Sunday, March 29, 2015

ON THE ROAD

I have just returned from a 2 week trek in the western half of Oklahoma. Though I had orginally intended to go East, a commitment to a friend of mine dictated that I change my plans.

My first stop was to visit once again the Gloss Mountains in northwestern Oklahoma. I had planned to re-visit this place in the future but my change of plans presented a new opportunity. I spent a week along and deep into this 30 mile stretch of highway in search of light and compositions that would reflect a new direction in my work. Much of this area is on private property but oil field roads allowed me to reach into the backcountry, so my compositions are not generic shots from the highway.


The image above was made along one of these oil field roads a few miles south of the highway. The gray mudstone in the foreground added contrast to the otherwise red sandstone that predominates in the area. The sky was courtesy of Mother Nature.

After nearly a week, it was time for me to move on and head south towards the western Wichita Mountains where I would visit Quartz Mountain Nature Park, and Great Plains State Park, and where I would meet up with my fellow G+ photographers, Linda Stokes and Jackie Estes. Though our shooting time would be limited together, I managed to get out one morning on my own and create some work under ideal conditions. 

Our first morning together at Quartz Mountain was a bit chilly and windy with few clouds to help out the compositions. Before heading back to Linda's, I scouted out a vantage point from which to work the next morning. The following morning I found myself alone at this vantage point under ideal conditions with light winds, fast moving clouds that changed from minute to minute locally, and a gorgeous sunrise with the mountains. Below is just one of many images from that morning.


Linda and I arranged to meet up with Jackie that evening at Great Plains SP for an evening shoot. We arrived early at Tom Steed Lake inside of the park and began wandering around looking for compositions. We had not been there long when the wind picked up and the promised thunderstorms began to develope. Little did we know but this storm system would spawn mulitple tornadoes later that evening near my home in Oklahoma City. The wind began to pick up and it was not long before blowing dust started pelting us. The continued drought conditions and low lake level made sand readily available for ammunition! The storms were really starting to ramp up and we decided to head to Jackie's for a pre-arranged dinner. We stopped several times on the way back to photograph the building thunderheads. The image below was made using the top of Jackie's car as a 'tripod' and despite the 40+ mph winds buffeting us I managed to get a sharp image from a handful. The reflection of the cauliflower shaped storm on the car top was an unexpected benefit too good to be true.


All in all, I had a great time with Linda, her husband Freddie, Jackie, and her husband Herb. I was the recipient of some of the finest hospitality I have ever received in my travels and look forward to getting together with them all in the future. Thanks so much Linda for setting up this little get together!

Guess that's enough for now. Stay tuned for some upcoming news!

You can sign up for email subscriptions and RSS feeds to this journal on the side bar to the right where you will also find links to my G+ page, my latest book "Red Rock Canyon - A Photographic Journey", past journal posts, and my website.

Friday, March 13, 2015

FISHERMAN'S DREAM

'Hidden in the depths of the mist lies a feeling of something lost, something unseen until the veil is lifted from our eyes'

A gray misty morning in the Wichita Mountains. Even through the overcast, it is already quite warm out despite everything being wet with moisture. For some reason, I feel a mood of indifference this morning. There will be no visible sunrise and after several days of rain I am in need of some sun.

I am not alone. There are several fishermen boating at the shallow end of the lake. It is a good morning to fish and I experience a moment of nostalgia, wishing that I too was wetting a line. But I am here to create something from what I see.

The scene before me is enveloped within the mist. The lack of clarity in the distance adds mood and the fishing pier across the lake, looking a bit forlorn in its' aloneness, adds another element to the scene. There is a little color from the blooming yellow water lilies on the opposite shore and beyond the pier. I move around in search of what appeals to me and finally settle on a composition. I wait for the mist and low flying clouds to shift and reveal the low peak of granite in the distance. I am pleased with the image and my mood has been elevated and enhanced. The forecast is for partly sunny and I am looking forward to seeing the Sun once again. 



You can see this image and more at www.holoceneimage.com

Thursday, March 5, 2015

RED ROCK CANYON BOOK & MORE

For the past 6 years, I have been working on a project that I hoped would eventually result in a photo book. Projects of this sort occasionally get shelved as other short term projects are pursued; this one was no different. Just one of many reasons for taking so long to bring it to fruition. 

As with any project of this scope, it is easy to feel that there is always one more image to create before feeling like I could start. Moving away provided an ideal solution to help push me towards making the decision to bring it to completion, as I no longer had immediate access to the place. 

Other issues presented themselves once I seriously got to work. The first publisher was located overseas forcing prices to go beyond what I was willing to deal with in the long run, and the quality was not as good as I had expected. There were color issues despite the fact that the images were created on a calibrated monitor. This was quite frustrating after spending time to learn their software. I know many of you know what that can be like! After several months of searching out a new source, I made the decision to go with an American publisher. More hours were spent learning new software (hoping all along that their quality would be good enough), as well as another edit of the images. Another month went by before I was finally satisfied with the final edit. So off to the publisher it goes all the while anxiously waiting for the first proof copy to arrive. The day finally came and I was elated! The quality was beyond my expectations for a self published book. And so . . .

I am pleased to announce the availability of my first book, RED ROCK CANYON.

