Tuesday, July 31, 2007

From The Files

I am working on a book on photography, at the request of the publisher, no less, covering the creative aspects of the art. To go along with the introduction to the book I thought I'd look out some old images. I have an Epson 4870 flatbed scanner which has done a great job on my medium format negatives but fully expected to have to purchase, borrow or get scanned on a dedicated film scanner my 35 mm. negatives.

Still, nothing lost by trying the flatbed and you see the results above. I shot this image in 1967 on a trip to Britain with my parents, at the Park of Blenheim Palace, birthplace of Winston Churchill.I wasn't very good but sometimes I'd see something special. The image isn't super crisp, being hand held at a low shutter speed, but the image itself is so nice I at least am prepared to overlook that.

I was amazed both at how well the scanner did - retrieving all the detail that wet prints ever made and a bit more besides. The contrast range is huge because although photographed on a rainy afternoon, the shadowed area of the tree is in dark forest.

Digitally I have now made a better print than any I'd been able to make in the wet darkroom days including after I finally became a good printer.

I did try using 'Digital Ice' to remove any marks on the film but it was a disaster, radically altering the image - so I rescanned with no sharpening, no masking, no dust removal and did it by hand, which didn't take all that long. I have to say that for all the fuss made over the years, my negatives of 40 years ago kept in plastic binders in glassine holders have survived very well thank you and frankly are a lot cleaner than the images stored in so called archival plastic sleeves (which I suspect encourage static).

Dust is removed with a combination of the clone stamp tool and healing brush in Photoshop - the latter for small round dust spots and the occasional hair in even aeas, the clone tool for better control in areas of changing brightness.

I have made one change to the image - I had never liked that the fishermen were partially hidden by the tips of some branches so I elected to remove them in Photoshop. Idally I'd have noticed this when I took the picture but there's no guarantee I could have done anything about it since moving to the right to expose the fishermen might have created other image problems.

The top of the tree appears extremely dark relative to the rest of the tree and I think this might just be more flare below rather than more shade to the trunk above. Anyway a bit of work with masked curves adjustment layers fixed that.

I believe I shot this with my Pentax SV (clip on meter) and 35 mm. lens. I must have made the image wide open because you can see the fishing line in the image (which is pretty good resolution) but the base of the tree is soft as well as the boys (so it isn't movement). I did a little sharpening of the boys with Photokit Creative Sharpener for a modest improvement.

This has been a favorite image for many years and I'm glad to be able to make a good print of it again. It will be the first image in the new book about which I hope to tell more in the next month.

Hardly Original, But...

How do you handle photographs like this one - it's probably something half of all photographers have tried at one time or another - definitely not original. Rain splattered leaves show up in many a portfolio and there's nothing unique about this particular picture.

Should I not have bothered? Do I just keep the image for myself? Can I put it in a portfolio?

Ever notice how many corn lily images there are in books from the likes of John Sexton, Bruce Barnbaum and others. Truth is it photographs wonderfully well and none of of them can resist. What about slot canyon images from Arizona - do we really need any more? Yet Alain Briot had one as his print of the month recently.

Bottom line is that I enjoyed photographing this peony, it was interesting trying to make a good print from it, and if it's a bit hackneyed, well too bad.

Message: if you find it interesting, then photograph it and the hell with who's been there before. Maybe you'll put it in your porfolio, if it's particularly good, maybe you'll just enjoy it for itself.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

100,000 Unique Visitors

I note that the counter has surpassed 100,000 unique visitors as of this weekend. This is nothing like the millions of visitors to sites like Online Photographer, Luminous Landscape, and Outback Photo, but I thank you all for visiting. When you think of how the internet has changed things - no way could I ever have exposed my work to 100,000 people without it and lets not forget the very much appreciated feedback, comments, questions and amplifications that a number of you have added to my entries. Thank you all! Approximately 500 unique visitors per day drop in and about 150 per day are repeat offenders.

Just For Andy...

