Archive for April, 2010

Skagit Valley in April

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

About an hour north of Seattle the Skagit Valley is home to the largest grower of bulb flowers in the United States. Every April the fields explode with color and the roadsides explode with tourists.

We go early – to avoid the crowds and to get the best light. Last year I tried to get a different perspective by shooting up with a wide-angle lens. Thought it was pretty good until several months later when I arrived at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam and saw its clone everywhere. Turns out I had produced a cliché.

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This year was hazy and overcast so I decided to try some really tight shots. Focus on individual flowers. Very abstract.

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But my favorite shot of the trip was the one I took last of an old barn. This one feels like a dreamscape to me with the post in the foreground in sharp focus while the rest is just a blur.

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Shadowland: Reflections on eBooks

Monday, April 5th, 2010

mgmason-2Prompted by Apple’s release of the ipad I have spent a lot of time lately thinking about the future of ebooks – in general, and for me personally. There is no question in my mind that ebooks will be part of the future, specifically of my future. But for now something is holding me back.

On the plus side I love the idea of being able to travel with dozens, even hundreds, of books in a lightweight, compact package. After all, you never know what you may want to read at any given moment.

On the negative side, current ebook policies ignore the social context in which reading takes place. You may read in solitude but reading is a decidedly social act. When we read a provocative book we want to discuss it. When we discover a new author we want to share his or her books with family and friends. Currently the ability to share ebooks is limited — with limitations that vary by the reader you choose to purchase.

In addition, you never really buy the book – just the right to read the book. An important technicality that generated waves of outrage last year when Amazon famously erased purchased copies of George Orwell’s “1984” from Kindle devices. A fine irony.

Speaking of ironies, the craziness in digital book policies takes place while social networking sites of all stripes are exploding. So it gets easier to tweet about trivia and harder to share substantive ideas.

So what’s a reader to do? This reader at least has decided to wait and hope for some sanity. My money will go to ebook producers who recognize the important social context of books and reading and let me continue to share my books with family and friends.

Iconic Places: Cannon Beach

Thursday, April 1st, 2010

You know the problem. You go to a beautiful, often photographed place, and start shooting. It’s fun. Your images look just like every image you’ve ever seen of the place. That part is frustrating. Question is: how do you make an iconic place your own? We recently spent several days at Cannon Beach in Oregon. The first image below is pretty straightforward. The weather was blustery – pretty typical for this time of year.

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So I decided to try a couple of different things. Another day, better weather, lots of color with a strong foreground component.

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Finally I decided to try fiddling with an image after the fact to make it look like it might have been shot years ago.

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Same beach, same weekend, three different ways of feeling about it. Which do you think works best?