Exploring a State Park

Photo ops are everywhere!

Over the past week, I enjoyed the pleasure of a photo tour of Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada, which was led by Joseph Rossbach; it was a great way to learn more about this park, as well as picking up some new (for me) processing techniques.

Of course, being in this part of the country, there are the majestic landscape photo opportunities, some of which I will definitely share with you. One of the fun things to also explore are some of the details of the rock structures and formations.

Rock Structure 1

The structure of this rock gives a sense of an almost living entity or possibly the remains of what once was a living being, possibly a skull fragment of an ancient and wise dragon; or our mind might take us further, as if we’re looking at the landscape of a distant, alien planet.

One of the aspects of this rock is that the color appears to be there in myriad micro-dots, creating a fuzzy, almost unfocused feeling to the image.

This image was captured using a Canon EOS R5 and EOS RF 24-105mm F4/L lens. I used focus bracketing to increases the fine focus on this fuzzy-looking image.

Monochrome Monday

As a soul passes through the ephemeral plane…

It would be more accurate to call this image almost monochrome, as I left a bit of color in this shot from 2011…


This is another example of using movement to alter an image; in this case, I loosened the lens ring just enough to all the entire barrel to rotate without zooming in or out. Additionally, this is a long exposure (>30 s) allowing the taillights of cars to create a dance of strings moving through the image.

C.P. #6: In-Camera Abstraction

Dance of the Gwragedd Annwn

One of the approaches to changing up my photography game over the years is to experiment in lots of different directions. These experiments have always been more about finding out if there was something that connected for me rather than having a very precise target.

With this approach, I have found that there have been numerous blind alleys that didn’t resonate and a few paths that I keep returning to, as there’s just something that keeps pulling me in their direction. One such path is using the camera to create more abstract images, such as this…

Dance of the Gwragedd Annwn

This image from 2012 is an example of the abstract path that I called an exploration of kryptomorphaics; yes, I made the word up from the concepts of hidden (krypto) and changing the shape (morph) of what I saw in front of me. A lot of these images are whimsical, such as this one, where the bright bits of light among leaves allowed me to create a completely new form for them. Thus the title of this shot, as Gwragedd Annwn are beautiful water faeries.

The technique on this image is rather straightforward, as I did a simple tight, imperfect round motion with the barrel of the lens to create a more circular form during the 0.3 second exposure. This created the more dance-like movement of the light across a darker landscape, giving the illusion of water sprites flittering in front of us.

During my exploration I found many ways to create abstractions directly in my shots, and every once in a while I think of a new thing to try to see how it connects for me. As I used these various techniques there did come a point that I started ‘seeing’ the possibilities in various scenes that allowed me to create something interesting.

I’d love to hear of what your photographic explorations have created for you!

Tuesday Photo Challenge – Round Up 187

Dancing through the undergrowth…

Welcome to the 187th round up of the Tuesday Photo Challenge!

WOW!! I can’t believe that I hadn’t gone down the path of fantasy before, as your responses to this theme have been out of this world! Some of them made me wonder, if you did visit another planet, as the images were that otherworldly! Thank you for making the Fantasy theme into a dream come true with your stunning, creative responses!! I really enjoyed every one of them, which was rather welcome during another business trip.

Thank you again and please let each other know how much you appreciate all of these amazing posts!

Here is a bit more fantasy…

Faerie Loops

This whimsical image came to me during a day of shooting at Tower Hill Botanic Garden, which is nearby my house. In my mind’s eye, I could envision little Faerie Folk playing phantasmal games within the tall grass; if we squint just the right way, we might be able to see them having their fun! As an aside, the loops were not created in post-processing, but rather by using movement during the taking of the shot.

Please enjoy the following blog posts:

