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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Greenstone Curl - Fine Art Weekly Series

Thought we forgot about it, didn't you!

New Zealand is well known for their native Greenstone. In case you don't know that or what it is, it's what they call the precious stone Jade. Kiwis are a unique bunch...the stone is green, so they call it greenstone. And they are well known for it.

OK, maybe not as well known for their sheep, or their glacial topped peaks and deep fjords, or beautiful bays and waves in the North Island, or even their unstoppable rugby team the All Blacks. But historically where other Polynesian tribes traditionally made their tools, weapons, and adornments out of stones, shell, or bone, the Maori people of New Zealand typically used the seemingly plentiful greenstone found on their islands. Today greenstone jewelry and pendants are an important part of the tourism industry.

In 2005 we found ourselves in the little west coast town of Hokitika, on New Zealand's South Island, where we learned about New Zealand Greenstone. It was here we found the most stunning greenstone sculpture piece. The endless colors of green, ranging from the deepest of deeps to vibrant emeralds and the milky blue-green of the glacial rivers. All blending and fading seamlessly in a beautiful curling piece.

This week's piece in our Fine Art Weekly Series is a brilliantly stunning barrel shot from Cylinders, in Newport Beach, CA we entitle "Greenstone Curl." Taken under dark skies in some of the clearest water we can remember in southern California, the turn of high tide provided some brilliant backwash to the heavy, barreling shore break wave. The resulting colors reminds us of the brilliant color strata found in that exquisite piece of greenstone carved in Hokitika.

This amazing image is now available for sale as our newest Fine Art piece on our superior Canvas Wraps, Metal Prints, and Mounted Prints. Please contact us for all inquiries and sales.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

End of the Path Less Taken - Fine Art Weekly Series

End of the Path Less Taken...

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear,
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I marked the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I,
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

             -"The Road Not Taken," by Robert Frost

We chose the path less taken. And it brought us to this breathtaking waterfall far fewer see.

It was steep and muddied. Single track and tucked high above a lesser waterfall. It climbed a cliff face in ankle deep mud. Passed through a tunnel of native vegetation. Crossed a 120 year old viaduct. It was steep, slippery, treacherous, even hard to follow, but oh was it worth it! 

Climbing in cheap sandals with our camera gear and tripod added a degree of difficulty to the trek, making the reward even sweeter.

If you find yourself on the east side of Maui, take the time and effort to find it. It will make all the difference.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Notes on Photographic Style, Goals, Technology, and Inspiration

I’ve thought a lot this past year about my photography. That which I do for/as Driftwood Photography Studios, and that I do for my own growth and enjoyment. I thought about my style. Refining it. Defining it. Followed by the inevitable redefining of it. Partly because I feel photography should be a constant evolution. Partly because I see what others are taking on the same days as me, and the resultant images that sell.

In regards to my photography, my biggest fear is to become stagnant in my stylistic progression. But despite technology, despite the need to constantly evolve, there are foundations that must be held onto (beyond good composition).

In a world of post processing and over compensating for what I can only assume is a perceived banality of reality many photographers must perceive in front of their lenses, and the teaming reality TV masses that thrive on whatever is loudest and shiniest (much akin to crows and magpies), I’m fighting to stay true to what my eye sees. The world is vibrant and stunning, but also shocking and unpredictable. So why as an industry are so many photographers changing their images so drastically on the computer?

Why in the digital age are so many photographers not content with the colors and lighting they see? -Or the scene and background for that matter?

I recently walked the expo floor at a photography conference. There were a dozen different software products being hawked. I stopped at a few booths and listened to the reps talk on various editing features, even let one give me a demonstration. I watched the rep take a nice portrait of a young couple at the end of a pier leaning against the white stucco wall of an outbuilding and change the colors, apparent light sources, texture of the wall behind them. I walked away thinking why not just setup a better shot, with better lighting, in a different location?

I got to thinking, what is the line between a photograph and photographic art? -Or graphic design? At what point does it become less about the scene in front of the photographer and their technical ability at capturing (and yes, altering) the light coming directly into their lens, to more about post-processing and their ability to manipulate software after the fact?

We can all lighten shadows, save minor blown out/clipped exposures, and enhance colors. We can make grayish, cold winter water of California look bright and vibrant in greens and blues. Very easily too with the latest editing software. Good editing, even extreme editing, can be incredibly impressive. But what happened to showing the world as it is?

Not every day, not every location, not every wave looks like Bali or Tahiti. And it’s not supposed to. But unless you have a 20-foot plus wave or Kelly Slater to work with, it seems to becoming the standard to try and make it look so. I’ve fallen into that trap myself without even realizing it until looking back at photos on a later date. So I’ve gone back to using filters, even staking them. I do my best to ensure I’m shooting with the optimal light. Waves and weather don’t always coincide, but there are always opportunities to setup a memorable shot. Whether it be here locally in Orange County, CA, back in the North East where I grew up, anywhere in between, or anywhere abroad/overseas.

I acknowledge that yes, the computer is the new darkroom. Some level of processing is usually required (slightly more so if you shoot RAW), just as various color and contrast filters, dodging and burning, etc. have traditionally been used to make prints from film. But there has to be a limit. There has to be or we’re all just graphic designers painting a picture with a mouse or track pad. I’ve taken graphic design courses, and I am a fairly good designer, but I am a photographer first and foremost.

In the beginning I strove to take pictures of what my eye sees. I still hold that to be the foundation of my photographic and personal style.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Sandman - Weekly Fine Art Series

We're proud to re-initiate our Weekly Fine Art series! After some extensive travel, early mornings, precarious cliff edges, sharp coral, and heavy shorebreaks we here at Driftwood Photography Studios captured some exciting new images! Of course there are still a number from our current catalogue that many of you haven't seen yet, but we're so excited about these new shots we're jumping them up the list!

This week's post is entitled "Sandman." Taken in the crystal clear waters of Big Beach on the Island of Maui in 6-8 foot shorebreak.

Interested in a print of this or any of our Fine Art series? Commercial usage rights? Don't hesitate to contact us or call us at 714-699-4397!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

New toy...Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens!!!
New toy...Nikon 300mm f/2.8 lens!!!