Blooms of White


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This was with H5D and 120 macro shot two stops down from wide open at 200 ISO. There was a pestilent wind keeping things shook up, and as I was, in the late evening light, at 1/60 or slower, I had to watch the stamens carefully to see when a pause was in order to fire.

Winter’s Death Rattle


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Yesterday I went out to shoot some blossoms with macro lens on H5D just to see if I could successfully find fractions of a second of breaks in Texas’s incessant wind. I got a few shots, but as I was leaving I noticed the sunset only two days from spring. With the fisherperson on the shore, the strolling people on the path, the bare tree silhouetted by the setting sun, I was compelled to stop and grab a quick hand held shot with the 120 macro lens I had been using.

What I suppose mainly supports the title here are two aspects of the subject:

  1. The still leafless tree.
  2. The green grass.

Infrared in Big Bend


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Stack at Mariscal

This is a stack at the old Mariscal Mine in Big Bend National Park, Texas. You access the mine, which closed in the ’40’s, by taking about a 25 mile drive down a dirt road. The camera I used was a Hasselblad SWC of around the 1980’s. It only has a permanently attached 38mm Carl Zeiss Biogon lens, around 25mm in the terms we’re mostly used to with smaller formats. I used Rollei Infrared film and this shot was rated at an effective 3 ISO. The exposure was based on the measurement of an earlier subject’s shadow areas using a Pentax 1 degree analog spot meter. The light hadn’t changed, so I used the same exposure. With this camera you do not have a ground glass on which to focus, so you pretty much use the lens’s distance scale. In this case, at f22, infinity was fine. It was shot through a really dark red filter to get only the IR radiation to the film. The filter is so dark you can glance at the sun through it briefly. I used f22 and 2 seconds. Notice the darkened sky and somewhat lightened foliage, what there is of it, anyway. This is a scan of a resin-coated print with absolutely no digital enhancements apart from whatever the scanning process may perform. I’ll make a better print of it on fiber-based paper soon for sale at the art fairs we attend. It will look much better than the resin-coated version.


We Stopped


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One of the hardest things to do when traveling is to stop and take a picture, especially if it involves any trouble, like setting up a tripod. We had noticed this subject a few days earlier between Tyler and Dallas, closer to Tyler. As we knew we would return very soon, we made a note to stop next time! The shoulder of the toll road wasn’t very wide, so we decided to make the necessary extra trip to get to the farm to market road running next to the tree. I used a Hasselblad H3D-39 hand held with the HD 35 mm lens on it.



Whom to Please?


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Ralph Steiner lived from 1899 – 1986. Reference information about him here: One of his films can be seen here: It’s quite beautiful, twelve minutes, and worth a look.

My main concern with Ralph Steiner today is a quote by him:  “Eventually I discovered for myself the utterly simple prescription for creativity; be intensely yourself. Don’t try to be outstanding; don’t try to be a success; don’t try to do pictures for others to look at-just please yourself.” (Italics mine)

Before the advent of the Internet (yes, you two-thumbing generation, there WAS a time when we couldn’t stay connected) the two main ways of getting mass attention for your photography was firstly to have a book published. Secondly, you might get into a gallery. Most likely if you did the one the other would follow. Of course, few people made it to this level, even people who did wonderful work and produced beautiful and intriguing images. It helped to be born with the wealth of your parents backing you with its influence to get you connected to those in positions to place your work in those venues of admiration. Fortune’s favorites.

But then along came the ability to post images on the WWW. Popular social sites came into being for posting your visual gems for the world to see and for many people this has become the raison d’ etre of all their photographic endeavors:  To garner as many “likes” or “faves” as possible and that ultimate of all honorifics, to have one’s lens-child baptized in that River. (Let the reader understand. I once had a picture there, a fly-like insect feeding atop a gaillardia flower in New Mexico. I thought it was fairly nondescript, but it got over 20,000 views.)

A Spanish author whose name is buried in the forgetfulness of over 40 years since I read him in college once wrote an essay about how worthless the opinion of the masses really is. You who post to whatever place and agonize over how popular it is or over how many comments you get; you who grow green with envy when you look at those pictures of other more popular, apparently, contributors whose work is nowhere near as good as yours; those who research the best time of day on which day of the week to post to get attention; to you, I say, I’ve been there. I’ve also left those places having realized the utterly sick obsession involved. I have my website where people can go a view my work for free, and here. My only other social site involvement is where I play chess online.

So in keeping with the idea of the basic ignorance of the masses, don’t let the lack of praise bother you. Look at Ralph Steiner’s words again up above, “…just please yourself.” Back in the day we took pictures of events and places we visited on trips, people we loved. We kept the photos in albums and enjoyed pulling those repositories out from storage on occasions and enjoyed our pictures. We didn’t worry about or value what anybody else thought. I’ve found myself doing these things to enjoy what I create:  1. I frame and hang on the walls. 2. I put actual prints I make in albums or acid free storage boxes or in large books of blank drawing paper in between the pages and kept under the bed for whenever. 3. I make slide shows in Lightroom to look at with musical accompaniment. 4. I post to my website where they get viewed, and even purchased one time by a guy down in Georgetown, Texas. I watch slide shows of them there also, which I hope my visitors also do. 5. Maybe most importantly to me, in today’s world of easy self-publishing, I make books of my pictures with words I write accompanying. I do this on Blurb out of Lightroom and of course nothing sells; the second book I didn’t even list for sale to the public. I just get a copy to have around for me to enjoy looking through and also will give copies as gifts. 6. Lastly, I’ve gone to three art shows recently, two nearby and one way out in Alpine, Texas, the famous Alpine Artwalk. This way I get personal interaction with people who actually do buy my work. In Alpine a fellow walked into my booth area, went and looked at a framed photo of three crosses in the old Terlingua cemetery, came over to where I was sitting and asked, “Did you take all of these photographs?” I answered in the affirmative and gave him my card with link to my website on it. He got out his phone and I guess entered the link to verify these we my pictures(?) I was beginning to wonder if I had photographed the grave of a long lost ancestor and he was cooking up a way to get a lawsuit. He returned to me and said, “I WANT that picture.” I agreed to cater to his wish with the proper exchange of media with presidents pictures on them for the photo. Another buyer of a framed photograph of bare trees in fog just below Mount Emory down in Big Bend National Park (100 mile to the south) was a young woman who had on several occasions served my my meals in the lodge restaurant there. I was quite flattered she wanted to hang the picture on her wall in the park.

