Thursday, September 24, 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

Sunday, September 20, 2009


I don't know what it was which trampled these reeds or why. Reminded me of when I was a kid and we used to create "forts" out of whatever we could find, creating spaces out in the wilderness which we would pretend were houses, or even whole villages.

Impressionist view of the sun cradled by tall pines.

This photo was taken up at Pinetop somewhat late in the day. I'm in a big growth period, working more heavily with tones, colors, and textures. In all honesty, photos have never impacted me the way that paintings do. So, I'm edging closer to paintings in my photographic work.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Back from Santa Fe, Taos, and Madrid, New Mexico.

A route 66 diner in the tiny town of Sanders, Arizona. We stopped in for lunch on the way back.

Tonight's storm as viewed from the front porch at twilight.

Took this shot in Taos. Thought I would challenge myself by shooting directly into the sun. I like the effects which ensued.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Spiritual Journey in a photograph.

I took this photo up at Lakeside. It's a covered bridge made in log cabin form. Currently it covers a mere trickle of a stream. You don't always know what you're shooting when you're shooting it. Maybe I saw a trickle of potential. Wasn't until I got home that I saw the visual metaphor. It reminds me of the spiritual journey towards enlightenment. Wouldn't want to overwork that metaphor, but there it is.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Tonight's sunset, Four rays and gratitude.

Get it here . This is tonght's sunset from the deck-- pretty interesting light here in the high desert. We're about a mile up, and nothing but Juniper trees for miles in every direction.

This is my part of our latest newsletter.

The other day I discovered that there are a few biblical quotes all falling within the same passage which have had an influence on me. An old movie by Frank Capra called "You Can't Take it With You." Contains the quote "Consider the Lillies of the field, they toil not, neither do they spin. . ." later on, there's the well known "Oh ye of little faith." I use that one on Sheryl from time to time, usually when she's criticizing my driving, because if you drive with me, really, you better pray.

Eventually the passage comes around to "Seek ye first the kingdom of God." After college when I was looking for a place to land, I was decidedly pointed towards a tiny little canadian province, Newfoundland and Labrador: Quaerite primum regnum dei (Latin, "Seek ye first the kingdom of God"). I took note of the motto, and didn't head straight for Newfoundland, though I hear the seal flipper pie is to die for.

Context: what do all those tiny quotes mean out of context, and why would it come up lately. What it means for me is that, like it or not there is a further re-ordering of priorities going on. We've all got our material lives, but of course there is the transcendant as well; all those highger ideals which we cherish, which make us human, really. The kingdom is within. Take care of that, and the rest will work itself out. The passage seems to promise that your earthly needs will be taken care of if you just get right with God, but if you read it in context it goes much further than that, you might even say that it's self contradictory. You can 't really expect any spiritual text to place the material above the spiritual-- ain't gonna happen. Who and what you are in the moment, matters. If you lose all your stuff, what still matters is who and what you are. It often takes hard times for people to get spiritual. losing your stuff, or being disappointed, not getting what you want when you want it, it can get your attention and attention, our consciousness is the only thing we do own unfolding moment by moment. It's also a great opportunity to appreciate other people, who they are and what they do and to be grateful for that. Why ? Is that an order ? Do you have to be grateful ? No, it's just a suggestion because being ungrateful feels like crap. That's the thing, no matter how spiritual books may seem to emphasize the spiritual over the material, it's all very practical in the context of the human beings reading this stuff: we're made of spirit, and the material world obeys the edicts of the collective soul.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Photomatix review for HDR photography.

That's Hawley lake. Both photos are a combination of three photos in order to get extended dynamic range or "High Dynamic Range". I have very mixed feeling about the typical HDR photos I have seen. Some look great, some look terrible, and all points in-between. The technique of combining multiple photographic frames to form a single photo is nothing new. I'm not an expert at it. I just started trying it out. There appears to be some consensus that a program called Photomatix is the best software for the job. Some people favor Photoshop CS3 or CS4 for the job. I've made photo composites by cutting and pasting certain portions of photographs together to get similar results to that which is done with HDR software, which kind of automatically overlays a whole set of lets say 3 photos of exactly the same thing but with three different camera settings. From what i have read, in general you shoot a "correct" exposure, then one really dark exposure, then one really overexposed shot. The idea is that you will use the darkest areas of the really bright exposure, the brightest areas of the really dark exposure, and then all the mid-tones will be handled by the "correct" exposure. Put them all together and you made the camera see deeply into the shadows while at the same time toning down the highlights in the brightest sunshiny areas just like your eyes do. . . in theory. The odd part is that the finished product of an HDR photo frequently comes out looking just plain bizarre. I don't think it's the fault of the program, I think it's a matter of finesse on the part of the user.

You'll see at the top top photo that there are watermarks because I am trying out a new software program called "Photomatix" as a free trial and I haven't paid for it yet. I hated the program at first, did not "intuitively" know what to do with the controls. It's a sophisticated program for one thing. Anyway that was last night-- I fiddled with controls not knowing what they do, even tried following a tutorial on a blog which is not sponsored by the software company. Spent hours last night on the bottom photo doing a composite in photoshop by hand (make no mistake I am not comparing the automated HDR process in Photoshop to Photomatix ). I made a composite with a lot of fancy cutting and pasting skylines etc. Then I did a lot more adjusting of colors and tones to get the final result. I wasn't looking for candy colors, and I got a certain mood that I like. But it took a lot of hours.

Today I tried again with Photomatix, created an HDR (one button) then tonemapped it (another button) tried to set all the various sliders to default (not sure I got that right ) and ended up with a washed out looking low contrast photo. Saved that, and then re-opened it in Photoshop and did a few basic adjustments of levels. Had a very workable photo in just a few minutes. Played around with settings a bit more and finally stopped myself because I already discovered what I needed to know. I'm most likely buying the program because it will be a big time saver-- I'll learn the rest, like how to get the colors I want. If we owned Photoshop CS3 or CS4, I'd do a direct comparison, I'm sure others have.