“Really, you’re an auto mechanic?”
For some strange reason the thought that I fix cars for a living takes people by surprise. The idea that an image they profess to love was created by someone who gets grease under his fingernails seems completely foreign to them. As if creating art and having one of the bluest of blue-collar jobs is somehow mutually exclusive.
I don’t get it. Is there some “standard” career path that artistic people are supposed to follow that I’m unaware of?
While a few people upon seeing my photographs have expressed surprise that my “real” job in not that of a professional photographer, (I can’t thank you enough for that one Cindy!) Most know that is just a dream for the time being, and that I do “something else” to pay the bills. So when clients or buyers find out what that “something else” is, a look of total bewilderment comes across their face. I can almost see their brain working as the try to reconcile the art before them and their image of a dirty, greasy, auto mechanic.
I’m not complaining nor am I even the slightest bit offended by their surprise, I just don’t understand it. Maybe if more of my photographs looked like the one below, would they be less surprised?
Maybe I’m not alone in this, what is your “real” job? And are people surprised that someone in your field can create something beautiful, whether it’s photography, painting, or some other art form? Id love to hear your experiences.
Or, if you’re one of those that are surprised at the images I make coming from a “grease monkey,” Why Does That Surprise You?
Long before I ever picked up a camera, I was an avid fly fisherman, though I’m not sure “avid” even begins to describe my love of the art of casting a fly. Back when all I thought about was achieving a perfect, drag free drift, I spent as much time in the mountains chasing fish as I do now chasing sunrises.
There was something so peaceful and relaxing about casting a dry-fly to rising trout. And there is nothing like the satisfaction of catching a wary trout on a fly I’ve tied myself. Unfortunately fly fishing has taken a back-seat to photography the last few years.
The photos seen here were all created by request for someone who contacted me looking for fly fishing photos to give as a gift. Since I had no fly fishing images in my portfolio, I was eager to get right on it and create a series of images from which they could choose.
Little did I know that I would also be receiving a gift in the process. A gift in the form of a rekindled desire to cast a fly, to be on the water attempting to entice a fish into accepting a hand tied fly.
Having been so busy getting my photography off the ground, I hadn’t realized just how much I missed fly fishing until I started making these photos. The rods will not be so neglected this coming year.
Saving the best for last, if only because these were the ones chosen, these last two, both 20″ x 30″ (51cm x 76cm) canvas gallery wraps, are to be Christmas gifts for someone who will hopefully be very happy with what Santa brought them.
My New Years Resolution for the coming year, put the camera down more often, and pick up a fly rod.
See you on the river!
Grand mountain vistas, spectacular Autumn color, and a beautiful mountain top sunset,
are what I wanted for my trip to the White Mountains to capture fall foliage images this past Sunday, but what I got was rain. Not a heavy rain, but on and off, mostly on, showers all day long. And when it wasn’t raining, there was always a steady drizzle. Not that I minded much, the color in norther New Hampshire was spectacular! And the overcast conditions really made the colors all the more vibrant and saturated. The colors were popping in the Whites, that’s for sure!
Silver Cascade, Crawford Notch, NH.
(Arguably the most spectacular falls in the White Mountains that you can see from your car).
Stay home where it’s dry?
Not likely. With a tight schedule, and a short window of opportunity for the best fall color in White Mountains, I wasn’t about to let a little rain put a damper on my plans. I packed a few towels, several plastic bags of various sizes, and I headed north.
As soon as it became clear that the weather wasn’t going to cooperate, one word popped into my head, “Waterfalls!” New Hampshire’s White Mountains are loaded with waterfalls of all shapes and sizes. I haven’t photographed many of them, and none of them in Autumn, so if I couldn’t capture the mountain top sunset I had hoped for, then a few nice waterfalls surrounded by some spectacular Autumn color would have to do.
Lower Falls on the Swift River, Albany, NH.
(Not quite peak color yet. In the summer, Lower Falls is a very popular swimming hole, and the rocks and water would be covered in people)
Ripley Falls, Hart’s Location, NH.