Looks like I'm going to have to go back for more given Andy's interest. Don't know how much longer this site will look like this - when I arrived the new owners were repainting the outside of the 1919 buildings, doing a major cleanup of old boilers and whatnot lying around outside and had plans to clean up inside too. Apparently, according to one fellow who has worked there 57 years!, the site has been used in movies in the past to represent Chicago warehouses. Unless you live in Calgary, all I can suggest is that you check out the older, more industrial parts of town and ask nicely and give prints, promptly. These people need to know that you have no political agenda, don't represent the law or government or an interest group and are a fine art photographer. I didn't take prints with me but it might not be a bad idea to carry along a small portfolio of images (protected by plastic - these people work for a living!).

I found this small box of 'parts' on the floor near an industrial lathe capable of turning metal 8 feet long and a foot in diameter, pieces so heavy they have to be loaded into the lathe by crane. The box contains what appear to be chucks but also a variety of other parts I can't identify but they had a lovely patina. I was careless and didn't note the bottom left corner was shaded from the light and if I get a chance I will rephotograph the box. It looks good here through some pretty heavy cloning and print manipulation but....

The heat exchanger pipes below were next to an old boiler. The shop makes new exchanger tubes from very thick walled copper pipe, with the fins lathed out, every 1/8 inch, on a continuous spiral.

Yet more From Machine Shop

Friday, July 27, 2007

How To Get The Most Out Of A Workshop

Getting The Best Out Of A Workshop
When I wrote the articles on 'Taking Your Photography To The Next Level', I recommended a workshop as a solution to a number of problems in improving photography. Which particular workshop you choose to attend will depend on your budget, time available and the kind of photography you are interested in but there are some ideas I’d like to suggest to get the most out of any workshop you do decide to attend.

Probably the best way to attend a workshop is to have an open mind, lots of enthusiasm and a willingness to put out a lot of effort. Here are some more specific pieces of advice:

1) If you choose to attend the workshop with new equipment, order it well enough in advance to get thoroughly familiar with it - little point in spending the time fumbling with settings when you should be learning other things, or even worse, showing up with faulty equipment. Dumb, dumb, dumb!

2) become very familiar with the work and teachings of your instructor(s) where possible. Read any books they have written and come up with questions you would like answered. Theoretically you risk knowing all the answers and making any lectures boring but if you are ready with questions I don't think that is a big issue. I remember attending a Fred Picker workshop in the 80's and he went out of his way to tell everyone that they must know his technical books before attending the workshop - but most didn't and lectures started at the beginning and with the assumption the material hadn't been read. People are lazy, many of the photographers attending think of it as a bit of a holiday (and you don't work on holidays or for holidays, right> Wrong!)

3) make sure you have the kind of equipment suitable to the workshop you have chosen - it’s possible to shoot baseball with a 4X5 but not really practical. A birding workshop needs long lenses and fast cameras. Typically though you don’t need a better camera for workshop attendance. You’d look pretty dumb though showing up to a landscape workshop without a decent tripod. Keep in mind though that workshops sometimes change your ideas of what equipment you need so keep pre workshop expenses to a minimum. Acquiring a 4X5 just for a landscape workshop is stupid unless the workshop is specifically about teaching the use of the 4X5 - some are. I wouldn't hesitate to show up to a workshop with a consumer digicam if that's all you have.

4) if part of the workshop is presenting a portfolio of your work, start three months in advance to print your work and take the trouble to present it well - this usually means dry mounting images on matte board. Overmats are just a nuisance as are plastic sleeves that need emptying to look at a print. I remember attending one workshop with 13X19 prints, nice large white border so the images looked really good, but when it came to leaning them against the wall, they all sagged down - they should have been mounted.It's faster and easier (all be it more expensive to simply get a bulk rate on dry mounting from your local framer if you aren't already doing this kind of work. If all you can afford is drugstore 4X6'es then fair enough, but see if you can present them nicely.

