Archive for October, 2010

#120 Purple Mountains, Purple Sage

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Purple Mountains, Purple Sage

Somewhere, off to the right, is the ghost town of Eadsville

Zane Grey knew what he was talking about

With his purple sage and all. It is rare that you can see it in today’s West, however. For the sage brush to show purple, it requires a wet winter and wetter spring. It seems that, as the West becomes drier, that happens less and less often. I’ve only seen purple sage twice in my life out here. This sage is not really purple in full daylight, but it looks darned good at twilight.

Rating 4.55 out of 5

#119 The Moon Is High

Tuesday, October 26th, 2010

The Moon Is High

The sky is wide

After all these years

I’m still astounded at how clear the air can be of an evening in Wyoming. The light of the sun takes on this glow a few minutes before it goes below the horizon and gives even that industrial building on the hill a kind of calm and solemn dignity.

¤ ¤ ¤

To photograph a nearly blank sky is not especially hard. It’s not hard at all to set the proper exposure, but you do get to see every speck of dust on your lens and sensor. Three cheers for digital dust removal!
Rating 3.00 out of 5

#118 Mixing the Reds With the Blues

Monday, October 25th, 2010

Mixing the Red With the Blues

There are some early morning blues and greens, too.

Continuing the experiments

Of photographing backlit vegetation. I’m here to tell you it’s tricky. Too much light here, not enough there, and the sun is moving too darned fast!

Once the proper exposure is made, there later comes a great temptation, in the development phase, to bump the saturation of those luscious reds, to boost them far beyond any reality, to make them screamingly red. I resisted. I did bump the blue of the berries a little, but I pulled back the greens and the yellow gold. Yes, the greens and the yellow-golds are desaturated, less vibrant, less in-your-face than reality allows. The reds are just as nature made them.

¤ ¤ ¤

I once had a jigsaw puzzle of Jackson Pollack’s “Full Fathom Five.” I believe it was the hardest conventional jigsaw ever produced. However, I’m thinking a jigsaw made from this photograph might give it a run for its money. Would you pay 59 dollars to drive some poor, but excited, jigsaw puzzler demented for Christmas? If enough people say yes, I’ll do up a 17×23″ 768 piece puzzle and offer it to you.

Extra points to those who can identify both late 60s musical references. The first with title and artist of each gets a free 5×7 proof of this photograph.

Rating 3.20 out of 5

#117 Full Moon Rising

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Full Moon Rising

The night is large

We are all held in the spell

As the sky darkens but for one large shining object. The fitful breeze quickens, and the stars are not yet visible in the cloudless sky. Far off, a coyote yips and another answers. We shiver.

There is baseball on the TV.

Rating 4.40 out of 5

#116 Another Wyoming Sunset

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

Another Wyoming Sunset

The stars soon will shine

Is It Any Wonder

That I live in Wyoming? The only other place I know with light shows like this is New Mexico. Here, I have a mountain set just so, and no state income tax.

I made eight or ten exposures of this sunset, far more than I usually do of any given subject, because you never know when you’ll encounter the “decisive moment,” to borrow a phrase from Cartier-Bresson. This particular exposure was, in my mind, at the time, a sort of throw-away thing. I was sure I had already made better. Depending on taste, perhaps so, but I like the repeated rhythm of the trees and the clouds, and the delicate but electric salmon pink of the high-up clouds is beyond compare.

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Again, I have no ‘technical information.’ I seldom note the aperture and shutter speed, but I can tell you that I usually use an f16 with whatever the meter says is appropriate for the shutter. This was done with my 50mm lens, which is more or less like a 28mm on a standard 35mm camera.

Rating 4.33 out of 5

#115 Below the Rim

Monday, October 18th, 2010

Below the Rim

Autumn breaks out

It happens every year

And it is always a big deal. The leaves turn whatever color they do, every year. The aspens and the scrubby poplar bushes change, but the pines just carry on. Except those killed by pine beetles. See those scraggly, naked things here and there above the rim? Those are pines killed by the mountain pine beetle, a bug that gets underneath the bark and eats away at the tree’s ability to feed itself. First, the pines turn a very pretty shade of umber, then all the needles fall off and they die. The only thing that kills a pine beetle infestation is a forest fire. Trees are dying all over the West, because we suppress fires in the forest.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

#114 Long Time Livin’

Thursday, October 14th, 2010

Long Time Livein'

And not scared of dying

This lonely, old pine

I found under strong mid-day sunlight at the top of Muddy Mountain, amongst these rocks in the midst of a scree field. Only a little grass grows nearby, and only very near to the rocks. The scree covers an acre or so, and I’d guess there is less than a quarter acre of grass there. These rocks are what allow the tree to live, and the grass to grow, by catching the rain and snow and protecting it from evaporation. The sky was deep and nearly clear, and the wind whipped unmercifully across the plateau.

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I’d been looking for a good monochrome subject, and this tree and its rocks seemed choice: Stark and bold, with plenty of space around. Harsh light, lots of strong, defined lines, and not much color to begin with. I studied landscape photography using the work of Ansel Adams, and this seems to me to be one of my closest approaches to his level of work.

Rating 4.25 out of 5

#113 The Wind Flies Free

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010

The Wind Flies Free

Only one tree stands in the way

The Wyoming Wind Is Famous

In story and song. But we who live here don’t really understand its effects on those who arrive from elsewhere. To us, a 30 mile-an-hour breeze is refreshing. To a person from the mid-west, it’s a storm warning. We see video of winds stripping shingles from California roofs and we shake our heads and say, “Should have used t-locks. Wouldn’t do that.” We never have the doors of our cars ripped off the hinges, because we always hold tight. And so on. The wind is, even though even we occasionally complain about it, our friend, sometimes unruly but known and tolerated and whose company we would miss dreadfully if it ever went away.

This is the work I sent out on a postcard for the 2011 “Liberate Your Art” Swap. You can find many of the other participants here.

Rating 4.00 out of 5

#112 A Very Vine Story

Tuesday, October 12th, 2010

A Very Vine Story

And a likely one

We’re Back To the Vine

And I’m sticking with it. The usual Wyoming wind has been absent for the most part this fall, and that means the leaves are staying around longer. In many past years, this vine has gone from bursting intense green to drab brown overnight. Not this time. We haven’t had our first freeze yet, and that is most unusual for mid-October, so all the leaves are getting a chance to put on their very best colors.

¤ ¤ ¤

There seems to be another rule about posting stuff on internet pages: Thou shalt not commit punnery.

Too bad. And I’ll throw in a reference to Laurel & Hardy whenever I like, as well.

Rating 3.00 out of 5

#111 Wheat Among the Flowers

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Wheat Among the Flowers

It arrived this Spring

I Didn’t Plant This

And it’s not really wheat. It’s a prairie grass of one sort or another, but it’s enough like wheat that you can make bread of it, if you like, and if you have enough. At least that’s what I’m told. This clump planted itself and I didn’t notice it at first. When I did, it was already tall enough that I could see it fit in very nicely between the Tiger Lilies and the irises, so I left it to grow.

I’m glad I did.

¤ ¤ ¤

When (and if, and I think I will) I work this up into a finished piece, I will knock some of the light off the Tiger Lily leaves at the front. It’s just a bit too strong. And I may bring up the ruddiness in the vine leaves hanging in the back. These are things that could be done in the days of film, but are so much easier, precise and repeatable in the digital age that I find myself rejoicing anew each day.

Rating 3.75 out of 5

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