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PIXelations 24

I am so there…revisited

by fotofinish , 02-15-2009 at 12:26 PM (338 Views)

I need to talk this through. After all, this is the primary reason I started this entire blog. Reviewing from time to time from where one has come and documenting where one needs to go to, is a worthwhile and very important exercise.

In the depths of winter, often one turns to self-contemplation and self-evaluation…

I had a banner year last year
* Honorable mention at an area-wide annual photo contest (local Audubon Society).
* Two group gallery shows: one in Hartford, and one in New Haven.
* Published and received payment for four photos in the Hartford business directory.
* Spent eight hours of private instruction (which I paid for) with the legendary and world-famous photographer, Michael Reichmann, of the
* A family trip to Aruba.
* A photography trip, with just me and my wife Jayne, to British Columbia.
* Two advanced abstract photography classes with local photographer Mallorie Ostrowitz.
* Participated in my first arts and crafts fair where I sold four pictures.

I am very grateful for this bounty and really have nothing to complain about, nor should I…

But I am a competitive by nature person. A little story first. I used to really enjoy competing in local roadraces during the 1970’s and 1980’s. I was never outstanding, but I did well enough. Then I injured my right knee. I tried doctors and various techniques to keep running and competing. Running back then was my passion and my outlet. The many hours of enjoyment it gave me were priceless to me.

Then came the day when I could no longer compete. I could participate in races as a “jogger”, but because I could not compete, I lost interest. I gave up roadracing completely. Now I try to walk when I can..

So, how does this relate to my photography? I am afraid that I will lose interest in this. I always seem to be in a hurry, rushing through everything I do just to get it done. It is my nature. As a result, my achievements often reflect this. Rushed photos that are technically wrong which force me to try to rescue these in Photoshop; “carpet-bombed” scenes where I know there is a picture “somewhere” and if I shoot enough pictures, when I get back I am bound to find one I like, compositionally…

I’ve read enough to know that scene pre-visualization can make or break a final capture. I’ve read these words many, many times, but have never felt the words, until now. As a result, I am getting frequently frustrated with my attempts at art. Clearly, I don’t know what I want nor what I am looking for. I need to answer these questions.

I know that I am losing interest in “straight” photography. Maybe that is because I frequently fail technically and artistically at these. Maybe it is easier to hide behind abstracts so I can blame the viewer for not understanding what I was trying to accomplish rather than taking full responsibility for my failures. I don’t know. What I do know is that I am often bored at looking at pure straight, landscape photography. I need something, some new approach, to release me. I need to learn from these failures and let these failures drive me forward. Isn’t that what learning is all about?

I am not the first photographer to feel this way. And based on my accomplishments from last year, I guess I have no right to say these things. I know that my ultimate reason for doing all of this is because I enjoy this. There is nothing more exciting or personally rewarding to me than to capture a picture of something that I saw that moves me.

But I am a competitive person. If I can’t compete and feel I am making progress toward something, whether I know what that something is, then it forces me to question what I am doing, and most importantly, why I am doing…I’ve looked through my entire collection of cds/dvds of all the pictures I have ever taken. There is not one “wow” photo. Most if not all are rather ordinary in the context of what others have already done in photography to date.

What I feel I need
* I need to be able to come up with projects – valid projects – where I can plan, and previsualize what I am trying to accomplish. I know I need to keep spontaneity in my pictures, but right now I am aimless. I need the discipline of planning. But how do I do this?
* I live in a very ordinary, uninspiring part of the country. My job sterilizes creativity and often sucks dry my energy levels. So I must work extra-hard to find images that inspire me. If I know what that is. Which I don’t. But how do I go about learning how to do this? Someone once said that if you want to become a better photographer, become a more interesting person. But what if this is not your nature?
* I need to know how to effectively research a location for possible sites that may stir creativity in me. When my wife and I travel, I know that the odds of my coming back with any significant images are very small. I need to figure out if there is anything I can do to improve those odds. But how do I do this?
* I need to stop trying so hard and just let it happen. But what is “it”?
* Did I mention, I need to slow down? Not so easy to break a long-learned habit pattern.

