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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Weekly Black & White Square Photo

Lake Side

This photo was taken at Deep Creek Lake on a mid, slightly foggy, morning. Camera was a Point & Shoot, in B&W mode, shot at 1/320 @f/4.9. It was cropped for the square look with some sharpening applied.

Deep Creek is a great place to visit and just sitting on its banks and looking at the scene before you can be very relaxing.

The purpose of the B&W Square Photo is a throw back to the days of film and the square negative, like the 120, 220 or 126 film. Two that I had was the Yashicamat 124 and a little no name 126 film cartridge camera. These photos honor those cameras and others like them in trying to reproduce those photos by using digital means. I hope you enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoy making them.

This, too, is a part of my world and you are welcome to it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Contemplative Photography

Contemplative photography - looking at a scene, meditating on it and seeing what it is about the scene that makes it stand out, what is it that I really want to photograph.

I like to go out sometimes with a simple point and shoot camera and just walk around and just look at things; it could be people, buildings or the land/city-scape. Just looking, seeing what catches my eye and then trying to decide what would make a good photo out of what I see. It's like practice photography. It doesn't necessarily mean I'm creating great shots just creating images of the scene before me and figuring out what it is about it that caught my eye.

Why a P&S camera? So that I don't have to worry about camera settings or lens adjustment. I like to shoot, for the most part, at the 35mm setting and only occasionally zoom in to get closer when I can't do so with my feet. And I have one with a view finder, even if it isn't full frame, I just like holding the camera to my face. I don't have VR and it does steady the camera to do so, instead of holding it out and looking at the little screen on the back.

The three photos below are examples of contemplative photography. In the first one I actually waited, in the drizzle. until a vehicle came up in the left lane and hit its brakes. I had liked what I was seeing but something was missing and when the car came by I put the camera to my eye and waited for it to stop and then I fired. Originally I like the soft light, the fog on the mountain and the lights being seen. The car with the red brake lights completed the scene for me.

In the second photo, everything in the scene, except for the bike, was duplicated and that didn't take long to figure out that that is what made the scene for me. Even the reflections of the lights across the street were doubled. I like the way the hats were hung and the fact that the bike itself was red with white sidewalls and that made it stand out all the more. The hard part was getting the angle just right so that you couldn't see other items reflected in the window. This was just a fun scene to photograph.

In the third photo everything was red, had right angles and you were directed to go in one direction. Only the sign saying "Parking" was faded so that you could almost not make it out, but you still knew what it said. For me the rounded top of the white window add some softness to the hard scene and the fabric awning gave an impression of a sheltering safety to the parking that was available down the lane. And the birds on the arm and on the end of the finger gave a comic relief to another wise hard scene.

For this scene I was actually sitting in my car waiting for my wife to come out of a business and I stared at this scene for about ten minutes before finally seeing what it was I wanted to photograph, and what you see is the final image. Yeah, I did have to zoom in some to get this. If I had gotten out of the car and walked closer I would not have captured the same scene at the same angle I was seeing through the front windshield of the car.

So these are examples of what I call Contemplative Photography or the art of scene meditation before creating the final image. In other words, making it all come together. Now I know this may not work for you, but for me it is good practice in seeing, and you know my motto " If you are not looking you will never see."




Now all of these photos were taken with a Point & Shoot camera - 5 megapixal. And they were all shot on Centre Street in Cumberland on different days.

Try it sometimes. Just go out with a simple camera, if you have one, and just look at things that you normally see on a day by day basis, but look at them in a different way. Look at them as if you have to photograph them and in the process bring out what it is about what you are looking at that makes it stand out. You just might surprise youself.

Yeah, this is my contemplative world, easy going, looking through different eyes and seeing what you never saw before, and you are welcome to it.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Weekly Black & White Square Photo

Baltimore Street

This image was taken with a DSLR and an 18 - 70mm lens, 1/60 at f/8; 18mm and an ISO of 200. In Photoshop Elements it was converted to a B&W photo and cropped. It was then given a sepia tone, some slight sharpening and finished with a vignette.

Sometimes my world can be viewed without much to say, this is one of those times. Whether in color, B&W or with a toning my world is a great place to be. Yeah, this is my world and you are welcome to it.

Friday, April 17, 2009

The Photographer I Am


When I put a new photo on this site I do so realizing that there are many photographers out there who create far greater photos than I, and I don't mean to insinuate that if you do what I do you can create great photos as well.

