Monday, April 30, 2012

Beach Paintings

Here are three photos from the beach, rendered as paintings. All three are of the Gulf of Mexico at Pensacola (above) and Perdido Key (below) in Florida, late November 2009. The painting effect works well on beach pictures, I think.

These scenes make me eager for summer.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Photo of the Day

Here is another photo that shows the expanded dynamic range that film can provide. In this case it's a shot of of Burlington street in Iowa City, Iowa, way back in 1987. Because of the slow film, the exposure was (if I remember correctly) in the neighborhood of five minutes.

The original negative was on 120 film, which provides a two and a quarter by two and a quarter inch square negative. This is much larger than 35mm film, and it shows in the image's resolution. The camera is one I wish I still had: The venerable Yashica-Mat 124G. You can still buy them on e-bay, but they are expensive.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Photo of the Day

This photo was taken in extreme northeast Arizona, not far from the Four Corners. It was a cloudy and rainy October day. The color version of this shot was nice, but I think it really comes alive in black and white. The desaturation brings out the clouds, and the play of light on the mesas.

Friday, April 20, 2012

DC at Night

Here are some nights shots from Washington, DC, from way back in October of 1990. They do pretty well as scanned from film. They have a nice broad dynamic range, and I think come close to what I would have achieved using HDR techniques, which were mostly unknown at the time.

The picture above is of Congress, of course, taken from the west side (opposite the side facing the mall).

Below is a picture of the Supreme Court, taken on the same evening.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Photo Of The Day

Today's photo is an infrared image taken with my specially converted infrared camera. It does an especially good job on clouds. In this scene I like the line of trees as well. It was converted to black and white, but is otherwise unmodified.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Planning a shot

Pre-planning a shot is a good way to get photos you will really enjoy for a long time, and it can be a very satisfying part of the hobby of photography. The photo above is one of the first that I carefully planned in advance, and came out the way I wanted it to. At the time, the early 90s, Dubuque had one of the largest river-boat casinos in the nation--the Mississippi Belle. Knowing that it went down river every day on its cruises, I visualized what it would look like on the river below the iconic Julien Dubuque's Grave.

Everything had to come together: A sunny day with strong afternoon sunlight, the boat's position on the river, some framing trees. On the first nice day that I could get away, I went up to the grave, and lo and behold, it all came together. The picture above is the best out of the 90 or so shots I took.

Below are a couple of photos that preceded the one above. As you can imagine, I began shooting when the boat came into view, and kept shooting until it disappeared up river. The whole thing was great fun, and it was very exciting to see a shot I'd pre-visualized come to life.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Early Reflections

Reflections are a popular subject for photography, and they were one of my first ongoing artistic interests. Although I later outgrew it, the variation of taking pictures of myself in reflections occupied my early years with the camera. Most such self-portraits end up being self indulgent junk, but there are a few that I am willing to post here, like the repeating image above.

In the pictures below I am charmed to see the old Leica III that my grandfather gave me--my first serious camera. It was a great camera, but I was too young and inexperienced to take care of it properly. I ended up selling it when keeping it in working order became too expensive. In the photo below I am reflected in the mirror of the studio of the radio station where I had my first full time job.

Below is a picture from high school. In photography class I undertook a reflections project that involved taking my own picture with the camera in lots of different mirrors and then combining the shots in a composite so it looked like there was a wall with many mirrors hanging on it, each with a unique picture of me in it. The final composite has been lost, but I have a few shots left like the one below. Of note in this photo is evidence of the personal sacrifice I made during this project. While cutting the individual pictures down to size with a large paper cutter, I cut off my own right thumb. It had to be surgically reattached, and you can see the resulting bandage on it it in this shot.

Finally, a posed shot involving facing mirrors, and the infinite regression of images they provide.

In reviewing these old shots, I was reminded of how much fun photography was for me then. Of course, it still is. I was also struck by how much hair I had then. Nowadays I still enjoy taking pictures of reflections, but I tend to keep my old, balding self out of them.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Photo Of The Day

More black and white work today. This is a scene from northwestern North Dakota, taken in June of 2009. The location is somewhere between Dickinson and Williston. The soft color tones in the origional make it a very effective color photo, and I was a bit surprised when it turned out so well in black and white.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Formative moments

Above is one of my first "serious" photos. By serious, I mean that I was actually trying to do something more than just record a scene. Instead, I was concerned with framing, and picture elements, and composition. I was 15 at the time, and the location was the town of Acco, on the Mediterranean near Haifa, in Israel. The year was 1973.

The picture below is a serene view of the harbor at Acco, taken within minutes of the picture of the mosque minaret, above. The two pictures here were part of an "ah ha!" moment for me, when I first realized that I could do more than just record scenes with a camera. Instead I was hoping to portray an emotion, or a mood. It was exciting to be intentionally shooting this, and I was very gratified when I got the results.

The camera? A Kodak Instamatic shooting 126 film.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Photo Of The Day

At the end of one of the warmest Marches on record (averaging 17 degrees above normal here in East-Central Illinois) I was put in the mood to work on some winter pictures. Here is a scene from Southern Minnesota in December of 1997. I like the hoar frost on the fields and trees.