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.

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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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I Went Out To Photograph Grasses

•March 17, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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I went out to photograph grasses. On the way to my chosen spot, I came upon these cottonwoods with patches of snow on their trunks. I had seen them the day before and decided against photographing them.

This morning, however, with the sleeping cows and the rising sun, I decided to give them a try. I’m glad I did. The grasses were boring compared to them.

You never know what you will find when you go out. Stay open!

Responsibility

•March 5, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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When working on new medical cures or developing new scientific theories, the proof of any success is being able to reproduce the results of the original experiments. You don’t have to reproduce the same results every time, just enough to make it “statistically significant” which means that your findings didn’t happen just as the result of chance or other unforseen events.

I mention this because we seem to follow the same methods when it comes to making art. What worked before should work again. “Someone made this beautiful photo of Delicate Arch at sunrise. If I go there at sunrise, I can make a beautiful photo.” Just replace Delicate Arch with Tunnel View, or Maroon Bells, or Abraham Lake… You get the point.

It takes skill to make a good photograph from these locations, but creativity? Obviously, if you can make a unique images from these known places, it does take creativity. But very few of us do. We just do the same take on the known image.

Creativity requires our ability to see things freshly and to respond to them freshly. That is what I mean here by responsibility—the ability to respond.

Most of us, myself included, go out with our camera with the intention of producing a certain kind of photograph. We’ll choose a time and location for an image we may have in our mind or just a conception of what we want to get. How much does all that intention and mental imaging keep us from just seeing what is in front of us and responding to that?

We can hold onto our mental images and find subject matter to fit them and that’s how some people create. However, if you’re like me, the mental images and desires just get in the way of really being creative—taking risks and experimenting.

My favorite time to take photographs is in the morning. My mind is fresh and quieter and I love the morning light. This morning, it finally warmed up to 5 degrees, so I thought I’d go out on South Boulder Creek and do some ice images. I expected the creek to be mostly frozen and hoped the strong sun we had yesterday would have burned off the snow. I was hoping for some interesting ice patterns and reflections.

The creek wasn’t as frozen as I had hoped and it was mostly covered with snow—no interesting ice cracks and patterns.

I wandered around on the creek breaking through the ice a couple of times and was mostly uninspired. The cold weather and my slightly wet fee were getting to me and I was wondering if I should just give up and go home.

That willingness to pack it in was all I needed. I surrendered to my failure to get what I thought I wanted. Without those desires operating, I stopped looking for particular photographs and just started looking and responding.

All of a sudden I noticed these interesting lines and patterns in the snow. Along with the rays of the rising sun and the shapes of snowy stones, there was a lot to inspire me and get my creative juices going. What fun to work with these new shapes, patterns and colors. This is what I love about taking and making photographs—this seeing things in ways I never did before and being able to play with this new seeing.

Creativity is just creativity. There’s no guarantee you or I will make great art. Hopefully sometimes we will. At least, for me it makes going out with a camera one of my favorite things to do.

Responding To Our Subjects

•February 19, 2019 • Leave a Comment

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I love taking photographs and working on photographs. I go out most mornings with my camera either locally or to the high country to wander around in some beautiful place and try to capture some of its beauty.

I’m always looking for new places to go, but most of the places I frequent I’m very familiar with, and will chose different ones based on light, season and weather.

We’ve had a lot of cold and snowy weather here recently. It makes for very striking winter images, but I’m looking for more than that and I’m still learning how I want to photograph snow.

This morning it was 14 degrees with light snow and I went to one of my favorite places on South Boulder Creek hoping for some interesting ice. There was more snow and less ice than what I was expecting and initially it was hard to find something that moved me.

Let me be clear, where I was, was absolutely beautiful, and I thoroughly enjoyed looking at the snow on the trees and the creek. However, what I was hoping to photograph was mostly beneath the ice and snow, so I had a different landscape from what I was comfortable with.

The beauty and the quiet of my location were such that it was very easy to get quiet and just look at things. I’m always looking for new ways to see things and that inner quiet is necessary so that I don’t have any pre-disposed ideas of what I’m looking for or what kinds of photos I’m trying to take. From that quiet place, seeing things differently and experimentation is natural.

Sometimes I come up empty; but this time, probably because of the natural beauty of the place and the winter quiet, I found some interesting things.

I find that that inner quiet is necessarily to really see things freshly and and photograph them freshly. We have many ways to quiet down and meditation is probably the best known way. In meditation we surrender our desires for and against and that allows our minds to quiet down.

We don’t have to meditate to surrender—we can be merely aware of what our desires are at the present moment. If we’re out taking photos, are we looking for a certain type of image? We have to be willing to drop whatever we want to get or achieve, and just fall into ourselves and allow ourselves to respond to what’s in front of us. Meditation is a formal way of doing that, but I prefer wandering by a creek on a cold snowy morning.