Very hot morning.

Does it? Or, doesn’t it?

If the picture says hot, or early morning heat, then I made another summer project picture.  If it doesn’t, that’s okay. I made a picture that I like. A lot.

By accident.

My pal on the internet scene, Montana Rose, posted a picture yesterday that she said she made by accident. I was going to comment on her site that all of my pictures are made by accident. I might be exaggerating. Still, I do make a lot of pictures on the way to some place else.

This time, I saw some shadows dancing on a wall . I turned around to see what was causing that. I saw this scene. I couldn’t frame. I couldn’t compose. Sheesh, I pretty much couldn’t see. I just turned around and pushed the button a couple of times.  I knew I made some kind of picture. I didn’t know what.

It wasn’t until I arrived in a darker place that I tool a look at the LCD, “Whew,” I thought. “Ain’t that something?”

Photographer’s luck.

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Black and white study.

As a young man I studied all of the classic black and white masters. Weston. I read his diaries. Adams. I learned his exposure system. Strand. I studied his composition. The list goes on.

That’s what we did back then. No. We didn’t copy them. Instead, we looked at their works in books. We went to museums. If we were lucky, one of their shows appeared at a local gallery. So, we went.

Today, it’s a little different. You can find everything you want online. That’s good. And, bad. It’s a great reference point, but you can’t see the texture of the print. You can’t see the depth of shades of gray from pure white to the deepest black.

For so many new photographers seeing the work online is good enough. Worse, they are told by a lot of online photo gurus to “fake it until you make it.” That would be fine, but what they are really saying is “find a picture that you like and copy it.”

That runs across the grain of everything I was ever taught. I was taught to learn from masters, apply it to your work, but make it YOUR WORK. I’m pretty sure that copying an exact work runs counter to copyright law as well. But, that would mean the image was fairly complex with clearly defined characteristics. Most of what new photographers are trying to copy is fairly simple. Work that anybody could do.

The picture. I saw the rock laying in between the roots of a Texas Live Oak. I never arrange subject matter. I’m fairly sure the rock didn’t just happen that way in nature. Somebody, likely a child, put it there.  No matter. That’s how I saw it.

I also saw it in black and white. It’s been a long time since that’s happened. I work in color. I see that way. Not this time.

I’ve long said that Storyteller is an experimental place. With its new redesign, two of the four days work has been in black and white. Hmmmmmm.


My idea.

A study in blue.

I’ve said in the past that I wished that I could paint. Before you tell me that I should try, I have. I have paints. Brushes. Paper. I’ve taken classes. Workshops. One on one learning. I have good hand — eye — coordination. For whatever reason, I can’t paint.

My failure is simple. Like newbie photographers who want to learn to take pictures with “the ten tips that will make you a great photographer,” I want it now.

I want to reach the level of my photographic work.

Now.

I forget how many years and how much time I’ve spent being a photographer. They talk about the 10,000 meaningful hours that you put into a thing to get really good at it. For me, that’s just getting started. So too, with most of my brother and sister photographers.

Find your voice. You can get good at a thing from a technical standpoint. You can make pictures that can compete with anybody else’s from a technical and compositional standpoint.

That’s not enough.

There is the emotional and spiritual something that makes your pictures stand out from all the rest.

That’s not limited to photography, although that’s what I talk about.

Think about music. Think about guitarists. Think Eric Clapton and Joe Bonamassa. With all due respect to Bonamassa fans, he can’t hold a candle to Clapton. I’ve watched them play on the same stage. On “Further on up the Road.” Bonamassa is fine. He plays good lead guitar. He plays good fills. He is a technically excellent guitar player. Eric Clapton puts his heart and soul into his work. It shows. He plays lead. He plays fills. He inspires me in a way that Bonamassa can’t. Maybe it’s me. I’ve been a Clapton fan for 50 years. I barely know Bonamassa work. There’s a reason for that.

Back to my work. This work.

This is my attempt at making a painting, when I don’t have the technical skills. It’s my watercolor. The work is done on the computer. There are probably ten versions of it in my archive. This is the one I like best. It’s simple. It strikes my minimalistic chord. I tried other colors. Blue works best. It feels natural. There are trees added to the original image. They wrap themselves around the main tree. I could hang this picture on my walls. I like it just that much.

What do you think?


Mother Nature in the tree.

Keep your eyes open. That’s what I always say.

I do.

If I didn’t, I would have missed the wood nymph hiding in the tree trunk. Do you see her? Do you see her eyes? Her nose? Her lips?

Or, is that a very young Mother Nature? She could be, since we’ve never seen Ma Nature. There are plenty of illustrations. A couple are quite famous. But, in a photograph?

The cocker spaniel who sees stuff went crazy. Bark, bark, bark.

Nah.

That didn’t happen.

With the rain and the warmth around this place, we’ve had some wonderful moss blooms. I found one that is as green as this picture. I photographed it. I prepared a picture for Storyteller. I liked it well enough, but it just seemed empty. When the background is the subject, sometimes it’s a  little boring.

Make no mistake. Backgrounds are important in the design process. An art director might use the mossy, green picture as a background for something else. He or she could tone it down, lay type over it, add maybe a picture or two. And, viola. You be surprised at how many movie posters are a combination of images that have very little to do with the film.

Anyway.

My working method these days is to prep the picture at night and post it the next morning. Or, schedule it to be posted for the next day or two. I do try to keep current.

I did that.

I went to sleep. I awoke with the picture on my mind. I remembered photographing a little girl of four maybe last summer. I found the file. I did the magic of stacking and blending. Here we are.

The wood nymph, or, Mother Nature.

Just a little Saturday experiment. Because? Because why not?


Car reflections.

