Jul 30, 2009


Dowager Duchess, intimate landscapes, Bisti, Bisti Badlands, Farmington, NM
Dowager Duchess
©Joe Bridwell
Ancient hat on her head,
Brim pulled low against setting sun,
Brown purse clutched tightly beside formless dress,
the Dowager Duchess presses on,
As if to Her Majesties Royal Guard drummers…

Runner Up
Dowager Duchess came in a close 2nd in my own selections for submission to Darwin Wiggett n the recent Intimate Landscape’s workup .
Somehow, after starting a piece, I seem to find a title or competition name most apt for each image. I must admit, Bisti Mosaic did take a while to jell.
But, our Dowager Duchess came easily, perhaps influenced by many pleasant years watching Masterpiece Theatre.

As pleasant, if not much more so, is the exciting new TAT tool (Targeted Adjustment Tool in CS4). We’ve talked about it in prior blogs…
TAT is a slider based tool which works in Curves and Hue-Saturation-Luminance. Click on TAT (hand icon with finger up), move cursor over color you wish to change (Tone Map), and move up or down to quickly get your setting just right. If you're working HSL - move right or left. TAT’s really powerful – Adobe has set TAT up to work on more than one slider at a time. Clearly, this is a remarkable, time-saving tool…

Bisti Hoodoos
Not to forget – we took this Bisti image about sunset in late October. The Bisti Badlands is located south of Farmington and northwest of Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. It’s hoodoos provide amazingly surreal, off-world imagery!
Working in combination with Lightroom 2 and CS4, both Dowager Duchess and Bisti Mosaic were easily tone mapped and prepared for competition as Intimate Landscapes…

Jul 29, 2009

Intimate Landscapes

Bisti Mosaic, intimate landscapes, Bisti, Bisti Badlands, Farmington, NM
Bisti Mosaic
©Joe Bridwell
Magic Hour light, Bisti Hoodoos, highlights and shadows.
What an evocative hoodoo/reflection shape to set up a pattern.
Then with subtle color change, a remarkable repeat, just a different pattern...

Darwin Wiggett
In a summer competition, Darwin is focusing on Intimate Landscapes. At first, I thought I had just the one - Water Woman.
But then, I read the rules a little more carefully. "No sky..."

Back to the Drawing Boards
Time to go back through several years of Bisti images. Also, time to start from scratch developing those images because of new development tools in Lightroom and CS4.
I've evolved tremendously since shooting these Bisti images. My evolution is in creative application of Photoshop. The tight connection between Lightroom and CS4 has allowed me to 'pick and choose' between the appropriate tool in each piece of software.
At this point, I really prefer to do a lot of early tone mapping work in Lightroom's develop module. Early work - clipping, curves tone mapping (using the TAT tool), hue, saturation, and luminance (HSL’s TAT), landscape sharpening with masking, and camera profiles in Lightroom. Closure - varied application of Pixel Genius' Photokit Sharpener using the creative sharpening tool for advanced 3-D sharpening in CS4.
Or, even more subtle masking techniques in CS4...

Bisti Mosaic – Tone Poem?
I really love how light and shadows captured one late fall sunset interplay with challenging and ever-changing hoodoo shapes of the Bisti Badlands. With skillful Photoshop application, Bisti Mosaic has become a tone poem... one lit shape casts a shadow on another shape; then God, with a mischievous gesture, changed the shape and color, casting yet another evocative shadow!
Who says you can't fly to the Bisti on a magic carpet, take pictures as if you were off-world on Mars, yet create the perfect Intimate Landscape?

Jul 27, 2009

Configurator 0.9.0

Configurator, Air, Users Guide, Abode, workflow

Life / Photography just got easier
Those marvelous Adobe engineers have done it again!
Simply put, Configurator is a roll-your-own cornucopia for tools, actions, adjustments, masks... you name it, you can do it. Put everything you do in CS4 in one simplified place.

Channels and Masks
Deke McClelland recently released Photoshop CS4 Channels and Masks - One on One. In the preface, Deke gives you keyboard shortcuts, sets preferences, and installs his preferred version of Configurator on your CS4. As you work through his book, he's tailored the CS4 environment for you ~ just the way he thinks.

