Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Another Photo Published by Texas Highways

Texas Highways has choosen my Blue Creek Canyon sunset photo for use in their 2010 calendar.

click to see larger pic

The calendar will not be out until later this year. This calendar should be available at local bookstores (e.g. Barnes & Noble, etc.). I'm not sure what month my photo will appear on in the calendar.

Many, many thanks to the folks at Texas Highways for again publishing my work and allowing me the privilege of sharing work from my Visions of Big Bend photo project!

Backyard Mini-Project

Ever wonder about projects or exercises where a photographer confines him/herself to a set space? Or how about using just one piece of equipment? Honestly, I've never had much interest in doing such a thing until recently. Shooting the trees (see previous blog entry) got me thinking about trying new things.

Two weekends ago, on a sunny Sunday at home, I challenged myself to such a project: shoot in the backyard with just one lens.

click to see more photos

Like the trees mini-project, I was pleasantly surprised by the effects of this exercise. The photos aren't really the greatest, but I wanted to share them just to illustrate what I did.

A good photo-buddy of mine once said that he'd be hard-pressed to produce compelling images from the backyard, and I agreed with him. But I have to say that once I got into the spirit of this exercise, I began to see photos everywhere.

Using one focal length was an additional challenge. However, it made me realize that I could use that one lens to it's full potential and that was a valuable learning experience. This particular lens (Canon 24mm f/1.4 Mark 2) has a very large maximum aperture and a small minimum focusing distance (it's not real macro, but it can focus very close to things) as compared to the lenses I'm used to using.

High Lonesome Trees Project

I've mentioned shooting the trees on the High Lonesome Ranch as my main subject here recently. I pulled together 12 shots from this "mini-project": click here.

click to see project page

This is the final selection from my work. Overall, I'm pleased with my photos, but I'm mostly happy about the experience I gained. I've never before confined my work to such a specific criteria, and frankly, I've been apprehensive to do so. My shooting time is limited and valuable to me. But I have to say I found the experience to be worthwhile.

Please check out the final gallery here and also read the previous two entries (see below) in my blog as well as this older entry from last year for more insight on this mini-project.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Standing Tall in the Quiet Light, Part 2

Another scene from the first weekend of this month on the High Lonesome Ranch:

Canon 5D + 24-70mm f/2.8L + polarizer
4 seconds, f/8, 24mm, ISO 200

Last month I wrote about shooting the trees on the ranch as my main subject (www.texbrick.com/photo/blog/?p=109). That work was done in November. In December and early January, I made two more trips to the ranch and again focused on the trees.

The ranch isn't a grand landscape kinda place. It's cluttered with thick vegetation and the low, rolling hills don't often open up to wide vistas.

Something I've been struggling with in the last year or two is resisting my wanting to shoot big (i.e. the grand landscape or BIG scenic), or rather, to stop putting such importance on shooting such scenes.

I guess when we start this love affair with photography, we get excited about the nifty gear. Then we get excited about "capturing" trophy scenes, typically great American icons like the Grand Canyon, the Tetons, etc. We "chase the light" and become what Mark Hobson likes to call "light stalkers". All we seem to be after are postcard-worthy snaps to hang on the walls like trophies to impress visitors.

a grand landscape (i.e. a BIG scenic)
click for larger pic

Admittedly, I won't pass up a grand landscape or a scene with vivid, mind-blowing light and color without at least a snap. Stuff like that captures my interest and I just cannot help it. But when I look for meaning in photography, I get a sense that something more profound must be present in a photo.

So I started shooting trees :-) Well, it was really an exercise: pick one subject and stick with it for a while. A short project is a better term for this work.

What I was after was to learn and experience practicing meaningful photography when the usual attention grabbing grand scenes were just not available. I.e. more like shooting in your backyard when you don't have the time or money to take a trip.

So are my trees more meaningful than the Grand Canyon? I'm not sure. They're certainly an intimate look at life on the ranch, although the "life" is fairly ordinary and common.

As the short project wore on (I made four trips to the ranch between mid-November and early January), my interest gained. I enjoyed it. The thing that really stood out to me was that I started to see much more photographic opportunity than I had before. I started to notice all sorts of potential scenes as I wandered around the ranch, and I revisited many of them when I had time to photograph.

I did, however, encounter vivid, colorful conditions :-) I wasn't stalking the light, but I did make use of it :-)

click for larger image

Standing Tall in the Quiet Light, Part 1

A scene from the first weekend of this month on the High Lonesome Ranch:

Canon 5D + 24-70mm f/2.8L + polarizer
1/8 sec., f/11, 25mm, ISO 100

More about this scene in Part 2...

