Monday, September 30, 2013

Abandonment: Old Homestead - Lancaster, California

I have photographed many abandoned locations, such as the old George Air Force Base housing, the Boss Hog Ranch, the Silver Queen Mine, a couple different homes in Mojave, and an old burnt home in Tehachapi, among other places. It is a subject that doesn't get old for me.

The latest is an old homestead near Lancaster, California. This abandoned location has two (sort of) standing buildings and the remnants of two buildings that either had fallen or were torn down.

One of the standing buildings is an old home most likely built before 1940. I did not see any signs of plumbing. It is mostly a shell, with not much in the way of walls left.

The other standing building I believe may have also been a home (although it may have had other purposes). It is a small three room structure. There were no signs of plumbing in it, either. Quite a bit is still intact, although some walls and a section of the roof are missing.

The complex appears to have been a farm or ranch. I have no idea when it first opened or last closed. Now it lays in ruin, slowly being dismantled by vandals and swallowed by the harsh desert.

Below are the images, captured using a Sigma DP2 Merrill, in no particular order.
Dilapidated Lancaster Home - Lancaster, California
Wood Lines - Lancaster, California
Through The Rafters - Lancaster, California
Forgotten Hope - Lancaster, California
Abandoned Couch - Lancaster, California
Dog & Butterfly - Lancaster, California
One Yellow Board - Lancaster, California
Shadow Remnants - Lancaster, California
Dilapidated Design - Lancaster, California

Friday, September 27, 2013

Abandonment: Old Home In Mojave (I Was The Man Who Came Back)

About 16 months ago I photographed an old, abandoned and forgotten home in Mojave, California. This home is slowly being destroyed by the weather and vandals, and someday will be swallowed by the desert.

It is an interesting place. Perhaps not all that safe. There are glass and rusty nails strewn about. Parts of the building have partially or fully collapsed.

I imagine whoever it was that lived in the house worked at one of the nearby mines. Most of those mines have been closed for several decades now.

You can see the photographs that I captured (using a Samsung NX200) below.
Room With A View - Mojave, California
X - Mojave, California
Broken Home At Sunrise - Mojave, California
Light Switch On - Mojave, California
Wall Showing - Mojave, California
Fallen Roof - Mojave, California
Lost Home - Mojave, California
Desert Home - Mojave, California
Window And Wall - Tehachapi, California
Two days ago I returned to this house to get just a few more images. I was the man who came back. I didn't want to create the same photographs, but find the ones that I had missed before.

You can see the new photographs that I captured (using a Sigma DP2 Merrill) below.
Bent Nail - Mojave, California
Not Connected - Mojave, California
Blue Square - Mojave, California

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Creativity In Photography

Sailboat Race - Oxnard, California
After posting two days ago You Need Photographic Vision, which is a follow up to Photographic Vision - What It Is And How To Get It, I was asked a question. It is based on my definition of photographic vision: a vivid and imaginative conception.

The question goes something like this: "I understand that conception is a fancy word for idea, and that a vivid idea is one that you can clearly see in your mind. But how does one get an imaginative idea?"
Three Green Leaves - Tehachapi, California
The question is one of creativity. How does one become creative? Some people seem to be naturally creative, while others really struggle with the concept. I'm in the latter category.

I remember being in Photography 101 in college, viewing the prints from fellow students and being amazed. Not only was I amazed at what they were creating, but amazed at the gap between their work and my own. I lacked vision, specifically the imaginative aspect of it.
Curves - Stallion Springs, California
Creativity can be learned. It is something that takes practice, and the more one does it, the more natural it becomes. If one struggles with creativity, the great news is that you don't have to. So let's look at what one must do in order to become creative.

First, in order to be creative, one must think like a child. Adults are logical thinkers. Adults like order. Adults have preconceived notions. Children are not that way. Children don't have the experiences yet that tell them there are limitations. They have not yet been told "you can't do this, you can't do that" and "you shouldn't do this, you shouldn't do that." Creative people must channel that inner child.
Pathway To The Soul - Tehachapi, California
Next, in order to be creative, one must realize that there is no reality. Albert Einstein said, "Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one." Understanding this, there are no limits to what one can create. Reality is whatever you make it, so how do you want reality to be in your photographs? Whatever it is you want it to be, you have the ability to make it so.

Third, in order to be creative, one must steal. This may seem outrageous, but, quoting Einstein again, "Creativity is knowing how to hide your sources." Austin Kleon explains how to steal like an artist. You should be taking what you like from this person, and from that person, and from that other person, shaking it all together with a bit of yourself, and making art. Those people you borrowed from took those ideas from someone else. No one is truly original.
Joshua Tree Leaves At Sunrise - Palmdale, California
Also, in order to be creative, one must have limitations. Limitations improve art because it forces you to be creative or fail. Pablo Picasso said, "If you have five elements available use only four. If you have four elements use three." Force yourself to be limited by something--anything--whenever you photograph.