Let me end with something from one of my first blog entries from years ago; something that another photographer on another forum said far more eloquently than I could…

Progression of a photographer

1. You start out with very little knowledge .
2. You start doing research and realize it is much more difficult than you imagined.
3. You begin to pick up knowledge, the technical side of things.
4. You begin to use the technical knowledge and it works.
5. You start to feel as if you are mastering the technical.
6. You begin to feel you know a LOT.
7. You start posting images that you are proud of.
8. You KNOW your images are better than much of what you see.
9. Family and friends start to oooo and aaaahhh at your images.
10. Pro’s don’t seem to acknowledge you.
11. You think it’s jealousy.
12. You reach a valley in your photography. You are starting to notice that your images aren’t quite what you thought they would be.
13. You start to notice that, in your images, the models hands, the composition, the depth…isn’t quite what you wanted.
14. Even your very favorite photograph isn’t as good as you once thought. “I should have . . . ”
15. You are now completely dissatisfied with everything you have ever shot.
16. You begin to realize that your photography is NOTHING compared to the masters.
17. You begin to see the differences in your photography compared to what you see published.
18. Now you are beginning to learn.

…and I am soooo there…

where’d he go?

by fotofinish , 04-05-2009 at 06:20 PM (394 Views)

A fair question I’ve asked myself lately since my last blog entry below. As you may be able to tell from this, I’ve been disillusioned about my art and about where I want to go with it.

At the same time, my day-job (IT programming) just got alot more stressful due to the start of a lot more “process” and structure with my job. Not that all of this is a bad thing. For too long, lack of structure and process had allowed for some embarrassing bugs to creep into our products we build. But now things are just too complicated and involved. It has become too difficult for me to try and remember or even try to document the myriad of steps and proceedures to be followed even before I can write a line of code. As a result, I am burned out, stressed out, and frankly want to leave the world of computers and technology all together. But that of course is not an option for a 56 something year old who wants to retire at least from this career and maybe the workforce at large. The economy and my love of toys will force me to remain where I am for at least 5 more years, maybe longer…

As a result, I had lost my desire to do anything creatively for the last couple of months. I have not been behind the camera for that length of time. When I get home from work, I have been too stressed and tired to even read anything camera related.

The human spirit is an amazing thing sometimes. It can allow us to adapt and not to be defeated by our current predicaments. And so I am adapting…

New toys can always help to inspire. Because Jayne has a great job, I was able to finally get the home computer system of my dreams to help me with my art. I bought my first Mac pro system with 8 gigs of RAM, 640 gig hard drive, 30” cinema monitor and a second monitor, my old Samsung 19”. I upgraded/transferred my photoshop license to CS4 and Lightroom 2.3. What a difference to use Photoshop and Lightroom with 2 screens! As a matter of history, my first computer, back in 1982 I think, was an Apple2 Plus. It had 16K of RAM and two floppy drives; no hard drive at all!

I also bought a new filter to help me explore some more artistic options with blurring. I have become bored with straight photography for reasons I outlined in my last blog entry. So I am hoping that this will in time spark my creativity…

Finally, I decided to try an exciting-sounding class put on by well-known photographer John Paul Caponigro called Iluminating Creativity. This hopefully will give me a few more tools/ideas on how to create a project. The week-long class starts June 1. More on this latter…Till then, I have got to get out behind the camera…


by fotofinish , 05-05-2009 at 08:29 PM (489 Views)

I finally got out behind the camera to a place called Laurel Ridge. It is a field of daffodils. Jayne heard about this from her piano teacher who got married there years ago. The problem with this place was that there were so many people it was hard to get the exact shot I wanted. We went in the mid morning so I had the chance to try out my new Singh Ray Vari-N-Duo filter. It is a combination warming filter/circular polarizer and acts like a full density filter that goes from 2 stops to 8 stops. It is wonderful and truly helps reduce the effects of harsh light, and allows for taking some special effects shots like this:

We went back for the evening light and I shot this one:

You can see the rest of my selections here.

