One of my favorite destinations for photography is Chincoteague Island National Wildlife Refuge, on the coast of Virginia. We visited there a few years ago for several years in a row, specifically to photograph the Snow Geese and Tundra Swans that migrate through there in late fall. We’re overdue for a return, and I’d love to get a visit there on the calendar for next year. Hopefully I can get my buddy Don Brown on the mend long enough to plan an adventure there with me!
Chincoteague is one of these places that never lacks for something to shoot. Even if the birds don’t show up at the time you happen to be there, there is a beach, woods, ponds and lots of other wildlife to make it a special experience no matter what.
One technique that I’ve found works well for abstracts is to put my lens into manual and deliberately throw it out of focus. It’s funny, but as much as I love shooting abstracts I often forget to try that. When I was looking for an abstract for this month’s wallpaper, I wanted something that was about fall color. I came across a lot of shots, but then I remembered these. I only did a few of them but need to do them more often. I love the effect, as it is a lot like the results I get when I shoot moving water. But instead of the moving water making the patterns they come from the shades and tones in the scene.
Fall seems to be coming a little early around here. The weather in general has been very strange the last month or two. I hope everyone is able to enjoy fall wherever you are, or spring for those who are “upside down” on this earth 😉 .
Kathy & I spent the week leading up to Memorial Day at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. HHI is our “go-to” beach for a nice, relaxing vacation.
As I had hoped to do, I bribed Kathy with good food and some wine from home to convince her to eat in a couple of evenings so we could enjoy – and I could photograph – the beach at sunset. She’s such a good sport! 😉
Capturing the water in the evening light often results in images like these that just ooze peace and quiet. I had a little extra incentive to come up with some good images this time, as we have a few walls in our new place that need some art. I even made a few verticals with that specifically in mind, but those will need to wait for a blog post since not too many people I know use their monitors in the vertical position. Although it might make a nice phone or tablet wallpaper. Hmmmm…. 🙂
I was a little slack with my posting and processing the last few weeks, but I have a lot of new photos to process and a number of them that I am looking forward to sharing!
This month’s wallpaper continues the abstract theme. I don’t have many landscape motion abstracts, and the ones I do have tend to be vertical images. Those would make good tablet or phone wallpaper but not so much on the computer screen. I do have a lot of moving water abstracts that I really like, primarily because I spend a lot more time shooting water at the beach than shooting mountains. Plus, making good motion landscapes is hard! It seems that I have a lot more luck getting water abstracts that I like. But no matter.
This image is titled Flat Rock, Morning, was one of my first print sales a few years ago and continues to be one of my most popular photographs. So out of the archives it comes to live for a month on your desktop if you so choose!
Kathy & I will be headed to the beach later this month, so don’t be surprised to see some more moving water photos in June!
Keeping with the theme of abstracts, here is another take on one of my favorite “beach blur” photographs. Captured by panning the camera at a slow shutter speed, I’ve always loved how the motion tends to simplify a scene. It’s tough to get right, and a lot of experimentation is required. One of the benefits of digital cameras is the ability to try stuff like this until we (hopefully) figure it out!
Whew! I have to say that 2013 was a wild one for the Dills family! We sold two houses, observed the construction of a new house, moved twice, took a couple of great vacations and just generally had a lot of fun. But I’m just about worn out! Kathy & I are really looking forward to a little quieter year in 2014, with some time to recharge our batteries, catch our breath and enjoy life with just a little less “excitement.”
In keeping with the “quiet” theme I decided to go with a beach scene for this month. This is another from the archives – all the way back to 2007. Taken on the beach in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, this photo reflects the peace and calm I feel at the beach, especially in the early morning or late afternoon. One of our very favorite getaway locations, the beach is high on our list of places to return to in 2014.
We have a little more settling in to do in our new place, but we’ve got things just about to the point where I can start thinking about photography again. I sort of hit the big “Pause Button” this past year, since I just wasn’t able to give it the time and attention I like to devote to my photography. I’m looking forward to settling in and really wrapping my brain around it again. Stay tuned!
I have received a number of compliments on the photo from my last post and for the same photo that is on this month’s print calendar. This truly is a wonderful photograph, one of my all-time favorites. This is a location I have visited a number of times, at different times of the year and in varying conditions. The particular evening that I made the photograph that became this month’s calendar, I had exceptionally nice light. It only lasted for a few moments, but that light, combined with very still water, made for just the right conditions.
I remembered a similar photograph that I had taken at this same location several years earlier, and went back and pulled it up. While nice in it’s own way, it was a more cloudy afternoon and the light is much more subdued. The lighting was much more subdued, which is what I would typically favor for a lot of the photography I do. It is still a very nice photograph, but not on the same level as the later one.
It is a good example of why we return often to a familiar location. Because you just don’t know what conditions you might encounter.
