Sunday, May 30, 2010

Pictures from the gardens ... at home

This is my first year to grow beans in my gardens, and I didn't do much research before planting that would explain my shock when I saw the image above -- where I'd planted beans!

Well, it turns out that bean seedlings sprout flowers early in the growing process. My surprise was actually more eerie, because two summers ago, in the same spot in my garden where this emerged, I had grown pentunia annuals that gave me the same multicolored blooms as you see above. So I was freaking out at first, thinking that some residual seed from the petunia annuals two years ago had come roaring back.

A quick research online caught me up to speed on this bean-growing phenomenon ... and also warned me to get something for the bean plant to twine ASAP lest it fall over and rot. So ... I'm going to be looking to do that in the days ahead.

A few other surprises in this year's garden. Some seed dropped from last year's bachelor's buttons (blue boy) -- which I also thought were annuals, though I read that they were strong plants that could return -- apparently must have helped itself to several places in my garden last summer after quite a few of the plants were toppled by a severe storm. I'd left the toppled plants alone after the storm, so the tops (blooms) were in direct contact with the soil. There were too many of them to bother to upright with poles or sticks, and not enough room to do so. I'd done the same with my zinias, which also had toppled in the storm (and which are also supposed to be annuals), and lo and behold, I believe I'm seeing seed dropped from those downed plants emerge, too. The growth of the supposed zinias are quite a ways behind the bachelor's buttons at this point, but I'm going to keep my eye on them and catch pictures as soon as something serious materializes. Speaking of dropped seed from an existing plant ... the one sedum I have in my front garden is a result of that very phenomenon from one of the older sedums in my backyard fence-line garden.

You also see here some images of the beautiful, aromatic white blooms from my Henry's Garnet bushes in the backyard fence-line garden (the plant gets its name from how its foliage turns an awesome red in the fall, something I always look forward to). I put some seedling Garnets in my front yard garden last fall; it'll be a while before those get as full as their backyard counterparts and fetch much attention, but the two seedlings did produce some white blooms this spring, which I was thrilled about.

Also pictured are the bountiful buds on my asiatic lilies -- due to burst anytime in the next week and a half; those will be yellow and pink. Last year's show from these beauties was striking and inspiring.

You also see romaine lettuce, broccoli and cumumber plants making their appearance, as well as yellow day lilies, which bloomed only in the past week, and the spots for my two tomato plants -- one cherry, the other a beefeater. In my circular garden in the backyard, my red bud tree -- nurtured from seed dropped from a mature red bud in a neighbor's yard three summers ago -- took off in a big way this spring. Sprinkled around the spring remnant tulips foliage is marigold seed planted a week and half ago. I'm already seeing seedlings sprouting from that.
Above: A broccoli plant.

Above: Cucumber plant foliage.

Above: A hosta on the left, roses on the right. The roses are the only plants on my property that have been with me from the day I moved in 19 years ago. The roses are worth a separate post at a future date.

Above: The front garden that includes (front to back) not sure, one of two Henry's Garnet seedlings, spring tulip foliage, a day lily, a variagated hosta, spring daffodil foliage, another Henry's Garnet seedling and a sedum plant, spawn of one of the backyard sedums.

Above: The fence-line garden in the back, including two Henry's Garnet bushes (with the showy white blooms), a sedum (closest to you), and spring tulip foliage (middle). Not visible are my allium plants (in the middle back row), which are obscured by the foreground Henry's Garnet bush. I also put some marigold seed in the front row here.

Above: The circular garden, featuring a baby red bud and remnant spring tulip foliage. Tiny marigold seedlings are just starting to sprout.

Above: On the left, the genus garden (named for my son's first car, which sat here idled for three years before I developed the grass underneath it into a garden. My son had called his car "the genus"). The genus garden features day lilies, beans, romaine lettuce, my beefeater tomato plant and remnant foliage from spring bulbs. On the right are the asiatic lilies. Behind them are the broccoli, cucumber and a bachelor's buttons plant; in front of them (out of view), a cherry tomato plant.

Above: Closeup of one of the romaine lettuce plants.

Above: Closeup of one of the day lily blooms and a bloom-to-be. These emerged this past week.

Above: A bloom from the return of the Bachelor's Buttons (blue boy).

