Monday, November 29, 2010

Guilty Pleasure: Sunrises

Another hunting season is over for now....muzzleloader starts this week and then archery again the following week.  One of my favorite things to experience is the day waking up.  While hunting of course, I get to watch that all the time and it's just the best.  I don't seem to get tired of it at all.  So there are millions of sunrise and sunset photographs-they're pretty don't you know?  I've made more than my share of them, but I'll still press the shutter when I see a good one because they make me stop and appreciate things for a few minutes.  I can't find any fault in that, so my "pretty" sunset and sun rise photographs continue to pile up.  Sometimes, when I don't have a camera, I just make that shot in my mind and there is nothing wrong with that either.

This image is from yesterday morning-the last day of the deer hunt.  I arrived in my camo tent way before sunrise, not because of the hunting, but rather to settle in in the quiet and get ready to see the first brightening of the eastern sky.  This day was pretty dramatic and the photo doesn't do it justice.  For whatever reason the camera toned way down how brightly saturated the sky was-bright reds and deep yellows.  I messed around with different iso's and bracing it, but no tripod equaled a lot of blurry photos.  This one was okay.  Worth making this picture anyway.

Was it a successful hunt this day?  Absolutely.  Did I see a deer?  Not a one.
Sunrise over Reeds Farm

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Emerson By Brooke

A photographers blog is supposed to be all about posting our own work and coming up with witty things to say, or our thoughts and feelings about our art.  So why have I been a little slow in the posting department?  I'll pick an excuse: School, work (okay, the same thing), bow season, traveling to friends, gun season, World Games, organizing the garage, walking the pups, daylight savings time change....on and on.  I'll bounce back I'm sure.

Thankfully some photographers are still at it.  Yep, Brooke is now a "photographer," whether she knows it or not.  Oh, I think from seeing her earlier work, she has been a photog (?... for a while-you can just see her love for the craft (not sure I like that term) in what she shoots, how she makes pictures and her enthusiasm  for pressing the shutter everyday.  Of all the hundreds and hundreds of students that have passed thru my class, just a very few are or became photographers with that vision and creativity and the eye of a photographer.  Cliche, I know, but I think true.

One favorite and sometimes very difficult assignment is called "Personality Portraits."  Trying to share the essence of someone's personality within the frame of a photograph.  I think it's a simpler matter for older subjects and people you know well.  But in this case, Brooke nailed a terrific portrait of Emerson, a young girl she was babysitting.  As usual, the camera was along, and the kids became models for the assignment.  Of all the images produced, the following is just mesmerizing to me.  Technically a great image. But that's not the important element in this picture.  The emotion here is hard to define, but it doesn't matter, the eyes pull you into the photograph and that's all that's needed.
Nice job "BB."
Emerson By Brooke

Monday, November 22, 2010

tuLane's Vision

"tuLane" ( a nickname from track) is one of my HS photography students, now on her second year in Digital Photography.  She has a great eye for making pictures and has her own style.  Portraits are one of her strong suits and I always love to see what she has taken and how she tries new things-definitely not afraid to experiment.

 Landscapes are another interest of hers and I'm posting an example of her work below.   It's not a grand landscape-no majestic mountain scene or beautiful sunset, but rather what I come to think of as a "real" landscape....what we see here,  in our own backyards and what many people would just drive or walk by.  I think I really like this because it's a scene I can connect with-subtle beauty.  I think the photographers greatest gift is seeing what others miss and seeing art in everyday everyday life.  It's a great thing to have students with that ability and watch it grow and develop.
tuLane's Frosty Morning

Friday, November 19, 2010

Noise, Noise, Noise

Digital cameras produce noise.  Sometimes lots of it.  Bad, right?  Film had grain, and in those days it could be good (create a "look") or bad.  Seems digital noise doesn't get that same freedom....or so I thought.  There seems to slowly be a movement to allow some noise-for the good of the photo, or rather for the "look" of the image.  In a previous post, I commented about how the story in the picture was more important than the visual imperfections, and I guess I've always known that to be true.  But still, there is this nagging tug on my sleeve that says any noise is bad.

I wanted to post a picture today.  I went back into some of my old images and found this Sandhill Crane shot from last fall.  It was wayyyy dark (and in color) and noisy, but the crisp primary feathers of the birds caught my eye and maybe this could be okay.  Black and white seemed to be a better look, but in brightening the sky, up came the artifacts.  As I wrestled with it, it started to get a grainy, old newspaper look and I liked it.  It started to tell a story of the cold wind that day, the long flight ahead for these birds and that things would be difficult for them.  As it sunk in, I considered that maybe a little noise for this image was okay.  It's by no means a great photograph, but one maybe worthy of a look.
Long Flight South

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Color, texture and pattern revisited

Being outdoors a lot provides opportunities to experience nature in a personal way.  The camera is usually close by and when I see something that peaks my interest, I try to make a picture of it.  Georgia O'Keeffe once said that unless art is good in an abstract way, it doesn't matter what the subject is.  Okay, so that is a more-or less quote.  What she meant is the building blocks of art need to be present in order to have a decent work of art.

Textures, of course, are an element of art and one photographers really need to pay close attention to and can, by itself, be an interesting subject.  (just as color and pattern are).  So all this rambling is leading to two images from a while back, but photographs I like which feature the above mentioned elements.  Maybe that's why I still like them, even a couple years later.
Barley Texture
Barley, our favorite hunting lab, is always by our side and about as good as they get.  Cold wet weather doesn't seem to phase her one bit.
Rooster Feathers
The rooster pheasant has to be about the beautiful bird in North America and one of the hardest to harvest at some points.  I'm always in awe of  when holding them in my hands.

