Sunday, December 21, 2014

December 20, 2014

In this digital connected world we live in it is very hard to let go of the constant verbal and visual noise surrounding us.  We need to diligently force our eyes to pay attention to what is important to us.  We must fight the inclination to take short cuts through image creation and proceed to the end game before we are ready to be truly present and aware of our surroundings and thus aware of potential subjects just waiting to be photographed.

We must be present in the fleeting now and see our potential subject with a clear relaxed vision. Uncovering details in the scene hidden to our quick glance but visible if we would only take the time to purposely see. 

Do you go out to take photos thinking only of capturing a subject, any subject, as you would chase an elusive jack rabbit.  You hunt your prey and victory is not in the process of discovering your true subject but victory is a quick shutter speed and a glance behind as you move on to the next jack rabbit to capture.

You have to force yourself to take the time to examine a scene, looking at the many details that interest you but also, being open to rejecting some details and accepting others as you build your composition.  As you concentrate more on the visual clues appearing along a new perceptual path, some elements are discarded and others hold more authority in expressing your inner landscape.  You begin to see visually a potential image. And as the gestalt forms through conceptual trial and error your new composition begins to take shape and a cohesive structure appears and like magic your image is born.

Would you have been able to make this image if you listened to your ego telling you to hurry up, hurry up, move onto something else?

Fear can motivate you or cripple your interest in learning how to make better images.   One of the things for me that made a difference was my love of seeing my images on a light table after a shoot.  I enjoyed laying out the slides side by side and using a loupe to examine each frame one at a time.  By doing this slow methodical process I was able to see my mistakes.  I was able to reflect on where I needed improvement in my image creations and where I failed to really see the potential in my subject.  Countless times (even today) I still see where I can improve my image making and I work hard at paying attention to the subject wanting to be seen.  If you just shoot to shoot where is the passion in your work.  Where is the visual growth.  You have to review your work after each shoot.  Taking notes on your subject, time of day, f/stops, shutter speeds, ISO, and angles etc… By doing this you gain valuable knowledge of your image making style.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

December 6, 2014

In Freeman Patterson's Book, Photography & the art of seeing, he says, "In photography, observing is the first and most important skill we have to learn.  Learning to observe requires us to set time aside to "see" familiar things.  But, even if we take the time, we may find it difficult to observe carefully because we are tense and preoccupied with other things".

In today's rush hour mentality it is difficult to relax and really see a subject without wanting to hurry up and get the picture taking duty over with so we can move onto the next item on our to do list. This list becomes our safety blanket and a great excuse to why we don't have the time to relax and enjoy the world around us.

These external forces will always be there, always pulling us in so many different directions that we will never be able to truly see our vision and express our selves visually if we don't take a deep breath and still our stormy minds.

The barrier to living a full life, immersed in this world both physically and mentally, is technology.  It hinders interaction with the external world, a one on one experience, and thus limits our ability to see relationships that could enhance our image creating insights.

Do we even want to make a connection to the external world?   Do we even need the external world?

Technology deceives us into thinking we are interacting with the external world but in reality we are interacting with ourselves thinking we are interacting with others. This interface we communicate through is not a live experience.  It is a step removed from the feel and touch of existence.  It is like looking at a picture and thinking we have been there done that.

It is closed system of information only, with no real life experience outside your mind.  To walk in nature and not see nature is now the mantra of today's cell phone fantasies.  Experience now is through a hand held device and not through your whole being.  We have removed our first hand experience and filtered life through a technological device without any real connection to the physical world.

We must stop the illusions of living life through a mechanical device and get back to first hand experience with nature and this can only enhance your photographic eye and you will find that your image creations are more personal and expressive of your inner landscape.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November 24, 2014

Happy Holidays!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

November 16, 2014

What will you choose, Selective Focus or Tunnel Vision?  Tunnel vision is a good term to explain what is happening in today's blitz of social media that leads to anxiety and loss of concentration and thus barriers to seeing.

A good example of tunnel vision in today's photography market is to look back at the evolution of stock photography.  In the early days of stock photography image creators focused on the idyllic images of travel, nature, portraits, life style, adventure etc...  These  were clean, sharp, colorful and the lighting was pristine.  These images represented the ideal travel locations with smiling happy people.

