Monday, July 24, 2017

Beat the Heat

Interior view of stairs and railing taken inside a ferry boat.
It's been mercilessly hot here in River City, so much so that I've decided to present a few tips for shooting in the hot weather. These are some suggestions I have for you to beat the heat as a photographer.

For starters, hydration is often key to feeling not as hot. As photographers, it's important that we do not forget sunscreen and drink plenty of water. Comfort is key and, while it's almost impossible remaining comfortable when the temps climb up above the 100 degree mark, you want to make sure you take steps to make yourself as comfortable as possible. Lots and lots of water, sunscreen, and a hat but be careful to make sure your hat does not cut off or vignette your camera view. Don't get your hat in front of your lens and you'll be fine.

Shade is your friend as a photographer in the heat. Even if you are standing in full sun and shooting into the shade, make sure you spend some time ducking into the shade for some cover from time to time, just to keep yourself from overheating.

Timing is everything in photography and here too it can help you. Here in Texas, the hottest part of the day hits us about 4 or 5 o'clock. This is also not the greatest time for good light conditions. If you can, to beat the heat, I recommend shooting in the golden light as much as possible. Think early morning and just before sunset. These times not only give you great light but they can offer up a break from the heat. As the sun gets low in the sky it makes for better photography and a cooler photographer so make the most of it. The key is find out when the hottest part of the day is and try to avoid working during those hours, instead concentrating on times where it's a bit cooler.

Don't rule out night shooting. Summertime is a great time to get outdoors at night, after that brutal sun has set in the sky. Don't be afraid to try your hand at some long exposure shots after dark or even to mull around some city scenes to shoot things like shops after dark. This is a great time to do it.

Finally, think about lighter gear. Summertime can be a great time to get out the iPhone and work some mobile photography. Packing a lighter camera can help you feel a lot less of the heat stress, since you won't have that big gear to lug around. It can also free you up to shoot things like food, indoor shots, and the like, which always work when it's hot outside. Think about places where people go to cool off, such as watering holes, swimming pools, the beach, or an indoor paradise like the mall or the movies. If you've always wanted to shoot some of these places, why now is a great time. Work with what you've got and make the most of it, for winter will be here soon enough.

I hope these tips come in handy for these dog days of summer, and I hope you keep shooting, even in this blasted heat.

Until next time...

PS This one taken on the ferry up in Washington State. Another way to get out of the heat is to plant yourself on a boat, even a ferry like this one will do.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

The Object of My Obsession

Two children playing on the beach in the town of Port Townsend, Washington
Lately, I've been working with abstract images more. I've been shooting a lot of abstracts, thinking about a lot of abstracts, thinking about shooting a lot of abstracts. I've been studying some other artists who work in the abstract too-thinking about the ways in which they work. Some artists try to capture the work of other abstract artists, for example, Art Wolfe told us he is very inspired by some abstract painters so his abstract work centers around crafting similar work with his camera. Other artists, like Uta Barth and Ken Rosenthal, work with blur and blurred elements of images, basically softness to craft an image that touches upon an element of memory. All of these techniques are helpful and I highly recommend you try them out if you are thinking about (or working in) the abstract.

One thing I've started trying recently, which to my knowledge, is not documented anywhere is what I have been calling the "one object obsession." What I basically mean by this is to use one object (or a small group of objects) and to continually work with it until you degenerate it into the abstract. Basically, what I'm doing is twisting it, turning it, zooming in on it (with my feet, not my lens, although you could do that too.) Taking macro shots of it, blurring it, etc. Just continually playing with it to see how many abstract compositions I can make from it. It's kind of like deconstructing an object, a one single object, into many compositions and continually devolving into the abstract more and more. At first, this technique was not really working so much but then, as I kept going and pressed thought, I started to see results I sort of liked. I must say now I do feel it's a technique I will continue to explore. Basically, I don't think I'm done with it quite yet, although I don't know if I'll get anything earth shattering out of it or not.

It's been a bit difficult for me to work more in the abstract just in terms of editing. I'm not the best of photo editors on a good day and, frankly, adding a bunch of abstract images into the mix complicates things a bit. At least it has been a learning experience for me. I was always told abstract art is harder than realism and never quite believed it. Now, I'd have to say, I really do believe it. It's much harder than it looks, that's for certain! I'm not giving up just yet but I am experimenting and playing a bit with some new techniques in the hopes of pulling something out in the process. Fun times, right?

Until next time...

PS This one taken in Port Townsend, Washington with the baby Mark and the walkabout lens. Kids on the beach, good for summertime.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - July 22nd

A stoplight on the beautiful Georgetown, Texas square, showcasing an historic onion domed building in the backdrop
It's been a busy weekend and, truth be told, I'm a bit late with this but there's still a lot of time left to stop and send out some work this weekend. So, without further ado, here are your opportunities for this weekend:
 That's a bunch right there to get you started. Best of luck getting after it.

Until next time...

This one taken in Georgetown, Texas, in the square, with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. Good times. Hot, but good.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - July 14th

People enjoying a lively bar in downtown Georgetown, Texas near the Blue Hole.
It's been super hot here in Texas. You know what they say, "if you can't stand the heat, send some of your work off for exhibition." What's that? You're mumbling something about a kitchen? Yeah, you should totally get out of that too and, go on, send your work out for exhibition. Here are some opportunities for you to do just that:
 I hope you get out of the heat and get into the exhibition walls.

Until next time...

PS This one taken in Georgetown, Texas with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. Scenes from a bar on a hot day. Make mine a cold one, please.

Friday, July 07, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - July 7

A window abstract with clouds on the beautiful island of Santorini.
There's an old saying, something about "closing a door and opening a window." Here's your window of opportunity for the week of July 7th, 2017. Good luck out there.

Opportunities:
I hope you make the most of you opportunity window, I mean weekend. Good luck out there!

Until next time...

PS This one from Santorini. A cool window overlooking the sea.


Sunday, July 02, 2017

All Aboard for my Next Destination

Colorful architecture in the town of Firastefani, Santorini Greece at night
Lately, I've been gathering some of my night work into a portfolio of sorts, getting that together and all. I really do shoot a lot of night work and sometimes it's hard to cull it all down to a manageable set. At times anyway it feels all but unruly.

In other news, I have started the process of booking my next trip. This fall, "God willing and the creek don't rise" as they say 'round these parts, I'll be attending a workshop called "Autumn in Guilin" which is actually a giant location shoot in the smaller Chinese city of Guilin. Guilin looks like a wonderful destination and I must confess I can hardly wait for this trip. I'll be traveling with Tillman Crane (from my Dakota wanderings) and I'm giving this trip to myself as a birthday present. We'll be venturing off to Guilin which is a smaller Chinese city-not the Beijing, Shanghai, or Hong Kong you might expect, no, this is a sort of "quiet, slow" trip to China. We'll be working at what he calls a "photographer's pace." I'll probably have to speed up even for that but you get the idea.

