A Strange Day

Sometimes I want to tell a story without images, only with words. A story like this one.

Yesterday was a strange day for me.

While walking in the woods I met a man walking barefoot. He stood with his feet on a large maple leaf looking into the sun breaking through the bright green canopy of spring above and smiling at it. I smiled at the whole spectacle and the pure joy radiating from him.

I approached him and said it was a great idea to go barefoot. He said he was on a journey of self-discovery but he was thirsty and asked if I had any water. I gave him one of two bottles of water I had and told him to keep it. Then I removed my shoes and walked barefoot myself. I wanted to discover something myself.

I discovered long forgotten feeling of the ground I walk on. It reminded me of my childhood when I was running around barefoot all the time at my grandparents’ farm. And the gentle poking of rocks made me feel more alive.

Later on I was on my way to pick up food when I met a beggar who was done with begging for the day and was sitting alone and playing a guitar by himself for himself.

I’ve seen him before. His bright personality and appearance was very memorable. I told him the song was too sad and he played a joyful one.

At the restaurant I got extra food because I knew I’d like to share it with him. On the way back I asked if I could sit and listen to him playing while eating. He was delighted at that. So, I sat on the ground and I was in a concert, the audience of one. The best entertainment I had in months!

He played 3 songs that he wrote himself until he got tired and wanted to have a dinner too with whatever he got from begging. I shared what I brought and we had dinner together talking and talking. When we finished I thanked him for his music and left.

Later I was sitting outside reading a book in warmth of the evening sun. I was taking my eyes off the book from time to time to look at the sunset. A hill, really just grass covered big mound of dirt left from a construction long time ago, was blocking my view.

I meant to climb that hill with a camera for quite some time. I wanted to see the view from it but the hill was in private land (owned by construction company I presume) and that was stopping me. But yesterday I just got up, went to the hill and climbed it and had utter delight standing on top, looking at the sun changing hues as it was slowly rolling toward the horizon.

Yesterday was an interesting day for me.

From Real into Surreal

“The thing’s hollow – it goes on forever – and – oh my God – it’s full of stars!” – Arthur C Clarke “2001: A Space Odyssey”

When I was a kid I loved science and I loved science fiction, not the kind with goblins, demons and fairy tale creatures but the kind about interstellar voyage and discovery, distant stars and worlds around them.

One of those stories that I remember particularly well was about a world with three suns, a world where darkness had no place, a world without stars, with intelligent race who believed there is only small space around them, that they are alone in the Universe. Every so often a global cataclysm was sweeping thru the planet as all three suns where aligning and giving a gift or curse of night with all the stars in the sky. Every adult on the planet would turn mad from the shock of realization that there were infinite number of worlds in the Universe, that they are not alone. What remember from the story the most is that feeling of shock and awe of seeing so many stars.

Now I’m a grown up man but I still love science fiction. How is it relevant to photography? What if we imagine a world where stars can be visible even during day…

***

A while ago I published this photo from my trip to the Palouse: Taking Advantage of Imperfections. I like the photo. It has some surreal quality to it. But to me it was not finished yet or at least it was not what I intended for it.

I wanted to create an imaginary world where sun and stars can be seen at the same time. I took the same photo at night with intention to merge the two into one. When I did it it became even more surreal. At the same time I recognized that the pattern of stars from that view point was completely random. They were randomly filling the sky making it more interesting but not adding anything to the composition.

If only I had Milky Way spreading its wings around the Sun, along the sun rays extended by imperfection in my polarizer – that would be really interesting. So, on my recent trip to Rainier I photographed Milky Way positioning it within frame where I ‘d like to have it on the final image. Here is the end result the way I intended it. To me it looks even more surreal than before and at the same time somehow very harmonic.

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I’m interested in what you think about these to images?

Taking Advantage of Imperfections

I’m increasingly photographing with more and more challenging lighting. Such as including sun high in the sky into the picture. The creates a lot of glare in the photo. And I’m working thru those issues, finding how to avoid them or incorporate them in my pictures.

There is a couple methods I use to avoid glare in my pictures. First one that I used for a while already is to block out the Sun with a finger, take photos without the Sun and the glare. The next photo is with no fingers in the frame. Both photos should be taken with the same exposure, the same focus point, the same aperture and on tripod. I would take the normal photo as a base and then use the one where I blocked out the Sun to patch any areas with a glare. This methods works really well during sunset or sunrise when the Sun is placed closer to an edge of a frame.

The other method I discovered during my trip a week ago to the Palouse. Turns out that if I open aperture to its widest setting I get almost no glare or at least its impact becomes imperceptible. This method works well even if the Sun is in the middle of the frame. That’s the technique I used for the photo below that I took during the trip.

Again I would use the photo with aperture set to where I want it. In this case I wanted to close down aperture to get sun burst rays. Closing down the aperture produced a lot of glare in the sky, on the Steptoe Butte and in the fields, that would be hard to patch in Photoshop if I did not take another photo with open aperture and used parts of that photo to patch out all the glare.

Then I discovered that polarizer that I had on my lens had imperfection that resulted in light spilling further from the Sun in two directions along one line. (And just in case you did not know any additional glass surface adds more glare to the photo as sun light bounces back and forth between glass surfaces.) My first reaction was to remove the filter. But then I thought of incorporating that effect and make that line horizontal by rotating the filter. Later I also did take photos without the filter but I like the one with imperfection more. It gives some surreal feel to the scene.

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