Kathy & I spent some time in Charleston, SC a few weekends ago. I took a few photos, and these are a few that show my take on Charleston, although perhaps not what most tourists take photos of. I got a few of those, too. That will be the topic for some future posts. For now, here are a few of my “non-typical” Charleston photos.
I’m still working on Nova Scotia photos…hoping to come up with 12 that are calendar-worthy. Not that I don’t think I can find 12, I just don’t want to find the perfect one after it’s too late!
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia is a real tourist destination, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful location, has a little history, it’s got a lighthouse, a bunch of boats and a quaint little harbor. The day we were there is was relatively uncrowded and the weather was beautiful. And even in the middle of the day, the light was fantastic.
The biggest challenge for me in photographing a place like this is deciding whether I want people in my shots or not. I like people just fine, but I don’t always want to include them in my photos of a quintessential maritime fishing village! Sometimes I just need to be patient, and other times I just need to accept that there will be people! 🙂
Another thing that works well is to photograph someplace that people are less likely to be, like the edge of a dock. Most people don’t like to spend time in the water in places like this.
And they don’t let people climb the lighthouse, inside or out.
Generally when I am in the process of taking a photograph, I have a basic idea what it is going to look like when I am finished processing it. When I’m sitting at the computer working on an image, it just sort of “develops itself.” Most of the time the direction I need to go with an becomes pretty clear to me. I open up an image in Lightroom, work on it a bit, and after a few basic tweaks it is pretty much done. Unless I’m going to make a print, there isn’t a whole lot more I do.
This particular photograph has me a little perplexed. I processed it exactly how I expected to. It’s a little more processed than usual, but there’s quite a lot of dynamic range going on here. But for some reason, I just can’t seem to get comfortable with it. There’s nothing really “wrong” with it, in fact a lot of people would probably wish that they had taken it themselves. But for some reason I am struggling with it.
It’s a typical Cowee Mountains Overlook sunset. It’s got a nice sky, detail in the foreground, and there’s a lot going on. Too much, I think. It is a very “busy” image, as opposed to a lot of my photographs that are a bit more simplified. I’ve definitely processed it a lot more than I usually process an image. Maybe that’s it, I’m not sure.
I think the thing that I keep coming back to is that it doesn’t seem like it’s mine. It’s the sort of landscape photograph that I’ve taken for years, but I just can’t seem to connect with this one. No, I didn’t switch memory cards with someone by mistake, but it’s just such a departure from the type of photography I’ve been doing recently that I may just have to spend some time with it to figure it out. In the mean time, it just doesn’t feel like my style, and I find that interesting.
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!
Kathy & I visited Marion, NC this past Saturday during their annual Mountain Glory Festival. This particular festival weekend is the only Saturday that Bruce’s Fabulous Foods, one of our favorite eateries, is open. The are typically a Monday-Friday lunch-only restaurant. We get there as often as we can, but their schedule and ours don’t often overlap.
After our yummy lunch, we spent some time walking Main Street and checking out the vendors and performers. We came across this guy, The Sidewalk Juggler, also known as Kyle Brown, who is a professional juggler. This guy is good!
I think the thing that impressed me the most was the effortlessness with which he performed his act, smiling and joking with his audience all the time. It’s clear that this is someone who truly loves his job. This is evident not just from the constant smile on his face, but also because only love for your profession would inspire someone to work the number of hours that he obviously had to work in order to learn to do what he does.
This is hard work, and about as tough as it can get, I think. Completely dependent on the generosity of others through their tips, his performance truly makes or breaks his livelihood. But talk about a portable skill! This guy can work anyplace where there are people! As I understand it from his Facebook page, his territory is ‘Western North Carolina.’ Check out his page and his YouTube videos.
My photos hardly do him justice, but I managed to capture a few frames that show the passion and concentration that this guy obviously has for his work. I didn’t really appreciate it while I was taking the photos, but later on I thought about it and realized what a dedicated effort someone like this guy has to put into his profession.
Home of the largest tidal change of anyplace on the planet, the Bay of Fundy was probably the Number One Must-See location for all of us on our recent visit to Nova Scotia.
There are many places to experience the tidal change, depending on what you want to see. Most people want to see the highest vertical change, there are places where the horizontal change is very large, and there are a few places where you can experience a tidal “bore,” where a river actually reverses direction as the tide comes in and heads into a narrow inlet such as the mouth of a river.
The so-called tidal bore can be pretty exciting in the right place at the right times, but generally requires the right astronomical conditions, such as a full moon, to really experience anything more than a ripple.
We experience pretty large horizontal tidal changes along the east coast at places like Hilton Head, where the beach “disappears” at high tide but is enormously wide at low tide. Been there, done that! We decided that the way we wanted to see the tidal change was to experience the vertical change, since this is what the Bay of Fundy is really known for. In my opinion the tidal bore is more of a tourist thing. Others will undoubtedly have their own opinion, and that’s dandy.
The highest tides on planet Earth occur at a place called Burncoat Head. The water level at high tide can be as much as 52 feet higher than at low tide. We stopped there and spent some time, but we were enroute that day and got there at just about high tide. As a result, there wasn’t a lot to see and we didn’t have time to wait for the tide to recede. Even with the amount of change, it can sometimes take a couple of hours to really notice the difference. So we moved on, and the next day visited our planned destination to watch the tides, Hall’s Harbour.
About an hour’s drive from our lodging in Wolfville, we arrived at Hall’s Harbour around mid-morning – the time on my first photo says 10:27. That was right around low tide, so we had a chance to “walk on the ocean floor” as they say, for an hour or more, looking at the fishing boats that literally sit on the ground while the tide is out. Very fascinating! Hall’s Harbour is an actual fishing village, with a small restaurant that serves lobster. LOTS of lobster! They had lobster dinner, lobster salad and lobster sandwiches, and a great place to sit and enjoy the day. Our day was picture perfect, as far as weather goes. We talked to a couple who had been there the day before who said that it was so foggy that they couldn’t see a thing. So we were just a bit lucky!
Within a few hours, all of the places we had been walking were covered by about 40 feet of water! It was quite an amazing experience, and a wonderful way to spend the day.
It’s hard to believe it was just a month ago that we spent the Labor Day weekend at the beach in Hilton Head. I wish I was still there.
Kathy spent a nice quiet weekend at home this weekend, so I had a chance to process a few more of my selects from our weekend.
I upgraded part of my computer setup this past week. My aging iMac was starting to show it’s impending obsolescence, and I had a newer MacBook Pro sitting here being used for little more than running our banking program and the occasional web surfing session. So I picked up a new monitor, keyboard and mouse and decided to give the laptop a try. I’m not seeing quite the performance improvement I was hoping for, but it is noticeably faster in most things.
The biggest improvement is with the monitor! While the screen on the iMac was quite nice when it was new, there has been a pretty big leap in monitor quality over the past few years, as evidenced by the improvement in the new one, a 24″ ASUS ProArt PA249. Pretty nice stuff, no yellow bars like I was seeing on the old monitor. And no more high-gloss mirror-like Apple screen. Yay! 🙂
As soon as I save a few more pennies I’m planning to build a new machine, so the purchase of a few peripherals gets me an interim performance bump until I can go the rest of the way. I was just about there until a fire at one of the factories that makes memory added about $300 to the price of the items on my NewEgg wish list. Hopefully in another month or two those prices will recover and I’ll be ready to forge ahead, just in time to outfit the office in our new place. We hope to be in by the end of November. Hopefully November 2013. It’s been a long process!
I’m still working on Nova Scotia photos too, so there will be more of those coming as well.