Shot of the Week – vol 2

Nothing like starting a series of weekly posts and immediately breaking the rules…

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Resisting Escape

Nothing like starting a series of weekly posts and immediately breaking the rules that you set for them!  I posted a photo that I took yesterday, which was definitely my favorite of this week, so I thought that I might go to the archives for what actually is a work in progress; but more about that aspect later.

This week’s image is titled ‘Resisting Escape’ and it is part of a series of surreal images that I am putting together over the next couple of years.  I shot this during a workshop taught by the wonderful, giving Brooke Shaden (Promoting Passion is Brooke’s inspirational blog).  As you might imagine, this image was not captured in a single shot, but rather took a bit of visualization, planning and post-processing to make it come to life.

Brooke Shaden’s workshops give an in-depth, hands-on look into how she creates her amazing images; Brooke takes the participants from inspiration and techniques to set up the shoot all the way through post-processing.  For any photographer who is looking to expand the artistic side of their craft, I wholeheartedly recommend Brooke’s workshops.

A little about the process that I used in creating this image.

We were in an old, dilapidated mansion in New Jersey for the shooting segment of the workshop.  All of us took a tour of the mansion, so that we could decide on the rooms, in which we wanted to shoot.  Each of us got to pick one room for each of the three shooting segments.

When I saw this bathroom, I immediately had an idea about how I wanted to put together the shoot, as I visualized the struggle against being pulled into the hereafter, even though it might be a release from an abysmal existence.  The stark red served to me as an immediate indication of something wrong that affected the woman’s existence in this plane of reality.  To enhance the effect of moving into the menacing sky, the shooting angle had to be low, so this is where I set my camera on its tripod.

After some test shots and locking in the exposure, I shot the master image, which serves as the background image for the post-processing.  I explained to my awesome model what I was trying to achieve in the shot, so that I could get the right posture from her, as she was propped up in the air.  As you can understand, hand position and body angle were key to get the desired look of fighting against what is pulling her into the sky.

The one element that I did not get at the time of the shoot, is the sky.  It took me several months to find a sky that provide the kind of menace to fit the overall feel of the image.  As there were many photos that came together in creating this overall image, the post-processing took a bit of work, about 8 hours of work.  Even then, it was not until I started looking at this image a couple of weeks ago to consider it for a large format print, that I noticed a slight bit of imperfection, which is still to be edited.  Extra credit, if you find where it is…

Feel free to ask further questions about this image or the process, as I’d welcome your comments.

The Fires of Friday

It’s weekend time, so let’s get some work done!

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Pyroplasm 3x

At last, the workweek is over and it’s time to unwind and put together some plans for the weekend!  Great time to catch up on a whole bunch of things:

  • Get some playtime with the blog and catch up reading a bunch of cool blogs
  • Install my new iMac
  • Work on some Rolling Stones songs on guitar
  • Further cleaning and organization of the basement
  • Finish putting together my pedal board

Blog playtime will result in the final tweaks and some beautification, as suggest by Josh, our Happiness Engineer, who teaches the Blogging101 course I’m taking.  I like the basics of my blog, but want to see, if I can take it up to the next level.

Reading some of the awesome blogs that I follow, such as Project Relish, which not only has lots of great articles about food and travel, but also features great photography and a layout that is simply fantastic!  Expect to see some posts about some of the blogs over the weekend.

My 7-year old iMac still works, but due to its thermal sensors dying a month or so back, the fans now run at top speed.  Not a bad thing for most uses, but not ideal when you’re working with music 🙂  So I waited for a sale on the iMac I want and scored one today.  I’ll kick the process off overnight and should have everything set by the morning.

As some of you know, I’m learning to play the guitar (2 years of playing this week).  A couple of months ago, I joined a Meetup group that gets together once a month to have an acoustic jam.  The first Saturday in February, we’re getting together to play Rolling Stones songs; during this week’s guitar lesson, my teacher and I worked on 4 different songs, so I’ve got some work to do.

Ah, the basement!  We have a mouse issue, which we discovered when my daughter, Teegan, stopped by over the holidays and went through some of the boxes she has stored in our basement to take things back to her apartment.  In the boxes we found cat food that had been stolen by mice out of the cat’s food dish.  The cat got a stern talking-to, but is clearly not a mouser!  Traps (humane ones) are now addressing the rodent issue (12 caught and counting).  To store things better, shelves and better, plastic containers will be the solution.

Guitar pedal board should be a breeze, but has a challenge or two.  One of the pedals doesn’t like the connectors from my new 8 outlet power supply.  Might take a bit of customization!

Other than that…did I mention the New England Patriots are playing?  That will be multi-tasking time 🙂  And I might try to catch a Premier League match, as Liverpool v. Manchester United has potential.  Additional guitar time will be cool too, and possibly some photo editing.