5) Plan on working harder than anyone else at the workshop - that means getting up before sunrise and heading out photographing on your own if it isn’t already part of the schedule, or even better, get another keen person to join you. I remember one workshop at which the scheduled called for breakfast at 8 am. Two of us grabbed an early taxi at 5 AM into town to photograph some bridges and waterfalls we'd seen. We put in a good two hours of work and still got back in time for breakfast. Plan to use any free time to photograph or to corner instructors for a bit of one on one. Instructors love to help the individual who shows interest. They don’t appreciate students trying to show how clever they are - so name dropping, and clever quotes are unwelcome. Any question that starts ‘Don’t you think that.....” is generally a no no. These people are teaching you what they know based on the work they do. They typically have no time to get into what’s better than which discussions. Most of them have not done major side by side trials of equipment - they are too busy making photographs - so asking if Canon is better than Nikon or asking don't you think that software X is much better - when they have just spent an hour telling you how they use software Y to produce wonderful results is for them frustrating, annoying, and a complete waste of time. Take it for granted that showing up with fancy equipment will get you nowhere - it’s the images that count - want to be taken seriously then act seriously - be ready to listen to advice and to put in maximum effort.

6) Sometimes in field sessions, unless you make a point of asking for help, you’ll be left to your own devices. This may be exactly what you want, but if it isn’t, call for help. Do not be shy - there are NO dumb questions, just rude ones. Mind you this presupposes you weren't chatting about equipment with your neighbour when the lecturer was talking.

7) Should you be using film, be aware that communal darkrooms are often less than optimally clean (and that's putting it mildly) - even using them for loading film can be problematic, and processing and hanging film to dry downright risky. Consider any film processed at a workshop as expendable and strictly an exercise. Digital doesn’t create these issues but make sure you back up on your own devices rather than relying on ‘school’ computers to do it. I remember at one workshop having my portable hard drive fail, and one of the other participants very nicely burned me a CD of my images - but my machines couldn’t read it - something out of alignment. Fortunately he didn’t live on the other side of the country and we were able to resolve the difficulty. Always have a plan B for saving images.

8) Should there be any ‘exercises’, assignments and so on, I strongly recommend you participate fully and enthusiastically, even if the idea seems dumb at the time - it’s just possible the instructor knows something you don’t and photographic exercises have a way of transferring themselves to the kind of work you do.

9) take advantage of the instructor(s). Participate in coffee talks, ask advice, take the instructors aside for a more blunt assessment of your work - possibly showing them another dozen of your images. I have found they are quite happy to do this with keen students.

10) take advantage of being in a group to learn from the other students - it’s true that they are struggling too, but often with different issues, having solved some of the ones which you face. The fellow across from you with the dirty poorly printed images, may just have a better eye than you and might still have something to teach you.

Most of all, have a hell of a lot of fun, make new friends and really give your photographic enthusiasm a major boost.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Another From The Machine Shop

This was a very lucky image - I was photographing the other direction when this fellow came in and started grinding away after telling me not to worry, the sparks would go the other direction. I swivelled the camera round on the tripod and holding in my hand and using the shutter release instead of the cable, fired of this .8 second exposure during which the sparks flew but the worker held still - who'd have thought. Not too bad for a grab shot. Perhaps the moral here is, check behind you, there may be a better photograph in the opposite direction.

Monday, July 23, 2007

10 Second Photography Course

1) find something interesting to photograph
2) compose and frame it in a way that shows how interesting it is.
3) take picture
4) repeat until famous

When you think about it, that's really all there is to good photography - though of course it could take a life time to recognize what's interesting and photographs well and the art of composing is 'non trivial'.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

More FRom The Machine Shop

Two more images from the machine shop.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

More From Machine Shop

Pleased with the images I gave them this morning, the owner of the shop offered to take me up in the man lift they were using to paint the place, thus 35 feet in the air I found this interesting roof detail. I cropped out the chimney but you see a small part of it's shadow.

