I wasn’t even thinking about looking for a picture. I looked up and thought “this doesn’t look good.” I did what I could to stop it. I froze time. That’s my magic power. That lasted all of the 1/500th of a second. The clouds kept moving. So did I.
I’ve been having a discussion with another photographer about image making and photography in her comments. I’m not sure we are n the right track. What really matters is vision. I doesn’t really matter how you get there. I try very hard to make a statement about my vision in a particular picture. Today’s picture is meant to inspire awe in nature. Maybe even a little fear. I could have gone an entirely different direction and turned the picture into something light and frothy. That wouldn’t be what I felt when I looked up and saw giant storm clouds rolling in over the horizon.
Even with my post production, which is a huge part of image making, you might not see the scene as I saw it. After all, we all make our own meaning from art.
This is all part of a much longer discussion for another time.
The picture. I looked up and saw those massive clouds. I made a good base exposure knowing full well that the result was headed for post production. I experimented a lot with different approaches and settled on one that approximates real life. It’s a little bluer than real life. That helps you to understand how I saw things at the time.
A friend of mine said that music exists in a time and place.
He wrote that as part of an acknowledgement to the death of Marty Balin. Who is he, you might ask? He was one of the founders of a seminal band in the middle 1960s. They were called in various incarnations, either Jefferson Airplane, or Jefferson Starship. They were way ahead of their time. Today, probably the only two well-known songs that you never hear on radio is “White Rabbit” or, “Somebody to Love.” You might know the Starship’s work a little more.
That got me thinking.
Pictures do the same thing. They exist in a particular time and place. If you went through almost 50 years worth of my work you’d see style changes. You see my move from black and white film to color film photography and finally, to digital color capture. You’d also see something more important. You’d see the change in my subject matter. And, the pictures would reflect me. Me, at a certain time and place. Because, all art is autobiographical.
That’s the truth.
Now, in my time, I’ve legally retired from my business. The Feds were informed. My health insurance changed. They are starting to give money back to me. Money that I’ve earned over the years.
That doesn’t mean I’m done.
The biggest news is that I’ve managed to secure a two book deal. With a real publisher. Without the angst that so many of my writing and blogging friends seem to feel. It was fairly easy for me because if you do this work long enough people seek you out. And, I have no expectations.
Some authors tell me that they’d rather self-publish so they control their work. Control is overrated. Distribution is king.
Without the help of a real publisher very few people see your work. Sure, you can build a community. That’s why so many writers blog. It’s also why WordPress is primarily a writers framework. That, for WordPress, is where the money is. It’s also why any publishing success within that framework is limited. A few people break out, but note that word. A few. Near as I can tell, less than 1%
All of that written, I have plenty of work to do.
In a few days I’ll be invited to show my street work in a gallery show. I have three smallish stocking stuffer books to complete. Those need to be finished by the end of October, for potential Christmas sales. And, there is the huge issue of my archives. I’m building a mechanism to easily locate my best work, my best seconds and thirds. That is my estate. You know why.
That’s my story.
I won’t stick to it. Things always change.
The picture. Oh, I made it after a bunch of storms passed on a day when we had to dodge rain drops in order for dogarito to get her walks in. If you look deeply, you can see the reflection of the sky, of trees, but not of me. The rest was easy. Mostly, I darkened the image to bring out the colors. That’s it.
I’m listening to Jefferson Airplane. Even though I’m writing, I have to pause as images of my youth come into my mind. Man! I miss those times and those people.
Unfortunately there is something to any old saying. You can never go home again.
Sometimes it’s a little bit inconvenient, but it is worth it in the aftermath. Plants, veggies and flowers are growing in wonderful ways. Skies are turning into light shows almost every night. There is a clean and crisp (for about an hour) feel to the air.
Unfortunately, it’s still fairly hot and humid for most of the day. That doesn’t seem to be ending anytime soon. Two week forecasts indicate our summer-like weather will not relent in the next two weeks. There is a cold front coming, but unlike Texas and states to the north who are experiencing 60 degree days, ours will last for a few hours.
I guess you can tell that by now I’m getting a little impatient for fall weather. I always thought that people who are from here don’t mind our seemingly never-ending summer. That’s not true. They complain about it as much, or more, than I do.
I keep wondering why I bother to stay. Of course there is the culture and all the things I photograph. But, I can’t tell you when we opened the windows last. Probably back in late April. The air-conditioned life is fine. But, still…
Today is a big day in the U.S. If you follow the news you know that the appointment of a new supreme court justice is off the rails. I never used to be very partisan, but I’m becoming one. I really hate stuff being shoved down my throat by people who don’t care about me. For the record, I believe the women. I’ve known plenty of guys like Brett Kavanaugh. They were punks in high school, they were punks in college and they are punks now. There I said it. On a non-political blog.
Anyway. Part two.
The picture. I saw the tree popping out above the rest of the tree line. I didn’t see the color in the sky as much as I saw the dusky glow. I brought out the color and sharpened the silhouette in post production. It wasn’t heavy-handed post. It was enough to bring out what I saw in my mind’s eye.
I told you. We have a second growing season down here in the swamp.
I found this scene on a walk. A long walk since we weren’t dodging raindrops.
I’d say this is a good exercise in seeing, but how could I miss? The flowers were calling to me from thirty yards away. The only thing that I had to do was frame them in a way that made sense to me, and hopefully, to you. I wanted them reaching for the light and the sky.
I think the picture works.
The picture makes me smile, or laugh. Speaking of laughter… oh, never mind. I just hope the world was laughing at him, not the country. We still matter.
Sometimes, the sky looks like it’s on fire. Of course, it’s not.
It’s just autumn light bouncing off the clouds in wonderful ways. It’s one of those things that you just have to be there to see.
Which brings me to this.
