Friday, December 31, 2021

January 2022: The Art of the Glass


This is a Moser hand-cut crystal highball tumbler, beautifully designed by Rony Plesl. 

Typically one would use a lightbox for this sort of shot, but I wanted a little more "pop" to show off the lines, so I only used a backdrop in order to allow random dark elements to enter the reflections. The backdrop itself is also not typical. It is lightly and irregularly textured vinyl, which accentuates the scattering of light from the irregular lines of the cut crystal more powerfully than a traditional backdrop. Softer treatment just wouldn't show off the beauty of this glass as well, IMO. Some of the lines are so delicate that they would simply disappear.

As we head into 2022, I hope that it brings you all great joy, and that you are able to find and see the tremendous beauty all around us...not only in spite of the irregular lines which comprise our lives, but because of them as well! 

Happy New Year!!

Thursday, December 2, 2021

December 2021: Powerlessness


The last time I went through the old asylum in Traverse City I got to go through the old power plant. I could have spent an entire day just in that building, if it were not for all the free asbestos lying around. 

This is the main power generator, and as you can see it has not done much power generating in quite some time. A poignant image given how many people feel these days. 

I thank all of you for another year of sharing my images here on the blog, and am looking forward to a return to full power in 2022!


Monday, November 1, 2021

November 2021: Dragon and Coyote


Well, autumn is upon us once again. One of the things that means here is cold mornings, which makes for a great time to photograph insects that otherwise are in constant motion. The cold makes them quite sluggish. I can relate. :)

This is a swamp darner, a type of dragonfly. They are very pretty, and one of the larger dragonflies in North America. Caught this one trying to catch some of the warming morning sun while perched on a coyote skull. 

Thursday, September 30, 2021

October 2021: Passion Flower


One from the archives, as I am still not fully up and about. Close, very close, but not quite there yet.

This is a passion flower. Very pretty, and like orchids they make wonderful photographic subjects. There is just so much going on with them...color, texture, reminds me of an amusement park ride. :)

Hoping to have some new work for you next time, so make sure to check back in November!

Tuesday, August 31, 2021

September 2021: Change


A very wise man once pointed out to me that if you are not changing, you are not growing, if you are not growing you are not living, and if you are not living you might as well crawl into your casket and wait for the dirt to start hitting the lid because you are dead.  

The leaf in this image caught my eye because the changes it was undergoing were incredibly dramatic. The colors were striking. But at the same time there were spots of imperfection; brown spots on the edges where the changes were less aesthetically pleasant. It reminded me that people are not much different. In my life I have watched really good people wither and die miserable deaths because they refused to change. And I have seen completely broken minded stubborn people allow themselves to make one single change, and then watched them blossom into amazingly new individuals, full of goodness and life. We all have our ugly bits.  And we can focus on them, allow them to control us and keep us fearful of change both in ourselves and in others. Or we can see the beauty and necessity of change. We can appreciate the colors, and recognize that without that beautiful change the tree, now barren and ugly, could not change once again in the spring, with new growth, new life, and new beauty.

Most people shy away from change, if not actively avoid it, because change is difficult. It is challenging. It opens up the possibility that we may have to look critically at ourselves and see that we have been wrong about things. It can make us feel insecure, weak, and even ashamed.  Our culture today is so hyperfocused on being "right" about everything that the very concept of change is seen as negative.  Both politics and the business world value individual conformity while preaching collective growth, even though the two are mutually exclusive. You can not have both, which is why we see the struggles in both spheres coming to a most unpleasant head lately. 

Yet all around us, every day we see change and take no such umbrage. We see the dog shed its winter coat, and we do not think less of the dog for it. We see rust on a shovel, but we do not think less of the shovel for it. And we see leaves changing color and falling from the tree, but we do not think less of the tree for it either.

Change will always be challenging and difficult. And we will make mistakes as we change. But that does not mean we shouldn't embrace it. Growth depends on making mistakes, and growth is the goal of change. I know that I am a most unrecognizable person from who I was 30 years ago. And I hope that in another 30 years I am just as unrecognizable from who I am now. I hope to keep improving...growing. That will require change. It will not always be easy, but I will embrace it nonetheless.  I encourage you to seek change and growth out in yourself, to encourage it in others, and to listen gracefully when others try to encourage you to change as well.  




