Autumn in Sedona

Last year at this time, I was looking forward to a couple’s trip to Sedona, Arizona. While I have only been there four times in my life, Sedona is one of my favorite places. I just love to hike there and admire the ever-changing views of the sunlight on the red rock. Catching a glimpse of Oak Creek at the same time makes me feel even more serene and balanced.

Afternoon sunlight casts shadows on Cathedral Rock and softens the high desert shrubs. Sedona, AZ , November 2019.

I have included this image in my Landscape Photography calendar for 2021. These calendars will be available soon for holiday gift giving. Send me a message if you are interested in buying one, and I will reserve one for you.

A Chrysanthemum, that’s all

This photograph is meant to be simple. It invites you to gaze upon a single flower. Enjoy it. Think about it. Appreciate it.

White chrysanthemum catches my attention at the New York Botanical Garden #NYBG.

Do you know what I think? I think we should conserve Nature, in all of its diversity, and start now to save our planet. See David Attenborough’s documentary on Netflix. It’s powerful.

The Magical Conservatory

Getting out to photograph nature in 2020 has been challenging. I’ve become better acquainted with the parks near my home than ever before, but last week was different. My husband and I drove to New York City for a family visit. Seeing the family after a long wait was terrific, but it was also fun to visit the New York Botanical Garden and within it, the tropical plants in the beautiful Enid Haupt Conservatory.

Walking through the Haupt Conservatory, we were surrounded by ferns, palm trees, an assortment of cacti and lots of unfamiliar and varied green plants. Since it wasn’t crowded at all, we could take our time, and I could take photos!

Sunshine streamed through the windows at high noon, so conditions were perfect for Infrared Photography — my new creative pursuit. With a Sony a6300 camera converted to see only Infrared light and part of the visible light spectrum, only above 590 nanometers, I captured a dozen or so images. It was fun to have a fresh subject to shoot, and some new infrared images to process.

Here is one of my Conservatory images of (visibly green) foliage looking quite different in infrared.

Banana trees in the New York Botanical Garden #NYBG, captured in Infrared and High Spectrum (greater than 590 nm) of visible light. Processed in Capture One, Photoshop and Color Efex Pro.

Learning New Methods

What did you learn today? Whether your field is medicine or teaching or child rearing, I’m sure you learn something new every day. Right now I’m using these few months close to home to learn lots about processing infrared photographs. I’m finding Infrared Photography an interesting creative outlet.

After having a Sony camera converted to capture only Infrared and “SuperColor” light (over 580 nanometers), I learned how to White Balance, Channel Swap, and adjust the hue, saturation and tonality of the color captured. That may be a lot of meaningless jargon to you, but the message is this: it is all quite technical and detailed, but the tools, once mastered, are fun to play with!

Today’s share is a photograph I shot outside the Conservatory of the New York Botanical Garden on October 3. I chose the sharpen the foreground plants while fogging and softening the background. I also chose to feature the golden color we love in the Fall against the deep blue sky. All of these choices are creative ones; I like that this image is uniquely mine.

Photography

Fern in Infrared Light

Walking the neighborhood on a perfect autumn afternoon, I spotted ferns leaning over an old split-rail fence. The fern was fresh, while the wood was rotting. How would this scene appear in an infrared image?

In this infrared image, green foliage appears white, and the rotting wood took on a blue hue. Do you like the contrasting textures and colors? We are looking at Nature through a new lens.

Creative Possibilities

Having converted a Sony mirrorless camera (a6300) to “Infared and SuperColor,” I’m now learning how to process these odd images. When you capture an image with infared light and visible light only 590 nanometers and up, you get some unique color effects, so you need to adjust white balance, swap blue and red, set white and black points, adjust the tonality of each color and adjust hue and saturation. While that sounds like a ridiculous amount of work, the process becomes interesting because you learn about what each individual color (red, green and blue) is doing and how each individual color looks as it interacts with the others.

While you may or may not find that color study interesting, you will probably like the creative possibilities in the different results one can achieve. Here are some examples:

greyscale infared photograph
This image is essentially black and white with a blue filter applied. Processed in Lightroom, Photoshop and Nik’s Silver Efex Pro. Infared is known for giving you the raw material for a high contrast greyscale image.
Infared photograph
I like the effect of showing the foliage as white while rendering the sky in a deep blue hue. I find it ethereal.
Infared photograph
Since I like images that are somewhat realistic, and I love Fall color, I also like to render the foliage as yellow or golden, while maintaining the sky an attractive shade of blue. I could render the foliage as light pink or magenta, but that’s not my style.

The Swimmer or the Water?

You know the age-old question: what came first, the chicken or the egg? You can’t have one without the other, right? In the same vein, I ask you, “What is this photograph about, the swimmer or the water? Without the water, we wouldn’t have a swimmer, and yet the swimmer adds action and purpose to the image. I could argue that the water has the strongest visual interest. But the water without the swimmer might not be eye-catching or meaningful.

This infrared photograph processed as a cyanotype stops action of a girl swimming in a pool. The monochrome nature of this infrared photograph allows us to really focus on the water’s texture.

So do you think this image is more about the swimmer or the water?

I hope you are enjoying the rest of your summer.

Feels like Charleston

A second floor sleeping porch, the perfect place to catch a breeze on a hot, muggy night might remind you of houses in Charleston or Savannah or New Orleans. But this picturesque home is found in Sewickley, Pennsylvania where I live.

Painted white with black shutters and shrouded with green trees, it seemed like a good subject for infrared photography — a medium that shows green foliage as white.

Infared photography shows foliage as white and skies black.
Infared photography can be processed many ways, but one way shows green foliage as white and skies as dark or black on a sunny afternoon.

I have just started this week experimenting with Infared photography, having bought a Sony 6300 camera and having sent it to LifePixel to have it converted to “Super color” Infared. Stay tuned to this blog for more interesting results.

Old Fashioned Childhood

Many people are saying the pandemic is helping us to appreciate the old fashioned pleasures of summer — like sitting with family on the porch, riding bikes in the neighborhood or playing board games. Since most of us are slowing down and hanging out at home rather than jetting off to faraway vacation spots, we feel like we are enjoying a summer from a bye-gone era.

So, yesterday I glanced out the front window to see the little girl next door playing with her dolls. She spread out a blanket in the shade under a tree and was sitting there by herself with three dolls. For me it was a poignant flashback to when my daughters (now in their 30s) played with their dolls. I remember when they arranged a little tea party for the dolls and the dog too.

Seeing little Josephine by herself, letting her imagination provide the morning entertainment, brought me such joy. I ran for my camera and then approached Josephine and her mom for permission to take some photos. I was grateful to capture this special moment. Josephine was surprised to hear that I had three little girls a long time ago. She asked if I still had their dolls. I do.

Josephine arranges her dolls’ hair as they enjoy some time on the blanket together. One of her dolls is named “Josephina.”

When the Lotus Blooms

We have waited all summer, and finally the Lotus joined the water lilies in the fish pond, with its mid-August bloom. Notice the the large round leaves of the lotus, standing on tall stalks.

Surrounded by the large fan-like lotus leaves, the white and pink streaked lotus blossom opened in mid-August.

The lotus is the most sacred flower in Hindu and Buddhist culture. It represents something unearthly and enlightening. The lotus has been revered for thousands of years. I remember seeing them at the Summer Palace in Beijing, China.