I do feel that I am an optimist at heart. Not that I don’t worry about things, life, money, career, loved ones; but I generally think about the future in anticipation, not fear. One of the symbols of a hopeful, optimist belief, is the crescent moon. I’ve always been drawn to the moon in this form, not really knowing why. Partly, it may be due to pure aesthetics, but I am also someone who really enjoys the beginnings of things (my optimism at play I think).
This image, which I have titled “Wish” is a bit of a contradiction. It was made as a day was ending but the crescent moon speaks to new beginnings. I however, have always thought of night as a hopeful time, the preparation for a new day. So for me, there is no contradiction in this image. I chose “Wish” as a title as it speaks to my wishing for a bright new day to come with all the wonder of yet another beginning.
I made this image on our farm facing a back field which is separated from our property by a line of trees. I had to work quickly as I saw from our back window that the light was fading quickly. I selected an Olympus camera for it’s wonderful image stabilization ability as I knew I wouldn’t have time to set up a tripod; mounted an Olympus 12-100mm lens (equivalent to a 24-200mm in 35mm) for compositional versatility, and ran. Working handheld and zoomed to the longest telephoto setting, I pushed the stabilization capability to its limit. But it worked.
“Wish” is available now as a limited edition pigment giclee from my website HERE
I don’t travel much, never have. This has been the case partly because it’s expensive, partly because it requires time, and mostly because I’ve never felt the need or great desire. I’ve always preferred to get to know my surroundings as well as I could, deeply, thoroughly. I always found great satisfaction in achieving familiarity with the area in which I lived. The more I have explored my local area, the greater the esthetic and emotional relationship I have developed with it. As a result, I think my work has been more authentic, more honest, and better.
My work has never been about location. I have always strived to create images that have a universal message, unconstrained by geography. And while many locations have tell-tale signs that give away something about where they were made, I try not to have that information be what is important.
Pennsylvania is a beautiful state, it is where I’ve lived most of my life (a short stint in Delaware being the only exception). It is a state with a good deal of natural area, especially woods. So come fall, I believe Pennsylvania can hold its own for color and splendor against any state.
This image was made near Ricketts Glen State Park, a favorite location of mine. I drove past this stand of Birch and two miles on had to turn around and give it some attention. As soon as I past it my mind began to work out images so that there was no choice. I was working that day with some light gear, an Olympus OM-D E-M5 with the Olympus 12-40mm f2.8. This is my choice of format when I really don’t want the tools to get in the way.
Driving back from a show in Virginia last month, we passed by a section of the Susquehanna River in Pennsylvania. It was snowing which made the scene along the river appear to be in a fog. The snow obscured the details of distant hills, and generally gave a soft feeling to the landscape. I made some mental notes about returning under similar conditions with a qualified camera.
After a few more miles I couldn’t stand it any longer and pulled over the first chance I got. I always bring a camera with me to shows in order to make new booth images for future show submissions, and to do some PR images for web use. So I got out of the van with that “show” camera in hand and figured I would do what I could. The camera is an Olympus Stylus 1, a small sensor camera with a very good lens and full manual control capability. I am a strong believer that strong images are made by artists not cameras, so I worked to create an image that conveyed the feelings I had looking out over the river.
I like the feeling of dimension in this piece. My eye travels first to the island on the left then to the distant island on the right, then toward the middle island and the distant hill. I converted the image to black and white as color was not relevant to my visualization, and added a subtle sepia toning. I think the image has a rather timeless quality to it and am quite happy with it. My 11×14 test print is very pleasing and so this image is available on my website HERE.
At the beginning of each year I make the decision as to which images will be added to my collection of works to be offered at shows and on-line. Recently, I began evaluating work I did years back and have added images to the grouping of images to bring back to light. This year, one of the images I have selected is an award-winning piece which also hung in the Smithsonian Natural History Museum in Washington, DC. As part of a special exhibit associated with selected pieces from the Nature’s Best Windland Smith Rice International Awards, my image made at Hawk Mountain Sanctuary in Kempton, PA hung among some magnificent works. The image also appeared in the special awards issue of Nature’s Best magazine.