Making Configurator Work
Configurator is a new tool from Adobe; along with Air it's a simple install. Just drag and drop tools and other controls, add your own personal touch with an image, play a video, even reach out to your blog if you wish - the flexibility is immense.
In essence, this is just a beginner's shot from me. I already know, that with time, my present Configurator 0.9.0 will become Configurator 1.3 (?) as I refine, enhance, and speed up my workflow using this remarkable tool.
BTW - Configurator only works on Adobe Photoshop CS4…

Users Guide
Adobe's Users Guide does a pretty fair job of setting up the workflow environment for Configurator. Between looking at Deke's version and checking out the users guide, I built 0.9.0 in a little over an hour.
Because of the recent Trojan horse and rebuilding the laptop, I've had to do several tweaks to CS4 after it's recent reinstall.

Not So Subtle Bonus
With DSLR sensors getting bigger and bigger, images get smaller on the screen.  With Configurator, I have gained some more screen space, simplified my click path, and gained can now more deeply enjoy Channels and Masks...

Configurator is sort of like meringue tips on icing on the most delicious chocolate pie... while I musn't do pies any more - Configurator is a sublimate!

Jul 26, 2009

July 18th Photo Walk II

Our Lady of Fatima, Old Town, Albuquerque, 2nd Worldwide Photo Walk
Our Lady of Fatima
©Joe Bridwell
A lovely statue at the SE corner of San Felipe de Neri church on Old Town Square in Albuquerque. While I didn't discover them until processing the image, I love the deeply peaceful aspect of doves at her feet!

Photo Walk II
Some ~900 cities across the Planet hosted 32600+ photographers on Scott Kelby’s 2nd Annual Worldwide Photo Walk. I took about 35 images – I talked to a guy who took 525…
Photo Walkers were given a week to upload 2 images for the competition. I'm including miniatures from my top Photo Walk choices in this blog.
I've been to Old Town many times. I found myself not so much interested in new things to shoot as in watching what other accomplished photographers found exciting to shoot.
And yes, there is an immense history in this hallowed area of Albuquerque. Old Town was established in 1703. The present San Felipe de Neri church was built in 1793; their parish has existed for nearly 300 years. Just being able to freely walk and shoot in an area between 200 and 300 years old is an extreme privilege and honor. All this, even if our Lady of Fatima did not have such a wonderfully peaceful look as she offers eternal prayer...

52 Pontiac Chieftain, Old Town, Albuquerque, 2nd Worldwide Photo Walk
'52 Pontiac Chieftain
© Joe Bridwell
At first, I was only aware of the old Pontiac. I walked around it, took several shots, got permission to open the door and shoot the dash…
but I kept coming back to the symbology of sharp, colorful hood ornament outlined against blurred Old Town's Albuquerque sign.

Albuquerque’s Old Town Photo Walk
This image took me back to boyhood; only a few years after this car was built, I got my first car. It was a black '38 Buick Coupé from my grandmother with a floor stick shift.
Although I took many shots of this well restored old Pontiac, as I was reviewing in Lightroom, I realized the Chief’s ruggedly chiseled features might charm everyone as much as they fascinated me.
As I worked on the photo, all subtle reflections of brightly lit trees on green hood simply added mystique.
I found it truly delightful that, in one image, I could recall my grandmother, symbolize 300 years of regional history, subtly make note of traditional Albuquerque, yet encapsulate the 2nd Annual Worldwide Photo Walk in Albuquerque's stylish Old Town...
You can see Our Lady of Fatima here and 52 Pontiac Chieftain here.

Jul 25, 2009

"I'm Back", said the Laptop!

I'm Back, Laptop, Virus, Windows Reinstall, Photoshop Reinstall
My laptop's desktop contains one of the most enchantingly beloved pictures I've ever shot...
Can you imagine the sense of pleasure seeing this desktop, knowing for the prior 8 days I really didn't have a machine?

After the Trojan Horse...
"By the seventh day, God had finished the work he'd been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."
Genesis 2:2
What was God doing? Creating our universe...

Well, re-creating this high tech complex computer universe took me 8 days. So I guess it's pretty obvious ~ I'm not God!

