Thursday, April 16, 2015

There is no bad light...there is just light!!


Boat house reflection
How many times have you heard that said? Well, I believe it is true...given that you are open to any subject matter...if you show up...and are open then you can always make an interesting image.
On a recent workshop I led in Annapolis...the light was harsh, even though we started around sunrise, it was going to be a bluebird sky day....so I like to think what is good in light like that, and sometimes there are subjects that need harsh light for great images, like reflections, shadows and textures...so we started looking for those reflections and other opportunities that only present themselves in bright light. The hulls of boats anchored in harbor make interesting graphic subjects..working with a telephoto to really get into the hull and the water line reflected in the still harbor waters.
After a little time working around the harbor the sky really did turn an amazing dark blue...I saw a beautiful wooden mast and put on a neutral density filter in order to cut the light and drag the shutter enough to make an impressionist image of the mast and lines against the blue sky..I was thinking color contrast, shapes (triangle) and photo technique opportunity...
The same boat offered up another opportunity only in black and white as the shadows and lines interested me, with the star on the hull as a point of interest seemingly teetering on the shadow and I loved the kick light from the water on the hull while the lines created the shape of a triangle.
After shooting in the harbor we walked some of the back streets and passed one of my favorite houses on the corner...I always stop there as the morning light strikes in just the right way...I was thinking color contrast, texture and shape (L) as I composed the window off center.

As we continued to walk textures became important in the early morning light, I loved the unusual shape of this porch framing the entryway but even more I loved the way the light was striking and allowing all the textures to be revealed. I saw this as a symmetrical image because of the way the columns framed the doorway.
The pickets in front of the Shiplap house were in need of painting but made for great subjects as the strong light enhanced the texture of the peeling paint. Regarding composition, I was thinking odd numbers but balance and dark background. The Shiplap House itself needed paint. I loved the light on in the window...so we made a few compositions here and then I decided to convert them to monochrome enhancing the textures of the wood and paint. The white pickets and window were striking against the dark red building.
And lastly this image I saw in an upstairs window in the back of a restaurant just before we departed the workshop event.....so when the light is strong...look for textures, and reflections, shadows, think monochrome possibilities, keep great compositional ideas working and use creative photography techniques...
I hope you can join me in the field on a workshop in the future...my next field workshop is shooting the tulips at Sherwood Gardens in Baltimore on April 25....if you are interested click here for more information and registration...and thanks for reading and following my blog!

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Arizona ~ Taliesen West in Color

Petroglyphs on rock in courtyard
As promised here are a few color shots from my holiday visit to Arizona and Frank Lloyd Wrights Taliesen West. Looking back on these amazingly electric blue skies makes me want to go back as we experience the mid winter blahs in the Mid-Atlantic. I am looking forward to working with workshop participants this weekend at the B&O Museum helping to compose interesting images and assist with appropriate camera exposure. I have three spots left if you are in the area. Click here for registration and info. 
And on Sunday I am looking forward to working with iPhone enthusiasts at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. For more info and registration click here. 
And...last but not least we still have a few more spots open on The Magnificent Mediterranean Photo Workshop in May 2015...Click here for more info...
I hope you enjoy these shots from Taliesen West!
Construction details

Whimsical details (looks like a little repair is needed, note the two missing block detail in the roof line)
Landscape meets architecture
Framing shadows

The pool
Pool reflections
Sculpture patio shot from the ground looking up to get the subject floating in the blue sky

