What I did this Summer

01 7D2L1093 copy.1More than anytime during the recent past I spent a lot of this summer reflecting. The slower pace of summer at Chautauqua provides a space where introspective motivation is easy. The passing of time is a partner with the changes in our lives. They bring both dark & bright moments that alter my perspective on my life & the world around me.

02This summer, volunteering for the Bemus Point Stow Ferry didn’t include any trips across the narrows. Dry-docked for repairs I was able to document some of the work necessary for it to pass safety inspection. I did become a 3rd grade apprentice grinder working on the deck. As a “Steel-town Boy” I got a taste of the type of work my hometown is known for. I have confidence that the Ferry will be back in the water continuing her 3rd century of service to Chautauqua Lake. I am proud to be able to help keep this historic icon operating as well as accepting a position on the Board of Directors.

03 05Wip copy copyI know to many good bird photographers to say I am one. However, when I’m sitting on my front porch watching a Northern Flicker pose I will take advantage of the opportunity. The Kingfisher that occasionally sits on the mast of my sailboat continues to eluded my camera.

04Golf is a perfect sport for my 100-400 lens. During the Chautauqua Watershed Conservancy’s tournament I was able to get a very high percentage of images I was happy with. Knowing the basics of the game, recognizing where good foreground/background locations were as well as having very nice weather allowed me to enjoy a very pleasant day on the links. I thought about picking up my clubs this summer but didn’t. I’m doubtful playing golf will become anything more than a minor part of my retirement. So much for stereotypes.

05Often the voices of nature can complement the serenity of the outdoors in a way that is uniquely familiar. The shoreline of ponds isn’t fully complete unless you hear the voices of frogs. I find it a great exercise for my eyes to find them in the weeds or the shallows of the water. It isn’t often I can get close enough to get a good image but if they are going to make it easy by sitting on a log I will make an attempt to grab a shot.

06I enjoy portraiture but for me it is difficult with people I know. That doesn’t mean I will stop trying. Since I have known Barb Koerner all of my life I can’t begin to explain the many deep qualities this portrait captures. Much of what the image means to me is totally unseen by the camera. It is my personal knowledge of the “sense of place” that is an untold story of this wonderful woman. Other than my family, this may be my best capture of someone I know. OBTW the pie was homemade from fresh hand picked blueberries!

07 7D2L1156 copy copyRecognizing your tastes helps define your motivation. I like boats. I enjoy old school as part of my life. I appreciate the craftsmanship of people that create & preserve things with wood. Knowing that, I stalked some participants in a local wooden boat show. This classic Chris Craft arriving from the north had beautiful early am sun that highlighted the high gloss of the wood. The strong sunlight also painted the contrasting green trees in the background giving a nice balanced hue to the image. If only I could have been about 5 degrees higher to have isolated the bow flag against the water. I always look for ways to make something better.

08 7D2L0735 copy copyDriving the back roads of Chautauqua County I spotted this farm on wash-day. My photographer’s instinct immediately thought leading lines. I realized that unless I invaded the family’s property I really couldn’t explore the full potential of this setting. Since I was on my way somewhere I just took this generic wide shot. It serves as a seed for future opportunities.

09 7D2L0848 copy copyEven though I’m less than satisfied with images of musicians I have taken, there is still a lure I can’t resist. I also believe many of the best shots I’ve seen include the interaction of 2 or more musicians. However, the smaller mandolin fit nicely into a tight single frame. The mustache, goatee, sunglasses & hat gave this musician character worthy of an attempt of musical portraiture. The Blue Heron Music Festival did a good job of providing entertaining music that didn’t overwhelm the audience with the volume.

daf01_8 copy copyThe life cycle of monarch butterflies is almost as amazing as watching them dancing in the wind. Thinking about their journeys as these frail creatures migrate across much of North America, I am in awe of their capacity. Splashing the landscape with color they intensify the beauty of flowers. They remind me not to ignore the simple pleasure of each & every day.

