But what it really represents is a radical new direction for me. I'm several years behind on this, but that's okay. I'm developing a vision to go beyond photography. Maybe I'll call the pieces metaphotographic...'cause digital art is sooooooo aughts. Metaphotography ... metaphotographer ... whatever I call it, even if I don't end up having a name for it, the goal will still be Beautiful (meta)photographs from around the world.
As I was walking around the Castle District of Budapest, I saw this. I like doors. I like angles. I like symmetry. I like contrast. It was as though the scene was begging to be photographed. So I did. You're welcome.
It's been about a week...have you gone to the 25% Off, Free Shipping Sale at http://www.bpsphoto.com/store/25sale/index.html? It runs through the end of December, 2010.
And have you heard about my sale at http://www.bpsphoto.com/store/25sale/index.html? It's 25% Off and Free Shipping (to addresses in the United States), and runs through the end of December 2010.
My favorite thing in Paris? The food. This was a cheese and meat shop (honest!) in the ... who am I kidding, I don't know one arrondissement from another, but I do know that it's near a cool little fabric store that my wife spent an inordinate amount of time in. The cheeses and meats smelled delicious, but we'd already had lunch and dinner plans were set, so there was, sadly, no point to buying.
One of my favorite landscapes on the planet is the volcanic perlite that formed these cliffs about 90,000 years ago. This photo is from a sunrise shoot that I did with both my Hasselblad 501CM and my Nikon D200. It was pure joy to be out on the beach before anyone else and to be able to study the cliffs while I was shooting. This was one of the film shots, if it matters to you. It was Ilford PanF, developed in Microphen.
This is the emergency exit from the airport in Mazar-e-Sharif. It's not the smallest international airport I've ever been to (that honor goes to Uralsk International, in Kazakhstan), but it is pretty small.
Many of my friends have heard me babbling all weekend about The Plan. It's a simple plan, really...put together 60-80 photos for a sale. I'll be printing books to use as catalogues. Photos will be available in sizes from 11x14" to 20x24", including some square photos at 12x12" and 16x16". I'll also have three sets of greeting cards. Just getting the images ready has been something of a massive undertaking, using up all of my Friday and Saturday, but now the hard part's done and all I have to do is design three books and 12 cards, ship everything off for printing and hope like hell that when I have the sale people will buy them.
I don't know if you know this about me, but I love to drive on winding dirt roads going into the mountains. I particularly love it when the roads are in terrible shape and demand a 4WD. So living in a place where I can't go driving off by myself is a little painful. But I do get to take helicopter rides over those roads occasionally.
I've been tired and frustrated lately...too many days in a row of work, too much frantic rushing about, trying to catch up. I thought about spending my day off with a fake, plastic guitar, playing Rock Band to decompress. But then I thought better of it and decided to do something far more satisfying...work on old photos in the works in progress folder.
This boat has been sitting there, waiting since July of 2008 for me to do something with it. My first, automatic, thought was to make it a black & white, but clearly, the gorgeous light of a Greek summer sunrise, the faded, once-bold blue and red begging for a return to their former glory and the blue shadows in the water all called for color. Besides, if I had shot this on film, it would have been Velvia all the way. So here you are, from the dry, dusty air of Kabul, a summer morning on the beach in Greece.
On this last trip, I collected yet another new aircraft, a Russian-made Antonov AN-26 (as if the exit sign weren't enough of a clue as to the plane's origin). It was a decent, if noisy plane, twin prop with wings jutting from the top rather than the bottom.
The very interesting thing to me was that in an emergency, the passengers would use the rope on the right of the frame to escape. Even better, the rope was held together with very tightly wrapped thread. Seemed fairly secure, but I would have preferred something like clamps, a rope braided together, a ladder.
My friend Mireille (I'll tell you how to pronounce it later, give you a chance to work through it) and I were stuck at the military base at the Kandahar Airport. We got bumped from what would have been an interesting visit due to lack of space. Mireille is a Press Officer in the State Dept. Her job is to herd journalists, write exciting press releases about Embassy activities and speak officially for the Embassy. I'm sure there's more, but that's a good basic description.
This photo could be called a portrait through still life. Her world on these junkets is made of PDA, cell phone and notebook. Sometimes she's working with all three at the same time. I'm sure many journalists, press officers and publicists will see themselves in this one.
It's pronounced mi-RAY, though being French, the RAY is less emphasized than all caps might indicate.
Abstract Americana. A hot summer night, cars ripping around a 3/8 mile circle, kicking up the dust, making a racket almost as loud as a metal concert. I love auto racing. The environmentalist half of my psyche is offended by the redneck half. But then, the runner half of my psyche is offended by the half that lives for chocolate muffins, too.
More in a set at facebook.com/bhneely.
