Moshe Levis

Landscape & Fine Art Photography

My Happy Place

I have seen countless images of the beautiful bonsai located at the Portland Japanese Garden in Oregon.  Most images look the same, while some look too “artistic” to my taste.  Don’t get me wrong, there are a few unusual good photos, but it was my turn to show the world what the tree looks like.

As I walked around the garden looking specifically for that tree, I’ve seen one small bonsai that kind of looked like the photos but not exactly.  I was thinking to myself “this can’t be it!” and kept on looking.  When I finally found it I had a big smile on my face, staring at one of the most beautiful trees in the United States of America.

The next paragraph is great for photographers who go visit there.

I joined another photographer who was already there photographing the tree for several hours. Very nice guy and a great photographer, Kane Engelbert.  He was using a tripod (it says “no tripods” on their website) while I left mine in the car.  Suddenly one of the garden’s staff passed bye, a nice guy, who looked at us and smiled. He said “you’re exactly where you supposed to be. You make my heart warm”.  When he left I was surprised he didn’t comment about [Kane’s] tripod so [Kane] told me it costs $5 to bring in a tripod.

$5?? Hell yeah!!!! He was kind enough to let me use his tripod for a couple shots and then I ran to the car to grab my awesome Dolica tripod.  What a difference! So many  more creative opportunities!

We set there for a while, talking and photographing. At some point it started to rain so we were forced to take a short break. Shortly after that the shooting continued.  After dozens of photos from different angles and exposures it was about time to leave the garden and get the adventure going.

That stop was definitely worth the time and money. The garden is beautiful so you should visit there if you get the chance.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″

Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

 

Minerals Paradox

Finding a composition, for me, is more than just setting up your camera and looking through the viewfinder or live view (the LCD screen). It’s more than just aiming a lens at an interesting subject and framing it perfectly. It’s even more than just trying to be unique and creative with my photography.

Finding a composition, for me, is actually a big part of the entire photography adventure.

Finding the composition for, Minerals Paradox for example, took about three days, starting at the drive from Los Angeles to Portland, OR, a drive that takes about 15 hours in one go.

I did it in 19 because I had to stop at Mount Shasta for a quick video.

After finally getting into Portland I met up with a friend to start the actual photography adventure. We drove on and off the road in order to be creative and find compositions of landscapes that truly inspired us, and one of these compositions was – you guessed it – Minerals Paradox.

That composition was found in one of the many waterfalls in Washington near Portland.

Once we arrived at the waterfall parking lot, we went on a quick scouting op to decide if we wanted to break out our cameras. The scouting was a success because we did find inspiring images to have. We went back to the car to gear up and just as we were ready, we had unexpected guests.

A couple of large pickup trucks with about eight people parked near us and completely destroyed the calmness and solitude of Mother Nature. Did I mention they had swimsuits and towels with them? Yeah, they did.

I went down towards the waterfall and had to wait until they were done playing, jumping, screaming and diving under the waterfall. You can imagine it took a while, so I tried shooting around them and found other inspiring areas in the meantime.

When they finally left the scene, I went down to the bottom of the waterfall, set up my camera on the tripod, framed my shot, made the settings are correct for proper exposure and pressed that shutter release button.

What separates us, photographers, from the rest of the world is that we’ll take as long as we need in order to reach that one moment of pressing the button. That little press of a button took me about 1,000 miles away from home.

So, when I say that finding a composition is more than just framing a beautiful picture, I mean it.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

 

The Magic of Latourell

From Los Angeles to Minnesota and back through Portland, Oregon. That’s how we ended up gazing at the beautiful Latourell Falls.

When you first get to beautiful Portland, you know that you must go explore the beautiful Columbia Gorge. You have to find the famous waterfalls and hiking trails you see mentioned everywhere in travel websites and blogs in general.

One of these waterfalls called Latourell which is unique among the best-known Columbia Gorge waterfalls, in the way that it drops straight down from an overhanging basalt cliff.

Experiencing and exploring different waterfalls is something that just doesn’t get old. Every waterfall has its own unique character, even if it looks similar to other waterfalls. The way it was shaped into what it is today, or the way it free falls from a certain height and what it smashes on and so on.

The magic of Latourell (as the its title), in my opinion, is the way the sun lights up the greenery and basalt cliff and the way it shines on the waterfall itself. It’s as if Latourell puts on a show that only the lucky and patient enough people get to see.

I definitely fall in the group of lucky patient people and I thank Mother Nature for smiling at me every time I go out shooting.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

(right)

Six Centuries Later

The Duomo in Milan is one of the most impressive structures I have ever seen and experienced.

