Continuing projects...

One thing that I have tried to do to keep my inspiration going is to have some continuing projects.  For some reason they are all trees? I am not sure what the deal with that is but hey it works! I try to keep these specific locations in the back of my mind every season, so I can create a multiple image set of the same subject!  You could mold and shape this idea any way you want, your son or daughter at the same location, every year on their birthday or 1st day of school, you could do a favorite subject at 4 different times of day even! It's really an endless stream of choices.

I shot this tree early last winter, when the ice had just barely covered the pond by our house, and I captured this reflection in the newly formed layer of ice.  It had such a oil painting look about it, it was awesome, and became one of my favorite pictures of last winter.  Two days later we had just a bit more cold, and precipitation and this "oil ice" was gone for the season!

Truth be told, I missed spring! I tried several times, but the light was never right, or the duckweed on the pond was too heavy, so maybe next year!!  Today I captured this "summer" version of the exact same tree, in all its chlorophylled majesty!

Now I am really looking forward to fall!  The other thing is that I am not the type to rest on my laurels for images, I will still always be looking for an even better image to replace the ones I have of a subject. Sometimes the light is just better, or a reflection has an even better look to it, so don't stop looking at the things you've already shot, for today it may just be better than ever!!


Being Michael Corleone...

..."Just when I thought I was out, They pull me back in!!!" Michael Corleone in The Godfather III

This is how I feel about wildlife photography lately! I was SO into it in the fall/winter/spring, and then the realization that really good wildlife glass costs more than a good used car!!!  and not to mention finding a few too many ticks while in bed after shooting in the weeds earlier in the day!  That was enough to make me look at other areas to focus on! PS: that's the great thing about being a generalist, there's always something to shoot! I think I can join one of my favorite shooters and podcaster Rick Sammon when he says "My specialty is not specializing!"

But then just when your embracing things like macros, and street photography you go out to run and errand...

Sandhill Cranes Adult and juvenile Sandhill Cranes

...and BAM! Back in wildlife addicted mode! Here I am, military crawling through strangers backyards, just waiting for a dog to come take a chomp out of my backside that was up in the air as I slowly sneaked up on these pair, and I am instantly addicted to the thrill of getting THE shot!!

I just never get tired of seeing Sandhill Cranes, so tall and proud with that beautiful red head, and distinct  call they have! I had never even glimpsed a baby before so this was a real treat!

Juvenile Sandhill Crane Juvenile Sandhill Crane

So, now I am back trolling Craigslist for used glass and wondering if I would be happy with the much more reasonable "Bigma" or not?? Then not long after this I was looking at some images from a friend who just went to Kenya, and now I REALLY want to go there for a photo safari someday!  But have you seen the cost of those trips! Looks like it's either a 400/2.8 or the trip! I think I would rent the lens and go on the trip unless I win the lottery! All about compromises!

Oy vey!

Beauty of the streets...

child girl american flag parade Parades and children, what a perfect combination! Cartier-Bresson would have been proud of me as I waited and waited for just the right moment to capture this girl waving the Stars and Stripes!

As most of you know I am always looking to experiment and try new things with my photography.  Well, I had never really done much street photography until I watched a Kelby Training  course with the famous Jay Maisel and Scott Kelby.
I just love all the interesting patterns in old architecture!

To put it simply it rocked my world!  It was such an eye opening experience to watch Jay just walking around New York, creating these amazing photos of life around him!   Jay is sort of an opinionated old man(He's 80 yrs old and still walks the streets of NY everyday shooting! How cool is that!!), so he has plenty of funny, biased views but they are based on decades of wisdom, so the grain of salt you take them with should be pretty small!!  Until now I had not ever really done much street photography, I think mostly because I live in the cliche' urban sprawl land of asphalt, concrete, and strip malls.  After seeing Jay work, I was hooked! I have talked about how I am attracted to the intimate details of the natural and man made world in front of my lens, so I guess its not a big surprise that I would be attracted to street photography and its capture of intimate details of the street and the life that's in those streets!

"'S"   Before neon and plastic signs were these perfect letters of steel, installed to last for decades and aged to perfection by Mother Nature.

