Looking forward and back

So, what about 2008?  I wrote previously about some of my favorite images of 2007 here if you want to check that out.  The fact is, 2008 was actually a pretty slow image production year for me, yet I embarked on quite a few new pursuits of subject matter.  Still, even though quanitity isn’t that much of an issue for me, time in the field photographing, and thinking about compositions and ideas is always time well spent.  On the business end, I was much more busy, did a lot of behind the scenes website work, sold more prints than ever, did OK at Alamy, and established a pretty good ranking in search engines for some of my target keywords, others not so much.    I think if you ask anyone about the business side of photogaphy, the two are sometimes naturally polar opposites.  More business stuff (paperwork, marketing, filling orders, submissions, etc) = less shooting time.   That is not really meant to be a complaint, or any tooting of any horns, just a simple fact of trying to balance the time of all this with everything else in life.

Last year held a number of changes for me in the gear end of things – a switch to Mac (wow, what a rush!), a full frame DSLR (incredible low light performance), and some new lenses to play around with.   I became increasingly unsatisfied with literal interpretations of some subjects, leading to more play with my Lensbabies, expanding vision in post capture such as texturing, monochrome wildlife, and was inspired by stone.  And of course, play = fun = creative growth – no matter how it turns out.  Sometimes you embrace failures.  So probably no suprise on where the time has gone.  So as I did for 2007, I’ll replay a few of my favorites from 2008 – if I can even come up with 10 images or so.  (just kidding!  I did shoot more than 10 images.  :-) )   In no particular order…

Inspired by Stone

Inspired by Stone

Inspired by stone, exploring these macro landscapes and bizarre abstracts in features that are millions of years old.   This was one of my first, and still one of my favorites – later reshot with a D700 and reprocessed in Lightroom from the original.  All are shot wet to bring out the colors, and used cross-polarized lighting to eliminate glare and reflections.

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Mono Pecker

Mono Pecker

Going monochrome with birds – especially with those that already have strong tonal patterns that compliment the processing can yield some nice results.   I am cheating a little because this photograph wasn’t captured in 2008, but was post processed in 2008.   I have really come to love the develop presets in Lightroom.   Although similar results can be obtained in Photoshop or other programs and plugins, not many match the simplicity of mousing over a list of Develop Preset previews in Lightroom just to spark an idea.   It offers the ability to explore post processing options as a launch pad for you to continue on with the idea.   Woodpeckers are some of my favorite birds, and well suited to going monochrome – although I left a tinge of red on the head.   I particularly liked this composition because of the dynamic angles and you can almost sense action of the woodpecker to the hole with the way they are lined up.

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Bloodroot

Framed by Leaves

Bloodroot from Spring 2008 – it can be difficult to come up with something new after you have photographed the same flower year after year.   So this one framed in a leaf pocket had a particular appeal to me.   The leaves simplified the messy forest floor clutter, and created a nice frame around the petals.   It is a composition I will try to work with again this year.

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Ideas to Images

Ideas to Images

I started a series of posts about “ideas to images” that never made it past the initial one – go figure.  Guess I’ll have to work on that eh?   Someone please use a Jedi mind trick on me to tell me to focus! Anyway, as mentioned in the post, I always wanted to photograph horsetails, and previsualized this being the type of image I wanted to create.   Very strong graphically.  Again, a bit more playing around with the controls in Lightroom put this image in its final state before ever reaching Photoshop.

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Lensbaby & trees

Lensbaby & trees

This image was shot with a Lensbaby Composer – probably the best version of the Lensbaby to date.   Much easier to use, with all the flexibility of the previous generations.   I think the hard thing to accomplish with the Lensbaby is separating the creative uses of it from being too gimmicky.   Since this is my photograph, I will refrain from calling it gimmicky looking. Call me biased. :-)  I still like it anyway.

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Rocks from North Africa!