Friday, November 12, 2010

NHS Digital Photography: Junkmans Window

NHS Digital Photography: Junkmans Window: "Time to put up or shut up. I keep telling my students to write post more, but I need to realize they have more than just photogra..."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Mike in North Dakota

I wanted to re-visit some of my NoDak photographs and post some that I connect with and frankly, bring back good feelings.  I maybe have one more posting after this one of another series of images, but for now, these  lit here.
Mike and James headed to Wind Mill Pond
Mike is my oldest friend, not in years old (although we're getting there) -I've know him since moving to Rib Mountain as a kid and joining scouts.  We worked our way to Eagle Scout together and from those days on have spent many hours working  the woods and swamps for grouse and ducks.  We live in different towns now, so a chance to go afoot hunting is more than welcome.  James is his oldest son and in his second year of making the North Dakota trip.  No longer a rookie and I think he's hooked for life and he really is a hoot to have a long .  He works for the Minnesota Twins.  This image was from the first morning after the big blow, the day dawned sunny and beautiful and we made a huge plan to surround a series of pot holes.  Ice covered everything....plan didn't work out so well-it felt like we hiked to Saskatchewan.  We still managed to pick up a few birds. 
This picture I like a lot-I guess I hit the "magic hour" as we headed out laden with waders and decoys and shotguns.  There is a such a raw beauty out here.
Mike and Pete
Another photograph of Mike-this one a day later while hunting pheasants along a bean field.  Pete is a few years old now, a Yellow Lab picked up from a kennel in Neillsville, WI.  Color or black and white for this image?  I think the latter worked well.  I like the vastness of this area and it's accentuated by the lone tree on the horizon.  I like the bands of different textures from the ground cover also and movement of the grass-you can almost feel the wind.  While hunting, I feel more alive from that sharpness in my face.
Mike cleaning game
Last photo of Mike here-and this did not start out as a "mike post" at all-I changed the photographs here and the title along the way-I just felt my pictures and thought process changed directions mid-stream.  Film cameras gave us grain-sometimes bad, sometimes used as a "mood" or feeling.  Now digital cameras give us "noise" at high ISOs in dark conditions.  I've hated noise, but in the course of a few weeks, because of where I've been shooting, noise was inevitable.  Live with it Steve.  Just like my Twangfest picture a few days ago, the blurriness and the noise is second to what's happening here and my connection to it.  It's cold, we've marched all day hunting, food and a beer are all that is on our minds, yet we need to honor this game by cleaning it and finishing the hunt off properly.  Ducks and pheasants were lined up and quickly processed for the table.  For me, this illustrates our end of day routine.

Monday, November 8, 2010


SO much I could write about Twangfest this year-gut busting laughter, man hugs, good camp food, hours in the woods, success and failures of the hunters, but a bond of brothers to be sure.  27 years we've been gathering each fall.  Some years I've taken tons of photos, some-not so much.

This photograph is dark, noisy, blurry and I love it.  It tells a story.  I think as hunters we love seeing a day wake and drift off into the night, so darkness accompanies us always.  The hunt can be successful or not.  This one, had  a great ending.  God blessed us with a harvest.  It shows also the brotherhood we have at Twang-sincerely happy with the success of each other and willing to help-it's part of camp life.

I guess life can be dark, noisy, blurry and.....we love it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

The Great Plains

I'm settling back in Wisconsin for a few days anyway and can finally get a new post up.  I was pretty happy I survived the trip out to North Dakota-crazy record low pressure reading and winds over 50 mph.  It took tow days, but we made it.  Hunting was not great-too deep of snow for pheasants and too hard of ice for ducks.  Still....had fun.  It is a beautiful place and I love spending time there, but I'd need my beloved trees to live.  I tried my new camera, the Samsung XXX model, and had my trusty Canon SD550 and my Canon SXI.  The new camera I was a bit afraid to carry while hunting, but used it on the trip and around camp.  Worked okay-some little things I don't care for, but I'm getting used to it.   This will probably be a multi-post thing, a few images here and some to follow.
Lone Cemetery Cottonwood
I can't remember what this cemetery was named on the topo map, but I'd run across it a few years ago.  We were doing a push for roosters across a big field and I knew this was near the end.  I had to visit it again.  These little cemeteries are tucked all over out here on the plains-postage stamp sized pieces of the harsh life out on this land.  It's not visible here, but the cottonwood was growing up thru the middle of a grave site, maybe 6' X 6' and was long forgotten.
Barley doin her thang
Barley is one of the best Labs I've met-small, compact, retrieves and has the whole get in their face pheasant thing figured out.  Amazing dog.  She seems to be featured in a lot of my photos and after a long day hunting, find my bed her favorite place to sleep.  I thought this photograph really summed up her as a hunting dog.  A picture tells a "tousand" words I do believe.
Hunter Dave
As the camp photographer, a role I easily won over my pals, there rarely is any photos of me-I don't mind and enjoy making a book of each trip.  Dave is one of my closest friends and he, besides Barley, seems to get 'shot' a lot.  This image I liked-just the hunter hunting and the simpleness of the foreground-the pheasants habitat (which is sadly disappearing).