February 21, 2018

Light Rain, 36 Degrees, Northwest Wind 10mph

It’s getting colder today after unseasonably warm conditions the last few days. All of the snow has melted except for a few spots that are sheltered and where drifts had formed. The ground is soggy and there is standing water in many places. It’s about as wet as it can get. This is not unusual for this time of year and it’s probably my least favorite kind of weather. The long stretch from here until things turn green and begin to bloom is one of the hardest times of year for me.

The wet bark has a particular depth of color and sheen that I love.

Nonetheless, my walk was not unpleasant and I found hundreds of things to photograph. Fortunately, the light rain abated as I walked and I was able to shoot the soaking wet environment without any difficulty.

I shot the trees and brush of the upper level of the property today. The more I look at this area, the more I see to photograph. There is just a staggering array of plants, vines, trees and bittersweet that the possibilities seem endless.

Everything was truly soaking wet, which is actually not that common. It is wet enough that the tree trunks are soaked and that brings out different colors in the bark. There was probably less contrast in the wet than there would be if it were dry, but I am hopeful that there will be some nice shots in today’s work.

The pattern and color in this pine bark is amazing.

The more I think about what I’m doing with these photographs, the more I realize that I don’t want to create strictly realistic nature photographs. I want to retain the detail and power of nature, but I want to create works of art that rely on my control of the contrast and value, line, composition and color. I have a tremendous amount of control over all of these things in Lightroom. I’m still looking for the right balance to get what I want.

The difference between literal nature photography and “art” can be as simple as converting to black and white. Even something that simple is an abstraction of reality that makes the images a step removed from reality. If you keep a little of the original color and then tint it in one direction or another, then you are another step removed. If you tint the dark values in one color and the highlights in another (this is called split toning) then you are further yet from literal photography and closer to painting. I like that.

I have had several people tell me before that my photographs look like paintings. These were pretty straightforward landscape photographs and I never understood why they thought that. These images, when I’m done editing them, will look much more like paintings and I like that idea. Any exhibition of the images I choose will look cohesive, like they were conceived to be seen as a group, as of course they are.

I loved the deep orange of this trunk against the open background.

I keep mentioning exhibitions here in these writings. It suggest to me that I’m beginning to think in those terms. I’ve pointed out before that exhibitions I’ve had before are always very satisfying in terms of seeing my photographs presented as a body of work, but not very satisfying in terms of finances. I love to see the work together, with the whole idea presented in full, but it costs a small fortune to print, mount and frame a big body of work and sales almost never justify the expense.

I don’t like the idea of working so hard and paying out of pocket just for people to see my work and not buy it. I only get to interact with people on the one night of the opening and that may or may not be a big group of people. Sometimes there isn’t even an opening, so you really don’t get a feel for how people respond to the work. That’s not very satisfying either.

So, even though I see a real printed exhibition as my own person ideal, I may choose to settle for this blog or perhaps a self-published book. I like the book format a lot but, once again, it’s not likely that many people will see it. I have no way to market the books and they tend to be expensive when printed one off.

A nice contrast between trunks and brush.

On my walk out to the woods I pass through a neighborhood where they’re building a bunch of houses. This morning, a tradesman called out to me what a beautiful dog Jamie is. He asked what breed he is and I told him I don’t know, he came from a shelter. This happens to us all of the time. People in passing will exclaim what a good looking dog he is. I don’t think this is common. I am certainly prejudiced, but I think he is a very handsome dog. His coat is beautiful with the brindle pattern, his body is lean and strong, and he has a strong, handsome head and those soulful eyes.

I love walking with him. He makes me feel proud, not because I think he’s good-looking, but because we are a team. We are walking together and I think we both feel proud about that. I think it’s that bond in part that makes people respond to him when we pass.

Not a great photograph, but cool to see this bird’s nest.

Last night I had a bunch of artist friends over for our monthly critique. Jamie was the star of the evening, going from person to person saying hello and getting petted. He got a little too excited at times, trying to roughhouse with the men and sniffing the women inappropriately, as he is wont to do.

After we ate, we sat down to look at one another’s art work. Two of the women sat on our love seat. There was perhaps only a foot or so of couch left between them. Jamie thought this would be a perfect place for him to sit. Now Jamie is about 70 pounds, so squeezing himself into that little space required squeezing in tight and draping himself across one or the other of the women.

Jamie often strikes these poses right out of a dog show. Handsome boy!

Fortunately, both of them are dog people and found this acceptable. It was cute as hell. As the evening went on, he had himself draped across the lap of my friend Leah with his head on her leg. His warm brown eyes looked from me to the guests and he looked completely at home.

He does the same thing with my wife Lisa and I. It can be a little annoying sometimes, but he’s so sweet and charming that it’s hard to resist. Geez do I love this dog.

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