Having fun and breaking the ice...

For the first several years I was learning photography, I had no interest in doing portraits. I think it came from never really liking being photographed as a teenager. I even had this 7 year "battle" with one of my church youth group leaders to try to never get caught in one of his photos! We laugh pretty hard now that I turned out to have a passion for photography! 

Needless to say after years of saying "Sorry, I don't shoot people" it was with great trepidation that I said I would photograph an old friends son for his senior portraits.  I already knew I wanted to do shots that even a teenager would think were cool, so no studio shots cupping their chin while leaning on a fake fence for me!!  I asked about his hobbies and so our first of two shoots was at the golf course since he was a star member of the golf team!  I went fast and light and just brought 1 speedlight and a small umbrella, but we were all thrilled with how the shots came out:



We also wanted to try something a little different! A bit of EA sports meets senior photos! Tyler was a real great kid to work with and having a fun shoot really helped break the ice before we had his real session! 


Stay tuned for Tyler's other session!


Don't get locked in...

When I went to shoot the eagles recently I also thought about stopping by a place I had not been to in years, since before I took up photography.  I wasn't sure we could make it work, but kept this "plan B" in the back of my mind.  When we decide to switch eagle shooting locations, I realized we would be going right by this other spot and decided it was worth a try! Well needless to say,  the pictures I got on this extra stop are now some of my most  favorite, even surpassing the eagle shots I was on the trip for! 

This awesome place was a lifelong project for a family friend.  He and is wife bought the abandoned quarry in 1967. As buildings around the area were threatened with demolition, Harold would go and dismantle these building piece by piece, haul them back home on his station wagon and rebuild them here  in the canyon! 



I know we often go out to shoot with an agenda, but it is still important to be open to other subjects, and not put on photo blinders which cause you to miss amazing photographs! Remember, plan B, sometimes may become plan A!!


There is much more to the canyon then you see here and totally worth a drive if your anywhere near by! Here is a link so you can visit!  Bring your tripod and shoot away! 




Freezing and soaring! 

I finally decided to drive a couple hours west to the Mississippi and photograph the bald eagles.   We drove about three hours to this tiny little gravel road and then came upon the lock and dam parking lot. It was amazing! The sky looked like a WWII air battle! There were so many eagles in the air that we could not even count them! What a rush!! 


There was even a viewing platform, to help get a look at the glorious raptors, because unfortunately at this location, they were far away!!  It was one of  those serious lens  envy moments. I only had my 70-200 with my 1.7x teleconvertor, next to all the 400, 500, 600mm bazookas! It was still an absolute blast to shoot  despite the frigid temps(around 15 degrees) 

Later in the day we moved about a half hour south to the LeClaire dam and although there were only 2  eagles there, the distance was cut by about 80% and they were literally fishing right by the pier.  


Needless to say I can't wait for next winter!!  


God's charcoal box...


Do your pictures speak to you? Do they tell you a story, that no one else hears? Does the light or colors or lines or textures or subjects that you capture, touch the artist within you? Do these two dimensional images of pixels that we capture with our cameras take on a almost human element to you, ones with a voice and a story?  Do you see things no one else around you can see or grasp or appreciate? I know I feel this way...and I don't think I am alone...
I think one of the most transforming things I have seen since embracing photography is the way I now view the world.  I now see God's artistic hand on a daily basis. I see the way he not only created beautiful plants, and animals, and the terrain of this world, but most of all how He uses all the colors in His seemingly unlimited color book to paint skies in colors I have never even dreamed of...and how he uses massive amounts of color to paint an entire field of flowers that wave in the wind and create that impressionist masterpiece! I have seen Him use shades of the same color, and the texture of frozen water or the bark of a tree to create an abstract so amazing you get lost in its depth...
But on this 18% gray day, and in the midst of a blustery snow storm, I saw Him forego ALL color and bust out his dirty, old box of charcoals...  He drew the reflections in perfect order as always, but this time , the artist in Him chose to smear the fresh coal with His fingers as a final stroke on the drawing in an attempt to pacify the near frozen river that was desperately trying to use the ice to wipe this days slate clean...


This is what I felt when I was creating this image and what I am reminded of every time I view it... 




Over the weekend we had the pleasure of getting to view 70 hand printed images of Ansel Adams'. This was part of his Museum collection, of which he said contains his greatest work. Now that I am a photographer I think viewing the images took on a whole new dimension. I began viewing each image, just like most people, letting the Ansel, the artist, speak to me, and tell me a story in each print. This used to be where it stopped and I would walk on to the next image! Now, though I took time in front of each image to dissect what Ansel the Photographer and developer, was doing to tell that story!! I watched as he used the lines of nature to lead my eye, and composed ever so perfectly to include only what he wanted me to see. I saw very easily now, how he dodged and burned, just as I do in the digital darkroom, to pull my attention away from and towards certain parts of the photograph! I saw the common trait of depth in so many of his images that created a real sense of being there with strong fore, middle and background elements that were combined so seemlessly that that you didn't even realize it until you looked for it, the depth was staggering to me!!

As we left and as I assessed my own work, I saw parts that I needed to expand on and parts that needed to be reigned in. The creation of depth was one area I knew I needed to focus on after reviewing images in my thin portfolio, so as I went out shooting that afternoon(I mean how can you go to an Ansel Adams showing and NOT want to go out shooting afterwords!) I went out with fresh inspiration and a willingness to grow!

All that to say, that this was inspired by that showing and my aim to bring foreground, middle ground, and background into a more harmonious state in my work going forward!! Not only did I like the cool/warm contrast of the ice, and sunset lit trees in the BG, but I liked how the straight lines of the OOF cattails in the foreground pull you straight up the frame to explore the rest of the image...Sorry for the long post but I had a lot to say and I hope you enjoy the outcome and will join me on the journey as I search for more depth and feeling in my images...