Animal behavior has always been a subject of great interest to me, it is what I studied in college and continues to influence the types of images I make. Squirrels are one of the most expressive and entertaining subjects I’ve worked with in Bucks County. OK, they’re darn cute too.
This character was not just perfect, perfect fur, perfect posture, perfect ears, he was seemingly perfectly fed! I composed here to maximize symmetry and to place its expressive eyes in a “power point” in the frame.
This image was made earlier this winter with a Nikon D800 and Nikkor 200-400mm f4.0 lens coupled with a Nikon TC2.0 III at f11 equivalent aperture, ISO set to 2000. I like the flexibility of this outfit and if my technique is solid, so are the images.
The Phillips Mill Photographic Exhibition began in 1991 and has dealt with photography as an art form throughout. The PMPE is one of the more prestigious exhibitions on the East Coast. I am honored to have been asked to serve as one of the three jurors for the 2015 competition and look forward to being a part of the image selection process.
I have also been a part of this exhibition as an exhibitor when my image Downward-facing Dog (below) was both selected and sold during the show.
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.
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.
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.
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……….
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.