A YEAR IN RETROSPECT – 2016 – A SAMPLING FROM THE SELECTION

Photographers are uniquely well equipped to do a retrospective review of the year past; in fact, for all their years of photography.  They need only browse their image files. The digital era has also made such reviews easier.  No more page after page in heavy albums; just skim thru the folders on the hard drive.

I frequently browse through past years but I also make a point of doing an annual review of the immediate past year’s work.  I look for images from each event or subject that I most enjoy or that I think represent the best of my year’s work, and I publish these as a gallery.

Having made my selections for the 2016 gallery, I then asked myself if just a few of them could serve as symbols for how I think and how I shoot.  Surprise: some did.

These were not made in the camera; they were captured by the camera but they were made in the head (read “heart”) so you will see what I felt.  I hope you experience them as I did.

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The gold and brown tones tell of a soothing late twilight.  The channel marker counter-balances the boat.  The four guys in the boat are having a good time, and you can see their rods flexing with their fun.  The foreground grasses nicely place and isolate the viewer.  In a print, the homes of Tuckerton Beach are dimly seen as though to say, “Life and all that it brings is out there … but not right here … not right now.”

I recently sold a print of this to an older man who, somewhat choked up, talked about his memories of joining his father out there on Friday nights after his Dad came home from the week’s work.

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This Portrait of Two Mules is quite different for me but I’m fond of it.  It was made on a country road in Lancaster County on a warm August day.  The mercy of Photoshop enabled me to remove all of the flies on them which didn’t seem to be bothering them as much as they did me.  I was moved by the mules’ at-peace demeanor.  They had probably worked hard that morning and probably would do so again tomorrow, but for now they were just enjoying the warm rest and each other’s company.

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Next is my Zen Royal Tern … or is he stoned?  In an earlier appearance of him on line I suggested that he was murmuring, “Dude, sunrise on Sanibel is soooo cool.”  Well, you get the idea.  I was anthropomorphizing because I felt that way and so, I thought, should the bird.  I, too, revel in the warmth of the morning sun and in the gentle breeze off the ocean and the shhhhh of the waves and the glory of a new day alive, and I feel one with the universe.  Are we sure that a bird can’t also approach nirvana? Namaste.

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This image is  compelling for me.  A pair of cormorants were performing a post-breakfast cleanup.  What struck me was the arrangement of the branches, the birds’ positions, and the reflection  of the scene.  It also stood out because the background water was rippled while the foreground was quiet.   I further enhanced the image by giving it a slight selenium tone and a dodging of the center to lighten it.

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I find this image haunting in its isolation and starkness.  The strong diagonals are a part of it, and the shades and curtains, the slatted shutters, and the weathered siding have an Andrew Wyeth feel for me.

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I was pleased to encounter this group gathered for a communal breakfast at their diner.  I could see spots of white deep in a mangrove thicket and I discovered this when I slowly investigated.

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I recently attended a photography symposium where one of the speakers urged that we plan out our photo shoots.  If nothing else it helps ensure you have all of the lenses and filters you may need.  I agree with that; it’s good common sense.  What it doesn’t embrace, however, is the spontaneous, unplanned, never-to-happen-again kind of image.  I had just gotten off the Colonial Williamsburg shuttle bus and I was on my way to Duke of Gloucester Street for some images of the Grand Illumination.  I looked over my shoulder and here was this scene with the colonial style street lamp against a fading twilight.  Quick, stop, compose, shoot!  It was the best shot of the night, if not the whole trip …… and unplanned.

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That twilight scene above sets the stage for my last selection … a sunrise.

Sunrises … sunsets … there’s a zillion of ’em.  In fact (mea culpa) about 10% of my 2016 selections are in that category.  We are drawn to the spectacular color and its effect on adjacent clouds or bodies of water.  There’s way too many of them, but we can’t stay away from them.  In my occasional workshop on composition and content, however, I have a section called “What shall we do with this sunrise/sunset?”  They need something else to sustain viewer interest if not to create some depth or additional feeling to the image.  As to this selection from selections, I keep returning to it.  Yes, the color intensity gradient is nice and the cloud structures are interesting.  But it’s the diagonal line of the sand dune and the darkness below that keep me here, and the lone beach chair just where the orb will appear that holds me.  That spot is an example of what I call the emotional center of the image.

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Thanks for staying the course for this wordy blog post.  I hope it was at least entertaining.

If you’d like, take another coffee break tomorrow for the slide show of the full 2016 selections.  It’s less than three minutes.

Click here to get there.

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FIRST FALL WEEKEND AND A HARVEST MOON

I had read of a Pinelands hike into the Harris Paper Mill ruins for last Saturday.  I was itchy to get off of the beach but not enough for a five mile hike.  Marty Lou and I found the ruins in the early sixties when we were young and carefree and following the trails on the topo maps.  In those days there wasn’t any fencing around the ruins.  Oh, well.  Nevertheless I was beckoned so I drove to Harrisville Lake and walked along the shore for my size of hike.  It made me want to find that topo map and maybe try again sometime.  Here’s a view of the lake.

Harrisville Lake

Discussion:  Dark and no particular “wow” factor but it survived the cut because of the interesting clouds and their reflections, and the presence of two triangles in the composition which they tell us pleases the mind’s eye.  The peaks of those triangles draw the viewer’s eye upstream to … where??

Spillways are like magnets for me.  Here’s a view of the spillway below the Harrisville Lake dam.  The grasses running toward the top of the image drew me in.  The whitish puffs?  Perhaps cotton balls…..too early for snow.

Harrisville Lake dam spillway.

 

THE SEPTEMBER HARVEST MOON

The recent full moon, September 12th, occurring closest to the autumnal equinox is known as the Harvest Moon.  With the data from Stellarium, my astronomical software, I was on the beach and set up well before moon rise.  My fantasy has always been to capture the disk just (or slightly after emerging) with a golden trail of light dappling the surface of the ocean on its way to my lens.  Well, I need not have hurried.  There was a cloud bank offshore that kept the moon from appearing until some 20 minutes later, and it was hazy.   But, we keep trying.  The beach at twilight was lovely while waiting for the moonrise.  There are three ghosts of sanderlings skittering in the foreground for some dinner.

The beach at twilight in September.

With the moon up sufficiently I still couldn’t get my golden trail but the waves on the jetty gave me a nice balance.

The Harvest Moon Above the Jetty.

Finally, when it had risen still higher I was losing the “big” disk but there was my golden trail.

I was so glad to see the golden trail that I tried a little video to watch while I’m hibernating in my cave this winter.

THE ANNUAL TWILIGHT SAIL

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One of the highlights of the summer season is the Twilight Sail around Mordecai Island, just west of Beach Haven.  The event began with hamburgers and a keg on the deck.  After dinner we strolled down the dock to find a boat with some room in it.  For a little background music (dated, I know), click on  the arrow below.

 

 

 

 

 

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We boarded a boat and after some milling around the start horn was sounded and we were off.

 

 

 

 

 

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Unfortunately, the wind was light and variable and soon we were all tacking in different directions (some not so good).

 

 

 

 

 

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         But, the party mood prevailed.  Here is our lovely masthead figure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eventually the twlight closed in on us and we returned safely to the dock after a great, fun evening.