Tag Archives: vision

Smoke Dance

Smoke Dance
Smoke Dance

The Sencas, Oneidas, Onondagas, Iroquois, etc have many ceremonial dances in common. One of them happens to be the smoke dance. The smoke dance is one of the more energetic and colourful of the ceremonial dances which I have seen that both men and women participate in. Its energy is displayed in a flurry of colours which I have tried to capture in my own rendition of the “Smoke Dance”.

On visiting the NY State Fair on Saturday, one of the exhibition areas I discovered was the Indian Village. The term Indian may have been the homogeneous term for the people who were present there but really they were representative of different Native American Nations. Some were adorned in their traditional dress while others were in regular clothes.

At the time I visited they were presenting the various ceremonial dances. All were indeed interesting to observe but the one which caught my attention was the smoke dance. Initially, the dance is slow and unassuming. And slowly, as the chanting becomes louder, the footwork becomes more energetic. The dance itself is accentuated by lots of stomping and quick turns which are all performed in a circular pattern. Also, the brightly coloured clothes emphasize the movements by giving them impact.

I tried to capture that flurry of colour and energy in “Smoke Dance” by delaying my shutter speed long enough to capture the movement of the dancers’ feet. Believe me when I say there are lots of technical issues that come into play with that. I had to contend with changing light conditions which can result in overexposed areas; a lack of focus area; and, just simply hand holding the shot was a difficulty in itself.

All technical issues aside however, I believe I captured it in a tasteful manner which displays the essence of the dance and the spirit of the smoke dance. I hope you enjoy this rendition as much as I enjoyed witnessing it first hand.

 

The Cowgirl Cometh

The Cowgirl Cometh
The Cowgirl Cometh

The title – “The Cowgirl Cometh” – seems composed of a lot of unrelated words. Here I am mixing a 16th Centry term – “cometh” – which was used a lot in plays of Shakespeare with a 19th century term – “cowgirl”. But, I think it is aptly suited given what the photo represented. The cowgirl was just about to perform in a bit of modern day theater, taking her horse through the paces of pre-planned exercises. Consequently, she was just about to take the stage on the ground of the NY State Fair Coliseum to  begin her performance.

In some ways, I was shooting for a somewhat iconic like photo akin to the scenes of the protagonist of an action flick as the hero or heroine either emerged from the light source, or slowly made his or her way into an arena to face the villain. In this case, the heroine mounted her steed, and slowly trotted into the arena to put on a performance for the awaiting spectators. This was her final performance at this event as this was the last day of the Empire Apaloosa Classic Horse Show at the NY State Fair.

I caught her as she was just making her entrance through the large gates of the Coliseum. The alternate entrance provides a brilliant backlight which enveloped her and provided a contrasty outline of her sitting atop her horse while the perspective added to her mystery as this saddled heroine’s face is not visible. She calmly made her way into the arena with one arm arched to her lap – a truly grand entrance.

Shakespeare once wrote –

“All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts …”

In the Cowgirl Cometh, this cowgirl was making her entrance int to the arena to play one of her many parts.

 

Portrait of a Cowgirl

Portrait of a Cowgirl
Portrait of a Cowgirl

She was poised, alert and was unmistakably a cowgirl. While she ready herself for a competition in the warm-up pen outside of the NY State Fair Coliseum, I caught this portrait of a cowgirl looking off into the distance. Well it was more like looking onward at her approaching competition.

Besides her proud stance in the saddle, I think the other thing that caught my eye was her bright orange outfit with matching saddle cover. She definitely paid a lot of attention to detail and it showed. From her rhinestone orange and white blouse to her leather-like orange pants, she was dressed to impress. It is not certain whether her dress was enough to impress the judges. Unfortunately, I was not around long enough  through her competition to know whether her preparation paid off.

I had the opportunity to take other shots of her while she was waiting for the orange saddle cover to be placed on her horse. Although they were good, they were not as impressive as the one caught here. There was another time when I caught her in a shot and that was when she was in the coliseum putting her horse through its paces. If you were to view the previous photo “Patient Little Cowgirl” you can observe her as a blur swiftly whizzing by the little cowgirl. However, she was not the focus of my attention then. Here on the other hand, I giver her an opportunity to stand out on her own without the distractions of other riders in the shot.

I really enjoyed taking the shot but the one thing I wish I had gotten from that afternoon. If only I had an instant printer where I could print on demand, I would have tried to get her to autograph the portrait.

Patient Little Cowgirl

Patient Little Cowgirl
Patient Little Cowgirl

I have agonized over this photo – “Patient Little Cowgirl” – for days. Not because the photo was difficult to develop, I saw something in the development which I knew was going to draw me a lot of unwarranted heat for taking the shot that way. I was so caught up in getting a shot of the young rider in the far left of the image that I completely forgot to pay attention to the large amount of back lighting coming from the open door on the opposite side of the coliseum.

It doesn’t in any way affect the composition. But the lighting, draws the the attention away from my main subject. It leaves the viewer wandering through the shot until it finally comes to rest on the little girl because she is the sharpest item in the image. I had thought about trying to edit the image by adding content into the bright area so that it is not so dominant. But, it goes against one of the pillars of my style of photography – as little photoshopping as possible.

So, I have decided to accept the image with all it imperfections and release it none the less. Yes, it may not be great but I still like it.

