Saturday, November 6, 2010

stretching, part 5 - haiku fun!

i stumbled upon a site about haiku poetry the other day, and it kind of inspired me...i've been thinking about posting this image for awhile, but there is a subtlety to it that i didn't think would come across on the web. but as i read up on the origins of haiku, i figured i might try to capture some of the essence of it using haiku. soooo, in the interest of having a good stretch, here are a couple that came to me this afternoon:

for a moment,
the slowly creeping fog hides
the afternoon sun

and

water softly washing
a thousand sculpted pebbles...
gulls cry on the wind

the thing about haiku is that anyone can do it (and, yes, it certainly has been abused as an art form on the web!) and it can be a lot of fun. the best ones come from direct experience/memory. does this image conjure any beach memories for you and perhaps, some verse? would love to read some! feel free to stretch... 

Friday, October 29, 2010

leaf meditations, part two


yep, this one's color...because among other things, it's about color - here's the story: we were all waiting for the light to change shortly after sunrise one morning during our workshop, and most of us started to wander around looking for other interesting opportunities...i quickly gathered these leaves, which to me represented the spectrum of leaf colors around us at the time, and asked if anyone wanted to shoot them. i took each leaf and dropped it on a nearby rock, then tweaked the arrangement a bit. so it's random, but it's not. one student gasped, "you're going to stoop to that?!" "you bet. why not? let's make art! " i replied. interestingly, a number of students gathered 'round, some made their own tweaks to the arrangement, and shot away. seems to me, though, that i bumped up against some pre-conceived notions of what "nature" photographers are, eh? Guy Tal seems to have come across the same issue, which he describes in a recent blog post.  i'm fine with anyone who wants to "document reality" as their approach. whatever works, i say, but a little stretch every now and then can't hurt, can it? btw, ever see paul caponigro's meditations in silver ? still life images meticulously and subtly crafted and photographed that will take your breath away!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

leaf meditations, part one


                                                                      maple leaf
                                                                    falling down
                                                                   showing front
                                                                   showing back
                                               
                                                                         - Ryokan
been spending some time going through images from my recent trip to colorado, trying to decide what to do with some of my foliage images, and the other night came across some passages about seeing in a steve hagen book i've been reading. much to my delight, he used watching falling leaves as an example of just seeing. when we see reality, he says, we are completely beyond the realm of words and concepts. can just watching leaves fall do that? i'm for it.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

a couple of things.

first, i think i'm turning Black and White. i really think so. as you may have noticed, i've been creating more work in B&W than in color for some time now. I've actually started to see in B&W - at least for now by generating B&W jpgs in camera. what does this mean? now i can view what an image will look like in BW right away, so i can judge the image on the tonal structure and composition and not be as "distracted" by color. it's always about seeing differently, eh? stay tuned.
second, got to love dunes...they're so, so...life-like! just add some low angle light, and let the fun begin. you want subtle, got it. high drama? yep. grand vistas? check. intimate worlds? bien sur.  i've just added significantly to my gallery "impermanence" where you can find all my dune images. all shots from my recent trip to the Great Sand Dunes NP in Colorado. love to hear what you think.

Friday, October 8, 2010

crestone zen

just returned from the Telluride Photo Festival, which was exhilarating and exhausting. got to meet a number of photographers i have admired for years, was introduced to the iLCP (help them however you can!) and had a blast helping Bill Ellzey with his 4 day workshop. we then drove back to his home in Crestone, where we visited the Crestone Mountain Zen Center and shared some tea with Koyo Welch-roshi.  this is a snap from my iphone. over the next few weeks, i hope to post images from my trip - Yosemite, Mono Lake, Arches, Telluride and Sand Dunes NP. whew!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

stretching, part 4

what happens when you find yourself mulling over the concept of photographers being "professional noticers", reading Kirk Tuck's blog and gardening all within a few hours? you finish pruning the old seed stalks from your aloe, and instead of throwing them in the compost as always, you notice that they're actually quite graceful. you then decide that maybe you could play with doing some portraits of them, which is something you've never really done before, but why not? grabbed some black foam core, my relatively new Contax/Phase digital back, put on some Radio Paradise, and headed out to the back deck. secured the background to the back of a chair, gathered my various clippings and had a blast. i tried some in full sun, playing with the shadow in relation to the stalk. then i setup at the edge of the shade created by the neighbor's trees. the breeze was variable, which was fantastic - i would position the setup and then wait for a light pattern i liked as the tree branches swayed, creating different shadows. i would move the setup around on the deck as the sun moved, which gave me tons of new opportunities. i found myself just standing there watching until the right breeze/pattern came along, just as i would wait for the right light/shadow combination if i were "in the field". at the end of two afternoon sessions, i had about 200 shots. this image caught my eye after a quick review. for some reason, i just got a kick out of the grace and at the same time, tension of the composition. yes, i re-took the shot with the base level, but you know what? i think it adds to the subtle tension of a balancing stalk. you? nice stretch.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

