Hiking back down Hellhole Canyon in Anza Borrego Desert State Park in southern California, on our March 4th wildflower excursion, we found this little natural still-life all set up and waiting. The big cholla stump and the short cholla with the Common Phacelia twined around it, against the backdrop of the Anza Borrego Desert canyon landscape and the Ocotillos standing tall…something for the eye in every corner. In-camera HDR. Sony a51000 with 16mm prime and UWA converter for an 18mm equivalent field of view. Processed in Polarr.
I found these Crabapples still hanging in a tree along the Kennebunk Bridle Path down by the lower reaches of the Mousam River, a half mile in from the sea. They, and the red berries of Winterberry (Bog Holly) and the few remaining Beach Rose hips, inspired yesterday’s Day Poem.
Down by the Mousam River in its last
mile run to the sea, on a cold, snowless,
December day (snow in the forecast
after mid-night), ice in the drainage, ice
smooth on the marsh pools, the world
done in browns and grays…mostly
texture in the slanting winter light…
the red of winterberries (bog holly),
beach plums, withered crab apples,
startles the eye, arrests the attention,
forms the color axis around which the
winter landscape and the dull sky turns.
In this image, I like the apples, of course…the delicate shadings of the red…but it would not be the image it is without the background…the bokeh. I played with angles until I got the effect I wanted. I have a slightly closer view, but I like the context the bare branches give this image.
Sony RX10iii at 407mm equivalent field of view. Program Mode. 1/60th @ ISO 125 @ f8 (program shift). Processed in Polarr on my Android tablet.
The subtle colors with glints of reflected light in the emerging peat bog at Laudholm Farm (Wells National Estuarine Research Reserve in Wells Maine) form and interesting backdrop for this dried grass head growing up through what looks like it might have been Meadowsweet. One corner of a wet field at Laudholm is slowly turning into a bog, or remains a bog, while the rest of the field dries out. I am not sure which way it is going. In early winter, yesterday when Carol and I visited, it is just an empty stretch of boardwalk, but this little still-life caught my eye.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 234mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure: 1/250th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet.
“If your eye is generous, your whole being is full of light!” Jesus
Photography is essentially the art of putting the world in frames. All the technical stuff matters…exposure, white balance, focus, image quality, etc…but it does not matter nearly as much as what is and is not inside the frame, and how the elements inside the frame work together to fill the frame. The frame is our focused attention…it says “look at this and see what I am seeing.” The only talent a photographer has is his or her vision…the rest is skill, and can be learned with enough teaching and practice…but the ability to see what needs framing, and how it fills a frame…that is the gift that sets the photographer apart from the casual snapshot shooter. (And the world being what it is, even those who consider themselves casual snapshot shooters may have the gift, and many who consider themselves very skilled in the techniques of photography may, apparently, lack it.) It is a gift…it can be developed like any talent…but it can not be acquired or learned.
Dr. Suzuki, creator of a well known system of music education, believed that musical talent is a gift that is given to all children, and that it only needs to be developed from an early age, to allow every person to enjoy and to make beautiful music. To him, hearing music is equivalent to seeing beauty…to seeing how the world fills the frame of our attention…and the skill of actually playing an instrument can be taught and learned. It only requires practice.
I believe photography is the same. Everyone, as part of his or her birthright, has the ability to see beauty, to appreciate the harmony and energy of the world, and if given a frame can place it effectively it to say “look at this and see what I am seeing”. Being a man of faith, I believe that gift is part of our birthright as children of God…part of the “created in God’s image” truth that can and should shape our lives. It is part of the generous eye…part of the light within us. And, again, looking with a generous eye, I see evidence of the gift of God at work in people around me, whether they are aware of it or not, in every effective photograph. Whether on Facebook, or Google+, or Instagram (or wherever you look) the digital stream today is full of images that testify to the light within us.
It is a common complaint among “skilled photographers” that today, anyone with a phone thinks they are a phtographer. Isn’t it rather, that today everyone has a frame, and more and more people are discovering that if they put it around the the things they see and value, others can share that value. And isn’t that something to celebrate…and to enjoy?
I saw this apparently random arrangement of sticks and leaves on the forest floor, on a wet fall day. The textures, the colors, the angles formed by the white birch branches caught my eye, so I took the frame of my camera and put it around what I saw, being careful to fill the frame so that you could see what I saw. That is my only gift. And now it my gift to you. Happy Sunday!
