Sunday, December 30, 2018

2018 Memories

I thought I would do a 'top 10' or '10 favorite photos' from 2018 but as I scanned my files for the year I realized I couldn't conveniently get the group to equal 10. For starters, I made 2415 photos (that I kept for one reason or another) and that is a lot to pair down to 10 unless I decided to go with a category. That would rule out many that I really liked, not necessarily because they are "art" but because of the connection that I have with the subject through the process of making the photographs. If I went with only one category, there wouldn't be 10 in many of the areas that I have ongoing projects. Others are part of a group for panoramas, HDR or focus stacking. And then there are the 'record shots', simple snapshots to remind me of something or as a reference for drawings. Also, no single category would span the year. So I decided to take a virtual trip of memories through the year with brief explanations of each one. It is an eclectic lot starting with my primary subject matter above, the Adirondack landscape. Note: these are not all in chronological order.

The lead photo is of Whiteface Mt. from a farm field on Norman Ridge. I hope the farmer doesn't mind and I certainly would not have gone into his field if there were Posted signs or if there had been a crop growing but on the 22nd of April it just brown stubble and I wanted to position that copse of trees to frame the mountain. The leave no trace admonition, "Take only photos..." and I didn't even leave footprints.

The next image was made along Rt. 458 between Santa Clara and the junction with Rt. 30. Over the years I have found several good subjects along that stretch. This one is at the point where there is a road cut through the rock diagonally opposite a turnout/rest stop. The date was Feb. 17th. I had gone to Saranac Lake to see the Ice Palace and stopped to make this image on my way home. I liked the overall pattern, the colors in the ice and the twigs sticking through the snow in the foreground.

Jumping ahead in time again (May 25th) is this black and white image of Narcissus in one of my flower beds. The bulbs were a gift from a fellow photographer/potter friend Ron Larsen of Crary Mills. I take a fair number of flower photos every year, to the point that it has occasionally been suggested 'enough already' on FB, but I love flowers as subjects because they are photogenic and (if the wind isn't blowing) they are very cooperative. I was attracted to the sweeping curve this group creates and although it was a tossup between the color original and B&W I decided that the monochrome version accentuated the pattern better.

A day later I was in the Adirondacks and stopped by Mt. Pond which is one of my favorite places. I'm not sure what kind of tree it is with all the orange flowers and dangling seeds but I liked the color contrast against the yellowy greens of the evergreen next to it.

June 6th found me at the VIC at Paul Smiths where I happened on a very nice patch of Bunchberry right next to the parking lot. Like the photo of the Narcissus, this was a tossup whether to post the color or B&W version. I think perhaps my early years in photography being all B&W have biased my taste. Whatever the excuse I went with it again.

The next demands to be in color. It is a Gaillardia plant (AKA Blanket Flower) in my sister's garden. She is a retired florist with a degree in ornamental horticulture and keeps an amazing country garden. I could easily post ten photos of that but...

One of the ongoing photo projects I mentioned above is details of cars, mostly old/antique cars. I made this one at the antique auto show in Ives Park in Potsdam which is held every year alongside the craft fair during the summer festival. It is the hood of an old Ford truck. The owners were planning restoration but I'm not at all sure restoration could make this more visually interesting.

On the 18th of July, two friends and I climbed Whiteface Mt in celebration of the 25th anniversary of my completion of the ADK 46 High Peaks on July 17, 1993. We went a day late because the forecast was for thunderstorms on the 17th and a mountaintop is not a place I want to be when there is lightning. It turned out to be a fortuitous delay because I would not have seen this the day before. In all my years of hiking climbing in the Adirondacks, this was the 1st time I ever encountered Amish. They had been driven up to the parking area in a van by an "English" (non-Amish) friend/neighbor and climbed the last half mile up stone stairs and open rock.

I spent several weeks this summer hiking the Stone Valley Trails (just down the hill from my house) and some other local trails almost daily as part of a fitness challenge. The photo below is of O'Malley Brook as the morning sun was breaking through the trees above it. The trail crosses that bridge at the top.

You might be tempted to think this photo, also from Stone Valley, was an autumn picture but it was made on the 10th of August. The bright early morning sun reflecting off the trees on the opposite shore gave the water the yellow color which contrasts nicely with the bluish cast of the rocks which are in shade.

The following two are from another local trail, the Red Sandstone Trail that runs from Hannawa Falls to a bit above Potsdam. As with the old truck picture, they are part of another continuing project of texture/pattern photos. The concrete is part of the supports for the penstock that channels water to the Sugar Island power station.

