Thursday, December 12, 2013

How Long 'Till Spring?

The recent weather has me wondering how long before Spring returns? The weatherman has been confused of late, as usual. We were supposed to get snow but rain and ice was all. Luckily, more rain than ice so we didn't lose power.

Ran across this tree image while trying Perfectly Clear out (the more I use PC, the more impressed I am with it). Took the shot two springs ago, if I recall correctly. It is a really old tree on the farm that I imagine dates back to the Revolution. Certainly at least to the Civil War. Alas, it's time is about done. Last year half of it broke off in a storm revealing rot in the center.

It was a foggy, gloomy day when I captured it. The crow landed on top and I hit the shutter thinking it fit the mood perfectly. Christmas is just around the corner. Spring will return before we know it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Spring Wheat Fields

This image was captured from my first Palouse visit and recently reprocessed. Good thing I don't farm there- I'd never get any work done chasing the light.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Left in the Grass

After a very busy fall season on the farm, I've started to look at some files from this past year's photo adventures. This old truck was sitting along side the road in the Palouse region of Washington State. It seemed like there was an old truck around every other bend in the country roads. This is one of my favorites from the trip.

I used Athentech's Perfectly Clear plug-in. It is the easiest way to get from good to great in one click I know of. Highly recommended.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Oxford in the Rain, Restyled

I traveled to England last month on business. Sadly, the only time I had to play the tourist was one morning in Oxford before rejoining the meeting. I was there a week, during a rare heat wave. The only rain during my stay fell as I walked to the Cathedral. As I took shelter in an alcove during the brief thunderstorm I snapped this image. The storm passed and it was time to head back to the meeting.

I ran it through Topaz's new Restyle plug-in. I think it is going to be an interesting piece of software.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Happy 96th B'Day Grandma!

My grandma celebrated her 96th birthday yesterday. Still spry and sharp as a tack. Rumor has it there will be quite a party at the century mark. Who knows? That is in the Lord's hands but we hope so. When asked the secret to a long life, she said at the end of each day let the past be past.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Red Barns

_DSC1632_DxOps 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Old red barns dot the country side of the Palouse. These barns are, for the most part, relics from a past way of life. When agriculture transitioned from horse power to tractor power in the '30's and '40's the need for these smaller barns waned. A modern piece of farm equipment would not fit inside one of these today. Unless the old barns are preserved, like these, they are slowly collapsing into a distant memory.

Here we happened across a pair of them under wispy clouds one morning. I believe we visited this scene twice as the light was rather bland the first time by. I liked the sky so much, I felt compelled to shoot from the shadowed end.

You can still see the tracks in the wheat field in the background from the spring topdressing (fertilizing). Now the farmers hope for rains to finish the crop with a good yield. In the mean time they were busy tending their lentil and garbanzo bean crops.

The Edge of Daylight (rev.)

_DSC9130_DxOps 72psi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Taken from Steptoe Butte on day we arrived in the Palouse. The low light angle at either edge of day demonstrate the seemingly endless miles of these massive, rolling hills. Even as a farmer, it is hard to imagine farming these steep hills- slopes 45 degrees and more! I was told half the wheat in the US is grown in this unique region.

Woops! I originally uploaded the version with the bad color cast. My apologies.

The Edge of Daylight

_DSC9130_DxOps 72psi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Taken from Steptoe Butte on day we arrived in the Palouse. The low light angle at either edge of day demonstrate the seemingly endless miles of these massive, rolling hills. Even as a farmer, it is hard to imagine farming these steep hills- slopes 45 degrees and more! I was told half the wheat in the US is grown in this unique region.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Bucket List

_DSC0882 ps 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

One of the challenges of creative endeavors is balancing the drive toward the preconceived result while simultaneously remaining open to new tangents that present themselves. This scene embodied that dynamic.

One of my bucket list items for this trip was to find wild flowers for a foreground element. As we were driving the back roads, we came upon this leaning barn, atop the hill in the distance. It had a tree and a windmill behind it. A nice scene with a few puffy clouds to make it compelling. Out of the frame and off to the side I saw a large clump of purple flowers. Could this be a chance to tick off one from the bucket list? There did not appear to be a road leading to the scene and I was not about to go traipsing across the farmer's fields to get there. Where there is a barn there must be a road. Sure enough, as we rounded the bend at the base of the hill the path presented itself.

