A Visit to Deep Hole

Those of us who have visited Myakka State Park over the years have accumulated a lot of images. I have images of trees, flowers, birds, turtles, canoes, fish, people and, of course, alligators. There was one special day back in 2013 when I decided to get a trail permit and hike to Deep Hole, a 130’ deep sink hole in the Myakka River. Getting the shots that I got that day had everything to do with being there at the right time. The river was low and the late February morning was cool.  Deep Hole provides a pleasant place for creatures to gather. I have refrained from ‘prettying up’ most of the images and, with only a couple of exceptions tried to represent the scene as closely as possible to my view of it on that day. From the trail head it’s a mile and a half walk, down this road, to Deep Hole: 20130221Myakka123313   Coming to a tree line along the river, I followed it south before turning to the dried-up river bank and heading back north along it.  Approaching Deep Hole from the south, I had to bring up my telephoto to verify that I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. 20130221Myakka133120 I walked slowly toward the hole…stopping every few yard and eventually setting up the tripod, taking a couple of shots, then moving slowly forward. 20130221Myakka134057 20130221Myakka134125   The sun was well up and the day was becoming hot.  I decided to come at it from the north side and moved into the shade for a while.  I found a nice clearing in the trees, picked out a shady spot, brought out my camp stool and had some lunch. 20130221Myakka142537 Finished with lunch, I moved through the grass to the north side of the Hole. The images from the north side were the best of the day.  It’s wild Florida – 30 minutes from Sarasota. 20130221Myakka144920 20130221Myakka145808   20130221Myakka144929 20130221Myakka144632 20130221Myakka144848 The walk back to the car produced one additional images which I pushed a bit. 20130221Myakka151728 We often get grouchy when we see how the Florida around us is changing and becoming urbanized. Those of us old enough to remember, recall how tropical-kitschy Florida was back in the 50’s, how Disney changed it in the 70's, how disco it was in the 80’s and how the pace of growth accelerated in the 90’s and in the process, with popular coastal areas now teeming with human population, Florida became something different. How precious are places like Myakka. In reference to a wonderful book by Patrick D. Smith, A Land Remembered, an older Florida is only a half-hour drive from Sarasota. For more on Deep Hole see: http://www.pangeaadventureracing.com/community-forum/topic/94 which contains an excellent description of Deep Hole along with an aerial photo. Also included is a brief description of a diving expedition – as well as an account of paddling across the hole at night. Thank you for visiting and be sure to visit Myakka State Park.
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Window Portrait

This image is one of my recent favorites.  On an evening walk, we came upon a woman sitting for a portrait in an artist's studio. The curtains weren't drawn and the setting seemed almost a continuation of the attached store-front art galleries that lined that side of the street.  I couldn't resist and pressed my rubber lens hood against the glass and shot with the 20mm lens (40mm equivalent) on my 4/3 Panasonic GX7. Window Portrait Compositionally, the unseen woman, whose image was being painted in, next to her husband on the canvas, didn't work.  She was on the far left and was cropped out.  I was left with a view of the back of the artist and the woman's husband (a guess) staring at me from the canvas.  On the first pass through Photoshop, responding to some sense of a privacy issue, I blurred the fellow's face.  Then, realizing that he was only a painting, took back the blur. Using a mixture of brush strokes and textures, I gave the the already warm image an artistic feel. Following up on a friend's paper suggestion, I had it printed 10"x10" on Hahnemuhle German Etching Paper.

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The Bear… or, a Liar Image

On a recent trip to Alaska… No, I’ve never been there.  It’s the only state that I’ve missed. This bear lived at Silver Springs, in Florda, several years ago. He appeared a tired old bear – perhaps suffering from depression and fenced in by electricy It was at the beginning of my adventure with Photoshop; and I remember as a learning exercise, removing the fence and other elements of captivity. This afternoon, after a large data transfer, I came upon ‘the Bear’ once again.  After a conversion to black and white, a bit of tweaking and some dodging and burning, I came up with this: Fear-2edit6674edit6675 It’s not a great image, but a bear is a frightening creature and I wouldn’t want to be within 50mm range.  
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Storm Sky

Storm SkyThis image was taken just before dark one hot, summer evening in 2007.  We were in north central Iowa having some work done on the rig. There was a storm brewing and though no sirens had sounded, tornado warnings had been posted. The sky was ominous. I took this photo standing on the roof of the rig; and while I pushed the saturation in this image, I did little else. As storm photos go, this is nothing spectacular but I’ve always liked the light and drama.
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Rough Shape