(This was my first visit to Ripley Falls, but unfortunately it was a short one. Since the rain was getting a little heavier, I took off my sweatshirt and grabbed my rain jacket. All day long I was constantly using a micro-fiber cloth to wipe rain drops off the front of my lens. I kept the cloth in the front pocket on my sweatshirt, guess where it stayed after the wardrobe change. I was only able to make three exposures before I lost the battle with rain drops on my lens. This was the only “keeper.” In an effort to keep the rain at bay, I held my hat over the lens, so of the three exposures I made, one had my fingers in it, and another had the bill of my hat, both deleted)
“No Swimming.” Rocky Gorge, Swift River, Albany, NH.
(My favorite image from a wet day in the mountains, and my favorite so far of Rocky Gorge).
Tips for shooting in the rain.
Keep it dry, as much as possible anyway. Unless you have a weather sealed camera body and lenses, try to keep as much moisture from them as possible. While there are many commercially available rain covers on the market, I went the DIY route with large clear plastic bags to help keep the elements at bay. Though if it was only a light drizzle, I just kept a had towel with me to periodically wipe the camera down. I also took the camera out of whatever bag or “rain cover” it had been in and set it on a towel on the car seat while driving between locations, giving the camera a chance to dry out a bit.
Keep a micro-fiber cloth handy, and use it. Constantly check the front element of your lens for water droplets. There isn’t much worse than having to delete that “winner” shot because you didn’t notice the water drop on the lens.
Use a circular polarizer when shooting on rainy, foggy days. It will help remove the glare from wet foliage, and really make the colors pop.
Finally, if it isn’t already, get your gear insured. Adding it to your homeowners or renters insurance is pretty cheap, and takes some of the stress out of shooting in potentially camera killing conditions, knowing that should anything go wrong your gear is covered.
Focus on the intimate.
With even the lowest peaks in the White Mountains with their heads in the clouds, grand scenic images were all but impossible. A good idea is to focus on small portraits of the beautiful color before your eyes.
Be careful, use your head, but most of all, don’t let a little rain keep you from that fall color. It’s only here for a very short time, enjoy it while you can.
This is also part of Ailsa’s Weekly Travel Challenge, the theme is Foliage. You can see more entries here.
What Is The Point?
When I first became interested in photography, a little over four years ago now, I used to see so many people working on a photo project. 52 this, 365 that, and I wondered, “Why?” What was the point? Aren’t you just going to burn out and start shooting crap photos of whatever happens to be in front of you then just to meet the goal? Seriously, a new photo every day for a year, that’s nuts!
Open The Creative Flood Gates.
Then it clicked. A photo project was a great way to exercise your creativity. By forcing you to create a new image to meet a specific theme or time frame, be it daily or weekly, a self-imposed theme, or one provided for you, it gets you shooting, and that’s never a bad thing. Hopefully all the while your creative drive is in full gear, helping to see things differently in hopes of not “burning out and shooting crap just to meet the challenge.”
Currently, I’m participating in the Lens Pro To Go, 52 Week Photo Project. LPTG is a photography gear rental company based near Boston, MA. My first experience with them has earned them my business for any and all future gear rentals.
I had placed an order for a lens rental through their website, and the next day was contacted to tell me they were out of the lens I wanted, in this case the Canon 17-40 f4L. Would I mind if they upgraded me to the 16-35 f2.8L at no extra charge? Then, because the 16-35 had an 82mm filter thread, and my 77mm circular polarizer wouldn’t fit, they threw in a circular polarizer too, also at no extra charge. That is some serious customer service! Thanks LPTG, you’ve earned a loyal fan!
Now, back to the photo project. The idea was simple enough, they would send out the themes for each week to all who signed up, then by the end of the day on Sunday we all had to post our images to the LPTG 52 Week Photo Project Flickr Group .
There is a lot of great talent sharing to the Flickr Group, well worth a look, so check it out when you get chance.
Rather than simply go digging through my Lightroom catalog to find images that fit the weekly theme, which would defeat the purpose entirely, I decided early on that to get the most out of the challenge I would create images specifically for each week. For the most part I’ve been successful in that, but there have been a few times life has gotten in the way and I’ve used a previously shot photo. But not often.
Aim For Daddy’s Head.
We have just reached week 29, a little more than half way through the 52 weeks, And I think I’ve gotten a lot out of the challenge so far. Below is a gallery of my first 29 photos, a few you may have seen before, most you have not. I had a lot of fun making these, the “Paper Airplane” theme was the most fun. “Aim for daddy’s head,” is what I told my daughter. She laughed, and then did her best to do just that!
