Category Archives: B&W
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.
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.
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.
Dancing in the Dunes
Sun Painted Sand
My Heart Sings
During our scouting time, we decided to see how close we could get to the Panamint Dunes. Unfortunately, not very close. It appears to be about a 2 mile walk after a rough 6 mile drive. We did not make the walk this time, but did get out a long lens to capture just a few long distance images. As luck would have it, a few clouds rolled in just for me and a blast of light lit up the dunes.
In Cole’s presentation, he spoke a lot about vision, a topic near and dear to his heart. He spoke about creating images that he saw in his minds eye and not what the camera captures. I think my image would be a good example. When I made this capture, I knew exactly what I would do in post to create the look I had in mind.
Cole and I agree on this topic. I have no interest in making images that look like what I saw, I am more interested in creating images that convey what I felt or saw in my imagination. I don’t want to be restrained by what others think I should do but rather create what will make my heart sing.
Today we started our tour with special guest Cole Thompson. It has been a joy to spend time with Cole whose work I have admired for quite some time. Cole gave a presentation today that was tremendous and very inspiring!
Our tour is focused on B&W photography, so I thought I’d post an image created during our scouting trip last week. This one pays homage to another favorite B&W photographer, Chuck Kimmerle.
Some of you may remember my fondness for old tractors and especially the engines. I’ve made them a project over the years. While at a wonderful farm with the Johnstown PA workshop group yesterday, the owner was kind enough to pull out a terrific old Farmall for all to photograph. After the group was done, I grabbed my Fuji X-Pro 1 with the 35mm 1.4 lens and got one too!
A big thank you to the great bunch of folks who came out to share the day yesterday. I had a great time and enjoyed your backyard! A special thank you to Jim “Doc” Richey, a dear friend and all around great guy who was responsible for bringing me to speak to his club.
A quick post to kick off the weekend. I’m out in Johnstown PA today where I’ll be presenting my Dream – Believe – Create lecture to a gathering of a few local Photography Clubs. Tomorrow we will spend the better part of the day out in the field together. Yesterday, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my dear friend Jim Richey who was gracious enough to show me around this beautiful area so we could find some locations for the group to photograph. We stumbled upon this wonderful scene made even more dramatic by the stormy sky that seemed to follow us everywhere we went! Converted to B&W in Nik Silver Efex Pro 2 to enhance the stormy feeling. Handheld with Fuji X-Pro 1 and 35mm 1.4 lens.
Have a great weekend!
Back when I started to share my Iceland images, I shared a story about my chasing an image which led to my missing it altogether. Remember, I had to go back the next day?
Today I want to continue that discussion. Below is Peter Cox’s image of Blahylur. When we arrived, Peter was encouraging our group to make a pretty steep and long climb up a slope to the location where he made this image. WOW, what a marvelous image it is.
You’re probably wondering what I did, right? Well, I looked at the steep slope and long climb and said, no way! Actually, what was really going on in my mind was the previous experience, chasing an image rather than allowing one to come to me. With this in mind, I stood at the edge of this crater looking for another image but was uninspired. Let me be very clear, my being uninspired does not mean there was not an image to be made. It simply means that for me, I was not feeling inspired. This feeling is about me at that moment and has nothing to do with the photographer who might be standing right next to me. They very well might be finding lots of inspiration. As I stood and pondered the situation, I remembered feeling excited about something I saw on the way up to the edge of the crater. I asked a few of the group (who chose not to make the climb) if they wanted to head back down the road with me to see what I was interested in looking at again. And this is where I shot the image below that received the most feedback of all of the images I’ve posted from Iceland. I find that interesting and further testimony about this idea of letting images come to you.
As I’ve pondered this idea of chasing versus letting images come to you, I’ve decided both ideas have merit. I think Peter was pretty much chasing an image he had heard about and he had great success. I on the other hand was doing a better job of listening to inspiration this time and came away with one of my personal favorites from the trip. So the bottom line is, whichever situation you find yourself in next time, just be mindful of where your head is and don’t let other possibilities pass you by.
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