Reflections: What Are We Doing?   4 comments


“And now, my friend, the first-a rule of Italian driving: What-sa behind me (breaks rear view mirror off and tosses it behind him), is not important.”

— Franco Bertollini (Raul Julia) in The Gumball Rally

There have been a slew of 2010 retrospectives on photo blog sites, and I found all of them to be wonderfully heartfelt, insightful, and revealing. Each gives a peek in to the feelings and motivations of a friend.

I had strongly considered not doing one of those write-ups, as I usually like to maintain focus on the current moment rather than revisiting the past or anticipating the future. As I took a quick walk through 2010 on my Flickr photostream, though, it did seem a good time to take stock of what happened in 2010, even if just for a moment.

There are several shots (okay, many) that I’d take down, but I’ll leave them as they are as a testament to experiments that didn’t quite work out. These are the ones I learn from the most, as they inform me of things not to do. Some images serve as a chronicle of where I’ve been this year, from a broken truck window, to a waterspout (tornado) nearby, to a run-down Texas shed that made me want to bathe in Purell.

Other images have ‘hit.’ At the very least, I was pleased with how they came out. Yet, a curious feeling wells up whenever I see them again, as they always represent a moment that has already passed, a moment which has nothing to do with Now other than the fact that I’m looking at them Now. Like I said, curious. I should blog about that someday. ;^)

I’ll need to reconcile that in 2011. I label myself a ‘photographer’, after all. These Now moments matter, because moments are what people remember. Although we’re all just swimming in the river of time, we each carry a history with us that becomes the story of Who We Are.  Or, were. Or, who we are yet to be. By taking photographs, I think we create a vision of who we are or want to be, chronicled on a daily basis in a very public environment. It has been my great pleasure to learn more about the people I admire through this process, to see who they are, where they’ve been, and how they transmit their vision of the world around us. It floors me, really.

My fondest photography memory of 2010 was when Susan said to me, “That looks cool. You should try this — what did you call it? — HDR thing.”

Without any further adieu to 2010, here are a few of my favorites from the past year. I hope you enjoy them, even if only for a moment. Tomorrow we’ll see where the river next takes us.

My thanks to all who come by to visit.


Flagstaff Lake Sunrise

Far and away, my most requested image. I’ll never gripe about waking up early again.

A gorgeous sunrise after a storm at Flagstaff Lake, Maine, from Cathedral Pines Campground

Purple Phase

Some are destined for greatness. Others are destined to be eaten.

An HDR macro of a baby purple baby bok choy

Rip Van Winkle Gardens

This was one of my favorites, although it seemed to pass without much fanfare. In my view, this is what HDR is all about: Capturing all of the dynamic range in a scene, without blowing out the white building or losing those beautiful tree trunks in the shadows. Could it have been better? Sure, but I think it demonstrates what HDR can do for a given image.

The Jefferson House at Rip Vank Winkle Gardens, New Iberia, Louisiana

Pull the Tail

Another thing that HDR can do is to really funk up an image. Sometimes, I just like to take a walk on the wild side of processing. I think this helps to take an extraordinary scene such as a massive cannon blast and impart that feeling to the viewer, adding emphasis to what a typical camera sensor might be able to capture.

Ashley Brown pulls the tail on a 10-pound Parrot cannon in a Civil War reenactment

They Never Call

HDR processing can call out details rather nicely, whether it’s the grit and grunge of an old scene, or the withered postcards from friends tacked to a wall. These techniques invite the viewer to stay a while, soaking in all the particulars, making the moment last just a bit longer.

An ancient telephone and old postcards at Peter Limmer and Sons Bootmakers in Intervale, New Hampshire

Endless Summer Pier

HDR processing can also create something that the eye didn’t see at the scene. When I showed this result to Susan, she said, “That was from yesterday? I didn’t see that.”

An HDR image of the Bogue Inlet Fishing Pier as clouds clear, Emerald Isle, North Carolina

Reflections: Creativity and Certainty

Lest one think that all I do is HDR processing, let it be said that I enjoy many different techniques. This was one of my favorite exercises in “let’s see how far I can take this.” Perhaps I also pushed the limits of what people want to acknowledge about their own motivations in the associated blog post, although I do know that some were able to grok it.

A high-key image of water birds at a National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware

Enough reflecting. Let’s bring on the New Year! Best wishes for a happy and prosperous 2011.


Posted December 31, 2010 by Rob Hanson Photography in HDR, philosophy

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4 responses to “Reflections: What Are We Doing?

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  1. Rob, what an utterly profound blog entry. I was completely moved by it. Your work is absolutely some of the best out there and I find it utterly inspiring. Thanks so much for all you’ve done this year, for all you’ve given to the community, and all you’ve done for me personally. Happy New Year, my friend.

  2. Well done Rob! These images are great and show off HDR proper! Happy New Year my friend and looking forward to more collaborations in 2011!

  3. Rob,
    Excellent post and wonderful 2010 images….
    Reflection is a necessary step in our photographic journeys as it allows us the opportunity to identify and refine those elements that work in an image. If we continue to pursue this journey and call ourselves ‘photographers’ it is our imperative that we improve upon this craft by challenging ourselves to create frames of inspiration and capturing those heartfelt moments of passion and emotion. What better way to improve our visual language than to reflect on our progress thus far?
    You are well on your journey my friend.

  4. It was great year and hope 2011 is even better for you.

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