After six centuries it is, sort of, complete and there are still constructions happening on site.

This photograph was taken during night time. I just looked up from the entrance and had to express the energy and power of the amazing cathedral.

The black and white made it 10 times more emotional than the color version.

I hope you like it as much as I do.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

(left)

Majestic Fall

There is simply something mesmerizing in waterfalls. For some reason, most of us get excited from the sight of a waterfall. You can argue that it might be the continuously flowing water, or the height from which the water fall. Maybe it’s the landscape around waterfalls. Maybe it’s all of the above.

One thing is for sure, waterfalls are breathtaking.

This waterfall is called Rainbow Falls and is located near Mammoth Lakes, California. It’s a pretty easy access via bus that takes you through Devil’s Post Pile national park. Along the way there are several stops that will lead you to different hiking trails, and one of those trails will take you right to Rainbow Falls.

When my wife and I got to the first view point of the waterfall we were amazed. It was really worth a hike through thousands of fallen, burnt and dead trees.  After taking in all the beauty and awesome energy, I Immediately framed the waterfall in my camera’s viewfinder, looking for the best angles and crops.

This closeup is a small, yet powerful, part of the waterfall. I had to keep it flowing, rather than freezing the action, to really express the emotions one can feel from gazing at such majestic landscape.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

Titlewave

One of the most important things you should be doing, as a photographer, is to be original with your work.  I can’t express enough how difficult it is to be original with photographing landscapes these days.  Most people own a cellphone that includes a pretty decent camera which makes it easy to simply snap landscape photos all the time.  This make our job as photographers much harder in being original and creative.

Believe it or not that could be a good thing.  It gives photographers a much more challenging career and actually helps developing their creativity and view of the world.

As a photographer I always look around to see what might be an original take on landscape photography and show different aspects that Mother Nature wishes us to experience.

Titlewave is exactly that!  While walking back from deep within the dunes towards the car I couldn’t take my eyes off the beautiful field in front of me.  I was constantly searching for new shapes and colors that inspire me.  Let me tell you, almost every square inch is inspiring when you’re walking among sand dunes.

When I saw what separated me and the rest of the view my vision wasn’t clear but something attracted me and made me gaze at this wall of dune.  When the sun shifted and the shadows changed I started realizing what’s in front of me.  I knew immediately what kind of names I’ll have for that photograph. 

After seeing the image at home I decided that Titlewave will be the best fit for that beautiful moment I had gazing at Mother Nature’s work of art.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

Convict Moon

Convict Lake, California, is one of those locations you just have to go back to in different seasons and capture it.

When I went with my friend Rich, who is a fantastic photographer himself, to Convict like to catch a freezing sunrise back in December of 2014, I moved around a lot. Not only because I wanted to capture photos that no one else captured, but also because it was so freakin’ cold. My toes froze. No joke.

Looking around the lake, and not always into the lake, pointing the obvious image every tourist takes, makes you appreciate and connect with your surrounding. You start seeing the beauty ever time you turn your head.

Shooting in that direction (left to the lake) got me a different perspective. One that not too many people capture. Especially during a sunrise. And as you can see (maybe you can’t) the sun hasn’t risen yet and the moon decided to say hello.

I always capture photos in color and if needed/desired convert them to black and white. In this case, converting to black and white worked gave the image the feeling I wanted to express (at least to my opinion) – what it felt like, exploring the unknown in a freezing cold morning.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

The Missing Faberge Eggs

It was a beautiful tradition. Created out of love.

Tsar Alexander III, was born in mid 19th century.  He was Emperor of Russia, King of Poland and Grand Duke of Finland, but more importantly, he was a loving husband. He loved his wife, the Empress Maria Feodorovna, very dearly and did whatever he could to make her happy and see a smile of excitement on her face.

In 1885, to celebrate their 20th anniversary, Alexander decided to do something different. The inspiration for it, most likely, came from the Empress’s aunt, Princess Vilhelmine Marie of Denmark.  She owned a marvelous Easter egg that captivated Maria’s imagination in her childhood.

And so, Tsar Alexander commissioned master jeweler, Peter Carl Faberge, to craft him the Hen Egg, which was a very clean, beautiful and unique master piece of a jewelry.  The egg shell is an opaque white that opens to reveal a matte yellow-gold yolk.  Inside the open egg you can find a multicolored gold hen that also opens.  Inside the hen, a minute diamond replica of the imperial crown from which a small ruby pendant was suspended.  Unfortunately these last to elements have been lost.

That egg was a heaven-sent gift to Maria. She was so delighted that Alexander had commissioned Carl Faberge to design another egg the next year.  It became a beautiful tradition, for Maria to receive the world’s most beautiful and surprising Easter eggs.

