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.
I’ve been running through my Nova Scotia photos looking for themes. One of the things I typically look for when wandering through a town are little details. These are a few that I took while we were in Lunenburg. Most of them were taken on the way to or from breakfast or dinner. See, photography and dining don’t have to be mutually exclusive! 🙂
With so many photos of Nova Scotia, I had to post something from that trip for the August wallpaper. This is one of my favorites so far.
After a short overnight in Truro following our flight to Halifax, we officially began our trip with a drive to Baddeck, a nice little inland town on Bras d’Or Lake. Baddeck is best known for being the home of Alexander Graham Bell during the time when he did most of his work. His home there is still owned by the family and is not open to the public. But Parks Canada has built a wonderful museum that houses exhibits and artifacts from that era. It’s a great place to visit.
The Kidston Island Lighthouse is a landmark in Baddeck and can be easily seen from the downtown area, in particular the marina near the Baddeck Yacht Club. This was an especially clear night, and I loved how the blue color really came out after sunset, with just enough light from the western sky to illuminate the lighthouse. The biggest challenge that evening was battling the mosquitos long enough to get my shot! Tom: 1, Mosquitos: 0. 🙂
Kathy & I visited the Farmer’s Market yesterday morning – specifically the Charlotte Regional Farmer’s Market – with friends John & Marcia. Amazingly, for all our interest in fresh, local food, we had never visited before. John & Marcia are veterans and showed us around, then we explored for a little while on our own.
I had conversations with a number of vendors about their products. One guy was selling honey, and had samples taken at different times of the year. It was amazing to taste the differences between them.
The produce was amazing. There were vegetables I had never seen or even heard of before. But all I had to do was ask, and I found out not only what it was, but how to cook it and when to buy it.
There is a group of Korean folks who sell flowers all over town. They operate a number of stands and frequent many of the festivals and markets, selling beautiful bunches of flowers for $10 each. They had several stands at the farmer’s market. It was fun to watch them as they assembled the bouquets from the pails full of flowers they had on hand. They talked and joked and generally seemed to be having a good time.
Kathy & I stuck to the basics and brought home a few veggies and some peaches. It was the first batch of peaches of the year, and they aren’t quite at their prime. But it is still great to get fresh peaches, and we’ll be back for more.
The kitchen in our apartment is a little small to do a lot of prep work in, but we’re getting by. We bought some things to get us through the week. One of the things we are looking forward to in our new place is a kitchen big enough to have plenty of room to work. Then we can become farmer’s market aficionados, too.
Our Thanksgiving visit to Ohio and Pennsylvania, despite not being a “photography trip” per se, resulted in a number of decent photographs, one of which I liked well enough to use for this month’s calendar. I like to keep with the holiday theme for December whenever possible, and I’m usually able to come up with something.
Firestone Park, named for Harvey Firestone (the tire guy), is located in Columbiana, OH. Kathy & I lived here before migrating south to North Carolina. And a late November visit reminded us why we moved!
Firestone Park has an annual “Joy of Christmas” light festival, and we had a chance to pay a visit one evening while we were there. I didn’t take a tripod with me, figuring I wouldn’t do a lot of photography, but who can resist Christmas lights? And with ISO 6400 or higher, who needs a tripod, even at night? 🙂
I hope everyone has an exceptional December and a warm and joyous Christmas holiday season!
I’m getting back around to working on some photos from earlier this fall. In no particular order, just whatever my attention span allows me to concentrate on!
I had mentioned in a previous post that Kathy & I had decided to spend our fall weekends differently than we have the past few years. Rather than chasing color up and down the Blue Ridge Parkway (something we enjoy but have grown a little weary of) we spent a weekend in Florida at a jazz festival, a weekend in Roanoke, VA visiting friends, and a weekend in which I took photos at a recreated pioneer village and photographed some kids. That was a different fall for us, indeed.
Kathy & I have had an attachment to Roanoke since spending a single night there very early in our marriage. I don’t even remember for sure what we did, where we stayed or where we ate, but we’ve always had good memories of our short time there, and have wanted to go back and spend some time. This year we got to go to Roanoke twice. Of course it was made easier because we have good friends there. We go to see Steven and Cheryl, and just like us, they enjoy wandering around town, taking random photographs, shopping and eating. What a deal!
We’ve found a nice historic hotel right in the downtown area that is walking distance to just about everywhere. We can literally park the car and enjoy the weekend without having to drive. Although this visit we did spend a little time exploring the countryside, visiting a winery and one of Steven & Cheryl’s favorite restaurants, which is now also one of our favorite restaurants!
One of my objections to the constant driving we have done in previous years is that I get tired of driving. And I get really tired of traffic. Kathy drives sometimes, but my creativity seems to suffer when I view the scenery from a moving vehicle, regardless of who is driving. And the addition of crowds just makes it harder.
The other thing with fall is that it’s often very hard to find really interesting scenes. Fall color gives the impression of being interesting because everything is a different color, but in actuality it is much harder to make an interesting photograph in the fall because of the color. Much of what we see in the fall is just as boring as it is in the summer, it’s just a different color. My opinion, anyway.
Fall happens everywhere, not just in the mountains. And it’s not just colored leaves that make up fall. The air is crisp and cool, the light is warm and contrasty, and a lot of interesting things happen in the fall, such as festivals, concerts and farmer’s markets. So my goal was to find and photograph fall in different places. I think it was a successful approach, and in many ways I think am happier with the results than I’ve been from those in previous years.