The reason I do this, keep this photoblog, is two fold. First I like to show people what my world here in Western Maryland is like, and I like to do so on a positive note. In doing so I like to use the photos that I take in seeing my world as I do and in creating a final print that is a good example of what I saw when I first took the shot. So I hope to give a good representation of what life is like where I live and work; something at which people enjoy viewing. IOW's a downright good shot.

And if that makes someone want to come visit my world then I've accomplished what I've set out to do.

And second, I like to get it across to everyone who visits my site that I like photography and that photography can and should be fun. Sure, there are rules to follow in creating good photos but rules are also meant to be broken. In the final analysis, if you are satisfied and happy with the finished results, that is all that matters.

Photograph for me is fun, as it should be for you. Sure, you want others to like your shots as well, but I believe that if you are shooting to please someone else, and not yourself, then that takes all the fun out of it. Creating photos for yourself and striving always to get better so that in looking back at what you did a few years earlier you should see a progression of better and more satisfying results, and it is in this vain that others most likely will begin to see the difference as well.

In short, if your photos don't please you then how can you be expected to create photos that will please others. When you get comfortable enough in doing what you love doing it will show and it will come across even when you are shooting something for someone else, even if it is something that isn't of interest to you. You do it for the fun of it. When you loose that, your photography will go down hill fast.

So, your photography may be better than mine and I applaud you for it and I just might learn from it; someday I just might get there myself. But, in the meantime, I intend to have fun in my world and shoot for me. Some will like my work, some won't no matter how good it might be. I've had some good comments and some good suggestions, both of which I greatly appreciate. If you like my work, let me know, and even if you do not like my work let me know that as well, and when you do please let me know why, so that by it I may grow.

Anyway, I'm off of the pedestal for now. Just wanted to speak my mind on a subject that I love. Must do so while I am still coherent, some. For this is my world, crazy, fun, black & white or color. My world is a great place to be and many of you already live in a world very similar to mine; it's just that you are afraid to admit it and step out over that line and have fun with your photography.

It would be great if we could all say "This is my world and you are welcome to it".

Monday, April 13, 2009

Weekly Black & White Square Photo

This weeks B&W Square Photo is an example of why you can shoot B&W during the midday and get a good photo. Most of the time, in shooting color, the best hours are early morning or late afternoon or evening. With B&W you can shoot any time of the day and still get amazing results.

How many of you know that many of the photos that Ansel Adams created were taken during the time of day when most people would not even think of taking landscape photos. This photo here was taken at 3:15 in the afternoon.

The place is in the Riverside Park near the Gazebo. There is a small tree there and as the sun went behind the clouds I bent down and pointed my camera up through the trees, exposed off of the clouds and fired away; camera was set for Programmed Auto.

This photo was taken with a DSLR and a 28 - 200 mm lens at 28mm, 1/4000 at f/5.6; ISO was at 200. In Photoshop Elements I converted this to a B&W photo, cropped off the bottom part, added a touch of sharpening and that was it.

This looks like a shot in the country but it was done in town with buildings around. Just a different view point and angle, and using the sun behind the clouds to create the silhouette.

Black & White photography can be done anytime of the day or night and it's fun with which to play around. Even country shots in the city are part of my world and I enjoy it immensely.

Yeah, this is my world, one tree at a time, I love it and you are welcome to it.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weekly Black & White Square Photo

The entry this week has two photos posted. The first photo is this weeks B&W photo and the second is a follow up to last weeks photo. I hope you enjoy both.

This weeks B&W Square Photo has a mystery to it. Something is missing from this scene, can you see it; or should I say not see it? If you don't notice it right away, keep looking and it will come to you. If you can't wait or don't know what is missing the answer is at the bottom, but try not to check it out to soon.

The Western Maryland Station is a grand building with beautiful architecture. You could spend a day photographing it and see something new from any angle. And that view can change with the light, not to mention if you're shooting for a color or a B&W finish.

The original was taken with a DSLR and an 18 - 70mm lens at 1/200, f/7.1; ISO was 800. The photo was then converted to a B&W image and cropped for the square look. A small amount of vignetting was applied and a little sharpening was added. Somewhere during the process the mystery was given it. Have you noticed it yet?


The following photo is a just a follow-up to the one from last week - Under The Trestle. I know it isn't much in showing the Trestle in a closer light, but I do like the overall view of looking down the tracks, wondering what could be beyond and what would I see around the far bend. Ever wonder what could be over the next hill or what you might see if you were to go just a little further down the road?

Just as "Under The Trestle" this, too, was taken with a DSLR and an 18 - 70mm lens; 1/160, f/5.6 ISO was 400. In Photoshop Elements it was converted to a B&W photo, cropped and like most of my photos some vignetting was added and a small amount of sharpening at the end.