liberating fog

spent the day at point reyes with fellow photog Robert Hecht a couple of weeks ago, and as is typical of the california coast in summer, yep, it was foggy. i wound up shooting a number of fences - they were weathered and covered in lichens, etc., so were pretty interesting to me, and certainly reflected the essence of the place. but as i was reviewing the images from the day back home, this one struck me. i took it early in the day, and though i would spent the rest of the day noticing details, this represented a letting go - of sun, shadow, blue water, detail, sharpness - everything one typically, if not secretly, wants on a day in a beautiful place. this photo represents none of those things - in fact, when i was processing it, i found myself pushing levers here and there to try to get back some sharpness that was actually never there in the first place! my eye wandered in the foggy background searching for shapes that i could identify. finally i gave up, and began to enjoy the simple feeling of the fog in my face and the simple beauty of the place. nice.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

at altitude

aahhhh...there remains something very magical and satisfying about my first trip of the season to tuolomne meadows and tioga pass. yes, after 20 or so years of making the pilgrimage, there's the occasional notice of a stray thought that reflects some form of dissatisfaction (clear blue skies, again !?) or the feeling of the need to see something "new" to "make" the trip. usually a result of something i brought with me. then, a moment arrives, the mind quiets and all else is forgotten; when time starts again, it's somehow different, well, i'm different. i'm there...
yep, just got back. it was bliss: cold, windy, snowy, cloudy, sunny, and radiant. this image was taken in the morning at an ice-covered tairn, between the meadows and the pass. 28 degrees at 8:30am. the 11th of june. nice.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

imagining reality

i shouldn't have been surprised, but i was. most of my recent work has been monochromatic, which is why i was caught off-guard. a friend was visiting, and commented how much she appreciated some color work on the wall. then she sheepishly asked, "is it real? i mean, the color." a couple things. nobody ever asks me if any of my black and white images are "real", which is perhaps why i was caught off guard. i guess the "reality comparison gene" doesn't kick in unless there's color...and i'm always fascinated by this question, as it starts me thinking more deeply about how we perceive reality. and then, of course, i start noticing... shortly after, JPC reminded us that "color is an event"; that color doesn't exist "out there" - it exists within us as we observe and perceive objects and light. then i came across a recent article in Tricycle magazine talked about our mental conscious-ness, and how our thoughts cannot perceive anything directly (only our senses do) - they "only impute generalities and unclear abstractions", but our thoughts create our reality. hmmm. the upshot? what we think of as "reality" is just a facet of our imagination. nice. does this mean that the color you see in a photograph says much more about your own mind than, say, mine? is it up to your own imagination to decide if it's "real"?

Monday, March 29, 2010

stretching, part 3

this stretching moment brought to you by the wonderful italians...so, we're headed to italy, and of course, i'm excited. i get to take pictures in italy, the home of my ancestors, as well as my favorite food! but i'm also a bit nervous. heck, i don't know how to shoot in the city! think about it. the vast majority of my images include neither people nor cars nor buildings - that's a lot of time energy and effort focused on avoiding those kinds of things...yikes. to make matters a bit worse, i'm pretty much a classic introvert. the idea of walking up to people to take their picture or wandering around town with a big DSLR and a 70-200 around my neck, is not my idea of being "discreet". so i figured this would be a real test of my ability to stay in the moment and trust that images would reveal themselves. to make matters more interesting, since i was going to be out of my comfort zone anyway, i decided to bring along a new camera (normally NOT the thing to do). i purchased the new panasonic gf-1 with the 20 mm 1.7 pancake lens, and that was all i brought. risky business. in the end, it solved my "discreet" problem, enabled me to have a camera always ready, and forced me to look at the world differently for 2 whole weeks. a real vacation. i'm pretty happy with the results, which i've just posted over on my site, here. nice stretch.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fotoritim e-photo magazine

ever hear of it? for most of us in the US, maybe not so much. it's produced in Turkey. i was approached late last year to contribute, and after checking out the site and the quality of the photographers, i jumped at the chance. i highly recommend a visit. only some of the artists' text is translated into english, but needless to say, the photos speak for themselves. for those of you making it all the way to the end of the feature, note that the image of yours truly was made by my son, giancarlo. he did a fabulous job working with a very narrow depth of field and a finicky subject, no?

Monday, March 1, 2010

warm days, cool nights in Telluride

looks like i'll be assisting one of the most talented and fun photogs i know, Bill Ellzey, during his workshop this fall at the Telluride Photo Festival, September 20-26. i first met bill in Pagatonia, where i learned a ton, had a blast, and came home with more than a few "keepers". not sayin' that listening to him talk Lightroom or or giving tips on how to setup your camera like working pros do wasn't helpful, but watching him work the subject was a real marvel...i can't wait to see him on his home turf. hope to see you there - i'll be the one chasing him up some hill with his coffee...if you're interested in learning more, don't hesitate to ping me!

Sunday, February 28, 2010

crack of dune surprise

got home the other night from garapata beach and asilomar, where i had been shooting the surf from the week of storms we've had, to see an email reminder that the Black and White Spider Awards ceremony was going live online in a couple of hours. i had entered way back in may, and had forgotten all about it. i had just assumed that it was over sometime last year, and since i hadn't been notified of anything, well, you know how it is, life goes on...i was curious, of course, but went back to watching the game. later, i checked the winners, and didn't see my name anywhere. started looking at the various nominee lists, and saw one of my images! and then another. pretty sweet, even though i didn't get the big awards. given that i'm not what you would call an active player in the "art world", i was nonetheless pretty impressed with the judges, so i entered. "crack of dune" (above) made the list, as did "high drama two" from my "unsui" collection. nice surprise. took the edge off my team losing. The images are posted in the winners gallery here. (abstract: professional and nature: professional)