Friday, January 2, 2009

This is NOT Texas!

As the title might have clued you in, none of these shots are of Texas. They are of Montana where my partner Annie and I are currently living. There has been snow on the ground for many weeks, and while the temperature has gotten above 40 degrees this week, I am still stinging from the negatives a few weeks back.

Lately, I have been taking photos on a regular basis in an effort to improve my photography. I was speaking with the Travel Editor of the San Antonio Express-News and the Houston Chronicle about running my column, and the editor made it clear to me that my photography had to be as good if not better than my writing. She explained to me that many writers don't have good photos to back up their written work. As I am an amateur photographer, I have become serious about getting better at this visual art form.

Based on her suggestions, I started checking out books about photography, learning about composition, lighting, how to get what you want from a photo, how to focus on a subject, lines, and a host of other qualities of good photography. It's overwhelming, but luckily, I quickly discovered P, which is automatically finding available light for decent shots. So I am focusing on composition and balance in my work. What you see before you are some of my first conscientious attempts at real photography.

All of these shots are from hikes into the mountains surrounding Helena, Montana. Trees are abundant in my frames, but I'm also trying to focus on other objects and the depth these images can create.

Several of these shots were taken in relatively shallow snow, perhaps a few inches, but the one with the long fence was taken in a couple of feet of snow! Annie and I have usually gone out together on these photo outings. She has been patient and supportive of this fervent desire to get better at photography, going so far as to hike miles and mountains, all the while stopping several times for shots, sometimes in the space of a few yards. If you think it's been easy for her, then take a look at this next photo. She had to go for grumpy- old-man chic to withstand the temperature, but at least she looks like she's having a good time. The blurs in the photo are falling snowflakes, and the trees in the background really did look like that because of our limited visibility. This shot was taken on January 1, 2009. It's hard to imagine a nicer way to spend the first day of the new year.

Until next time, adventurers, stay warm, stay happy, and stay tuned.

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