Above: Closeup of some of the asiatic lily buds.

Above: Blooms from a plant I can't identify; I believe it's from seed I planted last summer, thinking they were supposed to be annuals, but they never emerged. I can't find the package now to identify them. But ... here there are now, a year later?

Above: Closeup of a bloom from the above plant.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A sailing club ... and a bit more

Above: A view of some of the Indianapolis Sailing Club's keel boats in moor. This view is from the clubhouse, which overlooks the pier and harbor.

The Indianapolis Sailing Club had an open house Saturday, so I took advantage of an invitation from a fellow Indy Meetup Photo Club member -- who also is a member of the sailing club -- to check out the grounds. It was a type of scouting trip; the IMUPC is going to have a photo outing there next month, and I thought it would be good to see what we'd be looking forward to.

The Sailing Club has its grounds on Geist Reservoir on the Northeastside of Indianapolis; coincidentally, the Indianapolis Yacht Club is in the same area, just across the Fall Creek Road bridge over the reservoir.

In addition to the sailboat setting, the Sailing Club grounds proved to be a place to see wildlife (I grabbed pictures of geese, ducks, a blue heron and a squirrel), motor boats, other motorized craft, kayaking and even some fishing.

I shot all of the images you see here with my Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS lens equipped with a 1.4 extender. Even with the extender, I often felt I didn't have enough reach for what I had hoped for ... especially for the blue heron shot.

It was sunshiny as I made the drive to the club, but by the time I arrived, skies were already overcast and temperatures seemed to drop slightly. By the time I left, which was around 4:15 p.m., it started to rain lightly.

Above: A closeup of keel boats.

Above: Another keel boat.

Above: A look up at the clubhouse from one of the several stairways spaced around the hill and leading to it.

Above: A 1/400 shutter was fast enough to freeze the craft and its occupants ... and slow enough to get me that nifty sheet of spraying wake.

Above: A motorboat with an attentive four-legged creature serving as chief lookout.

Above: Trolling for a catch. Not long afterward, with no luck, these fishers moved off, probably in search of a more fruitful spot.

Above: Kayakers enjoying their outing.

Above: Bill Kennedy, the Indianapolis Sailing Club's official photographer who will lead the club's presentation next month when the IMUPC pays a visit for an outing.

Above: The first of a few wildlife images from Geist Reservoir. This is a blue heron, juxtaposed with the elegant lakeside housing in the background.

Above: An attentive squirrel, waiting to gauge my next move.

Above: This gaggle is fortunate to have parents who know how to split the "look both ways" duties.

Above: Ducks out for a cruise.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Medical visualization:
A career path not commonly traveled

Quay Kester, a medical photographer and visualizationist who now owns her own company, Evoke Communications, visited our photo club this week. She talked to us about what a professional in her position would look for -- and how he/she would set up lighting for -- when taking pictures for medical-related objectives. Over the course of her career, she has photographed wounds, injuries, body limb healing, surgical procedures, bones ... you name it. After a slide show of pictures from her portfolio, she walked us through how she would approach the photographing of bones. That's what you see on this post.

(Above) Quay Kester, walking us through her slide show

(Above) After the slide show, Quay set up her portable studio to show us how she'd photograph bones. In this image, she captures a clavicle resting on a clean sheet of glass, propped by some hard-plastic drinking glasses and background by a normal black sheet of fabric draped over a chair.

(Above) Quay brought along her lightroom tent to show how to exploit diffused light and to avoid shadows. When a macro shot is not necessary, she uses her Canon 30D or 40D DSLRs.

(Above) Next, she set up some shots on top of the tent, using this time a wrist/hand bone specimen.

(Above) Quay said she prefers to set up her light upward and to the left of the subject. Here, she talks about how that direction of light affects the detail and texture of the subject with that lighting.

(Above) For her macro shots, Quay prefers her Canon G9 for its macro mode setting and f/2.8 aperture.

(Above) A closeup of her capture on the G9.

(Above) An artsy shot recommended by a fellow club member: This is a reflection of a large mirror on the wall that Quay faced while doing her photo demonstration.

