Birds – up close

I’m not a hard-core bird photographer.  Having said that, I do enjoy the opportunity to make some images that give me a closer look at these remarkable creatures.  A photo’s ability to freeze time is the perfect way to get to know their details.

Horicon marsh is close enough for an easy day trip and right now there are lots of birds up there.  Memorial Day weather was perfect to wander around the trails enjoying the sounds and sights of the flocks of birds making it a temporary home.  Here are a few of the birds I saw.

All images made with 300mm f/2.8 Olympus lens on E-3 digital camera.

Black crowned night heron

Egret with fish

Canada goose and gosling

Sunny nap time

Purple martin

Female red-winged blackbird

More moving water

A few more waterfalls from the southern Appalachians, all somewhat off the beaten path unless your travels frequent winding, remote US highways.

Elk River Falls, Elk Park, NC – a five image HDR with other processing to handle the day’s high dynamic range

Bridal Veil Falls, Highlands, NC – the path of the road used to be the paved portion passing behind the falls. I’m standing on the current road to make this image.

The oddly named Dry Falls, Highlands, NC – another falls you can walk behind. Notice the path against the rock wall in the middle of the image, to the right of the falls.

 

What lies below

This is one of the highest suspension bridges in the world, Royal Gorge Bridge across the Arkansas River in Colorado.

It’s over 1000 feet from the bridge to the river below.  And what do you put at the bottom of a gorge like this?

A train, of course.  I wanted the motion to show through but also wanted the viewer to be able to read the train name.  Can you feel the wind rushing by?

It’s an interesting geography.  There’s this mountain ridge that has been eroded into a gorge spectacularly deep and narrow.  Yet a few miles in either direction of the bridge the land is relatively flat, as if the mountains just popped up in the middle of a prairie.  The river simply refused to budge so as the mountains rose upward the river cut into them and kept its bed at the same level.

Looking at a topo map of the area and it seems explorers literally had to climb a mountain ridge in order to peer down into the gorge, which is about the same level as the plains they climbed up from.  The West has some really strange landscapes.

And an interesting sense of humor.  Remember the bridge is over 1000 feet above the water?

Casual Opportunities for Interesting Images #VantagePoint

Vacation or photo safari?  Always a question when traveling and not for an assignment.  Like many outdoor photographers I like to “document” places I visit.  Sometimes it’s just to remember what I saw, sometimes to get some perspectives on a place I plan to come back to for more images.

This image was one of those occasions.  Visited here because it showed up on a tourist guide of the area then found some interesting compositions.  Fortunately I had my tripod and assortment of lenses to use.  One great thing about places you can drive right up to is having all your gear in the car!

Seven Falls, Colorado Springs

What attracted me to this composition was the abrupt change in the water’s flow and the way the wet rocks were reflecting the light in the sky.  I knew this was going to be a B&W image and that I wanted the water to have a nice flow rather than be stopped in time.  The tripod enabled a long exposure and the shorter lens let me put more of the falls in the composition.

So what if I hadn’t carried along all that gear?  Would there be a way to get a similar image?  What about other tourists who have point-and-shoot cameras or their cellphones?  What would they make?  At the time, probably nothing like this.

Friend of mine asked recently about available compact cameras that would give the versatility of a DSLR for dynamic range, depth of field, and varying focal length.  He likes putting something in his travel bag or pocket that will deliver very nice results but not require hauling around lots of gear.  At the time I didn’t have a good recommendation but soon after that I ran across a different type of compact camera.  This one uses multiple lenses and processing software to enable the photographer to capture several versions of a composition and then create the final image with the characteristics desired.  There have been variations on this idea in the past years but it seems the company behind this idea, Light.co, has found the right combination of technologies and design features to meet my friend’s needs.

Photography used to be about skills and technical knowledge, mainly because the tools and processes required those in order to get the final result.  Now the result can be shared in the blink of an eye (no more chemicals and special materials to create a print) and the capture almost with a glance.  Kodak’s original statement was along the lines of, “you push the button, we do the rest” which if you think about it, is how photography is these days.  There’s seemingly no effort required.

Is this a terrible change to a 100+ year human endeavor?  I don’t believe it is.  Now the “technology” of photography can stop being in the way of the creation of photographs.  Today if you don’t like your images you pretty much can’t blame the equipment!  Even the most casual tourist has the chance to create a wonderful experience to share with others – all they have to do is pay attention to what they are seeing.

Random thoughts

The photography adage is the best camera to have is the one you have with you.  For a week I kept mine in the car to simply be ready.  Most of the week was pretty gloomy with clouds and fog but that just makes me pay more attention to forms and how shapes work together.  Of course black and white is the only way to portray such so here’s the best from the past week.

Lifelong exposure to the prevailing wind gives the trees near Lake Michigan a definite angle, like they are leaning toward the water.

Pretty traditional composition for prairies and trees – just finding a way to show off the clouds.

A rigid shape among the organic forms, displaying its own tribute to the waves in the lake below.

Leading lines – will they merge in the distance?

Frank Lloyd Wright church

We are fans of the organic architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright, the way his designs fit and compliment the setting where they are constructed.  Although known for his design of residences and offices, Wright did design several churches.  One of the more interesting designs is near Milwaukee and we were fortunate this past weekend to have the opportunity to tour and hear about it..

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This is the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, one of the last designs Wright created before his death.  Although a seemingly odd look for a church, it is faithful to Orthodox symbols – the dome and cross.

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The floor of the church is in the shape of a cross.  From the back this image looks to the altar, the vertical section.  From side to side in the image is the horizontal of the cross.  Covering this is the dome.

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Wright enjoyed playing with shape to create spaces that draw your eyes from small spaces to larger ones.  Sitting in the lower part of the church you feel intimate.  Coming to the upper part you get the full sense of the space under the dome.  The upper area can seat twice the number of people as the lower, but you don’t realize that until you take the spiral stairs to the upper area.  The light pipes just under the edge of the dome spread the outside light across the ceiling, creating a vista that gives a sense of expansive sky.

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Typical of Wright designed buildings, all details were carefully created by him to fit into the overall sense of place.  These light fixtures in the lower level mimic the cross design in an inverted dome.

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In the arches supporting the dome, open spaces intended to bring in outside light, there are stained glass representations of religious figures.

We’ve visited several of Wright’s buildings around the country, including his two residences in Wisconsin and Arizona.  The most interesting thing about walking through a Wright structure is the modern and yet timeless aspects of it, regardless of its age.  This church was completed in 1961, a fairly new building of this type.  Yet it could have been erected last week and in another 50 years will probably still feel that way.

It’s great to see genius manifested.