Kathy & I made a late afternoon stop this past Saturday at the Little Glade Mill Pond along the Blue Ridge Parkway, not too far from the intersection with US21. The light was right, the colors were great and I mixed up the fuzzy and the sharp. I don’t get to pull out the 55-200 often, but it was just the ticket for this group of photos.
I’ve got a few more, so there may be a follow up post. Stay tuned!
I mentioned in an earlier post about how I struggle between color photos and black & white photos. While the black & white versions are OK, I tend to see and feel in color so the color versions of my photos often win out over the black & white versions. Here are some sets of images from that same post, along with their counterparts. I’d love to hear some feedback on the pros and cons. I know that ultimately my photos need to reflect my voice, but I also know that I have lived a pretty sheltered existence when it comes to my experience with black & white photography.
This year Kathy & I had an opportunity to do something a little different for New Year’s Eve. Certainly different than most people we know, although most people who know us would thing that it made perfect sense. As many of you know we are on Baby Watch these days, as Grandson #1 is due at any time. We want to be ready to assume our roles as soon as it’s time, so we so we haven’t been making any advance plans.
Daughter-In-Law Kristin had a doctor visit on Wednesday, and baby Edison didn’t seem to be in any hurry, so we decided to look at options for a New Year’s Eve celebration. As it happened everything sort of fell into place. I found out that I would be excused from work early on New Year’s Eve, our favorite Waynesville restaurant, which had been booked solid for a week or more, suddenly had an available reservation, so I grabbed it. We got a room at the little motel we like to visit there and made plans for a last minute getaway. We’ve had lots of practice and were packed in minutes!
We had a nice dinner then drove to a couple of our favorite overlooks on the Blue Ridge Parkway. The sky wasn’t real clear but we got above a dense layer of fog and were able to see some lights in the towns below and plenty of stars above. We had taken along a bottle of bubbly but decided not to drink it then drive back down through the muck. I had my camera along but decided that trying to learn night photography would probably ruin the moment and stayed in the car where it was warm. 😉 We made our way down through the fog and were back to our room shortly after 11. I remember hearing some noisemakers at midnight but that was about it.
We had a leisurely drive on New Year’s Day, and I stopped along the way to make a few photographs. Nothing spectacular or probably portfolio-worth, but it was a nice way to spend the day. We are now back on duty as Grandparents In Waiting, and waiting patiently!
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!
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!
In all the time we have spent in Western North Carolina, we have spent comparatively little time actually in Asheville. Everyone knows Asheville, some people know about Brevard, but relatively few people know about places like Waynesville, Sylva, Bryson City and others.
Most of our previous visits to Asheville have been for specific purposes – a visit to a museum, meeting with a photo editor, or a quick stop on our way to somewhere else. But Asheville is much more than just a place to pass through. In many ways it is far more cultured than the pseudo-culture of Charlotte, although admittedly there are places in Charlotte that are pretty darned interesting as well.
I have spent virtually no time in Asheville with a camera, so on Sunday afternoon we decided that it was high time we do some exploring. A quick check of the calendar confirmed that Octoberfest was the previous day, so other than the usual Sunday tourist crowd we figured we’d be OK. And were right, although the “usual tourist crowd” was still a bunch of people!
We had a nice few hours in town, checked out a few of the highlights but left plenty of places yet to be explored. We’ll definitely have Asheville on our short list for places to go back to soon. It’s even a pretty decent day trip from the Big City, so we just have to make a go of it in the near future.
This past weekend, Kathy & I made one of our periodic visits to Waynesville, North Carolina. Waynesville is our favorite mountain town to visit for a weekend, because it is easy to get to, there is a nice little motel right in town that we like to stay at, and there are a number of excellent hometown restaurants that we enjoy checking in at.
As it turned out, Saturday was supposed to be a craft fair, where they close Main Street for the day and fill it with vendors and craftspeople. Unfortunately this year’s show was a bit of a washout, although I understand the craft vendors did very well in spite of the rain, but the food vendors didn’t fare as well because no one wanted to eat standing in the rain. Can’t blame them!
