Thinking of Dave

•July 27, 2016 • 6 Comments

Thinking Of Dave

Photography is and has been many things to me.

Some of my earliest memories are of me being in my pajamas on a Saturday night and not being able to use the bathroom because Dad was developing film or making prints in the makeshift darkroom. The house was filled with the strong and earthy smells of developer and fix bath. As close as I can remember that was in the late nineteen fifties. A long, long time ago it sometimes seems. And then again on nights like tonight it seems almost as if I could hop out of my bunk bed and run into the living room to cuddle with my mom while dad was busy hanging up prints to dry in the old bathroom.

A few years later my father passed away at the age of 32. I was only 7 at the time and it seemed both real and unreal to my little self. My dad had many hobbies and it’s so funny that I took up almost all of them during the course of my journey into adulthood. I hunted birds and big game like he did. I learned how to flyfish, taught myself how to do it and learned how to tie my own flies just like dad used to and the weirdest thing of all, I ended up somehow picking up photography in my late teens.

Fast forward thirty or forty odd years from there and I raised my family and paid for our home with the proceeds from photography. Now retired, I still manage to get out and take pictures.

Almost always I am alone when I do that. On occasion I have taken my girls out and it has always been fun. Now the girls have their own lives and their own boyfriends and it’s just usually me and my cameras. Well, not really. You see, when I am out by myself my mind travels. It travels through the past and into the future. It dreams about what was and what might have been.

Photography takes me far, far away from today. It makes me happy and gives me peace.

Photography makes me appreciate all that I have lived through, the good and the bad. It all happens for a reason and we will never know why we had to experience the pain along with the joy. We never question the happy times but we question the sad times.

Sometimes when I am out by myself my mind goes back to those happy times with my brother who died a couple of months ago. It doesn’t make me sad, instead it fills my heart with a warmth and peace. The love that we share in our lifetimes doesn’t end with the loss of someone, it continues as does my interest in photography.

Happy shooting,

Dan

The House In Hairy Hill

•July 26, 2016 • 2 Comments

The House In Hairy Hill

First of all, there really is a place named Hairy Hill. It’s about an hour from where I live. When I mentioned to my wife that I was heading out that way she never even batted an eye. You see, she went to nursing school with a gal who hails from there.

Hairy Hill is a small, small town. What drew me to the place was a few photos that I had seen of locked up and abandoned places there. So off I went with a rough idea of where I was going but not what I was going to photograph.

I wasn’t disappointed. Although the light and sky could have been much better I had fun poking around and trying different compositions. For sure it is a place that I will return to.

I leave you with what I call the “Hansel and Gretel House”. I call it that because what you can’t see in infrared or in this frame are the lovely blue wildflowers that covered what used to be the lawn out of picture frame left. It was stunning in color but alas did not translate so well in black and white.

Happy shooting,

Dan

The House of My Dreams

•July 25, 2016 • 4 Comments

The House Of My Dreams

“Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.” ― Edgar Allan Poe, Eleonora

This is the house of my dreams. It only exists in my mind.

We had a family get together yesterday and the topic of photography somehow came up. Hmmm.  Anyway a cousin of mine mentioned that he did not like photomanipulation. That is fair. I might like white wine and not red. There is nothing wrong with both red nor white wine but for me, I will always pass on the red and so it goes with photomanipulation.

It is not my place to judge what is within the rules and tell people that they can or can’t do whatever. Photography is about creativity and it is up to you how you express or discover it.

On Saturday afternoon I went out for a short drive in the country and happened upon another dilapidated homestead. It was my good luck that it was sitting beside a gravel road on a hill. At about 2:00 p.m. the house was brightly lit and there was a 50/50 mix of cumulus clouds blowing by. The clouds were moving almost directly towards me which is important. When doing long exposures the direction of cloud movement relative to you determines which direction they are flowing across the frame.

My exposure for the black and white version was four minutes. I had a quick look at how the clouds had streaked on the camera display and decided that a longer exposure wasn’t necessary. Some days when the windspeed is not very high, longer exposures are needed. Today was not that day.

To give you an idea of what the scene looked like when I came upon it I have included a short exposure photo. Nothing was done to it other than a little tuning in curves to bump up the contrast.

Prairie House Before

When comparing the before and after photos it is obvious how much YOU can control your final vision. The darker version doesn’t exist in real life, it exists only in my dreams.

Happy shooting,

Dan

 

Four Minutes On The Homestead

•July 24, 2016 • 7 Comments

Four Minutes On The Homestead

Four minutes.

Long exposure images are always a surprise. I can never accurately predict what the results will be.

When I passed this old and dilapidated homestead sitting in the middle of a field the sky was heavily overcast.

To date my favorite long exposure landscapes have resulted from skies that were a 60/40 mix of white clouds and blue sky. Yesterday was different as the sky was heavily overcast. So overcast in fact that I almost passed by without stopping to take a picture.

It’s always a good idea to experiment. You can learn not only from your successes but your failures. Don’t ever be afraid to take a bad picture.

Happy shooting,

Dan

A Quiet Place By The Road

•July 22, 2016 • 1 Comment

A Quiet Place By The Side Of The Road

We had a few days of less than great weather here. I mean, the weather is good for ducks and farmers but not so great for photos.

