Posts Tagged ‘textures’

Inspiration And Assignments: View From Above

May 19, 2018 14 comments

I have been wanting to use this photo in a blog post for quite some time but was at a loss for words. Well it appears timing is everything.  A few weeks ago a good friend of mine came across a quote that she felt would be perfect inspiration for one of my blog posts. She turned me on to the quote and it turns out she was right on the money with this one.

“It’s not what you look at that matters. It’s what you see.”

Henry David Thoreau

In many more words than Mr. Thoreau used, this has been my mantra for years. 

“I think that people will too often look and not really see. And if I can see for them, to show them what fascinates me about a single leaf floating in a creek, or the morning light highlighting a stand of trees or the seemingly random pattern in a pile of rocks…then I have shared that single experience, that split second in time with them. And if I can give them the opportunity to enjoy that one moment, then I have accomplished what I set out to do.”

Try to take the time out to “see.” It will make a world of difference in your life, and in your photography.

By now you are probably wondering what the subject matter is in the above photograph. I’ll give ya a few hints. It’s not a photo of a mountain range or of a river delta taken from a window on the International Space Station. I’ve never been invited to go up there.






IN THE FIELD: Freezing

December 18, 2013 22 comments


It’s been a bit on the chilly side where I live. In fact it hasn’t been above freezing for more than a week. Temperatures fall to the low teens at night and sometimes into the single digits. We’ve had a few snow storms and with a snow-covered landscape, it even looks cold outside.

While touring about in the new area in which we live, I passed by an old barn and a glint of light caught my eye. I went back for a second look to see what had flashed as I drove by. I pulled over next to the barn and discovered a large mass of brambles covered in ice climbing up the side of the structure. Sunlight was beaming through the ice creating a chandelier of huge proportions.

I had to find a way to get the shot. I only slipped once, okay twice, while I positioned myself, camera, and tripod in the shadow of the barn. It was the only way I could get the shot so the sun would shine through the ice and not directly into the lens.

Apparently the sun had melted some of the snow from the roof of the barn even though it has been so cold. As the meltwater would drip onto the vines it would then refreeze creating hundreds of of icicles.



white balance Cloudy

ISO 100

IN THE FIELD: First Step Is a Doozy

June 18, 2013 22 comments


This is one of the doors on the side of an old train station that last saw commuter rail service in 1981. The station is now occupied by a catering company and the building is often used for wedding receptions. What attracted me to this scene were the colors used in the door and the striped awning contrasting with the stone wall.



ISO 200

cloudy WB

IN THE FIELD: Just Because

November 9, 2012 29 comments

A few days ago, I happened upon this weathered steel door at the back of an old building. I liked the contrast of textures between the smoothness of the peeling and rust-streaked paint against the patina of the rust.

I wasn’t on a particular quest, mission, or assignment…I took this shot for the pure pleasure of it.


October 22, 2012 19 comments

As you all know, I have this thing for old rusty machinery. In our nearby town is this old semi-trailer that was originally built in the late 1940’s. It’s been undisturbed and parked next to a creek for at least 20 years. I was photographing the play of early morning sunlight on the rusty parts as well as the areas of peeling paint.

The back doors are chained shut and secured with an ancient padlock. I have to wonder why the trailer is locked, and what kind of treasures may be stashed inside.

Photo specs. 35mm lens, ISO 100, f3.5 @ 1/40th handheld

IN THE FIELD: Onward And Upward

October 1, 2012 24 comments

This past weekend I was on a shoot in a nearby arboretum. The flowering plants have recovered from the extreme heat of the summer since we have had some rain and the temperatures are more seasonable.

While wandering in the gardens, I discovered these rather steep stone stairs. I’ve been to these gardens many times but never noticed them. They apparently had been heavily overgrown and hidden from view.

Now that someone recently cleared them of underbrush and debris, the connection has been re-established with the pathway in the gardens below street level, to the city streets above.

The stairs appear to be old as they have been repaired a number of times over the years. I imagine these steps have assisted many pedestrians to escape the busy life above and to retreat to the peacefulness of the gardens below.

This photo was taken with the available light of early morning. Sunlight was just starting to make its presence known on the upper steps.

ISO 200, 35mm lens, f1.8 @ 1/100th second, handheld

HOW TO: Fun Abstracts

July 27, 2012 33 comments

Recently I was watching videos by photographer Bryan Peterson on various photographic hints and techniques. Primarily, I was interested in honing my skills using a flash. I learned a lot of useful and creative methods for using flashes in outdoor photography. Then I watched whatever was next in line.

One exercise he demonstrated caught my attention, and it had nothing to do with flashes at all. He used common household items as props to create fun and interesting abstracts.

Here is my take on it. You will need a few things to get started and there is no need to buy anything or even leave your house. First thing you will need is a tripod although if you do this outside and it is bright enough, you may be able to go with hand-held.

Next you will need a clear casserole dish, some water, cooking oil, and a brightly colored shirt or fabric of sorts. I used both patterned shirts and solid colored shirts to see the different effects.

Place the fabric of choice, which will be the background of the photo, on a table or even the patio or deck. Prop up the casserole dish slightly above the shirt with whatever you have around. Wooden blocks, books or even several drinking glasses. The idea is to elevate the dish so you can change out the fabric easily.

