Category Archives: travels

Carefree Travel as Dark Clouds Gather

Lofoten Islands Norway, Infrared

Hawk and Fences, Durango Colorado

Last summer I had the great opportunity to do some carefree travel; a trip to Colorado and then to Norway. I did a lot of work with cameras in both places, as well as having a good time with family and generally being away from everyday cares. The top photo here is from the Lofoten Islands in Norway, and the bottom one with the flying raptor is from Durango Colorado.

It’s funny how different it is to see dark clouds on the horizon than to be on the edge of a storm, and then different yet again to be in the pouring rain, wind, and lightning. On the horizon they are mostly just interesting.

Last summer, while doing these travels, there was a slight possibility — though bigger than ever before in my life — that America could become an authoritarian fascist regime. It seemed like an almost laughable possibility. Our democracy is robust, right? Russia couldn’t really hack our election, we would imagine. Even if we got someone with fascist tendencies in the White House, there would be grown ups to keep him in check, right?

Right now experts on authoritarianism are very concerned about the new president’s first 10 days in office. Large and spontaneous protests are happening all around the world. Meanwhile in DC, the mechanisms that separate established law, civil government, and political loyalists are coming apart.

The edge of the storm is hitting us, and I think we will get quite wet. This may be worse than merely interesting. If some of our minority party don’t pull it together and stand up against the breakdown of our laws and mechanisms of government, we lose the 238 year experiment. There’s some chance somehow the laws hold up. #resist

Prints of the images above are available printed on Epson Hot Press Natural paper:

Durango, Raptor, Fences

Lofoten Islands, Mountain and Clouds

Moving Slowly with Character Lenses

Dune Fence Sunset with bicycle

This summer I’ve been testing and using some vintage manual focus and manual aperture lenses. They make some good lenses now, for sure, but they also used to make good ones in the past. Also, one modern lens I have now is a modern lens, with modern coatings and all, but it’s from Voigtlander’s “Vintage Series.” It’s extremely sharp and brilliant over most of the frame at least, but there’s just something special about it.

I had that Voigtlander lens on my camera as I was walking slowly along the beach at sunset in about the third or fourth day of having pneumonia, and I sure was moving slowly. I had walked longer and been out longer than maybe I should have. So walking slowly, I saw this, and I had just the right lens on my camera for the situation.

Roadside Chicory, Car, Vermont

I’ve been quite busy using and testing some of these vintage and character lenses in recent weeks, now fully recovered from that pneumonia. Working hard at photography.

So on this day I had to drive to take a show of photographs down in Lyme, New Hampshire, where they were hanging in Stella’s Restaurant as part of an annex show for Long River Studio Gallery. I had my cameras with my, and Lyme was a place I used to photograph a lot, so I left early, driving slowly, with some extra time. It turned out I didn’t make it to Lyme to photograph before my schedule time for the show de-hanging. I stopped along the road in Vermont in my own town. I passed this patch of blue chicory flowers along the roadside and I stopped there to work with it. I tried a few lenses, starting out with a modern Zeiss, but then I put on an old 80s lens, which was the lens that the late Jane Bown favored for her portraits. It’s pretty good, but a little soft wide open, and it has great bokeh. Often, to get these old lenses I’ll go through a series of apertures, starting with wide open. This allows me to get to know the lens. For this image, I was right by the road, and I had just reset the aperture to wide-open, hence the shallow depth of field and crazy bokeh balls. Standing there with the lens set like that, I heard a car approaching, thought, “what the heck,” and raised the camera, quickly (manually) focusing on the foreground flower. As the car approached I tripped the shutter. It worked.

It’s funny, both of these lenses would certainly be rejected by anyone purely looking at lens tests, looking for optical perfection by modern standards. And I myself would have been that one rejecting them about a year or less ago. But something about this spring and summer is loosening up, a bit of wildness is creeping in, and here we are.

These photos can be viewed at higher resolution and purchased as prints:

Beach Fence at Sunset with Bike

Roadside Chicory with Car, Vermont

Dune Fence and Shadows, Beach Grooming

Dune Fence and Beach Grooming, Jersey Shore

I was staying near the beach, so I had the chance to go out while the shadows were long and the light was soft. I’ve been meaning to publish this one for a while, and I finally got the spur to work on it.