Sahara desert rocks

Sahara Jasper – another from my “stone windows” series, and one rock in particular I became fascinated with.   It is mined from some secret location in the Sahara desert and only sold by a few dealers that I am aware of.  Some pieces much more interesting than others.   I got the story from the rockhounds that found this stuff – quite interesting.   An old buried creek bed 25 miles from the nearest road, found by accident – and these folks are digging anywhere from 5 feet to 15 feet down by hand in up to 140 deg F temps with the help of Sudanese laborers.  Pretty wild stuff!  On the outside it looks like – well – a rock.   But crack them open and you are quite surprised at what they look like on the inside.   I particularly like the ones that have dendrites formed like little trees.   And since this stone is believed to be formed from an ancient oasis, I found it particularly symbolic.  Anyway, I have gained some insight into the world of rockhounds, some geology lessons, and some pretty interesting new images.

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Simplifiers

Simplifiers

Shot New Years Day 2008 – this image made me think about how weather and light can greatly contribute to the simplification of normally very messy environments.   That simplification can lead to better photographic opportunities – stronger graphical compositions.   In this case, the fresh blanket of white snow eliminated a lot of the other distractions that are normally cluttering the woods around my house.  It is similar to how morning or evening light can eliminate the harshness or visual complexity of any scene.

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Whenever I am out, I still enjoy shaking the trees – part of just trying to let go of preconceptions and judgements of how I am

Shaking the trees

Shaking the trees

“supposed to do things.”   Call it a anti-vibration-reduction-gizmo movement.   I will admit, most of the time I get junk.   However, every once in awhile a particular image catches your attention and captivates you.   This is one I liked from Fall 2008.  Certainly they won’t appeal to everyone – but when is that supposed to stop you?

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Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from August 2008…  What I remember most about this image is the foreground rock on the right side that I spotted from our boat.   I thought – “what a cool rock!”  I knew I wanted that as part of an image.   Beaching the pontoon boat along this rocky shore was a little tricky, but all went OK.   I had to wade a bit into Lake Superior to get the angle I wanted.  Sheesh, what some people do for a picture of a rock.

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Swamp Oil

Swamp Oil

A leaf in swamp oil – plant oils – bacterial film – whatever you want to call it – it can make for some interesting patterns and colors.  I wrote about this stuff in some previous posts.   It helps to have a long focal length macro lens (150-200 mm) for this stuff because  you have to get to the very edge of ponds that have some of these natural oils.   Step into the pond, and you disrupt the film – so that doesn’t work.

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So there you have it, my 10 selections for 2008.   I hope you enjoyed the look back.   It is reflection on images of our past that can help guide what we see in the future.   Certainly all of these shots have had some influence on me as I approach new images, new subjects, and new ideas.   If I missed something in particular that you enjoyed from last year, please point it out. (archives in sidebar) Best wishes in all your creative adventures in 2009.   Thank you for visiting.

10 Comments

  1. Lovely picks here. The 1st (stone) one looks like a painting of a sunrise on a landscape! Sorry for my recent absence, too. Been busy with offline life. Best to you & yours in 2009!

  2. Incredible work Mark. Glad to see your efforts are paying off on the business end.

  3. Lana, thanks, I thought the same.
    Richard – thanks a bunch – you mean this stuff is supposed to have a pay off? :-)

  4. Happy New Year Mark! And a wonderful selection of images. It’s become obvious to me that when you do something you love, there is never enough time and it’s easy to become a work-maniac. I have really enjoyed reading and following your image making in 2008 and will surely do so in 2009.

  5. I must say, Mark, I really was intrigued and enjoyed your rock photos. They were, simply put, outstanding! I look forward to seeing what piques your interests this year.

  6. Paul G – thanks. I know exactly what you mean in how the time flies away. Looking forward to your visits, as well as your own posts in 2009.

    Paul L – also thanks. I’ll give you a hint for 2009 … more rocks. :-)

  7. Mark:

    Congrats for sure; that’s a wonderful set of images to have under belt. A very worthy year for you considering several left my jaw hanging. :)

    Here’s to 2009!

  8. Thanks much Gary – quite the comment from a guy who has probably seen it all! :-)

  9. What a great collection. Thanks for sharing these!

  10. All of your images here are so well balanced and artistic. They are full of depth, colour, and evoke positive feelings that exemplify beauty. I like your view in life. Your eyes are your view finder.

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