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.

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Making Sense of our Craft

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With recent events being as horrific as they are it makes me ponder what I am doing enjoying the activity that gives me the most pleasure at this point in my life; photography.  Can we, or better said, should we be doing things as trivial as capturing the light, and spending hours studying the best way to show and process that capture to best convey our intent?  Certainly if you are a journalistic photographer and your intent is to show reality, you might feel purpose in conveying the horror and ugliness you see unfolding before your lens, but if you love landscape, wildlife, macro, travel, architectural, and many other forms of photography, where does today’s world events leave you?  My favorite form of photography is landscape followed closely by travel, and in both cases my intent is usually to convey the awesome beauty, majesty, and mystery of the world.

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When I see a great scene outdoors and raise my camera up, I hope to freeze time and take home a little of what I feel at the moment.  When I get home and sit down to process that image memories flood back in.  I am there.  I feel the same thing again, and I try to make it come through as best I can.  How is it possible to stand there looking at the sun set over a harbor today and not feel something for those who will never see another sunset?  My only explanation to myself is to borrow Dewitt Jones’s byline, “Celebrate What is Right in the World.”  Thats all we can do.  There is still a lot that is right.  Sunsets still are things of beauty, and beauty is real.  If we stop celebrating that we lose our humanity.

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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Why we take pictures (2)

I wrote once before about why we bother to take pictures after reading an article by Dewitt Jones. Something I’m doing this week caused me to return to this subject.
The discussion in Dewitt’s blog post focused mostly on the inner creative urge we all have. I too believe that despite the billions of images out there, and untold number taken every day, we go ahead and click away because we do need to create our own personal interpretation. However, there is another very important reason for all these images, and explains why most “photographers” don’t really care about the art in the activity, and still capture images of everything around them, including selfies. This drive to photograph is also an important part of why those of us who strive to create art, also take pictures.  We have an insatiable need to capture snippets of time to take home with us, and for the artists among us, to make that snippet as memorable and beautiful as possible.  I believe, the need to preserve time is as natural and deep seated, as the urge to simply create…it may even be more fundamental. We all live finite lives and photography offers us a chance that nothing else does to make parts of it permanent. We can look back and relive those snippets, and when we’re gone those images will say, “I was here…I was real…don’t forget me.” Eternity exists in those memories.

Our Family in Bogota 1960
Our Family in Bogota 1960

Recently my cousin Martha Lucia, who I have not seen in 50 years has taken time to distribute some precious family photographs that came down from my grandfather, an avid photographer, then though her father when he passed away.  I am forever grateful to Martha.  Because of her generous act I’ve been able to assist in making those who came before live again through our memories. More importantly, it gave my own 93 year old mother another opportunity to relive some snippets of time in her past. Photographic images are amazing things.  Go out and stop time.

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