Blog - TexFStopPhotography

For Photo Buyers

I'm honored to have you visit my website. There are many great photographers in the world who have much to offer from the parts of the world where they live or visit. My specialty over the years has seemed to be centered in the American Southwest both from the standpoint of preference, I hope, but also because that's where I've simply been. If you are looking for nature photographs I have some beautiful wildflowers from Texas and New Mexico. There is a growing collection of wildlife as well. Most of my work is of landscapes in arid regions. Check out the galleries with titles that may have subject types that will interest you!


There are many ways to order photos. You can get traditional prints, metal prints, stretched canvas, giclée, or photos on household objects or cards. There are even downloadable files. I will write about the items being offered here through the lab I've selected in order to help potential buyers make more informed decisions. 


Whether you simply browse or decide to purchase, I'm pleased to have had you here. Any comment would be much appreciated.

Two Notable Types of Prints

Giclée was a new term for me when first coming to SmugMug. I've looked it up as Bay Photo, my lab here, has defined its version. In its literal sense "glicée" comes from a feminine French noun meaning a spray or a spirt of liquid. It refers to an advanced technique of digital inkjet printing which is considered archival. The prints are made using special large format printers. Bay Photo prints onto either a watercolor paper which is heavy with a slight texture or onto canvas, which is of museum quality and can be offered mounted in several different ways:  canvas board, canvas stretch, canvas ThinWraps, Loose Canvas, or Canvas Gallery Wraps. They are given a protective spray coating. They provide fine detail and color accuracy. This is an option for those wanting the best presentation possible for an image and the price of these prints is proportional to the quality demanded. 


Metal prints are is a new medium in which dyes are infused into specially coated aluminum sheets. The prints are offered on the following surfaces:  High Gloss, Satin and Sheer with a glossy or matte finish. According to Bay Photo, "You've never seen a more brilliant and impressive print! Colors are vibrant and the luminescence is breathtaking. Detail and resolution are unsurpassed." Various mounting options are available.


So, there are some unusual options available here through Bay Photo! If your requirements are not quite as stringent as those that these types of prints fulfill, you can still get more economically priced beautiful traditional inkjet prints made for you with high resolution and color correction!

Why Buy Photo Art?

With the widespread use of digital cameras today by a significant percent of the world's population, it becomes a matter of discussion:  Do we really need professional photographers?

"Why not just have all the guests at our wedding snap a lot of pictures with their smart phones and dropbox us the files?" "Surely I can take pictures that are just as beautiful as the professional landscape photographer! My camera doesn't let me make any mistakes and I know what looks good to me." 


These and many other arguments have their plausible aspects. Yet simply in terms of image quality, notwithstanding the nice enlargements that can be made from fairly inexpensive DSLR's, you will still have a better chance of receiving outstanding images from the hands of someone who has done the homework to ensure sharp, correctly color balanced, low noise files for printing or screen displays. 


The nature or landscape photographer has invested a lot of time and money into first of all having the equipment to do specialized types of photography such as macro, close up photos of flowers. He or she will also have the long fast lenses for the wildlife shots. These can cost thousands of dollars. The full frame camera bodies the pros use will also go beyond the usual amount budgeted by the casual shooter. 


Then there is the matter of learning and training, editing skills and software used to perfect the RAW captures. The pro may use special techniques to create unique interpretations of fairly ordinary scenes, such as the employment of texture overlays and working in layers or multiple exposures. The knowledgeable and patient shooter will, when necessary, use the HDR technique that's probably on your smart phone, but in a much more involved, advanced way using special software. He or she will use special techniques in Photoshop to give you panoramic images that involve taking several overlapping exposures and then "merging" them in the editing software. These files are large and give great quality enlargements. It's just not the same thing as cropping your single file to look like a panorama or using panorama mode on your phone. 


Then there is the fact that the person dedicated to this type of photography will travel, at some expense, to the scenic locations. These locations are sometimes remote, sometimes require long hikes or backpacking excursions, and perhaps are in dangerous locations due to the possible activities of either two or four-footed predators. He or she will arise long before dawn to arrive at a pre-scouted place to catch the beautiful light of dawn or will stay out late to get the sunset shot. 


This is not at all to say that you will not get very pleasing photos on your own that you can hang with pride and say, "I took that!" Yet any photographer will have an appreciation for what other photographers have produced, a very unique atmospheric, weather event, a hard to duplicate sunset, the struggle between predator and prey, the bedewed claret cup cactus flower. When we come across an image that tugs at our hearts, then we know it's time to consider making it part of our collection!

