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Work Samples

Cloudy Day

Cloudy Day black and white abstract reflection architecture building glass clouds M&T Bank Timonium Maryland
"Cloudy Day" - A black and white photograph of the all-glass M&T Bank building in Timonium, Maryland. I'm hoping to photograph it someday during a lightning storm.

United Steel Workers Building

United Steel Workers Building black and white abstract architecture building pattern Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
This building, originally owned by IBM, is now the headquarters of the United Steel Workers. The unique structural design and use of steel makes it an appropriate home for the USW. The diamond-patterned exterior isn't just decorative; it's an exoskeleton that supports the building.

Two Cities

Two Cities architecture buildings reflection 20th century Pittsburgh Pennsylvania PNC Plaza
"Two Cities" - the juxtaposition of early and late 20th century architecture in Pittsburgh, PA, reflected in a modern glass building

Five Plus Two

Five Plus Two Architecture black white abstract building windows columns Baltimore Maryland shadows painted
Most of the windows in this building in downtown Baltimore have been bricked over and painted white. You have to look closely to see the brickwork. The remaining windows give a hint as to how the building used to look.

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About Don

Carroll County

Don James is a creator of abstract photographic images. He finds inspiration in natural, industrial, and urban environments, being drawn to subjects that are rarely noticed by others. They are pieces of man-made structures, details of common objects, or short-lived fragments of nature that are continuously sculpted by the elements. He has been influenced by the abstract photographs of Brett Weston, Aaron Siskind, and William Garnett, as well as images by Precisionist painters and photographers of... more

In the City

I've had opportunities in the past year to explore cityscapes in the eastern United States, and I'm excited by the images I've been able to produce in such a short time. My only disappointment is that the amount of time devoted to photography during these visits was not nearly enough to capture all of the amazing structures I saw. I'm planning more road trips. :)

  • Five Plus Two

    Five Plus Two Architecture black white abstract building windows columns Baltimore Maryland shadows painted
    Most of the windows in this building in downtown Baltimore have been bricked over and painted white. You have to look closely to see the brickwork. The remaining windows give a hint as to how the building used to look.
  • United Steel Workers Building

    United Steel Workers Building black and white abstract architecture building pattern Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    This building, originally owned by IBM, is now the headquarters of the United Steel Workers. The unique structural design and use of steel makes it an appropriate home for the USW. The diamond-patterned exterior isn't just decorative; it's an exoskeleton that supports the building.
  • Two Cities

    Two Cities architecture buildings reflection 20th century Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    "Two Cities" - the juxtaposition of early and late 20th century architecture in Pittsburgh, PA, reflected in a modern glass building
  • Cloudy Day

    Cloudy Day black and white abstract reflection architecture building glass clouds M&T Bank Timonium Maryland
    "Cloudy Day" - A black and white photograph of the all-glass M&T Bank building in Timonium, Maryland. I'm hoping to photograph it someday during a lightning storm.
  • Behind Bars

    Behind Bars structure architecture abstract windows reflection building Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    "Behind Bars" - Two Gateway Center in Pittsburgh, PA, reflecting the nearby Four Gateway Center building. It's a beautiful chromium-steel covered office building, but the "bars" reflected in the windows give it an entirely different appearance.
  • Two Banks

    Two Banks M&T Bank of America Baltimore Maryland William Donald Schaefer Tower glass reflection cubism cubist abstract city downtown
    The all-glass M&T Bank building in downtown Baltimore, Maryland reflects the Bank of America building twice, sandwiching the William Donald Schaefer Tower in between. It's a bit disorienting, especially the section of sky on the right that appears to cut off the top of the Bank of America building. The glass structure seems to be able to disguise its actual shape.
  • Self-reflection

    Self-reflection mirror symmetry optical illusion abstract building windows arcchitecture Gateway Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    The symmetry of the Two Gateway Center building, along with its interesting exterior, creates a somewhat disorienting image that makes the building appear to be just four walls, joined at a central axis. When rotated so it's upside down, it looks like an empty square. I may have to alternate how I hang it.
  • Alcoa Building

    Alcoa Building black and white structure abstract aluminum building Pittsburgh Pennsylvania
    Originally built for and occupied by the Alcoa Aluminum Company, this building has an uncommon aluminum exterior. It still looks quite modern, even though it was built nearly 70 years ago.
  • Layers

