The Unexpected Classic Car – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

I wanted to share two shots I took of a classic car. I say classic, because it sure looks classic. I have no idea what type and year this car is, but it looks great and makes for great photography. The real story of these shots is where they were taken and how I happened to come across the opportunity.

Classic car 1

Classic car 1

A couple of weekends ago, my wife and I took a quick road trip to the northern part of Arizona to get out of the desert heat. One of our stops was an old mining town called Jerome. What makes Jerome unique is the topography in where this town was built. It is literally on the side of a mountain with Main Street looping itself back and forth in switchbacks. Imagine the elevation change between the blocks of buildings. No matter which street you are on, you are looking over the top of the buildings of the street below you. It truly is a photographers dream place, because of all of the interesting historic paraphernalia throughout town from the buildings themselves to old mining cars, etc. We stopped and started exploring. I came across a steep staircase along the side of one of the buildings that led to a deck overlook of the valley floor below. Once I got down to the deck, I saw a door that led into what would have been a basement two stories below the street level with large windows and more viewing areas to the valley below. Imagine my surprise to find a couple of little shops, an artist studio and this classic car in this lower level. I have no idea what the purpose or point was, but loved the look of the car and snapped off a few shots. At the time, I was thinking these will make great black and white prints, so I tried a number of different angles. The two I have attached are my favorite. I did convert them to black and white, but realized that the high gloss and the strong reflective glare from ceiling lights really looked good in the original color shot. Thoughts?

Classic Car 2

Classic Car 2

More unique shots from Jerome coming next week!

 

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Birch Trees in the Woods – Featured Art Print

I don’t think its any secret that I love the beauty of nature. I love to experience it, hike in it and look at it. Most of my inspirations come from my venturing out and looking at the beauty around us and trying to capture it. The art print I am featuring today celebrates just such subtle beauty. I chose “ Birch Trees in the Woods” from my Landscape Oil Collection. This particular art print is from one of my many hikes last year in the Issaquah area of Washington. Issaquah is now an eastern suburb of Seattle, but started as a town located in the foothills of the mountains far away from the big city of Seattle. It has kept most of its rustic charm and preserved the natural beauty around it with all of the forest-covered foothills. There are an abundance of hiking trails and paths throughout this area. This particular scene caught my eye on one of my hikes. It was about this same time last year with summer winding down and the thought of fall starting soon. The days were warm, not hot, and just perfect for hiking. Having lived in Colorado a number of years, I am partial to aspen trees. I love the white bark and this grove reminded me of them. Most of the forest in this area is heavy with pine trees and just interspersed with deciduous trees, so coming across this type of a grove was a visual treat. To create this art print, I used an impasto oil technique. This type of style creates bolder brush strokes and stays with primary colors creating a textured and vivid scene that adds a strong element of depth. Looking at this print, I am not only ready to start hiking, but I can still see the wind gently swaying the trees and hear the leaves rustling. Thoughts?

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Ocean Sunset Between Two Palm Trees- Featured Art Print

I love sunsets, especially those that light up the sky with vivid colors. The clouds and the sun have to be just right and when it is, it’s colorful magic in the sky. As you watch the hues build into brilliant shades of orange, pink and purple, you think it couldn’t get any better, but wait…it does! The art print I am featuring today celebrates just such a sunset. I chose “ Ocean Sunset Between Two Palm Trees” from my Tropical Collection. This particular art print is a sunset over the Pacific Ocean in Carlsbad, California. Located in northern San Diego County. The city is known for its beaches and seaside flavor. Along the Pacific Coast Highway is a walkway on a bluff above the beach in this part of town. The print depicts a sunset along the walkway as the sun is setting between two palm trees. I used an abstract watercolor technique to pull out the vivid colors with the shapes as suggestions. Using an abstract approach creates different elements to a print. The abstract aspect is typically less dependent on detail and more on shapes and colors. You can create an art print of the same scene in a traditional oil style and an abstract style and come up with two completely different looks. I have examples of that throughout my galleries. I can see a scene in a variety of ways and present it as such throughout the galleries. I recognize that abstract prints are not everyone’s “cup of tea”, for example; my wife likes more realism and I prefer abstract. To me, it’s “what does an art print say to you”. I create both types knowing that tastes vary. At the end of the day….just enjoy the sunset! Thoughts?

