Category Archives: Works in Progress

Space to Create

There’s a new space in my studio that I am enjoying so much.  When we first looked at this house and I saw this room, this corner was taken up with two hair washing sinks.  It was a hair salon.  But  in my mind I could see what it could be for me.  The office got set up fairly quickly but the studio in the corner took a bit longer. A bit short of a year later, and that vision has come to life.   This is a wonderful thing!  It’s set up at all times and I can pop into the studio and create for a few minutes or for hours, often the latter.  🙂

Two LED studio lights are easy to work with since they are always on, as opposed to the strobe lights I used to have that flash a burst of light.

I have so many ideas of what to put in front of those lights!

A few of the images that I’ve created thus far.  These are straight out of the camera.  I’m still pondering how to finish them but am very pleased with the initial results.  I’ll share what, if anything I do to enhance them.

A space to create, is a beautiful thing!!

Piseco Lake Gloaming

Piseco Lake is in the southern portion of the Adirondack mountains of New York state.   It’s a place that holds memories of many special times with our family.  For ten years, each summer, we rented the same cabin  for a week, the same cabin that looks out on this view.

I’ve been working for some time with images of water as well as long exposure images.  Several weeks ago, I made a point to drive up to Piseco Lake to try and capture that beautiful spot and the feelings that it holds for me.  I was rewarded with a spectacular light show that evening, not a showy sunset but gentle, quiet colors that better suited my feelings about Piseco. There’s another word for twilight that I just love. It shows up in Scottish stories a lot … the gloaming. The colors that night were exactly what I always envision when I hear that word.

The first image is a straight photograph with a “regular” exposure, that stops any movement and freezes the moment.  In the second two images I played a bit with a longer exposure, about a second or two, and moved the camera while pushing the shutter.  For me, the long exposure images have more emotion embedded in them and are closer to expressing how I feel about that place.  Does one of these speak to you more than the others?

Piseco Twilight ©Gail Haile

Piseco Twilight ©Gail Haile

Piseco Twilight 2 ©Gail Haile

Piseco Twilight 2 ©Gail Haile

Piseco Twilight 3 ©Gail Haile

Piseco Twilight 3 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Valley Colors

The Connecticut River Valley, specifically Chester, CT,  is where I was born.  It’s where my father’s family lived and farmed for generations.  On a perfectly picturesque day a couple of weeks ago, we met with old friends and enjoyed a steam engine ride along the shores of the Connecticut River, traveling past small towns whose names play a large role in my family story. Part of the trip included disembarking from the train and boarding a riverboat for a cruise along the Connecticut River, offering a wonderfully different perspective than the train.

The fall colors were putting on a show and I took the opportunity to continue my play with long exposures.  Either the camera or the subject and sometimes both, were moving during the exposure to create these impressions of that beautiful day along the Connecticut River.

Have you been able to get out an enjoy the fall colors?  What are the fall colors like in your area?

Connecticut River Valley Colors ©Gail S. Haile

Connecticut River Valley Colors ©Gail S. Haile

Connecticut River Colors 1 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Colors 1 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Colors 2 ©Gail Haile

Connecticut River Colors 2 ©Gail Haile

Going with the Flow

We’ve all had those times when things work against us.  When we traveled recently to Delaware, even though water scenes are among my favorite subjects, I did not take all my “good” equipment that I normally use to capture those scenes.  There were a total of 19 different family members  gathering that week. I knew that the week was mostly about family so kept it simple and only took my small Canon G-16, a great point and shoot that still allows  a good deal of control with image making.  I also happen to have a waterproof covering for that camera so thought I might get in some play time with that.  I had it so well planned.  🙂

The second or third day in to the week, I went to take a picture and the lens on my camera stuck.  No matter what I did the lens would not open fully.  I determined pretty quickly that I needed to stop trying to get it to work or I could cause further damage.  I was afraid that a grain of sand had made it’s way into the lens mechanism.  I was feeling more than a bit sick. Meanwhile memories were being made so rather than spend time stressing about my camera, I put it away and got back to flying kites and playing in the sand.

The rest of the week, I took just a few images with my phone, definitely not my preferred equipment, but I was just capturing a few moments.  It was a great week with many great memories created.

Our last night at the beach was the best of the week.  It was a perfect evening with gorgeous soft colors to the sky and water.  I admit I was feeling just a bit sad that I didn’t have a camera to capture that softness.  My son-in-law could tell how I was feeling and offered his camera to me.  It’s a great camera and I was quite happy to accept.  Still, normally when I work on images like this, I’ve used a tripod, my Nikon D800 camera, a large lens, a remote shutter and timer, among other things.  Now I had just a camera and one I was not accustomed to at that.  But I was so happy to just play and see what I could make work given what I had.  I took 30 or 40 images playing with 1 and 2 second exposures.  It’s difficult to hand hold a camera for that long of an exposure and not have it just look blurry.  Many of the images were just that, bad blurry images.  With the 3 images below, though, I carefully panned the camera during the exposure, dragging it slowly and steadily across the scene during those 2 seconds.  It seemed, at the time, that this was working but I couldn’t really tell until I received the image files this past week.