    Layers color abstract Rachel Carson building structure windows Harrisburg Pennsylvania
    This unusually colorful structure is the Rachel Carson State Office Building in Harrisburg, PA. It stands out amidst the traditional architecture nearby.
  • East Baltimore Street

    East Baltimore Street Maryland downtown city cityscape skyscraper tower William Donald Schaefer SunTrust Wells Fargo abstract geometric
    The William Donald Schaefer Tower, Wells Fargo, and SunTrust buildings share the north side of East Baltimore Street in Baltimore, Maryland. I tried to capture a slice of each to illustrate the different architectural designs.

Ice

I have been photographing the ice structures that form on Morgan Run Creek, near my home in Westminster, Maryland, for more than five years. It can be a frustrating, but ultimately rewarding undertaking. There are usually only a few days each year when the temperature stays low enough, for long enough, to produce interesting patterns, and for the ice to be thick enough to pick up small sections in order to fully reveal its intricate structures.

Most of these images were presented in my first solo exhibition, "Order From Chaos", at the Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick, MD.

  • Ice Maze

    Ice Maze abstract black white frozen crystal crystalline pattern macro closeup Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    This section of ice, only three inches across, was part of a 10x10 foot sheet of these geometric forms. It's the most amazing ice formation I've ever seen. The ice partially melted and refroze overnight for several days, creating thes intricate patterns. I used the sun (the very bright patch near the center) to light this piece from behind to show as much detail as possible.
  • Monolith

    Monolith ice frozen triangle abstract rock Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    This large rock was encased in ice at Morgan Run Creek. The temperature hadn't hit double digits for ten straight days, and the ice was eight inches thick. It was the coldest day I can remember in the last 20 years.
  • Obsidian

    Obsidian ice sharp black white abstract holes macro closeup Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    The edges of this piece of ice on Morgan Run Creek near Westminster, Maryland look sharp enough to use as a tool.
  • Ocean of Storms

    Ocean of Storms ice frozen abstract crystal crystalline moon lunar melting macro closeup Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    This one of my favorite images. The ice appears to be melting, but is frozen solid. What looks like rain is air bubbles trapped in the ice. To me, it resembles the surface of the moon, so I named it after one of the largest lunar features.
  • Brains

    Brains ice frozen abstract pattern black white macro closeup Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    Slowly moving water can create all kinds of strange shapes as it freezes. This piece kind of looks like brains, so ...
  • Ghost Ice

    Ghost Ice frozen abstract black white crystal crystalline macro closeup pattern Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    Found under a rock overhang, the ice in this photograph was quite dark except along its edges.
  • The Net

    Ice Network frozen black white abstract pattern macro closeup Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    If someone drew a picture of a computer network, it would probably look similar to this section of ice.
  • Molten Ice

    Molten Ice frozen melting abstract macro closeup Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    Sunlight and moving water prevent ice from melting uniformly. They create holes and fissures, which sometimes re-freeze at night, adding to the complexity.
  • Scales

    Scales ice frozen black white abstract pattern macro closeup fish Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    A closeup photo of ice at Morgan Run Creek. It reminds me of scales on a fish.
  • Nazca Lines

    Nazca Lines ice frozen abstract macro closeup pattern curves Morgan Run Creek Westminster Carroll County Maryland
    This ice froze over multiple days, causing it to grow in segments. The graceful curves and precision of the lines reminds me of the geoglyphs in the Nazca Desert in Peru.

Structures

From a 400-foot tall bridge in Dallas, Texas to a boarded-up window in a warehouse, human-made structures allow me to create photographs ranging from straightforward architectural studies to almost unrecognizable abstracts. My photo of a Quonset hut, a simple storage building on a Westminster farm, was the first image that gave me confidence in my vision as an artist.