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Clouds and Mountains – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

This week I had an opportunity for a photo shoot within a block of home. We live near the Sierra Estrella Mountain Range just outside of Phoenix. Whenever we get “weather”, often times there are very interesting cloud formations that appear over the range. Well, Monday morning was just such an event. Unfortunately it was a record rainfall for the Phoenix area, most in one day. Being on the side of the city we are, we had the rain first and then it moved over the rest of the metropolitan area. The rain subsided in our area while the city was still getting heavy amounts. I took that opportunity to hike up a hill nearby and point my camera at the mountain range. I have attached some shots from that shoot. What occurred to me as I was shooting; when is it best to go with a wide angel shot or zoom in?

When you are taking scenery or landscape shots, often times if you shoot too wide, you lose the effect you were looking for. Unless you are intentionally going for the panorama frame, you have to be careful how much you include. Think about any pictures you have taken of a gorgeous mountain range only to see the finished product and it doesn’t look as dynamic as it was in person. To compensate for this, you can frame just portions of the view into a shot or use a zoom lens to pull the subject closer in. The zoom lens also plays with the field of depth making the subject look closer.

The next thing to think about, what are you trying to portray? What story do you want to tell with your picture? Often times the answer will tell you whether you are going to stay wide or focus in.

Clouds and Mountains 1

Clouds and Mountains 1

Let’s look at the attached shots. (Disclaimer: these shots are straight from my photo shoot without cropping or other cosmetic touch ups) The first one gives you a wide-angle look at a part of the mountain range. You have the houses in the foreground, but the shot encompasses enough that you see a layer of low hanging clouds enveloping the mountains. The peaks that can be seen are only the foothills; there are 4500 ft. peaks behind them covered by the clouds. The city of Phoenix is on the other side of the mountain range.

Clouds and Mountains 2

Clouds and Mountains 2

The second shot is angled just slightly to my right giving you more of the mountain range. These two shots are not pristine (houses in foreground), but do tell a story of low hanging clouds creeping over a mountain range.

Clouds and Mountains 3

Clouds and Mountains 3

For the third shot, I haven’t moved, but zoomed in with my telephoto lens. I have framed the foreground of houses out of the picture and captured less of the mountain range, but still tell a story of storm clouds creepy over a mountain. Notice I said mountain and not mountain range, because that aspect has changed.

Clouds and Mountains 4

Clouds and Mountains 4

For the fourth shot, I have zoomed in more to focus on that particular patch of clouds as it hugs the side of the mountain. Notice how the story is slightly different as the perspective of the shot changes.

Clouds and Mountains 5

Clouds and Mountains 5

The fifth photograph is very close to the fourth, just tighter focus on the clouds hugging the side of the mountain.

I just wanted to give you some things to think about and some examples when shooting landscapes and scenery shots. Depending on what story you want to tell, when is it better to keep the shot wider and when to tighten in. Notice I haven’t said which is better or which is correct, because again, it depends on what story you want to tell. That said, for the purpose of this shoot, I prefer number two even with the houses in the foreground because it tells more of the story I was trying to tell. And with Photoshop, those houses can become cactus easy enough :) Thoughts?

 

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Palm Trees – Featured Art Print

With summer ending and fall just around the corner, I think it’s time to hit the tropics. The art print I wanted to feature today is from my Tropical Collection. It’s titled “Thick Palm Trees”. The style I used on this print is a gothic oil technique that emphasizes bold brush strokes and earth tone colors. The bold brush strokes create texture and dimension to the print. The earth tones create an old world look as well as a vintage feel. I think of this style more in terms of an old world traditional style, but when I use it with tropical themes it makes me think of a vintage Hawaiian look that I have seen. The palm trees are not Hawaiian, but Arizona based near where I live. This grove reminded me of a similar grove of palm trees on the Big Island of Hawaii where native Hawaiians had a village. The grove provides a great canopy for protection from the sun, but with very little undergrowth allowing ease of movement. Using the grove close to me, I tried to recreate the look and feel that I saw on the Big Island. I always try to create a sense of depth so your “minds eye” can picture yourself in the scene, walking into the grove and feeling the cool ocean breeze. The magic of art to create this type of illusion, but truly if I hadn’t told you the subject matter was in the desert, does it not take you to one of your favorite tropical locations? That place where time slows down and life seems more simplified? Thoughts?

