Wednesday, September 28, 2011


I took a hike yesterday and on the way out I sprained my right ankle. I'll be limping around on crutches for several days and have to do a follow up visit to the doctor next week. It was actually an awesome day. The weather was great and I had a great time up to the point where I hurt myself (klutziness strikes again). Unfortunately I was 2 miles in the woods when it happened and no one else was around so I had no choice but to walk out on it with help from a large stick. What would normally take me 30-40 minutes took over 2½ hours and then I drove home 80 miles before going to the ER. By then it was badly swollen but the x-rays showed nothing broken. That was a bit of luck. I just have to stay off it for a while, ice it a couple of times a day, etc. I got some good mushroom/fungus photos though. The one above is the best of the bunch. I used my G11. This group was growing on the side of a tree along the trail.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Another Tall Ship Photo

This was right after we docked in Montreal. The crew are furling the topsail. The other two 'guest crew' climbed the rigging under the watchful eyes of professional crew during the cruise. I didn't even ask. I don't like ladders, especially ones that move, and I don't like heights. That probably sounds strange for a mountain climber but I'm a hiking mountain climber not a technical rope & piton rock climber. I like something solid under my feet. Like the previous photo I posted this was made with my Canon G11. I had run out of memory cards for the 7D at that point.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Tall Ship Cruise

I just returned yesterday from a tall ship cruise on which I was "guest crew", meaning I paid for the privilege. We sailed from Clayton, NY to Montreal, PQ over a three day period. The photo is the very last one I took before turning in for the night on Wednesday. It is six tall ships at the dock in Montreal Harbor under lights at 9:40pm. I had to take several and cross my fingers since I didn't have a tripod for making the 1 second long exposure. A tripod wouldn't have helped all that much anyway since I was standing on a floating dock that moved with the waves and each time people walked by me. I braced my Canon G11 against a post that was attached to the dock and shot several at points in time where the dock seemed to be moving minimally. The others were blurred. This one worked. I may be posting a few more here as I process them and I will post a bunch to my Flickr account over the next few days.

I will be selling prints of this. An archival print on fine art paper matted to 11x14 is $50 including postage within the US. Contact me using my Gmail account (jim.bullard) for larger sizes.

Thursday, September 08, 2011

Thoughts on Craftsmanship

The lady above is Lillian McNicol, one of Diane's great-grandmothers. It was made around 1900-1904 in Canton, NY, not exactly a metropolis even in those days. I scanned the original today as part of my on-again/off-again genealogy project and was struck by what a great portrait it is. Now I know there are lots of mediocre portraits from that era but what struck me was how good this one is despite what we today would consider to be primitive if not crude equipment. Great lighting, exposure, focus, a gem of a portrait.

In that era it would have been made with a studio camera that was little more than a wooden box, probably on a glass plate, and contact printed (the image on my screen is a bit larger than the original). The lens may not even have had a shutter, just a lens cap that the photographer removed and counted off the seconds before putting it back on. The photographer had no soft boxes or speed lights, not even an incandescent photo-flood lamp. The light source may be from a North facing window as was common back then. He probably hand painted his own back drop.

What the photographer had was skill. He knew his equipment and his materials. He had the ability to relate to the subject, to connect and get her to relax at the same time she held still for a long exposure. He had the skill to develop the negative and make a print that has lasted over 100 years with no particular special care while being passed down through four generations.

It's as true today as it was when A. J. Runions made this photo that craftsmanship and vision are more important than gear. The next time you think that your photos would be better if only you had the latest piece of gear that they are hawking, remember Mr. Runions. I don't know about you but I'd be proud to make such portraits.