Sunday, November 25, 2012

Traveling, exploring, photographing and finding happiness

Holy smokes, it's been a while!

Since the last blog post, I have traveled to 9 different states and 3 different countries. It has been a rich 4 to 5 months as an artist and as a human being. I have so many wonderful shots, that I have decided to just share the photos for this post. 

Ballon Festival, Hillsboro, NH

Ballon Festival, Hillsboro, NH

Pierside, Haiti


Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas


Royal Caribbean, Allure of the Seas

 Cozumel, Mexico

Baxter State Park, Maine

Baxter State Park, Maine

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

Shenandoah National Park, Virginia

There you have it. All in chronological order. What fun! What beauty! What more could I ask for?

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Hello, old friend

Some new work with an old friend, the ocean.

I was a lucky kid who got to live about 1/8 mile from a beautiful bay. I grew up with sand between my toes, jumping the waves and accidentally gulping a mouthful of saltwater when swimming. And looking back, there hasn't been many years out of my half century of existence that I have been far from the ocean. I have had the privilege to dip my toes in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans. It's been my steady rock of a friend, my sounding board when letting some emotion out, the shoulder I needed when I sought some strength.

So photographing the beaches and nearby marshes seems second nature for me. In fact, I may have been too used to it. Being around it for so long, I would forget just how beautiful it can be. It is a knowledge I took for granted forgetting that there are viewers of my photography that are not near an ocean. Keeping that in mind, I would like to capture it's moods and livelihood for all to see.

Working with a wide angle lens at a beach is so much fun artistically. It's ever changing, whether it be the clouds, the colors, the surf, the sand. The East coast beaches are different from the beaches of the West coast. The East coast beaches seem to me older, more weathered, softer. Perhaps I am not looking in the right places. But whatever the case may be, it will be fun to continue the search.

Sunset at Salisbury Beach

After the storm

A path alone


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Shift in Focus

Over the last few months or so, I have been acknowledging a shift in focus (if you will) of what my interest in photographing has become. It's coming back around to nature photography, the exact same road I explored when I first started out. But it's different now. It's more personal. 

Love (Self) Life
I love urban photography, and that will probably never fully stop. I just think for now, I have explored enough of Lowell. Much of the dilapidated buildings, subject material that I absolutely love to photograph, is rapidly being replaced with some great new architecture. And watching Lowell move deeper into its renewal is exciting.

Recently I purchased the perfect nature photographers car, a Subaru Outback. Perfect because the gas mileage doesn't limit me like my old vehicle did. Perfect because it's much easier, with the AWD, to explore back roads and trails during the mud and winter seasons here in New England. Perfect because it's a hatchback and there is an instant canopy of protection against the elements when I open up the back. I can easily load up the vehicle and go. And do it with some style if you ask me!

Trap Falls

I have already been on two photography road trips since I purchased the car two months ago. One was a lovely camping trip to upper Vermont, a state I haven't been to in 30 years. The other trip was to central Massachusetts searching out mountain tops and waterfalls within a 50 mile radius of my home in Lowell. I have another camping trip coming up this weekend and hope to hit a mountain peak or two with some great hikes. 

In many ways, it's really nice to "come home" to me. It's been in the making since last fall. My adventures in urban photography was fun and I managed to capture so many buildings around Lowell that no longer exist because of the new construction. But my interest in nature photography started when I was in high school and in many ways, it's the stuff that makes me weep sometimes. Urban photography has the influence of the human hand. Nature photography has the influence of the hand of mother earth.

The header image is an HDR image I took while I stood above the Glen Falls in Vermont. A friend pointed out the "avatar" feel to it and I must admit, it is probably the reason why I like it so much, because I loved the cinematography in the movie "Avatar". 

Knowing me, this will last a little while and I will fall back to urban photography. Especially if I leave the city boundaries of Lowell and start exploring other villages and towns on the north shore. I also have a very interesting art project in mind. Currently, I am waiting for the supplies to be delivered. I look forward to the results of that project. Could be a lot of fun! More details to come in future posts.