The curly design is actually the marks on the outside of a steel tube about a foot in diameter.

The bottom image is of ancient supplies of welding rods.

Pipe Benders

From my second trip this morning to the machine shop, took them a couple of prints from yesterday.

Friday, July 20, 2007

Machine Shop

Stiff and sore after too much tennis I begged off hiking in the mountains and agreed with my friend Robin that we would go for coffee, then head down to see his show of black and white images at Alliance Francais, pictures of Paris and surrounds. Robin had several nice images and all photographs were richly printed (he uses a REAL darkroom). One in particular I just loved and I'm hoping he will give me the chance to scan the negative or print and show you the image some time. Anyway, after that we headed to an old part of town and parked a few blocks off 'main street', thinking we'd walk back.

The spot we parked though was just across the road from an old machine shop that had been all closed up the last time I'd been there, but today was wide open and with people around. I don't know that I'd have had the nerve to invite myself in but with a friend there for moral support, we both went in and soon found a man who has worked there for 54 years. New owners are starting to spruce the place up and were quite happy to let us photograph the place, warning us to be careful but leaving us to do pretty much whatever we wanted.

Seems this 1919 machine shop has been used as a movie set in the past but today is doing repairs on things like heat exchangers.

Anyway Robin and I had a great time photographing for several hours an I hope to produce several good images. In fact, they are open again tomorrow so I'm heading back in the morning - I had some camera trouble today - first because Canon had repaired my shutter for me and I didn't notice that in doing so they'd cancelled all the settings I'd carefully set up, including using Raw. It also messed up the numbering system on my 2 gig card and it went down and the images couldn't be retrieved till I came home and used photorescue to retrieve the images - very effectively. Later in the day the camera started failing again, this time the shutter wouldn't go off, I'd press to raise the mirror, then the second press just lowered the mirror again and I got an error message. Repeated turning off and pulling the battery didn't fix this, but leaving it alone for 10 minutes did - very odd and not a little creepy.

The second image, of the machine shop is two images blended, one focused on the chain, the other on the background. I did it manually via cut paste and mask in photoshop, thinking that Helicon Focus wouldn't be able to do it. Actually I have just tried it and surprisingly it did a very good job through most of the chain, better than I did, except for a bit of a double exposure look at the bottom of the chain. As this would be an easy edit to the masks for Helicon Focus, the best result would probably be this way - I'm impressed.

Had I not been fiddling with the image blending, this might have been a good shot to try HDR with so the detail in the upper windows wouldn't be blown out. I note some advice from Uwe Steinmuller on Outbackphoto on that subject.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Image Editing

There are two schools of image editing - those who want to make it easy as possible, and others like myself who care only about the result and how much work it take to get there is irrelevant. For professional photographers who have to process hundreds of images at a time, it simply isn't practical to spend 1 - 3 hours editing a single image. For those of us making fine art images however, a few hours to produce a portfolio quality image is nothing.

A more important issue is whether there is even a need for much manipulation. My background is in black and white photography in a wet darkroom in the Ansel Adams, Fred Picker tradition. Every image needed some work, even if it was nothing more than darkening edges but it didn't take long for me to start altering almost every image to some degree and some radically. After all there is no responsibility in black and white to maintain tones the same as in the original scene and if you could make things better, why wouldn't you?

When I went to inkjet printing of my black and white images, it seemed perfectly natural to take advantage of the powerful editing tools available via computer, in my case with Photoshop. I could now manipulate both further and more accurately and in smaller areas and more areas than ever before.

It was a natural extension to continue these techniques when I started working in colour and it didn't even occur to me that I should have any loyalty to the original colour as recorded.

This is radically different from colour slide photographers (whatever the format) who have very strong ideas of maintaining colour fidelity and go to great lengths to do so. When these people switch to the digital darkroom, they tend to make global changes (as if they were filtering in the camera) and that's about all. For people like this applications like Lightroom are all they need. For people who manipulate a few specific areas of an image, selecting those areas and adjusting them with Lightzone.