Boots and Spurs

Boots and Spurs
Boots and Spurs

I took another spontaneous departure from my usual supplement of fine art nature photography to again have a look at the equestrian events going on at the NY Sate Fair as I did in my previous photograph, “Three-Sixty“. What i came up with, “Boots and Spurs”, can be considered as more a play of colour and motion.

I took this photograph while one of the cowboy dressed competitors rode by me in the warm up ring which covers one of the side entrances to the coliseum. This is and area dedicated to riders allowing them the opportunity to do warm up exercises with their horses before entering. What first caught my eye was the blend of colors – the green long sleeved shirt, the weathered blue jeans, the decorative and protective cloth beneath the saddle and the tan color of the horse as it was being bathed in a bit of morning sun. They all came together in a manner that simply drew my attention again and again as the rider rode past and I just had to capture it.

One one of his many passes in front of my vantage point, I took this photograph while panning to keep up with his motion. Thanks to the fact that he was moving, another element was added to the mix that went beyond color – depth of field. Only one part of the horses body came into view for the brief moment that he trotted in front of me. This resulted in the small depth of field on a small section of the horse which I think adds to the intrigue of the picture. But, of course, I am always up to hear the ideas of others who may think differently about what moves them about the photo.

Finger Lakes Sunset

Finger Lakes Sunset
Finger Lakes Sunset

Having completed a visit a to the New York Hope Mills, my companion photographers and myself decided to make our way back through the Finger Lakes Region to Syracuse. On travelling through the twisty roads that cut through the farm lands, we started noticing the sun setting. We paused at various points along the trip to take shots. The one to the left is at one stop we made near a field which had an old, small shed at its center..

Certainly, the photograph does not depict the greatest sunset shot in the world. But, I think the colors and the scene evoke the mood at the time – easy-going, rural, tranquil. That is the Finger Lakes region of New York  for you; Its gentle rolling hills and vast farm lands puts you in that kind of mood.

Hawk Eye

Hawk Eye
Hawk Eye

I hate to talk of things in the past tense. But, I have taken so many pictures this year and have simply sat on them because I was either too lazy to develop them at the time or too caught up in the business of life to make the time to do so. However, slowly but surely I plan to make sure I put them all out because I think that although persons may take photos for personal record, the desire of any photographer is to share the photographs he/she takes with his audience.

This portrait to the left is of a broad-winged hawk which I shot at the Rosamond Gifford Zoo.This is an absolutely beautiful creature especially when you view it up close with its intricate patterns on its feathers. It is not all that noticeable in this reduced version of the original, but I caught the hawk just as it was turning its head toward the sun light.There is a small bit of catch-light which is noticeable in the eye when viewed closer, hence the name of this piece – Hawk Eye.

Guard Duty

Guard Duty
Guard Duty

As one friend told me, this is a perfect example of a slice of life photograph. I am not sure if, during the Civil War, whether any of the persons who were involved in the war had the opportunity to sleep so comfortably on the battlefield. But, it certainly romanticizes the moment and the era. Don’t you wish guard duty was so simple ?

Feel free to comment and share your thoughts.

Boots of Valor

Boots of Valor
Boots of Valor

America’s Civil War pitted the Confederate Army from most southern states against the Federal Army from the nothern states. Besides being a war of ideology and interpretation of the Constitution it also placed families, friends and allies against each other – a social upheaval. That is just a synopsis, and as much as I could turn the entire post into a history lesson, that is not my intention.

I wanted to share an image I took at a Civil War Re-enactment held at Jamesville Beach over the course of the summer. A rag-tag group of Confederate soldiers had assembled for a briefing prior to going of to “war”. I caught this scene, “Boots of Valor”,  while they were all assembled, receiving their instructions with the riffle boots all aligned. There was one officer who stood out as he was the only one standing at attention receiving orders. His attentiveness was also apparent in his posture. Can you guess which boots are his?

Anyway, I present to you “Boots of Valor”. Feel free to comment.

When vision is tantamount

It is pretty easy to get wrapped up in the hype of a new lens – oohhh the wide aperture, and ohhh imagine the depth of field. In fact, there are some persons who get so wrapped up in the capabilities of a lens that they purchase it for one purpose and once that purpose has been achieved, that lens rarely gets to see the light of day ever again. Essentially, the person becomes a lens collector – purchasing a lens for very specific purposes without exploring what are the other creative capabilities of a lens or what different thought processes need to be taken into consideration to properly use the lens on a more regular basis.

Enter my argument for having a vision. A lens not only grants a user certain new freedoms – shallower depth of field, longer focal distance, wider angles, sharper images etc. but it also places other restrictions. Understanding those strengths and weaknesses gives you a better understanding of that lenses’ capability and gives you an intrinsic ability to somewhat predict the capability of the lens. And, when you can predict the output, you are in a position to visualize the potential in a scene through both the restrictions and capabilities of a lens.

Knowing the capabilities puts you in the position to start experimenting with the scene to allow you to take the strongest image possible with the lens that you posses. That then becomes a recipe for creativity and thinking through an image – making a photograph rather than relying on the camera to just take it for you. More importantly you stop thinking that you need the next best, ultra, deluxe lens just to take that one photograph and you start thinking along the lines of someone who is not restricted by his/her equipment but only by their capacity for imagination and their willingness to invest in creating something different.