Entering My Monochrome Period: Bodie Machinery

I had a wonderful experience during a weeklong workshop and symposium (the Moab Photography Symposium) in early May. Among the realizations was remembering how much I loved working in Black & White as a kid (much easier to process and print in black & white when you are using film). In conjunction with starting to print my own work, I am re-exploring monochromicity. The next few days will bring samples.

Abandoned Machine, Bodie, CA

Bodie is a California State Historic Park in the Eastern Sierra, south of Bridgeport and north of Lee Vining. The ghost town has been a state park since 1962 and a national historic landmark since 1961.

A short stop in Bodie in 2014 began my adult, digital, photography as art period. I had about 45 minutes in the middle of the day and shot deliberately for black and white, using the harsh light in an attempt to evoke stark emptiness. Out of less than 50 exposures (most of them bracketed sets of three to capture the total dynamic range available), I got three or four of my better images. It’s taken nearly three years since then to solidify my sense of my photography as art, but the Terrific Trio workshop before the Moab Photography Symposium (plus one other presenter during the Symposium itself) have managed to do that.

Harris Hawk Dominance

Harris Hawks competing for a perch as dominance contest

Harris Hawks hunt in family groups. Generally the lead female is the alpha, but the new lead male is trying to establish his place, and is pushing her off the top perch on a Saguaro cactus. Shot at the Arizona Sonora Desert Museum’s twice-daily Raptor Free Flight.

Riley’s Farm Colonial Faire – The American Lads Pt 1

I’ve been posting a few pictures from Riley’s Farm Colonial Faire.  They were reenacting the times just prior to and including the Boston Tea Party.  I did the Lasses and the Brits already.  Now we have the Americans.  Again, the lighting was terrible, yadda yadda yadda.  And I wish I had a better telephoto so these would be a bit sharper.  But I think these turned out OK despite all the problems.  All with my Nikon D7200.  Mostly with my 55.0-300.0 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.

This first guy spent all of his time with the candle girl I posted a while back.  And most of THAT time was spent trying to twist apples in half with his bare hands.  Riley’s Farm IS an apple orchard, after all, so I guess that’s the thing to do.  I’m not sure if the candle girl was impressed or not.  I have no idea what his actual job was supposed to be.

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Riley’s Farm Colonial Fair – The Brit Lads

As promised, here are are the lads from the Colonial Faire at Riley’s Farm in Oak Glen from a few weeks ago.  I’m not thrilled about the sharpness in some of these, but short of walking into the middle of the demonstrations, it’s the best I could do.  Now I understand why people have such huge lenses when they do this sort of thing outside of a studio.  But I’m still learning.  As I mentioned when I posted the pictures of the Lasses, the lighting was terrible.  Basically, mid-day.  So I had to do quite a bit of photoshop fuckery to get the pictures even remotely viewable.  You’ll see what I mean.  Shadows are terrible in places and over saturation is rampant.  Doesn’t help that I edited these on my laptop…which seems to show pictures a bit brighter than my desktop, so a few of these are a little dark..  But I tried.

I decided to break them up into Brits and Colonials.  First, the Brits.  They started off the day with an inspection of course.
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Meetup Experiment #1: Mermaid Theme

I recently joined a photography Meetup group .  It is basically set up so models, makeup artists and photographers can get together to build their portfolios and exchange information.  Since I don’t have a lot of experience in these things, I figured it was an easy way to at least start networking.  I went to my first meeting last weekend.  It was a Mermaid theme.  I think there were 8 or 9 different models, but I only got to work with about 5 of them.  They were all good sports about the whole thing, getting into the swampy water and climbing all over the rocks for us.

Originally, we were supposed to shoot at the beach but there was a problem with getting the proper permits.  So, we ended up at a small landscaped stream in front of a water treatment facility in Chino instead.  We spent about four hours shooting.  Unfortunately, it was at the absolute worst time of day in terms of the lighting, 10am-2pm, so I had to do a lot of Photoshop fuckery to get the shots to look even remotely decent.  Even then, a lot of it is bleached out.  Since I’ll post the pictures as I edited them, you’ll see that there was a learning curve in just how to deal with the bad lighting.

All of this was shot with my Nikon D7200, and mostly with my 55-300 mm f/4.5-5.6 lens.  Occasionally, I switched to my 18.0-140.0 mm f/3.5-5.6 lens, usually because there wasn’t a lot of space to work with and some of the models wanted full body shots.  I started off with ISO 200 but had to move to 400 for the shots that were in the shade since I wasn’t using a tripod.

First, we will start with the only pirate that showed up.
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Colonial Faire – The Lasses

My brother visited me for about a week around the 4th of July weekend.  At the time, I just happened to see a flyer for a Colonial Faire near by in Oak Glen at a place called Riley’s Farm.  Having nothing better to do, we decided to take a look.  It was relatively small, but there was a dedicated group of reenactors there so it kept us entertained for a few hours.

It was very bright that day so most of the shots were either too bright or too dark.  But I took a few hundred shots and a few of them were ok after I edited them in Photoshop.  I will start with the shots of the Lasses roaming around the village.  Also, as I put this together, I’m seeing that the editing is a bit off.  I did it all on my laptop because my desktop doesn’t have enough RAM.  I can see now that I really need to get a new damned laptop.  Some of these don’t look at all like what they looked like on the laptop.  Oh, well.

The first two are of a charming little candle girl.  She taught my brother how to make a candle from bee’s wax.

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Gordes & Arles

A few more pictures from France.  These are from Gordes in Provence and over to Arles.  Most of them are from my Nikon D7200 but there are a couple with the iPhone.   This first one is of the Senanque Abbey.  All that vegetation in front of the abbey is lavender, but we were a bit too early and nothing was fully bloomed.  I couple of weeks later and you’d see the famous lavender flowers.

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