Those of us who have no loyalty to the original scene, thinking of it only in terms of fodder for our art work tend to prefer to use Photoshop and it's powerful ways of manipulating an image.

In the end it's not a matter of who's right or wrong, it has more to do with a philosophy of the image's relationship to reality.

ADM Flour Mill Revisited

I've been very busy on a photography related project about which I will tell you more in the coming weeks but for now it's taking me away a bit too much from the blog. Anyway, just playing tonight I liked the top image of what produced th colour stitch of the other day so here's a black and white version.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Sort'a Self Portrait

Didn't notice me in the image till after the fact.

Monday, July 16, 2007

Anchor Why, When, Where

I was in Vancouver in February, at a family practice conference, lectures all morning from 8-12:30 but the afternoons off. I was still at the farmers market selling pictures so could be reasonably sure of selling any interesting images, for a few hundred dollars. I checked on cruises of the harbour but in February, wasn't surprised to find out they were all tucked away for the winter. Our Concierge however was able to point me to an outfit which would provide boat and driver for $300. This seemed a reasonable gamble and not a little fun, so that afternoon my wife and went to the dock and shortly climbed aboard a rather large speedboat (obviously designed for sight seeing, complete with driver and commentator, a film maker owner of the boat who tagged along for th fun of it and who was most helpful.

The first image was when the boat headed for a container ship tied up and loading. He took us right under the bow and I was able to get a series of shots from various distances so that when home I could pick the ideal compositions.

The first image to be processed was the straight on bow shot in colour seen above but eventually I started playing with one of the images taken from slightly side on, converting it to black and white to work with the tones rather than the dramatic colours and the image below was the result.

We went round the harbour from Lions Gate Bridge to First Narrows Bridge and under both.

Working our way along the north side, there were a number of smaller frieghters, bows dark in the very late afternoon winter sun just above the horizon. In a couple of cases their anchors were stuck far enough out to catch these warm rays of day's end and thus I was able to capture the two anchor images seen here.

They were shot hand held, with a rented 70-200 f2.8, IS, ei. 400 on my Canon 1Ds2 which did a creditable job of recording the shaded and dark toned hulls while not blowing out the brightly lit anchors.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Interesting Isn't Enough

One of the frustrations that all photographers come across is that when we find something interesting to photograph, it often doesn't translate to a good photograph. Ignoring technical issues of being able to record what you see, and even the ability to compose, position and so on, what is it about a subject that does or doesn't make it into a potential photograph?

1) ESP - extrasensory perception - that is, is it interesting for reasons other than visual - because of your own memories, or the sound, smell or feel of it, because of an emotion it generates in you which isn't directly related to it's appearance to other people. If you recently were whacked on the head after stepping on a rake, a rake will look different to you than it might otherwise - looming, threatening, risky, scary, yet none of those emotions is inherent in it's appearance - it's just a rake.

2) Location - it may be interesting but if it's unreachable or surrounded by trees or traffic or has no clear line of sight, if the background is trees with bright sky peaking through, then getting a shot is going to be problematic.

3) Time - it may well be great but for now the light is too flat, too harsh, not high enough or low enough, warm enough or whatever. Perhaps the subject needs some mist or rain to photograph well.

4) Spread - the subject may well be wonderful, but if it's spread out such that when framed, the elements are too spread out you may be in trouble. It's for this reason that some resort or choose to shoot panoramic, but not everything that spreads out horizontally is going to make a good image.

5) Edges - sometimes the subject is interesting but it never seems to come to a clear end meaning that choosing where the image borders are is problematic. I find this particularly true if the subject is receding off to the right without forming a definite shape. Top and bottom are just as important though. Sometimes you can fix a lack of defined edges by burning in the sides of the print so that a definitive end isn't essential.

6) Complexity - some subjects don't really make sense in a 2 dimensional image - you had to be there.