  1. Diane starts things this week with a series of fantasies filled with rainbows in her post in pensivity101; lovely, even without unicorns!
  2. Smruti brings us a wonderful bit of fantasy in their post in F2.8_iso100; Tintin seems to enjoy his reading. One amusing coincidence is that I often use a self-portrait I shot, where I am reading a Tintin book!
  3. Nicole features something that many of us enjoy, as it brings a fantasy of colors and shapes in the air: fireworks; the photo in her post in Une Photo, Un Poéme is stunning!
  4. Kammie might be out of her comfort zone in her post in Nut House Central, but it doesn’t show as her image is stunning!
  5. TiongHan has a fantastic fantasy photo in his post in TiongHan’s Blog; it’s an amazing tree and I love the title given by his daughter!
  6. Eivor and Pearl explore a fantasy of immense proportion in a wonderful post in whippetwisdom; the sound of leaves must be inspiring to them!
  7. The still waters of the Charente indeed reflect a deep set of possible fantasies in a great post in theOnlyD800intheHameau! It’s gorgeous there!
  8. Jackie takes us into a land of fantasy in her post in Junkboat Travels, as we go deep into the world of Harry Potter!
  9. Na’ama brings us a lovely fantasy of transformation in Na’ama Yehuda, but will a prince appear in front of her eyes?
  10. Maria showcases a monster of immense proportions in a beautiful photo in her post in Kamerapromenader; or is it?
  11. In a great post in Don’t Hold Your Breath, we find out that, if you select the right line in the sand, your fantasy might just become true…
  12. Ken brings us a truly stunning fantasy location in Pictures without Film; I can envision the druids intoning their mystic message right there!
  13. Bren creates an amazing fantasy landscape using Luminar 4 in Bren & Ashley Ryan Photography; I can see the elves playing there right after we leave!
  14. Tatiana takes us to another awesome location in her post in Vegas Great Attractions; it would be a lot of fun to go ghost hunting in Good Springs!
  15. It’s great to see how minds can come up with a novel approach, as is evident in a great post in The Jesh Studio!
  16. Nandini explores the distance between reality and fantasy in her great post in queennandini; those locations are truly fantasy-inspiring!
  17. Brian brings us a wonderful set of fantasies in Bushboy’s World; I can imagine the fantasies that are inspired by those gorgeous characters!
  18. Russell put together a great post in Beautiful Photographs, as he explores a fantastic conversation between squirrels about their favorite dining locales! In a second post in Beautiful Photographs, he brings fantasy into his image, as the goddess rises!
  19. Jase and I agree that the jolly old elf should wait a bit longer before staring out the window in an awesome post in Proscenium; definitely made me chuckle!
  20. In a true fantasy that might be somewhat disturbing, we encounter the possible new rulers of the world in Willowsoul
  21. Cath presents us with some truly fantastical art in her post in Cath’s Camera; there are some rather unusual objects here…
  22. Ann-Christine shares some amazing fantasies in To See a World in a Grain of Sand…; beautifully photographed!
  23. We experience some wonderful fantasies in a great post in Kanlaon, as they range from the stage to the displays presented to us!
  24. The fantasy comes through with great clarity in a wonderful post in Geriatri’X’ Fotogallery; go check it out!
  25. Sandy takes us down a path that might lead to fantasy in her post in Out of my Write Mind; what a wonderful poem!
  26. Len has an incredible array of fantasy locales in his post in Len Journeys, each of which could be filled with its own stories!
  27. David has a wonderful take on our theme in his post in David M’s Photoblog: there may be Triffids on Colpoy’s Bay!
  28. Debbie brings us that fantastic view that is courtesy of the Northern Lights across Iceland in her post in Travel with Intent; amazing photo!
  29. Hammad really put together a wonderful post in the Blog of Hammad Rais with a stunning image and poem; fantasy might just become true!
  30. Woolly shows that fantasy can be as close as a lamp post with a marvelous image in Woolly Muses; I wonder if there are other lamp posts like that one.
  31. Deb captures a really interesting statue in her post in Twenty Four; I’m not sure who Colonel Kiwi purports to be, but I’d stay clear…
  32. I have to say that Irene’s photos of Indiana Dunes National in her post in Heaven’s Sunshine are just stunning! That looks like just beyond belief to explore!
  33. Skye is just stunning and we get to see another example of that in Land of Images; it is a land filled with fantasy!
  34. All I can say is that you need to go look at the post in One Letter Up – Diary 2.0; the progression of the image is just stunning!
  35. Olga brings us an amazing fantasy tree in her post in Stuff and what if…! The tree is absolutely mesmerizing!
  36. Suzanne takes us along a path of fantasy in her wonderful post in Being in Nature; with that much fantasy, I expect that her novel will be on track again soon!
  37. Susan twirled her way into a floral fantasy with a truly amazing image in her post in Musin’ with Susan! Also, please check out Susan’s week in review in Musin’ with Susan; there are an amazing set of photos throughout the week!
  38. Teressa reminds us that there is a great amount of fantasy to be found in books, particularly those that she features in her post in Another LQQK; great selection! In a second post in Another LQQK, Teressa shows us the amount of fantasy that can be portrayed in Lego!
  39. Marie shares an amazing fantasy holiday light display in Colmar, France, in her post in The New 3Rs: Retire, Recharge, Reconnect; looks like an amazing place to visit!
  40. In a lovely post in A Day in the Life, we get to witness some amazing transformations, as the sky becomes ever more fantastic!
  41. Viveka put together a wonderful fantasy in her post in myguiltypleasures; I can only imagine how amazing that must have been to view in person!

