Through a Window Darkly

•September 14, 2021 • Leave a Comment

I’ve never enjoyed digital photography as much as film.

I’ve been shooting digital since 2001 or 2002. When did the Nikon D100 get released? That is how long I’ve photographed in digital. Yeah, 2002, so almost 20 years.

I was a freelancer for Foster and Associates in Atlanta then, and Louis the owner called me. It was pretty simple. “Bill”, he said, “We’re moving to digital from film. Will you continue to shoot for us?” I responded, “Sure”, or something to that effect.

I then did a cost-benefit analysis of the Nikon D100, ignorant of all things digital, incorrectly assuming some things, not asking the right questions, like how my collection of lenses that I knew so well on my F100, would actually work on the D100. Duh! But I figured out that if I made the jump, I would break even. Of course, I was not going to tell Louis, “Hey give me a few minutes and I’ll let you know.” No, you fake it ’til you make it, and I knew I would figure it all out.

So I drove down to the main showroom of Wolf Camera on 14th Street, walked over to the Pro Counter, and asked for a new Nikon D100. Wolf Camera and Video was a large chain with stores all over the Southeast. That was before online stores took over. I see stores in North Carolina, Alabama, etc. They have one location in Atlanta now, devoted to printing, not gear.

I don’t recall the salesman’s name, but he was well known around Atlanta. We had one of those camera store friendships. That was what photographers did then. We’d gather at the camera store to talk. If things were not crowded we’d talk quite a while. Anyway, the D100 set me back $2000, U.S., and that was twenty years ago. A Nikon D6 will set you back around $6500.00 today. I purchased the D100, said “Ouch” to myself, and thanked my friend for the pain.

Then came the next joy of relearning photography, and before my next assignment. I do recall the D100 was a pain in the rear to use compared to my F100. I did not miss a shot with the F100. Lordy, it was fast! The D100 was painfully slow. Fill flash on the F100 was a breeze. Flash on the D100 gave me indigestion. But, I made it work. Maybe the early pain soured me to digital. I am good at it now, it is fast, colors are amazing, but it’s not in my soul. It is just too… digital.

Now that film has made a comeback, and I’m not on assignment except for stock photos and my family, I am doing more film photography. I have a beautiful, forty year old Nikon FM2N and three classic lenses in my beat up Domke bag; a 50mm f1.4, a 28mm f2.8, and a 105mm f2.5. It is all manual. I don’t worry about extra batteries. I carry extra rolls of film.

If I shoot color film I send it up to Memphis Film Lab to develop. I develop my own black and white.

I went out driving around yesterday and visited some familiar towns that I had not explored. I set the meter on the Nikon to 1600. I knew in advance I was going to push the Tri-X film. I was going for grain and contrast.

I found a lot of old, rundown buildings. The window frame, the oddly placed fencing and door on display inside, and the sky with clouds reflected behind me interested me. The wires hanging down inside were a nice feature.

Here’s the technical detail: Nikon FM2N, with 50mm f1.4 lens. Tri-X rated at 1600. 1/1000th f11. Developed in Ilfosol 3, diluted 1:9, for 14 minutes at 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Nice tight grain, which I like. Grain is silver and it is not the same as digital noise.

Selah

The Question

•September 11, 2021 • Leave a Comment

I won’t make this excessively somber.

Today, September 11, 2021 is the 20th anniversary of that fateful day.

The question is always asked, “Where were you on that day?”

I was working for Delta Air Lines then, in their I.T. department as a senior engineer. I noticed people moving quickly past my cube headed toward the conference rooms. It was strangely quiet.

I got up and made may way there. There were a couple of directors and other technical folks crammed in the room, watching the TV and the live coverage of the first tower on fire.

There were many obvious questions: “Is it a Delta flight?” “What happened?” As we talked we all saw the second plane crash into the other tower. There was a collective scream in horror. “No!” we yelled. Shock became a terrible realization of what had just happened.

“Never Forget” seems inadequate for the 3,000 who died. That is the best we can do if it leads us higher.