After not making pictures for a couple of weeks, they all came tumbling out.

I had an Ernst Haas moment. I had a Jay Maisel moment. I had a David Allen Harvey moment. I had my own moment.

Best of all I photographed what I saw. I saw a lot.

This picture is not what you think it is. I’m willing to bet that you think this is one of my layered pictures. It isn’t. Or, it is water. It’s not that, either.

It’s a reflection of trees on a car trunk, or boot as they say in England. There are a few leaves sort of pasted to the car’s surface. Those were left after the rain storm.  Needless to say, it’s all real.

Sure.

There is some post production going on. It’s mostly to darken highlights, open up shadows and sharpen little bits of the picture. There is no heavy post or editing going on. The picture is pretty much how I saw it.

The image was made on my phone. A little work was done in Snapseed. Most of it was done after a saved it as a Tiff, sent it to my main machine and finished it using OnOne.

Now, you know some of my new tricks. Most of them revolve around letting the picture tell me what to do.

The notion of letting something tell me how to work with it could be my sub-topic for today. I truly believe that, especially in creative fields. As I cruise through various social media, I see way too many people trying to control the process. I think it’s because they are still insecure with their genre. Pictures, Painting, Making music, Writing.

One guy, on Facebook, made a lot of pictures at Jazzfest. Most of what he was posting were pictures of Mardi Gras Indians and various second lines. To me, those are bright, vibrant and colorful scenes. He was torn between posting them in black and white or color. In the spirit of letting the picture tell you what to do, I suggested that they should be made in color for the very reason I just mentioned. There were a lot of folks who got excited by black and white because that gave the picture some kind of gravitas. He went in their direction. Oh well. You can lead a horse to water…

It’s not a question of being wrong or right. It can never be. It’s a question of subject matter. It’s also a question of making the very best picture that you can in the field. If you do that, you don’t have to worry about technique. The picture “just is.”  I think I know what he is trying to do by making black and white files. As I’ve said in the past just about everybody photographs New Orleans events. Making black and white pictures is a way of separating yourself from the pack. If you are trying that and have any guts at all, turn the camera sensor to JPEG and turn off the color capture. Make the pictures in black and white right from the start. No going back.

What do you think?


Spring skies.

I looked up.

I liked the sky. It needed a subject. I framed that lone tree into the picture. I never saw the sun. I knew it was there because of the bright highlight in picture. But, the sun didn’t show up in the LCD.

When I developed the image, there it was. A little, tiny circle in the highlight. I helped it a little by toning down the highlight. That’s it.

I was lucky. The sensor saw what I couldn’t. It’s very hard to use a LCD in very bright sunlight. That’s why I mostly use the eyepiece.

I could tell you that I’m a cynical guy. That I always try to look beyond false truths.

Not today.

I’ll save that kind of post for the weekdays.

Instead, I’ll look at a book that just arrived. Not a photo book. A children’s book. Written by Julian Lennon. The oldest son of the late John Lennon. I bought it through his sales agent. Jules signed it.

How cool is that?


A range of motion.

This wasn’t today’s picture. At least it’s not what I planned.

I thought that it was a little too bleak for a Sunday picture. I read a lot. Especially on Sunday morning when I have a little more time. I probably shouldn’t do that.

There was a story that appeared on Twitter with a link back to it. I know. I know. Twitter. It may be one of the meanest places on earth.

I followed the link.

What I found made me horribly sad. The story was about a ten-year old boy. A cute little guy. He had a butterfly bandage over his eye. His lips were swollen and cut up. He had been bullied in school.

That’s bad enough. What happened next was truly horrifying.

He killed himself by hanging.

Where does a ten-year old boy get the knowledge of how to hang himself? Sure. You might see it on the tube. But, you don’t see the technique.

A whole host of questions came to mind.

Where were his teachers? Where were his school caregivers? Where were his parents? How does this stuff happen?

I stopped reading Twitter. I stopped reading news stories for today.

We’ve got some errands to run. I’ll watch some baseball. Yankees baseball. Eventually, I’ll recover. For today. There’s always tomorrow. Hopefully, I won’t get stopped in my tracks again.

The picture.

That’s why you came here. Even though we’ve had some glorious spring days, there are others that are cloudy and a little bleak. Today is one of those days. There is rain in the clouds. It’s about noon as I write, and the temperature is at its high of 49 degrees.  No wonder the dogs are lazy. They don’t want to go outside. But, because I publish every day, I have to make a picture. In this case, I made the original picture. Then I removed the color and made it black and white. I layered it over the original color image. And shifted it slightly. You are looking at the result. A bleak picture. One that suits my mood. Today.


Reflections.

I see pictures everywhere.

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.

But, for this week.

Spring.


You’d think.

You’d think.

Spring. Rebirth. All green and bright blossoms, leaves and green shoots.

Oh no.

Not down here in the swamp. I made this picture on the first official day of spring. Those leaves look like the arrival of fall. You know. Fall colors and all. But nope. These are fairly fresh leaves. Red leaves. Orange leaves. Yellow leaves.

What do I know?

It’s spring. I know it’s spring. The calendar says it’s spring. The rest of nature looks like spring. But, not this little tree.

We all know one thing. Despite how humans try to restrain her, shape her, or move her, nature seeks stasis. She does what she wants.

What do you think climate change is about? Humans are polluting and destroying the planet. Nature. Climate change is about rebalance the earth back to where it should be. Nature doesn’t care if humans are involved. We are an irritant to her. A temporary irritant. She’ll destroy us. Or, banish us to a different planet. She doesn’t care.

Think about that. Think about that when climate change deniers spout their nonsense. It’s happened before. It could happen again.

The picture. See it. Photograph it. Easy stuff. Except for the seeing it part.