There is a Picture Here Somewhere
June 6, 2010 by David Stansbury

leaves and streamLandscape photography, or perhaps photography of the natural world, is difficult here in the northeastern part of the country.


Sure, one can go to the White Mountains in New Hampshire or along the seacoast of Maine and capture the stunning geography of those areas, but often I find myself just squeezing out a bit of time here and there to wander through the wet messy woods here in Western Massachusetts with my camera and tripod.


Most of the wooded areas in New England are reforested farmland and the plants seem to know that they had better grow like crazy during the spring and summer before the cold sets in again, so the competition for space and light is intense and the forest floor is cluttered with saplings and shrubs of all kinds. That sets up the challenge of extracting a coherent composition out of the chaos. It’s actually easier in the winter sometimes.


This photo worked out pretty well considering what I mentioned above.

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Cemeteries & Cementarios
June 5, 2010 by David Stansbury

On one of my family’s recent trips to the beautiful and tranquil Mexican city of Mérida, Yucatán, my daughter and I decided to visit the historic”Cementario Géneral de Mérida”.

This large cemetery, which was established more than 100 years ago, is not so different from the ones here in New England or in other parts of the country. There are rows of graves with family names and flowers placed in remembrance of the deceased, and the form of the house as a shelter for the dead has developed in both places, but more so in Mexico I think. Ours here tend to be more abstract, often only revealed as a headstone with a roof-like triangular top or more like a temple, while in Mérida they really look like little houses. The big difference is color. We just don’t have much in our cemeteries, it’s more like shades of gray with a little soft brown or green marble occasionally visible. I think it comes from the long held belief that monuments, that is Greek and Roman ones, didn’t have color and thus our monuments to the deceased shouldn’t have color either. But in Mexico almost all the little houses for the  dead are painted in bright pastel colors. Of course the difference could be simply derived from the difference in climate. There is color all year round in Mexico—I wonder what a New England burial ground would look like in the snow with bright pastel gravestones?

Here are some photos from the Mérida cemetetary and the graveyard adjacent to the Rockingham Meeting House in Vermont.

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Creating a Stage
April 29, 2010 by David Stansbury

Here is an interesting project which illustrates what can be done with Photoshop to replace a distracting background behind a product with something a little more dramatic. This is a photo of a very large, room sized welding machine. These machines are custom built one by one on the factory floor so they have to be shot in place and while the assembly area is clean and organized there is still a lot of stuff there. After all they actually make things there!

I replace the factory background setting with a dark blue “wall” and enhance the illusion by adding texture and lighting effects in Photoshop. Before shooting we hang a blue tarp behind as much of the machine as possible.That doesn’t make it a snap to isolate the machine but it does add blue reflections to parts of the welder and floor which adds to the realism of the completed scene with the new blue background.

Isolating the upper half of the machine is the most time consuming and has to be done very precisely at maximum screen resolution because I am often asked to provide 24 x 30 inch or larger prints of the final image. Fortunately I can keep the existing floor and then I blend the floor and new wall by darkening the area and blurring the seam a bit. So the final effect is sort of  like creating a backdrop curtain and stage to present the machine in a more dramatic fashion.

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