Goodbye to Coal Pier 18

For years we have been photographing at Coal Pier 18 in Philadelphia. I’ve been hearing that it is no longer accessible and was going to head down to find out for myself.  Yesterday, a friend saved me a trip telling me that it has been fenced off and construction has begun.  And it is being policed with threats of arrest of you trespass.  I guess thats progress.  Its been a wonderful place full of many great memories.  Here are a few favorites from the last few years.  A special shout out to my bud Dalyn who was always willing to come with a new outfit. Remember to click on the image if you’d like to view it bigger.

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S’ Wonderful

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“S’Wonderful, S’Marveloous, you should care for me” This is the first line from the song entitled S’Wonderful.  I love Diana Krall’s version and am listening to it as I compose this post.  I have no idea why this song popped into my mind other than I tend to associate songs with words all the time.  I hear a word and a song comes to mind and I start singing it. Ask my family, I believe it drives them nuts.  That said, it is how I feel about the dunes. They are wonderful and marvelous and full of infinite possibilities. This composition screamed to be a square.  Well, it didn’t actually scream but a voice in my head did…..

Posted in Abstract, B&W, Death Valley Tagged , , , |

Longwood does b&w

Being in a b&w state of mind lately, I couldn’t help but convert this one from Longwood Gardens.  Have a great week!
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Fuji X-E2 – 55-200mm

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A breath of color

My friend Stan had the great idea of going to Longwood Gardens to stimulate our senses with a breath of color having endured this winter of endless cold and snow.  So, here is a splash of color to compliment my recent series of B&W images.  Don’t worry, I have more B&W images to come. I even have one from Longwood!

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Fuji X-E2 – Fuji 60mm Macro at f/22

Processing inspired by Kathleen Clemons.  Nik Color Efex Pro, Glamor Glow, Soft Focus, Darken Lighten Center, and Viveza

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Mount Whitney – Finding another right answer

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As Stephen said in his comment to my last post, you can’t plan on great conditions when you’re on a schedule leading a photo tour.  You’re at the mercy of what is given you.  As I see it, that is not necessarily a bad thing.  Let me share a story.  I was leading a workshop, a short weekend type.  It was during the fall and the colors that year were stunning! We had not spent more than 3 hours together when a participant came to me and said they were going home.  I asked why, was it something I had done?  She replied, “no, its just I’m not finding what I came for.”  Perplexed, I suggested, maybe you will find something better!  But you see, she had an assignment for the photo club and was focused on that.  The conditions and the area I picked that morning might not have been good for what she was looking for but they were great for many other things. She was simply not open to finding another right answer.  I found that to be sad.

Fast forward to the Alabama Hills.  We arrived late in the day during the scouting portion of our last tour. When I go to the Alabama Hills, I’m thinking about the rock formations and hoping for great clouds. When we arrived, there were no clouds. No problem, I turned around and saw this great situation brewing around Mount Whitney.  Another right answer!  I could have said, “I’m not finding what I came for” but instead I found something else!  Its all about attitude.  If you don’t think you’ll find something, you probably won’t.  

Posted in B&W, Inspiration Tagged , |

Alabama Hills #2

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The Alabama Hills

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The Alabama Hills are one of my favorite places to photograph. Clouds make for great opportunities there and we sure had it working for us on this particular day. 

Posted in B&W, Landscape Tagged |

More on Photo Celibacy

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Recently I featured a terrific post written by my tour partner Dan Sniffin about his ideas with regard to photo celibacy which Cole Thompson tries to live by.  Dan’s article was written before we spent the week with Cole and the group.  The tour started with a wonderful lecture by Cole titled “Why B&W.”  In it he spoke not only about B&W but also more about his ideas on photo celibacy.  But what happened after the talk was quite powerful. I asked the group to respond to Cole’s ideas specifically about celibacy. What did they think? It was one of the most stimulating discussions I’ve been part of.  Some agreed, others challenged Cole with good honest questions. Some spoke about the need for a basic understanding of technique. We spoke about technique versus vision.  We spoke about the value of others opinions.  We spoke about rules and guidelines and much more. It was a stimulating hour of discussion!  I’m not sure we resolved anything but we carried the spirit of the discussion with us throughout the week. In fact, I am still pondering on the matter and would like to continue the discussion here.  

