I am happy to announce that my monochrome dragonfly image was selected to be a part of the Lenswork “Our Magnificent Planet” book. A collection of 300 photographs from 300 international photographers showcasing all that there is to love about our natural world.
I am honored to be amongst the talented artists represented in the book. A thumbnail even made it to the back cover!
I headed out to a nearby park to attempt some photography of details of nature. The bulk of the fall color had already passed peak and I wasn’t expecting much in the way of color, so I had black and white on my mind. Maybe some textures of dead leaves or a nice bare tree. Probably the one drawback was that it was a nice sunny day – not the kind of lighting I like for detail shots. But by the time I arrived at the park it was late afternoon so at least the sun was at a nice lower angle.
As I started to walk around I noticed there were still some colorful leaves hanging around and what I wasn’t seeing were the textures I came there for. Mind you I do tend to focus on pretty small areas for textures but what immediately caught my eye were the bright red berries. The sunlight was backlighting them, and they really seemed to glow. “But I’m here for black and white”, I thought. “Oh well no harm in taking a couple snaps”.
“Well, that was fun, now onto some monochrome!”
As I continued looking around and heading into the woods I just wasn’t seeing anything to make an interesting black and white image. The textures were there but everything seemed one dimensional and didn’t offer enough contrast to make an interesting mono image. So I took a few photos with my Fujifilm X-T3 set to monochrome to hopefully previsualize how the images would look in black and white and what I was seeing wasn’t thrilling me. I decided to pack it in.
On the way out of the park I glanced into a wooded area as the sun was getting lower in the sky I noticed a lone small tree the still had some red leaves being backlit by the sun. The leaves seemed to glow in the shadows of the larger trees. I had to try a few shots of the leaves before leaving. I shot a number of images of first the whole tree followed by some closeups of the leaves. Figuring I had enough shots I headed home.
During processing of the photos I found one photo of the backlit leaves that looked interesting. After my usual straightforward processing it did indeed look pretty good. But after staring at the photo for a while I decided to try something I haven’t done much of lately – adding some texture layers. I wanted to keep the image darker and the textures a little less obvious, so I experimented until I ended up with this result:
So, that’s it! A colorful day in a black and white mind!
I am one of those folks who try to have a camera with them at all times. I don’t mean I carry one into the grocery store but I generally throw one into the car when I’m heading out, you know, just in case. I’m always looking for photo-ops.
This particular photo I spotted while driving in the city. My wife and I were on our way to a restaurant and I just happened to glance over at this shell of an abandoned building as I was driving by. The lines from the beam shadows caught my eye immediately and I knew it had potential for interesting shot. I had to turn around and park a couple blocks away to go investigate. My wife is quite understanding of these kind of moments but I still didn’t want to take too much time away from our day, so I worked quickly.
When I arrived at the building I immediately began to compose this shot. I just thought the shadows made for a unique look and I was there at the right time. Once I took this photo I took some other detail photos around the scene but, in the end, this composition was the winner.
In this day of whiz-bang do everything cameras it is almost impossible to not be able to take any shot you want. Super intelligent auto focus settings can track whatever you please. Vari-angle touch screen LCD’s enable shooting from just about any angle. High Dynamic Range settings, in-camera focus stacking, and pixel shifting for increased resolution leave your imagination free to create whatever you desire. While I do own and enjoy using a Fujifilm X-T3 and, although it may not be the latest in tech, it enables me to shoot practically anyway I choose with great results. But I still find myself taking my Leica M9 camera with me as I head out the door.
I purchased a used M9 a couple of years ago, at the urging of my wife, along with a Summicron-M 50mm (Ver3). I wanted to explore rangefinder photography again after being immersed in the DSLR/Mirrorless world since I started shooting digital. I often purchased old rangefinders (Konica, Olympus, etc.) in my film era and enjoyed using them as a carryall camera. I have wanted a Leica ever since I was a teenager but they were always out of reach financially. When I eventually had a good enough job to purchase a used M3 or M4 I had already given up on film photography and was yet to dabble in digital. And, of course, when I got fully immersed in digital the Leica’s again were out of reach – until a number of years later when my wife saw the used M9 in a camera store while I was looking at purchasing the Fuji.
