Yesterday’s Cultures

The paragraphs below are my observations and opinions….no more…. no less.

Next to nature, the most sought after subjects by the throngs of new photographers that exist today, are indigenous cultures and old world type romanticized occupations like  the old Greek fisherman or the Himalayan Yak farmer etc.  I can’t say I blame them as those subjects fascinate me as well, but of course their pictures don’t reflect the GPS unit being used by the fisherman, or the satellite dish on the roof of that farmer’s hut.

Somewhere in the 1990s, I was about 20 miles outside of Tucson, Arizona and I passed a Native American who was at the roadside.  He was dressed in full Indian regalia and had some trinkets for sale on a table.  He had a big sign that said Geronimo’s grandson….will pose for $5.  I did not stop. When I use to travel by air to my photo destinations, I was not big on buying a lot of (junk?) souvenirs to carry back on the plane.  What about the picture?  I have never been about having people, native or otherwise dress up in ethnic costumes that they put on in the morning like a work suit, and take off at night, just so I could make an unauthentic picture look like a real one.  I have nothing against Geronimo’s grandson, if that is who he is, and stopping and helping him out may have been what I should have done.

As I browse my homepage on Facebook, and examine the work of some of the world’s top photographers, specifically while they are leading tours or workshops, it amazes me how many people are paying good money to pretend that things are like they used to be.  Africans take off their tee shirts and athletic shoes to dress up and paint their face for the next tour.  The images are dramatic but they mean nothing.  I would much prefer to follow these indigenous people around photographing their real life wearing their normal garb.  If I was on a tour, my preference would be to photograph them changing into their native clothes, and then photograph them again as they are being photographed by the photo tour including the “name” photographer who is leading it.  This same thing goes on in much of Asia and the South Pacific. There is a story to tell but it should have more to do with their plight today then a view of how they dressed 30 years ago or more.

In the U.S. we pay well-known photographers to take us to cattle ranches to make pictures of “cowboys”  and “cowgirls” who work while you watch, but who are actually schooled to act a certain way so the tour can make their authentic pictures.  Some are true working cowboys but I am a bit suspicious that some are plants. Young good-looking models who can ride a horse. Even the working cowboys make extra pay when the tours are there, plus of course they expect a handsome tip.  Probably a larger one than those native people in Africa, but otherwise the same thing.

I would have loved to have added photo tours to my workshop schedule.  It’s my fault for not thinking big. I would have never dreamed how many photography hopefuls would be willing to transfer cash from their pocket to mine.  I appear to be a day late and a dollar short I guess.

I am not against people traveling to Thailand or Africa or a ranch in Wyoming and having a good time and making some pictures.  I only think that they should know what they are getting into, and be honest with their imagery, at least if it is put out for publication or sold as a gallery print.  There is still a wide world that photographers can photograph, although it is a few miles narrower every day. There is still a true story to tell, and I only hope that it will be told.

Now for some pictures

Making abstract pictures containing nothing more than colors and directional motion, and doing so using minimum depth of field with specific points of focus, is an exercise in vision.  What sort of vision I am not sure, but it is a very different kind of vision than we use read a book or drive a car.

The images below were made with film and without filters. I did nothing out of the ordinary in the digital editing of my copies. No saturation or selective color additions.  This is a stream reflecting autumn colors and other natural items.  It  is partially in the sun and partially in shade.  I was attracted to the contrasting colors and the movement of the water.  Sometimes we just need to be willing to color outside the lines….so to speak.

Opinions on pictures that are as abstract as these, are always highly subjective and that is understandable.AbsractElMorro 044AbsractElMorro 061

Can a straight forward image of a full moon and a stormy sky at sunset be an abstract?  The description of every image is in the eye of the beholder. This is a straight image of a natural occurrence.  The most important part of making this image was making sure the moon was sharp.DSC_5811

I have shown these two images together before.  I chose to bring them back for new viewers.  One of these images is natural and the honest color that I originally captured. The true image is the second. I digitally altered the color in the first picture not the other way around. This original image was made on a blue sky winter’s day. It was also made deep in the shade.  Previous to the time when I made this photo, I would have placed a warming filter over the lens. I decided to make the image with the true color of the blue light of shade.3DSC_4240b3DSC_4240

I guess I never will get all of my images of this fox family published here on Earth Images.  Admittedly many are quite similar in appearance, although this one has never before been seen.  This was made on a partly sunny day but in the shade.  The color of light can affect different subjects differently.Fox3 033

Sunshine does make a difference and while this fox photo may not be as heartwarming as the preceding image, it is surely more colorful.WHfox 041

I love bird flight shots that are a bit different from others that I see. A couple of articles ago I showed two images of Forster’s Terns in flight.  One flying in your face with an edge to edge wing spread. The other showed a bird flying away (my specialty) from the viewer.  This one has no head.  It works for me specifically because of that bit of bill sticking out from under the wing. This is easily my favorite shot of the three.  My favorite images of my own work are rarely the same as those that others prefer.8Hdd 095

An appropriate name?.  A female Goldeneye Duck.RHarbor408 111

When we make landscape images in areas where the natural beauty doesn’t overwhelm us, we usually need a little something to help the picture.  I had been photographing macros of insects and flowers in this field for two days and finally I decided to photograph the field itself. This meadow is part of a Lake Michigan bank.  The flowers are what captivated me but I managed to leave a slice of Lake Michigan and some sky in the image as well. Every place is beautiful at the right time. This is a film image.Slides2012b 051

We live in a loud world.  So many today seem to lack the skills to talk, but always seem to know how to scream.  Do something quiet today.  Grab your cameras and contemplate the natural world and all of the peace she provides. Talk to the birds and let your camera do the screaming.

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