  • Quonset Hut Ribs

    quonset hut building steel abstract black white pattern farm silo
    A Quonset hut is a simple steel structure with a semi-circular cross-section. This one is used to store equipment and supplies on a Carroll County farm. The patterns in the ribs, rivets, and the grain silo on the left make this one of my favorite compositions.
  • Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge

    Bridge Margaret Hunt Hill Dallas Texas night abstract black white web architecture
    The Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge in Dallas, Texas, spans the Trinity River. It was designed by Santiago Calatrava. The main arch of this cable-stayed bridge is over 400 feet tall. It's a very interesting structure in daytime, but you need to see it at night to fully appreciate it.
  • Room With a View

    Room With a View window boarded warehouse broken glass blue frame Harrisonburg Virginia
    Well, not much of a view. This window in a warehouse in Harrisonburg, Virginia had been boarded up from the inside, leaving the glass exposed to the elements (including human elements).
  • Old Shakey

    Old Shakey bridge Harrisburg Pennsylvania architecture black white Susquehanna River steel truss
    "Old Shakey" (not a misspelling), aka the Walnut Street Bridge, is a pedestrian bridge on the Susquehanna River in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Built in 1890, the truss bridge fully spanned the river until 1996, when flooding coupled with massive amounts of ice destroyed the western section (the video is spectacular). I was able to photograph it on an overcast day, which removed any distractions in the sky and allowed the structure to stand out.
  • Tin Man

    Tin Man structure black white robot cement plant factory New Windsor Maryland Lehigh Hanson
    Tin Man is the top section of a nearly 600-foot tall tower at a cement plant in New Windsor, Maryland. You can get an idea of the scale by checking the series of stairways on the right. It's a very imposing structure. It's interesting at night as well, when the entire plant is lit up, but I prefer the daytime photo of this part.
  • The Towers

    The Towers abstract architecture grain storage farm patterns three Littlestown Pennsylvania
    The Towers are three adjacent grain storage silos near Littlestown, Pennsylvania. I photographed them about an hour before sunset to capture the long shadows. The warm color is also a result of shooting late in the day.
  • The Patio

    The Patio Weill Hall Institute Cell Molecular Biology Cornell University Ithaca New York abstract black white squares table chairs wall
    The patio outside Weill Hall, home of the Weill Institute for Cell and Molecular Biology at Cornell University, is infrequently used on Sundays when it's 45 degrees and cloudy. It's a very interesting building; its nearly all-white exterior is visible for miles. I'll have plenty of opportunities to photograph it over the next five or six years, as our son spends his days there working on his PhD.
  • Griest Building

    Griest Building architecture Italian Renaissance Revival Lancaster Pennsylvania caduceus
    The Griest Building in Lancaster, Pennsylvania is an example of Italian Renaissance Revival architecture. The combination of the windows, stonework, and ornamentation caught my eye immediately.
  • US Custom House Baltimore

    US Custom House Baltimore Beaux Arts architecture columns black white building Maryland abstract angles angular diagonal
    The U.S. Custom House in Baltimore, an imposing example of Beaux Arts architecture, opened in 1907. It now houses several Federal Government agencies, including the Department of Homeland Security, which means I probably won't get to see the spectacular murals on the interior walls.
  • Pipes

    Pipes abstract industrial liquid nitrogen storage Lancaster Pennsylvania
    This maze of pipes is part of a liquid nitrogen storage facility near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

The Train Yard

Most of these photographs were taken at the Steamtown National Historic Site, in my hometown of Scranton, PA. Whenever I visit family, I try to reserve some time to wander around the yard, appreciating the technology of the past century and a half. Many of the pieces are deteriorating due to a lack of funds to care for them, much like the city of Scranton itself. While the rust, peeling paint, and weathered wood present excellent opportunities for a photographer, there's also a bit of sadness in knowing that few of these locomotives and rail cars will ever be restored.

  • Door #1

    Door #1
    "Door #1" because it was one of several railcars in a row with intricately detailed weathering. I should have taken some closeup photos; hopefully I'll have another chance soon.
  • Aurora

    Aurora train railroad abstract reflection rust Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    This coal carrier at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania is painted completely black, but the paint is so glossy that it reflects every color vividly. The red and green are from the museum's main building; the blue and white are from sky and clouds.
  • Crossroads

    Crossroads train railroad abstract shadows rust tender rotary snowplow Long Island Railroad Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    I found this railcar at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton Pennsylvania when the sun was at just right position for the dozens of rivets to cast long shadows. The lettering is almost completely worn away, but you can just barely read "Island"on the left side; this car was the tender for a rotary snowplow owned by the Long Island Railroad.
  • Remnants

