Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 in Review....

Had to give my head a shake when I realized that 2010 is nearly done! Wow... and realized I needed this time between Christmas and New Year's to reflect on what my favorite things were about my photographic journey this year. Looking back I'm overwhelmed at the amount of images taken and all the hard work I put in.... but I'm most excited about all the things I learned. Thought perhaps I'd share some with you, and then at the end post my most favorite shot from all of 2010. Right now this sounds like a tall order to me, but I'll do my best.... here we go!
One of my biggest lessons this year I learned while filling my contract from the City of Hamilton, documenting the parks in the area for almost 8 months (the resulting collections are being featured one at a time on my website if interested). Photographing the same five spaces frequently, capturing every seasonal change, during several different times of the day, from every possible angle, for three seasons meant I HAD to be creative, and yet still provide images that provided information and an overview of how the parks evolve through the year. What a balancing act! And after a while, no matter what you do, you're afraid that all the images are going to start looking similar. I learned to stretch my perceptions of what an environmental portrait was, how to keep important detail while exhibiting beauty, and how to use the natural design elements at my disposal (ie colors, shapes, patterns) to enhance what could be a very tedious subject at times since not everyone who views the finished images will be gardening fanatics either! For wide landscape shots, I learned to wait for the right interesting light, while for close detail shots of nature I learned to wait for clean light, less shadow, and the perfect cloudy day with little to no breeze. I hope all these things will be evident when you view the first gallery "Gage Through the Seasons".
The second really important lesson I learned is that learning the technical aspects of your work flow in editing, and compiling said images into collections for clients easily and smoothly is something you should be very familiar with BEFORE you begin the contracted work, whether you're documenting city parks, or shooting extreme sports for a possible commercial gig. Thinking that you know "enough" just doesn't cut it. Many a night I spent tearing my hair out, getting very little sleep, and "misplacing" the odd file only to find it right where I left it weeks before meant wasted time that could have been better used editing the next files instead of falling behind right before a deadline and wishing the magical "work" fairy would just snap her fingers and I'd be saved. Never did miss a deadline, but came very close and in the midst of it all made my family stressed and anxious right along with me.
Lastly, although I really could go on and on, I learned this year that you can't fake doing what you love. I LOVE landscape, nature, and architectural photography, nothing excites me more!  The job for the parks was a blast really... I found it very exciting. But I also caved to the attitude that any job opportunity is good if you can pull it off... and those jobs not within my forte were the ones that I really had to make myself finish, and never really wanted to go back to (with the exclusion of some photo sessions for friends which I thoroughly enjoyed) and it's because they really weren't me to begin with. Now there's nothing wrong with knowing what your weak areas are and improving them to expand what it is you love to do... but you also have to know which areas really suck you dry, are a waste of time and steal your joy in pursuing whatever it is you're pursuing too. I've learned the difference over the course of this year.
In the end, what all this means for my photography in a practical way is that you'll see the pages for portrait sessions and weddings disappear from my site.... and you'll see new things take their place soon in 2011, and in exciting ways I hope. If you're a fan, keep an eye on http://www.c-duncans-photography.com/ in the coming months for new elements to my business.
And as promised, here's my own personal favorite image from 2010.... can't wait to start 2011 with all of you! Thanks for letting me ramble on over this past year, and have a good one!

Dreaming of Fieldcote
by M.Christine Duncan 2010 ~ please click on image for larger viewing, then back click to return to post ~

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Chrysanthemum Days

"A Floral Crown"
(1/50 sec.@ F/7.1, ISO 320, 55mmfl, handheld, diffused late day light)

Today's post is an image I took this past weekend at the 90th Anniversary of the Fall Mum Show put on by the amazing parks staff at the Gage Park Greenhouses.
Each year they display over 75,000 chrysanthemums for the public! The bloom pictured above was one of a giant wall filled in part with these rare beauties, this one's head twice the size of my fist.
And oh the colors... ranging from deep reds, to pure whites, creamy yellows to vibrant fuchsias. Any photographer's delight. I will post an overall image to give you a glimpse as to the extent of coverage throughout the greenhouse. Think wall to wall color, jam packed into amazing patterns and displays. And tucked within each section, a waterfall too! It was simply beautiful.
This flower above is my personal favorite from the day. It's colors understated yet regal, and it's shape telling us that it's about to fully burst open any second.

