Photographing Ceramics

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Somebody asked me how to photograph ceramics. There’s not one answer to that question.

Here are a few samples of options I have chosen.

The first is a Raku urn by Joni Pevarnik that I photographed. I placed that on a 6 foot piece of textured art board, curved to create a seamless background, and added a diagonally projected background light to add drama. That had lights above and to the sides in front.

The clay art piece, also by Joni Pevarnik, had a lot of textural “folds” so I lighted that from above and behind with a huge (approx. 4 foot) soft box and bounce cards to fill the front. There were no lights in front. This created a beautiful soft light quality and showed the roundness of the base, by allowing the bottom to be in shadow. I also threw in a small light at the right to keep the background from going too dark, placing it behind the piece, but such that some of the light would spill onto the edge to create a bit of rim light. For this one, white foam core was placed under the piece to bounce light up and a vertically hung gray background placed in the back – with a gap of about four feet between.

There are many ways to photograph ceramics; these are but a few.

 

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

83 Years Ago – Construction Began in The Bay

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Eighty-three years ago today (Jan. 5, 1933), construction began on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Joseph Baermann Strauss was appointed Chief Engineer for the Golden Gate Bridge project. His original bridge design was for a cantilever-suspension hybrid, but by the time it went into production, that design changed to the full-suspension bridge we all know.

When the bridge opened in 1937 it was the world’s longest suspension span (4,200 ft) over a straight deemed too treacherous to bridge. The Golden Gate straight proved  “bridgeable” after all and the bridge considered an engineering marvel. It links San Francisco with Marin County and is constantly bombarded with corrosive salt fog entering into San Francisco Bay from the Pacific Ocean.

All of the suspension cables were replaced in the mid-1970’s, after discovering many of them were highly corroded. The original paint replaced only a few times is now a water-borne inorganic zinc based primer with an acrylic topcoat, in the same orange vermilion (international orange) it has always been. It was never painted gold, because its name is for the straight it spans, not its color.

The Golden Gate Bridge has carried over two billion cars across its suspended steel framework since it opened May 28, 1937.

For more information on the bridge, please visit:   http://goldengatebridge.org/visitors/

Image registered with the U.S. Office of Copyright. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Thanksgiving Abundance

 

Photo of harvested pumpkins by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert

A bounty of harvested pumpkins for this Thanksgiving week.

It’s really something to ponder.

There are bounties in our lives that go unnoticed. Stop and notice them. Sometimes they are like this pile of pumpkins that I photographed – haphazard, disorganized, even chaotic – yet in their random state they become a beautifully orchestrated arrangement.

Notice those random, seemingly unrelated little blessings, as together they represent an abundance of things for which we should feel gratitude. Let’s be thankful.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Those Busy Beavers …

Beaver-chewed tree trunk photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

I was walking in the woods and came across this tree. A beaver felled it. According to  http://http://animals.mom.me/long-beaver-chew-down-tree-11371.html it probably only took about five to ten minutes! I wish I would have seen it in action.

While beavers can seem to be a nuisance, they actually help us in many ways. By building their dams, they create a habitat for a variety of fish, birds and plants, adding biodiversity to a stream. These ponds are helping to restore our country’s wetlands; their ponds slow down water absorption – reducing drought and erosion. The microbes in the beaver wetlands also acts as “kidneys” for the earth by breaking down the toxins in the water as it flows through the silt built up in older dams. So it is in our best interest to leave them be!

The National Wildlife Federation has a good article on beavers at: https://www.nwf.org/News-and-Magazines/National-Wildlife/Animals/Archives/2002/Leave-the-Wetlands-to-Beaver.aspx

Photo copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com 

Little Gems in the Woods

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One of my favorite places is Muir Woods in northern California. Walking through the giant Redwood forest is grounding; Mother Nature is in charge. The beauty of this forest is its richness in both the large and the small inhabitants.

