Water Falls and Mood

There appears to be no reliable influence by positive or negative air ions (high levels occur around waterfalls) on mood according to a meta-analysis - http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23320516, but I certainly felt good working the falls of Ricketts Glen last month.

We had some very rainy weather my first day there which hindered my efforts, but the next day was magnificent and I did the loop down and back up the other side of the falls trail. All that rain had the water running deep and fast (and loud), making it quite the experience. Many other photographers thought to as well and added to the challenges of working that day.

I hadn’t photographed at Ricketts Glen in over ten years, so I went with light gear opting to be nimble and productive. I worked entirely with one camera and one lens — the Olympus EM-5 and the Panasonic 14-140mm II, and a small tripod. I used a polarizing filter and closed down the aperture for maximum depth of field.

Ricketts Falls- (c) 2014 Paul Grecian

Ricketts Falls- (c) 2014 Paul Grecian

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Manipulation

After being asked “what camera I use” I am most often asked “do you manipulate your images?” I don’t mind answering either question, but neither is straightforward. I use and have used a broad variety of gear, so my answer to “what camera” never pleases anyone. The harder question concerns “manipulation.” At a couple recent shows, a show judge and a customer asked me if I manipulated my images. The problem I have is that I do not believe most people know what they mean when they ask about manipulation. I have also discovered that those who do have a sense of what manipulation means to them, have differing ideas.

As a result, I always ask the questioner what they mean by “manipulation”. Some will answer honestly that they don’t know, in which case I just explain what I do in some detail. However, the show judge I mentioned above told me his definition of manipulation involved putting things into the image that were not in the original scene. That is not a practice I engage in. In the case of the customer who asked me about manipulation, I asked him “how I would measure manipulation?” His answer was that I would measure it “in hours.” I told him that I have a very straightforward workflow process and “hours” are never involved. However, I may stare at an image for days before I decide on how it should ultimately be developed to match the feeling I had while in the field.

Ironically, both the adding of elements to a photograph that were not in the original scene, and the working of a print for hours have been around since the beginning of photography. These practices were common and often discussed in their time as well. To my way of thinking, all of photography is fundamentally a manipulation. Working with a three-dimensional subject in which light is bouncing off in every direction and converting it into a two-dimensional print in which no light is emanating is a pretty big manipulation. Take away color as in black and white prints, add perspective, contrast, exposure, focus, and the myriad other creative decisions artistic photographers make in the creation of even rather “straight” images, and the answer to the “manipulation” question is never a yes or no reply.

Rain on Jordan's Pond, Acadia NP

Rain on Jordan’s Pond, Acadia NP

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Reflecting on Fall………..

I am drawn to reflections. The reflections can be of color or objects, doesn’t matter. During the fall though I seem to be more attuned to reflections than other seasons. It’s not surprising, fall is when the most vibrant colors are found in this part of the country. On a bright sunny day when the light is hitting trees decked out in their fall oranges, reds, and yellows, those colors make for crazy backgrounds when reflected into pond, lake, and creek waters. These reflections form the backdrop for the point of focus in my images. The areas of focus are often considered the most important elements in an image, but for me in an image dealing with background colors, the subject is really as much about the color as what is in focus.

In this image of rush grasses in front of lake reflections, the lines and colors are both equally important to me. The goal was to isolate the lines with limited depth of field to smooth out the reflection as much as possible. For greatest versatility in composing, I chose a Canon 28-300mm L lens and worked with a full frame Canon 5D on a tripod. I could work all day with this combination which allowed me to simplify the process and concentrate on what excited me visually. This image was made in the Delaware Water Gap, PA.

Rush to Color (c) Paul Grecian

Rush to Color (c) Paul Grecian

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Quiet, Please……….

Among the images I made in Maine this past trip (August), there is one in particular which I think speaks to a sense of quiet. At least that is how it strikes me. It is the type of image I am making more and more, one with only a few elements where the mood is more important than the objects in the piece.

