Venice is a city of doors, alleys, windows, bridges and more. You can get lost within minutes, even when attempting to follow the signage. The mostly narrow main streets are filled with throngs of people as are the mostly narrow canals, although in the canals, of course, the people are in motorboats or gondolas. There are several hundred gondolas and the operators offer gondola rides from morning light to end of day. The buildings are massive in some cases, mostly the churches, and very tiny in other cases, mostly the “fast food” places, pizza, gelato, coffee, etc. Then there are the plazas, which are wide open and spacious and most offer benches to sit on. People gather in the plazas to chat, let the dogs and kids run, and to eat gelato or have a drink, coffee, wine, or beer mostly. The plazas always have a sit-down restaurant or two with linen covered tables and hard chairs, maybe so that you do not sit too long!
As a photographer I was drawn to the open windows and doorways, the dark and hidden pathways, the laundry (there are no dryers, or so it seems), to shapes, to color, and to reflections. I was also drawn to taking photographs, for the most part, without people as the primary subject, although I do have a few of those, too. The early mornings were good for this and the light, at times, was beautiful.
I do not take photographs to win awards, but I do like to take photographs that win awards. I always try to take the best photograph possible and I always hope, once I've entered a competition, that one of my photographs will receive an award. Over time, I've been lucky in that numerous photographs have received awards. On September 14th I found out that two of my photographs, entered into the Madera County Arts Council's Celebrate Agriculture, both won awards.
One of the exhibition categories was California Crops and my photo, Dancing Cherries, won First Place. Another category was Water and my photograph, More Than Enough, won an Honorable Mention. I love taking agricultural photographs and was very happy to receive both awards in this always very well-managed competition.
Dancing Cherries, see photo below, was taken in my office using a Nikon D800 camera and a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 Macro lens with an ISO of 100 on a Manfrotto tripod. I bought 2 pounds of cherries from a corner vendor with the idea of photographing them, although I was not sure at that point what the setup for the still life would look like. When I got home I brought out some props, including some old-fashioned looking paper and glass Ball jars, and begin arranging the cherries. I knew that I also wanted to try photographing the cherries on a mirror to see how that might turn out. I do not have a lighting setup and usually use whatever light or lights I can find around the house, always setting the still life up on a table by a window with light from the east (the only window direction I have in my studio). I played with the props I had and took several photographs of cherries in a bowl and in glass jars and I liked the end result of that grouping. Then I set a small group of cherries on a mirror and started to work with that, turning the cherries and arranging them in ways that I thought were attractive. I kept working with the arrangement and the light until I got something I believed I could work with in Lightroom and Photoshop to finalize the product. I had to “clean up” the image in Photoshop and then worked in Lightroom until I had the final product I had envisioned, Dancing Cherries.
More Than Enough, see photo below, was a product of the torrential rains in our area; after a long term drought though, the rains were more than welcome. I was driving east on Hwy. 12 through agricultural land toward the town I live in, in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range. The heavy rains the day prior had flooded the valley orchards. I couldn’t help but stop at a walnut orchard to get some photos of the trees. The large ponds of rainwater were holding fairly clear reflections of the orchard trees. The setting seemed most appropriate for a black and white photograph and More Than Enough was created. This photo was shot with my Nikon D800 and a Nikon 24-120mm mid-range lens, on a tripod at 100 ISO.