Some facts about this shoot; firstly, the greenhouse is so jammed with blooms that you'd be inciting riots if you wandered through the popular show with a tripod, so this was shot handheld. I shoot in manual, and manually focused as well to get the desired sharpness despite my aperture. It was very late in the day, so the light filtering in through the opaque glass above was minimal, hence my reluctant use of a much higher ISO than I like to. But it allowed me to get the exposure I was looking for so there you have it. And these days ISO is much kinder when it comes to noise or grain visibility, so I wasn't overly concerned. I could have resorted to flash, but I knew it would have given a less subtle look and would add a harsher shadow or color tone within the composition.
My only real adjustment in editing was to heighten the red tones a bit to compliment the warm yellow, and to add a bit more drama overall.
As usual, if you prefer to see the shot enlarged please click on the image. Press your return arrow to come back to the page.
I'll take the opportunity to applaud the greenhouse and parks staff who have been preparing for this year's show for many many months, and who have once again delighted the community with their hard work and effortless looking beauty. Hamilton is certainly a more beautiful place with them in it!

Thanks all for letting me ramble on, and as always feel free to leave a comment or two! Have a good one!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Road Trip Part 2 - The B&W Images

As promised, here's a collection of images that take us into day two of my Ottawa Valley road trip. I know all three of you are anxiously awaiting them.... kidding! But seriously, even while fighting off a double ear infection the entire trip, and waiting out some very wet rainy weather, we managed to see a lot of sights as well as nature within the Madawaska River area, and the small town of Arnprior which truly charmed us during our stay.

I hope you enjoy! To see the images larger give a click over them. I shan't be rambling on as much this week as I have some deadlines to meet... but as always, if you have a comment or some feedback, I'd love to read it!
Have a good one folks! Keep an eye out for day three's installment!

"Untamed Shores"

"A Study in Sediment"

" St.John Chrysostom "  Arnprior

"Ye Olde Post Office"  Arnprior

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Thankful for Ontario's Beauty

 " Autumn At Eels Lake"
1/125 sec @ F/5, ISO 160, 18mm fl, manual

Here in Canada it's Thanksgiving weekend already, so I thought I'd post images from my latest trip up to the Ottawa Valley area, where the color and beauty we explored for three days along all the old roads and highways was so inspirational. My husband and I loaded up the car with gear, snacks, coffee and tunes a couple weekends ago, and meandered our way 7hrs northeast up to where the Madawaska River finally meets with the Ottawa River... and along the way, we cruised back roads, boat launch trails, and even cemeteries. And everywhere we looked, there was a quiet wilderness begging to be captured.
Over the next few days I will be posting images that will give you a small taste of what it was like to explore this lovely and rural part of Ontario for a weekend, camera always in hand. And today I'll start with our first real stop, about halfway through our journey, at Eels Lake, up near the Kawarthas region.

 "Eels Lake Shoreline"
1/160 sec @ F/6.3, ISO 106, 18mm fl, manual

This particular area was shot quite close to the boat launch at Eels Lake. And if I have one tip for anyone out exploring this particular part of Ontario, up past the Kawarthas, Bancroft, all the way up to Renfrew or Ottawa itself along the smaller more scenic highways, it's this; some of the best and most rewarding "detours" you'll make along the way are anywhere along the road where you see a Boat Launch sign! These routes mean there are secluded and natural lakes ahead (secluded come autumn time anyways, lol) and you're sure to catch some pristine scenery in the lens. These roads are often remote enough that you may see deer, and other wildlife en route, and usually when you get to the end of the road there's a lovely place to stretch your legs or even picnic while you shoot. Of course, always make sure it is a public launch route, a private road can land you in trouble.

 "Rustic Eels Lake" B&W Conversion"
1/200 sec @ F/6.3, ISO 200, 18mm fl, manual

The above image I love because of all the textures that suddenly command your attention once converted to B&W. I often will take an image knowing that it's one I want to see in a monochromatic version, and this was one that I knew right away would suit perfectly. There will be more B&W images to follow in the next post, I'm excited to see what you think of them... the rocks and sediment along the shore were full of visual interest and character, and seemed to prove that we were treading on ground left quite in it's natural state... hard to find in the beaches and parks closer to my end of Ontario. The light was lovely and diffused due to fluffy clouds hanging low in the sky that day, so overall patterned metering was pretty much the norm as i shot, and all were handheld.

