Category Archives: Photography

Every Picture Has Its Shadows

Roanoke, Virginia

The title comes from an old Joni Mitchell tune, but it is also the title of my latest website gallery: Every Picture Has Its Shadows.  I had a tough time with this one, as I know that 140 photos are too many, but I had so many I didn’t want to leave out!  So here is my collection of shadow images.

Venice, Italy
Lake Wales, Florida
Fort Collins, Colorado

We’re off this morning on our latest adventure – 4 weeks along the New England coast, New Hampshire, Vermont and New York.  We’re hoping to meet up with some friends – Joe in Maine, Ken and Paul in New York, and with any luck we’ll run into Bob Krist along the way, assuming he gets back from the Azores in time.  Postcards to follow!

AC Hotel by Marriott Hotel in downtown Asheville, North Carolina
Hilton Head Island, South Caro
The Glenora Inn and Distillery, Glenville, Nova Scotia
Waynesville, NC

Saturday In The Park

(Although it was the Fourth of September, not the Fourth of July *)

Just before he realized what I was doing.

Kathy & I met our son Scott and grandson Edison at nearby Tuckaseegee Park in Mount Holly, NC.  They have a nice playground there plus  several walking paths that run through the woods and along the Catawba River.  Edison likes to take “nature walks” so we spent an hour or so there before returning to our house to a lunch of “Tube Steaks.”

Short break on a park bench.
He doesn’t know the rules, but always “wins.”

Edison isn’t fond of my taking pictures of him but his complaints fall on (my selectively) deaf ears. 🙂

Obligatory sunstar.
Water for the soccer pitch.
Two of a kind!

* For the kids out there, a reference to a 1972 song by the best music group of all time.  Regardless what they say about bands named after bugs or rocks. 🙂

Thinking In Terms of Groupings

printed individually on 16×16″ birch plywood and hung as a wall grouping

Over the years I have had several opportunities to think about grouping images into small, themed collections.  A photography museum here in Charlotte used to have an “annuale” where photographers would submit a group of 7 photos, to be judged in the context of a theme.  I made submissions over a number of years but was always frustrated by the winners, which I deemed to be too “weird,” especially compared to my boringly “normal” photos. Pictures of subjects like roadkill and out of focus body parts seemed to take priority over what I felt was my best effort!

selected food and wine-related images printed as a 3×3 grid on 39×39″ canvas

More recently Lenswork magazine had a feature from which they published a number of books titled “Seeing In Sixes.”  I never submitted to that one, although I probably should have.  I’d have a better shot there than trying to compete in the “art photography” world here in Charlotte.  Later editions of Lenswork have featured “Image Suites” which are groupings of similarly-themed photos but without a specific number.

printed individually on 24″ canvas and hung as a wall grouping for a restaurant in charlotte

While going through my images for updating my website I realized that I had also come up with a number of groupings, most of the smaller ones for decor purposes but also larger ones for books, such as the now defunct (I think) SoFoBoMo.

printed individually on 24″ canvas and hung as a wall grouping for a restaurant in charlotte

Even though I only have a few of them so far, I decided to add a new section to my website to show the groupings I have made.  As I go through my images I’ll likely come up with a few more – we still have some empty wall space in the house, although not much!

printed individually on 24″ canvas and hung as a wall grouping for a restaurant in charlotte

So here is a link to my latest website gallery Groupings.  Hopefully to be a work in process.

New Website Gallery: Faces In Places

Performer from El Alma de la Luna of Spain at the Folkmoot “Parade of Nations” in Waynesville, North Carolina

I’ve had some time to work on another new gallery for my website.  This one I have decided to title “Faces In Places.”

Paul Cullen, former Bad Company Bassist turned wine impresario performing at Dressler’s Metro in Charlotte

I don’t consider myself to be a people photographer, and a lot of my photos have no people in them whatsoever.  But on occasion we come across some irresistible or interesting subject that we just have to photograph.

Galley tour and dinner on Celebrity Summit

Most of these are completely candid, although admittedly there are a few where a connection was made.  They tend to be the best ones, in my opinion.

Enjoying ice cream while watching Guitarist “Adam Kadabara” in Edinburgh, Scotland

New Website Gallery: Nautica

Englehard, North Carolina

I’ve been procrastinating a bit, but this morning I finally put the finishing touches on my first new website gallery titled “Nautica.”  I discussed it in an earlier post but had been fiddling around with the pictures and updating the processing on the photos that  I thought would benefit.

A direct link to the gallery is here.

We’re off to the NC coast for a few days of R&R and visiting our Ohio relatives who insist on coming south during the hottest part of the summer.  We love them anyway and look forward to a few days of sand and saltwater.  I may take a few photos….

Boatbuilders shop along the waterfront, Lunenburg, Nova Scotia
St Kitts
Boat Reflections on Far Creek, Englehard, North Carolina
Catamaran cruise in Nevis

The Power of Processing

2021 Version – Much Better!

A little photo-geekery here.  Apologies to the non-photographers. 😉

I took this photo back in the fall of 2011 along the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia.  The tree was aglow in fall color and the light made it explode out of the surrounding hillside.  I purposely under-exposed by 2 stops so I wouldn’t lose the sky or saturation in the golden leaves.  But try as I might I just couldn’t  get a final image that captured what I saw.  Image #1 is the original file without processing, and Image #2 is my best attempt at that time.

