12/31/17

2017 Reflections

2017 Reflections

2017 Reflections: how could something that seemed at times to drag on end so quickly? Maybe it was like the brevity of the reflection of the Sandias in the Rio Grande near sunset, on a beautiful day spent with friends Tim and Laurie:

2017 reflections

Sunset Reflections on the Rio Grande

New Year’s Eve also brings my mother’s birthday. Today she turned 98 years old. In December I got a little into genealogy after buying a DNA test kit at a low price on Black Friday. Playing a bit with family trees, I found my mother has a third Great-grandmother who was born in 1782 and lived into 1887. My mother is very competitive, and is determined to outdo this relative in terms of longevity!

2017 reflections

My Mom on Her 98th Birthday

DNA is interesting. I’ll spend time in 2018 figuring out how I’m “49% Irish-Scotch-Welsh-British” when I thought for sure I was 75% German. At the moment I have 465 “matches”of fourth cousins or closer (I don’t know who all these people are!). Additionally, two of those are third cousins I feel like I should have known but even my mother had not heard of. DNA does not lie!

Reflections on Roses: In 2017 The ARS Board of Directors, approved Rules and Guidelines for Judging Rose Photography. I have posted a series of PowerPoint Presentations for this at Southwest Desert Gardening. The series is also posted at rose.org That was a nine-year commitment, much of it spent swimming upstream! Was it worth it? I’m still reflecting on that.

Photography in 2017: I exhibited locally this year, at ANMPAS in April, the Corrales Fine Arts Show in October 2017, and Shades of Gray in December 2017.

I did a couple of series as well. “Insects amongst the Flowers: A Microcosm of Life, Work, and Death” was a lot of fun! (Click on the link to see the series.)

As always, Light was a favorite subject. Crepuscular rays continue to fascinate me. Here is a slideshow of crepuscular rays in 2017:

If you would prefer to just look at the images, you may view the gallery here.

The last moon of 2017, not quite full, gives of hint of the beauty to come in 2018!

2017 reflections

Last Moon of 2017

Tomorrow, January 1, 2018 the moon will be a full super moon. Even more exciting is the Super Blood Red Blue Moon that will occur on January 31. Here in Albuquerque, totality will occur in very early morning and in a part of the sky for which I do not have a clear view. I’m going to spend some time figuring out how can get a good view and stay relatively warm. 🙂 )))))))))) (The Blood Red Moon of 2015 was at a convenient time, and I could sit on my back porch eating strawberries and drinking tea while photographing it. Not this next one…)

As 2017 fades away, 2018 promises much to enjoy.

Finally, I would like to thank Oli Robbins for a very kind biographical narrative in the Sandoval Signpost. It was a great end to 2017.

Wishing each of you an enjoyable, calm, peaceful New Year, full of joy. ~ Susan

08/11/16

Crepuscular Rays

Crepuscular Rays of Light – Beauty and Brevity

Crepuscular rays of light, “fingers of God,” and other names are beautiful atmospheric optics. August 2016 has been remarkable for their appearance over the Sandia Mountains. I’ve been able to photograph this phenomenon at sunrise twice in less than a week. Of note, many images on the internet were taken at sunset rather than sunrise, and the rays will appear pointing down. (The rays are actually parallel, but that is another discussion.)

This was the first. It was the most dramatic example I have personally ever seen.

crepuscular rays

Crespuscular Rays 6:20:25 am

This is the second. This sunrise was more typical. The rays and sky were “gentle.”

crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays 6:25:48 am

Phenomena like this do not last long. Within two minutes, the rays were almost gone.

crepuscular rays

Crepuscular Rays 6:27:34 am

Note that the days are getting shorter. Compare the time of the first image to the time of the second image, just a few days later.

Photographers in Albuquerque know the skies during monsoon season may present even more wonderful opportunities than usual. Many of us remember the summer of 2009 as being full of marvelous skies. This year, friends are capturing amazing images of the lightning storms we have had recently. Sunrises, which I have enjoyed for many years, are proving to be even more remarkable to me this monsoon season of 2016.

