Tuesday, November 27, 2012

HopeLine - For Melissa

Melissa Morrison had finally broken off her rocky relationship with her fiance.  Her sister Julie had warned her to stay clear of him, but as he had done before, he wormed his way back into her life.  Julie's worst nightmare came true on Easter Sunday, 2011.  He shot and killed Melissa in her Tampa apartment. 

Julie Noble is pissed off. She doesn't want her sister Melissa's murder to become just another statistic of domestic violence. She's working with the Verizon Wireless Hopeline program. Hopeline collects and refurbishes old cell phones and gets them to women in abusive relationships. A person in trouble doesn't need to have a phone service plan to call 911. All that's needed is a working cellular phone.  After being turned away by several large businesses for help in posting or distributing information about Hopeline, Julie found Joe's Crab Shack's Chelsea Ward. With support from Dal Tile and through a promotion by Joe's Crab Shack in October, Julie and Verizon collected 406 cell phones and 330 accessories and Verizon donated $1500 to ACT, Abuse Counseling and Treatment.  Following the month-long promotion at Joe's, Julie and Chelsea asked if I would make some photographs to illustrate their efforts. These are three of the photos we made together.

ACT reports that 40% of homicides here in Lee County in 2011 were related to domestic violence. At the end of October, ACT's shelters for victims of domestic violence were full.

Julie doesn't want other families to learn about domestic violence the same tragic way she and her family did. She wants to get across three important messages:
  1. To victims in abusive situations now: You need to start thinking about the abuse you're enduring the way schools think of bullying - zero tolerance, not 1,2,3 strikes you're out - because your life is not a baseball game and you might not make it to the 3rd strike.

  2. To family members of loved ones in trouble: Get involved. Speak up. Voice concerns. Take action! A loved one angry at you for meddling is still alive. A loved one gone because you didn't do enough becomes a painful memory.

  3. To our community: Step up! We need help to bring attention to this epidemic nationally. It takes a village to raise our kids; it takes a community to raise awareness.

To learn how you can donate your old cell phone, click here.

© 2012 Buck Ward             The Photographist                www.buckward.net         
Verizon HopeLine graphics used with permission

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

I Love the Beach

I love the beach. I always have.   Especially a deserted beach, all to myself.   In a resort area, a deserted beach is hard to come by.   So I like to go early in the morning. It's not always deserted, but it's usually not too crowded. I go to the beach for photographic opportunities. But going to the same beach over and over again... I know, the same old tired photographs.  But...I love the beach.   Let the pix fall where they may.

So I went to the beach, full photo paraphernalia and all.  I had it all to myself. Quiet. Solitude. Nature's beauty. I found a photograph to make - no footprints, a little tide pool, a reflection of the lighthouse, a nice cloud pattern, a lone plover. It took several tries 'til finally the plover held still for the entire five-second exposure.   It's not a great photograph, but it expresses my quiet pleasure.   I can't help but smile as I remember.

As sun neared the horizon, I walked, strolled, sauntered, along the beach towards the point. As the sunrise grew closer, the pale lavender gradually shifted toward the red. And then, almost suddenly, the color became dramatic. The pelicans and the terns seemed to revel in the glory. The redness erupted into fire for a brief few moments and then faded quickly as Sol entered the sky. This dramatic sunrise color swelled, peaked, and faded in a scant six or seven minutes.

I love the beach.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buckward.net

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The River District in Fog

Please, Ma, just let me sleep a little while longer. I'm tired. Oh, well, it's after five, and I'm awake. Might as well get up. A little later than usual, but wait, we were supposed to set the clocks back an hour, so its really not even five yet. Yeah but the sun comes up an hour earlier than it did yesterday. I showered, shaved, dressed, and went outside to check the weather. Hey, we've got fog! Oh, man. I was lying in bed wasting our first fog of the season.

I hurried downtown, to the River District, thinking of scenes of streetlights receding into foggy oblivion.   At my first set up, on narrow Dean Street, after a couple of tentative exposures, a car turned in at the other end of street and stopped, its headlights shining into my lens. The passenger got out, opened the trunk, and started unloading packages. The headlights stayed on.   *Sigh*   I moved on.  It was beginning to get light. I was losing the deserted-city-in- the-middle-of-the-night look I was trying for.   I muddled around framing the Model A in front of Ford's Garage. Not too bad, but that was my last opportunity on this foggy morning for that kind of a scene, as the darkness seeped out of the misty air.

