Second Love Like First Love

I used to be in love with waterfalls ages ago. Then for some reason I stopped photographing them. Maybe I photographed too many of them. Maybe because in area I live in they are very common and photographing them was a cliché. Or maybe I stopped seeing anything new in them.

I don’t know if it is a mere coincidence but after visiting Death Valley – one of the driest places on the Earth – last spring I fell in love for the second time with waterfalls and with moving water in general.

Fortunately I live in area where waterfalls are common. I’ve been driving like crazy around visiting waterfalls that I have not visited for ages. I’ve been photographing creeks with water tumbling over the rocks. I might get stuck at one place for long time finding new and new images in the same spot.

Bridal Veil Falls
Bridal Veil Falls, Washington

Lonely Boat

Do you ever feel lost in space?

There seems to be a pattern of photos throughout the years I photograph, kind of lost in space photos with a subject lost in a lot of blank space around it. Like Stillness. Lost in Fog or Lighthouse.

On a trip to The Lost Coast (no punt intended) last May I took another lost in space photo. This time a lonely boat in the ocean.

Lonely Boat
Lonely Boat

Persistence Pays Off

I’ve passed by Lake Crescent many many times. It is a large lake and one of the important features of Olympic National Park with its deep incredibly clean water. Over the years I’ve stopped at different places around it and taken several photos,  but have not got any really interesting ones.

Eventually I gave up and was just passing it by on my way to the beaches of the Pacific coast. But as you know persistence pays off. So, this summer I was driving from the beaches back home and as usual my way back was around the lake. This time was different…

I saw this beautiful scene. Finally the lake opened up its soul to me. It was calm and serene. Mist was hanging over the lake hiding the west bank. Mountain ridges were coming down to the lake becoming softer and softer in the distance with shades of pastel blue. The water was like a glass perfectly reflecting the mountains and the pastel pink sky. Two trees were standing aside on the right bank. And one small next to them. Like a family that came out to the lake to have fun by its side.

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Dawn at Lake Crescent

Path of Light

Photography has been and hopefully remain as much about playing and experimenting. One of such fun things is to introduce an artificial light sources in a landscape. The official term for it is “light painting” but for me it is just playing with flashlights, imagining what a landscape can be, and then getting a surprising result.

Like in this photo that I took at the Second Beach in Olympic National Park just after sunset, when it was dark enough for a long exposure and dark enough for a flash light (actually 3 flashlights) to make a difference.

Path of Light
Path of Light

Depth of Field Matters

One of the things photographer needs to think about is a depth of field. When photographing grand landscape, I typically set aperture to middle point between widest and most closed to get most sharpness in the image. For a landscape overall sharpness of an image is typically more important than depth of field.

The story is completely different when photographing close-ups. Depth of field becomes extremely important. It can make or break the image. And getting everything sharp is not necessarily a good thing. And I just happened to have two images to demonstrate the difference.

First, an “everything sharp” image. The aperture was closed to the sharpest setting for the lens that I used (f/8). To me the image ended up too flat. There is no separation between the lupine and shed boards, the lupine seems to be carved in the wall.

Lupine by a Shed

The second image, which I like, is with the lens wide opened (f/2.8). The lens is well focused on the lupine. It is tack sharp. The wall is slightly out of focus. This creates a three dimensional feel in the photograph, there is a space between the flower and the wall.

Lupine by a Shed
Lupine by a Shed

Another interesting thing to note is that I experiment with different depth of field, light, composition while photographing. I took 38 photos of this lupine over two days. Later I reviewed and pick just one of them that I felt worked the best.

Fog over Golden Bridge

I always wanted to photograph Golden Bridge and Presidio in fog but in many times I had been to San Francisco I had never seen fog over Golden Bridge. Other photographers seemed to get it every time. Not me.

This May on the way back from The Lost Coast we spent a couple of days in San Francisco. One morning Very early before sunrise I went to photograph hoping to get lucky and see that mythical fog. And lucky I was. The was fog. And not just in the morning. It was there whole day. In fact it caused our flight to be delayed in the evening.

The fog was different from the one I used to. I’m used to fog in still windless weather. Golden Bridge fog was combined with strong winds. It was constantly on the move, thickening and lightening, lifting off and dropping back to the ground, letting sun in or blocking it off all together, constantly reshaping landscape.

It presented me with new and constantly changing photo opportunities. I could not get enough of it. I was running from one place to another and then back. The only limit was time.

