"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

Friday, August 30, 2013


Today I had a real hankering for something that I could wash down with a tall glass of cold milk. And for some reason (mmm?) cookies came to mind. Then from somewhere in the back of my mind I heard a whisper "cherries". Must have been the Cherry Whisperer.
After much thought. About 20ns.  I gave in. Cookies with cherries, dark chocolate chips, and walnuts.
I hadn't planned on taking pictures but when I put them on the kitchen table they just looked so good I had to record the moment.
I took 15 pics with two different colored cloth backdrops and several different positions. This is shot number 1 which was just to check the lighting.
The camera was set to Auto ISO, Auto WB. I turned off the auto focus in order to manually center focus and soften some of the image. ISO 400, f2 @ 1/60th ss.  
Light is natural window light from the right - window faces east so this is just blue skylight. I pulled over the napkin holder which contained white napkins and used that for fill on the left.
and yes...the cookies tasted pretty darn good with milk.
 Thanks for stopping by - hope you're keeping cool...it's like a 104 out there!!

Thursday, August 29, 2013


There's always something interesting to catch your eye and visual curiosity at the Blanton. Until Austin gets its own MOMA, like many other major U.S. cities, we'll have to settle for the Blanton. That said, the Blanton is certainly no slouch. It has a great permanent collection and occasionally something wonderfully super duper comes through like the Hudson River School collection  a couple months back. I spent three hours in that exhibit room alone.

This is an image from this morning's visit. Remember, Thursdays admission is FREE. If you pay up front for parking at the checkout desk, it's 3 bucks!  That's a pretty good deal - if you're into meandering through museums.  At that price I can go several times a year. 

This is not a plug for the Blanton necessarily but it is one for art...so take in some art, it's good for you.  With Thursdays free there's no excuse.    

Thanks for stopping by.


At the top of the hill were trees. And as the sun came up, the light hit the tree trunks and was sliced into golden shafts which channeled the light down the side of the hill. This dried weed bent like a bishop's staff was caught in an alley of light.

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Tuesday, August 27, 2013



                                                                 ©2013 Andy deBruyn
Colorful reflections in the creek. What really makes this happen is very strong sunlight on the trees and leaves. If it had been a cloudy day it wouldn't have worked well.
Another part of the image is the shallowness of the water. Only several inches deep you can see the bottom adding a neutral but textured background.  If it was deeper and beyond the reach of the light it would have been color on black. Which may have been ok but this has more subtle tones surrounding the chips of color.
Click image for bigger.
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 26, 2013


Went for a walk this morning through the woods and over the bridge. One of those weird things at the end of tree branches. Don't know what it is but it creates a very active exploding frame.
Camera info: Nikon D7000 with 35mm lens, ISO 400 on a tripod, aperture priority f2, ss 1/2000, with exposure compensation at -0.7. 
Thanks for stopping by.


Nikon D80  10 MP
One of my favorite categories to shoot is "Portraits". The other is small landscapes. 
 Here are four portraits all shot with different camera bodies and pixel counts. Once again proving
that cameras don't matter much. The lens on all three top shots was the 18-135mm, still my workhorse. The bottom is the built lens.

                                                                    Nikon D70   6 MP

Nikon D7000  MP16

                                                   Canon Point and Shoot SX100   8MP

For me, the highlights in these pics are the lighting, the composition. and the relaxed mood of the subject.  I think if anything there needs to a "sense of trust" between subject and the photographer, something that is paramount for any good portrait. If you would like your portrait  taken by me, please email for prices and availability.

For more samples of my portrait work, please click  Portraits in the right hand column.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013


Here are some colorful "happy" images, hopefully to offset (even if just a little) the sad images and news we have seen of late. Always pretty much a struggle.
It's gonna be a busy next couple of days with school about to start and my car that needs some serious work.
Last image: I was taking some sunset shots and I turned around to see what was up behind me and thought that was better than the sunset. Hence, my shadow in the lower right. 