A two-fer: One tick on the bucket list and different take in the same scene. Perhaps when i get home I'll show the windmill version of this leaning old barn.

Past Reflections

_DSC0480 ps 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Day before yesterday the group ventured to the collection of old cars. There seems to be an abundance of old cars and trucks in this region. One of the cars in the collection reportedly belonged to Ansel Adams, the famous photographer. This reflection caught my eye as we entered.

There has been very little time process images while on this Palouse trip. We got back in to the hotel at 1am this morning and will be heading back out soon. I selected this one rather randomly while downloading the files off the memory cards.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Palouse Swipe with Clarity

_DSC6320_DxO nx clarity72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
Packing tonight for photo trip to the Palouse region of Washington and Idaho. It has been a couple of year since I last visited and I am excited to return with six other photo buddies.

This landscape image was created using the "swipe" technique. Using a longer exposure of about a quarter second, give or take, the camera is intentionally moved during the exposure. It is a trial and error process that can yield a pleasing image.

This file has been sitting on the hard drive for a couple of years because I did not like "flat" look of the original. Last week, Topaz introduced their new plug-in Clarity. I must say I'm impressed with what Clarity does to an image! Other structure, clarity or contrast adjustments I have just do not do what Clarity can do for an image.

Below is the before version:

Friday, May 24, 2013

For the Obstreperous?

_DSC5501_DxO_HDR ps b 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

One more from the Asylum. The original buildings were designed with wide halls and comfy common areas. Toward the end of one of those very long corridors was this more sterile area. Behind the blue doors were small cells for, I imagine, the obstreperous, to use a term my grandmother is fond of saying. The dictionary defines the term thus: 1- marked by unruly or aggressive noisiness. 2- stubbornly resistant to control. I can't imagine a stay behind a blue door was fun and games.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Criminally Insane

This two story building, apparently one of the newer in the complex, housed the criminally insane. The floor plan consisted of two large rooms on each floor separated in the center by the guard's rooms, with barred windows like a jail. Interesting to me that the violent types were housed barracks style.

As these building deteriorate, surprisingly quickly I might add, water begins to infiltrate and accelerate decay. I was drawn to the reflections in the standing water in this room.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Trapped in an Alternate Reality

_DSC5553_DxO_HDR ps d 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Another from my spring trip to the Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum. I had the impression that once admitted here many never left. Doubly trapped: By the walls of the institution and the labyrinth of their minds. Either circumstance I find hard to fathom.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Junkyard Abstracts

Abstract images from a car junkyard visit back in March. Yes, I am pitifully behind in image processing.

The light was hot that day and the cars were mostly covering in brambles and trees. Getting wider shots of cars was hard to do at this location so I found myself doing macro/close up work much of the time.

Shaun Moss made arrangements for a group of us to shoot in this Pennsylvania location. If there is a rusty old car to be found between here and the UK, Shaun has already uncovered it. Special thanks to Don Rosenberger for driving.

The lead image and a BW version are corroded chrome bumper parts. The red abstract is from a tail light.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Fonthill Castle

I had the pleasure of visiting and photographing last weekend with John Barclay and several others. One of the venues we visited was Fonthill Castle, the home of Henry Mercer. Now a museum, the building is a fascinating and unique place. Built between 1908 and 1912 out of poured in place concrete. One of Mercer's intentions was to showcase his decorative tiles that were made at his factory next door during the Arts and Crafts Movement era. Mercer also had broad academic interests reflected in the several thousand books in the castle to go along with the hundreds of prints hung throughout the building. Photography is allowed only by special arrangement through John Barclay Photography. Thanks John for a great weekend!

Middle photo: Outside of the castle with Carriage House in the background to the right.
Bottom photo: Ceiling of one of the rooms. Most rooms were decorated in this fashion with tiles, prints and full bookshelves.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Trans Allegheny Lunatic Asylum

TALA Medical Donnie Fulks AS, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
I recently visited this defunct asylum, located in Weston, West Virginia. I had wanted to visit for over a long as they let me out at the end of the day!

