Archive for February 2012

Rocky Foundation   1 comment

Seaside Inn

It never ceases to amaze me where people will build a house. When this building was first constructed did the builder envision this outcome? How could he not? It now remains an artifact of some oddity, that I am sure I am not the first nor will I be the last to photograph.

I have been reading about composition lately, among the many blogs I peruse. It is not something I consciously consider in my photography; the rule of thirds, contrast, balance, how the eye travels though the image, yet I “see” how all these elements of imagery impact our perception of the two-dimensional world that we experience through photography. I tend to be a color junky of sorts and have to sometimes switch into B&W, in order to see how composition presents itself without the visual assistance color provides. It is a healthy way to rediscover images from the past and force tonality on my visceral thinking. Digital photography, for all its benefits, truly neglects B&W photography, at least when it comes to the psychological impact that shooting B&W film had back in the day. At least for me, I need to work harder at thinking in B&W without the benefit of having B&W film in the camera.

I am going to review my archives and select some of my favorite B&W images to post and write about. I love color and splash it liberally throughout my blog, but I think some monotone is in order. I hope you enjoy the diversion.


Natural and Unnatural   6 comments

Bamboo Forest

Behind the hotel I was staying in was a bamboo forest lining the banks of a small river. When I first discovered it, the hotel staff insisted I not venture any closer as the high winds were making it dangerous. Not to be deterred, I decided to return to the spot later in the afternoon with tripod and camera in tow. I took a number of photos and was cautious of branches and whole trees falling on my head.

Later in my visit I discovered snakes and tarantulas love bamboo. I’m not sure how true that is, but there were times I was knee-deep in branches and foliage. I certainly felt like I was going to be escorted off the property at any moment, so my senses were heightened. Despite the repeating patterns of the trees, the colors were somewhat dull and muted. This turned out to be the best of the bunch.

Rolling Farmers Fields

I was actually a bit surprised at the rolling fields along the mountainside. Many mountains are covered in fields of coffee plants and they make a distinct mark on the landscape. Standing just beneath the clouds, I enjoyed partly cloudy skies that created a nice contrast of light and shadow on the land.

Tree Frog

I managed to capture this little green guy on a leaf in a waterfall park and wildlife refuge. Unfortunately, I got the distinct impression the frogs had enough of tourists and most of them seemed to be hidden from me. Honestly, I can’t say I blame them.

Dying To Get In

Finally, I managed to tour a local cemetery, where the crypts were as ornate and luxurious of any I have seen. It was apparent that the bigger, more ostentatious the crypt, the higher the status of the resting soul. The weather was perfect as was the light which drew out the character of the many structures that symbolized the status and final resting place of the elite of Costa Rica.

Sleeping Angel

Artist’s Home   1 comment

“Living” Room

I have always enjoyed the company of creative people, especially the more eclectic, artistic type. While in Costa Rica, I visited a local artist / collector’s home who literally had every square inch of available wall space filled with art.

Homes in Costa Rica, unless in gated communities, are almost always protected behind barred windows and gated car ports. Clearly, criminal intent is ever-present and therefore personal security is paramount. It is a bit disconcerting at first, but my sense is it has become a way of life for Costa Ricans.

Driving up to the artist’s home, I first saw a steel corrugated solid facade, with a single metal door. Passing through the door I was greeted with an outdoor atrium of sorts and an outdoor room with a small pond. Just ahead, behind the homes front door was an unexpected personal gallery of art and sculpture. Each room was more visually interesting than the previous and he was kind enough to give me free rein.

The lighting was challenging, so I opted to take my tripod and use available light whenever possible. Taking advantage of the tonal range offered by HDR, I shot multiple exposures in cases where the light was uneven as was the case in the photo above.

“Light” Room

Mask Room

Saint Wall

Not every room or every piece of art was necessarily my taste, but I appreciated the opportunity to explore the artist’s home and to photograph it. It was in many ways a living gallery that reflected the owner and his sensibility. All in all, it was one of the coolest homes I have been in.