I like black and white photography, but in heavy fog I usually prefer a color photograph. Fog reduces contrast, mutes color, and hides detail. I like black and white photographs with plenty of contrast, and distinct highlight and shadow. What little color there may be in a fog photograph helps to subtly define shapes, texture, and depth; to make amends for the loss of highlight and shadow.

Illumination by incandescent streetlight gives a strong red-yellow color cast to a photograph. In fog the hue seems to fill the air. An adjustment of the white balance in this photograph of the Model A on First Street reduces the too-strong orangey color, and gives the color photo the look of a monochrome photo with a sepia tint.

As the morning light matured the streetlights went out, and I drifted along in the fog. A photograph of Joe's in the fog is so different from the one I made last year; nice reflection again, though.

I meandered over to the yacht basin. The pilings, standing tip-toe on their own reflections in the still water, seemed to float on nothingness.  An old gent on his boat called out, “Hey, are you taking my picture?” I hadn't even seen him there. He had just bought the boat, a good sized power yacht, from up on the Peace River two days before. The fog had delayed his departure. He was going up the Caloosahatchee to Lake Okeechobee and then on to Jupiter, his home port. Yes, I had taken his picture, but it didn't survive the cull.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buckward.net

I prepared this on my nice color-calibrated monitor.  Today I saw these photographs on a different monitor.  They all have a sickly greenish cast, especially the top one.  So, if they look off to you, sorry about that.

Saturday, November 3, 2012


My intention was to catch a falling star.  I got to the beach about an hour before first light.  The night was clear and dark, but not much happening in the way of meteors.   The Orionid meteor shower was pretty much a no-show.   But I enjoy looking at the night sky. 

From left to right across the bottom: Bright Sirius, the dog star, then the familiar shape of Orion, Jupiter above the V-shaped horns of Taurus the Bull, and to the right of Taurus, the Pleiades, an open cluster also known as The Seven Sisters. At the top of the frame are the twin stars Castor and Pollux in the constellation Gemini.  And one little shooting star.

The nice thing about being at the beach early in the morning, there's usually something to enjoy, a distant thunder storm, a flock of gulls, or just being there.

The next morning I did it again, and again not was much happening in the sky, but I had the pleasure of meeting a friend who enjoys the same sort of thing.   All in all a good weekend.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Saturday, October 6, 2012


Or, how  changing conditions can change your photograph

As I stood on the fishing pier under the bridge, a dinghy made its way towards me in the twilight.  I had composed, but I waited for the small boat to clear my frame. It would have been a blur, a dark smudge, amongst the yachts, even though I had increased the ISO to 800 to shorten the exposure time.  When the dinghy cleared, I made my first exposure. This first photograph was exposed for five seconds, which can be seen in the blur of the buoy in the center foreground. Fortunately the yachts were still enough that their motion is not apparent – their masts aren't blurred and masthead lights aren't distorted.  Even though it was fairly dark, there is some detail visible, lit by the industrial-strength lights on the shrimp docks some distance off to the the left.

The next photograph was made just a few minutes later, a little before sunrise, with a nice pink sky. I had reduced the ISO to 200.  The faster shutter speed, 1/2 second, made a difference in the buoy, as well as the texture of the water and the sky.  The yachts are more in silhouette due to the brightness of the sky. This might have been a good candidate for a graduated neutral density filter to bring out more detail in the yachts, and perhaps to lighten the dark band of fog beyond, without overexposing the sky. 

A fellow carrying his morning coffee walked up to me on the pier and struck up a conversation. He lives on one of the yachts I had been photographing. He pointed it out to me, but I was never really sure which one was his. I asked if he had come in on that dinghy earlier. He said that he had, that he was bringing his wife in so she could go to work. He told me all about how he had sold the house and bought the 40-year-old boat, and had been working on it, fixing it up. When he finished getting it ready they were going to let it take them down through the Caribbean and along the coast of South America. We chatted for a while and then he excused himself to go get his second cup of coffee. The fog bank that had been beyond the anchorage was rolling in, engulfing the yachts.  I made my final exposures.  Less than an hour had elapsed since exposing the first photograph. Changing conditions had given me three different photographs of the same scene.  Time for my second cup, too.

