For me photography is more than simply taking a snapshot of a subject. I see far too many images where someone obviously sees something, let's say a pretty flower, and they walk up and snap away. I recently heard the term "happy snapper" and I think this term would apply to the photographer who takes this kind of image. I'm much more interested in the art of photography, no matter what genre I'm shooting in on any given day. I think the term "art" applies to any photography genre, from photojournalism to fine art. The intent of an image does differ, why we take that shot, but no matter why we take the shot we can apply artistic concepts to it to make it the very best shot we can. These artistic concepts can occur in camera or in post. Creating a more defined piece of artwork with a photograph is not new, this has been happening since the inception of photography. The only difference in 2020 is that we now have the ability to create endless varieties of artwork with our shots via the computer, not the dark room. I have worked in a photography darkroom as I took three semesters of Black and White film photography at a college. I loved film processing and it was always exciting to see the image develop right before my eyes as the developer did its work. Now, however, I have so much more leeway to make the image all my own, with my unique touch (for better or worse) and working on a computer is so much easier for me than working in a darkroom. Since my career included computers and graphic arts I was able to use those skills when I started in digital photography and I realized at some point that I had a degree of inherent skill as far as being able to learn and master software. I know this is difficult for some people even today, although we've now been digital for many years.
The image below was shot with a mirrorless camera, a Nikon Z7. A mirrorless camera makes it somewhat easier to shoot an image while hand-holding, versus a tripod, because the camera is able to capture sharp images even at lower shutter speeds. I shot this image as I did because I knew I could play around with it in Photoshop to create something more than the image that I originally shot. I love how this whole series of flower shots turned out. This image is very painterly but completely a photograph.
One of my all-time favorite shots is the image below, that of a dog lying quietly under a table in a restaurant while the owner sat and ate breakfast. I was with a photo tour group staying at, of all places, a Motel 6! I actually spent my New Year's Eve that year in that Motel 6 all by myself. We had gathered for breakfast at the diner nearby and as we were leaving I saw this scene. I did not have my camera gear with me so I whipped out the only camera I had on me, my cell phone! I love this shot and I do wish I had been able to take it with my normal camera gear as the quality would have been better but at least I got the shot.
For all of us who are active photographers we are heavily impacted by the lack of freedom of movement these days. I normally travel about once a month around the state or the U.S. to photograph nature and wildlife. Once or twice a year I might go out of the country to do the same. Now, I cannot go anywhere except for a few places within my county in Northern California. I’m trying not to get depressed about this and some days are better than others of course. I do have home projects going on and that helps to mitigate my lack of mobility. I was also able to get out to photograph some spring wildflowers and a nearby apple orchard and I’m continuing to work with those images to create and experiment.
I’m thinking about how to photograph inside my home using available flowers and other objects. I have a friend who does beautiful work in her home using all kinds of interesting objects, spoons, spices, bowls, etc. She is a master at it. I might end up doing something similar but I’m not yet sure just what. I am using the time to continue to learn photoshop and recently gave a few Zoom lessons on LR which turned out to be fun. I also try not to think that the entire year will be this way!
I live near a rail town museum, a place that is all about trains and, in particular, steam trains from "back in the day." I photograph there on occasion as a volunteer photographer so I have open access to the buildings and events. On June 1 there was a steam train event for Engine 28, an engine that has been restored over the last couple of years. "She" came out for her christening and the public got to ride behind her throughout the day. People seem to love these old trains but I have yet to come to that. I am not a train buff, but I do see it as an opportunity to take photographs. Oddly, each time I actually do get there and take the photos I love the resulting images. Trains are a nice subject to photograph. Of course, I call this "The Christening."
Photographing spring flowers is a challenge I love. Trying to isolate a flower in the middle of a field can be next to impossible and figuring how how to do that is always a challenge. The colors of spring are so inviting and happy and I am finding that I love to photograph wildflowers.
