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.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Cropping and Fog ~ In the Fog

F-9 ISO 200 Shutter 1/200 sec
Fog looks cool in the landscape creeping quietly into the scene and ever-changing with the breeze and light of day. It adds an air of mystery. It can even be a little scary to be in a thick fog as it obscures our vision, but I love fog in the landscape when creating images. Fog shots are also good candidates for textures in processing but I decided to leave this one as shot.

About this image:
I had the opportunity on my recent road trip to Vermont to drive to the top of Mt. Mansfield, 4393 feet above sea level on the toll road which is a green ski run in winter. As I drove the switchback, muddy route I traversed into a dense cloud fog that completely shrouded the mountain top. Immediately I noticed a quiet in the atmosphere as the sunshine slipped away. No one was one else had decided to go up that day as views from the top were obscured. I did not care about the clouds, I was there for the experience...the fun of driving to the top and I love fog!

While driving I  noticed the tops of the tall pines standing out against the white of the clouds with layers of fog density, I loved the way they looked. So having my camera with me I made a few shots of the pines at the top of the mountain. In processing I decided to make the square crop as shown. Cropping is not what I usually choose to do with my images as I prefer to get it in camera, but square works for me too. I actually shot this image with the idea to crop later in mind as I loved the way the tops of the three trees in the middle tiered down the mountainside.

Here is the original shot before the crop:

It must be a Carl Sandburg is his poem on Fog.


By Carl Sandburg
The fog comes
on little cat feet.

It sits looking
over harbor and city
on silent haunches
and then moves on.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Impressionism in Photography ~ Technique ~ Play with the Wind

Aperture f-22 Shutter 1.3 ISO 100 Lens at 200mm Nikon D4 (5 shot composite)
Sometimes experimentation is a must in your work and life..sometimes it works sometimes it doesn't! I think this photographic experiment worked, I like the resulting image! On my recent road trip to see and capture the beautiful fall foliage of the Northeast I experimented with this beautiful tree as a subject. I have always loved impressionism and have made more than my share of 'swipes' and in camera 'multiple exposures' in the traditional way. I have also made layered images adjusting opacity and brushing in and out sections of an image where I wanted to keep or remove parts of an image to arrive at a unique image, but I had not come up with this method before. I am sure someone has, that I don't know about, but I thought it was interesting. I liked the result and thought I would share it here. This image creating technique is something I will add to my shooting repertoire in the future when the subject has potential.

About this image:
I chose the original composition carefully watching the background as I did not want any "white" holes but instead a full texture of vegetation. Then I made five separate shots keeping the camera position the same on a rock steady tripod. Each image was captured in a different file. The wind was briskly blowing and I chose a small aperture f-22 which gave me a 1.3 second exposure at ISO 100 for each shot. At that shutter speed with the wind blowing each shot was different as the leaves were fluttering and the branches moving with the trunk of the tree fairly steady. I then opened all the images in Photoshop created layers for each one and adjusted opacity, blend modes and masked sections in each layer to get to the final image here. It is a five layer composite, creating a slightly different look than moving the camera for each exposure as in a multiple or a single swipe impression. Would love to hear your thoughts on this image.

I have always loved poetry and find this one from Carl Sandburg fits my image, the season and the idea of change and impermanence.

Autumn Movement
I cried over beautiful things knowing no beautiful thing lasts.
The field of cornflower yellow is a scarf at the neck of the copper sunburned woman,
      the mother of the year, the taker of seeds.
The northwest wind comes and the yellow is torn full of holes, new beautiful things
      come in the first spit of snow on the northwest wind, and the old things go,
      not one lasts.

Carl Sandburg, 1878-1967.

Hope to see you at Nature Visions Photography Expo in Virginia November 15-16 where I will be sharing two presentations, one on iPhone Photography and the other on Travel Photography...for more info and registration click here.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

On Windows ~ Nik Silver Efex Pro2

Aperture f~16  Shutter Speed 1/80 sec ISO 100 Focal length 180 Lens 70-200 Nikon D4
Windows often hold an interest for me as photographic subject matter. I am not alone in that idea as many photographers and artists have long made the window an element of their imagery. It has been said that a window provides access to two of life’s essentials, light and air, but is it more than just a means to an end? Windows also have symbolic, expressive and architectural qualities that have for centuries inspired some of the world’s greatest artists such as Matisse.
Sometimes there are multiple roles of the window in art surrounding key themes, from the window as a status symbol to its use as a provider of physical and spiritual illumination; from its employment as a literal window on the world outside the confines of a room to its function as a mirror, reflecting the emotions of the artist or the individuals depicted; and finally to the immense architectural variety of windows. (Excerpt from: Windows in Art by Christopher Masters)

What do you window images reflect?

About this image:
This window image is one shot. While it may appear to be two layers of images, instead, it is two layers of windows in a single shot. The closest window reflecting the windblown leaves of the vegetation just outside the first window and the second window holding the jars. When I saw this scene I thought about going into the abandoned house and closing the door that is providing a strong dark element on the right side but then decided I liked it, it allowed the first window to frame the second window with the reflected leaves and added a strong linear element to the image. My choice of camera position, being aware not to get myself into the reflection, put the image slightly askew, which I decided not to correct, I liked it that way. In creating this shot I used a small step stool to get taller so as to minimize the skew. I also made a shot or two with the outside frame of the house in a horizontal orientation, but liked this image best. It is good to try many different compositions when you have a great subject. My decision to present this as a monochrome image arose from the lack of strong color in the scene, the tonal offering in the scene and my mood.

