High Correlation between Photography & Music – Epic Productions

Correlation between Photography & Music — Epic Productions

Being that there is a high correlation between photography and music, when Lens Lugger Jerry Stone sent in the  Chinese Fireworks, my thoughts jumped to this Elk Finest Moment piece from Apple’s iMovie program on the MacBook Pro a few years ago.

Here’s the note from Jerry Stone that caught my attention… entitled Chinese Fireworks http://www.youtube.com/embed/_LpMB1OZ53g?feature=player_detailpage%22%20frameborder=%220%22%20allowfullscreen%3E%3C/iframe%3E&autoplay=1

My interest more piqued, I googled “epic music” and reached these comments from fellow blogger … https://eyesometric.wordpress.com/2011/11/21/epic-music-what-makes-it-epic/.

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Photographer accidentally photographs Bear in Cataloochee Valley

Bill Thomas would say, “If you want to photograph nature, take a walk in the woods and sit down and and wait. It will come to you. On this mid morning after the elk, I did just that. I began filming various elements of nature and engrossed. After about 45 minuets I left. It wasn’t until I was back in the studio reviewing the film that I noticed something moving at the top of the frame. Holy Cow, there’s a bear, just breaking into the stream. Then it was gone! Man, Bill was right.

When mentioning the experience, someone suggested about being careful. Thomas also said, in his book, “Talking with Animals.” Animals attack Fear. They pick up on the scent of fear we give off. Nothing to fear, no attack. It was an interesting morning.

Here’s the Video. Find the Bear near the top of the frame…

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Building in Emotion, Moods, or feeling into our photography

Lady With Flowers, Perguia, Italy, Published in Brochure & other places. Bob Grytten Image

Lady With Flowers, Perugia, Italy, Published in Brochure & other places. Bob Grytten Image

Memorable images begin with first understanding Graphic tugs at the heart.

In this image, Lady with Flowers, a number of things are going on. For openers, the simple rule of thirds is expanded to include two quadrants – the face and the flowers. Design elements on the marble wall also help direct the eye toward an area in the image.

And, of course, what I think is the most compelling factor, the lady’s sweet smile and direct look, her eyes.

The shoot went  like this. We were in Perugia, Italy and from across the square I saw this figure. I took a grab shot, then went over to her and asked in Italian, if I could take her picture. She said, “Yes.” I raised the camera and fired.

Obviously, in the moment it took to shoot this image, I wasn’t thinking about all the graphic factors mentioned above. Either they were already inside my mind’s eye or it was just coincidence how everything came together. Essentially, the picture looked right, so I released the shutter. That’s the bottom line.

So, the process goes like this. We read as much as we can about the composition/graphics, take as many classes as we can on the subject, then practice. Practice is the key, if one wants to get to the place where Mood, Emotion, etc plays a factor.

But, we practice the things that work, as best we can, then go from there. It helps if a person is motivated, has a purpose. Then we stay at it.

The key is internalizing the stuff. “Practiced Intuition” it was described. Once it becomes part of us, the fine points can take hold.

Mushroom Orig

Mushroom Original

Yesterday in Cataloochee Valley, after the elk had gone in we took a stroll. We had nothing in particular in mind to shoot, as is often the case. It was about 7:30 AM and the light was yet to come into the forest floor. This image is what the scene was like; however, it felt much more quiet, serene.

Mushroom cleaned up

Mushroom cleaned up

The images I settled on more closely reflected the sense of place I felt.

One of the aspects of an image with emotion, mood or feeling is that it seldom requires any caption.

The amount of under exposure helps reduce the distracting leaves to and accentuates the shadows. Made with a long lens. If the lens does not allow close focus on it’s own, either an extension tube or close up diopter may help. Settings were Aperture Priority, f/8, 1/320 sec, -2.0 EV

Mushroom side of treeThis next image seemed to almost speak. “Here I am, by myself. Look at me hanging on…”

The image stands out as it is back lit and the background defused and the fungi higher in the frame. It provides a sense of place. Made with a long lens to isolate the subject, moved close for the background to fall away.

Another possible image appeared on our way walking back …

Snail - aloneA subtle shaft of ambient light was showcasing this little guy. One can almost feel his aloneness. Made with a long lens although any lens could also work, as long as focus is maintained and subject is placed in a quadrant that is off center.

