Sunday, January 29, 2017

Week Four - 2017 in Photographs

Day 22

For the love of trees. As a child I was the first in my class to draw trees with branches; not the trunk with a balloon of green over the top. Or even the trunk with limbs coming off at right angles. For some reason even as young as five I knew there was an intricate pattern to the branches on trees. And decades later I still love drawing trees. And photographing them. Even the conifers which never bare their branches. But there is a pattern to their needle covered limbs. And the snow can define that.

This week I focused on trees: singly or in groups but all with snow. Trees in winter do well in a black and white treatment. And they are suited for a vertical composition. I need a vertical photograph or two or three for a Music From Angel Fire competition I am entering.

Week five will no doubt have more trees and more vertical compositions.

Day 23

Day 24

Day 25

Day 26

Day 27

Day 28

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Week Three - 2017 in Photographs

Day 15
 I promise more color in the third week of the year 2017. But this has been a strange January. Even the snow as been atypical. The weather services have not been able to make up their minds on forecasts. Wintry mix is over used and rain/snow mix once seen here only in October or late March as been the standard.

NOAA persists in using the word accumulation for what I always used to call a dusting. Note: Accumulation of less than 1/2 an inch is a dusting. And snow of a greater amount covered with a thick layer of ice is not a wintry mix. It is dangerous.

Day 16
 That said it has made for some interesting photo opportunities. The snow does not cover all the grasses. And with the hardened surface makes for for some nice shadows. And the clouds have been memorable.

Day 17

Day 18
 But the 30-55 mph winds with gusts up to 70 has made spending time in a green house preferable on those days.

Day 19

Day 20
 I photographed the asperitas clouds above and below one morning out and about with my camera. My father was a pilot and he taught me all about clouds. He didn't mention these. I had to look them up and discovered they were not actually identified and named until 2009. Which raises the question of where they were before that time. I discovered the Cloud Appreciation Society. There do seem to be photos of this sort of cloud captured in Tasmania in 2004. So why are they popping up over the mountains of New Mexico?

Day 21
I love them. I invite them back. I am also thrilled there are people who openly admit to appreciating clouds. I want to study them. The clouds. The members of the society are welcome to visit too.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Week Two - 2017 in Photographs

Day Eight
Cimarron River

Next week is going to be more colorful. I promise. But this is not just about my mood. The opening weeks of January are grey. Especially if there is no snow. In the past during this time I have escaped into my studio and focused on still life compositions with reds and golds. This year what I saw is what you get.

The weather was unseasonably warm so even the Cimarron River wasn't frozen. And the roads were passable and the gates open to allow me to penetrate into lands off the main roads.

Day Nine
The Palisades in Cimarron Canyon

The Palisades are probably the most photographed feature in Cimarron Canyon. I often wonder what those with just smart phones come up with. And maybe, in their eye, something better. I, on the other hand, am almost always a bit disappointed in my recording of this imposing cliff face which is never totally in sun due to the narrowness of the canyon.

Day Ten

Day Eleven
Vermejo Park Rank

 Day Eleven breaks a basic black and white photography rule. It does not have a noisy (translate that as busy) sky. There was not a cloud in the incredibly blue sky. But in full color the photograph became about the sky and not the cliff wall which was quite noisy with shadows.

Day Twelve
Vermejo Park Ranch

Day 13
Vermejo Park Ranch

Days 13 and 14 are the true colors of a dry New Mexico January. The lack of significant snows in November and December allow the grasses to remain standing. A wet summer made the grasses particularly nice and in enough abundance the deer and buffalo did not eat them to the ground. But the winds took all the leaves off the trees.

Day 14
Cimarron, New Mexico

Saturday, January 7, 2017

Week One - 2017 in Photographs

Day One

I usually begin the first days of any new year is a somber and reflective mood. In fact from Winter Solstice to Epiphany I seem to be searching for a new direction. So a visit to the cemetery in Cimarron, New Mexico was by no means out of character. There was a deep turquoise sky and bright floral decorations on the graves. Many had Christmas themes. 

But I sought those without the bright departures from my somber mood. This was in part because I was looking for the oldest. The graves less attended because relatives had also long departed perhaps. Or the markers showed no indication of who was buried there beneath the weathering crosses and crumbling stone monuments.

And back to the dry darkroom I found myself reducing the color or saturation of the digital images to better reflect my mood. 2016 was a depressing year in many ways. And for my land I do not feel very positive about 2017.

Day Two

Day Three

Day four

Day Five
 Day Five was my favorite image of this week. Day one and Day seven also scored high with me. But then all seven of these images were selected out of a scan card upload of 92. So why these seven out of almost a hundred. And why those three favorites. Why Day Five over all the others.

Photography, books on the craft tell us, is all about light. And the light and shadow had a lot to do with my love of Day Five. But it is also the questions presented by it. Obviously the bigger cross is way older than the little one. Why the second cross? A second death. The grave is not marked except in a grave registry which is maintained at the Aztec Mill Museum. Someone still alive decorated it with silk flowers which in the original image are quite bright.

