Capturing my Imagination

 

Five Rivers is a parcel of 450 acres managed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

After years of driving past the place, always a little curious (not too curious) some months ago my wife and I finally took the side road that leads there and spent a while getting acquainted with the center dscf1470_wm.

Last week, though the temperature hovered near 30, I returned with a camera in search of inspiration.

If you believe, as I do, that the ‘devil is in the details,’ than no matter how cold and grey, snow and ice covered, or bleak a natural setting may appear, there’s always something there – the closer you look.

On this walk, with a dreary light reflected off so much whiteness I was forced to stare down at to maintain my footing, my eyes grew tired quickly (sacrifice for my art!) and I found myself looking for patches of darkness to relieve them. I found those in the trees, and brush

Note: If you find yourself here on an icy afternoon – the facility has cramponsdscf1472_wm to offer some surefootedness, but did I take them up on it? Perish …!

As I walked around the lake (manmade, I believe) things began to present themselves to me.

Almost immediately, there’s a bench sheltered from the storm. I immediately named the photo “Rest” although no rest would be required on this short outing – and it was certainly too soon upon just setting out.

dscf1496_wmShortly I arrived at this rusted relic, which I felt had a floral quality in its handle design. It was also growing like sort a flower out of the bank of the lake. I imagine it was part of some old waterworks there though its haphazard state of de-installation suggests it’s no longer in use.

I was struck by the bark on several trees at Five Rivers, perhaps because it was the closest thing to color I came up this chilly afternoon.

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dscf1522_wm Perhaps because as I’ve mentioned in an earlier post (LINK) I’m always looking for texture.

I also spotted a stump, which was weathering nicely.

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dscf1502_wmThese needles also did it for me. Can’t tell you why.

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Approaching this particularly treacherous walkway (Just as bridges and overpasses freeze first and harder than the surrounding road surfaces, elevated wooden decks are potentially more hazardous than the dirt and gravel paths they connect) I was struck with a surfeit of paths..

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Just as I would walk over the elevated path, aquatic life might travel the waterway below, as small mammals might opt for the log crossing. Just a thought.
And while my icy path provided the opportunity for a hardier freeze, it also permitted me to travel through the undisturbed rustling of the dried winter grasses and weeds. It was here that I took my favorite photo of the trip

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Here’s where my walk got really interesting.

Focused on the minutia, I wasn’t paying much attention to my broader surroundings. And … wait for it, walking around a small man-made lake possibly with several foot bridges intersecting it, I found myself slightly turned around (if it was darker, and I was a drinking man, I’d say o.k. I was ‘lost’)

Just in the nick, I spotted this.dscf1526_wmand Although the direction it was pointing in was vague, I took an overgrown path up and eventually found my way back to my car stopping only to study this sundial and wonder, as I often do when faced with acts of unnecessary cruelty and random bits of vandalism …

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Why?

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Talking about Texture

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I probably date myself in this post – so read it and share it quickly, before I come to my senses and delete it.

 

My interest in texture began  during the early years publishing an indie-music ‘fanzine’ “(the) Urban Rag.

Clarification needed, I believe. The texture I’m referring to here as two-dimensional would I feel be more accurately be called a ‘pattern,’ whether repeating or random. However I believe over the past 30 years convention has redefined texture in relation to photos and more specifically Photoshop.

Here’s an excellent explanation from a site called SFGATE.

 

“Texture and pattern are terms that describe various decorative elements, such as upholstery fabrics, curtains, walls and even types of tile. While it may be difficult to tell which is which from afar, hands-on access clues you in right away. A pattern is a visual element that repeats, such as plaid or stripes, whereas texture can be felt, such as the surface of a brick or a piece of burlap. … Texture can be seen as well as felt; it has some level of dimension to it.

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The Zine “Urban Rag,” was named through a mashup (before mashups existed) of “Urban Blight,” a band active at the time and who’s set list was hanging from a speaker in my home – and Rag, common derogatory slang for a newspaper. I didn’t know at the time I’d later work for a string of sub-urban newspapers – but I’ll save that for another time

With humble apologies, I admit the website is about as lame and primitive as you’ll ever see – but it is a time-capsule.

