Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Clouds in Black and White - Life on the Dry Line

10% chance of showers
J. Binford-Bell

According to NOAA I am living along the dry line. The dry line is a weather term for the divide between dry atmosphere to the west and moister air up from the gulf to the east. And what we get from this are dry thunderstorms. The clouds form over the mountains and then move away to be tornadoes or flooding events in the mid west. Here we get the 10% chance of rain. And some fantastic clouds to photograph.

Across the Valley
J. Binford-Bell

No rain but lots of opportunities to practice ones dry darkroom skills. Black an white is ever so much more than the absence of color. And done well it brings out details in the clouds the color digital image only hinted at.

Alone on the High Mesa
J. Binford-Bell

Photography began with no color. Ansel Adams made the west famous with his black and white images. And in spite of advancements in color photography we return to our black and white roots but in digital.

Downpour on the High Mesa
J. Binford-Bell

Most digital photo manipulation programs have an effect called black and white. Do not be seduced. It only takes out the color. Black and white is so much more. It is brightness and contrast, shadows and highlights, and yes vibrancy. An intricate dance of elements not unlike clouds themselves. Don't get me wrong. I am a color photographer first and perhaps always. In the days of film I only took black and white when it was a class assignment. I hated having non-color film in my camera. But in this digital age I can have it both ways.

The view from my studio
J. Binford-Bell

And clouds I have found are just beautiful in black and white. It is what is called a noisy sky. Literally because some of these silent images were accompanied by distant thunder.

Trees in Ojo
J. Binford-Bell

The above black and white and the opening photo actually are not pure. They have remains of color in them. Something which was done in the black and white film days with tinting. How much color to leave in and how much to take out is another thing to play with. I am by no means a master. Just a student who is more comfortable in color.

Ojo Valley
J. Binford-Bell

Life on the dry line is interesting but frankly I want rain and the land needs it. Rain will bring back the colors in the land.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Week 21 - 365 Day Challenge 2013

Day 141

My pets do not often make the 365 day post because I feel their significance is primarily for me. And the one above broke one of the rules of animal photography. Her eyes are not in focus. Her eyes are not in the picture. In fact they are intently staring at the ducks which are out of the frame causing the ripples. True to her training she is not chasing. Just intently watching.

Day 142 - Fading into the past

Jessica Duke and I took a photographic trip down to Ojo Caliente. No soaking in the famous hot springs because of thunder and lightning in the area. Instead we took pictures and ate lunch. Lunch was great and so were the pictures. Several of the pictures posted this week were from that trip. We had hoped to see the big horn sheep again but they did not keep their appointment.

Day 143 - An Unkindness of Ravens

I stayed in the car while Jessica ran in to mail a package. Not Ojo but Taos behind the Burger King. Obviously this is a favored hangout for ravens and they were fighting over something rather large and brown they kept tossing in the air. I was using my camera as binoculars to see if it was a rat or something and then noticed the wonderful poses of the squabbling birds. Since I frequently put ravens in my paintings I took a few reference photos. Normally such pictures would never get past a quick printing to draw from but the combination of architectural elements, ravens and clouds was too good to pass up.

One of the rules on taking pictures of buildings is at least one edge has to be aligned with one edge of the photo. However, I liked the tension of the angles of the building and the sign post that looks like a cross. I even liked the telephone wires. Never did figure out what they were fighting over.

Day 144. - 1946 Chevrolet

There is a whole album on the blue pickup truck at Ojo on my Facebook Fanpage (link in right column). I played it straight in that presentation but old cars are just so fun to post process. And this is one of my favorite effects.

Day 145 - The Crossing
This charming bridge is within the boundaries of the new Rio Grande del Norte National Monument. There are residences on the other side of the Rio Grande and on the side where I stood are camp grounds and picnic areas and many a patch made by anglers on their way to the water. The water was like glass that morning which was a great photo opportunity but an indication of how very low water levels are due to drought.

Day 146 

I do not want to confess as to how long I stood with camera ready to wait for these two geese to get into the perfect position. Some photography is pure luck like the ravens fighting and some is extended patience.

