Monday, June 20, 2011

A Three Day Odyssey, 700 Shots

William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011
William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011

William Cook, copr 2011
Bought a new camera in time for the trip out west.  Now I feel just like Sonya, out there with the tumbleweed and all that space (not to mention the color).  She's the one that can be seen hanging out the car window, shooting the glorious vistas in the desert southwest at 80 mph, or hiking around the cliff ruins and ancient trails of the region with a sketchbook in one hand and the Nikon in the other.   The pastel paintings  resulting from all this data collection are highly accomplished, sensitive, and  fascinating not only for the fine compositions, but for the intense light and color she captures typical of these areas.   Hey Sonya, did I get any of that right?

I obviously wasn't hiking at 33,000 feet, though, but  I did get to stroll around the Viewpoint School campus all day last Wednesday.   They brought me in as the first stage of the new campus aerial piece I'll be doing this month.  The school is in the Santa Monica Hills, LA area. One day out, one day there, one day back--an abbreviated Odyssey.  I think I took about 400 shots at the school alone.   But because it was me, I couldn't resist some extra shots--interesting compositions--another 300 of them.  Hey it's a new toy.  Hence the above.  These could work their way into my art very nicely most probably from impressions and memories--as opposed to copying them outright (which is frankly quite tempting come to think of it).

Anyway, sorry to have not been around for a couple weeks, and much thanks to Sonya Johnson  for her valuable input regarding my nice new camera.


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17 comments:

SamArtDog said...

Here's a new one---wow! The photos are phenomenal. You have a good eye for all those powerful diagonals. Please tell some more about that Nikon. It's a cool tool in your hands.

RH Carpenter said...

Looks like a nice spot, but very dry (compared to here, which is very wet!). Enjoy the trip, the new camera and the new possibilities!

Casey Klahn said...

You have a great eye for the image, Bill. My compliments.

Sonya "owns" the west, IMHO. Very wise of you to follow her work.

Incidentally, it wasn't that many years ago we got the first digital camera. The idea of just taking shots without regard to running out. It expands the mind.

Sonya Johnson said...

Bill - these are great, and pretty immediately addicting, right? Thanks for the kind mention. I'm delighted that I could help influence your choice in a camera; did you get the D5000?

As you've immediately discovered, the possibilities are endless...and I'm also a sucker for those 30,000' shots out the passenger window. Helps take my mind off of the plane crash I know is inevitable.

Have fun with the camera, and I look forward to seeing its manifestations in your work, in your unique fashion.

Katherine van Schoonhoven said...

What a great project! Now you're in my old stomping grounds of LA. Did you fly in a small plane or helicopter to get some aerial photos? And, I agree with Sam, would love to hear more details about the new camera.

AutumnLeaves said...

"And God created the heavens and the earth..."

Magnificent shots, William!

William Cook said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
William Cook said...

Hi Sam --That's am interesting comment. It's the first thing I noticed--the strong diagonals due to the pronounced topography here. This is a Nikon Coolpix L120, 14 mp, with a huge TV screen on the back. I was walking by the cameras at Walmart and saw this thing, reluctantly picked it up and started shooting perfectly clear shots right in the store. I was already familiar with all the buttons and screens so it was all surprisingly familiar, and when I found out it took AA batteries, I said just "Wrap it up". I did not want another camera that took those expensive special batteries that don't take any more than 40 shots at a time. This sucker took 400 shots on 4 Energizers, before I had to change them out. The fact that it takes phenomenal shots is icing on the cake. I've also experimented with shooting paintings. Unbelievably successful results.

Thanks Rhonda--It did seem like it would be dry, and probably is--and hot. Our whether was really nice though in the 70's. Had a blast.

Thanks Casey--It's all I could think about gazing out that plane window at the combs and washes, canyons and gorges in all that dry expanse. From the ground, the color of the light is so strikingly different than what we see in Maryland. There's a lot of dusty grey in the light that in turn, amplifies the subtle natural colors. Sonya gets this into her work somehow. I know what you're saying about digitals. I paid a small fortune for my SLR film camera, now a paperweight.

Hi Sonya--We did hit a little turbulence that was disconcerting when I noticed the wing looked like someone doing the rubber pencil trick. I was seriously anticipating my wing falling off any time now.

As for the camera, it's a Nikon Coolpix L120--resembles an SLR. A respectable 14 mp it has all it's own special capabilities, and of course those Nikon lenses. The quick agility, clarity and simplicity are most impressive--and very forgiving. Like I was telling Sam, the main consideration was that I be able to take hundreds of shots at a time, with simple, quick battery change overs. I've got no use for rechargeables--got burned on a shoot once. There I was at the big Arboretum shoot with the curator of the Dogwood Collection, and reading the battery exhausted sign. Felt like I had something all over my face. This thing lasted all day on one set of batteries, and I had a whole pocket full of replacements just in case. Everything turned out--even the video complete with sound of the plane taking off out of Burbank. You're right the possibilities are endless, I'm still excited over the whole thing. Thanks again for your input!

Hi Kvan--I'm ready to relocate. Although it's probably the most expensive place to live on earth. I can see why. Mulholland Hwy is like driving around in Paradise. I could do without the Ventura Freeway though. I take all these ground shots and then deduce the view. No helicopters. When it's finished the photo from the same spot would have been impossible. You will see all the pathways, roads, access ways etc., unobstructed by tree canopy and terrain. That said, I did get a helicopter ride once in Texas. My pilot--wore a suit with cowboy boots--was so gentle that I didn't even feel the landing. His said, "There you go, son, just like Mary Poppins." Laughed my ass off.

Prayers were said, Sherry. I cannot look upon these vast views and not think of these things. Thanks for bringing it up. In some sense it really was a religious experience-from take-off to landing.

hw (hallie) farber said...

Stunning photographs.

William Cook said...

I'm so happy to hear from you, Hallie. Thanks. Things must be very busy these days, you haven't been posting. On the other hand now that I'm thinking of it, I haven't posted much either. All the best!

L.W.Roth, said...

You must have been flying by the same clouds I was Bill. They definitely look familiar. I just made a note: Nikon Coolpix L120, 14mp at the Walmart. Conveniently, it's just down the street from me. And a selection of compatible lenses are in storage downstairs. Thanks. Your demo photos sold me. Terrific clarity.

As much as I like the air shots, I like the grasses best for a painting with texture. All those fine lines and the pale yellows and blue grays grabbed my interest.

William Cook said...

Hi Linda--Those scenes in that light were outrageously delicious in person. I must say that the L120 recorded them well. The lens is not removable however, but it does have a respectable zoom range. Just pick it up and play with it for a couple minutes. The more I played with it, the more i realized it had all the right features including the battery issue--simple AA's. The shots you took 'with a dying camera' gave me a chuckle, but really weren't that bad at all. At least they weren't all blurry and funny colored like my old camera.

Celeste Bergin said...

what fantastic photos!!!!! woooooohoooooo! (congratulations on new camera)!

William Cook said...

Thanks Celeste. Glad you enjoyed them.

jane minter said...

like your new camera bill ... inspiring shots .

William Cook said...

Howdy Jane! Thanks--great to hear from you.

John Brisson said...

So, you were at my end of the country, Fun pictures!!!

John