"For the artist communication with nature remains the most essential condition. The artist is human, himself nature, part of nature within natural space." Paul Klee

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Secret Place

I found this scene while walking through some woods last month. It has a kind of an "Alice in Wonderland" feel. Instead of going down in a hole you climb up the ladder to the tree house. In this case it was just some sort of platform. Didn't we all do something like this when we were young? Some secret place hidden amongst thick brambles or back in the woods away from the big people. Or maybe just a big cardboard box that was a spaceship or submarine once you closed the flaps. Anyway...it was pretty thick back in there with bushes, tall grasses, and hanging vines and those little sticky things that get all over your pants and shoelaces.

Nikon D80, ISO 100, f7.1, 1/160th sec. 52mm DX/78mmFX, shot using a monopod.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Framed in Dealey Plaza

This is a shot of Dealey Plaza from under a portico across the street from the Texas Book Depository. (behind the American flag at left). The four smaller frames in the center reminded me of the Zapruder footage...frames on either side complete the effect of frames within a frame and of being framed.

Nikon D80 at 20mm ISO200, 1/180th @ f6.7 with -1.5 exposure compensation (which helped balance out the contrasts between under the portico and the bright (105 degree!) sun outside.
The inside wall was lightened in P/S.

Castle at Sundown

This is a picture of my son playing with his new Lego castle set right around sundown, as you can see. This was shot with the Canon Powershot SX100IS which is one of my favorite all time cameras. I've had it for about four years. 8MP. The Powershot series are great little cameras for the beginner photographer or a trusty backup for your DSLR. The newest Powershot is the SX130 which I highly recommend if you're going that way. Takes two AA batteries, I'd get two rechargeables. Less than 200 dollars online.

Shot in manual mode @ ISO200 at f8 for 1/15th of a second. Since the shutter speed was so slow, I braced the camera against a corner wall to insure fine focus.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Leaves on Pond

The leaves around my area turned their brightest colors near the end of November. This particular day the wind was blowing fairly strong thus covering a nearby pond with thousands of leaves. I had posted a couple of these leaf shots that were close ups last month - this wider view just pops when printed on a glossy surface.
This is a manual exposure of f5.6 at 1/60th with ISO 200, handheld - just looking down at the water's edge. Real leaves with an abstract twist.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Water Earth Sky

I took this at 9:30 this morning by a nearby reservoir. The wind was blowing the water and the blustery winter sky was on the move, too. When the clouds parted to my left the sun would just shoot through...and brush the trees with a yellow light.

Handheld in manual mode at ISO 200, f14 @ 1/100th with -0.7 exposure compensation.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Collagist

"The Collagist" Sounds like a great title for a movie! My pursuit for artists' portraits continues with Sue Gilliam. Sue let me spend some time with her this morning in her wonderful studio. The light was fantastic - lots of it. The room glowed with the southern light pouring in one side and sunrays streaming through the other side.
The collage is such a great art form...and Sue is a master of the technique of assemblage. It's very cool stuff. Everywhere I looked there was something splendid to look at. My sincere thanks to Sue for allowing me some time with her.
The technical data is not much...there was so much light. All I used was one AlienBee 800 for some fill set mostly at 1/2 power. With the Bee I alternated between a shoot through umbrella for the long shots and a soft silver for the closer ups. In a situation like this you just need to pay attention to your ambient to fill ratio and you're good. The ISO was set to 400 with most of the shots coming in around f10 at 1/100th of a second.
It was a real fun shoot...thanks Sue!!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The Rocks of Hill Country

I find these rock formations that you can find all through Texas hill country, eroded by millions of years of tumbling waters, very beautiful. As a natural phenomenon they're wonderful to just sit next to and ponder...but when the light is just right boy they sure sparkle!

I used the aperture priority set to f9, the camera chose 1/20th of a second. (glad I schlepped my tripod out), ISO500. Shot around 10am with the sun still behind a large hill to my left.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

First Shot of the Day

This was the first shot from yesterday's shoot. I wasn't totally happy with the locale and moved on to the area where most of the shooting took place. The sun wasn't up yet. I used ISO 400
and had the camera on a tripod...the shutter speed being .77 of a second @f3.8.
I like the fact that the wind was blowing enough to bend the grasses in that south easterly direction.

