This picture does it for me. This is what I meant by a summertime picture. My pal in France liked yesterday’s picture of a tree and said that was summer to her. I think that’s a good place filler. A place to get started. A place to wrap my mind around what comes next.
This picture. This is what’s in my mind’s eye. Or, something like it. A hot summer day after a heavy rainfall. A kid on a bicycle. A passing train. A school bus in my rearview mirror. Even a little piece of me. This picture.
Yeah. Sure. If it’s summer, what’s a school bus doing in the picture? It takes a caption to explain that this bus serves a private school and they are having summer camp and workshops.
I came to make this picture in a roundabout way, and by luck. I was running errands. I was a bit late. I took a shortcut. A shortcut that turned out to take more time than if I went the long way around. You know. Railroad crossings. This one is particularly nasty because the trains that pass through are long. People are in a hurry, drive around the gate and… never do that. Ever.
So. There I sat. Being patient. I started looking for pictures. The kid and his buddies peddled around the corner so fast that I almost didn’t react. Luck was with me. Photographer’s luck. Luck that was trained into me for years and years. As I tell photo-blocked folks, pick up your camera, open your door and go outside. Take a walk. I’m pretty sure a picture will find you.
The only down side to this picture is the file. I made it on my super duper smart phone. I did no work on the phone. I downloaded it to my main machine. I processed it in OnOne. The software calculates and creates data about all data. This picture’s file size is 42.8 megs. Sheesh, my first DSLR made a 6 meg file.
That’s the story of what I think is my first summer project picture. Accidental to be sure.
See those little white dots? They are little flowers blown off of a bush. That’s what I set out to photograph. Rather than work tightly, I used what amounts to about a 28mm lens. It wasn’t until I started framing the picture in the LCD that I realized what I had.
I captured a late spring or early summer picture in blue. In my swimming pool. Nature was just floating around. I only made a couple of pictures. This one, another slightly tighter horizontal picture. And, a couple of vertical pictures which didn’t work at all.
The image took almost no post production. Mostly, I just tuned it up a bit.
How you see the picture is up to you. We all make meaning of art in different ways, based on our own personal experiences.
I wonder about the future. The future of photography.
I was scrolling through my Facebook feed looking at the pictures other photographers posted. Before I get into this, please know that I don’t take the so-called wisdom of the crowd all that seriously.
What I found was interesting. The truly unique and challenging pictures had almost no likes. The derivative, technically current popular ways of working had many, many likes. This is partly due to the Instagram effect and young photographers trying to gain popularity so that the become influencers. That may have mattered once to image users and buyers, but that ship has sailed. They know that the waters were very shallow.
If anything, Instagram and Facebook have hurt photography. If you follow the crowd and play for likes and reposts, you’ll never break out. You’ll never really find your own style. You’ll just be copying some other photographer, who copied some other photographer and… you get it. Out of that comes a new photo philosophy. “Fake it until you make it.”
Copy other photographers work until you learn enough technique to start trying to make your own pictures. I don’t know when or how that came to be. It’s the worst possible thing to do. I was taught about 150 years ago to photograph my world as I saw it. Sure. Some of my early work wasn’t all that great, but it taught me to think for myself.
Certainly, some photographers influenced me. They still do, today. But, I didn’t copy them. I learned a lot from how they thought. I learned a lot from how they worked. But, I never set out to make a particular picture like one of them did.
Remember, I wrote that I wanted to do a project about water. I bet you thought that I forgot. I didn’t. I was wrestling with photographing water as a photojournalistic story. Or, as a set of art pieces.
Because of my training and background, my first inclination was to look at water with a photojournalist’s eye. That started an internal fight. It went back and forth.
I was walking and saw water bubbling through a little man made stream. I photographed what I saw and I knew.
That’s where I’ve been headed. That’s what I should do.
I think that there are plenty of people photographing what it means to lose water. Or, to be overwhelmed by water, as we are near the Gulf. So, I thought that I would show the beauty of water. After all, it’s us. It’s our place. It’s the earth.
This is the picture that cleared my head.
In case you are wondering, I see this as a small portfolio of no more than twenty pictures. Twenty great pictures that will take a while to produce. And, will be printed very large. Like in measurements of feet rather than inches.
I guess I’d better start carrying a real camera with me. Even though I’m working with very clear intent, you just never know.