Guilin itself is about the same size as Austin. It lacks some of the smog of the larger cities and has not the "hustle bustle" of the larger urban areas. What it might lack in crowds however, it more than makes up for with natural beauty. It's known for having a dramatic landscape, being surrounded by hills of limestone and beautiful rock formations. There is an old Chinese saying, ""Guilin's scenery is best among all under heaven." (Chinese: 桂林山水甲天下; pinyin: Guìlín shānshuǐ jiǎ tiānxià)

I'll be traveling in conjunction with a language school there named "CLI" or the Chinese Language Institute. They have a website that features a lot of scenic videos about Guilin. You can check that out at the following link: https://www.studycli.org/guilin/

I have always wanted to visit China so I can hardly wait for this. Though it's a few months away, there is a lot I have to do in terms of prep work. Already started making a list of sorts and trying to knock it out as I don't want to wait until the last minute, not with a trip like this one. You'll hear more about my trip in the coming weeks and months I'm sure but now you're in the know, so to speak. Welcome aboard for my next destination and please follow along if I can come home with some great pictures.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5D Mark II on the island of Santorini at night. Very colorful and refreshingly void of tourists at night.


Friday, June 30, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - June 30

Pizzaria at night in Langley, Washington on beautiful Whidbey Island
Opportunity pizza! Grab a slice of opportunity! It's that time again. Time for opportunity weekend. This is my weekend round up of place looking for work. Pepperoni optional:
I'm sure there are more opportunities out there but these are a good start. Opportunity by the slice this week. Get some, you know you want it. 

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the baby mark in Langley, Washington. It's their local pizza joint. Made for some interesting shots and, heck, it was pretty good pizza too. 

Monday, June 26, 2017

Life is a Series of Questions, Isn't It?

Onion domed building in the Georgetown, Texas town square
In an attempt at bringing you even more diverse and obscure calls for entry, I stumbled upon a website called "The Phoblographer." While that title seems to have twisted my tongue a bit, they did have an interesting call for submissions on their website. They have a series of questions one should answer before submitting work. Since I thought this was such a good idea and I'm a good sport and all, I actually thought it might be a good idea to answer the questions even if I'm not intending to submit any work to them. They are cool questions after all, right? So, why not? Heck, I'm game. Here goes.
Describe yourself as a photographer. Think about the who, what, when, where, how and why. Tell me about who you are as a photographer, list what cameras, lenses, lights, films (or plates, or papers) and other gear you use. Tell me about your creative vision when you create and take photos.
I'm a fine art photographer who works with architecture a lot. I like to visually compare man made structures with those found in nature and I have more than a hint of urban exploration in me, especially at night. (I do some night photography.) These days, I use mostly Canon cameras and lenses. I have a Canon EOS 5DS and a walkabout lens that I swear by (sometimes at but mostly by.) My vision is to try to get it right in camera. I'm a somewhat "painterly" photographer, that is, I like to think I'm painting with my camera rather than suffering from a photographic dose of reality (although I do grudgingly admit that is there.)
Why did you get into photography?
I wanted an excuse to get out from behind a desk and explore a bit more, basically, to get outside more often.
What photographers are your biggest influences?
I draw inspiration from both the art world and the photography world. My biggest photographic influences are Joyce Tenneson, Cindy Sherman, Michael Kenna, Julie Blackmon, Jack Spencer, Todd Hido, and Eddie Soloway. From painting, I draw from Edward Hopper, Andrew Wyeth, Vermeer, Klimt, and a few more modern painters such as sometimes Austinite pastelist Will Klemm and Julie Speed.
How long have you been shooting?
Started summer of 1992. First exhibition autumn 1992. Should have waited longer but didn't. Meh.
Why is photography and shooting so important to you?
It's a way for me to make things with my hands. I love the creative aspect of it. I love capturing the passage of time. I love making new memories, exploring, and recording these explorations to share with the world afterwards. It's a way for me to bring dreams to life. 
Do you feel that you’re more of a creator or a documenter? Why?
No question, hands down a creator. I don't bother much with reality. I'm an artist. I photograph the world the way I want it to be not the way it is and I make no apologies for doing such with it. Any guilt or friction that comes from that is on you. (If you seek truth, look elsewhere. I recommend inside yourself as a place to start.)
 What’s typically going through your mind when you create images? Tell us about your processes both mentally and mechanically?
Tough question! I have a sort of "visual ADD." I think a lot about a lot of things when I'm shooting. What I had for lunch, what I want to do with the shot, where I'm going to go next, how the shot fits in with other shots I've lined up, does it work alone...that sort of thing. Generally, though I think about how it would look printed, matted, and framed, hanging on a wall someplace. I follow my eye movement through the image. I do a sort of "border control" looking at the corners and edges carefully. I try to think about the interplay of shapes in the image. I think a lot about perspective and scale. Could I move something? Could I move myself? Is this the best angle? Is the light better over there? It's a series of free form chaos that often leaves me wondering how I ever get images to come out of that madness. Mechanically speaking, I pay attention to the "big" settings, typically aperture, shutter, color/white balance and ISO. I tend to shoot in manual mode or aperture priority so I think a lot about depth of field. Do I want the shot at f/16 or wide open? That sort of a thing.
Want to walk us through your processing techniques?
Generally speaking, I do as little editing as necessary. Since I started in the days of film and worked in the darkroom early on, I prefer to try to get things right in camera. I tend to view post processing as a way of fine tuning an image, almost the way a conductor "tweaks" a musical score. You have to start with a good piece of music and then milk the orchestra to make the most of it. I view post processing as a way of making my shots really sing.
Tell us about the project that you’re pitching, or your portfolio
I'm not really pitching to them so this doesn't really apply but I can do it for this image. This is a shot from a walkabout shoot in downtown Georgetown, Texas, on the square. It fits in with my architectural work.
 What made you want to get into your genre?
I wanted to be an architect growing up as a child. I've always loved buildings, designing buildings, drawing buildings, constructing things. Little houses. That sort of a thing. I don't know why I'm drawn to it, perhaps it's just my nature but I've been this way since a kid so it naturally follows my photography would follow my interests in that area.
Tell us a bit about the gear that you use and how you feel it helps you achieve your creative vision
Well, I don't do anything magical gear wise. I shoot with a full frame camera because it's better for night work. I tend to favor prime lenses because they are easier for me to use for perspective and scale. I like the new concept of a sort of "medium format-ish" high-end, high megapixel DSLR. This rig just sort of works for me so I use it. It's durable, rugged, the shots can blow up big enough, I can crop if I have to, it just works so I use it until something better comes along.
What motivates you to shoot?
I'm an explorer type by nature so, if left alone, I would probably go out shooting each and every day. I like to find new places, explore places I've been before, sort of re-visit them. I tend to work on projects so I shoot sometimes for that. I also shoot for clients and so money is a factor (they pay me, I shoot. It's a great motivation.) In my early days, I started visiting all the small Texas towns around my area. I was motivated to visit all the small towns, like I didn't want to leave one out of the mix. Nowadays, it's more often because I need a shot for something like a project or I have a client. 
List a number of your websites
 My websites are Carol's Little World which you can find at carolslittleworld.com, HouseOfCarol.com, and Carol's Little World, the blog: http://carols-world.blogspot.com/. I'm also on Flickr, 500px, and Minted.com just to mention a few others. 