Fields of Early Morning Gold

Today I went out specifically with Impressionism on my mind. Last night I was looking at a collection of impressionistic paintings in a book...Monet, Sisley, Corot, among others.

So...up at the crack of dawn arriving at my hill of choice before the sun came up. Walking around in the dark watching the sun slowing make it's presence known I tried to get a feel of the rhythm of the landscape.

Here are three selects. The camera was set to ISO 400 and P mode. I let the camera record most of the data while I concentrated on placement. The time is roughly 7:30am.

I think I achieved what I pre-visualized in my mind...pretty much. I hope you enjoy the images.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Floating Rocks

Today I was checking out some past shots from Bee Caves Road. I noticed this shot which before today I didn't give much notice. I like the way the rocks are positioned around the composition and seemed to float or suspend themselves. The gravel foreground balances the foliage in the high background with a different texture and color.

My ISO was 200, f5.6 at 1/400th of a second. The focal length was 70mm DX thus 105mm in FX. Shot clean without a polarizer. If I had used a polarizer I would have lost the sky blueness reflected on the surface of the water.

I'm still working on my portrait project so there's more to come. Tada for today.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Colorful Artist

Hello to all. Hope everyone is in good spirits and your prepping for the holidays is going eggnogingly smooth. (is eggnogingly with 4 or 5 g's??)

I have been concentrating on portraits of late. I didn't want to do the standard - stool in front of a backdrop with a couple of studio umbrellas kind of thing. Been there, done that. I wanted to just work out things with the subject and see what would happen. In this case, I think something very nifty came about. (nifty is a word particular to my generation...also swell and peachy keen).

This particular session is with Eva Sim-Zabka, who is a very talented individual of many arts.
Her paintings are a celebration of color, forms, and emotions. Eva was gracious enough to allow me to spend a couple of hours with her in the studio, talk about art, and play with lights and angles. Here are three results.

The bottom horizontal shot is just a straight shot with an on camera flash. All shots set to ISO 800 and soft effect applied (in camera).
The studio is a little more complex. Read on if you're interested in techy stuff. The overall light is from a 3 foot paper china ball (camera right) with a 250W ECA bulb (calibrated at 3200Kelvin)this gave me my base light, on the left is an SB600 flash fired remotely. Flash is snooted with 1/2 CTO in order not to entirely kill the little blue spill from a window. And behind against the wall on the right is an ARRI 200W Pepper (also 3200K) adding a little kick. f8 handheld at 30th of a sec.

Hopefully more portraits to come. I love working with fascinating people - it really gets the juices flowing. And I hope some swell peachy keen pics are the results.
My sincere thanks to Eva and to you for stopping by...til next time.

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Lone Tree

Looking at some recent shots I thought that this one was interesting. Coming up the side of a hill one morning this tree was just over the crest.

Shot it at 80mm with camera ISO 400, 1/400th sec @ f5.6 with a slight -.03 compensation and a graduated filter.

Not much outdoors lately, portrait project is keeping me off the streets...more to come. Thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I thought I'd put up a couple of portraits this week as I have not gone out amongst the fall foliage and therefore have nothing new this week. It's a bit too cold and windy out there.
The one in color was shot outdoors in available light and the black and white was shot indoors using a large muted window for some soft light.
I have some more portrait work coming up in the near future and will post as soon as it happens.
Thanks for stopping by.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Old Postcard?

The day after Thanksgiving we went to the Christmas Tree Farm for the annual tree haul. As we got off the obligatory hayride the family went for the trees and I shot this over the fence looking into the neighboring field.

It was an ho hum shot so I drained some color out of it and tried to make it look like an old faded Kodak print or chrome from the fifties. Mmm? When I printed it out it actually did look like an old print. I took a lot of the blue out that was reflected on the foreground. Anywho, the tree smells nice.