Icon

•September 3, 2021 • Leave a Comment

I’ve been photographing now as long as I can remember. I have a camera with me almost all the time, and taking photograph is a reflex. It is almost unconscious, like breathing. On the other hand, publishing a photograph many times requires more reflection on my part than reflex. I don’t show everything I photograph, and it’s not because they are bad photographs. I recognize that the image may be interpreted the wrong way. I recognize that my motives in publishing an image may not be good.

So it is with this photograph. I entitled it American Icon 2021.

Obviously, she grabbed my attention. The Dallas Rules #4 states, “Fashion should be a statement not a question.” I don’t think it was a question here except in my own judgmental way. Her colors are coordinated; that is, hat to shirt, to shorts, to shopping bag, to shoes. Check her accessories such as the bag and wrist band. Even her tattoo blends well. She took time in picking out the outfit. In my mind’s eye, because I have a wife and three daughters, I can see her laying out multiple combinations of clothing and making her final selection. Not only that, but she took time in front of the mirror. So I may have been shocked by the visual blitz, but she was perfectly attired for a Saturday trip to the open market. My reaction says more about me than her clothing does about her.

That may be the key. I reacted reflexively to capture a caricature. My fault, my character flaw. What I unconsciously recorded was the passing of my generation. She is not some randomly dressed shopper. She is a representative of the new America.

Technical

Considering the most essential of photographic techniques, this image absolutely does not work in black and white. In digital photography you can decide on the fly to be colorful or not. It is best to begin your day with one or the other in mind. I usually want black and white. I’m interested in lines, light and shadow, shapes, and textures. I capture both Raw and Jpeg. I set the Picture Control (Nikon) to Monochrome. When I looked at this image in black and white, it did not communicate what I reacted to. The Raw file had all the information, including the color. So we have color here.

Selah

Busy Busy

•August 6, 2021 • Leave a Comment

I have a lot of creative energy, just not a lot of time. So I devote time to some things while neglecting others. So it is with this blog.

I self-published two books in July (2021). You can find them both on Amazon Kindle. How’d You Do That? : Gitcha Motah Runnin’ is my first one, and it is a how-to book. I take a photograph that I created and I walk the reader through the steps from image capture, also known as “taking the picture” to the final photograph, including all the editing steps in Adobe Lightroom and Adobe Photoshop.

The photograph presented and analyzed in the book follows. You may not care, but you may also have a question or two, like why take this photograph at all? Big reveal: I discuss that. In the realm of “navel gazing” narcissism you may figure out why you respond visually to certain scenes and why the image in your mind is so much more exciting than the one your camera grabs.

Other more technical questions arise. However, I don’t go into basic photography topics of aperture f-stops and shutter speeds that much. You can find a literal ton and a virtual universe of written material on those topics. Why should I write about worn out topics?

Along with the techniques and technical discussions, I include stories. I like to tell stories.

The book is short too, about 20 pages. The price is low. So you can consume it very quickly, and try out the techniques. The target readers are novice to advanced amateur, artistic types, who have started playing around with photo editing software. I plan to make this a series, and I have just started the second book. Again, the photographs are of common subjects, but with a twist. Maybe you will like the twist. I hope to publish it in a few weeks.

It is now August and even though I am much less than an obscure writer, I’ve already had a couple sales.

My latest book is entitled Carnival. It is a collection of black and white photographs of carnivals, fairs, and circuses that photographed for decades. I wrote it more as a memoire for my kids. I have tens of thousands of photographs that they will dispose of one way or another when I die. It is not morbid, just a fact. I can count and see in my mind the important ones.

I went to The Great Southeastern Fair at Lakewood Fairgrounds in Atlanta when I was a kid. (This is in the book, so I won’t tell the story here. Get the book, please. ) We also went to pop-up carnivals and fairs, and small circuses. I had a blast.

I will share this, because I forgot to include it in the book: I was so afraid of heights and carnival rides, except for a couple, that I would rarely get on one at all. Then I would be terrified.