Some technical stuff about white balance-  
All three of these photographs were made with a manual white balance setting of 5500K, which approximates a daylight setting.  The colors you see are just as they were captured by the camera. Automatic white balance, AWB, would have warmed the first photo, cooled the second, and I think it would have slightly warmed the third. That is, AWB would have reduced the apparent differences in color among these photographs.  When I first started shooting digital, a set the white balance to daylight - after all, I'd been shooting daylight balanced color film for years.  It's what I was used to.  Later I set the white balance to AWB.  When I started doing portraits, I discovered that AWB would react to to a change in clothing color or background by changing the apparent coloring of the photographs.  For consistency, I stopped using AWB and now almost always use the manual setting.  By shooting RAW rather than JPEG, I can always adjust the white balance in post-processing if I need to.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Big Tarpon, Little Sunburst

Sitting, waiting, in the early morning stillness. Maybe the sun will show a little artistic gumption and paint the sky this morning. The night is just beginning to surrender.  I hear a big splash, then another.  Dolphins, I think.   In the darkness, I can just barely make out the movement on the water.   More splashes, right in front of me. I can see the roiling of the water, all around. There must be several. It's not uncommon to see a small pod moving along, rolling, blowing. But I wasn't hearing blowing, just splashing, and they weren't very close together the way they usually are when they're traveling, but rather they were spread out a bit. They must be feeding, or playing. I strain to see a fin or a fluke in the dim light. As it gets lighter, I can see the splashes.  Then I realize, it's not dolphins.   It's tarpon!  Big ones!  There must be a dozen or more of the big fish churning the surface.

The splashes subside. I return to the business at hand – my semiannual quest to make a photograph of the Sanibel lighthouse silhouetted by the orb of the rising sun. The sky at the horizon begins to take on a nice deep orange, reflected in the water. Nothing special, but I pop off a few. Faint crepuscular rays begin to form. I hope they will develop into a glorious sunburst, but no, it never achieves grandeur.

The glow of light concentrates behind the lighthouse, but I can tell that the wispy clouds are too thin to let the sun pretend to be a big red rubber ball.  It will blow the silhouette away with blinding light.  And so it does.

Once again I didn't get what I hoped for.  But I did get a nice subtle sunburst.  And, I shared my solitude with the tarpon.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Monday, September 17, 2012

Soft and Hard

Here are two photographs.

One is soft and smooth and organic, a quasi-minimalist study in the leading lines rule of composition.  I was chasing a bird, figuratively speaking, a white morph reddish egret. It had gone away and I was hoping it would come back. I could see it off in the distance, but it wasn't cooperating. I had my long lens and gimbal mount on the tripod. All of a sudden I saw this pattern in the clouds in the sky. I pulled out a wide-angle lens, removed the camera from the telephoto, and mounted the wide-angle on the camera. I abandoned the tripod and telephoto lens and ran along the edge of the water to put the island of mangroves under the center of the shape of the clouds. Hand holding, I made three exposures, before the sky smeared. And then the image was gone, just as quickly as I had seen it. The first of those three proved to be the best. The egret never did come back. A friend suggested that I entitle this photo Lost because it resembles a recurring scene from the television show of that name. I never saw the show, so I don't know. 

The other is sharp and hard, high contrast and orthogonal, a planned, pre-visualized photograph. I had eyed this building for a while – an old house converted to a law office in downtown Fort Myers. I am a morning shooter but this old house faces westerly and so it needed afternoon light. It would be nice if the sun could have washed the shadows from the porch, but that can never happen. Behind me is a four-story parking garage, which would cast its shadow on the street, then sidewalk, then porch, then house as the day grew older. I was gratified that I was able to catch this in one session. Usually I give it a handful of tries on different days before finally giving up.