We recently helped clean out my wife's grandmother's house. Nana passed a few months ago, leaving a full house several states away from where her children and grandchildren live.
The hardest part was trying to find those things that spoke to us, while respectfully leaving for the auctioneer the detritus of a life well-lived. Naturally, I was moved to document, while those more deeply affected sorted through things.
If you're interested in an album of this, visit my Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/bhneely, and while you're there, click on the Like button.
My father-in-law works part time at South Hills. This gives me a lot of opportunity to ride around the course, taking pictures. I've always liked the symmetry of this set of bunkers as they move up the slope of the 3rd? hole on the West? course. The hot, hot summer has scorched sections of the fairway and many of the greens on the course.
It's also one of my favorite holes to play, because there are few trees for me to tag and no water hazard between the tee and the hole. The sand trap in front of the green doesn't bother me, because, as Pops says, "You have no idea how difficult it is to get out of a bunker." Yeah, the one club I can hit consistently, and moderately well, is the wedge.
There's a willow on an island in a pond on the course that I'm thinking about doing a small photo essay about.
I finally decided it was time to get a point & shoot camera. After some research, and wanting to make sure that the images I shoot with it can be sold as art, I went with the Sigma DP2. It's a 14 mp, fixed lens (24mm) camera. Having shot maybe 20 photos with it, I pronounce it good. Or at least, good enough that I don't have to have my D200 and armada of lenses.
I should probably take my wife's Canon PowerShot out and do some side-by-side testing for image quality, but just for a combination of control and ease-of-use, I love the DP2. With just a couple presses of a button, I can change ISO, shutter speed, aperture, focal point, white balance, image size/quality and several other settings.
I shot this in my in-laws' garden just after they'd watered it. The contrast, detail and resolution are pretty impressive.
It's a huge sand quarry. You use what you have. If it looks a little blurry, that's because you simply cannot hold a 200mm lens still enough when it's getting blasted with wind from a Huey rotor.
I hadn't really thought about it until I started this post, but look how deep the sand goes. That's a lot of sand.
I had a chance to get out the other day. Driving (well, passengering) through the streets I had three observations. A) I need a point & shoot...specifically Sigma's DP2...so I don't have to wave a giant camera around in the car. B) The traffic, though chaotic, is much friendlier than it was in Almaty. C) I am so glad I don't have to drive here.
Updates will be sporadic, though once my hard drives arrive, I'll be able to work on art projects and post those. Thanks for your patience.
what to do? Over the next year or so I'm going to have the opportunity to save a lot of money, and have enough left over to make some radical decisions about photography. So as I think about things and plan my budget, I've run into a hard fact that it's time I acknowledged.
Fact: The lifestyle I lead does not allow for a darkroom. There. I said it. Nearly out loud (my in-laws are sitting in the room, and it would be a crazy non-sequitur to just randomly say it actually out loud, and I've spent years convincing them I'm not crazy). We move every two to three years. We never know what our next apartment will be like. An enlarger and all the attendant gear would take a significant chunk out of the 7200-lb weight limit we have. So, until retirement, no darkroom. So it's digital all the way...and now that I've acknowledged a love for digital photography, I can live with that.
Well, now that's out there, I need to start thinking about what sort of digital system(s) I want to work with.
I very much enjoy using my Nikon system. The buttons and dials and knobs and menu interface and so on all feel very intuitive to me now. I don't have to think about them, so the camera is an extension of my hand-eye-brain system.
I also very much enjoy using my Hasselblad system. In fact, there are very few things that give me as much physical, mental and emotional pleasure as using it. It has a satisfying heft (5 lbs or so), the focusing and shutter/aperture rings are large and easy to use, the sight of a 6x6 cm image on the focusing glass, plus a magnifier for really tight focusing, is simply gorgeous, oh, and the lenses blow the crap out of anything I can get for the Nikon.
But here's the thing...the next Nikon I get will cost $1500-2500. The digital back for the Hasselblad will be $14,000. It *is* 39 megapixels, and after 5 years or so is still one of the best deals in digital photography. But really, Fourteen Thousand Dollars is a big stack of Benjamins.
And the other thing is that I really should spend that money on marketing, advertising, making you buy prints. So I can justify 14 large for a digital back. So that's on my mind. What's on yours?
SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY, May 23rd, at A Show of Hands in Alexandria, VA, my friend Andrew Caballeros-Reynolds and I have a reception for our exhibition entitled, "Reveal." It's his first exhibition, and he's very excited about it. It's my...10th or so, and I'm very excited, too. I love showing people my work. I love even more when people tell me how great it is. I love even more than that when people show their love through the use of a check or portraits of, say, Ben Franklin. Just kidding. I do love the praise and accolades more than the money. But bring money.
