Saturday, June 20

Swan... Um... Egret Lake

Okay, I stalked her. Poked my 300mm lens through the leaves to her secret spot across the lagoon. She preened and primped... Maybe unaware of me... Maybe figuring the water was wide enough to keep a lurking human an easy take-off away.

They call ponds and lakes, lagoons in Sea Pines Plantation on Hilton Head island where South Carolina - almost Georgia - summer wetted down the air. If you're outdoors, southern seacoast's grow humidity thicker than the syrup folks pour over breakfast grits. And the heat keeps the air hotter than the bikinis make their beaches.

It's where lots of gin mixes with even more tonic as afternoons commit muscles to low gear. It's when the smarter birds find secret spot to digest their morning breakfasts and recharge for a twilight wade back into the lagoons, oh... and into wherever people were stupid enough to stock coy ponds.

So that gal up there wasn't about to let me get her to do anything unladylike. Which is why I'd mistaken her glowing-white body for a swan and figured that I'd be able to create a post called, "Swan Lake". Wrong... It's actually "Egret Lagoon" where the big birds prowl among alligators for fun and profit.

And so, realizing the story wasn't about swans I figured I'd find me an egret at work in the marshes to work into a painting that captured an impression of both the bird, its hunting, and the POP! of southern American summer color.

A day or so after I invaded the privacy of that beauty up above... I found this guy working his way slow as suitor on a first date toward his prize. And once again my Canon 7D's EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens did its job. Which is a capture that I couldn't have made years ago without a tripod. But the combination of image stabilizers and the camera's processors let me grab tight hold of the moment. Which, thanks to a lot of PhotoShop processing combined with the melding of a number of layers of AlienSkin's SnapArt filtering and texturing, I was able to make my concept visual.

Hot, huh? 

Monday, June 15

Don't Tease 'Em!

Along Hilton Head bike trails...

Saturday, June 13

Summer's Started

Down in Hilton Head, SC last week. Summer comes to Dixie with an early muscle, especially in the Low Country... along the the Atlantic Coast. Hilton Head Island's shaped like a running shoe and we stay very near it's flat instep. Once a bog, it's flat and canal-irrigated to draw the brackish water back to the sea. If the ground's not everywhere as damp as once-upon-a-time the air's still wetter than a stoop-laborer's back And twice as thick. Mid-day's are for beaches, pools, and air-conditioned spots cluttered with books and adult beverages.

Bike Shed

Out back we store ... Well, have you noticed that the word "shed" is double entendre? As a noun, it's a place where we keep stuff. As a verb it's the act of discarding. A bike shed sort of promises both of those things. And this flat island teases you into believing that you'll shed the vacation belt-lime baggage if you''ll peddle your bike from the shed. Getit? In a way, nothing says island summer like this lazy morning image of those backsides poking out and teasing me to wrap my fat legs around their fat saddles. And yeah, why not, huh?

Jungle Glade

To circle the jungle between me and the sea. And the way it dares me to leave the bike and wander trails that wind somewhere. Which I almost did except a snake rolled and wriggled out of those leaves there to the lower right and coiled blink-fast onto the trail and then off into that underbrush. So much for the dare... Back to the biking... When, just to my right,  I heard water plop down from the bike-path's bank and jerking around I saw...

Primordial Lurk

this thing and peddled like hell away, parked, and tip-toed back, my Canon 7D with it's 70-300mm lens cranked all the way out. Through which... I watched it, it watched me, I focused, shot, and backed way up. After gasping a bunch, I went back and kept shooting while it lay there watching, only its eyes flicked, the rest of that body flat... still... cocked... and stinking up the thick swampy air. You know the word, fetid? Yeah, now imagine this thing's breath and you've got a match.

Night Watch

Oh yeah... Wildlife thinking reminds me that I probably forgot to post this wild herd I captured in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth Park. Okay, that was last summer and there are crocs, not gators in Africa so the segue's kind of hard to explain. Hmmmm... But these pix are all summery, right? RIGHT! So it's a theme :-)

Monday, June 8

Life Winds

He leaned
Againt the
Morning breeze of

Commuting with day-break-chilled shoulders near work 5 miles west of  Mityana, Uganda. Captured through my Canon's EFS 17-85mm (f4-5.6) glass. Processed in my imagination with PS4. It rained early that August morning and this road was puddled and its vegetation bowed. Most roads in Uganda are surfaced with a thick red clay and well maintained to rid them of pot holes. They're probably easier on the feet, ankles, and knees of walkers than cement or macadam. Good thing, walking's normal for thousands we saw. 
It's side-effect is the shaping of trim, strong people trudging into life's wind. 

Monday, June 1

Three River In The Night

Way above the Three Rivers of Pittsburg there's elegant dining behind a crystal wall... It's been there since the 1930s and 40s when Sinatra fronted the Dorsey Band up in the night-time sky with Steel City glimmering out to the horizon.

So okay so far... but.. Well. That's when Fred and Ginger were whirling through platinum and night dust... And Those evenings glimmered like diamonds on a princess's tiara. 