    Remnants railroad rail car weathered peeling paint metal Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    I'm not sure what caused the rainbow of colors seen in the paint on this railcar as it weathered away. I've never seen this effect before. The steel bar and its shadow give the image something extra that I think helps it work better than the abstraction it would be without them.
  • Riding in Coach

    Riding in Coach railroad rail car passenger Lackawanna window Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    This passenger railcar, at the Steamtown National Historic Site in Scranton, Pennsylvania, was owned by the Delaware, Lackawanna, and Western Railroad. It reminds me of the train rides I took with my grandparents when I was very young.
  • A Burst of Red

    A Burst of Red color paint rust peeling abstract Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    The Steamtown National Historic Site is, for the most part, a collection of faded remnants of the glory days of the railroad. While exploring a section where visitors rarely go, I found this blast of color, unlike anything I've seen in my many visits. It almost looks like very neatly done graffiti.
  • Porthole Window

    Porthole Window railroad diesel locomotive Lackawanna color paint abstract Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    This diesel locomotive, built for the Lackawanna Railroad, has porthole windows that, along with the paint job, give it a stylish look. The vivid colors and shapes kept me working on a composition for a while.
  • Rahway Valley Railroad

    Rahway Valley Railroad train railcar rail car abstract paint rust oil Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    The rainbow of colors on this coal tender for the Rahway Valley 15 steam locomotive is caused by a thin layer of oil that coats the cars that carried coal. The mining of coal was big business in northeastern Pennsylvania until the mid-20th century; the high-energy anthracite found in the region was the perfect fuel for steam engines.
  • Steam Engine 734

    Steam Engine 734
    Steam Engine 734 is a fully functional locomotive that is used for short excursions by the Western Maryland Scenic Railroad. It's a bit of a challenge to show detail in a subject that's so monochromatic.
  • Fading Away

    Fading Away train railroad railcar rail car abstract paint rust Steamtown National Historic Site Scranton Pennsylvania
    The perfectly straight rows and columns of rivets on this baggage car contrast with the faded paint and rust. It almost seems to be melting from the bottom up.

Nature

I live in a rural area of Maryland, and spend quite a bit of time outdoors with my camera. I find my best opportunities with the simplest objects: a single leaf, duck feathers, a fallen tree trunk. I'm attracted to these small, sometimes abstract pieces of nature, which often go unnoticed.

  • Skunk Cabbage

    Skunk cabbage swamp plant leaf leaves wetlands black white nature Maryland Morgan Run Creek veins
    Two skunk cabbage leaves. The one in front is casting a shadow on the one in back; the shadow of another leaf, outside the frame, falls on the front leaf. I love the patterns of the veins on these large leaves.
  • Wings

    Wings bird duck abstract feathers pattern avian blue Hagerstown Maryland
    This closeup photograph of a male mallard duck was taken at the lake next to the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, MD. Dozens of waterfowl use the lake year round. This duck was calm enough to let me get within a few feet, but I was only able to get a few shots before an angry goose chased me away.
  • Vincent Was Here

    Vincent Was Here Van Gogh Starry Night Abstract Wood Tree Trunk
    I love to watch people's reactions when they see this photograph. It usually only takes a few seconds for them to say, "It's Starry Night!". I was just finishing an outing at Morgan Run Creek in Carroll County when I came across this fallen tree trunk. Its bark had been stripped away, leaving these amazing patterns and colors exposed.
  • Jordan Pond

    Jordan Pond Acadia National Park Maine Bar Harbor water patterns abstract
    The water in Jordan Pond, in Maine's Acadia National Park, is some of the clearest in the United States. The water looks alive in this photograph, giving a sense of motion to a static image.
  • Fiji Fan Palm

    Fiji Fan Palm leaf leaves abstract patterns Franklin Conservatory Columbus Ohio
    The leaves of the Fiji fan palm, measuring several feet across, are beautifully detailed. Backlighting reveals the structure, and also highlights the massive stem.
  • Shatter Zone

