When we try to pick out anything by itself we find that it is bound fast by a thousand invisible cords that cannot be broken, to everything in the universe.

- John Muir, 1869

Visual Exercise and Sniff Stops

With so much bitter cold, snow and ice this past winter, we didn’t go for many walks in the woods with our malamute Willow this year, even though she would have loved it.   This past week was a time to revisit the woods behind our house to see what was what.    And every walk getting away from the standard smells of the neighborhood, especially a woodland full of various critters, is like a kid in a candy shop for her.

Sniff Stop #1

Sniff Stop #1

I decided to bring my Fujifilm X100S along with me just for a little mental and visual exercise.    I usually can shoot one handed with this camera without too much trouble.

The prolonged cold, winter weather had a way of zapping my motivation to get out.  The woods are largely in a state of brown at the moment, much like November before the snow buried us.     Some ice still remains on the ponds.   A time of year where finding visual stimuli can be challenging as it looks so …. well – brown without much contrast anywhere.

Of course, Willow couldn’t care less about all of this, and as you can see here, pulling in her typical malamute stance of “I want to sniff this and you aren’t going to stop me.”  She was very anxious to get to the sniffing agenda at hand at the path entrance – Sniff Stop #1. (more…)

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Fossil art | agatized coral

These are a few pieces I recently added to my gallery – related to my Stonescapes series.  These look at the aspects of animals that once lived millions of years ago, now turned into stone.   Looking at these remnants of these animals brings to mind so many questions about what life was like when this was their world.   What an honor it must be to have someone thinking about you millions of years in the future.

Ammonite Fossil

Ammonite Fossil | Nikon D800, Nikkor 200mm f/4 @ f16

Fossilized Coral

Fossilized Coral | Nikon D800, Nikkor 200mm f/4 @ f16

 

Although part of my overall Stonescapes series, I have also given these particular pieces their own space in my gallery:  Fossil Art

 

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Cosmos

Cosmos

“Cosmos” | Nikon D800, 200mm f/4 macro

We are all made of star dust indeed.   The rock before me, formed from many of the same elements that I am.   We both originated in the cosmos somewhere.   I tend to spend a lot of time looking at the sky amazed at what I can see, and thoroughly depressed about what I can’t.  I will likely never meet another being that didn’t originate on this planet.   I am utterly fascinated by what such a discovery would mean, and how it would shape attitudes and perceptions of human beings around the world.   It would finally break the human-centric attitudes of many.

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Sands of Time

dune skeletons

Dune Skeletons, Silver Lake State Park, Michigan | Nikon D800, 24mm f/1.4

I find it interesting the things that come to mind when I am editing my work. In this sand dune image, I was cleaning some dust spots off and noticing how the horizon line was slightly blurred. I remember it was quite windy this day, the persistent wind off of Lake Michigan that is known for sculpting many of the dunes on the west side of Michigan. On this horizon, there is a lot of blowing sand. Just a thin sand “atmosphere” of sorts.    I remember being pelted with those bits when crossing the various ridges here.   When looking closely at the bark of these tree remains, you can see the toll the blowing sand has taken on them. The bark is pitted, worn, and raw in spots. (more…)

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When the jpeg is good enough

watermarks from hell

Is your image still safe?

Raise your hand if you have heard one of these statements before:

“The photos on my website aren’t large enough for print quality.”

“I am not concerned about web theft, only if someone steals for print.”

“I don’t like watermarks, web images aren’t good for printing anyway.”

I thought much the same, for many years actually, until a business experience that happened to me last year that threw a curve at me.   I was contacted by a publisher in Italy who wanted to use one of my images for the back cover of a new novel by Federico Moccia.   We negotiated and agreed upon the usage fee, and I was to send them a 300 dpi file once I received the PO.   I also asked if I could get a copy of the novel just for my own records. (more…)

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Hiking the Dolomite Badlands

Well, it seems like February went by in a blink of an eye, and yet old man winter keeps poking us with a stick around here. I have really meant to try to post a bit more this year, seems I haven’t started off very well with that. Quite frankly, this tough winter has sucked the energy out of me a bit, creatively, and motivationally.

Rolling Hills Dolomite

Dolomite Badlands | Nikon D800, 200mm f/4, cross-polarized lighting | RO-9849

I finally got around to photographing a great piece of stone my wife gave me for my birthday back in January. I don’t know how she found this piece, but boy she has a great eye for knowing what I’d like. In many slabs, I am hunting for the good parts of a larger piece that catch my eye. In this case, it was the whole darn thing that was cool, measuring in at about 3 inches (75 mm) in height. It reminded me of the time as a kid when my family took a trip out west with a long stop in South Dakota’s Badlands area.    It is a place I have wanted to return to for quite a long time, especially since taking up photography a bit more seriously than when I was 12.  Although this piece of rock isn’t from South Dakota – the landscape within certainly has some visual reminders of that place.