Today we want something a little more authentic, a naturalness to the people and to the models.  But if you look closely the images have just put on a more casual costume to make the models more contemporary but the smiles and props are just the same.

Real authentic imagery doesn't hide behind props with pats on the back and happy people enjoying moments of ecstatic materialism.  Authentic imagery comes from the heart with all the ugly exteriors shown for self realization.

Selective focus brings forth in a scene the main subject the image creator wants to present.  This is after his diligent examination of the scene and he has decided to show this detail rather than the infinite chooses available.

In using selective focus the subject of interest in the photograph is sharp (or blurred for juxtaposition and mystery) and the surrounding environment is blurred. The viewers eye will naturally be drawn to the focused area of the image.  We do this constantly in our own lives, ignoring the environment and focusing on details or ignoring the details and focusing in on the entire environment.

When we train ourselves to react to certain stimulus and not others we have confused selective focus with tunnel vision. Our minds need for selective memory hinders our ability to really see a new open vision of selective focus.  Selective focus becomes tunnel vision if we don't seek new and contrasting views to our daily routines.  If you approach a scene already determined to take a picture a certain way with out examining the whole scene then you have tunnel vision and are just putting different clothes on the same process and trying to make it look like something new.

Selective focus in photography can make the difference between an OK picture and a good one.  But you will need to go into the scene with an open mind and through that openness you can make a deeper connection with your subject.  And in that relationship you find yourself connecting to surprising elements in the scene you have missed previously. Maybe you decide to put on a longer lens to isolate your new subject or maybe even a macro lens to blur further an interfering background.  You came to these decisions through reflection and purpose.  By isolating your subject you have created a new vision that represents what you worked for.

Tunnel vision before and during image creation dulls your mind to life's undercurrents and the possibility to see new relationships.  Tunnel vision undermines creativity. Use your unique vision to find subjects that can surprise the viewer and even yourself.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

November 9, 2014

When we label things we set a barrier between us and our subject.

In some ways by labeling we have already convinced ourselves what the subject is about and how we are going to take a photo of it. This way of seeing rarely allows for serendipity to happen. We have narrowed our field of interest and limited our ability to understand our subject on a more open personal level.

These types of images are boring because we have framed our subject though a narrow window in our minds and haven't opened ourselves to the infinite ways any subject can be photographed.

I feel a lot of this quick and easy labeling happens because people are caught up in time constraints.  They have other things nagging at them to be done so they hurry up and get this picture opportunity done with and then move on.  When you do this kind of image taking you lose moments of potential clarity and when you see the results of your quick paced shooting you have a nagging feeling of what ifs. What if I would have relaxed and slowed down and thought more about what I was seeing and feeling.  You now see the potential you had in front of you and what you have lost by not connecting your focus with your subject.

In order to create an image with purpose we must tape the mouth of ego shut.  Move away from social media's obsessive distractions and get on with your life.  We have to stop living a life through a mechanical screen that dulls us to living our real life.

The Internet bombards us with so much useless information, it overwhelms our ability to focus on the important things in life.  Don't be tethered to an electrical socket of information. Jumping from one topic to the next.  Let go of the need for speed.  Slow down adjust your life for a new path. One of calm nerves and clear thinking that will enhance your image making.  Let go of your anxious brain when you approach your subject.  Don't over analyze the scene.  Don't give yourself a time limit to shoot.  Take your time to explore the light enveloping your subject revealing to you more and more its true nature.  Dig deeper into the subject, exploring it from different angles.  Listen to your subject, it is telling you its nature.  Once you have done this now you can compose your image through a deeper awareness of your subject because you took the time to interact with it and didn't allow external voices to compromise your perception of your subject.

Fredrick Franck , " By these labels we recognize everything, and no longer see anything. We know the labels on the bottles, but never taste the wine."

Sunday, November 2, 2014

November 2, 2014

In today's continual distractions for something new, you can get caught up in the race for more toys at the expense of creating images that have meaning for you and others.  Just having the latest and greatest new lens won't make your images any better if you don't take the time to see the subject with a new intensity.

A thought begins with subtle interest in a subject. An idea begins to form on what your relationship is with the new subject and how you might express that relationship.  You then begin to feel a connection with the scene and begin the creative process of exploring your subject with emotion.

