I Want To Be On Your Wall

•November 1, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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We’ve just finished three weekends of Open Studios, one of the few opportunities where I get a chance to show framed prints of my work to the public. I’ve been doing Boulder Open Studios for nine years and this was my best year yet. I sold five framed prints. On total, it might cover my photography expenses for the year and maybe help me afford a new lens, but the experience of seeing my work on walls and seeing people’s reactions to it is irreplaceable.

I’m on Facebook where I have a Dan Baumbach Photography page. I’m on Instagram and I post on these sites almost every day. No amounts of “Likes” or “Loves” can compare to seeing someone appreciating your art on a wall and being taken in by it.

Times are changing and everyone is experiencing art on their phones and tablets. I have an iPhone and iPad—I’ve written software for them, but I produce art for walls, not screens.

I have a wonderful Epson 24” printer that a previous Open Studios helped me afford, but making prints is expensive, especially when you’re addicted to beautiful Hahnemühle papers; so I make very few prints unless they’re for an exhibition.

I’ve learned that no matter how good something looks on a large computer screen, it can look very different as a print. My monitor is calibrated as is my printer so I’m not talking about color changes. I’m talking about how different a printed image looks from a computer screen image.

Before an exhibit, I make 11×17 prints of every image I’m considering putting in the exhibit. Some of them will end up being matted and put in bins, but still it’s an expensive proposition.

I love large prints on walls—that’s why I take photographs. A good work of art on a wall gives something to the viewer. I hope my photographs may do the same for people.

There’s a wonderful American Masters profile on PBS of the painter Mark Rothko. I had the good luck of experiencing large Rothko paintings on the walls of the Museum of Modern Art when I lived in New York. His work pulls me in, quiets and expands me.

At the end of his life, Rothko got a commission to make a set of murals for a Rothko Chapel in Texas. The interior of the chapel is just large paintings, benches and zafus where people can sit and appreciate.

It’s probably a big ego trip, but if I have a fantasy…

Every Blade Has a Voice

•August 6, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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Actually everything in nature has a voice and is singing. Some songs, like those of trees and flowers, are easily heard and appreciated. Most of us respond to their songs without any effort. But grasses are much quieter, and one needs to pay more attention to them or we won’t hear them.

Now take those red poppies over there; their song is quite loud. It sounds like an aria from a Wagnerian opera. But grasses are quiet. The quieter you are, the more you hear.

When I’m out photographing grasses I have to put all the louder voices out of my head and pay close attention. Many times the melodies sound monotonous and boring, but then a voice of sweetness will catch me. Some nice harmony, even sometimes what sounds like cacophony can actually work when you listen carefully.

It’s all about listening. There are single voices, harmonies, choruses, counterpoints and more. The trick comes in singling out the voices that you want in your photograph and not having them sound like so much noise.

Choruses are hard to photograph because there isn’t a dominant voice. A lead singer or two backed up by a chorus is easier. Solo vocals, duets and trios can be very beautiful if you can make them stand out from all the other voices. The other voices can add or detract from the main singers—it all depends how loud they are and how well they complement the lead singers.

So many variables to work with. So many challenges. So many possibilities.

Macros as Art Workshop

•July 27, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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The basics of macro photography are not that difficult. Most point and shoots have a macro mode, and modern DSLR lenses can focus fairly closely.

Making beautiful macro photos is something else and that’s what we’ll focus on in this workshop. We’ll go over exposure, depth of field, macro lenses and the techniques that I use for making my Grass Menageries photos.

We’ll get together at my home in Boulder on Friday night, introduce ourselves and go over what we’re interested in learning. I’ll go over the macro techniques that I use including lenses, exposure, depth of field, fill flash and use of a tripod. This session will last two to three hours

Saturday morning we’ll meet before sunrise and go out to photograph grasses. This session will last about two-three hours. By that time the sun will probably be too high in the sky to work with.

We’ll take a break for breakfast and have another class session at my home where we’ll go over out images, see what we learned and see where we can improve.

The workshop will include between 4 and 7 participants. I recommend you have a DSLR a macro lens and a tripod. If you don’t have a macro lens, I recommend getting a Sigma 70-300 macro zoom. This lens is quite good and costs only about $200.

A tripod and remote release or delayed shutter release is necessary because we’ll be shooting at slow shutter speeds.

A laptop and either Lightroom or Photoshop will be helpful so we can go over what we did on our field session.

For examples of my macro grass photographs my website to the Grass Menageries portfolio. http://danbaumbach.com/thumbs.aspx?grass&0

The workshop will be September 13-14 and will be $150 per person. Registration includes a minimum of $75 deposit to hold your place.