Photographers out there may have heard that Google is giving away their Nik collection of software for free. I’ve been using Nik Silver Effex for some time. If you’re careful not to get too carried away with its power, it offers some nice additions to a straight conversion to black and white, some ways to get the tones just right. Silver Effex has been crashing on me a lot lately anyway. I was working on making an output file for a print that sold the other week, and it must have crashed 30 times or more, and it was a large file to reopen each time. Ugh.

So I took this news as an opportunity to move on. A new one I’m trying, called Tonality CK, does not crash. So I’ve been taking it out for some trips around the tone poems. This is one.

This photo is for sale on Canson Rag Photographiqe paper

Two exposures: Pine Tree by Former Cranberry Bog

Pine Tree by Former Cranberry Bog

not-infrared, from D800e full frame

Pine Tree by Former Cranberry Bog

exposed with infrared-only camera

A few weeks ago I had a chance to make a collection of small matted/bagged prints for a flip-through bin at Frog Hollow in Burlington. They only wanted infrared prints. That’s a little bit of a funny restriction for me, because I usually consider the infrared to be more like an extension of my palette rather than a separate realm. Anyway, I was very glad to have the chance to do it, and I treated it as a little show. Usually in a show I’ll work from a range of prints that I know work, to something very fresh, new to me. I take it as a chance to stretch out and push myself, which is funny, because I can do that any time. For this show, this image was one of the new ones, and I was very happy to see it come out of the printer. I printed it on Canson Rag Photographique, a slightly textured matte paper, just a little smoother than etching paper, but still with a very nice tooth.

After that I was printing some things with a different ink set in the printer, for “luster” paper rather than matte. Then when I had to switch inks again (a process that is a little expensive) for a print sale last week, I decided to print that infrared print bigger on the different luster paper (Canson Baryta Photographique) to see if it would have different qualities. Yes, a very nice print indeed.

In the old days, when I carried around a view camera with a bellows, dark cloth, and boxes of film-holders, I used to also expose infrared film. It was a tricky and squirrely business back then, often failing. So even if I “saw” the image as infrared, I would also expose some regular sheet film as well, just so that I might get something, or in case it worked better on black and white tri-ex or plus-x or T-max or whatever. That’s a habit I carried forward, but the difference now is that the infrared isn’t always the hardest to manifest. At least last year the most difficult camera I used was the Nikon D800e full frame, trickier to get a good image than with the good reliable Olympus or even the infrared. Often on a given subject I might work with three cameras.

I looked through my catalog to see if I had made the exposure with the full frame rig, and I had. And I got a good one! With the infrared reading informing my vision, I rendered this as black and white. It’s very hard to decide which of these I like better. I think for a small image, the infrared might have it, but the full frame version has much more detail, and it will make a much better large print.

In a previous blog post I wrote a bit about how I am letting go of my notion that each situation or scene can only have one definitive print. More and more I’m opening up to letting it be OK to let any particular vision expand a bit into its various facets.

The infrared version is for sale in various sizes here.

And this is from the higher resolution regular color exposure.

Before Church, Paris

This is a scan from medium format film, breaking any recent continuity this blog may have had.

This image was awakened from the vault by my daughter’s current trip to Paris. I loaned her a real camera and showed her how to change the aperture and exposure compensation etc, so I’m excited to vicariously imagine seeing Paris again.

This was in the mid 90s, this guy, getting his pants adjusted by his mom, is now hopefully a grown man. I don’t know if this wall or anything looks remotely similar anymore, of course.

That trip in Paris I carried a heavy bag with a Pentax 6×7 medium format camera, light meter, monopod, and a couple of lenses. Crazy.

I may have a handful of photos of the week this week — we’ll see. This one took a lot of time because of all the film spotting, taking up far more bandwidth than I had planned. I’ve got to get busy, because I’m hanging a show in early October at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. Off to work!