Nearing Days End

Monday, August 1, 2011

Lowell Folk Festival 2011

Another Lowell Folk Festival is in the books! It seems like I was just blogging about last years festival.

This year was no different than last in where I met a bunch of great new people and fast became friends. In fact, the only difference was how many new friends to hang out with all weekend. It was 4 very different groups of people but all equally so much fun to be around. And this year I decided to just go with the flow and not try to do all the activities and shows .

I only carried my camera around for a few hours on Sunday, but it was incredibly rewarding. As expected, La Excelencia for salsa dancing and Nathan & the Zydeco Cha Chas for their addicting Southern Louisiana sounds were the crowds favorites (though, I must say, Michael Cleveland & Flamekeeper were incredible in the bluegrass genre).

Cutting loose with some zydeco

I managed to capture some great moments with an older woman dancing her heart out to the zydeco music. And I loved how the band strongly encouraged her.

But my all time favorite shot from the weekend (and possibiy my all time favorite 10) came in the closing 30 minutes of this years festival. 

At Boarding House, Debo Band, a 9-piece Ethio-groove group, was playing. Sitting on the sidelines with my friends I was enjoying the fact that Lowell once again put on a great show and the weather was perfect. That's when I anticipated something that could unfold if the pieces came together. At the front of the stage was this small girl trying to take pictures of the band. She was very determined, curious and creative. I watched her pixel peep, check for the shutter button, look at the LCD, mess with flash and then eventually point the camera lens at herself! Fortunately, I had my camera in the ready because I thought it would be a fun photo if I captured her taking a picture while the older woman was taking a photo of the band in the background. And then, out of nowhere, another woman stepped into the frame, knelt down, and took a photo of the audience. Everything came together right at the most perfect moment. And I knew I got what I was anticipating and more!

The Littlest Photographer

I love how this photo flows. Young to old. Small to large. Lowest to highest. Perhaps inexperienced to amateur to semi-pro. And all females. Taken by another female. 

And now I am left to wonder if anybody was behind me capturing the 4 of us!

Thanks Lowell for another fun filled weekend. And thanks mother presented your best on Saturday and Sunday!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

How I did it

First let me say that I have been blessed. I have been blessed that I have had so much support from people who have believed in me. Although they have probably grown irritated that I couldn't see what they saw, they never gave up. I just needed time. Time to sort some things out for myself, to get grounded, time to organize where I wanted to go to next in my life and how to take it up a level. Yes, it took about 3 years, but the climb was sure-footed and under my terms. Now I am starting to believe and trust myself but it's so hard not to sound arrogant. If you don't know me, trust me, I have a hard time accepting compliments. I don't feel I am deserving considering that the words are flowing from the mouths of people that are gushing at the seams with artistic talent. I have a hard time calling myself an artist. But I am starting to see where I need to give myself credit. It's starting to grow on me. It's certainly a learning experience.

Last weekend I attended the reception for the Exposed III sponsored by the Arts League of Lowell. And I found out one of my all time favorite photos received the honor of the O'Connor Studios Award for Excellence in Photography - 1st place finisher. Just having the photo hanging in the gallery is truly an honor. To have it recognized as "best of show", if you will, goes beyond all my wildest dreams.

For the last week I have had a bunch of questions as to what was the "winning" shot, where was it taken, how I did it. And from what I understand, there has been debates amongst fellow artists if it was a real picture of water or was it a photo of a water color painting.

So here it is on the left. It is a photo of ripples on a pond reflecting the colors of the deep blue sky, the green trees and the colorful peace flags flying above the pond. It was captured with my Pentax K20D with a Pentax DA* 300mm that I had rented for 3 weeks.

This was the photo I had submitted for consideration in Call for Entries in the Exposed III show.

The original photo looked like this below. But some time ago I cropped it to get the blue and yellow "weave" to really stand out.

The photo was taken at the New England Peace Pagoda in Leverett, Massachusetts. In fact, I took the below photo of the Pagoda with my 18-55mm Pentax kit lens just 5 minutes prior to the close up photo of the water. It was such a peaceful day.

