Monthly Archives: January 2010

Geek or Artist?

Disappearance of the Trains

I have been reading,”Within the Frame“, by David duChemin. In the 3rd chapter “The Artist and the Geek” he touches on the duality that exists within the photographer. The photographer must both be an artist and a geek. He points out that it is easy, if we are not careful, for us to slip out of balance and drift to one extreme or the other. The geek can become more concerned with the gear and how to make technically perfect images than the why and what we photograph. On the other hand the artist can become enamored with the idea of the creative process and loose site of the final image and throw aside technique. Where an individual drifts is dependent on their innate nature: artist or geek.

Once identified the photographer can consciously take steps to keep their balance. For example, a geek might do an exercise where they only take a manual camera, one lens and learn to express themselves with the simplest of equipment (no Photoshop either). An artist might take a nuts and bolts class on using layers in Photoshop which might be quite painful for them. Hopefully you get the picture.

I know for me my natural leaning is to be a geek. However, when I stepped into digital photography years ago I knew that about myself and have purposely focused most of my reading and training on the creative/artist side. In addition, because of my background in computer design, I wanted my move into photography to allow my creative/artistic side (which has always been there) to be more fully expressed. Due to this book and other blog discussions, I will also be trying out some exercises that I will share with you in future blogs.

So where is your leaning? Artist or Geek? Are you maintaining balance? How can you correct it if you are not.

Blog images: Given the topic of this blog I decided to include an image that expresses my artistic side using technical skill. In this train passenger car image I wanted to express the sense of loss and nostalgia I feel for the old passenger train lines of the past. On the technical side, to realize this image I took advantage of several post processing tools including Photomatix (for the HDR base image), NikSoft’s ColorEfx Pro, SliverEfx Pro bushed in with a bit of Photoshop’s Liquify. I have also included a second image from my train work using most of these same tools.


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Local Parks


I was reminded this past weekend that it is easy to forget about one of the avenues we have for nature photography – our local parks. My wife and I went hiking in a park that is only about 20 minutes away from our house. It is a beautiful park with a lake surrounded by mountain foothills, multi-colored meadow grasses and water foul.  I have not been there for years and for some reason it hadn’t occurred to me to go there for a shoot recently.  It must be that familiarity thing. While I didn’t really take many images, I did take the opportunity to visually scout for a future shoot – I know I will go back.

Think about, where are some places around your home that maybe you used to visit (possible before you took up photography) but just haven’t thought of in a long time.

Blog image: This picture was captured on the meandering drive back home as we moved into the last light of the day. The softness of the vines brushed by the evening light was just delightful.

PRINTS FOR SALE: Just a reminder that I have started selling special edition prints on my website.

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eCommerce or Prints for Sale

I have been busy this week getting eCommerce setup on my primary website which has kept me from blogging. While the website tool I have been using, LRG Complete, supports eCommerce, there is still a bit to get setup and tested. There is basic print pricing structure, shipping and handling price models, Paypal accounts, etc. to setup. So after playing in my PayPal Sandbox I am ready to officially offer a small set of Special Edition prints. I have selected a subset of my Autumn Immersions portfolio for this initial offering. The initial prints are archival quality 6″x9″ prints that have been initialed by me and mounted in 11×14 acid free mats. I will be adding larger sizes and “Limited Edition” prints in the near future. For a mere $30 plus shipping and handling and can own one of these images. Sorry for the shameless self-promotion, but hey I am trying to run a business. To order go to my website and first read the directions found under the ‘Purchase’ tab. You can place the order via PayPal or email (to pay by check).

The opening blog image is from the Autumn Immersions offering. If you click on it you can go directly to the Autumn Immersions gallery. Some of the images have been previously posted on this blog so they might look familiar.

Finally here is a little blurb on the Autumn Immersions portfolio.

Autumn Immersions is all about immersing ones self in the splendor of fall colors and lines. The term immersion has its roots in the act of baptism. This outward act symbolizes the inward change that has taken place – death to the old life and reemergence to the new. In the same way the outward change of nature in fall represents the inward “death” that is taking place in the plants before winter with the promise of new life in the spring. While the root of the term immersion is in the act of baptism, it can more generally reflect the concept of submerging or plunging something into a fluid. These images appear as if they were submerged in a fluid and pulled out – streaking the image. I hope you enjoy them.

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A New Name

It is hard to believe a year has passed since I started this blog. To celebrate I have decided to give my blog a name, “Photography Along the Way”. I chose this name for a couple of reasons. First, most of my photography is done around my home or work, not at far away “exotic” locations. Most of the time I shoot images on my way to work, on my way home, around work or around my home. I drive ~20 miles to work each way. I can vary the route a variety of ways to pass different subject material. For the majority of people this is where their photography happens and should happen. We really do best when we shoot the things we know, are able to go back again and again, and have the time to watch the weather patterns, light shifts throughout the day, etc. We develop our skills, imagination and our ability to see there. Then when we get to go to those more distant places we are better prepared to “capture” it with trained eyes.