A good image represents more than just an object to be exploited.  If the image is void of emotion you have already lost the intent of creating an image worth showing.  Don't settle for a quick snap shot.  Use your growing personal vision to dig deeper into the scene and thus create a personal expression, a genuine honesty, for others to connect with.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

October 19, 2014

Freeman Patterson, "Letting go of self is an essential precondition to real seeing.  When you let go of yourself, you abandon any preconceptions about the subject matter that might cramp you into photographing in a certain way".

We have been overwhelmed in our daily life through technology.  It appears to give us freedom and more choices but instead limits our ability to engage with real situations and interact with those common places we used to have a relationship with.

It is hard to let go of self when you are constantly thinking social media.  Your body and mind are a unit and one effects the other.  Letting go of your need to expose your daily life on social media will give you a chance to breath and step back from your fruitless efforts at fame and begin to decompress from the daily pressure to post.  Take a deep breath and relax your mind and body.  Go to a place you haven't been before.  Open up your mind to new possibilities in the potential subjects you see.  You don't even have to make an image just be present get used to the new feeling of being in the now.

                             Metal art sculpture at the Bellevue Art Festival, Artist Andy Byrne

Sunday, September 21, 2014

September 13, 2014

I was talking with a photographer friend and we were discussing the new auto pilot cameras.  He remembered one time a person approaching him and exclaiming wow what a camera it must take great pictures.  My friend said yes it does and to prove it I will leave it here and walk away and come back in a half-hour and I bet it will have taken some outstanding images.  My friend laughed and said he was just pulling the guys leg but wanted to let the person know that the images are created by the photographer and not the camera.  Yes, today's cameras take a lot of the thinking out of the equation in taking pictures. But in order to create images with substance you need to be visually literate.

We have all taken an image and then looked at it and deleted it because it had no visual interest, just another blah image with no purpose.

When I take images I am intensely aware of my surrounding and I am in tune to the mood of the crowd and the subjects presenting themselves to me.

What makes photography fun is creating that connection with your subject and in that bond finding an image you can feel proud of.

Henri Cartier-Bresson states, " To take photographs is to hold one's breath when all faculties converge in the face of fleeing reality.  It is at that moment that mastering an image becomes a great physical and intellectual joy".

Sunday, September 7, 2014

August 24, 2014

Erich Kahler, " What else did these great author express, (Nietzsche, Dostoievsky, Tolstoy and others) most of them with the help of a newly developed psychological perception, but the deep unrest, uneasiness and alarm at the effects of our modern middle-class civilization: the increasing hollowness and precariousness of conventional values, the derangement of human relations?

When we go out to take images with a cell phone we tend to free wheel the compositions with a run and gun mentality.  The ease of use makes us think that this is what is required to capture the moments in our daily lives. We really don’t need to think about our subjects because we have other things on our minds and time is a wasting.  We see nature as objects to exploit for our own gain.

The massive of amount of cellphone pictures being taken confines us to an ego driven imagery without a true connection to the external world. They are quick and easy with no thinking involved to finding a purpose but to promote your life on a social media website.   That's ok if you want to follow the herd mentality that weakens your photo making by degrading the beauty of our ordinary life. What I mean by an ordinary life is the true structure of our society .  A life built around benevolence, values and family.  The movement away from the beauty of an ordinary life is a fragmentation of self, leaving us confused and despondent on how to reach out on our own personal trek and move away from the helter-skelter existence of must be seen media, as if we truly belong to the shallow driven image creators vision of the new selfie.

Can we rectify the intuitive creation of an image with its counterweight the selfie.  Are they the same? Gustave Kahn a French symbolist poet resisted stringent rules of meter, rhyme and rhythm. And yet through his intense inner eye described a world fresh and immediate through his unconfined mind.

We are creatures of habit and really don't want to push ourselves beyond an easy road to expression. All digital cameras can take the picture for you without a moments reflection.  Why was I attracted to this subject in the first place is never asked nor answered as we capture the subject in auto mode. This easy road of expression, in this new culture of shallow driven abstractions, creates an atmosphere of non-thinking, an unwillingness to go deeper and analyze the scene beyond its structural purpose.

But when we go out to create images with intent we assume a different mode of thinking.  We have our intuitive antenna’s up and we are seeing things at a deeper level.  We are building a relationship with our subjects and are interacting with them on a more profound level and through this interaction we are not forgetting our inner self and its need to communicate to others a new and different perception. We are searching for an expression through an image that can reveal something of ourselves and the human condition. The great thing about pursuing an image on an intense level is that through that exploration you will find side roads to take that will further enhance your relationship with the subject and will lead to new ideas and compositions that seemed unrelated to your first impression of your subject but now has become the crucial purpose of your inner vision.

