For years I have been steadfastly avoiding the use of Photoshop for processing my photos. No particular reason other than stubbornness and preferring to only use one program (Lightroom) for the work. Recently, Adobe began sending out free special effects actions for Photoshop. It sort of got me intrigued enough to download them and I finally got around to trying them out. This is a photo that I took a few years ago but never really liked the “straight” version. I’m not sure how much I really like this version using the “Watercolor Artist” action, but it is starting to grow on me. Like any recipe I’m going to need to work with the options a bit to get a “look” that suits me. But in the mean time it’s something interesting to look into, and it may even motivate me to spend more time catching up my Photoshop “chops.” I only have a 10~ year learning curve to catch up on! 🙂
I needed something new and tropical for my desktop. This is a photo taken on our recent visit to Nevis. It’s processed a bit more aggressively than I usually do it, but I think the result is pretty representative of a beautiful location.
This was taken at sunset on the second tee of the Robert Trent Jones II golf course at the Four Seasons. That’s a guy who designs golf courses, and a big name among golfers, for those who might not know!
I often have the best of intentions about carrying my camera with me and making photographs when we’re just out doing random stuff. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal, but way too often I talk myself out of taking my camera along, figuring that either I won’t see anything worth shooting, I won’t have time it will be a hassle or it will make me “conspicuous.”
Last Saturday night Kathy & I had planned a bit of an adventure, parking in uptown Charlotte, walking around a bit then taking the trolley out to the Elizabeth neighborhood for dinner and a concert. I went back and forth all afternoon about my camera, talking myself into and then out of it a number of times. Yes, self-inflicted angst is one of my specialties!
At some point in the afternoon I read one of Monte’s recent posts about Christmas in Old Town Fort Collins, and it gave me the resolve I need to say “darn it, I’m taking my camera!” I knew it wouldn’t be a problem anywhere, but just to be safe I figured out how to keep it out of the way at dinner and took one of my smaller lenses so it wouldn’t be too hard to carry (or hide, if I felt like I needed to).
As it turned out, we had a booth in the restaurant with plenty of room to put the camera on the seat next to me. One unnecessary worry out of the way. I knew it wouldn’t be a problem at the concert because it was at a church and not a big arena with metal detectors and security Nazis. Second problem solved! The only (relatively minor) glitch came when we found out that the trolley had broken down, and along with it our ride back into town! Fortunately it was only about a mile. We could have gotten an Uber, but it made for a nice, but chilly, walk.
All it all it was no big deal. I didn’t get any really great photos, but that wasn’t the point. It was more about the practice, and the point was just to get out with the camera. Hopefully I’ve learned a lesson that taking my camera along isn’t that big of a deal most of the time, and that I can spend more time making photographs and less time making excuses!
Kathy & I celebrated the Christmas season by attending a choral concert by the Singers of Renaissance, a Charlotte based choir. Christmas music is part of what makes the season special for us, and a choral concert in a beautiful church with a lovely organ brought back a whole smorgasbord of memories.
One of the most amazing things (other than the music) is that I didn’t see a single cell phone during the concert. A very rare thing anywhere these days, even in church. I was carrying my camera and took just two pictures during the performance, but since I was sitting in the back row I didn’t feel too conspicuous.
My computer wallpaper was getting a little stale so I decided it was time for a change. That, along with a little nudge from a co-worker (lookin’ at you, Carlin! 😉 )
I took this photograph on our recent visit to Nevis. Kathy & I were walking on the beach one evening just before sunset, and I saw these four sailboats anchored offshore. The clouds in the background vaguely suggest a coming storm, but there was some nice color in the sky and there didn’t appear to be much in the way of actual storms around. The Rules of Photography might dictate that three boats would be more appealing, but the spacing of these four boats seemed just right to me.
The thought that went through my mind when I saw this scene was “All Tucked In,” but since there were people out and about on the decks I decided that wasn’t quite accurate. I imagined that they had just finished up with a day of sailing and were ready to settle in for the evening, or perhaps come ashore and visit one of the nearby beach bars for dinner.
Kathy & I have done day trips on these catamarans and always felt that it would be fun to take an extended journey on one. But we never seem to find a few more couples willing to share, so we haven’t been. Any takers? 🙂
Kathy & I attended a jazz concert recently with two of our favorite jazz musicians. Afterwards we were talking about the music and how different a live performance is from the recorded music that we listen to at home. When we’re at home we tend to listen to “quiet” music – light jazz but also classical, guitar, piano, new age-y spa stuff. And it’s almost always instrumental. We find that vocal music interferes with our ability to think, especially when we are writing or reading. And if a live version of a tune comes on, I often skip it or remove it from the playlist.