As a kid I used to jump on coal trains up in the George's Creek valley. Of course they were not going fast and only rode them for a short distance. No, didn't think of the danger, it was to much fun. Also used to have contests to see who could run the furthest down the rail before falling off; or twisting an ankle. Even tried letting the air out of our bike tires some, and putting them on the rail and ridding them. What a balancing act, if you could do it. Back then rims where wide, especially on the older bikes.

Now for the big moment. Did you guess what is missing from the Western Maryland Station photo? If you haven't, the answer is:

The CrossTown Bridge!

Yeah, this is my world, bridge or not. I hope you enjoy looking at these photos as much as I do in creating them. My world here in Western Maryland is a great place to be, I love it and you are welcome to it.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Beautiful Neighbor of the Bland Hospital

In an earlier blog entry - http://gcriff.blogspot.com/2009/01/losing-two-gaining-one.html - I showed photos of the two local hospitals, as they now look, and two photos of the new hospital that is scheduled to open this year; which replaces both hospitals. If you've seen them I hope you noticed how bland and almost prison like the new building looks.

Now I know we need(?) a new hospital but does it have to be so, well, pallid? Could it at least have a little character or some color? Well, close by, as a neighbor, if you look and expect to see, you can see beauty where it is not expected. Below, at a close intersection is this view. I wonder how many of us have driven by and either not noticed or just gave a quick glance to this landscape? If you are looking you will see. Expect the unexpected and it just may jump out at you as this view did to me.

Odds are, this may not look the same the next time I go by but for this one moment this is what I saw, at least in my photographic mindset as I stopped to photograph what was there. Does this ever happen to you? I sure hope so.


This photo was captured with a DSLR and an 18-70mm lens at 1/250 & f/8 set at 70mm with an ISO of 200; handheld. In Photoshop Elements I cropped it, adjusted the contrast a little, added a little saturation and gave a final small bit of sharpening. Basically I did my best to make the final print look as good as what I saw in my mind when I photograped this scene. As usual, if you click on the photo it will open to a larger size and then just click on your back button or backspace key to return to this blog.

And I love the way the one limb of the tree seems to be bent over the shed as if to provide some protection, or even to tell all that look upon this scene that the tree may be saying "hands off, this shed is mine". Yeah, I know, what an imagination. Tell me that you don't have one that you use when you photograph something? Think about it. :-)

There is a lot that goes on in my world and contrary to what one might think I do shoot in color as well, especially when color is what the photo basically is all about. I think that if this was in B&W it would not come across as well as it does. And since this is a close neighbor to the new bland hospital, color is whats needed to bring some life, some character to the neighborhood.

This is my world, and even a new hospital is welcomed, no matter what its looks might be, because all around it is beauty that can be seen when one looks for it. Yeah, this is my world and you are welcome to it.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Weekly Black & White Square Photo

A place for rest, from riding the rails or towing the barge, across this Trestle came the B&O Railroad and underneath it came the C&O Canal. Hobo's may have rested here, the animals pulling the canal boats and there leaders may have stopped here for a bite of food, a drink and to cool off in the shade of the Trestle from the hot sun. However, since this is an area of several locks, the stop for the Canawlers most likely was short lived, if they stopped at all.

How many trains have crossed over and how many boats have gone under, not to mention the animals that pulled them and the people that road both the trains and canal boats. Their numbers are lost, but the spirit of the times and the hard work of the ages remain and can be scene in the weathered look of this Trestle.


This photo was taken with a DSLR and a 18 - 70 mm lens set at 18mm with a shutter speed of 1/6 sec @ f/8 with an ISO of 400. This photo was shot hand held, but I was leaning back against the opposite wall with both arms tucked in my sides and the camera jammed against my face between two hands. I even stopped breathing for the shot, and with all that it's a wonder I got anything at all, let alone survive the shoot; but it was worth it.

Even on this very overcast day the contrast was striking. The original is a jpeg color image. It has been converted to B&W, cropped for the square look, and slightly sharpened with some dodging and burning to bring out the texture of the image. A little extra contrast was also applied.

I took many shots the day of the shoot and, if not next week, sometime soon I plan on showing a photo of the Trestle itself from topside, looking down the tracks; what someone would see as they walk the rails.

Yes, the Canal, the Railroad and the Trestles, too, are a part of my life and, even though I like shooting in color as well, I enjoy looking at my world through a B&W lens. I see the past, I see our legacy and that is the reason for the B&W Square Photo; to honor the cameras and films of the past as they captured life as it happened.

This is my world, Trestles and all, I love it and you are welcome to it.