“Best of 2017”

This year has gone by really quickly. So much so that I didn’t think I would actually have time to get together my usual end of the year post. These ten images are my personal favorites for the year, or my “Best of 2017”.

This is the 6th year that I have done a “Best of” at the end of the year,ย  and I would like to thank Jim Goldstein for graciously hosting theย Best Photos Project each year. You can check out mine and many many other photographers end of the year posts on his blog!

If you would like to see my “Best of” for 2016, you can find that here.

Also if you’d like to go back to 2015, you can check that outย here.

“Silo Sunset’
One of my favorite sunsets of this year!

After a very stormy spring day in SE. Michigan I was happily surprised by an amazing array of clouds as they moved quickly by during a sunset on a local farm!

 

“Peace of Autumn’s Song”
Beautiful reflections on an early autumn day!

You’ll see this lake featured twice here in this post. This image was on a cloudy and extremely still, fall day. The trees, especially the birches gave beautiful reflections in the water!

 

“Leaves in Gold and Bronze”
Fallen leaves in shades of gold.

After all of the leaves had fallen and nothing was left except the crunch of brown and gold underfoot I decided to make just a few images of these beauties!

 

“Effervescent Glow”
Lovely sparkling dewdrops on the grass in the early morning!

I had a lot of fun during a couple of fresh and dewy mornings this year photographing the sunlight as it danced off of the dewdrops in the grass. As a lot of you know, I love nature abstracts!

 

“In Love with Life”
Lovely tulips at the 2017 Tulip Festival in Holland, Michigan.

I was extremely happy to have had the opportunity to go to The Tulip Festival in Holland, MI. this past spring!

 

“The Stones”
Beautiful and very colorful stones from Lake Superior!

Every time I’m in Marquette, Michigan I always enjoy the beautiful assortment of rocks and stones in the area. These colorful stones on Presque Isle are some of my favorites!

 

“Presque Isle Sunset Glow 2”
A wonderful sunset from Presque Isle Park in Marquette, Michigan.

While at Presque Isle Park I almost always make time to stay for the sunset. It almost never dissapoints!

 

“Munising Falls Gold”
A golden start to autumn at Munising Falls in Munising, Michigan!

Munising Falls is beautiful no matter what time of year, but fall is always my favorite!

 

“When in Love”
This was an especially beautiful day along Lake Plumbago in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan!

Lake Plumbago is one of those places I pass by quite often while in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. I would have to say that for me it has almost always been foggy and or raining when I pass by. That of course has its own beauty, and I have plenty of photos from that type of weather, but this time there was a striking difference, and actually quite welcomed!

 

“Windermere Hotel Mackinac Island”
One of my favorite places to stay on Mackinac Island!

I have always loved the look of yellow houses with white picket fences, so naturally the first time I set eyes upon the Windermere Hotel on Mackinac Island, it became a must for me to stay there! It is filled with Victorian charm and has such a lovely presence on the Island.

It just happened that this year while on the Island I was graced with bright blue skies which made a wonderful contrast to the beautiful yellow color of the Windermere!

 

I hope you’ve enjoyed a tiny glimpse into the year of 2017 with me. I wish all of you a very Happy and prosperous New Year, both in your lives and in your photographic adventures! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

I’d like to end this post with one of my favorite quotes.

May your trails be crooked, winding, lonesome, dangerous, leading to the most amazing view. May your mountains rise into and above the clouds. ย ~ย Edward Abbey ~ ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

 

“Autumn in Abstract”

This past year was a big one for me as far as abstract images go. The combination of stunning colors and dazzling light gave me many opportunities for motion blur abstracts. I have done a favorite abstract images post in previous years, so I thought I’d put together some of my favorite autumn abstracts this time. You can take a look at them here. I have a short description below instead of writing a full post. I also put a couple of beautiful autumn quotes at the end of the post! ย Enjoy “Autumn in Abstract” !

 

"Pure Joy" A beautiful and colorful flow of autumn color in abstract!
“Pure Joy”
A beautiful and colorful flow of autumn color in abstract!

 

 

"Holiday Dancing" These colors can give the feel of the holiday season or autumn.
“Holiday Dancing”
These colors can give the feel of the holiday season or autumn.

 

 

"Movin to the Groovin" A gold and green magical light filled abstract!
“Movin to the Groovin”
A gold and green magical light filled abstract!

 

 

"Sweet Potato Mash" One of my favorites in fall of 2015. You'll also so see this in my 2015 Year in Review.
“Sweet Potato Mash”
One of my favorites in fall of 2015. You’ll also so see this in my 2015 Year in Review.

 

 

Here’s a beautiful quote that gives you the feeling and excitement of how autumn feels to me!

“October’s Party”

October gave a party;
The leaves by hundreds came,โ€”
The Ashes, Oaks, and Maples,
And leaves of every name.
The sunshine spread a carpet,
And every thing was grand;
Miss Weather led the dancing;
Professor Wind, the band….
The sight was like a rainbow
New-fallen from the sky….