On the other hand, this was my first time to try and rebuild a laptop. Under Larry Stroup's excellent tutelage, the project limped or galloped along.
Reinstall Windows, reinstall most drivers, reinstall Office, reinstall Dragon NaturallySpeaking - upgrade Windows and Office repeatedly; Phase I. Repeatedly check for Trojan horses until none appeared after several virus scans with the very latest AVG virus database; Phase II. Reinstall Photoshop CS2, CS3, CS4, and Lightroom 2.4 - upgrade and install Adobe Camera Raw 5.4 where needed; Phase III. Refine registry and defrag; Phase IV. Defrag the hard drive, collecting fragmented files, then compacting files; Phase V. Set up Windows Restore to provide fallback Registry backups should the sad occasion of a virus ever arise again; Phase VI.
I know - the last paragraph is a lot of technical gobbledygook.
But, I have finally re-created my own much smaller universe...

Bite the Bullet - II
What's your take away?
1. Use a firewall.
2. Download virus database updates daily.
3. Frequently scan hard drive for viruses.
a. Set your virus software to scan when you have other regularly scheduled appointments.
4. Don't let your habits allow a virus.
a. If you can't perform these technical steps,
b. If you haven't backed up your hard drive on a regular basis,
c. ... You're going to be in a world of hurt!
d. Worst case; buying a new computer and starting over from scratch!

An extended log of this process can be found here.
Thanks, Larry... enjoy the Seychelles!

Jul 23, 2009

Adobe’s eSeminars

Bryan Hughes, PhotoMerge, CS4, Adobe, eSeminar

This morning, I took part in a free, hour-long CS4 for Photographers class. Using hi-speed Comcast web technology, Adobe broadcast their first eSeminar Live using Adobe Flash Player. This one is on Cs4; Adobe plans to have 3 additional Connect Pro Meetings in the next month or so. You can find the info here.

And, yes, after working hard on the reinvigorated laptop for several busy days, I am watching Adobe live, listening to their intro Beethoven on it right now …

After synchronizing Flash Player and determining connection speed, when Connect Pro comes up, it takes Internet Explorer 8 over, creating a full screen (Argh…). CTRL-ALT-DEL lets me log onto Task Manager to get the Start menu back ~ so I can do other things while waiting for the extravaganza to start. Ahh, Beethoven…

Bryan Hughes Bryan Hughes began the session a few moments after 1000 Pacific time – I could actually post these remarks on Google Blogger as I write – But I’d rather watch and listen to Bryan…

Here’s the Most Amazing Part…
Bryan’s composite pano image above is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen CS4 do…
Bryan took 2 different hand-held panos. When I first saw the original images, they were in no particular order in Bridge. That’s to say “They were mixed together”. He merged them (without stacking – 2 sets of different pano images), and displayed them on screen.
Result: Both panos appeared - separately, mind you - from the input melee...
I simply did a screen capture to commemorate this unique CS4 feature (the image above)…
Now, that’s quite a stunning technology feat!!!

Some 50+ minutes in, somewhat saturated, I had learned several Tips and Tricks which I would not normally find in textbooks or on DVDs.

I encourage you to register with Adobe and watch over the next few Thursdays (July 23 - Aug 30) as their eSeminars whet your appetite for ever sharper Lightroom, Bridge, and CS4 workflows…

Thanks, Bryan and Adobe…

Jul 22, 2009

Bite the Bullet…

Pathways of Light has been silent for a while.

I Was Trojaned, Windows Reinstall

Believe it or not, that's because we lost the light; in more technical terms, we got a Trojan horse virus on the laptop.
Scrooge really had it right; "Bah, humbug..." in Texas corral dust, that would be some serious expletives I simply can't put in this blog.

I'm extremely fortunate; one of my long-time friends is challenged by such complex issues and loves to solve them. So, I went to Larry Stroup. In spite of a time compressed heavy schedule, Larry would put down what he was doing whenever I could ask a cogent question, come over, take control of the laptop, and 'Wave His Magic Wand...'

Long Story Short...
Although I was behind a router (stops hacker attacks) and had up-to-date virus software, the laptop still required a Trojan horse one morning. Talk about getting quickly sick...
After futzing around, we reach the dreaded decision: "Time to Reformat and Reinstall..."
Well, the virus occurred Sunday the 12th, work began Thursday the 17th, and yesterday, Tuesday the 22nd, we had the preliminary restoration done.