The M9 was almost a throwback for me. The manual focus, simple controls, limited ISO usability, and early tech (almost useless) LCD screen with no live-view felt like I was shooting with a film camera. It was, and is, wonderful. However I quickly realized the shooting style I became accustomed to with modern cameras was going to have to change. I couldn’t focus very close and I had to learn to interpret the viewfinder frame lines to semi-accurately compose. It took some practice but I found focusing with the rangefinder as quick and easy as I remembered with the film cameras.
Subject-wise I decided the Leica was going to be my go-to camera for urban and travel photography. I was still going to use the Fujifilm for my nature outings and any situation where I need a longer telephoto. But this year being 2020 as it was with the pandemic and shutdowns I haven’t been able to enjoy much photography at all. My photo excursions have been limited to an occasional visit to the city park or, more often, my backyard. The cameras have been mostly idle.
Fast forward to October.
I always like to shoot some fall color photos every year and decided to try so again. Mind you I do not live in an area of spectacular scenery so my autumn photos are not that awesome. I just shoot whatever catches my eye when I’m out. I did decide to try to shoot as much as possible with the Leica simple because I like the look of the photos it captures. I could easily shoot with mu Fujifilm and take advantage of the telephoto or close focus abilities but I like the idea of limitations that the Leica provides. Focusing with the rangefinder can get a little tough when looking at the repeating patterns of nature. It can be a bit disorienting when looking through the viewfinder and think you have the subject lined up in the rangefinder window only to find out not. I have to actually crouch down for low angle shots and don’t have the luxury of using the LCD screen for focusing and composition. Plus I cannot focus any closer the 0.7m, so leaf details are out also.
That being said I still like the nature images I get with the M9. They are pretty straightforward as my abstract thinking chops are still a little rusty this year, but they make me happy. Along with the aforementioned Summicron 50mm I have added an Elmarit 90mm and Elmarit 28mm ASPH to the kit. Pretty modest lenses in the Leica world but they all perform admirably.
Thanks for stopping by!!!
I know it has been a long time since I’ve posted here and for that, if anyone noticed, I apologize. Though I haven’t been very creative for some time now, I have still been taking photographs throughout the time gone. Good or bad, interesting or not.
Few things drive my photographic creativity in my daily life. I work in predominately rural areas that are not very interesting. Yes I do take photos of items or scenes that I find interesting but they are so far and few between and disjointed that they’re not worth sharing to anyone. Technically they are great, artistically not so much. So, with the risk of giving up photography altogether, I have had to seek out new areas to photograph.
One of those areas I discovered was Randyland.
I just discovered Randyland last summer while driving around Pittsburgh one afternoon. I had missed a turn and went around a block which I have never been on before and came across this urban oasis. I probably have been a block away from it a gazillion times and never knew about it. It is a colorful place… a REALLY colorful place, located in the tight confines of the Mexican War Streets. It’s an art project of found objects and open space bordered by brightly painted buildings. One could call it junk but it becomes more than that when put all together. It is a happy place, as seen on all of the smiling visitors taking selfies.
You’re probably thinking, “Dave, you’re not exactly capturing the fun and colorful aspects of the site with these photos”. Ha, you’re right! I do plan on posting my color photos later but I thought I would start off with showing the “faces” that I captured while visiting the property. These mannequin heads are seemingly looking around every corner and I kind of like the creepiness of them.
I guess Christmas is over, LOL.
Sorry for the looooong delay in posting. Life happens.
With still not much to say, I will refresh this site with a couple new photos I recently shot at Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, SC. Pictures of birds! Not my forte but, hey, they were willing subjects and it was fun for the moment. Shot with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 and xf55-200 lens.
With my veeeerrrry long time away from this blog I have been trying hard (OK, not that hard) to find some worthy shots to post. I know I make excuses all of the time about my lack of input but since my day job has been busier than ever and coupled with a lack of travel outside of my home turf, my photographic encounters are few and far between. I do snap the shutter quite often but being my own worst critic I’m finding that I don’t have many photos worth sharing on here.
That’s a shame.
My back road travels have me taking random photos of cows and not-so-nice looking horses just so I at least feel like I’m participating in the art of photography. Those photos often end up on the cutting room floor, or in contemporary terms, the digital wastebasket. So, I was really looking forward to the autumn color this year to maybe brighten my mood and my photos. Everything looks great with autumn colors, right? Well, not this year.
