The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Nature Undisturbed 2010 Update

The schedule of events for the second annual nature-themed photography show is set.  In 2009 the inaugural show drew nearly 200 photographs from 43 photographers.  This time the show attracted much more attention in Georgia and nationally.  Over 300 photos were submitted by 75 photographers representing 10 states including two west coast entrants.    Of these entries, 61 photos by 49 photographers from 8 states, including Georgia, were selected for 2010.  Fayette County photographers represented total 14 and there are 7 photographers from Coweta.  Photography in this collection ranges from brilliant landscapes to awesome macro shots to artistic abstracts showcasing the beauty of the natural world.

Nature Undisturbed will hang at Dogwood Gallery in Tyrone from April 9 through April 25.  Opening reception for this event is Friday April 16 at 6pm.  “We are expecting a packed gallery, more than last year,” said Greg Blair, co-director of the show and owner of Dogwood Gallery.  Saturday April 17 at 6pm begins with a wine tasting event  followed by a talk by Susan Todd-Raque, one of the founders of Atlanta Celebrates Photography and an art consultant specializing in 20th century photography. A special thank you to Lensbaby for sponsoring Susan's talk. On April 22, at 7pm, juror Lucinda Bunnen speaks about her choices for the winning photos.  Saturday April 24 is Family Day at the show.  Southern Conservation Trust will be on hand to talk about their group, see birds of prey in action, hot dogs, popcorn, balloon rides courtesy of RE/MAX of Georgia, and fun for the whole family.  Closing day, April 25 at 2pm Kathryn Kolb, director of the new Serenbe Photography Center will present “The Beauty of Trees.”

Nature Undisturbed is a celebration of the natural world.  The show brings together a diverse collection of photography showcasing the wonders of nature that many don’t take the time to see.  It is the hope of the show creators that after viewing the photography, you are inspired to get out on the not-so-beaten path.  Perhaps you happen to take along a camera to capture the light through the leaves and continue to enjoy that day each time you view the photo.  This is the show that brings the outside in for all to enjoy.  Come, see the show and look through our windows on the world around us. 

Donna Rosser, director of the show, said “We had more entries from the local Trust properties this time.  That tells me that the event is raising awareness in our community and in Georgia about Southern Conservation Trust and the work that they do.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

From the Barefoot Files...

The photo below is a picture of my great grandfather.  This photo was taken around 1910 (my best guess) making him about 20 years old.  This first shot is right out of the camera; specs, scratches and all.

After spending between 10 and 15 minutes using only the healing brush in Photoshop Elements -- most of the specs and scratches are gone.  The sepia tone remains, showing the age of this black and white image.

Converting the image to true black and white using Silver Efex Pro -- only adjusting contrast and brightness and it looks terrific to me.  Not bad for a photo about 100 years old.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Sams Lake Sanctuary

I have written about Sams Lake before.  This is one of the properties in Fayette County maintained by Southern Conservation Trust and part of the site specific category in Nature Undisturbed.  

Last night as I was out walking Sadie, I was noticing how it was staying bright longer (thanks daylight savings time).  And I noticed the sky looked pretty good; there are good sky evenings and not so good sky evenings. As soon as I finished the walked, I grabbed a camera, tripod, and headed over to the lake.  Driving into the parking area I saw the setting sun on the trees on the far side of the water.  The color was awesome and I knew it would not last.  I got out and headed in that direction first -- ignoring some of the great cloud reflections in the water.  After I took a bunch of photos of the trees and their brilliant reflection in the water -- then I could spend a little time with the clouds.

This is my favorite cloud photo of the evening.  At first the trees reflecting in the upper corner bothered me -- but I kind of like them now.  This photo makes me think of Van Gogh's Starry Night.  I admit to tossing pebbles into the water to try to get some good ripples going.  This photo shows the ripples that were 'not enhanced.'

As I was leaving the lake to head back home I saw the evening sky and this tree. Standing by the car, already having packed up the tripod, I shot several photos of the tree with the beautiful background.  I took some in sharp focus and some out of focus completely.  It seems the complete out of focus shot is becoming popular.  I kind of like it -- but then I don't.  So here is my silhouette tree; in focus.

All three of these photos were processed with Nik Color Efex using the cross processing filter.  Cross processing is a technique for film developing that was popular in the 1980's and into the 1990's.  It was achieved by processing color print film in the chemicals intended for a different type of film.  Color Efex has a filter that gives you a variety of looks -- as if you developed film in many different chemicals.  Sometimes it really does not effect the look much -- except to enhance the colors -- other times it can make the photo have a tint of gold or green.  There is a black and white photo from last night on the 365 blog.


Friday, March 19, 2010

From the Barefoot Files...

This photo is one of my favorites -- it is the photo taken the day my grandfather was presented with his 50 years of service award.  My mother is the only one looking at the camera.  My grandparents are looking off in different directions and my aunt's eyes are closed.

This is not unusual when taking photos of a group -- large or small.  The photographer should have been more focused on the subjects, making sure the photo of such an occasion is a good one.  When you are shooting, as you look through the lens, make sure all elements of a photo look the best to you.  Tell people where to look.  If you have a blinker, keep a sharp eye on that person.  Take plenty of shots to have a few to pick from.

