My favorite photos from 2014

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Tis the season to reflect back upon the year – your accomplishments, adventures, failures, and of course, pick yourself up and get ready to steamroll into another year.

Last year I took 29,521 pictures. I have yet to do a “hard” edit on several shoots and could probably delete a bunch more. A few thousand also fit in the timelapse category – which I am still searching for the best software to create these little flipbooks.   However you compare that to the 49, 217 in 2013 and 35,964 in 2012 and you can say I either wasn’t as prolific or I was more focused. How many photos did you take this year? Are you still working on them or are you ready to move onto the new 2015 folder?

One of my regrets for 2014 was that I didn’t blog and share my work as well as I could have. The book seemed to have drained me of any new words and I was busy now celebrating it and taking it on the road to various lectures, workshops, and travels. That was definitely a ton of fun and I enjoyed receiving lots of emails and feedback from all the people that I had shared my night visions with in 2014. I love teaching workshops; the moment when a student gets that “A-ha” is just as thrilling to me as it is for them. I was fortunate enough to have the workshop scene take me to some pretty fabulous places from Baja-Vegas-Zion-Bannerman-Missoula-Maine-Woodstock and Woodlawn. But it was just as important to plan some personal shoots where I could act the role of the student and explore new locations and challenge time and composition.

2015 looks to be another banner year with trips to Finland, Iceland, and Galapagos in the works. But without further ado – here are my 13 favorite images that I created in 2014.

Mother and Daughter ~ Sony A7 and Voigtlander 50mm 1.5 ~ 1/60s at f/2.8 ~ ISO 500

January 1st 2014 was probably one of the most soulful days that I have ever experienced. I was in the spiritual capital of India, Varanasi, with my Dad, my Indian sister Sujata, and a couple other friends. We had been given an amazing opportunity to visit several ashrams – safe spiritual houses for widows. In the caste system of India, widows are the lowest of the low and will often not be taken in by family and are left to die.

The Sulabh International Social Service has taken a very proactive roll in housing and protecting these widows in Varanasi and Vrindavan. The image above was taken at the first ashram we visited. I had taken my Fujifilm Instax camera on this trip and it has never been put to such good use, as it was that day. As their stories were translated to us, I took instant portraits of them and let the magic of photography take over. You have to understand that many of these women are photographed but very few prints are sent to them. As soon as I took the Instax of the woman on the right, she grabbed my arm and took me to her mother’s room and woke her – so they could get their picture taken together. They are one of the few mother and daughters who have both lost their husbands but were lucky enough to find a safe place together.


Las Cruces and the great Gulf ~ Nikon D800 and 14-24 2.8 lens ~ 11 stacked 8 minute shots at f/8 ~ ISO 100

A week after I returned from India, I was off to Sea of Cortez and Baja Mexico with Lindblad on one of their Land and Sea Photo Expeditions. I had taken a shot similar to this the year before but I wasn’t 100% thrilled with it. This image is 11 stacked 8-minute photographs. I love how the star trails create a complimentary half circle to the breakwater.   I recently went back to this shot and converted it to black and white, which took it from a 3 to a 5 star in my book.


Confetti Snow ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 ~ 23mm lens ~ 1/15s at f/5.6 ~ ISO 3200

Boy, it snowed a lot last year!   But I loved it – the challenge of taking on the elements and how they make us see the world in a different light. This is my subway entrance, a place I pass by 400+ times a year and I’ve never seen it look as magical as it did this night. I learned a long time ago to always have a camera on you. I stood at the entrance and fired off a burst of photos varying the shutter speeds from 1/4s to 1/15s to find just the right type of confetti snow.


The Night Island ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 & 23mm lens ~ 20m at f/8 ~ ISO 400

Probably my favorite night image from 2014. This was a shot that had been percolating in my mind for a long time – the Night Island. I braced myself at the top of one of the twin peaks as the winds tried its best to knock my rig over. This is a single shot, twenty minutes, and pretty much exactly as I pre-visualized. It was great to check this image off my to do list and to create instead of capture.


