Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Crazy Hollow

There's this vine engulfed tree that for months and even years has captured my imagination. It sits not far from my house and I drive by it periodically. I've asked those that life near it about it but they know very little. All I know is that this tree sits on an empty, sand filled lot and is clothed in a strange vine.

No one is sure the type of tree it is nor of the vine. All anyone knows is that the tree still stands and the vine no matter how many times it's cut back just keeps on growing. No matter, I'm only interested in the visual essence of this tree.

Being that the tree sits in a non-descriptive lot surrounded by homes, power lines, sand and other nearby trees it isn't a subject that is easily isolated and photographed. However, I was looking for more than a tree snapshot and for the longest time I couldn't figure out what.

Eventually I figured it was time to shoot before someone bought the lot and unearthed this piece of nature's sculpture. At my wits end I called upon a friend who had shot with me once before and asked if she would pose by a tree. She agreed and a day later began shooting.

Technically I decided to underexpose the background and use one light source with a large beauty dish. A Zork lens was used in several of the images to create spacial distortion. The vine had always given me the creeps and once I began shooting I focused on creating both a mysterious and frightening feel to the images.

It was a real challenge and for that very reason that I wanted to photograph something out of my comfort zone and to simply push me into creating, good or bad. The purpose was not to create an award winning set of images but to simply challenge myself and to that end I did; still though that crazy tree has not loosened its grip on my imagination.

Postscript: Two months later I drove by the lot and the tree was gone!

A summer (winter) vacation in NZ

What better way to spend the month of July than getting away from the heat, humidity and mosquitoes of South Florida and spending it way 'Down Under' or close enough. My son and I packed winter clothes for our summer vacation, flew countless hours and thankfully landed in the land of Lord of the Rings and lamb chop, New Zealand!

It was a vacation that falls under the category of "best"! Renting a camper van equipped with all the essential necessities we traversed both the North and South Islands and managed to stay on the 'right' side of the road for the most part. We hiked, went Zorbing (rolling down a hill inside a giant golf ball), traversed river gorges in zip lines, ate vegemite (well, I did), surfed in freezing water, went bird watching and searching for yellow-eye penguins, snowboarded some incredible mountains and of course we bungy jumped WITH our eyes open! Had we more time who knows, we might have parachuted to the top of some remote glacier or explored some other adrenalin-inducing invention the Kiwis are so well known for.

I could continue and tell you that the scenery is beyond beautiful, the people are accommodating, the wine is cheap and quite good, that street littering is almost impossible to find, that it rains a lot in the winter and that you'll see at least one sheep if not a thousand every day you are there, guaranteed, but why spoil your opportunity at discovery! I came back with some images but trust me, I left a lot more than I brought back. Reason enough to go back. Cheers!

[Technical stuff: Traveled with a Nikon D3 and D300; no zoom lenses for the D3, only prime lenses ranging from 14mm to 180mm; took one zoom for the D300 the DX 12-24mm; all CF cards were dumped into an Epson P-4000 viewer/storage drive and a Wolverine 160 GB storage drive; other accessories included a light weight Gitzo Mountaineer tripod, an SPL splash housing and a Lowepro Dryzone backpack.]