Open Photography Forums  
HOME FORUMS NEWS FAQ SEARCH

Go Back   Open Photography Forums > OPF Welcome Hall > Layback Cafe

Layback Cafe Let's chat!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Old November 9th, 2008, 08:08 AM
James Newman James Newman is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Somewhere in the Midwest
Posts: 658
Default Getting Cured

First of all, this post may belong somewhere else. If so, please move it.

I don't really know what has been going on in my life lately. It seems that every morning when I awake I have some new ailment or pain or problem to deal with. I can't seem to just wake up and have a normal day anymore. What with work, homelife, the economy, and yes, the election and the seemingly disasterous downfall of my once mighty Dallas Cowboys, I seem to have slipped into a complete negative and depressed funk again. I suppose this happens to most of us, maybe not, but it seems to happen to me with an increasing regularity. Perhaps it has something to do with growing older, I do not know. I just know that it gets hard and cumbersome just existing sometimes and I really do not enjoy those moments. I also know that sometimes when I get into those moods or cycles, I know what I need to do to change them but for one reason or another, refuse to do it. It is almost like a self abusive, self inflicted punishment of sorts, obviously for some deep rooted feeling or belief that I need to be punished for something. That is fodder for another post that I won't dive into here. Be glad for that

Yesterday I finally took a little control back and instead of just laying around wondering what to do next, I took my camera bag and went back out to one of my favorite places, Brazos Bend State Park. I had not done any shooting in quite some time and when that happens I feel stifled and sickly. I don't know why that is but it is. I get a great positive release of emotion and feeling again when I am out there and it builds my spirits back up closer to where they need to be. It is almost like a medicine that makes me well again.

Brazos Bend is a wonderful place, especially early in the morning when it's just you and the park, before all of the family groups or scout groups or cyclists start to arrive. It is so calm and peaceful that it almost immediately starts to melt away the tension that has undoubtedly accumulated in me since my last visit. It is like stepping back in time to a completely different world. The wonderful sounds of the great water birds starting to awaken, move around, congregate, and feed. Huge bullfrogs start their morning serenade. The low, deep, loud bellows of male alligators resonate throughout the park. You can hear them for over a mile. On any day you can see deer, wild pigs, otter, hawks, osprey, and even bald eagles. I can't believe we are lucky enough to have such a place and it is only 37 miles away from the sprawling metropolis of Houston with her 6 million inhabitants. It is a real jewel.

The gates to the park are locked between the hours of 10:00PM and 7:00AM. I like to get out early. If you want to go out there for some sunrise shots, 7:00AM is too late. You need to be there early, park your truck or car, grab your gear, and start your trek across miles of trails to get to wherever it is you are going to shoot. Luckily the park has a system that overcomes the obstacle. If you are a photographer and you have an annual state park pass, they will take some basic identification information about you and about your vehicle, and then add you to their list of photographers. All I have to do when I know I will be going out to the park is call the headquarters at the park, give them my name and the day I will be going, and they will give me the combination code to the padlocks that keep the front gates closed. It is so cool. I can go out there at any time of the night and just let myself in. It is a great benefit and I use it to the fullest.

Getting there early is mandatory and it also adds a bit of excitement to the entire trip. Out there, away from all of the lights of the city, dark is really dark. We who live near cities have somewhat forgotten what dark really is what with all of the light pollution we suffer from. Out there the dark is like pitch. You can actually see the stars like I remember seeing them as a child. It is so nice as a matter of fact, there is a large observatory out at the park that is ran by our Museum of Science. Because of the absolute darkness, I have to take along a flashlight to help light my way down the trails. The trails that I frequent all have water along both sides. The trails are like paths that cut straight through a watery swamp. Water on the left and water on the right. In places these paths are no wider than 12 feet across. While walking, I always use the flashlight (torch) because I do not wish to stumble across a 14 foot alligator or a cotton mouth water moccasin. I will stop from time to time though and turn off the light and just stand there in the blackness listening to all of the sounds around me. There is so much life in that park that the sounds hit you from all sides and it is very exhilerating. Then naturally I get a bit nervous when I hear something large rattling around in the palms near me so I turn my light back on and keep trodding towards my photo sight.

Yesterday morning was almost perfect. The only thing that kept it, at least for me, from being absolutely perfect photographically was the complete absence of any clouds in the sky. The sunrise is always spectacular but out there, in some certain locations, when there is some nice broken cloud cover, it can be truly magnificent. It was a very brisk and chilly morning by Houston, TX standards anyway. 44 degrees F is considered quite cold by natives down here. I was not even thinking about it myself when I left the house and headed out with a short sleeved shirt and no jacket or sweater whatsoever. I regretted that when I got out of my truck but suffered through the chill anyway. The water of the lakes and tributaries was warm from the previous sunny day so the chilled air hitting the warm water was giving off the most wonderful foggy curtain that just added to the almost prehistoric atmosphere.