Breakwater Light ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 23mm lens ~ 8m at f/5.6 ~ ISO 1250

Another location that was on my to shoot list was the Breakwater Lighthouse in Maine. I had visited this dramatic spot several times over the years and filed it away as a cool place to photograph at night. As luck would have it, the fog was in and I was able abstract the lighthouse to its essence – a beacon of light.


A Maine Milky Way

This year I was fortunate enough to work with the Maine Media Workshops and give a lecture on night photography as well as lead a bunch of students on their first night shoot. I was up there for a week and shot almost every night, which is a great challenge to put on your self. You get attuned to the different types of night-light and can feel the earth rotating around the stars. I was lucky enough to be up there for a new moon and witness the Milky Way just outside Camden. I set up this composition and as the few spotty clouds rolled in I knew it would make a great timelapse. It was also featured in Resource Magazine’s interactive digital version of their Fall 2014 issue


Devils Tower ~ Fujifilm X Pro 1 & 10-24 lens ~ 1m at f/4 ~ ISO 3200

This was created on a scouting mission for an upcoming Devil’s Tower workshop that I will be teaching with Matt Hill through the Rocky Mountain School of Photography. Devil’s Tower is one of the best places to view the Milky Way and I only had one night that I could shoot it. The weather forecast was not good – overcast, but I continued my 10 hour drive through torrential storms, dramatic skies, and a rainbow or three. When I finally got to the tower – it seemed as if there was an invisible beam shooting upwards – pushing the clouds away from the top of the tower. I took advantage of this magical time and was rewarded with a few peaks of the milky stars in between some quickly moving clouds. It only lasted an hour or so before the blanket of clouds returned – it is said that this is a very spiritual place and it certainly answered my prayers.


The Cabin in the Woods ~ Fujifilm XT1 & Zeiss Touit 12mm lens ~ 18 stacked shots at 4m & f/5.6 ~ ISO 800

I created this lightpainting/star trail combo as an example of what we can do with time during my night photography workshop at The Center for Photography at Woodstock this summer. I’m always looking for dramatic foreground to play against the star trails and this sculptured cabin was prime for the picking! I practiced the light painting at several angles and in the end it was the bounce light of a 80-lumen flashlight off the ground that produced the best light and shadows. The exposure was 18 stacked 4-minute exposures that created the 1 hour and 12 minute star trail.


Twilight Lake ~ Sony RX100m3 ~ 4s at f/9 ~ IS0 125

I was taxed with the mission of pushing the Sony RX100III to the low light limits for a video that B&H made about the RX series of cameras with David Brommer and Alan Arkin. I own the V1 of this camera, that is often hailed as the best advanced point and shoot camera on the market. I’ve also always pooh-pooh’d P&S cameras for serious night photography. So I packed this camera and went out to push those pixels along on a trip to Salt Lake City. I was able to successfully get exposures up to 30 seconds with minimal loss of image quality. This was my favorite shot of the night – a 4 second shot making the most of the blue hour.


Wanderlust in the Rain ~ Sony RX100m3 ~ 1/50s at f/5.6 ~ ISO 200

Here’s another story of overcoming the elements. When traveling to Portland, Oregon you gotta take some time to visit the coast. We only had 1 day to do it and the forecast was torrential rain the entire time. We could have easily just stayed in one of the many microbreweries in Portland – but we got our rain gear together and carried on! This was just one of those spontaneous shots that comes together. We were searching for a beach with a skeletal shipwreck but when we pulled into this parking lot and I saw the arrow I slammed on the breaks. We all got out and saw the composition – but Paige took it to the next level and ran out there and jumped!


Greenwood Cemetery I ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 23mm lens ~ 4m at f/8 ~ ISO 200

I want to create not capture. I want to challenge the way I see and I want you to see my vision of this space. Deconstruct and let your mind wander.