Magic Mind
Larry dearly loves a challenge. I know there are things more challenging than trying to repair a laptop; but for me, it was going to turn out to be quite a new learning experience. I had never tried to recover a Windows computer from a virus. Larry never had a virus.
So we began...
One slow, at times agonizingly-painful step at a time, we began the solemn process of reinstalling Windows, AVG, Office, Dragon Naturally Speaking, and all the other software which leads to creating a successful blog and maintaining Fine Art Landscape Photography.
With me as grunt (going as far as I could as an untrained Microsoft system engineer before I get stuck) and Larry as Magic Mind (gracefully digging me out of each debacle [BTW, Larry does this stuff by instinct]), after a few days diligent work my laptop was back in service.

Blood and Guts...
You can review the gory details here.
It ain't over 'til the fat lady sings... we still have a wireless which does not work and are not sure we have that Trojan totally eliminated.

Unfortunately, there has seemed to be a lingering virus. I'm in final stages of repeatedly cleaning the machine to eliminate that threat...

So check back as we finally get this job done...

My Hat’s off to Larry!
Thanks, Larry...

Update July 23
Several virus checks by AVG indicate no virus on the laptop.
Perhaps this phase is done for now...

Jul 15, 2009

Intimate Landscapes

Water Woman, intimate landscapes, Bisti, Bisti Badlands, Farmington, NM
Water Woman
©Joe Bridwell
A woman walks toward you,
Shrouded in deerskin cloak,
Providing an Anasazi woman’s care…
Carrying water home in an Olla!

Bisti Hoodoos
Many Bisti hoodoos provide an intimate landscape setting. To some, this is simply a rock statue caught near sunrise.
To others, the brief poem captures deep native feelings often written about in Tony Hillerman’s masterful Navajo mystery series.
Either way, a hoodoo is usually a sandstone cap underlain by a soft clay base. Water’s incessant drip-drip (or occasional raging desert flow) acts as God’s sculptured response, leaving creative fine art as our heritage.
I am sure when you trek the Bisti, your choice of creative fine art will differ. One of the Bisti's indelible beauties is just that ~ a timeless, almost limitless combination of intimate hoodoo landscape and variation of Enchanted Light.

Other Intimate Bisti Landscapes
You can investigate other intimate landscapes in our Bisti Chronicle series; Anasazi Drummer, Bisti Dementia, Pharaohs’ Saddle, Surreal

Bisti Badlands
A small, yet provocative area for digital photographers to ‘catch their limit ~ off-world surreal shapes’ during Magic Hour’s enchanted light. Nature’s sculpted hoodoos provide an almost never ending panoply of intimate landscapes to titillate the most discerning eye of a fine artist!

The Bisti (Navajo for badlands) is south of Farmington, NM.

Jul 14, 2009

Finessing HDR

©Revell PhotoWalkPro

Tasteful fine art HDR is a complex formulation of multiple images, multiple pieces of software, tone mapping, and creative imagination of the artist.
Jeff Revell shows his mastery in a video HDR Finishing Touches. His basic thesis: images, software tools, and imagination construct that final, creative image.

In this 10 minute video, Jeff adds subtlety and finesse after using Lightroom 2, CS4, and Photomatix Pro. As you shoot HDR images, capture of 3 images can introduce noise. Shooting more images (5-7-9) tends to help reduce noise.
There are two cases where Lightroom can’t do the noise reduction job. Jeff uses Nik’s Dfine 2.0 and the high pass filter in CS4, paying particular attention at the back of the hall and where upper columns flare.

Take a look at the video; if you're familiar with Photomatix and CS4 HDR tools, I think you'll really like Jeff’s suggested subtle luminosity finesse. I did...

Jul 12, 2009

Abstract Bisti

Bisti, Bisti Badlands, Anasazi Drummer, Farmington, NM
Anasazi Drummer
©Joe Bridwell
Sunset walk up a lonely canyon,
Around a far corner
Shadows create an Anasazi tom-tom.
Shadow stresses the sunlit tom-tom surface.
Another hoodoo projects as if a drumstick.
An ancient arrowhead mutes pulsating, melodic affects.

Night and Day - Cole Porter, 1932
By cleverly stressing reiterated sounds like "beat, beat, beat" of a Tom-Tom; the "tick, tick, tock" of a clock; and the "drip, drip, drip" of raindrops in the lyrics, Porter created a viable means for using a similar approach in the melody.
Thus, Porter simulated the desired pulsating effects in open verse.