I know my last point involves pleasing others, and I’ll openly admit to my hypocrisy in light of the thesis of this post. However, to excuse myself, at least I was in the physical presence of the people whom I was seeking to impress. There seems to me to be a difference between that with real people and physical objects instead of faceless strangers and assorted arrangements of data into ethereal illusions of photographs.

Do find ways to make your own self happy with your photographs. You took them because you responded emotionally to something. Relive those emotions yourself through them.


A Chip off of This Old Block?


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My son is a PhD student in film studies at the University of Chicago. He’s been in that city for quite a while now and has found many chances to capture some great images on his smartphones, mostly. He sees patterns in quite ordinary scenes and makes the viewer aware of them forcibly. There are dramatic pictures of the lake and other places in the city and on the university campus.

I’ll say that my own contribution was minimal. As a child he saw me with a camera probably more often than he would have liked to, especially as it was often trained on him. In reality, I find myself learning from him how to see photographically. My theory is that in his area of particular research into the development of spatial expression in video gaming he has developed an acute sense of what it is to see strongly, to narrow down the confusing array of visual input that surrounds him in that complex city into powerfully succinct statements of what he sees and feels.

The website he has just inaugurated is here:

I hope you will visit. There are many places there worth a pause or two.

Go Away, Kid, You Bother Me!


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I was out yesterday with my little Nikon D7100…I call it little because attached to it was the Sigma 150 – 600 lens. It’s a relative perception. This lens could register on seismographs out in Alpine if it were dropped. Anyway, I was sitting on the grass in the park waiting for the red tail hawk you see here to fly back over to a tree that was on public property. In the photo he’s currently perched atop a tree in someone’s front yard. While I was waiting, I noticed this mockingbird, whose territory the rapine creature was apparently encroached upon, attempt to show enough bluster to make his visit a shorter one. Not that the mocker is a bad host, but the feisty feathered flyer was fresh out of rabbits in the fridge and didn’t want to disappoint his guest. I took several shots totally depending on a chance depression of the shutter button at the right instant to get something…good…goodish? I chose this particular version of the situation to try to impress people “out there” whom I’ve never met and whom I’ll never meet, such as one lady who liked my pond sunset yesterday and whose western photos make me look like my granny with her Box Brownie that she just dropped into her gruel…anyway, I chose this one (speaking of rabbits) because the red tail had his or her head turned back enough to see the profile. The bird did soon return to my legal territory and I’ll post a shot of it below. Thanks for looking and for thinking this was a good bit of luck.




On a Still Pond


I took my new Hasselblad H5D 50 megapixel camera out expecting a possible nice sunset with no wind, a rarity in Texas, for a reflection on the still water. This is a shot I took earlier while I was waiting for what I THOUGHT would be a better, blazingly colorful sky a few minutes later; that didn’t materialize as the day ended with a dull, gray thud photographically speaking. As I arrived about an hour before sunset, I watched the progress of the young man who was fishing from the left side of the frame here to the position you see him in currently. I’m glad he was there then. As this was an HDR photo with three exposures, I’m surprised I got him so well in a non-blurred way. As I was waiting I was approached by some local neighborhood people. One lady asked if I was waiting for the sunset. Upon my reassuring her that I was, she and her husband and dog wished me well in getting a nice one. Another lady came out of her house across the street and observed that I had been standing out there for a while. Looking at the intimidating Hasselblad with equally awe-inspiring lens mounted she asked if I were from the newspaper or from the television news. I assured her that I was only an ordinary citizen taking a pretty picture. She departed, seemingly with peace of mind.



Yes, the monarch butterflies are making their way down to Mexico through north Texas. This is by far not the most numbers I’ve ever seen do this. There was a time in my childhood when they came through in thick columns, passing not too far overhead. Yet it’s great to see them again! They like a bush with white flowers we can’t seem to identify using an Internet search. Imagine that.

The camera was a Nikon D7100 with a Sigma 150 – 600 lens. Between trying to hold the lens still, the wind blowing the bush, and the butterflies constantly on the move, it took a LOT of tries to get a few acceptable shots. Here are a few:


Thanks for having a look!

A Still Life


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I recently got an old CF 120mm macro lens to use on my new Hasselblad H3D-39 vintage camera. I set the fruit up on burlap and did some HDR. I’ve printed on Epson Hot Press Natural paper.

While I had this set up, I got the 8 x 10 camera and made a black and white negative for a platinum/palladium. It came out OK, even though I made the negative what we used to call “bullet proof” by intentionally overdeveloping by 50%. I put a diffuser on the back of the view camera lens for a nostalgic effect, as though the platinum/palladium isn’t nostalgic enough.