Please let all of these great bloggers know your thoughts about their posts!

Experimental Photography

From rose to universe

The WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge has the theme of Experimental. Now, I have been know to experiment a bit in my photography, so I thought I’d share one of the the images from those experiments.

A number of years back, I was looking for ways to expand the realm of my photographic endeavors, as I had a sense of restlessness with what I captured; there had to be something more, something that would uncover that which lay just over the horizon of our perception.  One constraint that I put upon that work is that it had to be done in-camera, rather than post-production.  I had already done quite a bit of HDR work, for which post-production is a key component, and this had to be different.

So, on an evening of sitting around the campfire, I started trying out different zoom blur techniques, which led to a significant amount of output over the following years.

One of these images that generates a lot of interest is this one…

Rose Particle

This was from 2011, as I was wandering around the garden at my mother’s house, searching to uncover the energy that is locked up in Nature.  This tea rose pulled me in and provided just the right amount of a pose!

Have a wonderful day!

Repost – Abstract Photography – Ep. 3

Driving force behind a project

This is the third and last in a series of reposts on the techniques and processes that I use in creating abstract photographic images; these posts were originally published in February, 2016. Hope you enjoy them!

Gold and Green Composition
Gold and Green in Motion

Over the pass couple of days I have covered concepts and techniques, and I promised to do a bit of a deeper dive into what lies beneath the surface of the process of capturing these images.

In terms of photographic technique, the ideas are rather simple and mastered relatively quickly.  Most of my personal photography projects tend not to last very long, as quickly I start looking for novel ways to capture and present material; at such a time, I usually put the project aside for at least a year or so, waiting for it to feel fresh again when I go for the next image in a series.  This project has been different, in that I have been shooting in this genre for more than 4 years thus far, and it has not felt stale to me yet.  As this surprised me somewhat, I started looking into the how and why this project is different.

There are several elements that I uncovered, which make the Kryptomorphaics project different from prior efforts:

  • on-going discovery
  • emotional connectivity
  • re-examination
I am certain that there are other elements that I may uncover, as I push forward in this project, but these appear to be the drivers at this time.

Discovery – photography is a journey of discovery for just about all of us, who have picked up a camera and started shooting in earnest.  This project has afforded me continual discovery through opening up all senses and taking input from all of them in the process of capturing content that is not just visible to the eye.  This deeper sense of uncovering this cryptic that lies hidden within the world around us has opened my mind’s eye to further explore these scenes in new directions.  These include examination of the scene not only in its current juncture within the space-time continuum, but also past and future lines that may be occupied by the players on stage within the scene.  This has opened up some connections that I had hitherto not observed, some of which demonstrate how universal forces flow through the quotidian.

Berries in Motion
Berries in Motion

Emotional Connectivity – as I deepened my exploration, part of which included opening up all senses to the environment in which I found myself, I started noticing a sense of emotional connection to what I found within the scene.  In a manner, which can be likened to meditation, a more complete sense of the image, as it should be captured, is refined by opening up the senses to subtle emotional triggers.  It can be described as opening oneself up to a feeling washing over the entire being and letting that guide the decision making process for how to capture the image.  This feeling is more pronounced for certain images that others.

Re-Examination –  upon capturing an image, the next thing I do is a taking stock of how it felt to capture the image.  I take sensory stock of the image rather than examining it visually (I am not a big fan of chimping, but one could say that this is a sort of sensory chimping).  Without looking at the image, I will then make a decision to either shoot the scene with some adjustment, which can be slight or radical, or if it feels just right, I then walk away from it.

Mystery in Green
Mystery in Green

I find that the success of the process depends more on my ability to quiet all my senses and open myself up to my surroundings; this is where the simile with mediation extends, as I will use meditation techniques to improve my feel for the environment.  In this process, I do not over-analyze how I might be able to capture the feeling that lies before my lens; a couple of rough guesstimates guide my camera settings adjustments, as I let intuition be my guide.

This wraps up this 3-part series on abstract photography, but, fear not!  From time to time, I will feature an image from my Kryptomorphaics collection to discuss it in more detail.

I sincerely hope you enjoyed this introduction and look forward to hearing what other topics might interest you.

Repost – Abstract Photography – Ep. 2

Playing with fire

This is the second in a series of three reposts of blog posts that I wrote during February, 2016, about process and techniques that I use in creating abstract images.

Looking into the fire on a summer night
Playing with Fire

In yesterday’s post, I touched on some of my motivations that have driven me to start experimenting with my photography: looking to differentiate my photography and provide a creative outlet.  In another post, I will explore these more deeply, as there are several other aspects that have led me to evolve a deeper connection to these images.

