting than it does to engineering or technical drawing. In fact the technical drawings or “blueprints” that most know about, are really the final process of what an architect does. This is where the problem for my parents’ dream of having a son who was an architect ended. The point at which I began studying architecture is the point at which I began to open my mind creatively. I was set to become an artist. Yep, said it, the beret, facial hair, and attitude of an artist. Kind of.

Standing Water Reflection Zion NP by Jay Goodrich

The major focus for an architect is design, to create a space for a human to utilize in some way, shape or form. Think of a painter who is a sculptor too, architecture is just that, creating in a three dimensional world as well as the two dimensional world of a painter. The final building is the sculpture and the drawings are helping your army make that vision a reality. Within the art form of architecture there are as many different styles of creating as there are within the world of painting. There are those who utilize the classical (I have no idea why), those blend the classical with the contemporary, and those who disregard the classical to design the modern. In fact, if you study art and architecture history side by side (something you are required to do for an architecture degree) you quickly see a correlation between what artists were painting and what architects were designing.

Reflections Over Wind Blown Water Zion NP by Jay Goodrich

I was a modernist. In fact, the style of architecture that I absolutely loved was called Deconstructivism. It was the anarchist of architecture at the time. It scoffed at the general rules that were put in place by the architects who came before. Have you ever heard someone say, “form follows function.” Deconstructivists said screw these types of rules, they wanted to create drama through a sort of controlled chaos. The mission was to make a structure look like it was, for lack of a better word–unstructured. Very similar to what Picasso would paint when he went full tilt into cubism. In other words for a young punk rebellious kid, it was exactly what the doctor ordered. “What are you rebelling against? What ya got.”

Canyon Reflections and Shadows Zion NP by Jay Goodrich

There were two guys in my class that were amazing at designing in this style. I only remember their first names at this point–Dan and Mark. Dan was older than most in my class at about 30, Mark was even older at 40. Both of them lived their lives just like they designed–contemporary, well dressed, well read, well spoken, and I hated them as much as I loved them. I wanted to create like they did. Their presentations looked like original Picassos, and their models were built out of steel, aluminum, rusted metal and plexiglass. They could create the coolest looking projects I had ever seen and then defend them until there was no other choice but to give them the “A”. They had all the reasons because their projects grew out of a well thought out theory of why. There wasn’t a misplaced or misthought beam anywhere. You loved their work even if you hated their style. When they presented, the rooms were always full. These guys taught the professors. They created a following throughout the architecture department, and taught me how to create like them. I sought their advice often, listened and remembered anything and everything they told me.

The Heart of Stone Zion NP by Jay Goodrich

It wasn’t long before their inspiration and instruction grew into my own way of thinking. Good, bad or indifferent, I became knowledgable and opinionated. I became the beret wearing attitude without the beret. There you go, I said it again. This meant though that creativity at some point was going to become the driver in this testosterone love triangle and it wouldn’t be long before the new hot chick of photography would grasp me in her clutches and allow me even more free love than I had in school. The mission began as some free love in the woods near my home in Colorado and then grew into completely new way of life. Even to this day though, I have never forgotten my roots and apply all of what I learned in college to my everyday photography life.

Canyon Wall Reflections Zion NP by Jay Goodrich

Now, knowing all this why would I change direction, throw away a life of architecture for a life of photography? Well, I think a place like Zion speaks volumes to the reason. I have morphed my vision of the world from architecture, now to photography. What I loved about architecture is quickly finding its way into my photography no matter where I travel. Zion is a perfect place to let the deconstructivism dog out to stretch its legs. To go against those perfect landscapes that many nature photographers pursue there. This was a time to play with my viewers emotions, to utilize shade and shadow, reflection, color, texture, direction, and design concepts to highlight what Zion can be about, but very few seek out there. This place strong holds a mecca of compositions. A place where I could spend the rest of my life exploring. Of discovering and rediscovering. A life of working on a vision with reason. Go ahead and ask me why, to any of it, I dare you.

The Liquid Bear Zion NP by Jay Goodrich

Monochrome – China

The Li River of Yang Shao China by Jay Goodrich

Photography began as a monochromatic system. This because of the fact that the technology did not exist to create color images until much later. Looking at the history of photography, many call the early days out as a black and white period, although this is not a true representation of the art form. These types of images don’t necessarily need to contain blacks, whites and tones of grey. There are processing techniques such as cyanotype which produces an image with tones of blue and white or the classic look of the sepia which introduces hues of orange into an image as well. Some of the processes of creating a monochromatic image have histories dating back over 150 years, making a monochromatic image a classical form of photography. Regardless of what era a photograph has been created in, for some reason there is a timeless characteristic to the monochrome style of imagery.

Cormorant Fisherman on the Li River of Yang Shao China by Jay Goodrich

There is a growing trend in photography to head back to its roots of monochrome. I think photographers are discovering how easy it is to work with any type of image in the digital darkroom, thus the final product can be any form of creative expression that one can dream up. Gone are the days of chemical baths and refrigerators worth of varying film types purchased in bulk ready for any occasion. My personal mission is to experiment with most of the images that I capture to get the best and most creative look possible out of all of them. This may include of course monochrome, color, and other more obscure styles such as bleach bypass.