Of course when we go to a live show we expect to be entertained. A lot of the music we listen to at home would put us and everyone else to sleep if we were to hear it at a live show.
The explanation I came up with has parallels with photography. Most of us spend our photographic time as observers, looking outward to see what there is and responding to it. We’ll sometimes be participants, such as at a wedding or baby shower. That is a little different because we are part of the action, rather than being outside looking in. But we take on a different role when we are participating in the action, and people respond differently to us when we are obviously taking pictures as opposed to an anonymous observer.
When I listen to music at home, I intend for it to support whatever I’d doing, which is usually to fade into the background. I am an observer but not actively involved in the performance. When I photograph, I generally try to be a part of that same background, observing and recording but not participating. On occasion I will photograph an event, and in that case my role changes. I am then part of the “performance” and an obvious participant. And there is a recognizable difference in the photographs that result from the two roles, in many ways like the difference between a recording and a live performance.
Kathy & I recently celebrated our 35th anniversary by spending a week at The Four Seasons Resort in Nevis. It was a splurge for us, but 35 years only comes around once. In the end it was well worth it. I have a lot more words bottled up in my puny little brain, but for now I just wanted to share some photos.
There were several things that made Nevis an enticing destination for us. We had never been there except for a brief stop on a catamaran cruise from St. Kitts, The Four Seasons is known as one of the top resorts in the Caribbean, and almost no one we talked to knew where it was!
This was a non-photographic vacation in a very photogenic place, so I had to work hard to suppress the photographer in me. I did take a camera, of course, and did use it quite a bit. But many of the day-to-day photos I took were made with my phone. I’ll share those at a later time with some more words. For now this post will share a few of my initial favorites!
I’ve been working on finishing up my photos from our Colorado adventure in June, and I’m just about there!
I didn’t have a lot of things that I had pre-visualized for our trip, but one of the things that I wanted to come back with was some nice photos of Aspen trees. I’d eventually love to go back in the fall, but June was a great time for some spring green. We get that here in April & May, but of course we don’t have Aspen. We do have Birch, but it’s just not the same.
I have a few more Aspen photos that I like a lot, but they are going to require a lot more work to see if they can be made presentable. It’s kind of a funny story in a Murphy’s Law sort of way. There was one grove of Aspen that I liked a lot, but there was a blue wire fence running through them, I think it was part of an elk enclosure. As I was shooting I assured myself that the blue fence would be rendered invisible by the motion. But wouldn’t you know it, the vertical movement of the camera tracked parallel to the fence, so the fence is perfectly rendered in the background. Crap! I’m going to have to spend some time in Photoshop to see if I can do an adequate job of erasing the fence. I’m quite rusty with my skills but I’ll see what I can do.
Kathy & I are off on our latest adventure next week. Photos and stories to follow!
Technically, we don’t have a back door. But we do have a screened porch at the back of our house that overlooks the woods next to our neighborhood. Kathy & I spend a lot of time on that screened porch, it is our outdoor space where we relax and unwind after a long day or a long week.
This past weekend was just about the ideal weather here in Charlotte – temperatures in the upper 70’s on Saturday, low 70’s on Sunday. We spent a lot of time on the porch.
These trees are directly behind our porch, and this is the second fall since we moved in. They sometimes call my name, and the call got especially loud on Saturday so I got out my camera. Nothing special artistic-wise, but it was good to answer the call and take a few shots. In a couple more weeks the leaves will all be gone.
Doo, doo, doo, lookin’ out my back door….
Monte very astutely observed in my last post that all of the photos I posted had people in them, and what a departure that was for me. And it’s true – people who don’t know what kind of photography I do frequently ask me if I do weddings, and I almost always reply that I don’t take pictures with people in them.
On our recent visit to Asheville, however, I took way more pictures of people than I ever do. After Monte’s comment I realized that, for me, Asheville was all about the people.
A lot of places tend, for me at least, to be about other things – buildings, architecture, historical landmarks, nature, etc. But even though most of those other things can be found there, Asheville was mostly about the people.
I think the thing I enjoyed most about shooting there was that no one really paid any attention to me. Here in Charlotte, a person with a camera is often looked upon with suspicion, especially by the rent-a-cops that stand in front of (“guard” would be a misuse of the word) the bank buildings. A few people cast a sideways glance, but it seemed like for the most part I was just another tourist, and one who happened to have a camera.
I did find that using a wrist strap on the camera instead of a shoulder strap helped me be more spontaneous, and to a certain extent it made the camera a little less apparent to the people I was aiming it at. All in all it was a fun experience, and one I hope to try again soon!