In addition to the soft fluidity versus the rigid angularity aspects of the two photographs, there is to me the more striking difference of their tonal ranges. The histogram of Lost roughly resembles a standard bell curve. The tones gather towards the middle, with little pure black and white. The histogram of the Law Office shows the tonal range more evenly distributed across the range with slight spikes at the black and white ends. 'They' say there's no such thing as the right histogram, but I tend to strive for something like the Law Office for a black and white photograph. I like a black and white photograph to have blacks and whites. The histogram of Lost is more characteristic of what I would want in a color photo – no blown-out highlights, no blocked-up shadows – but in this case, I just felt that it worked better in monochrome.

In the final analysis, is analysis even necessary? Art is intuitive. You see what you like and like what you see – or not. Not that these execrable photographs are great art. I can analyze and explain them. I could tell you what I like and don't like about them, mostly the latter – all the little nuances and details. But after all is said, one must simply look – and maybe shrug.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Saturday, July 28, 2012

More Birthday Posters

Last year I made a poster for Mary Margaret's birthday. So this year I made posters for her sisters, Caroline and Ellie, commissioned by their mother.

The girls did various poses in the studio. The posters had to match the d├ęcor of their rooms.  Mom picked the color schemes and selected the poses. The background of Ellie's poster is actually a photograph of a pillowcase she had brought with her.  It was difficult to separate her pink silhouette and lettering from elements of the pillowcase background, but finally, a thin drop shadow did the trick.

Caroline's background was tricky, too. She needed pink zebra stripes. I worked hard to retain her reflection on the studio floor so it makes it appear that she is sitting on the pattern instead of floating in front of it.  The striped pattern is actually a double mirroring. Placing the horizontal mirror line at the axis of her legs gives the serendipitous illusion that the pattern bends up behind her.

The 24”x36” posters were delivered in time for Caroline's seventh birthday.   The Olympics going on in London right now reminds me that the AIGY in Ellie's poster is for Aiken (SC) Gymnastics, whose owner competed with Nadia Comaneci in the Olympics in Montreal in 1976. 

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Sunday, July 22, 2012

To Catch a Lightning Bolt

By midday the weather looked promising – big cumulonimbus clouds against deep blue - my kind of sky. I had some things to finish up. Finally, late afternoon, I headed out to see what I could see. By the time I got to where I had a clear horizon, the sky had smeared – a cloudy sky with a few blue patches, Dutchman's trousers I used to call it.   No towering majesties, but there was still interest. The sun, beginning to lower itself into the west, created a low faint rainbow in the east. Nothing spectacular, but worth a smile. The clouds gradually drifted away to hazy banks in the distance. As the sun got lower and lower, I hoped it would do some sky painting, but the distant clouds put it slowly to sleep. I could see rain showers and then some lightning, far away to the north. It would be nice to get some lightning shots, but it was still too light to get the longer exposure times needed. Gradually the storms moved off away behind me, as I hoped some sky scenery would develop for me in the south, where my camera was facing. The clouds grew and changed and faded with the speed of a minute hand. Then, as twilight approached, a flash of lightning. I set the ISO to 50 and stopped the aperture down to f16. A third of a second – maybe I'd get lucky. There were a couple of spectacular flashes just as I was about to release the shutter or immediately after it closed. As the sky darkened and my exposure time slowed to several seconds, the lightning moved away and became reflections of flashes inside clouds, and I hadn't caught anything. The thunder was soft distant rumblings.

Then, lightning bolts off to my left! The camera had reached its maximum automatic exposure time of 30 seconds and was beginning to increase the ISO. I still hadn't managed to catch a lighting bolt, missing by mere fractions of a second on several occasions. The lightning now started flashing about in the clouds beyond the lighthouse. I switched to bulb, set the aperture to f11 and the ISO to my default of 200. The camera was beginning to have trouble focusing on the darkening low-contrast clouds, so I set one of the AF points on the lighthouse a couple of miles across San Carlos Bay. When the lantern blinked the camera would focus and I could trip the shutter. I was guessing at the exposure times, starting at 60 seconds and gradually lengthening as it grew darker. The lightning started showing off again, occasionally being quite spectacular, and I began to catch a few.  As it got darker, my exposure times grew longer, and by the time the exposure reached four minutes, I could catch a lighting bolt almost every time. I'd close the shutter after a good one, and then try to catch the next one. After a little while the storms moved away. The show was over.