In total, Peter Carl Faberge, crafted 69 jeweled eggs, of which 57 survive today.  To give an example of how rare and luxurious these eggs are nowadays, in 2013, Victor Vekselberg revealed he had spent over $100 million purchasing nine certain Faberge eggs.

The story behind the Faberge eggs is one of my favorite, for two reasons: first, because it was a tradition created to express love and inspire someone else.  Second, Peter Carl Faberge was given complete freedom for the design of the eggs.  His creativity and imagination is what really made this tradition go in the history books.

There are still a few missing Faberge eggs and so if you happen to find any you’ll be the luckiest person in all of history.  Not only you’ll make a fortune, but also you get to be a hero who helped tell a lost tale and restore pieces of time itself.

I’m happy to reveal that I have found some missing Faberge eggs, but not the actual ones.  What I found was almost as good because I learned about a beautiful tradition that was created out of love.  That tradition is what inspired me to capture this image.

With that, I present to you The Missing Faberge Eggs.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

The Conductor

I was definitely not the only photographer there that morning. It is Zabriskie Point after all, a very popular location for photographers and tourists in general.

Many people think that capturing an image is a matter of finding a nice composition and pressing the shutter release button. What they don’t know is that sometimes the way to getting to that moment of truth, the pressing of the button, could be extremely frustrating.

This picture, The Conductor, almost didn’t happen that morning. Not because of the landscape, people, nature etc, but because of me and my mistakes. It was just before sunrise when I arrived at the parking lot. I grabbed my camera and tripod, got out of the car and ran up the hill.

After getting to a spot I was happy with, I set up the camera on the tripod and framed the beautiful peaks. After taking a few test shots I finally realized I was taking demo shots – demo shots are a couple images that are saved in the camera because a memory card is not inserted – so I started getting mad at myself. I was so upset and frustrated and I ran down to my car to get the memory card.

That whole process took a lot of energy and other than tire me it got me in a bad mood because I was about to miss the sunrise. The moments where light was supposed to hit in certain areas. I only had that one chance since I didn’t know when would be the next time I’ll visit Zabriskie Point again.

I was pretty lucky because when I got back up the sun was just rising and I had time to recompose my shot. All was not lost!

While capturing Zabriskie, I’ve done what most photographers didn’t. I looked around. At the corner of my eye, I saw that one inspired person who climbed up the mountain (probably for a breathtaking view) and as he reached the top of the mountain, the sunlight followed.

Just like other images I capture, I titled that image before I even captured it. The dominant mountain performed in perfect harmony with the rising sun and the touch of clouds above. It was almost like watching the conductor of the philharmonic making magic happen.

I wonder if one day, that person, will find out it’s them. If you think it’s you, don’t hesitate to contact me.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200

Life Finds A Way

One of the best lines from the Jurassic Park movies is probably “life finds a way”.

On an adventure to Zion National Park, my wife and I took one unique hiking trail. You may have heard of it and know it by The Narrows.

The Narrows was a unique hike for me because I never in my life hiked up a flowing water stream. It was definitely an experience worth having.  The hike wasn’t too difficult but at the same time had its challenges.  One of the challenges was not to fall into the water while filming and carrying my photography equipment.

Hiking in such different environment clearly opens your mind and blows you away. You realize how powerful and willing Mother Nature really is. She will carve paths using flowing water, shake the earth to allow nutrients and minerals to keep on cycling to the surface, make it rain so every living thing will have a chance in absorbing water and so much more.

Deeper in the trail we found many inspiring sights that made for beautiful images. Not only on the surface in front of us but above us as well.

You follow my stories you know my image titles Always Look Back, which simply mean you need to open your horizons and look everywhere.  I always follow that tip.  That’s one of the things that separates me from other photographers.

So, while at The Narrows it was obvious for me to look up the canyon walls. That’s when I discovered a beautiful healthy tree growing where it really shouldn’t.  Of course I have no right to claim such thing. Maybe that’s exactly where it should grow.  It was greener than most other trees.  It almost felt as if the tree was smiling because it’s on top of the world and no one can harm it.

Its happiness was one of the reasons I captured this image.  The other reasons are a little more obvious, you know, to document the improbable, to document the adventure and of course because it was esthetically pleasing and simply a beautiful composition, to my taste.

What I really hope is that I was able to show you that no matter what, life finds a way.

Paper Size: 54″ x 36″ / Print Size: 50″ x 32″

Edition Number: 1/10

Paper: Archival Photographic Paper

Price: $1,200