Different Drummers

Over the past six months or so I have been reading my share of other blogs.  Many have been photography oriented and most of those feature nature as their primary subject.  I think it is fair to say that while there are many differences between each and every blog, the Earth Image’s blog is the most unique.  Certainly not the best, but the most unique.

There are some really well written blogs out there.  They always stay “on topic”.  Whether they show one picture or ten, those images fit perfectly into the overall subject or theme of the current article.

Then there’s this blog. I rarely write about only one topic. Sometimes photography isn’t even discussed.  I might be getting something off of my chest, or I might be overly sentimental about something I see in the world around me, or in my own personal life. I do spend a fair amount of time singing the praises of other photographers, but I also sometimes gripe about other photographers.  At times my photos follow a theme, but on other occasions the only relationship they have to one another is that they are indeed, all photos. Most photo blogs are trying to sell you something. I started this blog right after I stopped trying to sell people anything.

It’s a miracle that any of you return to this hodge, podge of ideas I call a blog, and I am most grateful that you do.  My goal in life and in blogging is to be different from the status quo, and I do believe that is the one thing I can claim to have accomplished.   As my ex-mother in law used to say, “you (I) certainly do travel to the beat of your own drummer.”

Thanks to everyone who continues to take this journey with me.

Now for some pictures.

The Painted Desert which is a part of The Petrified Forest N.P. in Arizona, is usually ignored by serious landscape photographers.  I passed over (aboard a jet) this location three times on my way to Phoenix.  On that third trip I toured the whole state and made it a point to stop here.  Reddish would be the word to describe The Painted Desert, but there are many subtle nuances in those rocks. I was there in the winter and unfortunately two days of fighting impassable snow-covered mountain roads and attempting to cross a mountain valley full of deep and powerful desert fjords, put me so far behind on my schedule that I wound up spending only a few hours there on a mostly cloudy day.  Still it was well worth it and I would go back in a heartbeat.  I feel privileged to live in a country filled with so much powerful and unique beauty.MoreSlides 029bbb1oSlides4 101MoreSlides 032

The American west has so many spots to make great images that are not national parks or monuments, or even state or local parks, one could (and should) travel through the west ignoring everything with a name or an admission gate.

I stopped and made this picture as I weaved my way up a mountain.  Sunset was near and I had a few hours of high mountain roads in darkness ahead of me. I was never too bothered by those types of roads when I could see what was around me but I wasn’t fond of driving them in the dark.  Especially when the road was totally new to me and this one was.  I had left northwest Colorado and I am not sure whether I was in Utah or Wyoming when I made this shot, but I suspect that I was standing in Wyoming and shooting a scene in Utah.   A great way to end the day.ANWRUtah 183

Meanwhile closer to home….there is always another way to look at a flower.  Depth of field is a part of your composition. My goal with the first image was use depth of field to get the entire front row of flowers sharp, and only the front row.  With the super close-up image my intent was to create very little depth of field. Using shallow DOF in a shot like this means getting your point of focus exactly where you want it. It’s all about accomplishing your vision.  Experience is the greatest teacher.

When I view this first image from well back in my seat, it looks kind of confusing to my eyes.  When I scoot closer to my computer, my eye rests on that front row of sharp blossoms and the picture works as it was meant to.  The front row becomes separated from the out of focus blossoms. The unique part is that people today tend to view images way too close, not at the comfortable distance that they are meant to be looked at.  This image definitely works in reverse.

dFlowers 040dFlowers 032

For many years two common duck species failed to provide me with useable pictures.   The small guys, Ruddy Ducks and Buffleheads were always just a little too far away. In 2007-2009 that all changed. We’ll save the Buffleheads for another day.  During that time frame it seemed like those cute little Ruddy Ducks were always near the main road through Horicon Marsh NWR.  I was especially pleased for some close visits from Ruddy males in breeding plumage. That striking blue bill and those reddish feathers turned them from ordinary to special.Horiconb09 101Horiconb09 105

Whether you want to make pictures of new subjects, make better pictures, or find your photographic identity, there is absolutely no substitute for spending time in the field making images.  Sometimes there are no shortcuts.

If they ever come up with bird sports teams, I am drafting some Sandhill Cranes for my basketball team.  Maybe a few (even taller) Whooping Cranes, but I would be happy to settle for these long-legged giants.Hc1 149Hc1 154

They always have something to say!Horicon09dbbbccc 063

I have said (too many times I know) that one of the greatest things about being a nature photographer, is the amazing number of subjects that fall under that umbrella.  In my opinion there is nothing better than working at adding a new bird species to your files one minute, and then using your camera to celebrate something visually stimulating, regardless of the subject, the next.

An early morning discovery of fresh dew artistically collecting on some leaves, was enough to make my day.HawthornFlowersDew 089HawthornFlowersDew 096HawthornFlowersDew 098HawthornFlowersDew 099HawthornFlowersDew 105

Every so often I will post an image here on Earth Images where I have completely forgotten the experience of creating it.  That is however, very, very rare and I think it is forgivable as I have clicked the shutter a lot of times in my life.  I do remember the moment of conception of the vast majority of the pictures I show. Those memories are sweet and clear and my senses are filled  not only the sights of those moments but the sounds and even the smells.


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