Friday, July 28, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - July 28th

Fine art brightly colored abstract image including circles and stripes
It's the last weekend in July. Phew! Time sure flies when you are having fun. You are having fun, aren't you? Time for some great opportunities for you. Here are this week's opportunities:
Lots of opportunities for you photographers out there. Get after it, as they say. Get after it already!
G'luck getting after it.

Until next time...

PS This is one the abstracts I was working with from the "object of my obsession" photo shoot earlier. 

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Small Town in Each of Us

I firmly believe there is a small town in each of us. That deep, somewhere down deep, there is a yearning to be recognized, not as some kind of freak celebrity type, but just as a guy (or gal) who walks down the street and catches a hat tip from a stranger. That we can hold the door and smile as we walk into the bank or the post office and that there is a local diner somewhere with an otherwise ornery waitress who knows our name and how we take our morning coffee. You know the kind of place I'm talking about here. The kind of place where we fit in. The kind of place where everybody knows us, maybe not directly, but they know our family and they know our lives. Where we are a local, love us or hate us.

I think a big part of what I do photographically is try to find that same small town. I explore small cities (and big cities alike, if I'm being honest) looking for the charm, that grace, that can only be found within the confines of the tiny village. Sometimes I find it in the neighborhoods of the larger cities, but I'm always hunting, always digging, for that connection. That little familiar place where everybody knows everybody and the morning paper doesn't really reveal any shocking news, at least nothing we didn't hear from the town gossip just yesterday afternoon. Yes, I firmly believe there is a small town in each of us.

Maybe it's because I grew up, was raised actually, in a small town just outside of a big city, a really big city, one of the largest in fact. There was always some kind of incongruity there. The small town, where everybody knew my name, felt barren and bleak at times. Like any small town, when I was sowing my wild oats, I wanted to get out, get as far away as I possibly could if, for no other reason, than to prove I actually had it in me to escape. The big city was just that, really big. It had it's neighborhoods and I was once a part of that, but it always felt distant. I was a little bit like a boat approaching a shore, that city was just over the next horizon, so close and yet so out of reach in so many ways. Still, the city had a drumbeat all its own. Big as it was, it too was chopped up into bits and pieces, a tapestry of neighborhoods woven together like some kind of urban quilt. The city was always there, yes, but everybody had a bit of small town in them too when you boiled things down to Johnny in that neighborhood or Jane over here in this one. It's just how things were. The city was so big, it was actually just a fusion of multiple, so very many, small towns.

I still think there is a small town in each of us. We each, each and every one of us, can be defined in some ways by our own personal geographic bubbles. Maybe it's the voyeur in me, but I like exploring those small towns, finding them, revealing them, stretching their limits at times, or perhaps just celebrating them in my own little way. It's kind of a part of what I do, maybe it contributes a bit towards explaining why I like to photograph architecture so much. I'm always looking out for that small town. You may laugh or disregard this, but I know it's out there and I'm determined to find it and show it to you the best way that I know how.

Is there a small town in you?

Until next time...

PS This one taken in a small town on the island of Santorini, near the city of Fira. Pink and white buildings at dusk, with a couple of blue domes thrown in for good measure.

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.