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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Ahhhh....The Zone System!

Just when I was beginning to wonder 'when did photography become so darned technical?', along comes an article to remind me that it has ALWAYS been that technical.  Only recently with the advent of digital cameras and PhotoShop have we been led to believe that photography is relatively easy...the camera and the software do it all, right?

Nay, nay!  Photography has ALWAYS been about light...understanding light, reading light, and transferring it through the lens, onto film--or a sensor--and then to the print.  Enter The Zone System!! Created by Ansel Adams as a system to understand how to read light, how to expose for the image your mind sees, and how to process the film--or the file--properly, and then transfer that image onto a print so that the end result is exactly what your mind visualized.  That was what Ansel was all about--pre-visualization--the ability to look at a scene and know in his mind, with careful planning and execution, what he wanted the end result to look like. 

 The Zone System...VERY technical stuff here, I warn you.  But if you really want to understand 'photo' (a light) 'graphy' (a process of writing, recording or representing), then you must understand The Zone System. I'm not an expert by any means--(photography also means 'try, try again!'), but I have a good enough working knowledge of it to know that it is essential to my craft to always strive to utilize it and to improve my understanding of it.

So I encourage you to read the article, research other articles on The Zone System, study images of  'The Masters' (Adams, Weston, Cunningham, etc.) and then get out there and get in the zone by practicing and applying what you have learned.

Good Luck!  Feel free to email me with questions or comments!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Dougherty County Saddle Club...finally!

A horse is a horse, right?  Not quite, as I learned this past Saturday at the Dougherty County Saddle Club monthly show. Horses are not exactly the most cooperative subjects...they never seem to stand still, and certainly don't understand it when you say 'hold that pose!'  They also definitely have minds of their own, and if they decide they don't want to jump a hurdle...well, they just stop!

I had a great morning at the show and thank my friend, Niki Lowery (bottom left), for the reminders of the Club's show dates.  After many months of being just Facebook friends, I finally got to meet Niki, her horse, Lacey, and even Niki's rescued squirrel, Wheezie.

The best part of the day was watching the youngsters compete with their horses...they were just darling.  Thanks to everyone who graciously allowed me to photograph them!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Heading out.....

Heading out to the Dougherty County Saddle Club for their monthly show.  Maybe catch some pretty magnolia blossoms while I am out.  Radium Springs this afternoon.  Who knows what in between?

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Onward and Upward!

I have decided to put the festival circuit on hold for a while...I think I've gotten quite a few great shots and met some wonderful people as well as quite a bit of material for the book.  The next and last festival for a while will be the Watermelon Fest in Cordele...but that's in June.

In the meantime this weekend, I intend to get to the Dougherty County Saddle Club Show on Saturday morning...then maybe watch some adorable baby calves getting bottle fed on Saturday afternoon. 

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Thomasville Rose Festival

Under the threat of rain, lightning and tornadoes I kept my resolve to drive the 65-plus miles to Thomasville, GA for their Rose Festival.  Since I left very early (7am), I hoped that by the time I reached my destination the worst part of the weather would have passed.  I decided to drive a bit further south of Thomasville to Pebble Hill Plantation to catch the early morning light on the beautiful grounds there.  I was 30 minutes early for the opening at 10am and, unfortunately, it was still raining.  Undaunted, I paid my admission, parked my car and walked the grounds--camera AND umbrella in hand. 
By 11:30 the weather was finally clearing. I had gotten lost walking around (the place IS ginormous--3,000 acres in total, of which only 77 are open to the public), I had most of the shots I wanted, took a few more for good measure, then headed back to the car. I realized I was famished so enjoyed my brown bag lunch a bit early, and proceeded to my original destination of downtown Thomasville.

If I had to choose to live in Southwest Georgia again, I would most definitely choose to live in Thomasville.  There is an air of elegance and sophistication there that I have not experienced elsewhere in this region. The area was originally chock full of plantation homes similar to Pebble Hill and the affluence--though not quite as grand--is still very apparent.  From the fabulous downtown shops and cafes, to the charming details in the street lamps, clocks and benches that line the streets, it is like a little oasis of cosmopolitan in the middle of corn fields and pecan groves.  As I told the owner of Gecko Gardens Nursery, Thomasville 'has got it goin on!'  He asked me not to tell my northern friends about their well-kept secret!

One of two must-have photographs for my book was of the Lapham Patterson House (above, upper right).  The circa 1885 Queen Anne style home is one of the first winter cottages built in Thomasville, this one by Chicago shoe manufacturer, Charles W. Lapham.  Although no longer open for tours, the 19-room home was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1975 because of the numerous unique qualities such as hot and cold running water, gas lighting and built-in closets. 

Ask anybody in Thomasville to direct you to 'the big tree' and they will know exactly what you are looking for and exactly where it is.  At first I thought I would not be able to capture its enormity in the widest setting on my lens, but there was enough area behind the tree to allow me to fit it all in. I got my second must-have photograph, and the sign by the tree says it all...almost.   If you do the calculations, 329 years prior to this tree being dedicated by The National Arborist Association means the little sapling was around well before the signing of the Constitution!  Pretty amazing, I think!

At this point in the day it was after 3pm, more storms were threatening and I was exhausted after walking miles and miles around Pebble Hill and Thomasville, so I decided to pack it in and head home.  A great trip and a great day!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chehaw Native American Festival

All I can say about this year's festival is WOW!!  Much larger than the one I attended two years ago, the weather was beautiful and the photo opps were everywhere.

I'm trying something new with this blog.  Since the software seems to not let me position the photos exactly where I want them, I created composites.  Hopefully this will work better and I won't have to move my blog to another site.

The Native American Festival is held annually at the famed Chehaw Park and Zoo.  The Zoo was designed by former Wild Kingdom host, Jim Fowler, who is also a resident of Albany.

It is said that a picture is worth a thousand words, so I'm going to save the better part of  a thousand words and just post the pictures here.  There are even more on my website Alfie & Company Photography

The most colorful and exciting event, for me at least, is the Aztec Dancers:

I was surprised and delighted to see Okefenokee Joe at the festival this year. Known across the world as an expert in field herpetology and a fascinating wildlife interpreter, I met Joe several years ago at the Sierra Club Annual Meeting in St. Simon, GA.  Joe is also a singer/song writer and at that meeting he played a song, 'Just a Tree, which has stuck with me all these years. The song tells a simple story about the complex environmental impact of just one tree.  As luck would have it, Joe had copies of the CD with that song with him, so naturally I purchased it and he was kind enough to autograph my copy.
There were numerous demonstrations and exhibits about pioneer living, and the children seemed to be fascinated by it all.

Of course, handmade crafts were everywhere--some of the prettiest jewelry, musical instruments, children's toys and home decor I've seen anywhere.  My second reason for going to the Festival, aside from material for my book, was to hopefully encounter a handcrafted bath soap vendor who was there two years ago.  Sure enough, I was again delighted when I found him and came away with the most wonderful Lemongrass Patchouli soap anywhere on earth!

I had hoped to start my Christmas shopping at the Festival.  Unfortunately, Uncle Sam was NOT cooperating this year or I probably would have spent a small fortune!  Maybe next year! 

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Cheehaw Native American Festival

I've been looking forward to the Native American Festival  at Cheehaw Park since attending two years ago.  Somehow I know that I had a previous life as an American Indian...I am so drawn to their culture.  This is a great event with Aztec Dancers, Native American Crafts, Jewelry and Music, Primitive Skills Demonstrations and Native American Food. And it's close to home so I can attend both days...maybe.