Archive for May, 2009

Easy Pickings

Posted in FLICKR, photographers with tags , , on May 28, 2009 by cliffmichaels

Some things are hard to photograph. Anything that moves is hard to photograph. Especially anything that moves really fast. Especially anything that moves really fast, is alive and is big enough to hurt you (which is the reason Jaime Telephot invented the telephoto lens in 1917 – two many photographers were getting devoured in darkest Africa while trying to get a close up of a lion with a 20mm lens.)  Other hard things to capture are really, really small things and really, really big things. Oh, and really, really ugly things, too.

There are some things so ridiculously easy to photograph almost anyone can manage it. Like a flower. There are over ten million Flickr photos tagged “flower”. There are probably millions more posted by people who think you spell flower “flurer”. “flour”, or “fleer”. And of course all those photos tagged flower in Chinese, Italian or Esperanto.

If you can focus your camera and keep it from shaking, you will end up with a decent photo of almost any flower you put in front of your lens. When I first got my Nikon I went out to a local greenhouse and photographed dozens and dozens of flowers. I posted the best of the lot to Flickr, sure I’d get tons of comments. No. Didn’t happen. Everybody else on Flickr had been there, done that. I imagine taking close, or macro, shots of roses, lilies, tulips, etc. is one of the first things any newbie serious photographer does.

Another easy thing to photograph is a six your old. OK, right – you have to get them with a clean face, have them sit still and not make faces at you. Generally speaking, little girls are better subjects than little boys if only because it is easier to get them motionless and smiling. Kids may be a little tougher than flowers, but the results are better, particularly if its your kid…

Krystal (below) is not my daughter or granddaughter. She belongs to a client of mine. When I asked her if she’d let me photograph her she lit up and beamed. She had a clean face, she stayed still, and the results proved pretty nice.zzzface07

Read all of VISIONS

Happy Discovery

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 25, 2009 by cliffmichaels

So I’m checking my photostream, looking to see how many comments the new shots I posted late yesterday and this morning have received.  I notice the latest addition to my stream, a shot of a red barn, ramshackle white shed and twin silos on a farm somewhere near Sevier county, Tennessee, has a couple of comments. Here’s my photograph:

The second comment is from a Raymond Larose. He opines my shot is an “excellent scene”. I click on his icon, hoping his work is good (makes me nervous when someone likes me photos but theirs are crap). Wow! What a fantastic shot! A quick review of his recent photostream confirms he knows what he’s doing.

So I check out Larose’s profile. Hmmm. Nice equipment (especially that Nikon D80). Obviously a serious guy. He links to three of his favorite photographers on Flickr. Think I’ll check out this Alonso Diaz guy…

The image at the top of Diaz’ photostream blows me away. Big. Bold. Ultrawide with electric color. Visit his own web gallery to see his best images, a marvelous bouquet of vibrant masterpieces.

Impressed with Diaz, I check out Larose’s second favorite, Matilde B. A Portuguese professional, her work is simply divine. Here’s a flash gallery with several slideshows of her work.

I click on Larose’s third favorite, Philippe Sainte-Laudy, with eager anticipation. I am not disappointed. His landscapes are lush and otherworldly.

Yeah, that Larose guy really knows his stuff….

Read all of VISIONS

Just Too Peachy

Posted in FLICKR, photographers with tags , , on May 25, 2009 by cliffmichaels

Quite some time ago now I got a Flickr note from someone who obviously knew me outside of Flickr and assumed I knew her. I didn’t. Her screen name, “Just2Peachy” provided no clue. The best I could do was narrow it down to two or three suspects. Of course I could have simply asked, “who the hell are you?” That’s not the manly thing to do. No. Instead I hatched a devious plot to have my secretary, who’s also a Flickr member, contact my mystery woman and try to ferret out her true identity.

After some cat and mouse, Just2peachy called me and I recognized her voice. She had been in a community theater production of Steel Magnolias I had directed well more than a decade before. She had done more than her part to make the production a huge local success.

She was a fine actress. She’s a better photographer. She’s so good I can even forgive her using a Canon…

Here’s her photostream, headed today by a marvelous black and white fit for the holiday. Here’s another great shot. And another and another


Posted in FLICKR, photographers, Uncategorized with tags , , , on May 24, 2009 by cliffmichaels

Last week I wrote about the thousand of images of Iraq and the Iraq war on Flickr. Today: Afghanistan. A tag search for “Afghanistan war”displays almost ten thousand images. In random order, here are a few of the more striking of those images…

Behind the Veil  – Afghanistan Orphans – Afghan Soldiers – War – Taliban Soldier – Child Cluster Bomb VictimAbout to Go HomeFarewell – TalibanArkansas Military Casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan (as of March 2006) – War The Devil Went Down to AfghanistanThis War is Illegal – Afghanistan ~ 50 Cal – Pat Tillman, a True American Hero.

