Learning

My recent inspiration is the British color blind photographer Chris Friel. Every day I look at his photographs and reread his interview where he mentioned that he likes to use the long exposures and multiple exposures to create his very unique abstracts.

I didn’t figure out what is so special about long exposures. Not yet. Some day I hope I will. Meanwhile, I am learning how to take photographs with double exposure. The images above are my first creative attempt to do something serious and different with double exposure where two frames are combined together.

It was a pure luck that near flowers there was a huge power transformer and some “artist” painted on it with a chalk “abstracts”. It worked like this; first I shoot the flower then I ran to the power transformer to shoot the “abstracts”. It took many trips but eventually something decent came out of it.

And then I tried to take photos of horses with double exposure. And it worked. Of course, I am the only one who is excited about the photo below but at this point it doesn’t matter.


 

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West Land. Causey Dam

What did I do for a few weeks being away from my blog? I shoot nature. Mostly trees. I tried to be creative with double exposure. Actually, struggled with it. I tried not to hear a lot of negative voices, just chose one to which I wanted to listen. And listened to it. The voice of a virtual friend who is a very objective. No praise but a lot of good advice.

What else? I tried to go into the direction where my curiosity is. It led me to Causey Dam. I wasn’t there for a few years. It’s a breathtaking place especially at the beginning of autumn. I wish I could get there in winter but the road which leads to it will be closed. Too icy, too dangerous to be there.


 

Some is not all


Some will love your art.
they will keep coming back for
spoonfuls with full bellies and
empty plates – begging for more.

Some will not.

they will pick at and dissect and reject
everything good that you thought to offer.
be content with both

both the light and dark
assist in discovering the neon of your soul.

Alexandra Elle, Neon Soul
 

Absence of Self

Yesterday I went to explore the industrial area in our city where they store grain and found myself “landing” on a different planet. This planet was filled with huge industrial buildings, tracks, warning signs and a few security cars.

The whole place was so impersonal that it didn’t speak to me.

And then… in the corner of one of buildings I found a lonely bike. To see this bike was such a nice surprise. I felt that I met a person and I am ready to start conversation.
 

Life is good.
 

Voice within Us

We all have a voice within us which constantly saying that we are not that and this.

Sometimes it’s very convinsing and makes you believe it. You believe that you are creating crap, that your efforts are waisted away, that you lost a reason and going in a wrong way.

And then you gather all your confidence and say to self over and over again that you are on the right path and you are doing a reasonable thing and nothing waisted. No one effort. No one bad photograph. You call your bad photographs “sketches”. And you feel relief because right now your bad “sketches” are your teachers. They are your best personal university and you are on a very exciting journey which doesn’t have a final destination.

Life is good!
 

Night Stroll


I feel alive when I am on the streets or in the mountains.

Streets, mountains, again streets… that is my usual route with my camera. Sometimes it feels that I am lost between two worlds. Urban and nature.

I learned that the streets can talk even when they are deserted and they can surprise you with an unexpected moment which you can’t grasp right away only feel it vaguely.

And only later you think about luck and began to believe that it visited you and you immensely grateful, grateful that your camera like the old loyal friend didn’t betray you, that the cheap plastic optic this time had a mercy on you and didn’t demand something not achievable.

Life is good!
 

In the Ditch

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice…

from poem Journey by Mary Oliver

I found this flower in the ditch and thought how many flowers were shouting to this wild daisy that it chose the wrong place to be. You need to love life so much to be that brave.
 

Solar Eclipse in Utah

We didn’t go to Jackson, Wyoming  to watch the full solar eclipse totality. The totality in our state ( Northern Utah) was partial, only 96 % but we still experienced many signs of it.

In early morning I went to water my garden and it was incredibly bright outside.  I have never experienced such bright light.  Even wearing my sunglasses I still felt a little discomfort in my eyes.

At 10 a.m we turned on the Weather channel to check out what is happening in the nearby state Wyoming where thousands of people gathered to watch the full solar eclipse.  During totality the temperature  drops a few degrees and it’s getting cooler. And it happened.  Our local temperature dropped three degrees, from 91 F to 88 F.

The most fun I had watching how it was slowly getting darker and darker in our garden. Around 11 a.m it was quite dark and felt like we were in late afternoon.  Shadows also became long.

Our partial totality happened around 11:55 a.m and lasted only 2 minutes 38 seconds.  We didn’t experience total darkness.  We  watched on TV how Jackson went into darkness and it was so emotional and so thrilling that at some point  I desperately wanted to be there wearing special solar eclipse glasses and taking pictures of total solar eclipse. Instead, I found a picture from Internet ( above)  just to remember how it looks when the moon blocks the sun.

