Bohemian Waxwings in Black And White

Alaska, Black & White, Photography, Wildlife

Hundreds of Bohemian Waxwings flocked in frigid 20 below fahrenheit. I arrived unexpectedly on the scene and realized time was short.

I took five frames. Luckily I was at a very fast shutter speed, so four are nice and crisp. While all four images are fairly similar, they’re stronger as a set. Flowing patterns of birds in flight mixed with minimal tree reference and high contrast make complicated scenes and challenging composition.

In the day of digital photography it’s a great feeling to take only five photos and truly enjoy four. 

Click on any image to view in carousel.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Layers

Abstract, Iphone, Landscapes, Photography, Street, Travel, Weekly Photo Post

Above: The silhouette of a tree creates abstract patterns as colors cascade across Green Lake in Seattle, WA.

Using layers effectively can be a powerful way to captivate an audience. The effect of taking a three-dimensional scene and rendering it two-dimensional can be greatly minimized by offering multiple layers as focal plains to create depth.

An easy trick to think about is having something in the foreground, mid ground and background. Shoot through objects like fences, window frames or tree limbs to instantly add depth. Clouds, fog and mist all help individual layers stand out from each other, and adding a reflection can quickly increase depth.


The edge of a window, clouds and shoreline make for three very distinct layers.

Reflections and multiple rooms with varied lighting create a confusing set of layers.

Multiple rooms with varied lighting and window reflections create a confusing set of layers.

Foreground, mid ground and background to create layers, with complementary colors to boot!

End Road

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Street, Travel

The scene begged to be pictured. A sign proclaiming the road is about to end with the appearance of nearly-infinite wilderness ahead. Yellow sky blending perfectly with the yellow traffic advisory.

Perhaps I could have included a little more of the road’s imminent end, but the composition’s subtle symmetry would have suffered.

In the end it’s nothing more then a little cracked asphalt, a sign, and a large field cleared for moose habitat. With striking juxtapositions.

P.S. There’s a new drop down “Categories” bar on my blog page. Picking any genre will show all the posts I’ve put in that category.

More Paris Street Photography

Photography, Street, Travel

Above: Color and form first attracted me to the setting below the Eiffel Tower, then a fellow photographer in a too-see-through dress added some unique content.

The post title says it all – street photography from beautiful Paris. 

I really like how all the elements form an abstract nature: water jets slice through the frame, a young girl apparently in the path of large sliding figure, and the flat perspective give the viewer leeway in interpreting the image. 

Statues, sprinklers and fun in the sun.

Statues, sprinklers and fun in the sun. July 9, 2013. 

Cigarettes and coffee play an important role in French culture.

Intently writing and smoking in Paris.

Intently writing and smoking in a Paris cafe.

Sometimes a subject catches you taking the photograph. That happened when a lady standing in lovely light with great hair saw me snap my shutter. Perhaps my favorite element in the image is the suitcase-pulling pedestrian in distance. 

Getting the glare, July 8 2013, Paris.

Getting the glare, July 8 2013, Paris.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Mt. Rainier Horizions.

Landscapes, Photography, Travel, Weekly Photo Post

Above: A riverbed in late fall offers little more then a creek winding into Mt. Rainier.

The horizon, like the end of a rainbow, is unreachable. Constantly changing – expanding and contracting, becoming more open or more obscured. Horizons inspire adventures and dreams, spawn stunning sunsets and create wonders. 

Horizon is also the weekly photo challenge. 

Paradise, located 5,400 feet up Washington’s Mt. Rainer, can supply spectacular views. As well as keep them completely hidden. I got a taste of both possibilities hiking there August, 2012. 

Clouds lift, if only for a moment, to reveal a expansive view.

Clouds lift, if only for a moment, to reveal a expansive view.

This time clouds descended to create a more abstract horizon line.

This time clouds descended to create a more abstract horizon line.

Again clouds create the horizon, no panorama today.

Again clouds create the horizon, no panorama today. Panorama Point, elevation 6,800 feet. 

Complementary colors crossing the street

Photography, Street, Travel

Street photography is one of my least proficient genres. And judging by the amount of blurry pictures I took on my trip I  need to use a faster shutter speed or take more time. Likely the latter.

There is an old adage “f8 and wait,” referring to the f8 aperture which provides a fairly large depth-of-field (the amount of the imagine in focus.) This is a valuable tip, if you’re stationary. I think for me a fast shutter speed would be more valuable since I’m often moving with the subjects.

WIth all that said, this next shot literally passed me up, and I grabbed the only – almost sharp – shot I could.

Crossing a street in Paris a family of four, being led by the dad in a large hurry, hustled by. Without even bringing the camera to my eyes I shot a single, hip-level frame, which does a nice job emphasizing the children. Even without being sharp I absolutely love the complementary colors of  the kid’s clothing.

Color theory states warm colors – yellow, orange, red – will appear closer in the frame, even when in the background. So the pedestrian in the yellow shirt is a strong figure.

I like the shot, but 1/125th of a second was not fast enough.


Weekly Photo Challenge: Focus, on the Notre Dame Cathedral and roses.

architecture, Travel, Uncategorized, Weekly Photo Post

Focus – a powerful concept that applies to so much more then photography. Naturally, when thinking of focus I think equally of the opposite, unfocused. The difference is apparent as black and white. Sharp or fuzzy. Crisp or cloudy. Clear or muddy. Focus is a powerful tool to draw the eye and attract attention. Focus is necessary in all aspects of life – from reading and writing to work and sports.

