June 29, 2010      The Photographer Gets Auction Treasures for Free

Antique Signs at Auction

I photographed an all-day outdoor country auction Saturday that sprawled over several acres in Nara Visa, New Mexico. It was a photographer's paradise and I was the only one shooting: it was like when I was a kid and would get to the beach so early that I'd be the only one out catching the glassy morning waves.

My article in The Chronicle-News later this week will tell the auction story, perhaps with all five of the photographs I submitted, including this one of two antique signs posted above a table of old tools. As so often happens, people I met there at the auction will probably lead to more stories and photographs, including some portraits.

For now, I'm turning my attention to a portrait project I pursued in California last week. I'm finally getting to the processing, which will still be relatively slow on my 5-year-old Power Mac G5 computer. Yesterday I finally ordered a new Mac Pro with 8-core (I like to say "dual quad") processor, 8GB of memory, a pair of one-terabyte hard-drives, and a 24" LED monitor. It'll save me an immense amount of time by eliminating all those thousands of 20-second pauses while I wait for the computer to do its thing.

rolling pins

Before the new computer arrives next week, I hope to process dozens of portraits and post the best of them in the galleries, with some here in the blogs, too. The new computer will allow me to add Adobe CS5, which includes Photoshop and the web software I'll be using here, Dreamweaver, which replaces the old CS2 "Go Live" that I've used until now. My web guru Mike Schoonover tells me they'll be some changes in my workflow but that the transition should be seamless for you, the reader. I'm looking forward to it.



June 25, 2010      The Golden State


I'm back from my sabbatical and jumping into work refreshed and motivated. The break was good: giving my garden a good start, spending time with visiting friends, taking long hikes up the mountain, and (best of all) spending a week with family at the home place in a canyon by the beach in southern California.

I have a wealth of new photographs to process and share, including dozens of portraits that excite me, but first I'm sharing some of my views of LA, including this wonderful shot of "Manikins" in the fashion district downtown. This spelling of manikin means "little man, dwarf, pygmy". So, rather than mannequins, this is a family of manikins.

In the coming days (and weeks), I'll make up for the dearth of new material over the past four weeks. It feels good to be jumping back into photography with new vigor.



June 4, 2010      Refilling the Well (and Making Tracks)

Jeep Tracks, abstract photography by Tim Keller

I'm sharing my abstract photograph "Jeep Tracks" here because it characterizes my June. I'm camping a lot out on our land, under ponderosa pines down 20 miles of dirt road, and Christina and I will be meeting up with my extended family back home in California. It was my dad who originally got me interested in photography (he has a college degree in it), and my daughter Darcy has inherited the family trait, so we all expect to be out taking photographs.

Meantime, this computer is going into the shop for repairs, and I'm hiking every day, reading lots of books, and tending my garden. In other words, June is going to continue to be a slack month for the blogs.

I do plan to post 56 new images to the photography galleries late next week, and by the end of the month I'll be back in full swing with my camera and writing, with plenty to blog about. Until then, consider me on vacation -- refilling the well and making tracks.



May 22, 2010      Finding the Fine in Fine Arts Photography

"Soft Yellow" landscape photograph by Tim Keller

It's already time to go through this year's images to select five for entry in the region's biggest and most important art show, the International Art Exhibit and Sale in Raton in early September. Why pick so early? I get my printing done by Frank Images in Trinidad, Colorado, and my matting and framing done by Frontier Frames in Santa Fe, so there are logistics involved. By printing now, I get free delivery to my classroom in Raton before I disappear from there for summer vacation. I'll be in Santa Fe in three weeks, so I can drop the prints for framing and pick them up on my way home. I'll have the work ready early, but I avoid having to ship the prints or make an extra 400-mile round trip to Santa Fe for the framed works.

I've selected four local landscapes and one portrait. The portrait is New Mexico mystery novelist Steven Havill, and I've converted the shot to black & white for the show. Since my portrait of Archie West won Best of Show at last year's Solano Photography Exhibit, I've been aware that a portrait can really stand out at a show, where landscapes dominate. Why aren't there more portraits? Because as a general rule only the subject's loved ones might buy it. My portrait of Archie, despite a full page in Western Horseman and Best of Show award, still graces the wall at Studio C, for sale. Photos are expensive to print and frame properly (I have all my work done to museum standards), and the chances of recouping the investment are slender.