I am reading a book suggested by Chuck Kimmerle titled “Why People Photograph” by Robert Adams.  These quotes resonated in lieu of our discussion.

“I really didn’t have much to teach. I didn’t even believe in it. I felt so strongly that everybody had to find their own way. And nobody can teach you your own way…. in terms of art, the only real answer that I know of is to do it.  If you don’t’ do it you don’t know what might happen”  Harry Callahan,1991

“Can photography be taught?  If this mean the history and techniques of the medium, I think it can….. If, however, teaching photography means bringing students to find their own individual photographic visions, I think it is impossible. We would be pretending to offer the students, in Wililam Stafford’s phrase, “a wilderness with a map.”  We can give beginners directions about how to use a compass, we can tell them stories about our exploration of different but possibly analogous geographies, and we can bless them with our caring, but we cannot know the unknown and thus make sure a path to real discovery.” Robert Adams
 
“Even now I don’t like to discuss work that isn’t finished, because until it is revised over the span of a year or several years there are crucial parts that are present only in my minds eye, pieces intended but not yet realized……  “Art is made by the alone for the alone.”” Robert Adams with inserted quote by Luis Barragan.
 
“I knew I didn’t want to study at length contemporaries’ pictures, fearing that their work might come close to mine and blur my vision.”  Robert Adams
What do you think?  Are vision and technique connected?  Can you achieve your vision without some guidelines about good composition?  Can vision be taught?  Does looking at others work influence yours?  

With regard to the blog image from the Alabama Hills. Yes, the recent tour was focused on B&W and my folder of images is 99% B&W, however, that did not stop me from processing this one in color!  Why color versus B&W?  I wish I had a good answer, sometimes color just makes more sense and I run with my gut feeling.  In the dunes, I can’t imagine anything but B&W yet I’ve seen some wonderful images that are color.  So color or B&W becomes a creative choice, there is no right or wrong.  

Posted in Chuck Kimmerle, Cole Thompson, Color, Creative, Inspiration Tagged , , , , |

The Power of the “S” Curve

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The “S” curve in nature is a very powerful graphic element.  I was thrilled to find this one in the dunes.

During our recent tour with Cole Thompson, he was kind enough to show us some of his post processing techniques.  Learning how he uses the Dodge and Burn tool was an eye opener for me.  I used these tools and new ideas to lighten and darken key areas in this image.  The key when using these tools is to work on all three tonal ranges, shadow, mid-tone and highlights. There is a drop down dialogue box that shows all three on the tool properties bar at the top.  Before, I would use just one and that approach does not work nearly as well. It is also important to use a brush at just 2 or 3% opacity. Even though you don’t feel like you’re doing much when lightening a dark area when working on the highlights, trust me, there are pixels that are indeed being affected.  The same holds true when darkening a light area. There are shadow and mid-tone pixels there.

Posted in Abstract, B&W, Cole Thompson, Death Valley, Essence Tagged , , , , , |

Drawn to You

I am drawn to the dunes. I love being out there, especially in the morning. I walk about a mile to a spot that I hope will be great for first light and wait. Then the sun crests the horizon and the show begins.  And I can’t help but gasp with amazement each and every time.  It is awesome!  I apologize to anyone who is near me as I let out a verbal and loud, WOW, you’ve got to be kidding me?!  And then I get to work, looking for intimate scenes where the sun is creating shadow and light that makes my heart sing.  I am happy, I am at peace,  I am where I should be, drawn to the dunes.

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Dancing in the Dunes
Sun Painted Sand
My Heart Sings

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