Meanwhile back on the Stone Valley trail is the following group. I shot a lot of mushroom/fungus photos during the weeks I was participating in the hiking challenge. I finished in 3rd place for my (over 70) age group I'm pleased to say. The 1st mushroom image is unique in that, like the Amish on the mountaintop, I have never seen the likes of this before. I saw many mushrooms of this variety this summer but this is the only bearded one of any kind that I encountered. Attempts to find something like it on the web proved futile. Perhaps I just didn't use the right search terms but nothing I found looked remotely like this.

This group of three has to be one of my fungus favorites. Their simple perfection of form, sheltered from wayward hiker's boots by a tree root appeals to me.

Back to B&W for the next. This is along the edges of the Raquette River. I liked the reflection of the grass and other plants as well as the clouds in the sky.

These pines are on an island in the river. Made on the 24th of August, you can see some early color on the deciduous trees on the opposite shore between the branches just left of center.

Again, a theme I like, incorporating earth, water, and sky all in a relatively intimate view rather than in a grand sweeping image.

I cropped and converted this river view to order to reduce it to almost abstract forms.

The willow tree below stands alongside the West Parisville Rd. in a low wet area. Although I prefer walking wooded trails I sometimes walk the rectangle of roads in front of our house. This is around the corner about a half mile or a bit more from my home. I was taken by the feathery, almost birdlike foliage and the lines of the dead limbs hanging down.

Barnum Brook Trail, Paul Smiths VIC. This view is looking upstream from the bridge that crosses the Brook on that trail, evergreen needles and leaves on the water's surface with reflections of the trees and sky above.

There is a walking trail in Potsdam, part of which is on Fall Island in the middle of the village. This deck juts out over the river below the dam. On my second visit there I found this lawn chair that someone had left. I moved it to align with the deck in a symmetrical composition.

A hay rake or perhaps a tedder on the fields on the Plains of Abraham along the Loj Rd. I generally avoid including modern things in my Adirondack landscapes but the alien look of this machine contrasted with the wild mountainside in the background appealed to me.

In that same area but nearer to the beginning of the Loj Rd, this very orange tree stood in the midst of a golden island that the farmer had mowed around.

The two above, as well as the following three, were made on October 10th when I went to the waterfall on Cascade Mt. The first photo is of the upper part of the falls as seen from the shore of Lower Cascade Lake.

The next is the bottommost section. There is a rough herd path to the base of the falls made considerably rougher after a landslide several years ago. Once upon a time, there was a hotel on the bit of land between Upper and Lower Cascade Lakes and their water supply was a reservoir at the base of this waterfall. When I first visited there, before the landslide there were remnants of the dam and pipes. A part of them remain, but it is much less evident than it was. I have a few historical photos of the hotel and the concrete pad in the picnic area is where it stood. It was damaged by blasting when Rt. 73 replaced the narrow road along the lakes and was later torn down.

Mushrooms again, these in the brook bed below the base of the falls.

Shortly after Indigenous Peoples Day*/Canadian Thanksgiving I hiked the new trail that had been created up Van Hoevenberg Mt. I had climbed several times before on the old trail from the South Meadow Rd. including once in the dark to photograph the sunrise. When I arrived at the main summit area this was the view that greeted me. The young lady is Heather Uvvani and her dog Luca. The view across the autumn landscape was awesome.

I will close with this photo from my own yard, the crabapple trees in the driveway island after a recent snowfall. These trees are frequent subjects throughout the seasons.

I hope you enjoyed my photo memories from 2018. There are others I could have chosen, and probably would on a different day. May you all have a great year in 2019.

*Officially known as Columbus Day, but he was a genocidal S.O.B. who enslaved, raped and slaughtered the indigenous people he encountered to make himself rich. He totally wiped out one entire group when they resisted him and had to import slaves to run his moneymaking enterprises. I do not recognize the holiday set aside in his name.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

One of our crabapple trees this morning with snow and two remaining leaves.

The title of this post is in no way meant to exclude anyone from my best wishes for whatever holiday you celebrate at this time of year. On the contrary, I wish everyone a happy time through this season and a wonderful 2019. As the days begin growing longer again my mood brightens and I hope yours does too.

2018 was not the best of years for us and for others that I know but I am looking ahead and hope for the future. Most of my hiking plans did not happen in 2018 so that list will just get redated for the coming year. In addition, I am planning on applying for a fellowship in photography and a residency. I am still considering doing a workshop in close-up/macro photography. I hope all my readers have plans as well. Happy holidays. 

Saturday, December 01, 2018

Winter Crabapples

Winter crabapples. The deer are having a feast from our apple trees. We rarely see them because they come around at night but their tracks are all over under the trees.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Texas Trees and a Visit to a Camera Store.