    Shatter Zone abstract Acadia National Park Maine Bar Harbor volcano volcanic caldera rock rocks
    Few people know that Acadia National Park was the site of a supervolcano over 400 million years ago. The area around the edge of the giant caldera that was created is know as the "shatter zone", where existing rock was shattered as molten rock pushed upward. The colors produced by various minerals are quite eye-catching.
  • Bean Field

    Bean Field soybeans farm abstract pointillist pointillism Hunt Valley Maryland
    This soybean field near Hunt Valley, Maryland was too colorful to pass by. It resembles a pointillist painting.
  • Stick Figures

    Stick Figures Hodgsons Pond Acadia National Park Maine Bar Harbor water patterns abstract aquatic plants
    The not-quite symmetrical reflections of aquatic plants create wonderful abstract images. I've done a few, and this is my best so far.
  • It's Full of Stars

    It's Full of Stars Acadia National Park Maine Bar Harbor water patterns abstract Little Hunters Beach
    This pool of water near Little Hunter's Beach in Acadia National park is formed by a small stream running off Cadillac Mountain. The water drops about ten feet into the pool, causing the foam on the surface. The title is a line in the book "2001: A Space Odyssey".
  • Driftwood

    Driftwood wood black white Acadia National Park Maine Bar Harbor patterns abstract Little Hunters Beach
    This is one of many pieces of driftwood found on Little Hunter's Beach in Maine's Acadia National Park. Luckily, the sun was behind very thin clouds, making the light and shadows less harsh.

Morgan Run Creek - Water

If you've already read about my "Ice" project, you're probably wondering how much time I spend at Morgan Run Creek. In a word: lots. It's only three miles from home, and I'm often the only person in the area of the creek where I photograph, especially when the temperature is in the single digits. It's a very tranquil place to visit.

The photos in this project show the dynamic nature of the creek. The water reflects, refracts, and transports other objects, and can also be the subject all by itself. It encourages me to experiment, learn from my failures, and have a greater appreciation for my successful efforts.

  • The Creek Bed

    The Creek Bed water abstract impressionist stream Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run
    I've taken many photos of water over the past few years. The Creek Bed is an attempt to use the water in Morgan Run Creek as a lens, to magnify and distort the gravel at the bottom of the creek, and to amplify the colors. I've done quite a few of these experiments, and this one is my favorite.
  • Resonance

    Resonance water abstract blue raindrop circle reflection sky trees Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run Creek
    One drop of water from an overhanging branch set off this pattern of ripples and agitation in the water at Morgan Run Creek. The sky and trees provide the intense color reflected by the water.
  • Waterfall

    Waterfall water abstract Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run Creek
    This "waterfall" is actually only two feet high, but the patterns of light and shadow it produces were irresistable.
  • Surface Tension

    Surface Tension water abstract reflection sky Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run Creek
    It's difficult for a photograph to get more abstract than this one. If you find a patch of water that's moving very slowly, and shoot it from just the right angle, with the sun fairly high in the sky, you get an image that resembles a microscopic view of organisms in a drop of pond water. I photographed water for years before noticing this phenomenon, and now I look for i whenever I'm near a creek.
  • Woven Water

    Woven Water abstract light intersection Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run Creek
    Sunlight hitting he intersection of water flows produces this pattern that looks like it's been woven.
  • Beneath the Surface

    Beneath the Surface water abstract blue reflection sky trees Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run Creek
    A simple photograph of trees reflected in water provide a simultaneous view of the surface and the bottom of the creek.
  • Weightless

    Weightless water rock reflection sky trees Westminster Maryland Carroll County Morgan Run Creek
    Water was flowing slowly around this rock in Morgan Run Creek. By switching to a slow shutter speed, I was able to capture its movement and the reflection of sky, clouds, and trees, to make the rock appear is if it were floating on the water. No Photoshop tricks, just a single exposure using the camera's capabilities.

At the Carnival

I love being able to create photos that the eye and brain can't capture. When I started exploring photography in college, I did it by shooting sporting events, freezing the action on the field with a fast shutter speed. Now, I've started to go in the opposite direction, using a long exposure to allow the subject's motion to "paint" itself onto the image. There are few better subjects for that than a carnival ride, with hundreds of lights moving through the night and changing color several times each second. I'm almost always surprised, and sometimes amazed, by the end result.