Hell, we can do color now with the ease of decorking champaign. So why remove it? And yet... sometimes a color-ectomy glides into a space where my emotions are so much differently receptive. Why izzat? Thoughts? Feelings? 

BTW... See that point down there? That's the hotel where Rita and I held our wedding reception 47 years ago tonight. Seems like yesterday. 

Monday, May 18

Skeptical Lady

Yep, she's skeptical, but not cynical.

There's a difference you know. The Skeptic is looking for sufficient proof, the cynic can never find enough proof. I'm a skeptic... Like her.

She's from Mityana, Uganda. So are her friends. I hope she liked me as much as I enjoyed meeting her. Either way, it was an important moment for me.

I like my Canon 7d with that EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens clicked on. With the image stabilizer it's easily hand-held and sharper than the razor I used this morning. I've always admired platinum prints. They have a glowing presence that captures imagination like epoxy. Look at the tonal range platinum creates. Haunting, huh? 

I processed this to print LARGE! It's about three feet on the horizontal edge. And so crisp you can see me in those catchlights in her eyes. Click on this image and let me know what you think... Or feel. 

Saturday, May 16

3 Farmers' Daughters

Girl Scouts of Uganda. In the village of Mityana. Beautiful farmers' daughters gather with their families at twilight. In the middle of rich farmland, the town's in the south central part of the country about 50 miles west of Kampala.

Almost all of Uganda's elevated well above sea level, So even though the town's about 25 miles north of the equator it's almost 4,000 feet high so it's 3,500 folks may need blankets and coats at night and tee shirts during the day. The village is a central place, equidistant from its circle of farms and their families. I've written before... Ugandans are physically fit and attractive people. The kids are charming and anxious to be photographed. 

Once again I framed these girls through my 7D's EFS 70-300mm late on an August Saturday. Have you ever used Polaroid large-format film? Its colors actually felt thick. Amazingly, AlienSkin's Exposure 7 can mimic my memories. It's as if Eposure's's poured a syrup of glowing colors, like molasses, over a waffle.

Thursday, May 7

God Is Love Realty and Take Away

Mityana Road, Kampala, Uganda Wakiso, Central Region

This is a cool compound along the Mityana Road, Kampala, in Uganda's Wakiso, Central Region. That's a carpet of yellow cobbed-corn there on the center right. The produce store on the left's selling fresh veggies. Behind it is a take-out restaurant. And off to the right a tavern. See the silver cistern water tank there on the left side roof. Clean fresh water's a challenge throughout the country but there's wonderful rainfall in this lush green country, so a water-catcher like that's a gem.

I lack sufficient knowledge about the country to know why rain catching cisterns aren't more common throughout the Uganda. Instead, struggling against dangerously polluted bogs, ditches, streams and rivers, tens of thousands of people walk miles each day to fill then carry large yellow plastic water tanks to and from municipal wells. And yet it rains almost every day, and much more often during the semi annual rainy seasons characterized by sustained deluges. 

Isn't the color of the real estate building striking? Bold, primary painted commercial buildings pop up  about each tenth of a mile or even more often along the highway. Many are painted by national companies to serve as sort of billboards, their colors... red, yellow, blue...and etc. are synonymous with the company logos. They add powerful energy to trips. 

When I grabbed the original of this image, it was like an artist's sketch. I knew I wanted to develop it much like a painter. Which I've done now, months later, here in my studio. So much of Uganda feels the way scenes must have felt to the impressionists of the early 20th century. 

Impressionism is an interesting word eh? What artist is not fueled by impressions? What else is there?

Geek Stuff: Captured the base with my Canon EOS 7D through its EFM 17-16mm zoom glass. Then brought my concept to life in PS4 coupled with AleinSkin's Exposure 7 to ignite the dynamic range and finally used the powerful overlay tools in AlienSkin's SnapArt's oil brushes.

Wednesday, May 6

Amsterdam Ways...

Amsterdam, Holland (or is that The Netherlands?)

This port city easily dates back to Rome and before but its street are littered with people pumping pedals on bikes without gears, or walking around these tiny byways. Amsterdam is young. 
Oh... I grabbed this with my Canon 7D through its 17-185mm glass focused out to 50mm. Then I determinedly teased out the ghosts with AlienSkin's super powerful Exposure 7's stand-alone system, not this time in Photoshop. Increasingly, Exposure7's becoming my goto process allowing me to express so many individual feelings. And to find Amsterdam's spirits in hues that exist only in my imagination. 

It's the power that Exposure 7 puts into the artist's hands rather than its presets. Plus it gives me a options that, while possible in Photoshop, it's eat creative time like a black hole. In this case, I'd purposely (pre-processing) grabbed the image through a distorted plastic glass, and used the distortion to isolate the center. Then I created different layers of fabrication including the shift in the dynamic range in Exposure. 

I am able now to execute a process that finds my imagination's image. This is a powerful application with a major learning curve. 

Friday, May 1

Baltimore • 4/27/15

Baltimore, its feelings snapped open like a box of nails. One night last week it insurrected. Is that a verb? To insurrect?