Next totality will happen in 2744 in our region.   It’s  727 years from now.
 

More on Swallows


She desperately wanted to have a company but was rejected.


Mama and her baby.


That one finally was accepted.

I watched the swallows for an hour. According to my observation, they are quiet possessive of their territory. To be accepted by another swallow and share with him/her a wire was not easy. But some were able to do it. Probably, they have more easygoing personalities.

I googled about swallows and learned that they are called the “birds of freedom” because they can’t endure the captivity and only mate in the wild. The swallows live only three years.

West Land. Pier in Evening

The pier was narrow, light and shaky. At some moment I felt slightly dizzy walking on it. While walking on that pier I thought about the other piers in my life; there were not many of them. Only three.

Continue reading “West Land. Pier in Evening”

My Trees

A two story condo. A little porch. A big steep hill in front of the porch. Just a few steps from our house. It’s summer and the hill is covered with tall dry grass. My first summer in Utah. Unmercifully hot and unusually long. It’s already early September but the temperature outside is still close to one hundred.

Continue reading “My Trees”

West Land. Looking at the World


 
For me trees always were the teachers. I thought about them as lonely people and exceptionally strong. They don’t loose themselves; they always fight for life with all their strength. They fight to build their own form and represent themselves to the world.

When the tree is dead (picture above) and reveals it naked death to the sun and wind, rain and storm; you can read its whole story of the struggle, of the sickness. You can learn how many attacks it withstood, how many storms it endured.
 

God Bless You, Whoever You Are!

There are places you would never go but constantly think about. They fill your imagination with different photographic opportunities which in reality may be nothing more than illusions. Thus, for a long time I wanted to explore the backyard of the oldest hotel in our city but didn’t have the guts to do it. Two days ago I finally gave myself permission to go there, explore and take a few pictures.

Continue reading “God Bless You, Whoever You Are!”

West Land. A Little Bit of Nostalgia

Yesterday I thought about what makes a good photograph? Why so many of my photographs are falling short and only a few have their own life?

David duChemin in his book “The Soul of Camera” wrote:

When we look at our photographs and find not the slightest reflection of ourselves, it’s a good sign that our images have lost soul.

Does my first photograph have soul? And what about the rest? I don’t know… What I know that my first photograph is my favorite because it reminds me of places where I grew up. And that is simple as it is.



 

Gather Around


 
I was intended to photograph an old motel with a fancy name surrounded by red long fence. But this motel wasn’t a photograph that day. I worked and worked the scene until I realized that I had no interest whatsoever in this damn motel. I forced myself to say “no” to everything what was there around and left.

Luckily, I found the moment which I liked a lot. Two bikes by the Mini Mart were patiently waiting for their owners. I looked at these bikes and thought that I also once upon a time had a bike when I was ten years old. My dad bought for me a simple bike and taught me how to ride it. That was the only bike I owned.
 

West Land. Fisherman


 
I have never been fishing on a lake or any river. I am more likely to be found on the shore of a lake walking along the beach or in a quiet room reading a book. When I see a fisherman I always stop and watch. And envy his stillness, his connection with the lake and waves, his total concentration.
 

West Land. At the beach


 

 
My resent discovery is the little curvy beach which is hiding in the mountains. To my surprise sand on the beach was welcoming and warm. Water in the lake (actually reservoir) close to the shore is warm also. And you can walk barefooted and feel the sand. Very nice!
 

Through My Downtown

Our downtown is interesting. You go there and never know what to expect. Last Saturday I took pictures of what I found more or less interesting. Just a few simple moments which made my whole trip worthwhile.
 

Sometimes you look down and see… the cowboy boots standing on a little stool. And then your look up and see the man fixing something on the door of his store in his cowboy boots. Thanks that he took his time letting me to immortalize his cowboy boots.

You look inside the store and it’s unusually dark there. You see on the floor the beautiful white dog with his owner. Both are so peaceful.

You enter the outdoor dining area of one of the local restaurants and see the red table with salt and pepper shakers on it. You are so thrilled because you dreamed for months taking picture of a red table with salt/pepper shakers. Sometimes dreams come true. You have only to believe in them.

Then you go to your favorite place to look at the windows. How many times did I look at this building and its windows? Thousands… In summer this building surrounded by little lights. This time I was able to get an interesting effect of them (used Lensbaby).

And then I found something odd when I was ready to leave. No explanation what it suppose to mean but it looked intriguing.