Edited to add: Added bonus: a rainbow to the west a little later in the morning!

rainbow

Morning Rainbow to the West

07/6/16

Cooper’s Hawk Book Now at ABQ WBU

My Cooper’s Hawk Book Is Now Available at Albuquerque’s Wild Birds Unlimited

My Cooper’s hawk book, Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display, is now available at the Albuquerque Wild Birds Unlimited at 7200 Montgomery Blvd NE, 87109. I am very pleased that the paperback book is now available locally, not only because the Cooper’s hawks are found in large numbers here, but because this remarkable display took place in my very own back yard. Serendipity on a Sunday afternoon…

my Cooper's hawk book

Front Cover, “Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display”

For interested friends and readers not in the Albuquerque area, Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display is available in both Kindle and paperback formats at amazon.com:

Click for Preview

I hope interested friends in the Albuquerque area will stop by Wild Birds Unlimited on Montgomery and support an Albuquerque business that is supporting local photographers and authors.

Individual prints from this Cooper’s hawk courtship display may be purchased at my portfolio site.

06/21/16
2016 Moscow International Foto Awards

2016 Moscow International Foto Awards

This entry is part 9 of 10 in the series Persephone's Choice

2016 Moscow International Foto Awards – Honorable Mention for Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma

Many thanks to the jurors of the 2016 Moscow International Foto Awards (MIFA) for the recognition of the Portfolio entry in Fine Art Collage of “Persephone’s Choice: Every Woman’s Dilemma” with the award of Honorable Mention. This is a wonderful honor for this series, which has so much personal meaning to me. It was produced with a lot of blood, sweat, and tears; and also a lot of joy!

An award for the entire series is icing on the cake for me. Creating the series after a brief mention of Persephone in an email last September 15, through thinking about what I wanted to do and why, finding the perfect model for my vision, then photographing and editing…those were the easy parts. Working through the editing at times was like a painful visit to a shrink. That was a huge surprise to me. Was it worth it? Yes. Will I do another series project like it? Not soon.

One image from the series has been especially well received.

2016 Moscow InternationalFoto Awards

My Fate, By Choice

“My Fate, By Choice” was juried into the 2016 Insight New Mexico Show earlier this year; was a winner in the 2015 Red Dog News Color It Red competition, and will be shown in Berlin in October, 2016.

Again, I thank the jurors of the Moscow International Foto Awards for the award for this series.

2016 Moscow International Foto Awards

2016 Moscow International Foto Awards

2016 Moscow International Foto Awards

2016 Moscow International Foto Awards

06/5/16

Rose Photography

Rose Photography – Judges Class Winner in the 2015 American Rose Society Digital Photography Competition

Rose photography – what led me to study and learn digital photography in 2008. I was an ARS Accredited Horticulture and Arrangement Judge when I wrote about adding photography to our rose shows for the ARS 2010 ARS Rose Annual.

My interests in photography have certainly led me, and will continue to lead me, to explore many more aspects of my world and life through photography.

I would like to thank the members of special committee who selected this image, “Rose ‘Gold Medal’ with Butterfly,” as the winner of the Judges Class of the 2015 American Rose Society Digital Photography Contest.

ARS 2015 Photo Contest Winner rose photography

Rose ‘Gold Medal’ and Hair Streak Butterfly
Winner, Judges Class, 2015 ARS Digital Photography Contest

This image has special meaning to me. The ‘Gold Medal’ was grown by my mother, and it is one of her favorite roses. It was photographed near sunset in her garden. The hair streak butterfly is a macro shot taken in the garden of my friends Tim and Laurie on a glorious afternoon in Corrales. I have so many pleasant memories of both gardens, and I wanted to unite them in one image. On a personal level, that is what was behind the creation of this image.

On a rose photography level, I wanted to create an image that used a lot of photo editing and photo enhancements but ended with an image of a beautiful rose and a feeling of a presence in a beautiful garden. One of my pet peeves is the use of Photoshop filters to create with one click of a mouse an image that smashes a rose beyond all recognition. The uninitiated seem to find those impressive, but they do not know that it is one click of a mouse. Did I ever make images like that? Yes, I did indeed. But I would like to see us encourage images that are a bit more creative and that show the beauty of the rose. Do I expect them to be as complex in creation as this image that appears so simple was? No, of course not. But I recently saw a gorgeous image of a rose on fallen leaves of autumn, creatively arranged, magnificent in color, that was passed over for a one-click abstract. I’d like to see our judges – and photographers – begin to rethink the approach to “rose art” to go beyond the one-click Photoshop filters.