When I was about 12 years old, my mom took us kids to the Southeastern Fair, and the U.S. Army and Fort Benning in Columbus, Georgia, had a tower where they demonstrated their parachute training. It was provided by their Jump School. Any kid brave enough could climb the tower, get strapped into a harness, and then get thrown off. Talk about pending lawsuits. Talk about Judge Judy. No way anything like that would happen now.

Believe it or not, I actually climbed the tower (voluntarily) to experience in a way what kids not much older than me experienced in jump school. Little did I know that just four years later we’d be in the middle of Vietnam and jump school would become very real for many of my friends.

Anyway, the soldier strapped me in, was giving me the “Hooah“, and courage enough to get tossed off a perfectly good tower, harness or not. The whole time I was trying to tell him that one of my gonads (as in testicles) was misplaced in the harness. Nooo, he just thought I was afraid, and he would have none of that. No sir! “Shut up kid. I’m throwing you off this tower! You got others waiting in line for this.”

“Wait. Wait. WAIT!” I cried, and off the tower I went. Well, the harness did what it was supposed to do and in the process I felt the pain that only a man-boy can feel when the kinetic energy of all my 115 pounds accelerated at 32 feet per second per second and Einstein’s E = mc2 theory was applied practically to my oysters. It calculates to about 4.7 trillion mega-joules applied to my family jewels. Oh, Lord! That hurts SO BAD! I was not even allowed for it to happen in mental slow motion. Nope. Just toss and snap!

I was assisted out of the harness by another soldier, who gave me some kind of certificate, which I painfully accepted. Shook his hand. He asked me something about going to jump school. “Sure,” I groaned. Thank you, sir, may I have another? My mom had the maternal look of pride on her face. I was walking like I’d been riding a Clydesdale for a week. I grimaced for my mom, and accepted her praise. I also felt some satisfaction in the knowledge that for all those years before I had been totally correct in my fear of carnival rides even if the carny was in military uniform.

Darn! I wish I had put this story in the book. I may have to write a second edition to get this in there. But now you have read it and you will not want to buy the book. It is a pain in the rear, which is a much different type of pain than I experienced at pseudo-Jump School, to get a book formatted properly for e-Book and Kindle publishing. So I’ll think about it.

Anyway, here are a couple photographs from the book. There are other stories in the book.

Carny in Silhouette

I hope you’ll take a look the offerings on Amazon. Help a photographer-artist-writer out and maybe purchase one or both of them.

Selah

There’s A Party in the Back

•June 9, 2021 • Leave a Comment

These are just lichens on a stump. Rather, they were just lichens on a stump.

Where’d the color come from? When we see the dull, natural, gray-green, do we think there may be a party going on, hidden from our eyes. I wonder about that. Is there a “speak-easy”; a little sliding opening in a door for us to enter, a dark corridor, that opens up to an exciting back room.

It takes me a lot of effort to see beyond the obvious, or, rather it takes effort to remind myself to think: There might be something beyond the obvious, here.

All I did here was bump up saturation and contrast, save the image, open it again to edit, then bump it up again. Lo and behold, there was indeed a party going on. The camera didn’t see it; just gray-green lichens on a stump, but the color was buried in the light, which was held by the pixel. I just had to find it. The only real effort is in the wonder. The rest is just pushing HSL sliders around in Lightroom.

The Creator hides things for us to discover. He invites us into a world of wonders.

Selah

Gitcha Motah Runnin’

•March 28, 2021 • Leave a Comment

One of my favorite driving songs is Born to be Wild by Dennis Edmonton (a.k.a. Mars Bonfire) as performed by Steppenwolf, which became an anthem for us 60’s kids. Visions of me on a chopper a la Peter Fonda or Dennis Hopper in Easy Rider, denied my nerdy glasses and boring, teenage dweeb reality. Yes! Sit me, Walter Mitty, down in my Ford Falcon and crank it up… the radio that is, and there I would be in my mind, tooling down the backroads, gale force winds whipping touseled locks across my ruggedly chiseled, model-esque countenance. Forget about my acne and life with no dates and no prospects of any. Even today, this gray-haired, pot-bellied old fart still gets revved up by Born to Be Wild, and Call Me the Breeze written by J.J. Cale and famously performed by Lynyrd Skynyrd. (If you click on the links you probably will not want to return here, but that is okay. I totally understand.)