                                                                 ©2013 Andy deBruyn
The tricky part of shooting something like this is the drastic range from dark to light. You do not want to overexpose the clouds otherwise you lose detail. This is one instance where you have to rely on manual control. 
One way to handle this is a neutral graduated filter to bring the sky down which I didn't have with me. Another way, take two correctly exposed shots one for the sky and one for the bottom and merge in post but that requires a tripod which I didn't have either. The next best thing was to expose for the sky and bring up the bottom landscape in P/S. Which is what I did.
Hope you're having a happy summer.
Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 19, 2013


                                                                                                             All images ©2013 Andy deBruyn
At the beginning of the month I posted several images from a trek I took to Hamilton Pool Preserve. I said I would post some more so here they are. The ones from August 5th are wider and straight out these are tighter shooting down and show this amazing ground coverage. Lots happening under the feet.
As previously mentioned, this is wonderfully prehistoric looking. When one is so used to seeing nothing but black asphalt with tar patches all over this is a visual relief. Nothing like a good hike in the woods!

Using ISO 100 under the canopy of trees I knew I would be shooting slow shutter speeds so everything is on a tripod. SS are around 1/25th at anywhere from f5.6 to f7.1.

Thanks for stopping by.

Homage to Wynn Bullock

Saturday, August 17, 2013


Today's learning moment was prompted by a question (?) that I saw from a student after she had taken a photo course. Paraphasing: "Now that I've taken the course what do I photograph?". Can you see the dilemma?

Of course I could come up with a dozen or so iffy rebuffs - but I won't.

One of my favorite photographers of all time is Imogen Cunningham (b. 1883 d. 1976)  whom I discovered back when I was going to photo school. If you are not familiar with her work I would suggest her site "imogencunningham.com."

She was still photographing when she was ninety.   There's a beautiful documentary on her life which ends with her walking slowly along a beach at sunset with her camera at the ready. I believe she was 91/92 when that clip was taken.

Some of her greatest still life photos were shot when she was pregnant and according to the prevailing attitudes of the time she was "house ridden". I guess back then women stayed at home for most of their pregnancy. Imogen said the only things she could photograph were around the house, flowers, chairs, curtains, eating utensils, and such.      
The learning moment is - there's always something to photograph. If I can't get out and I'm stuck at home I just start looking for stuff to shoot. The foto above are some river rocks on the side of the house. A great photograph? probably not...but I went through the exercise and that's the point.

Part of the fun of photography is learning to see. Take your time. Make the image.

River rocks info: Nikon D7000 with 50mm lens camera set to manual and on a tripod. ISO 100,
1/25th of a second @f7.1. Natural bounce light only.

Thanks for stopping by.

Thursday, August 15, 2013


                                                                                            ©2011 Andy deBruyn All Rights Reserved.

I was rummaging through my archive of files for some fall images - see I'm already mentally gearing up for my favorite light of the year. I found this top one shot in November a couple of years ago. I've always loved the quality of light in this image and the delicacy of the leaves and that little movement - it has a bit of an oriental panel painting feel to me.

                                                                                                                               ©2011 Andy deBruyn
I was only going to post the top one but then in the same folder I saw this one. Again, it's just that quality of light.  I hope to make some more like images come November. We'll see.
Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Using Hi Speed Sync

I really don't get too technical in my posts. I think my photos are more about an experience of content than they are "technically" perfect. To eleborate, I prefer my images to be more warm and fuzzy than intellectually and tech savvy gratifying...more like really good snapshots as opposed to photographers who tend to massage, whisk, and squeeze out the mathematical limits of camera technology and lens designs.

However! that said, sometimes you may want to have an effect in your photo that requires you to revisit the manual.  In this image I'm trying to pass along the advantage of hi speed flash sync.
Most cameras have a native sync speed of 1/200th or 1/250th of a second. Now - the issue here is I want to take a photo on a sunny day using flash fill but I don't want the background in focus - I want that blurry effect known as bokeh so that the subject is highlighted. 

At native sync speed you will generally get smaller f stops like f8 or f16 in bright sunlight or well lit open shade. For this shot, I went to the flash menu and drilled down until I found Hi Speed sync and punched that into my camera. This lets me use any shutter speed I want - up to 1/8000th of a second!!...and allows me to use really fat f-stops like f2 or in this case the lens was wide open at f1.8.

Setting the camera to manual, I put the f stop at it's widest for this lens (Nikkor 50mm f1.8) and then in the open shade I tried a couple of shutter speeds til I got the one that worked best. Which in this case is 1/1000th of a second. You can't do that with the native sync speed locked.  