That old figurative expression can be applied quite literally here; it is easy to actually “miss the forest for the trees” in a place like this. The giant trees claim most of the attention and it would be easy to leave having enjoyed the trees, yet having missed the other inhabitants of this wonderful place. If one looks down, there is a lot of flora to discover, such as this bacon fungi and moss growing on the base of a tree trunk.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing

Blood Moon 2015

The Blood Moon - lunar eclipse September 27, 2015 photographed by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

The Blood Moon – lunar eclipse September 27, 2015 photographed by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

Tonight I had fun photographing the total lunar eclipse, which, combined with being the closest full moon of the year, produced the so-called Supermoon (and also called a blood moon, since it turns reddish-orange).

Think of how frightening it must have been for ancient people who neither had advanced warning of its occurrence nor scientific knowledge of why it turned red.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

The Tree Keeps Giving

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Just south of Texas Canyon in Cochise County, Arizona stands this dead tree. It might be dead, but it is still a “giving tree.” Where once it gave shade, now it serves as a natural sculpture in the surrounding landscape for those who may happen to notice.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Image copyrighted. Use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

Church Rock. I Could Pray Here …

 

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This is Church Rock in the Navajo Nation off  US-160 west of Kayenta in northern Arizona. (36°44’02.9″N 110°07’07.1″W)

I think it is aptly named.

 

Reverence  noun rev·er·ence \ˈrev-rən(t)s, ˈre-və-; ˈre-vərn(t)s\ :honor or respect felt or shown :  deference; especially :  profound adoring awed respect

http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary

I felt that here.

Though just off the highway, there is very little traffic at dusk. It is a very silent and meditative place after the harshness of the daylight hours have passed.

I could not help but contemplate the majesty and grandeur of nature as I sat in the silence and observed the changing patterns and colors of light over these ancient rocks.

Humans do not dominate this land. The self-importance of mankind is laughable in a place like this. We think we are in charge. We create derision, strife, division, wars to control resources and build political power and all the while, being inharmonious with our fellow man and with nature. We ruin that which we were given stewardship during the blink of an eye in which we live, while the land, these monoliths and plateaus carry on despite our lack of reverence.

 

Image copyrighted. Use requires licensing from Martha Lochert

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Mountain Harebell

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Summer wildflowers abound in Colorado. Some of the flowers are the same as we see in southern Arizona, but ours burn out by the beginning of May, since we are so much hotter, while the ones in Colorado are at their best in summer and into the fall.

This is a Campanula routundiforia (Mountain Harebell). It grows in the mountains (shocker!) not the desert where I live.

https://books.google.com/books?isbn=1560449101

I’m not a purple lover, but I do like the combination of the lavender and the yellow-green in the background of this photograph.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Path to the Falls

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The other day Colorado Parks & Wildlife posted a photo of Rifle Falls and it made me think of the photo I made of the footpath up to the falls when we were there last summer.

Rifle Falls is a three-part waterfall in Rifle Falls State Park – northwest of Glenwood Springs, Colorado, the left section of which you can walk behind and look through the plummeting water. This photo is of the path you take to get up to it.

It’s a charming and mysterious little path that makes me think of a secret garden. I’m sure there is a poem out there somewhere that this would beautifully illustrate.

Image copyrighted. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

I Miss Film

(Don’t worry, this isn’t yet another post on the whole worn-out, tired debate over which one is technically better – film or digital!)

 

I miss the days of film.

On this day, I needed to pull some old medium-format negatives to scan. The process of looking at each negative with a loupe on the light table we hadn’t turned on in years put me in a rather melancholy state.

It’s been thirteen years since I switched over from analog film to digital image capture and I am used to this work flow and the creativity and speed it allows, but I still miss film.

Photography was about tactile processes: loading ones own sheets of film or bulk rolling smaller format films; developing the negatives in a smelly darkroom; trimming the film into strips and sleeving them in archival pages; sitting with a loupe pondering over the images; and, when creating black and white imagery, making prints and experiencing the magic of the latent images emerging from the previously blank white paper.