Rosebay Rhododendron f:6.3, 1/125 sec

Rosebay Rhododendron f:6.3, 1/125 sec

This Rosebay Rhododendron was photographed at Aperture Priority with EV set at -1.0. With Aperture priority  the camera selects the shutter speed to produce proper exposure. Then I used the EV setting to under expose a bit to help the mood I wish to project. On some digital cameras under exposing can create objectionable noise. With my mirrorless camera that is not as much of an issue.

Forest light

Forest light

When it comes to landscapes, creating a slight light down the road helps to draw they eye and creates a place one might want to be. Using a vertical lens and tipping the top of the lens forward allows foreground detail to invite the viewer into the scene. The slight edge of the ferns on the right side softens the image a bit suggesting where we are. “S” curves are another soothing element we can incorporate to help the feel of the image.

For the viewer this composition could be anywhere. The key with our photography is to design it to emit a feeling, mood or emotion in the viewer. If someone says or feels that they want to be there, we’ve succeeded.

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Night at The River Arts District, Asheville

Last night we headed east 20 miles in anticipation of finding some interesting items to shoot. I guess I’m just very serendipitous, and the Sony needed some exercise.

Tossing Pizza at Fresh Brick Fired

Tossing Pizza at Fresh Brick Fired

This part of the River Art District was new to us and we were hungry, so spotting a brick oven fired pizza place we parked the car. Yummy! And the guys did some dough tricks for us, uh the Sony…

A couple of IPA’s and happily the pizza arrived –

Carol with pizza

But, a special treat awaited us…

Just outside on the deck along the row of artist shops, we met a Ukranian artist painting eggs. Here’s her story…

All images with Sony a6000 mirrorless Camera and 16-50mm lens…

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Update Blooms & such along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Roving Reporter…

Turks Cap Lily - close

Turks Cap Lily by Bob Grytten

Flash!! Turks Cap Lily to be huge Bloom this year!

Don McGowan, naturalist and nature photographer, on a recent scouting trip with Bob Grytten on Blue Ridge Parkway reports that from what he sees, there will be a HUGE Bloom this year.

“And, the mountain mint is now in full bloom!”

“Another thing,” says McGowan, the Rosebay Rhododendron are in full bloom, now!

Our trip takes us up Rt 276 from Brevard.  We stopped at the Fish Hatchery to exercise our equipment where a crowd of tourists almost pushed the fishermen out of Davidson River. One guy there complained “There were so many people I only caught two trout.”

Looking Glass Falls early, early morning. Bob Grytten image

Looking Glass Falls early, early morning. Bob Grytten image

On we went, our destination Looking Glass Falls. But, just as we had expected, it too was loaded with people. Next time we’ll be there early, early morning.

Life offers three choices; Swim against the tide till exhaustion, tread water and be swept away or go with the tide, nature’s way of taking us where were meant to go…

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Photography Methods are Many, but Principles are few…

Lens Luggers do it in the morning… Cataloochee Valley by bob Grytten

Lens Luggers do it in the morning… Cataloochee Valley by bob Grytten

As I sit here waiting for a video to upload, my mind drifts to some words that came my way over the years that help describe the process of gaining understanding about things.

That may sound like a broad statement, but if broken down to our subject, Photography, perhaps it will become a bit clearer.

C. Charles Chatham uses to say “Methods are many. Principles are few, Methods often change, Principles seldom do.”

How does that apply to photography?

Well for one thing, the principles are there and once we understand them, we strengthen our base of understanding of our craft.  We learn that we can use certain methods to make happen what we wish or maybe we can’t change it.

Magnification: “As we gain magnification, Depth-of-Field decreases.”

Say we want to enlarge a flower, to see the detail better. How do we do that?

Blood Root Bob Grytten image

Blood Root Blossom

One Method: Get closer to the flower. What happens? The background decreases in detail, diminishing depth-of-field. That is, of course if we keep everything else constant.

Another Method: Increase the distance from the lens to the cameras sensor. By adding a 50mm extension tube between the camera and a 300mm lens, we gain about 40% more magnification. What happens to our depth of field. Well for one thing, the background goes very soft and we may even lose some foreground detail.

An Exercise…

Lie on your belly, with the camera close to the ground, and focus in and out the blades of grass, water droplets, and maybe even an insect. The show is incredible. When to release the shutter? Whenever you like. That is what makes each of our results different.

The Learning Triangle

So, on the bottom of the Tripod: How we Learn are a lot of Principles & Methods which we need first.

