Tag Archives: photography

Tuscany In Black & White

Pienza, Italy

I posted previously about having made a slideshow of color photos from our Tuscany workshop.  A personal project of mine has been to get better at seeing and photographing in Black & White.  I recently created a separate slideshow to showcase my progress toward that goal.  Link to video is below.

Thanks to Jeff Curto for his encouraging feedback and for hosting the videos until I get my own Vimeo page set up!

Video is here:

Randomness, Happenstance and (Sometimes) Luck

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Making a slight diversion from working on and posting about Italy photos….

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

I first heard the term “stochastic photography” in a post by Ctein on The Online Photographer way back in 2010.  It’s sort of a refined version of pointing your camera at something, taking a boatload of pictures and hoping some of them come out in a way that is pleasing or that somehow meet the intention of what you were trying to capture.  As in “I’ll know it when I see it.”  I don’t always remember to use that technique, although I often recognize situations where it might be appropriate.  Sometimes I even have my camera with me.  While I don’t generally care to make my photographs “about the technique, ” sometimes the technique helps to define the photographs.  Post-visualization perhaps, rather than pre-visualization?

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina
Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Kathy & I spent 4th of July week out in eastern NC, in New Bern and Belhaven.  One morning we stopped at the Bell Island Pier, which is a fishing pier within the Swan Quarter National Wildlife Refuge, near Swan Quarter, NC.  It was a beautiful day, with towering cumulus clouds and a deep blue sky.  I noticed the reflections of the sky in the water and decided to see what I could get.

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Over the course of about 4 minutes I fired off a little more than 100 shots.  It’s a little hard to tell which ones are “successful” but I’ve put together a little collection of a few that I liked.  The ones that “feel right” to me have a nice balance of light and dark, color and no color, with an interesting pattern.  I may decide later on that there are others I like or some that I don’t like, but that’s part of the fun!

Sky and cloud reflections at the Bell Island Pier near Swan Quarter, North Carolina

Living The So-Called Dream

Sunrise over Swans Cove Pool, Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, Assateague Island, Virginia

There was a recent post on The Online Photographer titled “How to be a Professional Photographer” where Mike Johnston commented about how difficult it was to make a living as a professional photographer.  There were a number of comments both in support of his post as well as lamenting the difficulty of the profession.  There were also a few humorous comments.

The joke that I’ve always loved about being a professional photographer goes something like this: An amateur photographer is someone who has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs.  A professional photographer is someone whose spouse has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs.  Somehow that’s never worked for me – I couldn’t get the spousal support I needed to pursue my passion.  I’m kidding, of course!

Kirk Tuck chimed into the conversation with a thoughtful comment and a post on his own blog.  Most of Kirk’s post was his usual well-reasoned commentary.  He is a professional photographer with a lot to be proud of.  He has seemingly mastered the business side of the business while staying current with technology and changes in the marketplace.  His is a voice to pay attention to when it comes to operating a photography studio as a business.  The statement that got a little under my skin, however – probably because it is a bit of a sore subject for me – was when he said that “retirement is only for people who didn’t like their careers.”

Of course the publishing world is full of people writing about how everyone should be pursuing their passion/finding their North Star/determining the color of their parachute, etc., and that if they aren’t living their dream they need to (after buying the author’s particular book, of course) set off on their own path of self-discovery and do their own wonderful passion-inducing thing.  Wouldn’t that be lovely?  In my opinion, very few folks are fortunate enough to even figure out what they are passionate about, let alone have all the skills and (to a certain extent) good luck required to actually make a living from their work.  And that assumes they figure out what they are passionate about early enough in their life to actually do something about it!

The rest of us get jobs.  Even if it is banking or insurance or hospitality or something that isn’t terribly glamorous, hopefully our jobs provide enough of whatever kind of satisfaction we are looking for, pay enough to cover the rent and save with a little left over to spend on something fun.  If we’re really fortunate we are able to keep our jobs long enough to call it a career while saving and investing responsibly so that at some point we can walk away from work and do something – anything – else.  Not that our work sucks or that our careers have been a failure, it’s just that instead of “pursuing our passion” we found a good enough job that we were able to do long enough to finally be able to walk away.  That’s not failure, it’s a different kind of success!

Retirement is a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing for.  I’ve had a great career and am proud of what I’ve accomplished over 40 years in banking.  Even though I haven’t been “pursuing my passion” by someone’s arbitrary standards, I’m very happy with the direction things have taken and am looking forward to being able to explore the world with the person I love without the constraints and distractions of work.  And that is something I’m very passionate about!

Last day at work – for both me and Kathy – is May 25! 🙂

A Touch of Spring

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

Here in the Piedmont of NC spring has been springing for several weeks, and we are almost into early summer.  The dogwood have been out for a week and the hardwoods are unfurling their new leaves.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

Several weeks ago Kathy & I visited South Mountains State Park for a little hiking and sightseeing.  The park is west of Charlotte, about halfway to the “real” mountains, and a slightly higher elevation, so spring was a couple of weeks behind us here.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

One thing I love about spring is looking through the woods and seeing just the hint of green.  I think that “Spring Green” is a shade of color unique to new growth leaves, and to me it speaks as much about the seasons as the fall colors do about fall.  Coupled with redbud and the occasional other early bloomers, they make for a hopeful sight after the gray of winter.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

These photos won’t do much to show off my nature photography skills, but they do a reasonable job of showing the spring that we saw as we explored the park.