I arrived at one of my favorite locations, Elm Lake, and started setting up for some sunrise shots. I knew exactly what I was looking for and had been picturing in my mind what I was hoping to find. Except for the cloudless sky, it was just as I had envisioned. The fog was coming up off of the water, the sunlight was just starting to force it's way through the mists and everything was a light shade of blue. It was almost as if the earth's white balance was set a bit too cool.
I really liked it and set out to try my best to capture what was to come.

Once I started shooting I was completely lost in the act. I no longer had any thoughts whatsoever about the pressures, the stress and strain, the usual and normal everyday things that can sometimes torment us. I just went about the business of taking my pictures and trying to save just a piece of the wonderful majesty that we have been so lucky to receive. I always feel so peaceful and whole when I am doing this that I think I can bring a piece back with me and somehow relive the pleasure just by looking at the photos. It is never quite that way. The photos are nice reminders of what is out there available to me but they will never be able to give me the completely satisfying and uncluttered feeling of being that I get while out there shooting. That's ok though and it's completely understandable. The pictures do make me go back to the park though so in that alone they are well worth it to me. It is always good for me to be there.

This post has dragged out quite a lot more than initially intended so I will cut it short now. I ended up spending about three hours wandering the trails of the park and taking photos in my favorite locations. The bird activity was not up to its usual standard, at least not for photography. They were there in large numbers because I could hear them everywhere. They were just back deeper in the surrounding woods and swampland away from the trails so I could not actually see too many of them. That happens out there. Sometimes they seem to be non-existent and other days they are everywhere thick as thieves. It does not lessen the satisfaction for me in the least. It is nice just knowing that they are there and when I am lucky enough to get close to them that is just icing on the cake. On this day it was not to be.

After my three hours were up, my spirits had been lifted and the funk that I had been feeling was completely gone. I had been able to get out in those open spaces, only for a short while, away from all of the usual stuff, and actually heal my ailing mind and fill myself with a more positive outlook on things once again. It was truly just what the doctor ordered and I could kick myself for waiting so long and for getting so down and so low before getting out and doing what I needed to be doing. I ended up with some nice reminder images that will hopefully force me to go back much sooner than later next time. They were not spectacular and definitely flawed technically but if they do for me what I know they will, they are absolutely perfect for me. I am posting a couple just to give a feel of the place that I was lucky enough to experience yesterday. By all means critique if you will because that is always welcomed but do not feel it is necessary. I think just the act of me sitting here this morning, typing this post, rethinking and reliving the moments from yesterday has made me feel even more grounded and living again.

By the way, I shot everything with my backup Nikon D200 camera yesterday. I don't know why. I just wanted to use it instead of the D3 for some reason. I am sure there is some psycological explanation for that as well but for now I will just leave it alone. These two images are both from Elm Lake. It is a little different, with a few more downed trees and some that are completely gone since Hurricane Ike blew through but for the most part basically the same as always. The black and white in the first was more pleasing to me than the color version. At that time and with the light and fog the way it was there was not a whole lot of color anyway so I went with it. The second is on the far side of the lake, looking through the wispy fog coming up off of the water. You can see one of the observation platforms that line that side of the lake. It gives people a place to rest while trekking through the park. They are nice additions and I have used them on numerous occasions either to get in out of the rain or to get a small break from the hot Texas sun. The sun was just starting to break through to the left and you can see the light hitting the mist. It makes me want to go back again right now. I hope everyone has a wonderful day.
James Newman



__________________
James Newman
Chicagoland
www.pbase.com/jnewmanco1 c&c welcomed
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old November 9th, 2008, 09:09 AM
Clayton Lofgren Clayton Lofgren is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Venezuela
Posts: 330
Default

The serenity of these is therapeutic for all of us. I am surprised at how much I like them, because when I try this type of thing myself I wind up with the saturation cranked way up before they look interesting to me. As an example:
[IMG][/IMG]
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old November 9th, 2008, 09:14 AM
Doug Kerr Doug Kerr is online now
Senior Member
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: Alamogordo, New Mexico, USA
Posts: 8,531
Default

Hi, James,

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Newman View Post
I don't really know what has been going on in my life lately. . . .
A very nice essay, and two lovely images. Thanks.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old November 9th, 2008, 09:30 AM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
Administrator/Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Bordeaux
Posts: 5,749
Default

Bonjour James
what a sincere and powerfull post!
Though obvious when reading you, I like the idea that doing photography can be a kind of therapy…
Doing photography has a lot to do with emotion.
You're high emotional moment spent at dawn in this fabulous park, plus you're own known skill to catch that kind of moment did certainly help to bring back some stunning shots.