Monday, May 10, 2010

PP's Photographer in the Spotlight:

Shane Rodimel

I came across photographer Shane Rodimel quite innocently: I saw his photography business, Shane Rodimel Photography, listed among merchants participating in a recent Gallery Walk in the Arts & Design District of the Indianapolis upscale suburb of Carmel, Ind.

Carmel is making a huge push to boost its profile as an arts-minded community: The city is building an $80 million 1,500 to 1,800-seat performance hall, in the Georgian Colonial style, to attract serious concert programs from not just the region, but from the country ... and beyond. It is envisioned to be the heart of the district when it opens in January 2011, and Rodimel -- who grew up in much more rural Washington, Ind., in southern Indiana -- is situated perfectly to take advantage of the influx of traffic and interest that community leaders are banking on the center bringing to the city when it does open.

The thing is ... photography isn't Rodimel's only creative side; he also plays guitar and sings ... and will accept gigs upon request, even though photography remains his first love. And, there was a time when Rodimel also fetched interest and income in modeling. He has a lot working in his favor, and right now, the camera is leading the way. He stopped recently to answer some questions for Photo Potpourri about his photography, his music and his interests.

Shane, how and when did you get into photography? Was it a sudden thing, or something you gravitated toward slowly?

About 5-6 years ago, I started experimenting with landscapes and then shot some modeling pictures of my niece. Once people saw the shots of my niece, they started calling for their own sessions. It just grew from there. I've always been creative, and photography seemed to be a great outlet for that creativity.

Do you
have any photographers you cite as inspiration or particular favorites? Have you ever met any of them and/or mentored with them? Have you ever considered mentoring aspiring photographers?

I do not have any photographers that are favorites or inspiration for me. Landscapes and nature are my inspiration. I have a passion for the outdoors. Nothing makes me happier than to drive to a waterfall arriving while it's still dark in the early morning, get positioned and just wait for the sunrise and the perfect light to appear.

Several high school teens have asked to interview me or shadow me for their classes at school. I enjoy teaching them. I even had a Girl Scout troop come in last week for a short lesson in photography. That was the perfect opportunity to discuss body image and how photos in the magazines are manipulated so that the subjects appear to be physically perfect in size, shape and form, but this is not reality. I also have had many working photographers who have asked to have lunch and pick my brain. I am always happy to help if I have the time. Many people have helped me along the way, so I'm just spreading the love, really. Some photographers have questioned me as to how I can share "secrets" with "competitors" and doesn't that make me nervous. I do not view it that way at all. We are all just following our hearts and when you do that with integrity, nothing bad can arise. I'm not teaching them anything they couldn't learn other places if they wanted to put the time and effort forth to find the information. If I can share it with them quickly and same them research time, why not? My main message to them is: "Find your own style. Do not look at others' photography and try to copy it. That's not art, that's not creativity. You want people to recognize your photography as your photography, not as a copy of someone else. Think outside the box." I've traveled with other photographers, and many have said they wish I would teach a workshop. Maybe someday ...

From your online website, you list art and travel, weddings, fashion and high school seniors as your areas of specialty. I haven't had a chance to spotlight many shooters who do fashion, or list fashion, as a specialty. It would seem that to specialize in photographing weddings, fashion and high school seniors (and any portraiture, for that matter), you have to have a strong command of lighting. In cases where you have options for either or both natural or artificial lighting, how you do approach making those decisions? And do you often find yourself approaching the same shot with different lighting solutions so you can weigh the results later?

Most of the time I use natural light and reflectors to bounce light on the subject. I always prefer to go with natural light if possible. I do not typically try out different lighting approaches with the same subject. I use natural light if it's available and supplement with reflectors, flashlights and video lights on occasion. I have continuous lights in my studio that I use if I have to.

I notice, especially with the fashion and senior shots, many images have a very soft bokeh. What kinds of lenses (and settings) do you use for those? And while we're on the subject of gear, what kind of camera(s) do you use?

For portraits, I usually use a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 lens to blur the background. I shoot with Canon 5D but just purchased the Canon 5D Mark II and like it so far.

There is a "softness" aspect in all of your people work. I realize this is not uncommon in portraiture, fashion and wedding work. But what I'd like to ask you is ... how easy or difficult is it to achieve either "optimum" softness in each frame you take or produce, or the "soft" look you want or seek? How much of it is addressed in the camera, at the time of shooting, and how much do you tend to in post-processing? And ... is it possible for a photographer to get too soft? If so, where does one find (or draw) the line of demarcation? Just personal preference?

