Friday, October 31, 2014

5 Day B&W Challenge, Day 5

For my last image I've chosen one I took on the World Wide Photowalk in downtown Nampa. Although I've lived in Nampa since 1985, and driven over the 16th Avenue overpass thousands of times (maybe more than 10,000), I've never once walked across it. I've thought about it - just never did it.

Well now I have. A small group of us went to the middle of the overpass (on the sidewalk, not in the middle of the road) to photograph the train tracks below. Lucky for us, a train came through while we were there.

I like several elements about this image.
1. I love the contrast between the tracks and the train. The tracks are obviously stationary, which contrasts the movement of the train, but the difference goes deeper than that. Trains can't move without tracks. Theirs is a symbiotic relationship. Tracks without trains are just wood and metal on the ground, without purpose.

But tracks that are regularly used - as opposed to abandoned tracks - epitomize potential. They lay on the ground waiting for their purpose to be fulfilled. Touching tracks can reveal the presence of a train long before it can be seen - the train's vibrations moving through the track, foreshadowing the coming explosion of motion.

(Just a disclaimer - being on train tracks is trespassing and I'm not suggesting you do that."

The contrast continues with the presence of each. Tracks are always there; trains are there for only a few moments. Unless I'm in my car waiting for the train to pass through the railroad crossing - then the train is there for an eternity.

I think it's an interesting dichotomy, trains and tracks.

2. I like how smooth the train looks, because of the blurring, as opposed to the rough grittiness of the gravel.

3. I debated whether or not to remove the elements in the upper right corner: the small section of another track and the signal. I also debated whether or not to remove the trash between the empty track and the train. Obviously, I decided to leave them all for this image. They were part of the original scene and I don't find them distracting. I find them interesting.

5 Day B&W Challenge, Day 4

It's getting close to tomorrow, and since I'm a day behind I'm posting the next day of my B&W challenge.

5 Day B&W Challenge, Day 4

I sometimes think I spend too much time ignoring the complexity of scenes, instead looking for the simplicity. But sometimes, when I see details like this show up in front of my face ... well, then I'm happy that I naturally seek simplicity.

As I was shooting some planes, from a nearby airshow, that were circling over my house, this beautiful little cloud floated overhead. When I saw the cloud greet the tree, I knew I had a moment of natural interaction.

I like the contrast between the dark tree and the light cloud. I like the rooted nature of the tree, which is only implied, but we know it's there because ... we know trees. Contrast that with the ephemeral, fleeting nature of the tree and the two opposites create a wonderful balance.

I also cropped the image so the tree could occupy the lower left, while the cloud occupies the upper right, another way to create balance within the image.

Lastly, I like the gradient of lightness at the bottom of the image, moving slowly to darker tones as my eye moves up.

I'm sure a lot of people will say, "This is just weird Chris. It's not a real photo." That's okay because I like it.

5 Day B&W Challenge, Day 3

I am not very good at this five day challenge. It's now day five and I'm posting the image for day 3.

For day three I've chosen a detail image. I love details. Not that the big picture isn't worth photographing, I just find more interest in the small parts. This image was taken at Boise's Saturday market.

I like the repetition here. It's like a visual poem to me. There are some short pauses between phrases, and some longer pauses. Some of the phrases are darker, some lighter. Reading from left to right, it has the A-B-A poetic structure.

II also like images that make me ask questions.
Questions like, "What's in those bags? Does it taste good?"

5 Day B&W Challenge, Day 2

Triangles can be powerful elements in photos. They create energy, they provide a sense of motion and they help direct that motion. Triangles can sometimes be implied, but in this image, they're right there for us to see. The diagonal lines create a series of repeating shapes. Starting in the upper left corner, there's a small black triangle. With each parallel line, the size of the triangle increases, until the triangle's flip direction on the opposite side of the road.

The other element I like here is the perspective provided by the people on the sidewalk. I think they demonstrate just how far above the street we (the viewers) are. I also like the small group, contrasted by the lone person. You can't tell with this image, but those four people are photographers. They were on the same field trip I was on (I was there as a chaperon). The lone person is shooting something across the street. I wonder what he's looking at?

Lastly, I like the absence of cars. If there was a car in the street, this image would have a different story. I'll let you decide how the story would be different, but I like the story that's told by the empty street.

5 Day B&W Challenge, Day 1

Excuse my reposting. I'm trying to work out the best way to share my photos. I was challenged on FB (which you can read below), but didn't want to post there so I posted on g+, but now I'm thinking I should keep the sharing on my blog, which automatically uploads the photos to g+. Anyway, I'll be reposting the 5 days of the challenge. You can re-read them, or ignore them.