Enter the Fountain of Youth ~ Fujifilm XT1 & 10-24 lens ~ 4m at f/5.6 ~ ISO 400

Tom and I were shooting this hidden gem of a spot in Pittsburgh but it was missing something. I had been working the lightpainting on the outside and we knew we needed to add an element to the black hole of an entrance. I asked Tom to go inside and fire up a flash a few times to open it up. As Tom approached the entrance, and before the bat flew out, I knew that was the shot. By adding the human element, the mysterious explorer, I found just what the shot needed.


In search ~ Theta 360

When creating, photography can be an amazing art form to explore your emotions. I gravitate to cameras or lenses that can help you see in a new way. I recently picked up this super simple and fun Theta camera, which captures the world in a 360-degree view. That’s a pretty outstanding starting point for vision and I have just begun to manipulate it and create these new worlds.


TIMEXPOSED Opening next Wednesday

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I’m very excited to announce TIMEXPOSED a selection of my photographs that focus on the fine art of the long exposure. This marks the one year anniversary that these images have been hanging in NYC, so let’s celebrate! I’ve added about 10 new pieces and the show is at the beautiful flagship John Allan’s store in Midtown Manhattan.

Last night I was amazed as I printed out last week’s Photo of the Week and the image quality was so much better than what I saw on the screen. It’s great that we can share images and ideas via blogs, FB, Flickr, etc but to me, nothing beats the image on the wall.
So in this every changing digital world, don’t forget to print. Make a permanent piece of your history to pass along.

Upcoming Events

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2009 is turning out to be a creatively successful year so far and March is packed with some great group shows as well as my first solo exhibit in NYC!

First up, the 11 th Annual International Krappy Kamera Show, which features one of my previously unseen images, opens on Tuesday March 3rd at the Soho Gallery.  This is always a fun exhibit featuring images made from creative artists and their toy cameras.  The Opening is from 6-8pm, with voting on the People’s Choice Award ending at 7:30pm, so get their early, drink some wine, enjoy the images, and vote!

Jill Waterman and Daryl-Ann Saunders curated and brought together some of the best modern nocturnal photographers for two exhibits featuring the fine art of Night Photography that will open on Thursday March 5th at the Farmani and Safe-T-Gallery.  These Galleries are right across from each other in DUMBO Brooklyn, and the opening will be from 6-8pm.  Several of these photographers will also be speaking at B&H’s Event Space on Monday March 9th.

On Friday March 6th a couple more openings:

First, my dear friend and fellow blogger and photoartist, Angelia Lane, will have several of her paintings featured at ArtSlant’s Group Show, World of Imagination.  The opening is from 6-8pm and will run to the end of the month at the APW Gallery’s new location at 48-18 Van Dam Street, Long Island City, NYC.

If you are heading upstate that week, one of my photos will be in a Group show titled Festival of the Visual Arts, at the Morton Library in Rhinecliff.   The Amtrak train drops you off within 3 blocks of the Library and the show is curated by the newly engaged Sandy Bartlett.

Now mark your calendars and plan your trip to NYC accordingly; I’ll be having my first solo show titled “The New York Years” at John Allan’s in Tribeca on Friday March 20th from 8:30-10:30pm!  This exhibit will be touring the four NYC John Allan’s locations throughout the year but you’ll definitely want to come celebrate with me on March 20th!

And finally, on the last day of the month come and test drive the newest Lensbabies at B&H’s Event SpaceDavid Brommer, Jennifer Diamond, and I will be giving a slideshow presentation on how to get the most out of these creative lenses and then take you on a photo safari as we Lensbabify Times Square!

So shake the winter blahs off and I hope to see you out there this March!

The f295 21st Century Opening Weekend!

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The f295 kickoff last weekend was a huge success!  Thanks to the over 150 people who came out to Saturday night’s 21st Century Photography opening!  The work and vibe must have been reminiscent of Stieglitz‘s old Camera Club openings!  Thanks  also to all that helped put the show together:  the artists who shared their work, The Camera Club of NY who gave their 500 square feet, David, Jennifer, and Amy on the B&H organizational end ~ as well as serving up a record amount of kosher wine!  And finally, Tom Persinger, who brought us all together and had one heck of a time trying to make letters stick on walls.