The Muse's Contribution
Be you musician, songwriter, or photographer - grace of this Bisti hoodoo allows wide interpretation. I can think of it as if I were Fred Astaire, performing my last scintillating dance in a Broadway show. Or, as if I were Cole Porter, adapting a musical piece for the remarkable dancing but mediocre voice of Astaire. Or, yet again, as if I were an ancient Anasazi drummer beating repeated tunes to mystical holy chants.

Could this have been a ceremonial setting for ancient Anasazi kivas – perhaps a sand painting where they celebrated the Moon’s power? Or, was it simply a water-carved hoodoo lost amidst innumerable hoodoos until one particular sunset provided a spotlight? Either way, it’s As Shot – I did not put the red rock on the edge.

Bisti Tom-Tom
An April trek several years ago led to the surprise of this seemingly isolated vignette. In the Bisti, you never know what you'll see around the next corner. When you mix off-world shape with haunting, evocative light, there are even superb times when that weird brain mixture, shape and light, evoke a symphony of emotion.
From there, it's really not too hard to think,
"Like the beat, beat, beat of the tom-tom..."

Jul 9, 2009

Advanced Masking alá Deke

Deke McClelland, Scott Kelby, Guest Wednesday

Masking can be quite an art in Photoshop. Scott Kelby has a Wednesday GUEST blog – this time it’s Deke McClelland. Deke provides a half hour video about Advanced Masking – at the advanced alpha channel, calculations, split luminance slider levels, etc.
For me, this video came at just the right time. I’ve been studying masking. Most CS4 tools Deke uses are already part of my repertoire…
It’s just his salient organization and lucid explanation which made me feel I was jumping to another complete level by simply watching this video.

Masking Books and Videos
Deke has a recent book on masking, Photoshop CS4 Channels; Masks One-on-One… and videos on Lynda.com.

Digging Deeper
Deke has a DVD with this book – his video for us is only a fraction of the total package.  The book’s DVD is about 2.5 hours and received some good reviews.  Lynda.com has a Mastery DVD set which seems to include the masking info as a subset.

If you’re ready to hit masking’s stratosphere, check ‘em out…

My thanks to both Scott Kelby and Deke McClelland in creating this outstanding contribution.

Jul 5, 2009

Luck of the Draw

Alcove House, Bandelier, Pueblo III, NM, HDR
Alcove House
©Joe Bridwell
Canyon walls like protecting ramparts, a kiva, crumbled remnants of multi-story rooms…
Mostly lit afternoons and perhaps early evening,
Hidden far up a canyon above the Rio Grande,
Yet some deep shadows,
_A late-to-post Pueblo III ruin.

Storm’s Doldrums
“Should I load the car - or _not?”
It was early morning and raining; rain forecast most of the day. Was lazy going to win and stay home? Finally, no – we started north…
I’d seen a gallery print taken from the back wall, looking out past the kiva, and was intrigued. The idea was to get an HDR of that scene…
On site, another print caught my attention. If I made it up the 500’ south canyon wall, could I shoot a long telephoto HDR with polarizer to enhance rain’s softening effect? It was cloudy – misting outside.
It’s been one of those delightfully capricious springs. Occasional water, intermittent clouds, sun always a heated threat. Today didn't differ one whit...

One hundred and forty feet above the canyon floor there is a naturally eroded alcove about 65 feet wide. Rows of holes in the alcove walls originally held roof beams. Seventeen first-floor rooms were capped by a second story of six rooms. Three cave rooms were carved into the walls. Turkey pens occupied the far wall behind the kiva. A refuse heap contained potsherds, corncobs and shucks, red and yellow corn kernels, beans, fur and feather cloth, squash rinds, turkey droppings, and possible human waste. Pottery sherds indicate the alcove was occupied 1250-1550 A.D.
The 12 foot Kiva was reconstructed in 1910. Excavations showed a floor of hard, blackened plaster, a fire pit 2 feet from the ventilator shaft, and loom anchor holes in the floor with loops of reed or willow is still intact in three holes.
Alcove House Handout, Bandelier National Park.

