Seeing is the essence of photography and we all see things a little differently. That’s the neat thing that makes us all different. The way we interpret the world around us gives us all a unique perspective that make our photographs ours alone. No one can duplicate exactly the way we see, the way we feel and the way we chose to make images.
My wife and I drove by this tree several times a week for a number of years before I “saw” it and then one day it grabbed my attention. It registered in my brain as a prehistoric Wooly Mammoth! To you it might seem like just the old, dying remains of a tree, and that’s okay. Or you maybe you see it in some other way, but to me…It brings back a long ago time when the world was far different from today. It was fresh and new and the creatures we see in museums roamed our land. To me…it’s more than a dead tree…It’s alive!
A little less than a year ago the doctors found a growth on my wife Shirlee’s left lung. After some tests it was determined to be cancer and she had directed radiation to remove it. The treatment was successful and late last year cat scans showed that it was no longer there. However, she was not feeling good and early this year she had an x-ray that showed there were new nodules in the same left lung. About three weeks ago she had a cat scan which showed that not only did they appear to be growing, but now had spread to the right lung also. After having a blood test to be sure they were not the result of a fungal infection, it was determined that her cancer was back.
The only treatment that can be considered it chemotherapy and with her severe COPD (Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) it is really not an option as she probably wouldn’t survive it. Her doctors have both suggested that we look into hospice care.
Last Sunday I told our church family what was going on in our lives. I asked them for prayer, not so much for healing (yes, God can heal), but more for strength, energy and peace for not only her, but for the family. And I ask the same of you.
Shirlee and I grew up together in a small Michigan town starting almost 75 years ago. We attended the same small church and in 3rd grade I announced to anyone that would listen, “My girl friends name is Shirlee Arlene Clum!” At the end of 5th grade her family moved to Grand Rapids, but I would still see her when her folks would come back to visit in the summer. We had one date in our senior year of high school, then for 45 years we lost contact with each other. But she was always on my mind.
On June 15, 2001 we reconnected thru classmates.com and fell in love. She was living in Michigan and was unmarried and I was living in Florida and was also unmarried. In October of that year she came to visit and we were married February 1, 2003. After retirement, later that year, I left Florida and became a resident of Michigan again.
It’s now been over 10 years since we both said our “I dos” and other than the time she has spent in the hospital we have not had a day apart. She is such an important part of my life and because of her belief in me I started singing in church again, took on the choir leadership, started walking in the woods with my camera, and writing my memoir, “Granddad and the Kid.” I really don’t think I could have or would have done these things without her beside me. How do I continue to function when she is no longer there beside me?
I know life goes on. I know that when the time comes I will be strong because that is what she wants. Before the events of the past year or so, talking about death was something I had a problem with, a conversation to be avoided. It was not that I was afraid of death, both Shirlee and I have trusted in Jesus as our Savior and know where we will spend eternity, but thinking about life without the one I loved was not a pleasant thought. Now, through her strength, it is something to be discussed. Where do we go from here? How does she want things handled when her time comes? What family memorabilia will go to which family member? All these kind of things are now out on the table. Our lives have changed.
I have probably rambled in this post. These are the hardest words I’ve ever typed. Everything is happening way too soon. We haven’t had enough time together. There are so many things I want to share with her, places to go…but we are running out of time. We’ve had the dawn, the noonday, the afternoon and the evening. We are now in the sunset. And I stop and remember…sunsets can be beautiful…even the stormy ones.
I have been reading some posts by photographers who are really into the idea that their images are pure and pristine because they take great pains to get all the settings right in the camera so they do little or no post processing. They harken back to the days of film when post processing in a wet darkroom was a long and time consuming process and you really needed to get it right on the film. While they are not quite beating their chests about the fact they are producing “pure, real” photographs, they are coming close to it.
Rest assured, I don’t have a problem with this approach to photography, however I do have a problem when they proclaim that those of us who do a lot of post processing are sloppy photographers. They are so hung up on what they consider “real” images that they fail to realize there are no such things!
To my knowledge, there are no cameras on earth that can produce an image that is exactly what the human eye sees. As Garry Winogrand:wrote, “A photograph is the illusion of a literal description of how the camera ‘saw’ a piece of time and space.” Notice the use of the word, “illusion.” A photograph is not, nor never will be a literal translation of what the eye sees.