The past is so much more colorful in memory than in reality. Forget about the 60’s. They were not that great for a lot of folks – too much stuff going on, too much war, too much racism, too many Kennedy’s and Kings shot, not to mention that the heroes of Easy Rider were killed at the end of the movie by a couple rednecks in a pickup truck. It was all very scripted, telegraphed in as they say, all very much stereotypical, and the same stereotypes continue today. Stereotypes are the hyperbole of humanity.

I still managed by God’s grace and love to overcome those years and I converted the daydreams into a life with a beautiful family and successful career.

Sometime during the matinee showing of my teenage daydreams, I developed talents of sorts in photography and music, maybe blooming lately. Being the gregarious type, I enjoy entertaining folks with them both. I enjoy entertaining people with just about anything. Give me a fake nose, glasses, and mustache and I’m good to go. That is probably a throwback to my dweeb years, and my social and spiritual poverty, and my desperate obsession to have an audience whether or not they laughed with me or at me.

When I go out to the streets, I go to fish or hunt or both. I walk about with camera in hand. For street photography I prefer small, point and shoot, or rangefinder style cameras. They are discrete and unintimidating. The tiny 1-inch sensor cameras are almost perfect in size, but lack a bit in image quality. There are all kinds of tools for that kind of work; Sony A6000 (aps-c), Canon G7x variants (1-inch), Lumix LX100 (Micro Four-thirds), Fujifilm X100 models (aps-c), the Ricoh GR models (aps-c), and if you just must have it regardless the cost, there is the ultimate street machine… a Leica.

However, for the photograph on display here, I had a Nikon D3400 with a 55-200mm, f4-5.6 zoom lens. The D3400, and the newer D3500, are Nikon’s consumer/enthusiast DSLR models. But do not doubt it’s capability. The 55-200 is also the low end of Nikon’s lens line. Again, do not doubt it. The D3400/3500 has a honkin’ 24.5 mp sensor, nosing out the Canon Rebel T6 by a nominal point 3 megapixels. Unless you go full FX format, I don’t know of a digital camera with more delivery potential. They say size isn’t important… hmm… Anyway, in the case of camera’s with about the same megapixel delivery, it really is what you do with them. And the D3400/3500 is a great photo tool. They are feather weight even with a Nikon G model zoom lens.

A great pairing for the street or home is the D3400/3500 and Nikkor 35mm f1.8g. That rig is about $500 brand new, with warranty, out of New York. I buy used. You can get the same body with the 18-55 f3.5 kit, but you don’t have as much low light capability and the viewfinder will be a little darker. Either combination will give you excellent sharp photographs, and you will save a thousand or more, and unless you plan to shoot for Vogue or Sports Illustrated or National Geographic, you more than likely will not wear out the camera. I have only worn out a Nikon F100 and that is when I was shooting weddings and covering conferences at the World Congress Center in Atlanta.

I shot with Canon for awhile and returned to Nikon. This is a Chevy-Ford, Toyota-Nissan, chocolate-vanilla kind of opinion thing, but I never really liked the Canon. Say what you will. I know. Canon owns the territory now, but the Nikon lenses are the reason for my loyalty. I’m also of the Vietnam War generation, and all my hero photographers there were shooting Nikons or Leicas. My old F-mount Nikkors will fit a D3400 and my FM2N, with the caveats of strictly manual operation. They work fine on my D7500 with very few caveats. However, over the years, Nikon has put their R&D money into their newer zooms, and they are comparatively inexpensive and optically excellent.

Said all that to say, on this day, I had the D3400 with a 55-200mm G lens. I plopped my behind down upon a marble planter that the city of Marietta, Georgia has installed around the square. I sat and watched the city pass me by, but I was not passive. There were tourists, and people eating lunch outside, and there was traffic.