Monday, August 18, 2014

August 17, 2014

Finding your photographic voice, having a good sense of who you are and what your capabilities are is very important in determining your future goals in photography.  It doesn’t mean that you stop learning and stop growing as a person and as a photographer.  Imitation, study, experimenting, discipline, being their, fighting through life’s barriers and fears, to get out their and experience the world and create images that reflect your inner light, that is what it is all about.

Knowledge gives you a foundation to step off from and confidence to approach life’s subjects with purpose and empathy.

Continuous creation of pictures produces the necessary images needed for you to learn and grow into the photographer you were meant to become.  We build off our experiments and through accumulative practice discover our photographic path. It is a path that allows for many spontaneous expressions and many varied interests that challenge us to get better and to look deeper into life’s infinite choices.  

Each of us come from a different background with our own built in prejudices and standards of seeing.

We must give the viewer a sense of our purpose in creating the image by allowing them visual clues to your intended purpose. This does not mean these clues are the boring mundane visuals we see everyday. We must always maintain our personal approach to creating our photographs and not bend to pop culture’s instant gratification. Images that hold a viewer’s interest are not taken with a herd mentality.

Slow down and be mindful in your living and this will translate to better image creations.  Nature is the antidote to the hectic pace we struggle in.  

Positive reasons for taking pictures is not the end result but the process of creating something of value not only for yourself but for your family and friends and even possibly a wider audience that is longing for new and exciting photographs that stimulate their minds.  

Get up, go out and create images! 

Thursday, August 14, 2014

August 14, 2014

The mechanical nature of photography hinders our ability to dig deeper into our own outer reflections.  We assume that photography is the easy of all art mediums and therefore no thought process is necessary to create a meaningful picture.  All pictures taken become meaningful no matter how banal.  This over abundance of blasé imagery that exploits our daily lives is a nuisance that is distracting us from our life goals.  The camera has become a barrier to seeing and living a fulfilling life.  

For me photography is a means of expressing my private self.  The camera gave me a window, an ability to focus on external details that could be brought together through composition, light, perspective in such away that allowed me to express my inner world.

Nowadays people, when taking pictures, think that the camera takes the pictures.  And they are right.  New cameras can take thinking out of making photographs.  It is the old Instamatic ads stating, all you have to do is point and shoot and you will be guaranteed a perfect picture.  But in today's run and gun and post on social media sites nobody seems to care about the camera as an instrument to create art. And in creating a personal vision for the viewer you are interacting with through your image creation.

This picture taking reality we now inhabit is not interaction nor is it communication with others but a shadow life exposed for the the thrill of the upload. And surely for the comments that follow.  This slowly becomes an intermediary world of quasi word play without the responsibility of discourse and the ability to articulate your true self through expressing your inner feelings.  

We see ourselves through others eyes as spectacles for the masses, entertainment with no depth but a cursory glance on a screen that fits into someones palm while ignoring the world that is present in front of them.

Revealing an image with purpose and depth has been replaced by a snap shot, showing off oneself as if you are the stars in your our own Hollywood stills.

Nature has lost it’s appeal, its luster for our intense interest.  Now we want to objectify ourselves to the world by our ego driven need to be seen, we are the true subject of the snapshot.  We live our lives looking at photographs as if these blah images are the new reality.  Sitting at a screen and looking into the mesmerizing images of other humans doing nothing is what entertains us into today's superficial interaction.

We have taken the place of nature and we have become the essence of the photo. Nature now is just a backdrop to our own self promotions.

By putting ourselves and our close environment into pictures that say nothing about ourselves we are acknowledging the loss of individuality and have joined the collective.  We add our fragments to an image industry already burdened by the destruction of photography as an art form.

We expose an outer shell to the world to laugh at or cry with but with no real personal interaction with the screen, except a like or dislike.

Burk Uzzle, "Too many tools can be divisive, obscuring primary relationships between photographer and subject. Dogma is the desperation of shallowness, while discipline, if used instead of worshipped, is liberating".