This threw the background completely out of focus and the main subject is accentuated. Focus was on the right eyelash. You can already see the fingernails of the left hand going soft.

This shot was just an exercise to illustrate the advantage of hi speed sync outdoors in bright sunlight.
My son was more interested in talking to his friend than posing - I asked him to please just stand here for one minute. I had everything pre-lit for his convenience. Stefan's my go-to model for testing.

I'm not a technical writer so if this didn't make sense - check your manual for a more elaborate and probably clearer explanation.

The key light is from an off camera flash using a Lumiquest softbox on a stand- Nikon speedlight set at 1/4 power.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 12, 2013

"Memories. You're talking about memories."

In the movie, Blade Runner, Deckard (Harrison Ford) is looking at photographs that Rachel (Sean Young) has handed him trying to convince him that she's a real human. Rachel is a genetically grown human being designed to be a commodity and serve her master. In order to give Rachel a back story her creators produced photographs of her as a little girl (which she never was) and shots of her with parents (that she never had). It was here that Deckard says, "Memories.You're talking about memories."
I guess Phillip K. Dick is trying to tell us that photographs from our past are proof that we exist/existed.   I'm in a photograph therefore I am.
Blade Runner is based on Phillip Dick's book, "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep."
The photograph below were taken in the summer of 1975 in Maine.
 When I look at these images from my past they all invoked some kind of emotional response, some warm, some murkily perplexed. 
I have several photos of Anne and in each one she's laughing.  We must have
had a good time. This one is while we were checking out the local 4th of July parade . I met Anne at the Maine Photographic Workshop while attending a seminar by the cerebral Magnum photographer Charles Harbutt. The workshop didn't have a specific title but we talked mostly about the psychology behind photography.

I'm not too sure why this gentleman isn't cuffed -  maybe he's an undercover going for a donut

This shot is on my negative strip so I took it but can't remember why and how it came about.

Lobstermen/fishermen shacks, Biddeford, Maine. 
Patterns, anyone?

 Two young girls talking intently about who knows what as the setting sun came straight down the street and formed this stark abstract setting. If these girls were 11 to 12 at the time then they're now in their fifties.  
                                                                                                                      All images ©Andy deBruyn

Click top image for slide show.

Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to check the batteries in your electric sheep.

Friday, August 9, 2013


In March of 1975, I returned to the U.S. after a four year tour in Italy. I was one of the lucky ones because most of my basic training fellows four years earlier were sent to Vietnam. 
Six months later, August 75, I found myself in Ft. Jackson, South Carolina with my Reserve unit.
I was the unit's photographer. These photos were taken with the classic Pentax Spotmatic using Kodak's glorious Tri-X film.
What's amazing is that I can still take the 38 (!!) year old negatives and make some darn good digital prints when scanned on my HP scanner.

This brings up two things: one - I've always taught in my photo classes that it's not the brand or kind of camera you use but how you use it. New models old models doesn't matter.

Second - a question that keeps coming up on other photographers blogs from around the world is - will we still be able to retrieve out digital files 20 years from now? Will the current softwares still be supported?  Don't count on it. Manufacturers depending on how they perform year after year will determine if they're still around or drop certain elements of their production or just sell off what's left before bankruptcy. Who would have thought that Kodak of all companies would stop making Tri-X, Kodachrome, and basically get out of the consumer photography business?

I have a digital camera that I purchased maybe 15 years ago, one of the first on the market. Made by Casio (yup the calculator people).  The sensor inside wasn't even a full megapixel. It made decent 3x5 prints. Now those files are irretrievable. The computer they were on smoked a long time ago. The setup software doesn't work and anything on the market today is light years ahead of that ancient discarded technology.

So....what's a poor boy to do? First, if you have digital photos from your past that you would like to keep, back up the computer files with an off board drive and hope that that company is around years from now. Or...if there are pictures you really love...print them and put them in a album the old fashion analog scrapbook way. Ink dyes today are probably good for at least a hundred years. Or so the advertisment says.  

I've been having so much fun revisiting old pictures that I will probably be posting more in the coming days.

Click images for bigger.

