Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Week 52 - 365 Day Photography Challenge 2013

Day 258

First let me say there are eight days in this week. I haven't a clue why. I began this challenge on Tuesday, January 1st, 2013 and the 365 days took me to New Years eve. In spite of some errors in day numbers I caught and corrected with my weekly blogs here nothing cosmic happened. The day numbers came out right but there is eight days in this last week.

I will not mention what week number my internal filing system says this is. I blame that on not beginning to put my photos into weeks on the computer until I had already did six or seven weekly blogs. Like all calendar systems I can only assume mine is just a bit off. But then I am an artist.

Day 359 - a Hawk in a Pine Tree

A photographer friend and I were discussing our divergent goals for our photography recently. She is a birder. I am not. Well, except for casually. Yes, there is a hawk in the sentinel tree but the photograph was about recording the light on the trunk and the patterns in the snow. I took the photo on the fly as it were. I was walking out the front door with the dogs dancing around my feet ready for their morning walk. I braced against a support on the porch. No time for tripod.

My friend falls solidly in the tripod school; sure that the only way she will get $3000 a photo is to always tripod for absolute and acute clarity and detail. I am a happenstance photographer. By the time I went inside and got the tripod and set it up to snap this picture that wonderful sense of light would have been gone and perhaps the hawk with it. Dogs would have definitely vanished up the hill and be somewhere behind that tree.

Guess I will never get $3000 for a photograph but then I am a painter that takes photographs as possible things to paint. I have won prizes in all but one photographic show I have entered but for me it is all about recording what is artistic; not what is painfully real. Case in point - Jessica's tea pots.

Day 360 - Jessica's Tea Pots

I am not even sure that my new 24.5 megapixel camera isn't a step too far toward that stark detail I really do seem to avoid like the plague. Since I got the Nikon D3200 I have discovered all the blur and selective focus options on my post processing program. Well, maybe not all but I am moving rapidly toward that goal. And this next year want to work on layers and filters.

Day 361

And if Mother Nature gifts me with a photo already somewhat out of focus I jump on it. Love the rising fog between the trees and the far mountains. It accentuated the distance to the far horizon, which is lacking on a totally clear sunny day.

Day 362

And I love the abstract. I seek out and find textures and colors and effects of light. I try to take the ordinary and make it extraordinary. Okay, I confess. I spent too much time reading Alice in Wonderland. And I am first and foremost a painter. A camera is just another way to create a painting for me.

Day 363 - A Painter's Tools

In fact I still print out a photo I took or pull it up on the studio laptop and use it as inspiration for colors or details of light in a painting I am working on. I have sat with my sketch pad and altered what the camera recorded to make it a bit more artistic for the painting I am conceiving. I am willing to concede that I might not be a photographer after all.

Day 364

But there is also the argument beginning to build among photographers that there are divergent aspects of this relatively young medium especially since the advent of digital. Nobody has come up with a name or names yet. Maybe it will take history to discover it. There is Ansel Adams and his ilk (sorry, I cannot rattle off names here because while I admire them I do not follow them) and then there are those that really just want to paint in pixels and light.

Day 365 - Balancing Act

And so I end with a photograph of one of my papier mache sculptures in my studio. In the year ahead I will continue with the challenge of posting a photo a day or a pixelated art work. Looking back over the last three years of my involvement in photography those works that have won prizes seem to fall into the fantasy or creative end of photography. And those have been the works which sell the most.

It may be a bumpy road but I have a sense of where I am heading this year. Hang on. The road may not always be smooth. And the stark reality a camera can capture may make appearances from time to time if I find it worthy. I may even get out my tripod.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

My picks of 365 days in pictures

2013 was the second year that I joined in with a couple other photography friends to post a picture a day on my Fanpage Binford-Bell Studio on Facebook. At the end of this year it will be 365 pictures. And here 52 blogs (one per week). I have some obvious favorites but I began to wonder which were the best 12 (one best for each month). I am leaving that up to my fans.

I will write a blog with the favorites of all my followers after the new year. If you want to participate just review the 52 blogs and leave a comment on this blog as to your six favorites. List the week number of the blog and the day number of the photograph.

I thought I would lead off with a few of my favorites picked rather randomly this morning. BTW I had a hard time with January, February and March. And there were too many in May, June, July and August. November did not resonate with me either. September and October are oddly lacking in stand out photos too given it was fall.

Burn by J. Binford-Bell / Day 159
Currently being exhibited in the ANMPAS show in Albuquerque

July and August yielded entirely too many favorites. It is perhaps also the months I took the most photographs if my photo files are to be believed. And went to the most places. Raton, Trinidad, Jackalope in Santa Fe, and various National parks are featured as well as my old time local favorite haunts. Bandelier is featured but not my favorite. I think it deserves a do over this year.

Day 213 - Bandelier Cliff

Day 305
 Both the photo above and the one below were taken in November. What a difference a a week can make and outside versus inside a green house.