7) Organization - are the parts of the subject arrayed in a way which works photographically - composition may seem like a bit of a frill, surplus to requirements, but truth is composition determines how the print is read and is essential to understanding an image - sometimes there is simply no position from which you can put the elments of the image together in a workable pattern.

8) Tonalities - some things just don't photograph well because of their interaction with light. Sometimes this can be corrected through exposure - add enough exposure and even the black cat in the coal bin will light up, but if there are also bright areas in the image it may be challenging to both record and edit images with such a large range of brightness. Sometimes a surface is simply dull, even though the shape is wonderful. Have you noticed how often when photographing black skin, some oil is applied to give it a sheen - makes photographing it a whole lot easier - not that I'm suggesting you coat Half Dome in cooking oil just for your needs.

Recgonizing when something isn't likely to photograph well is just as important as seeing when it is. Perhaps this list will be of some use to you.

Thursday, July 12, 2007


This is in my opinion one of the preeminent photographers of the current era, producing lyrical images. His own website is a bit annoying with it's scrolling images and small enlargements but I had an annoucement from Verve Gallery today that Ryuijie has joined Verve and although the selection of his images is limited, you can actually see them. Do give it a good look.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Regognizing A Lost Cause

Doonster wrote in response to my Reel image: 'I spent quite a lot of time looking at this one. I might have personally chosen a slightly different crop but one thing came to mind when i read your comments: a question I often ask myself is "is this picture worth pursuing?". The point being, when does one press on as you did here, and when does one abandon as a lost cause? I suppose, in principle, that any shot in focus with all the elements present could be pursued to a satisfactory conclusion' and I thought this required more than just a comment.

I don't think that one should always push on simply because the image has no technical flaws - solving the technical issues is so much easier than dealing with the aesthetic ones and as I spend considerable time working on an individual image - usually an hour, sometimes several hours, I can't seeing wasting my time on images with no artistic merit.

That leaves us wondering how to recognize which images have something that makes working on them worth it.

Of course some images need very little maniuplation so as is one can see that they do or don't have merit, but we're talking here about images which in proof or raw don't look good and you wonder if there is 'gold in them thar hills'

Here's a list of clues either including or excluding an image into the 'worth spending some time' cagegory:

1) any image which really excited you when you shot it is worth pursuing in the absence of obvious fatal flaws. You may well be able to recapture that excitement once the image is cropped, adjusted, manipulated or whatever.

2) If despite not looking good in general, an image seems to have all the right parts, perhaps manipulation will make them work.

3) If an images is good except for X, and you have an idea of how to fix X...

4) If you can't tell why an image doesn't seem to work, then it could still be worth working on - after all, you thought enough of the image to record it in the first place.

That leaves rejecting images that

a) have fatal compositional flaws not amenable to correction

b) have nothing going for them and you remember at the time thinking that you saw nothing, but just maybe a miracle would happen between lens and screen.

c) images that once you correct the major weakness, still don't show any redeeming features. Better to try for a few minutes and abandon the effort part way through than to go the whole route, wasting time, paper and storage.

This doesn't mean you throw out the raw file, you never know what might happen six months down the road as you realize how you could treat the image to get a really strong result - that does happen to me.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Reel Ends

A reel end from cable spools. FZ50 on the weekend.

Railway Bridge Abstract

Sunday, July 08, 2007

New ADM Mill Photo

My 1Ds2 is off for repair - something to do with the shutter they claim, anyway that left me with the FZ50 so I thought I'd go around town this afternoon. doing some stitching with the Panasonic. After an hour or so I was close to the ADM Flour Mill so decided to see what I could do with the ultrazoom camera. The sun was barely shining on the silos (when the clouds weren't covering the sun) so I thought it might make an image sufficiently different from my previous effort.

I used my 'new' 3D nodal point rotator for this shot and I'll show you it in a future entry, suffice to say it worked a treat. The image is 26 megapixels without any resizing.