In about an hour, I exposed perhaps sixty frames and caught lightning bolts 16 times, mostly in the later, longer exposures. I didn't get the cumulonimbus skyscape I went after. Isn't that always the way? But I'm not disappointed at all. 

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Sunday, June 24, 2012

On a Rainy Day

The sun is up but it's still not light
The rain is steady and so I write
Overcast all yesterday
It steered my path, my morning way

And so I wandered toward Six Mile
And walked along its wooden aisle
I walked above the forest floor
Seeking vision's hidden door

Inside the emerald dimness glows
Slowly I go, contentment grows
Cypress, maple, reedy pools
Vines and tangles, green chaos rules

As I move through private glens
The fronds and ferns entice my lens
The swamp is deep in dark and light
Green and brown is black and white

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Tornado Warning

Sanibel Police Department Press Release, 1:45 am:
“At approximately 12:45 am, Saturday, June 9, 2012 a Tornado Warning was issued for western Lee County.  The City of Sanibel activated the reverse 9-1-1 Emergency Notification System.  The Sanibel Police Department called homes from the Gulf Pines Subdivision to the western terminus of the Island.  The message advised all residents to take immediate steps in the event of an actual tornado.  As of 1:25 am the entire Island is under a severe storm warning and persons should take proper precautions.”

Without having to be notified, we knew about the weather because the thunder and heavy downpour had awakened us.  As I lay in bed drifting back to sleep, I looked forward to the morning, thinking about where I would go.  Storms make good skies.  Sometimes.

The beach was deserted when I arrived.   I had it all to myself.  Through scudding clouds, the third quarter moon cast my shadow on the shelly sand.  The sky was beginning to lighten in the east as I caught the lighthouse in a three minute exposure.

Later, with the sun trying to squint through cracks in the clouds, it took four seconds to convince the camera the sand was white, allowing it to see the double blink of the lighthouse's lantern under the dark sky.

As the sky gradually dissolved into overcast, I saw an osprey on its perch. Some photographers might pull out the long telephoto lens, but in this dull light the photos would be lifeless.  I chose my trusty wide-angle zoom.  I managed to position myself awkwardly in a buttonwood on the edge of the surf and waited.  I hoped the fish hawk's mate would come by.  I wanted to get the gnarled branches with both ospreys in nice open-wing poses.  Norah Jones sang in my ear buds, "Don't know why I didn't come."  I waited.  After a while, the other osprey paid us a visit and the pair rewarded my patience.  Glad I didn't share Norah's lament.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Monday, May 21, 2012

Ford's Garage

In the wee hours the city lights make the only light we see. It's quiet and still, very still, and shadows lie in disarray. The traffic signals at the ends of the street dutifully turn to red, stopping cars that aren't there. In front of The Dean, as if most of a century hadn't gone by, a gleaming white Model A poses in the lights.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Bike Night

In one of the galleries on First Street there was a small collection of watercolors of river district scenes. One in particular caught my attention. In the foreground was a row of small racing yachts on their trailers, their bows in a line against a background of familiar buildings. I had seen them there, those yachts, but never had tried to make the photograph. In that painting, I saw an opportunity missed.

A week later I was planning my weekend forays. I hadn't been down to the river district for quite a while. I like to photograph the downtown in the early morning, but more and more lately I had been thwarted by some event – barricades in the streets, vendors setting up their tents, trucks, generators – unpicturesque things. So I checked the River District's website to see what's going on. Bike night! Hey, that's great. They don't let anybody park in the heart of downtown, and so the next morning, after the party's over, the streets are empty and there aren’t any cars parked on the streets. Good for me! Then I decided I ought to go down there tonight and see what I can get. And so I did. There were hundreds of motorcycles parked on the street, a couple of bands, lots of people having a great time, and that big, deep, Harley sound. I had visualized rows of bikes reflecting street lights in shiny curves and chrome and bikers and their biker chicks, partying, blurred by seconds-long exposures and the plastic cups of beer in their hands. I had a fun time making pictures, but didn't manage to get anything I liked. All deletable.