I got a few nice photos just sitting there and then I heard it, that distinctive low, guttural, rumble of a Harley. I could tell by how he throttled the engine, this guy was tired of traffic. I don’t blame him. Even suburban Atlanta traffic is a pain in the rear. As soon as the light changed he was off to the races.

I could not follow him exactly and caught him after he was entering the cross-walk. You can see the orange hand across the street. (Yeah. You better wait.) I panned, and I got three images of him. Two were sharp. One was good compositionally. That is the one here. Enjoy it. I think the spikes over the rear fender is very nuanced, don’t you? I bet this guy don’t get no dates either, at least not to ride behind him on his Harley.

Lightroom tells me I was shooting at 70mm, f5.6, 1/400th sec, at ISO 100.

Selah

When It All Comes Together

•March 15, 2021 • Leave a Comment

It is a rare thing.

I’ve been photographing since I was just a kid. If my sensibilities were not formally schooled they have developed by trial and error over the years. I know, but I cannot explain, the difference between a very good photograph and a transcendent one except when I see it and compare. Transcendent photographs become icons, independent, recognizable, and sometimes even disassociated from their creators. They represent something greater than the thing photographed.

My personal best may set a much lower bar than other more well known artists, but I know it when I experience it. Once established, everything else must at least reach that level, or they fall. I think grasping one’s personal best is a way of giving thanks to our Creator. Don’t give me any atheistic chatter, I know there is a God, and I believe he smiles when we hit the top and we smile back at him.

For the photographer the transcendent photograph exhibits all the elements together in balance and support. If one element is missing the photograph falls apart. With all elements present the result is greater than the sum of its parts; that is, shadow, light, texture, color, content, and composition.

Here are some links to a few photographs I think are transcendent. Click, the links. They are safe. Study the images, and how things just fit together. Then think of the content. What did the image cause you to experience now? What did the image cause the viewers of it’s time to feel? Did you know the name of the photographer? I don’t know if some of the photographs have titles. Be aware that the photograph below, by Nick Ut, Napalm Girl, is very disturbing and it was shocking in 1972 when it was published:

Henri Cartier-Bresson. Image of a man jumping over a puddle.

Ansel Adams. Moonrise, Hernandez, New Mexico.

Nick Ut. Napalm Girl.

Dorothea Lange. Migrant Mother.

There are many. I thought of those images, and photographs that changed the world. Mine probably will not, except maybe to give someone some visual nourishment.

So here ya go. My personal best, to date, in my opinion. I do not compare myself to the legends. Legends create icons daily.

Selah

Weddings!

•February 18, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Weddings! It is remarkable how many photographers enter into the field totally unprepared. I don’t mean technically unprepared. There are a lot of excellent photographers, those who know their stuff much better than I do. No, I am talking about being emotionally, socially, and physically prepared. You can be technically phenomenal, but unless you are ready for the distinct challenges of a wedding, more than just mental preparation for an onery mother of the bride, you will not last. I’ll talk briefly about emotional preparation.

Most of the time weddings are dull affairs for a photographer, with a lot of difficult people and hard physical work. You can memorize the groupings and couples shots quickly. You can know the light ratios and what turns a good shot into a romantic stunner.

The most difficult thing about the rudimentary tasks is making certain you don’t pair families or individuals who would rather drink acid than stand next to each other. I have made the costly mistake of pairing up people who I thought were together when they actually came to the celebration with someone else and then got together. Oops. Awkward.

I have funny/crazy stories. There is the repeat customer story: The bride, church, minister, everything including me the photographer were the same, just a different groom. I was flattered and perplexed.

There is the enraged ex-girlfriend story: She sneaked over to the reception area and attacked the wedding cake, which we had to rebuild and cover with flowers to hide the damage. The bakery had delivered the cake. They were gone. So one of the bridesmaids, another guest and I quickly learned the art of cake decorating.

There was the wedding at Emory chapel. I was not allowed inside because of all the bad experiences the director had with wedding photographers. I was forced to shoot through the windows from outside, in the pouring rain with my assistant holding an umbrella over me. All the outdoor photographs we had planned got washed out. The bride and groom reordered flowers, got dressed, and we staged all those photographs a couple weeks after they returned from their honeymoon, this time without the dictatorial director.