 

Portraits of Strangers. Cowboy


 
This summer resembles the summer I arrived in Utah several years ago. It’s unmercifully hot and we have only a few hours in early morning to enjoy summer. In evenings the temperature is so high that it’s impossible to wander on the streets.

Today I spent a few morning hours in our downtown. I met interesting people, I took plenty of pictures of dogs. I always take pictures of them. I even wanted to bring home a little labrador puppy but thought about my old Tasha and Kaya and changed my mind.

Morning was wonderful and considerably cool. I am slowly turning into an early morning person.
 

Bench


 
Local museum. Dozens of ruffles. A modest display of old shiny cars. And at the corner by the window a lonely bench in the light.

Benches on the streets can tell the fantastic stories. Sad and joyful. Serious and funny. Benches in the museums are usually silent and leave everything to your imagination.
 

Railroads and Memories


 
When I see the railroads I think about the trains I took in my life and where they brought me.

I am thirteen years old and I am traveling by train on my own to Moscow. In my car compartment there are four of us; a married couple, a young girl and me. I was told by mom to be careful and not to get into conversations with strangers but as soon as our train takes off I am totally involved in conversations. I am fascinated by a young girl who is much older than I am. She has a little book of poems in her hands. We talk, she reads some poems to me from her book. I am not familiar with a poet. I know so little about poetry. Alexander Blok… His poems make me silent. There is something in them I can’t understand but I can feel. I feel sadness and I want to cry but try to stay calm. I especially like the poem “The Stranger”. I ask the girl to read it to me over and over again and she reads:

And every evening, at the appointed hour
(or is it merely a dream of mine?),
the figure of a girl in clinging silks
moves across the misty window.

Slowly she makes her way among the drinkers,
always escortless, alone,
perfume and mists emanating from her,
and takes a seat near the window…

Strange… The industrial scene, the curvy railroads tracks and memory about the girl who introduced me to the her favorite poet Alexander Blok in the train to Moscow.
 

“This is My Security Guy…”


 
This was one of those days when everything went awkward and wrong but ended great.

I arrived to the lake and found out that if you want to park your car there you have to pay sixteen bucks for parking. I didn’t have money with me. And that was a lot of money to pay for hanging around just for two hours on a beach.

The closest parking place happened to be two miles away from the beach. It wasn’t bad. Our early mornings are cool and you have a few hours until will be unmercifully hot. To walk forty minutes to the beach wasn’t bad but when I came to the beach it was already crowded. I hanged a little bit around and headed back to my car. On my way back I noticed an old house with a cute “guy” looking through the window. I liked him immediately. I liked his hat, dark glasses and especially rocking cool mustache.

A few minutes later I head a voice behind my back “That is a nice morning to take pictures on a private property”. I was so preoccupied with this cute “guy” that I even didn’t notice the warning sigh “No trespassing. Private property.” “This is my security guy,” said a man wearing the same hat as his “security” guy.

There are moments in your life which can make your adventure worthwhile because you meet a kind person who easily could be mean and angry at you but instead showed his graciousness and understanding. And at this precise moment you understand that kindness is always a choice and think how often you choose between being kind or indifferent and cold.
 

West Land -6. Red Desert

I have inside me the winds, the deserts, the oceans, the stars, and everything created in the universe. We were all made by the same hand, and we have the same soul. Paulo Coelho
 

 
There was time when I didn’t love the desert but slowly year by year I began to appreciate its beauty more.  I used to it strong windy mornings, unmercifully hot summer days and cool late evenings.
 

West Land -5. Barn


 
I believe that inside the barn is the whole different universe and a different time zone. You enter this universe and you are lost among old long chains, ropes, different tools, nails, generations of different pocketknives, a few old rusty bikes, old tires, rubber boots, layers of dust and broken tires.

Barn has a smell. It smells of hay and sometimes of horses, it smells of breezy mornings and beautiful sunsets. Am I imaging all of this? Of course, I do. I was only once in a barn and remember a few things I didn’t mentioned above; there were a lot of broken chairs and an old sewing machine, piles of tools on the old tables and old machinery I have never seen before.
 

West Land -4.


 
“We are afraid to look through that window”, that is what my friend said to me another day while looking at the photo above. He didn’t say anything about liking or disliking this photograph and I didn’t ask.

Anyway, I found an abandoned shed and spent a lot of time trying to photograph the old door and a broken tire next to this shed. None of the pictures came out OK. Then I am moved to the broken window and after a few attempts I got finally the picture above.