I'd be curious if anyone else answers these types of questions and wants to share. Drop me a link in the comments section if you are so-inclined.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the walkabout lens, from the Georgetown walk this weekend. It was hot, actually muggy out there but we had some nice clouds. Well, they were nice right up until the rain opened up on us, then I hated them. This is one of the onion dome buildings from the historic Georgetown square in Georgetown, Texas, taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens.

Friday, June 23, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - Hot, Hot, Hot

Smoky guysirs make up a rural Icelandic landscape
It's hot, hot, hot here in River City. The heat index today is something like 107. But, hey, what better time to curl up inside, with the a/c running on full blast, to send out some of your wonderful artwork, right? So, here are some opportunities for you:
I hope you're not too hot to send out some nice, smoking work.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the baby Mark in the rurals of Iceland. Such a wonderful place, although looks just about as hot as Austin was today.



Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Gift of Curiosity

The colors of the sky reflected in a algae lake in rural Iceland.
Today is Father's Day in the US. Earlier, I enjoyed a nice quiet dinner with Dad and the family; the folks are doing well although getting on in years. An interesting thing about my Dad is that, though he's now retired and he was a lawyer and accountant once, he could have been an artist or a writer in his day. He draws better than I do and he writes better too, although I'm a bit more "funky" in my practice of the craft. Dad did give me one gift though, and that's the gift of curiosity. I believe I inherited my sense of curiosity a bit from my Dad, as he shares that trait.

Curiosity, while it might have killed the cat, is good for the photographer. There's a native sense of curiosity the drives what we do. I always felt that people became more observant when they are more curious-like they want to see what's going on so they pay more attention to what's happening right around them. It's also the first step in becoming an explorer type. You have to want to see the world, want to see what's there, want to connect with people, see the sights, share the stories, in order to be an explorer. Let's face it, if you are a photographer today, you're basically a digital explorer, even if the only exploring you get to do is locked away in your own studio. We delve. It's just the nature of the job.

So, I hope all of the Dads out there had a wonderful father's day. I hope you share gifts with your children, like curiosity, that help forge who they are and who they might become over time. And, I hope you had some great cake or BBQ or whatever else it is you eat on father's day. Don't forget to take pictures either because, you know, another little rule of life is that nobody stays young for long. Enjoy it while you can, eh?

Until next time...

PS This one from Iceland. Conversations about clouds.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - Driftwood - June 17

Driftwood on the beach in Whidbey Island, Washington State.
Some dreams are forged in iron and steel, hardened for the ages, while others float together like driftwood washing up on the shore, arranging themselves in random bundles, odd heaps, only to gather and float out to sea yet again. Life is like that, opportunities are like that. Not all the same, some hard, some easy, somewhat random yet they find a way to make themselves yours.

Here are some opportunities for you this weekend. I hope you make the most of them.
I hope you have a wonderful opportunity filled weekend.

Until next time...

PS This one taken in Washington State, on the beach. I love the driftwood there. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Nature of Things

A beautiful sky full of clouds, a blue and white expanse of nature.
Today is Nature Photography Day which is a day we're supposed to celebrate all things nature and photographic. This is my take on nature: a cloudy sky with an otherwise blue sky day. When I think of nature a lot of times I think of clouds. When you get outside, when you really get out into the air and breathe and feel that cool wind on your face, there's really nothing more natural to me than looking up admiring a cool sky full of clouds. There's something quite fun about clouds too. People spot bunnies in clouds, At times, I'd guess, they spark our imagination.

I've been following a group of storm chasers over the past couple of weeks. Not actually following them, no, but virtually, sort of online. While the storm chase season is coming to a close, I was really in awe of some of the cloud photographs they captured this year. One shot in particular, somebody had gotten a great shot of a rotation near the town of Rugby, North Dakota. In case you don't recall, that was the town we used as the basis for our trip last year to Dakota. It was pretty amazing to see the power of the clouds in a rotation like that. A tornado is quite a scary thing but it's shocking to me how it can also be so very beautiful. That something so destructive could be so lovely when looked at that way. It's just shocking to me. Shocking, a little bit mesmerizing, and kind of leaving me in awe of the beauty and power nature can bring.

Nature is like that. It can surprise us, shock us, leave us in awe, and sometimes just comfort us. Not to mention bunnies. Did I mention we see bunnies? Yeah, there were a lot of bunnies in Washington where I took this particular cloudy sky shot. Lots and lots and lots of bunnies. And, you know, a couple of real clouds too.

I hope you get to get outside and enjoy some of nature photography today, even if it's just for a few moments.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon and the walkabout lens. Washington State has some fine looking clouds.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Photography Powerball

A dramatic abstract that appears like an explosion of colors.
This weekend's Powerball frenzy got me to thinking. What if there were a Powerball of sorts for photography? What if, BOOM! you could shoot whatever, wherever you wanted? What would you shoot? Why would you shoot it? Where would you go? Would you stay home and build the most wild studio? Would you travel the world? A little of both? Hire the best super models or hide in outer Mongolia completely void of people to get the most interesting landscape you could find?

Now, you might be thinking, "she crazy. Poor Carol's gone barking mad. Again." And, why maybe you'd be right about that. I'm always a little bit headed down that path of barking mad. I can accept that, but what if there's a reason for me asking these type of questions too? My reasoning is that, if you can think about that lottery as a sort of photography lottery, if you can think about your existence after you would win such a lottery prize, it just might give you some insight into how you shoot without finding yourself a big prize winner. Dreaming about what you might shoot if you could shoot anything and everything tells you a little bit about how you see yourself. That fantasy gives you some insight into who you are as a shooter. Would you end the war in the middle east? Would you find the most beautiful, awesome flower and shoot it instead? Would you travel to the far reaches of the globe or stay at home opting to work instead in studio? Would you buy the most dope lighting rig anybody has ever seen or would you quit your job and shoot at the golden hour each and every day? These are all insights into how we work as photographers, even if they never come to pass.

