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…

Explore…

other artists and at the same time, challenge yourself!

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Chaos in nature is immediately challenging and forces a good artist to impose some type of order on his or her perception of a site.

Wolf Kahn

I was taking a pastel class and our teacher, for the week’s homework, sent us out to paint…of all things…landscapes!

I was horrified and almost got queasy at the thought of attempting a landscape. “You don’t like landscapes,” that inner voice whispered in my ear. “You will most definitely fail at this assignment.”

Dreading the onslaught of things that would soon be bombarding my senses I decided to do a little research and see if I could find anything that resonated with me before heading outside with paper and pastels.

I discovered Wolf Kahn and immediately fell in love with his view of the landscape. This was something that I could relate to. The colors were bold and the subject matter was just abstract enough to make me believe that I too could choose to see things differently.

It was a turning point in the way that I began to use my camera; more as a paint brush that could move and meld images into the way that I would love to see them. Not always as they were but as they could be!

I am eternally grateful to that teacher and mentor, that talented artist who was able to see that pastels were not where I needed to be and that it was okay for me to spend my time in class repeating my work with my camera.

Those pastel classes freed me to accept my love for the camera and to commit to following that medium wherever it would take me.

This is a landscape. These are birch trees. They calm me and at the same time send my imagination soaring.

Don’t be held back by preconceived limitations and be willing to step out of your comfort zone and explore other mediums. You might be surprised at where it leads you and the friendships that you might build with other artists.

I envision some day doing a show with a group of artists all looking at the same “scene” and then interpreting it in their own medium and own style. I think it would be fascinating.

And for those who take the time to teach and encourage what they see in others artistically, I am incredibly grateful.

Thank you, Nan…

Words to live by…

after one of those weeks.

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Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma-which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your own heart and intuition.

Steve Jobs

It’s a challenge when one lives, eats, and breathes the image. Where every flash of natural light draws the eye and the mind continually frames and crops what is put before it.

I struggled with geometry in school yet the numbers of the sacred triangle for exposure flow easily through my mind balancing iso to aperture to shutter speed.

As with any artwork I think that the best work comes when you have a connection to the subject matter but I don’t feel that is a requirement for producing excellent work.

Like any instrument if you know how it works and you use it every day, you can make it do whatever you need it to do.

I learned a lot of my technical skills during many years of photographing kiln formed glass for entry into exhibits. Shooting glass is very challenging. Too much glare destroys the image but you do need some well placed highlights to show that it is glass. Remove them all and it looks like plastic. Add to that those unwanted reflections popping up when you least want them and you could have a very unusable image!

There was no room for fanciful imagery or interpretation in this, it had to show the piece in the best light possible, with as much detail as possible; after all, if the piece was accepted on the basis of this photograph and arrived for the show looking different from the image it stood a good chance of being returned. I’m grateful to have had that learning experience, it was also when I learned the full value of shooting in raw.

I welcome the opportunities to shoot things that I wouldn’t necessarily gravitate to. It keeps my skills sharp and I almost always come away from one of these adventures with new information.

I also appreciate those photographers who shoot in the arenas that I don’t who are open to having a discussion about them without getting all furtive and protective. That to me is the hallmark of a confident professional.

It’s been an interesting week…

Reflecting on winter…

and its stark, magical beauty.

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The job of the color photographer is to provide some level of abstraction that can take the image out of the daily.

Joel Sternfeld

One of the things that I love about winter is the light. Certainly we have many days when it’s overcast and you wonder if you will ever again see a color other than gray but then just before you put the camera away, you turn around…

A gentle, soft wash of color glowing on an open stretch of water and repeated in the sky low towards the horizon as the day draws to an end.

This for me is the time for color photography. I photographed many aspects of this scene, quickly before the light was lost. In one, a heron stood at the water’s edge patiently waiting for something to catch his eye. In another, a wide-angle shot of the water and bank. And then there were the shots of pure reflection, taken of trees upside down with their blankets of snow still clinging to them.

The winter months seem to have a different quality to the light, perhaps in part due to the reflective quality of the white snow.

This is the time I most often see alpen glow on the mountains opposite to the sunrise or sunset. If you’ve never experienced this, it’s a sight to see with intense pinks and oranges lighting up the mountain tops.

Winter landscape photography is more challenging due to the working temperatures and access but I can’t get enough of it’s constantly changing beauty.

I don’t long for spring and will find continue to find joy in every winter day…

Capturing artistry…

what does it take?

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Music, in performance, is a type of sculpture. The air in the performance is sculpted into something.

Frank Zappa

After many days of gray skies and rain I took to my archives in search of some light.

This image with musicians Nicholas Crosa and Pansy Chang of Pink Martini was taken at an outdoor concert in the early evening.

Their music is a joy to listen to and the visuals of them playing together is in itself like watching a ballet.

I rarely use a flash preferring instead to compose using whatever light is available; in this particular case the stage lighting was soft and dramatic and the slight noise added by using a higher ISO of 800 was negligible..

Minimal lighting creates lost and found edges that leaves so much more to the imagination than illuminating every detail would have.

Artistry for me goes beyond simply mastering a skill and takes it to that level where you no longer have to think about the technical details but can fully immerse yourself in capturing the moment.

Moments are not guaranteed to come on a daily basis and that is why one needs to shoot every day, under all conditions so that you’re ready and not fumbling with settings when you see something that moves you. Having your camera set on auto would not have captured this moment.

The duo of components that I am always looking for and that bring me the greatest joy when captured are movement and light; they are rather like a tango; intertwined and passionate.

Her arm, so gracefully extended, wrist slightly cocked; his smile, soft and gentle. The light just touching part of their faces…their duet pure artistry.

And the music?

Perfection…

Ten years ago it wouldn’t have occurred to me…

to find beauty in something so simple.

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Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

Leonardo da Vinci

This winter more so than others I have been drawn to high key, white on white imagery that just seems to showcase the season so well.

There is a complexity to snow that you might not notice if you only look at it as something to be endured.

It can be hard and crystalline or soft and undulating. It can form pristine flakes or pelt the ground with fertilizer sized pellets called graupel or grail.

Years ago I would not have had the confidence to post an image of such simplicity but to me, in this stage of my journey, this image brings me such a feeling of satisfaction.

I believe that a connection to subject matter is integral to being able to fully express that one moment.

In a busy, imagery fueled world, I find myself drawn to that which doesn’t share every detail but leaves a story just on the fringes of it.

What do you believe? Where do you find beauty?