So there was no trickery. Just careful observation as to what was going on around me. One of those "in the moment" moments. If anything, the close up of the water proved just how intense the quality of the "glass" I was using with the DA* 300 (and why it costs $1300 street...that's why I rented it)

The sad part to all this is that I lost the originals of the photos when my hard drive crashed (it literally smoked). I had taken so many beautiful pictures of the monks celebrating the anniversary of the Pagoda. So I just have 3 images left. It breaks my heart, but I am so happy I have at least 3.

The show can be seen at the ALL Arts Gallery at 22 Shattuck Street in Lowell, now thru June 26th. There is also the co-op gallery where members of the ALL Cooperative Gallery show their work and offer it for sale at very reasonable prices. It's a must see!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

A loud "wow" in Lowell

Today has been a tragic day here in MA with countless tornados. The number of tornados is absolutely unprecedented for us. Western MA took a major hit and sadly, several lives were lost.

Thankfully, Lowell was spared of the evening storms. Thank goodness since Lowell High School had their graduation ceremonies at the Tsongas Arena tonight and that could have been an absolute disaster if anything like what happened in Springfield had occurred here. My thoughts and prayers are with all those in various communities affected by the weather.

A couple of weeks ago, I purchased an upgrade to my Pentax K20D. I almost decided to switch systems and move on to Nikon, but I didn't. I remained loyal to the Pentax brand that has carried me happily through the years. So tonight I had the opportunity to see what the K5 can do at night. Needless to say, I am impressed. Noise levels are low even though I was using a kit lens (f/4). All the shots were handheld (which even more impressive for the cameras capabilities).

Here are some of my favorites

EDIT: These photos were taken between 8:37 PM and 9:05 PM

Monday, May 30, 2011

Exposed III

Another Call for Entries caught my eye about a month ago for the annual photography exhibit at the ALL Arts Gallery in Lowell.

I decided that it would be a good exercise to get my work in front of a very critical eye since the exhibit was going to be juried by Paula Tognarelli, the Executive Director and Curator of the Griffin Museum of Photography.

The maximum pieces that would be considered was 5 and I took full opportunity of that. I did have a hard time choosing which shots though because I have so many favorites. In the end, I decided to loosely go by years, since I have seen my focus change over time, but feel that no matter the year or the focus that my work was good enough to be considered.

3 out of the 5 pieces were accepted and my thought of time span proved to be correct. Photos from 2008, 2010 and 2011 were accepted. In fact, the 2011 shot was just taken during the Doors Open Lowell a couple of weeks ago.

To say the least, I am absolutely thrilled and honored, once again. This is such a great opportunity to get feedback. I am blessed by a circle of friends and family that continue to encourage me at my photography. But I am cognizant that they are my friends and family and encouragement is naturally and lovingly what they do. To get judgement from a stranger (and a professional in photography in most cases) has it's incredible importance and influence also and I do not take it lightly.

One of my favorite professional photographers (and I am not embarrassed to admit that I follow religiously on line) is David duChemin. Although he is a professional, he speaks to his fans, critics and peers like we are right in the room with him, sharing a beer or the like. He is not afraid of discovering his emotion. He's not afraid to share his emotion. I wish I had 1/100th the talent he does.

Recently he blogged about the importance of critics and instincts. It's an interesting read and can be found here. On the last call for entries, I relied on friends to help me pick what I should submit. And they were right. On this call, I relied on my gut. And I was right. It's nice to know I can start trusting my instincts in such a public manner. It's a good lesson in believing in self and not being arrogant about it. For me, at this stage of the game, it's a huge step in the right direction.

I hope you will have the opportunity to visit the gallery. Looking at the list of accepted entries, I am surrounded by a sea of incredible talent in this exhibit and I cannot wait to see my fellow photographers work.

It runs from June 1st to June 26th at the ALL Arts Gallery located at 22 Shattuck Street here in Lowell. The gallery hours are Wed-Sat 11-5 and Sunday 12-4.