Set up your camera on the tripod so the lens is parallel with the bottom of the dish. Add some water. I filled my dish about 1/3rd of the way. Then add some cooking oil. Since oil and water don’t mix, the oil forms all these neat circles floating on the water. With the fabric underneath the dish, the patterns and colors take on a whole new look.

Play around with different exposures to obtain the look you want. Drawing a spoon or your finger slowly through the mix will make different size circles. Or even stir it a little to make millions of small circles. All three shirts I used were of different colors and each produced totally different effects.

Give it a try…it’s a lot of fun!

IN THE FIELD: Colonial Architecture

April 23, 2012 18 comments

Older homes inspired by a traditional colonial style is one of my favorite types of architecture. The houses have character, functionality, and individuality as compared to the cookie-cutter houses we see more often than not today.

While on a pre-scouting excursion, I was able to capture a series of images featuring a colonial styled house, rather than the garden I will be shooting later in the season. I do have some overall photos of the home, but I feel that this small portion of the front of the house tells a more informal story. Since the sun was directly behind me, I had to stand off to the side a bit and crouch down, so not to cast a shadow on the wall.

To me, the warm colors of the locally-quarried stone for the foundations and walls is cozy, inviting, and fits the wooded landscape. Functional wooden shutters add to the authenticity. As do the true multiple light windows. The window aprons and trim work from the older buildings have a distinctive appearance and level of craftsmanship not always seen in modern construction. A small detail, but one I feel is important to the overall aesthetics of a dwelling. The walls in older homes are typically thicker and have deep window sills. And as you can see in this photo, a rather large jardiniere is placed confidently in the window. They sure don’t make windows sills that wide in a typical new home!

This house was built in the early 1940‘s, and it illustrates many of the traits I find attractive. Although there is still work to be done, the present owners have done a wonderful job restoring and maintaining the home.


IN THE FIELD: West Quoddy Head

January 20, 2012 28 comments

A few years ago, my wife and I were vacationing along the coast of Maine, exploring the many small towns along the way to our final destination to the eastern most point of the United States. Upon reaching our last stop-over, the plan was to be the first people in the country to see the sunrise the next morning.

To accomplish our goal, we needed to travel to the West Quoddy Head State Park in Lubec Maine. There is a lighthouse in the park, built in 1858, and it stands guard over the Quoddy Narrows. Quoddy Narrows is a strait between Canada and the United States.

We stayed at a bed and breakfast, and on the morning of our quest, hit the road around 4:00 am…long before anyone else began to stir. It was a short drive and we arrived at the park about 45 minutes before sunrise.

Daybreak was still a good half hour away, so we had plenty of time to make our way down the trail that follows the cliffs alongside the ocean. Flashlights helped in finding a good vantage point since it was still dark and we were in the middle of an evergreen forest. The smell of the trees was wondrous at that hour of the morning.

We were able to get a few shots of the lighthouse and its beacon as dawn was approaching. Unfortunately, a glorious sunrise wasn’t meant to be that morning. The sun rose above the horizon for a few minutes and then it was obscured by fog. At least we were the first ones to see sun-up.

Thinking to make the best of the situation, we looked over the edge of the cliff at the rocks below and saw a great photographic opportunity. I grabbed my gear and climbed down the 40 foot cliff to the ocean’s edge. It was then I realized the tripod was up on top of the cliff with my wife. I had two choices on what to do. Climb back up and meet my wife halfway so she could hand me the tripod…or make do with the situation at hand.

I decided it was time to make do before my feet got wet. The tides there are extreme, averaging around 15 feet, and it was coming in…fast.

I was using slide film, it was still early dawn and foggy, so there wasn’t a lot of light available. The fastest shutter speed I could muster up was 1/15th of a second.

Turning myself into a tripod, I squatted down, tucked my elbows in between my legs, held my breath and fired off about 6 shots. When the slides came back from the lab, I was surprised to see that they were sharp, and I had managed to capture some movement in the water.

I don’t recommend this technique when a tripod and cable release can be used, but occasionally you can get lucky. Very lucky.

I used a section of the rocks as the feature image in my masthead for this blog.


IN THE FIELD: Shadows And Wire

December 21, 2011 30 comments

One day last week I headed over to a nearby town to photograph the older buildings and storefronts in the shopping district. It was rather brisk outside so I bundled up with a warm coat, hat and gloves. It is December after all.

I had photographed several shops that were all decked out for the holidays and I also squeezed in some shopping. Then I came upon something completely unexpected.

I wandered into the courtyard of a store that sold whimsical garden sculpture made by local artisans. Some of the items were brightly painted and others were made with rusty metal. Other pieces of garden art were made with a combination of metal and glass. While roaming around the outdoor displays, some interesting shadows on the far stucco wall caught my eye. After closer inspection, I realized the shadows were created by several panels of this rusty wire sculpture leaning against the wall. The multiple panels resembled a jumble of tree branches. Looking at them more closely revealed they were actually an artist’s rendition of gigantic leaves.

I really liked the interesting patterns created by the shadows and how the rusty wire contrasted with the white stucco wall. To me, it evoked a tropical feel.

Knowing we are headed for these colder temps for the next few months, thinking about garden sculpture and warmer weather sure beats the memories of shoveling that 52 inches of snow we received last year…all in one week.