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Assateague Island - Winter Has Come and Gone

It’s well into 2019 and about time for a blog post, even though it is multiple months late. I was once again back at Assateague Island National Seashore. It has become one of my favourite locations for camping and photos Stateside. My Assateague trip last year didn’t yield too many mini-horse photos; in fact I didn’t get too many photos at all and don’t think I posted any. I did learn that sleeping on the beach under a night sky is actually quite awful. It turns out sand is uncomfortable, as are ghost crabs crawling over you and sand fleas feasting on your flesh. But that is a complaint best saved for face-to-face moaning.

This time my wife and I explored the colder side of camping, spending two nights on the bay side during a chilly March. The park was quite empty, and the mosquitoes that plague visitors during the summer are gloriously absent. As it happens no crowds and not being eaten alive are two of my favourite things, so this was a great trip.

We had a couple close encounters of the equestrian kind, both in the campsite and further out in the dunes. I could go on at some length about how fascinating these horses are, how they live a tough life out in the dunes surviving both the elements and human idiocy. But I have already probably written more than you or I are interested in reading, so I’ll leave you these photos of wild fluffy horses, along with a handful from Pocomoke State Forest and Blackwater Wildlife Refuge.

SCCA MARRS October

It’s a side of racing you don’t often see, these amateurs that camp out at the track, getting up early in the misty morning to prepare their dew covered weekend racers.

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Portfolio Update - Animals and Wildlife

My favorite place in the world is the Addo Elephant National Park in South Africa - it even says so on my REI name tag at work. I love it not so much for the beauty of the park itself but for it’s wildlife. Its relatively small size makes it easier to find and photograph the animals. If you were to ask me what my favorite type of photography is, I’d say wildlife. Wild animals are endlessly fascinating and beautiful, and I love seeing them in their own world. 

 I love it because it is a glimpse of a world without humans. Or rather it feels like one. You don’t need me to beat the “humans have forever changed the planet” drum, it’s already deafening, but when I’m watching a family of elephants play at a water hole, or an elk browsing its way through the Rockies, it’s a silhouette of a world beyond humanity that doesn’t exist anymore. Most wilderness is now kept in demarcated areas and carefully managed to keep it alive, and precariously so.

 I feel this is epitomized in zoos; little tableaus of animals in nature. Flora and flora from all over the world are crammed into a park in the middle of a city. I’ve written before of my cognitive dissonance when it comes to zoos -  I hate the idea of keeping wild animals captive, but it is fascinating to see an array of animals, not to mention the significant conservation work many zoos do. Many of the photos from this album were taken at the Smithsonian national Zoo in Washington D.C. I’ve always either tried to represent the animal as being in captivity, or at least never misrepresent them as being in the wild.  

 After that load of hippy whimsy, time to go back to reality. I think this is one of my favorite albums I’ve done and I’ve loved working on it.


Cheers,

Ian

Portfolio Update - Rugby

Like all good South African boys, I love rugby. One of my first photography gigs was photographing rugby for the local rugby team that played in the second tier provincial rugby tournament in George. I was only paid something like R40 (barely $3) per match, but one of the plusses was it got me access to the one big international tournament that was held at the stadium; the South African leg of the International Sevens World Series. That was a big deal, and the I absolutely loved the two years I got to go to. Especially 2008, where I got to know some of the players and the Springboks ended up winning the tournament on home soil for the first time.

 I haven't photographed rugby in many years. Whilst rugby is technically the fastest growing team sport in the US, there's still not a whole lot of professional rugby work available. I'm looking at getting back into it though, as well as picking up some other sports gigs too, but we shall see.

 

Portfolio Update - Motorsports

If you're one of the two or three people who read this (hi mom and dad), you'll remember me mentioning that I am a motorsport nut. I've been wanting to photograph motorsports for ages but didn't really have the chance until recently. So I've given motorsports it's own portfolio and am going to be working on it more in the future. As it stands, it actually contains one of the oldest photos on the site; the photograph of the motorbike from way back in 2006. That was shot on an old Fujifilm Finepix (or something like that), and it was one of the first "good" photos I've taken. The quality isn't great but I think it's passable; fortunately I was able to find the original jpeg and save it from the terrible over-editing my 16 year old self afflicted on it. 

Portfolio Update - Sport

For the last few months I've been working on getting my website up to scratch. The first stage was going through every single photo I've taken since I started photography back in 2004 and working out what I would like to upload. Its taken a while, because work and life and stuff, but today I've finally moved on the the second stage of work: editing and updating my portfolios. I'll be publishing them as I go, and the first one is my sports portfolio.

I was a little indecisive about how to publish my oeuvre of sports photography. One album with 100+ photos, or a separate one for each sport. Initially I was going to separate them all, but that led to a few albums with only 3 or 4 photos, so to stop them getting lonely I separated out rugby and motorsports, and chuck all the rest in to this album. 