Second, this blog has always been about things I am learning as I move down the path of a photographer. This can vary from techniques, to books I have read, to portfolios I am working on, to submitting work, selling work, teaching, etc.

In general, I will continue to write about the things I have been for this past year, but under a different title.

Blog Image: This is one more image from my last shoot in the fog. I just got around to processing it (in Lightroom only) and like it quite a bit. Note, I did flip the image horizontally so it had a right to left flow.

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Graffiti Cathedral

The second shoot I was able to do last week was at what I am calling the Graffiti Cathedral (for those of you who follow Tony Sweets blog, he has a Graffiti Underground). It is an old wood chip fuel storage house that was part of an old logging mill in the town of Vernonia. Sitting next to the old mill pond it has been the hangout for young people. As you can see they have been creating their own art work in there over the years. This was the first time there for my wife and I. It was like stepping into another world – a world of color in the midst of the grey of winter. My wife’s first impression was that of a church with stain glass windows replaced with graffiti – thus the name. As you will see I have had fun creating a set of images that convey that surreal feeling. Click on the main blog image to view a small gallery. I will definitely have to visit there again.

Blog images: The images were almost all shot as HDR images and processed with Photomatix Pro. They have been further processed with Nik Soft’s ColorEfxPro and SilverEfx. A couple have been mirrored as well.
Posted in How To, Uncategorized

Fog in the Forrest

I had time on the weekend to visit a couple locations for shooting. One was a state park forest that I wanted hoped to catch in the fog. I had been there in the fall when a light fog was present and had wanted to get back on another foggy day. I was not disappointed. There was a nice moderately dense fog mixed in with the tall fir trees. At the base of some trees were bare vine maples with patches of moss hanging here and there. It was quite magical. Not sure I captured the magic, but I have included a small gallery of the images from that shoot (just click on the blog image).

A couple of reminders about photographing fog:

1) You will generally want to adjust your exposure to +1 to +1.5 EVs to keep your fog more on the lighter side (unless you want a dark moody look). It is like shooting snow, it can end up more gray than white if you aren’t careful

2) Finding the color in the fog (reflected from grass, water, sky, sunrise, etc) or adding some with a filter (on camera or in post-processing) is usually a good idea. You can also bring out existing color during the post processing.

3) Fog images are typically lower contrast than you might want so adding some contrast during post processing is usually necessary to get what you thought you saw .

Blog image: This is a forest fog impression created using a vertical camera swipe. I added contrast and brought out the color using Photoshop curves and Nik’s ColorEfxPro Color Contrast filter. I just love the natural colors in the fog and trees.

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Palouse Abstracts

In looking back through my images from the past couple of years I noticed that there were some nice abstract images taken in the Palouse area of Washington state. If you have ever been there you know that one could create countless abstracts. I have included three images here taken at sunrise and sunset. The first image has the Orton filter effect applied to add to its abstraction. The second image is purely about shape, shadow and texture. The final image is an abstract impression using a side to side pan.

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Rainy Days and Mondays

We are in the usual winter rain pattern here again in the Oregon Willamette Valley. It can start to get you down sometimes, but it can also present opportunities for unique images. Here are a couple I have shot on rainy days like this through the car windshield. The first image is of a store at the Oregon coast with some additional Photomatix and NikSoft processing. The second image is a swipe shot of a forest edge (near my home).The last image is of bushes changing color in the late fall (where I parked my car at work) – nice jewel tone colors and effect.

So remember where ever you are and no matter what the weather conditions, you can create beautiful images – you just have to look and see.

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Splendor in the Grass and a Happy New Year!

I went to a “Pink Martini” concert on New Year’s Eve with my daughter to welcome in the new year. The title song from their latest album, Splendor in the Grass, ends with the lyrics:

Life’s been moving oh so fast
I think we should take it slow
rest our heads upon the grass
and listen to it grow

For me, getting people to slow down and look at the beautiful creation around us is a key thought behind my photography (see my artist statement on my website). In a salute to this song I have included a couple of images I created once just lying in the grass looking closely for a glimpse of the beauty there. While doing this is not an original idea (others have done this well before me), it is a reminder that there are beautiful images to be found just at our feet.

As you start your new year, I encourage each of you to slow down and look more closely at the world around you. What beauty are you missing?

Blog images: the first image is a dew laden piece of grass in front of some low growing pink inpatients. The second image is a closeup of view of one of those webs you see in the grass on a dewy morning. The final image is of the sunlight playing off of all the dew drops in the grass. All the images were shot with a 50mm lens plus an extension tube.

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