Musings with Camera in Hand

Belinda Greb – The Photographic Journey


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A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That

My energy is often affected by the weather, so the last few weeks I’ve been all over the place, reacting to the effects of a windstorm, rain, foggy dreary days and even a bit of sun. This week’s post’s photographs are taken from the last few weeks of work, some of it old, some of it new.

In the first week of January I had my biggest sale, a 60″x40″ print of a photograph that was one of the first uploads I did to Fine Art America. However, I had reworked it about 4 months ago, improving the final image, and apparently that work paid off. So with that in mind, and knowing that I’m progressing as a post-processor and photographer, I decided to go back through the archives to see if there were photographs I had overlooked.

The first photograph is one I took in Yellowstone, after I had just gotten my current camera.  I hadn’t done any post processing on it at all.

I often feel that if I processed an image one day later, it would turn out differently, because the choices I make will be slightly different, and each choice leads to a different direction.  That’s the beauty and joy of digital processing. This photograph had potential, and with the help of some tonal contrasting and darkening the sky, I was pleased with the results.

The second photograph, On The Prowl, is actually three photographs.  I had stopped to get a photograph of an egret in the marshes when I was in Harney County last Spring, but then spotted these two coyotes in the distance stalking a flock of geese.  Because the coyotes were at such a distance,  I hadn’t done anything with the images, yet it had been extremely interesting to watch the two coyotes in action. I decided to composite three of the photographs together to create what is akin to a storyboard.

In the first two photos, you see one coyote who was doing most of the work, while the second one was to the right of him, just waiting.  I was switching back and forth between the egret and the coyotes, and each time, it would take me a bit to readjust my eyes to spot them as they would crouch in the grass and then make their move. I was probably more happy than not that they weren’t successful, and the third image shows them giving up for the time being.  I also felt a bit sorry for them as a coyote’s got to eat too!

Impressions of a Heron’s Flight was also sourced from three photographs.  I have shown a photograph of the same heron in the prior post, but hadn’t processed these photographs as the egret had taken off suddenly, and I had not been prepared to catch his flight and couldn’t adjust the ISO setting quickly enough to get the shutter speed I needed for the fading afternoon light. I had panned, but the photographs are less than sharp when you zoom in. Still, I loved the photographs, and seeing the position of his wings in each image. I took three of the best shots and stitched them together.  The composite works fairly well as the back ground of this 3 to 4 seconds of flight was before he curved to the west, and also before my photographs became really blurry :),  The blur that does show expresses the motion of the heron. I darkened and deepened the images as well.

The next photograph is of a sunflower past its prime.  This was an image where the detail was so good on the flower itself, but the background was, well, blah! I added another exposure and used a bi-color filters  to give the background some more interest and then that suggested to me the ascension theme, so I also added some rays.

Finally I did take some new photographs during this time.  I have been pretty bored with the same old, same old, and haven’t really gone anywhere different.  But there is a fish hatchery down the road, that I hadn’t been to  since before I even moved here. Just goes to show you how you can take some things for granted. I ended up going back twice in one week, as the first day, the water in the pond was still rather murky from the windstorm we had a few days earlier.  I was trying to capture a huge sturgeon they have in one of the pools, over six feet long, but as he swam 1-2 feet under the water’s surface, I was not successful on either day.

However, I did get this shot of the mallard duck.  I was happy as the ducks I normally see about are not as used to people and do not let you get within 50 feet, so being close and able to capture the detail is wonderful.

It’s funny when you go out wanting to shoot one thing, but end up coming away with something completely different. I think it’s a good thing not to be too rigid, but also to be prepared.  Thursday, I went out determined to get some shots of birds.  I went to an area where I thought they’re might be some blue jays.  Not a one.  I had only brought my telephoto lens, and instead, I really needed my other lens, which was sitting at home.  I will try to go back there with the right lens, and I have yet to really look at those images to see if my telephoto zoom at 100mm worked well on any of my captures.

The final photograph also speaks to happy accidents.  The second day I went to the hatchery, there was smoke drifting upriver from somebody’s outdoor fire.  I was initially dismayed.  But while walking by the river, I noticed how beautiful the afternoon light shining through the trees was being diffused by the smoke and this made for a beautiful atmospheric shot of a crow in the tree branches.

Yesterday, I had a wonderful outing to the William L Finley Wildlife Refuge I will write about next time. Thank you for your read!

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I Found a Patch of Ice and A Hidden World Beneath

Shortly before Christmas, the first snow arrived, followed by some freezing temperatures that dipped below zero.   Outside it was a Winter Wonderland and inside, it felt just the same as my electric heater couldn’t keep up with the low temperatures. But as the weather got warm enough during the day to partially melt the snow, and then as it froze again at night, beautiful icicles could be found hanging down from fallen limbs or rocks that bordered the river.  When I looked at these images up close on my computer screen, I saw strange shapes in the reflections – faces that peer out as if for the few days before the icicles could fully melt, a window was open to a different world. For those of you who watched Fringe (loved it), think of the window Dr. Walter Bishop created to see the other universe.  Except in my imagination, the being on the other side is peering back.

The next week, much of the snow had melted, but on the other side of the river which gets more shade, there were still patches of ice covering small pools of water.  In the first photograph, Curved Edge, I loved the way, the image shows the thin curved sheet of ice creating a shelf above the pond, and the thaw that can be seen in the water droplets that hang off the ice’s edge.

In the second image, Beneath the Ice, one of my all time favorites, the ice is translucent and reveals a round stone and flora beneath its surface. It’s as if everything is trapped below the surface and struggling for air. But the darker color of part of the stone and the patch in the upper part of the image where ice has melted – these to me signify an abatement of  pressure, a release that is not only inevitable but imminent.

In looking at this image, the phrase came to me, “I found a patch of ice and a hidden world beneath,” and this suggested all sorts of things to me, both literal and symbolic.  I thought about how we have winters in each of our lives, where we seem to freeze up.  We become emotionally frigid, afraid of expressing ourselves, afraid of letting others in. We hunker down behind our fortress, and to the world we present our bland indifferent face as if to say, you can’t hurt me now!  Yet of course, inside we are suffering and still alive.

Of course, sometimes we need to protect ourselves for a while. Winter is the season when the natural world seems to go dormant. Leaves are dropped by trees to save energy.  Some animals find a cave and hibernate.  I often would love to do that! I came home with the flu, and during the illness I slept most of 30 hours straight, and I needed that and felt restored afterwards.  Other animals grow a winter coat like this young deer.

But winter can also be a dangerous time. Huge trees are brought down by the weight of snow or ice upon their boughs. Sometimes the burden and pressure of carrying that armor around causes us to crack. Or we can suffocate beneath it – forget how to express ourselves because we are so fearful and that state of being has become habitual.

When I’m in a state like that, it’s not as if I can be forced out of it by the kind words or admonitions of friends.  Often I have to sit with it and wait for movement. I bide my time until I feel a bit stronger, perhaps, even a bit of defiance,  or a point when I’m bored with myself and my shield of ice.  Then I try to use the time, to explore the depths that lie beneath the ice. What are my fears? What would I really lose if I try to change my perspective? I remind myself that there are still opportunities ahead, paths to walk down, chances to take, things and thoughts and feelings to give and to receive. A bit of movement beneath the ice can make it give way.

Starting this New Year, I’ve been feeling more hopeful in than I have in a long time. I hear of friends who’ve been out of work for a while, getting jobs. I’ve seen examples of people just trying to be gentler with each other, despite their difference of opinions.  Maybe that’s just the effect of the new year but it doesn’t hurt to believe that it’s possible. Happy New Year!