Sunday, July 20, 2014

July 20, 2014

Good images are created by knowing your insecurities and yet over coming them by communicating your empathy and understanding toward your subject.  Establishing a link between yourself and the subject allows you to let go of the tension bottled up in your mind and by releasing these barriers to true vision you will have a better chance to create something of value.

Images are recordings of the past.  We are attracted to the past because it shows us where we have been and gives us clues to where we might be going.  If all we see are generic images of our lives exposed and reinforced by others on social media, does it make our lives better or does it reveal the mind rut were in.  Imitation is not flattery.  Imitation is an easy expression of banality.  To break free of the repetitive image creating ditch we must think for ourselves and not feel overwhelmed by the herd mentality.

By being passionate about our subjects we will create successful images.  We all have daily routines that limit our ability to break free from our work a day sight and explore our image creating vision from a deeper part of our consciousness.

We must revive our inner childlike vision and discover new avenues of image expression in ourselves that don't rely on the old boring impulses that inhibit our creativity.

I think people still want images with substance.  An image that connects with them on a more personal level and not a shallow drive by image taken on a speeding highway.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

July 6, 2014

When you take pictures, do you only look at the surface details of your subject?  The easy composition that doesn't demand patience?  In order to create a good image, you must take your time.  I should say that you must take your time when the subject demands it.   When things are happening at a break neck pace you just react and go with it.  But when you have time on your side to explore your subject on a more personal level, then you will see an improvement in your image creating and a better return on your image selects for the web.

I believe photographers are being distracted by shallow imagery and are missing out on natures mysteries and patterns. The undercurrents of this reality we share is where we will find the true subject we should all aspire to create images of.  We should tap into this magical depth we experience together and journey beyond the mundane and create personal images that express deep emotions and vision.

One way to do this is by getting physically closer to your subject. By moving closer you begin to see recurring patterns that manifest the infinite structure of natures inspirations.

We have become numb to the boundless beauty of nature.  Our early schooling has limited our ability to interact with natures virtue.  It has become a play thing only and not a spiritual journey into ourselves.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

June 15, 2014

When we take pictures in today's mad race to create our lives through photographs, how can we even begin to understand the surreal nature of these photographs and its effects on our relationship with others.

There is an instinctive drive to take pics. It is a way to claim victory over the environment.  To capture those fleeting moments that pass by and still times march.

We see differently now, not a natural sight where we take in the whole of the scene and interact with it on a personal level, but now we put up a barrier (the camera) between us and the reality we share with others. We look to take photos of fragments of reality which limits our ability to give these pictures a foot hold in a bigger context. We don't want to interact with them but capture the subject like a predator and once we have captured them, we can expose these photos to the world without a true purpose.

This saturation of imagery begins to limit our ability to connect to an outside world.  We look to the picture to reaffirm our reality.  And as more and more images are uploaded we become numb to the violent rage in human nature, that nature that is vulgar and willing to do anything for attention.

We see on the streets of any city (no matter what size) the inevitable signs of the growing necessity to take pictures.  We  always have our phone camera ready for that unexpected moment when life's meager expositions are revealed in an instant, and then captured for no other purpose than to store on some social media site for eager eyes. And then easily forgotten.

The image capture is now a naive sampling of a subject without thought, a casual, random exploitation of the trivial as art.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June 1, 2014

Photography does allow us the ability to see deeper into our subjects, eliminating extraneous details that don't enhance our intended vision.

When I see a potential subject I always have in the back of my mind a close up image.  I like to yank the subject from its moorings in the visual roots we all share and give the viewer a new sense of the subject and its beauty.

Back lit leaf taped to a window and then photographed with a macro lens.  You have to make sure that your sensor is parallel to the leaf surface so you can get even sharpness through the entire frame.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

May 11, 2014

Photography should be purposeful.  It should illuminate your subject in a way that express in visual content, an inner landscape,  that gives to the viewer a insight into your spiritual being.  Photography is an expression that adds to the conversation concerning the lives we lead.  It does not degrade life by useless information that exposes the raw sloth of the human condition.  We all know that life is to short to be distracted by these redundant copycat images that are so profuse now in the market place that it is hard to sift through the clutter to find an original expression, a unique vision of someones inner world.

Not every subject can make a good photograph.  The substance of a purposeful image is character.  A glimpse unknown at a new world of revelation.  Someones inner world brought forth to connect with the viewer on a deeper level. Everything photographed should not be broadcast to the world. If you don't think before shooting an image why bother with holding your camera to your eye..  