So this album has a bit of cricket, a bit of mountain biking, and a decent amount of soccer. I'll update the blog with my portfolios as I go along.

Cheers,

Ian

SCCA MARRS July at Summit Point Raceway

Since I was a kid I’ve loved motorsports. My obsession (much to the bemusement of my wife) has always been Formula 1, but I love just about anything that goes around a track. I used to go to the local track in Cape Town, Killarney, with my dad, and I remember ogling over massive Porsche 917k at a classic car event. I’m also one of those millennial that spends a lot of time driving pretend cars in simulators (not games, definitely simulators), but the one thing I’ve never really done is photograph motorsports. The last motorsports event I attended was the A1GP (remember that?) race in 2006 where I used my dad’s Fujifilm point-and-shoot to take photos through the catch-fencing. In the 12 years since then I’ve moved to the states, got my photography degree, upgraded my equipment, run a minimally successful photography business, and driven a lot of pretend racing laps. 

 So it was with great excitement that I headed out to Summit Point in West Virginia to check the SCCA MARRS event this past weekend. Summit Point Raceway is a small and charming racetrack that was hosting this regional amateur event. It wasn’t fancy (a lot of wooden fences instead of barriers) but the racing was good and it was awesome to finally get to take photos of cars going round and round quickly. The photos themselves aren’t my best, motorsports photography is a bit of a different art that I am still wrapping my head around. But there are more events upcoming that I will be photographing, so we’ll see if I can tighten things up a bit. I also couldn’t resist doing some black and white photos, and I think those are the ones I ended up liking the most. 

Cheers,

Ian

 

Smithsonian National Zoo

Two blog posts in a week, what madness is this? It’s the result of a burst of photographic zeal I’ve been suffering lately. While I’m still working on the website and catching up on old photos, I’ve also been back to the Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC. It’s one of my old favourite locations for photography; many of the photos in my animals collection were taken at the zoo. It’s where I sharpened a lot of my photographic skills, and I’ve gotten some great shots there in the past. While I had a lovely afternoon out with my wife, I’ve discovered that my secondhand telephoto lens leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to sharpness.  I’ve ended up choosing black and white for most of the photos in the hope that it comes off as rustic authenticity. 

 I have somewhat mixed opinion on zoos. The Smithsonian seems to take good care of their animals, and they do a lot of excellent conservation work, but seeing animals in enclosures is just always going to make me a bit sad. But perhaps it is worth it for any good they do. You could think of zoos as a bit of a front, bringing attention and money to their larger conservation efforts. They are also great for photography: there’s no other way I’m going to be able to photograph a gorilla infant then catch a tiger going for a swim the same day.

 So, for now, I’ll just swallow my cognitive dissonance and get on with photographing. I try not to pass off the photo as being from the wild, and where I can I try and show them in their environment. It's an interesting way of humanizing the animal and making them more relatable. And without too much more ado, have look at my pics.

 

Purse State Park

It's been nearly two years since I last made a post, but I am sill around. Life has been happening, but I'm taking the time to do a little spring cleaning to my photo library. Part of that is actually editing photos I've taken recently, another part is editing photos that I took a while ago but didn't get round to doing. The other project is finally getting my website to a state where I can show it to people without saying "I need to fix that". 

 First step is to publish my most recent set of photos from purse State Park in MD. Nestled down in the southern edge of Maryland, Purse State is mostly known for it's rich fossil hunting. The Potomac river has been eating away at the ancient cretaceous seabed and washing out fossils onto the river banks, making Purse State a popular spot for fossil hunters and families looking to keep the kids busy during the summer. 

Of course I don't have any photos of fossils here; the ones my wife and I found were mostly tiny sharks teeth and the like. I'm planning some creative things with them for a later date, expect that and some other blog posts as I sort through things. Inn the meantime, enjoy these photos of this deserted riverside beach.

Assateague Island Part 2

 Some more shots from Assateague Island. This was a camping trip with friends, so in between fending horses away from our camp and recovering from hangovers, I managed to get some decent shots.

Assateague Island

I'll have to keep it short today, my editor-in-chief (wife) is unavailable at the moment and I wouldn't think it fair to subject my readers (hi, Mom and Dad) to too much of my raw, uncooked prose. 

 In August I'll be heading to Assateague Island National Seashore for some Summer camping. It is going to be obnoxiously hot (upper 30°s), and the place is notorious for mosquitoes, but there are wild mini ponies on the island. And what suffering is not made tolerable by the prospect of mini ponies frolicking in the sea breeze.

 A couple of weeks ago we went out the park for some recon, and I finally got to test out my second-hand telephoto lens I had picked up. Turns out it works quite well, which was a pleasant surprise. So I got plenty photos of seagulls flying around. Most of the day the lighting was quite harsh and not that great to work with, but I tried to experiment a little bit. My taste in photos has changed a little bit in the last few years, so there are some high-contrast, high-gain, slightly blurred pictures. They were shot that way on purpose in the name of art. Honest. 