WordPress says that they removed spellcheck because it’s redundant to so many other systems and browsers. For those of us who actually write directly onto a WordPress page, that’s nonsense. WordPress is a closed environment. I can’t other spell check from Google or any other browser.
I suppose they want us to cut and paste. Programmers have a way of making things more complicated. Mostly, they just don’t have enough to do.
I make a lot of pictures when I’m walking the dog who sees things, or any of the others. The difference between walking them is simple. She’s used to stopping while I make a picture. The others aren’t.
We have about five general routes that we take. Sometimes, we take a break. Sometimes, we go visiting. Sometime we walk for about two miles without a break. When we get home, she takes a nap. She’s ten and a half years old. She’s got great spirit. She never wants to stop. But, age is age.
I made this picture on one of our visiting walks. It’s actually two pictures. Reflections in a pool. And, one of the few bare trees left this season. Most have grown their full foliage. I decided to layer them because at first glance they seemed to work together. I was right. They did. I inverted the tree. I also made it a lot lighter and more fluid. That made sense since I overlaid it on water.
Before you ask about particular steps, you should know that I do this by trial and error. Mostly, error. When I manage to make the overlay presentable, I work on fine tuning the total picture. I could take five minutes if I’m lucky. Or, it could take two hours if I’m not.
The cool thing about my way of working is that I think I can do it with any two pictures as long as they make sense together. We’ll see. I’ll test that further down the road.
A place that I enjoy working. I like to make pictures that are a slice of time. Photographs that are a glance. On the street.
Pictures that are an image of an idea.
Pictures that take you there.
Pictures that let you feel.
Pictures from the inside.
Pictures that are from my insides. From my eyes. From my brain. From my soul. From my heart.
That’s the deal. My deal.
Sometimes it works. Often, it doesn’t. It worked a lot this past Sunday. You’ll see over the next few days.
The picture. I got stuck in the middle of the band. That happens when you work closely. Those out of focus areas in front of the tuba player are other band members. I was working on the inside. Just that close. The tuba player’s reflective sunglasses are what caught my eye. Even though we were in constant motion, I managed to make three good frames of him. Photographer’s luck. And, my ability to walk sideways and forward at the same time. The development and post production was easy after that.
The football team — The Saints — were in the middle of a playoff game. The dog who sees things doesn’t care about football. She only knows what she knows. Like, “I need to go outside and you’d better take me.”
Not being the greatest football fan, I agreed with her and out we went.
Good thing too.
The light was glowing. Glistening off wet trees. It was turning. Orange. Red. The colors were bright. Almost too bright. They weren’t believable on computer screen. I tuned them down. Very rare for me.
The making of the picture was simple. See it. Photograph it. It just had to pick and choose a little. This picture was an accident. I couldn’t figure out how to frame this scene.
So, I didn’t.
Normally, the subject might be in the center of the picture where those white puffy clouds are located. You might position it according to the rule of thirds, which young new photographers hate. “There are no rules, man.” Uh, tweetberries, it’s a mathematical expression used to describe what occurs in nature.
This brings me to my learned lesson. Or, at least a reminder of one.
There is an old Italian saying. “Keep your friends close, keep your enemies closer” Same thing with most things in the arts.
There are all sorts of “rules.” Most of them are just guidance. One that comes to mind in “rules for photography” when you expose film (it also applies to digital capture) is, “if you must err, err on the side of warmth.” This especially applies to photographing people. Unless it is a picture intended to be very cold, most viewers respond favorably to a warmer picture than a colder one. I was taught that as a rule. I didn’t discount it out of hand. I listened, I tested and found that it was correct.
Stop rejecting things that your elders say about rules, just because you don’t like them. That’s the rules. And, the elders. I got into that this weekend with a newly elected Congresswoman from the Bronx. You know who I mean. She’s gotten as bad as the guy who lives in the “empty” White House. I like her. But, her tweets have become unbearable. All noise. No signal. I told her that. She didn’t like it. Now I’m part of the great white old class. Right. I’ll forget more than she’ll ever know if she keeps this up. She earned a good education. She’s smart. She’s says that she was a bartender so she’s heard everything. Wow. Who does that sound like?
It’s not the political thing that I’m talking about. It’s the unwillingness to listen. To learn.
To that end, I ordered a new t-shirt. It says, “Everybody is a photographer until they get to this.” There is a red line pointing to the “M” setting. The manual setting. I’ll wear it to the next second line. That’ll make a statement.
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.
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.”