I will be showing Greek Landscapes, though I've prodded and stretched the idea of "landscape" a bit to include ancient temple details, and one stunning photo of a very modern bridge. Andrew's photos are portraiture and human interest pieces from places such as Kyrgyzstan, Uganda, Sri Lanka and several other countries. Mine are mostly black & white (though I did include a few color pieces), and his are all in rich, gorgeous color.
We'll have wine and cheese and mimosas. Andrew & I will be there from 11 am to 8 pm, and we'll have some live music starting at 6 pm. Don't make us just sit there and stare at each other.
2301 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA. My phone number is 206-356-9392 in case you get lost. And if you can't make it to the show, but want to show your love through paypal, visit my store at store.bpsphoto.com.
This print is one from the show. You've probably seen it on this blog before. It's from Ancient Olympia. It is one of my very favorite photos from Greece.
This is going to shock you...no photo. I'm going to be separated from my laptop and fleet of external drives for a few weeks as we transition to our new post. I'll probably spend some time ruminating from the Netbook along the way.
Today's post, then, is a plea to visit store.bpsphoto.com. I've decided that it's time to take control of my minor fiefdom in hopes of making it a major fiefdom, and maybe even a kingdom or Empire of Photographs eventually. Currently there are 20 photos available for purchase, all of them from Greece. I have 8x10's, 11x14's, 16x20's, 20x24's and greeting cards. I use paypal for my payment process.
Go to store.bpsphoto.com and buy some cards, or an 8x10, or a nice, massive 20x24. And if you want to see a favorite photo on the site, let me know, and once I get reacquainted with my laptop and such, I'll get it uploaded. And once we get to our new post, be prepared for some amazing photographs.
Thanks for watching
It was a chilly, misty April day in Prague. I was full of garlic soup and Pilsener Urquell (which is an outstanding meal for such a day). The repetition of imbricated tiles grabbed my attention. I shot several versions, and this is the one I like best. The rooftops all look like they're from the 18th C or so, making for an idyllic scene.
One variation I might try with it would be to crop out the rather flat sky, make it an 8x10 format with a greater amount of contrast between the white buildings and the dark hills.
On the visit to Son Kul Lake, I saw a demonstration of how traditional Kyrgyz felt products are made. The process is laid out in some detail at my Facebook page.
Currently, this particular alakiyiz is in a box in a shipping crate somewhere in Europe. We probably won't see it again for a year, maybe two.
If you want to be notified of updates to this page, you can follow me on Twitter @neelybh and you can hit the Facebook Like button at the bottom of the right-hand column on this page.
So after last night's post, I worked a bit on this shot, and decided that I like it better.
Today's story? When we were leaving the petroglyph site, a family was setting up a picnic at the edge of the bone-dry grass. They hadn't brought cooked food, because you cook your shashlik (kebabs) at the picnic. Pre-cooked shashlik are just wrong.
Now, when I said, "at the edge of the bone-dry grass," I meant with the 4-foot-tall grass waving over top of them as they set up the stones for their fire. And look at these thistles. Do they look like they've seen water recently? So the family takes up some of the dry grass they flattened out for their picnic area and uses it as tinder.
Dry grass, once it becomes embers, floats upward. Where it impacts other dry grass. Which ignites. Which drops embers to the base of the grass. Which ignites. The wind blows a bit. And you have a prairie fire before you can say, "Crap, get the fire extinguisher."
As the family beat at the trailing edges of a rapidly growing fire, we took self-preservation in hand, hopped into our truck and sped off.
At Tamgali, there are petroglyphs showing continuous human usage of the area for at least 3000 years. Many of the symbols are very similar to those found elsewhere in the world - sun gods, antelope, man, earth mothers and so on.
Unfortunately, they wouldn't let me take my camera onto the site. Not even with the offer of paying a little extra for my entrance fee (that shocked me). So I took pictures of the dry thistles along the road.
Right outside the War College in Almaty, Kazakhstan, you'll find Panfilov Park. It commemorates Kazakhstani dead in the great wars of the Soviet Union - the Revolution and the Great Patriotic War (WWII to the West). During the Great Patriotic War a rag-tag bunch of Kazakhstani shepherds defeated a German Panzer division in defense of Volgograd or Stalingrad. The tanks were melted down to make a set of sculptures that are some of the darkest, most frightening war memorials I've ever seen. Sergeant Hulka is one of them.
I don't know how much of the above story is true. I do know this, though, the first time I saw this statue, I immediately thought of Sgt. Hulka from Stripes, and that is how I will always remember this:
"When I tell you move, you'll move fast. When I tell you to jump, you're gonna say, "How high?" And make no mistake. I don't care where you come from, I don't care what color you are, I don't care how smart you are, I don't care how dumb you are, 'cause I'm gonna teach every last one of you how to eat, sleep, walk, talk, shoot, shit like a United States soldier. Understand?"
