Monday, February 28, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: 095

095 , originally uploaded by WOMEN&WORLD.
Piet Smaal takes some of the most beautiful fine art portraits I've seen. Unfortunately, some of his photos are set up in Flickr to allow blogging, while others aren't, and my very favorite are in the latter category. So you'll have to follow the links to this beautiful portrait, and to this study in contrast between a pregnant woman and a woman who is not (but looks like she has been at one time). Of the bloggables, this one's my favorite. Like a lot of Smaal's models, she seems to be a little older, a little more care-worn than the typical 20-year-old nymph you see so often, but that just gives her more character. It looks like she has not only character but sass, like someone who would be a lot of fun to photograph.

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Archive photo of the day: Maggie and sky

Maggie and sky, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
On a visit to San Francisco to help with some training at Golden Gate National Recreation Area, I snapped this shot of Olympic National Park's volunteer coordinator, Maggie Tyler, as she stood on a rock wall above me. I realize it's not a stellar photograph in the traditional sense, but I love it because sometimes it's just fun to look at things from a totally new perspective. In that sense, I like the great expanse of sky above Maggie's head, and the feathery white clouds that seem to envelope her like an aura. I also like the look on her face, literally looking down her nose from under her glasses with just a touch of a grin on her lips. It's a lot more fun to look at, in my opinion, than a simple traditional portrait.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Photo of the Day: Point of view

Point of view, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
I've photographed David playing the trumpet before: looking across the room at him, standing in front of him with the bell of the trumpet pointing toward the camera. This time I wanted something a little different, so this time I stood behind him looking over his shoulder and shot from his own point of view. I really like the result! I intentionally used a wide aperture and narrow depth of field to focus attention on the reflective bell, and so that the hands in the foreground would be blurred. My best images, though I was only half aware of it at the time I took the pictures, were shot with the dark piano in the background. Beyond those factors, I like this image best among the set because you can see more of the brass circle of the bell; in some of my other attempts, it's partially hidden behind David's hands. (I also like the raised fingers on the keys, which gives this image a sense of activity that other photos, with the fingers pressed down the keys, lack). I do debate whether it would be better to have more of David's head visible in the foreground; see for example this picture, or this one. All things considered this one is my favorite!

Here's another photo that I really love from the same set, a very different picture but a nice "portrait" of my son the musician.

Trumpeter, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: A Night at Mt Rainier - Part 10 1/2 12:13am

I don't think I've ever seen a better set of night photographs of Mount Rainier than this series by David Hogan (AKA Cap'n Surly). Every picture in the set is exceptional, and some are extraordinary. This one's my favorite--though it's a hard call--mostly because of the beautiful light around the mountain, the star trails, and the reflection of the stars in the water. Be sure and check out the rest of the series too, and linger on Part 10 (just before this one), in which Hogan gives a master class in night photography.

I also recommend his fantastic city images--in fact, it was a gorgeous photo of Seattle enveloped in golden morning fog that first turned me on to his pictures.

Foggy Golden Seattle Sunrise, originally uploaded by Cap'n Surly.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Cabrillo 3

Cabrillo 3, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
I've been to Cabrillo a couple of times now, and have always gotten fantastic photos there. During this first visit in 2001 I was still shooting film, so this image is scanned from a photographic slide. I love the depth of color in the image--the dark shadows in the foreground, the shades of blue and purple in the background, and the glow of the light on top of the lighthouse. For me, the tree on the right-hand side adds depth to the picture that wouldn't be there without it.

Here's another view of the lighthouse that I like almost as much.

Cabrillo Lighthouse, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Photo of the day: Winter field

Winter field, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Black and white is such an interesting challenge, because we do not see in black and white, and yet often an image is more interesting when reduced to its fundamentals of light and tone. That's the way I feel about this image, which was pretty mundane in original viewing, just a sleepy countryside view near Scio, Oregon, but it takes on a sightly brooding aspect when converted to black and white. Of course, there's no such thing as simply converting to black and white, because there are so many judgments to make about which gradations of color to tease out into shades of gray and which to convert to higher contrast dark and light. I experimented with a couple of versions of this image, including one that had less contrast; it was probably truer to the original scene, but not nearly so interesting.

This photo also benefits from careful cropping. I wanted to emphasize the line of the fence, so I cut out much of the foreground, which was mostly just muddy tire tracks anyway. The road on the left was a dilemma: leave it entirely visible, or make it disappear along the edge of the frame? I chose the latter because otherwise the road dominated the picture too much, pulled the eye toward it too much and away from the tree and the fence and the great expanse of snow. This way feels more balanced. What do you think?

