Shouldn’t Get Too Worked Up

The purpose of this little web site certainly isn’t political, but since I made some art recently that clearly expresses my feelings….I guess I’ll call this “art”.  What a glorious time to be an American!  Enough said…I’ll let the reader guess where I land on this one.

Chuck-Dugand-1

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We Must All Stand Against Terrorism

Self Portrait_Jan 2015-EditI don’t normally include “political” statements on my site, but as a fellow human being I feel for those in France and other places who continue to suffer because of Radical Islam.  This should be the end of political correctness.  We must all stand against violence perpetrated in the name of any insanity and understand what we are dealing with so that we can address it properly.  This is not about religion, or freedom of religion, it is about insanity against civilization.  It must be stopped.

2014 Retrospective

I’ve been through too many years to do this. Set goals, forget goals, reload and try again. 2015 is here. Time to look back at 2014 and what was accomplished, and think about the future.

I follow quite a number of photographers, and at this time of year many will do a retrospective on the past year…some will include their best shots.  I thought the exercise might be good for me.  I taught quality, and Deming for a number of years before retiring.  Improvement over time is important, and improvement is impossible without constant re-assessment, planning and action.  I won’t get into re-assessing everything about my life, but I will talk about several things that are important to me.

Before going any further I will dispense with my golf.  Golf is my other passion, and it ain’t getting any better.  I continue to love the game, and my wife and I continue to play, as golf was meant to be played, on our feet, carrying our bags.  This is no mean feat in Houston’s summer heat, but we do it.  For that I am grateful.  My game is another matter.  As I grow older golf balls don’t go as far, so eventually long par 4’s turn into short par 5’s.  From a game standpoint though, I’ll count 2014 a success.  I play reasonably well, and I’m still playing and loving it.   I shot my personal best in 2014, a 76, and had a number of games under 80…of course I also had games over 90, but who’s counting?  For a game like golf, thats about all you can hope for.  Great game.  One where I can feel my father’s presence when I’m out there.  He also loved the game.  For 2015 I hope to stay healthy and still be walking 18 holes a day whenever I’m home and the weather permits.

Travel is a passion, partly because it allows me to get to places where photography is great.  2014 was great for that also with trips to such strange places as Monte Negro, and Serbia, and wonderful times walking in England, and Utah’s Zion Park. New England in the Fall was beautiful.  2014 also included a wonderful Disney Cruise to Alaska with my grand-daughter.  All had great photo ops, in addition to wonderful experiences.  2015 is planned out nicely.  I’ll be posting when those trips are complete.

What were my best shots in 2014?  The term “portfolio shot”  is a great one because it defines the shots I would include in my portfolio, if I were a professional photographer?  It enforces a certain discipline in selecting shots.  I went through my many shots from this past year (starting last December, actually), and pulled out all my “portfolio” images.  One thing I started doing in 2014 as a final step in my post processing is to keyword any special photos in that batch as “portfolio” in my attempt to be more selective in what I show other people.  Unfortunately even using this keywording step I still end up with way too many “portfolio” shots, when I go back over the entire year. Trying then to winnow that number down becomes somewhat futile because I love different images for different reasons, many have nothing to do with the technical or esthetic aspect.  So here goes.  These are the shots I chose out of thousands, both because I like them as photos, but also because they represent, in some sense, 2014.

Re-assessing how I progressed as a photographer in 2014 is somewhat easy.  I’m not sure if my images have improved, although I would like to think they have, but my understanding and appreciation for the craft has moved forward by giant strides.  I was lucky enough at the beginning of 2014 to be elected as President of our local Photography club.  Its not a small club (close to 100 members), so some aspects of this “job” have been trying.  Being involved in this way with Photography all year long has really focused my attention on reading and learning everything I can about it.  In past years I tended to back away from photography when I wasn’t traveling.  Houston is no garden spot for a landscape photographer, and in the summer its daunting for anything outdoors.  Being involved in this club has been a godsend for me.  My hope is that in 2015 I can do even more for the club, and in turn learn more from that activity.  We have many good photographers in the club, and I have a lot to learn.

My main goal for 2015?  Chill.  I need to not be as intense as I’ve been.  I know I drive some people nuts.  I thank God I’m surrounded by the people I am surrounded by, otherwise I’d find myself on a desert island somewhere.  How can I achieve that goal, other than to just keep trying?  Here goes….

 

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Gratitude

This month’s photo assignment for our local Photoclub is “Gratitude” in recognition of November being the month of Thanksgiving. That’s an admittedly difficult assignment, but worthwhile on many levels.

It’s been said, ” The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” If that is true we as artists ought to be able to reflect our own personal gratitude in our images.

Kennebunkport Sunset
Glad to be alive

Attempting to portray gratitude this month has an important effect on our members beyond merely the pictures we will take or select. Attempting to portray gratitude makes us think more deeply about why we take photographs and by doing that explains us more clearly to our fellow photographers.

I personally believe the best photography comes from a deep sense of awe within. That sense is simply our inner gratitude for what we see. We may not call it gratitude, but what else is it? If we recognize it as gratitude, we’re richer for it because gratitude recognizes something greater and more important than ourselves. Our images attempt to show or connect with greatness, hence the awe.

It starts with pre-visualizing the shot. We imagine or see something that touches us. We frame and compose the shot to capture what caught our eye and imagination. As a rule the best images focus on what it was that mattered, and eliminate the superfluous.

More often than not, at least for me, I don’t succeed in fully capturing what I saw in my head, hence the power and reason for re-visualizing in post processing. Even then the final result rarely reaches the heights we’d like to achieve.

The power of Gratitude as a photo challenge is that it makes us strive; to think. Not a bad thing when trying to create art, and even a better thing in light of the Thanksgiving holiday. My hope is that this assignment will cause some of us (including myself) to attempt a deeper connection with our art.

Typos

Ok, I know I make a ton of typos. It used to be that I was just a bad, no make that terrible, speller. Before spell checkers I used to always have a dictionary on my desk at work and would call my wife several times a day to check spelling. Even worse than that, there were (and are still) some words I misspell every time I write them…and I know it!

Spell checkers were invented. What a blessing. Great invention. Those things even got better as they corrected my errors automatically. I’d type away and watch words unscrambling themselves behind the cursor. Fabulous!

Then a new invention. I don’t know what it’s called, but now my computers make up words, trying to outguess what I’m typing. Much of the time it works, but frequently I’ll look at something I wrote later and wonder, where in blazes did that come from?!

I absolutely hate proof reading. It shows. I don’t mind someone pointing out my mistakes. Please do.