Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Making Silky Water Images

I'm asked how I get silky looking water. This treatment is done quite often and some might say it is overdone but I just love the effect. All it takes is a tripod and a means to make long exposures. I've got something for you to try. Before looking at the image below watch the video first.

Photo & Video Sharing by SmugMug

Click on the image above and take a look at the 30 second video of Hollow Rock Creek. Watch how the leaves move and rotate, how the bubbles move and rotate, the way the water falls and the reflections on the water how they dance around. The way we see this scene is quite different than how our camera sees when we have the camera expose the image for a long time.

Click on the image above and see how the camera sees the same scene after a 30 second exposure. Using a special filter I'm able to cut enough light from hitting the sensor so I can make this very long daytime exposure. Slowly the movements of the water and leaves and bubbles and reflections expose on the sensor. Nothing is sharp unless it has no movement, like the rocks, and what is moving smooths out into silky reflections, lines and movements. Makes for a neat image.

If you have a tripod and a camera that lets you make long exposures try this out yourself. You'll want an overcast day or late in the afternoon when the water you're shooting is in the shade. And play around with the length of the exposure. Often times just a few seconds will do the trick when a 10 second exposure would over do it.


Monday, October 11, 2010

Manido Gizhigans

Last Saturday I was fortunate to be able to go to the Spirit Tree for sunrise. This tree is growing out of a pile of rocks a few feet above the waters of Lake Superior. It has withstood centuries of abuse at the hands of this often times violent lake and continues to stand strong. It is an important and spiritual place to a culture of American Indians who traditionally honor and celebrate nature. When visiting the tree there are artifacts left behind by those that come to honor it. Such things as a rock placed on one of it's weathered roots, shiny coins, a tied up bag of tobacco or simply a small pile of tobacco. There is significance to these offerings some of which I've heard explained and others that remain a mystery.

It has been two years since I first visited Manido Gizhigans, Spirit Little Cedar Tree. I've been able to experience this place at all hours of the day and night, all seasons of the year and when the lake is acting out it's many moods. I've heard the ice sing like you can only imagine and the sound of the Loon call on a calm and silent night. Each time I visit I spend a quite moment at base of the tree placing a pinch of tobacco at it's base, placing my hand on it's trunk, gazing up to it's crown and receiving it's spiritual strength.

I've always felt a little awkward about the ritual I go thru at the tree. My culture and upbringing does not do such things nor do I understand the significance of such places by the Native Americans like I should. I've felt like I am in some way cheapening a spiritual act that's so much a part of a different culture. But on the other hand it is a culture I greatly respect even thru my ignorance and is a culture that I would like to be part of if only on the fringe.

When I first laid an offering of tobacco at the base of the tree two years ago it was a time of big change for me. I wasn't sure what I was supposed to think or say or do. What I realized was the Spirit Tree was something in which I found strength. It seemed to help me with the turmoil in my life at that time. It was and still is a place of spiritual energy left by thousands of people that have honored the tree before me, a fountain of spiritual strength. I'm still not sure how the Native Americans make their offerings but I do know how I do and the spiritual strength I receive.


The Spirit Tree is closed to non-Native Americans however there is a public viewing platform from which the tree can be seen. My close personal friend Travis is a member of the Grand Portage band of Ojibwe and always accompanies me to the tree. Others may know of the tree by it's more popular name, the Witch Tree. I personally detest this name. It's a name given to the tree by a non-native and conjures up an image that is totally opposite of the feelings I have of the tree. In my vocabulary it is the Spirit Tree.