A Late Winter Moon Sets

Early one morning recently I was awakened by the brightness of a full moon's light penetrating the thin curtains in the bedroom. As I usually get up for a while in the wee hours to work on this site I decided to explore the possibility of a photograph involving this moon and a landscape. My wife woke up due to my activity in spite of my effort to be quiet. We discussed how bright it was outside, and I told her my plans for this early hour. She wanted to go out as well. We packed the camera and a tripod and headed off on the dirt mountain road very close to us in the Gila National Forest. We went to the "overlook" from which this picture was eventually taken, but decided it was so dark on the land it just wouldn't be that interesting. So we drove on to an old, dilapidated stone house that's in the New Mexico gallery to see if the moon was showing through the window. Unfortunately, the moon was at too oblique an angle to the opening, so we moved on. Traveling a few more miles down the road we noticed that the moon here was quickly dipping below the hills and mountains on the horizon. As the sun was beginning to announce its intentions to arrive on time in our hemisphere, we decided to return to the "overlook" and see how the landscape might look with the dawn's first gray light. 


Arriving there I set up the tripod and my 70 - 200 mm lens. The earth was spinning its usual 800 mph at the equator and a little more slowly at our latitude, but it was enough to make it evident that the moon was quickly setting on the mountains in the distance. I took different exposures trying to keep detail in the orb while also getting some hint of the nearby landscape. It was good fortune to catch Luna clipping the mountain ridge. In editing it was an option to warm up the temperature overall, but I personally like the cool blue feel in this interpretation.


Sometimes we must work hard to find the right way to shoot a subject. I wanted a picture of this full moon; it did require some work to arrive at the final spot on which to place the tripod and get the composition. I hope you enjoy the result.

The "Artsy" Side of Photography

This is about one of my galleries by the same name as I've titled this entry. No one says, "The artsy side of oil painting, or the artsy side of pastels, etc." It's clear that it isn't necessary to make any such qualification because those are, after all, examples of ART. In the little gallery in Silver City where I've been privileged to hang some  photos the sign outside says that yes, there is also PHOTOGRAPHY inside. 


So, maybe this is a discussion of what is art? I'm not sure I know. Is it a representation of reality? What is reality, really? Doesn't reality vary according to exactly whom it is that is perceiving it? Possibly a person's knowledge, experience, gender, culture, state of health or mood on a given day could influence exactly how the world is seen and felt? In that sense, the world that we call "real" doesn't really exist at all, but is an agglomeration of the collective perceptions of everyone who can "see" it. If any of this is true, why can't photography be art?


Is art an abstract representation of a concrete scene or object? I certainly believe that a photograph is an abstract representation. It is two dimensional for starters. Also, the colors in the image almost always vary from the original scene no matter what corrections are applied in the edits. Just the very act of editing will make an abstract work. Areas are lightened or darkened. Color shifts of hue or vibrance can be intentionally applied for effect. Objects may be removed now that we have tools to do that. Textures can be overlaid on the original captured. HDR effects can be applied. The photographer/editor can sculpt the original scene according to the interpretation desired and can create a different aesthetic/emotional impact according to the choices made. Ansel Adams was trained to be a concert pianist. He said that the negative is the score; the print is the performance. A conductor or performer can take the same cold notes on a page and express them with their own passions. The same could be true of an artist. The world is its score; the visual representation of it is the performance. 


Is art something in which the elements which make up a piece are organized in such as way as to engage a viewer, leading the eyes deliberately over the paper or canvas (or 3D object) in a way that the maker mapped out intentionally? In other words, is there an element of composition? Of course there is, and it's actually more challenging for the photographer to arrange the parts of the subject to accomplish that goal. The painter can arrange things at will on the canvas. Sometimes the photographer could make some positional adjustments in editing, but these are in special situations. Does art give the illusion of depth in a 2D work? Yes, all of the arts, including the photographic.


It's almost as if photography were assigned a second rate standing. Why? Is it because to be art an object called as such should be the product of intellectual activity? Much of that goes into the create of noteworthy photographic imagery. Perhaps it's the perceived difficulty or work involved in the production of a piece that makes it "art." After all, we stand in awe of people who use their hands to give us paintings, drawings, sculpture, pottery, jewelry, and so on. THEY can do something that the rest of us cannot do! It requires a special skill, what we call talent, giftedness. We are willing to reward such people with the title, "Artist" and set them apart as special and at least reward them with our respect and sometimes even with money. Our world would be a more impoverished place without their work. However, can't just anybody aim a camera and press a shutter button? True, they can without a doubt. Does everyone have the ability to use the camera to make images we don't forget? Sometimes yes. Can everyone do it on a consistent, methodical, deliberate basis? Probably not. That's where the artists enter, even if they create their art with a mechanical tool that works quickly. In spite of the camera's providing a sort of shortcut for image-making, the darkroom work or the digital editing can consume hours or days to bring a visualization to near perfection. 


In the image at the beginning of this rant I had a whole car to photograph if I had so desired. Yet I knew that since the whole subject wasn't in a studio sitting on plain background paper I would have to include a lot of "non-car" elements in the image to record "all" of it. So, I abstracted a portion of it. There were stalks of plants growing into the image on the right side. I removed them in editing. I used tone-mapping in Photoshop and then an old photo effect in Lighroom to achieve the image I wanted. There is a subtle texture overlay also applied. Is this art or a photograph. Can't it be both?