As a number of photographers have asked me how these images are created, this post will describe some of the techniques that I use.  This is by no means an exhaustive treatise on experimental photography, but rather is intended to lay bare some of my basic approaches to a style of photography that has allowed me to reveal some new imagery.  If I inspire some people to go out there and play with their cameras and lenses to produce some images that they had not thought about previously, my goal will have been met!

The Equipment – it is pretty basic, but not to be overlooked: a single lens reflex camera with a zoom lens.  There are no special requirements of the camera other than that it can be put into a manual mode; most any DSLR will be ideal for experimenting, as you get the opportunity to get a feel for the results on your camera’s LCD panel.  As for the lens: a zoom lens with a reasonable medium range of focal lengths works well.  Most often, I use a 24-105mm lens for most shots (on a full frame sensor camera).  I have tried out some different zoom lenses, such as a 17-40mm and 70-200m, but have not been as pleased with those results.

Explosion of fire

The Process – in the age of achieving a specific image look in post-processing, we are going back to the days of doing everything in-camera.  And, no, we are not going to use some fancy setting of the camera or a high-end software component within the camera.  We are going to do the entire capture the old-fashioned way: manually.

First: set your camera to manual mode.  It is possible to create the image in another mode, but I have found it easier to work this in manual mode, as shutter speed is eliminated as a variable; in all honesty, I have not tried any captures with shutter priority mode, as I want to make sure that I know what my aperture is beforehand.

Second: take a test shot to get a feel for your composition.  The test shot should be taken at one end of the zoom range you are planning to use or the other; more about zoom range in a bit.  This shot is to get a feel for how you may want the dominant elements in your image to look, as in the example sequence here: Playing with Fire shows the test shot, which led to Pyrexplosive as the final product; note that the wood in the fire remained in the same location in the second shot.  As one gets more adept at visualizing the desired shot ahead of time, it may be possible to skip this step.

Flowing fire through the night
Pyroplasm 3

Third: decide on the effect that you want to portray in the image and how much you want to emphasize the effect.  In early attempts, it may be best to try a couple of different effects, in order to get a better feeling for how each looks.  I categorize the effects in the following manner:

  • Zooming from tight to wide – this creates a look as in the above image Pyrexplosive.  Smearing of light in a radially outward direction; note that light trumps dark, so that the light overlays any dark while going outward.
  • Zooming from wide to tight – this does the inverse of the above method and causes more light to be brought to the center of the image.  The radial smearing is similar with the key differentiator being the concentration of light.
  • Camera rotation around fixed axis – this can be achieve on a tripod (or with steady hand) and causes circular light patterns, such as in the image Portal in the previous blog post.
  • Camera movement – movement of the camera can be done in several ways.  Either treat your camera as a videocamera and write with the points of light that you see or use linear or non-linear motion to create patterns, banding, etc.  An example of the former can be seen in the image Connections in the previous post.
  • Combination – any of the above.  Your imagination is your only limitation in what you create here.  Pyroplasm 4 is an example of a zoom/rotation combination (mostly zoom with a little rotation).
With each of the above effects, one of the key decisions is how much and how long to expose and use effects.  The images in this blog post range in exposure times from 0.5 second (Playing with Fire) to 8 seconds (Pyroplasm 3), with varying degrees of movement.

Flowing fire through the night
Pyroplasm 4

Fourth: experiment, experiment, experiment!  I simply cannot overstate the importance of experimentation in your endeavors and pushing the envelope of experimentation as you become more comfortable with controlling the effects.  With enough trial and error, you learn to control the image and ultimately will achieve the images that you visualize.

Yes, there is more to this…  As with most of our photographic exploits, there is more than just great technical execution to create an image that speaks to you and, possibly, others.  My first forays into this area of photography were driven by an innate desire to experiment with my lens and camera and to see what would come out of it.  This helped me work on my technique, so that I have developed a feel for how fast and how much I want to zoom in or out or rotate or move the camera.

As I learned technique, I started exploring emotional content of the image and started pre-visualizing scenes or items in front of me, and how I could morph them into a completely different scene.  These explorations have led to my acquiring a sense of deeper content, which may be hidden when viewed from the surface, but is looking for a means of materialization through the morphing process.

In a sequel to this blog post, we will explore the process further and look at what is brought to the surface.  That post will be published some next Tuesday.

I hope you enjoyed this post and will be back for more.  Of course, if you have any questions, please feel free to ask.

Repost – Abstract Photography – Ep. 1

Opening a view to alternate realities.

