Thursday, August 23, 2012

Turtlehead With Spider

A friend told me that there were some Cardinal Flowers in bloom on the Stone Valley Trails which are just at the bottom of the hill from our new house. I've been so  busy with the move, painting, sorting, moving, throwing out, etc. that I hadn't been down to the trails since moving. Yesterday in the evening I rectified that with a short hike. I did find some Cardinal Flowers but I also found several Turtlehead plants including this one with a spider lurking on the underside of one of the leaves. While I was setting up to photograph another a bee landed on it but just then a breeze came up and set the plant swaying from side to side. By the time it stopped the bee had gone. Rotten luck. I like getting photos of flowers while bees are gathering nectar. On the Turtleheads though you'd have to catch the bee when it first lands. They go right down inside the bloom and out of sight to get the nectar.

Canon 7D processed mainly in Lightroom 4 with some additional sharpening in Photoshop CS 5.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Van Gogh Exhibit

We went up to Ottawa today to see the Van Gogh exhibit that continues through Sept. 3rd. I saw the announcement when it went up in May and vowed to go but just now got around to it. Van Gogh is among my favorite artists, not the top but right up there. I couldn't help, while standing in line to get tickets and then to see the work, but think about his struggles. He sold only two paintings in his lifetime, and those sold for a pittance. He survived because his brother supported him.

The exhibit was excellent and I recommend it if you can manage to go. Ottawa is only two hours North of me and is the closest large city to where I live. I really ought to make an effort to get up there more often. Unfortunately the "open border" between the US and Canada isn't as open these days but if you have all your papers it's still manageable. I do miss the way it used to be though with lighter handed officialdom and no guns.

The photo is one of a handful I made with a Canon G11. Art galleries aren't fond of people taking photographs so I didn't take the 7D. It has been manipulated in Lightroom, Photoshop and Postworkshop.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Childwold Church Again

I've been meaning to go back to photograph this church again and this evening I did. When I first stumbled upon it coming home from an earlier trip to the mountains I didn't have my wide angle lens or my tripod with me. I wanted the wide angle lens for some interior photos and the tripod to do some HDR images. Earlier plans to go back were delayed by some storm damage that has now been repaired.

This is the last of the images from this evening. I started around 5:45 and did the interior shots then went to eat and came back around sunset to get this view. Some may dismiss it as cliche but I wanted to highlight the side windows and the architecture. I thought shooting after the outside light was lower than the interior light was the best way to do that and I'm happy with the result.

Canon 7D, five frame HDR. I cloned out some electrical wires and picnic tables in the far side yard. As always you are free to copy the image for your computer desktop. An other uses require my permission.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Another View

Another of the photos I made yesterday of Mossy Cascade falls, a detail of the center section. The clouds were moving fast and I managed to catch a moment when the sunlight was on the center.  Canon 7D again (the only camera I took yesterday) and the 18-135mm EFS lens.

Kirk Tuck posted a link on his blog today that is worth watching even at an hour and 20 minutes . I may have to watch it a second time. There are some interesting observations and thoughts about the state of art today and where it is going in the future.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Mossy Cascade Revisited

After weeks of work cleaning out the old house and having a three day sale of "stuff" I needed a day off and went down to the Adirondacks for some R&R. I hadn't been back to Mossy Cascade in Keene Valley since hurricane Irene had created all the flooding last year and had massively altered the Cascade Mt. waterfall. I wondered how Mossy Cascade had fared.

On the way I stopped at the farmers market at the Keene airfield where I ran into someone I had met when doing craft fairs around home. He gave me the low down on the farmers market which I might do next year. There were some very high quality crafts there along with the produce.

At Mossy Cascade the falls themselves are unchanged by the flooding but the creek bed below the falls did experience some significant erosion. The trail to the falls from where it departs from the Hopkins Mt. trail is a bit trickier than it used to be with probably 50% of the old path washed out. It never was a great trail anyway but it's a bit more difficult now. The blessing is that it is a short trail.

The above photo is the 'standard' view, the one everyone takes although I shot three vertical frames with the Canon 7D with the 18-135 lens at 18mm, then merged them into a large (25MP) square composition. I took a few other views that I hadn't tried before.

Heading back I noticed a sign "ART IN THE BARN" on a small bridge that goes to a private road. The sign said it was open 9-4 and since it was 3:30 I indulged my curiosity. It was a nice little gallery. There were some excellent pastels of local scenes that I recognized.

Coming home on the Santa Clara Rd. I drove through a downpour while in sunshine. It was a strange feeling to be running the wipers in sunshine and the rain was coming down so hard that it bounced off the pavement making the road disappear in a grey ribbon of mist. It was a very good day to be in the mountains.

Friday, August 03, 2012

Darkroom Goodbye

No photo to offer my readers today, just thoughts. I spent the day clearing out the bathroom/darkroom in our old house. I haven't actually made any prints in it for probably 7 or 8 years. It had become more of  a store room during that time gathering all sorts of non-photographic "stuff". All the same it was a bit depressing to pack up the enlarger along with all the other paraphernalia. My darkrooms have always been makeshift affairs. In college I covered all the windows of our apartment with black plastic and worked at night to produce news photos for a local chain of papers. I finally quit when after 2½ years I figured out that I was netting all of 40¢ per hour between travel, shooting and printing minus expenses.

This latest darkroom was in a former (and now renewed) bathroom in an upstairs apartment that we chose not to rent out. I had at last acquired some decent equipment (a couple of pieces were better than decent) just about the time digital came on the scene. Although I still occasionally shoot B&W medium format film, I scan it and print digitally these days. In my estimation there is no reason whatever to shoot color film any more except perhaps to burn through any you have stashed in your freezer. The best color film scan can't match a good RAW file, it's not even close.

In spite of that, shutting down the darkroom formally was a bit of a downer for me. I have a lot of pleasant memories of working late into the night in my make-do darkrooms. For those who have never done it (and there seem to be a lot of you now) darkroom work has a very different quality than editing photos in the computer. Lest anyone feel ire at that, I'm using the word "quality" to mean a difference in kind rather than implying that one or the other is of greater value. I spent most my time in darkroom work doing it alone or in the company of my wife who assisted me with it in college. Printing in the darkroom was a withdrawal from the world to a darkened space, almost like retreating to a cave to meditate on and perfect the images. And once your got it right for any given photo, your job was to repeat it as many times as you needed to make the required number of prints, each exposed, dodged and burned to match the others as closely as possible.

No typing a number into a dialog and clicking the "Print" button to run off a batch while you grab a cola. Instead we had a direct and visceral communion with each print, handling each sheet of paper, pulling it from its light tight box and wrapper, placing it in the easel, making the exposure, watching it appear in the developer, following it through the wash and drying process. I was doing a lot of split filter printing on multi-contrast paper with separate dodging and burning to each of the two exposures for each print.

Perhaps those years in the darkroom are why I am sometimes uncomfortable with the relative ease of editing and printing digitally, a nagging feeling that I am relying too much on the software, the keyboard/mouse/stylus creating a barrier to the tactile relationship with each print that was intrinsic to the wet darkroom. Those of you who began photography after the digital revolution or who never printed your own work will never be thus troubled but for those with a past of chemical stained clothes and fingers there is a  lingering sense that we are somehow cheating when we print digitally, a sense that it isn't really us and our skill producing the final image.