Day 147 - Crown of thorns

My Crown of thorns blooms constantly and is in reality a wonderful vivid red with pinks. The wall on the right is gold. But it was not the colors that drew me but the shadows. The color just seemed to get in the way.

This was one of those weeks in which I posted lots of pictures in albums on my Facebook pages. It is not all about the one photo for the one day in the 365 challenge but that undertaking the challenge often gives you almost endless pictures.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Week 20 - 365 Day Challenge 2013

Day 134 - Waiting for the Wind and Rain by J. Binford-Bell

It was a busy week. So busy that at times I didn't take up the camera for other than recording progress on projects like the garden and my Sego palm that is getting new fronds or to record the developing clouds that brought little to no rain until they reached the mid west. Most of my photographic treasures posted this week were taken in the week before. Photos ignored on the first flush of uploading to the computer. Photos I finally noticed when I took a break from those projects to sit down and do some meditative dry darkroom work.

The opening photo was taken on the road to Eagle Nest. I was early to meet a friend for a drive to Raton (yes, again) and I have no idea how many times I drove by this windmill meaning to stop. I always mentally access the sky and colors. You have to stop on the side of the road and get out of the car so you can walk up to it and cut the power lines out of the image. That day, May 10th, it seemed worth the effort. And it was, but remember how you used to leave film in the camera? Well, the digital equivalent is leaving images in a My Pictures folder. Images like the one below taken during my trip to Trinidad, Colorado.

Day 135 - Reflections in a dark window

I so loved the buildings in Trinidad and managed to get so many good images. The extraordinary ones got posted immediately and some got shuffled past.

Day 136 - On Commercial

Day 137 - Fred's I think

A lot of my photographer friends are really fond of bracketing exposures, which is something you can get your digital camera to do automatically. I am more fond of "bracketing" images or compositions. If the light is right and the sky spectacular do not just take a picture of Wheeler Peak just to the right off frame but get the whole mountain range in pieces and back off the zoom and get it all together.

Day 138 - Oops

Posted the above photo the day I took it. It is in a folder in My Pictures that includes a bunch of progress photos of the garden. I walked out on to the porch with my camera and the light had changed from thirty minutes earlier. This is the hill just to the southwest of my studio and the clouds had literally popped up.

Day 139 - Toward the south from studio Stoop

Also buried in a folder of project progress photos. These are the photos that get overlooked not merely when you upload but later as you scan through your files. I tell myself I should immediately pull them out and put them someplace else. And in this particular instance that someplace else is a subfolder under the a folder for the 365 day challenge. My right brain is still looking for a left brain organization that allows me to be able to find what I am looking for. And that became rather important this week with three people asking me for a photo they would like printed.

Day 140 - Kissed

And a bonus photo this week. It was taken and posted in another of my blogs. And shuffled from folder to folder in an effort to not lose it. It wound up in Week 20 but there were eight photos in Week 20.

Rain over the mountains

It is one of those examples of taking all the pictures and not just the one you stopped to take. To the left is another break in the trees with a vista containing the Teeth of Time range. I was walking back to the car and turned to take one last look before getting on my way back home. This was that last look.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Week 19 - 365 Day Challenge 2013

Day 127 - Pond Scum

Cannot believe I opened this week with pond scum. But it may be the western version of Monet's Lily Pads. Or it may just be a painter with a camera fascinated with shapes, patterns and colors. Or recording the unusual. It was a spring day and yet there is a lushness of August in the pond. A lushness that vanished the next day and returned it to the barely thawed lake of reflections I know and love.

Day 128 - Wheeler Peak dressed in new snow

And then winter returned and brought with it some fantastic images to record. The above of a freshly covered Wheeler Peak was one of my favorites of the week. And that day there seemed to be no bad pictures of this vista.

Day 129 - Solitary 

Day 129 was back to my lake of reflections and without the pond scum. Various people are calling our weather bipolar and it really is. I never know how to dress in the morning as I grab the camera and head out for my early morning photo exhibition. Love the stillness of the air and the water in the mornings. National Geographic says all landscapes should be taken in the golden hour around dawn and sunset.

