Sunday, January 19, 2014

Dunes before sunrise

Being on the dunes at Mesquite Flats near Stovepipe Wells before sunrise can produce the opportunity for some interesting images. With the anticipation of the sunrise it is easy to overlook the soft light that exists in the first few minutes of daylight.  It is fun to photograph numerous times in a location and to come away with a different look. I also like the color version of this image because of the amount of blue light that is found in the shadows.  Often times the dunes will appear as orange but in this early morning light they can have an entirely different color cast. Death Valley is a place that I can never seem to get enough of. It is a rugged and empty land with a constant changing light. It is one place that can make several different looking images just by revisiting a location at different times of the day.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Edward Weston Pepper #30

                   Edward Weston Pepper #30

    Edward Weston Nude

This most influential photograph for me in my early days of photography was Edward Weston's Pepper #30. It was this image that showed me photography could be done as an art. I discovered my interest in photography in the 60's and at the time there were not many resources available to learn from. I would spend my free time at the public library reading all I could about photography and studying the works of the master photographers. One of the first photographers that I discovered was Edward Weston. I was struck how he could take very simple subject matter and transform them into sensual shapes and forms. His image of the pepper #30 had the biggest impact on me, and still does today. Weston described the way he photographed as "to see the thing itself".  I could relate to this simple yet powerful message represented in his work. I learned that the simplest interpretation of a subject is often the strongest statement. When I am composing a photograph I start by looking for distractful things I can eliminate from scene just by changing my position to help isolate the thing of interest. The other important thing I learned from Edward about composition was understanding the principle he describe as "form follows function" first used by Frank Lloyd Wright with regards to architecture. If you study these two photographs you can see how very simple the subject matter is, but how powerful the images are.  I believe it is important, espically for beginners, to study the work of great photographers to understand how photography can transform ordinary objects into works of art. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Mexican Street Photographer

We came across a photographer in San Juan Del Rio, Mx. He was in the city jardin standing around near the water fountain hoping to take portraits of people visiting the park. His simple camera was an old battered polaroid that had a piece of cloth covering the bellows to keep the light out. It is how he makes his living and probably the only equipment he has. I spoke with him for a moment and asked to take his picture. I could tell he was uneasy seeing me with my modern digital camera. After walking away I realized I should have asked him to take our picture and paid him the price for his work. It would have been a simple thing to do and I regret not doing so. I am reminded of this every time I look at this picture. 

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Head in the Clouds

We all at some point walk around with our head in the clouds dealing with our thoughts of hopes and dreams, worry, or just a general preoccupation of an on going event in our lives. We fail to completely listen to others while they are speaking because we are more concerned about what we are going to say in response. We are inpatient in our vehicles because we feel our time and space is more important than the person in front of us. Because of our human existence and physical body, we are locked in our little center of the universe. We can easily relate to things or events outside of ourselves if we have experienced them. We can say we understand, but if we haven't experience it ourselves, then how can we truly relate to it?  It is a tug of war that wages in us all, dealing with self while being genuine in relating to others.
I made this photo while walking around in Mexico with some friends. I am use to the puzzled looks I get when I am making pictures of things considered of little value. I found this mannequin intriguing because of the half face and what I felt when I saw it.  It is my interpretation of the term, "an empty suit".

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Winding Roads

I enjoy the freedom to roam and drive off the beaten path. It is a privilege to be able to explore areas in the comfort of an automobile. I sometimes have to remind myself how fortunate I am to be able to travel in a comfortable seat and have the ability to control the climate of my vehicle with a touch of a button. Consider the fact that travel has been a hardship for most all of history. It has only been the past few generations that has had the ability to move about as freely as we currently do. We all complain about heavy traffic or a flight being delayed, but what is that compared to what people before us had to endure just to travel a small distance. We have spent a lot of time in Death Valley and have experienced many of the extreme weather patterns of the region. We have been there in 115* temperatures, experience dust storms, and felt the blast of a winter storm. In each case the automobile was the safe haven to provide protection from the elements. This image was taken in Death Valley in Mule canyon.  As we drove this winding dirt road through a spectacular landscape, I was very aware of just how fortunate we are to be living in a time that enables us to travel for recreation and personal enjoyment.

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Surreal Landscapes

I came upon this surreal landscape in Bend Bend N.P. in Texas. It is an area of the park that rarely gets visited because of the remote access to the location.  The ground appears to be covered in snow but it is mineral deposits that cover the valley floor.  The winter time provides some of the best atmosphere for making photographs, with the cold fronts that move into the area from the North.  On this particular day the heavy clouds were moving quickly by and gave a very diffuse light to the overall scene.  While walking around in this mysterious landscape it was easy to imagine what the surface of the moon would be like.  Not far from here I located some Indian petroglyph panels at the base of the mountains. Certainly this land looks desolate and without life but at one point in time it must have provided food and water to support the large group of people that lived in the valley.