Monday, September 30, 2013

Sky's the limit

"The sky's the limit!" Okay, but what's the limit to how big a role the sky can play in a photo that isn't a sunrise or sunset, and doesn't have any unusual colors? These are shots that I made in the middle of running "errands" this afternoon.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

Awaiting Sunset

I don't very often have the luxury of relaxing and enjoying a sunset. As I'm sure is true for many of you, I may be working, have places to go, things to do, or simply not be able to get to a spot where I can see the western sky. When I do have the opportunity and the weather seems promising, I try to make it - with a camera - to a nice setting worthy of what I hope will be a bit of a light show.

This evening did not develop into one of those grand displays of crimson and bright orange, but it was worthwhile in other ways. I had dashed over to Shelley Lake in Raleigh and picked out a spot on the eastern shore. There is no view of the horizon, thanks to the hills, but the afternoon clouds had stretched across the sky, so I hoped that sunset colors might extend upward and even be reflected in the lake.

The oranges were limited in extent and definitely played second fiddle to the deep blue sky overhead. However, the quality of light on the shoreline was good for strengthening a compositional idea that I had at the start.

The next image is my favorite of the evening. All of the elements seem balanced, and it keeps my eyes moving around exploring in a satisfying way.

Next a cloud formation developed which I absolutely loved, and I tried two ways of composing around it.

The last photo returned to a kind of tranquility similar to the first shot, even though everything else about the image is different.

It was nice to just slip into a "zone" of relaxed alertness as the sky and water evolved while the landscape was pretty much static. I actually moved quickly in setting up some of these shots, but mentally it was a state of unhurried emotional reaction and technical automation (i.e., subconscious calculation). Now I get to relive some of the pleasure of being there.


Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The gritty aspect of autumn leaves

The gritty side of fall textures and colors has crept into evidence. Soon, even here in the southern part of the temperate zone, some of the trees will start to display reds and yellows even in the healthy leaves that haven't yet fallen. All thanks to diminishment of green chlorophyll, allowing other colors to show.


Monday, September 23, 2013

Jumping spider on autumn leaf

Do you like the bright colors of fallen autumn leaves, even when they have suffered some bug damage and are not pristine?

Do you like spiders? Aren't they fascinating creatures, seen in detail, close up?


Well, in case you don't like to view spider photos, here's your chance to skip this post instead of looking at the picture below. It's a jumping spider, with a bit of golden silk.

The red portions of the leaf were the most strongly saturated color that I've seen on a leaf lately. I would guess that the intensity increased after it fell from the tree and continued to dry out.



Friday, September 20, 2013

A great dog up for adoption!

This afternoon I enjoyed doing some photos of a sweet dog who has been rescued from a less than ideal environment. She has received medical treatment and love from a foster parent, and is going to make a great companion for the right person/people. If you might be ready to provide a permanent home, please email me at and I will put you in touch with the right people.

In any case, I think you may enjoy watching this little (well, medium sized) canine gamboling around the park.


Air Walking - a twelve step course

Sometimes a young athlete can seem to move so quickly from point to point that her feet never seem to touch the ground. By extension from Newton's first law of motion, minimizing friction should maximize preservation of velocity, but ordinarily one expects the initial acceleration to result from force exerted against the ground, so that the ground exerts a contrary force against the body (second and third laws). Achieving significant force from the air alone is usually the province of bird or insect wings, airplane propellers or jets. Hmm, check out this sequence of seven "steps".

A minute and a half later, here's another low friction run, five steps at low altitude, but clearly airborne.


Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Abstract enjoyment from a soccer tosser

Why do I like this picture?

When I shoot soccer games, my goal is usually to catch players at moments of peak action while they are facing more or less in my direction. I want the faces to be clearly visible. Those are the "keepers" (in photographic terms, not goal keepers). Shots that only show the backs of players are generally "tossers". During breaks in the action, I'll turn my attention to getting candid portraits, bits of humorous goings on, and so forth. Every once in a while, I'll get a serendipitous composition that interests me for reasons other than athleticism or emotion. The one I'm about to show you may look as if it had little to do with organized soccer, aside from the uniforms, and it certainly doesn't look like a typical action shot.

Well, this was in fact shot during a recent game, and though the compressed perspective (telephoto lens) makes it appear that they are romping off into the rough, the ball is actually still within bounds on the level field. The girls are attempting to "save" it before it crosses the chalk line. I followed the action because I knew there was a chance there would be a stop and pivot right near the line. That didn't happen, but this photo resulted.

What I enjoy about the picture is a mix of a few somewhat abstract factors. Because of what we know about human locomotion, there's a clear sense of movement away from the viewer, toward the path. The path, through its curve, the perspective of narrowing and increasing blur with distance "catches" the movement directly into the frame and guides it up and to the right. I also like the placement of objects - the little tree neatly framed by the players, the path in the "right place", one player's arm to the left, one to the right. I even like the types of textures in different areas of the unkempt grass.

It might be meaningless to most folks, but as I said, I like it. And yes, even though they are actually on the field, I love the look of a spur of the moment game wandering casually off toward the pathway home.


Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Hover fly and hornets

As summer winds down in Raleigh, there are still some flower varieties freshly blooming. I wandered out to take a closer look and saw what I thought was a tiny bee. It turned out to be (I think) a hover fly. I didn't get to see its flying behavior, because it took off and vanished while my attention was turned to another visitor.

This hornet, which moved in on the fly's territory, was quite docile, intent on gathering what it could. The first shot includes the nub of a bit of  pine straw, which makes a handy reference for size.

The black markings on the compound eye are quite distinctive. It's natural for us to be wary of potentially stinging insects, but aren't these handsome creatures?