So if you’ve been in a creative slump lately, find a photo project to take part in, or make one up for yourself. You might be surprised at how much fun it is.
Third times a charm.
June 24th, 2012 was going to be the day I photographed sunrise from the summit of Mt. Washington, NH. The mountain on the other hand was not informed of this plan and did its best to thwart the effort.
The tallest peak in the Northeastern U.S., Mt. Washington’s claim to fame is being “Home to the worlds worst weather,” where on April 12, 1934 a wind gust of 231 mph was recorded, a record for the highest wind speed measured on the earth’s surface that stood for 76 years, until 1996 when Cyclone Olivia snatched the record away. The summit is also shrouded in fog an excess of 300 days a year.
Somewhere in that cloud is the summit.
Not far after we passed the 5 mile mark on the auto road, we were directed to a pull-out, the summit was completely fogged in and it was suggested we go no further. From past experience, I wasn’t going to argue. The first time fellow photographer Denise Ryan and I tried for a summit sunrise, we waited hopefully as the fog teased us with the possibility of clearing. It didn’t. As I recall, neither one of us pressed the shutter button that day. Lesson learned, if the summit is in the clouds, head down.
A tough act to follow.
On this years adventure I was accompanied by John Vose of Jericho Hills Photography. John’s wildlife photography is outstanding, take a look when you get a chance.
Anyway, this year I was going to better last years photographs, plain and simple. Easy right? The first two images in last weeks Weekly Challenge post are from last years attempt at sunrise on the “Rock pile,” as Mt Washington is affectionately known. Shouldn’t be too hard to top those, just be on the mountain for sunrise, piece of cake.
Not so much as it turns out. Remember those 300+ days I mentioned, this was one of them. The clouds obscuring the sun to the east weren’t any help either.
To say I was disappointed would be an understatement, at least initially. The sunrise was a non event, with clouds off to the east all but blocking out the sun, add to that not being able to get as high on the mountain as I would have liked, and almost all my enthusiasm was gone. My unrealistic expectations for coming away with photographs topping last years was in hindsight, foolish. I shouldn’t have even been trying to “top” last years photos, I should have concentrated on making this years. Looking at the images from this year, on their own, I’ve become pleased with the results. The sky may not be as dramatic as last year, but overall I think the the images are basically good.
In a first for me, I’ve actually included a person in one of my photographs.
“You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”
- Ansel Adams
All the photos below were made, “created” if you will, not simply taken.
To me, taken implies I just showed up and happened to be pointing my camera in the right direction at the right time. Made however, conveys the effort that went into the creation of the photograph. From choosing the subject and composition, to the willingness to be on location at 3 in the morning or kneel in an icy mountain stream, all to capture the image you have envisioned.
Moments before sunrise from just below the summit of Mt. Washington, NH
As the sun peaks above the horizon, it sets the sky on fire. Mt Washington, NH
A foggy sunrise over New Hampshire’s granite coast. Rye, NH.
Early light over the salt marsh at Odiorne Point, Rye, NH (9 image pano)
My suggestion to you is to get out there and create!
From a photo project springs a thought about not giving up.
I’ve been so busy lately I didn’t have time to go out and make an image for this weeks theme of “Blue,” for the 52 Week Photo Project, sponsored by LensProToGo, that I’m participating in. I’ve tried to create images each week that fit the weekly themes, but as mentioned in my last post, I’ve been a little busy with another project, so it was off to the archives.
After searching through my Lightroom catalog I came up with this one, an image I titled
While deciding to use this image, it occurred to me just how close I came to not being around to make it.
Is moonrise without the moon really moonrise at all?
I had planned the shoot down to the last detail. I knew what time moonrise was supposed to be, most importantly, using The Photographer’s Ephemeris, I knew where it was going to rise and where I needed to be to get the shot I was after.
I headed to the coast in hopes of capturing the May 5th “Super Moon” rising behind the Isles Of Shoals, a small group of islands off the coast of New Hampshire. But the moon seemed to have other plans.
Unfortunately, there was a large bank of clouds out on the horizon as I arrived at the coast. That was not going to be good for the photo I wanted to make. But I didn’t have a plan B.