My friend, +Brandon Caldwell, challenged me to the 5 Day B&W Challenge. Although he posted the challenge on FB, I'm hesitant to post photos there; I can't explain exactly why, I just am.

So I'm posting here and I'll post a link there. Deciding which photos to post should have been simple, but it never seems to be for me.
Do I post a theme of photos?
Do I choose my best monochromes?

I decided to post 5 images that I haven't posted before (not that I can remember anyway). I'm sure someone has probably seen these at some point, but I don't think I've publicly shared them with my friends.

For Day 1: Multnomah Falls

I took this photo back in 1984, while I was in high school. The last time I was there, the falls were much lighter. I don't know if it was just the time of year, or if the falls seem to be experiencing a lower flow through the years.

I like this photo for several reasons.
1. I think the b&w conversion turned out nicely. I think the blacks and whites, highlights and shadow are each balanced nicely, and the contrast is just right for the subject.
2. I like the way the bridge moves out of the frame. I know there will be some (many? most?) who may disagree with me. I can hear the critique. "The bridge leads your eye out of the frame. There should be something there to hold the eye in." I disagree. I think having the bridge lead out of the frame implies motion and adventure, an opportunity to travel - either into or out of the frame. I like that.
3. I like the way the strong motion and brightness of the falls is balanced by the stationary darkness of the tree on the left edge. I'm sure there are hundreds of other compositional options available (and I've probably taken most of them), but I like this composition. I like the anchor in the lower left corner and the entry of the falls in the upper right.
4. Lastly, I like the grain in this image. This is a scan of a negative. Back in the old days, when I was in high school, we didn't have digital yet. There are some imperfections - like the white scratch coming from the top edge - and I could fix that. But I like those imperfections. They remind me of when I rolled and developed my own film, printed my own images. I remember the smell of the chemicals; I still like the aroma of stop bath.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Leslie Gulch (and Succor Creek)

Yesterday I made my first trip to Leslie Gulch in eastern Oregon. It's not far from Nampa - less than two hours - and I know a lot of people who've gone. But for some reason, I've never made the trip out. Now I wonder why I waited so long. I'll definitely be going back. There are so many interesting and beautiful rock formations. I think it's one of those places that a person could photograph for a lifetime, especially when I consider the constantly changing light conditions.

A small group of us from the Boise Camera Club and Camera Club of Eagle made the trip. I went out early so I could also go to Succor Creek, which is equally beautiful. Next time it'll need to be a full day trip, with maybe a nap in the afternoon.

I'm still processing images. My workflow is sometimes really fast, but usually it takes a few weeks to really work through all the images. However, I thought I'd share what is currently my best of the day - more specifically, my best two shots of the day.

Early in the day, before about 3:00, the skies were blue with just a few puffy clouds. Then the wind started blowing and the clouds came in. For a time, there was no blue sky to be seen. But once in a while, the sky would open up a bit, creating some drama in the lighting.

Since it is autumn, I had to catch some fall colors. I really like the contrast here between the trees and the rock. The trees are soft, bright, moving (with all the wind). The rock is hard, darker and stationary. Put the two elements in the same landscape and they epitomize the beauty of nature. 

God has quite the artistic flair and I'm glad I can capture it to share with the world.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seven Year Anniversary

Seven years ago yesterday I started this blog. If you want to read that first post, here it is:

Since then, this blog has evolved. Although it started as a chronicle of my simplification, it has become more broad. It's become about my thoughts, my philosophy of life, my photography. And yes, I still sometimes talk about simplifying.

I haven't done a firm count of my possessions recently; the number has become less important than the idea. I think the more interesting information would be how I've changed over the last seven years. I probably should have been preparing a blog on that, summarizing all the changes I've recognized, and asking other people for changes they've seen in my over the last seven years. Now that would be interesting.

(On that note, I'd be truly interested in hearing your thoughts on that topic. How have you seen me change over time? How am I different now than when you first met me, or first read this blog? Feel free to comment here, or through email, or in person.)

I'll start working on examining the changes I've seen in myself. If you've read this blog for very long, you'll know I don't have a regular posting schedule. I write and post when something strikes me as post-worthy. So I can't promise a date for my personal-changes-post, but I'll work on it.


This month is also the four year anniversary of leaving Wendell. I think my last day was actually October 29, 2010. Whenever this time of year comes around I experience that loss again. I know it was the right thing to do. My body couldn't survive staying there and my job performance would have suffered. Even so, leaving that community continues to weigh on my mind.

Grief and loss comes in many forms: loss of family member through death, divorce or something else, loss of job, loss of friends - the list could go on.