"Cove at Eels Lake Launch"
1/160 sec @ F/6.3, ISO 200, 18mm fl, Manual

Finally, the above image (a color version, landscape framing this time, as opposed to it's B&W partner) is a great example of how you can pull detail out of the sky AND the water below with the use of a circular polarizing filter. A polarizer cuts the light reflecting off the water, adding depth, and it deepens the sky, perfect for these low laying clouds. This was the perfect type of day to use my handy little filter, with the sun behind me late in the afternoon. I knelt low on the sand and made sure to compose so that the sky complimented the landscape, adding interest naturally.
This post pretty much exemplifies everything I love about landscape photography... adventuring into new territory, exploring the beauty available, and trying to capture it in such a way that the viewer is caught saying to themselves "oh, I need to GO there one day!" The wonder to be found a few hours from home inspires me, and makes me so thankful for things as simple as a humble little "boat launch" sign, for without it I never would have explored sweet little Eels Lake, or had images to hopefully inspire the rest of you to hop in the car with a loved one or pal one day, and just drive, to see what you can discover and become inspired by yourself!

Thanks for letting me ramble on! Have a great Thanksgiving one and all!
And feel free to leave a comment and tell me what you're thankful for lately :-)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

"Autumn's Early Emergence"

"$4 Dollar Pumpkins"

Had to post this image to kick off September! Been listening to the news and weather reports and they are in agreement; fall is coming early to Ontario! So I thought I'd offer proof of just how true this is. This is a beautiful farm in the Pelham County Region. Stumbled upon it quite by accident yesterday, and was smitten with it's rural charm! And behold all the pumpkins already maturing! In fact, the experts are telling us that they're so early, we may not have any for Halloween, that they'll all be gone by then! Sheesh!

Anyway, this pumpkin stall with the gorgeous home in the background seemed like the ideal way to herald in the approaching fall season. And as no one seemed put out that a photo buddy and I were happily snapping away at this lovely scene, we also made sure we bought some of the lovely produce to take home with us as a thank you for their graciousness. And really who could resist such wonderful charming bounty? Wouldn't be a photo day in the country without it.

So here's the low down on the stats for this image for all you photo buffs out there. Late morning light/partial shade was available, used 1/200 sec.@ F/9, ISO 200, 24mm fl. 18-55mm kit zoom, center-weighted metering, handheld, Nikon D80.

So, I gladly welcome Autumn with all it's color, textures, charm, and beauty! And gosh, even the memories associated with pumpkin picking, jumping in the piles of leaves soon to follow, and the arrival of comfort food are delightful things to think on!

So thanks for letting me ramble on! Feel free to leave me a comment on your favorite fall memory, and get ready to enjoy all that Autumn has to offer!

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Dundurn Part II"

"The Grand Ol' Girl"
(1/60 sec @ F/11, ISO 100, 18mm fl, wide zoom Nikkor lens, tripod)
So, as promised, here is part 2 of my wanderings around the Dundurn Castle estate. Looking at the photo essay I've gotten out of this series of images, I've decided I still lean towards interesting elements of design, historic details, and architectural discoveries when I look through the lens... all well and good because they showcase the care and craftsmanship that went into such a fabulous property. But as usual, I've not gotten a single image with any action, people, tourists, gardeners, and what have you. So that shall be my next project for this location, when I next visit with my camera!
For the image above, since you really feel the passing of time when photographing this national historic site, I've used a "daguerreotype" filter in this images final edit. Much richer than a simple B&W conversion, I love to use this effect on older architecture.

"Rooftop Sentries"
(1/60 sec @ F/11, ISO 100, 135mm fl, 55-200 Telephoto zoom)
This next image above is another angle of the Castle Tower's rooftop, which is lined on all four sides with these quirky dove cotes. The intensity of the setting sun light really lit up the repetitious shapes nicely, showcasing them well.

"The Hive"
( 1/25 sec @ F/11, ISO 100, 200mm fl, 55-200 mm zoom, tripod)
This last image was a surprise (and could have been a nasty one had I not seen it in time).
These miniature crab apple trees are scattered along the back of the property, and I narrowly missed walking right underneath this busy hive trying to get a shot of some of the stonework at the back of the castle. I shot this from about 6 feet away, using my telezoom to compress all the branches surrounding the hive into the shot, and obviously to get as close as comfortably possible. My family bravely stood another few feet behind me, confident that if I disturbed the inhabitants within, that it'd be "first come, first served".
In the end, I really liked how the fruit and colors of the various leaves mingles with the day's last light. There's even a bee or two flitting in and out. To see each low res. image slightly enlarged simply click on the image. And as always, respect the rights of the photographer.
Next week, I have some images to post via a new toy I bought for my Nikon!
So stay tuned, and as always, thanks for letting me ramble on! Have a good one!