Recently we went to visit some friends in South Haven,MI and they have a great old downtown and as we walked I got to channel my inner Jay Maisel!  I still lean towards lines, patterns and color and not people quite yet, but I had so much fun shooting and I could have shot for many more hours!!  I can't wait for my next opportunity to go to the streets and continue to capture beauty that most people walk past everyday.
 friendly parking lot! I just loved all the colors and lines of these group of bikes I found during our walk

I spent the first couple years of my journey as a photography learning the technical parts, all about aperture, shutter speed, ISO, etc... and although I am a very technical person who loves the geek side of digital photography, at my core I am a creative, and it was SO validating, and inspiring to hear Jay say, "Every photo has a who, what, where, when, why, and how. Only the how has anything to do with the technical side of photography"  WOW! what a great reminder! Yes, we have to learn the technical, but get it done, learn it, and then move on to the creative part of our art! Its just a tool, just like a painter, we have to pick the "right" paint brush for the job, but its only the vehicle to get to the final image, I used to get so caught up in the technical side and now that I have learned the ins and outs of my camera and understand what everything does I have been able to let it go and it has become nearly unconscious and it's such a freeing feeling for a creative to not have to get hung up on the tools, and be able to focus on the creation of images!

Greater than the whole...

 Recently I tried a little shooting challenge that I like to call "greater than the whole". I take a seemingly normal or even mildly interesting subject and shoot only the parts of it.  It is a fun little test to find images that are captivating and worthy of keeping around on that big old hard drive!!  This is where seeing leading lines, shapes and textures can turn something that you would normal drive or walk by into a 30 minute shooting session!!

Normally, I would not show you the "whole" but for the sake of presenting a complete idea, I will show you just this once! ;-)  The image above is of this abandoned shed thing I have seen before near my house. I have had it on my "shoot this" list for quite sometime, but didn't know what I really wanted to do with it until now.  This was  a perfect subject for "greater than the whole".   After knocking down a few nasty 6' tall weeds! I am serious, they were taller than me!! and while were on the weed subject, how come weeds grow SO much better than real plants? What is up with that? I can barely keep my perennials alive, but darn it, I could throw DOWN in a weed contest!

Wonder where that key is??

Ok, enough green thumb laments...so, I had an absolute blast with this shed!  I found it such a great exercise to stretch my eye, to see and create images worth viewing!!   Here are some  more of the parts that made up this whole:

Old hinge What a texture palace!

I love all the texture on this hinge. It lloks like for some reason it had an asphalt shingle on it at one time??

The crooked shingle just begged to be captured! Always one guy who likes to go against the grain! ;-)

Another texture rich shot with great vertical lines as well...

***warning this exercise, can lead to severe distraction!  When I walk around everyday I see the world as if I was looking through a viewfinder constantly scanning for images that catch my eye, but now I am looking at the Intimate details of every object I see!!  "oh, that rust has such great texture!", "wow, nice patter in those bolts on that bridge!" it can become quite an addictive way to live life, but I for one love it and you might find your eyes opened to a world you never noticed too!!!


Pushing to create more from your local spots

When I started going to the Chicago Botanical Garden it seemed like beautiful shots were just waiting for me around every turn! I know, a photographers dream!  but lately it has started to feel like every flower shot was looking the same and I was starting to not want to go as often...but the I thought about it some more, and  decided to take it as a challenge, and have really been pushing to try and create new, fresh images by finding angles, textures, and compositions that bring out the beauty without being another cliche' flower shot!!

 Its not very often you even see the BACKS of flowers and then when I got down low and found the right stem (This was key!!  I know I am guilty of picking the first flower we see in a big group as the subject and often times there is one with more perfect petals or, color, or angle, or light just a foot away!!  After looking around for a minute, this was the background I got by picking this specific flower.


So many flowers are just plain over shot, like roses, and daisies. In a similar fashion of shooting under the flower, but this time shooting up, I was able to capture this. I wanted to get the brightness of the sky but still have the white petals have texture, so I had to play with my setting in order to expose for what I wanted to do in post:

So, next time you feel like your shooting the same old stuff and there's nothing in your yard, or area worth shooting, maybe think again, and give yourself a challenge!!

Thanks for stopping by!!

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