Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Terlingua Church

A couple of weeks ago I made this image at night as the full moon was rising.  I had scouted the location earlier in the day to see how I wanted to setup to photograph the church at night.  I decided that a wide angle lens was required because of the location I needed to setup the tripod.  When I arrived after dark the wind was blowing hard and kicking up dust.  There was some shelter from the nearby hillside that blocked some of the bigger gusts.  As I prepared my equipment I could see the full moon rising behind the church and I had to work quickly to get my exposure before it rose above the steeple.  I placed an LED light inside the church and set my camera for a five minute exposure.  Throughout the long exposure I walked around and lit the front of the church with a flashlight.  It is important to keep moving with the light to prevent hotspots in the scene.  I also try to maintain extreme lighting angles to the plane of the camera in order to create contrast and detail to the subject.  In this scene I was 90* to the front of the church wall as I painted with my flashlight.  Nighttime photography takes a lot of planning and preparation and can present some real challenges with working in the dark.  It usually requires a visit to the location during the day to choose camera location and lighting angles.  

Monday, March 12, 2018

Old Bus-Terlingua, Tx.

We were in Terlingua,Tx. recently, an old mining town that was abandon for many years.  It is an ideal place for photographing old buildings and junk vehicles left behind by the miners.  I decided to try some night photography by using a combination of ambient moon light and light painting with a flashlight.  I spotted this old bus sitting off the road during the day and scouted out the best location to setup the camera in the dark.  The total overall exposure was five minutes with the intermittent use of a flashlight to paint light on areas of the bus including the inside.  The best technique in light painting is to use off camera axis light source.  In the above photo I painted the right side of the bus while walking from the back to the front right next to the bus.  I used my hand to block the direct beam of the light from the camera.  The front grill area was painted from the left side at about 90* angle to the camera.  The ground was lit by holding the flashlight at ground level to give detail and contrast to the surface.  I chose a five minute exposure to give me plenty of time to move around and paint in light on the bus.  After making an exposure be sure to check your histogram to determine if enough light was applied to the scene.  The LED screen on the camera is bright and can fool you into thinking you have made a proper exposure.  This type of photography requires numerous exposures and experimentation to obtain a successful image.  

Monday, February 19, 2018

Style and Vision

I have been working with photography for many years and during that time I have experimented with many styles and techniques along the way.  It seems as frequently as equipment and processes change so does the latest trend of the "in look style" of images we see.  It is easy as a starting photographer to chase all these trends and find yourself creating a group of images that lack a common vision or theme.  I have found myself over the years falling into the trap of wanting to be current in my look and chase after the latest trendy look in photography.   A photographic image should revel something about the subject and very little about the technique that was used to create it.  Many images I view recently have more to say about the process than about the subject.  Our processing tools today can be overwhelming with then numerous choices we have to alter our final image.  It is easy to over work an image and end up with an image that is clearly over processed.  I choose to work in black and white because it is an abstract image form and gives me more creative freedom to fulfill my vision I might have of a particular scene.  When working in color there is much more of a restriction as to how far you can take an image with processing.  The simple fact that we see in color requires that a color photograph must stay within a certain state of believability to be acceptable.  When a color image is over processed and the colors are super saturated we immediately dismiss the image as being Photoshopped and it is not a true representation of the scene.  I see many wonderful landscape locations that appear this way on the internet.  In making this image I was experiencing a sleepless night and decide to step out back and make a photograph of the beautiful night sky.  The milky way is not in this hemisphere at this time of year and the star pattern was not dramatic.  I still liked the scene and in making this image I wanted to express the stillness of the night. Whatever you chose to photograph learn to make images that are about the subject and less about the process you used to create it.  It is how we develop a style and a vision with our photography.

Saturday, February 3, 2018

Street Buddies in Cuba

I enjoy street photography but it can be a challenge to deal with the fast working style that it requires.  Most of my photography deals with landscapes where I am usually in a quiet setting working with my camera on a tripod.  When I travel and find myself in a busy city with plenty of action it can be difficult to switch from my nature photography to action.  The digital camera has made it a bit more difficult with the many settings of the camera that has to be considered.  It seems that the newer cameras are over engineered for the simple act of making an image.  I preferred the mechanical camera of the film years that required very little programming to go out an take photographs.  I could focus on the subject and much less on the use of the camera.  With each camera upgrade I now spend countless hours learning and programming the camera to function in a certain way for a particular style of photography I choose to do.  Keeping all these settings in my memory for fast recall can be difficult especially if haven't used my camera in awhile. I have found myself writing down the various custom setting on a card that I carry along in my camera bag so I can remember how I programmed the camera for use.  I am certain that this is probably not a problem for the younger photographer that has only worked with digital equipment.  While in Cuba I came across many interesting street scenes and it was a very fast pace type of photography.  I always find it rewarding to be able to wonder around aimlessly in a city and see what subject matter is around the next corner.

Friday, January 26, 2018

Father and Son

I made this image back in 2009 in central Mexico.  I was a film photographer at the time but had just purchased a small point and shoot digital camera.  We were in a rural mountain town wondering around and I found my way into an old church in the center of town.  In the back of the church there were people that lived in a small room that apparently had no home.  I spend some time there and made a few images but the people were quiet and subdued.  Just for a few moments I was in their daily world and felt the struggle of their existence.  Whenever I start to feel self pity and grumble I look back at some of these images and realized how blessed my life has been.  The human condition varies  all over the world and sometimes it is easy to forget that most of the world lives with far less than myself.  Being grateful for what you have should begin with the start of every new day. 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

First Image of the New Year

I went out photographing on New Years day hoping to do some wading around in some mangroves.  It was an overcast day with no wind to deal with.  I grabbed my hip boots and camera gear went out to a salt marsh area on the Indian River.  As I explored the area I found that the low tide had drained some of the areas I was interested in photographing.  I decided it was best to return another day and started looking for other subject matter to photograph.  As I made my way back to my truck I saw this palm frond tucked back in group of palms and it had a wonderful glow to it.  I setup my tripod and and configured the best possible composition to display radiance of the palm.  After I processed the image I was quiet pleased with the results and it removed any disappointment I had of not being able to photograph in the mangroves that day. 

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Cedar Key, Fl.

We were in Cedar Key, Fl. last week, a place we enjoy going to eat some fresh seafood.  The winter months there are usually foggy and the heavy fog can be around the entire day.  We stayed in a small motel right near the bay that had a great view of the water.  One morning I was sitting there with a cup of coffee waiting for the fog to lift so I could go photographing.  As the fog moved around I noticed a sail boat on the bay with all of it's sails up.  I quickly grabbed my camera and went down towards the water.  Much to my surprise when I got to the location to photograph, the sails were down on the boat.  I was a bit discouraged because the scene had changed and wasn't what I saw from the motel moments before.  I went ahead and made a few exposures and still enjoyed the changing atmosphere of this foggy morning.  In my years of photography I am always amazed with how quickly a scene can change.  Many wonderful images never got made because of the fast changing light, but they live in my memory.  The craft of photography is like many other disciplines in life.  It takes consistent practice to maintain a creative eye and to handle the equipment with little thought.