Saturday, August 31, 2013

September 1, 2013

Distractions build barriers to constructive purpose.  As an image maker you must focus your intentions and pursue great imagery with passion and quiet resolve.  If you get too caught up in photography's high and lows your energy level can't sustain itself.

Sometimes life interferes with our true calling and we get caught up in its flow and lose our inner foundation and the goals we had set for ourselves in our youth.  We lose sight of the shoreline and drift where ever the current take us.  We can't do everything we want.  We have responsibilities and family and side jobs.  But, we still can pursue our image making little by little, step by step and as the years fly by, you will find, that you have created a body of work you can be proud of, and you will have an inner peace because you did your best and accomplished your goals of making meaningful images.

You open your eyes and there is the material waiting for your personal style to give it meaning and then to share your vision with others, to inspire them.


September 1, 2013

I have posted before about the fun we have creating our haunted Halloween porch.  Last year, I had a hard time coming up with an idea for how I was going to create a humorous image of the carved pumpkins we used on the steps leading up to our mysterious and scary porch.  Here is what I came up with.                                                    

                                                       Pumpkin Escape

Halloween Images from 2012

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013

I have often wondered about the camera being a crutch to suspend fear when shooting subjects that are intense.  We lift the camera to our eye, meter, compose and shoot.  All the while there is an activity happening in front of us but the camera is a filter, a barrier that allows us to remain objective and not to think too much on the drama unfolding before us.  We are in a sense, disconnected from the reality we are photographing.  The scene becomes more manageable this way and we have what seems like more time to reflect and act as if a play were being performed and we are in the audience.

I was up in a small airplane last week and was photographing aerial images around Seattle. In order to shoot photos from this airplane we had to open the canopy 8 to 12 inches while in flight.  The big question was, would the air current push the canopy open more and expose us to real air turbulence and an early landing?

When shooting from a small aircraft I shoot at the fastest shutter speed possible.  In this case, I pushed my ASA and made images using a shutter speed of 1/1000 of a second.  I used a 105mm and 50mm lens with hoods.  This cuts down on side glare as the sun sets.  I kept my arms and hands away from touching any part of the plane to cut down on vibrations that could blur my images.  My pilot was great and did a good job turning the plane so I had a better angle to make images of my chosen subjects.  One of the hardest things was keeping the right distance from the opening and sides of the canopy.  Too close to the opening I had wind turbulence, too far away and I had the canopy edges cutting into my frame.  It took awhile for me to get in a groove and maintain a good shooting distance.

I started off talking about the camera as a barrier from experiencing a intense situation.  I do not like to fly!  Having the camera in this case wasn't as much a barrier but a mechanism that allowed me to remain objective and focus on my composition and exposure.  I still experienced the fear and excitement of the flight, but because I was shooting, I was able to enjoy the moment without over thinking of my fears.  If the camera ever became such a crutch that it didn't allow me to experience  the real world I was photographing live, I wouldn't pick up the camera at all.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

July 29, 2013

Are we settling for casual imagery as the new substitute for images that touch a nerve in us and make us think and react in deeper ways?  A great photograph communicates an underlying connection to all humanity, it articulates a purpose, exposes a wrong or instills in us a love for our fellow human beings.   A great image is not just a localized smile or hands up in the air dancing.  We love to imitate because it is fun to be part of trends.  Social media's ever growing control on the image process and distribution makes it easier for us as photographers to play to the masses and not to our own inner voice.  Our everyday lives are broadcast over the Internet to others, exclaiming that I am here, look at me and see what I have done today.  We are like Pavlov's dog getting up each morning and checking our e-mails and social media sites.  We have to see what everyone else is doing and then we have to respond and make our voices heard in words and imagery.  It is addicting but it is it really communicating?

A great image expresses a true deep sense of the subject and what the photographer felt when he made the image.   This feeling can be shared with others through the common good/morals we all try to live by. A great photo can effect us in a profound way if we as the viewer are mind present and really looking at the subject and not letting our minds wonder over to the next local news trauma of the day.

I believe we are seeing a moving away from imagery of depth and powerful emotions to a more lazy approach to image making.

