It’s Been Awhile

I’ve been somewhat dormant publishing new posts since I’ve abandoned my twice a month deadlines. The gallery showing of Portraiture of Cuba, a non-photo focused trip visiting my daughter in Israel & the fact I’m not a fan of winter photography are my best excuses for not doing much new with my camera.

Also taking up significant time has been learning the visual differences between digital platforms, software, screens & projectors. Maintaining consistent quality in the digital world is frustrating! File that under “I hate digital”. I’ll let that go for now. 

The past months have been a time to continue crawling up the Photoshop mountain. Without a doubt I’ve abandoned earlier inhibitions about “altering the reality” of my images. In fact, some of my favorite images over the winter have been oldies that I now can do post-production work I’ve learned in the past few years. File that under “I LOVE digital”.

It’s not like I haven’t pressed the shutter recently. The unpredictable snapshots I got visiting Tel Aviv & Jordon were good exercise for my eyes & my mind. I never thought I’d get a surfing picture or see a couple on a date using a fast electric scooter. The light, the colors & the textures in the Jordon Desert were completely unexpected with a Deja vu of Star Wars.

I have a new camera with astounding low light capabilities. The advantages of higher resolution/full frame are great. I’m getting used to the electronic viewfinder associated with mirror-less but I’m still a fan of optical thru the lens. As with most things in life not all change is an improvement. The EOS-R will be getting a workout in the months ahead.

I have a few photo sojourns planned for the upcoming months including a road trip west visiting family & reconnecting with valued friends. It’s nice to be able to blend a photo topic that has baffled me for many decades with renewing personal connections.

I have an east bound trip where I’ll visit a respected friend before continuing the elusive challenge of chasing sailboats. The 12 Meter Championships is an opportunity I’m excited about. It’s part of a workshop with sailboat photographer Onne van der Wal. The logistics & variables involved with this passion of mine is something I’ve come to accept. Last May, going after the Volvo boats was disappointing because of the weather. Yet, sails continue to dominate my mind’s eye.

Later in the summer, the Tall Ships in Erie PA will provide another opportunity for capturing a chapter of my photo dreams.  In doing my planning, I’ve discovered another avenue I may someday pursue to put myself in position to capture the beauty & power of these boats. For now, I’m just hopeful that I have no need for a rain-cover for my camera in either Newport or Erie.

Closer to Pittsburgh, the opportunity for a multi-layered collaboration involving a mixed media diptych is in the works. It will be a collaborative effort where “the light” was an inspiration to both. This will be another chance to explore creative motivation. The back-story is one of the more interesting/serendipitous preludes to a project that can best be described as a ‘burgh thing. It may be a 2 part blog posting. (When was the last time you read diptych & serendipitous in the same paragraph?)

If all goes well, this fall I will finally spend a few days in what some have called The Most Beautiful City in Europe. Prague has been on my list of places I’ve wanted to visit with my camera. The lure involves history, architecture, classical music & at least geographically, the home of Bohemian lifestyle. Capturing the appeal with still images will be a challenge. A big work in progress.

A subject I enjoy almost everywhere I go requiring no planning is people. Sometimes they just add a human perspective to the frame. Other times their expressions preface an interesting story. In the case of still images of musicians I’m convinced a 2 shot tells a deeper story.

I often see what appears to be a boring sight & realize I have an unorthodox perspective. For example, parked cars seems bland at best. However, when I considered the skill needed to parallel park in tight urban areas, 5 cars caught my eye. Maybe it was a parade at rest?

If nothing else, this blog gives me a better understanding of why I pick up my camera. I enjoy putting myself in situations where I need to visually explore the environment to find a frame that inspires my mind’s eye. Frequently patience is a needed tool. However, per-visualization of subjects & the planning involved with chasing those moments is another layer of my photography motivation.

A cure for cabin fever

My dad called this time of year cabin fever.

Since I am not a fan of winter I have little motivation in outside activities when the weather is cold. However, my camera inspires me to get out of the house.

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Opportunities the weather provides inspired me to put on a few layers & head outside in an attempt to capture the environment. One thing about cold weather I do enjoy is it makes me feel alive. My senses are more attuned to the world around me because so many routine things are different. The iconic Bell Tower of Chautauqua Institution shrouded in winter fog is the result of a few degrees of temperature difference between the air & the frozen lake. The atmosphere muffled the voice of the clocks bells while the frozen lake reflected their chimes. The overcast sky reinforced a mood of solitude.

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A challenge of doing photography in the snow is choosing subjects where the weather is either a primary or supporting character in the frame. In some cases the overall lack of color enhances the scene. I have been envisioning options on how the Allegheny Observatory, with its unique shape, could be shot. Initially I thought the domed shape would be emphasized, as other subjects were almost monochrome. However the tree, still with some leaves on it, provided a complementary form & with hint of chroma.

03

Living just North of the 40th meridian, snow is not uncommon but it isn’t a constant element of winter. In my minds eye this snow-covered house takes me to a place further north where snows of winter are constant till the spring thaw. It also conjures a place of warmth to escape the cold. When you can capture the environment you can influence the viewers mood.

04 I love Pittsburgh’s many quirks. This is s favorite. Having cleared the public street of snow, the effort of a persons labor is “claimed” as a parking place by simply putting a chair in the space. While some may see this as taking something that doesn’t belong to them, most respect the work of others & don’t park there. That is pure Pittsburgh.

05

I gave up fishing almost 50 years ago & have never contemplated ice fishing. In search of some interesting shots & talking to the fishermen about their sport I took a stroll on a bay I normally enjoy from my boat. What struck me after I left the shore was the sense of community the huts created. I also noticed that just like the diversity of boats used for fishing in the summer their was a wide variety of tents or shelters. I really enjoyed walking around this neighborhood.

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Not surprising ice fishing is something for a father & son to enjoy together. This dad hadn’t been ice fishing since he was in Cub Scouts. With his sons in Cub Scouts he decided it would be a good way to spend time together. They were having a grand time.

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The reward of this fisherman is more than what is on the end of his line. He is with friends who have been close for much of their lives. The camaraderie is more important than the catch. The device in the lower right of the frame is a sonar device, showing the depth of the water & movement of the fish. Just like any hobby or sport, toys make the activity more engaging. When I asked why they choose this particular spot I was told they had studied contours of the lake bottom on the internet and got GPS coordinates before coming onto the ice.

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For some, the solitude of nature & escaping the routine of daily life is reason enough to drill a hole in the ice & drop a line in the cold water. On this day with bright sunshine I set my exposure at 1 stop brighter using a center weighted weighted zone. When I had first read about this technique it seemed counter-productive until I better understood the process of how the camera interprets the scene.

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About a mile away from the village of fishermen I saw a familiar yet out of place shape. With the same sail rigging as kite-boarding on water you can snow board on ice. I would love to have a young back & knees to try kite-boarding but I have no desire to try the winter version of this sport. Water is soft…ice is hard.

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My first impression when I saw this person on a bike was why? But after watching him for a while with fat boy tires on his bike I said why not? He was paired with the novice kite-snow-boarder providing support & advice. This enabled him to keep up with his friend as the wind blew him away.

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The beauty of Nature can mask the dangers. Over 1 dozen barges broke away from their moorings on the Ohio River & came to rest on the Emsworth Dam. The powerful flow of the water holds these 300 ton steel flatboats against the structure. This then provides a place for ice to build up creating problems to the locks, which are critical to the movement of river traffic. When I see things like this my mind immediately goes to the workers who are responsible for solving the problem. Largely taken for granted The Army Corps of Engineers provides an important service to all of us. BE SAFE!