You might never get to shoot that sweeping landscape of outer Mongolia but if you like landscapes that says a lot about how you shoot and what you might want to shoot next. Don't box yourself in. Get outside and find the sweep. Now, because you didn't win that fabulous prize, you might have to settle for a sweeping landscape a bit closer to home but go ahead and hunt it down. You may never be able to afford that dope lighting rig but you can make something work. Consider it a challenge but go ahead and try. You might find you can build a dope lighting rig for a lot cheaper than you think, especially if you are willing to do a little bit of DIY type work and build out things yourself.

Most of us will never know the joy of winning a lot of money in a lottery prize. That's OK though because we have already won another prize. We're photographers. That's a prize, a big prize. We get to see the world, shoot what we see, share our stories, our joys, our sorrows and yes, sometimes, our pain too. It's what we do and who we are in our very core. While it might be nice to have some big bucks, I don't think winning a big prize like that would change anything about that really. We've already got this, man, we're photographers. It's who we are not just what we do, right?

Congratulations, you have already won the big "photography powerball." Now, what are you going to do with all that prize "money?"

Until next time...

PS This one taken in Langley. An abstract for you tonight. On the zoom with the baby Mark.



Friday, June 09, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - June 9

Time for Opportunity Weekend. This is my weekly feature where I offer up some opportunities. These are gallery, shows, competitions, etc. looking for work-looking for your work-to showcase. It's a new weekend, I hope you make the most of it.

Opportunities this week include:
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS in Whidbey Island, Washington. I was in the mood for some water so here it is.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

It's a Cookbook

I'm going to be starting a new series on the blog. If you're a regular reader, you are probably already familiar with my currently running series "Opportunity Weekend" where I present a couple of opportunities for photographers and artists. Basically, this usually takes the form of about three places looking for work. I'm trying to do this every weekend, to encourage you all to enter your work and get your work out there more often. I know I need some encouragement sometimes and so I thought it would be a good way to do just that, both encourage myself and share it with others in a way. I plan to keep "Opportunity Weekend" going at least for a while but the idea of running a series got me to thinking. Since it's easier for me to do a series and it seems a bit welcome from my readers, I thought it might be a good idea to add another series into the mix. 

I had an idea a while back to do something called "Carol's Camera Cookbook." It would basically be a cookbook of experimental photography. Things you could try pretty easily in order to maybe jump start your photography or just fresh ideas maybe you had not thought of or heard about before. The idea is to make a cookbook of experimental ideas, or ideas you can try when you want to try something new, try something different, or you just want to shake things up a bit. Originally, I had planned to craft an entire book of these. While I don't think I'll make a book, I thought it might be a good idea to revive this topic and craft it instead as a running series on the blog.

So, my next series is going to be called "Camera Cookbook" and it's going to present an idea that you can try to sort of spice up your photography or maybe something new, some new technique you can try out and experiment with to see if it works for you. Now, I'm going to try and shy away from ideas that require a lot of money, instead focus on things that you can more easily try out with a minimum of gear and gadgets but maybe just a little creativity and some DIY here and there.

I hope to start sharing my Camera Cookbook ideas soon on the blog. In the meantime, if you've got any topics you would like to see me cover, please feel free to drop me a note and let me know. Keep in touch as I welcome your suggestions. If you are enjoying the currently running "Opportunity Weekend" why I'd love to hear about that from you as well.

Until next time...

PS This one an abstract taken with the 5DS and the walkabout lens. I liked the swirls of color in it.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - June 2

Hard to believe it's June already but it is and it's also Friday which means it's time for another Opportunity Weekend. These are a series of posts designed to highlight some upcoming opportunities, places like galleries, contests, publications, and the like looking for work. Good luck!

This week's opportunities:
 Embrace the new month and send some work out. Get after it!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the 5DS and the walkabout lens. From the walk I took in the park recently. 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Art or Artifacts - What do you Drop?

Colorful nighttime shot taken inside the tilt-a-whirl, carnival at night.
Having fun yet? Isn't photography fun? I mean, what other pursuit allows you to travel all over the world, get to see lots of glorious places, and come back with visual treasures, right? Am I right? You know I'm right.

The trouble is, sometimes, in pursuit of these far away "treasures" we often neglect the process of making art itself. What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain. The other day I was asked about it in this manner. "Do you make art or artifacts?" The difference being artifacts are often the result of traveling to some faraway land and coming back with a treasure of some kind. Yes, it's a visual treasure and, yes, you may love it with every fiber of your very being but, and you really have to ask yourself this question, is it really art you're making or is it something else?

Art comes from the heart, the soul, that deep well inside of us. It isn't a "treasure" in the traditional sense. It's the realization even the embodiment of a vision, an artistic vision. It's what you realize after you "see it" in your head. It's a spiritual thing really, even if you don't believe in that sort of a thing. It comes from a higher, maybe even a deeper place. It's not a breadcrumb you drop along a trail.

I guess these days, with the Internet being what it is, with the world being the way it is, many people want to go to certain places. Bucket lists, we all have bucket lists. I want to go here, I want to go there, to photograph this place or that thing or...that's great, I'm not suggesting it isn't wonderful and that we shouldn't go ahead and do all of that, but is that really making art? Art in its true form? I suspect you know what I'm going to say here. You don't have to travel to make art. You don't need a "bucket list" or, heck, even worse, you don't have to stack up against somebody else's random bucket list. You don't have to go to Iceland because it's cool or see Paris because it's there. Really, you don't. You can make art quietly, without Facebook or Twitter, by the light of the moon, in your own little, private studio. Without anyone knowing even that you made it really. And, that sort of art, why, it doesn't have to be like moose droppings-something we've left along a trail. No, it can be a quiet celebration that pulls from a well deep inside our own little bubble. Sometimes, maybe lately anyway, it seems like we don't get enough of this kind of art. Like we're collectively all so busy dropping artifacts, we've forgotten to breathe. I've talked a bit about this before too. Like how in Texas in the springtime anyway, everybody wants to get bee on a bluebonnet picture. It's like we all have this mental checklist of shots we want to, maybe we feel we even need to get, and our lives must not go only until we nail them. It's great to do that. I honestly hope everybody gets to realize some of the shots they've always wanted to take, but it's not the same as making art.

Art brings forth something from nothing. Art is the manifestation of creativity. Art represents the handmade, the one of a kind, the voice, the vision, the soul of the maker. It's personal. It's that quiet voice in the woods that calmly whispers to you, while all the other moose are rampaging, to sit down and watch the water in the stream flow over the rocks. We don't have enough art in the world. Perhaps we have made far too many artifacts to notice. But, it does beg the questions. Are you having fun? Are you busy? Are you busy making art or artifacts?

Something to think about maybe for today.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon baby Mark at the carnival. I stuck my camera inside the Tilt-A-Whirl. I guess that's one way to make art, eh?