Or crawl into your casket and wait.

Friday, July 30, 2021

August 2021: A Slight Change of Plans


Things for the next month or two are going to have to be pulled from my stock, as I have broken my ankle and can not get out to make any new photographs. It is hard, especially on a nice day like today, but I do have to admit that I am getting to the point where I do often need encouragement to slow down and not do some of the things that I used to be able to do without even thinking about them first. Sitting with my feet up is not in my nature though, and this is incredibly frustrating. My father would have called this experience "building character", and encouraged me to not complain about it. 

I am told I should be walking again in early September. So this month you will get yet another shot from my latest trip to the old asylum in Traverse City. Next month I will change it up for you and give you something extra special. ;)

This photo was taken in the children's ward of the asylum, which was also used as the TB ward. I have been told since I was there that there is a doll still in this cradle, but I didn't get any closer to it than this shot so I never saw it. It is hard to imagine the realities of an infant being in an asylum, but it does tend to make me grateful for what I have, and puts the struggles of our current reality into a much healthier perspective. 

Sunday, July 4, 2021

July 2021 Addenda


I just remembered that I meant to post these. Since I mostly do nature work, I rarely have photos taken of me "in action". Rarer still is when they are as cool as this one, taken by the multi-talented Chris VanAntwerpen, who was our host, guide, and provider of access for the day. 

It is an interesting shot for me, as it is the very first time I was using the 9000 lumen LED light rig I had built specifically for shooting in the total darkness of the tunnels and basements under the old hospital facilities.  As you can see by Chris's shot, the powerful LEDs throw a very blue light which I have to correct on the computer later.  9000 lumens is a LOT of light, but the rig is made up of 3 independent units of 2000, 3000, and 4000 lumens so I don't have to use them all at once.  This narrow tunnel with all 9000 was horribly over-exposed, so I killed two of the units and lit it with just 3000 lumens...almost enough to illuminate the end of the tunnel, but not quite. That keeps a little bit of mystery in the shot. :)  So here it is, the shot I was making in the above photo:

As you can see, it is still a little over exposed at the top and sides, where the powerful LEDs were closest, and the color correction still needs some fine-tuning, but as this is really just a "proof-of-concept" shot, I probably won't spend any more time on it. I was very pleased with how the light rig ended up working. 

Thursday, July 1, 2021

July 2021: Asylum Revisited


In June I went back to the old Traverse City State Hospital for a day of shooting some of the abandoned buildings. This shot is from a regular ward building that we had been through before. Most of the rooms are in far worse shape than this one, and while there are a few fixtures and smatterings of old furniture still here and there, the lighting in this particular room really made it feel like it wasn't all that long ago that some poor troubled soul lived here.  The floor in particular is in really nice shape all things considered, though that probably has more to do with the fact that the roof and window are intact than anything. Many of them in these buildings are not, and Michigan winters are not the kindest.

Have a great July, and we will see you here again next month!

Monday, May 31, 2021

June 2021: Point Betsie Lighthouse


I have a long and storied history with this lighthouse and the surrounding area. It is possibly my favorite place in the entire state of Michigan, certainly top 5 at any rate. It was a real treat to be able to begin my summer photo season by spending some time there, after what was a long absence. 

In other photo news, in 2 weeks I am heading back to the old asylum in Traverse City to do some more shooting there. Hopefully you will be looking forward to seeing some more shots from that amazing location as much as I am looking forward to creating them!

Friday, April 30, 2021

May 2021: Perched Bald Eagle


Seeing these birds come back from the brink of extinction is thrilling for me, and can not help but give me a sense of hope for the future. It is inspirational. But then again, that is the purpose of our national symbols...not to claim that we have achieved our national ideals and values, but to remind us of what those ideals and values are, and to inspire us to continue to working toward them.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

April 2021: Advice for the Future

 A divergence this month.