Finally, in order to be creative, one must be the man who came back. When you revisit a subject, you are given the great opportunity to do it better, to create a stronger photograph. When faced with the opportunity to re-photograph a subject, you will not likely create the same image, but one with a refined vision. You can build on your previous creativity by making small improvements, or you can interpret the scene in an entirely different way. Either way, you must be imaginative or you'll walk away with an identical photograph to what you already have.
My Heart or My Grave? - Tehachapi, California
Creativity takes practice. It takes experimenting. It takes failure. It takes perseverance. But you can be a creative photographer if you want to be. You can be an artist photographer.

It is important to not give up and to never stop having fun. If you find yourself bored with your photography, try something new, something different. Keep moving forward and you'll be surprised at what you create.
Wave And Three Rocks - Pismo Beach, California

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Fall Flowers

Earlier this year I posted photographs of flowers, and then some early spring blossoms. I photographed a few flowers over the summer, as well.

Flower photography is not my passion, but I cannot help myself sometimes when a colorful and delicate flower is in front of me. This last weekend, at a strip mall in Bakersfield, I found myself face-to-face with some flowers. I had my Sigma DP2 Merrill with me, so I captured a few photographs.

The lesson here, if there is a lesson, is to always carry a camera with you. You never know what you might find. In this case, I found some colorful blossoms in the middle of city chaos.
Yellow Rose Blossom - Bakersfield, California
Red Rose Blossom - Bakersfield, California
Fuchsia Blossom - Bakersfield, California

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You Need Photographic Vision

Abandoned Homestead - Tehachapi, California
"The world is waiting for men with vision - it is not interested in mere pictures." --Charles Hawthorne
More than a year ago I published a post called Photographic Vision - What It Is And How To Get It. I created that piece because there is so little information out there on what is (in my opinion) the most essential thing one needs to have in order to be a successful photographer. Without vision, there are no great photographs.
Flower Star - Stallion Springs, California
You hear people say that you need vision, but you rarely hear anyone define that or explain how to get it. So I set out to explain it in the simplest way that I could. In the months since I have pushed that post as much as possible, yet it is still not nearly as read as it should be. People want to read about cameras and other equipment, and they completely miss what is truly important.

I define vision as a vivid and imaginative conception. It is a clear and creative idea. It is having a notion and then making it a reality.
On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California
In order to have vision you must clearly see in your mind what you want the image to look like, even before opening the shutter. If you don't know where you are going you will never arrive. So you must plan ahead and pre-visualize as much as possible. Try to imagine what the photograph will look like before you actually capture it. If you are satisfied, open the shutter. If you are not satisfied, refine your composition until you are satisfied.

But that is not enough. You must also be creative. You must be an artist. You must use your imagination to its fullest. You must put a piece of yourself into the image somehow. You have a point-of-view that is unique to you, and in some way that needs to end up in your photographs.
Machine Sunset - Stallion Springs, California
Photography is a form of non-verbal communication, so speak clearly and strongly through your images. You'll never achieve that with careless snapshots. You must start with a vivid and imaginative conception. That's where successful photographs begin.

If you have not viewed my post on photographic vision, please do so (click here). Also, check out my post on the decisive moment (click here).
Curves - Stallion Springs, California

Monday, September 23, 2013

Abandonment: Forgotten Home In Mojave

I love photographing abandoned places. I've captured the old George Air Force Base housing in Victorville, the Boss Hog Ranch near Tehachapi, the Silver Queen Mine in Mojave, an old burnt house in Tehachapi, and other places. It's a subject that I find myself coming back to again and again.

The latest is an old forgotten house near Mojave, California. I have no idea the story behind the home. It looks like no one has lived in it for at least 30 years. Much of the roof is gone, but the four outside walls are still intact. Some crows have moved in.

This house does not appear to have had running water (which I would think is a "must" in the hot desert) or plumbing. There is a small outhouse still somewhat intact not far away. My guess is that the home was occupied by mine workers from one of the many nearby mines, which are mostly now defunct.

Below are the images, in no particular order. I used a Sigma DP2 Merrill to capture these.
Shadow of the Past - Mojave, California
A Shadow - Mojave, California
Memories of a Sunny Day - Mojave, California
Look Up - Mojave, California
Exposed Frame - Mojave, California
A Broken Home - Mojave, California

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Happy 1st Day of Autumn

Autumn is here! Time to start fall foliage photography. Check out my post Five Tips For Photographing Fall Colors.

Below is an image I captured yesterday of a fallen leaf.
Fallen Leaf In The Grass - Bakersfield, California

Friday, September 20, 2013

Jordan Liles' Abandonment Photography

I stumbled across this today, and thought it was cool. Photographer Jordan Liles found an abandoned hotel and community out in the woods in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.
Photo by Jordan Liles
The hotel, called the Wonderland Hotel, operated from 1912 to 1992. Even though it was open not all that long ago, the place seems to be pretty much completely forgotten. There are also other abandoned buildings in the area, some more than 100 years old. 