Pow Wowwing

 A couple of weeks ago I was invited by a regular client (the ones behind the Preservation50 event I covered) to come photograph a Native American Powwow. My experience of Native American culture has been limited to the Smithsonian Museum of the American Indian and a visit to the Cherokee in North Carolina (the photos from which will eventually show up in another blog post). There is not a lot of Native American culture left, and I’ve always been fascinated with this entire world of peoples and nations that has almost completely disappeared. What would North America be today if it had never been "discovered"?

 

The Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape is a tribal confederation representing the descendants of Alongquian speaking tribes that lived in the Delmarva Peninsula, southern New Jersey and northern Delaware. The modern tribe is made up of the peoples whose ancestors remained in the area or returned after forced removals. 


Our Pow Wow celebrates the culture and socializing of American Indians. It is a “living event” and not a “reenactment.”  Public Pow Wows invite non-American Indian people to learn and enjoy the celebration, while also respecting the culture.
— http://nanticoke-lenapetribalnation.org/public-notices/2016-pow-wow/

Whatever you do, don’t call the traditional outfits ‘costumes’.

The traditional outfits worn by American Indians are not “costumes;” they are “regalia.”  Regalia is an expression of spirit, and has been prayed over and blessed. Honor it, the person wearing it, and the living history it represents. Do not touch anyone’s regalia without their permission.
— http://nanticoke-lenapetribalnation.org/public-notices/2016-pow-wow/

The regalia were one of the most beautiful parts of the event. They varied from traditional grass and chicken dancers to ones influenced by modern society (the guy with the hat and the hipster facial hair), and I am fairly certain one was a Prince tribute (the purple pants gave it away).

 

 No one presenting their work should ever preface it with “This isn’t very good, but…”. But that is exactly what I am going to do. The light wasn’t great and there was so much clutter in the background that I had a hard time trying to isolate the dancers from the not-out-of-focus-enough sea of spectators. But, considering, I think there are some decent shots.

 

 

(tl;dr) no one looks at my website, I don't care, I'mma post photos anyway, went to Pow Wow, took photos, don’t call regalia costumes.

Shenandoah National Park

Oh my god a blog post!!!!!

Yes, I am still maintaining the photographic side of my life. Barely. I am taking advantage of my new glasses and working through some photos that have yet to be given a good going over. Being able to see certainly helps.

 Last year, I went camping with some friends at Big Meadows in Shenandoah. Mostly I just drank wine and rode my bike and most of that mostly was the drinking wine. But I did manage to get some fine art in. The day we left we got up early to see the sunrise--a lot less appealing after heavy wine consumption but still I dragged my corpse out of bed and set off into the cold forest to romantically watch the sunrise with my wife. The forest ended up being in the way of the sunrise so we didn't see much, but the light falling on the big meadow in Big Meadows was fantastic. Mr. Deer was following a lady doe all over the meadow and graced my landscapes with his noble presence. Or perhaps he was trailing after a Mrs. Deer who was rather miffed at the romantic sunrise viewing her husband had ruined. But perhaps I am projecting.

Preservation50 Launch

Why do I post at such odd time, you ask? Well, you should mind your own business. But it's because in my real life job this is when I get off work.

 But in my make-believe job as a professional photographer, I have been photographing important events on Capitol Hill. The event was the launch of Preservation50, a year long celebration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. And I'll quote their website here to explain it further, because I don't like writing stuff that has already been written by someone else.

Mission

Preservation50 is the United States’ four-year effort to celebrate, learn from, and leverage the National Historic Preservation Act’s first five decades to assure historic preservation’s vibrant future in America.

Goals

- Build a strong coalition of partners to power a more effective national preservation movement.
Learn from the first 50 years of NHPA to plan its future.
- Tell the story to a broad range of Americans of the great value of preserving historic places.
- Educate for sound policies and enhanced funding support for heritage preservation.
- Engage and develop the preservation movement’s future leaders.
— http://preservation50.org/about/mission/

Well, that's already proved me wrong; 4 years, not one. So let's just get on with this quickly.

I am sharing this not just to show off that I got a photography gig, but because I do love archaeology and history, and as such I think that what they are doing is pretty cool. 

Here's the link, now I'm going to bed.

http://preservation50.org/2016-preservation50-reception/

 

Three, two, one...

And we're live! My website has finally been born, kicking and screaming and almost finished. Well, I got rid of the all the template stuff, so now I just need to round out a few things and clean up the mess. 

 The plan (and we all know how well plans work) is that the website will have my permanent portfolio, then some albums of my besties, and then the blog will be galleries of projects and other stuff I do that I don't do anything with. Of course rates and work details shall be here too; I am a professional photographer after all. Well, I've been paid before. 

 Thanks for taking the time to appreciate my meagre contribution to the world of photographic art.

Cheers,

Ian