Windows have also been a strong metaphoric element used in poetry as in this poem by Carl Sandburg~

At a Window

Give me hunger,
O you gods that sit and give
The world its orders.
Give me hunger, pain and want,
Shut me out with shame and failure
From your doors of gold and fame,
Give me your shabbiest, weariest hunger!

But leave me a little love,
A voice to speak to me in the day end,
A hand to touch me in the dark room
Breaking the long loneliness.
In the dusk of day-shapes
Blurring the sunset,
One little wandering, western star
Thrust out from the changing shores of shadow.
Let me go to the window,
Watch there the day-shapes of dusk
And wait and know the coming
Of a little love.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

"Equivalence" a Perennial Trend ~ Minor White 1963

F 9 ISO 100 Shutter 1.6 sec Focal length 100 Lens 70-200 2.8 Nikon D4
In 1963 when Minor White wrote an article for the PSA Journal on "Equivalence", I was barley 11 years old and "equivalents" to me were measured in Quarts: Pints: Gallons...I still have to look them up when I want to know...except for the old adage a pints a pound the world around...but now as a "maturing" photographer the idea of "Equivalence" in photography theory as opposed to "equivalents" is more interesting. It really brings to the fore front of our image making the idea of ~ what we photograph, how we photograph and what is the connection to the photographer's inner self. I know myself, I move through many styles, techniques and subjects as I move through time in my personal image making. How about you? What do your images say? When thinking in Equivalence?

Here is a brief clip of the article Minor White authored on the subject of Equivalence.

Minor White ~ When any photograph functions for a given person as an Equivalent we can say that at that moment and for that person the photograph acts as a symbol or plays the role of a metaphor for something that is beyond the subject photographed. We can say this in another way; when a photograph functions as an Equivalent, the photograph is at once a record of something in front of the camera and simultaneously a spontaneous symbol......When the photographer shows us what he considers to be an Equivalent, he is showing us an expression of a feeling, but this feeling is not the feeling he had for the object that he photographed. What really happened is that he recognized an object or series of forms that, when photographed, would yield an image with specific suggestive powers that can direct the viewer into a specific and known feeling, state or place within himself.

For the complete article your can click here and read more of Minor White's article.

So, thinking "Equivalence" ~ and my image above:
On a recent photography/fall odyssey trip, I found myself in a quiet forest beside a small stream and delicate waterfall. I began photographing and used a neutral density filter to slow the water and made many attempts to find a composition or image that I really liked given the space I was working in and nothing seemed to be working for me, in other words I didn't like my images...until I found this pairing of two rocks strewn with fall leaves that had to me the appearance of a broken heart and  maybe the leaves were symbolic of what was left behind from a relationship and the water swirling the washing away, I really don't know but "Yes" I said, that is the scene and the image that I want to make work for on the clump of collected leaves with the dreamlike water surrounding them. Well OK... here is where the idea of "Equivalence" comes in: I had just had an 8 year relationship end with a big disappointment to me. I really believe the theory of Equivalence was at play this day so poignantly in my image making. We all recognize what the symbol of a broken heart image means. In the end, I loved the final image and find it beautiful! Life itself with the renewing flow of water...rock solid....plants the cycle of life...centered in the much to see in this little picture....what does it make you feel?
How does your imagery reflect the theory of "Equivalence"? (I hope you got a chance to read the full article, it is very heady) or are you just trying to get the next best shot, beat out the other photographer or are they inextricably woven together?? When you make images just for yourself how different are they than when you are trying to get the next best shot? or not? Just sayin!
I will be making two presentations at Nature Visions Photography Expo in Virginia on November 15 and 16.
Hope you can join me there!
Nature Visions  Click here for more information and registration.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

The Old Apple Tree ~ Nik Color Efex4 ~ Flypaper Textures

I was very fortunate to attend a photography workshop conducted by Freeman Patterson and Andre Gallant as part of my Fall Odyssey Road Trip. One morning on location in Hampton we had some beautiful fog over the water. I was traveling with Andre's group that morning. When he saw a great scene along the road we were traveling, he made an unplanned stop and we all got out of our vehicles to capture a few foggy morning images. But this blog is not about those's about what I saw as the fog was lifting. As I was walking back up the hill, I noticed this little scene of the apple tree in morning light and the small upturned boat. I made the shot with the idea of processing it with filters. The scene spoke to me. It really felt like the area in Canada I was getting to know; old world-like. While I loved the fog and the beautiful landscape images I made that morning...(that's another post)...I really just loved the old apple tree.
My processing here began with the original raw file below......
making adjustments to the raw file with saturation, levels, curves in Photoshop. I also cleaned up a few straggly apple tree branches in the upper right corner with the content aware tool, but that's about it.
Original image adjusted in Photoshop
 Then I added a fog filter in Color Efex Pro4 making further adjustments in opacity to the Fog Layer.
Layer of fog from Nik Color Efex4

Then I added two texture layers using textures from Flypaper Textures and made further adjustments in Photoshop using the multiply blend mode to arrive at the final image below. I would love to hear your thoughts on the composition and processing!
Final Image with two Flypaper Textures