East Sussex, August 25: Beachy Head Three Minutes Earlier

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Impressionism / Inspiration / Photo Log / Photography / Sunset

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August 25, 2019; Beachy Head, The Seven Sisters, East Sussex. How calm is the blue hour?

This calm.

This seascape was shot three minutes (to the second) before the lighthouse image in the last post.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more seascape horizons, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

East Sussex, August 25: Beachy Head Lighthouse

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Photo Log / Photography / Sunset

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August 25, 2019; Beachy Head, The Seven Sisters, East Sussex. Our trip started with a ten-day workshop with Oliver Klink and ended with a one-day workshop with Rachael Talibart. Both have been judged Black and White Photographer of the Year by globally respected publications. Both have deep and diverse backgrounds. Both are superb mentors. Both are wonderful human beings. Our cup runneth over.

We knew at the outset that we weren’t going to get anything even remotely close to Rachael’s Sirens. For that you need storms and storms come in the winter. But maybe something serene…

That wasn’t going to be easy. Not on the Sunday before UK’s August Bank Holiday. Not in a heatwave where the temperature was 88 F (31 C) on the coast. I would guess that half the population of England was on the beaches under the Seven Sisters trying to escape the heat that day. (I tend to exaggerate, but the beaches were the most crowded Rachael has ever seen, and she’s lived on or near the south coast of England all her life.)

Things calmed down at blue hour, as they often do.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

PS. This is my 100th blog post. Thanks to all who have followed, liked, and commented. More to come…

Portugal, August 17: Atlantic Horizon Looking West

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Photo Log / Photography / Portugal / Seascapes

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August 17, 2019; Caplela de Nossa Senhora de Peninha, Parque Natural de Sintra-Cascais. How could I be near a coastline and not do a horizon shot? The sea called and I answered.

The unusual thing for me was looking west over the Atlantic. But not that unusual, because the sea, sun, clouds, and fog bank worked the same here as they do on the northern Sonoma County coast in California, which shares the same latitude.

The calm is the same too. Of course it is.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

For more horizons, go to www.amagaphoto.com.

Estoril, Portugal, August 18: Six Minutes Later

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Impressionism / Landscape / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography / Portugal

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August 18, 2019; Estoril, Portugal. Just starting the third cup of coffee and another pastel de nata. Back to the conversation. I had put the camera away.

Then I looked up and got it out again.

(Check yesterday’s post to see how this started.)

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Estoril, Portugal, August 18: Morning Fog

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Landscape / Monochrome / Photography / Portugal

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August 18, 2019; Estoril, Portugal. Balmy morning on the balcony, enjoying coffee with my wife’s brother and family. It had been a sunny morning, but as we got into the second cup, the fog came in.

This is different. Where I come from, a second cup makes the fog go away.

(Nikon D500, Tamron 100-400mm f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland, August 12: Stormy — Redux

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Inspiration / Landscape / Monochrome / Nature / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

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August 12, 2019; Northwest of Locarno, Switzerland — September 6, 2019; Silicon Valley. It was a turbulent night. I awoke at 4:00 a.m. and stared at the ceiling, thinking, “it’s too dark.” But it wasn’t the ceiling I was thinking of. It was the image I’d just posted on the blog afew hours earlier. And there were other things too: Was the foreground too severe? Does it focus the viewer’s attention enough? The tones, tones, tones…

I fell asleep.

In the morning some comments came in. I thought some more.

And then after dinner I dove back in.

Same picture, new look.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland, August 12: Stormy

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Landscape / Monochrome / Nature / Photography / Switzerland

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August 12, 2019; Northwest of Locarno, Switzerland. It was a dark and stormy day; the rain fell in torrents — except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the valley (for it is in Italian Switzerland that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the water-logged photographer who struggled against the torrent.

But then, a break in the clouds, which was of benefit, for until that moment the day (photographically for me anyway — my dear wife had done far better) has been a wash.

As a fortnight and a half had gone by, I had been ready to reject the entire day’s effort as a complete loss, even after examining the sodden images again and again.