Friday, May 26, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

Red gate, city view, with street art, Lima, Peru, Miraflores district
Once again, it's time for Opportunity Weekend. Here are some opportunities for photographers who want to get their work out more often. I hope you make the most of them.
  • The Photographic Center Northwest is once again hosting an annual fundraiser, called the LONG SHOT. I've participated in this before, it's really quite a lot of fun. The way it works is that you shoot the images on the specified date and then submit the work to be juried. You are guaranteed to get an image accepted and, for a flat fee, they print the image and display it for you. The images are then sold to raise funds for educational program at the Center. It's a great cause, it's a lot of fun, and I highly recommend you try it out if you're so-inclined. Like I said, you are guaranteed to get one image included so it's an opportunity to help raise money for photography education and have one of your pieces displayed in Seattle. Who does not want to do that, right? Details at the following link: http://pcnw.org/support/longshot/
  • Aesthetica Magazine is now accepting entries for their next Art Prize. Details at the following link: http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/art-prize/
  • National Geographic Magazine is running a contest, looking for the Travel Photographer of the Year for 2017. Details as the following link: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photographer-of-the-year-2017/
  • The New York Center for Photographic Art has a current call for entries exploring the theme Glass. Find more details at this link: https://www.nyc4pa.com/primary-colors
It's a special 3 day weekend in the 'States this weekend, as we're recognizing Memorial Day, a day to honor those who gave us our freedom. A special shout out to our military this weekend and I hope you make the most of your extended time off by sending some work out for consideration.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. Miraflores, Lima, Peru.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

Once again it's time for my running series, "Opportunity Weekend" where I present you with several ideas to promote your art and photography. If you've been following along, this is the third installment of what I hope to be an ongoing series. I am really enjoying doing these for you and I now am fortunate enough to report back in that, yes, they have been paying off for me as well. The image featured here was selected as one of 35 or so images to be included in the Southeast Center for Photography's upcoming exhibition, "Forsaken." You read that correctly. I submitted my work for consideration in one of my own opportunities and actually made the grade. So happy to get this wonderful news and so looking forward to the show, which is shaping up to be absolutely great  based upon the initial cut I've been lucky enough to see.

But, enough about opportunities past. This is all about onward, to the future. Let's look ahead and check out some opportunities for you, some stuff that you may very well be lucky enough to get in on as well. How does that old southern expression go, "better get while the gettin's good!" Yup. That. Get after it already!

Without further ado, here are some opportunities for you to consider this weekend:
  • Edition ONE Gallery has a call for entries exploring the theme "Disappearing World." For those of you who missed out on the Forsaken opportunity, some of your work might just fit this theme. Details at the following link: http://www.editionone.gallery/callforentries.html. The gallery is in Santa Fe, New Mexico so jackalope to it. 
  • Aint-Bad Magazine has a call for entries to be included in their Issue No. 12 which is a curatorial issue. This is an opportunity for you to get your work put in front of some major curators and potentially be interviewed and published in print. Details at their link here: https://www.aint-bad.com/call-for-entry/. The deadline is July 1st.
  • PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont has a call for entries with the theme "Black and White." They are looking for black and white work for this upcoming show juried by Jennifer Schlesinger. The deadline is fast approaching so don't wait on this one with details here: http://photoplacegallery.com/black-and-white-2017/.
  • The Bauhaus Prairie Art Gallery has a call for entries exploring the theme, "the portrait and self-portrait." This is all media and looks like a fun opportunity. You can find more details at the following link: http://bauhausprairieartgallery.com/upcoming-show/.
I seriously hope you are getting after it, as they say. These are some great opportunities and could really give your work a chance to shine. And, now I can honestly report back to you that yes, hey, it worked for me!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon EOS 5DS and the walkabout lens. Dakota. Talk about forsaken, this once styling blue room was indeed very much forsaken when I happened upon it.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heavy Lifting of Sorts

So, I don't like to get into the usual blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada about website design and the like. I figure most of that just bores people and I'm no exception. Frankly, I get bored pretty easily with that kind of stuff, because it just makes my eyes glaze over and, why, you know I'd much rather spend my time looking at photography. Recent events, however, have lead me to post a little bit about my website design, just for those who follow along and for yours truly as well. I want to try to keep tabs on these things, so I hope you will forgive the intrusion.

Recently, I've been thinking I wanted to give the blog a little bit of a revamp, to kind of move things around a little bit. Focus more on the photography and less on some of the backstories and funny things. (Don't worry, there will still be funny things. I just want it to look a little less cluttered in here really. That's all.) So, I had an idea to add some tabs to the top of the page. You know the stuff one might usually find up there, items like "About Me" and "My Portfolio" and the like. I started down that path a while ago and never could get the dang thing to work. My blog is very old, you see, and so it just sort of breaks some templates. Anyway, I finally figured out the magic pill to swallow, the farm animal I needed to sacrifice or whatever, as that started working. Now, you can see the spiffy new tabs up at the top. Most have some text in there, but I'll probably be adding to them as I go along. You can see the makings of my new format, starting to take shape up at the top.

As part of this spiffy new top bar introduction, I've decided that I also wanted to clean up the right edge of my blog. It's a bit cluttered and distracts from the reading, not to mention I think it makes my site look a bit less friendly. It's not as clean as I would like so I decided to tidy up over there a bit. I also wanted to add some spiffy new contact buttons so that I have buttons for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. Yes, I know, my old design made me look a bit Amish or perhaps stuck in 1997. Damn the torpedoes, social media here I come, as I've decided to add buttons for connection type information. All well and good.

It was a bit tricky adding the buttons but I managed it. I had to first find the buttons which is no small feat in and of itself. You trying making up your mind which buttons you like. Oh the horror! If making up my mind were not enough, I had to then download and resize. Being a photographer, I'm a bit used to that, still it was a bit of a chore. For a while there, I had a 500 pixel sized Twitter tweety bird on the edge of my website. In case you did not catch it, let me be the first to admit, that's one scary looking bird at 500 pixels, OK?

I wound up using a very friendly site called iconfinder.com along with help from a website called Instructables. The Instructables people told me to basically create a "dummy" blog post and cut and paste images into it. Then, edit to add my links. Then, use this code and dump it into a template widget which could them be displayed along the edges. It worked like magic after I fought with it for about ten minutes (and made up my mind. There's still that pesky making up your mind business, which I really can't help anybody with much. Good luck to you on that front.)

Anyway, enough of the almost techno mumble bumble. This is the new template. I think it's a bit cleaner, it has tabs now, it's got spiffy new social media buttons and I think it just looks a whole buncha nicer. Now, I'm still tidying up around the edges and there are some areas with missing links, text, and the like, but I really would welcome your feedback.