Every cloud has a silver lining so the saying goes and it’s true. What happens when you can’t get what you want? You want it more.

The rainy weather has only served to whet my appetite to get out and see what mother nature lays out for me.

For the days that I can’t get out with my camera I have plenty of RAW images to go through. It’s a curse/blessing being a prolific shooter. Too many photos, yet lots of images to choose from.

I drove by a place that I had photographed a few days earlier in part because I only photographed part of what I wanted to. There was a utility worker downt the road and not wanting to get in his way I drove a few hundred meters past him and took pics.

On this day I went close to where he was, hopped the three strand barbed wire fence and crouched low in the tall wild grasses on the edge of a wheat field.

With infrared it is still a surprise to see how the camera captures the scene. What goes light? What goes dark? It is a mystery that keeps me returning for more.

I stayed in this spot only long enough to take a few bracketed shots and move on never staying still for very long.

Driving along the road which is on the other side of the barbed wire fence you would never know what a beautiful place it is.

It’s just another quiet place by the road in Alberta.

Happy shooting,

Dan

How much camera gear do you really need?

•July 20, 2016 • 2 Comments

How Much Camera Gear Do You Need

I have worked with a few photographers at a newspaper over the years. One thing that was almost universal with them was their love of gear. Really, they did love their gear.

Some more than others. A couple had to have every new lens or body that came Canon or Nikon came out with. It was an obsession.

Here’s the funny thing. The people with the most gear in my eyes weren’t the best photographers.

The best photographers used the fewest lenses. It seemed that they knew their equipment better than most. One lens. One job.

It’s not just in the newspaper business that photographers become more gear collectors than picture takers. Visit any popular photography forum and you will see members proudly listing every last bit of equipment they own down to their filters. What’s with that?

I learned a long, long time ago the discipline that it takes to use one lens.

At one time I shot landscapes with a wooden 4×5 field camera and could only afford one lens. It was a 180mm Schneider Symmar S. I am surprised that I can remember that. Anyway I didn’t have the money for any other gear and so EVERYTHING that I took with that camera was taken with that one lens. 180mm on a 4×5 camera is roughly the equivalent of a 60mm lens on full frame 35mm camera to give some perspective.

Using that one lens I was forced to see things through that lens and as restricting as it might seem it was liberating. I learned the hard way that every focal length lens has advantages and drawbacks.

Nowadays when I am doing my infrared I use one or two lenses. Both are very wide lenses because I prefer that look. One is a 14mm fisheye that gives a depth and perspective like no other lens I own. I like the near/far relationship that it captures. The other lens that I use isn’t too far away from the fisheye. It is a 14-24 wide angle zoon. Again, it is the near/far and depth of field that I like. When I am using either of these two lenses I LOOK at things diffently than I would if I were to say do long exposures. With long exposures I use a longer zoom, a 24-120mm zoom and usually at the longer end of the focal length.

My camera bag long ago got lighter as I got smarter and you know what? My wallet got heavier. My photos got better.

Happy shooting,

Dan

Creating My Reality

•July 19, 2016 • 3 Comments

Creating My Reality

I think that I’ve found my groove again.

After a long, make that after a few long absences from landscape photography my mojo (thank you Austin Powers) is back.

I find myself looking at weather forecasts more frequently and when walking the dog glancing upwards and trying to anticipate the coming skies.

It’s funny how being away from something can recharge or rejuvenate you.

Back in the day when I actually made my living or a large part of it by using a camera what I did on my days off NEVER involved a camera. The part of my brain that was creative at work needed the break to continue the creativity into the next week. Usually when i do something that I love I put my all into it. It’s not just dabbling but two both feet into the water sometimes in over my head.

And so it is with landscapes. I am in competition with no one but for myself. It is seldom if ever that I follow photographers on Flickr. Only if they see something in a different way than I do hit the “follow” button not to copy them but to be reminded about seeing differently.

As you age/mature in your photography expect to evolve. The photos that I shot last year I really have no interest in anymore. It is the photos that I am about to take that interest me the most.

If you are being honest with your work and it is often hard to be objective it won’t be often that you praise what you do. Maybe that is why I really don’t dwell on what I have done but instead look forward to what I am about to do?

The abandoned farm yard at the top of this blog is a place that I have driven by many times before in all seasons. I love this area because all the buildings here are torn down but the farm yard trees are left standing while the area awaits industrial development.

As I drove past this yard the winding road into the trees caught my eye. It was that curve that made me stop, get out of my vehicle and explore. As I walked down the road I found myself even more interested in the trees that lined what used to be a farm yard. I had a fisheye lens on my infrared body and one of the reasons I like that lens so much is the way that it exaggerates near and far objects. I might have been a meter or less from the tree trunks on the left of the photo. Looking through the camera view finder changes the world around me because of the distortion and when you take the photo with infrared it further exaggerates reality.

It is in essence my reality.

Early on in your development it often helps to imitate photographs or photographers whose style you like. There is nothing wrong with that. By trying to copy that style you will in fact develop your OWN style and it is our differences that make is better.

Happy shooting,

Dan

 
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