A Stalwart Heart

Who stands up against oppression must have a stalwart heart. Correction will surely follow even such a heart if there is allowance for injustice in the name of power. The history of fighting injustice is littered with good intentions. A path is clear and finding a path that does not allow for oppression is right over the next hill. It is ever present as well as elusive. It’s not like there is a longed for destination that isn’t a vision for good will and friendship. Such a vista can inspire, so the quest for this scope is an enduring one. And history repeats itself when dishonesty is implimented as a shortcut to destination.

When one thinks light exists only in one canon or evangelism it may be hard to peel back the blinders all the way. Call for directions. Or think for yourself.

It snowed!

Going handheld into the crispy patterns of New Mexico. A dangerously bouncy way to discover the world. All of the texture and then the combination of that with handheld movement isn’t conducive to a clear picture. The compression on top of that only further shows the video’s flaws. Regardless, I still really like the overall feeling of the piece and the exploration of water and life.

Myth and Modern Culture

Darren Mahuron is a photographer in demand. He and his wife Lisa work in Fort Collins, Colorado creating commissions and artworks that are highly imaginative and metaphorical. Darren’s friends describe him as a passionate artist who is unpretentious, unstoppable and a natural at visualizing his imagination. I first saw his work when Gabriella Louise showed me the photograph he had done to promote her as a musician.

This piece (below) MEDEA 3 illustrates an interestingly modern interpretation of an ancient greek myth, the tragedy of Medea.


Darren lent me his ear and answered a couple of questions about what inspires him and a little about how he achieves the beautiful textures and colors within his photos. The Mahuron’s work can be seen at the online gallery, Darren Mahuron: Photographer.

Sounds like you’ve been a visual storyteller for some time now… what is it about our world that inspires you to create?

I am inspired by many things; Music, Literature, Film, People, Places, Relationships. I love to travel, I enjoy conversation, most often topics that go well below the surface. I am passionate about life and death. I rarely look at other photographers work so as to not be influenced.

Looking at your web gallery I see a lot of metaphor in your work. Can you talk about the inspiration for this kind of storytelling?

Many of my ideas come from listening to music or reading. I love pre-christian history, Greek Mythology and politics, they all play a part in my storytelling I suppose. I typically have the idea as a visual first and then begin to understand it’s meaning later or sometimes never. Some of the ideas in my work have also come from my wife Lisa or the subject or as a collaboration.

In discovering digital photography what struck you first about the medium?

I really discovered Photoshop first. It was very intuitive for me. Digital photography was a tool to get a file into Photoshop to mess around with. That’s how it started for me. I like photography more now that I understand it better, but I still consider myself more of a digital painter than a photographer.

In your photographs, the first thing I sense is your grit and texture, it seems that you use high contrast lighting to start achieving this effect. Can you talk a little bit about why you frequently choose this pallet?

I try and create a consistent world that is dirty, or gritty, a little edgy maybe as a way to communicate my ideas. Not sure why I started down this road, it just resonates with me.

One distinction in your photographs are the shadows and rich colors, it seems that you shoot above the ambient with the strobes… or do you achieve the depth in post?

I’m not completely sure what “above the ambient” means actually.  I’m self taught, and I just do what I think looks right. One way I’ve learned to improve on my contrasty look is to shoot with brighter lights. This saves me time in post. It also allows me to shoot at say F22 rather than F2.8 which gives me a larger depth of field and more detail to work with later in Photoshop.

As far as advertising, I really enjoy the Exist campaign. The photographs illustrate the fears we see in our minds as we are driving around the city, and also the fears of biking around the city.  To create events like those must require a bit of pre-production, are you a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of photographer or do you plan ahead meticulously?

I’m a pretty meticulous planner. I always have the shot in my head before going on location. I typically know how I’m going to light it as well. I sometimes will also loosely draw the image so that I know the composition will work.
I definitely try and allow for some spontaneity while on location, but that typically has more to do with allowing the model freedom inside the controlled set and lighting.

I tried to learn from your techniques in this photo of my husband Brooks could you give me a critique? He wanted all of his freckles to show and we were trying to recreate something similar in detail and texture as this cover of Wired Magazine because it is so the opposite of airbrushed perfection.



Sure. By comparing the photos the number one issue keeping you from getting the look that I think you are going for is the lighting. I think you’ve done some interesting things in post, but without strategically placed, high contrast lighting, it will end up a little flat.

If you were starting over again, what flash/strobe would you start with?

I started with Alien Bees actually because they were the least expensive lights that were still getting positive reviews. I still use them.

If there is anything you would like to say other artists please do.

People often ask me about short-cuts. I don’t really know of any. I spend 4-12 hours on each image. Also, the best way to get better is to try and shoot or photoshop ever single day. I think work ethic is more important than just about anything else art related. If you want to make a living doing photography or art, it’s simple, just work longer and harder than your competition.

Understanding our physical world.

First it was Schrodinger starting with one proton, then Maxwell with his light equations, then Time Dilation from Lorentz Transformation – Timespace and then finally Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – our recognition of free will. CHOICE – choose a particle or a wave, but not both.

What of the universe will they uncover next?

A canvas of ice.

Dr. Peter Wasilewski, a NASA scientist, paints with frizion crystals. His images show that joy present in the natural world. The shapes arise from water crystals that form on earth and are unlike the many other forms of ice known of in the Milky Way and beyond.

Thin layers of water are frozen, manipulated, and viewed through polarized light.  Light has wave-like properties, one of which is vibration.  A polarizing filter is placed on a light table to polarize the light passing through. A petri dish with a thin layer of water in the process of freezing is placed over the filter. As the polarized light passes through the forming ice crystals, it is bent in two slightly different directions and forms two different rays of light. The color palette in the images is created by rotating a second polarizing filter placed over the ice to intercept and resolve these emerging light rays.


