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Motivation is a photography blog that discusses the creative aspects of photography. The posts will include thoughts about images and their interpretation, photographers and their work, technique, workflow, my ongoing projects, and perhaps even the occasional off topic rant.

Light And Shadow

I have previously posted several of the images I have made at the Cathedral of Learning. In making this photograph, I was drawn not only to the way that the columns led up to the ceiling and then seemingly continued as ‘ribs’ across it, but also to the interplay of light and shadow on the ceiling itself.

It’s fascinating to just look up inside the cathedral. A stiff neck and the possibility of injuring yourself by walking into something while looking up are very real risks that are taken when photographing in this location. It’s just one of those risks that we take as photographers!

 
Light And Shadow © Howard Grill

Light And Shadow © Howard Grill

 

The TK Actions Panel

I have been using the TK Actions Panel in Photoshop for many, many years. It is a Photoshop extension panel that easily automates image processing using luminosity masks. In the earliest versions generating luminosity masks is about all it did, but as each version has progressed it has taken on more and more functionality. The TK Actions Panel version 7 has just been released by Tony Kuyper (hence the TK), and, as has always been the case with each new release, Tony adds more and more functionality, improvements and speed.

I use the panel extensively in Photoshop. I won’t say I use it on every image, but I will say that I use it when processing the majority of my images. It is one of the most indispensable Photoshop plug-in type tools that I own.

I could describe it further, but I think the best description and demonstration comes from Tony Kuyper or photographer Sean Bagshaw’s website. In addition, Sean has some excellent video tutorials on its advanced use.

I have absolutely no connection with either Tony or Sean. I don’t know them personally, I am not an ‘affiliate’, and I have no financial arrangements with them. I am only a very satisfied customer and have been for many years.

If you use Photoshop and are intermediate or advanced in your skills I can’t recommend this product highly enough. I suggest you check it out!

Musical Interlude

Every saw often I like posting a musical interlude to my photographic musings, and I realized that I have not done so in quite a while. I also realize it isn’t usual to have these types of posts in a photography blog, but they just seem like fun to throw one in now and again.

This particular musical interlude is even educational. I am not musically talented myself, even though I love music. So listening to this video was really a bit eye opening in terms of understanding why one of my favorite bands appeals to me!

The Shots Never Processed

If you are anything like me, you have thousands of shots in your archives that have never been processed. There may be many reasons for this, though I suspect the two most common ones are i) there simply wasn’t enough time to process them or ii) it wasn’t recognized at the moment that the image was really pretty good. I suspect that even if I never made another photo I would have plenty to work with in my unprocessed archives to keep me busy for some time (though not making more photos is definitely not the plan).

I decided to take a trip into the archive and see how long it took before I found something that caught my eye. Something that I had never processed. I started with my Pittsburgh photos. It didn’t take very long to come across this 2015 photo that I took from Mount Washington.

I should really spend some more time going through my old photos.

How about you? Do you find that you have an archive that’s waiting to be looked at and might have some buried treasures?

Pittsburgh Dawn © Howard Grill

Pittsburgh Dawn © Howard Grill

A Way To Portray Finale (For Now Anyway)

In my last three posts (here, here, and here) I explained how I had found a way to display my bare tree images in a way that really focuses on what I wanted to show….their shape. Today, I am posting another two pieces of ‘tree art’.

In addition, while I am not much of a writer, I decided to (believe it or not) write a poem to accompany the tree images. Maybe I should stay away from the poetry and stick with the imaging!

In the winter,

When most living things

Cover themselves for warmth,

Trees take the opposite tact,

Shedding their leaves,

Exposing themselves to the frigid cold,

And baring their souls.

 
© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 
 
© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

A Way To Portray II

In my last post I explained how it dawned upon me to display my bare tree images in a way that accentuates their shape and makes the intriguing shapes that nature can take the center of focus. For the next few posts I would like to show some other images from that series, which I continue to work on.

 
Tree #2 © Howard Grill

Tree #2 © Howard Grill

 
 
Tree #3 © Howard Grill

Tree #3 © Howard Grill

 

A Way To Portray

For many years, I have enjoyed taking pictures of trees and portions of trees that have interesting shapes. However, when viewing those images I have never felt that they demonstrated what I was trying to show or say. They never seemed to fully express my intent. That is, until I recently had an idea.

It suddenly dawned on me that if what I wanted to show was the shape of the tree, than I should just focus on the shape and make it an image about shape and nothing else. In my mind, the way I thought about doing that was to make the tree totally black and ‘blow out’ the background sky. Then I could blend the tree into a pleasing texture which would show off the tree’s shape. I tried it and really liked what I got:,

 
Two Trees © Howard Grill

Two Trees © Howard Grill

 

I am definitely going to be trying a few more of these.

More Ceiling!