Saturday, July 31, 2010

The Pursuit of Dundurn

"Dusk's Door"
Image shot at 1/125 sec @ F/11, ISO 100, 22mm fl
As many of you know, I've been very busy working for the city of Hamilton documenting the public gardens and parks for the duration of three seasons. Wonderful work, but has left me with with less time to pursue my other love, which is photographing the city period. So I thought I would post a few results from a few evenings ago, when I wandered the property of Hamilton's historic Dundurn Castle. I needed to photograph something just for the sake of photography in and of itself. Anyone else get like that? No looming deadline, no client to please, just you and your camera?
Dundurn and I have a love affair. I've captured it over the last couple years in every season, at every time of day, from various angles. It's the home of one of Canada's first Premiers,
Sir Allan MacNab, who later went on to become Prime Minister, and was built in 1835. The history oozes out of every regal pillar, tower, and rooftop. I even have my own bit of personal history with Dundurn! I grew up performing Scottish Highland Dancing on this property, competing in contests and performing to bagpipes!
The image above shows part of the cottage on the grounds, a mini-dundurn if you will. I simply loved the way the setting sun was bathing the tiny structure in it's last light.

"Tower Details - Dovecotes"
image shot at 1/40 sec @ F/11, ISO 100, 45mm fl, evening light, tripod
This image was taken looking up at the tower that welcomes you to the castle proper. I love the pattern, the design elements, the way the light shows the lovely golden colour of each dovecote. I can imagine the pigeons and doves dwelling on the rooftops. The flurry of wings as they all landed for the night.

" Sunsets Warm Welcome"
image taken at 1/200 sec @ F/9, ISO 100, 20 mm fl, tripod, evening light
This last image is of the castle's tiny replica cottage. I was smitten with the subtle raking sunset light coming through the clouds. I also liked the worn path leading to the door of the charming abandoned building. For a split second I thought about asking someone to approach it in the shot... but I loved that in the midst of the city's bustle, this looked so untouched, solitary. So I chose to capture it as it was.
I hope to post a few more images, overall compositions of the entire castle, perhaps a few older faves too that display Dundurn in different seasons. And I will continue shooting this beautiful property all year long.
So thanks for reading along with my rambling, and let me know if you enjoy the post!
Have a good one folks.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

The Freeman Effect

"Dreamy Tulip Lights"

My post this week pays homage to a phenominal Canadian Photograher who's work I've found very inspiring and uplifting. Not only does he take some of the most fantastical nature images I've ever seen, but is also very serious about gardening and conservation. So needless to say, I'm a fan. And I'm refering to the one and only Freeman Patterson.

Was reading his book "The Garden" today and he was speaking about how when we submerge ourselves in something we're passionate about (ie gardening, photography) a part of us utilizes the best part of our imaginations... whether we realize it or not. All the things we dream about and imagine on a constant basis. And as a result, the effects of it can be found in the very things we pursue so passionately. It's the underlying current, behind how you compose and take a photograph, or how Mr. Patterson gardens.

This has really resonated with me. As a photographer who loves God's creation and is constantly amazed by it, I tend to see scenes and subjects through my lens that are somehow emphasized by my imagination at times. But I've been reluctant to showcase them for some reason. Because they're rule breaking? Technically flawed? Either way, with this revelation in mind, I've included the above image. I took this just this past spring at the Royal Botanical Gardens here in Southern Ontario... it was their annual Tulip Celebration. The practical side of me tried desperately to expose all morning long for the difficult harsh light that day... and was failing desperately. At one point though, I realised I should pop my portrait lens on the ol Nikon and let it naturally blow everything out with it's super wide depth of field abilities giving everything a less chiseled, more dreamy effect.... and voila. I stopped documenting everything, and started "capturing" the effects of all the sweet glowing light waiting to be seen. It brings to my mind what the gardens in heaven might look like, or a lover's bouquet waiting to be picked. I call it the "Freeman Effect".

