Spider Time

I haven't really been taking many photos of spiders lately. We are well into the warm months and they are coming out and doing the good work, I just haven't had much time or been feeling overly inspired to shoot. Thankfully the two spiders below pretty much made it easy. The jumper was inside sitting on the chair rail in my dining room and the orchard spider was set up right next to my back door.

These are very common spiders but still interesting subjects. 

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Book Exchange Idea

I've made a couple of really good internet friendships via Instagram and Facebook. I've also got some people who I share a mutual admiration of work (art) with on several platforms. This post is geared mainly at those people, but hell if anyone else wants to join in I am all for that!

Back in the days before the internet people would share things called Zines. The short description of a Zine is a self-published work with a small circulation of "subscribers". It was usually put together by a single person or a few friends and then xeroxed or mimeographed and mailed to the subscribers. These are still produced and some of them are amazing works of art themselves. Check out some of the photography zines Ted Forbes shares on his YouTube channel The Art of Photography

Now we get to my idea. First, I'm a fan of printing my photos. Something like getting them in your hand, hanging them on the wall or even better having someone else want to hang it on their wall. I've tried a couple of online printing services and have had a couple of excellent printers that I use at home. I daydream about creating some handmade books for myself of my prints, but that is something for a different post. For the purpose of this experiment I'd like to do a limited test of a book exchange. maybe up to 6 people or so who are willing to join in. You'll see why initially I want to limit participation and if there is a lot of enthusiasm for expansion I can be convinced...

One of the companies I've used to print is Artifact Uprising. They periodically offer promos for free small format prints and I've taken advantage of those as well as ordered some that I paid for. They also have a small format book (soft or hardcover) called Volumes. The books are 6.5 x 6.5" and have 50 images printed front and back plus the covers.  I'll toss in the usual disclaimer here. I am not getting paid to push their product and they aren't giving me anything free. That is up to the people who decide to join in on this project with me. What I'd like to do is a book exchange with a few folks. 

I've already printed my first volume and am close to curating the images for volume 2. I'm willing to print another copy of volume 1 and swap it with anyone (of the initial limited folks) who will print a volume of their work and ship it to me. I was inspired to go with this format by a couple of series of books published by Aperture and Phaidon. Both are smaller format and yet the quality of the work is not really diminished. Both are photo heavy and text light. I'll post examples of everything below.

Aperture has a series called Aperture Masters of Photography. I picked up copies of volume 1 and 6 recently. They are 8x8" and 95 or so pages printed on just one side. Just the images without text and then followed by an index with details for the images at the end of the book. The series is called Phaiden 55 and goes a little further afield than the Aperture series. Phaidon's series is a smaller format. 6x6" Pages are not numbered and I can't be bothered to count, but feels like around 100 pages or so also. These books all have a small introduction and each facing page includes text related to the image to the right. 

Artifact Uprising Volumes fit with this format and are priced at $24.95 including shipping. I'm very happy with the quality and would love to get this ball rolling. I've got one person who is on board and if that is as far as it goes I'll call it a success. A brief explanation of how volumes work. You install the Artifact Uprising app on your phone, create an account and use an album on your phone to place the photos you want to include in the book. Once you reach 50 photos you are ready to go. They have two versions of the book available. The cheaper, softcover version is what I propose we go with. When you hit 50 the app lets you order the photos so you can organize (or not) the final output. You pull the trigger in the app, they charge you, print and ship. I'll be getting the books shipped to me and then shipping them to whoever wants to swap with whatever else I feel like tossing in the package. 

There it is, message me on Instagram or Facebook if you are interested. 

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The Great Dismal Swamp and Lake Drummond

I've made several trips to Virginia to visit family. After several years I finally made it to Great Dismal Swamp. It's either been closed due to hunting season or the weather had been bad. When the day started I was concerned the light was going to be harsh, the sky was crystal clear in the morning. As we drove toward the swamp though I noticed some wispy clouds starting to form and my anticipation increased. As a few of the photos below show, I was not disappointed. We did not see a lot of insect activity yet, spring has been very very slow to arrive. The trees were just starting to awaken. Never fear though, I did (with some help) find a couple of smaller critters to get photos of. We also saw plenty of turtles some water foul, and an otter. 

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Chrysler Museum of Art - Photographs Take Time

On a recent trip to Virginia, Keri and I were able to view the Photographs Take Time exhibit. There are some photos you see in books or on the internet that resonate and prompt you to seek out more from the artist. Then you see the prints. Granted not all of these were originals. Some were reproductions, others were presented as they were originally presented. The Pirreli calendar pages as an example. It's still worth seeing them as they were intended.  Below are a few highlights for me, starting with a print by Alexey Titarenko. We also saw prints by Alfred Stieglitz, Harry Callahan, William Christenberry, Chris McCaw, and some truly wonderful prints by Henry Peach Robinson that were composite shots from multiple negatives made in the late 1800's (those were incredible).

 

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An Evening in the Kitchen

My girlfriend owns a restaurant (Ivy Wild Sewanee) in Tennessee that has an amazing farm to table menu. She had a special New Year Eve event with a multi course meal served to a select group of guests. She asked if I could take a few photos of the food and prep which I gladly did (Free Meal). I'm not a food photographer, but I did enjoy bouncing around a live kitchen while the action was happening. It's a creative environment and that always tickles my brain. 