I did manage to take some photos around town, and on Sunday we drove to Asheville for the afternoon. That will be the subject of another post, because I have a completely different set of photos. So for now, here is a little taste of fall from Waynesville, North Carolina, courtesy of me!
It’s been nearly two months since we got home, so it’s about time to be done processing and posting photos, and time to move on! Alrighty, I’m on it! 😉
These are a few lingering photos from the “East” side of Rocky Mountains National Park. It’s easy to see why the Estes Park side of the park gets a lot more visitors than the Grand Lake side. There are a lot more “destination” places on the east side than there are on the west side (so named due to their relationship to the Continental Divide).
When we arrived on the east side of the park, we stopped at the Fall River visitor center and asked a ranger for advice on some of the less traveled areas of the park, since while we wanted to see the highlights, we also wanted to see some quiet places. While he indicated that there weren’t many truly “un-busy” places there were a few.
Most of these photos are from the Bear Lake area and the Grand Basin area. We found, just like in most other parks, the farther we got from the parking lot the fewer people there were. So that’s probably the secret – assuming you can find a place to park, find a trail and go!
Here’s the story on the Aspen photo – a little embarrassing but here goes. I had been on a bit of a quest for photos of Aspen, and I had a vision of what I was looking for. I wanted a good motion blur shot, but I also wanted a shot that showed the trunks against the green background. Since we weren’t there in the fall for yellow leaves, that would have to do.
I saw this tree and knew that it could be what I was looking for. I took two shots with my camera, checked the LCD and was convinced that I had gotten what I wanted. We had been hearing thunder for a few minutes and it was just starting to rain, but at the last minute I took out my phone and took another shot of the tree.
As it turns out, I hadn’t checked the settings on my camera and forgot that I had adjusted it for slow water photos. The two camera photos were shot at 1/15 and 1/25 second and are a little soft, too soft for my standards – a rookie mistake! Fortunately my phone saved the day and I ended up with a pretty decent photo. I may even try to print it!
This post began as a comment to Cedric’s post on his own blog, but as I thought about the subject it turned into a full-fledged blog post of my own. I summarized my thoughts in a comment on his blog but thought I might as well pour out the whole bucket of goo in my own blog post.
In his post, Cedric ponders the need for constant upgrades, lamenting as many of us do that it’s not enough simply to buy a camera and have it serve our needs for years to come. It can be done, but it can be very difficult. There are many factors at play, but for the most part cameras are just one thing in our daily lives that seems to be caught in a perpetual cycle of upgrades.
A lesser but very important point that Cedric made in this and the subsequent post is related to how the pace of technological change has diminished our appreciation for the technology itself. I think that may be true to some extent, but I also think that for people who didn’t experience things in the “good old days” they can’t imagine how things could be different. I and others within a few years of my own age have seen the internet, computers and technology in general explode, much more so in the last 10 years than in the 100 before it. Without the context of time beyond about 20 or so years ago, today is the norm to younger people. Compared with how things were when our parents grew up the change is unimaginable.
Our pace of technological advance has quickened so much in recent years that things do greatly improve in ways that were unthinkable 20, 30, 40 or 50 years ago. It used to be possible to buy a good camera body and a couple of lenses and spend ones entire career shooting with the same gear. Cameras were built to last and for the most part they did. The only thing that changed was the film, and that upgrade happened incrementally.
When we use the same camera and lenses for a long time we do tend to develop a bond with them. Much of that bond stems from familiarity, and a familiar tool in many ways becomes an extension of the user, and the more we use it the less we have to think about it. Cedric suggests the idea of a camera having a “soul.” That might be a little strong, but the point deserves consideration, because I believe we can be inspired by our experience with a camera as a tool. Maybe a better way to put it would be that a camera can have an influence on our own soul. That might be a subject for further explanation!