Two quotes from Freeman gave me pause, made me reflect on what kind of a "box" I've put my photography in... perhaps they'll make you look differently at your photography too. The first one was, " ...I'm reminded that it's not really the eye that does the seeing, it's the soul". And the other refered to when a compelling image grabs your attention..."it's when the mood is the real subject".

Hope that gives you something to chew on today, and please, be sure to check out the incredible Freeman Patterson at http://www.freemanpatterson.com/

Thanks for letting me ramble on for a bit, and have yourself a good one!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Cityscape Anyone?

"Iconic Harbour"

Summer is truly upon us, and in the midst of my hectic schedule I know I promised a more engaging landscape on the next blog I posted ... but Cityscape anyone? (click on image to enlarge for viewing)

This was taken in Toronto, Ontario last summer. I needed a chance to play a bit one day after slaving away at the computer, so went back through some older images to see if there were any gems I had forgotten about, that I could add a little spice to. I came across this image. I loved the colors, with that hit of red from a harbour tug docking in the foreground. I love the iconic CN Tower in the background, and wait.... are those PEOPLE in this image???? Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Cl... uh, people in this composition. Cityscapes can be so enjoyable to shoot. There's no pressure to pose a model per se, you simply need patience as you wait for the public to stroll through the shot. You always have height and depth, elements of design can be found anywhere, and color and shape is abundant. And there's always the element of surprise as life in the city is constantly evolving and changing right in front of your lens!

Taken with my trusty D80, and my very basic 18-55mm wide zoom, I went into Corel's PSPx2 and used the clarify filter which brings out detail and adds a bit of definition. The retro cross-processing filter adds some zip in the existing color (and the nifty framing).

I still plan on following up with the landscape challenge I've given myself... but thought for now, this would make a decent substitute .

Let me know your thoughts on photoging in the city!

Thanks for letting me ramble on for just a bit. Have a good one!

Friday, May 28, 2010

An Honest Landscape

"Fields Awaken"

I realized looking through my rather sporatic postings, that I had yet to post a photo of one of my favourite genres of photography in a long while.... the landscape. So here's one today that I recently took exploring some back roads in Southern Ontario. It embodies my favorite kind of day. It was early morning, far from the city haze. Most of my fellow photogers that have ever shot with me know how much I love a great lazy sky, jewel toned with a white cloudy depth that evokes all the beauty to be found on such a day. The air crisp, the sun yet to reach it's killer heat of summer. And a ruggedly honest scene, nary a skyscraper to be found. An honest to goodness landscape.

I shot this at 1/200 sec.@ F/8, 55mm focal length, ISO 160, handheld from the side of the road. My trusty kit wide angle zoom, circular polarizer, and early bright light. The only true editing I did was to tweak the RGB channels a tad in PSPx2, and some unmask sharpen.

I personally like the old tracks running through the soil in the foreground... they lead your eye to the grand tree or the tiny shed respectively. And like I said, it represents everything I love about hopping in the car spontaneously, all the windows down, tunes cranked, and wandering the back roads enjoying the simple scenes along the way.

Read an article this week in PopPhoto mag, about another photographer who's landscapes are exceptional... Glenn Oakley whose work can be found at http://www.oakleyphoto.com/. He commented on the way to really "push it (a landscape) further, is to bring people in." He calls them animated landscapes, and for the most part he has someone ready to ride, pose, or wander into the shot.... and I noticed he's right. Makes a difference to what is already a wonderful scene. Having read about this and seen his amazing images, I feel compelled to shoot my next landscapes with an attempt to include people. To give them a little push. (Not that anything I shoot will be as remarkable as Glenn's, and I hope he will not mind that I've included his talent here in my blog. But remarkable photographers will always inspire me to strive harder to take the best images I'm capable of.)

Will I connect with the resulting images just the same, or will there be a refreshing difference? Will you? We'll find out. My personal challenge starts tonight.