With skyrocketing COVID cases here in MI, the tendency toward worry and panic is going to be strong in the coming weeks. It is fitting then that I should spot this discarded piece of paper in a local parking lot. So rather than focusing on artistic merit, this month as an April Fool's fiat you get a legit high resolution (9 Mb) version of this photo, reminding you that no matter what life throws our way that humanity is one of the dominant species on the planet and that we will live through this. Not all of us, of course. And not as quickly as we would like, to be sure. But in the grand scheme of things, COVID is hardly even a blip on the radar as far as pandemics go. We have endured much, much worse! So the key to weathering this storm is maintaining a proper perspective....and exhibiting a great deal of prudence, which is something that our American society in particular is greatly lacking. 

To that end, I have posted this photo very large, so that you have to scroll across the pavement, looking at all the individual little stones that make up the parking lot surface, before you find the card. Most browsers and photo programs/apps automatically resize photos to fit your screen, so you may have to change your settings to view it in the original size. Please do so. It gives you a better perspective and encourages you to think about it differently. Hopefully you get it. If not, email me or post a comment and I will be glad to explain it in greater depth. In the meantime, keep calm. And breathe on.

*Realized this morning (4/1) that I had uploaded the wrong version of this shot last night. Fixed it now. :)

Saturday, March 6, 2021

March 2021: Asylum Door


Sorry this is late, I forgot all about posting it! That is what happens when winter loosens its grip, I just get all distracted and am thinking about all the outdoor things I will be doing instead of paying attention to what I am supposed to be doing now. 

This is another shot from the Asylum Series. This vault-like door is down in one of the steam tunnels. It is still quite functional, albeit rusty. Much like yours truly! :)

Sunday, January 31, 2021

February 2021: Excerpts from a UV Light Study

 Something different for you this month, a look into the studio to see what I have been getting up to while social distancing. :P

Here are a few shots from a light study I have been doing. Not ordinary light though, no. This is a UV light study. Ultraviolet light is at the very bottom end of the visible light spectrum, and is the light-wave frequency range responsible for things like sunburn and faded photographs, among other things. For my study however, I am using not the whole range of UV light, but rather very specific frequencies. My control subject is a group of objects which I know to react interestingly to UV light. A porcelain skull bookend, an antique glass bottle, a turkey wishbone, a pink agate slice, vitamin E capsules, and a purple agate. The setup and camera settings are identical for each shot, the room is completely dark, with no ambient light whatsoever. The control shot here is lit only by a standard strobe flash.

Pretty normal looking group of objects, with everything appearing as it does in "normal" light. Great! Let's have some fun with UV light!

This shot is a four second exposure using a 395 nm UV light wavelength. This is roughly the frequency commonly known as "blacklight". The light itself is a pretty purple color. The abbreviation "nm" stands for nanometers, btw. A nanometer is one billionth of a meter. At this frequency, there is not much change in the agates, just a bit of a glow. The bottle seems entirely unaffected, and the skull seems only to reflect the color of the UV light itself. The wishbone and Vitamin E capsules however, have taken on a bright blue glow. It is a very 1970s disco look, don't you think? :)  OK, let's try something a little more dramatic, shall we?

Oh yeah. Now we are cooking! Again, a four second exposure, but I dropped the frequency of the light wave in this shot down to 365nm and what a difference! The porcelain skull is glowing orange, as some unknown element in the porcelain material is reacting to the light at this frequency. The wishbone is still glowing its bright blue, as are the vitamin E capsules, although they are glowing significantly brighter. The agates are now also glowing yellow and orange quite intensely, again due to whatever unknown element in them responding to the UV light. Most interestingly, the glass bottle is now glowing bright green, which is also indicative of the presence of a UV reactive element, except in this case that element is is uranium. Additionally, at this wavelength extraneous matter like lint and dust particles that were previously invisible on the black cloth are glowing purple. 

One other interesting thing I noticed is that the shorter wavelength light produces much higher energy, and appears to be causing a weird blurring in some places. Could be visual distortion, could be that the sensor on the camera is freaking out at something it wasn't really made to handle. Hard to say, and I am not really worried about it at this point as this is just a light study. Anyway, fun stuff, hope you enjoyed this little peek into one of the things I do for fun. :)