Antelope Flats at Sunrise - landscape photography by Tim Keller

Among the landscapes I'll be showing are two I've taken on my daily commute from Des Moines to Raton and back. "Soft Yellow" above, was taken about 8 miles east of Raton at sunset. "Antelope Flats at Sunrise" was taken on my way to school in the morning in early winter, after a first dusting of snow. There are grazing antelope in the picture, visible if you click on the image to enlarge it. In the winter, my morning drive coincides with sunrise, my evening drive with sunset. Add that striking horizontal winter light and you can understand why in 11 school years I've never grown tired of my daily 75-mile round-trip commute.



May 16, 2010      Shooting in the Dark

Raton High School Singers

The best photographs I got this week were from Tuesday night's annual Raton Schools Spring Concert performances at the Shuler Theater. Here, Music Director Russell Woods conducts the high school choir. I shot from the loge box so I'm a little above them. Using my 18-200mm zoom, this one was taken at 44mm, or about the same as what my eye was seeing. It was dark and I don't use flash in the Shuler. (They specifically ask that no one use flash, but parents and the photographer for the Raton Range ignored them and used flash anyway.) This exposure was 1/13 second at f/4.5 with a high ISO speed of 3200 -- you can judge for yourself how well the Nikon D300 handles that.

I like the composition. For The Chronicle-News, I considered cropping the top and right side (the editor will probably crop it anyway), but I like the diagonal flow from the conductor up toward the upper right corner, including that spotlight on the back curtain and the shadow of a singer in the spotlight.

Raton Middle School Tiger Band

The Shuler was already crowded when I arrived early. The balcony was cordoned off. I used reporter's privilege and stepped over the cordon. As I entered the balcony on the far right, I found it filled with the middle school band and other students. I immediately squatted low and took this shot, again without flash, to capture the sense of excitement and anticipation as the young musicians awaited their first performance on the Shuler Theater's storied 95-year-old stage. Here the lens is wide at 18mm, the exposure handheld for 1/4 second at f/5 and ISO 3200. It's a fun "backstage" look, when backstage is on the balcony.

There are News updates both here and on the TimKellerArts side. I'm not repeating them here, so I hope you'll go check them out. Thanks.



May 9, 2010      One Man's Manicure

Tom Pryor, Des Moines NM

After spending hours visiting and photographing Tom Pryor over two days last weekend, I spent all day yesterday writing my 1500-word feature on Tom for RANGE Magazine, and processing their photos. It all looks good!

Besides processing 70MB TIFF files for publication, I run each file through Photoshop to add copyright, caption, tags, and contact data to each file. Then I make contact sheets so the editor can see reference images on paper, along with a printout of captions. It takes a lot of extra time to prepare everything when it's going to a magazine for publication.

Tom Pryor, Des Moines NM, manicure

Here are a couple more photos of Tom, taken the second day out there at his ranch 12 miles from town. (A pair of photos from the first day is immediately below. Click any photo to enlarge.) I like the manicure photo: as I interviewed Tom, he pulled out his pocketknife and started trimming his fingernails even as he concentrated on answering my questions and spinning his tales. I already had the picture before he knew what I was doing. He looked at me, a little amazed that I'd take a picture of that. "Hey," I said, "I'm a photographer. It's what I do!"



May 2, 2010      Gifts from the Sky

Jan & Tom Pryor Sky

After spending an 8-hour morning yesterday processing photos and writing four newspaper features, I finally got outside to drive out and interview Tom Pryor for a RANGE Magazine feature. Immediately I saw that the interview would come second, that we needed to do the photography first: the skies were magnificent!

Eventually they closed in and rained -- it even snowed a little, on May Day -- but not before I drove out with Tom and Jan to feed the cattle and take some pictures. The shot above looks east as they return home. The shot to the right looks west to show Sierra Grande, Capulin Volcano (in the right distance), and the Pryor's home down behind them.

Tom & Jan Pryor, Des Moines NM

We're not done. I'm going back out for more today. The sky will be different and Tom will be in different clothes: I learned with my Mary Lou Kern feature that C.J. Hadley, the editor of RANGE, wants her photos to show a subject over a period of time, not all taken in one day and one change of clothes. I had Tom take his jacket off for some shots yesterday, for that purpose, but today's a different day altogether.

Besides, we spent so much time taking pictures yesterday that when we finally got to the interview with Tom, we ran short of time. I can think of worse ways to spend a Sunday afternoon than going back out there to visit my friends and take more pictures.



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