Thanks to Bioephemera for bringing these beautiful images to my attention.

Martian sunset.

Sunset over Gusev Crater, Mars.  This photo was taken by the Spirit Rover on May 19th, 2005 and posted on the NASA astronomy picture of the day website.

martian sunset

As long as we are on the subject of Mars, scientists using spectroscopy readings from telescopes in Hawaii have tracked changes in the composition of Mars’ atmospere over time and found releases of methane into the atmosphere. A very interesting read on Arstechnica, Mars Makes Methane: Sign of life or geology at work?

Journalist, photographer.

Sebastiao Salgado shows us what our world is made up of and many of the relationships and realities that we are a part of.  His work shows me the compassion it takes to realize that this amazing world where we live is a place where we often don’t know what it takes, what it means or what we must yet overcome to live here… simply because the world is such a big place and we are so small.

He must also feel the wonder and awe at a world that just is.



Sense of color II.

A super interesting note about the previous post on color and it’s psychological, subjective qualities.

When I was completing the color test a window was directly behind my monitor while I was sitting under florescent lighting looking at the screen.  Natural sunlight is at such a high intensity much higher than bulb lighting and our sense of color perceives that intensity as blue, the lower intensity light, indoor lighting isn’t as bright giving that light a more reddish hue.

I find it interesting that with blue light, higher intensity light, interfering with my perception from behind the monitor, made it harder to see the tiny nuances of difference in the color test at the blue range.  Doing the test again in a controlled lighting environment made the sense keen and I made a perfect score.

A side-note is that because electromagnetic waves are all around us, only a small range of these waves being visible light, there is much more affecting our perception than meets the eye.

EM radiation carries energy and momentum, which may be imparted when it interacts with matter.

Our world is so much more subtle than we are daily able to pay attention to, and it is always in flux.  Color theory is still not pure.  The problem arises because the absorption of light by material substances follows different rules from the perception of light by the eye. A major issue for designers of print is that the printing process requiring ink and a subtractive process gives material substance to a color while our eye perceives the direct wavelengths causing color perception.

Many historical “color theorists” have assumed that three “pure” primary colors can mix all possible colors, and that any failure of specific paints or inks to match this ideal performance is due to the impurity or imperfection of the colorants. In reality, only imaginary “primary colors” used in colorimetry can “mix” or quantify all visible (perceptually possible) colors; but to do this the colors are defined as lying outside the range of visible colors: they cannot be seen. Any three real “primary” colors of light, paint or ink can mix only a limited range of colors, called a gamut, which is always smaller (contains fewer colors) than the full range of colors humans can perceive.

So does an artist, the human element, give a work of art, design, or even a photograph that personal touch just by a different mood, a different lighting scenario….  a perception of color… a sense?  Of course, and the texture of our differences is stunningly beautiful.

View at the edge of the Bridgers.

A Bozeman resident, a rambler through the lands, a man with a camera always hanging halfway out of his back pocket, Ryan Wilson, recently sent me a couple of photos caught as the light began it’s disappearing act over the Gallatin Valley.  I think Ryan found the elements for his logo in the dumpster of some long forgotten town out west.

In the photo below the light finds it’s way over the hills and across the diagonal line of the photo. You can find Blackmore in the distance pointing out of the Hyalite range.

Big Sky Country is the name they decided to give Montana, here is a good example of why that is. Those mountains, the Tobacco Roots, are at least 60 miles away.

Pretty photos Ryan.

Communication at light speed.

What our relatively immediate form of communication actually takes.  New advancements in Compressing Light.

The speed of light is a constant used in physical calculations, measured at 299,792,458 meters per second.  The concept of the speed of light blows my mind.  People have learned to contain it and direct it to carry information.  We use it to express our ideas through pixels, we manipulate and store our ideas in light.  Really beautiful when one thinks about it.

“The speed of light can be assigned a definite numerical value because the fundamental SI unit of length, the metre, has been defined since October 21, 1983, as the distance light travels in a vacuum in 1/299,792,458 of a second; in other words, any increase in the measurement precision of the speed of light would reduce the uncertainty in practical realizations of the metre but would not alter the numerical value of c. The approximate value of 3×108 m/s is commonly used in rough estimates (the error is 0.07%).”

Misty Mountains

The forest was hushed and the trees and flowers were drenched with dew. An early morning photo of the Hyalite Reservoir caught the cool air and the stillness of the world just waking as the sun came over the ridge. To me it seems as though a chalice was tipped and is now left on its side as peaceful dreams were poured all of the night onto those sleeping in the world.

Waking Forest.

Filling Dreams.

House Rock, Gallatin Canyon


Setting up the scene: Memorial Day, Spring 2008, Gallatin River Canyon, House Rock. We casually decided to go to House Rock so we hiked over on the north side of the river, and wished that we would see kayakers, thinking we wouldn’t because the water looked so dangerous. Besides when we left town it was cold and windy, once we started getting close it was raining and frosting pretty far down into the canyon.

We saw some kayakers but we were pretty far from House Rock, I still tried to keep pace with them for awhile. The water was probably moving at a high cfs and they were rocketing through the rapids so I missed the money shot and sitting at the rock for awhile decided that those three were the only ones adventurous enough to brave this day. So we started hiking back toward the jeep. Only to spot the opportunity and decided to book it back to the site.

Big Water.

The shot I wished for pretty much.

And then he realizes he made it through the gauntlet, but there are big rapids up ahead.

More fellows out there.

It was fun running, trying not to miss the shot that the day offered. I wish I could put these shots in a magazine or the daily paper, but this blog may just have to do, hopefully some people get to see them. I do have high resolution shots.