Monday, January 12, 2009

Christmas at the Gazebo

During our Christmas holiday in Del Rio, we spent part of Christmas Eve wondering around downtown and adjacent areas photographing the lights. This is the gazebo in the little park near downtown.

click for larger image

Canon 5D w/ 17-40mm f/4L
15 sec., f/8, 17mm, ISO 100 & 200 (two shot composite)

That's my wife, our older son (Henry), and myself sitting on the steps. I light-painted our faces with my LED flashlight during the exposure, however they're blurred because of the long shutter speed. This looks more like a trio of ghosts than a Christmas portrait :-)

The final photo is a blend of two exposures. The brighter exposure (ISO 200) better captured the warm light on the trees above the gazebo, and the darker exposure (ISO 100) captured the gazebo and colored lights. I blended the two shots in Photoshop using layer masks.

I'm not sure why I varied the ISO. Typically, I'd vary the shutter speed to make multiple exposures. But this worked just as well since ISO 100 and 200 are both very clean with the 5D.

Having us in the scene was a spur-of-the-moment thing. Tanya and Henry wandered up on the steps just as I was finishing the first exposure. I just set the timer and then grabbed them for a shot. It was only for fun.

I know I'm a little late in posting this, but I'm still working on a back-log of photos I took in December. There's more to come...

Thursday, January 8, 2009

2008 in Review

Welcome to the new year. 2008 is in the books and we're off again on another revolution of the Sun. 365 days (well, less 8 now) of opportunity, new sights, and hopefully fun lay ahead.

I've been seriously, deeply into photography for over six years now. I often wonder what each new year will bring, photographically, and I sit back, reminisce, and be thankful for the year that has passed. I'm often amazed at the things I have seen, for they are not predictable and the resulting photos can be quite unexpected (in a good way).

Here are 12 of my photos from 2008:

Bryce Canyon, February

Death Valley, February

Lone Star Trail, Texas, April

High Island, Texas, April

High Lonesome Ranch, Texas, May

Big Bend, September

Bastrop State Park, Texas, September

High Lonesome Ranch, Texas, November

Actually, I could have filled up this bunch of 12 with photos only from Death Valley and Big Bend. I enjoyed those places the most. But I also got to experience many other places (some new) and made fond memories. The workshop in Death Valley was the highlight (well, except for becoming a father for the second time - that trumps everything :-) ) as I met 18 people for the first time, befriended them, and had an intense photography and nature experience.

I feel like I've learned a lot and advanced my work in 2008. I certainly enjoyed every minute of it. I know these photos are far better than the ones I was making 5 - 6 years ago, but the amount of enjoyment I get from photography is still constantly pleasing. I think that's the big realization I've just come to - it doesn't matter what I'm shooting or the quality of the resulting photos, I'm still enjoying it and still having just as much fun as I was several years ago.

So what will 2009 bring? Who knows?... I have to get out and shoot, go places, take chances, and enjoy it. With a little luck, I'll be reviewing 12 new images and fond new memories in January 2010 :-)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

BigBendChat.com Calendar

I should have posted this a month ago. Four of my photos (including the cover) appeared in BigBendChat.com's 2009 calendar. Sorry this is late news, I'm just a bit brain-dead these days (holidays, new baby, etc.).

click to see more

The calendar is offered through Cafepress. I've already receieved a few and I'm impressed. The print quality is decent for a calendar. Looks pretty nice on the wall.

Aside from my photos, the calendar is definitely very high quality. The other photos are very, very good, and the calendar as a whole offers a spectacular view of the park. I'm proud that my work appears in the calendar and also alongside some fine photography from others.

Visit Big Bend Chat here.

My Article on Big Bend in IP Mag.

I'm greatly pleased to announce that I've had an article published in the premier issue of International Photographer Magazine (edited and published by Brian Patterson). The article spans 16 pages and includes 11 of my photos taken in Big Bend National Park. There's also a short write-up by me that focuses on my shooting style and techniques. The cover photo is also mine.

click to visit the MagCloud site and preview the magazine

IP Magazine is offered as a print-on-demand publication. It's roughly twice as expensive as specialty photography magazines you see in bookstores (e.g. Aperture, Lenswork). However, being offered as print-on-demand insures that no waste occurs. It's a neat concept.

In fact, Lenswork Publishing has recently pulled their magazine from bookstores and it’s only available via subscription, effectively print-on-demand (although it’s only issued bi-monthly). The reason is that typical magazines offered in stores often go to waste when they are not purchased. They end up getting thrown out (or hopefully put into a recycle bin).

Anyway, hope you enjoy my article! I'm very pleased to have photos from my Big Bend project featured in a publication.