This week’s spotlight is on one of the most adventurous photographers (and limber, as you can tell from his rock splits) you’ll ever meet: award-winning landscape photographer Bret Edge! Whether he’s mountain biking with his family in the shadows of the Superstition Mountains in Arizona, relaxing lake-side at Maroon Bells in Colorado, or bouldering in the red rocks of Moab, he always makes sure to go out of his way to capture any stunning scenery he encounters on his southwest escapades. Speaking of red rocks, Bret recently won Red Rock Brewery’s “Storms in the Desert” photo contest! Read about how he got into photography, how he developed his style, how he scouts out locations, and much more.
How long have you been doing photography and what got you into it?
I got serious about photography in 1999. I’d been an avid hiker, backpacker, and mountain biker for a long time and wanted to be able to share some of the beautiful places I’d visited with friends and family, but the terrible point & shoot snapshots just weren’t cutting it. I visited an exhibit with photographs by Ansel Adams, Jack Dykinga and David Muench, and walked out completely inspired to learn the craft.
What is your go-to gear for when you’re shooting landscapes?
I switched from Canon to Sony a few years ago and have been thrilled with the results. I use all Sony cameras and lenses, Induro tripods, Acratech ball heads, and I carry it all in an F-Stop Gear backpack.
Congratulations on winning the Red Rock photo contest! Walk us through the shot (below) that got you the blue ribbon.
A friend and I spent the afternoon at False Kiva but bailed when we could see that a nasty storm was headed our way. On the drive out, the storm hadn’t yet made it to us, so we decided to stop at Green River Overlook to photograph the incoming weather. We had just enough time to set up our tripods and cameras and I fired off two frames before the storm was on us. We packed up and sprinted back to my truck. Luckily, I’d been to Green River Overlook many times and had already scouted a location and composition, so I was able to make the most of the fleeting moment.
Tell us about your process in finding a location that you think would make a beautiful shot.
For the most part, I’m pretty “old school” when it comes to scouting locations. I don’t use Google Earth or any iPhone apps. I just hike, bike, or drive 4-wheel drive roads while looking for something that catches my eye. When I see something, I’ll stop and start exploring it through the viewfinder. I’ll make note of what type of light would be ideal, whether wildflowers or fall color or reflection pools, etc. would make the spot even better and then I’ll return when the conditions are optimal.
How do you know when you “got the shot”?
I get almost giddy! Seriously, I get this crazy feeling inside when I see “the shot” appear on the LCD screen. When the light, composition, conditions, and everything come together, it’s a pretty intense moment.
What’s your most favorite photo you’ve taken and why?
This image of Delicate Arch (below). It isn’t the most original composition, but it’s exactly the image I wanted to make in the perfect conditions. I proposed to my wife under Delicate Arch, so it’s got special meaning to me and this image will always remind me of that moment. Though, to clarify, I made this image several years after I proposed to her under the arch!
How would you describe your style and how did you develop it?
I think my style is one of natural landscapes. I try to make images in the most dynamic light and conditions and use minimal post-processing to bring the images to life. The landscapes I photograph are beautiful enough that I don’t need to go overboard with HDR, saturation, or other digital techniques to make successful images. I want them to represent what I saw and what you might see if you were to visit that same location…in the same light and conditions, of course!
How do you educate yourself in improving your picture-taking?
I study the landscapes I photograph, the history, flora and fauna, because it gives me a deeper connection to the environment and I think that shows through in my photos. I also try to learn new techniques and stay current on cameras and software.