The institution opened in 1864. By the 1950's 2400 patients resided there. In 1994 ithe state closed it. The main building ( there are several buildings to the large complex) is the largest cut stone building in the US. It is said to be the second largest such builing in theworld after the Kremlin.

It was recently privately purchased and is open as a tourist attraction. My I primary interest was in photography there. My friend, Don Rosenburger, leads the photo tours there a couple of times a year. Don did a fantastic job taking us to several buildings and pointing out various photo opportunities to explore.

Today's image was taken on the ground floor of the medical building. This was one of the last images I took during my visit there. My immediate thought was this would be a great BW scene.

My files are piling up, with many to process from this shoot. Hopefully I can share one or two more before I travel to the Smokie Mountains this weekend.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Tolare Farm Show

Staying with the B/W theme for another couple of posts. I considered submitting this photo to the last club critique, but only three are allowed and I reluctantly left this one out.

I attended a professional conference February before last that included a day at the Tolare Farm Show in California- the largest farm exobition in the world. Thousands of people attend every day to this fantastic event. It is so large it is impossible to see all of the exhibits in one day. I sure tried hard to do so. The food was just as outstanding, but that is another story.

I had thought to give myself a photo project for the fun of it. I wondered how do I tell a story about farm equipment when the place is wall to wall people, as far as the eye can see? After an hour or so I had the idea to take close ups of equipment parts and pieces. I stowed the Nikon and whipped out the iPhone for the ease of creating a story on the fly.

The upper left image is a close up of a forage chopper cutter head. This was on a huge self propelled John Deere model with a 500 plus horse power engine. The upper right shot is of the largest disk blades on a very heavy disk harrow I've ever seen. The blades were close to four feet in diameter. The lower right shows an irrigation pump impeller. This vendor had a cut away model to show their advanced design. Lastly, the lower left image is of a tractor track tread. Most tractors have tires, but the largest models typically offer tracks for better flotation and less compaction that certain conditions warrant.

As the sun was setting we wearily got back on the tour bus. Who knows how many miles we walked that day? The group was going to dinner at a vineyard/reception place. We wondered if we could eat another bite after the two or three tri tip and ribeye sandwiches we devoured at the farm show that day.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Silk Mill File Revisit

Silk Mill Donnie Fulks AS, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

This month at the photo club was Black and White critiques. I chose this image as one of my submissions. Captured on one of my visits the winter before last.

It is always fun to revisit older files and rework them, as I did here. While I was happy with the original result done in Silver Efex, my understanding of Black & White has grown to appreciate more contrast. NIK Vivaza made it easy to arive at the desired result. The original picture had severe distortion in the lines of the building from the wide lens. I used DxO ViewPoint, which I've come to really like, to "straighten out" the building.

It is good to revisit the past and make new again.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Spring Snow and the Square Format

Spring Snow Donnie Fulks AS, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
Finally Spring weather has arrived in time for the second week of April. I captured this image in late March, on the first day of Spring as I recall.

This old shed is on our farm. I have been looking at it for 40 years, thinking there must be a picture there somewhere. Finally during the last snow of the season it came together for me. I just could not organize the scene to my liking in a rectangular format.

Shooting this in the square format everything fell into place. I like square- it seems easier for me to compose in than rectangular often times. Part of my struggle with the rectangular format seems to have something to do with the fact that I am left handed. It tends to make me see things from right to left. That goes against the accepted grain. English is written and read from left to right. Most books on composition indicate visual flow is also left to right, as a general rule. So when I compose an image I have this subconscious tension between how I want to see it and how it is "supposed to be". But in the square format, that issue seems to go away for me.

There was one other factor about this image I have to credit John Barclay for; The idea of showing only half a barn. Our paradigms are crazy things sometimes. Until I saw John compose beautiful landscapes showing only a part of a barn it never occurred to me to see it that way.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Jail Break

Jail Break, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
This zoom-blur was the last shot taken from my 2011 visit to Eastern State Penitentiary. After a hectic session of photography the group was parched and ready to call it a day. While I had many images of different cells (see blog posts from July and August 2011) we thought to try something different and fun.