As I walked back to the car, I saw them. Those yachts. Those yachts in the painting. It took a telephoto zoom to work the composition, to weave it in amongst the people sitting around in the park watching their kids play on the swings. Occasionally children ran through my frame while the shutter was open, but at the long exposures I was using, they became as diaphanous as ghosts. This is the picture I ended up with. Not my usual fare – grittier, with more urban chaos. Not nearly as nice as the painting I had admired; hardly even similar to it. But, as one of the aging rockers up on the stage tonight sang, “I know it's only rock and roll, but I like it, I like it, Yes I do.”
Days later, I went back to the gallery where I had seen the painting to learn the name of the artist. The painting I had seen was gone. I turned around and saw it on another wall. It was the same yachts in the same location but it didn't look as I remembered it. Was it the same painting or a different painting of the same scene? I don't know. But I do know the artist's name is David Belling.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

The Old Tree and Me

I rose early, as usual. I had checked the weather, the tides, sunrise, the moon phase. I had tentatively planned to go out to Lover's Key, to try that fallen tree again. The forecast had called for partly cloudy and there would be a highish tide. If the sun would light up cumulus in the west there could be a possibility. But in the morning I walked out to the middle of my street, as I usually do, and looked up at the sky.  I could see stars. There was a slight haze but the western sky was mostly clear.  Change of plan.  I almost felt a twinge of guilt at feeling relieved that I wouldn't be making that long and futile walk out to the dead trees on the beach at Lover's Key.  The horse knew the way to carry the sleigh to my favorite beach, my fall back position, the eastern tip of Sanibel Island, at the lighthouse.

The little bight of beach at the old fallen Australian pine near the lighthouse was isolated by the high tide lapping at the sea grapes and buttonwoods on either side. The tourists would leave us alone. It would disrupt the easy stroll of their early morning shelling too much to navigate the surf. The dead tree could commune with my camera and me in solitude. The old tree has fallen, but I think it still relishes having its toes in the sand, at the edge of the tide. We had a quiet conversation, easy and nuanced, each trying to get the other to shift his point of view. Old friends. We've done this before. More than once. I played with long exposures in the early morning dark. The hazy blue glimmer and the satin surf could make a sweet image, if only I could find it.  But I didn't.  The old tree chuckled at me derisively.  As the sky lightened, I put on a graduated neutral density filter. As it lightened more, I changed the GND from a two-stop to a three-stop. Inexorably the light increased. I reduced the ISO and, as the sun showed itself, added a four-stop neutral density filter to keep the exposure as long as possible.  Pick up the pace. The sun, impatient to start its day, reduced our conversation to nods and grunts. Finally, we said our so longs. We'd had a good visit.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Or, have you ever googled yourself?   

I have a new app on my iPhone: Dragon Go. You speak and it finds whatever you're looking for. To try it out, I said my name and tapped the little camera icon and it found stuff. It found photographs of mine, mostly on my website. I expected that. It also found photos and articles of those other people who share my name, the Segway dealer Buck Ward being sued in Richmond, the Coastguard CPO Buck Ward receiving an award in Miami, the big game outfitter Buck Ward in Colorado, et al.  But I was surprised to see this photograph.  It's a snapshot I made of David at the Southwest Florida Fair in 2007. It's always been a favorite little gem.  We call it Goatboy.

When I tapped the little thumbnail image on the iPhone, it took me to a site called  File Magazine - A Collection of Unexpected Photography.   File is an eclectic collection of oddball photographs. On the home page it says, File Magazine: 2004 – 2010 It's Been Fun. After six great years, the editors of FILE have decided to call it a day. Thanks to all of the talented and generous contributors who made this an amazing experience, both to curate and to visit. The Collection and The Projects will remain for posterity.”   I don't remember posting Goatboy there,or even having seen File Magazine before, but I guess I must have, maybe. Dragon Go took me to a thumbnail link of the photo in the Contributors section of File Magazine as an avatar next to the listing: "Buck Ward is a photographer from the south gulf coast of Florida. You can see more of his work on his website."    

A little further googling found a copy of Goatboy on a Lebanon based blog called I Liked these Pics.   At least, after taking my image without my consent, Nassim acknowledged my copyright.  Oh well.  It just goes to show that anything you put out there will stay out there "for posterity," as the editors of File said, and may be appropriated by others.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

PS - 
Email subscriber Geri suggested that I "list some contact information on them so if they get passed around, people know who to credit."  I hadn't realized that there was no attribution on the email version.  I've added the byline and links above.
Many thanks, Geri!  