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Bougainvillea in the Courtyard – Featured Art Print

For today’s featured art print, I chose a print I completed just last week titled “Bougainvillea in the Courtyard”. It’s from the same photo shoot I mentioned in my last art print feature with The Spanish Fountain. The style I used on this print is an impasto oil technique that emphasizes bold brush strokes and bright colors. The bold brush strokes create texture and dimension to the print. The bright colors reinforce the color of the flowering plant life, the brick and stucco of the courtyard. The bright flowers from a Bougainvillea are so striking, so in creating this print, I wanted to stay true to the brilliance of the color. I also liked the presentation of this scene. You have the hint of the courtyard in the left part of the print, with the Bougainvillea dominating the right half. It becomes the focal point of the as the delicate blooms of color pull your eye around the entire print. Because of this movement, you become aware of further depth in the scene. The elements work together as you study the scene further. You notice the way the trees provide a backdrop to the setting and a canopy over the courtyard. Your eye notices the brick pavers of the courtyard merging into the hint of a wooden bridge. Where does that bridge go and what does it go over? You are teased with a hint of a large beautiful courtyard, but get just a portion of the whole thing. The side of the courtyard in this scene does create a sense of beauty and peace representative of the entire courtyard. I hope you enjoy the print. Thoughts?

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Sailboats on San Diego Bay – Excerpts from a Photo Shoot

I wanted to continue the theme of “cropping” pictures from last weeks “Photo Excerpts” blog. The backdrop this week is sailboats on San Diego Bay. I thought these shots would display great examples of how to take a “blah” photo and by cropping it, turn it into a “wow” photo. I added one more element to this week’s example; the finished photographs are done in black and white. There is a method to my madness in that I am using real examples of a project I just completed for a client.

A client of mine from Southern California has a series of black and white prints I did for them last year. They are getting ready to add a new series of prints to another wall and know that I have done a lot of photography around San Diego. This client asked if I had any black and white shots of sailboats on San Diego Bay in the same size ratio that was purchase in their other series. As I always do, I started digging through the archives and found the original shots I have attached. In looking at these shots, it’s clear why I had not done anything with them, they are pretty boring. The good news is that I knew I had done that series in RAW format, which gives me a very high resolution, so I knew I could play with cropping them to focus on the sailboats.

Sailboat 1

Sailboat 1

This first shot is the original photograph. You have two sailboats in the right of the frame with the Coronado Bridge in the background, which connects the mainland with Coronado Island. Again, I am working with a specific size ratio in these particular cropping’s, so they are all consistent with the original series purchased.

Sailboat 2

Sailboat 2

The second shot is the cropped version and in black and white. What a huge difference. This shot tells a story with the sailboats as the focal point. The sky has been cropped to less prominence and most of the background noise in the left side of the frame has been eliminated. As a side note: If I wasn’t working to a specific size ratio for this project, I would have instinctively cropped this shot into a square to keep the sailboats more prominent. But that said, by cropping it this way it is works better in the series the client was interested in.

Sailboat 3

Sailboat 3

The third shot is more sailboats with the Coronado Bridge in the background. The cropping involved reducing the sky and water to bring the sailboats into the center frame, resulting in the fourth shot.

Sailboat 4

Sailboat 4

Sailboat 5

Sailboat 5

In the fifth picture, we have a group of three sailboats lost in the left side of the frame.

Sailboat 6

Sailboat 6

The final shot shows them commanding the picture by eliminating the same sky and excess water, but in this one there was too much unneeded noise in the right side of the frame.

The series as a whole comes out balanced and consistent. Each shot has been taken from a “blah” shot to a photograph of sailboats dominating the scene and creating a visual story. Thoughts?

 

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