March 5, 2018

Sunny, 22 Degrees, Calm Winds.

This morning the skies are crystal clear and a deep rich blue. It’s colder than it’s been, but it still doesn’t feel bad after a winter with single digit temperatures. My neighbor’s maple tree is covered with little red buds. We’re in that time of year when it sometimes feels like spring, sometimes like winter, but the processes of nature are moving toward spring regardless.

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Buds appearing already, despite the snow.

The sun continues to rise earlier and stands higher in the sky, making photography less than idea. I much prefer the atmospheric low light of early morning or a mostly cloudy sky to the intensity and high contrast of direct sun. I am going to have to seriously consider getting up earlier to avoid this undesirable light, though it’s something I don’t want to do. I’m retired and I like my comfortable life. The pre-dawn awakenings of landscape photography are something I’d like to leave in the past. Still, I know I will need to get up early at least a number of times to catch that magic light. It’s essential.

With the sun in mind, I expected to find little to shoot today. It’s been sunny for a couple of days now and the woods are not looking their best. The wet heavy snow from last week has crushed a lot of the brush that was standing up proud and photographic. Everything looks black against the white snow, with the brush a dull gray.

But I remembered a few of the pictures I took during that magical snowfall where I shot upwards at pine boughs laden with snow. The pictures weren’t wonderful, but there’s still something I liked about the idea, so I headed for one of the stands of pine trees on the property to see what I could find. This required wading off of the trail into the woods. There’s still quite a bit of snow in these shady areas and it’s rugged hilly terrain, but it was nice to see new territory.

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Pines with most of the color removed and tinted brown.

I spent some time shooting upwards toward the canopy and also through the trees toward the sun. I like the patterns the trees make against the sky. It’s an extension of the shots I’ve taken before of the deciduous tree branches against the sky. I don’t think the blue sky in the background is ideal, at least not for me, so I might alter it when I edit. Lightroom allows you to alter specific color ranges in hue, saturation and luminance, so I can do almost anything I want with it.

From there, I waded down out of the woods and started heading for another patch of pines when I realized that I didn’t need to shoot so many frames every day. The trees will be there tomorrow and I already have plenty to work with for today. So I headed back home to prepare my post.

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Another variant on the pine trees.

This weekend I was feeling a little overwhelmed with the work of photographing and writing and editing and posting and promoting posts every single day. I know most bloggers don’t post this much, but it’s part of the concept. Being out there every single day means something to me. I don’t want to miss anything and I want to stretch myself to create continuously for an entire year.

I may make the posts shorter on the weekends when there don’t seem to be many readers. Not that a lot of people are reading these posts anyway. This weekend I finally figured out how to make my Posts page show excerpts rather than full posts. I much prefer it this way. It makes it much easier to scan through the posts and also to see the arc of posts over time, which is a key part of my idea in writing them. I’m actually quite proud of what I’m creating here. It’s ambitious, I know, but I’m hopeful of completing the effort.

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One thing that comes up when the readers disappear occasionally is the fact that very, very few people are seeing this blog. I did a little research on how to build an audience for your blog, but most of it is repugnant to me. There are all of these techniques for using other bloggers to build your audience. I’m sure it works, but I don’t like the idea of using people (too idealistic, I know) and I don’t want to spend a lot more time on promoting the blog on top of all the time it’s taking to write and photograph for it.

It’s clear to me that I, and most of my artist friends, just don’t want to do what it takes to promote our art. I think I’m doing something interesting and worthwhile. I want people to know it exists and read it if they want. I’d like to hear from people about what they’re getting from the blog. But I don’t want to do what it takes to find that audience.

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I think that’s very typical of artists. They love the artistic process. They have no interest in self-promotion or commerce. It occurred to me that many famous artists struggled to receive even minor recognition after a lifetime of effort. Remember that Van Gogh sold not a single painting in his life despite having a brother who was an art dealer.

I will make more effort on promotion. I’m not completely unwilling to do it. I just don’t enjoy it. I’m not looking to monetize this blog. I’d just like to feel like all this effort is of some value to someone besides me and maybe a few close friends. In truth, I doubt even they are reading it unless I promote it heavily to them.

Does this dog love to run or what?

I’m also thinking about putting all of this together into a book at the end of this process. I would enjoy doing it and I think it has possibilities, but once again I can’t imagine how I would find any audience for it except for friends and family. I don’t want to spend months or years promoting a self-published book when I could be moving on to the next creative idea. There’s the problem, and it’s entirely mine.

Anyway…if you’ve read this far and have enjoyed this blog I would really appreciate your comments. I’ll keep going whether I hear from people or not, but it would be encouraging for sure.

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