Sunday, April 15, 2012

On Anna Marie Island

I was standing on the little sand bar at the base of the drawbridge that crosses the pass between Anna Marie Island and Longboat Key. With my big 300 I had hoped to catch the full moon setting over the western horizon, but as usual it was not to be. A way off, I saw a photographer down low near the jetty, apparently stalking a great blue heron.  Handholding is futile in this light, I thought. Wait til the sun comes up. A while later, I saw that it was actually two photographers. Having failed to get my intended photo, I walked towards the beach, and the two photographers, to see what else might turn up. When I got closer, I saw that the photographers were both women. One of the women was photographing the other, who was photographing an object, not birds, on the jetty.  As I drew closer I could see it.

Is that a birthday cake?”, I asked.

She has a project,” she said, pointing to the photographer on the jetty. “It is for Amnesty International. It is a cake with a file, you know, for in jail.”   She had a strong accent.  They were Swedish. We chatted while the other photographer worked.  Seeing my gear, she asked if I was a professional photographer. I told her yes, that I did portraits, but that my first sitting was not until ten.

The photographer on the jetty would make a few exposures and then go over and adjust the position of the cake, and reposition the file that was sticking up out of it. Each time she did this she would suck the icing off the file. I watched for a bit and then continued my walk towards the beach.

When I walked back, they had retrieved the box for the cake and were collecting their gear. The other photographer, the one I hadn't spoken with before, asked me, “You haf some models?”

No,” I said. She seemed puzzled. “I do portraits,” I said. She still seemed puzzled. “...of people...” I offered, haltingly.

With clothes on?” she asked.

Yes,” I said.

Oh!” she laughed.

© 2012 Buck Ward        The Photographist       www.buxpix.net

Sunday, March 25, 2012

On Sharks and Baptisms

There was a group of people on the beach. It was a cold Sunday morning in January, just after sunrise. Two men dressed in black pants, white shirts and black ties, accompanied two very large women in long white dresses to the edge of the water. After a moment's hesitation they walked out into the cold water of the Gulf of Mexico. When they were waist deep they paused. After seeming to have small conversations, each man to each woman, the men laid the women backwards in unison and dunked them. It was a baptism. I was astonished that people would go into the water in such cold weather.  When the two men and two women returned, they were met by some women who had emerged from the group to wrap the two soaked women in blankets. They all walked up the beach and rejoined the group. Two more very large women in long white dresses separated from the group, accompanied by the two preachers. As they walked towards the water, dolphins surfaced and rolled just a little beyond where the baptism had taken place. There was a big commotion amongst the people as they pointed and became agitated. The main group joined the four at the edge of the water. I could hear their voices. They were speaking with heavy accents. I think they were Haitian. They thought the dolphins were sharks. The preachers and the two very large women in the long white dresses balked and did not want to go out into the water. For me, the temperature would have been a much greater disincentive to going into the water than sharks that were really dolphins. A British couple, out for an early morning walk on the beach, was assuring the people that the fins they saw indeed belonged to dolphins and not to sharks. The group spread out along the edge of the water, pointing and exclaiming every time a fin appeared. I too assured them that the fins they saw were dolphins, but they remained unconvinced. Finally, after no fins had been seen for a while, the lure of being with Jesus overcame the fear of being dismembered by Jaws. The two preachers and the two very large women in the long white dresses nervously ventured out into the cold water of the Gulf, performed their baptisms, and hurried back to shore.

I wish I had photographed the Haitian preachers and the very large women in the long white dresses. But I hadn't. I had just stood there, with my camera and tripod, and vacuously watched the baptisms and the sharks.

Later, when the sun rose higher into the clouds, there was a nice sunburst. I hurried up the beach to get the sunburst above the pier with a flock of gulls in the foreground. The sunburst faded and the flock fled, leaving me with this serendipitous photograph. It is about 9:00 on a Sunday morning. The beach is deserted and there are no people fishing from the pier.  It is too cold to go to the beach, except for photographers and Haitians, each performing their own sacred rituals.

