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PIXelations 18

So, what kind of photography do you do?

by fotofinish , 10-28-2007 at 03:02 PM (197 Views)

I was asked this question at the photography society meeting. I really didn’t answer the question. I’m not even sure what I answered since I was taken by surprise and embarrassed by not being able to rattle off a decent answer.

But now, here is my reply:

I shoot intimate landscapes, either naturescapes or cityscapes. I am interested in showing its detail: shapes, textures, abstracts. My lens of choice is the 70-200mm because I like to compress the vast distances and isolate the detail of the scene. A tripod is almost always used with mirror lockup. I also like a sense of moodiness and mystery which I try to capture in some images if possible. Images should suggest, allow one to use imagination, rather than present blatant directness…

Another step along the way

by fotofinish , 10-29-2007 at 05:35 PM (172 Views)

I joined the Focused Photographic Society at the Exposure Gallery in New Haven this week. My objective is to learn more from the other talented photographers there and hopefully get more valuable feedback on my work. I’ve been to this gallery a few times in the past for various openings and guest discussions. I am impressed with the woman who runs the gallery, Jennifer, because of her attempts to bring something new to the gallery on a weekly basis. Her mission is to invest in emerging new photographic talent.

There are a number of things I have to work on:
My web images do not show accurate color in some cases.
My eye for overall color balance and accuracy must somehow improve.
My processing workflow and printing workflow needs improvement, since I’ve had to reprint a few more times than normal. This is getting expensive…

Jayne and I and friends of ours are headed to Santa Fe on Thursday, November 1 for five days. I don’t know how much photography I will be able to do…This could be a chance to photograph some of the National Monuments and Pueblo artifacts.

A lot to do…

by fotofinish , 11-12-2007 at 02:10 PM (238 Views)

So, we’re back from Santa Fe. Now, having seen northern New Mexico, I understand Georgia O’Keefe’s question she asked after spending a summer at Lake George, NY: “Why would anyone want to paint a picture here? It is so green!”

I must say I was surprised by the landscape of northern New Mexico. There was more vegetation than I expected, and can only imagine how it must look with Spring colors. Very beautiful.

But now, I am back and need time to process my photos. I took about 5.5 gigs-worth. Many of those were bracketed and manually focused in case I need to merge some in Helicon Focus to give me clarity from foreground to background.

Between my photography class and my Santa Fe pictures, there is not much time left. Here are a couple of pictures I did process:

A typical adobe doorway in Santa Fe

St. Francis cathedral

For my photography class, we were instructed to take night pictures of a particular bridge in the area, an exercise in night photography. But, of course, I had to be different:

As I process more from my latest trip, I’ll post a few here.

Richard E. Aaron

by fotofinish , 11-18-2007 at 05:55 PM (188 Views)

I had a rare insider opportunity this past week to attend a Friends Of The XG Gallery pre-opening dinner for the famous Rock photographer, Richard Aaron . Being an avid fan of Rock myself, I thoroughly enjoyed viewing the large size, framed versions of Richard’s work. I also had the fun of personally meeting him and talking with him at length about those early years of Rock, and what it was like to shoot in those days.

Richard is a Nikon-man and had 6 bodies and 12 lenses. He rarely had anyone help him so he had an 89 lbs. pack with him when doing his work. There was never anytime to anticipate what the bands would do when shooting them. The key to his success was to always be ready with his equipment, not changing lenses or loading film. There would only be a few seconds to take the shot.

His preferred method of shooting the bands was to include a bit of the environment surrounding the bands rather than just the usual head and shoulders shots. Whenever he spoke with the members of the bands, he always tried to relate to them as just people, rather than the stars that they were. Richard now shoots in digital and is about to receive the new Nikon D3. The photos on current display where printed on an Epson 9800 printer using Hahnemühle Photo Rag paper.

Northern New Mexico

by fotofinish , 11-23-2007 at 05:22 PM (196 Views)

Jayne and I and our friends, Tony and Madeline, went to Santa Fe, NM, during the first week of November. Besides Santa Fe itself, we traveled to several areas within an hour radius.