If you just watch the nightly television news you might get thirty minutes a week of coverage of the war in Afghanistan. Just these fifteen images above culled from Flickr give a deeper view of the country and the war. And there are at least ten thousand more on Flickr….


Posted in FLICKR with tags , on May 24, 2009 by cliffmichaels

I have a game I play with Flickr. I try to imagine some category of thing for which there is no Flickr group. If I search groups and nothing pops up – I win. On the other hand I lose if there is one or more groups for my guess. 

Centipedes? I lose… Myriapoda is dedicated not only to centipedes but also millipedes! Here’s one of the more interesting images in the group. And here’s another. I’ll be right back after I take a shower…

Let me play again…. wrench!!??? Hmm. I lose again.. Wrench Antiques offers 44 photos of old wrenches.   This is my favorite  photo. What about wench? Surprisingly, only three groups (although searching tags turns up just shy of 35,000 photos – many like this). Winch? Damn, that was a winner.

Let’s see, how about -hmmm – no, not that — oh! what about “baby bottle”? Yeah! I win! No group!  Oh, by the way, don’t visit the group Bottled Babies unless you have a very strong stomach.

OK, one last try… Drool! There surely isn’t any group dedicated to slobber… Shit. I lose again! The group Drool is private so I can’t share an image with you. But Drool and Slobber, a dog fanciers’ group, has eleven tasteful photos of drooling dogs.

Please, give me a chance to get even…..  Elbow? ….. DAMN!!!!!

Crossing Paths

Posted in PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , on May 24, 2009 by cliffmichaels
There are lots of reasons why I love photography, here’s one of them:

Yesterday morning I spent the better part of five hours traipsing through rural parts of Blount, Knox and Sevier counties. It was just barely on the cool side with little wind. A patchy sky filtered the light leaving it  smooth yet bright enough to bring out the colors. A perfect May day, in other words.

My photo safari was fruitful, with many worthwhile subjects flushed from the green jacketed, hilly land. Between the perfect weather and the bountiful shooting I was in a  giddy mood. Anyone watching me would have been startled by the way I was laughing out loud and swaying back and forth to a rhythm that was only in my head.

About eleven or so I stumbled into a long, clumpy string of horse fanciers also enjoying the late May morning: scores of men and women in cowboy or country hats on horseback intermingled with a dozen or so brightly colored wagons. Each of the obviously homemade wagons rolled on small rubber tires and was pulled by a team of four mammoth, matching, blinkered draft horses.

We played leapfrog for the better part of an hour. I’d  slowly pass their disorderly parade on the “wrong side”, then pull off the single lane country road we shared a quarter mile or so ahead to capture another landscape, tree or old barn. As I struggled to get that one perfect and stunning shot they’d pass slowly by me, the clip clop staccato  of the horses’ hooves filling the air with a cheerful, rhythmic clatter.

I’m not a “horse person”. To be honest, I am afraid of horses. All of my youthful equine encounters ended badly. My first wife was a avid horse person; we ended badly, too. Still, I enjoy photographing horses (if always from a safe, telephoto, distance). I certainly would not have traded places with any of the riders or wagoneers. Not on your life. But I did enjoy watching their festive promenade  (if from the safety of my steel clad, one ton car).

Of course I took photographs. I don’t have high hopes any of them will be very good. I was shooting on auto, on the fly and one handed from the car. I snapped the shutter more just to make a connection to the riders, to make a record of our brief, shared journey through the lush Tennessee countryside. 

When we at last  parted, when the last of the disorderly caravan disappeared down another country lane, when the metallic drumbeat of horse shoes on pavement faded, when the faint odor of horse manure vanished from the air, I felt, surprisingly, lonely. I suddenly knew it was time to put the camera away and head for home.

Two shots of the horse caravan…


My Fellow Travelers

My Fellow Travelers









No Country for Old Men

Posted in FLICKR, photographers, PHOTOGRAPHY with tags , , on May 20, 2009 by cliffmichaels

There are lots and lots and lots of photos of people on Flickr. Explore “portrait” and a mere 6,385,438 photos pop up for your viewing pleasure. If I had to guess the average age of a portrait subject on Flickr I’d say…. twenty-two. Lots and lots of kids. And tons and tons and tons of young women (dressed and undressed). The higher the subject’s age the lower the number of Flickr photos.

I do what I can to buck the trend by administering a group called Faces of Maturity.  While FOM is not huge (519 members and 3,681 photos) it has attracted many fine photographers from around the world. Perhaps the finest is Itzick. He’s posted 201 portraits to my group and everyone of them is a gem. Here’s one of my favorites. And another… and another. And one more… Finally, here’s proof Itzick can handle the younger crowd, too.