Conflicting Inspiration

Understanding the roots of inspiration is as necessary as knowing how to use the tools in your toolbox. However, I can’t adequately explain why the work of Frank Lloyd Wright inspires me. What I do know is visiting his work is time well spent & worth attempting to sync my mind to my camera


Understanding the roots of inspiration is as necessary as knowing how to use the tools in your toolbox. However, I can’t adequately explain why the work of Frank Lloyd Wright inspires me. What I do know is visiting his work is time well spent & worth attempting to sync my mind to my camera.


The discrepancies began on a Jr. High field trip to Falling Water, which is a signature work of his. Even then I had awe for the natural world & believed I had a responsibility to take care of it. Building a house over a waterfall just didn’t seem right. Yet, when I saw it, I was amazed at how naturally the style, materials & design of a man-made structure blended with nature. As I got older & my own sense of composition & balance developed FLW was there to offer more perplexing influence.


The Laurel Highlands & the Escarpment of the Colorado Plateau are vastly different. Here FLW uses juxtaposition of materials & design to the environment. Chapel of the Holy Cross in Sedona AZ is in contrast with the surroundings. But, to my minds eye it is powerful. The sharply angular gray building pulls strength from the random shapes & the hues of red stone mountains. The lines of the cross support the walls & go deep into the earth.


I must give credit for part of my inspiration of architecture to my roommate at Kent State Pete Locke. Thru osmosis & interesting conversations he showed me new ways to look at buildings. I find it satisfying to examine structures like home & buildings from different perspectives. I also find this type of photography extremely challenging.


I try to soften corners both in photography & landscaping. I also like working with stone. At Kentuck Knob, near Falling Water, is my favorite home design of FLW. Stone in the structure does not soften angles. It harshly defines separation.  Seemingly random landscape stone somehow creates a balance to the walls. Even with conflict to my preferences I admire his work & those that preserve it. The term I use of “unbalanced symmetry”likely has its roots in FLW.


For photographers, the lines of his designs offer wonderful choices. At his homestead school in Taliesin WI,  I was initially overwhelmed at how to best capture his work. I quickly realized that with clear skies & powerful Spring light I had to let the sun be the primary motivator.


The rounded fields at Taliesin gave me insight to the inspiration FLW may have had as a child. A special thanks to the officer that was understanding of the fact that I had left my drivers license in Pittsburgh!


One disappointing thing about FLW tours is that no photography is allowed inside.  Seeing the ridiculous situations people taking selfies put themselves in I understand. Selfie photographers, before you pull out your phone ask yourself 1 question. What could go wrong?


For now I leave Frank with his design within design. Obtuse with Acute. The function of airflow incorporated into negative space accents. A small detail in a grand design. Next stop on the FLW journey TBD.  As the last posting in the 1st year of retirement I will share my resolution…I want to be better in 2017.  I wish the same for you! Merry Christmas.

Full Fram Perfection

Perfection, I believe, is an impossible objective. However I think it is a worthy goal. When I hold a camera to my eye I can’t help but imagining capturing a full frame image that is perfect. No cropping, no post-production and no change in the light on the subject. That moment when all elements come together in a cohesive story worthy of 1,000 words. Compromise is a reality everybody striving for perfection must accept. However, subjective critique of your own work should not just look at the negative or how it could be better. You must examine all that you like about the shot and weigh that against the flaws.

All of the images in this post are untouched. They are what I consider to be my best attempts at “full frame” perfection…so far.


Kayaking on Lake Skadar in Montenegro with my daughter was part of a grand trip. In my opinion I never truly visit a place unless you get on or in the water. During our exploring we sailed, swam & kayaked. Taking photos from a kayak presents numerous challenges & limited opportunities. I don’t need to see her face, nor do I wish the sky were a perfect blue. Her journey ahead has challenges she is more than prepared for.
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Sailing in Seattle on the 70 footer Obsession was nice enough but the twilight & the reflection were an added bonus. The cityscape of this port town is almost void of signage on the buildings. I’m glad urban ordinances prevent the owners/builders from turning this great view into another opportunity for marketing. Could it be better…yes. Mt Ranier is off to the right of frame but their was clutter from the shipyards that distracted so I cropped with the zoom to eliminate the distraction.
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Although this shot was almost deleted, something made me keep examining it. I was using my new long zoom, 100-400, for the first time & pushing my skills at full tight to try & get a tight shot of the athlete’s expression. (That was a humbling failure for the most part.) At first glance this is somewhat abstract. However, it shows aspects of the sport that clearly define what is happening. The blurred feet in the air pointing up & the strong hands holding the bent pole capture a moment unique to this sport. I will do a future post about pole-vaulting.
I am a huge fan of Frank Lloyd Wright. Maybe not a great man but an architect that has inspired me since a field trip to Falling Water in Junior HS. We were traveling in Wisconsin in late May & I insisted on going to Taliesin which was the home of FLW & later a school for Architects. Although I was compelled by the structures, the tour & the history, I couldn’t help but also be inspired by the landscape & the farming. Somehow, the natural setting along with the man-made trellis, plowed field and orderly orchard gave me a different insight into FLW’s use of space & style of design. I can’t fully articulate what it is about his work I enjoy especially since I am not fond of hard horizontal & vertical lines associated with buildings. Taliesin West in AZ is on my bucket list for my next trip into the SW.
I had to connect in VIE on a return trip from SJJ & (on purpose) had a 12 hour layover in Vienna. They have a quick/easy/cheap train from the airport & I hopped on to do a “down & dirty wander” around this historic center of European power. All to often I was distracted by barkers dressed in period-piece costume inviting me to concerts of Mozart, Strauss and Hayden. In my mind I kept saying…you’re here for your eyes not your ears. In one of the many parks I found this emotional statue with a wonderful floral background. The diversity of art in this city goes well beyond the music. I hope to someday go back & spend more time to enjoy the music & capture more of what Old Europe has to offer.IMG_9229 copy
Wandering thru a market in Zagreb was a wonderful opportunity for street photography. The colorful produce was a backdrop for the diversity of characters involved in the hustle of commerce. This solitary vendor appears to have sadness etched into his face but in his eyes I see a peaceful serenity. Knowing the quality of his product he has a subdued confidence a buyer will choose his apples. The cane on the edge of the frame is not to far from his folded callous hands. Although his rugged coat helps keep him warm he keeps his head uncovered defying the harshness of the world. When I first spotted him I was drawn to the character of his face and stoic expression. However, as I waited for the passing crowd to give me a window to snap a portrait, I realized the more complete story was wider and included his environment.

I found this video from PBS. It’s only 3:02 & a very choppy edit style, but I found it an interesting look at the perspective of a photographer with 6 decades of experience.