Create: Color for Mood

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Most of my projects are black and white. But I also shoot color. Sometimes. And when people ask why I shoot black and white I tell them because it’s cool and so am I. Then they weep, mostly. On a serious note. I do like color and when the light is good and offers that brilliance we know so well it can be difficult to NOT shoot color.

A few days ago I was birdwatching on the patio. Journal, camera, binoculars. But no birds really. Wind, rain. etc. They were smart and were probably inside their nest listening to Danish ambient dub. I can’t get inside their tiny heads.

The sky was typical of New Mexico. Ten out of ten. A front was beginning to push through and the clouds were moving incredibly fast. I shot these three images minutes apart, perhaps a bit more, but they show the difference between foreboding and hopeful just in their color palette.

I love photography like this. For no other purpose than to record and study. Record and feel. I think mood is undersold in importance when it comes to photography. People obsess over technical stuff but it doesn’t matter. How a picture feels or how it makes you feel is what matters.

Hopeful, perhaps.

Our connection to nature is so much deeper than it was in California, especially during those Los Angeles years when concrete, smog, and structure was all around us. The Orange County era was better especially when staring at the sea, but even then things were filtered through traffic, crowds, parking, and noise.

The battle between blue and red.

Here there is no filter. It’ just there, right outside. Day and night. I woke at 3 AM today to look at the stars through the patches of cloud. Even here there is light pollution but still minimal, for now. Someone called me a few days ago, a city dweller, and within a minute asked: “Is that nature I hear in the background?” Yes, yes it is. I think this is where we went wrong a long time ago. When humans decided they needed to conquer nature. Take the peaks, tame the sea, control the climate and tear up what even Rachel Carson thought was endless. We know now it isn’t. Not by a long shot.

Red wins..

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  1. Apocalyptic photographs here, Dan. (is it okay to refuse to use the words “pic” or “shots”? I feel like we need to elevate the language of photography especially in the realm of “selfies” and your favorite… Instagram).
    With these photos, I can smell the desert air and hear the wind. I love a photograph that stimulates a sensation… no, not that kind of sensation.
    I took a photograph while laying on some rocks about 10 feet from the shoreline while the tide was coming in. As I took the photograph, I got sprayed with salty sea water (Whew, Leica was safe). Now when I see this photograph, I can smell and taste that experience.
    I have to admit. Color is tough for me. I’m not good at editing color so when I do shoot color, I use a JPEG film simulation (thank you Fujifilm).
    I meant to ask you about shooting with Fujifilm camera’s… Do you use RAW or JPEG? I mean, JPG is sort of like using film… kinda?
    Great Youtube live video the other day with Marc by the way.

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      Thanks Lucas,
      I shoot RAW only. Can’t remember last time I used JPG. JPG doesn’t store well. Lossy file type. RAW is like safety net and untouchable. But that’s me. I’m not great at color but I like it from time to time.

  2. This is so great Dan.

    “How a picture feels or how it makes you feel is what matters.” It’s a philosophy I stumbled upon early on in my photographic practice and share it with my students in every class.

    It’s the human ego that believes we can tame nature. We will never understand the true power of nature, just continue to feel the results and bicker about who can save us.

    I’ve learned more valuable lessons from you than from any “Professional” photographer.

    Grateful that you share so much of yourself.

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      Heiko,
      Okay, you win. The coolest name ever. That’s a Star Wars level name. And your site is very, very nice as well. Edmonton. Been there a few times and love all of Canada. You are the second Canadian I’ve chatted with today. Hope you all are doing well with this little bug. As for sharing, so many people helped me. I figured it was time for me to pay it forward. Glad you are here. When it cools off I’ll point my van toward Canada.

  3. That’s funny I was just asking myself last week, why aren’t we photographing the clouds more, they’re fascinating. I find the more you look at them the more interesting they become. Love your foreboding one.

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