Shop Talking

I want a place to have conversations (theoretically) with folks who are interested in nature photography, landscapes, sense of place, writing, and aesthetics AND are trying to put their arts, crafts and other goods in the hands of responsive and appreciative customers.

So that’s what this string of posts will be about.

I may have it such that these posts find their way onto Facebook and other visible places, since my blog is moving farther and farther out of the main flow of conversation. And that’s okay. It’s quiet here.

But if I want to stay out of debt, I need to show a profit.

On the one hand, I hate being commercial. On the other, nothing gives me more joy than having my words or images touch another human.

Like the rest of life, selling one’s art is a mixed bag, isn’t it?

Best Days of Our Lives

As often happens, I’ve gone another direction than I thought I might this morning on the Daily Blotter. And since I have put up more posts over these past snow-bound days than the average blog visitor can digest already, maybe images will suffice for a Monday.

This calendar from a few years back was a joint project between the printer (Wordsprint) and the photographer (yours truly.) It turned out nice, don’t you think?

Calendar 2009-2010 by Fred First

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Seeing and Sharing the World: A New Camera?

Is this the ONE LAST camera in my photographic life?

Note to Self–Why I am thinking of changing horses…er, cameras:

I wrestle with the notion of allowing myself to even consider spending a large sum of money to get something I’ve already got: the Nikon D200 I’ve used for almost three years is a fine camera and I’ve not had any complaints from folks who have paid (not many and not much) for images from it of their families, for their walls or their web sites.

But I feel like I’m missing brushes from my palette, and I want to engage the “art of light” to the fullest with the mental, physical and creative energy I have left. And I need a few more tools to fully express what my eye, my mind and my heart see in nature and in the human landscape of the southern Blue Ridge. Or so I explain thus consumptive impulse to myself.

I’m looking at the Canon EOS 60D–which as of today has not been released. But it seems to offer those “extra brushes”:

It will let me shoot in lower light (indoors without flash, at dawn and dusk, in deep forest shade) as it handles “digital noise” better than the Nikon. It has a swivel viewfinder that lets me do in my mushroom and wildflower and insect shooting and such what I can only do now with the Canon Powershot: view a bugs eye view without laying flat on the ground; or take a shot of a crowd with the camera overhead and SEE what the camera will see.

The other thing–and turning in a completely different direction, adding another medium entirely–is the HD video capability of this camera. This would add the element of motion and sound to the visual–to be able to walk the viewer along with me on the trail, up on the ridge, down the streets of Floyd–and move to the next level with the multimedia creations I’m enjoying and which audiences seem to appreciate.

I would purchase a Tamron lens whose strong suits are long focal range (18-270mm so I can use one lens and not put my bad thumb joints through the pain of changing lenses) AND MACRO capabilities on a camera body that will make massive images (18 megapixels) from which smaller crops can be made and still enlarge well.

I have a modest sum of earned income in my Goose Creek Press biz account that is drawing no interest (and would not if “invested” most places these days.) And for me, at this time in my life, doesn’t the pleasure of creating — or at least capturing and sharing– beauty have a higher value than imaginary returns I will not likely live to see?

I’m a reluctant consumer in general–a bad citizen in that regard, by some reckoning. I would like to enjoy the journey, though I am generally NOT a happy shopper. But this purchase, if I make it, will not reward me in the American-way pleasure of the consumption for its own sake but in the images that find their way to the canvas of memory. I think I have something of a gift in the way I see the world, and want to do that as fully as my tools will allow.

So there you have it: my rationalization for a totally unnecessary purchase towards an end with questionable survival value. But rue the day that all our energies are for mere animal survival. Art must live on, and I’d like to play some small part in that legacy. But swimming against the currents of extreme frugality and fixed incomes on the near horizon, will I muster the persistence and impracticality to pull this off?

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Earth and Sky: Floyd County Panorama ~ May 2010

Republic of Floyd Colors: Green and Blue

I was getting a bad case of folding-metalchair-butt yesterday in two back to back meetings in town, while outdoors, the sky was putting on a grand display of morphing clouds and light.

Fortunately, near dusk, there was enough light to grab some images to stitch together for a pastoral panorama. The small image here is sad–you just can’t do justice to landscapes at 480 pixels wide. So click the image to see a larger version.

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Wildflowers of the Blue Ridge Mountains: Miterwort

Mitella diphylla, a Saxifrage known as Miterwort

Looks like a good day to add a few spring-flowering shots to the archive, sadly lacking such shots since losing my entire photo-collection in a hard drive crash back in 2001. So I have a life-purpose for the next few weeks, and it will all happen way too fast.

What you see here is rarely seen at this level of detail. In fact, walking past Miterwort (or Bishop’s Cap) you’d likely not stop to be amazed at the beauty of its snowflake-petaled cap-like flowers. They’re perhaps a fifth of an inch in diameter.

Here’s a common case where, to get the shot, you either have to get down on your belly on the (cold wet?) ground, or, like I did here, find a specimen just over the edge of a bank where you can sit and subject is between your ankles.

For all such shots, wind is not your friend. But even on a breezy day like the one when I snapped this shot, if you are patient, there are brief lulls in the movement and time to grab a shot. Keep in mind that at this degree of closeup, your depth of field is a fraction of an inch, so chances are, only some of your subject (one flower but not all 4 or 5) will be in sharp focus.

Take lots of shots, vary camera angle, lens to subject distance, depth of field if your camera allows it and exposure–for this shot, I probably could have manually reduced exposure by 1/2 to 2/3 an f-stop to keep the whites from blowing out, since the flowers were the main point of interest.

I’m carrying the tripod up the valley today, not for the camera but as a hanger over which to drape black velvet. I want some “studio glamor shots” of at least some of the more showy things–like the trilliums, showy orchis, foam flower and such. Might do a set of spring wildflower note cards, who knows.

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