Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Moves Me

What motivates me to be a photographer and create the images I do. I do it for me. I shot what pleases me. I did not always do this, for a time I was a portrait artist and loved what I did. But as time when on I got burned out on it. I got thrown into portrait situations where I did not know the people real well and the photographs showed it. They like what I did but I was not happy with it and the more that happened the more I started get away from photography.

So what is drawing me back? I came across a few images that reminded me why I love photography. In this months Rangefinder I saw images by Mitch Dobrowner that capture the drama of a storm that rolled across the plain states. I live in such a state and have seen many of these formations pass overhead without taking the time to photograph them. If you want to see power there is noting like watching a wall cloud churn over a field or city accompanied by the wind, rain, lighting and thunder. In Mitch’s photographs you could almost feel that just by looking at them. The great detail of the updrafts caught in the clouds, the contrasts in the dark and light clouds, and how he was able to bring that in on one snap of the shutter.

This image reminded me that I wanted to capture that, to convey what I have experienced in my life and how powerful the storm is. I wanted all that in my images so I could share this event with everyone that had and had not shared the same experience. Isn’t that what photography is about, sharing the human experience? Isn’t it what makes a great photograph? The pictures that convey emotion and energy that touches us on some level to the point we can feel what the subject is feeling? If you don’t believe it then look at the real good human drama photographs and say that. Better yet look Mitch’s photo and say you don’t hear the wind blow or feel the dread of something big will drop out of the sky.

So this spring as the weather trends to the storms my goal is to capture all parts of the storm. From the flash of lighting to the wall clouds rolling across the fields. I want to capture that beautiful eerie dread a storm has on the plains folk that draws us outside when we should be taking cover.

Oh I plan to dive to the storm rather than bike. Although I do plan to bike and photograph a lot. I have to satisfy both passions as often as I can.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Photo Safari

Now that it is a little warmer and I am found my motivation I plan to do my Photo Safari exercises at least once a week. If you are not familiar with what a photo safari is, it is simply a time where you go out and shoot whatever comes to you. The photos safari gives you a chance to think photographically. The subjects are not particularly beautiful landscapes other breathtaking subjects. They are, however, simple subjects that you have to make interesting.

The photo safari gives me a chance to try new things like play with my white balance. The first thing I did was to take the white balance off of auto and put it on an extreme setting. This way the photo is very cold or very warm and in the right light that can enhance your final print. Sure can so this in Photoshop but for me to get to the final print I don’t want to sit in front of the computer for hours. Get the exposure right as well as the color the less you have to do in Photoshop. Besides the more you mess with it in any program the more you can rip out of the file.

Today instead of going out I saw a photo opportunity at home. We have a hardwood staircase that has two windows, one at the landing and one that is partly covered around the bottom. The sunlight was streaming through the lower window and bouncing around the walls. The direct sunlight was on the stairs and on the wall facing it creating a spot of bright and reflected light. Because the walls are a dark red the light bouncing around was warm. Thus creating a great photo opportunity with the right subject, which was the cat but I moved to much and spooked it off.

So in stood the dog. I had placed the dog on the second step and with the help of my wife, made it sit. Of course it looked staged but that is when the dog moved and I started shooting again. The second round went so much better. I shot this with my Nikon D80 at 50mm f/5 at 1/30th of a sec. With this exposure I was able to catch the details of the shadows while not blowing out the highlights. The dog moves fast so I just kept shooting as long as she put up with it.

Next took it into Photoshop and strengthen the curve in in the layer mask mode found in the layers pallet. I like to do this there because it is the closest to dodging and burning you can get digitally. Now strengthening the curve of the exposure is simply creating a slight S curve in the RGB mode. By doing this you get a nice contrast without ripping out a lot of info in a slider mode. After that I look at what I have done an if I want I can take paint out in the layer mask what I had originally. Like the dogs face got a little to dark and by painting it on the layer mask I can bring color and exposure back. I finished up the touchups, cropped it and saved it as a tiff and jpeg file.

There a few photos of what I shot before and what was done today. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In the Beginning

Well if I can’t get enough of blogging about cycling, now I am blogging about my photography. I have started to sell my work on Image Kind. It is a community of artist who sell their work using this site. The nice thing about this site is that not only can you order prints but canvas prints as well. They also can frame the work you have bought which saves time on your home decorating time.

I am starting out with the free site but as my prints sell I hope to move up my membership to a more attractive website. I have seen some of the templates for the upscale website and they look very good. Most of the work that I have placed on the site has been shot more recently around the house.

As far as new subjects I am planning to shoot more landscapes of Iowa while I ride my bike. What I plan to do is pick up a rack for the back and a bag that will hold my camera equipment and just ride around. My first assignment is to photograph the storms of spring. I plan to use my car for this one for the bike would be too slow to get to places and too dangerous for an escape. I am looking to get shots of lightning and wall clouds moving over the landscape. I plan to do this all in black and white. In fact I hope to do the majority of my work in black and white. I like color but I tend to like color photographs that there is one or two colors only. Color is nice but can be distracting which can tend not convey texture or feel of the subject unless it is muted or almost monochromatic.

I love film and will shoot with it when I can but for the most part I have to shoot digitally and use
Photoshop as an alternate darkroom. So whatever limitations I have in the darkroom will be same limitation I have in Photoshop.

I shoot with a Nikon D80 with a 24 to 80mm and 70 to 210mm lens. I also have a Mamiya 220c in which I can satisfy my film needs. The nice thing about the medium format is that I can make really large prints once I can put my darkroom together. Until then this sight and my local photo lab will be my way of outputting my work.

So what was my first camera? The 35mm film camera I shot with was an Argus C3, the brick. This camera uses a range finder for focusing, a leaf shutter in the lens and had a range from bulb to I believe a 500th of a second. I got great photos from it because the lens glass was cut so well. The one thing it did well is double exposures. The shutter cock and film advance was separate from each other. With this combination you had to pay attention when you use this camera.

I love photography and the images I have produced over the years. Not only is my photography is about creating the images that please me but please others. I know I will not be around forever but I hope that if my prints are out there a little piece of me will live on.

Enjoy My images