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Window

Window, originally uploaded by Nagatta(나같아).
More than any other photographer I've seen, I really feel like the photos of Steven Kim pull me deep into the culture of another part of the world. His images of Cambodia and China are spellbinding--not just photos of brightly colored children smiling broadly, or age-lined elders with gap-toothed grins, though there are some of those, but also children with tired eyes and dirty faces, students studying English, and this remarkable image of a child whose eyes are so arresting that the rest of the photograph almost disappears.

Monday, February 21, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Golden Bridge

Golden Bridge, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
I had a lot of fun creating this image in Photoshop! I might possibly be able to do it even better today, with almost three years more experience, but I'm content to leave this image as it is because it looks pretty damn good despite my inexperience. I'm also pleased with the framing of the photo. Obviously it was a less rectangular image in its original form, and could have been even more panoramic with deeper cropping. I chose to leave some of the beach in the foreground because I liked the effect of the converging lines of beach, shadow, rock, wall, and bridge.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Photo of the Day: Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise

Out exploring the countryside near Scio, Oregon with my father between Christmas and New Year's, we came across this beautiful little pioneer cemetery tucked away in the woods. The snow was falling heavily, it was cold, so we didn't linger a long time, but I was captivated by the beautiful wrought-iron gate; in the distance on the hill, a large and detailed crucifix above one of the graves; and the symmetry between them. This is the result: not a "beautiful" photograph in a double rainbow kind of way, but one that I find very intriguing.

And by the way, yes, in the original there was a flagpole to the left of the cross, which I erased in photoshop.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Rachel in the tree

Rachel in the tree, originally uploaded by Stephanie Mansueto.

This is about as perfect a portrait as they come--and what makes it even more remarkable is that it was apparently captured in a natural setting, on a tree. At least it looks like a real tree, and yet the lighting is as perfect as you'd get in a studio. I'd love to know how Ms. Mansueto managed it. Besides the perfect light, the child is posed perfectly, with the red nail polish and dress and barret perfectly matching her lips, and the hair perfectly matching the bark of the tree. The composition and depth of field perfectly frame the face while the rest of the image is in softer focus. If I took a photo like this, it would be my all-time favorite.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Daniel's first portrait

Daniel's first portrait, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
I love this picture of Daniel, his first (of many!) portraits, taken at the hospital in Medford shortly after he was born. And I didn't even do anything special to make it an extraordinary picture, so I can only analyze it in retrospect to see what I did accidentally that worked so well. The main thing, of course, was using a flash (probably the camera's internal flash) in an otherwise dark room, which lit up the foreground while not reaching anything behind it.

What a sweet baby he was!

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Photo of the Day: Lens baby

Lens baby, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Sometimes, you just have to get down on your subject's level and see what happens! I took this series of photos purely for fun and to see what would happen. Matthew is at that age where he's interested in everything, so I knelt down in front of him with my camera in my lap and just started taking pictures as he reached for it. I took about a dozen photos in quick succession, and it's fun to see his looks of curiosity and exploration from up close and at his level.

My point of view, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

My view of the world, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Marokko 2010 - Atman

Marokko 2010 - Atman, originally uploaded by wsanter.
Black and white is all about light, shadow, and texture, and this image masterfully captures all three. I love the way wsanter has photographed this child with the face brightly lit against a dark background--but not completely dark, giving it a greater sense of three-dimensionality and space than a solid studio dark background. The dark coat emphasizes the bright face even more, and adds wonderful texture, as does the dark hair. And then there are those brilliantly dark eyes, so large, looking up at the camera, and that Mona Lisa smile--what a gorgeous portrait!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Lego Daniel

Lego Daniel, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Here's a spontaneous portrait I really love, of Daniel posing in front of the Lego store at Disneyland in 2008. I literally just asked him to pose with the Lego wall, and he propped himself up like this on his own. It just goes to show that a good model is just as valuable as a creative photographer sometimes! The expression on his face matches the pose well, and along with some reflection from the red wall, there's some additional warm light on the image from the time of day (about 7pm). Finally, the red highlights on the pants and shoes add a nice touch of resonance with the color of the wall.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Photo of the day: The people who walked in darkness have seen a great light

On Christmas Eve night, when I should have been in bed waiting for the sound of Prancer and Vixen's hooves on the rooftop, I was instead happily taking photographs of the beautiful tableau in our living room: presents, ornaments, cookies and milk for Santa, stockings and candles and nativity creches on the mantlepiece. I'm sure I spent a good hour at it, and this was one of the last photos I took, and the best, hands down. I had already noticed how often the Christmas lights created a starburst effect in the lens of the camera when I took a very long exposure (on tripod, of course), so for this setup I decided to take advantage of that effect intentionally. I repositioned the creche so that one of the lights was directly behind the window of the "stable," set the camera for a long exposure of 30 seconds at f/20 at 200 ISO, and waited to see what I'd get. The results exceeded my expectations, as it looks like the Star of Bethlehem itself shines in the window above the Christ child.