Wondering what camera to document the gallery opening with, I finally settled on using my trusty Panasonic LX-3, which is an advanced digital point and shoot.  The pioneering Panasonic has a little throwback feature, it has a pinhole scene mode!  See, I told you that pinholes were enjoying a renaissance!  For some reason the pinhole mode is limited to 3MP images while applying a vignette and desaturating the image.   I know it would have been better if the lens could have come off to reveal a real pinhole over the digital sensor but hey, I wasn’t going to get everyone to stand still for 5 hours for the group shot! All the images on the left were taken in this “pinhole mode” while the right hand side shows the packed house for Sunday’s presentation at the B&H Event Space.  For the second straight year over 80 people showed up to listen and learn about new ways to use older technology.

We all struggle with keeping our art and life fresh and new.  For photographers the terms wedding, portrait, landscape, pinhole, or even alt process can all pigeonhole and limit our vision.  Tom Persinger asks us to look beyond these stereotypes and empower the 21st Century Photography:

The 21st Century Photographer remains open to the exploration and use of a variety of processes, techniques, and technologies so long as the chosen method(s) most concisely articulate their creative vision. A net result of this paradigm shift is not only complete artistic freedom but also a palpable sense of empowerment. Historically photography has marched down the long path of process obsolescence – one in which new techniques replace old in a continual cycle of progress. In a 21st Century approach, however, control is wrestled from profit driven agencies -corporations, advertisers, and the marketplace all promoting a consumptive photographic model- and given to the artist/photographer. By virtue of taking the responsibility of control, photographers allow themselves to use a pastiche of tools and materials to make pictures. It is this freedom -which is new for many- that empowers and fuels the 21st Century Photographer.

Photography is a toolbox with many means to express your vision.  Some people choose one, others need multiple instruments to complete the vision.  This weekend I saw art that was in jars, painted on, waxed, dyed, and printed on anything from the latest digital technology to handmade emulsions on a variety of surfaces from tin, glass, and paper.  The photograph that I submitted in the show was originally a 6×9 slide.  I was deciding between two basic ways to present my print:
1.  Drop it off at a lab and have them make a negative copy of my positive slide and then a C-print
2.   Scan the slide and print at home on inkjet.
Now, my good friend and constant conscience, David Brommer, stood aghast when I told him that I  I was leaning towards the lab option;  mainly for convenience as I am still not 100% confident in my inkjet printing.  I’m still most at home in the B&W darkroom.  But he reminded me that I had to control the final outcome of my image.

And really, it is all about the process ~ from start to finish.

Now did I enjoy spending close to an hour digitally removing dust from my image?
Is the excitement the same as flipping over the black and white image in the developer under the red light?
But, seeing a project from start to finish is still pretty damn fulfilling.

Happy New Year

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I hope that everyone’s end of the year festivities were spectacular and wishing you a creative and prosperous 2009!  My year is starting off with a bang!  I’ll be giving my newly revised seminar on The Fine Art of the Long Exposure at B&H’s Event Space this Monday, January 5th.  It will be an inspiring double feature with B&H Maven David Brommer starting off the day with his seminar on Creative Composition at 11am.
I’m also excited to announce that one of my pinhole images will be featured in the f295  group show featuring some of the finest alternative process/techniques photographers of the 21st Century.  The show’s opens at the Camera Club of NY on Saturday, January 17th, from 7-9pm.  So if you are in town, come on down to see some great art.  The show will begin a weekend of amazing education on Historical Photographic techniques and Alternative processes.  On Sunday January 18th, the B&H Events Space will host the 2nd annual f295 seminar on 21st Century Photography.  Featured speakers will be Jo Babcock, Craig Barber, Michelle Bates, Dan Estabrook, Alida Fish, Joy Goldkind, Robert Hirsch, France Scully Osterman, and Tom Persinger.