This photo is for sale and can be viewed larger (and in retina) here.

Black and White Sheep on Curved Road, Iceland, 2007

This follow’s last weeks post with a curve. Somehow this image bumped a long line of work that is jostling to see the light of day.

I had looked at this in my catalog carefully in the past, but as a color image, and I abandoned any effort to bring it to light. This morning, bumping both other photographic efforts and client web work I need to do, this grabbed me and ran with me all the way to photo of the week this afternoon.

This image can be viewed at higher resolution, and it is now for sale as a print.

Curves on Fjord Edge, Iceland

I’ve been putting together a lot of panoramas from files lately and finding a lot of gems I hardly knew I had.

I had tried putting this one together in the past, but somehow I didn’t have the chops to pull it off, or I couldn’t get my mind to visualize it properly. I thought it didn’t work. This time I think it really works!

This image is for sale and can be viewed in higher resolution here.

Monkey, Scene Behind Monastery, Swayambhunath 2013

Swayambunath Monastery before Earthquake

We had been at Swayambhunath since before breakfast on this morning, and we were taking a break to eat breakfast at a rooftop restaurant (which meant aggressively defending my meal from a big monkey). This is a view from that rooftop and toward the remaining secondary spire poking up over the monastery roof. Monk’s laundry is on the line, and young workmen are carrying heavy sacks — maybe concrete? — from a neat line on the roof.

In photos of Swaymbhu after the earthquake of April 2015, this building can be seen still standing while the buildings next to it have crumbled half-way or all the way to the ground. I guess it was built well enough. The main stupa itself remains intact, of course, but one of the two secondary spires is gone now.

In support of better building in Nepal, I will donate 100% of the proceeds of any and all of my Nepal photos in the month of May 2015 to National Society for Earthquake Technology – Nepal. My wife, who is very familiar with Nepal, its needs and virtues, and the NGOs operating there, tells me that this is a very effective organization. Not only do they use their resources to build more earthquake resistant buildings, but they multiply the benefit several-fold by spreading the building techniques, teaching to local communities as they build.

Of course I encourage you to donate to this organization or any of the relief organizations working in Nepal. Easier for me if you donate directly, but I’m happy to spur you by enticing you with a print. Email me if you’d like any more feedback about these choices. I will ship a copy of the receipt of the donation along with your print. If I am overwhelmed with response to this, it may take a little longer than my usual week or two to get you your print.

Prints eligible for this donation-offer can be found on the Nepal section of the blog. Or directly, with purchase buttons, on the main website on the Nepal page.

This print can be viewed in higher resolution and is for sale here.

Iceland Panorama – Volcanic Rocks and Distant Mountain Seascape

I’ve been wrestling with some newer images — hard to decide about those. But then sometimes some older ones snap into perspective: Oh yes. I put this panorama together from the iceland 2007 trip the other day, and it’s one of those, “Why didn’t I do that sooner?”

I also have a lot of “Why haven’t I done that yet?” images. Well, it’s clear why. Not quite enough time for everything…

Moving on after the exhibition spanning the holidays — lots of work to do on the site and the images.

This photo is available for sale and can be seen at a larger size here.

Basalt Column Cliff, Infrared, Iceland

basalt column cliff iceland

Well, it’s been a while since a new photo of the week has been published. The exhibit is down. It’s been a busy time.

One thing I’m up to now is reworking a lot of my images. Hint for photographers, but not for lazy photographers: always shoot raw. As algorithms to demosaic raw sensor data evolve faster than sensors, some high end modern raw processors will do a much better job of rendering images than when they were exposed, if they’re not brand new.

In that process, I’m sorting through the catalog and making piles and piles of work for myself; older images to redo, and new images to bring to light.

This is one that has been on the list for a long time. It’s one example of an image that makes me want to print everything and not show on computer screens. It’s better a bit quiet, and if a screen is bright and cranked up to quite-bright, this image is a bit too hot somehow. The energy is all wrong. I almost didn’t publish it a few times, seeing it that way on the laptop, but when things are calibrated, it’s good. I’m confident it will be a good print.

This image can be viewed larger here.