  • The Roulette Wheel

    The Roulette Wheel carnival Reese Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    This carnival ride looks like a kaleidoscopic roulette wheel. Leaving the camera shutter open for about 1/2 second captures the motion of the lights on each arm, without allowing the trails to overlap, causing alternating black and colored wedges.
  • Ferris Wheel at Dusk

    Ferris Wheel at Dusk Ferris Wheel carnival Freedom Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    It takes a while after sunset before the sky is dark enough for the lights on the carnival rides to stand out. It's hard to be patient with so many things to photograph.
  • Gyroscopic

    Gyroscopic Scrambler symmetric spirographic carnival Reese Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    The Scrambler traces an intricate symmetrical pattern of lines as it rotates. Instead of switching rapidly through the entire spectrum, this ride changes back and forth between only two colors for a full 360 degree revolution before changing to a different pair. I have a half dozen photos of this ride, each in a different color pair. If you look closely, you can see the vendor selling caps in the stall in the background.
  • Area 51

    Area 51 alien spacecraft carnival Freedom Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    This looks more like an alien spacecraft landing than a carnival ride. The long exposure captured the full 360 degree rotation of the ride.
  • The Rainbow Wheel

    The Rainbow Wheel Ferris carnival Gamber Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    This Ferris Wheel at the Gamber Fire Hall carnival is the first ride ever I photographed. I had no idea what to expect, and the results blew me away immediately. The plan was to photograph all of the large rides, but I was so busy experimenting, I never made it past the Ferris Wheel.
  • Colliding Galaxies

    Colliding Galaxies Ferris Wheel carnival Freedom Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    This single exposure captures two carnival rides that appear to overlap.
  • Stripes

    Stripes carnival Gamber Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    This close-up view of the Ferris Wheel at the Gamber Fire Hall carnival shows the motion and fluctuating colors of the lights.
  • Tilt

    Tilt carnival Reese Maryland Carroll County Volunteer Fire Department abstract night lights kaleidoscope motion time exposure long tripod
    The standing riders are hard to pick out in this photo, but there are several.

Autumn Leaves, With a Twist

One autumn day, while I was photographing at my favorite spot on Morgan Run Creek, I watched a brightly colored maple leaf float by, flipping and twisting as it was carried over and around the obstacles in the creek. I had been looking for something to experiment with, so I started to photograph the leaves, one by one, as they were carried past me. The exposures captured not only the leaves, but also the colors of the creek bed, and even the turbulence of the water itself. Some of the photos look like a leaf "portrait"; other images seem almost completely abstract.

I also did some experimenting with the maple trees at my home. Using a slow shutter speed and rotating the camera during the exposure, I was able to capture some images that turned the maple leaves into abstractions.

All of the effects in the photos in this project were done "in camera"; these are not Photoshop tricks, which don't hold much interest for me.

  • Maple Leaf

    Submerged fall autumn leaf leaves maple water abstract red Morgan Run Creek Carroll County Westminster
    This colorful maple leaf was suspended just below the surface of the water.
  • Submerged

    Submerged fall autumn leaf leaves maple water abstract Morgan Run Creek Carroll County Westminster
    This dried-up maple leaf was partially submerged as it floated past. At first glance, it may not look like a leaf. The pale color makes it blend in with the color of the creek bed. This image has been exhibited at the Washington County Museum of Fine Arts in Hagerstown, Maryland, as part of their annual juried photography exhibition.
  • Half and Half

    Half and Half
    Half in sun, half in shadow. Half on the surface, half submerged. This leaf floated by in just the right position to capture all elements of the environment.
  • Autumn Vortex

    Autumn Vortex abstract maple tree leaf leaves circle long exposure Westminster Maryland Carroll County
    We have two beautiful maple trees in our yard. This smaller one was surrounded by fallen leaves, with others still clinging to the branches. I was experimenting with camera motion, and tried rotating it with a long exposure of about 1/8 second. The farther you go from the center of the image, the more motion you see. This is what autumn feels like to me: lots of color, and lots of wind.
  • Floating

    Floating
    You wouldn't know that this leaf was floating on water if not for the slight disturbance at the very end of the stem.
  • Spin Art