Free time is great!  That’s the time to do what fuels our passion, such as the fires in today’s image, ‘Pyroplasm 3x’.  A couple of notes on this image; the image was captured as shown in camera; the streaking effect was not added in post-production.  Photoshop work on this was a matter of a bit of sharpening, lifting the color a smudge and a crop.

Wishing you a great weekend!!

A Sign of Hope

Spring will come, but let’s have fun with Winter!

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Spring Thaw

Things have gotten a little chilly in New England, as Winter has made her entrance with customary aplomb blasting arctic winds into the area.

Of course, people’s reactions to the influx of frigid air are rather predictable: When does it end? When does Spring start?  Personally, I embrace Winter with all its stark beauty and snow-drifted landscapes, so I look forward to the month of February, which usually can be counted on to deliver.

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Ice Anyone?

Last year, I went on a short tour of the Northern Massachusetts and New Hampshire coast with John Slonina Nature Photography ( Slonina Nature Photography Blog ) at the end of January.  The weather was bitter cold with quite a bit of wind and bright sun; in other words, it made for fantastic photography and even a couple of amusing little snaps, such as ‘Ice Anyone?’.

I’ll be sure to share some of the images from that day in upcoming posts, and, hopefully, some from this year; after all, I invested in a heated fleece that will keep me warm for 6 hours…  It will be used!

For those souls, who are asking about the onset of Spring, I offer the main image with this post as a sign of hope.  Taken a little less than five years ago at a point when the ice was almost all gone and the first notes of green started returning to the trees.  Yes, it shall return, but for now let’s really enjoy Winter!

All who wander…

While lost, something new is found

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Exit

Urban exploration aka urbex has become immensely popular over the past decade to the point that it is mainstream photography.  When increases in processor power made HDR processing available to every photographer, dilapidated buildings could be made to look interesting in completely new ways.

Of course, I have been guilty of a little exploration myself, as I love wandering through old, abandoned sites and checking for some unique vista that speaks to me.  When moving through a building, I let my mind wander and lose itself within the possibilities of transformation through fantasy.

Part of my process relies on visualization of the alternate spin that I can put on the image, so that viewers can feel themselves transported into an alternate reality.  Allowing my imagination to roam free across the landscape of my mind is an enjoyable, stimulating aspect of photography, which is very much enabled by HDR processing, about which I will write more in a future post.

The site of this image was the farm for a state hospital; the structure has been razed since I captured this image.  On the day that I captured this image, the outside light was extremely bright and harsh, giving enough light to get the great definition in the floor and walls.

We’re looking past the animal stalls toward an open door, a possible exit from the dark, stark area, where we find ourselves.  Is it a safe exit, or will it lead into a dimensional trap/

Just for one day

Perseverance is in order as we move forward each day

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Persistence

It’s time to start bringing the mood up again from yesterday’s level of somber.

After a day of reflection, I decided to learn to play ‘Heroes’ on guitar; as always, playing guitar was a great way to unwind, and, while I may still be a novice, each imperfect rendition of a song feels like an accomplishment.

Learning to play the guitar is all about persistence, learning a bit at a time and slowly improving until even you, the student, can no longer deny that you have learned something.  It is about building up calluses, muscle memory, dexterity, strength and will power.  One item that you will not see in that list is something that is sizable part of my day job in high-tech: stress!  

For me, stress doesn’t come from unrealistically short timetables, or work load, but, rather, it comes from the inflexibility within organizations to recognize that new technology requires well-conceived, novel approaches that are founded in the laws of physics.  Challenge is great and welcome; rusty, stumbling blocks should be removed.

Today’s image is one that I captured just over five years ago, not far from my home.

My approach tends to be to allow myself to be guided by a sense of connection to the universe and its every component that surrounds me by staying in the moment; combining this sense with a healthy dose of observation helps me find things of interest.  Walking into the field, the first thing that caught my attention were the lines that presented themselves: horizontals, verticals and the slight diagonals in the sky.

Add the color palette with the warm tones of autumn and the cooler sky tones, and I felt drawn set up for a shot that has had me coming back to it over the years.

The tree’s exemplary stance against the elements brought the concept of ‘Persistence’ to mind, which I felt would be an appropriate title for this image.

Monday’s Somber Mood

Random thoughts about David Bowie

Morning Mood over Wachusett Reservoir
Morning Mood over Wachusett Reservoir

This is one of those days that no words can adequately describe what just happened; a man, who I never met, passed away this weekend, and left a gap…

David Bowie reached many people around the world not just through his music, but, more importantly, through his plethora of personas.  Whether you liked the music of Ziggy Stardust or preferred the sounds of the Thin White Duke, does not define his legacy.   The doors he opened for a generation to be in touch with their weirdness, that is a key piece of his legacy.  He took the blinders off our eyes and allowed us to see how cool being different from everyone else can be: yes, he let all of us know that it’s cool to be yourself, no matter who that is.

Today, I listened to ‘Blackstar’, described as his parting gift to all of us.  It struck me how this album is both dark and strangely uplifting.

The image at the top of this post reflects my mood rather well; fare thee well, David!