In photography focus is fairly straightforward. Often my first question when editing a photo: What is in focus? Little is more disheartening then finding a lovely composed and well-timed shot, then realizing the subject matter is out-of-focus. Worse, nothing in focus.

The following two photos are Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris in the background and roses in the foreground. The different focal point and shallow depth-of-field provides a dramatic difference in the images feelings.

With the roses in focus the image feels soft, almost delicate.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral. July 8th, 2013.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral 1. July 8, 2013.

The following photo, with Notre Dame in focus (perhaps almost in focus,) feels more grandeur.

Roses and Notre Dame 2. July 8, 2013.

Roses and Notre Dame Cathedral 2. July 8, 2013.

These are two images from six weeks I just spent traveling throughout Europe. I will continue to post images of my travels, many with history about the subjects. So please stay tuned!

Bicycle Beat: Munching Moose and a May Day Sun Dog

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography, Street, Wildlife

“Bicycle Beat” is an idea I have wanted to start for some time. And until recently was hindered by winter. Bicycle Beat is my reporting from a bicycle. I have often felt bike riding is the ultimate way to capture great photos. Unlike driving, stopping and turning around is almost instantaneous, and it’s much easier to spot interesting subjects traveling 10 mph rather then 50. Consequently, also much faster then walking, greatly expanding the range of your photographic canvas. Also important is inconspicuous. You draw a lot more attention stopping a car then a bicycle.

I went for a very brief 3-mile bike ride last night and in the short time happened upon two photo-worthy subjects. It’s been a very testy spring in Fairbanks, with multiple inches of snow the last week of May. Greenhouses are opening despite unavailable exterior space. One of them is Plant Kingdom.

Mayday! A sundog is visible on May Day. A sundog is an atmospheric reaction when light deflects off ice crystals in the air, producing a halo effect. They are common to cold weather.

The snow and cold on May 1, producing a sundog, mixed with the open Plant Kingdom sign, is a significant juxtaposition.


A sundog is frames the Plant Kingdom sign on May 1, 2013. It has been one of the coldest springs on record in Interior Alaska.

I slung my camera around my neck and hopped on my bike, only to travel another half-mile before finding another photo.

While I may have stopped a car to take the sundog picture, I never would have seen this young moose right off the bike path. Maybe 15 yards away, it would have been a great opportunity to get a wide-angle shot of a moose. Having a zoom lens however, my first instinct was to zoom in as close as possible. Probably 2 or 3 years old, I did make sure no mother moose was visible before shooting.

A moose munches off Farmers Loop Rd.

A moose munches off Farmers Loop Rd.

Can I use that picture? No. Well… I’m going to. Street photography and copyright infringement.

Film, Photography, Portraits, Street, Travel

An issue every photographer struggles with, sharing their work with the world while protecting intellectual property, has a new high-profile case.

Humans of New York, the blog of street photographer Brandon Stanton, is a hugely popular blog featuring posed and candid images of the many unique citizens in America’s most populous city. According to The Guardian, clothing company DKNY offered Stanton $15,000 to use 300 of his photos. Feeling $50 per photo was inadequate compensation from a wealthy company Stanton requested more, which DKNY denied.

A fan of Stanton later brought to his attention that DKNY had in fact used many of his images in a window advertisement in Bangkok. Taking a very admirable path, Stanton asked DKNY donate $100,000 to his local YMCA, in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. In what was a simultaneous act-of-kindness and backhanded swipe, DKNY donated $25,000 in Stanton’s name.

So how do photographers, and artists as a whole, attempting to establish their name protect it at the same time? There’s no fool-proof way. Watermarks, finding websites that don’t allow downloading of images and small file sizes are all techniques.

Personally, I size my images small enough they wouldn’t make a decent print and hope people will at least ask if they want to use it. I have found out this isn’t an adequate approach.

The topic will only continue to brew confusion and controversy, as popular image-sharing software Instagram has recently been sued over inadequate protection of users photos.

Today I will share some of my street photography from Seattle.

© Robin Wood


I didn’t have much reaction time when I saw how the orange of the man’s shirt and child’s stroller complemented the orange accents on the posters.


Here I was simply interested in the smooth curvature of the drinking fountain and the bike-lane indicator in the street when a pedestrian came to quench his thirst. Again I had to quickly step back to get a more inclusive image before he continued on his way.

I dig his tall, white socks with black shoes.

New years eve: Alaska Satellite Facility tracking aperture and fireworks.

Alaska, Landscapes, Photography

A satellite-receiving dish is seen as fireworks celebrate the end of 2012 and the start of 2013 on the ski trails at University of Alaska Fairbanks. Known also as a tracking aperture, the 11-meter dish is part of the Alaska Satellite Facility (ASF) of the Geophysical Institute’s Satellite Tracking Ground Station (STGS). The 11-meter X- and S-Band system, along with a smaller 10-meter dish, are just one appendage of a world-wide Near Earth Network, run by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA). The high latitude of ASF’s ground station allows for 11 connections per day with polar-orbiting spacecraft, ASF then downlinks, processes and distributes data.

New Years Eve Sparktakular 2012

New Years Eve Sparktakular 2012

I tried to correct the color of the tracking aperture, which had a yellow caste due to artificial lighting, while maintaining true hues of the fireworks. To accomplish this I set my white balance on the dish, lightened the shadows and slightly saturated the image. What made the biggest difference was a slight curve, increasing the highlights and decreasing the shadows, of the red and green spectrums. The end result, I feel is very close to what would have been seen.

My ISO was 125 and tripod shooting was essential, and exposure times were 10 to 15 seconds.