Contact me at workshops.danbaumbach@gmail.com with any questions and/or to register.

Payment and deposits can be made through my PayPal account, db@timelesslight.com or you can mail a check to Dan Baumbach, 1551 Norwood Avenue, Boulder 80304

Drive By Shooting

•April 7, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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We drove out to the mountain towns of Beaver Creek and Avon last week so I could photograph some images of mine that were purchased by some hotels there.

It was still winter going over Vail Pass, and I was struck by the beauty created by the bare aspens, green pine trees and the snow. But we were on I-70 and there was no place to stop.

On the way home I tried shooting from a fairly clean passenger window with vibration reduction and a fairly high shutter speed. I’m pretty happy with what I’ve gotten and they look sharp under magnification too.

If you want to see the hotel images, they’re here.

Integrity on its Head

•April 3, 2019 • 4 Comments

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As you walk into the new Della Cava Medical Pavilion of Boulder Community Hospital your attention is immediately taken up by a large, magnificent backlit image of some grasses.

The image commands the whole lobby and it’s one of mine. However you probably won’t find the image on my web page unless you know what to look for.

The image is cropped to a square from the rectangular image I sent them and the tones are considerably warmer.

I came to the Della Cava Pavilion the day before the opening so I could photograph the installation. It was the first I saw of the installed photograph. Initially I was upset. I wasn’t informed about the cropping or the change in color balance.

I’m open to suggestions and I’m much more aware of color balance now than when I produced the image, so I went home and compared the installation photo with the original. I opened up a color balance layer on the original and added yellow till the photograph matched the installed one.

I didn’t like the look of the modified image at all and decided not to keep the changes. However the 8×8 foot backlit image installed in the lobby looks magnificent.

I thought about complaining to the consultant who sold them the image, but I know that she had nothing to do with it. It was probably the architectural firm that made the cropping decision to fit the image into the wall panel. The color change could be from them too or just the color of the backlighting.

At some point I just gave up and posted the photo on my Facebook page.

At the opening the next day I decided not to say anything to the consultant except to thank her and agree that the image looked fabulous.

Have I sold out? It doesn’t feel that way to me. If I do this again, I’ll make sure to request that I’m consulted before something like this happens, but when anyone buys a piece of art, it’s their’s to do what they want with it.

The building houses a new psychiatric facility. My work was chosen for its calming effect on visitors and patients. If my image contributes to their well being who am I to argue?

Creativity is Its Own Reward

•March 29, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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In my late teens and early 20s I was a street shooter in New York City. I’d walk down a street with my camera in my hand. If something grabbed me I’d quickly raise my camera, approximate exposure, focus, compose, shoot, and move on. Sometimes I really got into it and things would just flow.

When I would go through my contact sheets I was always surprised and disappointed to see which images worked and which didn’t. It was rare that the images I was so excited about ended up fulfilling my expectations.

Later when I was doing 4×5 images of nature, I was lucky to shoot 10 images in a weekend; and with the time and expense, the disappointment was even more. There never seemed to be a correlation between the thrill and flow and the resulting work.

Now with shooting digital, I don’t worry about film and expenses. I just allow myself to get excited about things and try to make photographs with my excitement.

That excitement is all I need. I’m always surprised with what grabs my attention. I’ll go out to photograph trees and I end up with clouds or rocks in the creek.

Creativity is its own thing to participate in and enjoy. Sometimes creativity produces something wonderful and sometimes it doesn’t. The joy of being creative and immersed is not diminished by the result.

Looking, Thrilling, and Photographing

•March 19, 2019 • 1 Comment

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I woke up in a such a state. All I could think of was emailing this person and calling them out. Sending the email did not quiet my and the Boulder drivers on my way to South Mesa didn’t either.

Once I arrived at South Boulder Creek, these little ice patterns in puddles caught my attention and I set about working with them. All I was concerned with was getting close to them and making compositions. Then, I saw all sorts of interesting patterns and colors in the creek. In spite of my mind, that morning I had no trouble making some images that I’m really pleased with.

How was that possible? I noticed that when I was focused on looking at things as possible photographs, all the mind chatter went unnoticed. There have been times, in my arrogance that I’ve complimented myself on my quiet mind. But that was not the case this morning. Was it just ADD?

On some more reflection, I think it’s because I love what I’m doing. I love getting excited by what I see and trying to make photographs of it. When I’m doing that, I’m not concerned with making particular images, or fame and for fortune. All I’m interested in is looking, thrilling and photographing.

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