Once again, I thank the people who selected this as the winner in the Judges Class, 2015. It is an honor.

I leave you with a brief slideshow of some of my rose images from the past.

06/4/16

Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display Now Available

Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display Now Available as Kindle on Amazon

Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display is now available at Amazon in a Kindle version. A paperback edition is also coming.

Can be read on most devices with the free Kindle app. (See end of post for link.)

The volume contains 32 images taken on August 3, 2014. At the time, I knew I had witnessed something remarkable. I knew it was a very intense encounter. Initially, I took it to be some type of territorial display.

This spring, after doing some reading and going back through the images, I came to realize it was something quite different. The behavior is described in the literature, but this on the ground (more precisely, in the trees) display is not well documented photographically.

The encounter with this beautiful young hawk was serendipitous. The display was something I knew nothing about until I saw it that day, and it was almost two years later before I grasped its meaning and the insights it gave into the life of a male Cooper’s hawk.

Cooper's Hawk Courtship Display

Young Male Cooper’s Hawk

In the past couple of years I have had the opportunity to see and to photograph some rather amazing events that I will remember for the rest of my life – the Blood Red Total Lunar Eclipse of September 2015; the Alignment of Jupiter and Venus in the early morning hours of 2015; and I would add this hawk encounter to that list of things that became important to me as observations of life.

Amazon.com – Read eBooks using the FREE Kindle Reading App on Most Devices

05/28/16

Courtship Display

Young Cooper’s Hawk’s In-the-Trees Courtship Display

Courtship display did not even enter my head as I photographed this young Cooper’s hawk putting on some kind of display in a large juniper tree in my neighbor’s back yard. I knew I had never seen anything quite like it, and I felt very lucky to have photographed it. I posted some of the images some time ago, and then things in my life got busy. Then they got even busier.

At the moment, I am still busy, but, at least temporarily, things seem somewhat stable. 2016 has started off great in terms of productivity with photography and photo essays. Color vision is my current passionate interest. In working on that, however, I came across the images of the hawk display. Over time I have come to realize what that display was: a courtship display. This behavior is described in the literature, but photographic documentation is scarce. I decided to take a little break from the color vision, and publish the images, both in paperback format and Kindle format. This is the first volume in a series, “As Seen in New Mexico…”

“Cooper’s Hawk Courtship Display” will be available in both formats at Amazon some time in June (mid-to-late). I’ll post when they are available at my Amazon page.

This is the Kindle cover, as well as the front cover for the paperback:

courtship display

Kindle and Paperback Cover

Was this young male just confused, or was there method in his madness??? Stay tuned…

05/16/16

Friends and Photography

Friends and Photography

Friends and photography are not the first combination that comes to mind for many serious photographers preparing for a day of creating photographs. Photographers like to spend their time looking at things, from all angles, up close, from a distance, etc., often things that many people find less than interesting to begin with. But, if you are really lucky, you might find friends you really enjoy being with for a day of exploring what’s out there in the world to enjoy and to photograph.

Many readers here know Tim and Laurie from their blogs, Photo of the Day, and TandLPhotos. Over the years, what began as an occasional friendship around one hobby interest (roses) became a multidimensional friendship in many aspects of life.

We’ve done a variety of “photo excursions” and “photographic expeditions,” days that start with a general plan and always evolve into just going with the flow, seizing what the day had to offer. Tim and I share the same birthday, and we’ve always tried to plan an outing for the weekend closest to that day. It just didn’t work out for many reasons in 2015, and yesterday was the first day in some time that Tim, Laurie, and I were out to capture the moment together. It was not at all planned as a “photo excursion.” But, as many times in the past, the day became a photo excursion.

Over the next few days and weeks I plan to post a variety of images from yesterday. But this post is to honor a day of friendship, of being with people who honor the joy of living each day fully.

