Saturday, August 20, 2011

I'm Baaaaack!

Another 3 week absence. My email is clogged with "where are you?" and "why haven't you written anything?" and "Are you OK? Did you fall off the Earth?" type messages. I guess I needed some down time to reflect on where I am and where I'm going.

I actually spent some time with real human beings. Not cybernerds, not pixelheads. Well sort of — in between 3 motorcycle courses, swimming and biking and other stuff, I sat on a dock, watched the sunset and talked about non-photographic stuff. I enjoyed a whole new level of interaction that didn't involve a camera and with minimal computer time. I also met a new person who is influencing my life to a degree. Some stuff I won't share on a blog, but there is an interesting dimension. She's an artist. I'm about that far from picking up a paintbrush. Yes, a real one, not wired through my Wacom tablet.

For the past two weeks, I didn't pick up a single photo book or magazine (well that all stopped last weekend, but...). Instead, I looked through a thick tome of Group of Seven paintings, a book of Picasso's work... and just viewed the world differently. My perspective is changing. I don't know if I'm ready to put it into effect, but I'm slowly trying.

My artist friend told me, "stop thinking about composition. About f/stops and shutter speeds. In fact, stop thinking. Just do what comes naturally". In my defense, that's what I've been trying to do! Her point is, "stop trying, do it!" It's hard to put in words what she's taught me. Once, we pulled over to the side of the road for a long discussion about colour blends and complements, and she showed me a patch of sand and some grass and how the light blended them... hope I can get it.

You tell me whether you see a change in my work. Not today or tomorrow, over time. I'm heading in a new direction.

Back to reality. We visited the Minden Cultural Centre one afternoon. There's an art gallery (yeah, well — a daily drawing of a teapot doesn't turn me on), and some 19th century buildings. HDR material: here are a couple of shots.


The focal point is the bright orange cupola on the schoolhouse. I tried to lead your eye there with the sidewalk. Great dramatic sky
don't you think?


Inside the schoolhouse. I think the desks are on skids so the curator can move them around more easily. There was a similar picture chosen as "Editor's Choice" on the NAPP portfolio site this week
I like mine better!

Last weekend, I spent a few days with some really good photographers and friends. Whenever I do that, I somehow end up with some interesting images. Here are a few of them, starting with the mundane and progressing to the 'cool' side.

We spent several hours photographing the "Thunder on the Grand" boat races in Dunnville. Here are two of my favourites:


I shot almost everything at a slow shutter speed. This one was extreme: 1/15 second. I wanted to achieve an abstract motion blur.


This was also at a slow shutter speed – 1/125 second. My friends were shooting at 1/1000 second to freeze the action. By panning, I captured a sharp image of the boat and the motion blur of the background. He was travelling at almost 100 mph.


Kids in a Candy Store. I couldn't resist. Imagine their expressions, and what was going through their minds.


Lake Erie on a moody day. Although Photomatix HDR and Topaz Adjust toning added texture and sharpness (well softness in the sky), this is much more effective in black-and-white than in colour.


The final image for today is another HDR, but the lightning has been artificially added. I read a tutorial on how to create it on the NAPP site and this is my first attempt. I'll write it up on my technical blog in a bit, but if you're a NAPP member, you can watch Corey's video yourself.

These last two images are works in progress. The lightning shot especially: it doesn't look real yet. The concept is there, but execution is not. Still, it's interesting and a way to spice up a sky. I plan to do some more work on them so stay tuned!

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