What amaze me is that the first picture post is in B&W. You're comments on the sun rising, the heat caught/nested in the waters and the chilled air were very poetical and rich in color even in the text.

I would love to see that image in color, they should have been really subtle and delicate, accordingly to your feelings at hat time. Any chance?

The bold/gold, the whites and the blues of the second picture are perfectly caught…

Glad to see you more optimisitc, you have such a luck to have this place so near to you!
__________________
WEBSITE - FACEBOOK - INSTAGRAM
Please do no repost my images elsewhere than OPF without my permission.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old November 9th, 2008, 11:13 AM
James Newman James Newman is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Somewhere in the Midwest
Posts: 658
Default

Thank you Clayton. I like your image. I can be a big fan of highly saturated colors myself and at the right time of year, this park is the perfect subject for that. Currently however we have started our slide into Autumn and are preparing for winter. The colors have started to change and to fade a bit because of that.

Thank you Doug. I am glad you enjoyed it. For what it's worth, I have made a promise to myself to stay away from politically themed threads anymore. It never does me any good to tread there. I will leave that to the more educated and rational ones.

Thank you too Nicolas. I am such a great admirer of you and your work that anything positive coming from you concerning anything I have done gives me nothing but great feelings. And just because I know how you are a true lover of the color image I will post the one that I converted into the black and white above. Looking at it today I feel completely different and actually like it more than I did yesterday. I think it works either way depending on my mood.

__________________
James Newman
Chicagoland
www.pbase.com/jnewmanco1 c&c welcomed
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old November 9th, 2008, 01:02 PM
Nicolas Claris Nicolas Claris is offline
Administrator/Moderator
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Bordeaux
Posts: 5,749
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Newman View Post
Thank you Clayton. I like your image. I can be a big fan of highly saturated colors myself and at the right time of year, this park is the perfect subject for that. Currently however we have started our slide into Autumn and are preparing for winter. The colors have started to change and to fade a bit because of that.

Thank you Doug. I am glad you enjoyed it. For what it's worth, I have made a promise to myself to stay away from politically themed threads anymore. It never does me any good to tread there. I will leave that to the more educated and rational ones.

Thank you too Nicolas. I am such a great admirer of you and your work that anything positive coming from you concerning anything I have done gives me nothing but great feelings. And just because I know how you are a true lover of the color image I will post the one that I converted into the black and white above. Looking at it today I feel completely different and actually like it more than I did yesterday. I think it works either way depending on my mood.

Hi James
Re: Politics
I know a liitle bit about your political sensitivity. You certainly have noticed that we don't share exactly the same ideas, but at the end, if we forget the AK things and my naivety, we're all sharing the same planet and we seem to share some important feelings, such as simple things like stars at night (you can't imagine how beatifull is the celestial night in the middle of Atlantic under the tropic latitude, while sailing in serenity with a good and comfortable boat speed…). So let's not agree on politics and share the principal: basic but wonderfull feelings with our mother planet…

Thank you for your kind words about my work, I'll try to keep-up! That's always a challenge!

Thank you also to post this image in color, though the B&W is very nice it benefits from the larger size…
I also f-ind the contrasts a bit to heavy and the colors to much saturated.
Imho of course, so I tried another version, bigger, less contrast, more subtle colors… to show how I did imagine your world from your words…

I hope you'll like it and won't be angry for me to post it here. If so, just tell me and I'll delete it…

Have great and better days !

__________________
WEBSITE - FACEBOOK - INSTAGRAM
Please do no repost my images elsewhere than OPF without my permission.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old November 10th, 2008, 07:18 AM
janet Smith janet Smith is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 1,355
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by James Newman View Post
I get a great positive release of emotion and feeling again when I am out there and it builds my spirits back up closer to where they need to be. It is almost like a medicine that makes me well again
Hi James

Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, it always touches me when someone opens themselves up to us like this. Sorry that my reply has to be brief but we have guests staying with us at the moment and it's somewhat hectic (again!) so I came here in search of a moment of peace and found it in your post and beautiful shots - thankyou!
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old November 10th, 2008, 08:15 AM
Gary Ayala Gary Ayala is offline
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: SoCal
Posts: 548
Default

Very nice photos James.

You know James ... I think that we all share your feelings ... when that viewfinder hits the eye ... nothing else in the world matters or exists except what you see in your viewfinder.

Gary
__________________
Unsharp at Any Speed
My Snaps are here:
www.garyayala.smugmug.com
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -7. The time now is 06:09 PM.


Posting images or text grants license to OPF, yet © of such remain with its creator. Still, all assembled discussion © 2006-2017 Asher Kelman (all rights reserved) Posts with new theme or unusual image might be moved/copied to a new thread!