My wife and I took a walk around the loop trail at Rachel Carson National Wildlife Refuge near our home in Maine yesterday. The day was overcast, a real late November fall day…no snow yet here in Southern Maine (like most of the nation). The forest was largely bare. Even the oak leaves were all off. The fungi on fallen birches and maples showed easily with all the undergrowth died back. This found still-life was just off the trail. I like the mix of textures here, the way the wintergreen pokes out beneath the fungi, the way the small maple leaf rests, and the richness of the damp colors.
Sony RX10iii in-camera HDR. 200mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure: f4 @ 1/200th @ ISO 800. Processed in Snapseed on my Android tablet. Cropped for composition.
I told the story of finding these ice bells along the Mousam River in yesterday’s Year Poem. (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+StephenIngraham/posts/Ec4WMeWA9xQ) . This set formed off and existing shelf of ice attached to a log just the right height above the stream. Though I understand the physics of the ice bell, I am not at all sure I understand the physics of this shelf and ice bell formation. ?? It is certainly beautiful with the sun shining through it!
In camera HDR. Sony HX90V at 514mm equivalent field of view. 1/250th @ ISO 125 @ f6.3. Processed and cropped slightly for composition in Lightroom.
I have never been so aware of the light as I am these weeks in December, just at the solstice. Our odd weather maybe is helping…as I am out, and further out, than I generally am at this time of year. The light, even at noon, is just skimming the earth…coming in a such a low angle that it illuminates things I do not normally see, and turns the mundane magical. Take this random pile of tree sections beside the trail at Laudholm Farms. I suspect they are piled and waiting for staff to come and haul them out, but the solstice light turns them into a study in shape and texture, color and form. On any other day I would have passed right by…but in this light I was stopped in my tracks and forced to record the scene.
Of course, this morning we have 7-8 inches of fresh snow on the ground…so everything will be very different today!
In-camera HDR. Sony HX90V at 24mm equivalent field of view. 1/60th @ ISO 80 @ f5. Program shift for greater depth of field. Processed in Lightroom.
I have walked right by this rather amazing cap of fungi growing on a birch stump at Laudholm Farms hundreds of times. Of course, in summer, it is somewhat hidden by the brush around the base of the tree…still I am surprised that I did not find it before this. The December light the other day helped. The low angle illuminated things not ordinarily seen. This cap is old enough to have picked up some algae. Unlike its role in lichen, with is a compound organism, I think the algae here is just in symbiotic relationship with the fungus. What caught my eye, and what is still of primary interest to me in the image, is the texture of the fungi. The tiny hair like structures on the surface caught the light and made the fungus glisten. And then there is the form of the thing. I find it fascinating.
Sony HX90V at 24mm equivalent field of view. In-camera HDR. Nominal exposure: 1/250th @ ISO 80 @ f5.6. (Program shift used to increase depth of field.). Processed in Lightroom.
No December snow yet here in southern Maine, and none in the forecast. The advantage of course is that we are getting to see the oak and other fall leaves weather and begin to decompose. 🙂 For some obscure reason this combination of leaves and grasses…the colors, the textures, the shapes…caught my eye and I circled around it for a few moments finding the angle. Yes, it would make a great jig-saw puzzle, but I find it attractive enough to grace any wall…or to make a wonderful screen saver image.
Sony HX90V in-camera HDR at 90mm equivalent field of view. Nominal exposure: 1/100th @ ISO 100 @ f5. Processed in Lightroom.
Full Fall has finally come to southern Maine. We are not yet at peak color, but it looks now like we might make it by Columbus Day…which would put us right back on schedule 🙂 Both of my Point and Shoots are malfunctioning at the moment (I actually canceled a trip to Panama, at least in part, because my workhorse cameras have gone lame…one is in the shop and the other will go in this week) so I am shooting with my Sony Alpha NEX 5t. I had forgotten what a nice camera it is. It certainly captures all the subtle texture and delicate color of this fallen leaf (if delicate is a work you can use to describe red).
This is an in-camera HDR at 63mm equivalent field of view using the 16-50mm zoom on the NEX. Nominal exposure was 1/80th @ ISO 320 @ f5.6. Processed in Lightroom.