  Rough Shape Photos can lie. The high-key treatment here gives the scene a desert-like feel. The original colored image was of higher contrast with a very different mood. I remember getting it to a certain point and stopping. The next day,  I looked at it again and decided that I had sharpened too much. Going back in, I twiddled a bit in Viveza pulling the structure down. Then, in Silver Efex Pro 2, made the conversion to black and white and lightened the sky with a blue filter -pushing it to 200%. Going to the Hue slider, I went back and forth for a while before finally settling at 271 degrees. A final brightness adjustment completed the job. A lot of experimenting went into this image. While I like the colored version, the black and white really wows me. I have an old Harper's Weekly on the desk with some Frederick Remington Illustrations. This image in it's final form mimics some of his work. I'm very pleased with it. It was a warm day and I was wandering far from where tourists usually venture.  The streets were empty and quiet as if the world had stopped for siesta. This is the kind of scene that, as photographers, we live for. I would like to have stayed for a week.
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_1250965edit6852edit6853Walking in Brooklyn one night, I passed by a coin laundry and was able to capture this image.  I didn't shoot that much over the summer and this image is one of my favorites. (Again for some reason one must click on the image to get to a sharp, hi-res version. I'll check with tech support.)
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Last Spring I resolved to do more printing and began with prints of Mandroid, the Cornets, Three Birds, and Nebraska Feed Mill. While away for the summer, I had none made. 20140112Thunder by the Bay125610This car shot I always liked. I took it at a Thunder by the Bay rally and remember shooting directly into the sun. The dark, flat grey paint softly reflected the light. I dropped in a black background and remember being wowed by the final result.  I’ll have it printed on soft paper. Though it lacks the refined line-up of a commercial shot, it has a nice feel to it. Since returning to Florida, I've had a few other things printed. One new one, Shredded Heart, I had printed on metallic paper as well as on a soft art paper. The metallic paper does give a wow factor and pops nicely when looking straight on. Viewed from the side, it seems to0 shallow out. The soft paper has a richer look because of the deeper ink penetration. I've decided to stay with that for these images. I've been using one called Torchon from Hahnemu (mit der umlaut) hle.
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A Mask in Topaz Impression

If I threw away images that were less than perfect, my hard drive would be empty. What to work on is always the question.- choices, choices, choices. I’ve never felt a need to work only on current images.   This mask, a case in point, was shot in a museum some 18 months ago. The original image is nothing to rave about, but I decided to play with it and see what could be done.   Museum Mask_ Japan_original After building a good layer mask and dropping out the background, I added a couple of texture layers to ground the composition.  The filters that I normally use failed to divulge anything appealing. I decided to try Topaz Impression and told the program that I wanted to see all the possibilities. There were a lot. Thumbnails are displayed vertically and I busied myself on the down arrow key. After a couple of dozen possibilities, I hit this one: Museum Mask_japan_Final It’s dark, but nothing else seemed to work. I can see it on a wall in a dark corner - another Resurrection. This is like cooking to taste – there are a lot of tweaks. I tried this and that until the way was revealed. This one surprised me by taking me in a direction that I didn’t anticipate. The original carver modeled the mask after a face. I copied/photographed the mask and now present it in a different context and in a mood perhaps more fitting for the subject than the original's display case. I'll find a place for it - perhaps on a warehouse wall in some urban scene.                    
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Two Antiques and a Work of Art

Several years ago I visited the Naval Air Museum in Pensacola, Florida. I took a lot of photos on that visit and these two images of WWI-era biplanes captured my interest. I worked on these while perfecting selection techniques. Both aircraft were suspended from a ceiling and surrounded by other aircraft. The museum then, before the new addition, was a crowded place. After the addition, it’s still crowded. Though I’ve never printed these, I like them both and in looking at them anew, think that perhaps I should add a pilot to each and end their drone status.

British Bi-Plane

German Bi-Plane

Flying JunkKeeping on the theme of aircraft, here’s another. This one, however, isn’t a real aircraft. It’s a work of art that was on display in the National Gallery of Art a few years ago. I just loved this piece and regret not shooting the tag so that I could credit the artist behind this quirky bomber. I call it Flying Junk. I include an original photo as a reminder that shooting from several angles pays dividends.

Flying Junk

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A Visit to MOMA

In New York recently, we visited MOMA where a wonderful exhibition of Picasso sculptures had opened. With the exception of one work in the last room, photographs were permitted. The first sculpture that drew me as I walked in is called Marquette, 1964, a gift of the artist to the Richard J. Daley Center. 1964. The subject was back-lit from the angle I wanted. As in most museums, flash and tripod were not permitted.  I set the camera to center-weighted at ISO 800 and shot it at f5.6 1/180th and accepted the result.  In retrospect, I would have been better served by spot metering the sculpture and letting the background blow out; but in that moment, I had no idea where post-processing would take me. 20150915Woman With Hat155901The challenge is always to see what can be done with an image like this.  The background had to go. I used Topaz ReMask 5; but as is sometimes the case, getting a clean selection took some time. After getting a clean mask, I played with backgrounds and textures, multi- layered dodges and burns, color enhancements and filter effects to generate the finished product. Maquette by Picasso

This was, in terms of lighting, the most difficult object of the afternoon. Lighting in museums - often switching between incandescent, fluorescent, daylight and sometimes in combination with each or both - can be challenging.  Crowds are often are a factor and getting a clear shot requires patience; sometimes more than I have.

I was especially pleased with Head of a Woman, from 1931-22. The lighting was good but I replaced the beige background with grey and eliminated people from the photo.

Head of a Woman_1929-30-2

Woman in the Garden, 1929, also came out well and I couldn't resist adding the Sun or Moon (a matter of personal preference) as I finished the edit.

Woman in the Garden-4-2edit7169

There are a few other pieces that I still have to work on, but these have been a fun start. I'll get to the others - eventually - and build Picasso Sculpture Gallery to hold them.

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