Monthly Archives: December 2013

Top 12 of ‘13

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Entering the last week of the year, it’s a natural impulse to look back and think about developments during the past fifty-one weeks, about goals met and missed, about skills acquired and others that still defy mastery, about places visited and others yet to be explored.

2013 was the year my interest in photography turned from a hobby into a commitment: a pursuit that I take seriously, that I think about deeply, that I practise regularly.

This year was the first time I’ve taken a week off work and gone on a trip with the sole purpose of taking photographs: a self-indulgent activity but one which gave me enormous pleasure.

The formative influences on my photography this past year have been my friends Denise, Don and Jeff, with whom I went on photography trips to the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee and the Palouse area of Washington State.

This was the year I delved into infrared (IR) photography and learned about faux colour IR processing. In this area, a major influence has been Mark Hilliard, whom I met for the first time in October and who has become a valued friend and mentor.

In April, I met another one of my heroes, spending a delightful day shooting with Teri Lou Dantzler, whose artistic genius I have admired for years.

2013 was the year I launched this website, my first, an endeavor which never would have gotten off the ground without the help of Denise and Don, and had the temerity to launch a weekly blog, an audacious conceit which I remain unsure my photography can support.

Yet I must admit that I have found the challenge of publishing a weekly blog post invaluable in keeping me focused on my photography, in giving me a reason to get out and shoot regularly and in making me contemplate how to explain vision and technique that go into the images I create with my camera. The purpose of my weekly blog is to share what I learn as I develop my photographic skill and vision; the positive feedback that I have received on my posts from other committed amateurs has been an indispensable support in ensuring that I keep meeting my self-imposed weekly publishing deadline.

I can’t really tell whether, during the past year, my photography has moved forward, backward, sideways or, indeed, gone nowhere at all. Whichever it was, it doesn’t overly concern me: I enjoy photography so much that I don’t allow myself to get weighed down fretting over such considerations. What matters is the enormous pleasure I have derived from visiting these places and taking these photographs.

These, I think, are the best twelve images I created in 2013.

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Palouse Falls by Shaun Moss

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Snow-Covered Trees

snow tree fenceThe recent first snow fall of the winter presented a precious opportunity to photograph the beauty of snow-covered trees.

D800-Snow on Trees-0487-2013-12-10sqcropNo words of mine are necessary to describe the beauty of trees covered in fresh-fallen snow.

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Washing Windows

D800-Paris-0433-2013-12-03Whenever I see people washing the windows of large buildings, I invariably stop, take out my camera and wait for an interesting photographic composition to emerge.

Seldom am I disappointed.

There are many aspects of such situations that provide promising ingredients for image-making.

Among them are the contrast in scale between the human figure and the building; also, the lines and shapes of the architecture itself.

But my favourite aspect to look out for is the puppet-like properties of the human form when suspended in mid-air against glass and metal.

6386953887_680731556b_bI have found that the best moment to trip the shutter is when the window cleaner’s arms and legs are all fully extended, as this creates the most dynamic, most instantly-recognizable human shape.

It also seems to accentuate the almost comedic awkwardness of the human form when placed in such an unnatural situation.

(click on an image to enlarge it)

 

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Full of “Baloney”

D800-Bologna-0323-2013-11-30_HDRcropNot me! This blog post, obviously….

This blog post is about my short visit to the beautiful Italian city of Bologna, a variant of whose name inspired the type of sausage that, in the US, is called “baloney”, which has also become a synonym for nonsense.

D800-Bologna-0343-2013-11-30At the end of a recent business trip to Italy, I was lucky enough to have four hours to spare in Bologna one morning, before heading for the airport.

On the advice of a native of the city, a fellow photographer, I headed for the old town, which is centered around the Piazza Maggiore and the beautiful Basilica of Santo Stefano, parts of which date from the fifth century.

Bologna boasts several magnificent cathedrals but, unfortunately, photography is not allowed inside any of them.

Nevertheless, I did find plenty of interesting subjects to photograph, from the imposing staircase at the city hall (lead image) to the simple scene of a chained bicycle, to the intricate patterns of the door knockers on ancient buildings.

D800-Bologna-0337-2013-11-30_HDROne of the most endearing aspects of the city, to me, was the old-fashioned shops, whose facades looked like they dated from before the second World War, such as that of F. G. Pasquini.

Inside one grocery store, where I stood for a good twenty minutes, white-aproned assistants outnumbered customers by three to one, counters were laden high with pungent cheeses, fresh fruit still packed in wooden boxes and bottles of local wines, while large hams hung overhead on metal hooks. It was the kind of shop I hadn’t seen since my childhood and thought no longer existed. I just stood in a corner and took in the pleasing sensations of sight, sound and smell.

As my visit was timed at the end of November, the city streets were filled with people preparing for Christmas, with municipal workers putting up the town’s Christmas tree and stall holders setting out their seasonal goods, including tree ornaments, elaborately decorated chocolates and glühwein. A German-sounding oompah band, made up of men wearing Tyrolean hats, played Christmas carols, reminding me go how close this part of northern Italy is to the Alps.

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My morning walk around Bologna also reminded me of how beautiful Italy is and that I had left it far too long since last visiting in the early 1990s. I hope to return in February, 2014.

(click on an image to enlarge it)

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