The image below is a crop from one of the original 10 MP images for the stitch. CLick on it to see it at 100%.


I might have quite enjoyed this image had I not seen Edward Burtynsky's work first, still I like the picture, so what the heck.


Abstract rust on an industrial waste bin.

Bluffs And Bush - Why, When, Where

Another from the favorites gallery - this badlands picture was made in 2003. The bluffs translate very well into gray tones of great richness. The badlands themselves are sufficiently different from our usual day to day scenery to catch one's interest.

I first visited the badlands, specifically Dinosaur Provincial Park in 1985. I'd taken a workshop from Bruce Barnbaum here in the Rockies of Alberta and a group of us decided to keep meeting after the workshop. One of the women was able to arrange access to some of the restricted areas of the badlands (off limits to preserve fossil beds). At that point I was shooting with my 4X5 although by the time of the above image, I was well on the way to being a digital junkie, using my Canon 10D, stitching with about five images to get a result just as good as the work I had previously produced on large format. I have a suspicion that this says something about my less than stellar 4X5 work, but none the less, I have made prints up to 36 inches long from this - never did that in my 4X5 days - ah the joys of digital and roll paper.

This particular image is actually on a guided tour path near the research lab. It was necessary to remove a considerable number of skid marks from the bluffs in Photoshop, not a problem if you get there early in the year but there's a nice campground nearby and a lot of boyscouts...

Friday, July 06, 2007

Lake Louise Why When Where

This image is from the famous Lake Louise, better known in the summer for it's hanging glacier above the pristine lake, Iceland Poppies in the foreground and the world's ugliest hotel behind you. Where the Banff Springs is a fairy tale Castle, Chateau Lake Louise is a gray 1960's box. The recent additions are helping but intil the old wing is taken down..

Anyway, back on topic. We were staying at the Chateau (it's nice inside) at the end of April 2003 and I hiked to the far end of the lake. The ice doesn't go out till mid May so I was much surprised when I came to the end of the path by some cliffs to find this small area of open water.

It was a challenge to get a good picture. There were some tall spruce trees immediately to the left and nothing interesting to the right. The view of the open water from the path wasn't ideal so I climbed the scree below the cliffs. This meant a better view of the open water but the trees gradually encroached on the image.

As you can see, it wasn't possible to photograph the whole open area but I tried several framings until I came up with this two image stitch (one above the other, camera horizontal). It's my feeling now that had the first couple of trees magically disappeared, the resulting image wouldn't have been as strong - the water would have filled less of the print and the shapes of the snow around the open water wouldn't have been as interesting.

In fact there has been some cropping here both top and bottom and I still feel this is the strongest way to frame the image. The colour by the way is pretty darn accurate.

It's been suggested that I use Photoshop to remove the footprints on the far side of the lake but I like the little bit of detail in the otherwise blank snow (flat lighting).

This was just before I purchased my 10D. I was still using the very nice Sony 707 with it's marvelous tilting back which meant you could adjust both lcd and viewfinder as desired. Although it makes for a somewhat bulky camera it sure was versatile. By the time the Sony 828 came out, people were more into ultrazooms and dSLR's but this type of camera has a lot going for it.

Since we talked about microscopic viruses last time, let me say this one looks more like an amoeba with a couple of flagellae.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Rusted Plate - Why When And Where

In response to requests, I'm going to go over the images I have selected as long time favorites and why each image interests me enough to include it in any kind of 'greatest hits' collection, and a little bit about the circumstances of photographing it.

You likely know of my interest in photographing industrial subjects, especially abandoned or old industries. I'm not above going to museums to get access to such equipment and have had considerable success doing so in the past. I had photographed at Atlas Coal Tipple historic site in the past. This is the last surviving wooden coal tower in Canada and tours of the inside are available, which I have done previously.