Shot with the D70 at ISO 200 using Aperture Priority f8, the camera chose 1/500th of a sec.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Old Stones Old Paint New Tree

I like the textures in this shot. I was walking around an abandoned house. Took a number of shots but this was one I liked. The stones, the crinkled paint, the tree bark, and just a smidge of window.
I had the camera set for auto white balance f4 @1/50th of a sec/ISO 200.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Oh No Not Leaf Soup Again!

Last year I did a series on colorful leaves swirling around in the water. And here we go again!

I really like the effect the leaves have on the surface of the water. There's this abstract dance of color and shapes. And if you catch it with the right light, it just bubbles off the water's surface.

I knew the leaves had turned all sorts of color but today was blustery. I figured with the wind blowing like it was...the nearby pond was going to be covered in leaves. The leaves fall off and the wind just blows most of them to the shoreside right at your feet. So off I went.
Sadly a small blue butterfly got trapped in one and it's shimmering cyan color only added to the already vibrant display.
Today I kept the ISO at 200. The one with the butterfly was 1/100th of a sec @f5.6 and the wider view was 1/200th @f5.6. The trees were aperture priority at a trusty f11, the camera chose 1/30th.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chris, Chris, Chris, and Cristyn.

"...and now for something completely different." If you've been following my blog you've probably noticed I shoot a lot outdoors. Nature, it's my thing. That said, I do shoot a lot of other stuff, like sports, kids, weddings, tabletop, still lifes, etc. Well, today I have a couple of portraits.

I had the wonderful opportunity to shoot Chris Rockhold's Karate class. It was a hoot! Done a lot of sports but this was something new...with weapons!! The guy holding the sword is Chris.
The shot is using one Alien Bee 800 in close at ISO 800, 1/125th of a sec @f11. I had Chris hold the sword so it would reflect the ambient ceiling light which was flourescent. The 2k Kelvin difference gave it a warm glow. Looks kinda cool..warm. Thanks to Chris Rockhold.
The other shot is of...who else...Chris...showing off his new doo...hairstyling by Cristyn!! Again, one Alien Bee in close at ISO 200, 200th @f6.3. There is a silver Rosco reflector on camera left pushing in a little fill and an LTM 150 Pepper for a soft back light. Thanks to Cristyn!

So there you have it. Chris, Chris, Chris, and Cristyn. I'm glad it wasn't at the same time or I would have been totally confused. If I'm not already.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tis Here, Lightly!

OK, those fall colors are starting. The colors will change over the next four or five weeks. So I hope you are all out there snapping away. After that, it's pretty much brown all over.

The red leaves were shot @ ISO 200, 1/1ooth of a second @f5.6. The wide shot was @ ISO 100, Aperture priority f13, camera chose 1/50th sec. Camera set to VIVID mode. No polarizer.
Right now there's a lot of puffy white and dark clouds outside...sometimes that's a good mix for dramatic photos. Check out the sunset tonight...

Thursday, November 4, 2010

November Chill

Yup, the November chill is here and it feels great. I went out for a hilly walk this am. I loved the way the tall brown/yellow grass was being swept over by the wind. It felt like it was protecting the earth beneath it.
A new picture of "Buzzard's Tree" sans buzzards. But love the shape and feel and that cold blue sky. Chilly.
I hope you're out there making pictures. Or at least taking in the November air. Take care.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

This morning I was up before the dawn and driving out to Bee Caves. I was there a couple of weeks ago but it was around 11 in the morning. I told myself I'll be going back out there and catch the sunrise.
It was beautifully quiet. The only thing you could hear was the gurgling of the creek as it tumbled through the rocks.
At one point, I heard this strange sound...it was like...whoosh galoosh...with an emphasis on the galoosh. It sounded like some sort of air compressor...whoosh...air went in...galoosh...air forced out. I said to myself "who the heck is out here using an air compressor first thing on a Sunday morning?". I looked up and down the creek and didn't see anything.
A couple of minute later, I was concentrating on a composition...when...whoosh galoosh! This time I turned around...it was a couple of large deer...breathing extremely heavy!!! Must be from all that running...they didn't stay long...a couple of whoosh galooshes and then off...a few minutes later a larger deer came out of the thicket, stopped for a sec...click...and then ran off into the brush. Didn't have time for another pic.
These shots were at ISO 200. The deer was hand held at 1/125th of a second at f7.1. The red and blue rocks were also at f7.1 using a tripod and 1/13th of a second. Shot through a Ray Singh Blue/Gold filter. The leafy shot was f14 at 1/60th of a second with an off camera flash hitting the leaves and feathering off the rocks. The resting rock was f5 at 1/50th hand held.
Hope you're enjoying the fall weather. Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, October 29, 2010