Because of the unusually warm early fall temperatures, the blaze turned into just a smolder. Leaves stayed green way into October and the colors came and went, not only fast, but sporadically. Small patches of orange could be found in a hillside of green or brown, already dead, leaves. It wasn’t a “big picture” autumn. The splendor was spent.
What to do? Focus on details! A leaf here, a leaf there, yeah, that’s the ticket!
All shot with Fujifilm X-Pro2 and Fujinon XF lenses – 55-200, 14mm, 35mm
I know, I have been a lazy poster. I do have to thank my own self for not even remembering I even have this blog. As I have noted in the past, job one for owning a blog is content, content, content. Without continuing content you cannot expect to get readers. Heck, my own motto in the past was, “If you cannot think of anything, start posting, it will happen”. So, I shall now try to redeem myself
Part of posting on a photography oriented site is having actual photography, or at least photography related topics, to post. My output this year has been lacking mainly because I seem to be spending most of my free time this past year on house hunts with my wife. As much as we like our house we feel like we are being forced out of it by outside, well, forces. We live on a very busy street that gets busier every year. I’m not talking car and people traffic, I’m talking lots of big trucks – industrial traffic. Nothing like the constant roar of a convoy (why to trucks like to drive together?) of tri-axles with loud exhaust rumbling past the house all night long. Although that should be enough to make one move, lets throw in the “quality” of people in the neighbor hood has also been on a decline. I swear I’m the only one who goes to work around here. Of course there is a handy dive bar across the street for all of them to hang out in and make shady deals. “Hollywood” thinks I should be accepting of people but “Hollywood” doesn’t live in my neighborhood. “Hollywood” has walls, I don’t.
I could go on and on about my housing situation but time to get back to the real reason we are here – photography. I am going to start off with a series of photos I took at the “castle” at Mount Wood overlooking Wheeling, West Virginia. You can follow this link to get some background on the castle or do some Googling on your own. It’s just one of the strange and mysterious places that seem to dot the Ohio Valley. The castle has been the subject of some of my previous posts but I like to return once in a while to see how it has changed. The graffiti is constantly evolving and I don’t think I could spot any previous work even if I tried. But when I think of color, I think of visiting the castle.
It was a rainy day on my last visit and I shot with my Fujifilm X-Pro2 and my XF14mm F2.8. All handheld and using the Velvia film sim to give the colors a punch. The Fuji has been working well for me and I am at the point now where it feels odd when I pick up a regular DSLR. So, for now, the X-Pro2 is it!
The view from the castle overlooks the Ohio River valley towards Wheeling;
And here are a few photos of the graffiti covered walls:
I know how much everyone has missed me since my last post, which seems like eons ago. Okay, maybe it was eons ago but I have slowly began to crawl my way out of my photography hole in the interim. Blame it on bad weather, bad colds, busy day job, old house, or any number of modern day sidetrackers, either way I have been clicking the shutter button but the results weren’t worth sharing here, or anywhere. Oh, and I often forgot I even had this blog. But have it I still do and doggonit I am sticking around….for now.
I don’t have anything new in the camera department, I’m still shooting with my Fujifilm X-pro2 and Fujinon lenses. They have been working great for me regardless of the dumb photos I have been taking. Looking into other camera models has bounced around in my head on occasion but I come to my senses and do away with those thoughts. To coin a phrase, it’s not the camera, it’s you! The Fuji performs as it should and with the exception of a few handling quirks I don’t feel another model or brand would do any better in my hands. What I do need to change is what’s on the other side of the lens – subject matter.
I have been facing the “I shot all of this already” slump as I look around my oh too familiar surroundings. You know the feeling, “hey that old car in the field looks cool, oh wait, I shot that already”, or how about “hmm, maybe I can take a photo of that old building in different light…uh no, it doesn’t look interesting in any light”. [Insert sad face emoji here] So with the same old environment I still have to realize it’s just me. After all, most of my prize winning photos have all been about relatively normal things I come across. Normal things I see every day. I just tried to see them differently and it worked.
So, with summer approaching, I think I will take advantage of the brighter days and start to see things the way I have in the past. Differently.
But first, here are some photos I recently shot at Bicycle Heaven in Pittsburgh, PA. I have posted from there before but I thought I would visit again and try to see the bikes in a different way.