~ George Cooper ~

I am struck by the simplicity of light in the atmosphere in the autumn, as if the earth absorbed none, and out of this profusion of dazzling light came the autumnal tints.
by ~ Henry David Thoreau ~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

“If This then That”

Maybe you’re wondering what I mean with the title “If This then That”. Well many times when I see an object, which in this case is the (This), my mind immediately goes to the idea of (then That). Which translates into making that object an abstract. As some of you might know, I really love free flowing form!

During the fall there were many times I’d see really colorful trees, but not the kind that would make a beautiful macro, or even a full tree photograph. These trees or leaves were not without a lot of flaws, they might have been diseased, or maybe it was really low light as it was almost dark.

Here below are two examples of ย simple trees with fall color, and also two examples of the abstract motion blur images that I made out of those trees.

If you enjoy abstract photographs, then I think you’ll enjoy these!

 

Here are the fall leaves, I honestly have no clue what kind of tree this is.

"Fall Leaves"
“Fall Leaves”

 

Then this is “Pirouette”, a free form, flowing abstract.

"Pirouette"
“Pirouette”

 

These are yellow leaves of some sort, and red berries.

"Yellow Leaves and Berries"
“Yellow Leaves and Berries”

 

Then this is the golden yellow abstract I made called “Swirling Autumn”

"Swirling Autumn"
“Swirling Autumn”

If for some reason you’ve never tried any abstract photography, motion blur, tree panning, or anything with a longer shutter speed. I urge you to give it a try.
The subject certainly doesn’t have to be leaves or trees. You can literally take just about anything and make into something very free-form, light spirited, and fun!

Get out there and have a great time! ๐Ÿ™‚

 

 

“Cosmic Marbles”

I have had the opportunity to do a little more experimenting with some oil and water abstract photography this past week, courtesy of the horrendously cold weather we’ve been having. LOL ๐Ÿ˜‰

I have also been doing a lot of macro flower work, but that is another post entirely.

I went in search of better glass for my oil and water work, but didn’t find it. I’m still searching for the perfect glass with no imperfections! I tried more than one type of setup for this work, but in the end these two images came from the same type of setup, but turned out very differently.

I wish I had photos of how I worked on these but alas, I don’t. What I can tell you is that it is much better to have 2 coffee tables or two stools to be able to put your glass dish on, and better yet, a perfect glass topped coffee table! ๐Ÿ™‚

In both of these images I took two 12 packs of Pepsi, stood them up straight, then I cut a long piece of wrapping paper with colorful print on it, and slid it between the boxes making sure to have lots extra in length.

Next, I took a glass dish and very carefully put the edges of the dish on the ends of the tops of the boxes. Making sure that is was straight, I then poured in a small amount of water, and added tiny drops of oil. I ended up moving the oil around a bit as the bubbles moved and changed positions.

I set up my tripod, a cropped sensor camera with a 100mm macro lens attached, and a remote shutter release plugged into the side.

I fixed a small bendable lamp posed on the floor for extra lighting. I tried doing it two ways. One with the wrapping paper on top of the light, the other with the light shining on the paper.

I got quite a few shots, some at f2.8, others at f3.2, and some higher. I also pulled the wrapping paper into different positions to utilize the many colors available.

Here are two of the examples. I personally like “Moon Drops and Peaches” better than “Cosmic Marbles”, but I thought I’d share both.

I plan to keep having fun and experimenting with these and other macro images, especially while waiting for spring to arrive. I encourage you to do it too. You don’t have to have the perfect setup.
Just work with what you have. Take your time and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

"Cosmic Marbles"
“Cosmic Marbles”
"Moon Drops and Peaches"
“Moon Drops and Peaches”

“Autumnal Warmth in Abstract”

“Rustling Color”

-Rustling Color-

“Lively Rustling”

-Lively Rustling-

Every autumn when colors glow anew I always try to take as many images of the gorgeous foliage as possible. In addition to regular landscape or nature photography, I enjoy making motion blur abstracts.

Both of these images are from the same vibrant tree. Leaves ranging in color from gold to orange, green to brown,and red to yellow!!

I love the feeling of dancing, rustling, and swirling that these images evoke.

It may be just a few days away from official winter, and we may already feel as if we’re in the deep freeze in many places, So I offer to you some autumnal warmth for your eyes and soul!!

Enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

“Solarization: A How To”

After doing several images recently, that were monochromatic in nature. I was asked by quite a few people just how I made the images. I thought I’d give a short explanation of what I did with this image.

This will give you a idea and an example of what you could achieve using this particular method in monochrome. This can be used in color also, but I was going for something very different in an abstract, and chose to go with monochrome.

In this first image of the lovely succulent, what I assume is a type of Aloe Vera. I initially imported in into Lightroom, made no adjustments at all, but sent it directly into Nik Color Efex Pro. There I gave it a standard tonal contrast, and boosted the highlights and saturation a bit. I then used the Solarization setting. I scrolled down to the first setting in monochrome in the row, (after already having experimented previously with other settings). I slid the slider for saturation from 50 back to 20, and then experimented with the time lapse slider setting until I was satisfied at 39. Doing this gave me what I wanted in general. I knew all it needed was just a bit more fine tuning.