What can I say about shooting for three days in a row with my Lensbaby sweet 35? It’s difficult. It’s difficult to find the focal point and make it sharp. It’s difficult to use a lens with only one focal length. It doesn’t let you to be lazy.

I remember that Henry Cartier-Bresson at the beginning of his photography used the 35 mm lens and then he switched to 50 mm. When he was asked, why the 50 mm lens, he said:

The 35 is splendid when needed, but extremely difficult to use if you want precision in composition. There are too many elements, and something is always in the wrong place. It is a beautiful lens at times when needed by what you see. But very often it is used by people who want to shout. Because you have a distortion, you have somebody in the foreground and it gives an effect. But I don’t like effects. There is something aggressive, and I don’t like that. Because when you shout, it is usually because you are short of arguments.

Well, I don’t like to be loud and to shout but if it will happen I will not be upset about it. And I don’t mind to include a few more things in my photos.
 

West Land -3.


 

 
“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time?” That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”

Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
 

West Land -2.


 
Yesterday was a big day. I finally got my Lensbaby sweet 35. This time they sent me the right Lensbaby for my Nikon. The first Lensbaby was for Canon and I sent it back.

Of course, yesterday not everything went smoothly. My Nikon D90 in manual mode doesn’t display a metering scale when the Lensbaby is attached. Yes, no display even in manual mode. If it will happen to you the best way to figure out the correct exposure is trying to guess and check. It’s not high tech in our digital era but it works. You take a few testing shots and see how light they are or dark and go from there. If it’s too light increase shutter speed and make it faster, if it’s too dark go for a slower shutter speed (decrease numbers). And not forget about ISO.

It’s a long way to learn how to use Lensbaby, you have to practice and practice and be patient. And that is what I am going to do.
 

West Land -1.


 

 

 
Here I am with three decent pictures from the old theme Western Landscapes and not willing to give up on it yet. I will continue this theme under different name West Land. It’s more broad and less promising and allows me to include whatever I want in it.

Of course, if I would pack my car and hit the Road to see nearby states it would be a different story. Meanwhile, I am staying where I live and photograph what I can find near my home.

I am exploring now our local park. I know, know that isn’t very exciting idea but to make it more interesting I started to pretend that I am a tourist – the crazy one – who fell in love with our park and since that walks there days after days sniffing, snooping and looking around.

Another day I was stopped by my neighbor and asked what I was doing by the river kneeling on my knees and answered that I tried to photograph creatively. He gave me a look like I was totally insane and lost completely.

Of course, to some degree it’s madness. It’s madness because every reasonable person would give up on the idea to take pictures with the cheap soft focus filter (costed seven dollars). Every reasonable person would go on the forum and would learn more about these type of filters before buying them.

Well, I will continue this theme and explore our local park hoping to get a few more decent pictures. And then I will hit the country roads and go to the same places which I know by heart. I don’t mind see the same places over and over again. I never get tired of them. Just a little bit bored sometimes.
 

The Way it Sometimes Goes


 

 
I started the series of portraits of strangers a few years ago and I got accidentally a few good pictures at the beginning and thought that it was great. These few pictures inspired me with a cocky confidence which was short-lived when the bad pictures of strangers began to pile one after another. I gave up on this idea.

The idea returned back a few weeks ago during the car show when I found myself looking more at people than at cars trying to figure out how I can approach some of them and take pictures with permission and without.

Thus, were made a few new portraits of strangers.


 

 

Fleeting Moments


 
First, I met Her. No doubts She was graceful and beautiful. And She was patient. For some unknown reason She sat still for fifteen minutes on a dry flower letting me to take her pictures. I suspect She was napping.

She was the best model I have ever met!
 

 
Second, I found that our cottonwood trees are throwing their blooms in every possible place (second picture) which I found interesting.

Third, I decided to torture myself and set my camera on manual mode and manual focus which I never used before. It was time to learn something about this mode.

What can I say about my experience? Of course, I struggled. I struggled with exposure, sharpness and shutter speed. When I tried to take pictures of a dragonfly (first picture), I couldn’t get it in focus which I blamed on my bad vision but then somehow things started to improve. Do I like the manual mode? I don’t know.

I think in street photography it’s useless because while you are trying to adjust the right settings the decisive moment would be gone and leave you frustrated and disappointed. If you are a nature and landscape photographer the manual mode probably is very helpful. You are in control with the whole situation. If you are an amateur photographer like me it’s still nice to know how manual mode works in order to understand better exposure, shutter speed and ISO. That is what I tried to do today.