I lost my job, obviously, but I also lost a group of friends. Not that they aren't still my friends, but the friendship of daily interaction is necessarily different than the friendship of once or twice a year. The friendship of daily personal interaction is different than daily social-media interaction. I also lost a sense of purpose when I left Wendell. I went from being a productive, effective school counselor to being an out-of-work blog, relying on my family to support me.

Much of that has changed.
I'm on disability, which allows me to support myself (mostly).
I teach part time at NNU, which helps me feel productive, needed, necessary, valuable. And it keeps me in the counseling field. I may not be influencing a school directly, but I'm indirectly influencing a number of schools by training the next generation of school counselors. I may not be impacting the lives of students directly, but I'm indirectly impacting tens of thousands of students through the counselors I'm helping to train. That seems important - feels important to me.

I continue to learn how to live with my rheumatoid arthritis. Some days it's a struggle, some days less of a struggle. But I get up every morning, do what I can, try to grow as a person, love and help those around me, and find significance in life. Every night I go to bed, usually exhausted, but content that I did what I could today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dirty Dash Redux

Last night, at the camera club projection night meeting, I submitted an image that was very well received. It was included in a gallery I linked to in an earlier post, but I did some extra processing that really brought out the impact. I think this is one of the best images I've created. I love the energy, the tone, the expression on her face. It's a great moment in time, frozen by my mind's eye (and my camera).

Monday, September 22, 2014

MHAFB Air Show: The Skies

How does one maximize the success of shooting jets that are flying hundreds of miles per hour? I'm not exactly sure. I do know that after seeing images from the other photographers in the group, there are some shots that everyone seemed to get. It's a difficult task to find a new perspective on something (the Thunderbirds air show) that's been shot millions of times.

Like this first one: almost everyone who attended got this shot, and even though mine looks like theirs, I still like it.

I like this one because of the combination of blur and sharp; the plane on the left is blurry while the plane on the right is sharp. I was panning with the right plane, coming in at about 500 mph, and was able to time the image just right to catch them crossing.

Most contrails I see are perfectly straight, created by commercial jets flying overhead. The artistry of smoke trails created during maneuvers are so fun to me.

If you notice, in the lower right, there is a 6th member of the squad. He doesn't fly as fast, but he has excellent form.

Everything can't be blue!
The 6th member of this group was flying significantly higher than the rest.

I was able to snap a frame as they were flying overhead, between me and the sun.

This aerobatic pilot flew amazing maneuvers, creating dynamic shapes.

I think these last two are my favorites from the day, taken just seconds apart.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

MHAFB Air Show: The Personnel

I had a great time on the Mountain Home Air Force Base. A group of us photographers were granted special access during the practice day. Although we didn't get as close to the jets as I would have liked, we did get pretty close. And was a lot easier trying to photograph than it would have been over the weekend, when they expected 100,000 or more people.

Of course I was there to shoot the planes, but there are always interesting subjects around. This first post is all about the personnel. There is a crew that travels with the Thunderbirds, including the pilots, the ground crew and their official photographers. Watching them work was an experience. Everything is so precise, the steps they followed seemed like choreography.

This next one is my mom's favorite.

After practice was done, while sitting around in some small shade, I noticed this scene.
Boots on the ground ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NFC Car Show, Part 6 (and last): All the rest (well, some of the rest)

This first image is my favorite of the event, maybe the best car image I've ever taken. I also put more post-processing work into this one than I do to most of my images. Once I started working with it, I realized how dramatic the shadows were, so I made sure the shadows faded to complete black. I like the way the shadows become negative space to balance the detail of the car. And I really like the way the front end is emerging from darkness.

When I'm out photographing, almost any subject, I look for details. I prefer the intricacies of a scene rather than the broad expanse. Life is made up of the small moments, and big pictures are made up of the small elements.

In this image, I like play of the textured tire and the blankness of shadow. And the tail light adds an interesting shape.

These next two images are obviously the same car, the same detail. I can't decide which composition I like better. I think the arc in the lower right corner of the first image is an unexpected element that adds balance to the downward arc.

But, the bottom image works also because there's only one curved line; the rest of the image is straight lines, consistent patterns. The color in both images really appeals to me. I think it's hard to find a good green for a car, but this car certainly has found that color.

It's obviously a blue car, but because of all the random elements, it becomes quite abstract, and abstract images are so beautiful to me.

How many cars have you seen with wood on them? And how many have you seen with wood this beautiful? It's so beautiful and warm and rich.

NFC Car Show, Part 5: The Grills

I like car grills because of the repetition and patterns. They have interesting lines - some horizontal, some vertical, some wide, some narrow, some shiny, some not. The grill is the shiny smile of the car.