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Sculpting the Winter Landscape

Recently I came across this quote from conservationist and author John Burroughs (1837-1921) that quite astutely described the uniqueness of the winter landscape.

“What a severe yet master artist old Winter is…. No longer the canvas and the pigments, but the marble and the chisel.” ~John Burroughs, The Snow-Walkers, 1866

chiseled winter landscape

Light of the Ice Phoenix : Winter chisels the surface of Lake St. Clair in Southeast Michigan, USA. | D800, 14-24mm

It made me think about the differences in color palette and form between the other seasons and winter in a way I suppose I haven’t thought about in the way an artist thinks about the medium they are working with. When you read it, and especially after having been out photographing it, it makes perfect sense.   (more…)

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Exploring the Icescape

St. Clair icescape

Varied icescape on Lake St. Clair, Michigan in January 2014 after extreme fluctuations in temperature.

My first time out photographing for 2014 was about 2 weeks ago, revisiting my favorite spot for photographing ice on Lake St. Clair.   As many times as I have been out here, and as much as I TRY to research weather conditions, cloud cover, etc, it is a complete crap shoot for what it is going to be like.   The light, the landscape, state of the ice – all seem to keep me guessing until I actually get there.    What keeps me going back is this very dynamic nature and that it is always different, sometimes just from week to week, and most definitely from year to year.

This particular time presented me with quite a varied landscape.   Given the brutal cold polar vortex we had just gone through (-15 °F/-26°C w/ wind chills to -50°F/-45°C), we experienced temperatures 50 °F (10°C)  degrees warmer within just a few days and the large amounts of snow we had began to melt, as well as the ice. (more…)

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Monochrome Escapism

One aspect I have always enjoyed about black and white photography is the sense of escapism that comes with these types of photographs.   As many fine art photographers of the past have demonstrated, the removal of color tends to remove many of the confines of reality, at least as our human brains perceive it.

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things that escape those who dream only at night.” – Edgar Allen Poe

Alaska black and white photography

Turnagain Arm area, Alaska | Nikon D700, 24-70 f/2.8 #SL-9827

As much as I also love color, I have wondered if I could limit myself to photographing only in monochrome for a period of time.   I even considered the possibility that I just force upon myself to shoot only B&W in 2014.  I was thinking that type of immersion and commitment could only be beneficial in my growth as a photographer.

Many people already make that their sole presentation of their work.  As they say, limitation often inspires creativity, and I am always looking for additional inspiration.   I wonder, if I could be out somewhere and have the most brilliant display of color in the sky, and then essentially blow it away in developing the photograph.   Tough choice in the pursuit of discipline, but obviously it has been done before by many others. (more…)

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2014 Color of the Year Radiant Orchid

First of all, for my first post for 2014, Happy New Year!

Radiant orchid

Color of the Year for 2014 : Radiant Orchid

And appropriately for my first post, I am continuing a 7 year tradition in following Pantone’s Color of the Year.  The 2014 Color of the Year is Radiant Orchid.  An interesting, energetic color to say the least, not quite pink, not quite purple, but something in between, bringing the qualities of both together.

Here are some of the Technical aspects of it:

  • RGB Value (TPX):  R177 G99 B163
  • RGB Value (converted Adobe CMYK swatch): R135 G94 B145
  • HTML:  B163A3 (#875e91 converted from swatch)
  • Pantone #: 18-3224

And from the Pantone press release:

“While the 2013 color of the year, PANTONE 17-5641 Emerald, served as a symbol of growth, renewal and prosperity, Radiant Orchid reaches across the color wheel to intrigue the eye and spark the imagination,” said Leatrice Eiseman, executive director of the Pantone Color Institute®. “An invitation to innovation, Radiant Orchid encourages expanded creativity and originality, which is increasingly valued in today’s society.”

radiant orchid colors in nature

Radiant Orchid colors in nature | Michigan Grass Pink orchid | Nikon D2X, 70-200 f/2.8 #FL-9821

As with previous years, I dive into my archives on a treasure hunt of sorts, looking for close matches to what is to be the “hot” color for the year, at least by the color authority of Pantone®.   Even if it never amounts to any particular business lead (can’t say it has), it is a unique way of exploring older photographs.

Many people may go through their archives by dates, places, or subjects as a way to rekindle those moments.   I happen to also keyword by dominant colors, which helps in a search like this, so I can at least come to a good starting point.   It would certainly be nice if Lightroom had an eye dropper feature where you could set a tolerance limit, and have it hunt throughout your database.  (Note to self – write Adobe.)

Sometimes it is quite hard to find close matches, but I think Radiant Orchid is a pinkish / purple color found in many of Michigan’s native wildflowers.   In fact, many of them are native orchids!  Michigan’s Grass Pink Orchid, for one,  is very close to being a match to my eye. (more…)

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