The original of this photo is a black and white.   The original copy is starting to show its age.  The photo is discoloring and taking on a bronze look.  Some photos age better than others.  I believe this original spent time on a wall and perhaps the light did some damage to it.  I corrected the digital file and tweaked the contrast to make it as close to the day it was printed as possible.  The original is now in an archival sleeve in a notebook away from light.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Honesty in Nature Photography

Great Horned Owl (captive)
Today I am presenting a guest post by Andy Richards.  I have known Andy for a few years.  He takes thoughtful photos and sticks to the ethical side of photography -- who could guess he is an attorney for his day job!  To see more of Andy's photography and read his blog visit Lightcentric Photography.  Take it away Andy....
I am a regular on the forums at Nature Photographer Online Magazine.  It is probably my favorite of all the photography forums I have been a member of over the years since the internet emerged.  It is a friendly place, but also a place populated by many talented and interesting people who also happen to be photographers.  One of the members recently posted a link to Audubon Online Magazine to a thought-provoking article on photographing “captive” wildlife.  The primary thesis was that such photographs have, cumulatively, given people a distorted idea of what nature is really like.  They made the point that many, if not most, of the photos you see these days of “wildlife” are taken at “game ranches” or are made using “posed” wildlife.  They also note that, historically, this is not unique and cite examples from Disney and “Wild Kingdom.”
It struck a chord with me.  I have a nice portfolio of captive birds of prey.  And having stalked and attempted a few similar shots in “in the wild” so to speak, I can see the concern.  My favorite, and perhaps best such image is a Great Horned Owl fromHowell Nature Center.  The bird has a rather “regal” look.  However, what you don’t see (if I did my job right) is the leather “jesses” which tether him to the “setup” branch.  The reality is that this bird was injured at some point and the Nature Center’s Rehabilitation facility nursed it back to health.  However, for some reason, the injury was so severe that they concluded that the bird would never be able to survive in the wild again.  I was no further than 15 feet away from this Owl with a 300 mm lens.  The likelyhood of being at this level and this close to an Owl in the Wild is nill.  Indeed those few professional photographers who have done so have spent weeks (even months) in the habitat with the bird, with special blinds, often build at significant expense.  And as famed wildlife photographer Moose Peterson has pointed out, takes a fair amount of biological knowledge and study.
Miranda, the Red Tailed Hawk (captive)
Likewise, Miranda, the female Red Tailed Hawk, has been a long time resident of Howell.  She has developed a distinct “human imprint” and a relationship with her handlers.  This makes for a myriad of interesting poses on her part.  But as the Audubon article notes they are just that – poses.  The likelihood of capturing a photo like this of a Red Tailed Hawk in the wild is very low.
The rehabilitation specialists at Howell (and similar rehabilitation facilities) make careful evaluation of these conditions.  In the event that they conclude that the raptor can be rehabilitated and released back into the wild to survive on its own, they carefully avoid significant human contact (to avoid “imprint”).  For many raptors, federal law prohibits the captive ownership of the birds (and indeed in some cases makes even possession of feathers illegal).  However, it is possible for rehabilitation centers like Howell to obtain a federal license to own and use these magnificent birds for educational purposes.  The Audubon article notes that these centers serve an important purpose.  In fact, they distinguish them from the “game farms” whose sole purpose is to hold captive wildlife species like cougars, wolves and bears, as models for photographers.
The article raisessome troubling issues.  What happens to the young wildlife that is born in captivity?  How is the wildlife treated?  And is such captivity simply mistreatment?  I am not sure what the answers to these questions are.  I have no quibble with shooting the rehabilitation center birds which have been human imprinted and have been permanently injured.
I have shot at Howell several times and am grateful to them for the opportunity.  They charge a modest admission and the proceeds go to the rehabilitation center for its needs.  I see that as a “win/win.”
Opossum (captive)
However, I have always felt that it was my obligation to identify them as “captive.”  Perhaps it has previously been a “sense of honor” and honesty.  I haven’t ever had an opportunity to photograph at a game farm, but cannot say I hadn’t considered it.  However, I am now re-thinking that posture (or lack thereof).  And perhaps more importantly I see the reason to disclose that a subject is captive very differently.
It is possible to have certain “captive” situations that you might encounter in the wild.  Some animals are naturally more gregarious and some are much more skittish.  For example, I didn’t have a camera, but I did have an encounter in the wild with an Opossum similar to this captive image in Northern Michigan several years ago.
Perhaps we owe it to those who view our photographs of “nature” to disclose that they aren’t always “natural.”  I wouldn’t want anyone to get the wrong impression of nature from my photographs.  As the Audubon article notes, nature isn’t perfect and it isn’t always pretty – at least when it comes to wildlife.  It is important from an educational standpoint that we distinguish reality from “unreality.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

From the Barefoot Files...