On the road between Taneytown, MD and Littlestown, PA, there's an abandoned house that nestles in a little forest next to a stream. I found it irresistible and stopped in for about an hour of shooting one morning. Unlike most abandoned houses, it didn't have any No Trespassing signs, so I didn't worry too much about frightening the former owners or the bank.
I ended up not liking too many of my frames from that shoot, but this is one that I've been wanting to work with for some time. I'll probably play with it a lot, experimenting with burning and dodging and masking layers and some duotone colors to get just the right feel.
The litter of dead leaves and the blur from branches waving in a long exposure give the feeling of a forest where all the nymphs and dryads have died. Maybe there's a gateway to a bizarre land just behind that dark bunch on the left. No, I don't believe in supernatural entities, but myths and legends grab us and hold on, because otherwise, this is just a copse waiting for spring, and dying spirits or paths to the land of Narnia are a lot more interesting sometimes.
There are so many things to say about this photo. There's a cow in the middle of the road. Or there's a road across the prairie. Or the prairie is at 10,000 ft, and that line of hills in the distance are 16-18,000 feet high. The mountain prairies (or jailoos) of central Kyrgyzstan are among my favorite places on the planet. Although I'd go out of my mind with boredom (or perhaps not) I would love to live with the shepherds for a year and see life from their perspective.
We were about 2 weeks early for the huge party that's about to descend on the jailoo. Every summer the shepherd clans gather here for festivals, marrying off their children, trading, seeing the children they've married off and games of buzkashi (goat polo - see pictures at siananjim's travel blog). I love the idea of something like a giant Boy Scout jamboree taking over this vast grassy plain.
I had a red 4x4 Nissan Patrol turbo diesel that I loved. I loved it so much I named it after Sammy Hagar, who in the 80's you'll recall was known as The Red Rocker, because he always wore red and even wrote a song as a paean to the color.
Sammy and I drove to the top of a 14,000-ft mountain right to the Kazakh side of the Kazakh-Kyrgyz border. We drove across the open steppe, multiple times. We got stuck in a swamp (you read about that a couple posts ago). I learned about 4wd hi and low and how to drive on "roads" that make the forest service roads in the Cascade Range seem like highways. I drove on highways that make the forest service roads in the Cascade Range seem better than highways. In the city, I could drive as aggressively as I needed to, because he was bright red and had a no-bullshit look. I could say, "Yeah, I'll take out your Mercedes if you won't let me into the traffic stream."
Sammy was awesome. And I miss him.
When we lived in Almaty, I had a job that started at 7 am, so I'd walk through the parks of the city before anyone else was awake. And this being not Greece, most parties were finished and the people home by 5 or 6 am, so I had the place all to myself. It was beautiful and peaceful...
Until I started to realize that every morning Almaty looked abandoned. It was as though every resident of the city had been taken up and dropped whatever they were doing. So I set out to be the crying Indian, in the hopes that if people saw what they were doing, they'd stop.
I began work on an exhibition called Almaty: The Abandoned City. I went out every Saturday and Sunday for a month, shooting from about 5:30 until 7:30 am, taking pictures like this one. It got pretty depressing, because it was so easy to find junk and garbage, and I distinctly remember the moment when I had shot enough when I got excited over finding a huge pile of garbage.
Unfortunately, we were leaving in November, and I wanted to wait until I was sure I could put together an exhibit, so I didn't start looking for a venue until August. And I missed the fall exhibition season. So I may have been crying, but nobody knew about it.
Lest my Kazakhstani friends be offended, know that I remember American cities looking like this, and that what got us to start using garbage cans was a long series of advertising campaigns and exhibitions showing just how much garbage we were throwing out the windows of our cars and dropping in our parks.
On a trip through Italy, we spent a rainy, rainy day in Spoleto. From its belvedere you can see a chunk of the ancient aquaduct as it crosses a valley. But obviously, this post isn't about that.
As my family did whatever it is that they were doing, I wandered the streets looking for Photographs. Sometimes I just look for pictures to take, but on this day, I wanted to Make a Photograph. And I got madder than hell when Appropriate Scenes didn't present themselves. I even started to hate the rain...and I love rain usually, especially for photography. It makes everything soft and evenly lit. And it keeps all the other people away from my scene.
This was a basement workshop with a window that opened about knee level, and which I thought was a charming sight, but it wasn't the Appropriate Scene I wanted. I only took a couple shots and (obviously) didn't bother to position myself to keep the grating out of the scene. The angles are all kinda wonky and it was just a lucky thing that the crossbar blocked the bare light bulb. And it's my favorite photo from the day.
The day wasn't a complete wash out, because we found a trattoria that had a great bean soup, and the cafe made a very nice cappuccino.