I have a writer friend of mine who could direct me on the path to answer all my questions. And more. But I think I like not knowing. Because every time I look at this digital image I make up a new story in my mind. I want to have it printed and put on my wall. Maybe even enter it in the April Solano Photography show.

I might print and frame Day Seven too.

Yes, photography is all about light. But it is also about a relationship between the image and the photographer. And the success of the photographer may be not merely in the technical recording in light but in picking the images which tell a story to him or her, and too those who view the image. I would love to see all the images Ansel Adams recorded but did not print. Now that would be a graveyard of stories not told.

Day Six

Day Seven

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Black and Whites of 2016

Shadows on the snow

For me photography is a journey. It began with a Kodak Brownie camera my father gave me. And except for college classes I have been largely self taught. I constantly give myself challenges designed to improve my images. And in the last couple of years I have worked at doing better black and white photographs.

It is a two fold process. First there is the taking of the photograph. And second the post processing of it. I thought that would be easier than loading in black and white film and ruining it. Those college classes were centered on black and white but we didn't turn it over to Walmart. We developed it in a dark room. When I no longer had a dark room I loathed my results with black and white. Digital cameras and dry darkrooms seemed a good opportunity to be able to do both as in college.

Dark Woods

And something not color or black and white like the above image. Yes there is a hint of gold in the grasses at the bottom of the dark woods. And the snowy woods below. I call it sneaking up on black and white by reducing the saturation of the digital image. These two images of a dark woods I have printed and matted and framed. They are hanging at Enchanted Circle Brewing in Angel Fire. They are two of my favorites of all the photographs I took this last year.

Snowy woods

But I have also decided to not be a coward and just go totally black and white instantly. I find I do it when the color gets in the way of the image like in the original of the pots below. It is a decision not made when I load film in a camera or when I set out with my DSLR in search of the perfect black and white image. I make it in the computer contrary to what the best photography books say about that. 

Indian Pots

 But even in color photography I often look toward the monochromatic scene. I loved the Blue Ridge Mountains for that. But even though it is a very different color I love the canyon lands for that too. Not blues but oranges. And the pots above were in earth tones. Except for the wall.

And the ravens below were black against grey ice on an overcast day.

A Venue of Ravens

And the trees below were clouded in fog.

Foggy Woods

Key to black and white for me is it first has to be a good composition. The photograph must have merit as a photograph. And it must look better without color. Often the color is a distraction.

Still Life in Silver

Sunday, January 1, 2017

Best Landscapes of 2016

On the Road to Raton

I picked 366 photographs out of the thousands I took to feature on daily posts on Binford-Bell Studio Facebook page and in the 52 weeks of 2016 posts here. To then run through those 366 photographs and pick the seven best of any subject is being rather egotistic. 

Perhaps it is better to say these are my seven favorite landscapes of the year. And maybe they are only my favorite because they strike some inner cord in my photographic mind. Or they capture some here to fore allusive aspect as in the lead photograph. Or just a mood or memory.

I have driven the road to Raton a lot of times. Even written blogs about revealed truth on the road to Raton which appear in Side Tracked Charley. Truth seems easier to find than the vastness of these high plains which spread between the mountains and our county seat. The clouds and the shadows they created helped define the distance and emptiness I was always trying to capture.

Light through the Aspens

And what western photographer is not trying to capture the ultimate fall aspen photograph. For me it was not so much about the crowning glory of these golden trees but their transition from green to gold and they way they seem to capture the very light and use it as their own. The colors in this photo belong to the earth and not a photo editing program.

Monte Verde Lake Reflections

I pass this little resort lake often. During tourist season in the summer it will be filled with paddle boats and fishing families along the shore. And because of its location it rarely seems still enough to offer up a reflection. I captured this one because I had the camera in the truck.

The photograph below was on a trip to the Valle Vidal shortly after I got my new camera. I was running it through its paces by clicking the shutter at everything. I took a lot of Shuree Pond reflections that day. The depth of the reflection accented by the algae bloom on the surface makes this one of my favorites. And obviously reflections are a favorite as three out of four of my favorite landscapes are pondscapes.

Deep in Shuree Ponds

On the Road to Ojo

Light is what photography is about. I am constantly on the lookout for just the right lighting on the landscapes as I drive. I like the empty roads of the back country of New Mexico because I won't create a traffic accident pulling over to try to capture the fleeting light. The landscape above was taken on a hill overlooking my favorite Spa, Ojo Caliente. I was down for a day to meet up with another photographer friend and we were killing time before dinner so had driven to the top of the hill. So this may be my favorite because not only the light but the company.

And the last of my choices is a still lake; no ripples, no company. And what makes this a favorite is the silence. A silence which is translated into a digital medium.