This is a photo of my grandfather's brother and his wife.  Grover was born in 1887. There is no date on this photo.  In fact, the photo is a post card.  On the back it says "postcard"  It also says, " C. E. Kerfoot, 805 Pennsylvania Ave. NW Washington D.C."

Interesting clothing here -- love the bow tie.  Her white shoes with the dark dress are interesting.  Or are they really white?  I notice the backdrop is faded -- but is it really?  Could the shoes and the backdrop be victims of the dark clothing?  There is such detail on the clothes -- the shot was metered to the dark -- metering to the dark could cause the lighter colors in the frame to be blown out and lost.

His haircut is something else too.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


One of the blog topics that gets the most hits on a consistent basis is bokeh.  I have only written a couple blogs on the subject.  One was titled appropriately, I Like Good Bokeh, and I do.  Another blog, Rainy Night in Georgia does not mention the term -- but the photos in the blog are bokeh shots.

The shot below shows how most desire to use bokeh.  Your background is bokeh.  Bokeh is the way the lens renders out of focus points of light.  Typically it is a background of a portrait.  Here is my cat in sharp focus and the background is a rug.  I know it is a rug -- anyone else would not since it is so out of focus.  Not really 'points of light' but you get the idea.  The blur of the background sets off the subject/portrait.  Here since it is not really bright or light in the bokeh part of the photo -- it works as a good contrast to the brightness of the cat.  

Another interesting us of bokeh is to turn those points of light into a shape.  The photo below is made by using the creative aperture disc with my Lensbaby lens.  Obviously this is the heart shape.  I purposely let the tree branch be out of focus here to highlight the sunlight hitting the ice on it.  Those sunlight point of light made for excellent bokeh hearts.

The photo below is another where the bokeh is the subject of the shot rather than a treatment for the background.  This is taken with my Lensbaby also -- but instead of using the shaped aperture disc, it is with the regular circular disc.  

When I am making bokeh the subject instead of the background the photos are very abstract.  No one would know that the photo above is my Christmas tree -- it certainly does not look very Christmasy.  In fact I applied a color filter in Elements to tint this a little bit pink.  The regular color image was almost monochromatic.  My favorite lenses for bokeh shots are my 50mm (love that nifty fifty) and Lensbabies.


Friday, March 5, 2010

From the Barefoot Files...

This past week was another family birthday.  My father would have been 73; he died when he was 46.  It is hard to believe that almost all of my adult life I have not had my father around.  He died before I had children.  It is a shame since I think my son looks a lot like him.  My dad could grow a beard quickly and it was very full -- my son can do this too.  

Not too long ago I was telling someone how I have a hard time backing out of my driveway -- even after living here for years.  I said to them that my dad would really be disappointed in that since his rule was when I was at home and started driving -- I had to back the car in beside the carport -- no excuses to not do it.

I have always like this photo.  It is fun.  This is not my mother -- she told me once who it was and I can't remember.  I can't remember where it was either.  It was one of those set up photo things at a fair or something.  When she reads this -- I know I will get an email telling me again so I can remember.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Matting and Framing

Yesterday someone asked me about my framing.  She wanted to know where I got my work framed.  She said that my framing presented my work well and looked really good.

There is no short answer to this question.

Some of my framing is done -- start to finish at Dogwood Gallery & Framer in Tyrone, Georgia.  I really like Greg and I do believe he gives you a lot of options and his opinion of what will show the art in the best way.  The bits of information I have gleaned from Greg has given me other framing options that work well in some situations.

We all know that framing the work can be expensive.  We also know that skimping on the framing can harm a good piece -- whether it is a photo or other artwork.  The following is my answer to the framing question:
  1. Let Dogwood do it all -- custom frame, custom cut mat.
  2. Buy a premade frame (preferably on sale 50% off) and have the mat cut to fit it.
  3. Reuse a frame I already have, have the mat cut to fit the photo and frame.
  4. Try to print my photo to fit a mat and frame I already have -- so all I do is swap photos.
Let's think a minute about the mat.  I stay away from precut mats almost all of the time (very rarely I do use them).  I like my mat to be at least 3 inches all the way around the photo.  Sometimes more.  Sometimes I like the mat to be weighted at the bottom of the frame.  This means that the bottom of the mat is an inch or more wider than the other sides of the mat.  If I am reusing a frame or using a premade sized frame I can get the mat cut to fit my odd sized photo to the frame.  Take, for instance, a 12x18 photo; three sides of the mat are as close to three inches and the bottom is almost 5 inches.  This fits into a 20x24 frame.  Sure a custom frame is nicer.  I splurge on those for special photos.  But the other frame gives my budget a break and I instead look to mat it well.  

It also goes without saying that my frame choices are 99% black and my mat choice is white.  Mixing the frame styles -- but all in black -- makes an interesting wall display.  Seen on the blog last summer is the display in my foyer.  It changes frequently depending on what is out at a different location or what may be swapped out in a frame.  The skinniest mat seen on that wall is 2.5 inches and that was a sacrifice to make that photo (blue pop art daisy) fit that frame.  One piece there with no frame is my one gallery wrap canvas print.  I am not a big fan of printing photos on canvas -- but with that one -- I think it works.


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