An Old Clunker

A few weeks ago I went to the Palouse. I’ve been there many times. I find the experience of spending hours in the fields listening to wind and whispers of wheat moved by the wind relaxing and meditating.

Despite visiting the Palouse every year and some years several times a year I find something new every time. This time as I was driving on one of the Palouse roads I passed a blue old truck left rusting in a field. Had it been there before and I simply had never driven that road before? Or was it dragged out there recently? No idea.

My thought was that it is kind of interesting but it is not what I came for. I came for beautiful landscapes that the Palouse is rich with. The old rusty clunker was not quite a beautiful landscape. Neither it was making landscape beautiful. After all I could photograph it on the way back if I wanted. Thus I passed it by and kept on going.

As I was returning on the same road I decided to stop and take at least on photo – just to pay a tribute to the old clunker. I was stuck around it for about two hours. I could not stop photographing it. There were so many images, so many stories in that old truck.

First, I liked the truck filling the whole frame, leaving little room for anything else.

Then I wanted to show it in the field.

Then I realized I like its symmetry. While having background almost symmetrical.

The I liked how the blue truck blends with the blue sky. I wanted more sky.

Then I got closer to the truck. (I always start from a distance and then come closer to the subject. That way I don’t ruin anything I might want to include in wide frame.)

I liked the rhythmic change of blue to yellow and yellow to blue.

Then even closer.

That was too close. As I saw shadow of a rear view mirror I realized that I missed  those strong lines before. I had to step back to get them in.

Now really close. Focusing on individual details of the truck.

Lines, shapes and colors.

Lines and shapes. Lack of color.

Now closing on rusty patterns. This looked like Chinese characters to me.

And this looked like a map of some islands surrounded by water.

And of causes needed to capture the truck make and model sign.

“Ok. Enough.” I told myself and started walking back to the car. Only to see something interesting on the other side: bright white lines of the side mirror supports against dark black shadow of the truck.

Thanks for following thru all this store to the end with me. Times and times again I find that there are infinite possibility around us. No need to drive around. There are lots and lost of images in each and every place.

Learning to Work on a Move

I’m in a long trip to Europe for three months. I’m making photos along the way. That means that I need to get to learn to work with limited resources namely laptop. Typically during a few days or a week photo trip I don’t do any post-processing; my focus is on collecting material.

Three month though is pretty long time to go without any sharing. so I’m getting used to post-processing on a laptop and getting used to long waits.

My first stop was Tuscany. Here is an image I took near Asciano.

Beauty is in Details

I’m still experimenting with this technique of multiple exposures over long period of time combined in one image and I like  results better and better. I think I’m onto something. Look at this image. Pretty trivial and  obvious composition. The first thing to note is that clouds look like they are painted.

Then I looked closely at different elements in the image and liked this technique even more. Here is a fragment of a field on the right:

And here is the tree enlarged:

Both elements look like painted. The road is the only element that remains looking as a photograph. This combination of photographic look and painting look creates quite an interesting effect. I’m eager to start printing this to see how it looks in full detail print.

Happy Halloween

I took this photo in the Palouse back in August this year but was holding it back to use it to wish everyone a happy Halloween. Enjoy this image of an abandoned house on one very stormy summer night. It looks very much like a haunted house.

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Imaginary Worlds

I’m not sure where I picked this up but I was stuck with a thought that Photoshop is bad for photography. as a landscape photographer I should use as little of it as possible. It dawn on me that I was holding myself back from what I craved for a long time. I wanted to create landscapes from my imaginations. I always envied artists who could draw what they saw in their minds, not what they saw with their eyes. So, this summer I started working on a new project “Imaginary Worlds”. In this project I use multiple images to combine into one. I don’t limit my creativity.

The first of the series was in my post a month ago: From Real into Surreal. Though I was not yet conscious at that point about why I was attracted to it and where it was going. This image is the first one where I was consciously working on it as a new project. (click on it to see larger size)

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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…

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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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