This will be a blog post that I will continue to update anytime I share a #mysterymonday post in social media. Based on the fun interesting responses to my first Mystery Monday photo I shared, I thought I would give this a try. It will allow viewers to see the history of the photos and what the photo subject is, since some photos are not apparent at initial view.
The more abstract and macro view of the world we live in has always interested me. There can be really fascinating photos pretty much everywhere if you are willing to narrow your focus down to subjects that measure in inches instead of hundreds of feet, or even many miles. Although small isn't always the recipe. At times it can be a different angle, weather, or way of photographing a given subject that causes a viewer to pause trying to understand what it might be.
I know photographers that prefer to keep the element of mystery in their abstract related work by not divulging the subject of the photo shared. I whole heartedly agree with this approach. In fact outside of this project that is how I prefer to be as well. Yet as part of this project some of my existing work now has a clearly communicated subject to the viewer. I feel this has it's own meaningful value to help others see how interesting the world around us can be, beyond a literal interpretation. Once I complete this project (date TBD) I intend to move back to my initial approach of keeping the mystery alive.
The most recent photo will be posted at the top of this page. This one won't have any insight into what the photo subject is. When a new photo is posted to this running blog I will provide more insight into what the prior photo is comprised of. This allows the viewer at least a week (sometimes more) to view the photo without any context on what the subject is. Long term I am looking to turn this into an eBook once I have at least a year of photos posted with the goal to showcase the hidden beauty that is all around from wild nature to everyday man made items.
Monday February 27
Not overly hard but the point isn't to make all of these serious brain scratchers. The point is even for a brief pause to wonder what it is or might be. Even if you know but you need to glance at it a second longer to be sure. In this case most answers I saw on social media were correct. This is a close up of a handicapped parking spot symbol that has started to deteriorate over time. I removed the bright blue by making it a black and white to not give it away. Sometimes just removing color can cause us to reflect a little longer on a photo.
Monday February 13
An extra for the horror movie "The Blob", not exactly. It's a large jellyfish on the Washington coast waiting for the tide to come back in. It was an extraordinary specimen with the array of colors it was showing. These lions mane jellyfish are reddish in color yet I showed up at the right time of day with it lying on the right colored rocks for this explosion of color.
Monday January 23
It might be in a cave somewhere but this is in fact high up on Mt Hood seen while snowboarding. The intense storm that recently cleared had strong winds which iced the snow over creating these formations. Processed in black and white to focus on the shadows and highlights.
Monday January 2
Love, 15, 30... you know where this is going?! I was up in Alaska last summer with the family as we had a brief session on a local tennis court. As it started raining I was pulled into this reddish to green transition as the speckles of rain came splat. We got a few more hits in and then called it as the rain continued to come down. you can plainly see by this one yet again, it's hard to turn my mind off from always looking what is out there of interest to photograph.
Monday December 26
I recently had the opportunity to visit a planet in a galaxy far far away. The surface was really interesting. Truth me told it does feel like a surface from out of this world yet it's simply interesting sand clumps of sand found on the Oregon Coast with the light hitting it a way that feels a little martian like.
Monday December 12
Another round of interesting and fun answers. I liked the grease one along with rain on sand. I can see both of these possible subjects in the photo. The reality is that it's neither. It's actually slow moving creek scum that is bubbling up. From a distance it didn't look like much but zoomed in with my 400mm it was a whole other world. A few people passed right behind me as I was photographing this scene. They were interested in what I was starting down into a creek at. Usually puzzled at the response I gave them along the lines of "beautiful abstract photo of pond scum." I would say with excitement. One person seemed to be onboard and was either equally excited or just went along with it for fun.
Monday December 5
I like the couple answers that surrounded the idea of this being a microscope photo of a virus or something similar. This in fact is a far distance from any microscope or laboratory. I was out photographing along the beach when I noticed a very nice piece of shiny kelp. Getting up close the squiggly little lines or channels were very engaging to me. Shortly after I processed this originally many years ago, I realized that a further departure from reality with black and white made the most sense. Another weekly reminder to closer at the small details that surround us everyday.
