I needed this …

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Looking out our kitchen window while making a cup of coffee recently, I saw that our two bird feeders were mostly empty. It’s been very cold here in SW Virginia, and I know birds need the warmth provided by food. So, I cleaned out the feeders and filled them to the top. Walking back inside to get my just-made coffee I looked out the window again and saw this bright red Cardinal, pecking away at some of the seed that had spilled on the ground while I was filling the feeders. I suspect my favorite type bird had been waiting for me to come “do my duty” while sitting above watching from overhanging trees. After I made this photo, he flew away temporarily, apparently satisfied. My mood improved significantly after seeing the Cardinal taking advantage of our feeders. They need me, and I need them.

Thinking Warm

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The day I was here last August (Lake Eklunta in Alaska) it was warm with temperatures in the 70s, people were engaging in water sports such as canoeing and kayaking, others were exploring the beautiful shoreline, and a few like me were watching it all with camera in hand. It was one of the best days I’ve experienced lately. When I remember that time, through my photos, I can’t help but “think warm” and that’s important to me today here in SW Virginia, given it was minus 4 degrees when I woke up.

People who Judge

One thing that bugs me about so-called photo critics, is when they dismiss an obviously good photo, snubbing their nose at it by declaring something like, “Anyone could have made this photo, given its location. The photographer didn’t have to work for it. It was placed right in front of them.” Here’s an example of my point.

I made this photo in Alaska last August. We were in Prince William Sound, on a high speed sightseeing boat, with people like me all lined up, essentially looking at the same thing. Yup, the composition was handed to us. We didn’t have to work for it. Does that diminish the beauty of the scene? The remoteness and expansive beauty around us? Hardly. Now, to my next photo.

I took this image on a wooded trail near the center of the city of Martinsville, VA just before Christmas. Clearly NOT a special location. I did, in fact, have to “work” for the shot, because colors varied widely by where I was standing. The manner in which the artist decided to lay out the various components of the metal painted sculpture, so colors were affected by sunlight and angle of view was unique. It made for a nice photo. But, there’s no way I can compare it equally to the one I made in Alaska. True, one was put right in front of me. The other I had to work for. But please, don’t dismiss one over the other by judging its worth using that criteria. I might add I’m also weary of photo purists who too often conclude, “The photo was obviously retouched in post processing to make it look better than it probably was.” How do they know what it looked like originally? They weren’t there, I was.

Concluding, I must explain I’m coming off a very miserable bout with the good old Common Cold with its assorted wheezing, snorting, aches and pains. I am thus in a ranting mood this Friday. I’ve had my rant, and I feel better. Now let’s all go out and about wherever we can, and make photos. Just for the fun of it. Cheers,

Being Creative

I started digital coloring (painting actually) late last year when I got an iPad Pro and Pencil. There are a number of nice Apps to use. After trying several, I settled on “Pigment.” It has lots of blank outlines that interest me. I especially like being able to paint digitally in oil, pastel, and watercolor, in order to do shading and make highlights standout. In sum, it’s fun and relaxing. It’s a long way from “kid coloring” but is also only as intricate as you might want. It’s creative. That’s what I enjoy.

Merry Christmas

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While we might wish for a snowy white 2017 Christmas, this photo I made earlier this month right after we had lots of the stuff, will have to suffice for us here in SW Virginia. The one below says it all. Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

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The Story Behind a Photo

I often like to explain to those interested what led me to make a certain photo, and maybe add a few details. It’s the “journalist” in me I guess. Anyway, here’s the photo. One of my favorites of 2017. And as it often happens “luck” was a main ingredient. Also, being in the right place at the right time.

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Last August I was in Alaska, traveling about for a week with our daughter and son.  It was an amazing trip for many reasons, but “perfect weather” had a lot to do with it. Frequent visitors to Alaska will tell you it’s a rare day when the entire Alaska Range (Denali, etc) can be seen from the vicinity of Anchorage, since it’s over 200 miles away, and is usually covered with fog or clouds. Well, we hit the jackpot in that regard as you can see above. We were located at Summit Lake Recreation Site near 4000 feet elevation, about an hour away north of Anchorage. Using my 200mm telephoto lens from where I was standing, I was able to bring the far horizon in close. What turned out to be even better was when I spotted two hikers moving across the ridge line in front of us. I wondered to myself if they might climb a boulder I saw on the ridge line, so I waited until I determined that’s just what they were going to do. That’s when the composition went from being nice to great in my opinion. A tip. Try not to put the main subject of your photo in the center of the composition. Makes for a more interesting image. I also want to say its impossible not to be able to make nice photos in places like Alaska. All you have to do is go there!