Here's my second-best effort: same idea, different creche, another awesome photo.

Joy, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Kylie V

Kylie V, originally uploaded by jason highway tan.
I wasn't sure, at first, whether this photo was a favorite of mine or not. The colors seem a bit washed out at first, and the left shoulder almost disappears into the light of overexposure. But the longer I looked at it, the more intrigued I became, and the more the imperfections seemed calculated rather than mistakes. They fit with the overall look of the picture: the hair a bit tangled, the pose a bit off-kilter with that hand tucked awkwardly behind her back, the gaze both guarded and candid at the same time--it certainly isn't a standard glamor pose. Add the hair draped over the breasts and the loose button on her pants--when you can tear your eyes away from hers--and it makes for a very intriguing photo by Jason Tan.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Face off

Face off
Face off, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Sometimes a picture doesn't have to be technically ground-breaking to become a favorite. Case in point: this image of David facing off with a golden-mantled groundquirrel at Kerr Notch in Crater Lake National Park. The moment only lasted a split second, so I'm glad I got the picture I did, though in retrospect I'd have liked to have framed the image lower, so I had more of David's bent knees in the photo.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Photo of the day: Taking my time

Taking my time, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Sadie watched the others play in the pool for well over an hour before finally deciding to "take the plunge" and sit on the edge of the pool to watch for a while, with her feet dangling in the water. She never did actually get in and swim, but she had a lot of fun working up the courage to almost do so!

Sadie's also shy about the camera, so when I saw her sitting on the edge of the pool, I thought, now how can I get a picture of that without her ducking for cover? So, I quietly moved up behind her and snapped the photo from her own point of view, watching in stillness as all the kinetic energy flows around her. Her back was lit by the light coming in the windows behind us, and with those pigtails I think she's just about the cutest thing around.

P.S. She caught me, eventually, which is a cute picture too, but a little blurred!

Thursday, February 10, 2011

, originally uploaded by I ♥ CIA.
Krasna Searovic uses a lot of strong side lighting in her portraits, and it works really well for her. The image below is a great example. I love this shot despite--because?--you can only see half of the model's face; for me, that adds a lot of power to the ambiguous expression. It helps that the visible eye is sharply in focus (along with the rest of the face), and the collar, further hiding part of the right side of her face, only adds further mystery. The close crop works, too, bringing the stark image even closer to the viewer.

So why did I choose a different photo for the top image? Ultimately, I decided I liked it better! Not as dramatic or intriguing, perhaps, but a fascinating portrait in its own right; and the image below just seems a touch burnt out in the highlights. It's a close call, so I've included them both!

, originally uploaded by I ♥ CIA.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Emergence

Emergence, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
On our vacation to Disneyland in 2008, David and Daniel, perversely, seemed to have more fun in the common hotel pool than in the expensive theme park across the road! So I had lots of opportunities to photograph them there. This is my favorite picture of Daniel. I love the lighting; there's enough reflection off the water to create a nice fill on the shadowed side of the face. I have another picture taken a split second later where you can see more of Daniel's face, but I like this one, of him just barely peeking over the side, a lot better. Bonus points for the fat man sunbathing in the background!

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Photo of the Day: Sadie

Sadie, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
How do you take a picture of a kid who's completely camera-shy, who ducks behind a potted plant every time you raise the lens to your eye? Why, you put the camera in your lap, aim it the best you can, trust your camera's automatic settings, and hope for the best! It worked well for me with Sadie. I love that the main thing that's in focus in this photo is her nearest eye, and I love the glint in that eye, the grin on her face (still shyly hidden behind her hand), and her hair falling into her eyes, with the braid blurred in the background.

All in all, a great shot; though I can't help but imagine how much better yet it would be with a better camera. I find myself, more and more, pushing the limits of my Canon 350D (Rebel XSi), especially in terms of its ability to capture images in low light. I compensate by using great light-gathering lenses with wide apertures, but that leaves the depth of field, as in this photo, more shallow than I'd like; and I use high ISOs, which increases noise in the image. I can only imagine this photo with, say, a Canon 5D, with the same 85mm prime lens, but at 6400 ISO rather than 1600, and an aperture of f/7.2 instead of f/1.8. That would make the difference between a great photo, and one of my best.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: Into The Valley

The only thing I regret about this photo is that Flickr doesn't show the exif data that goes with it. I'd love to know what camera Ryan Dyar used, and what camera settings, to capture such fine detail, such exquisite light and color, such a perfect sense of motion in the foreground waterfall. Luckily, Dyar does include some information in his description, discussing his use of a polarizing filter to make the water more subtle.