Interesting People and Places   3 comments

Carlos Durán Sanatorium (a.k.a Sanatorium of Prussia)

I obtained this explanation of the buildings from a website on haunted buildings in Costa Rica.

The large complex set near the Irazu Volcano in Cartago served several purposes during its functional life: as a hospital for tuberculosis and leprosy patients, an insane asylum (under the name Sanatorio Carlos Duran) as well as an orphanage for children. The complex is currently abandoned with guards patrolling the grounds during the day, though they say few dare to go there at night.

I wanted badly to climb the fence and go in, but I dared not. I saw a few people in the area and thought it best to stay outside at a safe distance.

Mountainside Church

76% of the population in Costa Rica is Roman Catholic, so it is not surprising that there are many churches in the city and in many small rural communities, along winding roads in the mountains. Sadly, many church doors are locked during the week due to theft, so I was only able to explore a couple of churches on Sunday before mass began. This particular church welcomed me with open arms, tripod and all. Translating for the local pastor, my colleague indicated it was ok to take pictures but that I should hurry up before the congregation arrived.

This photograph was taken from the edge of the parking lot looking out into the valley below. What a blessing it must be to leave mass on Sunday and to see God’s spectacular gift to us. Mother nature at her finest.

What strikes me most about people who live and work off the land, is the simplicity of their lifestyle and the pace at which they live. This man seemed to exemplify that sentiment and he willingly accepted my intrusive picture taking, as his patient demeener suggests. He stared back at me calmly, no doubt wondering why the heck I was so taken by this place and by him. In what little spanish I know, I thanked him for allowing me my simple pleasure.

This church, this view, this community was a spirit filled respite along a steep winding road in the mountains. Driving off the church grounds, I observed a number of families walking along the roadside, dressed in their Sunday best, on their way to worship and praise. Mine was a brief moment of feeling the depth and magnitude of this place of worship and it left an indelible mark.

Costa Rica   2 comments

Dinner For Three

I finally decided to stay for a couple of personal days in Costa Rica on my last business trip there. This time of year is beautiful there and I was treated to the best weather I could have hoped for. It’s been a while since I posted to my blog and I honestly missed the writing. As I was flying home from this trip, it occurred to me that while my blog really is all about my photography, it could be viewed as a travel blog of sorts. That is not my primary intention, but I will concede that the discovery and sharing of the places I have been to and seen is in many ways a travel log of sorts, the modern age journal.

Sunday Mass

On Friday at noon I was fortunate enough to be allowed to photograph the interior of the cathedral in San Jose. Mass was taking place so I limited my position to the back of the church. I love how HDR photography brings out the life in the architecture of older churches. They tend to be poorly lit and sometimes drab.

Volcan Irazu

My weekend included a number of destinations I had not previously visited in Costa Rica. A colleague was very kind to show me the sights and sounds of the country. I experienced my first volcano on Saturday morning of the weekend trip. It was a dormant volcano, but was exciting for me to see nonetheless.

The countryside of Costa Rica is spectacular. It is green, lush, full of life and color. Conversation at dinner refered to my exuberance as an “oxygen high”. That must be why the people of Costa Rica are so happy.

Morning Rays

It seemed everywhere I turned another breathtaking vista treated my senses.

Summer Solace

On this trip I chose to carry all my photography gear, including my tripod. I was conflicted about carrying the extra weight, but I am so glad I did. If I am committed to the craft I have to be willing to bring my tools of the trade. I think it paid off. When I take an excursion like this, I tend to set very low expectations for myself photographically. I tell myself if I get one great picture, it was worthwhile. It is like my golf game; I just need one great shot among a hundred or so to keep me coming back for more.

Withered with Age

Gentle Water Flowing

This was one of three waterfalls in a waterfall park I visited. It was located at a place a called Peace Lodge in Lapaz. The light was bright and I soon realized that I needed a neutral density filter on my lens to darken the light and further slow the shutter to capture the flowing water. I am pleased with the results and the lush green forest becomes a subject all its own.