High on Photography…

Personal Narrative

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Ground Zero

Ground Zero Reflecting Pool

I felt the solemnity of the location, the near-sacred aura of Ground Zero, coupled with the somewhat lacy reflections of nearby buildings juxtaposed with the strong lines of the memorial structure was poorly served by a riot of tourist color. The gathered crowds retreat into the background when rendered in black and white, while the names stand starkly front and center.

I’m glad to have shot this after Moab. I feel I did it much more justice than I might have otherwise.


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Palouse Fields from Steptoe Butte

Palouse Fields from Steptoe Butte, Black & White

One of the classic shots in the Palouse (eastern Washington’s grain region) is color and shadow from the top of Steptoe Butte. Rather than explore the shades of green and/or brown, I chose to explore the textural contrasts and patterns in this scene.


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Faux Falls Cascade

Faux Falls Cascade, Moab, UT

Faux Falls is just outside Moab, UT. It’s “Faux” because the water is pumped from an adjacent canyon through a ridge to move the water closer to town, cascading down into a lake.

During the Moab Photography Symposium I shot Faux Falls on two separate occasions, once coming down on the falls from above, once from below. Acutely aware of some errors (er, suboptimal decisions) in the first session, I set out to create a better image during the second. Part of that was seeing in black & white, part framing, part clearing excess material from the image field itself. I’m happy with the result, at least for now.

I should point out that during this second shooting session, I lost a lens step-up ring into the stream and was soaked to halfway between my ankles and knees. At least I didn’t hurt myself. That was a different shoot :-).


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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.


stumped …

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A dreary walk in the woods … then magic

Saturday dawned gray, cold, and wet. A light mist eased through the forest at my university. But a day walking in the woods with a camera is a good day, no matter the weather, right?

The university was on holiday break. Students had fled home to give thanks with family and friends. I did, too, but returned early.

The deeply overcast sky dictated a flat, low-contrast aspect to the trees and trails in the forest. I looked down. At least I can shoot leaves, now wet and trodden. I like to shoot leaves. A little Photoshop would add hue and color contrast to them, I thought.

But the gray and the cold and the mist cut into my coat and mind. I shivered. Bummer. A dark day growing darker. Melancholy arrived and tapped on my shoulder. I turned and shuffled back onto the main trail, intent on returning to my truck. My Canon hung unused from its strap around my neck. I hate the interregnum between seasons: no leaves on the trees, no snow on the ground.

Franciscans have walked through these woods for more than a century and a half. Franciscans like nature and apparently thrive in it. They have, over the life of the university, constructed stations of the cross on a circular trail in this forest — Bob’s Woods, named after Fr. Bob Stewart, who died of cancer shortly after my arrival at the university.

I am not a Franciscan. I am not as hopeful as they appear to be. Dank, dark weather like this day’s further eroded my ability to detect hope.

Then I saw …
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me …

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… in an image taken by one of my journalism students, Taylor Kickbush, to fulfill an environmental portrait assignment in her photojournalism course.


money and a message …

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… found on a path in the woods at my Franciscan university. Note that the dollar bill is stapled to the message. I wonder why …


Kara’s cabin …

 

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In 1992, I slept beside this abandoned cabin along Route 305 north of Austin, Nevada. I remembered it. It became a pivotal scene for Kara, the female protagonist in “mapping Utah,” my first novel. I revisited the cabin this summer.

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the storm …

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Sometimes when you’re driving in the West, you see a thunderstorm. It’s far off, still nascent, an indistinct dark smudge on the horizon perhaps a hundred miles away.

In the East, you don’t see a storm so far ahead. That’s because you can’t see the fullness of the storm until it’s literally over your head. In the East, the sky is smaller — topography, tall buildings, and trees obscure the horizon.

In the West, you keep driving toward that still-small gray mass. You look to the side through the driver’s window and see blue sky dotted with puffy cumulus clouds. You look out the passenger window; you see the same pastoral placidity. There’s psychological comfort in those little white pearls floating in the blue sky beside you. But in front of you?

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loneliness, c. 1890 …

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… on Route 305, north of Austin, Nevada.

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Lucin, Utah …

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… on Pilot Mountain Road en route to the Sun Tunnels.


wired …

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Route 93 about half way between Wells and Ely, Nevada …


My Oldest Keeper

Nebraska Sky
Click to Embiggen (not that it gets much bigger 🙂 )

This is the earliest digital photo that I consider remotely a “keeper”. It was taken from the top of an RV somewhere in Nebraska. The camera was a Minolta DiMAGE S304 with a whopping 3.2MP (2048×1536) and 4x optical zoom. Still available on eBay for as little as $10!


another Sun Tunnel …

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And what are the Sun Tunnels?


in remembrance of a friend


Despair

Dispair

This is an atypical image for me.  With rare exceptions, I don’t do people, and I don’t do emotion.  I didn’t remember having this until I was transitioning from Aperture to Lightroom and reviewing old collections.  It was taken from a Seine cruise in late afternoon (at the time, I didn’t re-set my camera clock for travel).


the shoe tree …


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vacation, hiatus, time out, break …


Since the inception of 5280 Lens Mafia in August of 2012, I have posted 1,173 times — almost daily for more than two years. These realizations come to mind:
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Michele on the Bridge

The break in the streaks of light is my wife standing on a bridge which allows water to flow between Brisbane Lagoon and San Francisco Bay.


This is Tokyo

Specifically, this is a panorama from the top of the apartment building where I lived in Yushima in 1987 and 1988. Click to see and explore the full-sized image. Enjoy.