Does it look like we've weathered the spring dust up OK or should I go back to the drawing board on this one?

Until next time and maybe template this time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. One of the historic school tour buildings in splendor of decay.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Abstraction aka Attack of the Meh

Is it really so difficult to do abstract photography? I mean, on the one hand, it seems like it should be really easy but then...go ahead and try it, I dare you. For some reason, it never seems like I like my abstracts. Now, don't get me wrong. I look at a lot of abstract art and some of mine are not all bad but...I can't help but think they just don't stack up. I think part of the difficulty in doing abstracts are that, since there is nothing "real" in there, you have a hard time knowing if you got what you want. At least for me anyway, they seem harder for people who can't make up their minds to do. Well, that's a good theory and I'm sticking with it even if it's not totally accurate.

I think it's also harder, much harder, to get better at doing abstracts. At least to me anyway, it seems like it's a lot harder to learn how to get better, to improve at them. They make you feel like you are stuck in neutral somehow. Like you aren't all that stranded but you would just really love a hill or maybe a good tail wind to give you that one more little push....Ah, who am I kidding? Working in abstract it can fell a whole lot like "attack of the meh" if you know what I mean. It's hard to get spectacular but all too easy to get sort of mediocre and mediocre just keeps coming.

Meh...Meh....MEH.....FREAKING MEH. I hate you MEH. There I said it. Abstracts, if I didn't love you so much, damn, I'd hate you.

Until next time...

PS This from the iPhone weather series. There was a cold front moving in and I used my fingers. I hope you like it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

In keeping with my new theme for end of the week, today I present you with a couple of opportunities. These are places that are looking for some work. Good luck!

  1. The Darkroom Gallery has a current call for entries with the theme of "Abstraction." You can read more about them at the link. 
  2. Rogue Community College has a call for entry. They are looking for all media for one person shows. Details at the following link. 
  3. The Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibit has a call for entries. The show will be held in October in London. You can find details on how to enter at the following link.
In keeping with the nature of "Opportunity Weekend" most of these calls have deadlines coming up pretty quickly. I hope you get after it and get your work submitted to some great calls this weekend, even if it's not the few I have selected to share with you here.

Go on, go out there and get after it! You know you want to.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS. Adobe CreativeCloud is not opening for me right now so I had to pull a file down our of the archives. 



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Devolving Abstractly

I was asked recently, "where do you see your work going? Where do you want to move your photography?" This is an interesting question. For starters, I'm not really sure, I'm never sure how to answer such a broad open-ended question like this. There are a lot of ways it can go and a lot of things that pull me in. I'm easily fascinated, I guess you could say. But, the real issue is that I don't have a giant game plan. I don't have something akin to a scorecard that I keep which tells me, "Yup. I shot a bluebonnet today. Okay. Now, onto the next big thing." I don't work with a plan like that. I've always preferred to be the type of shooter who lets my work sort of be my guide and I follow along as a willing participant, almost a passenger on this wild ride. That's how I like to think of myself anyway. Certainly, I'm not afraid to branch off in one direction and see where it leads me.

In the moment though, when pressed, I came up with this answer. "I'm devolving into an abstract version of myself." While, on some level, this really doesn't make much sense, I'd have to admit that it's probably the closest to the truth I could come up with, especially when put on the spot like that. I really am devolving into an abstract version of myself.

When I started out as an artist, earlier in my career, my work was more concrete. I was taken in by the tyranny of the real. It was all I did. Frankly, I would not change a thing about that work either, as photography possibly at it's best combines the real and the abstract. It's what the medium is good at so why not celebrate it, right?

Lately though it seems like I'm drawn more and more into the abstract. I just don't want anything real anymore. I'm drawn to the expressive nature of the abstract, the mystery, the intrigue. I have no use for the real. You could go into a search engine, type in a name, say "mountain" and come up with a really great shot of a mountain. Why would I want to be bound by that? Why can't I just make a mountain the way I want to make it, the way I want to see it? For all you know, this image here could be a purple mountain, right? Lately anyway, it seems like I have a strong preference for the unbound. It's what I've been seeing and it's what I want to do. Guess we'll see where this one leads me, right? Here's hoping it's someplace good!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS. No, it's not a mountain, just a purple thing. Up close and personal, as I like it.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Seven, Maybe Eight Actually, Ideas for Better Photography

Today, I present the seven, maybe eight actually, ideas for becoming a better photographer. These are not exclusively mine, although I have added my thoughts to them and punctuated them with a bit of myself. They maybe don't work for everybody and some might be hard to master. I never said it was easy, but I do think it's worth doing in the long run. These are my take on perfecting, actually maybe even honing the craft of photography. Here goes:
  1. Spend time seeing what you care about without a camera. If you want to be a better photographer, be a better person, be more involved, check out what you actually love, without the filter of a lens. 
  2. Nail technical skills. Simplify and learn the crap you really need to know, but just the crap you really need to know. Don't use program mode but don't bury yourself in technical details either. Don't be a technician, be an artist, but be able to do the work. Cut through the fluff to get to the stuff you need but only master the stuff you need. Get onto the business of actually making the work and don't get bogged down in the weeds of technical despair.
  3. Surround yourself with art. Doesn't have to be photography. Some of the best photographers I know draw inspiration from things like theater, poetry, painting, music, etc. The one thing these all have in common is that they are art. Put more art in your life to help put more life into your art. 
  4. Find a buddy. Photography can be a solitary act. We're alone a lot of the times. It's good to have a buddy that you can trust, especially one who gets your aesthetic and can tell you honestly if something is working or not. Also, just so that if you happen to fall through the floor of some old, abandoned house, you have somebody to help you call for help. Buddies are good, even if you are not the most social of people on a good day. 
  5. Find your own voice. Many people struggle with this but the real solution behind the dilemma is to actually do a lot of work. If you keep shooting, keep working, keep producing, a voice will emerge even if you didn't start out with one. Do the work, keep shooting. Be regular. Be thoughtful in your shooting, be mindful. Don't fret about finding a voice just this moment, just be mindful and work diligently. The most successful artists are able to dance between the playful and the thoughtful. 
  6. It's not for everybody...some don't but...when the time is right, find a project. Or, rather, let a project find you. Projects should be doable and make you want to wake up excited. Photography when crafted as part of a larger, overall project really soars so don't knock out the idea of a personal project. Dig deep, commit, and follow through on your project but above all be excited about it. It should be your opportunity to soar and really dive into the meat that is photography. 
  7. Enjoy the journey. Connect to the thing itself. Don't be the guy who goes to the rock concert and spends the entire time staring at the back of his phone. Live a little, connect, make connections, enjoy the process. Don't look for quick results or even a quick buck. It's a path so follow it and see where it leads. 
  8. Do something with your work. Get your work out there. You don't have to go far, just push yourself to take a few little steps. Print your images. Hang them up on your own walls. Live with them, look at them, share them when possible, but don't inflict your art onto people. Welcome feedback when it comes and continue on your path, your journey, towards better image-making and perfecting the craft. 
 I hope these help you as much as they have helped me over the years. We're all on this wonderful journey into image-making and art together so I hope this is as useful to you as it was for me. 