Sometimes you have to just go with the flow.  It can be a good exercise in creativity as it forces you to get out of your normal way of doing things and try something new.  I’m glad that I had that experience and pleased that these 3 images match my vision for the scene.  The soft colors and flow capture the mood on the beach that evening.   I will definitely give that technique a try another time.

Beach Flow 1  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 1 ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 2  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 2 ©GailHaile

Beach Flow  3  ©GailHaile

Beach Flow 3 ©GailHaile

 When have you had to go with the flow?  Was it a good experience?

PS  My camera was sent in for repair and returned in full working order and it was all under warranty. 🙂

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Windows, windows, and more windows

Last weekI shared some of my images of doors from a recent visit to Switzerland and promised that this week you would see a few of the window images that I captured as well.

What is it that is so interesting about doors and windows?  Of course, the Swiss know how to make a window interesting,  Shutters are a rainbow of colors, and most window sills support at least one flower box, most often filled with geraniums. I love the colors and the textures and the shapes. But also there is that sense of what stories could those windows tell, both from within and without?  Windows are, by nature, full of metaphor.  Take a look at all the quotes that use a window metaphor here.

I’m going to make a point to look for interesting doors and windows in my everyday world. Maybe I have been guilty of not seeing what’s right in front of me?  Perhaps I need to remember one of my favorite quotes from Marcel Proust, “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes. ” Surely, the Swiss don’t have a monopoly on that sort of thing?  I’ll keep you posted.

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Doors, doors, and more doors

When I travel, I am drawn to photograph doors and windows.  Here are just a few of my favorite doors from my most recent trip to Switzerland.  I have hundreds more!  (Next week, I’ll share window images.)

Especially in areas of Europe that have buildings much older than our 2 centuries of old that we have here in the US the doors can be interesting.  Doors vary a great deal in design, color, complexity.  Whenever I return home I think about photographing doors here but there just doesn’t seem to be the diversity and uniqueness in our doors , at least in the places I frequent in the US.

Two questions always come to mind.

1. Am I not looking in the right places for interesting doors here in the US?

2. What is it about doors that is so intriguing to me (and other people, I suspect) ?

What do you think?

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Travel Reflections

I’ve spent a lot of time traveling lately…traveling by “trains, planes, and automobiles” with a hefty dose of walking.  We spent 3 weeks in Switzerland, spending time with family and enjoying some of the culture and beauty of that little country.

One day involved a train ride up the mountains to Gonergrat,  where we were treated to a  perfect view of the Matterhorn and the surrounding Alps.  It was truly awe inspiring scenery but it seemed too vast and amazing to capture in pixels.  I just soaked it in to my soul and will remember that feeling.  Another day involved a car ride through the lush green hills of the Appenzell region.  Those hills were dotted with geranium covered Swiss chalets and hundreds of Swiss brown cows.  Every bend in the road presented another postcard view of the area.  Again, it seemed that any images I captured failed to fully convey the essence of that place.  And, to me, those scenes, while beautiful, are obviously so.  Of course we see them and are inspired by the beauty.  We expect and delight to be astounded by such beauty.

Traveling by airplane usually involves a lot of time waiting in airports and most airports do not offer much awe inspiring scenery while you wait.  We don’t expect to see anything interesting or beautiful during those waits.  To keep me occupied while waiting  at the gate in the Zurich airport, I wandered around with my little point and shoot camera and captured reflections that I saw.  I’ve been playing with reflections for a while now so it was fun to continue that. There’s usually a lot of windows, therefore light, in airports and the floors are usually highly polished (especially in Switzerland where even the parking garage floors shine), so reflections abound.  It was interesting to watch for the colors and the shapes that were right under our feet if you only pay attention.

What beauty have you seen lately that was not obvious?

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Frozen Flowers: Works in Progress

My freezer is filling up with these blocks of ice lately.  Why?  Because one day in the winter, I had this random thought, “what would happen if I froze flowers and then photographed them?”  (It had been a very, very long winter and my mind was starved for inspiration. 🙂 )

20140518_141213

Waiting to be captured

But sometimes, it pays to follow those seemingly strange inspirations.  Waiting for Spring (below) is an image from my first effort to freeze flowers and then photograph them.

