New Mandalas

As I play with creating mandalas, I am continuously surprised at the outcomes. About 2 weeks ago, I was at it again. This time, I had some of the landscape in the image and a completely new ‘look’ was the result. It took me a while to figure out what had happened. With the help of someone not knowing more that the very basic info on how I do it, a fresh way of perceiving the process came.

This week, I visited some friends and tried to apply the insights / understandings. Now the choice of location for the center point greatly influenced the images.

I am still oscillating between Burst 1 and 2 in regards to which one I like better. The same goes for Burst 5 and 6. So I would greatly appreciate any comments you have in regards to your preferences. Also, I would like to hear about your reaction to seeing these images. Are these Mandalas something that appeals to you?

I am looking forward to comments and thank you for sharing your perspectives.

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Playing with reflections

Beginning of the month, I visited my family in Germany. One day, I had the chance to go to a nearby lake, just underneath the highest mountain in Germany. It is a much photographed area and I tried to find views that I had not seen before on postcards. I succeeded with only one image. Since the water was pretty still, I decided to play with reflections. There was still some Fall color around, which helped to make images interesting. For me, the main play was: Where do I place the reflection?I had a lot of fun walking around and changing the angles. The most enjoyable fact was that my dad had come along and, having taken up photography again, played alongside.

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If you go back to the Greek roots of the word, Photography means “drawing with light” (phos = light, graphe = drawing). Therefore, the kind of light you have when taking a picture is very important. There is the so called ‘Golden Light’ which is about 30min to 1 hour after sunrise or before sunset. 10am – 2pm (or longer in the Summer) is considered the worst light, because it is very harsh. This is somewhat correct if you consider just landscape photography.

In reality, there is no ‘bad light’. One needs to change the kind of image one plans on taking. Let’s go through the day and look at the kind of images one can take:

Time before sunrise: the sky or clouds can have incredible colors; mountaintops are already sunlit while everything else is in shadow; great for silhouettes against the eastern sky.

Sunrise + about 1 hour: soft light, great for regular landscapes and wildlife

Midday (10am – 2/4pm): great if you are in a forest or among trees; use the light reflected from other things in the sun to gain light on items in the shadow; reflections on water of sunlit foliage

Sunset – about 1 hour: soft light, great for landscapes and wildlife

Time after sunset: blues and mauves in the sky and clouds; silhouettes against the western sky

Overcast, cloudy sky: This provides nice, even light, which is great for things in the ‘shade. It is important to remember to keep the sky out of the image.

Moon rise, Moon set: check the times. A moon rise is best a day or two before the full moon. This still gives you some light. Along the same line, a moon set is best a day or two after the full moon.

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Fall Mandalas

With all the colorful aspen leaves around, I could not resist to take some more Mandala pictures. This time it was more difficult because I had to deal with all the little stems of the leaves. Let me know which one you prefer.

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My recent trip to Yellowstone

After coming back, I had to sort through 1100 images. Photographing animals is for me ‘shoot first and ask questions later’. This time, I got some really nice action sequences. Great shots from a wildlife perspective, but I am not sure anyone would want to hang such an image in the living room 🙂

The trip was great and it was disappointing. I had so many expectations and, naturally some of them did not get fulfilled. I did not get to see any wolves within shooting distance. I saw some through a spotting scope on the other side of the valley, though. On the other hand, there was a grizzly sow with 2 cubs and a moose. Overall, I was happy with the weather; some clouds, the wind was cool on a few days, just below freezing 2 nights and incredible sights the following morning.

Usually, I settle into Madison Campground and then go from there.Due to the road construction and the need to be early in the places, I decided to spend only a few nights in one place and then move to the another: Madison – Mammoth – Grant Village. I decided to sleep in the car so I would not have to deal with taking a tent down at 6am or come back for it. My favorite area for wildlife was along the Madison River. May be it also had to do with all the mist rising from the river after the first cold night. Lamar Valley was hazy due to the wildfire. The smoke drifted down into it. Hayden Valle was also rich with the grizzlies and then some mists in the morning. Seeing the moose at the East entrance was sheer luck, helped a bit by the information from another, friendly photographer.

I have whittled the photos down to 65 and posted all on my Flickr site in the set Recent Trips. Here are some images to whet your appetite. Which one is your favorite among the ones here and / or including the ones on Flickr. I’d love to hear from you.

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Recent Sunset

Last Saturday, we had an incredible sunset. The fact that the moon was up in these colors made it even more special.

The days are getting cooler, as are the nights. One can see that the trees are getting ready to put on their most colorful display. Here and there,  some yellow is already visible. I am so looking forward to all the photography that is coming up.

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Foreground – Middle – Background

If you look closely, the typical snapshot lacks a foreground. It is amazing, how long it took me to get over that mode of shooting. (Any time there was a foreground, it was more accident than intention) Yet it makes such a difference. Besides the S-Curve, you can lead the eye through the image using the concept of foreground, middle ground and background. Simple things like a brush, flowers, rocks / a boulder can provide that foreground. It allows the viewer to step into the image. From there, one moves to the middle and then to the background. It creates the feeling of depth, of 3 dimensions.

One of my early mistakes: there was nothing that anchored the image in the front. Then, 2 other images that show some froeground.

How much of a foreground you choose depends to some degree on the lens you are using. With a wide angle lens you can get up close to an object and still have a nice middle- and background. How you position yourself relative to the scene (high or low for instance) will determine how much of a middle ground you’ll have. Play with it and have fun.

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Time flies

I can’t believe how much time has past since my last entry. Mid August, I visited some friends in California, among them one along the coast. We went out for a whale watching tour. Here are some images. There was some sun just along the beach, otherwise, it was solid overcast. Never the less, we had a great time. It is special to see the humpback and blue whales. They are such majestic animals. Although I never saw a blue whale at full length, the fact that in choppy waters, there was a completly flat surface where they went on a dive gave me an incling of their size.

Here are some images from the tour.

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Last week, I participated in a workshop taught by Eddie Soloway at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. It was an incredibly intense week with early starts (get up at 3am to be at a location for sunrise) and late nights. On the last evening, we got to see images from all 6 workshops that were going on that week and I was highly impressed with the quality of the images.

Out of all the possibilities, I chose to train myself in using only manual metering. I have to say, it will probably pay off very quickly since I need to do so much less editing in front of the computer. Then, there are all those ideas of how to take images, that I feel will take me a while to integrate. My plan of action is to go out and work with one of them , the next time with another. So over time, I hope to eventually have them all in my ‘tool box’.

Here are some images from the week.

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I have been working more with the multiple exposures in camera. The 2 images with the daisies intrigued me and the reaction of people to them was very positive. So I took many more images and am learning how the placement of the flowers in Nature impacts the final image. I tried to figure out a way where I could keep the central flower in focus, i.e. not have any camera movement there. I have not yet been able to do that. I may need a fancier ballhead for my tripod to accomplish this.

Here are a few images. Seems like I am working on a series of in camera madalas. 🙂

Let me know what you think. I am looking forward to hearing your comments.

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