Eye to eye with a Great Horned Owl.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Just Lookin'

There was a piece on a video about some of Jay Maisel's work on TOP the other day. (Check it out at TOP: http://theonlinephotographer.typepad.com/the_online_photographer/blog_index.html/)  It's a very interesting piece on a very interesting and delightful photographer. There is some similarity about the way he approaches picture making and the way I do, but he, of course, is much more successful at it -- or perhaps I flatter myself too much.

After watching the video. I thought I'd just wander around the house on a rainy day and see what I could find. It's a good exercise to do every so often - actually pretty often.

No great shakes. Just exercising the eye in an environment we tend to take way too much for granted. If you can find interesting images in the most familiar of places, your odds of finding them in other places is going to be better too. Just keep looking -- and shooting.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Blowin' in the Wind

My HomePage image for the last week in May. 

Talk about reducing things to a few elements. This image, at first glance, only includes two -- sand and a single stalk of beach grass. 

But pay closer attention and things become a good deal more interesting. The sand is not simply "sand" it is grains of sand, grains that give rich texture to the sand. The depressions and ridges in the sand add dimension to a seemingly small, flat landscape. Those ridges and depressions catch the light of the early morning sun with different intensities and in the dips shadows form. The same little patch of sand photographed at noon would indeed look flat and featureless, but dawn's strong side light accents the features and adds considerable depth.

Across this landscape a solitary, heavily seeded, stalk of grass intrudes to create a slash of contrast with the lighter tones and granular texture of the sun-washed sand. All of this is well and good. But what really caught my attention was the story revealed on this little square of beach.

It was calm and still with few walkers and shellers braving the morning chill when I was out. The only sound was the rhythmic whisper of small swells gently breaking on the beach. The marks in the sand spoke of more activity than was evident in the early morning and the delicate, etched lines emanating from the heavy cluster of seeds on the grass stalk's tip belied the present calm. It was apparent there had been enough wind during the night to blow the stalk of grass back and forth across the sand tracing those soft lines. The muddled sand and the wind-drawn lines give a wonderful sense of implied movement and energy which add a dynamic element to the simplicity and stillness of the other two.

A simple yet elegant bit of information I would never have noticed if I had not been looking with my "photo-eyes". It made me aware again of how discovering images is a process that has to be cultivated and practiced. I'm aware of it every time I go out to shoot. It always takes a bit of time and a number of "warm-up" shots before the "eye" wakes up. And the longer you wait to get the camera up to your eye, the longer it can take. It also reminds me of why I value having a camera with a view-finder. Looking through that finder gives me a much better feeling for framing and an easier way to visualize an image than I can get looking at an LCD screen. But maybe that's just because of how I learned to take pictures -- back in the "olden days".

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Much Ado about Blossoms

Nature is such an amazing thing. She has her own rhythms and cycles and while things seem similar they are never really the same. Take our apple trees or instance. A couple of years ago we had bumper apple crops. Last year I can only remember seeing one apple on all four of our trees. 

Even in the years when we had bumper crops, I don't ever remember seeing the trees loaded with blossoms like they are this year. There are leaves on the trees, but you can't see them for the blossoms. It seems truly remarkable - so I'm remarking.

And apple blossoms are delightful flowers. They are delicate and subtle and wonderfully fragrant. They have a marvelous range of color from the deep pinks of the budding blossom to the pure white  pink tinged mature flowers - and everything in-between.

But all that floral exuberance will come to naught without the help of some very dedicated enablers.

This appears to be an extremely fecund spring in the Adirondacks. Flowering trees all over the forest are loaded with blossoms. And now we're getting rain too. All good signs and the concerns about dryness and fire danger have, at least momentarily, been dampened. But Mother Nature is a fickle bit.. lady, so who ever knows........?

Saturday, May 18, 2013

OK, so sometimes it pays to get up.

Woke before sunrise, can't even blame the dog. As I rolled over, I glanced out the window. Damn. Fog. Probably should get up. Might be some nice shots to be made during a sunrise in the fog. Naw. Roll over and try to go back to sleep. Not working. Still thinking about the gol darned fog. It's messing up a nice morning doze.

OK, OK. I'll get up. But I'm not happy about it. Neither is the dog. He seems perfectly content to lie right there. Well, as long as I'm up I'll grab a camera, take the dog out and see what develops. Oh great, the fog's lifting. All I see is sunshine and blue sky. But the sun is still low and the angle of light is good so we might as well keep going. As we walk, I key-in on the light coming through the fresh, green leaves and start taking pictures. As usual, they're pretty indifferent ones at first, but as we get warmed up more interesting prospects begin to present themselves - or more accurately, begin to be realized.

