I do way too many sunsets but from time to time I’m confronted with one that just keeps on giving. I was sitting on the beach with Lisa and Mike when this one offered up a seeming unending number of visuals. They can all be seen over on SmugMug but since you’re here take a look at these four variations.
I’m in Texas these days for three reasons. First, to visit with AnnaSummer and Massie to deliver one last wedding gift; second, to attempt to pry a few records out of the registrar’s office at Port Arthur Memorial High School; and last, because when you’re headed west and you’re this far south, Texas gets in your way. When I crossed the state line I saw a sign that said “ElPaso – 857 miles”. I’m not even sure that will get me out of the state. And there is not much in the middle.
I’ll see my kids tonight.
The High School is as recalcitrant as ever – I’m getting myself an attorney.
That leaves only getting through here. Last night I went looking for perhaps a few other reasons, such as adding to the portfolio. I drove out along Texas Route 87 that trails alongside the Gulf of Mexico. This part of the visit at least was fruitful.
I know why my relatives migrated here in the ’30′s – it was about work and there was plenty to be had in the area, a booming oil center and shipping point – third largest in TX in 1934. That was then. TX-87 seems more representative now.
When people ask about my career I generally respond that I am a photographer. That at least is my latest reinvention and since it’s stuck for the past 3-4 years, I’m going with it. I don’t make my living this way; I make myself and a few others happy in this pursuit, so perhaps it’s more accurate to characterize as an avocation. Whatever. I spend a lot of time behind a lens and increasingly enjoy exploring the myriad nuances associated with using it.
“So, you’re photographer” she says. “What do you photograph?”
Fair question, to which I usually respond “things that don’t move or that have four legs,” meaning for the most mountains and trees and rocks and rivers – ok, water moves – and architecture and, of course, dogs and horses. I suppose what I’m trying to convey is I rarely deliberately and seriously shoot humans. Portraiture ain’t my game.
I recently had the opportunity to shoot an old friend of mine whose photogeneity I’ve admired for years. Her name is Renée and to most people’s eyes she is quite comely.
Well, OK. She’s gorgeous.
She’s also uninhibited in front of a camera and, I came to discover, fun to work with. I figured that given those circumstances I’d have to work hard to screw things up. So, we met at Lake Anne in Reston one late afternoon several weeks ago and gave it a try.
I failed to get it entirely right in the camera for the most for lack of the correct lighting, which is more important than dealing with the model, which in this case was a breeze. Fortunately I’m better at post-processing than at portraiture (at moment) and managed to correct the lighting issues. I also discovered that I liked the processing more in black and white than in color although this might have been because of the lighting dealt us. I was more than a little anxious about how the images would be accepted but since they met my standard of publishable, I was happy with the work. And my anxieties aside, Renée was very pleased as were both our respective audiences.
The positive feedback heartened me and that encouraged me to spend some time studying lighting techniques. I concluded lighting was an art unto itself but for my purposes could probably be sufficiently mastered to engage in exploring this channel of photography further. I doubt it will ever supplant landscapes in my portfolio but if most of it is as uplifting as the first venture it will boost the happiness meters of everyone involved. I’ll be back in LA by the end of November and there is no shortage of lighting experts in that town. Should be easy to track down a mentor.
Maybe next time it’ll be a model with a mountain backdrop.
Had the opportunity Sunday to attend the 38th running of the Marine Corps Marathon and watch my son Charles and his partner Margy finish the course. I had lived in the Washington, DC area for most of my life and was here when this started in 1976 but this is the first time I’ve ever gone done to the river front and the Mall to watch it being run.
The first few years this “Peoples’ Marathon” was not heavily subscribed but that’s changed over time. Early on its runners numbered in the hundreds; today there were more than 30,000 registered and traversing the route that runs through a section of Arlington, across the Potomac and into Rock Creek Park, past the Lincoln Memorial and down the Mall before turning south back across the river to Crystal City and then back north past the Pentagon and finishing near Roslyn in the shadow of the Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial. A mostly flat topography but 26.2 miles is still 26.2 miles.
The weather was incredible. Started out a bit chilly and overcast but the sun was soon shining and the temps rising into the mid 50′s. And no wind – a boon to runners and spectators alike.
I have to admit I shot about 600 images but in events of this type it’s difficult to get by on single takes of anything. For your viewing pleasure I paired the lot down to manageable volume. You can click-through on the images above or just click here.
A pasture along the Blue Ridge Parkway, near Floyd, Virginia
I’m closing in on my goal to visit and shoot in all our National Parks – at least those in the Lower 48. Five to go and I will visit those on my trip back west which will begin in a couple of weeks. People invariably ask me which is my favorite Park and it’s almost impossible to answer that question. I’ve visited a couple that are non-favorites (they shall go unnamed) but the plus side of the ledger is more difficult to deal with. However, of those that I have visited – and realize this does not yet include Hawaii, Alaska, Guam, or St. Johns – there is one that stands out for me. Were you to ask me to name the Park I would go to, if ever I could only visit just one more, I’d say Death Valley.
It may have been the time of year I first visited. It might have been my state of mind. It might have been the way the light caught the side of the mountains in the morning and then again in the afternoon. It might have been the dunes. All those things. Other things. I don’t know. I’m sure had I arrived in a sand storm or in mid-July my opinion would be quite different. But I didn’t. And so all these things and more combine to push DV to the top of my If-I-Only-Could_Visit_One More list.
Inasmuch as my only (and favorite) daughter married a couple of days ago you might wonder just why I’m posting about Death Valley. I know I did. But you see I never post without images and the ones from the wedding will not be available for a while. That and the fact that I was scouring through files this afternoon looking for a good shot to submit for a contest accounts for this post. At some point I will link it to a gallery that will go up on my SmugMug site, but for now I’m satisfying my need to get something out in lieu of it’s creation and in frustration over not having wielded a camera at the wedding.