The first location was Bandelier National Monument. These cliff dwelengs date dack to the 1300’s. Time of day ruined most of my shots. But here is one:

This location would be excellent for mystery and spirits. The many hikes are well worth the visit at any time of day.

We visited an additional location Valles Caldera National Preserve. The vast grasslands were in stark contrast to the surrounding peaks of the Jemez Mountain Range:

We found some elk resting there during our visit.

The next location was Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch. I can see why she spent years painting here. The surrounding formations were unusual and multi-colored. Again, time of day did not cooperate. Hiking was also enjoyable here. You could hike up to the top of the Mesa if you dare. Here is a picture of an old means of transportation:

On the way back, we stopped to visit Plaza Blanca, another favorite of Georgia-O-Keeffe. Time of day is everything, but I was there so I took some pictures like this one:

Our final destination was a visit to Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument. This was our favorite. The trail system took us through many strange formations and tight spaces. Again, you can go up to the top of the Mesa. Here is an example:

I could easily have stayed here for days, had I been in the right light.
So, I guess it sufficient to say that I was unlucky at taking any significant photos. I think my technique was probably sufficient, though.

I am born and raised as a New England boy. It used to be hard to argue that the fours seasons there could be beaten. But now that I have seen Northern New Mexico, I understand the beauty of this area and the ever-changing landscape it presents…

I’ll finish here with a couple of pictures from downtown Santa Fe.

From the gallery district:

Within St. Francis Cathedral from the late 1800’s:

You can view the rest of my gallery here.

Last Class

by fotofinish , 12-04-2007 at 07:42 PM (299 Views)

My latest advanced photography class with photographer Mallorie Ostrowitz has concluded. The most significant thing I learned occurred as a result of homework exploration, something I would not have readily done myself. Apparently this approach works for me: under the pressure to produce for a deadline, my creative ideas were kindled. I also used this opportunity to experiment with defocused abstractions as a result of a night photography assignment. This in turn has given me the idea for my next official project, tentatively called “Abstractions Of The Darkside”, a study of defocused abstractions of light, shape, and form taken during the night.

Here’s a sample:

The start of this project can be viewed here .

The following are some other images from assignments we had:

Mallorie is having another class in the Spring devoted to exploring advanced elements of composition. Since she was originally a painter, I am looking forward to her class. I would highly recommend to anyone to find a class suitable to your background. You will find that you will feed off of the creative energy of your fellow classmates as well.

More Night Abstracts

by fotofinish , 12-13-2007 at 05:08 PM (200 Views)

I have gone out several more times looking for an image to satisfy the monthly XG Gallery theme of People (on the street). What I do is take the Mark III into work with me. Since I get in to work by 6am, I have ample opportunity to get more night shots, since it is still dark. Here’s one I submitted to XG:

This one I hoped captured the loneliness of early morning going to work…

Then, I found these abstractions for my new series:

I like a sense of mystery with my images. Along with this, I tried to use color to enhance the mood created by the image. The patterns and shapes are supposed to work together with the image backgrounds to produce the final image impression.

This project can be viewed here.

Defocused abstracts are not for everyone. Most people think it is a waste of my time. Yet, I feel compelled to do this…I’d love to know what you think…

Off For Repair

by fotofinish , 12-23-2007 at 02:51 PM (161 Views)

Yesterday, I sent my Canon 1D Mark III back to Canon for repair. When I first installed version 1.1.3 onto the camera a few weeks ago, my first attempts at taking pictures resulted in Err 99. Everything looked fine with the camera after the upgrade, until I depressed the shutter to take the picture. I was forced to reinstall, which actually cleared this problem. Everything was fine for the next several weeks until this past Thursday when I tried to take some family Christmas pictures. Once again, Err 99. I removed the battery, swapped with my spare battery, tried different lenses, reinstalled 1.1.0 then back to 1.1.3. Nothing. So, on the phone I went and got my authorization to send it back. I also asked if they could replace the sub-mirror assembly since my camera was one of the early cameras that had the AI Servo problem. They said they would.