Sunshine’s Blight…
That last part of the climb, up the 2nd cooling unit to the backcountry mesa top was swift. As I struggled up, sweat-filled eyes not protected by the customary bandana, vision-retarded, it was – climb, stop, sop with stinking sweater sleeve, then trudge on. Writing this reminiscence, I'm sunburned back up into the hair on my forehead.

Jemez Volcanism
The Jemez Volcano created these rocks in several magnificent eruptions over a million years ago. Gaseous lava would erupt, blow high into the sky, flow down the volcano’s sides, then spread outward, quickly cooling on top, but leaving ash below to cool more slowly and be softer. Many eons later, Anasazi found these delightfully soft rocks, carved rooms, and built Bandelier…
At the top – either open mesa or brush and tree filled canyon edge dipping steeply away. Ants, occasional but non-penetrating cactus, blessed juniper shade, ever present slap-slap to try to rid annoying bugs in the ears. Across the canyon, just below the lower cooling unit’s top, a magical alcove, a kiva, and awesome visual memories reminiscent of bygone Anasazi times.

Shootin’ Time
Feet hanging off the edge, tripod carefully braced, camera set up for 5 HDR shots, it was time to wait for visitors to leave those brief 2 seconds when images could be captured, trying to catch the ancient, sunlit essence of this magnificent, lonely ruin. The gray sky was now blue, clouds scudding east off the Jemez Mountains, patches of dark shadow occasionally interspersed with bright dashes of sun highlighting patches of canyon wall…
Between visitors who simply did not belong in this memorable photo of our past and scudding clouds, time passed slowly, letting me sit, absorb, dream about what was, yet be very much in each moment.
The first try let a few too many junipers draw my eye away above the alcove’s top; the last exquisitely framed walls, alcove, shadows, and strong kiva. Later, this simplistic scene _sans Anasazi_ would strongly remind me of realistic dioramas I saw many years ago at Mesa Verde.

You NEVER Know…
What started as a rain filled day to shoot in a hidden alcove turned into a day of exercise and sunlit capture of an exquisite memory from our Anasazi past. Sitting there, waiting to shoot, I recalled a morning at Fallen Roof ruin on Cedar Mesa, Utah. While waiting for the sun to really warm the exquisite roof and reflect magnificent colors, I heard children’s excited laughter up canyon well before I saw them.
A couple of striplings – big brother and little sister with parents – he climbing any wall, she enjoying the flowers – almost like ancient Anasazi children, natural, world-class climbers, as if monkeys from our distant past…
Were they premonitions of “How to think like an Anasazi?”

Nikon D300, 270mm, ISO 200, f/11, 1/250-1/15, 14 bit, 5 shots, -2/+2 EV
Photomatix, Tone Compressor @ Default Settings – 32 bit to 16 bit tif
Alternating Lightroom 2.4 / CS4 Tools.
LR2 Tools – Raw Camera Profile Nikon DX2 mode 3, Basic, Tone Curves - medium contrast, HSL Targeted Adjustment Tool (H&S), Detail – Landscape Sharpening w masking.
CS4 Tools - Curves Black and White Points, Photokit Sharpener final 3D sharpening (varying opacity, brush size), patch, clone, Dodge & Burn.


Jul 2, 2009

Apples to Oranges

Apples, Oranges, HDR, Cottonwood Narrows, Utah
Cottonwood Narrows North
©Joe Bridwell
Before and After of shadowed, early morning scene where rocks stand on end. Cottonwood Canyon, Utah.

Apple of My Eye – Orange of My Camera
“I found several recent references to statements about the ethics of combining exposures for increased dynamic range, improved depth of field etc. primarily focused on the 'fact' that such images don’t represent what the human eye sees.
“Let’s be very clear here: cameras don’t see like people do. If you were to travel through life with eyes closed, opening them for a fraction of a second at a time, then closing them again, then such statements might have merit.
“In reality a brain image is perceived from a stream of information as eyes constantly move and adjust to gather information about various parts of the scene.
“In a sense you can think of the way the brain creates an image as constant stitching and blending of multiple frames in rapid succession. Seeing allows a person to be aware of detail in extreme highlights and shadows, swiftly covering an area far greater than a single ‘eye exposure’ could.”