At the end of the walk, we stroll down to the lake and with vestiges of the earlier fog lingering above the stillness of the lake finally get some shots that make the early outing very much worthwhile. 

For this shot I zoomed in to eliminate the extraneous elements along the near shore in order to reduce the scene to a few simple parts. With so few points of reference, it becomes more graphic and almost abstract. Works for me. I tried it in B&W too and it works pretty well, but in color the image still has a very limited palette and I really like the variations of the blues. They help offset the low contrast that tends to weaken it in B&W.

What do you think?

Yeah, when I look at it again as I post it, it just looks too flat in B&W. It really becomes a quite different picture. I still like it, but it's different -- the clouds and far shore seem to float more. Post comments if you care to weigh-in.

So anyway, I posted it as my new homepage image for this coming week. Hot out of the camera. A mere babe. Only a few hours old.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Out the Window

Riding the train from the North Country to New York City is a favorite way to make that trip. The ride along the Hudson River is always interesting and entertaining with constantly changing views and flashing glimpses of both present and past life along the river.

Taking pictures of those passing scenes is an interesting challenge -- the train is not inclined to pause for that perfect, well-framed shot. It's really a matter of catch-as-catch-can. Quick reflexes, reasonable anticipation and a goodly measure of luck is all that's needed. Of course, finding a seat with a somewhat clean window is always a plus though never guaranteed.

We were headed for a few days in the city last fall and I managed to get this shot as we sped under the Tappen Zee Bridge. It was a lucky moment and chance framing. I was shooting single frame and not continuous so it was probably one or two seconds between clicks -- on a train traveling 50 to 60 mph you cover a lot of ground in one or two seconds. If I had had the luxury of looking, analyzing and framing I probably would have waited to get that damn pillar out of the frame so I could get a better look at the important feature -- the bridge. As it is, I think that support pillar is one of the elements that "make" the shot.

Another advantage of the train, of course, is that it's a lot safer taking pictures out the window of a train than it is taking pictures as you're driving a car down the highway. Besides, there isn't a road under the bridge.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Fisher Sighting

I posted these on my Facebook page the other day and it garnered so much attention I thought I might include it as a blog posting.

I was out with the dog a couple of days ago when he ran off the road and down the bank toward a small pond -- I assumed he was after a chipmunk or squirrel. That was what I thought until I saw a rather large animal scurrying up a tree. As soon as I recognized what it was, I called the dog off and was very glad the critter had chosen to run up a tree instead of challenging the dog. The animal in question was a fisher. These are large, weasel-like mammals that have a really bad attitude and will take-on just about anything.

Fortunately, I had a camera with me and on that particular day it was fitted with a tele-zoom. The fisher was under the forest canopy and not interested in staying still for long, but I did manage a couple of frames when it was still enough to not be blurred -- had quite a bunch of blurred ones I won't subject you to.

If you look closely, you can make out the claws. They do not look friendly.

After a final dirty look, he leaped to another tree, scampered down and hastened into the woods. The dog and I continued toward home, considering ourselves lucky to have had the encounter and only come away with a couple of pictures to prove it rather than wounds.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Blogging again

After a very long absence, I'm coming back to the jolly task of creating and maintaining (we hope) a blog in conjunction with my newly designed website.

Not sure just yet how it might be utilized, but for the moment I see it as a platform for sharing a bit about some of the images that will be appearing on my site.

This image for example
                   Framing for Birches 

is the image on my first home page for my new site. It's been a very successful and popular image so far. I entered it in LPCA's Black and White Juried show earlier this year and it was awarded First Place. In another show in Malone, NY it took an Honorable Mention. I've always been somewhat conflicted about how to present the image because I like both color and black and white versions of it.

Anyone care to comment on their own preference?

It was a still, foggy morning and a scene I see virtually every day took on a special look. With a wide-angle lens I was able to get in the framing elements of the trees in the mid-distance and the softening effects of the fog. Early morning light filtering through didn't hurt anything either.

Take a swing through my new site if you haven't been there yet. www.roundlakestudios.com

Going to set a goal of doing at least one of these a week. More than that and it tends to get overwhelming. And how much do I have to say anyway?