© 2012 Buck Ward          The Photographist         www.buckward.net

Monday, March 19, 2012


Architects may come and
Architects may go and
Never change your point of view.
When I run dry
I stop awhile and think of you 
So Long, Frank Lloyd Wright, Simon and Garfunkel

In Lakeland a couple of weeks ago I was able to steal away from my obligations for an hour or two on a couple of days to visit Florida Southern College. A number of the buildings there were designed by the notorious architect, Frank Lloyd Wright.

Though my purpose was to photograph, reverie crept in as I wandered around the campus. Think how it would be to be young again, lost in academia, cushioned from the mundane inanity of the outside world, our dreams laid out in front of us. *Sigh*

Frank;     Frank Lloyd Wright;      Mr. Wright.    I could almost see him, striding about the campus with his cane, cape, and flat brimmed hat.

I've never been able to decide how much to admire Wright's work. His designs are flamboyant, angular, detailed; and his style is definitely recognizable, and I do admire that much, but some of his creations appeal to me less than others. Occasionally, I find his design to be arrogant to the point of annoyance.

Great architecture plants the seeds of more daring or innovative architecture. Wright's buildings aren't the only ones on campus with flair and panache. Other structures there, whose architects remain unknown to me, are also certainly noteworthy.

I came to photograph the great Frank Lloyd Wright.   And so I did, and others as well.   It gave me a chance to try out my new (used) 50mm f1.4 lens. But mostly, the 24mm Tilt/Shift was the right tool for the job.

My wont is to photographically explore a subject ad infinitum, to return again and again, in differing light and changing skies, until I know it intimately.   Eventually, I make the photograph I want, or at least something that suffices. My time at Florida Southern was woefully inadequate.  I made some architectural portraits, nothing great, but I'm sure glad I got them.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

The Neo Lounge

There is a bar in the River District
They call the Neo Lounge
And it's been the ruin of many a poor boy
And God I know I'm one

I do most of my photographing in the River District early in the morning. Sometimes in my morning walks, I walk past the Neo Lounge.  Its patrons are home, or who knows where, sleeping it off. I had noticed that they keep repainting this bar. They paint it more often than once a year. So I photograph it.

Other than the changes in the paint job, I don't really find it all that photogenic. Usually the cleaning crew's car is parked right in front, blocking me from getting the whole building. So, then I do a partial. 

When I go to the river district, if the car isn't parked in front of the Neo Lounge and if it has a new paint job, even if I didn't make any keepers anywhere else, I feel that I had a successful morning if I get the Neo Lounge.  Certainly the smallest of small victories.

I've never been inside, never had a drink there, and have no wish to do that, but the Neo Lounge has become something of an ongoing thing to look forward to on my occasional visits to the River District. Have they painted it again? Is that car parked in front? 

I didn't get it when it was white and I didn't get it when it was green with shamrocks. That didn't matter to me then, but now it is a gap in my ongoing photographic history of the Neo Lounge.  It's just a tidbit, a photographic tidbit, not particularly worthy of anything.  But then, isn't that life?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

We're Painting the Roses Red

My last couple of blog posts have been about film, so while we're on the subject...

In my film days I made color slides. I didn't grok black and white and didn't have a dark room. So, I thought I'd give it a go and bought a few rolls of Ilford black and white print film. I'd send the film off to have it processed, just as I did with slide film, but when I got the prints back - what a disappointment! They weren't black and white! They were gray. So, I got a large piece of white paper and a black kitten, figuring this would have to be black and white, not gray. Right? Say hello to Monama, on black and white negative film, when he was still new, before he earned his name.
Monama was generally uncooperative, would not pose, would not stay on the white paper, and wanted to do what his kittenish self wanted to do. After several minutes of frustration, Monama's mommy, my clever wife Peggy, picked a hibiscus bloom and gave it to him. It worked! I finally was able to make a few exposures of more than just kitty footprints on white paper. When the prints came back, the flower, of course, was gray. So, I scanned the negative, and in one of my earliest attempts at digital editing, colored the flower red, just like the playing cards in Alice in Wonderland. We're painting the roses red. We're painting the roses red.

I've been mulling over a blog post regarding my notions about black and white, but it hasn't gelled yet, so this will have to do for now. By the way, the blossom that Peggy gave to Monama wasn't red.