Tarmac ribbons criss-crossing the landscape, dusty back roads twisting between the cool shadows of ancient pines, and less traveled pathways connecting present to past, all I wander, seeking, seeing, with my keyboard and camera capturing scenes and stories to share with you.

Now in its seventh year, this venue has become an important part of my life, a place where I can express my thoughts and feelings about the things I see and do, hoping the process brings me a bit closer to friends and family who enjoy sharing my sometimes chaotic and often nonlinear observations and ideas. A journal, I suppose, but one with which I find pleasure in thinking others are alongside me on my journey.

Comments, thoughts, or just a friendly chat, use the response box below or email me at patrickgroleau@gmail.com.

February 26, 2012


... this is one of my first experiments in high-dynamic-range multiple-image photography ... with the brightness of the parking lot lamps and the darkness of the shadows and the distant trees, it was impossible for my camera's image sensor to capture the extreme variance between the high and low light levels in this scene ... this is known as "dynamic range" ... imagine a foggy, muted landscape, with no shadows, everything grayish ... that's "low dynamic range" ... imagine a brightly lit snowscape, with glaring reflections and extremely dark shadows, that's a "high dynamic range" ... our eyes deal with the latter by constantly darting around, from dark to light and back to dark again, adjusting constantly so that we can perceive everything ... in a sense, we take "multiple images" of the scene, but we do it so fast, and our brains integrate the images so seamlessly, that we're unaware of the process ... for high dynamic range scenes, what our vision handles with relative ease neither film nor digital sensor can do with a single glance ... so, the trick with hdr photography is to take several pictures, each exposed for a specific light value ... here, i took five images in rapid succession ... in the first the picture was almost totally black, but the lamps were correctly exposed ... in the last the picture was almost all white, but the details showed clearly in the dark areas ... i then used a special program, photomatix pro, to combine them and make all sorts of adjustments so that the final image was as i desired ... HDR, including its extreme manifestations, can evoke seriously negative emotional responses from some photographers ... i used to hear the same diatribes concerning "black & white vs. color," "large-format film vs. 35mm," "kodachrome vs. fujichrome," and, of of late, "film vs. digital" ... all foolishness, as far as i see it ... seeing the world, trying to share your vision, that's all that counts ...

NIKON D200-SIGMA 10-20MM@14MM-F8-2 SEC TO 1/8TH--ISO 800

... p.s. ... so you'll understand that my "foolishness" comment is factually based, examine this image:

"The idea of using several exposures to fix a too-extreme range of luminance was pioneered as early as the 1850s by Gustave Le Gray to render seascapes showing both the sky and the sea.  Such rendering was impossible at the time using standard techniques, the luminosity range [ed. note: "dynamic range"] being too extreme.  Le Gray used one negative for the sky, and another one with a longer exposure for the sea, and combined the two in a single picture in positive."  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High_dynamic_range_imaging

"Most photographers found it impossible to achieve proper exposure for both landscape and sky in a single picture.  this usually meant sacrificing the sky, which was then over-exposed.  Le Gray's innovation was to print some of the seascapes from two separate negatives - one exposed for the sea, the  other for the sky - on a single sheet of paper."  http://www.vam.ac.uk/content/articles/s/gustave-le-grey-exhibition/


... from the beginning, with clear thoughts as to the future towards which they were growing, i tried to raise them as a pair ... while always respecting their unique individualities, i often reward them as a team, punished them as a team, and encouraged them to function as a team ... yes, i probably broke more'n a few of those "how to" rules, and, no, i don't care ... i would say to them, "whatever else, you're always going to have one another" ... here, the grand canyon's south rim only a few hundred feet in front of them, as they walk away to explore their world my little girls are beginning the process of breaking my heart ... i knew that was to happen, of course, as i understood it must, but when i snapped this image i was still blissfully unaware as to how painful the process would be to me ... now, however, i'm pleased to say, this is how i picture my most wonderful little girls ...



... winter of 1958, our first in alaska ... mike had just attained tenderfoot rank, by the time he left scouting he would have earned pretty much all the merit badges, ribbons, and ranks ... coming from florida and knowing nothing about snow, i had learned quite painfully that going outside in the cold with my feet clad only in my red rubber boots, sans socks, was not exactly the smartest thing to do, to the point that i froze all my toes so solid that ma had to thaw 'em out in a pail of warm water ... to this day i have to make sure my feet are warmed up before i go out in the cold ... alvin the wonder dog had just joined us, not as a "pet" but as the fourth sibling in our merry little band ... seeing him here in mike's arms, it's hard to believe there would come the time he would put his life at risk to save me from a ravenous grizzly bear, or that i would remain forever sad at his leaving ...



... this picture serves well as example for the adage, "it's not the lens, it's the eye behind the lens" ... it was taken with a single-use disposable 35mm panoramic camera ... the negative is long lost, so i had to do a scan from a 4x10 print, otherwise this would be a much sharper image ... put a single focal length lens on your camera, or, since those're become rather rare, tape your lens' zoom barrel so that it is fixed at its widest angle-of-view ... sitting in your living room or study, look through your camera's viewfinder, then, without changing the direction of your gaze, lower the camera ... try to "see" the frame of the lens ... repeat the process, over and over, until without the camera at your eye you can visualize this framing ... now, go picture taking ... remember, you can't learn this with a zoom lens ... once you've mastered the widest angle of your zoom, try the same thing with a mid-range setting, then with the lens set at its "longest" (most magnification) ... remember, becoming proficient at "pre-visualization" is an essential element in the process of mastering photography ...