Why not attach a small camera to your lapel and have it fire off every 30 seconds or so a snapshot of your day.  We now have these types of cameras and it won't be long until our lives are not lived in the external world but lived through viewing images that document the surreal existence we all share in.  Live a life and explore and be mind present when you are making images.  

I have a series of images that I think gives you a good example of the evolution of a photo concept.  You see something interesting to shoot and then realize that there is something more present than meets the casual eye.  You look at the light and see that it had potential.  You looked at some of the details of the scene and realized that if you added a few more interesting props this image would become better. So you begin to add or subtract little details that worked or didn't work.  You looked for a better composition and then zeroed in on your true subject as you began to connect with the scene more and more. 

You saw something in the scene that spoke to you and made you stop and listen to your inner voice and forced you to study the possibilities to create a better image. And as you worked on your idea it began to evolve through light and composition until you created a meaningful image.

Monday, April 28, 2014

April 27, 2014

Burk Uzzle said, "Photography is robust, vital, and demands honesty. Pretensions are reflected mercilessly by the imprecision of a mentality that has no hiding place with an instrument so totally dependent upon its user for its character".  Uzzle goes on to say that the equipment needs guidance and to really see is the function of a complete and giving photographer.

In order for an image to have power and represent an insight into the character of the subject and the one taking the photograph, a photographer has to reflect on why he is attracted to the subject.  The photographer might not know at first the attraction, he might instinctively know he has to shoot it, but eventually he will reflect on it and try to understand his fascination with the scene. Whether we know it or not, we are in a relationship with the world.  Our time line, our choices move us in different directions. Because of this, we are allowed to see our own private perceptions form from our unique vantage point. In order to express these revelations, we must be in tune to our inner world and our perceptions of the outer universe.

What I think is happening in today's world of photography is an exploitation of the ordinary life.  The life we all lead has powerful influences on society and is shaping our future directions.  This ordinary life is attractive to advertisers because it reflects a deep seated moral consciousness in us.  I hear all the time from my photo agencies that they want something authentic, a natural feel. It has to look real, alive and the product placement must be validated by their happy involved experience.

Nothing new here, this is adman 101.  But what is different, is the changing landscape of the manipulations.  In the past ads used (think political ads) abstract ideas like freedom, respect and love of country to sell the product without getting into the actual details of what is underneath those abstract concepts. If you reflect on these ads you kind of scratch your head because really the ad didn't say much of about anything.  In fact, they were hiding their true motives behind an emblem to manipulate the viewing public.  Some would have called it subliminal advertising.

Now, however, there is a race to exploit the details behind the abstract concepts.  We are seeing a fragmentation of advertising from the general to a specific target with images that reflect a real bond between the product and the person.  There has been a conscious change in the way advertisers exploit the masses and social media right now is the engine driving information to the people.

In fact, advertisers are happy to exploit images that were created for personal family use.  These make the perfect realness they need to connect to a select population and influence them to buy the products.  Make no mistake about it, in this material world it is all about selling and profit.

I think we need to be more autonomous and free from the constant distractions and copy cat photography in web culture.  Your life is your life.  A family image becomes a piece taken from your world, abstracted from its place in time, and now posted on a social media site. Is this private experience becoming a public spectacle, devaluing the importance of the person in the picture?

This sharing can be obsessive. Are those connections really important to who you are and what you want to become?  Or, are they a distraction from living a life you want versus posting a life for all to see. Are we now finally experiencing the beginning of the me/now consciousness and becoming forever rushed in this reality of instant voyeurism, succumbing to the trivial and it's addictive power.

The real problem in photography today is the amount of pictures bleeding over into and influencing the behavior of young photographers who seem to think that anything is a photo worth taking.  Get this out of your head, be more selective, more purposeful and your images will be understood on a deeper level and have meaning for future image makers.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

April 20, 2014

I talked about window light and how during the spring and summer months the sun light coming in our west facing bedroom window is a wonderful softbox. We have a white cloth blind that softens the direct sun and illuminates most subjects with this beautiful even and diffused light.  We also have this blind in our living room and I have used this window light to take portraits.  Finding good light is half the battle in creating good images.