Original RAW File – No Processing

When I was looking for photos to accompany my “trees” post I came across this image and decided to give it another try.  I updated the Process Version to the latest one and took advantage of the latest masking and toning tools in Lightroom.  I finally got the image I was looking for originally!  Or at least very close to it.  I may mess with it some more, but I’m happy to have broken the code on this one.

2011 Processed Version – Reject!

I just hope it doesn’t “force” me to start looking for old files to process…I have a hard enough time keeping up with the current stuff! 🙂

We’ve All Got Trees

Tree study, Hilton Head Island South Carolina

I was recently scrolling through Instagram when I came across a post by Tony Sweet where he talked about how one of his most-photographed subjects is a single tree.  I happen to know of one tree in particular in Cades Cove that I refer to as “Tony Sweet’s Tree” even though lots of other photographers know about it too.

Sunset at The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan Virginia
Tree in silhouette at twilight, The Saddle Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

In his post states that he has “amassed a pretty large collection of single tree images in various formats, weather conditions, and times of year.”  It got me thinking about my own collection of trees, so I went out and found a few of them to post here.

Fall along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Licklog Ridge Overlook MP 349
Tree and rocks, Pilot Mountain State Park, North Carolina

I’ve been thinking in terms of themes lately anyway, and his post made me think of another possibility for a website gallery.  The choices never end…. 😉

Sunrise on the Blue Ridge Parkway at Laurel Knob Overlook (aka Licklog Ridge Overlook) MP 349

(As a side note, I noticed lately that a number of people who have subscribed for email notification of new posts were not getting emails.  I think I have found and fixed the problem, but we’ll see.)

Morning along the Blue Ridge Parkway near the intersection with Virginia Route 97 near Galax, Virginia
Pastoral view along the Blue Ridge Parkway near Meadows of Dan, Virginia

Thoughts On Web Galleries and Finding Themes In Our Work

Charlotte Antique and Classic Boat Show at Queens Landing in Mooresville, North Carolina

I’ve been working recently (with both “working” and “recently” having quite a broad definition 😉 ) on a long-overdue update to the galleries on my website, and it has been an interesting project.  Years ago when I was doing assignment work, teaching classes and giving talks to photo groups, I thought of my website as more of a way to show off my work and validate my skills, and never really looked at it as a marketing tool.  I would occasionally sell a print, or have an art consultant contact me about buying prints or licensing some images.  All of that worked pretty well despite the fact that I really hadn’t set it up as a sales site.  I suppose I could have worked harder at it and turned it into something, but I was working at the time and just didn’t feel inclined.

Abandoned boat on Stumpy Point, North Carolina

At this point in my photographic journey, I’ve gotten away from anything that looks, feels or smells like running a business.  I’m retired and want to keep it that way.  I photograph for fun, share my work with a few people who appreciate it, and don’t expect people to pay me money (but not complaining when they insist!).  My website is still the public face of my photography, and I think a lot about what I want that to be for me.  In the past I have tried to limit the work on my website to my “serious” work, preferring to put my “vacation snaps” on my blog or on another website such as Google Photos, or now, Adobe Portfolio.  Do I change that and put all of my photos on my website?  Do I ditch the website altogether and use one of the free (or less-costly) services?  Part of me says that since I’m paying for my website I should use it for everything, part of me thinks I’m paying a lot of money unnecessarily but yet another part of me thinks I should keep things as-is, with my website devoted to my more serious stuff and using Adobe Portfolio for my “snapshots.”

Fort Lauderdale, Florida

The main advantage to using Adobe Portfolio is how well it integrates with Lightroom on my computer.  I can create a Synced Collection of photos that automatically uploads Smart Previews to the online version of Lightroom.  From there I can quickly create a gallery in Adobe Portfolio to share with others.  There aren’t a lot of options, but it’s OK for my use.  Uploading to my website requires a few extra steps and is a little clunky.  It works OK but isn’t ideal for frequent updates or high volume galleries.

Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia

I don’t have web skills and don’t know my WWW from my HTTP or my SQL (assuming I even have those!).  So I rely on a template-based site that gives me a few good layout options and generally just makes some nice looking galleries.  Years ago I started with Neon Sky, a Charlotte-based web company that several of my friends were using.  It’s not as fancy as some of the more heavily advertised services, they aren’t as quick with updates as I would like, and it probably costs more than I need to spend for what I do.  But it works for me and I don’t really want to invest more time and effort into making a switch.