Day 130 - Curtain of Reflections

Early morning is absolutely the best for reflections on the water because there is no wind. I have taken photos when the water is so still it is not easy to see that it is of a reflection. I was accused once of posting a photo upside down. I like my reflections with just a hint of ripple. And have come to rely on my fur companions. Magique will go up and put her paws in the water to drink. Then I just wait until the ripples are just right. She was actually cropped out of this photo but she remains in a lot I post.

Day 131 - Dancing light

Not my Lake of Reflections. It isn't quite big enough for the grand waterscape, and because it is smaller the water ripples differently. On this day it made the light from the rising sun dance.

Day 132 - Shivers

The clouds were my subject in the above picture. Been a while since we have had spring clouds. Yes, winter clouds are different. And the dawn was doing wonderful subtle paintings in the sky. But I fell in love with their reflected image. And just as I snapped this one there was a rogue breeze that shivered across the surface of the water giving me an impressionistic photograph of a spring morning.

Day 133 - Facade

And yes, not every morning gives you a Monet. And some days give you whole folders of wonderful images. The above is from my trip to Trinidad, Colorado, and one of the images I had not processed. So on days when I return from my morning walk with nothing spectacular to post I go back to the folders of abundance and process another.

Never trash the also ran's until you are sure they really do not have worth.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Just the Two of Us

Old Couple by Togan Gokbakar
Visual Prompt by The Mag: Mag 168

Just the two of us
Becoming one
with the layer of years.

We two meld
enmeshed in dress
and moves.

Two faces
melting into one 

Side by side
one look one voice
where once there were two..

J. Binford-Bell
May 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Week 18 - 365 Day Challenge 2013

Day 119 - Picture windows

It was a confusing week in more ways than one. I have my albums for 365 days divided into months on Binford-Bell Studio Fan Page on Facebook and into weeks in my picture files on my computer and here on my blogger posts. Then I have to know which day numerically in the year. I got off a day somewhere in April and that meant I got off my months in albums. To make matters worse I always end up with more photos in my weekly files than I actually post. I am going to blame it on April. April is always chaos.

Day 120

April is the off season in the high country. Because of mud and flood season not only do tourists not want to come but locals take themselves off to somewhere else. But this year due to lack of snow there was no mud and flood and we found ourselves wishing for it. It is still very much an erratic spring and so there are days it is just much nicer to sit in the studio at the computer and process photos taken on a nice day. Much of this week was a visual return to Trinidad, Colorado. And some of them have been posted in other forms in an album entitled Trinidad.

Day 121 - Lady of the Wall

The photographer supposedly owns the image regardless of how many configurations the artist puts it through. But define own. As I found out in a TED talk copyright does not apply to many creative endeavors like fashion or photography. The dividing line with copyright seems to be whether it is utilitarian like clothing or part of the creative process like a painting.Some argue that our ability to copy and compete generates more creativity. But clearly far less income. Best course is obviously to never let your large resolution images out of your control.

Day 122 - Alien

The argument can be made that the more your images get around the more known you are especially if you get credit for it. And photography is not all utilitarian these days. We are not just recording war images. And when a photographer goes into the dry darkroom of their computer they cross the line into digital painting. Should your unique manipulation of an image anyone one with a camera could have taken be subject to copyright?

Day 123 - Lift off

So this sculpture being displayed on a street in Trinidad would be able to receive copyright protection but would my image of it? Certainly not the one I uploaded from my Nikon because I imagine this sculpture or sign has been photographed tons of times.

Day 124 - Cut and Dry

Maybe that is why most photographers sell their work cheap. To discourage those that would simply steal it. But we can also sell the same image multiple times. Limited edition runs provide some value to the buyer and that the photographer oversees the printing process. And if I carefully horde my original images I can modify it again and re-introduce it. It is all about the original image, and I frankly think every photographer of has an unique eye. Who of us cannot pick out an Ansel Adams even if it isn't one of his iconic images?

Day 125 - In Memory of the one who left

And that artistic eye is not just in what we choose to record on the flash drive of the camera but what we produce in the dry darkroom of our computers. And Ansel Adams did manipulate his images but in a wet darkroom.

Day 126 - Tres Amigos

So why does week 18 have eight images? Because I got off count somewhere. Try to see it like a baker's dozen. The first post of week 19 is pond scum. Hey, you will have to see it to appreciate it.