The background focus is "in camera," but I smooth out the skin to soften the face in post-processing. I definitely think it's possible to get too soft, but that's just my opinion. I feel keeping some detail is important. The post-processing is really where the artist skills come into play. The end product is truly personal preference just like a painting or drawing. Some will love the art, some will not. There is really no right or wrong when creating art. Sometimes rule-breakers become the new trend-setters.

How much influence do you use when it comes to selecting the types of shots you take for your fashion, senior and wedding work? Do your customers/clients often ask for something -- a scene in a field, a brook, etc.?

My clients usually leave the location decisions up to me. They book with me because they like the look of the photos they've seen and the backgrounds I choose. Because I love nature, I often try to incorporate that into my backgrounds.

How easy/difficult is the fashion work? We often hear how fashion subjects can be fussy and picky. Do you run into that a lot? If so, how do you deal with it?

I've been a model for the past 20 years, so I'm used to working in that environment. It is usually an easier photo shoot because they know how to pose naturally, unless it's an aspiring model. In that case, I teach them as we go along. Having been the person in front of the camera for so many years, it's very easy for me instruct the client. I haven't run into any fussy or picky models yet. The true reality is not what you see on TV!

One of the shots in slide show that plays on your homepage shows a bride in the middle of a flower-filled meadow (above), with the corners of the frame concaving, as if you were using a fish-eye lens. Was that how you accomplished that? Or ... was it a post-processing/software feature?

It was a 24-70mm lens, and I added a vignette. I've positioned her in somewhat of a "valley" so I see how it can appear to be fish-eye.

Another image on the home page slide show is a wedding shot (above) where either the contrast has been exaggerated or you layered the imaged high-dynamic-range style. Is either of those "guesses" correct?

I added some contrast, but it's more of a sharpening technique. I do not do the same techniques on each photo, and I often don't remember what I've done to achieve the end result. I just let the artist in me take over and play with it until I like the way it looks. I often will do many different techniques to the same photo tweaking it as I go along.

I notice an HDR effect on a lot of your travel shots as well. Is that treatment something you've explored recently, or have you always dabbled in the "alternative" presentation?

I do use HDR and have always enjoyed dabbling in the "alternatve presentation." I like to find ways to create pieces of art that are unique rather than just a photograph.

There is a shot -- also in the homepage slide show -- of what appears to be a family portrait and they are positioned in what appears to be a courtyard (top of this post), much of which is included in the presentation. In most portraits, a frame like that would be cropped. Is there a story behind this particular family or the shot that makes the courtyard important?

That is actually their home. Sometimes you pull up to the client's house and you just get lucky with great opportunities for creativity. I wanted to include their home in the background of the photo instead of a just a tight picture of the family because it adds meaning to the photo.

You might also be my first musician/photographer as a Spotlight profile. Can you talk to me a little about this side of your artist's profile? How did you get into it, how do you find time to indulge both? Your acoustic guitar link doesn't mention that you also do vocals. Is that your music -- and you singing that we hear -- when we land at your homepage? Have you ever done any recordings ... or performed with any local groups or bands, or have you always been a solo act?

I started playing guitar and singing about 15 years ago. Friends then started asking me to play at their parties and it grew from there. I've always been solo, although I have had my daughter join me on vocals a few times this past year. She will join me again for a few songs in June when we play at Estridge Home's "Artist Spotlight" at Clay Terrace in Carmel (Ind.). I have also joined in on vocals with my brother's band on a few occasions just for fun. I am from a very musical family, and now that my own children are showing an interest as well, we've been having a lot of fun with it. I play in bars and restaurants around town as well as many private parties. My music selection is varied so that it appeals to all ages. I get booked on events that run the gamut, from high school senior open houses to weddings to 40th and 50th birthday parties.

It is not my music on the photography website. As far as the music website, I have had the intention of recording some music and uploading it to the music website, but have never found the time to get that done.

It is difficult to find time to indulge both photography and music. I do not have the time to learn new music as often as I would like and find that I need more time to brush up on guitar skills, especially since my teenage son is quickly surpassing me in this area!