Thanks for stopping by.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Back in the early eighties, I lived in Mission San Jose which sits on a plateau above Fremont, California at the south end of the San Francisco bay. It was a quiet little place with a main street about two blocks long. The surrounding hills belonged to the Wente Wine family and was the perfect setting for chardonnay. I used to drive by the fields every morning on the way to work.
Besides being the home of Ohlone College there was also the convent for the Dominican Sisters of the Queen of the Holy Rosary. They had a huge sprawling campus of tall eucalyptus trees and beautifully manicured grasses. There were also lanes of olive trees. Every time my mother would visit we would picked baskets of olives and she would preserve them in jars with olive oil. Nobody paid any attention to the olives,  if we didn't pick them they would just fall on the ground and rot.
The convent was off limits but you could walk around the lower part of the grounds.  Besides being a training facility for novitiates it was also a rest home for nuns, many of whom were in their 80 and 90's. After passing away they were laid to rest in this cementary.

These photos were taken in June of 1980 using Ilford HP5 rated at ISO 400 and developed in Edwal's FG7.  Taken with an Olympus OM-1 which I still have and still works, 50mm f1.8 Zuiko lens. Negatives were scanned with an HP 8180. I lightened them up a bit for the web but other than that no other processing was necessary.

Thanks for stopping by.

Monday, August 5, 2013


                                                                                                                               ©Andy deBruyn 2013
 A couple of weeks ago, I posted an image from Hamilton Pool that was about 2 years old. So it's been a while since I've been there. I decided to go this weekend. Those of you who are familiar with the area know that once you've parked your car, there's a steep narrow path down to the pool. But at a certain point there's a Y in the road, if you go right you're headed toward the pool, if you go left you're headed through the woods eventually ending up at the Pedernales River. I went left.

The best time to go (for me) is in the morning as soon as the park opens (9am) because the sun hasn't quite got up high enough to shoot down through the canopy. Sometime between 9:30 and 10:00 the sun starts to show through. At least this time of year. The difference in contrasts in these pictures is the fact that they were clouds and the sun was drifting in and out. I had sporadic hits of sunlight along with fairly bright but flat lighting.  

The common method of shooting here was camera was always on a tripod, shutter always tripped with the two second timer, and a polarizer was on the lens. To cut down on air to glass distortion, I removed the UV filter so only the polarizer was on the lens. I am always amazed at the pure density of trees, foliage, rocks, and fauna. It's like nature just tossed everything in the soup. I said this in my last post - it's very prehistoric down there. You can just imagine the wild life that was roaming that area thousands of years ago.
ISO was set to 200 with aperture priority set to f16.
I have several other images that I'll post later.
Click images for bigger and slideshow.
Thanks for stopping by.

Friday, August 2, 2013


Woke up this morning and had a double espresso while listening to Schoenberg's Variations for Orchestra op. 31. Now that's a wake-up call. 12 tones and all those polyphonies must have fired up my synapses enough because I decided to shoot a tabletop. Lunch would be on the photographic menu.

I said to myelf, "Self, what would be a simple lunch?" - (also what was on hand)  well the simplest lunch in the canon of Italian food is spaghetti with garlic and olive oil. (Spaghetti all'aglio e olio). Sprinkled with fresh parsley.

So here it is.

Tech stuff: Nikon D7K with a 35mm lens set to ISO 100, light from an overhead beauty dish and
a 150w Arri fresnel on the left shooting through an actual bottle of olive oil to add color.

Wine is Riondo Pinot Grigio from Monteforte d'Alpone which is right next to Soave....so same garganega grapes.  There's a little glass on the left which is the way we drank wine back when I was growing up. Goblets were saved for special events. Of course, later (post 50's/60's)  when tourism started to flourish wine glasses started to appear in bars but before that it was just a simple working or peasant glass.

My son and I shared a plate for lunch. Not the wine, tho'. See secret below.

Thanks for stopping by.

Secret: Riondo is one of my favorite wines from that region..so I saved an empty bottle for photographic purposes. That's actually water in the bottle with two drops of yellow food coloring.
Mums the word...loose lips sinks ships.

BTS - note fresnel on left shooting thru bottle of olive oil to add "authentic" coloring! An organic gel!