Thanks for letting me ramble on folks! Have a good one!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Beautifully Abandoned

I love the image above. For it's simple lines that suddenly collide with the wild ones provided by nature. For the contrasting light. For the texture that the aging and neglected silver wood displays. For how I regret that I couldn't see the interior, left to wonder what these abandoned walls contain. If they contain anything.
This image is from my back roads trek I made earlier this month, in search of old forgotten cemeteries... but I found myself once again drawn to images of other lifeless subjects from that same day. Just thought I'd share it with you.
I've abandoned the notion for now of even posting the actual shots I got of so many interesting country cemeteries... the subject matter I'm relishing at the moment seems to have a much stronger connection with me. I can't put my finger to it exactly, but I just recall how excited I was shooting the old abandoned house, and the forgotten and charred remains of the junkyard I shall post next.
I think part of it is that for artists, there has always been an ability to see beauty in the broken. To enhance the last mysterious moments of what has been... and the certainty that all good things end sometime.
I guess I could say I abandoned my journey, to capture the beauty in the"now".

Thanks for letting me ramble on, have a good one!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Back From The Grave

"Goodbye Goodyear"
The image above was the result of a 7 hour photo trek of area cemeteries. Sorry, you probably just did a double take and I don't blame you in the least. But it's true. Myself and another wonderful photoger friend of mine were intent on exploring hidden back roads in search of ancient cemeteries in the middle of fields and hidden in pine tree topped knolls ... and we DID explore about 5 or six we never knew existed, full of old stones dating back to the 18oo's. In Southern Ontario, you can drive in almost any direction from a major city center for about twenty minutes and suddenly you're in the country!
What in the world does all of this have to do with the resulting image above?
Have you ever gone in search of something, and instead come back with an unexpected find that makes your day? In our search for forgotten graves, full of history, and a touch of mystery (of which I will post images in future blogs) my friend and I came across another kind of "decay". Tucked behind grassy inclines, or parked in the corner of fields close to the road looking as if they had limped over on their own to collapse one final time... were cars, trucks and old parts that on this day probably excited me far more than my photo partner, who graciously pulled over for every find and patiently explored the rusty ghosts with me on our way to our next grave discovery.
This shot was taken almost mid day, with my telephoto lens at 1/500 sec.@ F4, ISO 100. I didn't mind the harsh direct light (nary a cloud to be seen) for such a rusty, gritty subject as it seemed to suit and enhance the dismal condition of the old van parked in the dirt. And it was the first in a series of shots I couldn't wait to get home to review... and can't wait to post for your future viewing pleasure.
A special shout out and thanks to my photo buddy Kat for our fun adventures yesterday, you rock. Link to Kat's gallery to come...
Leave comments by clicking the comment option below this post :-)
Thanks for letting me ramble, have yourself a good one folks!

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Familiar Explored

"Downtown Upstairs"
I've been photographing my city for a couple years now. It provides no end of interesting subjects. And although I know I'm overly familiar with it, I always come away with fresh views caught in the lens that I hadn't anticipated.
The image above was taken the other week, and although I've longed to photograph this subject really well for such a long time, THIS time it finally seemed to work. I looked at this familiar scene, and realized that I had all the right elements... great light that day, a light rain added a grainy affect, I had my tripod (which I normally won't take downtown since it screams "lone woman wandering the streets with expensive equipment") which allowed me to tighten and straighten a better crop than handheld, and good position. Whew. Needless to say, I was excited to convert this image to B&W and see how gritty and truthful an image it was.
I have mentioned I'm beginning to wander back through some of the masters or pillars of photography... right now I have been really looking hard at the work of Berenice Abbott, an American photographer. Her work largely takes place in the 30's and 40's.... but such work!!! Her images of New York city on the cusp of exploding development and city growth, the first skyscrapers and bridges being built, the population growing almost overnight... incredible! And I was taken with a quote at the beginning of a book on her work called "Berenice Abbott, American Photographer" by Hank O'Neil, that says this about
her work;
"Berenice Abbott is a photographer who is exceptional in her determined avoidance of subjects whose inherent interest - their unfamiliarity, their bizarre nature, their startling juxtapositions, their exceptional beauty- would arrest the observer's attention even without the benefit of isolation and emphasis a good photographer can supply. An artist whose eye is the super-eye of the camera."
When you view her work this is very evident. "Images unmodified by tricky exposures, eccentric and overused angle shots, removed from any clever device."
The image posted above was inspired by reading about and studying Ms. Abbott's work....
and it motivated me to spend the day exploring my own city as she had, documenting much of it just the way it is, exploring the familiar.
What part of your passion do you need to re-explore today?
Thanks for letting me ramble,
have a good one folks!