There is a certain “upgrade mentality” related to all sorts of objects and devices. Much of this mentality is marketing driven, but much of it is driven by real advances in technology. What we have to decide is whether and to what extent we choose to participate. Some things matter, many do not. I personally do not need to drive the newest and most expensive car, but to many people that seems to be a priority. A good camera is important to me, and that means a more sizeable investment than many people would consider reasonable. I have polarizers that cost more than many people would spend on a camera, but I know people who spend more on golf clubs than I would spend on a new lens. I would rather drive a 12 year-old car but have a newer camera. I spend money on vacations but other people own a boat or a motorcycle. It’s all a matter of priorities.
I just shipped off a load of used camera gear, and included in that load was my original Canon 5D. It’s the camera I traded in my medium format gear to buy. Talk about a bond! While the 20D was an excellent camera, the 5D replaced it and I have been using it for over 10 years. That camera has paid for itself many times over. I used it as my second camera on our recent trip to Colorado. It was my backup camera two years ago in Nova Scotia, and I thought so much of it that I had it fixed after the mirror fell off! Did I need to replace it? Not really, other than the fact that the sensor is a dust magnet (always was) it functions as well now as it did when it was new.
I didn’t buy the 5D Mark II when it came out, even though many folks regarded it as a worthwhile upgrade. The main thing it did was shoot video, and I never shoot video. In a few months I’ll probably sell off the 5D Mark III and the rest of my Canon lenses. All of the lenses are 10+ years old too, and it has gotten to the place where the next camera upgrade will probably force a change anyway. So as long as I’m changing I’ve decided that it’s the right time to change completely. I’ll be making the change primarily because I feel my needs have changed, not so much because I think I need something better. If I was willing to keep carrying around that heavy gear I wouldn’t hesitate to keep it, because it still does an excellent job of meeting my photographic needs, and probably would for a while to come.
The pace of technology these days pretty much demands upgrades in many areas, but we all need to decide what is important to us. There is a certain level of performance required to do basic things, and as our needs expand so does the requirement for our technology support. If we buy a new camera that makes larger files, we find that we need more memory. If we’re using a 7 year-old computer we might find that it won’t run the latest software that we need to handle those files. There’s an upgrade cycle, and like it or not that’s part of the cost to participate. Our choice is to play or not play, but once you’re in, I think you need to keep up. I’m not always thrilled about that, but that’s the way it is. It’s been easier for me to avoid the marketing-driven temptations since I gave up television and “nagazines,” but I still like the tech part of things. The key is to make a change when it matters, not just when a camera company decides it’s time.
My son Kevin at 29 is very tech-savvy but also shares a philosophy of life that is similar to mine when it comes to spending money on technology. We have had a number of discussions about this very subject, most recently with a discussion about phones. But the discussion holds true for many things, including cameras. Kathy and I had phones that were 4 years old. Kathy’s phone was working just fine, because all she uses hers for is texting, email and the occasional phone call. Mine was chewing through batteries like candy, because while I’m not a “power user” I do tend to download and use many of the latest apps. The older phone wasn’t designed to do all that and was starting to tell me so. My son’s guidance was that for certain things we need to accept the fact that if we were going to use our phones like I use mine, they were not going to last more than a couple of years. The improvement in performance and battery life is noticeable – to me but not so much for Kathy – at least not yet – so the upgrade was worthwhile.
Kevin doesn’t care much about cameras, but he is a heavy phone and computer user. It is much more important for him to have current devices. As far as computers go I am strictly a user, but my needs for handling camera files dictate that I have a computer that is up to the task.
Up to this point all I have done is unload some surplus gear. I still have a very useable and excellent camera to use when I need one. I’ve already accomplished one major goal, which was to have less stuff to carry around! With no big vacations in the immediate future, the camera I have will continue to meet my needs perfectly. Once I have some cash in hand I’ll be able to start looking at ways to spend it. There’s a slim chance that I’ll decide to spend the money on new lenses for the camera I have, and it’s even less likely that I’ll just hang on to the cash. But it’s far more likely that I’m going to use it as seed money toward a new system. Something smaller and lighter is my ultimate goal, and I feel is sufficient reason for an upgrade.