Here is the menu and the photos I took over the course of the evening will follow. 

Orange Blossom Cotton Candy Cocktail
Voga Italia Sparkling Rosé Pinot Grigio
(non-alcoholic available)
 
Crawfish Gnocchi
Parmesan “Caviar”
Lemon Fennel Glass
 
Mango Sphere
White Chocolate
Basil Pop Rocks
 
Locally Raised Certified Hereford Beef Tenderloin
Blistered Tomato Butter
Beer-Cheese Samosa
Haricot Verts
 
Salted Whisky Caramel Brioche Bread Pudding
Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

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A Day in DC

I recently got a chance to run down to the National Gallery for an afternoon while on a trip to attend a wedding in Maryland. I took a few pics, but these three seem to share a theme.

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Return to Bucks Pocket

I try to visit this state park at least once a year. When the clouds are nice and the light is good the overlook is always a good view even if it isn't always photographic. Add to that a pretty easy hike down to a good waterfall with decent flow and not many people it is a no brainer. If I'm feeling pretty good or not short on time it is a reasonable climb to another cascade just up stream too. I didn't make it there as I'm still not adjusted to the time change, but that also meant I had a shot at a sunset on the way home. 

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Mind the Gap

Really, I mean well. I just can't seem to get a posting routine down. I've been in a bit a of a creative rut of late as well. I do have an idea brewing for a themed show of my photographs. There are a couple of venues I could submit to for a show and feel like that is something I should strive for next year. It's also time to start culling my submissions for juried shows coming up in Knoxville. I have done well in Knoxville and am hoping to continue that trend.

In the mean time, here are the best results from a creative spurt this weekend. 

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Oh yeah, and what would a photo outing be without a nice fat orbweaver doing her thing?

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Return to Short Springs

A couple of years ago I basically stuck a pin in a map and headed up to Short Springs Natural Area in Tennessee from Huntsville. That lead to me taking what so far has been my best photo of a waterfall to date.

I was already near there so took a friend to the trails to check things out since the weather was really great this past weekend. I was not the only one with this idea as there were quite a few folks wandering the trails and the waterfall areas. I opted for plants and animals instead.  

Fort Morgan

I spent last week working at Stennis Space Center in Mississippi. Our group stayed in Gulfport which is further east, so a quick trip to New Orleans was not possible.  I started searching for possible places to visit on the drive back to Huntsville Friday and settled on Fort Morgan. I'm sure I've seen shots from here before so wanted to try my hand at some interiors and I new I could find some rust as well. The weather was not great, so exterior shots were not that interesting, but I also did not have a full day to explore the place either.

Based on my shots I did get, it warrants a return trip.

Iceland - Pool of Blue

One of my favorite hikes and waterfalls of my trip to Iceland in October of 2016. The series of falls is Gjáin just a short hike from Stöng, ruins of a Viking era longhouse. It was a rough drive over some pretty rocky roads, but very worth it. Sadly we got there late enough in the day that the head lamps left in the 4x4 were missed and we had to bail before full sunset. This is one of those places I could have spent a whole day exploring and setting up shots. 

Another Favorite Subject

I really fall back on these when not much else is available to shoot while I'm out walking the trails around home. The shapes and textures can't be beat.  

 

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Iceland

Last week I made my first trip to Europe, specifically Iceland. The plane ticket was a Christmas gift from my sister and the trip was our first real vacation together. Just the two of us. We had a BLAST.

October is considered off season and the weather was not ideal, however we enjoyed the trip and time together. I plan to do a more detailed post soon, but wanted to get something up and get the ball rolling with a couple of images.

Backyard Winding Down

I've never been much of a gardener or landscaper. My backyard is rough at best, however a couple of years ago I had 3 of the oak trees taken down. I cut them up myself and turned the logs into some beds for vegetables and flowers.  These have worked quite well and while the yard is still shaded, some things have grown well. 

Fall is finally starting to make it presence known, so the insect visitors are getting less frequent. Yesterday was a slightly cooler day over night and it seemed to spark a last flurry of activity from the bees and wasps.

 

Wild Flowers on the River

It was a glorious day for clouds here in Alabama this Sunday. I had every intention of shooting some time lapse frames however my gear had other ideas. 

Fortunately there were also some nice light summer subjects for me to point the macro lens at. It can be challenging this time of year, often you will find plants struggling to get one last burst of life in before going dormant for the winter. The bugs are also at the end of their life cycle. Butterflies and dragonflies have battle scars on their wings. Spiders are laying egg sacks and giving up their lives. However patience and flexibility can get a photographer through the challenges.

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Dead Things Catch My Eye

I'm not overly morbid or anything, I like the living animals, plants and people just fine. It's just that most people just pass by a husk of an insect or plant. Shiver when they see a bone or skull. Cringe when they see a line of ants or flies working over a dead bug or animal.

That is renewal going on there. Plants renew via seeds and for seeds to work at least part of the parent plant has to die. It's a darned good thing animals don't work that way, Well sometimes I wonder if we wouldn't be better off if people did work that way, but lets not get into politics here. There is plenty of that crap in the media already.

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