Michigan Fall Leaves

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MI Fall Leaves

I love my home state of Michigan, at least during the spring summer and early fall.  When the leaves turn in early October there is nothing in nature more beautiful.

Unfortunately when I was living there I never took full advantage of that beauty, This is one of the few fall color photographs I have. Now, I try to plan my trips to MI during peak color season, although my current list of responsibilities make those trips few and far between.

So let this be a lesson. Take full advantage of what where you live has to offer. You never know if you’ll not pass that way again.

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Lily Pond

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Lilly PondIn 1985, my wife Cheryl and daughter Natalie took the only vacation we have ever had as a family. I was such a workaholic back then that I just couldn’t break away from the studio. As I look back over the years of lost time together as a family, tears come to my eyes. I hope none of you make my mistake.

On that vacation we went to Disney world in Orlando, Florida. It was really a blessed week. We saw everything and did everything. We were like people who had been starving for years and finally now had all the food they wanted.

Of course I had a camera with me, and as we were walking around the gardens in Disney World I spied this little lily pond. It was so peaceful and serene It made me think of a Japanese garden. It is one of my favorite photographs from our trip.

It’s interesting to me that my eye was drawn to a slice of natural beauty amidst all the synthetic attractions.  I’ve always loved photographing the natural world and have incorporated some of my photos into my fine art photography offerings.

Palmetto Hills

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Battle of Palmetto Ranch

This week’s photograph may not look like a stunning landscape, but the story behind it is really something.

Just a few miles strait East out of Brownsville is Palmetto Hill. Not much of a hill really, but the road does rise a little. It was here on May 12 and 13, 1865, that regiments of the Confederate and Union armies met in battle: the last battle of the Civil War.

It was especially unfortunate for those who fought and died here since the war was already over. Lee had surrendered several months prior to this battle.

According to the informative plaque that is here on site, what you see in this picture is almost exactly the way it looked in 1865.

As I stand here at the northernmost corner of where the battle took place and make this panoramic view of the battlefield I get goose bumps. Just imagine yourself out in this wide open plain, with no cover, looking directly into the eyes of your enemy, cannon fire all around you and the whoosh of musket balls whizzing by you. And the screams of the men who were hit. It really took some major cajones to be able to do that.

This is one of the things I love about photography: it’s a time machine. It allows us to travel backward in time to see from whence we came. Then with a little use of our imagination, we can see the whole picture.

Now… if we could only go back to pre-historic I would love to get a first hand look at the landscape and the great lizards that once inhabited the planet. Wouldn’t you?

Building Detail

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Building Detail

One of the things that fascinate me about old buildings are the various textures they feature.

This building is in Roma, Texas, is well over a 100 years old.

Believe it or not, it’s still in use. The building will be featured in its entirety in an upcoming post.

Just look at the way the bricks and the old boards in the doors and windows have weathered. From a photographic standpoint the objective is to make it possible for the viewer to experience the various textures just by looking at the photograph. Light plays a huge roll in this. This day was perfect to highlight the roughness of the brick and wood. It was a Thanksgiving weekend, and this particular day was incredibly clear, not a hint of haze. The sky was a dark blue and the sun was as sharp as a laser. The sun was high in the sky, casting harsh shadows. It was the perfect light for photographing this kind of surface.

Welcome to Boca Chica Beach

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Welcome to Boca Chica Beach

One of the main streets of Brownsville is Boca Chica Blvd. (small mouth). Going West out of town it turns into Hwy 281 or Military Hwy. If you follow it East out of town for about 25 miles you will drive right into the Gulf of Mexico. There are now barriers or warnings, so if you are asleep at the wheel into the Gulf you go.

It’s a rather melancholy drive. There’s nothing but open fields of tall grass and a lot of scrubby trees. However, at one point you do drive past Palmetto Hill. Now it’s just a huge pasture land, but in 1865 it was the site of the last battle of the Civil war, fought several months after General Lee surrendered and the war was over. The South won a solid victory killing around 20 Union soldiers, losing the war but winning the last battle.

Just before you reach the water you come across what I suspect was an old gas station and convenience store with this welcoming fellow out front. It’s just sort of out here by itself, completely isolated with nothing else around it. I guess that’s why it’s closed up now, and has been for many years.

Every time I saw it I would get curious and want to discover what it was like out here when this little outpost was in full swing. I can just envision people stopping in to fill up their gas tanks for the return trip to Brownsville, buying water and other supplies for their day at the beach.

Brick Wall

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Brick Wall

People ask me: “Why do you take a certain photograph?”

The answer to that question determines the difference between what makes one an artist as opposed to just someone with a camera.

When I choose a subject it means that I am mentally or spiritually moved by the scene or object in front of me; enough so to want to capture it, and then further enhance in order for it to be reminiscent of the feelings it conjured.

The real art in photography lies in what happens after the image has been captured. You see, very little can be accomplished with the camera alone. The true skill of the artist is brought out in the remaking of the image: making the image you see in your own mind come to life on paper, thus, enabling you to share your feelings and vision with others.

In the case of this image there were a couple of elements that drove me to want to capture it.

This is a wall of an old grain processing company in the small town of Ithaca, MI, where I grew up. I remember that when I was a boy this company always being teeming with activity: farmers bringing their grain at harvesting to be processed before shipping to the buyer. A huge contrast to today as it now sits mostly empty and uncared for. There is a certain nostalgia of a bygone era.

I love the texture of the bricks and the tin roof. You can clearly make out two completely different types of brick work. I find this construction to be very interesting.

Check out my Nostalgia Collection to see more photos.

Allergy Season

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I was hired by a health magazine to illustrate the cover of their edition on allergies. I got to work with a beautiful young model who had a wonderful personality, and lots of spirit. Unfortunately, our view of her beauty was supremely impeded by the surgical mask she wore and the sunflowers in the field she was standing in.

It was another early morning, but the wonderful shots we got made it worth the early wake up call. The allergy issue wound up being a big success.

This photograph looks simple but in my many years of creating advertising images, fine art, and architectural images I’ve learned that if you want a great image you’re going to have to put in a lot of work. This particular photograph required a rather lengthy location scouting process: finding the field of sunflowers, followed by a day of testing to determine the best time for the shot. Also, quite a bit of auxiliary lighting equipment was used to balance the sunlight and make everything look great.

It is so important for clients to look at portfolios and have in-depth conversations about a photographer’s capabilities before hiring him/her. Today the tendency is for a photographer to show up with a camera and one lens and wing it. 99% of the time that just won’t cut it.