As a professional photographer, film also meant an opportunity to meet up with other photographers at the lab when we were picking up our color prints. Now, for the most part, we are all hold up in our offices sitting at the virtual darkroom of our computers, detached from our colleagues. We have meet-ups now, but they are in bars or other venues removed from the photography environment and it’s not the same as chatting about projects at hand while perusing through each others proof prints at the lab.

I do commercial, portrait and event photography and my clients want the speed which digital image-making renders. We may have way more control and creative possibilities now, but I still miss film.

Photography has become another entity altogether and I appreciate and enjoy these new possibilities, but I miss the tactile process; I miss the professional interraction; I miss the darkroom. The magic is gone and I miss that.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Vagabond Bees

 

Bee swarm as photographed by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

Imagine my surprise when I was preparing my yard for a party in May and noticed this in one of my trees, not one hour after having trimmed some of the branches. Needless to say, I was a bit nervous, given five days later I was going to have 85 guests in my backyard who might not enjoy the party knowing an angry swarm might ruin their fun.

I had no reason to believe these were Africanized and I did not want to call an extermination company. We have a few bee-friendly companies in town who remove bees without killing them. I assumed this was a hive in the making and jotted down a few phone numbers, but decided to wait a few days before doing anything, as I did some research online and read that sometimes they just go away after a few days. The internet is ripe with bad information, though, so I took that advise with a grain of salt.

My neighbor said he stood perfectly still in his yard and sprayed Windex at a swarm in his yard. Each time they got agitated, flew around, then resettled. After five or six times, they all flew away because they didn’t like the smell of the ammonia. (Maybe that movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding was right about Windex curing everything!) I was a bit skeptical, however. What if they just decided to pick a less accessible place to set up camp – like in the eves of my house? I decided to do nothing yet. Maybe they would miraculously leave and I could avoid making any decision about removal (and the associated cost involved in doing so).

So I cautiously got up on a ladder before dinner and made some photographs. This grouping was about eight inches from top to bottom. They showed no concern for the black metal and glass blob that was invading their space. The next morning they were still there. Most of them were in the shade and sleeping, but there was a little section where the morning light was hitting them directly and those bees were starting to wiggle.

I had a photography job that morning and left. On my way home I thought about what my neighbor had suggested. I could strategically place myself (and my vehicle) in the alley and spray from there. If they were angry Africanized bees and I needed a quick escape, I could jump in my car and close the door. I was going to give it a try. After all, it was a cost-free option.

So I got home, and took a peek outside before moving my car around to the alley. I thought I was in the twilight zone. They were gone without a trace; no residue on the branch where I thought there was a hive; nothing! If I did not have the photographs I would think I were crazy!

That’s when I realized there was no hive at all. Underneath that outer layer of bees was just layer upon layer of more bees. It was not a hive, but a swarm. Apparently bees will stop and rest while scouts leave the swarm to find good digs for a hive. Once they find a good spot the swarm moves on. So that is why there was no sticky residue or any other sign of their visit. Fascinating …

Image registered with U.S. Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Briar Patch Inn – Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona

 

 

 

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

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Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

Need an escape from work, from the city, from cell phones, from email, from Facebook and from technology in general? The Briar Patch Inn on the banks of Oak Creek in Oak Creek Canyon near Sedona, Arizona is where I would suggest you go.

It is a charming family owned property with free-standing casitas where the guest stay, a private outdoor massage area placed next to the calming waters of Oak Creek, rustic outdoor dining tables next to the creek, walking paths around the grounds and down to the creek, a few sheep grazing in the grass areas of the property, and a main building that houses the office, a small gift shop with quality Native American jewelry and mindfully chosen other products, a cozy mountain lodge with reading materials, board games and stone fireplace, and tables to eat the wholesome hot breakfast and mid-afternoon homemade baked goods they offer daily as part of their bed and breakfast service.

As soon as you open the door, the smell of warm spiced cider and wood burning in the fireplace mixed with the almost tangible peace and tranquility in the air lets you know you’ll be leaving there rested and rejuvenated.