What this image consists of are really just two partial birch trees, a small sail boat, water, and a horizon line. There is some structure to the sky, but mostly it is white. This is an image I saw in my head first. From the position in which I was originally, I saw the sailing boat moving slowly and I visualized the two trees acting as framing devices. I was using a Panasonic lens which covered equivalent focal lengths of 28-280mm so I could have framed this image in many ways. I chose a focal length of around 90mm which isolated the trees but still kept the boat small enough to not overwhelm the image. Keeping the boat low in the frame emphasizes the trees and sky, which adds to a feeling of calm. The water is also calm. The boat is framed to be moving toward the edge of the image which keeps it from being thought about too much as the story. The tonalities and colors are soft and cool. I also opening up (lightened) the shadows to lower the contrast.

I think it is an image you can get a bit lost in……….

(c) 2014 Paul Grecian

(c) 2014 Paul Grecian

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Past, Present, and Future……….the Show!

This time of year is my busiest of the calendar and it all starts in a few short weeks right in Bucks County. In addition to being in the New Hope Arts and Crafts Festival on September 27-28, I have been invited to participate in a multi-artist show to benefit the Historic Doylestown Cemetery. This show takes place october 4-5, with an opening reception on Friday, October 3 from 5-8pm. It is titled Past, Present, and Future and is being curated by fine artist, and teacher Materese Roche

I will have four larger framed pieces in the show including the two below. Both of these images were made with slide film. The image titled Foot Falls was made at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA using a Pentax 645 format camera. The other image, titled Seduction, was made here in Bucks County using a 35mm system camera. Both pieces reflect the real visual joy I experience during the fall season.

Past, Present, and Future has a wonderful roster of regionally and nationally known artists on exhibit, and offers a great opportunity to see and acquire some of their best work.

Foot Falls, by Paul Grecian

Foot Falls, by Paul Grecian

Seduction, by Paul Grecian

Seduction, by Paul Grecian

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Moon Light Reflections

Maine weather seems very unpredictable. Forecasts call for clear nights but fog is a threat and clouds seem to roll in without warning. So, I only had one decent night of clear skies in which to enjoy the Milky Way. But, I also had a brief period of moon light with which to work. This particular evening I decided I better arrive early before the sky was fully dark and work while I could. The moon reflected enough light to cause shadows to be cast, light up the sky a bit, and place lovely reflections on the waters of Eagle Lake.

Composing was still like, well, working in the dark. But I adjusted after a quick image review and proceeded until clouds ended my session. This image was made with a Nikon D800 and Nikkor 16-35mm f4.0 lens wide open for 2.5 seconds at ISO 2000. A tripod was used of course, as was an electronic cable release. In the print, stars will be seen, while in this smaller screen image they are more obscure. 

(c) 2014 Paul Grecian

(c) 2014 Paul Grecian

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Maine – Inside Out

Recently returning from an extended trip to Acadia National Park and Portland, Maine, I am in the process of evaluating and developing my new work. This was my fourth visit to Acadia and first time to Portland. Because I’ve become familiar with Acadia, I felt more comfortable and relaxed there. I also felt more free to just respond to what excited me visually instead of trying to create work that spoke ABOUT Acadia. In fact much of my work will not be easily placed as being made in Maine. This kind of “place-less” imagery has always been my goal, but it is harder to achieve during initial visits.

To be successful, I feel I have to not even think about where I’m at and certainly not try to convey location. I like it when my imagery could have been made any where or remind viewers of any place. I always want my audience to think more about the feeling of an image than where it was made. For the image below, I used an Olympus E-M5 with a Rokinon fish eye lens to emphasize the roundness of this particular stand of birch. I wanted to achieve a rather lacy look to the canopy and draw you up into its layers. Symmetry and depth were important considerations, as was keeping my fingers out of the image (darn fish eyes take in everything!). Evaluating the image in color and Black & White, I felt the tonalities supported a monochromatic presentation.

Birch Canopy, Maine

Birch Canopy, Maine

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Copyright Notice

All images are copyright of Paul Grecian. No image may be linked to or downloaded without expressed written consent and rights authorization. Images are available for purchase for publication and in print form. Please contact me through www.paulgrecianphoto.com for more information.

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