Have you ever found a way to integrate both skills -- music and photography -- into one piece of work -- such as doing concert photography, musician portraits, images of musical instruments, etc?

That would be fun and I would be open to it! So far, I've just shot some photos of my brother's band and have done a portrait for a friend who is a chiropractor. She specializes in chiropractic services for the performing artist (mostly orchestra) and wanted a cover shot for a book she is writing. She wanted the photo to show the grace of the musician and the instrument, but also somehow show the importance of posture. I suggested a drape on the musician that would show the curvature of the back (left). We were all very pleased with the end result.

Do you prefer one skill over the other? Have you ever done a concert tour?

I enjoy both very much. Never have done concert tours. Right now, the music has somewhat taken a back seat as I do not promote myself only due to lack of time. I still get quite a few bookings each year by word of mouth, but I'm not out pounding the pavement trying to get gigs because I just do not have the time. My father was an aspiring country music star who even had a song that was set to be recorded by Jerry Lee Lewis. However, shortly after receiving the letter from Jerry Lee Lewis' office saying that Jerry will be recording the song and he's sure it will be a hit, Jerry's son was killed in a car accident. This caused him to take time off from recording, and my dad's song was never recorded, but his dream never died. If I had to guess, I would say Dad is in Heaven trying to steer me towards the music! However, photography seems to winning out at the moment.

Do you do much photo work beyond the skill areas you list at your website? Is there any type you'd like to either try or do more of?

I've started doing quite a bit of corporate work. It's hard to be creative in a corporate environment, but I really like the challenge. I work best under pressure, so I enjoy just showing up at the client's office and figuring out how I can be creative.

I would like time to do more landscape/nature photography. I am headed to Italy in a few weeks and look forward to a week of Italian landscapes!

You run your own photography business in the Carmel Arts & Design District. Could we find -- or could we have found -- any of your work on display anywhere else?

I do not have my photography on display anywhere else at the moment, but am looking at the possibility of displaying my art photographs elsewhere. Some of my Italy prints are set to be displayed at Tony Sacco's, a new Italian pizzeria at Clay Terrace. If I am in town, I do display my work for most of the Gallery Walks in the Art District.

To explore more of Shane's work, follow any of these links:

Shane Rodimel Photography website

Shane Rodimel acoustic guitar

Shane Rodimel Photography on Facebook

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A first visit to Holliday Park

Finally made it to Holliday Park on the Northwest side of Indianapolis for a shoot two Saturdays ago, thanks to an outing scheduled by the photo club I belong to. We had overcast skies, but squeezed in a two-hour sweep in the afternoon before wrapping things up right before the clouds opened up with another in a series of downpours we'd experienced here that weekend.

We spent most of the time along the nature trails, but everybody makes a point to check out "The Ruins" when they visit Holliday Park, and so did we. Our approach to the shoot embraced the Andy Warhol saying someone penned on a wooden bench (photo at the top): "The world fascinates me."

A quick background on "The Ruins" for out-of-towners who visit this post: This attraction constituted the facade of New York City's first skyscraper, the St. Paul Building, erected in 1898 at 220 Broadway. The figures in the facade, made of Indiana limestone and called "The Races of Man," depicted Caucasian, Asian and African-American races working together to seemingly hold the skyscraper on their backs. In the 1950s, the Western Electric Co., owners of the building, decided to build a more modern structure on the site, so it held a competition among cities interested in bidding for the facade, with the judging criteria based on which bidder would propose the most appealing idea to preserve the facade. Indianapolis won, and it placed the Ruins on the park grounds just south of the nature center. For the full story, visit this website containing a PDF file with the Ruins' history.

Above: The first of four images featuring gnarly works of nature ...

Above: I liked this more for the seemingly out of place golden leaf at the top than for the gnarly textures.

Above: First of two gnarly above-ground tree roots, in a black-and-white conversion.

Above: Not a fork in the road, but a bend in the brook.

Above: An image to add to my benches gallery.

Above: The first of four images of The Ruins.

Above: Holliday Park had some nice flowers and foliage ...

Above: A field of dandelions, from a crawler's perspective.

... and from a little higher up

Above: A statuesque way to bring this photographic look at Holliday Park to a conclusion.