April 20, 2014

Happy Easter to Everyone!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

April 12, 2014

What I love about photography is the evolution of an image.  You start out one way thinking this is the best angle, best composition and then your mind begins to see other possibilities.  You delve deeper into the subject and then begin to add the necessary elements to make an even better image than you started with.  I have been guilty sometimes of throwing the kitchen sink into my photos but eventually I spare down the clutter and focus on the true subject I wanted to make.  It is just a matter of seeing deeper into your subject and then exploring the varying light, composition and props that make the image purposeful.

I could have photographed the Calla Lily the usual way by taking an image of the whole flower.  But where is the fun in doing that?  I like to create an image that can lead a viewer to experience maybe a deeper connection to the subject.

Here I am photographing a firm root in the ground but yet we are free and fluid to explore and spread our wings to see our true nature.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

April 5, 2014 

Sometimes creating a good photograph is just putting your subject in the right light.  I like to use natural light when ever possible. During the spring and summer months the sun light coming in our west facing bedroom window is a wonderful softbox. We have a white cloth blind that softens the direct sun and illuminates most subjects with this beautiful even and diffused light. Sometimes in order to have alittle more contrast in my photograph I will put a dark reflector opposite the window light to give my subject a more Rembrandt look. When shooting indoors with soft diffused light you might have to use a tripod to steady the camera to get depth of field.


Sunday, March 30, 2014

March 30, 2014

Photography is a run and gun exploitation of the now. Shoot without thinking, capture the moment no matter what it is, be first on your block to post and reap the benefits of more followers.  This throw yourself at others and at the world is narcissistic.  We shoot to see if something sticks to the pop culture posting board and then you hope it will go viral and you will make a fortune and life will be good.

Photography should be purposeful, illuminating your subject in a way that expresses in visual content an inner landscape, that gives the viewer an insight into your inner being.  Photography is an expression that adds to the conversation concerning the lives we lead.  It does not degrade life by careless subject matter that exposes the raw sloth of the human condition for more clicks on a media site.  We all know that life is moving fast. To be distracted by these redundant copycat images (that are so profuse now in the market place) it is hard to sift through the clutter to find an original expression, a unique vision of someone's true life.

Not everything can make a good photograph.  The substance of an image is character.  An image gives us a glimpse of what is first unknown, but now revealed.  Someone's inner world brought forth to connect with the viewer on a deeper level.

Real life is growing and maturing and delving deeper into your experiences. Finding some harmony between your inner and outer world. We seem to live in a shallow life of distractions without purpose. Posting the minutia of your daily routines and hoping for approval. Nowadays, if you were to give life a purpose, it is to try and capitalize on your seconds of trite expressions to others. Never seeking a deeper meaning that is waiting to be discovered.  Never wanting to seek a different expression that has substance.  Now the shallow expression is king.

We might think we are expressing an image with substance, but really what is the purpose and the effect of this image being posted on a social media sight?  Is it to express your deep connection to the subject and your wish that others share your underlying feelings? Sometimes, yes.  But more often we are hoping for a few likes or maybe a comment or two that expresses empathy for your photo record.  And if you don't get any responses, are you then sad that your image was discarded and never fully appreciated? Do you feel lonely and sad that no one understands you or likes your life?

Social media is advertising pure and simple. You become shrills for those moments in your life you were never meant to share and you react to the response like ad agents doing the sales history books.  "This worked so let me post more of the same...  And if I get more looks and likes then I can show ads on my site and make pennies on the dollar"...doing the same old tired thing. Your happiness depends on the reaction to your post and not the intent of the post.  Or maybe the reaction to your image post whether good or bad is your intent.  In order feel alive we need a response any response to our existence.  If you post something sad you might get a reaction of empathy.  If you post a happy image you will get a happy response. We think this is a connection but it is just a click on someone elses web site without background information to fully understand the purpose of the image. We connect now on a shallow playing field, where redundant automated responses are welcome to verify our lives as useful and meaningful.

But this doesn't get to who you are and what is your drive and goals in life. We all want to be seen and heard, that is life's necessity.  Without others, we would go mad with the sounds of our own inner mosaic, as Minor White expressed it, "The sound of one hand clapping."

As we lose our status through economic loss, we are tempted through needy desires to be visible to this physical world in some capacity.  Social Media is waiting to accept your information greedily, and exploit your images and words for its own profit.  We give ourselves away and then wonder why we continually feel, in some hidden corner of our brain, that we are being used.

