Best Work & Favorite Photos
In this space I hope to bring up some photos that maybe haven’t made the blog, but of which I’m especially proud or feel like showing off. I also might go a bit deeper into how I made the photograph or the circumstances in which it was made. Feel free to let me know which you prefer since I haven’t intended this to be a ‘how to’ photography blog exactly.
May is wildflower month in California, so on my last trip there I must have taken hundreds of flower pictures. This one might not be the best, but it’s a favorite. I have no idea what it is, but when I saw them on the side of the trail at Pinnacles National Monument, I knew exactly how I wanted to photograph them. It was an overcast day, and even rained a bit which is rare for the time of year, and so the light was even, but not very strong. Thanks to internal image stabilization for helping me get this handheld shot. I tried a few more at slightly different angles and focuses, but this one works the best. It was a great day.
This one was taken near Mt. Baker in Washington state-
I was out of commission for hiking when we were there (October 2006 – sprained ankle) and so we stuck to common tourist viewing areas with parking lots and easy paths. But for some reason I was ‘on’ photographically. Things just really clicked for me and I got some really beautiful photos during the whole of the trip. They stand on their own as images, but are also special because I felt I made them well. Exposure, framing, composition and subjects all came together in a satisfying way that doesn’t happen on every trip (but I wish it did).
To make this one I had to wait for people to get out of my shot. By and large they did although many people gave me some strange looks, crouched over my tripod as I was. Still the reflection is pretty good and the startling blue of the sky and mountains is striking. Overall I’m pleased with the image although I think I might be able to scan it in better than I’ve done here, but it will serve.
Sometimes the best photographs are found not planned. This next one was a little of both. I’d hiked through this conservation area before and followed one of the two brooks that run through it. While stopped to admire a small waterfall I noticed that the bubbles produced by it got caught in an eddy or whirlpool and spun around and around. If the light was better I would have shot it right then, but it was bright sun and really not good for long exposures. To get this one right, that is to show the full rotation of the whirlpool I’d need time and overcast or pre-dawn light. Since I’m lazy, I went for overcast (though I did get there in the dark).
Now, what makes this shot special is how I found it. I got up onto a rock to photograph the little waterfall itself. By this time I’d shot many waterfalls during the course of the winter and early spring and I was looking for a new perspective. Up on a boulder looking down at the brook as it went over another large boulder was what I wanted. While up there some friends came by and we chatted a bit while my long exposures processed. I watched one of them set up near where I was when I shot the whirlpool and as I looked down I noticed what you see above. It was magical. I nearly cried out with wonder like a little kid.
It’s about a 10 second exposure and wouldn’t be anything at all if it weren’t for that little Charlie Brown tree. Framed like this, it reminds me of a lone tree at the top of a mountain with star trails in a night sky. The illusion works because it’s sticking out horizontally over the water in the pool. Stuff like this doesn’t happen to me every day and I am so glad to have been there at the right time on the right day to capture it.
This next one stops me for a moment every time I see it. I spent the day with two friends at two small farms. It was educational, interesting and fun in a smelly sort of way. It was toward the end of our day and I’d wandered away from some piglets and chickens over to a pen of older pigs – probably 6 months old. At this age they are intensely curious and rambunctious. They associate a person walking towards them with food and get all excited. You should see them if the person happens to be carrying a bucket! So in the midst of all the activity, I crouched down and took this picture –
I know it’s “only a pig”, but there’s something so haunted in this picture. I know better than to anthropomorphize, but it is so poignant to me. He is doomed to land on a breakfast plate someday, but he looks like he has hope in his eyes. Strange how a single moment in an otherwise mad tangle of activity can appear so different.
Another black and white image. Funny how going monochrome makes you pay attention to form, light and texture. This photo which is part of my Lily of the Valley study, is a favorite. Not only because it works so well without color – the graceful leaves and the arcing flowers – but because it was so damned hard to do. The flowers I photograph are by my front walk which is made of concrete. The flowers are exactly even with this and so getting low enough to get under a stem of blossoms was really, really hard. The fact that the lens is very long and the camera bulky didn’t help. It would be one thing if I were dealing with a tall flower, but these ghostly beauties are 8″ tall or so. I’m extremely proud of this one as a result –
This next photo was taken in very early spring, before many leaves had sprouted. I met with a couple of my favorite people to go shooting with. We were on a sunrise bid, but alas, it was a bit uninspiring and I turned away from the lake and saw a small field across the road. In I tramped, taking pictures of the trees in the soft, dawn light. On the other end of the field was this shack. I was drawn to it as I always am with shacks and knew precisely what I wanted. Time was of the essence as I made my way across the mucky ground. Racing the sun, I set up and caught it perfectly. The roof lit up just as it had in my imagination. Textures abound. A lovely marriage of serendipity and vision. It’s one of my favorites.
On my way out to get the mail I walked by this.
Once, but not twice. It’s shot with the 12mm end of the 12-60mm. Low down with the tripod to get not only the leaf, but the reflection of my neighbor’s lodgepole pine in their front yard. Carefully I rotated the polarizer to manage the reflections – both the one I wanted and the one I didn’t (the leaf had the sky in it which covered the color of the leaf). A bit of work in Lightroom to tone down the clarity a bit and the luminance of that leaf and I had it pretty much how I wanted it. I was a little bummed that you can’t see where the tiny raindrops hit the driveway, but I think it works anyway. Only I really miss them.
This shot was taken on the side of the road in Paso Robles, California. I think it might be canola, but whatever it is it was pretty much everywhere in the hills where all the vineyards are. Oddly enough for May, it was pretty cloudy and foggy and so the light was beautifully even. I parked and got out of the car, hunting around in the flowers for compositions. Some included the fence, some didn’t, but this one seems to work best. I love the crispness of the focus and how it falls off into bokeh and the splashy color. One day I’d like to have it printed and framed.
This next one is an oldie. It was taken on slide film around 1990. The location is a heritage house called The Fells and it has beautiful grounds and manicured gardens. It was closed when I went and I was probably trespassing, but I had the place to myself. To get to this spot you have to walk through trails so packed with rhododendron that they’re practically tunnels. Definitely part of what makes you feel like you’re in a secret garden and that’s what I tried to capture here. I remember placing the tripod very carefully, lining up the elements, checking the light (I was fascinated with dappled sunlight even then) and finally taking the shot. Film is sort of a self-limiting medium so you pretty much have to get it right the first time. I tried to remember everything I knew about exposure and think I got it pretty right. Anyway, this is a milestone in my growth as a photographer and I still love looking at it.