I made this image at sunrise on a day with heavy fog in the valley and using a telephoto zoom lens, isolated the geometry which I felt made for the strongest composition. The rising sun lit up the fog and turned it golden in color which was recorded on my choice of Fujichrome Slide Film.
The image will be offered initially as a 10×14 inch print matted to 16×20 through my website http://www.paulgrecianphoto.com where it may be purchased directly, and will begin to be available at shows starting in March (check my Events listings also on my website).
The Smithsonian exhibit of the images was brilliantly done with large reproductions, a great venue, and much excitement. The presenter of awards that evening was one of the masters of nature photography, Art Wolf.
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.
One of my favorite winter subjects are cardinals in snow or ice. The contrast of a male Northern Cardinal against a white backdrop is strong and dramatic. I am especially fond of birds as subjects anyway, so the fact that I’m drawn to these red beauties in winter is no surprise to people who know my work. However, cardinals are in some ways just a convenient carrier of the crimson color which I want in my otherwise monochromatic images. There are other sources of red though!
During our recent ice storm (not to be confused with are more recent 20″ snow storm), I incorporated red sumac into images predominately involving ice. The contrast here is also very effective and the sumac allowed me to compose with more red in the image than I typically am able when only dealing with cardinals.
Here I am working with a Nikon D800 and a Nikon AFS 28-300mm lens for compositional freedom.
I know what the calendar says, but I’m still scrapping my car windshield and wearing winter coats. I’m also still working through some wintry images and enjoying it. We didn’t get much snow this past winter, but some of what we did receive was lovely. It was the kind of snowfall that left a visual impression of the land instead of overwhelming it.
The image below was made during one of our March snows and it was one of the most visually pleasing snows I’ve ever experienced. As a result I bolted out of the house the morning of and went to work. With the sun rising, there was both warm light and cool shadow to work with. I concentrated on those aspects of the land that excited me the most, contrast and form.
I used an Olympus OM-D E5 with a Panasonic 100-300mm lens to isolate and compress the composition. Working in RAW format, I then developed the image in Lightroom and finished it in Photoshop.
I’m really appreciating being able to get back to making photographs. Earlier this week I saw fog again when I awoke and took off, straight to my favorite lake! There were Canada Geese in large numbers and a distant Bald Eagle perched on the opposite shore high in a tree.
Even when working at a location I’ve been to a thousand times, I need to take time to absorb what I’m seeing and feeling. What moved me to start the process was the mist rising off the water against a winter woodland and a large stone in the foreground.
In the field, I used a Canon 5D Mark II camera and a Canon 70-200mm f2.8 L IS II lens on a Gitzo tripod with a Really Right Stuff head. I like to work with the mirror locked up and a 2 second self-timer. This image was made in color and converted to black & white. I developed the image further using levels, curves, shadows/highlights, and some sharpening. When all was finished I applied sepia toning to emphasize the mood.
The Audubon Art and Craft Festival was well attended and a fun event. I missed having a couple of friends there who had previously participated but was pleased to find other familiar faces I haven’t seen in a while. Such is the nature of these types of shows. The weather could not have been better and the new location for the show worked out well.
The magazine This Week in the Poconos did a cover feature about the show accompanied by my image which I’ve titled simply- Blue Bird. It is an image I made here in Pennsylvania some years back and one which is part of many private home art collections.
This weekend I will be participating in the Audubon Art and Craft Festival (http://www.audubonfestival.com/) in Hawley, PA. This is a fun show with a nature oriented theme. There are live animal shows and a variety of some fine craft and artworks. Held around Lake Wallenpaupack, it’s also just a nice day out.
Great Blue Herons are wonderful birds and a favorite subject of mine. These two images are titled after the yoga poses that this bird is “obviously” holding (Warrior III on left and Downward-facing Dog on right). Both images were made at Lake Galena in Bucks County, PA . I used a Canon EOS 1D Mark III camera with Canon EF 500mm f4.0 L IS and Canon TC 1.4 (700mm optic equivalent). To hold this system stable and yet still have mobility, I use a Foba Superball tripod- head and Wimberley Sidekick.