First we intellectualize the material.

Next we internalize the material.

Then we use the material, applying different methods for principles to achieve what we wish.

“All life is a process of evolution,” writes Joel S. Goldsmith in The Contemplative Life.

“If we study History, we find that we have been slowly evolving from a state of consciousness of the cave man, from the ‘eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’ age, from the horrors of the nineteenth and early twentieth-centuries capitalism, to the broader outlook of the present day. …things are first consciously realized and begin to operate in our experience in a similar evolutionary way.”

The more we use them, the more they become part of our automatic track to run on, and there lies the basis to creativity.  The more we grow, the more interesting the process becomes.

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Bee in Pickerel Weed, Haywood County, Bob Grytten Photo

Bee in Pickerel Weed, Haywood County, Bob Grytten Photo

Grabbing my camera for an anticipated photo reminds me of all the opportunities we have to previsualize the image. Whaaatt?

Simply, it goes like this… As we pile up experience with the camera, both still and video, we are building a foundation which we can draw upon to help make the next image more effective. Once we get past the stage of staggering around with camera, wondering what to do, how to operate the camera, or what to photograph, we begin to be more purposeful in our shooting.

So, there becomes added reason to shoot as often as possible. The click of the shutter today, means a history to draw upon tomorrow. That can even become more important than the actual image we take today. It is our base of learning, that is soley dependent upon us. It has less to do with taking a class, although learning from others will certainly short cut out way to success.

But after that class or workshop, practicing new techniques or revisiting old ones with new eyes can be the most effective route to growth.

One of the first times I recall hearing about Previsualization, came from Dr. John Murray  who had just returned from a trip to the Teatons. He shared the image with me – a moose in monochrome, sidelit and partially shilouetted. Instantly, I sensed their place. Highlighted were what seemed like hundreds of flies around the massive antler rack and big nose of the creature. When asking about it, he simply said he “previsualized” it, like he had learned in a workshop. Seening in his minds eye the situation if it came up, he set his camera, and when they encountered the moose, he just clicked away.

All of our situation may not be as textbook as the moose shot; but, I recall a formula I first read about in Rohn Engh’s book, Sell And Resell Your Photos. And while Rohn is no longer with us, today, his works and concepts live on. P = B+P+S+I is the formula for effective Photo Illustrations which editors like to see, he writes. This winning formula had become a standard in making images that tell the story with out having to use a caption. “P” (Marketable Pictures) equals “B” (Clean Background) + “P” (People – although in nature I sue insects, animals, butterflies, etc.) + “S” (Symbol) + “I” (Involvement). It’s classic set up or “previsualization.”

When coming upon a Great White Heron ritual, my mind automatically knew what I had to do. Clean Background meant using a Telephoto Lens to isolate the subject from it’s background. Including water and shore line instantly told the viewer that it was at the waters edge. Two birds Leaping in the air, beak to beak, strongly suggested some kind of involvement (although to this day, no one has been sure what kind of involvement).

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Pizza and Beer at Frog Level Brewery, but don’t forget your camera…

Leaves in soft Light

Leaves in soft Light by Bob Grytten

Yesterday, about dinner time, Carol & I headed over to Frog Level Brewery. We grabbed a pizza and salad on the way and enjoyed the nice backyard deck & patio along Richland Creek. The light begins to change around 6PM, and I watched the light on a particular bunch of leaves go from high contrast to soft and pleasant. I finally couldn’t take it any more and went to the car for the camera. Settings: Nikon D300, 80-200mm f/2.8 lens set at 200mm, Aperture Priority on tripod, f/2.8, 1/160 sec., -3.0EV, Manual focus, matrix metering, ISO 400

Richland Creek, Frog Level, NC

Richland Creek, Frog Level, NC by Bob Grytten

More things changed and the evening was finally capped off with some interesting studies of motion of the rushing creek, heavy and filled with newly fallen rain.

Settings: Nikon D300, 80-200mm f/2.8 lens set at 120mm, Aperture Priority on tripod, f/16, 1/3sec., -0.3EV, Manual focus, matrix metering.

But, just before we left I couldn’t resist a small clump of leaves turning color as if closing in on fall. They were on the other side of the creek. Although I could have used less telephoto, my 200mm lens worked best to get the composition I had in mind.

My first exposure was overwhelmed by the brighter green of the surrounding leaves, but not wanting to wash out the rich greens, I stayed with it knowing that I could bring the reds out when returning to the studio, to better approach what my eye saw.