Friday, January 9, 2015

Arizona ~ Taliesen West ~ Desert Light in Black and White


Cholla shot from the patio of Taliesen West ISO 400 1/1000 sec handheld f-16 Nikon D4 Lens 28-300 at 300mm
Wow, it has been more than a month since I posted a blog...but it has been a busy season, so I am forgiving myself for making other priorities! However I am up caught up now so...here are a few updates. I had the pleasure of making a trip to Arizona over the Christmas holiday visiting my nephew and traveling with my sister. I knew ahead there was not going to be much time for any serious photography, but I did pack my bag and tripod just in case the opportunity presented itself.
After arriving my sister settled in with her son at his place and I settled into the Best Western in Tempe. The next day we visited Taliesen West. It was a bluebird sky day...and we made it there in the afternoon so the light was bright but the sun was lower on the horizon. I love the Cholla Cactus that grow there and when the light is low they glow back lit. I did carry my camera as photography is allowed outside the property but not on the interior spaces.
ISO 400 1/1000 sec handheld f-16 Nikon D4 Lens 28-300 at 58mm
As we walked around the pool area of the property I saw the outside glider sofa 50's style, which I enjoyed as the light on the subject and the subject itself I enjoyed. I made a compositional choice to crop the sofa on the right side when shooting the image.
As we passed through the house and then around to the back of the house I again saw the matching glider through a portico space...looking toward the pool, I composed and made another shot. All the monochrome conversions were made in Google Nik Silver Efex Pro2. If you ever get a chance to visit Arizona ~  touring Taliesen West is a don't miss! Look for more on Taliesen West in color on another blog post.

2015 is off to a great start with two private tutoring sessions and I have finalized scheduled workshops for Capital Photography Center.
My DSLR and iPhone workshops, sponsored by Capital Photography Center, are on line for registration now and posted through March.
We are still accepting registrations for the Magnificent Mediterranean Photo Cruise in May 2015 if you want to join the group click here: Magnificent Mediterranean Photo Tour
I look forward to presenting at The Horizon Photography Summit, February  27-March 1 Wilmington DE and The Photo Beach Bash, March 21 in Rehoboth, Delaware.
If you live in the Baltimore ~ DC  ~ Delaware ~ Virginia area, I hope you can join me in the field.
Have an interest in a personal photography tutoring session? Shoot me an e-mail and we can work it out! Thanks for a great year in 2014 and for following my work and blog! 
ISO 400 1/1000 sec handheld f-16 Nikon D4 Lens 28-300 at 190mm


Saturday, November 22, 2014

Killer Trash in Baltimore


Composite image
This week I enjoyed working with a client honing her street photography techniques. We met in Fells Point and walked mostly on Broadway. In just a few short blocks in a couple hours we had lots of subjects to work with...that is why I love street photography and there is no better place than in Fells Point! I also enjoyed watching two sessions on Creative Live with Brooke Shaden an imaginative photographer who produces creative emotional thought provoking composite works. When I started working files I shot on the street I decided to composite two files, one a mannequin window shot and the other a street shot of a dress form. I used a few technical ideas for compositing these two images from Brooke's session. If you have time and can watch when its airing, Creative Live is awesome. You can also buy recorded sessions.
Dare I say nothing in Fells Point is new or shiny or perfect, its gritty! We came across a store called Killer Trash, which epitomizes the eclectic nature of the area. I loved the windows and the signs on the door....I mean really, where else can you find, Catseye glasses, pearls, a red dress and rust!
A few tips on shooting store windows.....watch how reflections and backgrounds are effecting your images, choose an appropriate aperture to manage depth of field, move around and change perspective. Pictures are everywhere!




Thursday, November 6, 2014

On White Balance as a Creative Choice ~ Slow Shutter ~ The Ocean


Aperture f~16 Shutter speed 30 secs ISO 70-200 Lens at 100 Focal length 70mm Nikon D4
I love the ocean! That's probably no surprise to many of you but when it comes to what really makes you buzz, what makes you want to grab a camera and go make some pictures for me it is the sea. I love being at the edge where the land meets ocean: the sounds of crashing waves, pebbles rolling in the surf, the smell of salt air, the squawk of the seagulls nearby, are inspiring. Everyday the shore, sea, light and air are different. As a matter of fact, every second is different! Every wave different from the other shaping the shore with each break.
This week, my last week here until Spring 2015, I was able to get out twice to shoot. Once at sundown facing east, and once at sunrise. When I make images at the edge of the ocean white balance is one thing that always comes into play. I usually set my camera to cloudy, but really on the edge of night and day you have to play with it in post to get the feeling or the look you want...and sometimes that look is nothing like what reality might be, but its what you want in your image...so here goes my thoughts on white balance as a creative choice....