Friday, March 5, 2010

Staying True

"Roots in Raking Light"

When I first began really putting my roots down in the photographic community, I was so green it wasn't funny. In fact, in a lot of areas I'm still pretty green... but I'm okay with that. Everything will come in good time. I started out being certain of three things though.

1) That composition was my strong suit. I had come from a background in fine art, and elements of design had been ingrained in me at a very early age.

2) That I loved the classics. B&W photography to this day moves me in ways that color, digital composites, and manipulated abstracts never will. Not that I don't admire many photographers that can blow me away with their Photoshop skills, and not that I don't shoot in color (cause I do, obviously).... it's just not the same for me as a dynamic B&W.

3) That I couldn't wait to show the world what my world looked like through the lens.

Over the last while though, I think I had come across and connected with so many different photographers, and styles, and opinions.... that it was being reflected in my work. And I began to realise that the only influence that wasn't found in any of my resulting images was me! Yes, learning, growing, and expanding skills are all great. But I was forgetting what MY photography looked like. And that no matter what, there are always going to be well meaning artists that would want me to keep tweaking every photo... just a little more.... and a little more...and...

The above photo may not be perfect (don't look too close eh, just trust me. It's not, lol) but from all my images in the past two months, it most accurately reflects THIS photographer. I almost didn't post it. Which is wrong, cause I love it. And you may not agree with all of it's qualities but I'm down with that. That's why I love photography in the first place!

Over the next while you'll see me referencing some of the greatest photographers of history, mainly because it's important to recognize who's images and styles you relate to... not just the latest editing trend (and some of them are SO cool... but again, they aren't quite for me). These will be people who left their mark, their style is very unique to them. Influences, and inspiration are great I think as long as it emphasizes who you already are! So hey, if digital darkroom is totally your thing, then go for it. If you only enjoy shooting with your iPhone, then do it! If you love, love, love film and refuse to switch over to digital, then that's who you are! And for the most part, stay true to it. Show everybody who you are.

Thanks for letting me ramble!

Have a good one!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Adventures in Cake

Experiences, good or bad always teach you something. What you take from the lesson is always up to you. Thought I'd ramble on about a recent adventure in photography that had both it's good moments, and bad, and a few of the resulting images!
I was commissioned recently to photograph these beautiful wedding cakes, and was very excited. This kind of request looks great on one's resume, and helps you connect with more local businesses. The session went well, but unfortunately had to take place in the bridal show venue the company was participating in (the only time so many freshly decorated cakes are all on display together,understandably) and this was less than ideal, as I was soon to discover, lol!
Word to the wise, in situations like this, insist on being able to shoot them either before the show opens, or within a more controlled environment. Shooting during the show meant I couldn't control the lighting (there was a booth across from the cakes who's lighting kept flashing and changing, reflecting off the cakes and messing up my metering), and that I had to time my shots quickly while there were lulls in the crowds. My tripod was getting in the way, as was my assistant with the giant reflector which I was hoping would help me bounce some added light. I also had to shoot within the display, not able to position each cake ideally.

It certainly was a challenge I wasn't as prepared for as I thought. And it was a lesson well learned. I now know what I would push for when setting up an opportunity like this, as well as gear I would need for in the future in situations like this. An off camera flash unit comes to mind, lol.
This was still a very rewarding experience, don't get me wrong, and a very valuable one. And I'd be interested in hearing if any of you have had similar experiences where you realized a job or shoot was going to be more difficult than originally thought.

I thank Grace, The Artist of Cake for allowing me to expand my portfolio and trusting me to capture the beauty so evident in her work. You can find her at

Thanks for letting me ramble on, have a good one folks!

Saturday, January 30, 2010

My Own Photographic Bucket List

I enjoy many various online photographic communities, and one article in particular caught my eye the other day over at the DPS (Digital Photography School )website. The author had been inspired during the arrival of the new year to create his own personal bucket list.... of shots and images he`s always wanted to capture as a photographer. And he challenged his readers to do the same. I thought, `what a brilliant idea!!!`

Now a valid point was made that these may not all be attainable right now, or even in a lifetime but that in making the list, you discover something new about your photography, and obviously something about yourself as well. So I figured I would post mine here... and perhaps I`ll even be able to tick a few off the list during the coming year and post some examples, or explain my trials and errors.

So here they are, in no particular order. If you love photography, and love a challenge, or love to dream, then I encourage you to make your own list of shots you`d love to conquer before you (ahem) kick the ol`bucket.