Leaves on bank, Frog Level, Waynesville, NC by Bob Grytten

Leaves on bank, Frog Level, Waynesville, NC by Bob Grytten

The result pleased me as red and green are usually a good combination. And of course, the green leaves form a nice corner triangle…

Settings: Nikon D300, 80-200mm f/2.8D lens set at 120mm, Aperture Priority on tripod, f/18, 1/4sec., -1.7EV, Manual focus, matrix metering, ISO400

What is Frog Level?

Frog Level is a small community just down the tracks of Waynesville in Western North Carolina, about 30 minutes west of Asheville.

At one time Frog Level was more prominent, as that was where the train depot was. Horse Drawn buggies would line up to take folks to various hotels in the area. They flocked from the lowlands to these higher elevations, around 2,000 ft, to escape the heat in the summer.

As this area was a lower level and a bit swampy, it harbored chirping frogs who loved this place. It soon became known as Frog Level.

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Artist Interview, Malana B. Riverah, Art in the Park, Asheville, NC

LoveLight by Malna B. Riverah

LoveLight by Malana B. Riverah

Saturday, Carol & I were in Asheville. Each June and October Art in the Park is scheduled in Asheville, NC. For three consecutive Saturdays, Artists gather.

This year I decided to talk with the artists vs. just looking at their wares. That’s where the magic is…

Malana B. Riverah uses her photography to tell her story…

The message of Malana B. Riverah







Visiting with other artists is a great way to refresh and invigorate our own interests. There is no charge for Art In the Park and it is loaded with nice folks who like to talk about what they’re doing. I’m exercising the video feature on the a6000 Sony camera. This brief interview will be followed by other. Hope you enjoy…

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Mirrorless Photo Cameras revisited, PART 2

One month and counting since beginning with my Mirrorless System. Basically I’m surprised at the camera’s ability to capture street scenes if left to it’s own device. It boosts the ISO up and catches the moment – fast.

But, for nature, I’m still figuring it out. The detail is incredible and as I’m still using the kit lenses I should be pleased. Here’s what I have so far…

Barbers Orchard: Sony a6000 w/ 16-50mm variable Kit lens, 3:38 PM f/11, 1/80 sec. matrix metering, hand held

Given that this is hand held, not a great idea if doing serious stuff, I think it is pretty amazing.

Bee on Daisey: Sony a6000 w/Adapter and Nikon 300mm Lens, f/4.5, 1/640 sec. spot metering.

This next one is a close study but I am using a very excellent pro lens with an adapter. So, I’m working on that kind of set up, but I think this is pretty sharp.

Meat Platter: Sony a6000 w 16-50mm varible kit lens, f/16, 1/160 sec, Aperture Priority Center weighted metering, 0EV

This next one is a product shot, hand held, and I’m OK with it…

And the final one in this series is a water fall.

Looking Glass Falls: Sony a6000 w 16-50mm varible kit lens set at f.28, f/2.5 sec. Aperture Priority, center weighted metering

As usual please fee free to make comments…




Good photo practices should not be abandoned just because technological advancements allow us to break photographic boundaries.

Some of them are.

  • Using low ISO.
  • Using a tripod, in-lieu-of increasing the ISO.
  • Using lens hoods to reduce Lens flare.
  • Use best lenses possible.

In the examples above of Barbers Orchard, I hand held the camera for the image. I could have used a tripod and better depth-of-field practices to improve the image.

In the example above of the Looking Glass Falls, I used the kit lens 16-50mm and if looking very closely, the image is not as sharp as I would have liked. I could have used a better 18-70mm Nikon lens with the adapter to achieve a better image.

Or I could have kept my aperture to f/11 for a sharper image. This image was shot at f/28, almost three stops greater than f/11. This lens tends to go softer at settings above f/11. We should be testing the lenses we use to determine their characteristics. One way to check the sharpness of the image is to view it on the computer screen at 100% of regular size – the gauge to determine which images are publishable. If f/11 would not have achieved the “look of silkiness” of the falls, I could have used a Neutral Density filter or possibly a Polarizer.

Everyone’s goals of image quality are different. Sometimes a unique composition will trump other technical factors. That does not mean we should ignore them, especially if we’re aware of them. And as our knowledge grows, so can our photography.

Bob says, “Thanks”

Bob says, “Thanks”

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