Monday, January 30, 2012

Photo of the day: Her father

Her father by The Bacher Family
Her father, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

This Christmas, we attended a party at the home of a friend. I took this picture of her father as he watched the festivities. I've always been fascinated by the faces of those old enough to have their lives written on their skin -- not just in the deepening lines, but in the carriage of their brow, the balance of their body, the light behind their eyes. I chose to emphasize those things in this portrait by boosting the contrast in the conversion to black and white, which added drama to what otherwise was fairly uninteresting lighting in the color version. There's a darkness to the image, now, that surrounds the seamed face and unruly hair, and the direct gaze into the lens of the camera adds to the sense of glimpsing something intensely personal in an unguarded moment. What that something might be is up to the viewer to interpret.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Guest photo of the day: Orchid

Orchid by billgfoto
Orchid, a photo by billgfoto on Flickr.
I love it when I look at a photograph and think, wow, that's a great image, I think I could do something like that myself! This one by Bill Gekas of Melbourne, Australia is a great example. It's a simple backdrop with a young model lit simply by light from a nearby window. That gives it a soft, natural light; then you just have to dress the child up on an interesting outfit, give her some flowers to hold, and start snapping pictures.

Of course, that's just the starting point... clearly, Mr. Gekas did more than that. He chose to capture facial expressions other than the big grin you typically aim for in a child's portrait. He chose to cast the shawl off the frame of the photo, perhaps held by an assistant, and to allow it to move in the slow exposure time as if it were being blown in the wind. He chose to frame the photo with the girl on one side and the shawl trailing away behind her through the negative space of the image. All of these are creative choices that elevate this above a simple portrait and make it the captivating image that has me saying "how can I do something similar."

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Archive photo of the day: Sunset Silhouette

This is one of my favorite photos of all time, and I can't believe I've never featured it on this blog before now! I took the picture in Oceanside, Oregon during a vacation over Spring Break in 2006, as David and Daniel waded in the water at sunset. I love the composition, with the boys center-frame but the horizon, ripples, and haystack at 2/3 positions. The near-complete silhouette, with the hint of a shadow leading toward the camera, makes the two boys iconic rather than specific. Taken all together, it makes a fantastic desktop wallpaper for my computer, and it's an image that brings back good memories of a great vacation.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Photo of the day: Iron cross

Iron cross by The Bacher Family
Iron cross, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Sometimes a photo is all about texture and geometry. I took this picture at Fort Stevens State Park, and was attracted by the interesting patterns of rust and paint. The fun part was composing the picture in a way that the balance and composition was interesting; in the end, I chose to include just a hint of the chain in the lower right corner to balance the dominant geometry in the upper left.

You'll notice that I haven't said what it's a picture of. Is that important, or is i just as good -- or better -- as a piece of abstract art? Hopefully it is that, first.

But if you really want to know, it's one of the large iron doors to one of the bunkers next to the big batteries that defended the Columbia River. I'm not sure what mechanism is hidden inside the iron cross. But that's not important, is it?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Guest photo of the day: ice on Huechera bloom

ice on Huechera bloom by Lynette S.
ice on Huechera bloom, a photo by Lynette S. on Flickr.

This photo was shared with me by a good friend and fellow photographer--thank you, posted a few days ago, by Lynette Schimming. I love the sharp definition she got on the ice, and the way the dark and light within the ice sets it off against the gray background. It's higher contrast than my own image, and it works really well that way. On the other hand, I like the geometry of my own image better!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Archive Photo of the Day: Alder Lake Sunset #3


Alder Lake Sunset #3, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Sometimes you're driving down the road minding your own business, maybe even thinking you ought to be somewhere soon, when out of the blue beauty whacks you upside the head and shakes you out of your everyday blindness. If you're a photographer, you immediately scramble for the camera, find a place to park, and spend the next half hour becoming late for your appointment as you do your best to capture some facsimile of the world's beauty in pixels of light.

I drive by this spot every day and it's almost always beautiful, with mist rising from the water, waves lapping at the shore, or the magnificent sky perfectly reflected in the still surface of the reservoir.

Check out this photo from the same set, looking down into the deep reflection of the water:

Alder Lake Sunset #2, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Siri-ously beautiful

I just downloaded the photos from my cell phone, taken over the last few months, and I'm seriously impressed by the quality of a few of the images captured by my iPhone 4s. If the lighting is poor, the quality's not so good, but in decent light the images aren't half bad, given that you're working with a quarter-inch lense on a camera body only about 3/8 of an inch thick. The color reproduction is good, and the detail is decent if you don't zoom in too close.

Of course, the most important thing in any picture is composition, not camera quality; and it's nice to have the option of snapping an artistic image even when you don't happen to have the heavier camera on your shoulder. I spotted this view looking back at the trail in the Ashford County Park last November as I was checking on one of my geocaches. I loved the random pattern and colors of the autumn leaves turning brown on the pavement, and the way the lines of the trail and fence curved away gently into the distance, contrasting with the strong verticals of the trees.

Here's a link to some of my other favorites from last year's set of cell phone pictures.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Photo of the day: Ice fingers

Ice fingers by The Bacher Family
Ice fingers, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

On January 19, after several days of storms, our snow changed to freezing rain, encasing every branch, bud, and blade of grass in a thick layer of ice. It was a dangerous cocktail, leading to broken limbs, trunks, and power lines across the region and plunging hundreds of thousands into darkness for days at a time. But it was also beautiful in a surreal way. I went out in the evening, just as the sun was setting behind the clouds, to capture some of the delicate ice sculptures on fingers of vine maple and rhododendron. This is one of my favorite images, with the frail branch reaching skyward, glistening in its crystal sheath.