For a decade I commuted there where a very large number of people watch TV nightly to see places they can never go. Economists call that the demonstration effect. It's a force that might in an instant twist everything we know into an unrecognizable shape.

There's a micro-thin line between riot and insurrection.

For 60 years our War On Poverty has strictly applied the stick of zero tolerance against lawlessness while the carrot of aspirational jobs and career ladders has gone flaccid at best. Baltimore's a symptom of that squeeze without escape. It is more insurrection against the policy than a riot of opportunity.

This is a montage of AP photojournalists'  images. I'm not reselling them, just emoting through them utilizing PS4, Topaz Adjust, and AlienSkin's Exposure 7.

Friday, April 24

Blog Sites?

Maybe I'll break down and lease me a website service? But which one? It'd be cool if this image expanded to fill the top of this page. So much research exists to show that on every printed page, the visitor's eyes go first to pictures, secondly to their captions, next to headlines, and lastly toward body copy like this. 

So I'm leaning to the conclusion that a page dominated by a strong image will grab eyeballs to that graphic and then immediately to the text below as its caption. Thus with no distracting headline the process of image to copy is reeely improved. Here, with that weakly sized image up there falling way short of page dominance, visitors have so much less to pique their imagination and to drive it downward for answers. 

In other words, is not an artist's best blog platform. Which brings me back to the impetus to think about a leased website service, one that's affordable and whose learning curve won't distract me from spontaneously using it.

Expanded significantly, that image up there is full of questions, right? Don't you want some explanation? Which is the challenge of conceptual art, it needs to be filled in with meaning. OK, I understand that it's the viewer, not the artist who carries the responsibility to give art meaning. Still, I want to give my interpretation for whatever it's worth. What I felt, and concluded when I took, then processed this image.

So two questions for you...

(1) Any recommendations from you re. the perfect blog service for photographers (including costs, or at least directions where I can discover them easily) which will allow me to curate a gallery of ideas led by an image? And,
(2) What's your emotional reaction to that image up there at the top of this posting? Does it ignite a question (s) that either you can enjoy answering, or a question re. the meaning of this image tat will stimulate me and everyone else who stops by, toward a thoughtful answer? 


Thursday, April 23

Along The Tracks

A young boy's imagination sometimes lurks in that gritty battleground between absurdity and terror.

Found this lad who'd happily ordered up his face paint at a fair near Lancaster's Amtrak main line. I caught him with my Canon 7D through its EF-S 10-22mm (f3.5-4.5) glass at 18mm . The trickiest part of grabbing this shot was making the kid stop giggling. 

Tuesday, April 21


Spring morning. Buddies. Hanging in the park. Doing whatever. Nice guys, no drama at 11... Not quite yet. Here're boys who haven't learned to slide on attitude with their sneaks.

On the other side of adolescence they'll remember this summer's sun, and how they didn't need to do anything, but could still do everything.

What'll it be today? Something forgettably memorable. And this summer's blur will be there somewhere in memory storage. Like a rhinestone, they'll pull it out decades from now to peer at the glow of a long-ago summer's that's all around this park bench with their best buddies ever.
I caught the boys with my Canon 7D's EFS 70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM Lens cranked out to about 150mm. The stabilizer on this glass keeps it sharp enough to prick balloons. Sharp enough to slice off a hunk of boy-memory. Sharp enough to capture buddies who touch in a shared personal space... Remember? 

Saturday, April 18

Lost To Archeology

You know when you see those "artist reconstructions" of ancient cities how they know so much about street scenes? Someone gave me a book with pictures of Egyptian and Roman ruins. And there are plastic overlay pages that show "how it looked" before time rubble-zed the things.

The last time I was in Italy I noticed how the hills and mountains were bare, little growth beyond some bushes and grassy weeds. So I asked someone whether trees would not grow in the volcanic soil. "Well actually Ted, that sort of soil's usually quite rich for agriculture. The trees though, have been gone for millennia, harvested by the early Romans for fire and building."

So, if so  much of the various structures was actually wood, how now do the artists know what the majority of buildings looked like? Even the excavations in Pompeii fail to reveal much wood since the heated ashes burnt most away.

The thing is that archeologists don't really have much idea what wooden structures and decorations, much less their painted colors, looked like. Example, take this Moravian church in Lancaster County about six or seven miles into the country beyond my home. It's maybe a century or two old at the most. Already time's sanded away a lot of the detail and without significant restoration, this spire's days are numbered. How will anyone a couple thousand years from now guess at this wooden decoration? The glass oculus? Oh sure, this image will survive so they'll not have to guess, right?

What is the reasonable life expectancy of this picture? Given Moore's Law, does anyone expect that there will be reading devices that could reconstruct these pixels even a quarter century from now? Once, perhaps in Roman or Greek times, artists might have left low tech drawings and paintings behind on media which might have let some ideas hold on. Today, not so much, right?

How much of what you can see when you go out of your door into the wild... How much of that will be imaginable to anyone a couple centuries from now? A couple of millennia? Even when the archeologists dig up its ruins, how much will they puzzle back together... And how much, like this wooden spire, will be wiped from all memory?

OTH, what's it matter?