I then sent it back into Lightroom and straight into Nik Silver Efex Pro on the standard setting. I then took the brightness and toned it down to -8, I changed the contrast by sliding the slider down to -4, and then boosted the structure just a bit up to +8. At that point I knew it was ready for some toning. I chose to go with number 4 Selenium. I like the Selenium a lot for certain images. It has a nice metallic shininess to it!

Finally after sending it back into Lightroom for the last time, I boosted the clarity up by +22, and the vibrance by +1, I also took the exposure down to -0.05. My image was then ready to export!

So, in the first image “Thorns of White”, you’ll see a pretty Aloe Vera plant of green, with red tips, and white spines or thorns growing all over it, almost like little teeth!

In the final version in which I had used solarization, the image is called “Thorns of Black”. As you can see it took on an almost metallic and shiny feel to it, with a smoother look in general. Also the thorns, or spines became black, which gives it a nice contrast!

I hope you enjoy these images. I certainly had a lot of fun working with them!!

Succulent- color version
Succulent- color version
Succulent using solarization and monochrome toning.
Succulent using solarization and monochrome toning.

“Octopus” mono

Well, when you look at this image you’ll probably guess that this is not an actual octopus. I decided to have a little fun and do a some experimenting in processing an Aloe Vera image.

Ideally I should show you the original and then this processed one, but I’m saving that for another time.

I was at our local conservatory a couple of weeks ago, and spent most of my time in the arid, desert climate section. One of the plants I took several shots of was an Aloe Vera.

I first took the image from Lightroom into Nik Color Efex Pro, where I added some toning and brilliance. Then I applied the solarization setting in a monochrome, and pushed the timelapse slider way past 50%. I’m not quite sure of the exact number right now.

I then sent it back into Lightroom bumped up the clarity a bit, and sent it into Nik Silver Efex Pro, where I did some fine tuning and added a selenium tone to it.

I really like the way it turned out. I know its not for everyone, but for something a bit different, and a pretty big take on an abstract in nature, I think it works well, and it does resemble an octopus!! ๐Ÿ™‚

I hope you enjoy the image!!

Abstract Photography
Abstract Photography

“Green Green Grass”

In keeping with the theme of my last post I wanted to bring another motion blur abstract. It’s a lovely yet simple green image. It appears to be an image of beautiful windblown grass, and that’s exactly how I see it. You may see something else.
It was made in the same way with as I discussed before. Slower shutter speed, and motion while keeping the shutter open.
I usually use nature as my subject as I did in this case. It just might not be what you think it is! That’s the beauty and strength of an abstract!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Flowing, light filled, green abstract!
Flowing, light filled, green abstract!

“Abstracts using Motion Blur”

I have always been a fan of abstract images. Especially bright and colorful ones. By using in camera settings, like changing your shutter speed. You can achieve many beautiful abstract results.
These days it seems more common for people to use Photoshop or other forms of software to do the work for them. I know you can achieve dramatic results, and really change things around by using software to do motion blur, but for me, I like to do it the old fashioned way!
I have found the best results so far are with subjects like autumn leaves, spring flowers, trees, and other nature oriented items. Maybe that’s because I love nature! ๐Ÿ˜‰
My preferred method is to experiment with different slow shutter speeds while moving my camera in the direction of my subject moving, like for trees panning from the bottom of the tree to the top, or sometimes in other directions to create different types of effects according to the subject.
During autumn, many times the winds are so strong here that any type of typical fall foliage image is impossible, for example when the winds are gusting from 30-40 mph. Instead I use the flow and movement that already presents itself to me, to my advantage, which can create some beautiful results.
Besides using slow shutter speed with motion. I also on a rare occasion like to zoom out while slowing the shutter speed just a tad. This seems to work really well with trees and flowers!
The image here is a simple and colorful one from last fall. I love the flowing feel to this one, but I also like to make images that have more of a feathery, brush stroke, or wavy twisting look to them.
Anyway you do it, it’s fun, and you really can’t go wrong. If you like it, then that’s what matters!
I’m sure a lot of you have done these, but if you haven’t, and are looking for something different to do, then I’d say let go, and have some fun. You never know what you’re missing! Try some motion blur abstracts!! ๐Ÿ™‚

Abstract Photography using motion blur!
Abstract Photography using motion blur!

“Dawn of Calm”

In the last post I gave us a bit of summer warmth and cheer. Something I think lots of us needed at the time! In this post I’ve brought you an abstract image of a sunrise from earlier this the fall on a cold morning off of Lake Huron.

The colors in this were just like an apricot with golden tones. Really beautiful in it’s own right. This didn’t start out as an abstract, but as I went to process it, it seemed to me that’s just where it fits.

You won’t find anything in this image except pure gorgeous color, a clear horizon, and a calming spirit. Relax and enjoy! ๐Ÿ™‚

Abstract Sunrise
Abstract Sunrise