San Gabriel River Scout

This morning I was scouting the San Gabriel river for some interesting viewpoints. Looking at my options from the east west north south. Definately saw some possibilities. Now I'll just be waiting for the weather and the trees to change.

Here's two shots from the scout. Using 400 ISO to bring up some of the embankments, heavy on the f stop at f18. My shutter speed was between 60th and an 80th. I'll be back.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Fields of October

If you've been reading my blog you know that I'm waiting for those fall colors...of course I've been concentrating on woodsy areas...expanses of trees next to water (brooks, creeks, etc.).

The change isn't quite there yet. At least, not what I have in mind.

This morning while driving around I did notice in a lot of open fields the tall grasses are changing. Hadn't thought of open fields...so I stopped the car in a couple of places.

A couple of the shots looked like they needed some help so with the aid of a grad or two...
viola...instant postcards!!

I started the morning off near a stream surrounded by foliage so I set my ISO to 400 and then left it there...forgot to change it...so later I was getting some pretty heavy shutter speeds. Out in the open fields from 500 to 800th of a second. f stops from 7 to 10. No polarizer...

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Art Through The Ages

One of the courses I took in college was simply called Art History. The book we were using was called Gardner's Art Through the Ages edited by Horst de la Croix and Richard Tansey.

My teacher at San Jose College was Mrs. Tansey, one of the editors spouses. You know what that meant. She knew that book by heart and was pretty exacting on how she wanted to see answers. Tough cookie. I believed I passed her course.

I really did like the course book with lots of color plates and at 955 pages and about five pounds I thought I could use another pass. I looked around and found another community college that was using the same book. So I took it all over again. It was taught by another teacher with different points of view and interests so I was exposed to another angle to the material.

I was very familiar with that book after two classes and hearing/seeing two separate viewpoints on the history of art. The teachers used 35mm Kodak slide projectors so we always had great
pictures to admire.
I often refer to that book which resides on a bookshelf right over there not too far from where I'm sitting.
For those interested - There is an art show at the Blanton right now called Turner to Monet.
About 40 masterpieces from the Walters Art Museum. Definately a must see!
The Cedar Park sunset above was shot with ISO 100 f5 @ 1/100th.
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Waiting On My Favorite Haunts

This preserve is about five minutes from my house. I spent a lot of time there last year especially in November and December. The colors were very cool...on second thought...I should say "warm". There's a dizzying array of plants and trees.

As you can see from this picture it's just starting to turn fall-ish. I think in about three weeks it should be in full autumn dressing.

This was shot with the D80 using shutter priority @ f8 shutter at 1/160th rated at ISO 200, with camera set to vivid. The zoom lens was at 18mm.

I think this year I'm going to try a different approach and go in there with just two primes, a old Nikkor 50mm f1.4 and perhaps the Nikkor 135mm.
Stay tune...thanks for stopping by.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Spring Colors ReVisited

As I wait for the fall colors to appear I thought I go back and check out some of my spring shots. Yesterday I said I loved shooting trees but flowers are right up there, too. This past spring because of early healthy doses of rain we had an abundant supply of Texas wildflowers. Just before the bluebonnets went nuclear we had a few lovely weeks of the above scenes.
The local park had literally acres of the yellow, purple, white...on and on... I went there on three separate days and had a slightly different look each time. Perusing hundreds of shots I came up with some favorites. I hope you like them. Thanks for stopping by.