This ordinary life we try and lead now, was a revolution from the abstract concepts of good and bad dictated to us through religion and men of power in the earlier centuries (1600's to the 1800's).
A transition from top down management to the people becoming aware of their purpose and their dignity internally. While braking away from the remote ideals of authority that give us glimpses of a perfection that we can never fully grasp or understand, therefore, we could never really live up to.  We now know that we have a dignity and a responsibility to live a life, and create a better world for all in the here and now.  Through marriage, raising children, morals and ethics we find purpose in our lives and work hard to find our calling.

But now a new master has risen and it is working overtime to exploit the resources and energy of the masses for profit....

Erick Kahler, the philosopher said "This thoroughly collectivized capitalism is not likely to rescue our world from peril of becoming a total collective; it is, on the contrary, training the people for it.  Capitalism has ceased to help us to human ends.  No longer does the adventure of personal success carry a general, pioneer meaning.  It has become a purely singular, private striving for material advantages, money, objects, status and influence.  The degeneration of the American drama is pathetically pictured in Scott Fitzgerald's, Great Gatsby and in Arthur Miller's, Death of a Salesman."

What we see on social media sights is this sanctity of life reduced to images of absurdity, which were never meant to be exposed to the world. When we see them we react to the craziness and laugh at the absurdity of this world.  We disconnect from our own purpose in life and are diverted from our own personal expressions that are waiting to be unearthed. We have been lead astray from the creation of our own life's powerful message.

This flippant disregard for the sanctity of the ordinary life is continually undermined by the overexposure of content that is nonsensical, and as we see more and more of this absurdity in everyday life broadcasted on the web, life itself loses its value.

We seem to love distractions, especially in this hyper economic depression. We are overwhelmed by meaningless tidbits of knowledge that we share almost on remote control as conversations become redundant news clips and our lives get further and further away from us.

Social media discord misinforms us, makes our lives less real, more agitated without taking action to control our own lives. No longer do we hear our voices talking to each other with inflection and feeling.

All this useless counter productive information keeps us insulated from our real world.  We are the new gods witnessing the human misery and madness from above.  Looking down at our hand held device instead of looking at someones face and into their eyes.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

March 15, 2014

I recently took photos at a Vietnamese Temple.   The Temple was built in honor of the great Ksitigarbho Bodhisattva for his vows of compassion.  This was a perfect example of getting to a place and being overwhelmed with the subject.  Everywhere there was a bombardment of color, statues and incense burning. There was so much to see and be part of that I had to take a step back and decide how I wanted to approach my subjects. I knew immediately that I couldn't interfere with the people who were coming to worship at the shrines and pray for their loved ones.

First off, my tripod was put back in the car.  Then I put 3 lenses (24mm, 50mm and my 105 macro lens) into a smaller shoulder bag.  This way I was more light footed and could go with the flow as more and more worshippers arrived.

In these situations if you are sensitive to others and respect their space you still can get in close to your intended subjects without imposing a barrier between you and the people coming to show their devotion to the colorful shrines.  However, one time I did get caught up shooting one shrine and didn't hear the quiet voice behind me asking me to move.  I apologized and she smiled and moved toward the shrine to pray.

It is a good idea to look for natural barriers that you can stand by and shoot your subject from. This way you become part of the scene and you don't have to worry about people running into you while you compose and try and make a photo.  Also, because I was hand holding my camera, I set my ISO a little higher and used a shutter speed around 250-320 of a second.  This gave me good depth of field and I still could stop motion if necessary.

When you are shooting in crowds it is a delicate dance to capture the subject you have been hunting and not make your presence an annoyance to the other people who are there to enjoy themselves as much as you want to make pictures.  You must anticipate movement around your intended target and move quickly to get closer and take your photograph and then move away again.  Have your exposure and shutter speed set and the lens that works with your intended vision.  As you move away you can regroup and take another look at your intended subject and then decide if there might be another, better angle to shoot from.  Also, maybe changing the lens this time will work better with your subject and off you go again and again if necessary as you explore your subject, experimenting with composition, lens and perspective.

Over all it was a wonderful experience and next year I hope to get there when the Monks allow visitors into the temple at night.  I have heard it is even more spectacular than the daytime beauty when the colorful lights are on.