Perspective???

An Odd Perspective. Tucson, Arizona, 2013
An Odd Perspective. Tucson, Arizona, 2013

If you study this image a bit you will eventually note that it captures a very strange perspective on the world. The explanation? This is the infamous “upside-down” building at the northeast corner of Wilmot and Speedway in Tucson (designed by Bob Swaim).

Its mirrored walls are actually tilted outward as they rise above you–it is as if they took a giant glass pyramid and dropped it upside-down into the ground, burying a good portion of the tip. It’s an interesting place to do photography and I’ll need to go back in different lighting situations to see what else it might offer up.

(Curious note: It is a financial institution and I was mildly surprised to not have someone ask me why I was wandering around it, with camera and tripod, at dawn on a weekday.)

And another one of its walls:

Wilmot and Speedway. Tucson, Arizona, 2013
Wilmot and Speedway. Tucson, Arizona, 2013

The female form in art

Trapped in a man's world. Tucson, Arizona, 2013
Trapped in a man’s world. Tucson, Arizona, 2013

I am reading an interesting essay about the use of the female form in art and how that reflects on the values and norms of our western societies. Interesting perspective.

Chew on this: Click here to chew.

Going macro

Cactus Detail. Tucson, Arizona, 2013
Cactus Detail. Tucson, Arizona, 2013

Sometimes, as a change of pace, I’ll grab a tool I don’t often use: my macro lens. It is enjoyable to flip the switch wired to my photographer’s eyeball and start “seeing” the tiny details in that micro-world that always surrounds us.

I chose the Sigma 150mm f/2.8 lens for several reasons: its good reviews as a sharp, top quality lens, it will work with both full-frame and crop-sensor bodies, it’s a fast lens, and it gives you some stand-off when trying to stalk shy insects. It is, however, a fairly heavy, large hunk with a relatively large price tag for the newer version which has image stabilization. (I have the older, cheaper version without stabilization and generally use it on a tripod, so lack of I.S. isn’t important to me.)

Playing with depth of field…the above was shot at f/2.8 to isolate one or two of the spiny tufts.

You’ll have to analyze your personal macro wants and needs, then decide which macro tool would be best for you.

Some more macro images from the desert: Click here to see.

You, as model

Most Wanted. Tucson, Arizona, 2013
Most Wanted. Tucson, Arizona, 2013

Don’t forget that you always have a model readily available to take on whatever unusual pose you might wish to suppose or impose. Yep, that model be you. Sometimes we forget that adding a human to the scene (even a fairly ugly one, as above) can make for a more interesting image…so, don’t hesitate to experiment!

Two additional tools can help ensure your success with these self-portrait-type experiments: 1) a tripod, and 2) a lack of inhibition whilst being stared at by passersby.

Two more examples…

Deformed Photographer. Tucson, Arizona, 2013
Deformed Photographer. Tucson, Arizona, 2013

In the above photograph, the reflective coating of the glass on the building I was aiming at was cracked, thus causing the deformation of my head and body–no Photoshop cloning involved.

 

Evolution? Tucson, Arizona, 2013
Evolution? Tucson, Arizona, 2013

The opening image of this post, as well as the above image, were both made courtesy of the interactive, on-the-street murals painted by Joe Pagac. He obviously has a great sense of humor as well as great talent as an artist. You can see more of his wonderful work at his website HERE.

Moral of the story: Try introducing a bit of play into your photography now and then–and the use of yourself as a model is one fun way to do it.

Colorado clouds

Colorado Cumulus. Near Berthoud Pass, Colorado, 2013
Colorado Cumulus. Near Berthoud Pass, Colorado, 2013

These high altitude powder puffs are wonderful to watch as they build up during your hike near treeline in the Colorado mountains.

Be careful, though! They can sneak up on you and catch you unawares…they can bring lightning…cold, steel BB-like raindrops…high winds…bouncing hail…purple hypothermia. Yes, they can be beautiful, so enjoy them….

…but be prepared.

Leadville, Colorado

I love this beat up old mining town.

It sits at an attitude and altitude (both!) above 10,000′ above mean sea level, it hosts Leadville 100-mile mountain bike race (and run!) and Boom Days (mining events and burro racing!), and it is a photographer’s Eden. The place has all kinds of bizarre mine ruins and talings, decrepit old buildings battered by the harsh winters, plenty of mountain characters, and the Continental Divide in the distance.

Here are just a few Leadville images from a quick, one-hour, sunrise photo walk a few days ago… Click here for the images.

Murals, graffiti, and public art

Large town mural. Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Large town mural. Leadville, Colorado, 2013

Is it legal to make direct photographs of public art (as in the above image)? Of course it is! Snap away…post on Facebook…show your friends…post on your blog…make prints for artistic purposes…even make a coffee table book of the graffiti styles of Moscow, Idaho if you like…BUT, if you intend to use those images for commercial purposes–say, to advertise your business, or to sell greeting cards and make money–and the images are simply straight pictures of the original art–then you are most likely violating the copyright of the original artist. This includes all kinds of public art: sculpture, paintings, murals, graffiti, mosaics, and so on.

And this also includes the obnoxious (to you, maybe) but colorful graffiti spraypainted on the sides of railroad freight cars, even if there is no obvious (to you) signature or date.

Now this can get a bit less clear if you use the public art as only one element of your photographic composition–that is, if there is more going on in your image than a simple photographic reproduction of the original artwork (not the case in the example image I have posted above, by the way).

If your work goes beyond simple copying and creates something new you are probably OK. (For a really interesting example of this, check out Marcel Duchamp’s Mona Lisa with a mustache called “L.H.O.O.Q.” at THIS LINK.)

Your best bet if in doubt: consult a lawyer who specializes in copyright law.

“It’s all about the light”

Shadows on the Wall. Leadville, Colorado, 2013
Shadows on the Wall. Leadville, Colorado, 2013

That is Russ Burden’s standard catch-phrase, and he is soooo right!

The above image would have bored you to your knees (if you please) if captured with flat, noonday lighting. However, in the early morning hours, the same wall offers up an interesting abstract study of lines, shapes, texture, and angles.

I have heard someone say that even a toilet bowl can make for an interesting subject in the right light. ‘Tis the truth…and I ain’t just a woofin’ Dixie neither! (Thanks for that colorful quote, Mr. Reynolds, our tyrant high school bus driver.)