Waiting-for-Spring_©Gail-Haile

Waiting-for-Spring_©Gail-Haile

Waiting for Spring is currently part of the Best of Botanicals, National Juried Photography Exhibition at PHOTO Gallery Oakland.  🙂  If you happen to be in the area, between now and  July 12, stop in and check out the exhibit.

Best of Botanicals-PHOTO Oakland 2014

Best of Botanicals-PHOTO Oakland 2014

As a last second, “oh what the heck” I also submitted Waiting for Spring to the Northeast District PPA Image Competition a few weeks ago.  Last week, it earned one of my highest scores ever in PPA competition.  Wahoo!

I’ll share more frozen flowers as I capture them.  For now, I’m stocking the freezer with blocks of ice holding the blooms of spring.

Have you ever had a “wierd” thought that turned out to be a good idea?

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A Wide View: Playing with Panoramics

For over 10 years, I’ve had this dream of traveling Virginia’s Skyline Drive in April and capturing the dogwood blossoms floating in the spring forest.  That wasn’t what we found when we finally made our way along the famous route. Instead we found a bare forest still waiting for spring’s warmth to arrive.   As we all know, life rarely goes according to the scripts that we’ve written in our minds so it’s good to have a plan b, or c, or more.  So I had to rethink what to photograph.

One of the plans I came up with was to play with panoramics.  I’ve played with them a bit in the past and have not done any in a while.  Many of you may have or know someone who has the iPhone that creates panoramic images by simply swiping the camera across the scene.  They are fun and a little quirky in their distorted view of the world.

To clarify, Google gives this definition of panoramic photography: “a technique of photography, using specialized equipment or software, that captures images with elongated fields of view. It is sometimes known as wide format photography. The term has also been applied to a photograph that is cropped to a relatively wide aspect ratio.”

So an iPhone would be “specialized equipment” along with cameras like the film camera Noblex  that my friend Andi Alexander uses sometimes. or these cameras from Lomography.   With these cameras, just one wide angle image is produced.

Or, as I do, you can use “specialized software” to stitch together multiple images to create one that has very wide angle of view.  There is a lot of different software available but in the past few years Photoshop has become quite adept at panoramics.

How I make panoramic images:

In each case, I take multiple images of a scene. Using my body as a pivot point, and carefully keeping the camera in the same plane while pivoting, I progressively pan across a scene, taking anywhere from 3 to more than 15 images, each one a slightly different section of the scene.  It is important to overlap each image just a bit so the software has something to line up from image to image.

The image below demonstrates one step along the way.  This started with 17 images that I took, slowly sweeping the camera from right to left and pressing the shutter 17 times.  Those 17 images were then processed in Photoshop CC with Photomerge to get something like what you see below.  I’ve separated each section a bit and added the orange so that you can see all the parts.  Actually, the sections fit quite nicely together (though they are each on their own separate layer) when the software is finished.

Pieces of Panoramic_Gail S. Haile

Pieces of Panoramic_Gail S. Haile (Click to enlarge)

I then merged all 17 layers together so I have just one complete image, straighten and crop a bit, do a few adjustments to the color and detail and the result is what you see below in Skyline Panorama 1.

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 1

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 1 (Click to enlarge)

Some more examples:

Skyline Panorama 2 is the blending of 12 separate images.

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 2

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 2 (Click to enlarge)

Skyline Panoramic 3, while it looks similar to #2 is 10 completely different images of the same scene.  I played around with it as a black and white and preferred it this way.

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 3

©Gail Haile_Skyline Drive Panorama 3 (Click to enlarge)

As our drive along Skyline progressed, we came across this stand of extremely tall trees where the afternoon light was creating interesting patterns.  I thought it would be interesting to do a vertical panoramic so took 16 images moving the camera up the trees from the ground to the sky.  The sepia tones of the final image highlights the light patterns better than the color version did.

©Gail Haile_Trees Panorama

©Gail Haile_Trees Panorama (Click to enlarge)

There are more precise and complicated ways to create panoramic images but this worked for me on that day when I needed to have another plan.

What do you do when your plans get changed?

 

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Seeing the Trees

During a recent visit to the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, I photographed many of the trees.  What I was intrigued most by was the texture and patterns of the bark, so these are not your usual images of trees.

 

“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”

The 19th century writer and naturalist Henry David Thoreau made this simple but profound observation in 1851.  It’s a thought that travels with me often as I photograph.  We can become so used to what we are looking at that we no longer see (experience) it and all the detail and beauty that it contains. We can also have such preconceived ideas of what we are looking at, that the we miss subtle nuances or changes that may have occurred.

My day at the botanical garden was a practice in seeing not just looking.  How can you practice seeing today?