Natural Available Light

The variety of natural/available light motivates me to look at a scene in different ways. The diversity of lighting characteristics provides many interesting perspectives on subjects I may otherwise not have noticed. Technically I have no problem with high ISO further expanding scenes I see & try to capture.

 

The variety of natural/available light motivates me to look at a scene in different ways. The diversity of lighting characteristics provides interesting perspectives on subjects I may otherwise not have noticed. Technically I have no problem with high ISO further expanding scenes I see & try to capture.

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Shadows have an important role across all genres. This window accent in late afternoon light provided a wonderful display of contoured shadows. I have worked with this as a B/W image but I prefer the subtle hues in the original.

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The back-light was coming in from the barn door & with assistance from the drops of moisture it provided another layer of texture to a simple subject. When I first walked into the space the light is what got my attention. I then searched for a subject. There are many ways back-light can impact an image. With the proper position it can separate, add strength, create a mood or accent the subject.

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A personal preference for floral images is a background that supports the primary composition without conflict. This can be frustratingly hard when I am trying to isolate the beauty of a single flower. In a situation where back-light is the dominant source, backgrounds usually have less light & I can easily reduce the depth of field letting the background become soft forms, diffused shadows & muted colors.

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Overcast & rainy can be a good time to get waterfalls if you crank up the ISO. This is 5K f29 at 1/60. The reflective falling water is the natural bright component but much of the atmosphere is in the shadows. This hike was one of the few times I regretted not having my tripod to use for a long exposure. Fortunately I had good foul weather gear.

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When doing street photography I listen for street musicians because they add layers to the scene. A septet of musicians on a corner is hard to miss. I think the trombone player recognized the need to lower himself for me to see the entire band. For just a moment I was in sync with their tune. The strong available light on the BG wall was over-blow but Photoshop, even with a jpg original, was helpful. The noise/grain isn’t a distraction in my eyes. ISO12800 may seem ridiculous but it was the setting I needed to capture this NOLA moment. In my mind, if I had had to set up fill flash the intimacy would have been gone.

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Landscape photography requires a commitment of getting on location for early am light that I don’t have. However flat light of mid-day, clouds & reflections can result in some nice captures. To integrate reflections in the frame I explore different perspectives & angles. At times examining the direction of light & reflections is a lot like walking around a pool table to find the best shot. This shot is just off of Rt 120 North Meadow of Yosemite.

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Sunset fits my lifestyle more than sunrise. Give me a Ferris wheel, a sunset, an American Flag & water to work with & I will find an image. If only their had been a gull in the upper right. The Puget Sound/Seattle area is a place I would enjoy exploring more.08
The soft diffused light on the only bright part of the frame pulls your attention to her somber face. While the color of her coat, her posture & the background hint of melancholy, the umbrella helps frame her face & also adds an element of structure into the scene. The unseen factor is that it was taken in Liverpool England, which has a reputation for dreary weather.

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This is where I say I Love Digital. When I walked into this tobacco-drying shed in Vinales Cuba I immediately was captivated by the harsh tropical sunlight reflecting off of the deep brown dirt floor. After 1 year of experimentation I understood the advantages of RAW & was comfortable with the low light capabilities of my camera. This is exactly what my eyes saw. Being able to almost immediately capture it was very rewarding. The entire environment offered numerous possibilities but I was drawn to the faces of people.

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I was still just getting used to the camera in 2014 & only shooting jpg. On a trip outside of Sarajevo I saw a fog-bow, which is a less common cousin to a rainbow. The very subtle color gradations can be seen with close examination. Working with this image motivated me to further explore the digital capabilities of my camera & Photoshop.

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I have indeed had moments when I wished I had equipment & experience with fill flash. I also have recognized missed opportunities because the tripod was in the trunk. However, I have learned that Natural Light is a challenging motivation in how I approach many of my subjects. Recognizing subjects & styles of photography I enjoy has been helpful to whatever improvement I’ve had in the past 8 years.