Thursday, June 30, 2011

New Inspiration from old works

 In the name of keeping up my artistic interest I am revisiting some old photos like these. The one above I shot in Bellingham in about 2005. My main reason for shooting this was to spook a dog who was charging me by popping my flash unit at him. It worked, and he stopped. Then I discovered that I liked the image.

 Bellingham Bay is a beautiful little body of water. Deceptive in that it seems sheltered and calm, but there are some serious currents. I understand that kayaking at the wrong time of day can leave you swept out to sea and unable to return. Nonetheless a lot of kayakers take the trip, and of course so do fishermen. Some do not return. The shot above is of a kayaker returning home at dusk. He's assisted by a companion seagull.

Another shot of Bellingham Bay, this time a fishing boat is shown in soft focus due to the long exposure. I like the dreamy, soft feel of this shot.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The old days lead to the new days.

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In 2005 I lived in Bellingham WA for about a year. I was working as a photojournalist/reporter right around the time that newspapers started crashing and burning (figuratively) left and right. Needless to say, I was a newsman for less than a year, but during that year I was given the opportunity to take a lot of street portraits, and as I did I became more and more enamored of people, of faces, and in general of the beauty in the world which so often goes unnoticed or at least under-appreciated. I had been trained as a photographer when I was a kid, but having a new digital, plus a "license" to shoot: "Excuse me, I'm a reporter with the Whatcom Independent, do you mind if I ask you a question. . ." opened up a whole new world to me. In my off time I also pointed the camera at every bird, bug, flower, plant that I could, or in general, every instance of interesting light cast upon anything which struck me as beautiful. A short time later I was shooting live shows, especially "Poetry Night", "The Cody Rivers Show" the odd live band that I came across, plus a few after hours candids in bars and burrito joints around Bellingham. It was a pretty lively time, until I discovered my photos being copied and posted all over the internet without my permission, and that getting paid for my work in most circumstances was a whole other story. Live and learn.

Years later now and I find that I don't have as much enthusiasm to shoot just about anything in sight. In some ways it's a good thing, and the lulls in inspiration often lead to change and growth as an artist-- out of necessity. You're going to be miserable or you're going to grow. There's no use in pretending that taking yet another photo of a bird or a sunset is exciting to you if it really isn't anymore. You have to change. Everybody is different of course, so while I may be burning out on landscapes, the next guy is just getting warmed up, and a month or a year later I might be seeing landscapes through new eyes, but only if I'm honest I think, and heed my own muse now, even if it means putting one or two things down so that I can pick up fresh elsewhere.

I've been looking back through some of my older stuff too, and I find that this leads me also. What did I do that I forgot about since? Where did my wonder used to be? It's all there if you look for it, including "gems" which somehow slipped through the cracks. Dust them off and have another look.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Old dog, new tricks.

 Every once in a while I lose some enthusiasm for photography, and that's a good thing because the next step is trying out new things. I haven't shot flowers much in a long time, partly because they don't sell very well. I don't know why. I like them. Anyway for the image above I tried some new techniques involving a high pass filter as a layer, a blurred image as a layer, some color tweaking as layers, a black and white version as another layer, etc.

 The above is the smiley version of my dad. Lighting conditions: backlit. I used fill flash on the above. It took some fair amount of tweaking just to undo some of the nasty effects of fill flash, like those little pinpoint reflections for example which pop up everywhere on the teeth, eyes, even pores of the skin. These are pretty much just snapshots which I then touched up. from a human, everyday point of view, the above is pretty much the image/impression you'd get of my dad in person and that's what I was going for. I know some photographers want to make every image "pop", but I seriously don't always find that appropriate. I want people who know Bruce to look at a picture like this and go "yeah! That's the Bruce I know."
Now this on the other hand, isn't really Bruce. Any photographer can catch an odd image and run with it. Diane Arbus was particularly good at this. I thought I'd give a try at something dramatic. This is the same snapshot conditions as the other one, but instead of fill-flash I overexposed by one stop and purposefully blew out the background. Then I proceeded to use a bunch of editing tricks. I find the light much more interesting in this one. My dad was a good sport, it's not terribly flattering.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Sycamore Pool at one mile, twilight, bidwell park.

Took this the other day at Bidwell Park in the one mile area. I believe it's called Sycamore pool, though everyone calls it "One Mile".

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Little things in Bidwell Park

 The cracks in this tree bark remind me of dancing Fair Folk.

Hearts of ivy.

Chico is a pretty place

Some random but fairly accurate views on Chico above. I don't know those folks, or that company, but. . . I wouldn't mind knowing them.

Long overdue for an update here. We left Santa Fe in the middle of April to a promised job and housing at an Inn in Grass Valley. It was a somewhat arduous trip. The night before our journey I found a large nail and a screw in the front tire of our moving van-- after we had loaded it to the gills. Emergency service came and changed it out in the driveway that very night. The trip from Santa Fe to Cali includes some 6% grades, high winds, bad roads and high temperatures depending on the time of year that you travel. Finding the cheapest moving van, loading it down and then towing your jeep with same: in this case meant that tired old truck kept heating up on the grades and that makes me very nervous. But we made it. I was mostly too busy driving to take pictures. However: Tehachapi, or the hill country around it is a really beautiful place.

Long story short, on arrival in Grass Valley our employer reneged on the agreement. I'm not naming names, but first she tried to talk us out of unloading the truck within 24 hrs of our arrival, then she tried to scare us out of taking the job at all but we weren't about to quit. Within a few days, and more than a week before our actual start date we were "fired" and being told that we were "too good for the job." Further discussion revealed that this person considered themselves "very intuitive" and that she knew we were wrong for the job the minute she met us. In fact they ( a couple ) decided that they were going to work the job themselves and put the whole Inn up for sale. That, in fact, the Inn didn't make enough money to support them plus a housekeeper. Yes, but we drove all that way, incurred a lot of expenses and because of this sudden reversal, were going to have to incur a whole lot more. That's about all I want to say about that.

Having no backup plan, and essentially being put out on the street days later we took refuge in Chico, where we have some family. We spent about 3 weeks in a Motel 6 before finding new living quarters. Things are looking better now. We're making some changes in how we do the things we do, and like a lot of people we're also looking for jobs.

Chico is a pretty place. I've lived here before; got my 3 college degrees here and rather enjoyed it. It's half the living expenses of living in the Bay Area or for that matter the Los Angeles area. We've had a couple of interviews already, and some of our business interests have picked up. It gets hot here. We didn't escape the Arizona or New Mexico heat, just traded it for California heat.

Upper Bidwell Park, Chico, California.

A macro I am titling, "The Still Point". Also shot in Bidwell Park.

Big Chico Creek as seen from a footbridge. This river runs through the center of town and the center of Bidwell park which is a good five miles long not counting the the increasingly rugged upper park.

"Wild Oats."