Until one stood out, and even that one had to be subjected to long but delicate effort to transform that which the camera had recorded into what I had environed. Many pixels’ lives were forever changed in the slow but inexorable process of transformation.

And so after much labor I present it to you thus, and beg your indulgence.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland, August 9: Totensee Take Two — Gray is Gray

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Impressionism / Inspiration / Landscape / Monochrome / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

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August 9, 2019; Totensee. The sky was subject to rapid mood shifts: this was shot just fifty-two seconds after the image in the last post.

It was post-processed after arriving home following a week in London immersed in Constable, Turner, and Monet. Rothko too, of course. Inspired by Constable’s clouds, Turner’s unfinished landscapes and seascapes, Monet’s monochrome* winter scenes, and a good dose of minimalism from Mr. Rothko, this is one version of what came out.

It was chilly — the coolest we got in Switzerland. It was humid — the mist was more like fine rain. It was near silent — this moisture in the air absorbed the sound of the nearby road.

And it was gray.

(Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

 *But not really. All his winter scenes have amazing color in them.

More fine-art photography at www.amagaphoto.com

Switzerland, August 11: Bucket-List Shot

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Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

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August 11, 2019; East end of Stellisee, Switzerland. Think of Switzerland and you think of the Matterhorn. Probably when you think of a mountain you think of something like the Matterhorn. The quintessential mountain. And this is the quintessential shot between two rocks at the end of the lake.

The Stellisee is about ten miles — line of sight — from the Matterhorn. People line up to get their shot from this exact spot. This makes this not only quintessential but one of the most clichéd clichés in all of clichédom. So why shoot it when it’s been done so many times before?

Because I hadn’t shot it. And now I have.

But I almost didn’t because in my excitement that morning I left my ten-stop neutral-density filter safe and secure in my room. I needed it: there was a breeze and the water had a ripple — not good for a smooth reflection. The filter would allow me a long exposure to flatten the water.

At the lake, I set up the shot, I reached for my filter, and it wasn’t there. I muttered — not too softly — a pithy expression of my disappointment, frustration, and yay, utter exasperation. Immediately there was a voice to my right: “Want to borrow mine?” Bob from Massachusetts came to my rescue. I breathed a thank you as he reached over and put his filter on my lens.

Thirteen seconds at f/16, ISO 64. Done!

Thanks, Bob.

And one item checked off the list.

A note on the sky: Photographers hate plain blue sky. Boring. No drama. But there it was. Blue. Hardly a cloud. Bah! Our schedule said this was the one day we could go to shoot the mountain, and as it turned out we were lucky: the day before and the day after both had very dramatically cloudy skies. So dramatically cloudy you couldn’t see the mountain at all. So, I’ll take the blue sky, thankyouverymuch. And the tiny wisp to the right.

(Nikon D850, Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland August 7: Wildlife

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Nature / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland / Wildlife

August 7, 2019; Brienz, Switzerland. Shortly after our arrival in Brienz, Oliver took a few of us on a walk to Wildpark Brienz. Two of the species shown here are native to Switzerland. One is not. Your guess.

Chamois

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Common Blue Butterfly Blue Hairstreak

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Snowy Owl

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(Nikon D500, Tamron 100-400 f/4.5-6.3 Di VC USD zoom. RAW processing in DxO PhotoLab 2.3; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Lisbon, August 18: Fado at Povo

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Performance Photography / Photo Log / Photography / Portugal

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August 18, 2019; Lisbon, Portugal. A quick break from the photo workshop in Switzerland for a jump to the next part of our trip: Portugal to visit family.

Sunday night’s dinner was at Povo, a restaurant and Fado house in old Lisbon. The food was excellent traditional Portuguese fare but the main event was Fado.

Fado is a traditional music genre native to Portugal. It is most commonly thought of a music of sadness, loss, and longing — but that would be as much of an oversimplification as saying that blues is always sad. It can be said, and has been said, that Fado is a mystery. (Scroll down for the English translation.)

It can also be said that Fado is expressive.

