Searching for Tranquility

A bit of an eye twister

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Searching for tranquility

This image is one that I captured about 3-1/2 years ago during a walk through the gardens of Gillette Castle in East Haddam, CT, which is a great site to visit year round.  My eye was caught by the multitudinousness of the water lilies; to a degree, I found the view of this pond slightly less than tranquil, which gave me the idea of creating this image, where the eye will never rest.

I am curious to find out how you perceive this image… let me know!

Technical Details

Shot with a Canon 5D MkII using a 24-105 L lens.  I pushed the shutter speed to about 1/3 second to be able to get the zoom blur at this level.  As the camera was handheld, the tricky part was to ensure that something would stay still.

Winter Morning Solitude

Winter’s kind embrace

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Winter Morning Solitude

Winter is one of my favorite seasons, as it has this great ability to reduce the color palette of the world around us.  Additionally, winter tends to quiet the environment, in which we find ourselves, particularly during or shortly after a fresh snow.

Thus, Winter is a great enabler for getting landscapes that are stark with a sense of being alone, no world intruding upon our moment in the space-time continuum.  Such a moment I captured this week in this image.  A Sun that is highly filtered by the gray sky, a grouping of trees and an expanse of snow covered field with a single set of tracks.

Dogstar Thursday – vol. 3

Making a splash again…

After featuring agility competition photos in the first two installments of this series, I’d like to present something a little different and very near and dear to my heart.

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Darwin having fun!

In June 2011, I was photographing an agility competition in New Lebanon, NY, on what was a very hot day.  One of the nice features near the park where the competition was held, was a shallow stream; I had taken a look at it during the day to get an idea of what the light would do later in the afternoon, because I had an idea.

Our oldest Cardigan Welsh Corgi, Darwin, was well into his 10th year at that time (he is almost 14-1/2 now), and his competition time was coming to an end, as we don’t want to push our dogs past what is good for them.  One thing that Darwin always liked to do was have fun (he’s a bit crankier these days, which is just fine), and he loves water.  So, my idea was to get some action shots of Darwin running through the stream toward me.

Luckily, this stream has a small drop-off of about 1 foot, which helped me position my camera just above Darwin’s eye level.  After a couple of trial runs to get the feel for it, I zeroed in on getting shots like this one, where you can see Darwin’s fun, as he is coming right at you!

Technical Details

This shot was taken with a Canon EOS 1D MkIII, using a 70-200 F2.8L lens.    Despite the sunlight, I kept the ISO at 400, so that I could get a shutter speed of 1/400 second at f/8.0, which provides enough depth of field get that smile and some good splash.

Hope you enjoy this one!

Wednesday Wonderment – pt 3

New and old engineering marvels

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Falkirk Wheel in action

Today, a departure from the past couple of Wednesday Wonderment posts; this time, the amazing subject are two feats of human engineering near the town of Falkirk in Scotland.

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Falkirk Wheel from below.

The first is the Falkirk Wheel, which is a rotating boat lift connecting the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, which have an elevation difference of 35 meters (appr. 115 feet).  Prior to the construction of this marvel, ships were required to go through a system of 11 locks, which could take as much as a day to traverse.

The wheel raises boats by 24 meters, after which they still need to go through 2 locks for the remaining 11 meters.  The lock operates on Archimedes’ principle, which states that the upward buoyant force on an object (i.e. boat) equals the mass of the water that is displaced.  This means that when a boat enters the moving part of the lock, its mass plus the mass of the water is equal to the mass of the when the boat was not in the lock.  In a nutshell both sides of the arm are always balanced.

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Wheel with boat

 

The Falkirk Wheel is the only lock of its kind in the world; it was opened in 2002.

The other engineering marvel is ancient!  It is the Antonine Wall, a turf fortification on stone foundations across the Central Belt of Scotland, between the Firth of Forth and the Firth of Clyde.

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Antonine Wall

Unlike the Falkirk Wheel, it doesn’t stand out in the landscape, but rather blends in pretty well due to its weather state.  This lesser known of the two great walls in Great Britain was started at the order of Roman Emperor Antoninus Pius in CE 142, and took around 12 years to complete.  Its key function was to provide a fortification to help repel the Caledonians.

The wall had 16 forts with smaller fortlets between them; the soldiers who built the wall placed slabs to commemorate the construction and their struggles with the Caledonians, twenty of which still survive.

The section of the wall in this photo is in walking distance from the Falkirk Wheel.  I hope you enjoy these travel photos!

 

Faerie Loops

Dancing through the tall grasses

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Faerie Loops

Faerie Loops is a rather whimsical image that allows the concept of faerie folk to dance through our heads! This was inspired by the color of the light and the way it played across the grassy area.

This image is presented here, as an illustration of one of the many ways that abstraction can be achieved through in-camera techniques.  I look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas about this image!

TTT – Abstract Photography – Ep. 2

Playing with fire

Looking into the fire on a summer night
Playing with Fire

In last week’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
Pyrexplosive

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.

Three Day Quote Challenge – pt 3

The universe in a single flower

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Flowers reaching for the sky

The Challenge

On Saturday, I was challenged by MarieMathilda to take on the ‘Three Day Quote Challenge’. As this is one of those fun things that you can do all sorts of things with, I am happy and excited to accept the challenge.

The rules of this challenge are simple:

  1. Post three consecutive days.
  2. You can pick one or three quotes per day.
  3. Challenge three different bloggers per day.

Before I post my selection for quote of the day, I would love to nominate:

  1. Fleeting Muse
  2. Views from the Edge
  3. JustBlueDutch

Have fun with the quote and the challenge, and thanks again to MarieMathilda for the nomination!

The Quote

“If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, our whole life would change.”
― Gautama Buddha, Sayings of Buddha

This quote speaks to me on many levels, from being in the present at all times to truly see the flower, to allowing ourselves to be one with the universe.

What do you take away from this quote?