Color the water

You’d think that as long as I’ve been in the photo biz, I would have settled into a particular style or genre in my work. Not so, apparently. I think my next blog will address this. But for now, here’s something new I’ve been working on.

With my affection for history and the fact that I live a block-and-a-half from Lake Erie, I took off on a suggestion from my astute business partner that I should “do some boat photos.” Full disclosure: this was purely a capital pursuit.

So I started cruising the Library of Congress online photo catalog, searching under various keywords. Yacht seemed to work the best. I picked out about a dozen from 1895 - 1905 and downloaded them. The native file size they have is huge (22 x 28 inches at 300dpi).

I picked one to work on, converted it from grayscale to RGB and began to color it in Photoshop. I have done this a bit before, but not on as large a scale. My aim was not to make it look present day, but more like the hand-colored photos from that era.

When it was completed I showed a thumbnail to my rep. She showed it to some folks and told me a week later that they wanted four more at 20 x 24 for a new project she was working on. They will go in a new building downtown.

I learned a few new tricks, improved my skills and more importantly, gained confidence in my abilities. Which puts me in a great position the next time Al throws me a challenge.

Here are two samples the Ariel, above, and the Vencedor, below.

Getting back on track

The last Sunday in April is the annual event know as Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day. I have participated for several years. In short, pinhole photographers from around the world are invited to make a photo on that day and upload it to their gallery. No contest, no prizes, just an amazing showcase. As I write this, there have been, 2,255 images uploaded to the gallery. Only one entry per person.

Last year was an epic fail. I spent the entire day trying to find a photo, traveling west to some nature preserves along Lake Erie. I made a few exposures, but they just weren’t very good.

This year I knew I wanted to go to the Flats section of Cleveland. I have a show this summer and wanted to include some fresh Cleveland images. In the end, I uploaded a photo that broke every rule of composition, but something just felt right about it (below). The photo above was the last I made that day, but thought it a bit cliche.

Since our BW lab in town closed over a year ago, I’ve had to return to processing my own film. This is a good thing. The results were good, although it took me way too long to load the 4x5 sheets into the tank holder in a changing bag, and my environment was less than dust free. Glad to get back on track with this camera.

Geek speak: I use a Robert Rigby pinhole camera which accepts 4x5 film carriers. The focal length is approximately a 21mm view. The aperture is approximately f 256. Exposure approximately six seconds on Kodak TMax 100 film, processed in Ilford Ilfosol 3. Negatives were scanned on an Epson V750 flatbed scanner, then cleaned up and toned in Photoshop CC.

A change of place

Cooper's Hawk - Panaxonic Lumix GX1 w/ 100-300mm lens.I’ve had cabin fever. I blame it on this never-ending winter. I get out for a walk as much as I can and don’t mind the cold as long as the wind is reasonable. But for a while there I was doing more shoveling than walking.

More often than not I take a camera with me. Sometimes just my iPhone. But I had been taking the same routes over and over. And while they take me by Lake Erie, or a feeder creek, or some woods, it has become a bit repetitive. To break that routine I went to some of the parks that have trails in the adjacent county.

My walks pair well with my newish hobby of birding. On the first visit on a new trail I photographed a Cooper’s Hawk in flight (with my new used camera). That same day I just missed an owl. I saw it, heard it, and discovered it’s nest but couldn’t get a photo. Today I went back just as the snow passed through. I took camera and lens with a little more reach. When I got to the area I slowed and scanned the trees. To my left I saw a Barred Owl, about 40 feet from the path. I spent about 45 minutes trying to get the best image. It only moved once, to a new limb about 10 feet deeper in the woods.

Oh, and I scared the crap out of a jogger, who never saw me, my monopod or my ginormous lens until she was five feet from me. She actually did a little jump dance. Sorry.

So take your camera out for a walk. You never know what you’ll see.

Barred Owl - Nikon D7000 w/ 300mm lens and 1.4 extender.

Winter sky

Simple story this time. I was out for a short walk, the usual short route because it was a bit cold. As I headed through a park I saw some interesting cloud cover moving in. So I walked over to the lakeside portion and stopped along the fence to photograph over the lake. I photographed with my P7700 as a horizontal (above, converted to black and white), even taking some snaps on my Yashica Lynx 14e with yes, black and white film. I then walked west about 150 yards and made some more photos, this time vertical with the P7700, a few bracketed frames for the HDR look (below, converted to black and white) and them with my iPhone 5s (one an be seen on my iPHone feed here).

I call these moments gifts. Some say luck, or chance. But the fact is I was out there, saw it and recorded it. You can’t win if you don’t play.


Long story short

Bald eagle in nest, re-arranging the furniture.

Here’s the story.

With the temperature hovering at 50 degrees today, double what has been the norm, I decided to go to the Sandy Ridge Reservation of the Lorain Metropark system. It’s a great place for birding and to get some exercise. I took my longest glass with me (techtalk - Nikon D7000 with 300 f2.8 lens and 1.4 extender).

It was bright and sunny but the footing was poor – mud and snow on a gravel path. As I emerged from the woods to the lake area I saw a fellow photog set up on a tripod with easily double the glass I had. So I grabbed my binoculars (8x) to see what he saw. Oh, a Bald eagle nest, about 500 yards away.

I felt bad about vulturing his shot but it was a public venue. I made a few frames but then decided to walk around a bit since the eagle was in its nest and making no indication of leaving. I walked a bit; squirrel, chipmunk, red-winged blackbird but not much out there. I was approached by a ranger in a Club Car (a modified golf cart with knobby tires) who reminded me that the park closed at 4:30 (two hours before sunset). It was 4:10 so I started back.

This is the full-frame image that the above photo is taken from.About half way there I heard someone coming up behind me on the trail, on the run. It was the Ranger, who said he had gotten his Club Car stuck along the trail and was heading back to the HQ to get a truck to  pull it out. He sized me up and asked if I would be willing to help him. Yup, not doing anything else.

He came back with the truck and we headed to the cart. As we cleared the trees and made the turn there was the eagle about 150 yards away, sitting on the top of a dead tree. Awesome photo. I told him that on our way back he had to let me stop and get the photo. He agreed.

We got to the Club Car on the side slope of the walking path. We could move it, but not get it back up to the path. He hooked up a tow line to the cart but it was way to sloppy to get any traction with his two-wheel-drive Chevy S-10 in need of new tires. He had to leave it for the morning shift guy to deal with and we headed back to the HQ.

At the junction where the eagle was I took a look and it was gone, back in the nest. Oh, well.

When I got home I related the story to my wife (BA in English, former copy editor). Apparently the story I told (above, near verbatim) was waaaaaay too long as I perceived from the eye-roll. So I asked her what I should have said.

“You saw an eagle in a nest. A ranger asked you to help get his cart unstuck but you couldn’t. You saw the eagle closer on the way to the cart but it was gone when you came back.”

Isn’t that what I said?