I am a serious and dedicated non-professional photographer. Most of what I do is based on photography. Recently I entered a local competition, called " In Focus. " I was fortunate to get four (above) of my six entries accepted into the show. About 400 people submitted images and only 180 or so were hung. I consider it winning each time I get an image into any show. Actually winning an award is "icing on the cake." In this case, I was happy to hear that I had won two awards for a leaf image and a frog image. A second place award in two different categories. I like to win awards because it is a verification that I am continuing to learn and grow in photography and it shows in my work. Being acknowledged for my photography work is what counts for me. I was curious, however, about why the young girl was not considered for an award as I thought the image was very well done. I asked the judge at the reception why the image was "not compelling enough for an award." His response was a bit of a surprise to me; he asked me if I had "more images like this" and said it reminded him of Grant Wood's American Gothic couple (although he could not remember the artist who created the image). I was confused and not sure how to answer him as the shot was taken from a plaza in Cuba and was not set up. I gathered that he thought I had set up the shot and perhaps I had more from that shoot. This young girl really was dressed this way and really did open a door and stand in it with her broom. Within a few minutes of photographing her a police officer shooed us away and told her to go inside. This conversation confirmed for me that judges "judge" blindly in more than one way. I think they often look at a photograph during judging and make assumptions that are not correct and then judge on the incorrect assumption. I guess I should be flattered in a way as the image he was referring to is considered famous and has risen to the statue of a "cultural icon." For me, the image is a once-in-a-lifetime image and it is now saved for eternity (or as long as I live anyway!).
Cuba. We might all think of something different when we think of Cuba. If you had asked me to say something about what I thought Cuba might be before I went there I would have said, “not modern, stifled, downtrodden, communist and closed,” and other similar adjectives to that. In truth, however, Cuba is many things, some of which may be described by the adjectives I mentioned but other descriptions would be very different. It is also modern, wealthy, and filled with people who are warm-spirted and enterprising. I saw high-rise 5-star+ hotels being built and stayed in a beautiful 5-star hotel located in Old Havana. There were many automobiles of all varieties and the homes ranged from poor to upscale. Yes, poverty was all around me, as is seen in many countries, but the people seemed happy and were industrious and most were very welcoming and gracious. I was often asked by people on the streets to take their photograph and a couple of times I was invited into their home to view it and talk.
I am a sucker for animals, I freely admit it. One of the reasons that I love to go to Carmel Beach is because I can let my dog, Gracie, run free there. No leashes are required! That is rare in California, where I pay my state taxes but cannot even take my dog to a state park!! It is so much fun to see all of the dogs running freely and having a good time together. Gracie loves it and takes off to visit with every dog she sees. So far, all of the dogs and people we have run across have acted responsibly. I always take photos of the dogs having a great time, it just makes me feel good. So, enjoy my photos of the Dogs of Carmel Beach. P.S. My Gracie is the black funny-looking pup.
In early July I was in Costa Rica photographing wild animals in the jungle. We were on the Osa Peninsula and the area was beautiful, hot, and extremely humid. We dripped sweat in buckets almost before we got into the vehicles. We traveled over a lot of bumpy dirt roads and saw a lot of jungle scenery as well as many animals including several different types of monkeys, a sloth, an ant-eater, lizards, colorful frogs and snakes, and one animal that looked like a large pig that we were told is the largest mammal in Costa Rica. The conditions to photograph the animals in were difficult almost all the time but the challenge was amazing to me. I hope you enjoy the few photos I've posted here for your viewing enjoyment.
In June I visited Yellowstone National Park for the third time. The park is huge, encompassing a total of more than 2.2 million acres. I'm much more used to Yosemite National Park and the valley floor, which is only 7.5 miles long and 1 mile wide, there is a big difference between these two parks.
Yellowstone is interesting to some degree just for the fact of its different communities that are frequent users of the park, groups like the bear "groupies" and the wolf-watchers. There was actually one RV that had a license that said, "Bearjam." People who visit often know the names of the different bears and where the bears mostly travel and/or the names of the major wolves in the wolf pack they follow. Most of these people also know the history of the animals they follow.
I go to take photographs and I generally have no clue what bear I am photographing, but I do enjoy getting to see the mama bears (sows) and their cubs. The cubs are just way too cute to watch. This time one sow had three cubs and one of them was too adventurous for his or her own good and was into everything and way ahead of the others. At one point this little cub, and these were all newborn this year, stood up tall, then sort of tottered backward slowly and plopped down: I can only assume he had not mastered the art of standing up yet.
June is a good time to visit the park if you want to see babies: bear cubs, elk and pronghorn young, Bighorn sheep youngsters, and bison babies for the most part. For landscape shots, the fall colors are very nice and then the elk are in rut so you can get photos of elk strutting about to impress the ladies.
I love this park and all that it offers and wide open spaces in it are incredible.