The “excuse” at the start of the day was the 3rd Annual Corrales Rose Society Dr. Huey Tour. But, the day became so much more.

Laurie, the artist

Tim, the photographer

The Old San Ysidro Church and Cemetery

At Tim and Laurie’s

Spunk, one of Tim and Laurie’s seven cats. He looks so sweetly innocent, but don’t be fooled. 🙂 He is an extremely intelligent, curious cat, which has gotten him into a bit of trouble. He has destroyed enough things that he has a running tab and has to model to help pay down his debt. He is very accommodating as a portrait model. 🙂

friends photography

Spunk, One of Tim and Laurie’s Seven Cats. Don’t Be fooled by That Adorably Innocent Look

Yesterday was a wonderful day with friends and photography.

05/10/16

Colorblind Paperback Now Available

This entry is part 3 of 4 in the series Seeing Color Colorblind

Colorblind Paperback Now Available

Seeing Color Colorblind” is now available at Amazon as a paperback book, in addition to the Kindle e-book version released earlier in April. I am as proud of this 60 page, 8×10 paperback book as I was of my PhD dissertation; maybe more so. It represents a labor of love for the colorblind people who have always been in my life, and whose world I really did not understand until I began this project.

colorblind paperback

From the Amazon description:

What do colorblind people see? What does the world look like to them? No single “right” answer exists, because there are different types and degrees of what is more appropriately called “color deficient vision.” Formally trained in Anthropology (PhD) and Medicine (MD), Susan Brandt Graham is a photographic artist who has had a lifelong interest in understanding how “colorblind” people see the world. Using the art and technology of digital photography, she unlocks the fascinating world seen by people with severe red deficient vision. From images in her professional portfolio, she creates diptychs that are indistinguishable to her son, who, like his maternal grandfather, has a severe red deficiency. This instructive and affordable volume is useful for people with red deficient vision to explain to others what they see; for family and friends to understand the world of their loved one; for ophthalmologists, optometrists, pediatricians, and other healthcare professionals who diagnose color deficient vision to use in explanation to patients and family/friends; for teachers to help students empathize with classmates who may perceive the world differently; and for anyone who desires to understand how others may see the world.

In the summer of 2015, after seeing the first of many videos from EnChroma, the company that makes special glasses that allow many, but not all, colorblind people to see a wider range of color, I tried experimenting with three of my images to see if I could produce images that my son would see as the same, even though quite different to me. I knew that, at least in theory, those three images should be close. But, I really did not believe the results. I did not think anyone saw the world like that. How could they? I mean, green people? I knew my son did not see me in shades of cyan. It was just too strange.

I posted those images here, and didn’t give it more thought because I did not believe them. I don’t think I even mentioned it to my son until quite a bit later. Some time later, when he saw the three pairs, he said, “Oh, yeah, those look the same to me.” What? The theory that should have worked, but produced results so strange to me I could not believe them at the time, produced results that were real and accurate.

Early this year (2016) I converted a series of additional images, and my son confirmed that each pair really did look the same. We were able to do the work at a distance, using computers, and on April 2, released the Kindle version of “Seeing Color Colorblind.”

In retrospect, that work was very easy in comparison to producing a print version. Monitors, hand-held devices, and many other things use projected light, in which the primary colors are Red, Green, and Blue, the RGB color space of projected light.

colorblind paperback

RGB Color Wheels

Print versions, such as for books, are done in the Cyan, Magenta, and Yellow color space, which is reflected light. Those are the colors you see if you look at the overlapping areas of the color wheel of the RGB system. For someone with a severe red deficiency, cyan, blue, and green are about the only colors left in that space. Converting the diptychs we had done in the RGB color space was not difficult for me; it is easily done in Photoshop. However, we could not accurately proof CMYK color for print on our RGB monitors. Doing proofs required actual print proofs, and that became a huge challenge.

My friends doing serious digital photography know that the print is in the CMYK color space, but that the photographer does not manage color in that space. You color calibrate your monitor, using one of the devices available for that purpose. When getting ready to print, you proof using the appropriate ICC profile for the particular papers and the particular printer you are using. All of that is done in the RGB color space. In fact, labs for photographic prints tell you not to convert to CMYK, but keep the proof in RGB. When you actually print, your computer talks to the printer’s computer, which is where the conversion is done, and out comes a print in CMYK that matches the RGB “proof” you created on your monitor. Photo books are done this way, but not regular hardcover and paperback books.