Springtime at South Mountains State Park

Lightroom Update

Hennepin Avenue Bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis Minnesota

I don’t usually get too excited about software, but the most recent update to Lightroom has me pretty intrigued.  Most of the changes were cosmetic in nature, related to the layout of certain menu items.  But Adobe has introduced some new and improved Develop profiles that I really like.  I’ve never been able to come up with black & white conversions that I was consistently happy with, but some of the new profiles are pretty sweet.  I might even give Monte a run for his black & white money!  The color profiles are pretty nice too.  I’m still working and fiddling with them, but I think I may have found some new tools!

Means of Expression

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

It always interests me to see how people tend to refer to their equipment in more specific terms the newer or more expensive it is. I was reading a recent blog post that was commenting on the age-old (at least 10 years!) argument about whether phones were “real” cameras. Never mind the argument (which I think is silly), but the writer stated that “there are significant differences between my iPhone 8’s camera and my OM-D E-M5 Mark II, not to mention some newer full-frame cameras.” Well, no sheet, Sherlock!

The thought that went through my mind when I read that sentence was that, if he were shooting with a 3-generations old Android phone (like me) or a hopelessly obsolete mirrorless camera (like me) he might not have been so quick to mention his gear. Is that what is referred to as “humblebrag? As in, “I had a hard time finding a suitable parking place for my Porsche?” Anyway, my weird thought twists on this Saturday morning.

I hope everyone has enjoyable holiday week/weekend, whichever holiday (if any) they choose to be observing.

Bus station in uptown Charlotte, North Carolina

Galley Tour on Celebrity Summit

Galley tour on Celebrity Summit

Another highlight of our recent cruise and part of our chef tour was a tour of the galley.  We have done galley tours before on numerous cruises, but ordinarily they are held in the morning, and the most exciting thing you see is someone making gravy!  For this tour we were taken through the galley during dinner service, and it was quite an experience!

Chef Stephen on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit

It’s been a long time since I worked in any kind of restaurant environment, and I’m not sure I actually qualify to say that I worked in any kind of restaurant!  But the things we found most impressive were how clean and organized things were, and how friendly everyone was, especially while they were busy.  I took a lot of photos on this tour, and these are just a few, to give you a “taste” of the experience!

Escalator from the dining room to the galley
Executive Chef Kuldeep Singh on Celebrity Summit
Dessert station!
Dessert station!
Dessert station!
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit
Galley tour on Celebrity Summit

An Unexpected Visit to San Juan

This Way!

Kathy & I recently returned from a cruise to the Caribbean.  We’re getting pretty good at the cruise thing – this was our 23rd cruise – but we’re still practicing!

An Address I Could Live With!

This cruise was on Celebrity Summit.  Celebrity has become our favorite cruise line, mostly because they just know how to do good food and good service.  While all of the lines are good, we’ve come to really like Celebrity.

Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit

Summit is one of Celebrity’s older ships, but we chose it because it is one of their smallest, at just 2,000 passengers.  The ship we were on last year was over 4,000 passengers, while we saw a ship this time that was over 6,000!  While I would love to experience one of those ships, that’s just a shipload of too many people!

Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit

This cruise was supposed to stop at Punta Cana in the Dominican Republic, but Punta Cana doesn’t have a  dock for the cruise ships so it is one where they need to take passengers ashore using tenders.  The seas were too rough there for tendering, so we ended up in San Juan, PR instead.  While we looked forward to Punta Cana, we love San Juan and were not at all disappointed to end up there.

Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit
Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit

Kathy & I spent our time in port walking around Old San Juan.  We had lunch (and Pina Coladas!) at a nice restaurant that claims to be the birthplace of the drink.  More to come on that, but for now, here are a few random photos from our time walking the streets of the old city.

Random street scenes in San Juan, Puerto Rico during our cruise on Celebrity Summit

A Few More

Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina

Nothing to say today, important or otherwise.  I just processed a few more photos from the same folder as the last post and thought I would share.  Hope everyone is enjoying the weekend.  Staying warm where it’s cold and dry where it’s wet. 😉

Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina

Cultural Awareness (or Lack Thereof)

Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina

One of the many advantages of not being a television watcher is that I don’t have to put up with all the commercials and mindless programming, including the so-called news.  One of the disadvantages of not being a television watcher is that I miss out on a lot of the sayings and expressions that come from both the commercials and the programs themselves.

Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina

Case in point – last week I sent an email to a co-worker about something good that had happened, and he replied, “dilly dilly.”  I was puzzled but figured if he wasn’t making some obscure reference to my name that it was probably something I missed from television.  I get pretty good at recognizing things like that. 😉

Charlotte Transit Lynx Light Rail at the Seventh Street Station in Charlotte, North Carolina

Just today I came across an article about a guy with Charlotte roots who had found recent fame by being the “dilly dilly” guy, and it turns out he is the actor that plays the king in a series of Budweiser commercials where he replies “dilly dilly” whenever someone brings him beer.  Little did I know, but “dilly dilly” is this year’s version of “WHASSSUP?” 🙂

The things I miss.  Sigh….

Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina
Views of uptown Charlotte around the Imaginon Children’s Library in Charlotte, North Carolina

The photos – by the way – are more from 2012.  I took this during an outing with a digital point & shoot class I was teaching.  Although it appears I “cheated” and was using my then-new Canon 5D Mark III. 😉

Views of uptown Charlotte from the Seventh Street Station parking garage, Charlotte, North Carolina