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Maryland’s Eastern Shore

I’ve mentioned Virginia’s Eastern Shore quite a few times in this blog.  The Eastern Shore extends between the Chesapeake Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.  The Bay itself is one of the most important water resources in the world, and one of the most environmentally threatened.  We had the pleasure of spending the last week at St. Michael’s, just across the Bay from the Baltimore and DC areas, with the great photographic innovator and teacher, Tony Sweet.  Tony, as I said, is relentlessly innovative in his pursuit of new ways of creating art, of using the tools at our disposal to express something of our personal vision.  Interestingly though, we got to talking about the great Baltimore based photographer of the 40’s and 50’s, A. Aubrey Bodine, whose images though apparently quite “classical” nevertheless also reflected an intense dedication to innovation.  This first image is inspired by my fondness for his work.  Bodine loved capturing the activities along the harbors and ports of the Bay.  Taken just after sunrise at St. Michael’s (Maryland) harbor.

This next image though is much more contemporary.  We had an on-going conversation with a Blue Heron at Tilghman Island, just west of St. Michael’s the following morning.  This guy was without a doubt, working us just as much as we were working him.  The fishermen seemed to be in on the deal too, and I think they were the ones who were prompting him, with fish of course, to hang around so that they wouldn’t be bothered.  The photographic problem here is a very dull sky, literally white with clouds, no detail at all, behind an otherwise potentially interesting scene.  Texture overlays to the rescue.  (That involves layering a thin texture over an image in Photoshop, hopefully not over doing it, to provide, some texture of course.)

The purpose of the tools, in my view, is to help us tell the real story, a story not always captured by the camera, in the moment.  The job of photography in part is to communicate what it was really like to be there, the feel of the moment, not just what the sensor was able to capture.  One guy’s opinion of course.

A New Panorama from the Quabbin Reservoir

When you stop to consider how enormously difficult it has to be to create a Reservoir, keep in mind that the work of doing so has been going on for a very long time. Indeed, the technique was invented by Beavers. Humans just scaled it up a bit. The water that forms the Quabbin Reservoir (in central Massachusetts, providing drinking water to much of Eastern Massachusetts) comes into what once was the Swift River Valley from the north, largely via three branches of the Swift River and several additional “brooks.” That water flow comes to a stop here and also at the nearby Goodnough Dike. This is the Winsor Dam, approximately a half mile across. It was built nearly eighty years ago and represented at its time an incredible engineering accomplishment. Of course, in the process, four towns were lost. This is a panorama so you’re really going to have to click on it to get a sense of the scale of the Dam.

If you’re really interested, or if you’re drawn in by the hypnotic effect of exploring a full blown panorama of anything, I’d strongly recommend you click here.  That click will take you to my Gigapan sight, we’re you’ll pretty much be able to walk all the way to the monument at the eastern end of the Dam.  Look carefully, it’s there.  (Sorry, but WordPress, host of this blog, doesn’t allow for the gigapan to be embedded directly, which is of course very frustrating!)  Thanks for looking.

To Those Who Make it All Possible….

Happy Mother’s Day!

Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge.

Is It Always Winter Where You Take Pictures?

No, of course not.  I had a buyer ask me just that question though, regarding a collection of black and white imagery, which included quite a few infrared images.  Light reflected off certain materials, when photographed with an infrared sensitive camera (or rather one that is sensitive mostly to infrared and not to most of the visual spectrum we normally see) will indeed appear white, a bit like snow.  This is an approach to photography that has a long storied tradition. Infrared film, made mostly by Kodak and Ilford was the tool of choice.  Kodak no longer makes their brand.  The film was very difficult to use, but still (though I never had the chance to use it myself, or rather was never forced to use it myself), the results were often worth it. Why?  In my view, the mood.  Infrared speaks to us of other worldliness, or being out of the ordinary.  It captures beauty, tinged with just a touch of anxiety, a feeling one might expect when in an unusual place.  Perhaps anxiety is also a part of the spiritual sense of some places.  I happened to hear today about a new video game based on the work of Thoreau, arguably one of the best writers of all time when it came to describing the experience, the mood of being in nature.  A video game? Interesting concept.  I wonder if the gamers will be able to capture that complex sense of being alone in a beautiful wild place?  This image is from today, spring 2012, Connor Pond in Harvard Forest.  (Click on the image for a better view.)