There is this casual/shallow quality to content now.  A willingness to just be there and shoot and what ever happens happens and those images will be marketed as authentic because we are being conditioned to see the world only as a quick expression and not on a deeper level with meaning and purpose.

We must slow down our visual overload.  This tsunami of images and words is numbing us to be more apathetic to a bigger picture of the world we live in and we are not creating worthy imagery but hoarding stuff that ultimately is meaningless.  We have to and should live life on a deeper level than this constant need for attention, any attention.  This need to be seen is pushing us to do and say more and create more careless stuff.. and this in turn is causing more people to become indifferent to any quality in life.

Slow down your life.  Slow down your creativity when making images.  What does all this flood of information have to do with your life.  This minutia of details bogs down your thinking process. We don't have to be everything and take images of everything.   You can limit your social media intake and be more selective and purposeful in your image creation.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

August 7, 2013

I am in the process of editing, cropping and spotting images.  It is a never ending battle to get new work out into the world and yet live a family life.  This close up image of a maple leaf reminds me of why I love macro photography.  Macro photography is analogous to an inner dialogue physically manifested.  When I saw the Japanese Maple tree I new their was an image present.  I took some images further back but something wasn't clicking.  I moved closer to the subject and began to see details lining up.  As I moved tighter and closer to my photo goal this image presented itself.  My inner dialogue didn't allow me to just shoot an over all scene and move on.  I was mentally present and listened to my inner voice and created this image.

This was a very difficult image to take.  When you are shooting close to your subject any wind or breeze plays havoc with your focus.  In this image I needed both the dew drop and leaf to be sharp.  I had to twist and turn my body to get in a position so that the upper leaf and the dew drop was on a parallel plane for focusing.  And I had to make sure that the background enhanced the main subject.  Many, many frames later I hit the jack pot so to speak.  I think my sore back was worth it.

Monday, August 5, 2013

July 27, 2013

I like getting up early for sunrise.  It sets the direction of the day on a good path.  I decided to drive down into the Snohomish Valley.  Timing is such a intricate part of photography. We sometimes miss out on the potential for great images by not making an effort to just get out and do it, make photos.

If you are driving down Highway 9 heading south as you get closer to the City of Snohomish you can get a glimpse of the valley floor.  Here you will see whether your choice of possible subjects was worth it. This morning the fog sat low over the fields.  At these moments you have a rush of excitement because the potential is there for good images.  I drove along the South West road that winds along the valley floor.  This road is elevated so at times you can be alittle above the fog.  Beware, always drive slower and keep one eye on the road at all times you never know when a working farmer will be out on the road with his tractor or a raccoon hurrying home for the day.  That advice has saved me many times.

As I was driving I kept seeing potential images but I was looking for that aha moment when all the elements come together to make a great image.  Well, it looked like I was going to have to work for any good photograph.  As I passed an opening between a line of bushes and a farm house I spotted a row of electrical towers standing in low lying fog and moving off into the distance toward the Cascade Mountain Range.  Sentinels of our communication obsession.  So I pulled over and set up.  I used a variety of lenses to get the best composition I could given my limited area that I could shoot from.  Once I went through my normal routine of choosing wide, medium and telephoto lenses I realized that I had milked this particular scene.  And my interest here was done.  So I packed up and moved down the road.  As I passed another barn I saw a dirt road that went down into the valley and believe it or not, it didn't have a no trespass sign on the entrance.  So I went down the road and parked.  I took some images of the fog and sunrise behind a large tree and then as the sun rose higher in the east sky I hiked further down the road and found a community vegetable patch.  I stayed and photographed it for a long time shooting the different vegetables people had planted and taking images of some of their tools and large water containers they had set up.

We start in one direction and end up in another.  In a matter of a couple of hours I was able to see the beautiful valley fog and shoot some interesting subjects along the way.  If someone would have told me that when I started out this morning that some of my favorite images would be of a community veggie patch in Snohomish Valley I would have been surprised.  But that is why we seek out good images and let our instincts and luck sometimes take charge and guide us to interesting subjects that were not even on our photo radar..