When you can't get out and shoot due to illness and security restrictions, you look for stuff sitting around the house. On our recent trip to India, my wife bought a couple of woodcut printing blocks. So naturally I pointed my extension tubes and 50mm lens at them to see what would happen. A few nine-exposure HDRIs and several layers of Photoshop treatments later, I came up with this. I think I like it, but that could be the lack of oxygen my brain's dealing with.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Well, not exactly studio...Friend's Dining Room would be more accurate. I was shooting with available light and on-camera flash. Neither quite got me where I wanted to go, but I like this one. It echoes Dilophosaurus, one of the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park, the little one that flares out flaps next to his mouth and spits poison (if I remember right).
There's something very sexy about orchids. From this angle, the lower petal looks like a tongue. From other angles they look like ... well ... other human parts.
I like the color and contrast the 105mm produces. I have a 135mm that's about the same age as the 105mm, but it's a much, much softer lens that tends to shoot a little yellowish. The corrections are slight, but worth doing. With the 105mm, though, the colors are good and only need adjusting for saturation.
I think I'm going to like working with this new lens. This weekend I'll be shooting some portraits, and will probably test it out as a mild telephoto for that application. Should be fun.
Amongst the many great things about living in Greece is that it's the end of November, and I can still get a wide range of fresh flowers at the laiki (folk or street market) for 2-3 euros/bunch. Because I'm a fairly regular customer, the dealer will throw in a bunch of roses at no charge. But this isn't about roses (obviously). I've become fascinated with making ... I don't really know what to call them ... abstract/surrealist/impressionist/pictorialist still lifes. There's no digital trickery - I shoot them with my Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens and convert them to b&w using Lightroom's Grayscale function. Then I tweak the color filtration a little, et voila!
These daffodil-like flowers were shot using rapidly-fading natural light and a Mag-lite, 2 D-cell flashlight. 1/25 sec at f/1.8, ISO 100. I should be doing a small gallery from the same shoot at www.facebook.com/bhneely later today.
A couple weeks ago, an onion sprouted before we could use it. I thought I'd let it go for a while to see what would happen with it. It just kept growing. It was joined by another. I promised Anne I'd shoot it before the weekend. Here you are. A photo so good you could cry. (Imagine having to put up with humor like that all the time.)
Same shot, different focal point. I think I like this one a little better. But what I really love is my Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 lens. This thing is a work of beauty, making it easy to focus on a ridiculously small area. Unfortunately, my eyesight sucks, and I sometimes have trouble focusing. But when it works, I get gorgeous shots like this one.
I think I must be getting soft. Not that I was ever all that edgy. I've started studying flowers. I don't care much about their names and their upkeep, I just study the way light interacts with them. I claim that these were shot in the studio, but in fact, they are from the bathroom.
We have southeastern windows in the bathroom, so I get brilliant light from about 8:30 to about noon, and I can control it quite a bit with the frosted glass of the window and the white, moderately translucent shower curtain. It's like having a two-stage softbox. In this case, though, they were sitting in direct sunlight.
Lens choice is an interesting thing. I shot a series of still lifes the other day, using my 500mm, 135mm and 18-70mm lenses. The best in the series were all shot with the small lens, some at 70mm, others at 18mm. None of the ones I really liked were shot with the 500. Sometimes, getting up close and intimate is a great thing.