OK, so I’m a little late this month – SORRY! Actually I sort of forgot. But at least ONE person contacted me to tell me that they missed my update. Sorry, Kevin W, that you had to go almost a whole day without the latest calendar! 🙂
Lots happening in the House of Dills this month. Hopefully I’ll be broadcasting from my new “studio” for the December update. We’ll see. I’ve got some posts in the works, though. Words for some, photos for others. I just have to put them together.
For those of you who also have my print calendar, this is one of the few times that I’ve duplicated my print calendar with my desktop calendar. But when I turned the page on my printed calendar this morning, I liked the photo so much I decided to put it on my computer screen, too! I hope you enjoy it.
I’ve written lately about how I feel like I am in a bit of a slump, photographically. Many readers have made comments along the lines of “gee, I’d love to have a slump like that.” But I’ve recently come to realize what I mean by what I’ve written. What I’ve pretty much decided is that doing the kind of photography I like to do requires an investment of time, energy and dedication that, for a number of reasons, I just haven’t been committing to this year. And this applies not just to the shooting, but to the processing and printing parts of the process as well.
As much as I’d like to think I can, I can’t just show up at a place and take meaningful photographs. I can take photographs for sure, and many of them may be good technically. But to create photographs with meaning requires more time. I need to get to a place, get my mind and my heart tuned in to what is happening, and sometimes just sit for a while until I start hearing the voices. “Being open to the gifts” is what my friend Les Saucier likes to say. I can’t just pull the magic out of my camera bag, toss it out there and expect to take meaningful photographs.
Mostly what this requires is an investment of time. Time partly to allow things to happen, but also time to get to a place in plenty of time for whatever is happening. Sunsets are a good example. I can’t just show up at a spot 10 minutes before sunset, pull out the camera and start taking amazing photos. Sometimes the best photos come well before the actual setting of the sun, sometimes as much as an hour before, such as when the sun is moving behind a low-lying layer of clouds and casting sunbeams, or highlighting ridgelines as they recede into the distance. Often by the time the sun sets all the magic is gone. Occasionally, the magic is just beginning at sunset, as the real color begins to appear after the sun has gone below the horizon. But I need time to “tune in,” to see what is happening, and to figure out what to shoot and how to shoot it.
The other way that my photography requires an investment of time is in having plenty of time to enjoy myself. Kathy & I enjoy good meals at nice restaurants, both at home and when we travel. That generally doesn’t involve sitting at an overlook with cold chicken and potato salad. Sometimes it does, but not usually. So in order to do a little bit of both, it’s often necessary to have more than just 24 hours in a place in order to really do it justice and to find that balance between sunset on the Parkway and dinner in Waynesville (or wherever). One of the ways that this year has differed from previous years is that we have been taking more 2-day weekends and fewer 3 or 4-day weekends. This results in less time in a specific place, and I find that this takes time away from everything. I don’t like to feel like the clock is ticking while I am photographing. And the smaller window of opportunity that is dictated by a shorter weekend makes that clock tick like a parade of Harleys going by! With less time, success is more dependent on luck than creativity, and I don’t work so well when I am depending on luck.
So what does this all mean? Well, it means several things. First and foremost, I think it means that I need to do a better job of managing my time so that I have the freedom and flexibility I need to do the kind of photographic work I find most inspiring while also finding time to do the other things I love. Photography and fine dining aren’t necessarily mutually exclusive. Some times of the year they are, so I’ll need to work that out. Sometimes it will mean a nice but late dinner, and sometimes it will mean cold chicken on the Parkway. The other thing it means is possibly traveling less frequently but for longer periods of time. And perhaps staying longer in one place instead of trying to see multiple locations and moving around constantly. I generally shy away from what I refer to as the photographic “death march” and don’t do a lot of good photography while I’m driving down the road. Give me a place to sit and chill for a while and I’m more likely to get inspired.
I’ve done some good work this past year and hope to do some more before it’s done. This year has been a little weird for a lot of reasons, and I’m looking forward to settling back into my usual routine next year. We’ll see where that leads, but I’m hoping it will lead to more fulfilling photography for me, and less of my whining about it to Kathy!
I didn’t shoot a lot of desktop-worthy fall color last year, so I had to go back two years for this one. While it isn’t “fall leaves and acorns” it is nevertheless color in the sky that you just don’t get too often over the summer. Not until the humidity blows off do you get these vibrant colors in the mornings.
Pounding Mill Overlook is on the Blue Ridge Parkway just south of the SR 276 intersection, so whether you are in Brevard or Waynesville it is an easy sunrise destination, especially in the fall when sunrise is at a very civilized time. People don’t believe me when I say that the best color is often 30 minutes or more before sunrise. Why? Because people don’t usually start looking that soon, and because it is still really, really dark. But the color is there, you just have to be ready for it.
Kathy & I have a little bit of fall travel planned, although we will mostly be making day trips. I’ve used up nearly all of my vacation time for this year, and we’re holding onto what few of our vacation dollars are left until we can close on our house.