For two friends…

who have hit a rough patch.

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Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning’s hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.

Mary Elizabeth Frye

Poor girl…

out shooting in the harsh sunlight.

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There is only you and your camera. The limitations in your photography are in yourself; for what we see is what we are.

Ernst Haas

I admit to getting a bit of perverse enjoyment out of strolling along, tripod in hand, in the heat of the day with sun overhead.

I see the looks and can almost hear the thoughts…poor girl, she doesn’t know that this is the worst possible light to shoot under. Hasn’t she heard about the golden hour?

But when I start to lose that glorious low angle light of winter I switch it up and pull out the infrared; and for that the light could not be better!

Composition is very critical in these shots and that is something that I am always playing with. I use a hoya filter, not a converted camera to capture these shots so they do require some planning. Most of them are shot with exposures of around 30 seconds.

These shots capture the light that is not visible to us: it is the near infrared. I always shoot in raw, although jpeg may be a little easier to edit especially when starting out.

Focus is a bit of a challenge as it is not the same as visible light. I focus and compose without the filter and then adjust the focus after attaching the filter. Likewise white balance is tricky and I create profiles to use in Lightroom for the imported raw infrared files. These profiles create a good starting point with more room for adjustment.

Lastly there are options for creating “false color” by swapping color channels but for me more often the beauty of infrared lies in the black and white conversion.

Ultimately this is about keeping your options open and seizing each opportunity to photograph.

Develop some skills to cover all light conditions. That way when you have the time to shoot, it won’t require that you wait for the perfect light.

Wind scoured snow…

and a hint of sun. Perfect for a winter landscape!

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Twelve significant photographs in any one year is a good crop.

Ansel Adams

I’ve spent quite a bit of time in the last two weeks going through images, updating my website, and having prints made.

If you haven’t done something like that in a while it is really quite interesting.

It can go several ways I suppose. You might look back and think that it’s time to just put the camera on the shelf or start using it as a paper weight OR you might come away feeling energized. Hopefully it will be the latter!

For me it was a two-part process; deciding on prints that I really liked and then seeing how they looked in print. That did not always go in the way that I had expected. There were surprises in both directions. Some required more attention when it came to the edit while others just seemed to lose something on paper. Explore how things look printed on different paper. I tend to favor matte and for images like this one, Somerset Velvet fine art paper made it really special.

I’ve learned a lot more about handling RAW files and feel more comfortable with what needs to happen to them before they are ready to print. I pay a lot more attention to my histogram especially when it comes to shooting things like infrared. There’s no substitute for it especially when you’re out in the bright light and can’t see your screen. If you are not used to using it, bracket some shots and then compare each one to the histogram when you get home. Learn how it needs to look to make the shot that you’re envisioning.

Ultimately though it had the effect of refocusing me. I don’t feel the need to photograph everything but look for those special moments that pop up like today’s image. Moments that won’t ever look quite the same again. I was glad that I had opted to bring my camera and a lens change with me.

Snowboarding through the trees I was aware of the sun occasionally and ever so slightly breaking through the clouds; not staying for long but adding that one special element that I needed for this winter landscape shot.

The snow was windswept. It still clung to the trees from the storm the night before: the direction of the wind was evident. It was much calmer today but the occasional gust sent showers of snowflakes from these trees through the air.

Making a mental note of this spot I looped back around to the chair hoping to be able to get back before conditions changed too much. Racing down on my next run I stopped, mindful of being in a “safe” spot where I could be seen by others should they come downhill following a similar line. Sheltering my camera in my coat I dialed in the settings, removed the lens cap but kept the lens pointed down so that it didn’t get spotted with snow… and I waited.

When the next brief flash of sun came, I took my shot. I think this might become one of my twelve shots for the year and it was the icing on the cake after a good morning of riding.

How’s your crop coming for the year? Does it need watering?

Does your journey stop after taking the picture…

or do you actually edit and print them?

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Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

You know when you’re working on the computer and you might have several things going on at one time concurrently? Well this is an awful lot like that…

Sometimes I think that taking the photograph is the easy part. You work hard at learning your craft, shooting anything and everything. This changes over time as you develop a sense of what really moves you to capture what is really meaningful to you. Then, if you have the opportunity to exhibit your work, you’ll need to edit and print it.

So much of what we view today is on phones, tablets, ipads,and computer screens so it is a rather rude awakening sometimes when it comes to the print.

I tend to not print my own prints. I want to have the best quality available and the widest choice of print options. This does not come without its own set of problems though.

I shoot in raw to give myself the best range of options when it comes to editing. I don’t want the camera to compress the image into a jpeg and throw out information that might be critical to my shot. We do after all make a photo, not just take a photo.

Likewise when sending my image off to print, I don’t want the lab to make choices on how it gets printed.

I have set up an editing environment that has consistent light, I calibrate my dedicated monitor on a regular basis, and I do test prints which I then check against my monitor for accuracy.

All of which is challenging because so much of the general public viewing is done with that wonderful backlighting that has to be then factored in when you send an image to print. That file needs to be adjusted so that the print that comes back or gets drop shipped to a client, looks exactly as it should.