I considered photo books, even though they are quite a bit more expensive. None of them produced images that looked the same to my son. We decided to give paperbacks a try. Again, these did not have ICC profiles to apply, and the images had to be submitted in CMYK. Much to my surprise (this has definitely been a learning experience from beginning to end!), the interior images looked the same to my son, but the cover image did not, even though it was the same image used on the interior, where it did match. That cover had a glossy finish. We gave a matte cover a try, and that worked perfectly to my son’s eyes. We finally had our “colorblind paperback!” I would never have thought of using a matte cover, but I actually think it is more attractive. I will use matte covers for work in the future, work having nothing to do with this particular topic.

Although, one of my son’s first responses when this volume was finally done, was “Now you can do a book for colorblind people that shows what everybody else sees…:)” I wish…

This has been quite a journey into the land of color, a very satisfying journey. I’ve lived my entire life with colorblind people – my father and son – and until now had no idea what their world looked like. While I am not overly thrilled with appearing cyan with black lips (kind of “dead” to an Ob/Gyn surgeon), at least I know, and I find the rest of their world quite beautiful in its own right. I wish I could tell my father I’m sorry I told him to quit teasing me and expecting me to believe he and my son were seeing a “blue team and yellow team” on a black and white television years ago, and especially to stop teaching my son to lie like that, even as a joke. The joke was definitely on me, but not in the way I thought at the time.

My son hopes this “colorblind paperback” will help other colorblind people to be better understood, even if they have a different type of colorblindness to which these specific images do not apply. I share that hope.

For those who are interested, this “colorblind paperback” is now available at Amazon. It is 60 pages, 8×10, has diptychs for pink, orange, red, yellow, blue, monochrome, black and white, and skin tones. Green is discussed in some of the images along with a different color with which it appears. Its retail list price is an affordable $19.99.

My Amazon Author Page is, not surprisingly, Susan Brandt Graham 🙂

I thank you for your interest.

04/27/16

Garden Joys

Garden Joys – An Early Morning in the Garden

Garden joys abound in the high desert, even with the typical spring winds, this time of year. For the past several months, I have been very busy with projects of my own choosing, driven to work by no one but myself. Snail mail for required proofs for one of the projects has given me a kind of enforced relaxation time. Last evening I set one goal for today, to enjoy my back yard.

For the past several days I have seen cedar waxwings, a very infrequent visitor to my yard, drinking at the bird bath. I have noticed them at around 7:00am, so last evening I set my camera with plans to try to photograph a cedar waxwing. When I first got up I watered all the container plants and then filled the bird feeders. By that time it was almost 7:00am, so I sat down on the patio with my camera and a cup of coffee. Immediately I saw the doves, finches, and sparrows that are frequent visitors here, and a little male black chinned hummingbird drank at one of the feeders, not really bothered by my presence. At 7:07am the magic I was hoping for happened. This cedar waxwing appeared in pyracantha, on a branch that allowed me to photograph it without distractions that would have been present at the bird bath.

garden joys

Cedar Waxwing, an Uncommon Visitor to My Garden

It flew away at 7:08am. It had given me one minute to obtain the portrait I had hoped for.

After the cedar waxwing flew, I saw the first female black chinned hummingbird of the season. The females arrive about two weeks after the males, and the timing was perfect. She was thirsty! She drank, and drank, and drank. A male hummer watched her from his guard post, and did not interrupt her breakfast. When she finished, she flew into a large rose bush near where I keep the hummingbird feeders. Year after year I always thought it possible the hummers nested there, but I have never seen a nest. Maybe this year…Because at that point, the male who had been observing her began the flying loops of the hummingbird mating display. Those are always so much fun to watch.

Finally, sparkling green trees early in the morning. They only look like this for a few minutes, but they also are garden joys.

garden joys

Sparkling Trees in Early Morning

Thank you for joining me during my forced relaxation time. 🙂