As one of my recent posts, Temporary Passage, generated some questions around the technique that I used to generate the image, I thought that I would repost the series of 3 blog posts that I wrote about this topic in February, 2016.  Here is the first one, the other two will appear in the next couple of days.

Zooming abstraction of a brush pile
Brush Abstraction 1

A significant amount of photography attempts to capture the reality we see around us, often in the best possible light.

As a result, most of the advances in photography have been aimed at achieving ever higher fidelity in capturing this reality.  In digital photography, sensors have become more sensitive causing ISO ranges to expand, white balance is corrected ever more accurately and many other innovations have been programmed into the complex computers that we call digital cameras.

Of course, this is a good thing, as it has allowed photographers to get much more satisfactory results in capturing all matter of subjects under a wide variety of conditions.  Moreover, today’s digital cameras provide their users with a sense of instant gratification well beyond that of even the near-instant output of Polaroid cameras.  The added bonus of being able to delete a poor image has brought many people to photography on a scale that dwarfs the success of even the legendary Kodak Brownie camera.

Butterfly uncovered in variegated ivy
Cryptomorphosis 1

One side effect of this renaissance of photography, is that the digital diluvium of imagery may give one the impression that everything ranging from the mundane to the sublime has been recorded by someone somewhere.  How many times have you heard someone say, as you proudly show them your work, “I have a photo of that, let me show you!”, and they bring forth their smart-phone to show you their record of what you thought you were the first to see through your viewfinder?

I have to admit that there have been numerous times that I looked at a scene in front of me, weighing how I might want to photograph it, and felt the pressure to come up with a novel approach to creating the image.  Yes, each individual photographer views the world in their unique and personal fashion, but is it enough differentiation to satisfy our creative urge?  Personally, I refrained from photographing certain scenes that might be considered over-photographed.  Nubble Lighthouse on Cape Neddick, ME, comes to mind; this may be the “most photographed” lighthouse on the East Coast of the US.  It was years before I came up with a treatment of this lighthouse that told a story that I saw.

Light painting of intersection scene

Rather than replicating the great work that has been done by many photographers before me, I started looking for an alternate take on the world around me.  Yes, I still photograph what all of us see around us in the standard manner of faithful reproduction of the scene.  However, from time to time, I have been doing some experimental photography to try and reveal some of the things that our eyes don’t see, but that are still there.  After a little more than a year of experimenting, and learning some new tricks that can be performed with a zoom lens or through camera motion and careful timing, I have started to pull things together into a more unified portfolio of abstract photography.

Rotated columns with night traffic

The goal of this portfolio is to show some of the layer underneath the immediately visible; a layer that I see from time to time, when I look at the world through more of a mind’s eye.  This view is exposed only when I manipulate the camera or the lens, and never through post-capture processing; also, no special camera software or firmware is used.

These images come to me when I am on location and are inspired by the sense of mystery that I derive from that location.  What first started as pure experimentation has evolved into a new set of skills that uncover previously hidden insights.  An image unfolds in front of me as I visualize it, and I plan an approach on how to capture it.  The success rate is not 100%, but the results are interesting and encouraging in exploring new avenues of creativity that may otherwise remain cryptic.

The subjects that I have approached with this experimental methodology have ranged from fire to flowers and urban landscapes.  Each set of subjects evokes their own, specific set of moments in the space-time continuum that ask to be recorded in a particular fashion; some have rendered surprises and few have been disappointing.  There have been times when several attempts were needed to find the right balance that extracts the correct alternate sense from the subject; each subject has a series of alternate views that can be uncovered through opening up to the flow of energy that emanates from it.  Many more await discovery.

In next week’s episode of TTT, I will describe the details of the process that I use to create the images seen here and in my abstract images portfolio.  I hope you don’t mind waiting until next Tuesday for that post.  In the mean time, if you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask them.

As always, thank you for reading my blog!

Frosts of Atlantis

Continental freeze

Another great Daily Prompt today with the topic of Shiver!  Of course, we shiver in response to a number of factors besides a cold breeze, such as the perception of a ghostly presence in our personal space…

Many ghosts were created during the disappearance of Atlantis, the mythical city that is mentioned by Plato in Timaeus.  What is not mentioned in Plato’s text is that during the destruction of the island nation, a deep freeze set in…

Frosts of Atlantis

If you look carefully in this image, you will find indications of city streets and buildings in the layers of frost… Now, if I could only remember where I took this photo!

photo roberts blog 2

ich zeige euch meine stadt wie ich sie sehe

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Pencil on paper. Images arise. Message received.

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This blog is my creative outlet where I can share my photos, my travels, my random thoughts and a bit of myself.

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Wasting time on the couch.

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