Here are two others I like equally well:

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Christmas family portrait

After Daniel's piano recital, I had some fun taking pictures of ornaments on the Christmas trees in the lobby of the church, playing around with reflections and bokeh. This one's my favorite -- not only is the family in the picture in focus, but the depth of field is perfect, with beautiful out-of-focus lights all around.

Here's another one, an individual self-portrait, that I like just as well. The reflection in the globe isn't as cool, but I like the composition and color around it even better.

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Saturday, January 21, 2012

Photo of the day: Oliver

Oliver by The Bacher Family
Oliver, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.

Anyone who knows what's been going on in my life this month will understand why I've fallen behind on my photo blog. I'm hoping to be able to catch up now... Here's a start.

I took this photo of my sister's new cat, Oliver, as a demonstration of my favorite lens, a 50mm f/1.4 "prime" lens. I love the way it focuses on just a narrow sliver of depth of field, in this case, Oliver's beautiful eyes. I chose to convert the image to black and white because that emphasizes texture, in this case, the fur and whiskers.

Here's another favorite from the same set:

IMG_7359_1

Monday, January 16, 2012

Archive Photo of the Day: Young beauty at the surprise party

Maddy looked positively transcendent at Aunt Linda's surprise birthday party, and her huge smile as Linda was congratulated by the crowd made her even more pretty. I'm very pleased with the lighting I got on Maddy's face here, especially given the size of the room; it highlights her very well and even adds a bit of catchlight in the eyes while isolating her from her surroundings.

Here's another cute kid watching the festivities...

Brown eyed girl, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

...while the adults catch up on the latest gossip.

Leaning in, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Archive Photo of the Day: Front row


Front row, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
As Sunny Lyn directed the festivities at Aunt Linda's surprise birthday party in January, Abby made sure she had a front-row view! I loved her confident stance and pose, standing all by herself with everyone else gathered against the back walls, and tried--fairly successfully, I think--to isolate her with the lighting of my flash as well. It helped that she was wearing that beautiful light colored dress, while most of the people around her were in dark clothing.

Abby, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Archive Photo of the Day: Survivor


Survivor, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.
Michael is a good friend of our family and the best friend of my son, who's slowly and painfully recovering from a bone marrow transplant. While his general progress has been positive, he's had numerous setbacks, some of which have required massive doses of steroids to combat. The steroids make his face puffy and dissolve his bones, leading to a lot of pain in his joints, yet Michael has remained positive and hopeful throughout his ordeal. I took this portrait of him at Ronald McDonald House in Seattle.

An interesting side note: Michael's hair, formerly straight, has grown in curly! Makes you wonder if there's some bone marrow donor out there in Germany with curly hair!

Here's a photo of Michael with my son David. I have a great fast lens that allows me to take pictures in really low light; unfortunately, it sometimes uses a very narrow depth of field, and I don't see the lack of focus until I bring the picture home to my computer. I need to remember to watch my f-stop more closely!


Friends no matter what, originally uploaded by The Bacher Family.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Archive photo of the day: Going nowhere fast

Going nowhere fast by The Bacher Family
Going nowhere fast, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
North of Corvallis, Oregon, along the side of a rural road, you'll find this old car, abandoned years ago. In fact, you could estimate how long ago by counting the rings in the trees growing up through the engine compartment. My father and I stumbled across this old beast while geocaching (there was a cache hidden somewhere on the car), and after retrieving the cache, I spent a few minutes looking for the best angle from which to photograph the car. It was pouring down rain, so I'm pleased that the picture I managed to get turned out so well.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Archive photo of the day: Evening moon

Evening moon by The Bacher Family
Evening moon, a photo by The Bacher Family on Flickr.
I was working in my study when my wife called me and said "come look, the moon is rising and it's really gorgeous!" Of course, whenever I hear words like that, I grab my camera! I snapped several photos, experimenting with exposure. I had to do quite a bit of post-processing to clear up noise in the image, and I composited a -2 stop exposure of the sky with a -5 stop exposure of the moon to get both of them properly lit in the same image. I abosolutely love the result!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Guest Photo of the Day: Joshua Tree 4


Joshua Tree 4, originally uploaded by Summicron20/20.
Karl French is one of those great photographers who photographs landscapes and people equally beautifully, and has also absolutely mastered black and white. I was hard pressed to choose a favorite: this one, of a charming old juniper among the rocks? Or the massive oak tree on Mt. Hamilton? Or go with a portrait, maybe Sheryl sewing in the natural light of a window? My favorite portrait is actually a sublime shot of Katrina, but French has turned off the blogging option for that photograph, so you'll have to follow the link to see it for yourself; and the shot pictured here is my second favorite.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Archive photo of the day: Kinnickkinnick in the snow

This is one of those many photos that I took on the spur of the moment as I was out photographing other things. In this case, it was Mount Rainier on a gorgeous winter day that I set out to capture, but I couldn't resist the challenge of recording this bit of kinnickkinnick sticking out of the snow in the afternoon light. Snow, of course, is difficult to photograph well: its whiteness fools the camera's sensors into underexposure, and it can do funny things to white balance as well. So I'm pleased with how this image came out.

So many plants here in the high country spend so much of their lives buried under the snow. You've gotta root for the little guys.