It’s in the mail and the Canon Rep says I should get it back in three weeks. We’ll see… So now I bring my Canon 20D back into primary instead of secondary service. Could have been worse, this is not an active time photographically for me.

I’d like to wish everybody a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. This has been a great year for me. I have a lot to be thankful for…

Repair Accepted

by fotofinish , 12-31-2007 at 03:25 PM (190 Views)

I just got the following email from Canon:

We have received your equipment for evaluation and repair. Based on our initial examination, we will start the necessary repairs at no charge to you. You can expect the repair to be completed and returned back to you within approximately 7 business days* from the date shown above. There is no need to respond to this notice.

Please note that in the unlikely event that any additional internal damage is found due to liquid/water, sand, corrosion, battery leakage or impact (such as dropping the unit), a revised estimate will be sent for your authorization, since these conditions are specifically excluded from warranty coverage.

Thank you for purchasing Canon products and for allowing us this opportunity to serve you.

Best Regards,
Canon Factory Service Center

Hopefully, I can get my “baby” back shortly…

Another Year

by fotofinish , 01-01-2008 at 10:12 AM (186 Views)

What a year 2007 has been for me:
* My first solo image showing for two months at the city’s Welcome Center.
* My first 1-series camera, the Canon 1D Mark III.
* Three major photo opportunities; Yosemite, Rocky Mountain National Park, Northern New Mexico.
* Joined two camera clubs; one in a local neighboring town, one at a city’s gallery.
* Attended my first advanced photography class under the help of a well known local photographer.
* The start of my second body of work, Abstractions From The Night, which marks a completely new direction artistically for me.

And here are a couple of new images from this series:

This ongoing project can be viewed here.

I am truely blessed, and I hope the year was a great one for you, too. Happy New Year!

Research, research, research…

by fotofinish , 01-06-2008 at 10:23 AM (186 Views)

With the Winter months upon me now, I have started my research into areas I am weakest in with regards to technical processing. I have not been totally happy with the way some of my photos are printing. Even with a calibrated system, sometimes what I see is not what I have been getting. Also, I still struggle with my Photoshop skills in regards to local, rather than global, adjustments.

For these reasons, I have purchased a few more reference aids. The first such aid is from the Luminous Landscape, From Camera To Print, a more than six hour video hosted by Michael Reichmann and Jeff Schewe. My weakest skill area was in not using Soft Proofing, since I did not fully understand it. Yes, I read discussions about its value, but I never saw anything on how to use it, step-by-step. This video does a good job with this.

A good reference for step-by-step local image adjusting I found is in Mark Johnson’s The Photographer’s Photoshop CS3 Companion. This is Mark’s downloadable, almost 800 page e-book. I have always enjoyed his easy to follow Photoshop Workbench series out on the Radiant Vista website. His explanations and examples of how to properly use layer masking for some local adjustments seems to make it more understandable to me. The Radiant Vista also has many free, downloadable discussions by Craig Tanner as he discusses composition through daily image analysis. This has done a lot to help train my eye for looking for proper graphical and artistic elements which make up strong images.

A similar approach is also taken by Alain Briot on his Beautiful-Landscape. Alain is one of the most successful internet entrepreneurs.

Finally, Brooks Jensen has a series of podcasts on his site LensWork. There are two types of podcasts: one where he discusses many philosophical and trendy aspects of photography, and another where he analyzes key images from several of the photographers his magazine has published.

Research is an important ingredient in maintaining your photographical skill levels. I need to constantly review my basic skills. The repetition hopefully will continue to reinforce what I have learned and what I continue to learn.

Editor’s Choice

by fotofinish , 01-07-2008 at 05:00 PM (328 Views)

I am flattered to say that one of my recent abstractions has earned an Editor’s Choice award in this Forum of which I am a member. Although it is my second one from this Forum, this one is especially important to me, since it is part of my second body of work, Abstractions From the Night. A link to this image can be found here. Scroll down to see the mention of the award.

This ongoing project can be viewed here.

This is an honor for me, and a great way to start out my new year.

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