Day 312 
 I finally stopped on one of my numerous trips to Raton this year and took the picture below of a truck at a junkyard outside of Cimarron. Lots of old trucks caught my attention  in 2013. And a lot of Jackalope pictures like the one below the truck. What a mint of photographic opportunities is the Santa Fe import store. They were all taken in July but every time I ran short of a photo to post I would go back to that folder in My Pictures and dust off another.

Day 226 posted in August

Day 228 - posted in August
 The umbrella below I have set under before and since but on that particular day in July the light and shadows were just right.

Day 195 posted in July

Trinidad, Colorado also figures high in the total of photos for 2013. I made four trips to Trinidad and am dying to go again. I have not gotten anywhere close to recording all the interesting visual images in the historic Colorado Mining town. As the picture below of the opera house announces it was in its heyday in the late 1800's.

Day 156

What was the Day number one for 2013? The photograph below. For the last photo of the years stay tuned. BTW I took way more than 365 photos. I have way more photo blogs than 52 and way more facebook albums on my Fanpage than 12.

First photo of 2013

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Week 51 - 365 Day Photography Challenge

Day 351
Began this week on shadows. I had promised in a previous blog to spend more time with shadows but it has turned out to be rather hit and miss due to qualities of light and quantities of snow. In the early part of the week both were great. I also discovered that shadows and black and white go very well together.

Day 352
I had just berated my labradoodle, Magique, for ruining the smooth snow with her tracks before I took the picture. But it occurred to me the tracks could add interest to the snow and they did. I like the textures in this shadow picture.

Day 353
Day 353 is the same subject as Day 351 but with a wider frame and Magique tracks. I like the plethora of aspens and their shadows in this version of the picnic table.

Day 354

Then the dawn diverted my attention. I love color. Black and white photos are difficult for me to maintain an interest in. The photo below is shadows in color. Also not bad.

Day 355

But I really had to have an explosion of color. Especially since the days turned grey with high clouds and I turned my attention to indoor subjects.

Day 356

A lot going on this last week before the holidays and I found my interest in photography waning this week. The last photo was taken when I realized my folder for the week was empty and I needed one to post.

Day 357

So as the end winds down the question is whether to do this next year. It would be my third year. Lots of benefits from doing this but there are times when picking up the camera to take a picture for the day is the last thing I want to do.

Monday, December 23, 2013

A Funny Thing Happened on the way to Christmas

Ceremony - SOLD

Art sales started to pick up. First it was just photography which I added to my studio primarily to have lower price point items to sell. Then it was the smaller paintings I had used as what the retail business calls loss leaders but which I initially painted to again have low price items to get people into my studio. But now it seems bigger pieces are beginning to be sold.

Spirit Ladder - SOLD

Yes, I have not painted as much as I did before quitting art fairs but I have painted bigger pieces, especially since I have been offered the one woman show in Trinidad this summer. And because the walls in the studio are full (primarily because of the photographs) some of my more unique and higher priced paintings have moved upstairs so I can enjoy them.

But they all get posted here and/or on Facebook. And have sold from there. I am ecstatic. It means I can paint some more. I have two recently finished and two more on the drawing board as it were.

Coming Home
22 x 22 Mixed Media

Rio Grande del Norte
24 x 30 mixed media

Stay tuned for not merely more great photographs here but great new paintings.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Week 50 - 365 Day Photography Challenge

Day 344

There is a lot to be said for the 365 days of posting photos. And more than just making you take the camera out or uploading your photos or opening your post processing program. It makes you look at different subjects and different ways to capture them. In the photo above it was not just the orchids I wanted to capture but the light and the shadows they cast. Placing them against a red door awash in the afternoon sun coming through the windows achieved that.

Day 345

Same afternoon sun on this yellow beauty but I left it where it was on the edge of a shadow cast on the wall behind it. I think it framed the bright flower beautifully. Just a bit of misting to get the droplets of water and it was ready for its closeup.

Day 346

The columns of shadow cast on the wall were created by the alternating of windows and wall. In the late afternoon on a winter day they provide a dramatic backdrop for flowers just barely capturing the last few rays of sun. I played around with black and white on this white orchid.

Day 348

Yes, the above photo is out of order but I was talking orchids and light and shadow. This is the same orchid as the one in photo number one but back to its normal spot on the plant stand. I had just finished the black and white of the white orchid and decided to try the same on this more colorful flower. Taking its color away highlights the veins and structure of this flower and makes it more important than the shadow it cast.

Day 347
On last Saturday I drove down with a friend to Albuquerque to view the ANMPAS show. We both had photos entered which were accepted. And we both didn't win anything. But it the biggest photography show I have been accepted in. Driving back we were racing a snow storm moving in and I captured this picture of the light on I believe the Ortiz Mountains. The week of photography was about light. Photography is light and shadow.

Day 349
The pattern on the wall was cast by the sun streaming through a stain glassed window. It blends well with the painted patterns on the chairs. In this photograph it seems to be all about the light.