If I lived in Tennessee, this is where I'd go to photograph. I love abandoned locations. In California, the old George Air Force Base housing is a great place to visit.

Check out Jordan's website to see more (click here).

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Difference A Year Makes (A Quick Look Back)

Sometimes it is amazing to look back and see how so much has changed, so much has transpired, over the last year. I was thinking about this just this morning.

For example, one year ago the only digital camera I owned was a cell phone. That's because my fully-loaded camera bag was stolen out of my car. Thankfully, insurance came through and I was able to replace my cameras. Then later the stolen cameras were recovered and I was able to buy them back at a big discount.
A Joshua Tree Sunrise - Rosamond, California
Captured one year ago using a cell phone.
I went from having too few cameras to having too many. I recently downsized, simplified and improved my camera bag. One year ago I was wondering how long I'd be without a camera, or if the insurance company was even going to cover them. That's the difference a year can make.

One year ago today I published a short post about the Nikon D600 DSLR. It was a somewhat popular post about nothing, really. One year later one does not hear much about this camera. It's still excellent, but it is yesterday's (or last year's) news.

I look back at the photographs that I created one year ago, and I can see an improvement in my own photography skills. I know that next year I'll see an improvement over the photographs that I'm making now. A year makes a difference.

The Roesch Photography Blog has seen a traffic increase of about 30% since this time last year. That's pretty large! I expect it to grow over the next year, too.

I think it is good now-and-then to look back at where you've been. This helps gauge your progress and also helps to refocus on where you are going. A trip down memory lane can be quite good.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Photograph What You Love To Photograph

On A Brighter Day - Tehachapi, California
I love photographing abandoned buildings.
I've heard many times over the years that it is good, as a photographer, to specialize in something. There should be one subject that you focus your time and energy to. You should be known for one thing.

I don't really think that is necessary. I don't think you need to specialize. However, you should photograph what you love to photograph.
Abandoned Homestead - Tehachapi, California
I'm fascinated by places like this, so I photograph them.
If you photograph what you are passionate about, you'll give it your all. If you photograph what you love, you'll create your best work.

Imagine trying to hold a conversation with someone about some subject that you don't really care about and that you are not knowledgeable about. Do you think you could make the conversation engaging? But if the conversation is about something you care deeply about and are knowledgeable about, that conversation now has interest.
Destroyed By Fire - Victorville, California
Abandoned locations, like the old George Air Force Base housing, is what I love to photograph.
Photography is a form of communication. When you photograph what you are interested in, you are able to hold an engaging non-verbal conversation with the viewer.

So you don't need to specialize, because that's over thinking. It's much more simple than that. You should be photographing the things that you love to photograph. And naturally you'll create a strong portfolio of images for whatever subject that you are drawn to.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Thought Of The Day: Fuji X-A1

I get asked quite often to comment on equipment. People want new cameras, but cameras don't matter, vision does. But since these posts are popular, I'll give my opinion and then move on to what really matters.

The Fuji X-A1 is the budget alternative to the X-Pro1. It's the same camera, just smaller, lighter and without all the (mostly unnecessary) bells-and-whistles. If you've wanted an X-Pro1 (or the X-E1) but found the price to be too high, perhaps the X-A1 is the camera for you.

One big disadvantage of the X-A1 is that it does not include Fuji's excellent X-Trans sensor. In fact, the X-A1 is actually an X-M1 camera without the X-Trans sensor and a couple hundred bucks cheaper.

I'm a big fan of compact interchangeable-lens cameras like the X-A1 (such as the Samsung NX200 and NX210 that I have owned). I think they're great alternatives to bulky DSLRs. But the point of buying a Fuji camera right now is to have their X-Trans sensor, which doesn't require an anti-aliasing filter. While I'm sure the X-A1 is a fine camera, and Fuji makes some fine lenses, I would think that, if you can, spend the extra money and get the X-Trans sensor.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Inspiration Can Be Found Anywhere

I was driving home last evening, just as the sun was low to the horizon, and spotted something worth photographing. If you carry a camera with you where ever you go, you can stop whenever something catches your eye.

It was easy to overlook. Out in a local farm field the workers had left a plow. The tractor was gone. The workers were gone. The plow was left out there in the dirt.

I bet most people who drove by didn't even notice it. And even if they did notice, I doubt they saw enough beauty in it to stop. Thankfully, a passion of mine is finding beauty in things that others don't. I love making art out of the industrial.

I used a Sigma DP2 Merrill to capture the below images.
Dirt Disks - Stallion Springs, California
Curves - Stallion Springs, California
Machine Sunset - Stallion Springs, California