Sunday, June 28, 2015

Hand to Hand

We spent a few winters in Mexico and found it to be a vibrant culture with a contrast in living conditions.  We would walk many miles each day in the city streets taking is all of the sights and sounds of a new and exciting country to explore.  I was just starting to use a digital camera and had a small point and shoot Canon that I carried along with my film camera.  I had a habit a giving my pocket change to the people we would see in the streets, and sometimes would stop and talk with them for a moment.  With this image I was bending down to give this women my extra change and without really thinking about it I made this picture with my digital camera that I was holding in my right hand.  Doing street photography is a very different type of of photography and requires a quick eye because things are moving and changing all around you.  I enjoy doing street photography but always prefer to return to my nature work of being in an isolated and deserted landscape environment. 

Monday, June 22, 2015

Soft light

My favorite time to photograph nature is early mornings or in the evenings at dusk.  I prefer the soft light that exist this time of day.  Doing photography during the mid day sun can be challenge because of the harsh shadows and the overall strong contrast of the scene at that time of day.  The only exception is when I am doing a long exposure of several minutes with one of my neutral density filters.  The long exposure has a way of smoothing out the look of the image and creating a surreal or dreamy effect.  With film I almost always worked in very low light conditions and relied on the reciprocity effect of the film to increase the contrast on the film.  I remember many scenes having only four stops of light but through reciprocity failure and over development of the film I could easily get a negative with seven or eight zones of exposure.  Today with digital I have to rely on my ability to work with the RAW image in Photoshop to take the image to the initial vision I had when making the exposure.  I certainly utilize my many years of darkroom work to know where I desire to go with the look of the final image.  I am sure my method of working with Photoshop is lacking in many ways when compared to others that have much more experience with working with the software than I have.  My current process is rewarding now that I am developing and printing images electronically nearly as good has I did with the chemical process.

Monday, June 15, 2015


When working with photography and especially in black and white, it is helpful to learn how to pre-visualize the scene to be able to create a successful image.  I learned many years ago how to clearly see the finished image in my mind before making the exposure.  In my days of working with large format equipment using strictly black and white film it was much easier for me to pre-visualize an image than it is with digital equipment.  I had use of the zone system and my calibrated spot meter that I use to analyze the contrast of the scene and to base my exposure.  I would place the low and high values ( darks and whites) according to the contrast that existed within the scene.  At this point I would base my exposure on the development I planned on giving the film to either increase or decrease the overall contrast within the scene I was photographing.  I used colored filter on the lens to change tones and contrast  the film was going to record.  The process was a discipline that produced great results and enable me to visualize the final image I was hoping to make in the darkroom.  Years of working this way led to many successful images but took plenty of mistakes and failures to master the process.  Today working with digital I try to ignore the color as much as possible to see in black and white.  One thing I do is review my exposures in black and white on the camera LCD screen by setting my picture style to black and white.  This lets me review the image much like the old black and white Polaroid's I took each time before exposing the sheet film.  Certainly my many years of working with film and printing all of my images has made the transition to black and white digital easier for me.  I know later in the process I will have to deal with a fuzzy color RAW image that is downloaded, but I have the experience of using visualization to help me get to my desired final image. 

Monday, June 8, 2015

Botany Bay

Tree have always intrigued me and have been the subject of many of my photographs.  Recently we travel up to South Carolina to the coastal area and photographed the mysterious trees of Botany Bay on Boneyard Beach.  These are the remains of old oak trees that stand out in the Atlantic Ocean.  It is a strange sight to see these old dead trees surrounded by salt water and standing up to ocean waves that crash around their trunks.  I am not sure how they became stranded out in the ocean but I am assuming that a strong hurricane must have washed away the land on which they stood and left them stranded in the water.  Slowly time is eroding them and many of their remains and scattered along the shore.  I made this image with a -10 ND filter to smooth out the water and create an ethereal look to the scene.