Wednesday, December 18, 2013


New Blog Header picture

Some newsreaders don't show the header picture and whenever I change it, the old one is lost. So here's the current picture preserved in the body of the blog as well. This is a rendering of a snowmobile track on the ice of 12-Mile Lake just opposite my dock. I shrunk it proportionally; the original is much taller. I was going to leave it black-and-white but I really liked the tonality of this version.

Contact me if this speaks to you as it does to me. Picture the image (without the text, of course) as a
48" by 12" canvas or matte print on your wall.


No, not the Christian holiday. A "Leap of Understanding". Wikipedia defines it as,
An epiphany (from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, "manifestation, striking appearance") is an experience of sudden and striking realization. 
 In my humble opinion, they're rare, and they should be, otherwise they wouldn't be significant. And in my case, stating them can be a bit embarrassing. Because it feels like you're restating the obvious. Cognoscenti will stare down their noses at you and say, "Yeah, and? This is something you didn't know?"

The last one I can recall had to do with motorcycling. For 12 years I taught the motorcycle course at Humber College. There was one really, really basic concept that all motorcycle students had to grasp. I must have used the words 10,000 times. But it wasn't until one day, riding my bike down at Deal's Gap (The "Tail of the Dragon". Google it if you don't know what it is) when I had an epiphany: "You have to look where you want to go". Motorcyclists will understand this, the rest of you probably won't. I can hear my friend George thinking, "like what are you, new?"

Do you understand what I mean? Yes, you know it but do you KNOW it? Robert A. Heinlein coined a word that applies: GROK. (From his book, Stranger in a Strange Land, and if you haven't read it, you should).

So here's my epiphany for today:
"The only people who care how a picture was made are those who are trying to figure out how to emulate it". 
People who don't have that agenda, flat out don't care. They either like it or they don't like it. They either see and appreciate the maker's vision or they don't. Am I restating the obvious?

Look at that banner picture up top. Do you care how many pixels wide it is? Is it noisy? Is the colour balance off? What's that dark lump about 1/3 in from the right? Do you care what technique I used to make it? WHO CARES? It's an expression of MY VISION.

During the time I spent with Rosa, I think she tried to tell me that 1000 times. I didn't hear it until now. She also used to disagree vehemently with my premise, when teaching composition, that "you need to know the rules so you can know when to break them". I still don't get that – she was probably right but I don't Grok it.

How does that change what I do? It's a bit of a sticky wicket, as my British friends like to say. On the one hand, I'm teaching, and that involves giving people ideas and examples of what to do and what not to do. On the other side, I'm trying to express my vision in my art and that involves none of the above. I've stopped submitting images for competitions and yet with the new club, I'm fostering that learning vehicle. What to do, what to do...

So here are a couple more quotes for your enjoyment.
"I'm succeeding admirably in my rôle as a starving artist!"
"Everything hurts. Except the things that don't work anymore."
Attribute the last one to my father (Robert Springer, 1920-2010), who also coined "female dark chocolate" (no nuts!) in his later years! The other two are mine.

You know what would be cool? If years from now you entered these quotes in Wikipedia and they came back attributed appropriately!

Haliburton Highlands Camera Club

We have, as they say, Liftoff! After a snow-delayed launch, the inaugural meeting of the Haliburton Highlands Camera Club took place on a memorable date: Friday the 13th of December! There were 26 people in attendance (good thing, that’s all the chairs we had!), and at this writing, 17 of them have joined the fledgling club. I find this an auspicious number. For one thing, there are no snowbirds or cottagers in the group, imagine the headcount had we done this in the summer! And a lot of people wrote to say they wanted to be there but couldn't make the last minute schedule change.

I have an amazing 55 names on my HHCC list, from a population that would be dwarfed by the number of residents in one city block in the 'Big Smoke'. My assumption that there is a need for a camera club up here in the Highlands seems to be true. The next step is to make the promised programs happen, and we're getting a start at it. First step is to assemble a team to coordinate our activities, and that's in the works.

Part of the group at the inaugural Camera Club meeting. 

So if you're in the Highlands and you haven't joined yet, have a look at our web page and contact me for more information.

Photomatix Pro 5.0

HDRsoft has released version 5.0 of their signature Photomatix Pro software. The world seems to be divided by the three big HDR generating products, Photomatix, Nik HDR Efex Pro and Photoshop HDR Pro (there are other tone-mapping products out there, notably Topaz Adjust). Photomatix is the only one that can run as a standalone, without requiring Photoshop or Lightroom.

HDRsoft has always provided free upgrades to their existing customers, and there seems to be no exception here: I went to, downloaded and installed it over Photomatix 4.2.2 and it never even asked for a serial number. They didn't send me a heads-up, though, so if you're a customer, get thee over to the site for an upgrade. Kudo's to HDRsoft for this policy.

I've spent a total of 5 minutes on it since I installed it. I opened a 3-shot/2 stop burst and played with it briefly. It appears to run smoother that before and with more subtle control over the effects. I'll have to do some more testing. My normal go-to has been the Nik product and the one thing it has that Photomatix doesn't is Control Points, although you can do much the same thing with layer masks in Photoshop.

Here's that 3-shot image I ran. All I did to it after returning from Photomatix was to dodge out the bottom of the dirty door a bit, and straighten/crop in Lightroom.

I really should have cleaned the spider webs off the side of the building before winter. Then again, I wouldn't have gotten this shot! 

Topaz Star Filter

If you hurry, you can get the new Topaz Star Effects filter for half price (until year-end). It does really neat stars, but it also does glows: I learned that by watching their Webinar last week, then I tried it on this image:

The glow makes a big difference in the feel of this image. 

I used the star effect on this photopainting of the snowplow after the first snowstorm of the year. 

Go to this link and enter decstar as the coupon code at checkout.

Winter in the Highlands

A day in the life... here's what you have to do when you live up in the Highlands!

...and this

He had no problem with me taking his picture! That's $300 of heating oil being pumped into my tank! I must say the D610 delivers spectacular performance at ISO 6400.

It's not even winter yet officially until Saturday. Looks like we're in for a long one.

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