1) Macro shot of a rain-soaked spider`s web. (I realize this has been seen many a time, but every time I see an image of one, I realize just how intricate and beautiful nature can be)

2) Street photography in New York City. (This one is certainly attainable, and I`ve been dying to do this for some time)

3) Capture a Hot Air Balloon Festival on a clear day.

4) Snow falling on an old dark lamp lit street... preferably one lined with cafes and pubs... almost impressionistic perhaps.

5) A time exposure of a breezy wildflower field and old ruins.

6) Dump or wrecking yard series (inspired by photographic genius Ed Burtynsky).

7) Fog rising over a pond at sunrise. This would imply that I need to actually get out of bed before 10:00 am. HA. Hey... it could happen!

8) A Festival in Rome or Venice. The color and energy in a photograph like that would be brilliant I think.

9) A killer harvest moon shot! ..... Enough said!

10) A sunset over a Scottish Moore. No special gear required per se, except perhaps an excellent tinted filter to make the color pop.

11) One fabulous still life composition. I have yet to decide on the perfect lighting and subject matter without it looking like your typical still life shot. Gotta keep thinking about this!

So there you have it! I hope this inspires you to create your own list, and then to strive for it heartily. Chow for now folks!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Just when you think it's foolish to press on, the answer always arrives. This was my own life lesson over the last few days.

Even the most confident person has days or seasons where they begin to doubt themselves, questioning whether they should change direction, persevere, or admit defeat. Call it what you will, the "dry spell", the "rough patch", or "hitting rock bottom"... it all serves to make us question our visions, and goals, and dreams unfortunately. The key is often to simply keep going. And no, it's not as easy as it sounds. Trust me.

I've been very critical of my own work over the last little while, and was beginning to wonder if my photography was ever going to do anything more than look pretty on a website. So much so that I wasn't sure some days if I should continue! I felt restless and doubtful.

I'm glad I listened to the small still voice within that reminded me that results aren't the focus, (pardon the photog humour) but the journey my photography and I will make.

So I changed my attitude, ignored the doubts..... and got out there with my camera! Subject matter, locations, perfect images were not my priority. Instead, it was enjoying learning, gaining wisdom from mistakes, and not letting the experience go to waste! Then passionately sharing it with everyone I came in contact with.... you included :-)

And low and behold, not only did I thoroughly enjoy shooting whatever subject came my way, but was suddenly approached by two separate businesses to showcase my images, and was commissioned to work for 6 months producing images of our great city as well! An answer to all my hard work.

This lesson has TRULY humbled me. I was reminded that I've come too far to just give up on something I so enjoy. And that really, even if my photography was just for me, I'd still do it! Because big results are really just the icing on the cake!

What ever it is you love.... art, woodworking, writing, sports, music... do it for you. Eventually the rest will follow.

Thanks for letting me ramble on,

Have a good one!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Good morning readers and welcome to my new stomping grounds in blog land! For those of you who don't know me, I'm just your average blogger who is very passionate about photography. So I've decided to make public all my journaling on the subject and the photographic process, and hope that you'll follow along with me.
For those of you that DO know me, let's just say I hope I'm far more eloquent in cyberspace than I am in real life! (how am I doin' so far???) Ha.

2010 promises to be an exciting year, I can tell you that! You'll hear everything from how well my first exhibit proposal and showing went, to how in the world I managed to drop my Nikon "in the john" or something equally embarrassing I'm sure.

I know there will be days I'll blather on about a new photographer I've discovered, lighting experiments that bombed, or times I'll vent about virtually nothing in particular.... but rest assured it will be photography related somehow.

In fact, I read a quote the other day that said, "We make the mistake of thinking the act of taking a photograph comes down to a single instant or click of the shutter! But truly, a single successful instant caught in the lens is always the culmination of thousands of skill-honing moments, hundreds of internal debates, and the overwhelming influences of every photographer that blazed the trail before that moment. The photographer that knows this, packs everything they can into that instant." - Anonymous

So I hope you'll stay tuned to see me post some of my favorite "photog instances", and at the end of the year I hope to not only have a fun and interesting blog, but a collection of new photographs and insights shaped by so much more than luck or coincidence!

And if this sort of dialogue & photography isn't your cup of tea, you can always just turn me off and finish that pile of laundry we all know you find soooo riveting, or head outside to rotate your tires... again :-)

Have a good one!