Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The "Art" Question Again

Fellow photo blogger Guy Tal posted a defense of photography as art to his blog yesterday. Guy is a first rate photographer and, in my opinion, an artist. For what it's worth I call myself an Artist/Craftsman/Photographer on my business cards because I think that what I do encompasses all of those, sometimes all at the same time. Like everyone who takes photos some of my images are just photos, images made to record an event, take note of something I want to remember visually. If I mean to share it with others I will apply my skills to make it really good, to 'craft' it well and then it is both craft and photograph. Others, like the one above are the result of a particular visualization of the subject which involve a specific intent in the camera and/or in what we have come to call "post production", the digital version of the darkroom.

The image above was made with a 'simplification' treatment in mind. It was shot on one of the walks I do for exercise. I wanted to emphasize the pattern of the fence and the vines but I knew that in the straight photo that would largely be lost amidst the detail of every blade of grass in focus. It was shot with a Canon G10, easy to carry on such outings but like all pocket sized digital cameras it has great depth of field even at fairly wide apertures. So I used a polygonal simplification filter to reduce the detail to the level I wanted. I did also apply some blurring to the grass beyond the fence prior to the simplifying filter.

I don't feel that applying such obvious filtration to an image is necessary to make it "Art". I consider the photo I posted on Tuesday to be art as well. Despite its straightforward appearance I did take care in composing it to include precisely the elements I wanted to communicate and I did apply post production work to it to emphasize the details I wanted the viewer to see. But the details of what I did aren't what makes it art. They are just the tools of art. What makes art is using those tools in the same way that the poet uses just the right words arranged in just the right way.

Check out Guy's blog and look at his photos while you are there <>

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

First Snow

Last Saturday we drove to Endicott to visit our daughter. From Canton to around Dekalb Jct. it had snowed during the night, just a light dusting, but it reflected the early light of dawn making the world brighter than it otherwise would have been at that hour.

This isn't my usual type of landscape. I'm often annoyed by power and phone lines that obstruct an otherwise beautiful scene. The large tower here is the 765KV line that cuts across our area and was the subject of considerable protest when it was built to carry power downstate. There are at least two other sets of lines in the photo for regional and local delivery of power. While the big tower does have an industrial/engineering sort of beauty about it I can't help thinking how serene this view would be without all the poles and wires.

Recently I've had hope for such a future. The Solar Highways project could eliminate all those wires because in addition to generating power it would become the power grid. It is projected that converting our road system to solar generation could replace not only our current electric generation (no more dammed rivers), it could also replace oil, gas and coal. If we replaced all the asphalt with solar panels it would generate more than twice the total energy we now use. Another reason I need to live to be 100, to see that day.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010


This is the last I will post from last week's sky photos and I will confess that the bird was added. It actually did fly overhead  during that shoot but was against a boring patch of flat white sky with no detail or interesting bits. I took that shot and hoped the bird would fly to a more photogenic part of of the sky, most of which was quite amazing, but no... it landed in a tree. So I decided to digitally put it into this photo.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Another View, Same Sky

Another photo of the sky over the Hatch Rd. from last week.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

From Both Sides Now

I mentioned the variety in the sky in my last post. This photo was made only 12 minutes later and a short distance down the road from the photo in Friday's post. All told, in less than 20 minutes, I shot about two dozen different views that are totally or predominantly sky.

Friday, October 15, 2010

I've Looked at Clouds

Yesterday as I was driving into town on a back road the sky was amazing, a vast assortment of clouds and colors. I could point my lens in different directions and get very different scenes. This one is the only image where I also captured a single bird high up and silhouetted against the cloud. It begs to be printed very large.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Close, but No Frost

Here we are in mid-October and we've yet to have a frost. In the Adirondacks (South of here) the fall color is pretty much over, most of the leaves are down. Our foliage is just peaking and leaves are falling at in increasing rate but the geraniums in the window box and the impatiens in the planters are still in full bloom. In years past we could expect a killing frost any time after Labor Day. This year we have summer flowers and autumn leaves side by side.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Dawn & The Art of Lean-to Maintenance

Yesterday I did my last lean-to maintainer trip of the season. I set out from home in the dark (5:30AM) and arrived at the Loj Rd. shortly before the sun rose. The dimly lit mountains stood in contrast to the color of the brightening pre-dawn sky and a small group of geese completed this image of the horizon toward the McIntye Range and Indian Pass.

The trails were quite wet, virtual streams in some places and I had made the mistake of wearing trail runners instead of my waterproof hiking boots so I ended up spending much of the day with wet feet but it was a mild day and I didn't mind. "My" lean-to is 4¼ miles toward Indian Pass (the notch right of center) from the parking lot at Adirondack Loj. I had plans to meet someone for lunch but didn't make it out until 12:30 and was another half hour getting to Saranac Lake. I returned home by the Tooley Pond Rd. in hope that autumn color had held up better at lower elevations but it was mostly gone. The canopy there was bare and the only color, mostly yellow, was in the understory.

Photo made with a Canon G10, handheld, 1/11th @ f/4.5, ISO 200.

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Free Speech or harassment?

This week the Supreme Court takes up the “free speech” case of Rev. Fred Phelps who, with members of his church have protested at over 200 veteran’s funerals. The supposedly Rev. Phelps believes that U.S. deaths in Afghanistan and Iraq are God's punishment for the nation's tolerance of homosexuality. Based on that belief, he and his congregation demonstrate at funerals of veterans with signs that say "Thank God for dead soldiers," "You're Going to Hell," "God Hates the USA/Thank God for 9/11" and worse. Needless to say the demonstrations are distressing to members of the veterans families who are grieving the loss of a loved one, one whose life was forfeited as an result of patriotism. Rev. (and I use the title advisedly) Phelps and his followers defend their protests on the grounds that it is free speech protected by the Bill of Rights. In my view it is harassment pure and simple, however should the Supreme Court decide that it is protected free speech I propose that for every funeral Fred Phelps and his followers thus disrupt, a group of protesters should stand outside his church during services carrying signs saying vile and offensive things about the pastor and his parishioners. After all the Bible does say “an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” and turn about is fair play. It won’t happen of course. Why? Because the vast majority of folks in this country are far more Christian in their behavior than Fred Phelps and his followers, even most who don’t count themselves as Christians.