Saturday, November 7, 2015

Moose and Denali as seen early in the morning September 2014

One of the pleasures of photography is the opportunity it gives you to visit fascinating places and see interesting things. Many people who visit Denali National park either don't see the mountain or see it shrouded in clouds. I was with a photo workshop that stayed in camp Denali, about a nine hour ride by bus from the park entrance. The camp is on the north side of the mountain, and while it is relatively primitive ( no in room plumbing) it is on the sunny side of the mountain - the clouds come north from the gulf of Alaska and usually leave a clear view on the north side. At least that is what I understand.
The stillness of the water, the blue of the sky and color of the tundra are things I love about this image and the experience I had when I took it. The moose is a bonus.
I didn't actually notice the moose until after I had exposed this image. I took a few more before he headed off across the tundra, but this turned out to be the best. It is always nice to be lucky.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

August 25, 2013  

 This is an image of Machu Picchu the lost Incan (Quechuan) city rediscovered by the American Hiram Bingham. It has since become a focus for the world's interest in the Inca, and Quechua people. Machu Picchu is appealing and intriguing for many reasons: mystery surrounds its building and use, it is remote, it is a spectacular scenic location. I traveled to the Sanctuary or Park as it is known with my wife and friends in the spring of 2011.

     Archeologists have argued why Machu Picchu was built - my favorite of the current explanations is that it was built as a summer retreat for the Inca and the Quechuan nobility.

     While it remains difficult to get to, its touristic charm has opened it to the curious traveler.  There is a railway to the mountain's base, where there is a thriving touristic village, Buses climb the switchback road to the sanctuary itself all day long. The sanctuary or park closes at dusk. We were fortunate enough to stay at the hotel at the top, just outside the park (the Sanctuario) so we could stay in the park until closing time.

     We had climbed up to a part of the park with a viewpoint of the bounding mountains. It was late enough that many of the visitors had left to catch their buses. In fact the park wardens were urging us to leave.

     I had set up my tripod and just attempted to take a picture when the shutter on my camera failed. Fortunately I had brought along a backup camera. I took three images at different exposures and later merged them into what is called a High Dynamic Range Image or HDR to capture the richness of the shadows and colors.

     The taller of the two mountains seen at the edge of the city is Huayna Picchu. It is a destination for many visitors who like to climb its steep sides.
The park actually rests on a saddle between the mountain called Machu Picchu and Huayna Picchu. Machu Picchu is about 1000 feet taller than Huayna Pichu and can be accessed on a long stone stairway. That hike has only recently opened, is less technically challenging and is less popular. We elected the Machu Picchu hike. From its heights the sanctuary and even Huayna Picchu appear almost toylike and delicate. It is easy to understand why the city remained unknown to the outside world for so many years.

     Part of the magic of Machu Picchu is its green color. The elevation is such that it lies in a cloud forest which provides the water for the abundant plant life. We saw many colorful flowers, including the Sorpresa Orchid.

     Between Machu Picchu and Cuzco lies the Valley of the Inca - a worthwhile destination in itself. The Quechua people whose leader was known as the Inca at the time of the Spanish conquest have preserved a very colorful culture, and are responsible for reintroducing the world to a wonderful food grain - Quinoa.

     While this image of Machu Picchu isn't particularly unique I enjoy the picture because it reminds me of the stories surrounding its building and rediscovery. It is a reminder of an entirely different way of life.

Peter Sidell

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why words about my images

I have been creating photo galleries on the photo showcase site Smugmug for 5 1/2 years now.
The photo website address is:

 Smugmug has recently updated the format and customization features of its site. That seemed to me to be a good opportunity to add some depth and commentary to the photos I have shared through the site.
My photography is divided between photography of family and friends which is mainly of interest to family and friends, and photography of the places I live in and visit. I hope the photos of those places have a wider appeal.

My postings on Smugmug are accompanied by labels and brief descriptions. Some images deserve more comments to enrich the story they symbolize for me. While one mark of an interesting photo is its ability to stand alone and transcend the conscious thought process of the photographer, my thoughts about my photos may provide enrichment to the viewing.

I believe I come by my interest in photography honestly - as a child I watched my parents enrich their lives by photographing the things they saw and the things they did. Wall art, illustrated books and photo magazines such as Life, Look and the Saturday Evening Post were a passive education in graphics.

My first camera was a hand me down brownie. It used roll black and white film, and had few user settings. The images were framed by looking through a viewfinder, and it was important to remember to have your back to the sun when taking a picture. I only got to see the results when I had finished a roll and had it developed.

At that time Kodak sold film with prepaid processing. Once the roll of film was completely exposed, it was put into an envelop and a week or so later you got the developed images back.

Next, I had a fixed lens 35mm camera that I don't remember much about. It didn't have a built in light meter so I either had to use a light meter of set the exposure according to the guidelines that came with the film. There were specific suggestions for bright light, shade and twilight as I recall.

After that I got a Konica auto reflex Single Lens Reflex camera. It had a built in light meter and the lens could be changed. I shot almost exclusively color slide film at that time. I was in the midst of my medical training so I didn't have a lot of time to take pictures. I particularly enjoyed taking it along with me on my occasional vacations. In an effort to improve my photography I subscribed to and read the Time Life photography series.

I still have most of those slides. A few are of lasting interest to me. Their color has faded, but the wonders of computer graphics allows restoration of color in a scanned image. I used that camera from the early seventies until the early 90s. By that time cameras had developed to the point they gave more creative control to the photographer.

Since that time I have gone through a series of cameras. The biggest change of course has been digital or electronic photography. For me the principal benefits of the digital age have been immediate feedback, and the ease of taking more images. Taking more images has forced me to begin to be more discriminating about the pictures I take. It has helped me to develop a photographic eye.

From my perspective photography is at least in part a learned art. Certainly some people are more visually oriented than others. Still, just as writing can help one to develop skills in english composition, photography can help you to improve your graphic compositional skills. Also, just as reading good writing can improve your own writing, looking at good pictures can help you take better pictures.

For me photography has been a journey, a way to look for beauty in the world around me, and a way to tell a story.

I am now retired and fortunate enough to be able to travel to interesting places and meet interesting people. My working life was focused on helping people who were struggling to maintain or improve their health. It was about dealing with bad things that happened to good people. Now I try to find good things I can share with everyone.

Stories and story telling are another important part of my life. Mostly I have been a recipient when it comes to stories. I hope my photography tells a story as well and is a payback for the stories I have seen and heard in my lifetime.

In this blog I will try to extend the story telling of imagery with some verbal enrichment. I am also interested in others response to my work.

August 4, 2013

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