Recently, there have been a whole bunch of bloggers writing about breaking the log jam we call photographer’s block. You can also call it writer’s block. Writer’s have different issues to work through.
I’ll concentrate on photographer’s block. The tools for breaking it are fairly simple. If you can’t think of something to photograph, put your camera on your shoulder, go outside and take a walk.
Photograph whatever you see. It may not be your “photo-thing,” but carry on. Even if you don’t develop your images, you’ll learn something about yourself. I have a number of friends who think that if they don’t travel, they can’t make a picture. That’s just silly. After all, that’s what Storyteller is about. For me, it’s a place to experiment and practice. I do that so when I travel, I don’t have to knock the rust off.
It’s as simple as that.
If you are still having a motivational problem, try a self-assignment. My favorite is to photograph, “What is it like to…” It can be anything.
You can even do it when you are traveling. Let’s say you are in Venice, Italy. Not the one in Los Angeles. Maybe your self assignment is “What is like to ride around in a gondola?” Something like that can break you away from the usual tourist pictures. If you want to check that out. Go to Google Images and type in your destination. Likely, there are millions of pictures of the thing you are going to photograph. Does the world really need another one?
At the end of that day, you are working in a Nike advertisement.
Just do it.
That’s my photo talk for today.
The picture. I was outside at the right time. With the dog. She wasn’t all that interested in going for a walk. She mostly just wanted to check things out in a small area. Perfect for me. I didn’t have to work on the move.
There is some post production going on. But, not much. Nature is the best filter.
You thought that I was done.
Let’s talk Instagram since many locations are calling themselves “Instagramable.” There is a rising backlash against that. It seems the many photographers, especially travel photographers, are copying pictures for the likes that they can gain. There is one group that collects pictures from different photographers to illustrate that. So, they’ll show you nine different pictures from nine different photographers that show the same thing. It would be funny, if it wasn’t so sad.
Street photographers are going so far as to say that Instagram is destroying their genre. Most of what street shooters claim to be their style doesn’t even come close.
The thing that I know and take away from those discussions is simple. Just because a thing is popular doesn’t make it creative.
As I always say, shoot YOUR picture. It may not be popular, but it’ll be yours.
One more thing. It’s the day to register if you live in The United States.
Another one. Another picture that makes you smile. A version of yesterday’s post made from a different perspective.
That weird light refraction followed me.
I have no idea what it was. I think it was some strange bit of light bouncing around the water droplets in the air. Usually, that reflects something in the red spectrum, making the raw frame a little gray and muddy. Not this time.
Perspective. That’s a good word. Let’s talk about that.
A friend shared a post on Facebook. It was about #metoo. It was well written from the point of an expert in what I’ll call systems of belief. She was waiting for a plane with another expert. A man. A guy sitting across from them asked why they were there. They told him. He proceeded to go off on a tangent mansplaining his point of view rather than asking her for viewpoint. Her colleague proceeded to take this guy down. He did it gently and mentioned that he lost a great opportunity to learn from an expert.
I made the mistake of reading the comments. I never do that for obvious reasons. Most of the comments were fairly tame until. Until it devolved into a shouting match where women were attacking other women on little tiny points, calling each other sexist. WTH?
People, people, people.
This ain’t gonna help. Better to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes than to be so sensitive that you attack them for some little, insignificant point. Always to remember what they taught me in drunk school. When you point one finger at someone, the other three are pointing back at you.
If you want to change something – and a lot needs changing — work at it. Stop attacking each other on social media. Build. Don’t destroy. After all, faith without work is dead.
The picture. It’s one that I made when the sky was doing weird stuff. I even walked to a different location. The strange light followed me. Maybe it was meant for me. It did some post production. The first take looked very evil. Nasty.
I thought, a dangerous thing to do, that I would make it gentle. Cotton ball-like.
I have no idea what caused that bright streak in the middle of the cloudy picture. I’ve seen a lot of amazing things in the sky. Some have names. Some don’t.
But, that streak?
I can’t tell you.
I can guess. I made the picture in the late afternoon sky after a violent but short rain storm passed through. It’s like that the sunlight was bouncing around water droplets in the sky. It could be seen with the naked eye which is why I took the picture. Sometime these sorts of things reveal themselves in development or post production. Not this time. It was there in the sky.
Oh sure. I did a lot of post production, but that’s because I wanted to make the picture how my mind’s eye saw it the overall scene. I wanted you to see what I saw.
I think it’s pretty. But, it could be God’s finger pointing down at us. It could be that he or she or whatever you believe is saying, “clean up your acts, or the next time you see me you’d better run.”
In some regions of the country and world, winter lasts for just a few days. Even when the weather turns cold, it is mild compared to places located further north. With mild weather we get — drumroll please — a second growing season. When I first moved here I was amazed. I’d never heard of such a thing. Anybody who grew up here, or was from here, knew. They taught me. I learned.
These days I can recognize the signs. New leaves appear on plants that were once done with the summer heat. It helps that there is a lot of rain this time of year. The lingering heat combined with rain and humidity make outdoors a natural greenhouse.
Anyway, the spring and summer crops — such as they are — have been planted.
The picture. I saw it. I worked sort of hard to frame it with the sun backlighting the leaves. When I got into the studio I decided to take it to the limit. I backtracked. The limit was too far, even by my standards.
This image is the result.
I forgot to mention that this deep vertical picture started out is a horizontal image. Even though I post produced the hell out of this picture, I left one flaw alone.
Can you see it?
See the horizontal line between the sky and the black area? That’s called purple fringing. It’s caused when the sensor and the lens cannot handle extreme backlighting. It’s a bad thing. Normally. If I were offering this image to a client, I would use editing software to remove it.
For a semi-artistic picture, I chose to leave it in the image.