Our son lives in a development area that has 'greenspaces' nearby and as part of the development. The photo above is of a large area around Walnut Creek where I went walking one day. It is mostly covered by scrub cedar like those in the photo above and the trails are popular with mountain bikers (non-motorized). The creek, what I saw of it, was barely existent. I have been to Texas 3-4 times now and my overall impression is that it is a dry place.

The development had some more prosperous trees, some of which looked like they would have predated the housing that now takes up most of the area. The tall tree in the photo below attracted me but I was unable to find an angle that did not include the powerlines. I shot it anyway and included the small flood control dam as well, man's intrusion on nature.
A number of other attractive trees were scattered about the groomed areas of the green space. The "moss balls" on the trees are similar to Spanish Moss in that they are not parasites. They are air plants that only use the trees for support. Nor are they truly moss.

The predominant autumn leaf color is yellow but there is occasionally a tree with red leaves, the result of some non-native planting around homes, this one by a home at the edge of the park.
One rare treat was a visit to Precision Camera where I got to check out the new EOS R camera. Camera stores in NNY are history. If it isn't something Walmart would carry, I need to drive many hours to reach a 'real' camera store. I was curious about the EOS R because I have been watching for an upgrade to the EOS M3 hoping that they would produce one that had a fully articulated LCD. So far the successors to the M3, which was used for all these photos and is now my primary camera, have had only a tilt screen. I prefer a fully articulated screen because it allows portrait format shooting both above my head and low down. I have problems doing that with a screen that tilts only in the landscape format. Unfortunately, while the EOS R has the screen I would like, it is significantly larger/heavier than the M3, nearly the same as my EOS 7D, and priced well above my budget. It would not be a good camera for me to backpack with because of the weight and size. Had I thought about it while at the store, I should have checked out the Panasonic GX-8 if they had any in stock. It had the screen I would like and a tilting viewfinder. Ah well. A new camera isn't in the budget right now anyway. It is nice to be able to handle them though when pondering what you really would like and you can't do that on the internet. ;-)

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Suburban Art

We went to Austin, TX last week to visit our son and daughter-in-law. They live in a development that is part of the sprawl that Austin has become in recent years. It is not my usual environment and as a consequence, the photos here are a shift from my usual wilderness fare. I did photograph a series of trees in one of the greenspaces but these are all photos of the intersection between nature and humans that is suburbia. I may post those later in a separate post.

 The powerline smack in the middle of a greenspace that consists of scrub cedar.
 Fence + Vine + Wind
 Bike parking.
 Flood control
Sound barrier between a development and a four-lane highway.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Iris Simplified

Topaz Simplify is probably my favorite filter. With this photo, I used a double dose. Simplify has numerous presets which you can modify with sliders (and I often do) but this one uses two different presets in layers with the blending of the upper one set to "Luminance" and opacity reduced to 60%. I rather like the effect. Click on the image to see it larger.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Artistic License

Morning Light

Sometimes the image is all about light, shape, color and too much detail detracts from what I want to 'say' in the image. When I get one of those images I reach into my plugin toolbox and pull out Topaz's Simplifier. I have been using it for years. It started life as BUZZ Simplifier and was put out by a British company whose name I can't recall at the moment. That company went belly up and for a while, I couldn't get updates then Topaz stepped in with their version.

Simplifier groups pixels of similar tone & hue and averages them into clumps. The number of pixels averaged (and thus the size of the clumps of color) is controlled with a slider that goes from very small clumps to almost a posterized image. The original BUZZ filter would go so far that it averaged the entire image but there really isn't much use for that and if you want to I think there is a built-in tool in PS that will do that. The default setting on Topaz's version is higher (bigger clumps) than I usually want and I can't recall ever going higher than the default.

The result is an image that looks a lot like a painting because it does pretty much what painters (except for photorealistic painters) do. I like the effect on some images. I have occasionally been told in the past that I shouldn't call these photographs anymore because they don't 'look photographic'. I don't really care if others prefer to think of them in other terms. I make "images" that I like, that express what I want to express about the subject and render them by whatever means best expresses what I want to show the world. To me, they are still photographs. You may refer to them any way you wish. The terms aren't important, the image is what is important. Here is a group of recent creations using both the camera and the computer. I hope you enjoy them visually and don't get hung up in what to call them.


"Hay Tedder"

Gold over Gold

"Be Mine"

Click on an image to see it larger. Prints are available. Email me telling me what you want (image/size/your location etc.) and I will reply with a price quote that includes shipping. Please respect my copyright and do not repost any part of this blog elsewhere without my express permission.