About this image

This image and those that follow were shot about an hour before sundown facing east. The nor'easter that blew through several days ago created a very cool berm and tide pool (river) on the beach literally dividing the shore in half. I could not even walk through the tide pool to the edge of the ocean. (I left my over the knee waders at home.) That was a good thing because I used the berm at high tide as a feature to work with as the gentle waves broke and water flowed over and around the berm then collected in the tide pool reflecting the soft light of a rising moon. I was using a neutral density filter to cut light and used a 30 second exposure for these shots at f-16 locking my focus at a desirable point.
In processing I had choices to make about the "color" of the image. I could use a natural color, which was easy to achieve by using the white point dropper in Camera Raw and placing it on the white surf, but that was not that interesting to me as there really was not much color in the environment. The light was soft and the tones of the sea and shore were subtle. So I played with color temperature settings until I achieved a color that popped and worked for me setting off the subtle yellow of the rising moon reflections.  The screen shots below show first a natural white balance choice and then my artistic adjustments to the natural tones. Once you see the natural color image and then the adjusted one you might reject the adjusted tones and say over the top, but then step away and just look at the ones that are adjusted...doesn't the color have a whole different effect on the viewer?
Good or bad? It's a choice! and based on viewer responses to the FB post I made of these images folks enjoyed the artistic adjustments...
Hope to see you in the field on a workshop for Capital Photography Center or Join me in May 2015 on The Magnificent Mediterranean Workshop with photo partner David Blecman. Or find me at Nature Visions Photography Expo on November 15 and 16 for my presentations on Advanced iPhone Photography and Travel Photography.
Natural White Balance: Temperature slider at 18000 and the Tint slider at 41. As the image was a little dark as shot, I also added 1 stop of exposure to brighten the image before heading into Photoshop for further adjustments.























Adjusted White Balance: Temperature slider 11250 Tint slider -2


























I made similar adjustments to the following images.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Red Door ~ Texture Layers ~ and...More on Color and Visual Poetry


During the recent Freeman Patterson, Andre Gallant photo workshop I attended in Canada, we visited a small abandoned house on a neighbors property. Adjacent to that house was a lovely pond with reflecting fall trees and leaves floating. Everyone gravitated to the pond while I gravitated to the house. Hmm....well, I was spending a few more days on the road afterward and calculated that I would have another opportunity for the leaves and pond, but not this little abandoned house.
I don't like going into abandoned property alone, so while there were other photographers around I chose the house. This morning, I decided to create the image above from a couple files I shot there.

About this image:

The red door really made me stop and work out a composition. I wanted the red door to be a meaningful portion of the image. Choosing not to make an HDR image, the scene did not need it, I made several compositions working my way to this composition which I liked. In thinking through the composition I considered the balance between the red door and the space to the right of it. I chose to set my camera at a height that would allow the inner doorway to be framed by the interior walls. The soft light coming through the windows in the interior rooms was beautiful and I really loved the sequence of doorways. The stack of wood in the corner of the first room was a great counterpoint to the red door and added the balance I wanted.
While in the house I also shot a few simple compositions of textures, peeling paint and wood.
I liked the Red Door image as shot with no texture but also liked it with the texture. I thought it really added to the emotion of the image...to get the effect of the texture I made two layers in Photoshop, used the Multiply blend mode, turned the textured image into a monochrome and adjusted opacity of the texture layer. I chose the original Red door image with no texture for the Blurb book Andre puts together of participant images, for the workshop participants to purchase.
Kim their assistant asked for a little blurb on the image or a comment on the workshop. I wrote a poem inspired by the Red Door image which spontaneously sprung forth from somewhere in my brain. Doors metaphorically: refer to portals and other non-physical entrances. In literature, doors often represent choices or outcomes which the principle actors can directly engage with.
How about a metaphor for red? Here is a link to a paper on Red as a metaphor....what do you think?
Would this image have the same impact or emotion if the door were blue?