So, are the words, "Yes, there is also PHOTOGRAPHY inside," do justice to the artists who use a camera? I would think not. Lets broaden our definition of art by a recognition that any representation whether three dimensional, or on paper or canvas is a unique person's special portrayal of a subject made to elicit an emotional response. If a work does this successfully, then we have a piece of art engendered through the efforts of an ARTIST!

West Texas Skies

A week ago tomorrow morning I woke up well before sunrise in far west Texas, specifically, in the town of Van Horn. It is my custom to drive south of town on the ranch road that winds its way towards Big Bend National Park. Unfortunately, I always stop far short of that destination and wait for the sun to rise over some hills to the east of the north/south highway. A few pick up trucks and 18 wheelers whisk by in the pre dawn minutes. I set up my camera by the barbed-wire fence where I can see over the taller creosote bushes, making sure that I'm not standing on a red ant pile that I still cannot see in the dark. I actually did find myself standing on one last fall. Sometimes the sunrise over the mountains is stunning, sometimes dull, and sometimes not too colorful but worthwhile all the same. This morning was the latter case. 


As I stood waiting for what would happen this morning, I began to notice an interesting cloud formation to the north. The power lines and other man made objects between me and the cloud made taking a good picture unfeasible. So, after deciding I had chewed all the flavor out of the sunrise gum, I collapsed my tripod and headed north of Van Horn towards the Guadalupe Mountains and Carlsbad NM. I didn't have to travel too far to be able to take some aesthetically pleasing captures of the cloud formation that not only held together for what seemed like an hour or two but also got more interesting. I took several pictures of it as I made my way north to Guadalupe Mountains National Park. By the time I reached that place the sky had lost its clouds and the light was an uninteresting noon time variety with few shadows to give texture to the mountains; so, I kept none of the photos from there. I'll return for those when I can wake up and go to sleep at the Guadalupes. Sometimes we see an interesting sky; the trick is to find the foreground that does it justice. I hope you enjoy the fruit of my efforts in the gallery "Tejas al Oeste." 


A Thank You

I wish I had submitted this last weekend when it was most likely that the subjects of this entry were visiting the site. Now they'll just join the millions who won't realize these thoughts are even "out there." Now this will be just another of Charlie Brown's "Dear Diary" entries.


I've had a lot of photo views here at SmugMug, over 22,000 at this writing just for a third of the month of April. I can probably thank my son's promotional efforts on FB for a lot of those. However, the only purchases made have been by a friend and a family member. So, I conclude that my photos aren't that good after all. (In the back of my mind I have to admit that people who  sell a lot are Fortune's Favorites, those with privilege and connections. Also, there are millions of candidates out there on the Internet. The odds are stacked against me very strongly.) I also have some work in a small gallery in Silver City, NM and in a larger store in the same city that sells just about anything there is. In that store I've noticed that my corner with a huge banner above it seems to be virtually invisible to shoppers walking by. No one even looks. 


So I approached the store management last week and suggested I set up on Saturday by the sidewalk outside. That way I might get the attention of some people who were interested in 2D artwork, not just jewelry, clay urns and clothing and other trinkets. It seemed to work. I had eight parties actually stop and look. One was a photographer who said he'd be in touch. (That's two of those in the past two weeks, btw. Guess what? Of course I'm used to the promise-breaking nature of people. I was in real estate in Texas....) Another was a real artist, a painter. She looked at my downspout multiple exposure print and liked it, saying she'd paint something like that. She balked, however, at my suggestion she take it home to do just that. 


Then at some point the subjects of this string of unread words walked in. They were very kind, taking time to comment on several individual images, expressing why they liked them. They were Texans, from El Paso, which isn't very far from here by southwestern U.S. standards. The amazing thing was that they BOUGHT some photos. One bought a 5 x 7 of a sunset shot I took here in the Burro Mountains with a dead tree silhouetted on the lower left corner of the frame. The other settled on purchasing a black and white 8 x 10 of a storm just to the west of the Very Large Array. 


I thanked them and as they left I let them know that I valued their words about my work much more than their money spent on it.


Yes, I do put comments fields here on my site. People have made comments to me on FB or at my chess-playing site.  I've asked a very few to please leave the same here. Thank you for doing that. Otherwise, the Internet store is a very lonely place. 

Great Photography in Wales

I play chess online and a recent opponent said to me that he noticed my interest in photography in my profile. He is also a photographer in Wales. Very near his home there are magnificent scenes of landscape, seascape, boulders, streams, falls, you name it. He captures and shares these scenes beautifully. What a contrast to my mostly arid images! Have a look!


http://www.andrewwarrenphotography.com


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