The Urban Rag was initially assembled in my pre-Desktop Publishing days meaning there was variably wax, or glue and glue sticks and bits of paper and cut out headlines and printed images – basically the layout was a collage. (Credit due to a contemporary zine called “Crashing Waves.” Who’s ‘digest’ size and general approach I emulated.)

We also used these sheets of transferrable letters that had various fonts and sizes that you rubbed on to the sheet you were creating – sort of high-tech ransom note approach. These rub on letters and symbols are still available, or available again, but I moved away from them as the process grew more computerized.

By the end of the process, the master – from which we made copies for circulation/distribution truly had texture. Parts it were thick with layers, had uneven edges and were made up of different materials. But the end result was flat, two-dimensional and for many years reduced to black and white or shades of grey on colored stock

My partner in this venture, Gary, had access to a copy machine (like so many zine publishers) and the early issues were photocopied in a (church) office after hours. We looked for creative backgrounds on which to layout each page. I’m sure it was he who came up with this first.

We’d take two and three-dimensional items and objects, photocopy them, then layout the reviews on the photocopies.

We used remnants of wrapping paper, seconds of screen from a window, the dimpled lens from a drop ceiling light figure – you name it.

In 2013 ago I posted a series of photos from a bridge construction project. These stand on their own as part of that digital exhibit, but the purpose for many of the photos was to collect textures for use in Photoshop.

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These shots and others are part of my texture bank. They’re on the shelf if and in case I need them for some future photo (or publishing) project or exercise.

Much in the way things change as you look at them more closely – new details emerge, this texture bank offers a wide range of possibilities. In the photo copying days this was achieved through enlarging or reducing what we were copying. Computers have made this a bit easier to be sure – though less ‘organic.’

tex4If you take photos for fun, pleasure (or even profit) and think creative/artistic editing is in your future (with scissors or Photoshop) If you’re not already doing it – I encourage you to begin capturing and collecting these sorts of images for your texture bank – or savings account.

 

~ Jonathan

 

 

 

 

I operate the Ment Media Group. You can subscribe to the photography blog and follow on Twitter

Getting the Shot: Part 2 No Two Snowflakes Are Alike

dscf1211_wmWith the election season behind us, thankfully, and only the uncertain future ahead many folks it seems have returned to talking about the weather. It’s cold, it’s hot, it’s raining. It’s not.

Political memes have given way to shots of snow covered back yards and decks, and it’s these shots that make me laugh.

It’s as though everyone is telling everyone else – look, it snowed. The proof is in the photo.

dscf1215_wmSo many of these shots include the snow-covered barbecue, patio table or deck rail.

Perhaps is unconscious.

Cabin fever expressed through a visual declaration of external in-hospitability?

“Look, there’s my deck. I could probably go out there, but I’d have to shovel.”

Perhaps, and more likely, it’s merely the slipper-clad-coffee-cup-wielding-cell phone-camera-clutching masses keeping warm and dry while commiserating.

Christmas wasn’t white, except on the ski slopes in our part of the Catskills. (Nor Chanukah!) My snow tires are barely getting a workout … so far … knock on wood … dare I mention it … glad I’m not superstitious … jinx buy me a — Pepsi! (Got ya!) But we have had a fair bit of winter precipitation of late. Flurries, what seems like most days, a few all-out snowstorms with measurable inches.

dscf1168_wmBut course nothing can save the snow from the repeated temperate afternoons, leaving most roads thankfully clear and snow lumps in a sad shrunken state.

The change comes quick. From winter wonderland wow to mud covered cleanup mode. Getting the shot means getting out there as soon as you know it might be waiting.

Now, I will confess to liking my Acorn slippers so much that they’re fairly worn out and due for replacement. And – I’ve taken my share of shots from the safety of the porch. But sometimes – the boots must go on.

Like after an ice storm, when every twig glistens within it’s shroud of frozen precipitation, I always admire the scenery when the snow clings just so. Rarely, however to I take off the lens cap and capture it.dscf1177_wm

Here are a few shots I did venture out for, earlier in this early part of winter.

Some I’ve taken before, meaning I’ve shot the same subject over and over before like a waterfall waiting for the shot.

Others are new to me-principally, such as the snow-covered branches for which I rarely get out in time to photograph.

There’s a narrow window of opportunity for these sorts of photos. Too early, and the snow is still flying. Too late and it’s melted away.