On an Edge of Rain

We all have some small thing in our lives that we enjoy a lot. One of my things is to be under cover while it is raining. Not inside a house within four walls but almost outside, where I can smell the rain, feel a fresh breeze it is bringing, stretch my arm and feel wetness of rain drops. And yet at the same time feel protected from being completely wet. Like being in an open shed in a forest. Or just being in my garage with garage door opened, standing on an edge of the rain. Moments like that make me feel warm and cozy.

In one of those moments I photographed this iris growing next to my house:

Iris in Rain
Iris in Rain

Art Fairs

Three weekends art fair marathon is over. It has been exhausting. Monday thru Thursday I was printing, varnishing, stretching my work. Friday thru Sunday I was displaying it at art fairs – it was 10-hour workdays for me. Here are some stories from my experience.

Don’t give up

My first art fair was in Kirkland. I had prepared ahead of time. The only thing that I kept my fingers crossed for was good weather. The forecast for weekend was favorable: nice warm weather, cloudy but with some sunshine. It sounded like a great weekend for an art fair.

As it is most of the time in Seattle weather forecast was a wishful thinking. On Friday I woke up to a thunderstorm. The rain was pouring. Wind gusts were blowing water into an open window. It was depressing. I had to force myself to get up.

By the time I got to Kirkland Marina Park, where the art fair would take place, the rain only got worse…

My memories of the last year were still too vivid. Two and a half out of three days it was raining. There were no people at the art fair. I was standing in my booth and looking out at an empty street. It was very depressing.

I was sitting in the car, being afraid that the same would happen this year. I was about to give up. I thought I don’t care about booth fee that I would lose. I just wanted to drive out of there, away from my memories.

Apparently I still had some will power left in me because after sitting the car for an hour I decided to get out and setup my booth despite the rain. By the time I got canopy up with a roof I was completely wet.

Later that day the rain ended. And on Saturday and Sunday the weather was great. There were lots of people at the art fair. I sold almost half of the work that I brought. Art fair in Kirkland ended up being my best art fair to date.

Lesson learnt: don’t give up. Prior failure (just like prior success) does not mean the same will happen again.

Be ready for success

Kirkland art fair success far exceeded my expectations. I was very happy about it. At the same time I was not prepared for it at all. After it I did not have enough to show on the next art fair in Bellevue. I did not have enough materials either. I was out of canvas and had very few stretching bars left.

I had to quickly place orders, pay extra for second day shipping just to get things going. Well, canvas manufacture had computer glitch and my orders were not shipped on time. And they were out of stretching bars I needed.

I got the order in on the day before art fair and then the second part on the first day of the art fair. Rather than resting after whole day 10 hour straight work at art fair I was coming back home to do printing, varnishing and stretching till 3 in the morning. I had only 4 hours left for sleep before I had to get up, dress up, load up work I’ve completed the night before and go to the art fair again.

Lesson: be ready for success. It is better to be overstocked than miss out on an opportunity.

Not everything that shines is gold

I wanted to get in Bellevue Festival of the Arts. It was one of more prestigious art fair. It had higher average price and very high attendance.

This year I was accepted into it and after Kirkland’s success I put very high, too high, expectations on it.

I did not meet my expectations. It did ok. I just did not sell as much as in Kirkland and certainly not as much as I expected. Great attendance did not translate in great sales. And it was not like my prices were too high, in fact the were the lowest at that art fair. And my work was great. I had people visiting me multiple times, bringing their friends and relatives to show. Yet very few were buying.

The art fair just appeared to be very expensive with few sales. Kind of fishing for a rich buyer. I on the other hand want to make my work affordable and want to sell a lot, so I can start working on a new project.

Lesson: not everything that shines is gold. Great attendance and high prices don’t necessarily translate into large sales. The outside look does not always match inside.

Have fun

With so much focus on business side of selling art work at art fairs it is easy to loose track of what it is about. For me it is not about money, it is about being able to show my work, being able to print it, sell it and move on to new adventures.

It is about having fun. And while I have not sold anything at Anacortes Art Festival I’ve met other photographers, met a lot of people and had some memorable moments. Like when a group of high school kids were captivated by my work, having lively discussion about it, then just sitting on a pavement and staring at it.

Now onto new adventures. See you at Best of Northwest festival in Seattle on November 16 thru 18.