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon5DS and the walkabout lens. Just a blooming tree for springtime.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

I'm starting a new feature on my site called "Opportunity Weekend" where I kick the weekend off by sharing a few opportunities for artists and photographers. These are essentially places that are looking for your work.

The thinking behind this is that a lot of folks work a desk job and so the prime opportunity they have to send out their work lies on the weekend. This got me to thinking that, if I could share a couple of opportunities with you maybe each weekend, it might help you along on your journey of getting your artwork out there more and participating in more shows and the like. It's my way of encouraging folks who work full time and do art on the side to go on and get after it, getting work out into the world more. I hope it flies.

So, to start things off, here are a few opportunities for you this weekend:
Please let me know if you find this a useful feature and I will try to make it a regular habit to share calls for entries, especially ones with upcoming deadlines so that you can get your work out there more.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS over at the Brushy Creek Park.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Why I Create Mobile Photography/Art

Recently, I did an interview with Joanne Carter from TheAppWhisperer.com. You can view the finished product here if you're curious. Since the interview process was kind of fun, I thought I would post here in case you want to read along. Here is my interview, essentially my response to the question, "Why do you create mobile photography and art?"

So today I was asked the question, why do I create mobile photography and art. To really answer this question, I would have to first examine why I create photography and then specifically, why I use the iPhone. My training, my education is not in photography itself, rather I attended engineering school with the dream of becoming an architect. Dreams change and I found myself a computer programmer stuck behind a desk, wanting to get outside more, so I picked up a camera as an excuse to explore. I am still drawn to architecture, in fact, you will find common themes in my work. Themes that include architecture, natural structure, abandoned places, and quirky, sometimes funky man-made objects I find in my travels. Although my most recent work is abstract, I often find myself returning to these common themes. In my nature, I am an architect and an explorer. In my heart, I like to make things with my hands. In my mind, in my dreams, my eyes see many things and I try to bring them to life using the best means possible.

I’m a fine art photographer, not a journalist, I don’t want to capture the world as it is, instead I prefer showing you the world as I see it or maybe even how I would like it to be. 

After years of experimenting with photography in ways such as using creative darkroom techniques and even mixed media like encaustics, I was originally drawn to the iPhone as a means of digital sketching. The simplicity of the iPhone allows me to craft compositions quickly which, to me, is really at the core of photography. Once I got hooked on being able to quickly sketch, it was only a matter of time before I started incorporating the iPhone more into my workflow as a photographer.

I’ve always been surprised when people dismiss the iPhone as being too simple because, for me, that is one of its greatest strengths. Coming from architecture, nobody dismisses a brick as being simple, yet an iPhone is far more complex than brick. In fact, nobody questions when you make something of brick, asking, “you made that out of brick?” rather they just ask the question, “you made that?” Just as the brick becomes a simple building block to the vision of the architect, so too has my iPhone become a building block for my creative vision as a photographer.

I have even started incorporating drawing with my iPhone to work with the opacity of layers in images to give my work more depth. In my latest series, I'm manipulating images of weather maps with my hands, my fingers actually, creating abstracts based on weather patterns. This is both fun and unique, showcasing a technique the iPhone allows me to easily use.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future so I don’t know what the future of photography holds but I recognize that, if you want to see where photography and art in general is going, follow the energy. Right now anyway, iPhone photography has all the energy, all the excitement, all the fun, all the joy that image making can hold. The communities that exist, such as TheAppWhisperer help foster that community and it’s great fun being a part of that. It feels fresh and new and frankly, being an explorer type, I can’t wait to find out where this road leads me next.

Until next time...

PS In keeping with the theme, this image crafted with the iPhone. From a recent shot taken at Zilker Park, in the botanical garden this was layered with a painted background and given a bit of selective focus to highlight the garden structure.  The movie itself was crafted in Apple's iMove, an application I'm finding to be most useful for these sorts of tasks. I was able to make the movie entire using iMove on my iPhone. I hope you enjoy the finished product and a special thanks and shout out to the good folks over at TheAppWhisperer.com for thinking of me and for putting together such a wonderfully good website for mobile photographers and artists.




Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nature - A Small Folio Part II

Went out to Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin today and did a bit of shooting. I thought I would share. It was hot, like soupy kind of hot, actually more like humid rather than hot. The kind of weather where everything sticks to you. I hate that kind of shooting but I managed OK. I think I got a couple of shots that aren't too bad. Most recent work definitely reflects the way I've been moving recently. Bit of a new direction, more abstract, a bit more expressive I think. Well, you can be the judge. Here are a couple of shots from the field work today.










Until next time...

PS All images shot today with the Canon 5DS and a 100mm macro lens. Most of the time the leaves were moving and I wasn't.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nature - A Small Folio

In prepping for the upcoming workshop, seeing as I had to pull together a folio anyway, I thought I might share it with you. It's small enough. Six images in the tank. This is some of my nature work that I've managed to accumulate over the years.

I don't usually shoot a lot of nature work although I am very inspired by nature and the natural world. Still, I thought I would share as it's just a small taste from the archives and suitable for the blog so here goes:



Until next time...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Something Blowing In This Weekend

This was one of the bluebonnet images I told you about from the walk I took in the park last week (or so.) This is the top view of a Texas bluebonnet. Speaking of Texas and, heck, maybe even bluebonnets, although most of those have left us now, this weekend a favorite photographer, Eddie Soloway is coming to town. Yes, you read this correctly. This weekend, instead of me jaunting off to some exotic location, why, this time the location is coming to me. Eddie Soloway is kicking things off with a presentation tomorrow evening, showing some of his work from his moons series, plus some other work and then it's off to the races (well, the photographic races) after that. We'll be going out shooting on Saturday, weather permitting and the like. What's that they say 'round these parts? "God willing and the creek don't rise." Yes, that indeed.

Speaking of creeks and, well, God himself perhaps, this weekend has a bit of a Texas twist in store for us. You see, Texas is home to several large scale tornadoes. Welcome to the heart of tornado alley, my photographer friends. A group of storm chasers I sometimes follow (these guys are crazy, but I digress) has been monitoring the situation. So far, they've informed me that this weekend the conditions are right for some severe storms including, yes, our very own version of the Texas twister. All of this "goodness" is supposed to hit on Saturday when, you guessed it, we're supposed to be out shooting with Eddie Soloway. Oh, this is going to be fun now, indeed. All I can do at this point is hope the storms hold off, hope the storms give us some good clouds and nice light to work with, and hope I don't blow away. Wish me luck on this, especially that last little bit. Phew! Hang onto your Stetson hats for this ponies about to ride 'em little cowboys! (So sorry. I sometimes break into Texan when I get excited like this. It won't happen again, I promise.)