I took the opportunity recently to look back on years of images as I was putting a collection together to print. It was a fascinating experience to look at the evolution of my own journey in photography.

I would highly recommend doing this.

Then take it one step further, don’t just post those images… print those favorites!

Watercolors…

wet on wet, with just  hint of masking.

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The longer you look at an object, the more abstract it becomes, and, ironically, the more real.

Lucian Freud

Staring out from my kitchen window at the rain falling down; waiting for a break in the weather. I was in the mood to shoot something, when my eyes fell upon the orchids sitting on the window ledge.

I thought about the different ways that I could shoot this. Set up my tripod and macro lens? Color or mono? Move them or shoot them in place? With the raindrops clinging to the window screen and the odd ray of sun trying to break through I opted for my 55-300 zoom.

I picked it up and began to play with the composition. Loving the bright bokeh created in part by the drops of rain I wanted to make sure that I had lots of it in the final image and that it was sharper than the orchids.

Playing with the focus I set it to manual and moved around, in and out, backwards and forwards, until I got the look that I wanted.

Post processing programs abound that can, with the aid of filters and other manipulations morph any photo into something completely different from what was originally shot but it is still my personal preference to create the image in the camera and not in photoshop. If I want an infrared look I shoot infrared. If I want a double exposure, I shoot it in the camera. For those times when I want to do a composite, I layer them in the camera taking care to position the elements as I shoot them. An example of this was my eclipse shot from an earlier blog post. While shooting each phase I kept a mental picture of where I wanted the next moon to be knowing that I would combine them into one raw image before exporting it out of my camera. I indicated that this photo was created using the image overlay feature in the Nikon D7000.

Could it have been done in PS? Certainly and more seamlessly no doubt but I enjoyed the challenge of this and it makes me feel more involved in the image.

I frequently see shots that have been manipulated and I think that in those cases it should be noted as HDR, composite, etc. I don’t think that it takes anything away from the image, that is an art form in itself, but I do think it adds to a general feeling of mistrust.

Image manipulation is not new to the digital darkroom. In 2012 the Metropolitan Museum of Art had an exhibit titled Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop with images created as early as the 1840’s.

I can only imagine what we might be seeing in photography in as little as 5 or 10 years. It is a medium that is evolving at lightning speed.

I had a passing thought about my love of abstract and soft images. When I was in grade one I was taken to the eye doctor who discovered just how bad my vision was. So bad and deteriorating so rapidly that I had to use drops every night that were intended to slow the progression.

Many years later my eye doctor commented on how I never liked to have my sight corrected to its full capability but preferred to be under corrected.

I wonder if that played a role in developing how I like to shoot?

Or maybe I just don’t like to see the world as it really is…

The next time you pick up your camera spend some time exploring how you could not just take that next photograph but make that next photograph!

You never know…

when that next shot will pop up!!

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Dogs act exactly the way we would act if we had no shame.

Cynthia Heimel

I’d just loaded my groceries into the jeep trying to keep them and myself dry during a soaking spring (I know it’s only March) rain.

Looking to my left and several cars away I spotted this beautiful dog taking advantage of the raindrops on his open window.

Before heading out the door I grab my camera and a spare lens the way most people pick up their car keys and phone. Most often I’ll have the 55-300  lens ready to shoot with because that’s the lens that can capture the widest range of shots on the fly, the ones like this one that might be gone if you have to fiddle with changing a lens.

Dogs in cars…capturing them as they ride along or wait for their owners. They are such characters; some patient, some anxious, some protective.

I’m more comfortable with this form of street art. I feel less like I’m intruding on someone’s privacy especially since we are in an era where everything is fair game to be photographed or filmed.

He (she?) flopped down shortly after this image so I was happy that I had taken advantage of the moment at hand.

It’s all about being ready…

Make sure that you are.

Here comes the sun…

and it made for a fun day of play!

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If you are out there shooting, things will happen for you. If you’re not out there, you’ll only hear about it.

Jay Maisel

It’s been a very overcast winter for the most part here in the Inland Northwest so when it finally cleared up, the night-time temperature dropped, scattering frost over the damp ground and trees.

I like to mix things up, change my lens, change my settings, change my position, and take full advantage of light conditions.

Having a few days of sunshine has made me want to play with lens flare and ghosting; using them intentionally to add a different element to my shots.

These effects occur when a bright light source hits the front element of  lens creating haze and artifacts due to internal reflections within the lens.

Days like this one, shooting in a very specific way, are always highly interesting to me. I learn so much about the possibilities and have a really good time just playing with my gear.

It reminds me to continue exploring each and every piece of gear in my bag and to think about how I can present something differently from the person standing next to me. Granted, different is NOT always better but these times of exploration are invaluable and often lead to something new.

This technique reminds me of spattering watercolor paint from a brush onto a painting except with a lens you have more control. Although I prefer this image in mono I left it in color because the artifacts show up more clearly.

Take advantage of each day and whatever it offers and don’t for one minute leave your camera at home because you think that there will be nothing to shoot…