Golden Hour

“Photos graphe,” or light drawing, can sometimes say more about the photographer than it does about the scene being captured.

Have you ever looked at a photograph online, one that depicts a stunning landscape with emerald colored canopies or oceans of vivid blue? Have you ever seen a portrait where the subject’s eyes are illuminated with a sparkle? I have, and I think we are all conditioned to think to ourselves, “wow that person got lucky,” or “I wish I had the camera that person had.” This is foolishness. More often than not, a stunning photograph is indicative of an artist’s hard work, dedication, and commitment to her/his craft.

Boston sunrise

There is a time of day when the light stretches across the earth, gilding everything it touches in a golden glow. Photographing during this time can create truly breathtaking images, but it can be hard to predict. There are some who plan out weather patterns and try to anticipate the golden hour, while others simply stumble across it. I would like to say that I tend to be the former, but in reality, usually I’m the latter. This image was taken during the most intense golden light I’ve ever been fortunate enough to experience. I took it from a top floor of a Boston skyscraper. The cars, the water, the buildings, everything seems to be dipped in molten gold!

I look at this image and it reminds me to make an effort when it comes to taking photographs. The best photographers rise early, stay up late and are planners. They don’t stumble upon golden hour, they seek it out! I hope to be more intentional with my landscape photography. 

So, how about you? Does interesting light find you, or are you out there finding it yourself?

The Versatile Fujifilm X-Pro2

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You could say I got spoiled a few years ago when I traveled to South Africa.  We touched down in Paris for a few days to break up the long flight there and because I had never been, though Laura had traveled to the City of Lights back in her college years.  At the time, I was shooting only a Fujifilm X100S and surely that wouldn’t do for the lions and cheetahs of our safari adventure.  So, I rented a Nikon D7100 and a long lens for that portion.  A few shots from that trip can be found here.  In the end, the X100 series body was perfect for Paris (and some broader vista shots in Africa) and the Nikon body was incredible for the safari.  This awesomeness subsequently became known as my “Paris-Africa Solution” and every camera kit I’ve tried since has been judged against it.

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Timing and Patience


Are you the type of photographer who walks up, assesses a scene, and snaps a few photographs before lowering your camera from your eye and moving on? Perhaps all of us do that at one time or another, but I urge you to experiment with patience, and try to wait for a scene to develop before you press the shutter button. Continue reading

Staring Into the Sun, Unmoving

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With a Lightroom library overstuffed with hard drive clogging images, I’ve taken to some housecleaning of late.  It’s not an easy task as any venture onto my photographic memory lane tends to weigh me down in nostalgia and reminiscence.  I’ve enjoyed these side trips immensely but they don’t help with the task at hand, a task of unclogging.

It’s a useful exercise as I am simultaneously reminded of my progress as well as lack of it.  I rediscover the various phases of pursuit including high contrast monotone, long exposure, high key, and high dynamic range (oh, all those bracketed shots).  I recall the rendering characteristics of the different cameras I’ve owned, for example the cooler leanings of the Nikons, the warmer toning of the Olympus’, and so forth.  I think about the macro lens experiments (flowers, flowers and then more flowers), the long telephoto zoom (how many interesting shots of pigeons does the world actually need?) and the fine art portrait lens (our Lhasa Apso, Shadow, was an unwilling but capable subject).  I think about the many phases of my photography.

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How Are We Suppose to Become Invisible?

kiss_110214_1Street photography is hard – plain and simple; taking stealthy pictures of people in a public place is a challenge even for the most skilled photographers on the planet. How are we suppose to become invisible and capture precious moments without being noticed?

I have found that trying to capture an intimate moment with a clunky dslr is near impossible. The closest I have ever come to complete photographic anonymity was in Rome. The streets were packed and the city thrummed with a constant energy. Nobody looked at me, and nobody noticed my small mirrorless camera.

I love this photograph because every time I look at it, I am reminded of how serendipitously I stumbled upon this couple kissing. There are literally hundreds of people featured in this image, yet the light from the setting sun perfectly illuminates the couple. They are oblivious to the word around them, and so I was able to bring my camera up to my eye and snap a quick shot. I am not a street photographer, but whenever I have the chance to dabble in the discipline, I am often times rewarded with a beautiful moment like this one.

I have to remember to dabble more often,

The Courage to be Christian

The Woman taken in Adultery, c.1621 (oil on canvas)

Christ with the Woman Taken in Adultery, by Guercino, 1621

Are you courageous?  Do you consider yourself to be brave?  Would someone who knows you say about you: “I would go into battle with this person”…?

Have you seen the classic war movie with the scene where an officer gives a fiery speech and inspires his soldiers just before they have to go off into some great battle?  Perhaps some of you have not seen the movie, but rather have actually lived it.  If so, thank you.

Or have you seen any of the Patriot’s Super Bowl Championship films which recount their ascent to the top?  There are always scenes of Coach Belichick inspiring the players, saying things like: “Do your job!”  Anyone who has watched Super Bowl 51 and that crazy, historic comeback win knows that those players would, and did, go into battle together.

I read today’s Gospel (Matthew 10: 26-33) as a fiery inspirational speech, one where Jesus calls upon his disciples to get ready to go into battle together.  To do their jobs.  And to know that despite whatever was to come in the future, which he knew was going to be very, very difficult for them… they were to have courage.

I’m sure you get the fact that if Jesus was delivering a message to his disciples back then, that he was also delivering it to us today as well.  So that’s why I ask… are you courageous?  Do you have the courage… to be a Christian?  Remember that we are called upon to pick up a cross and to follow.  This was not supposed to be a cake walk.  So, are you ready to go into battle?

Going into battle.

This is what that means to me…

Consider the crowd standing in a circle and pointing at sin in the form of a woman caught in the act of adultery.  Then consider that same crowd after Jesus ministered to them, touched their lives.  Of course, he instructed that whomever among them was without sin themselves could throw the first stone.  You know the rest of the story.  There was the crowd before and the crowd after.  A crowd transformed by Christ.

Are we willing to be similarly transformed by Jesus?

Into those who forgive.  Those who ask for forgiveness and admit that we are sinners ourselves.

Are we willing to embrace those who disgust us?

Are we willing to step outside of our comfort zones and to admit that we do love Jesus and that we would like very much for him to become the center of our lives?

Are we willing to prioritize our faith and to live lives that showcase this fact, even among those who think we’re strange… or worse… for doing so?

Are we willing to show restraint and not give in to our every desire?

Are we willing to see the good in others, even when we are the ones standing in a circle and pointing our fingers at them?

This is what it means to be touched by Jesus, to be transformed by him.  This is what it means to say… yes, I will go into battle for him.  And I will not be afraid.


linger_040915_1Linger, linger on my love
Clad in armor of white.
Linger a moment longer love,
Stay with me through my fight.

Dearest, you never think that it will have an end,
But Eros makes his prey blind to times flights,
And here we are, your tomb, my closest friend.

Would that you were in my bed every night,
And every morn be first to wed my sight?
But eyes gaze and arms reach to spite, my dread.

Ahead of me a flock of doves alight.
The grey clouds abate. Blue skies take their stead.

I know you’d want me to show strength ahead.
If you were here you’d want to see my smile.
Maybe someday my smile will daily spread.
I’ll try, I vow, for you, I’ll try, meanwhile.

My eyes close. I lift my head. I linger.
A warm breeze. A faint smile. We linger.

Linger one moment longer, love,
Draped in your gown of white.
Now linger on no more, my love,
I’ve made it to the light.

You can read more from TH Ponders here