The abandoned homestead in the high desert of the Cabezon Peak Wilderness Area of New Mexico. The only sounds being the wind and the occasional Raven. Weathered and worn I love discovering and photographing the small details that when combined tell a much larger story – a story of an individual or family out on the edge of civilization. Perhaps more appropriately the details combine to form questions. Who lived here ? Why did they leave ? What happened ? Why did they choose to live so far out in the middle of nowhere ?
Sometimes the photographer, in capturing textures and compositions that catch his or her eye, inadvertently plays the role of detective and evidence gatherer. Scraps of clues left on the desert landscape. Maybe the real story is forever lost to the shadows and seasonal light that graces the scene of what remains, day after day. The slow working hands of time return to the ground and air the evidence of memory and a life lived.
Often the hardest part is just making the time to go out and explore with camera and a free mind. What I mean by that is just being able to let all else fall away, if only for a moment, and allow all the scenes to come to you. So much beauty right outside our doors but we are literally pummeled today with so much noise and pressure that keeps us away from it.
That’s not right. That’s the true sin.
No matter what may be or what may come, find the time to return to the simple gifts of grace found in the blessed light of your sacred place.
And then the REAL photographer – and the photographs that speak of the spirit – emerge.
I continually return to black and white as my favorite method of presenting my nature and landscape photographs. Perhaps it’s because it’s buried so deep in my roots as a photographer, having started down the photographic path so many years ago with an old Pentax, rolls of tri-x film and a homemade black and white darkroom.
The following is a recent black and white conversion of a springtime image captured on a morning in May 2010 deep in the sandstone recesses of Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve, located in Hocking Hills. The soft light of the forest floor resulted in a wonderful range of tones.
I’m honored and grateful that Fading Notes (below) was selected as one of ten finalists in the “Time” category of Canon and Ron Howard Project Imagin8ion. Just knowing that one of my images was considered in this wonderful creative project involving community provided content is a huge thrill. Fading Notes is a photograph captured during a quite and cold day in January 2010 in the upper floor repair room of the Hauer Music store in Dayton, Ohio. The old wood and textures of the subjects – aged musical instruments – were ideal for the softness of the winter window light made even more haunting and subtle due to a snowstorm going on outside. It was one of those moments and places where the photographer loses him or herself in the scene and the light.
Congratulations to fellow photographer Brooke Shaden and her winning image, Running from the Wind. When I first viewed her image, as one of other finalists in the Time category, I knew it would be a tough one to beat as it is exquisite. What’s very interesting is to listen to Ron Howard explain why he chose this image. Fascinating, and gives some insight into the creative mind and artistic style of one the best known film directors.
One of the reasons why I gravitate toward black and white – or monochrome – conversions of some of my images is due to the emphasis on texture, form and pattern. Many of nature subjects I photography using macro (close-up) provide excellent subjects for the study of repeating patterns and texture within the details. Even with the seemingly randomness of natural design or landscape the human eye and mind is more at ease viewing a scene or subject where there’s at least some sense of order or balance, whether the viewer is consciously aware of it or not. I also find that the black and white photograph is often more effective in visually communicating that additional dimension of depth in the two-dimension world of photography, particularly when gaining a greater degree of tonal range from highlight to shadow.
Showing one of the framed, black and white Giclée prints that I recently ordered from my online storefront on Imagekind. This particular image is an excellent example of the pleasing results achieved when converting an HDR photograph to monochrome. The photograph is a combination of five exposures, combined using Photomatix Pro. I then fine tune using the tonal adjustment tool, bring the 16-bit TIFF file into Aperture and then convert to monochrome (black and white) through the use of Nik Silver Efex Pro plug-in, which I love because of its effectiveness when doing targeted adjustments. I’m excited about the coming release of Nik’s HDR Efex Pro.
On Saturday, November 6, 2010 I will be presenting an afternoon workshop at Cox Arboretum, designed for those photographers who are more experienced and advanced with digital workflow and editing. I’ll be going over my step-by-step process for HDR nature photography, from in-camera capture to final print.
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