Clouds and Granite in Huang Shan China by Jay Goodrich

As you know, in the past weeks I have been writing about my experiences in China–a trip that challenged most of my emotions and experiences thus far in my short career as a professional photographer. Some of the locations in China have lent themselves to the creation of a series of monochromes. This has in part been because of the gray weather and light-blocking pollution that was a mainstay for most of the seventeen day trip. The other side of coin is that there is an old world history to China. This is a place that has a record dating back thousands of years as compared to the United States’ hundreds. This history just screams black and white to me.

Pines and Granite Huang Shan China by Jay Goodrich

There are other reasons for my monochrome hang up with China. I created my first black and white photograph a couple of years ago in Castle Valley, Utah. The image was a byproduct of a contrasty, hazy scene, but it opened the doors for me to see monochromatic images in a new light, sorry for the play on words. There is a power to black and white. It is a simplification of your composition, simplistic tones to bring your viewer right into the heart of the matter. There is a such a graphic communication of the design elements as well. Lines, textures, shapes, and patterns stand out in a simplified rendering of monochrome. Thus, a perfect opportunity for me to highlight a final and yet an additional side to the country of China.

Spiraling Mists of Yang Shao China by Jay Goodrich

I know there might be some of you out there wondering what the actual method I used to create these images was. Today photographers can create a black and white image with the drag of a slider or the click of a menu option. There are more options than ever before in the monochromatic arena, but I have decided that Nik’s Silver Efex Pro 2 plug-in available for Aperture, Lightroom, and Photoshop is my creative weapon of choice. All of the images in this post were created using it. There is a simplicity to the Nik interface that I just get and within that interface multiple preset options that allow me to easily preview what I am about to convert. They have also created a selection system by which a photographer can add control points to any location on an image that automatically generate masks based on the users pixel selection. This method works almost flawlessly to generate targeted masks in half the time it takes to make selections in Photoshop.

Bamboo Gateway Yang Shao China by Jay Goodrich

The Journey is Worth the Experience – China

Sunset over the Pines of Huang Shan, China by Jay Goodrich

Have you ever wondered why a certain grandparent goes beyond your parent’s ability? I am not criticizing my parents by any means, they are still raising me to this day, even when I think they shouldn’t be. Something happens though when a person takes over the role of a grandparent. It is like they are instilled with a form of wisdom that doesn’t exist prior. It is probably because by the time a family member makes it to the status of “grandparent”, they have seen and experienced so much that there is a level of intelligence that did not exist before. Or something like that, I might be able to offer more insight on this in 30 years.

Tree and Granite Texture Huang Shan, China by Jay Goodrich

My grandmother was born in 1911, she was a first generation American, her parents immigrated to this country through Ellis Island from Austria. She grew up in a house that was a block from where she passed away in Little Falls, New Jersey. I began visiting her by myself almost weekly at the age of 15 when I got my moped license. Yes that is right, a moped, the top speed was supposed to be around 25mph, but my friends and I learned how to customize them to go almost 50. We were the kid versions of Wildhogs, only we dressed in jean jackets that we drew our favorite eighties band logos all over, instead of that modern day yuppie Harley Leather. We were the punks of the road.

Farmer Cultivating Fields Guilin, China by Jay Goodrich

I believe my grandmother enjoyed my visits as much as I did. She would always tell me about how she saw the invention of the light bulb, the automobile, electricity in every home, and even a television in every home. She had see two World Wars, Vietnam, Korea, space travel, even the moon landing. I don’t know how many presidents she was alive for, but she passed at 94, so over 20. Listening to her talk, was almost mind blowing. A history that I will never know or see. Every visit that I had with her, always ended with a bunch of rolled up bills stuffed in my pocket and some quote that I would think about until I saw her again.

Line and Layers Yang Shoa, China by Jay Goodrich

This lasted until she had a severe stroke at 92. She became completely incoherent at this point, mixing all seven of the languages that she spoke, and not really recognizing anyone. It was at this point that I began remembering her for who she was and what her love and life story had meant to me. She once told me as I was leaving after a visit, “The journey is worth the experience.” Then proceed to stuff a hundred dollars worth of twenties in my pocket, “Until next time, have a hamburger or two.” Unfortunately for me there wasn’t a next time. She passed away a few months after my daughter was born. She always told me that she was sticking around so that she could see her first grandkids. Somehow, I truly believe that she did.

The Layers of a Market Yuan Yang, China by Jay Goodrich

Obviously, her words meant a lot to me, they still ring in my head after all these years. There are times when she appears in my dreams, and I have thoughts of her passing through my head during the day. I am not a firm believer in ghosts or the afterlife, however, I often wonder if those dreams and thoughts are my grandmother just letting me know she is still there. Making sure I am experiencing life to its fullest. I thought of her often when I was in China–when the food was bad, the air polluted, the overall way of life so different from my own. The journey is worth the experience. And in the end it was. China, a duality, a cultural overload, abstraction of beauty, so different and so wonderful that I cannot throw the experience out the window and declare it a waste.

A Local in the Mongolian Village Xin Meng, China by Jay Goodrich

It is those journeys that make you grow as a person. You figure out how to find what you are lacking during those 17 days “at sea”. Whether it be an American owned pizza place or a creative bug that needs to be exterminated. You learn to better yourself, your life, your passion, and of course your experience. Thank you gram. Thank you for instilling a bit of wisdom, a bit of history, and a comforting remembrance, when all is thought to be lost.

The Night Fisherman of Yuan Shao, China by Jay Goodrich