In the, excuse the pun but, "when it rains, it pours" department, if this weekend were not crazy enough, I got word today that my own personal interview over at TheAppWhisperer.com has been put up today. Yes, this is good news as it means I completed my interview video and you can now listen to me babble on about my photography for an entire 3 minutes and 19 seconds while pretty iPhone images scroll across your screen. I'll try to do a more detailed post about this at some point but, for now, if you happen across a video that looks like it came from me over at TheAppWhisperer.com, I must confess, it is in fact yours truly. Little ole' me has made a talkie. Who knew I had it in me?

Now it's time for that dreaded task, you know the one I always hate. I must make a portfolio of six images suitable for the slide show on Saturday. You know the one I'm talking about, the one just *before* the big bad Texas twister blows us all away. No, where oh where did I hide my jump drive? And, oh crap, I just thought of something. I'm going to have to find my kick plate between now and the weekend too. Oh, that's so just not going to happen.

Enjoy the bluebonnet while you can and let's hope the weekend stacks up to be a fun one. Minus the hunt for the kickplate which, as you know, is always less than fun for me.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5dS and the 100 macro lens over at the Brushy Creek Park area. It was blue and this is its bonnet.

Monday, April 10, 2017

I Took a Walk Down by the Lake

Yesterday, I went out hunting bluebonnets. Now, for those of you not from Texas, allow me to explain. Each year, if we're lucky, and by luck here I actually mean if the Gods, nature, the stars, the drought conditions and the cold fronts that move along the northern hemisphere actually all cooperate, Texas gets blanketed in a bouquet of wildflowers in the springtime. These wildflowers are blossoms you might have heard about, things like primrose, black-eyed Susies and the like but, in this neck of the woods, the king, the absolute heavyweight champion of the wildflower season, the Muhammad Ali of dandelions and the like is a beast we call the "Texas bluebonnet." Yes, you read that correctly. There is actually a species of plant named the "Texas bluebonnet." Note: they put the word Texas right in the name! Yes, it really is that popular around these parts. Bluebonnets are all but a religion around here I can assure you.

So, these wildly popular bluebonnets usually grow in places along the highways and sometimes in fields, in different settings you might expect to see them; places like by the post office or growing in the fields near the elementary school. Parks are a popular place for these guys too, in part because, come every April our official outdoor pastime becomes photographing things sitting in fields of bluebonnets. Nary a Texas toddler has gone a spring season without getting plunked down and photographed sitting in a field of bluebonnets, I tell you. Most dogs have sat in there as well. It's just what we do come April. I should also point out that bluebonnet season also marks the height of rattlesnake mating season. Yeah, we Texans are tough like that but, come every spring, we venture out into the great unknown, plunk our kids and our dogs down, rattlers be damned, and take some snaps. Woo hoo!

A couple of years ago, it was an amazing year for the bluebonnets. When I say amazing I mean there were actually a million bluebonnets blooming in Bastrop State Park. I am not making up that number. A million freaking bluebonnets! It was more than a field, it was like a way of life. Once in a lifetime showcase of springtime color, that was, I swear I will never forget it. Trouble is, now I've gotten a bit, shall we say, spoiled, and so now anything less than this spectacle leaves me wanting more. It's a curse, I tell you, a curse. So, this year, not to miss the season entirely, I decided to venture out and do a wee bit of late season hunting, just so I don't miss the bluebonnets entirely. Now, I know it isn't as good a year as what we've recently had, no, but I thought, it was a nice day and, heck, I'd much rather hunt bluebonnets than do my taxes, so out I went into the wild blue (excuse the pun) yonder on the hunt.

I researched some rumored bluebonnet locations on my local Internet (I did say this was "just like a religion" yes?) and found Brushy Creek Park was rumored to have a field or two of flowers. Since this park also has a lake and a bocce court (I swear I'm not making this up) I thought, why not? So, I packed the camera and headed over to the park on the lake to try and find some bluebonnets.

Now, what I did find might surprise you. At first, there were a few bluebonnets. I found a rather small-ish clump growing beneath a tree, which I actually rather liked, since it cut the sunlight and allowed me to photograph in the shade, freeing me from the ugly shadows that I don't like in my flower photos. All well and good but this was about 10 bluebonnets in total, a far cry from the million in years past. I shot a little bit and then made my way down towards the lake, where they have the little boat dock like landing space. Here I found what amounted to be a small-ish field of bluebonnets. It was well past peak season, mind you, but I did, in fact, plunk my butt down in a field of bluebonnets. Bucket list item for 2017, check! I'm also alerting you to this fact so you realize I did in fact photograph a bluebonnet this year. Of course, you'd never know that from the images I wound up processing but, hey, I did shoot a bluebonnet, so help me, I really did.

After my butt had been firmly planted in the bluebonnet field, I started making my way back to the car. I spotted a rock, which had some nice colors in it, so I did a close up abstract. Then I noticed the path was rather cool, but a bit boring, so I decided to play a bit and try to jazz up the paths through the trees. These are the paths that snake back to the parking lot. I started playing with some motion blue and movement. It was a windy day and so perhaps this was my inspiration here but I felt I had to try and do something. Then, I got distracted by this red leaf sticking out from a tree, it was a young leaf and the light was hitting it quite right. I did manage to go out near sunset so the light was starting to get a bit interesting, although it was still a bit bright for the bluebonnets to my taste. As I followed the winding path back to my car, I got more and more experimental, playing with the camera, playing with abstraction, looking for light poking through the trees and making the trees dance in the wind. That's what you see here. This image was taken on the walk back to the car, with a shaft of late afternoon light shining through the trees.

Now, I got a bluebonnet photo. I also took a few shots of the path and you can sort of follow along visually, if you were to check out my lightbox. You could actually trace my descent into madness, as I like to call it or perhaps a more polite way of putting that would be my foray into abstraction. I got more and more abstract as I went along my path back to the car. At the risk of being kicked out of Texas over the entire religion business, honestly, I must confess. I feel the more abstract work is far more interesting than any bluebonnet images I might have taken. Even if that field had a million flowers in it, why, heck, I'll admit it. I actually prefer this kind of stuff. Maybe I had to go hunting for the bluebonnets to find what it is I really want, but there you have it. Abstraction was the end result.

But, technically speaking, I did photograph a bluebonnet this spring. I won't tell if you won't.

Until next time...

PS This image taken with the Canon 5dS and the 100 macro lens in Brushy Creek Park, Texas.