What you won’t have are telephones in the guest rooms, wifi or even wired internet connection (except for limited service in the main building) or cookie-cutter corporate-looking rooms furnished with laminate-covered particle board furniture and stock artwork.  The casitas are outfitted with rugged Mexican or mountain cabin-style furnishings and Native American art that you won’t find in a hospitality chain. This place is an oasis, designed as a respite from the faced-paced technology-driven life in which we normally take part. Some casitas have kitchenettes, so if if you bring your own food for dinners, once here, you won’t ever need to leave the property. Certain celebrities stay here repeatedly because of the secluded and slow-paced setting.

I’ve stayed here three times and will be back again. It’s not inexpensive, but it is worth every penny.

 

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

 

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Sheep calmly keep the grass mowed on the property.

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert. Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert. Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

Some of the casitas sit right next to Oak Creek.

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

Tranquil footpath from the casitas down to the creek

 

 

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.Oak Creek photographed by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

More information can be found at: http://www.briarpatchinn.com/index.php

 

Photos registered with US Library of Congress. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

 

 

Grow Some Spearmint; Make A Mojito

Macro photo of a spearmint plant by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

This is the spearmint plant I have growing in a pot on my porch. The slightest movement of the leaves creates a wonderful aroma.

I started growing it mostly as an experiment after seeing it for sale at my local nursery. I’ve always liked the smell of spearmint, but wasn’t sure what I would do with it.

Well, it adapts perfectly to a classic Mojito cocktail – a refreshing and light drink for summertime, which normally uses peppermint. I think I like it better with spearmint.

Since tomorrow is Independence Day and perhaps a time you might be having guests over for a barbecue, I thought it might be good day to post this photo and my Mojito recipe.

MARTHA’S SPEARMINT MOJITO: 

5 or 6 fresh spearmint (or peppermint) leaves
1-1/2 to 2 oz. of silver rum
2 oz. of limeade
2 oz. of soda water or seltzer water 

  • Pick and wash fresh leaves and place in a 12-oz. Old Fashioned glass or short tumbler
  •  Add rum
  • Muddle the leaves (with the pestle from a mortar and pestle set, or just take the end of a teaspoon and press into the leaves) – to get the oil essence released and into the rum
  • Keep the leaves in the glass with the rum and fill with ice cubes
  • Add limeade, then soda water
  • Serve

Optional: I don’t do it, but some people like to run a lime wedge around the rim of the glass, then dip it in sugar to prepare the glass before making this drink.

 

Have a safe and happy 4th of July. Cheers!

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

 

Once Upon a Time, A Cold One Was Waiting …

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert

This must bring back some memories for some older folks.

A-1 beer was a product of the Arizona Brewing company from 1933, when brothers Martin & Herman Fenster founded the company, until it was bought out in 1964.

They used the eagle in their logo from 1942 until 1958 when Anheuser-Busch forced them to remove it, claiming it was too similar to their own. So the fact that this sign includes the eagle makes it between fifty-seven and seventy-three years old. Not only has it survived this long, but at night, the neon still glows!

A really interesting history of the company can be found at
http://www.a-1beerprints.com/HTML/A1%20Brewing%20Company.html for beer lovers, trivia buffs and those interested in simpler times.

Photo registered at U.S. Library of Congress. Copyright Martha Lochert. Any use requires licensing from Martha Lochert.

 

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

Chocolate Strawberry Yumminess

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Chocolate-covered strawberries are delicious as is, but presentation makes them even more appealing.

How they are photographed makes or breaks their appeal, as well. The quality and direction of the light makes a difference – in this case, soft window light from the side, not the front, to create dimension.

There are plenty of places to find recipes for making chocolate-covered strawberries, so I won’t go into detail on the steps.

Basically, one of the most important things is having the strawberries totally dry before dipping, so wash, pat dry and let them sit out for awhile spread out on a baking sheet (turning a few times to expose all sides to air) to totally air dry before attempting to dip them or the chocolate will not stick well.

Then melt 6 oz. of semisweet chocolate in a double boiler to coat a pint of berries. Dip berries in the melted chocolate; set on parchment or waxed paper to dry.

For added fanciness melt 3 oz. of white chocolate; drizzle that over the dark chocolate and place in refrigerator.