When I was thinking about what to title a post with another photograph of the ceiling of the Cathedral of Learning, the first thing that popped into m,y head was “More Ceiling”, which was reminiscent (if you are old enough to remember) of “More Cowbell”. If you aren’t old enough to remember then you can give yourself a treat and visit a classic SNL skit just below the photo!

 
More Ceiling © Howard Grill

More Ceiling © Howard Grill

 

And as for the “More Cowbell”:

And see here for more info on this truly classic SNL skit!

100 Year Old Arctic Negatives

Sometimes I run across photography based stories that are just too interesting not to share. This is one of them.

2019-03-24_22-05-36.jpg

Here is a story about a box discovered buried in Antarctica containing never before seen negatives from Ernest Shackleton’s 1914-1917 expedition that was stranded during a blizzard when their ship blew out to sea (they were ultimately rescued, but the negatives were left behind). Read about it here and get a closer look at some of the processed photographs here. More information about that expedition, known as the Ross Sea Party, can be had here.

Hogwarts Study Hall??

Yes, yes, it’s another image from the Cathedral of Learning. I had previously mentioned that shooting there has become ‘a thing…..a project’. I had never been to this side of the building before and was fully expecting more hallways similar to the last couple that I posted. But when I ran across this scene, complete with table and bench with mystical looking light coming in through the window and shaped by the curved ceiling, my first thought was ‘this looks like something out of Harry Potter’. So there you have it, a study hall at Hogwarts!

 
© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

Cathedral Of Learning Ceiling

This installment of my Cathedral of Learning project (yes, it’s become that) is an abstract image of shapes and lines from the ceiling of the Cathedral. The ceiling is so high that it actually required my 100-400 zoom to isolate this segment of it. In addition to the lines, there is also an interplay of tones because the small lights and windows tend to illuminate the ceiling harshly in some places and much less so in others. I smooth out some of this in post processing in order to obtain a more pleasing look.

 
 Capture sharpened only
Canon IPG 2000
Ilford Gold Fiber Silk
Perceptual
Grill M0 Profile
 

Studying In The Cathedral

The Cathedral of Learning is an open and public area, but when I go there on Sunday mornings there usually aren’t many people there. Nonetheless, it is a place where students come to study. I know that photography is allowed, as my friends have asked, and there are frequently security officers around who have never hinted otherwise.

I was intrigued by the idea that there were people using laptops in this environment that seemed so ancient. I’m sure that when the structure was built there was never any idea of anyone studying here without books!

 
© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

One More Detail

I’ve gotten to processing the last close up photo of the carved wooden hand rest on the first floor bench at the Cathedral of Learning. Now it can serve as a triptych with the other two characters. There was actually a fourth carving, but that one has become a bit damaged over the years. This one looks like he is in a state of dreamlike euphoria!

 
© Howard Grill

© Howard Grill

 

Cathedral Of Learning: Above The Lights

My photographing at the University of Pittsburgh’s Cathedral of Learning has moved from a random place to make photos, to a series, and I suspect is now a full-fledged project. I made this particular photo because I liked the way that the lights seemed to illuminate the column while also throwing a circle of light on the floor. The whole scene seemed to look fairly mysterious to me, particularly with the two arched and dark doorways in the background.

 
Inside The Cathedral Of Learning © Howard Grill

Inside The Cathedral Of Learning © Howard Grill

 

The Kiss, By Alfred Eisenstaedt

It is V-J Day, August 14th, 1945, and as part of the celebration in Times Square, New York, a sailor kisses a woman dressed in white who he doesn’t know. The image was captured by Alfred Eisenstaedt and became an iconic photo on the cover of Life Magazine:

© Alfred Eisenstaedt

© Alfred Eisenstaedt

At first the two kissers were unknown and over the years there have been several people who have claimed to be the iconic couple…..in the end though, it is generally agreed upon that they are George Mendonsa and Greta Zimmer Friedman (though this is still contested).

I came across an article I thought I would share that the sailor, George Mendonsa has passed away at age 95. The article is an interesting one, as is this one from Wikepedia that also talks about the other people who have claimed to be the couple in the photo.

Details, Details....

Most of the photographs I have taken at the Cathedral of Learning have been of large subjects: rooms, arches, hallways and doorways. But the last time I was there I ran across some small details that cried out to be photographed.

On the first floor there is an old wooden bench I found that had hand rests, with each one ending in a carved wooden caricature with varying tonality based on the grain of the wood. It was an interesting change from what I had been photographing while there before, and I found myself wondering what those caricatures would have seen over the years had they been ‘alive’.

 
Bench Hand Rest, Cathedral of Learning © Howard Grill

Bench Hand Rest, Cathedral of Learning © Howard Grill

 
 
Bench Hand Rest 2, Cathedral Of Learning © Howard Grill

Bench Hand Rest 2, Cathedral Of Learning © Howard Grill