Roosevelt Mills revisited…

by fotofinish , 05-17-2009 at 03:48 PM (477 Views)

I did a recent return shoot at Roosevelt Mills, an old abandoned garment mill dating back to 1906. This time there, I discovered the boiler room. Although it was a submerged room covered with an inch of mud and water, the boilers were fascinating. The shapes, the textures, and the rust made for some interesting shooting. Of the 115 pictures I shot, 14 were keepers. Of these, about half I did with 4-5 picture focus blends using Helicon Focus to get the depth of field I wanted.

The image below was my favorite of the entire shoot. It is actually a reflection in the water on the floor of the boiler room. The out of focus areas surrounding the window view is actually mud. I had to wait for 10 minutes to get the sun breaking through the clouds. I must say, this one picture had my heart pounding. That’s when I know I’ve captured something special to me!

Here’s a couple more:

You can see the rest of my selections here.

a sense of motion…

by fotofinish , 05-24-2009 at 09:44 AM (469 Views)

I needed a break from work, so I took Friday off and went back to Roosevelt Mills by myself. This place overwhelms the senses when you first get there. Decay and debris are everywhere and it becomes a challenge for the senses and the photographic eye to “see” through this and begin to see in terms of textures, patterns, and shapes.

I was almost at the point of giving up, feeling that it just wasn’t going to happen today, when my eyes began to finally see, as if a curtain magically raised revealing its myriad of artistic possibilities.

Starting off with textures, I gradually discovered that the light was right for my motion abstracts. The one below is my prize of the day. Again, after many different camera movements, after I took this one and chimped the result, my heart pounded with excitement as I captured the “history with mystery” stuff that I so much enjoy. It is a picture of an old decaying doorway to a utility closet with a pane-free window.

These next two were taken of mounds of milled buttons that never had holes put into them so they can be sewn onto garments. The many colors provide a wealth of designs and patterns that hide an infinite number of color and form possibilities.

You can see the rest of my selections at the bottom of the gallery here.

lluminating Creativity…

by fotofinish , 05-31-2009 at 09:57 AM (470 Views)

Back in March, I signed up for what I hope will be a great week-long workshop,
Illuminating Creativity. Well, I leave tomorrow for John Paul Caponigro’s studio in Cushing, Maine. Maybe, I’ll even get to meet his legendary father, Paul Caponigro, one of the icons of photography. I hope to learn alot from John Paul, especially in terms of project creation and project management. And of course, I hope to learn alot from my fellow photographers, their struggles and their projects. This will also be a shooting workshop which will be fun.

i met the masters…

by fotofinish , 06-07-2009 at 02:57 PM (638 Views)

i met the masters…

I had the honor of meeting one of the icons of photography, Paul Caponigro, at the Illuminating Creativity workshop in Maine last week. He was finicky about having his picture taken, so I included him in a group shot at a cocktail party. He is in the blue shirt on the left. Also in the picture is another world class photographer, Seth Resnick, and his wife and 15 month old daughter, Rose.

And here is a picture of Paul’s son, John Paul (JP), and Seth.

This last picture is of photographer Ben Willmore, who speaks around the country about the merits of HDR (high dynamic resolution) and how to do it so it looks natural.

Ben showed us prints of his Route 66 series. His gallery can be found here. These images were phenomenal! If you get the chance to see his exhibition or listen to him speak, it is well worth the while.

I will have a workshop info summary here in the next couple of weeks. There was so much to absorb, but the workshop exceeded all of my expectations and will over the next few months, radically change the way I have looked at photography and especially my photography. Thank you so much JP!

You can see the rest of my workgroup people selections here.

Rockland, Maine…

by fotofinish , 06-23-2009 at 05:27 PM (787 Views)

During the workshop in Maine I attended recently, we went on a photoshoot to Owls Head Lighthouse. The area is rich in textures, shapes, and forms, not to mention a landscaper’s hotspot. Here are a few:

You can see the rest of my selections here.

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