Beyond all of the technical details, though, this is an extraordinary photo first and foremost because of its perfect composition. Notice the converging lines throughout the image, the way they pull the eye in toward the more brightly lit peaks in the background. This is the very definition of a perfectly composed photograph.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: Julie on Eagle Crags

Julie on Eagle Crags, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
During the summer, a friend visited me at Crater Lake, where I was working as an interpretive park ranger, and I agreed to take her to some of the "hidden gems" of the park--places off the established trails, but with extraordinary vews of the lake. This picture was taken at Eagle Crags, about a two mile cross-country hike east of Rim Village and Garfield Peak, looking down on the "Phantom Ship."

Later, we made a similar hike to the top of Dutton Peak, a little further counter-clockwise around the lake and directly above Phantom Ship. By that time, some afternoon rain clouds had begin to move in, making our photos a bit darker and more brooding.

These are both great places to visit, if you ever go to Crater Lake--but leave plenty of time, as they're challenging to get to.

P1010471 high res, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Photo of the Day: Gaze into my crystal ball

Isn't that what we always say, as photographers? Gaze into this glass circle, give us your best smile or soulful expression, and we will, in return, capture your essense on film or digital bits and bytes.

In this case, though, the crystal ball in question is an ornamental globe in the front landscaping of my wife's aunt and uncle near Glenoma, Washington. We were there for a Christmas party and were some of the first to arrive, so I amused myself by snapping self-portraits in the reflection. This one is my favorite. You could probably do all kinds of cool things if you polished the globe first, carefully arranged the background items, and waited for the perfect weather--wouldn't falling snow be interesting?--but even without those things it made for a fun photo exercise.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: spring sunset

spring sunset, originally uploaded by wandering_lens.
Sometimes, a digital camera sensor just doesn't interpret what the eye sees. In these cases, it's incumbent on the photographer to restore what the camera missed. Usually I don't like High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography, feeling that it adds a surreal hyper-reality to images; but in this case, photographer Aaron Kennison has used HDR to simply recreate the extraordinary look of a real-life exceptional sunset. I've seen images like this myself in real life, but reproducing them on film--digital or otherwise--is a real trick, and one that WL has accomplished very nicely with this photo.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Archive Photo of the Day: A scene out of an action movie

Doesn't it just look like one of those epic Jerry Bruckheimer films, where the hero comes running out of the smoke in slow motion just as the building explodes behind him? Here's Daniel, escaping from the exhaust of a rocket ship! Actually, this is at the outside play area at Curious George's Playhouse at Universal Studios in Los Angeles. Out of all the cool rides we visited at the park, the place both boys enjoyed the most was the Playhouse, where they got to shoot soft balls at each other and vaccuum them up off the floor, run around on a multi-level play structure, and run through the outdoor water features. I love this photo because of its bright colors--isn't it just great serendipity that Daniel was wearing all red?--and the cool effect of him running through the mist.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Photo of the Day: Lamar the butcher

Lamar the butcher, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
This is a photo that turned out way better than I had any right to expect. I captured this image while waiting for the Eatonville Christmas Parade to begin; we had parked ourselves in front of the Double T Meat Market, and I was passing the time as I usually do, idly taking pictures of anything that looked interesting. I'd been trying to take a picture of Lamar through the windows of the store for some time, but every time I braced myself for a low-light shot, someone would step in front of the camera and I'd miss the opportunity. Finally I stood in the doorway itself and shot through the glass door, leaning on the door frame for stability, and managed a single shot between customers. The picture was good in color, but works even better in sepia, as it lends an old fashioned, small town feel to the image. I don't know where the slight vignetting on the left comes from, but it adds to the picture too!

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Guest Photo of the Day: A Brave and Curious Pika, 2008

A Brave and Curious Pika, 2008, originally uploaded by bwellsea.
What a great photograph! I've seen these little guys up at Mount Rainier many times, but they never stand still in one place longer than about 0.43 seconds, and anticipating where that brief pause will be is nearly impossible. Yet David Blackwell has managed to capture an amazingly finely-detailed photograph in which every hair is distinctly visible. The closest I've ever come was a shot of a marmot September before last, but those guys stand still a little more often than the pikas do.