Patiently I waited. Moonrise came and went, no moon. Five minutes, ten, fifteen minutes passed, still no moon. My wife texted me to see how it was going, and I told her I might pack it in and head home. I was going to give it a few more minutes, but since the shot I wanted wasn’t going to happen I didn’t see the point in sticking around.
With one last look before I started packing up, I thought I saw a glimmer of light in the clouds. So I waited. Sure enough, the moon overcame its stage fright and gave me a little peek.
Then a little more…
This was starting to get interesting.
Almost all there…
Unable to distinguish the clouds from the sky due to the light, the moon seemed to appear out of nowhere. If I hadn’t seen the clouds on the far horizon when first arriving, I would not have even known they were there.
The “Super Moon” finally comes completely out of hiding behind the curtain of clouds. After all the waiting, I didn’t get the shot I came for, but I left with something totally unexpected, completely different, and I think better, than the shot I had originally planned for. I had absolutely no idea that ship would be in the area, that was a bonus I hadn’t even considered.
That few extra minutes, that’s all it took to make what I thought was going to be a wasted trip and turn it into a very successful one.
Me as photography instructor? Surely you jest.
The thought of me teaching photography is something I never imagined I would ever do. The idea that my images and photographic knowledge would ever be at a level where someone would actually request my instruction seemed ludicrous. Hell would likely freeze over first. Or so I thought…
Well, it looks like the Stanley Cup is in Hades this year.
Several months ago blogger Nate Bush contacted me to ask if I would be willing to teach him how I made my waterfall images. We had been following each others blogs for a while, I enjoy his my.travel.map blog because it allows me to vicariously visit places I will probably never see in person. I wish I was as adventurous when I was his age.
Nate wanted to know if I would be willing to show him the ins and outs of my waterfall images. Tips, tricks, camera, lenses, settings, the works. To say I had serious reservations about my abilities as an instructor would be an understatement!
Yes, I know my way around my camera, and I’m proud of the images I create with it, but could I teach someone else how to do it? Sure I’ve given friends help with learning how to use their new dslr, but all that proves is that I can read a manual and use a mechanical device, not that I can teach. Could I teach both the technical aspects of photography, along with the artistic side, in a meaningful way? Would I be able I offer a learning experience that would be worth Nate’s, or any other potential student’s, time and effort?
I had a lot of thinking to do before saying yes.
During the time leading up to my final decision to give it a try, there was one nagging thought in the back of my mind. Was I really that good? Good enough to even consider offering instruction? I still look in awe at so many other “established” photographers and can’t help but think I’ll never be in their league. But what the heck, Nate has hiked all over the world, if he is brave enough to be my first student, how could I say no?
You talk too fast.
I’m not going to go into details about what I taught, I’ll save that for another time, but based on the images Nate made, I have to say I was at least partly successful in passing on some of the knowledge I have. Suffice it to say, after a few tips on composition, shutter speed, and aperture, Nate was off and running. A few of the images Nate made last Saturday can be seen, here and here. You can also see more of Nate’s other work on his photography blog, NBush Photography. Based on the images I’ve seen, I think young Mr. Bush was sand-bagging, and didn’t really need that much help. I still like to think I did help a little though.
I have no idea if teaching workshops is something I plan to pursue in the future, but one thing I learned from Nate as I asked him if the experience was worth his time, “You talk too fast.” was the one thing that stuck in my mind. Thanks for that Nate, I knew I talked too much, but not that I talked too fast. Good to know
Blue Cars, A Blue Bubble, Blue Ice, A Blue Damsel, and A Blue Abstract.
A little bit of everything, all of it blue.
This last one is for Alice.
Since the “official” challenge was so late in coming, and I had already posted one for the “unofficial” challenge started by Ailsa, I almost didn’t post one for this weeks challenge. But thanks go to Paula, for yet again giving me a push.
Yep, that’s a lot a blue!
What is Fine Art Photography?
Fine art photography can be referred as photograph that is taken according to the photographer’s intended vision and creativity. It is also a masterpiece of art to showcase the artist’s idea through their desire to create something beautiful to be behold. Like the work of a painter through paints and brushes, so does a photographer with his/her camera and gears.