The coal tipple is located east of Drumheller, in the Alberta Badlands - eroded pillars and canyons along the Red Deer River. This visit was a twofer - I'd been photographing the landscape and decided to pay a visit to the museum once again. It was late in the day and it was actually closed and though I could have hopped a very low fence, I chickened out, not wanting a confrontation and noticing a number of cars parked at nearby houses. Fortunately lying around in the forecourt of the museum grounds were a number of mining machines, all too heavy to be stolen.

I spent a delightful hour wandering around looking for interesting shapes. In this case a 3X5 foot flat steel object lying on the grass. Being flat it tended to shed rain, like many old things it wasn't perfectly flat and had two low spots which collected rain and rusted differently in these depressions and that is what makes the image. As the puddles dry a series of concentric rings form and show different amounts of rust.

I like the image because of it's almost pure abstract nature - it's a direction in which I have been moving in the last few years. The colours are attractive. To me it has a bit of an astronomical look to it with two suns approaching. Alternatively you can think of it as a nude (ok, with a lot of imagination). It might even make you think of a couple of cells in an electron microscope. The two circles are just enough asymetrical to interest me - had they balanced perfectly the image would have been really boring.

This is a recent image so I can't tell if it will have staying power - the 'my favorites' is always going to be a dynamic list - with images being added, others dropped off. I'm not fixed either on the idea of 24 images so adding a new image does not necessitate dropping another.

The image was photographed with my 1Ds2 and 90 mm. lens, using shift to create a 3 image stitch. This was then slightly cropped to get the final composition. I could just as easily stitched with any normal zoom, but I did have the opportunity to match plane of focus with the surface of the plate without standing right over it and blocking the light.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Andy In Running

Andy Ilachinski is a fellow photographer and blogger, who has made a number of worthwile contributions in his comments to this blog. Well, Andy is a darn good photographer and is one of three finalists in the "Make A Book' contest at Black and White Photography Magazine.

The magazine is looking for people to vote on their favorite of the three. Do click on the link and make up your own mind - it won't be simple, all three are very good photographers and no, I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, use your own judgement.

Hey, maybe we can strike up enough interest to force a second printing - now wouldn't that be something.

Favorites Gallery Added To Website

I have added a new gallery to my website consisting of 24 of my personal favorite images, extending over 30 years, film to digital, black and white and colour.
It can be found at Favorites. These are images which are important to me for a variety of reasons ranging from 'I simply like it' to it was the first of a new step forward.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Another From The Bridge

This is an interesting photograph. I was actually photographing the other dicrection, across the river, turned and noticed this and quickly grabbed the shot without any real thought as to placement - it just seemed right, so why mess with it.

Only after the fact do we recognize a number of elements in the image which help it work - note the placement of the left end of the railing relative to the white pillar in the background - had the railing matched the edge of the pillar or overlapped the edge it wouldn't have been as nice.

Note the radiating lines on the right side of the print created by the wide angle lens - from the rows of bricks in the retaining wall to the splaying lines of the railing, continued on into the line of the drainpipe.

How about the bright central pillar and the way it is arranged against the pillar behind, the curved arch to it's right and even the mark on the concrete to the left of the top of the pillar seeming to extend from the flare in the pillar.

Even the furthest end of the railing (after the turn, is perfectly aligned with the rest of the railing so the end shows nicely.

Absolutely none of this was planned - none of it even noticed when I took the picture - I simply recognized the rightness of it and plunked the tripod down in front of my eye and make the picture, without a single move of the tripod.

Luck? Perhaps, but I find this kind of luck happens all too often. I think instead that having photographed for many years, I recognize the rightness of compositions without analyzing them - part practice, part looking at good images. This kind of 'shooting because it's right' without analysis happens too often just to be luck.

It does raise one concern though - this kind of luck depends on being in exactly the right place at the right time - surely I could find a lot more good images if I put myeslf in a variety of locations, left right, up down, to and fro, so that I might find that right spot more often, even better is to actually think about it and recognize that moving in a certain direction is going to strengthen the image.

Still, I'm not going to reject such 'lucky' shots when offered me.