There’s the story of the bride who was missing a hand. This is neither funny nor crazy, but it was unusual. She did not have the common prosthetic hand, but instead had a metal hook – it was not as big a challenge as one might think. She had remarkable dexterity. It was remarkable to me, because I was ignorant of such things.

There were downright creepy weddings. The cult wedding: The groom had planted a field of plastic flowers in unnatural colors, around his house, because the wedding was held there in the dead of winter. The ceremony was creepy too. It was very “dark” spiritually if you get what I mean; very little joy or laughter.

I photographed teenagers getting married, retirees getting married, people on their second and third time around getting married. (Actually the ones on their second or third try, the dreamers, seemed to have the most fun.)

I photographed one couple in an 1800’s church in Cade’s Cove. The bride wore a green velvet dress. Velvet is the “black hole” of photography, sucking up every bit of light, reflecting none. I photographed weddings for 3 out of 4 brothers. I photographed different religions’ ceremonies, from Pentecostal to Jewish.

How do you prepare yourself emotionally to be a wedding photographer? Is it even preparation or is it more natural inclination? We’re all wired differently. Some folks are just naturally gregarious while others are much more reserved.

I believe this is the single most important trait of a successful wedding photographer; the love of people. If you are in the wedding business you must enjoy them. Otherwise your photographs will be like mannequins, well dressed but lifeless. I always enjoyed the weddings. I enjoyed the couples and I would try to find out their history: Where did they meet? How did they arrive at this point? It helps to know who they are.

There were sad stories too. For example, there was the mother of the bride who had multiple sclerosis. The mom was determined to make her daughter’s wedding dress, MS not withstanding, but she just could not finish it. The women at her church literally pinned the dress together at the very last minute, at the church. I watched it happen. The bride was stunning. Miracles occur once in awhile.

I vividly remember the wedding in the photograph below. I’ll call the couple Anne and John. I won’t go into details. The marriage did not fail, but it ended sadly less than two years later. How do I know this? Because I try to stay in touch with my customers through the years.

Obviously, some want nothing more complex than the single wedding transaction. That’s great. However, I still have some of them contact me, both for photographs and to “touch base”. I am not saying that you have to keep close in order to build your business, but I believe there has to be a relationship of some kind built very quickly, and sustained at least for a couple of years after the wedding, if nothing else than to encourage sales of the photographs. Repeat business is to take photographs of their children. Sometimes repeat business is to take photographs of their next wedding. The people you photograph have to trust you and like you. I enjoyed my customers first, and the money came in.

Steve K. and his wife Laverne owned the photo processing lab where I had my film developed and printed. Steve was an excellent photographer himself. When I was just starting out photographing weddings, I asked him what I should charge. The prices in Atlanta were all over the place. He told me, “Charge whatever you want. The people you like to work with will find you.” Strange as it may sound, that was always true.

One of the saddest stories I had was of the bride whose father died the very day of the wedding. He had been sick for some time and sadly he could not hold on. His family decided to go ahead with the wedding! Now, let’s say you are the photographer. Uh, let’s just say I am the photographer. I walked in the door of the venue. The uncle of the bride took me aside and told me what happened. How did I handle it? The word “unprecedented” has been used to describe 2020, but never before, and never since that wedding did I ever encounter anything that would have prepared me for that, nor for anything in the future… except my core as a person. Put technical skill on automatic and try to focus all your energy on the couple, with empathy, on this the best day of their lives, and probably one of the worst days as well.

Empathy is a characteristic that separates us from animals. It is the reason we can appreciate suffering and joy without ever having gone through the identical experience as another person. Animals may express sympathy and grief. There is evidence of it. However, as far as we know, they cannot imagine what another animal is going through in the present or will go through in the future, in order to offer it comfort. Empathy is to express genuine understanding when you don’t really understand a thing. However what the wedding photographer should understand is joy, and sadness, and laughter, and our common humanity.