The scene appeared drab at first glance so I was happy to see the color and texture emerge during post from the long exposure. It takes quite a few tries zooming the lens to get a result your content with.

While the prison is opener to the public there are many areas accessible with a special photographer's group pass. This prison wing is one of this special access areas. I am hopeful that on the next visit some area previously off limits will be available.

Reviewing my past work provides ideas for approaching the next visit. Some scenes I'll want to redo. Others I missed I hope to get this time around.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Allure of Decrepitude

_DSC3803_DxO nx 72dpi, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.
The past few posts have delt with visiting a mountainous location for the organic beauty of landscape and nature photography. I have a couple of big trips to this sort of photography this year. Well, big for me anyway. If only time and money were no object... I'll just have to dream of traveling to the far flung corners of the globe, to places like Patagonia, Antarctica or Iceland for chance to capture stunning beauty. More on another landscape trip later.

Back to the subject at hand: Venues featuring man made places that fallen into ruin. There is something haunting about these abandoned places that is oddly attractive. Forgoten factories, prisons, mental institutions to name a few. Places where nature laughs last and time holds sway. Part of the attraction is centered around the personified ghosts of stories represented from the past.

Today's image is from one of the cells in Eastern State Penitentery. It has been a couple of years since I was there last and I'm looking forward to returning.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Cade's Cove Lone Tree

Cade's Cove Lone Tree, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

You might be wondering what's up with all the painterly stuff? Due to a minor house fire and subsequent residence in a hotel while the fire and smoke damage is repaired I've been playing on the iPad. I will get back to some "real" photography in the next post and continue the series on upcoming photo trips.

This image came from my last trip to the Smokies. It started as a HDR capture that arguable was processed a bit over the top. I thought it was a fun subject for a painterly interpretation.

Next post I'll take a look back at the last visit to Eastern State Penitentiary and the Graffiti Underground as I contemplate a return visit.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

A Fuzzy Fix

Orange Sky Smokie Morning, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

Continuing with my spring photo trip preview, I will share one or two more from past trips to the Smokies.

This image was captured during a workshop with Tony Sweet one morning. We were driving to the morning's shoot when we encountered this scene as we rounded a bend in the road. Tony hit the brakes, made a U turn back to the nearest pullout.

We hurriedly grabbed our gear to capture the most orange sky I've ever seen. There would be several more locations to shoot before we could return to the hotel to download the files. To my great disappointment, my favorite captures were all fuzzy! My tripod was on the edge of the pavement and I remember feeling the vibrations from the steady stream of assign traffic. In the excitement of the moment I failed to understand the implications.

Later during the critique session I reluctantly showed the fuzzy mess. Tony's response was that all was not lost if I didn't mind a painterly interpretation. For the image shown here, I made a version with a painting program and another version with a fine texture overlay. Then I blended those two with the original image. While it is not the straight photograph I originally envisioned, I do like the fuzzy fix very much.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Smok'in Dodge Power

Dodge Truck, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

There is much more to look forward to on the Smokies trip later this spring than grand vistas. Streams and log cabins and the occasional old truck such as this one will fill the daylight hours. Who knows, maybe we'll try some light painting at night too? I say "we" because I'll be staying and roaming aroung the mountains with a bunch of photo friends.

These days it seems wherever a group of photogs gather the iPhones will be part of the bags of camera gear. It is such a creative tool to have Photoshop in your hand for instant picture making. After a long day of shooting the gang will be playing with their phones at meal time. It's part of what makes photography expeditions a social event.

This old Dodge truck has been a fun iPhone shot to revisit over and over again with the latest apps, lending itself to countless interpretations.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Smokies Sunrise

Camera Roll-722, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

I'll be heading down to the Smokies again later this Spring with a few photo friends. Looking forward to the trip. I ran across this image while reviewing files from my last visit. Added the texture with Glaze app.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Down the Drain

IMG_2435, originally uploaded by Donnie Fulks.

I have been having a little abstract fun recently. Created this the other day while waiting for lunch.