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Menlo Park-based photographer Fred Mertz’s “go to” spot is a Black Oak along the Merced River

by Fred Mertz on December 13, 2013

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Editor’s note: Looking for a more artistic gift this holiday season? Menlo Park is the residence of many painters and photographers. Fred Mertz, who describes his photographic journey with a Black Oak for InMenlo, is one.

We all have our “go to” spots: Every nature or landscape photographer I’ve spoken with has a special place they commune and grow with — and “know” will yield a wonderful photograph. It is only by many repeated visits, in all seasons, in all weather and light conditions that we find the unique and special qualities that make this a “go to” spot.

One of my favorite such locations is Yosemite National Park where I’ve photographed “my” Black Oak tree along the Merced River. And over the years it has not disappointed! What makes this spot so special is not only the compositional possibilities and the light potential, but with each visit the opportunity to grow as an artist and develop a deeper appreciation for the magical wonders of nature.

Fall 2012 black oak

I discovered this spot very early on in my landscape career while exploring and learning the YosemiteValley. Initially, I was drawn to the wonderful reflections of El Capitan on the surface of the Merced River as the mountain was hit by the morning light. Each visit to the Park I would return to this spot shortly after sunrise, and gradually began to pick up the more subtle compositional elements of the scene and it’s interplay with the light.

Eventually it dawned on me that late afternoon light can also have a beautiful effect on this scene. With more visits, I began to see and understand the effect of light under varying atmospheric conditions, adding yet another layer of depth to my photography.

The photographs shown here are three of my favorites taken from this “go to”spot over the past three years. They were photographed in late October, in morning and late afternoon light using Nikon cameras and lenses.

Fall 2011 black oak

InMenlo first profiled Fred Mertz in 2011; more of his photography is available on his website

Photos (c) Fred Mertz Photography; used with permission.

Photo top: Black Oak & Merced River, afternoon light, Fall 2013;  Nikon D800 w/70-200mm lens

Photo middle: Black Oak & Merced River, morning light, Fall 2012; Nikon D700 w/70-200mm lens

Photo bottom: Black Oak & Merced River, morning light, Fall 2011; Nikon D700 w/70-200mm lens

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