Hall’s Harbour, Nova Scotia

But as the title of this post suggests, what I really want to do is to come up with a better way to organize my photos.  My current galleries consist of simple subject names: Color, Glory, Flow, Form and Peace plus a bunch of galleries under the heading of Projects.  It feels to me like one of those graffiti rocks that have had so many layers of paint added to it over the years to the point where you can’t tell what the original shape was.  Most of what I post fits into those broad categories, but I feel like there should or could be so much more.  What about the Rust and Peeling Paint?  How about the abstracts, or the close-ups, or candid people shots?  I’ve got critters and signs and urban landscapes and more, but without ending up with 20 or 30 galleries that would confuse the heck out of people and make them give up and go back to YouTube, how can I classify my photos more specifically in order to make my galleries into cohesive “bodies of work?”  I’ve been working on that, and it has been a challenge in a number of ways.

Neil’s Harbour, Nova Scotia

Starting from scratch with a collection of 80,000 images is overwhelming, so my first challenge was how to start with a much smaller sample.  Fortunately I’ve been pretty diligent over the years with using Collections in Lightroom, and I have a well-developed method for rating my photos.  I’ve also been diligent about using captions and keywords to help me locate and organize my photos.  Using star ratings I narrowed the first pass down to about 6,500 photos – still a daunting task but somewhat more manageable than 80,000.

Neil’s Harbour, Nova Scotia

I’ve made lists and lists of possible theme titles and have given a lot of thought to what the definitions should be for each theme.  Then comes the hard part – going through my photos to figure out which ones fall into which categories and making sure I have enough decent photos to properly fill out a gallery for each one.  For someone prone to overthinking and second guessing (me!) that can be especially challenging.  For example, one of my potential themes is “Nautica,” which I have defined as “Boats, parts of boats and boat stuff.”  In my mind I’m thinking more of the details – ropes, sails, ornamentation, etc. and less about pictures of boats themselves.  But what do I do with the boat pictures?  Do lighthouses go there or somewhere else?  How about cruise ships?  Landscape photos that have boats in them?  Crab pots or buoys?  Of course the answers to all those questions are “it depends” and “they’re my rules, it’s up to me.”  Sheesh.   A few of my favorites accompany this post.

Yacht “Phoenix” in St Martin

It’s interesting how many ways there can be to slice and dice photos.  A number of them will fall into multiple categories.  Do I put some of them in several galleries or decide which one is “best?”  Decisions, decisions.  This has been an interesting exercise so far.  I’m nowhere near the end and it still seems awfully overwhelming, but I hope the results are worth the effort when I’m done.  I make no promises for when that might be! 😉

More From Those Early Mornings

Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I’ve just finished up processing my photos from our Southwest road trip and from our recent visit to Hilton Head Island, SC.  Just in time for our next adventure – we shove off again on Saturday!  This will be our annual “Friends and Family Tour” as Kathy likes to call it.  Other than our kids, most of what remains of our families is in Ohio or will be there for the Fourth of July.  I’ve got a childhood friend who lives in western Pennsylvania, and we have friends in Wisconsin. 😉  So off we go!

Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I mentioned earlier that I only got up early on two mornings at the beach, but I chose them well.  I’ve been going to Hilton Head long enough to know when the tides and times coincide to provide the pools I love to use as foreground.  An added bonus is when the clouds cooperate too, as they did for me on both occasions.  Sweet!

Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

I found it interesting that, even though the conditions were virtually identical both mornings, the overall color cast was radically different – red the first morning and blue the second.  I did minimal (for me) processing on this photos and the colors are pretty faithful albeit a bit more saturated than what I saw.  I’m sure the difference in color is due to some sort of atmospherical anomaly, but I only know that it made for some purdy pitchers.

Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Mornings are a lovely time on the beach.  I could go out there without a camera, sit on one of the storage boxes the lifeguards use and watch the morning unfold.  When the sunrise is early – around 6:15 – like it was in May and June, there are very few people out – just me, a few birds and sometimes a few dolphins.  Most of the people are walking, so even if they walk through my frame, a slow shutter speed makes them blurry and sometimes invisible.  There was one guy with a dog that had a light on its collar which was kind of annoying, but he thankfully stayed out of my view!

Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina.  The light on the horizon is actually a fishing boat, not the sun!
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina
Sunrise on the beach on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Using The New “Premium Presets” In Lightroom

Original using my default import preset

This is a bit of a photographers-only geek post, so bear with me. 😉

The latest update to Lightroom includes a set of “Premium” develop presets that were reportedly developed by photographers for use in streamlining the develop process.  I’ve generally not been a fan of “canned” presets because I kinda have my own preferences and like to maintain control over my processing.  But there is value to considering other approaches, and sometimes these presets are worth looking at, if only to get an idea for what is possible.

This morning I decided to take one of my photos from our recent road trip and try out the 10 presets contained in the “Travel” section.  The results were pretty interesting so I thought I would share.  The nice thing is that – as opposed to some of the previous presets – packaged as “Profiles” these appear to affect color balance and saturation and leave the other settings – noise reduction, sharpening, exposure, etc. – alone.  I’ll learn more as I mess with the other ones, but I like the idea of coming up with variations just to see what they look like.

No conclusions here – just for evaluation and discussion.  If anyone has comments – on the processing, not the photo 🙂 – I look forward to reading them.

Processed with Lightroom Preset TR01
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR02
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR03
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR04
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR05
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR06
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR07
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR08
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR09
Processed with Lightroom Preset TR10