Monday November 28
While starting to enter a burned forest area I only had my mind looking for nature scenes. I had expectation I would find something completely human-made that would lure me in like this object did. What you are looking at is a closeup view of a small piece of a very large and tall metal cylinder. By tall I mean at least twice my height or more. Might have been to store water or something since it was near a camping area, I am not sure. The markings around the side created from scratches, rust and other elements were different than what I had seen before. I photographed this with a telephoto lens utilizing processing to bring out the colors that were rather muted in the raw file. Goes to show you never know what you are going to come across, always keep an open mind for what you might find.
Monday November 22
One evening as I was finishing up cleaning the kitchen from dinner I noticed some droplets of oil floating in a cast iron pan that looked interesting. Enough so that I was inspired to get my camera gear from the office to see what I could create. My daughter walked into the kitchen with me pointing my 100mm macro lens on a tripod straight down to a dirty pan. The life of a photographer my daughter didn't think it was that odd since I am always doing stuff like this. She just asked what I was photographing, said something like "that's cool" and kept walking by. There were several of photos I took that I liked, some with the bubbles completely still, yet I thought this one worked best for the mystery theme. I liked that multiple people thought it was beer!
Monday November 14
In October 2022 I was out scouting one of the locations during the Out of Oregon conference on the Oregon Coast. As I was walking along a dock I happened to glance a view of this area. It was a larger scene with "messy" areas on the outer sides yet narrowing my field of view I could see nice patterns and designs that seem to resemble looking at a rock more than anything else. This is pollen, and likely some other debris, sitting on the surface of the water. The green water color is what I saw. It was a bright sunny day and I happen to pass at the right time for the angle of the sun for the green to show more prominently. When I took the group back to this area a day or two later, this scene was gone and the light was completely different. Taken as a raw file on iPhone.
Monday October 24
I loved some of the guesses on social media ranging from composite decking to coconut husk. I can definitely see both of these in this photo. What you are looking at is a heavy rain shower right at sunset. The drops appear to be orange because the of a light beam from the setting sun illuminating the rain with the dark sky still looming in the background. It was one of those moments seeing the magical light and rain where I was trying to figure out a way to photograph it that worked best. In this case it required me to point me lens almost vertically. I say almost because I was able to stand under cover just enough for my lower body to get wet but keep my lens dry.
Monday October 3
While walking on on a harbor in Alaska the intense smell of fish was all around this edge of the dock, complete with a large bin of fish parts which I opted to not photographic. Although I am sure I could have created something interesting with all of it. Turning around there was this large cutting board measuring at least five or six feet long. From a distance it didn't look like much yet the cuts up close drew me in for this photo.
Monday September 19
"Hey David, don't.... wait can you do that again!". This photo gets an assist from my good friend David Cobb. We were just wandering around enjoying the sunny morning as we finished final scouting for a workshop starting that evening. A combination of me getting curious what something might look like and David trying to mess up my photo (unintentionally) made for an interesting and creative photo. I kept on playing with different variations and having David throw rocks into the water in just the right spot to see what would happen. We had a variety of different things take place as a result yet this particular scene and composition is one of my favorite.
Monday September 12
While I was selecting this photo from MM to me it looked like a stack of pencil tips so I named the photo "Pencil Tips" in the metadata. Then I went to my middle school daughter and asked her what she thought it looked like and then said pencil tips. Bright minds. Then she said the right answer which is jackfruit. This is a close up photo of the outside of a large jackfruit. The actual fruit hanging from the tree was 12" to 18" tall at a botanical garden in Hawaii. I had them before yet this was the biggest. Looking at it closely was mesmerizing with the skin patterns, maybe a little trance like if you stare long enough. Although I won't expect to see some secret subject if I look at it long enough, like those art pieces hanging in malls during the late 80's and early 90's.
Monday August 29
While lounging on the shore of a lake in the Mount Hood Wilderness during a family camping trip I was entranced by the light and canyon colored rocks. Even though a straight regular view through the clear water would have worked I wanted to do something different. This was a relaxing photo time playing with this subject to see what I could come up with using ICM (In Camera Movement). Using subtle camera movement I was able to create one that I really liked.
Monday August 22
Our first black and white for Mystery Monday (MM). Originally I was going to leave it in color after originally trying black and white when it was first taken. Then this is when accidents are great. I accidently pressed something that showed it today as black and white, and this time I changed my mind. Stripping the color away on this I feel creates more of an abstract view of this subject.
