Sun Hand 1

It was magic hour, and the atmosphere was frigid to the point where I felt icy needles piercing every millimeter of exposed skin. And by the time I was done getting the right angle for this shot, my hands felt like I’d immersed them in liquid oxygen. What I wouldn’t have given for sunlight that was as warm as it was bright. It seemed fitting to grasp a light source that seemed as far away as the promise of spring.

Every so often it’s refreshing to take a shot or two that’s not only fun but challenges the traditional notion of what a camera actually is or can be. In this case I used a tripod-mounted Cybershot wi-fi lens controlled from a smartphone. Later, Topaz Labs’ “comic book” filter added a touch of surrealism back in the blessed warmth of my home.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/400

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Dam and Pipe

Ominous title, yes? You can relax, though; nothing illegal was done here. But under other circumstances, could it have been?

Allow me to explain. This shot was taken with a very high-powered Sigma zoom that resembles a telescope. I was standing on a bridge, looking at a dam in the distance. The dam and its accompanying facilities are owned by a local town, and the entire land was marked no trespassing for fear people would be injured. So to get the shot, I had to stand on a nearby bridge. Mind you, I’ve actually been confronted for using that huge lens. People honestly thought I was spying on someone!

Some of my students have asked me, “When am I allowed to take pictures?” It’s a fair question. In this post-9/11 “occupy movement” world, everyone’s so afraid of being labeled a terrorist for pursuing their passion for photography. So what is the truth?

First let me give you a link:

At the above site, you can download a handy piece to print and put in your pocket, just in case. But the short version is this:

1. If you are standing on public property, you CAN take pictures.

2. If you are standing on private property, ask permission. Their place, their rules.

3. Law enforcement can’t take away your camera or erase your data without a warrant.

4. Private individuals can’t detain you or harass you without serious legal consequences.

5. Some sensitive government buildings can forbid you to take pictures if it’s a matter of national security, and law enforcement can stop you photographing if you are close enough to potentially interfere with their duties (but you are allowed to take pictures if you’re not interfering).

6. You must respect people’s privacy when they’ve secluded themselves, even if it’s on public property.

Those are the details. If you are confronted, always remember to be respectful and polite, especially if you want to be a professional photographer. And don’t be afraid to take those pictures!

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/22, 32″

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R. C. Fountain:

A wonderful Christmas collection after my own heart! Do check out Cybele’s blog, home of a very talented photographer.

Originally posted on "There was a time" -the runes of the gatekeeper's daughter and other tales:

May the peace and joy of the season be yours -my last gasp before “Yes, it’s finally Christmas!!!  A touch of colour for Leanne and Laura’s Monochrome Madness.


2014 – My retrospect

It’s been an eventful year, full of joys and sorrow, and it’s been hard gathering my thoughts lately. Yet I have been thinking a lot which probably reflects in my posts!

I took another wonderful trip back to Scotland and Ireland, my daughter got married, I won the lottery!!   kidding! I just wanted to get your attention!  If I did win the lottery I now think or hope I would give it all away.

I have been given so much, and I have lost much. We lost Robin which has made me realize once again how fragile life is.  Yet strangely, even the losses are a gift and love is never lost.

We struggle, triumph, fail, win and…

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Gallery  —  Posted: December 24, 2014 in Uncategorized

Gun Gravestone


Would it surprise you to learn I was raised around firearms?

Richard, my father, taught me safety and respect when it came to guns. He taught me to appreciate both their danger and the art of their construction, their proper use, to never point them at anyone for any reason. I took him seriously, and so did every member of our household. So there was never any gun-related incidents in our family.

Whenever I see a gun, old or new, revolver or semi-automatic, pistol or rifle, I remember his teachings. And during a trip to Providence, I came across a ghostly site where I seemed to hear his words again.

Nowadays, of course, the only shots I take are with a shutter button. That makes this picture doubly ironic. Rusting pistols and rifle barrels of all types were embedded in a concrete column, impotently peeking out of their stony tomb, seeming to whisper of days of war.

Sometimes street photography is actually about the street, not necessarily the people in it.

Exposure Data: ISO 125, f/5, 1/100


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Stony Saint

I’ve always enjoyed anything that smacked of medieval history. When you look at gothic architecture it’s easy to imagine yourself back in the thirteenth century listening to the chanting of monks. It can seem like history lies in every stone. So I was very glad to find this saintly carved figure over the entrance to a local church. Telling a story with pictures is easy when a subject has this much character.

To maximize image quality, this shot was taken with a 50mm prime lens. Later on HDR-like effects were added using Topaz Adjust filters.

Exposure Data: ISO 100, f/6.3, 1/100

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The Stone Queen


You don’t need to be catholic to appreciate beauty in religious architecture. And that’s just what JoDee and I did along a city side street in our never-ending quest to ensnare our eyes and yours. The elegance of the carving lent itself well to a black and white image.

Chiaroscuro (literally translated “bright and dark”) is a term used to describe the amount of dark and light tones in an image. In black and white shots, having a great deal of both of these contrasting tones makes for a more dramatic picture. To achieve this, look for a subject that shows a clear contrast between light and dark. Once the picture is taken, look at the camera’s histogram to see if it shows a bias toward the right (showing a brighter image). If those two conditions are present, then the subject lends itself well to a black and white image.

Note that you can always influence your histogram’s bias easily by varying your shutter speed. Faster speeds mean a darker image, while slower speeds increase brightness.

Later on in post-processing, digital filters can be used to not only remove the colors but to increase the contrast of the image, making the chiaroscuro even more pronounced.

Image Data: ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/125

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Church False IR


Infrared photography, based on heat rather than light, offers images with a different color palette. It’s a different way to the look at the world. And even though it’s technically restricted to film, digital effects can simulate it.

That was something I decided to try this week when I discovered this old church. As its boarded up windows stared over the town’s roofs, an atmosphere of quiet age brooded over its tower. I later learned it had been converted into a residence, and I admit to feeling a little envious of anyone who got to live in such an amazing place. It must be the gothic architecture: that always makes my mind take flight.Church Front

For the image itself I started by taking three bracketed shots with my tripod-mounted 7D and a Tamron lens zoomed out to 18mm. Each image was two stops apart, to capture the entire dynamic range. Later, Photomatix Pro stitched the images together; and Topaz B&W effects accomplished the pseudo-IR effects seen here. Lastly I added some of my signature vignetting.

Exposure Data: ISO 100; f/16; 1.6″, 1/3, 6″

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