Day 350

And in this picture and others I took on the same day it seems all about the shadows. But they are not easy to separate. But time of day is crucial. All these pictures were taken in the extremes of the day. And they are not about orchids, mountains, chairs or trees. They are about light and shadow.

Out on the Ice

The Ice Cutters by Natalia Goncharova

I have a friend who has a house built around ice. The center of her house is the old Red River Ice House. Attached to the side was the general store her family owned. Behind the ice house was the first residence. As the family grew they wrapped the home around the ice house providing ever growing insulation to the timber and sawdust filled walls and roof. Selling the ice in the summer months was how the family afforded the ever more surrounding home as the family expanded until there was no need for the ice house and it became a pantry. Its original purpose forgotten.

Out on the Ice

The ice cutters 
walk the ice.
It must be strong
to hold the horse and sleigh.
to last the year.

The ice cutters
cut the blocks
on the coldest of days
to not weaken it
with the holes they leave.

The blocks of ice
in ice houses
will keep the fish caught
and game killed in fall
through the thaw.

J. Binford-Bell
December 1911

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Week 49 - 365 Day Photograph Challenge 2013

Day 337
Orchids in the Spotlight

Busy week with travel down to Albuquerque and doing the jobs that support me. And snow. Lots of snow. With subzero temps. Taking the camera outside to take pictures was just not very enticing. Nice to have inside subjects on such occasions. They dominate the week of photography.

Day 338
My pots and pans
It was snowing outside when I took this picture. And in black and white it looks very cold inside and out. They good luck bamboo did not seem to mind, however.

Day 339
My spice rack and kitchen witch

Even the spice rack looked cold and unwelcoming this week. I was very uninspired on cooking too. Finally made a crockpot chicken for soup.

Day 340
Witchy winter

One of the infinite reasons I do not do wedding photos is because photography reflects my mood. And not necessarily the mood of my subjects.

Day 341
Just the three of us
My sister started the shadow people. But my sister is back in Texas so the shadow people are me and my two canine kids. Warm colors at last but still in a cold mood which the hard frozen ice projects.

Day 342
The Coats of winter

The sun at long last was streaming through the light in the front door and I decided to take a picture of my winter coats - or at least those that have room there to hang. I have winter coats of all sorts of weights hanging off the chairs in my studio and living room.

Day 343
At least the two straw hats should go upstairs and leave me more room for winter coats. The heart of winter is always difficult for me. Just think of the muddle I would make of a December wedding shoot? Know your limitations.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Week 48 - 365 Day Photography Challenge

Day 330

It really must be too early to be tired of winter but this last week I definitely was. Winter can be spectacular as previous posts have shown but this was not one of those. There was one day of hoar frost that I totally failed of photographing to my satisfaction but it has basically been the same colorless days so I took to photographing the orchids at a friend's green house and even my coats in the entry of my house.

Generally when doing flowers I change their location to minimize the distraction of other plants in the background but with the spray of yellow orchids above I kept them where they were and used a post processing filter to minimize the background importance but still give the feeling of setting.

The coats below were much the same issue. The photo was one I took to be sure my new Sandisk was working. After the previous failure of a card I am not a trusting soul. The picture turned out rather interesting upon later upload and so I played with trying to unify the chaos without minimizing that feeling.

Day 331

With the two orchid pictures below I went back to my placement of them in a "neutral" background, but the afternoon shadows had created bands of dark and light on the stucco walls of the greenhouse. And in the first photo the sun cast great shadows on the wall behind the orchids. I loved the almost oriental feel of the background.

Day 332

The temptation with orchids is to include the entire spray in the photo. Day 333 was a challenge to my tendency to want to do that. The result was a far sharper focus on the one bloom. This was not a crop but a framing with the camera. Doesn't diminish my pixels.

Day 333

Just a bit bored with orchids and really wanting more color I forced myself out into the cold, grey winter day and took some photos of shadows and ice and wood. Then back to the studio to post process some color into them. The photo below is the black and white version of Day 334. And in some ways I like it better. It also has its followers on my fan page.

Day 334 in B&W

But I was striving for color and so I had to seek it out. The crack in the ice is so different between the two versions.

Day 334

Just a few feet to the right of the crack in the pond ice is a wooden cover to a weir. I love the wood grains and the frost and one tiny remaining spot of snow with its shadow made for a very interesting abstract with the addition of color.

Day 335

I took the wheel barrow picture a couple weeks ago but while I was playing around with color I decided to see what could be done with it. The interesting challenge with the 365 Day theme of these blogs is that photography is not always linear. I didn't take a single picture yesterday. I was busy with other things. There are days I will take almost 200 photos or more and days I will play around with those photos on the computer. A photographer friend of mine, Jessica Duke, were taking some pictures on Sunday so next week they will trickle into my daily posts at Binford-Bell Studio and then some into next week's blog here.

Day 336