Sometimes I miss it. Sometimes I’m glad I am not doing it today.

Selah

It’s a Matter of Interpretation

•February 16, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Art is a strange land, filled with odd characters and personalities, gregarious party animals, solitary monks, the generous and stingy, and sometimes down right creepy. I have often said, it does not bother me fools on the road, but me amongst ’em. I have been called weird more than once, but I long ago accepted the label, and I rejoice in it. If God wired me weirdly, well, go talk to him about it while I enjoy it.

As a matter of legacy, two photographers come to mind, one famously generous and gracious, the other notoriously arrogant and worldly; that is, Ansel Adams, of the former, more gentle reputation, and Brett Weston of the latter. I am speaking of what they decided to do with their large collection of photographs and negatives when it came time to “shuffle off this mortal coil,” so to speak.

Brett Weston was the son of the equally talented, if not more famous Edward Weston, of the classic West Coast Photography school of ultra-sharp, large format photographs. Brett had very strong feelings regarding his negatives, and threatened to destroy them. Well, it happened. On his 80th birthday, in front of friends and family he burned his original film negatives, and the news was greeted with much sadness by many other artists and patrons who had supported him. He said that his prints were his legacy, not his negatives.

On the other hand, Ansel Adams decided to donate his negatives to the University of Arizona. He said that the negatives were like the original score of a piece of music and that they should be open to interpretation by subsequent generations of photographers. And yes, you can go to the University of Arizona and check out digital scans of an Adams negative in order to print it yourself, if you have the right credentials. Even in the Ansel Adams Gallery in Yosemite National Park, you can purchase Adams prints, but printed by another photographer. I have one of Vernal Fall hanging on my wall today, that was printed by photographer Alan Ross. His “performance” as Adams called it, is different, a higher contrast and darker image than Adams original print. Adams himself printed his negatives differently over the years. Thus his earlier prints will sometimes command higher prices than his later prints of the same negative. I could not afford an Adams original, so I bought the special edition print because I had climbed to the top of Vernal Fall in the spring, when it looked much like it does in the print, except I climbed it in color.

And I enter the picture. I don’t care about the fame, just the fun. Musicians do it. Artists do it. Ansel Adams did it. So I can do it. That is, I can reinterpret an image in an almost infinite number of ways and in very rapid succession using Adobe Lightroom (Lr). I’m going to give you three examples of Sweetwater Creek, from a single digital image, taken from a view I just really enjoy. I use Adobe Lightroom and Creative Cloud to manage my serious images; by serious, I mean the ones I try to sell as art and those I upload to stock agencies. Adobe Lightroom allows me to duplicate images and try out different tools. So here ya go. Which do you prefer? For me, it’s just how I interpret it.

Selah

It Was a Cold and Dreary Day

•February 16, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Leading up to Amicalola Falls. It was a cold and dreary day. Light rain fell. Sounds like the start to some cheap mystery thriller, but it was. My kind of day. The old tree stump next to the younger birch is kind of symbolic. I was not thinking of that when I made the photo.

I had already smashed my Nikon on the rocks near the creek, so I made the photograph below with my little Lumix ZS100, point and shoot (beefed up with a some weather protection), mounted on a tripod. You don’t need thousands of dollars in equipment, especially shooting nature, and especially if you are sensitive to watching your Nikon D7500 summersault over a log onto rocks. Big, fat, ouch! Yes, I was upset, but you can’t let a busted camera stop you. It’s in for repair at Camera Service Company of Smyrna, Georgia. They have been in business 68 years, and I’ve been a customer of theirs for 40 of those. I’ve smashed a few cameras. Nikons can take a fall and a bullet, as in this photo (click the link). I think there must have been considerable light leak after that incident. Thankfully Don McCullin lived to tell about it. All I do is hike in the woods, and toss cameras as I fall after tripping over stuff. Leicas can take it too. Oh sigh.

Expensive equipment and larger format will help with some images and enlargements, but mostly you just need to have any kind of camera you’re familiar with using, and be there. After that, knowing how to use photo editing tools really helps.

Selah