Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Preserve - A Video Essay

I've always been drawn to the photo essay. W. Eugene Smith was a master of them. I think I first was aware of his work from the Life Magazine spread, The Country DoctorThe cool thing about doing a photo essay is that it gives you focus. You have a subject or an idea to build images around. So instead of being restricted to one general image that hopefully tells the tale, you can build the story from a variety off points of view. It's a lot like putting together a slide show. I love the discipline of creating a decent slide show, the ruthless editing, and thinking about a beginning, middle, and end.

As cameras are getting better at incorporating video as well as still capability, now we can start to explore the idea of a video essay. Here's my shot at it, taken with a recently acquired Sanyo Xacti HD 1010 refurb, and edited in Sony Vegas.

The Preserve from Anthony Mindling on Vimeo.

Thursday, October 7, 2010


Fall has been luring me to Plumas County, in the mountains of Northern California, for the past few years. Particularly to Indian Valley, and the settlements of Taylorsville and nearby Genesee. There is a little campground, and the air is crisp and clear after our sweltering California summer. And of course, there is the color. The trees are beautiful, of course, but the challenge for me has been the Indian Rhubarb along the banks of the Feather River. It sprouts from roots lodged between river cobbles in the spring to form huge, green leaves. In the fall they turn delicious colors ranging from yellow and orange through red. I've gotten some OK shots, but I have a vision of a group of plants at their fall peak contrasting with the cool colors of the flowing river. As much as I have slipped and slid around the slick cobbles and boulders, the reality of that vision has eluded me.

So be it. The frustration is soon soothed by the drive around peaceful Indian Valley. Besides the fall color both in the valley and flowing down the mountainsides, there are the 19th century ranch houses, barns, and various collections of weathering farm implements and vehicles that have been retired. It can take me most of a day to make the full circle.

The end of this month I will be heading up there again, hopefully to capture a good cover shot for the nice folks at the Plumas County Visitor's Bureau. You can check out their website for tips on timing and places to visit for good color. For other Northern California fall color opportunities, there is a good article in the San Francisco Chronicle, whose author was astute enough to use one of my photos.

And I think I might take some waders along this time and have another shot at realizing my Indian Rhubarb vision.

Here's a slide show of the Taylorsville and Indian Valley area.

Monday, October 4, 2010

A Nice Small Camera

My current camera for serious photography is a Nikon D300. But not all photography is serious. We want records of events with friends and family, photos to post in albums on photo sharing sites, Facebook, or whatever. Not every image is going to deserve a 16 by 20 print, matting, framing, and precious wall space. A capable small camera as a second option to a DSLR can mean you might create images that otherwise wouldn't have happened, because the big DSLR was at home, but the small camera was in your pocket.

Canon S95

Here is a review of what appears to be the current nearly perfect small camera. What made this piece stand out for me was the question/answer session that made good points as it covered all the arguments that arise when DSLR quality is compared to small camera convenience.