Sunday, April 9, 2017

Exploring the swamp

Florida has been under a drought for several months and the water levels are down throughout the state.  Many of the trees in the swamps are showing their roots that normally would be under water.  I made my way into the swamp looking for the best group of trees with exposed roots.  The light was soft and provide a nice glow to the entangled roots.  The swamps are an intriguing place to photograph because of numerous plant life that thrives there.  It is easy to get drawn into concentrating on photography and forget about my surroundings.  I always move slowly and make noise to let the creatures of the swamp know I am in there.  Alligators are always lurking about and it pays to keep a keen eye out for them knowing I am in their environment.  A few days ago I was deep in the scrub photographing and had seven small wild piglets with their mother past within a few yards of me.  Luckily the wind was blowing in at me as I stood frozen behind a large oak tree waiting for them to move slowly pass me.  Florida offers many opportunities for some great photography.  Learning the about the wildlife and their habitat is important when venturing off into backcountry of Florida.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Peaceful Surroundings

One thing I enjoy the most with my photography is the peaceful surroundings I find myself in.  The times that I am out solely for the purpose of photography are the most rewarding.  I am not distracted by other events of the day.  It takes time for me to adjust to a new surrounding and form a new mindset to fully see what is around me.  It is critical to apply some patience when scoping out a new area to photograph.  If you instantly start looking through the viewfinder and moving around with your camera you will overlook much of what is around you.  I try to first view my surroundings without the camera and just look.  It is a technique I used with my large format camera for many years.  Often times I will use a small rectangle viewing card that I hold up to my eye which allows me to move around without the camera and to evaluate the scene for the best composition.  I see many photographers snapping away as they walk around with their cameras.  It is a common mistake and leads to many unwanted images that will have be dealt with later.  It works best for me to first see and then photograph.  Ansel Adams once said, " Any photographer that creates twelve good photographs a year is doing exceeding well".  The key word in this quote is "good".  Practice slowing down and taking your time in order to really "see".  

Sunday, March 5, 2017

The image from within

I often think back to my early years of photography and what inspired me to pursue photography.  I first recall being captivated by a black and white photographic image because it revealed ordinary things in an abstract way.  Somehow the absence of color creates a kind of mystery about the image that holds my attention.  I knew early on that my work would be done in black and white and started learning all I could about the medium.  Studying the works of photographers Edward Weston and Ansel Adams helped me to understand the visual relationship between space and tonal values in an image.  I also learned, though their writings, about their thought process and approach to photography.  Two quotes have remained with me throughout my many years of photographing.  Edward Weston's  " To see the thing itself" and Ansel Adams's "I m interested in something which is built up from within, rather than extracted from without".  When I consider one of my images successful it usually fits within the thinking of these quotes.  Working in the digital realm today  is more important than ever for me to remain true to my roots, and not let the technology take control of the process.  It is becoming more difficult to get the equipment behind me and the creative approach to the image in front of me.  Technology is wonderful but also a distraction.  I see many images today that incorporate technology more than the creative spirit of the photographer.  No matter where future technology takes the photographic medium, it will be still left to the photographer to express the image from within to create the most compelling image.  The above image is of a palm frond with the use of intentional camera movement to create a surreal quality.

Monday, February 13, 2017

Form and Shapes

I have been going through some of my many images that I made in Death Valley a few years ago.  It is always fun to find what I like to call "sleeper images" that I overlooked in my initial review of a new batch of images.  Death Valley offers an endless opportunity to explore geometric shapes of the contrasting sunlit dunes and the deep shadows that the low angle sun provides at sunrise or sunset.  Photography is a two dimensional art of line and form.   The line provides the contour of the form, while the contrast values define the boundaries of the form.  The use of negative space in an image is an important part of a two dimensional composition.  Form and shapes can be thought of as positive and negative space.  In this image the dunes are considered the positive space while the dark contrasting shadow and sky is the negative space.  Not all subject matter provide a strong negative space such as this image, but the use of negative space should always be part of the photographers thought process when composing an image.

Saturday, February 4, 2017

Mexican farmer

When I travel to other countries I always find myself traveling the back roads in search of small towns and local county folk.  My path usually takes me on dirt roads that lead into areas that rarely ever see a tourist.  I enjoy seeing the everyday life of these rural areas and meeting the friendly people that live there.  I am always amused that as soon as I enter a town and begin looking around, people start coming out to see this strangers that has wandered into their town.  The children usually run around in the street laughing at me, while the older people peak their heads of doorways and windows with a suspicious eye.  I usually find a small family run outdoor cafe to get something to eat and sit among the towns people.  It seems that I am always rewarded by meeting nice people, and being able to witness a lifestyle of a simple purpose with a great importance.  

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Evening Sky

I have made numerous images on Blue Cypress Lake of the cypress trees that grow in the lake.  It seems that each time I am out on the lake in my kayak I come across a new and interesting shape of a tree.  This past week I decided to take my kayak out at sunset and explore an area of the lake I haven't been to.  I have equipped my small kayak with an electric trolling motor so I can reduce the amount of paddling I need to do.  I was about five miles from where I launched my boat when I made this image.  After the sun had set I started making my way back knowing I had just enough time to get back before it was totally dark.  After about a mile my battery went dead for my electric motor and I ended up paddling my way back in the dark.  When I am on the lake I always see plenty of alligators swimming around me as I am taking photographs.  I must admit that it was a little spooky paddling in the dark knowing that the alligators are the most active at night.  This lake is uninhibited except for a small bait shop with a boat slip.  As I paddled along I kept searching for that one small light at the launch that would tell me where I need to cut back through the swamp to get back to where my truck was parked.  This lake is my favorite place to go.  It is full of wildlife and absent of people.  I enjoy the peaceful times when I am out there floating among the trees in my kayak.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Palm Hammock

I have been out this week exploring some new wilderness areas near me in Florida.  I visited the Kissimmee Prairie Preserve that is located in the middle of the state in central Florida.  I have been thinking of doing some night sky photography and this perserve is currently the only certified "dark sky" park in the state.  The park is large with nearly 54,000 acres, over a hundred miles of trails, and offers camping with hookup facilities.  It is a quiet park and primarily attracts those interested in nature and outdoor activities.  In the few hours I spent there I hiked on a few of the trails to get an idea of the lay of the land.  It is mostly open prairie with pockets of dense woodlots.  The above image was made in a palm hammock that was recently burned off in a control burn.  It was a sunny and breezy day and I was only able to make this image when a cloud blocked out the sun.  It was a surreal landscape of charred palm trees and brilliant greens from the new growth sprouting up.  I hung around for awhile hoping the clouds might increase to provide some soft light to do more photography, but it didn't work out.  I am glad I made the trip out to this preserve for a look around. I am certain I will return and experiment with some night sky photography in the future.