The photographer makes a choice of what focal length lens to use, what shutter speed, aperture, white balance, where to focus, where to shoot from and many other considerations all which influence the final image. And then they proclaim that their image is a true representation of the scene. I’m sorry, it’s not!
If the photographer is an artist, then his camera becomes his brush, pallet and canvas. He is free to interpret the scene before him in any way he chooses in the same way as an oil or watercolor painter. Abstract, Cubism, Expressionism, Fauvism, Impressionism, Pointillism, Pop Art, Postimpressionism, Primitivism, Realism or Surrealism are all valid styles. Some of these styles may not be to your liking, but so be it!
The same should be true in photography. We have fought long and hard for our creative output to be considered as art and qw as artists. Why do we now get so upset when someone goes in a different direction than realism? I may not like a garish HDR photograph, but if that is the way the artist wants to present his work, then what’s the problem?
Yes, if an image is presented as “this is the way it was” such as news or documentary, then it should not be altered so as to change the facts. But for the rest of us we deserve the right to alter our images in any way our vision dictates. You go your way, I’ll go mine, but, don’t ever let anyone tell you your way is wrong!!
Spring time has finally come to Acker Woods. And with the warm spring weather comes frequent rain storms. And with the rain storms come interesting cloud formations. This is the way our Eastern sky looked as Duke and I took our morning walk. Fortunately we haven’t gotten the rain, and that’s a good thing! We’re still recovering from the excessive rains of April.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the great photographers of both past and present who made (or make) beautiful, iconic images in black and white. They trained their eye to look beyond the color to envision the scene in shades of grey. Those shades of grey became their palate and the stories they told with those images will always remain in my mind. To me, the image of the sailor, excitedly grabbing and kissing a passing nurse at the end World War II (taken by Alfred Eisenstaedt) would not have the same impact in color. Ansel Adams’ famous photograph, “Moon Over Hernandez”, would not have the same, awesome impact in color. Philip Hyde,, while he made numerous fantastic landscape images in color, speaks volumes with his black and white photograph of “Escalante River Near Willow Canyon, Glen Canyon, Utah”, photographed in 1964. Think of all the photographs of the green pepper taken by Edward Weston. Color could never replace those rich black and white tones of his most famous of those shots, “Pepper No. 30.”
I could go on with those masters of the past but even today Clyde Butcher is out there, lugging around an 8 x 10 view camera making wonderful black and white images along with many more who produce the majority of their work in black and white, using both digital and film.
I shot this image the other morning with the Lumix FZ35 point and shoot camera. I hadn’t had it off the shelf since I got the Nikon D60 and I decided it needed a little workout! This image of the leaves was shot in RAW so it was in color, but the more I looked at it on the monitor, the more it cried out “I need to be a black and white image”! And you know what? It was right!!
It’s been an interesting April here in Acker Woods this year. It’s been cold, rained and rained and then rained some more. The two lakes down the road, Big Acker and Little Acker, are at the highest they’ve been for the 10 years I’ve lived here. We’re in no danger, nor are any of the cottages on the lake since most are on high banks and where we live the water would have to rise at least 50 feet or more to make it to the front deck. And that’s a good thing!
A lot of the folks in the surrounding areas on the rivers haven’t been so lucky as many of them are flooded. In fact, at least a couple of the major hotels in Grand Rapids on the Grand River were evacuated due to flooded basements. Flooded basements mean no electricity and we saw a news story that some of the guests had to walk down 12 or more flights of stairs in order to make it out. Imagine spending your trip to Grand Rapids in a shelter rather than your beautiful, expensive hotel room! Not fun!
This image shows the outlet from spring fed Big Acker that feeds Little Acker. There were times last summer that there was almost no flow and Little Acker was at its lowest in years. Looks like these spring rains will be a good thing for both lakes. But, we have to admit we sure wish it would quit raining!
Before I got interested in photography I wanted to be a painter. I was impressed with the way the artist could bring a scene to life with just a few strokes of a brush. But, alas, I had no talent in that area of the arts. No matter how I tried, what I produced could in no way be considered art.
That is why I became interested in photography. Since, for the most part, my artistic views favored realism, the camera could bring my impressions of the world to life. Now, in the digital darkroom days, there is software that will add to that effect.
I took the color version of “Fence and Tree” into Topaz labs BW Effects and chose the “Painterly” effect. After a few adjustments in Photoshop I produced this image. The effect is subtle and doesn’t scream at you. In fact, you almost have to enlarge it to really see the effect. I don’t know about you, but I like it!