What you are looking at is a sidewalk. I walked past this spot a number of years ago when it was first poured and I saw this really interesting designs. I didn't photograph it since my phone at the time wasn't good resolution and I didn't have may main camera. Fast foreword to 2022 and armed with a better phone camera, the iPhone 12 Pro, I was able to create something. I was happy to still see it was there. A little faded yet nothing a little processing can't bring out.
Monday August 1
This was such a fascinating find. I really wanted to spend more time on this one yet I couldn't. This was on a glacier tour in Alaska. My second time visiting the Matanuska Glacier, my first over winter seeing it it all snowed over as a winter wonderland. When you are on these tours there is no lollygagging around. The tour leader is keeping the group moving with only very short stops. The vast majority are there simply to see the sights and snap a few photos, not stare at every detail and photograph it intensely.
This is one of those scenes that you can easily walk over, which I started to. As I did the hints of blue glistened like sparkling diamonds, at least to me. Despite all the glacial silt runoff covering the ice you could see a little bit of the blue coming through. The combination works really well here. While I was only able to quickly finding a pleasing composition with my iPhone, I was thankful to see it came out really well. And as I have learned just because I create a great photo with the phone does not mean I can replicate with my larger main camera. Sometimes it's just not that easy and in this case it's likely better off I didn't have the opportunity.
Monday July 25
At first glance it might be taken as an oil sheen on water or a unique looking counter top. The first guess is correct. While it has a resemblance of a man-made petroleum oil sheen it's actually completely organic and natural sheen that is produced when bacteria decomposes, typically referred to as cyanobacteria. You can easily tell the difference between a natural sheen and one that is man-made. If you take a stick and poke the sheen it will break up and stay broken apart like this photo. If it's man-made then it will come right back together after you take away the stick. You can read more about this in these links, here and here.
As for this specific photo it was taken along the Oregon Coast. In fact it was right on the beach on sand near vegetation with standing water. These scenes are easy to pass by. This photo was taken with my macro lens with the width measuring no more than 7 or 8 inches.
Monday July 4
“July 4th” - was an unexpected find while vacationing in Montana with my family recently. I have a daughter that is into tennis, to the point that we usually search for courts when we travel. One morning she and I headed out to nearby courts. Once in a while a ball would end up outside the immediate court which would force me to wander to the neighboring open courts. As I did this I started to take notice to some interesting patterns and colors in different areas. My only camera was an iPhone which I proceeded to take out a few times for the brief moments that clouds obscured the sun. This is one of those photos, looking down to a small area of a tennis court.
So what are tennis courts made of? I honestly wasn't completely sure until I looked into it. While the evolution of tennis has seen a variety of court surfaces, including even grass (doesn't seems like the best option but what do I know), the most common today for public courts is a thick layer of paint with sand mixed in that is painted on asphalt. The amount of sand included helps determine how fast the ball will bounce. What you see here is really red paint and grit from sand, along with areas that have started to discolor/darken along with what appears to be mold spores or lichen growing. Seems like these courts could use a good power washing!
Monday June 27
“Deep Space” - I was wandering past the side of my house like I do pretty much everyday. Yet it was this one time that the smallest of details caught my eye. I stopped and walked closer to one of the vent pipes. Around the outside of the plastic pipe is a metal brace holding the pipe in place. There is a small area where the black paint chipped off. In this spot the metal has started to rust and blister. While discovering rusted metal isn't something new for me, this interesting design with different hues of orange lines resembled more of a rock abstract than metal. I used a macro lens only inches away from this metal plate to photograph this find.
Monday June 20
"Burning" - While leading a workshop in the Palouse region we stopped at an area that had old farm equipment. One subject that myself and a couple participants took interest in was an old farm combine harvester. There was a number of interesting details, many comprised of rusting metal. Yet there was one area that I am pretty sure was thick decaying rubber. It seemed too thick to be vinyl. There was a large cut through it so I could see the thickness. It was painted red. This photo is a macro composition showing the peeling rubber which gave a unique contrast between the black rubber and the red paint slowly decomposing. Needless to say we all had fun with this little spot.
Monday June 13
"Blue Crackle" - While this does appear to be a close up of dried mud or dirt, it's not. In fact among the more than dozen answers on social media no one was close. When I saw this I knew it had real potential. It is a close up macro view of a larger subject. The larger subject is actually a decaying tire from old farm equipment. I had never seen anything like this in regards to a tire. I suspect it's decades old allowing the slow unique transition by Mother Nature.