 


The book is available from Blurb Books in two formats, a softcover edition and a limited edition hardcover. The photo pages in both books are printed on a premium heavy-weight 'pearl luster' paper. The hardcover features a black linen cover with gray end papers and a traditional dust jacket. The hardcover edition is a limited run of 50 only. Click on the link under the photo above and you will be taken to the appropriate page on their website where you can 'preview' the contents of the entire book.

Setting prices for a project like this are fraught with frustrations. On the one hand, I would like to make a profit from my endeavor, but on the other hand, the actual cost of the books is quite high because I do not have a publisher printing the book in large quantities that would keep the cost down. In the end, I felt that I would rather make the cost 'reasonable' (if there is such a thing) in the hopes that a few of you would be able to afford the book.

If you would like a hand signed copy of the book, shoot me an email at thomaswelborn@holoceneimage.com and I will make arrangements to get you set up.

Thanks to all of my friends and followers over the years for making this possible. Without your continued support this book would not have been possible.


Wednesday, March 4, 2015

ESSAY ON THE ART OF LIVING



The Sun is not yet up and I am sitting quietly near the shore. The only sounds I hear are the birds making their morning rounds and my own breathing. The water is nearly still for there is no breeze. I am content like I have not been for a very long time. All of the elements of life have come together at this moment in time for me. The air smells so clean that it is like an aphrodisiac. I breathe deeply to better get a true sense of what I am feeling. I look around me and take in all that I see. I 'feel' how the light and shadow play with each other as the sky begins to brighten. I examine the details in the lichen and granite that are before me and marvel at their intricate beauty. I smile at the tiny yellow wildflowers clinging tenaciously to the rock. Their petals are no bigger than a fingernail. At this instant I am 100% alive. Though I am just a speck of cosmic dust in the grand scheme of things, all of my worries and concerns have fallen away and I am at one with Nature and my inner self. I am smiling inside and out . . .




I have lived in Oklahoma for the better part of my life. I moved away a few times while pursuing a career in music, but I always returned, despite misgivings I might have had at the time. As I look back on those years of living out of a suitcase, I realize that I came back because there is a comfort in familiar surroundings, in friendships, and a feeling that this is where I belong.

When I retired from the music business in early 1990, I felt as though I had been set adrift in a boat at sea with no oars. I traveled for a bit in Arizona and New Mexico to relax and regain my sanity, and possibly, to find a new direction for my life. I marveled at the vast landscapes and wide open spaces I encountered and thought to myself 'how great it would be to live out here'. Upon returning to Oklahoma, I floundered about for almost a year before a friend of the family gave me an old 35 mm camera with a few lenses. Little then did I know a new course had been set for me that would become a lifelong passion insinuating itself into every fiber of my being.

Many years have passed since that fateful day. I have since become one with the landscape of Oklahoma. Though most of my travels have been confined to the Western half of the state, I have seen most of the remainder over the years to get a good sense of the landscape and how it has shaped the history and people of this land.

The Oklahoma I have known has changed dramatically over the decades. Improvements have been made to some of the places that I love and to some, not so much, and in a few instances, the reverse has occurred. This is the nature of change, not always for the better but not always bad. It is how you live within the change that is most important. But that is not the point of this essay.

What I would like to say is that I love this state - warts and all. Though I sometimes have a longing to be somewhere else (a nagging impulse from my days as a musician), I suppose that I will never leave permanently. There is just too much left to see and do.

And so, I will be travelling to some of the places that I have yet to photograph and to some that I have not visited since the film days. Spring is just around the corner, so I am looking forward to seeing what there is to see. The newest part of my journey will begin the end of this month, but for now, I am keeping the destinations to myself. I would rather let this adventure evolve on its own, then share with you the images and words as they occur.

________________________




Sunday, March 1, 2015

CREATIVE VENTURES

There are days when I am just not sure which direction my work is taking me. In many ways, I am just along for the ride. The work dictates what I will create to some extent, but occasionally it is influenced by outside distractions. It is not that I do not exercise any control over my art but that the work leads me down new avenues to places I have never explored. Sometimes it may just be a new processing technique that I have yet to use; sometimes it is the location that influences the end result.

I have found over the years that location has a truly defining influence on the outcome of how I see my art. Traveling to a place that I have visited before allows me to have a sense of familiarity which often yields some of my best work. On the other hand, a location that I have visited many, many times often frustrates me due to my being overly familiar with the place. On these occasions I may find it difficult to extract something new, and so I sometimes leave in frustration.

There is a way to work around this problem by reviewing the images I have produced in the past. For example, if I have too many sunrises from one particular part of the location, I can make a conscious decision to avoid this one area and search out a different perspective. This often requires me to arrive even earlier because I may have to hike a ways into the location to avoid this possible repetition.

The best way for me to keep my work fresh is to seek out new locations. Places that I have never visited before allow me to work with a fresh palette. I cannot stress this enough when telling new photographers how to keep a sense of vitality in their work. Yes, it is okay to go to the same place time after time to create a body of work that reflects an intimacy with a favorite location, but this also has the potential to create stagnation. It is difficult enough to keep our viewers attention in the best of times and showing them the same location over and over, regardless of its' beauty, risks burn out both for them and for yourself. The best way to keep this from happening is to spread out your visits. This will keep you interested enough to create something new rather than a reworked scene with just a different atmosphere.