Melt a bit more dark chocolate and drizzle that on only a portion of the serving plate. Chill plate in refrigerator to harden the lines of chocolate, then set the berries on that in an artistic arrangement to serve.

The added chocolate sheet and spires in this photo are an extra step, which you can find elsewhere, but they are “glued” in place with more melted chocolate.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

This From The LEAST Risky Skin Cancer …

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Wear your sunblock, kids …

This is not the first time I have been cut into, and I’m sure it will not be that last, given that I am of Irish descent, but have lived my entire life in Arizona, where the duration of sunshine (in the Sonoran Desert in which Tucson sits) is second only to the Sahara Desert, world-wide. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sunshine_duration

I do wear sunblock and a hat when I know I will be outside for extended periods of time, but the tricky part is sun damage builds up over time, so a little here and a little there equals damage. I’ve lived a long enough time that I’m paying the price for living in the sunshine. I, of course, belong in a cloudy, rainy environment like Ireland, but alas … I’m here. And my Irish grandparents on both sides were the first generation of Irish-Americans in our lineage, so evolutionary adaptation hasn’t kicked in.

That being said, everyone who lives in this part of the world, regardless of heritage, is at risk, as it is the build-up of exposure to UV radiation over time that causes the damage. There are other risk factors, but UV exposure (from the sun or tanning booths, which I have never done) is the main cause: http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/basal-cell-carcinoma/basics/risk-factors/con-20028996

So another cutting and another batch of stitches from a wonderful dermatologist who is always concerned about “not scarring my pretty face.”

This was a basal cell carcinoma – the LEAST risky of all the skin cancers, according to http://www.webmd.com/melanoma-skin-cancer/basal-cell-carcinoma There are worse ones … not to mention other bodily damage like immune suppression and eye problems like cataracts and macular degeneration, which UV exposure causes.

Look at this picture, then remember to wear your sunblock and to choose shade over direct sun when possible – and do yourself a favor and get a head-to-toe skin check at a dermatologist, so you can catch these things early, when they lurk, unbeknownst to you.

Any use of this image use requires licensing from Martha Lochert. www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

 

 

Stop. Rest. Recharge.

Photo by Tucson photographer Martha Lochert.

As women we tend to take care of everyone around us, and happily so, but many times there just isn’t enough hours in the day left to take care of ourselves.

Well, it’s summertime. So please, my fellow caretakers of others, don’t forget to take time for yourself to recharge, even if it just means an hour on a nice hammock in the shade or the cool mountain air!

Image copyrighted. Use requires licensing.

www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com

New Parking Payment Options Via Go Tucson

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Yesterday I spent mid-day on University Blvd. and Congress St. in 104 degrees photographing the new parking meters being put in by Park Tucson (formerly named Park Wise). The photographs are for a promotional campaign to get the word out that there are now numerous choices in paying the meter.

In addition to the traditional coin payment, the 1500 new meters will all have the additional options of debit and credit card payment, as well as payment through a new app installed via the App Store or Google Play onto cell phones and tablets.

The new app, called Go Tucson, will keep a log of your parking payments, let you know if you are attempting to pay at a time when parking is free, allow you to set up a “prepaid wallet” from which you draw down your balance, and even send push notifications to remind you when your time is about to expire on the meter, so you don’t get a ticket! You can also pay for a Sun Tran fare through the app.

Use of the app will add 25 cents onto the parking fee per use, but perhaps the prepaid option will just be a one-time charge when you apply whatever amount of prepayment desired. I’m not clear on that.

By the way,  the meters on the University of Arizona campus and areas nearby, like Main Gate on University Blvd. are switching from free parking on the weekends to seven-days-per-week 8 am to 5 pm enforcement, so be forewarned! Meters in downtown stay at Monday through Friday 8 am to 5 pm enforcement and new meters are being added for the first time on 4th Avenue, as part of the 1500 “smart meters” being installed.

More details available at http://parktucson.com/

Photo copyright Martha Lochert. www.MarthaLochertPhotography.com