    Spin Art
    Another experiment with camera motion, this time focusing only on the leaves. A longer shutter speed made all of the leaves unrecognizable, except for the single maple leaf at the center of the circle. The mixing of the vivid leaf colors and the blue sky made this image stand out from the rest of the motion photos.
  • Serrations

    Serrations  serrated fall autumn leaf leaves water abstract Morgan Run Creek Carroll County Westminster Maryland
    This leaf was barely moving along the creek on top of the water, giving me plenty of time to make a portrait.
  • Fan

    Fan fall autumn leaf leaves abstract red Morgan Run Creek Carroll County Westminster
    This leaf has a graceful curve and an interesting array of colors. I prefer to photograph the underside of a leaf because the pattern of the veins is much easier to see.
  • Still a Leaf

     fall autumn leaf leaves water abstract Morgan Run Creek Carroll County Westminster distorted submerged
    This leaf is about a foot under the surface of the water, which causes interesting light patterns. Any deeper and it would probably no longer look like a leaf.
  • Burning Leaf

    Burning Leaf fall autumn leaves water abstract Morgan Run Creek Carroll County Westminster
    This leaf is barely touching the water, as if it were trying not to be extinguished.

Flowers, Butterflies, etc.

I do sometimes photograph things that other people like to photograph. The most successful of these images are usually of small things. Some of my best are presented in this ongoing project.

  • Cherry Leaves and Old Wood

    Cherry Leaves and Old Wood grain red
    I like the contrast between the bold color of the cherry leaves in autumn, against the grain in the wood of a well-worn picnic table. This is one of my earliest digital photographs.
  • Dragonfly

    Dragonfly Kenilworth Gardens Washington DC District of Columbia blue dasher
    This dragonfly (a blue dasher, I think), sitting on a yet-unfurled leaf, was challenging my patience. Every time I got close enough, it flew away. I finally learned that the secret to photographing dragonflies is to just position yourself in the desired spot, and they'll come back and ignore you.
  • Hibiscus Flower

    Hibiscus Flower focus stacking macro pollen
    This photograph was made using a technique that wasn't available to me until I switch to digital. It uses "focus stacking", which involves taking multiple photos of an object, without moving the camera, and focusing at a different distance for each one. Software is then used to select the sections of each image that are in focus, and they are then stitched together to form a single image. It's quite useful in macro photography, where depth of field is usually very shallow.
  • Blue Morpho

    Blue Morpho blue butterfly brown tropical Franklin Conservatory Columbus Ohio
    The Blue Morpho butterfly gets its name from the brilliant color on the inside surface of its wings. Unfortunately, it rarely opens them when it's at rest. Luckily, the outer surface is quite striking in its own way.
  • Sunflower and Swallowtail

    Sunflower and Swallowtail butterfly Hunt Valley Maryland Baltimore County Agricultural Resource Center
    The Baltimore County Agricultural Resource Center often plants a field of sunflowers, allowing vistors to "pick their own", with a small donation requested. Before the people get their chance, butterflies and bees rule the field.
  • Iris

    Iris still life blue flower portrait artificial lighting purple
    I don't do much photography with artificial lighting, but I wanted to try to get a "portrait" of one of the irises from our garden. The goal was to have a completely black background, and to highlight the color and the translucence of the petals. I somehow managed to do it one evening by placing the flower in a vase on the kitchen counter, turning off most of the room lights, and illuminating the iris with a simple desk lamp. I think it worked fairly well for a first attempt.
  • Lotus Flowers

    Lotus Flowers seed pods Kenilworth Gardens Washington DC District of Columbia
    Lotus flowers put on an amazing display every year at Kenilworth Gardens in Washington, DC. The plants grow up to six feet tall, with flowers that can measure a foot across.
  • Tropical Water Lily

    Tropical Water Lily purple Kenilworth Gardens Washington DC District of Columbia
    The colors of this tropical water lily, at Kenilworth Gardens in Washington, DC, were some of the most intense I've ever seen in a natural object.
  • Say Hello To My Little Friend

    Say Hello To My Little Friend praying mantis green insect smile westminster maryland carroll county
    This praying mantis was quite easy-going, resting on my finger as I photographed it. The shape of the face even makes it look happy. We don't see them nearly as often as we'd like to.

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Don's Curated Collection

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