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.

PhotoPlace Gallery Show

I am pleased to announce that one of my images was selected by juror Emma Powell for inclusion in the "Online Gallery Annex" for the exhibit entitled "Visions: Dreams, Fantasies, and Mirages" at the PhotoPlace Gallery in Vermont.  There were 40 images selected for placement in the show gallery and an additional 35 selected for inclusion in the published show catalog.  Mine was one chosen for inclusion in the catalog alone, but still an achievement as far as I am concerned. The image, posted below, is one that is part of my Dreamscapes Portfolio and was taken with a zone plate, as opposed to a glass lens.  All of the images selected for the exhibit and catalog can be seen here.

Dreamscapes #1

Copyright Howard Grill

End Of Year Update

The end of the year has been filled with some happenings for my photography. I don't usually 'toot my own horn', but I will go ahead and do it anyway, if just for one post. I have been quite busy making large prints of my nature images.  Several months back, I provided Excela Health with 47 images for their outpatient medical facility.  These were large prints, larger than any I had ever made before.  In fact, I had to use onOne's  Perfect Resize software to uprez even my big Canon 5D MkII files in order to print the images to about 23 inches on the short side (my printer 'only' goes to 24 inches).  The prints were framed to 30x40 inches.  At any rate, it was really amazing to see one's work printed to that size.

Well, I guess they liked them, because I just finished printing more of the same for Phase II of their outpatient expansion, and this time there were 76 images!  It took quite a bit of time and I have to say that the job would not have been completed without having a specific deadline.  Brooks Jenson has pointed this out in his podcasts many time and it sure is true.  Nothing works like a deadline when it comes to making sure the job gets done.

I am really pleased that my work can be seen in a health care facility, where setting a positive mood is so important.

Here is one of the images from the group, which I have not posted on-line before:

"Covered Bridge"

Copyright Howard Grill

The image was made using a neutral density filter to allow for a long exposure time, which is what generates the interesting water pattern.  For those in the Pittsburgh area, this is the bridge right next to the mill in McConnell's Mill State Park.

That bridge is actually the same one I used to make this image from my 'Dreamscapes' series (except I was obviously standing inside the bridge for this one):

Dreamscapes #3

Copyright Howard Grill

No lens was used to make that photo, but, rather, a zone plate was used to focus the light. Needless to say, this is not one of those images being used for the health care project!

I am also pleased to report that one of my Carrie Furnace images was published in the most recent issue of Black & White Magazine, having been chosen for the 2013 Single Image contest/issue.  This is the photograph that was chosen:

Stove Room VII

Copyright Howard Grill

And that is the update!

Carrie Furnace eBook Now Available

I am pleased to announce that my Carrie Furnace eBook is now available!

I have written several posts in the past related to my photography project at the Carrie Furnace.  In short, Carrie is a blast furnace in Rankin, Pennsylvania (close to Pittsburgh) that was used to generate iron back when Pittsburgh was at the center of the world's steel production.  It was closed in 1978 and has lay dormant since.  It is now being restored and developed into a national historic landmark by the non-profit Rivers Of Steel organization.  I had the opportunity to photograph there early in the restoration process.

I was able to interview and show the photographs from the project to Mr. Ron Gault, who worked at Carrie in the 1970s, and he told fascinating anecdotes about life at the facility.  These comments were recorded and are included with the photos as part of a multimedia eBook presentation.

The eBook is available for immediate download and contains:

  • 63 pages of content
  • High resolution images
  • Embedded audio content - click on the audio icons to hear Mr. Gault's commentary and anecdotes
  • Easy, rapid navigation
  • Formatted for display on desktops, tablets, and smartphones
  • Information about Carrie and Rivers Of Steel

The book can be securely downloaded for $7.99 with 25% of the purchase price being donated to Rivers Of Steel to assist in their mission to preserve the furnace.

Click HERE to go to the purchase page.


Every so often I like to share a post that I have seen on another blog that has really hit home for me.  This one about artistic rejection by Cole Thompson is definitely one of those.  Read about his take and insight into receiving rejection notices (it is simply part of every artist's life).

Where Images Go

It is good to be back! First, an update.  As some readers of this blog may know from my last post, I recently had  a retinal tear and ocular hemorrhage.  I have improved significantly.  The acuity of my vision has improved dramatically and has essentially normalized.  I still have some 'floaters' that are irritating in that they move in and out of my visual field but one gets used to it and moves on....... So, I have been thinking quite a bit lately about what happens to all the images we take. Where do they end up?  Sure, I have printed a good number of what I initially considered my favorite shots.  But I also have many good images from workshops that I have attended, images from my local forays to natural areas around my home, and various interesting 'experimental images'.  And where do these all live?   Unprocessed on my hard drives!  What good do they do there, especially unprocessed?

I am not advocating spending time on sub-optimal images.  However, it is clear that photographs that might not qualify as 'best ofs' might be wonderful images as part of a themed photo project or body of work.  Likewise, there are plenty of photos that might not be destined for wall hanging but could nonetheless be important to a larger project.

Not to get too dramatic, but if they are not put 'out there' they might never be seen by anyone.

For these reasons, I have been spending some time thinking how various images that are disparate in some ways might, nonetheless, be grouped together.  For example, the keywording on my hard drive has images grouped by the workshop or location that they were taken in. It is quite possible that a one week workshop in New Hampshire might not have yielded enough good images to produce a location based project or folio.  However, by removing the idea of location, it is quite possible that some of these images could find themselves in a theme based project such as waterfalls, fall color, or reflections.  By simply regrouping them, many more options for using the images become evident.

Since I started thinking about this, a very interesting essay came out on The Luminous Landscape website about project or theme based photography that is definitely worth a read.

Getting Work Out There II

I would definitely encourage anyone interested in publishing their work to go ahead and submit it to an appropriate venue (and finding that venue can itself take some effiort). And remember, if you submit you can be 100% certain that you will get some rejections, and that is a fact that just takes some getting used to. It may mean absolutely nothing in regards to the quality of your work. Issues such as what was recently published, the fit of the submission to the venue, available space, and other factors all play a role that may be as as important as the quality of the photographs themselves.

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