Brain Teaser
Tal's comments have proved rather evocative.
While I'd read many pieces about the camera versus the eye, they were never stated in such a clearly contradictory anagram - Apple of My Eye – Orange of My Camera.
Sometimes, a word picture eventually takes me back over recent images. Something clicks, "Ah, now I can 'see' this image sequence in a new light!"
Often, this process occurs during rim sleep - that early morning, half awake state where the Muse comes to sit on my shoulder to help me create.

Cottonwood Narrows North
Cottonwood Canyon is northwest of Page, Arizona. A part of the Colorado Plateau flexed long ago; one side up, the other down. Along the long flexure, now Cottonwood Canyon, originally horizontal beds may become vertical. If they are multicolored, so much the better. If taken in a highly contrasting light, so much more the better.

Orange of My Camera
A static photograph starts off at a significant disadvantage when attempting to represent the process of seeing. In the Cottonwood Narrows case, it's the picture on the left (above). That's raw file capture of a Nikon D300.

Apple of My Eye
With 4 more images (-2 EV to +2 EV), I also captured high dynamic range. Using Merge to HDR in Photoshop CS4, I created an HDR image, then carefully tone mapped the high contrast rocks using tools of the Adjustments panel.
The dominant rock was red, but there were greens in the shrubbery and blue in the sky. In the initial raw file capture, these RGB colors seem muted.
But after tone mapping, the richness, the suggestive saturation, and the strong tonal patterns created an evocative, dramatic effect.

Standing Rocks
The combination of colors, the filigree of shadow and spire, the rich, red texture of the vertical rock layers, the slight flare of sunlight highlighting green shrubs - these are strong, provocative elements which become subtle Apples of My Eye.
Rather than identifying the final image by place-name (a geological custom), why not use its genesis for a name?
Me - I like Standing Rocks... a pleasure of enhanced tonal measure.
Now, all I have to do is learn to stop thinking of my camera as an Orange Crush!

Jul 1, 2009

Ruby Strewn Fields

Ancient Family, Surreal, hoodoo, Bisti Badlands, Farmington, NM, bisti, mars, Bisti Adventure Tours

Ancient Stone Family
©Joe Bridwell
The Bisti Badlands is a hidden desert jewel to delight kids or grandkids - dinosaur bones and petrified logs from ancient rainforests add inimitable mystique.
It's the land which truly delights a child's creative imagination...

Bisti Badlands
Rolling across High Country desert in the southwestern US, this land's blandness ill prepares you for secret, perpetual delight of secluded byways and enchanting hoodoos. But you're curious - somewhere, ethereal, surreal shapes of hoodoos captivate in these Badlands. Your imagination finds it hard to conjure such delightful images in such a featureless desert.

I Like Kids
In the Bisti, we have about the same maturity level – limited only by our fertile imaginations.
"What's a hoodoo?" My granddaughter is always curious.
"It's a piece of hard sandstone sitting on top of softer clay." Keep it simple, Grandpa!
"Who made it?"
"I believe God did."

Mother and Child
"How did He make a hoodoo?"
"He created thunderstorms whose walls of rushing water cut away soft clays like a knife, leaving hard sandstone caps!"
"How old is a hoodoo?"
"They began about 10,000 years ago." At nine, her face screwed up over 10,000.
So I said, "They've been here a long, long time..."
Then I asked, "Does this hoodoo remind you of anything?"
And Pandora's box, ever present in a young creative spirit, sprang forth from her vivid child's imagination…
"I see a Mama... then I see a Baby. Their noses almost touch." She pointed to the two rocks at the top of the picture.
"I love your imagination... what else do you see?"
"I see a nearby head pointing to the right. But I can't tell what kind of animals they are."
"Nor can I." We had been to the museum, but did not think like this then.
"It's quite neat to see reddish-brown rocks which lie on the ground outlining this family - it's almost like a rug of strewn rubies. Did you notice that color?"
"Oh, yes, I did. Those red rocks make a nice backyard. I love exploring with you!"

If I think in today's terms, the animals might be otters and turtles. But if I want to go back 65 million years, I have to go to a museum to see what animals were like then.
Perhaps, in one of the displays, I'll find some animals who lived then, yet, thru hoodoos, enhance our imagination now.

I now think of the Bisti as
Time's Capsule ~ Travel's Twist™