And hope to see you at Nature Visions Photography Expo November 15 and 16! I will be presenting some thoughts on Travel Photography and sharing some of my favorite advanced iPhone techniques..
I will also be helping out at the Capital Photography Center's booth. Or join me for some field workshops! Check out the links on the sidebar of this blog!

The Red Door~

The Red Door beckoned, enter here
but there laid bare the floors,
the walls in disrepair.

The Red Door swung open, enter here
then enter more see my bones,
explore the empty rooms with no one there.

The Red Door brightly welcomed, enter here
see the light beyond my threshold, enter here
see my soul.

Karen L Messick ~
Original Red Door image.

Original Texture image

Monochrome of Texture layer

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

On Imagery and Poetry...The Old Swimming Hole

Aperture f~16 Shutter 1/50 sec ISO 100 Focal Length 125 Lens 70-200 Nikon D4
About this image:
This scene in Hampton, New Brunswick, Canada evoked a sense of nostalgia in me. On a morning shoot, I found this small pond, only large enough to be a swimming hole, in a meadow in early morning light as a gentle mist was beginning to lift. It harkened the end of the summer season. The colors of the vegetation, the stillness of the water and the moodiness the mist brought to the scene enhanced the feeling I had of the past. I felt a sense of visual poetry in this scene. As a young teen, I had a swimming hole my boyfriend and I used to visit in an old quarry, that is now fenced off and impossible to access. This scene, when I saw it put a smile on my face thinking that yes, children somewhere on the planet still enjoy an Old Swimming Hole! I made several compositions with focus on the soft light striking the floating platform but liked this one best, it was the first shot I made of the scene. I processed the image minimally in Photoshop and removed a distracting red float in the water at the end of the platform. When composing the image I paid particular attention to the balance between the lower third of the image and the trees with the beautiful sidelight. I was also paying attention to exactly where in the frame the floating platform was located in the lower right of the frame.

When preparing to write this blog I "Googled" "The Old Swimming Hole" and found the poem by James Whitcomb Riley about The Old Swimming Hole written in 1883. Some things never change!
It made me think about how our images can align with the heart of a poet, both evoking a feeling or emotion in the viewer or reader. 

The Old Swimmin' Hole By James Whitcomb Riley
 
Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! whare the crick so still and deep
Looked like a baby-river that was laying half asleep,
And the gurgle of the worter round the drift jest below
Sounded like the laugh of something we onc't ust to know
Before we could remember anything but the eyes
Of the angels lookin' out as we left Paradise;
But the merry days of youth is beyond our controle,
And it's hard to part ferever with the old swimmin'-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! In the happy days of yore,
When I ust to lean above it on the old sickamore,
Oh! it showed me a face in its warm sunny tide
That gazed back at me so gay and glorified,
It made me love myself, as I leaped to caress
My shadder smilin' up at me with sich tenderness.
But them days is past and gone, and old Time's tuck his toll
From the old man come back to the old swimmin'-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! In the long, lazy days
When the humdrum of school made so many run-a-ways,
How plesant was the jurney down the old dusty lane,
Whare the tracks of our bare feet was all printed so plane
You could tell by the dent of the heel and the sole
They was lots o' fun on hands at the old swimmin'-hole.
But the lost joys is past! Let your tears in sorrow roll
Like the rain that ust to dapple up the old swimmin'-hole.

Thare the bullrushes growed, and the cattails so tall,
And the sunshine and shadder fell over it all;
And it mottled the worter with amber and gold
Tel the glad lilies rocked in the ripples that rolled;
And the snake-feeder's four gauzy wings fluttered by
Like the ghost of a daisy dropped out of the sky,
Or a wownded apple-blossom in the breeze's controle
As it cut acrost some orchard to'rds the old swimmin'-hole.

Oh! the old swimmin'-hole! When I last saw the place,
The scenes was all changed, like the change in my face;
The bridge of the railroad now crosses the spot
Whare the old divin'-log lays sunk and fergot.
And I stray down the banks whare the trees ust to be—
But never again will theyr shade shelter me!
And I wish in my sorrow I could strip to the soul,
And dive off in my grave like the old swimmin'-hole.