Sunday night’s singer, Sofia Saragoça, with accompanists playing Portuguese guitar and classical guitar, lived up to the traditions of longing, mystery, and expression. Sofia is apparently a product of Povo’s artist in resident program, the best of whom are invited back to sing on weekends. She is excellent — an old soul singing well beyond her years. We had front-table seats. We were entranced.

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Next, back to Switzerland…

(Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO Pro, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland, August 7: Calming…

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Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Sunrise / Switzerland

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August 7, 2019; Above Vevey, Switzerland. After our day at the Fête des Vignerons, we spent a few early pre-breakfast hours in the vineyards above Vevey. The sky was still shaking off its storminess.

And when I turned around, wine on the vine.

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Stay tuned…

(Nikon D850; Tamron SP 24–70mm f/2.8 Di VC USD G2. RAW processing in DxO Pro; Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland, August 6: How the Day Began

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Performance Photography / Photo Log / Photography / Switzerland

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August 6, 2019; Vevey, Switzerland. One of the highlights of our trip was the sixteenth Fête des Vignerons (Winegrower’s Festival.) We’d never heard of the Fête and had no idea of its magnitude and importance. The first clues we got were in the week before the photo workshop while we were visiting friends near Lake Neuchatel in northwestern Switzerland. Every time we mentioned that we were going to the Fête, the response was a more profound “wow” than we’d gotten when we told friends that we’d scored tickets to Springsteen on Broadway last year. This was apparently a very big deal.

It was. Oliver planned a couple years in advance to make this a part of our trip and purchased the tickets last September.

You can read about it here and here. (The second link should have a translate option near the top of the page.) The briefest of summaries: The Fête takes the form of an extremely elaborate two-and-a-half-hour opera which tells the story of a year in the local region. While the theme is wine growing, the story touches on all aspects of life including life in the village, which includes cattle and goat farming, which are central to the culture.

The performance is in a twenty-thousand seat stadium which was purpose-built for the event and will be dismantled when the festivities end. If you look at a satellite view of Vevey, you won’t see a stadium; instead you will see a large parking lot near the water. The stadium is in view of the vineyards being celebrated. Look to the upper left in the stadium photo above.

Before the performance, Oliver set up a shot with some of the performers. These women and girls represent the buds on the grapevines. They are but a tiny proportion of the six thousand performers, almost all of whom are volunteers. Not sure who had more fun: we or they.

Oliver getting the performers arranged.

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Cooling off after the shot. It was 91º F (33º C).

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Although cameras (other than phones) were prohibited, I managed to get my pocketable Canon G7X II through the gate. This was the camera I used all day. The best camera is the one you have with you. I’ll only include two photos — I encourage you to see the website.

Celebration of the cows coming home from the Alpine pastures. (In the U.S., we party till the cows come home. In Switzerland, they party when the cows come home.)

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The fairy overseeing the proceedings. All proceedings need a fairy to oversee them.

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After the show, we were allowed to go down to the stadium floor (which was made from the world’s largest LCD screen with constantly changing patterns and scenes during the show) and photograph the performers having their unofficial Fêtes.

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Later, as you already know, the heavens opened up.

And then…

Stay tuned.

(Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO Pro, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

Switzerland, August 6: How the Day Ended

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Inspiration / Landscape / Photo Log / Photography / Sunset / Switzerland

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August 6, 2019; Vevey, Switzerland. Our first week in Switzerland was spent visiting old friends and meeting new ones. Wonderful in all ways, and proved just how friendly Switzerland really is, but not terribly productive photographically.

On August 5 we began our workshop with Oliver Klink. It was a great day, and I learned some valuable lessons, but no keepers. August 6, however, was different. It was special in many ways. You’ll see how the day began in the next post. Here’s how it ended. Why I was only using the pocketable G7X II will be apparent next time.

First shot looking south across Lac Léman.

Next shot a little while later, looking west.

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(Canon G7X II. RAW processing in DxO Pro, Editing in Adobe Photoshop.)

More fine-art photography at www.amagaphoto.com