Rick Luiten Photography: Blog https://www.lu-10.com/blog en-us Rick Luiten Photography luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Mon, 14 Dec 2020 05:56:00 GMT Mon, 14 Dec 2020 05:56:00 GMT https://www.lu-10.com/img/s/v-12/u580191479-o615071692-50.jpg Rick Luiten Photography: Blog https://www.lu-10.com/blog 120 90 I Am A Rafter (What it has taught me about Spirituality) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2020/8/i-am-a-rafter-what-it-has-taught-me-about-spirituality

I am a rafter, whitewater, flat water, it really doesn’t matter to me any more. I just love being on the river. Chief Si'ahl says the rivers are our brothers but the White Man does not understand this. It is true but it is not beyond us to learn it. It does however, takes time. 

 

I would love to see all the rivers running free, flowing at their pace according to the seasons. Living the lives they were meant to live. Sure I like electricity, I get dams, I grew up right in front of the Grand Coulee Dam. I worked in it, I played in the lake behind it, and I lived with the power it gives. I loved the roar of its falls and I could feel it deep within my chest.

 

But there is a fundamental flaw with dams, they come from our culture’s need to conquer or harness the energy within the river and thus we change it, we pollute it, and we think we have won but we haven’t. In a large sense we have lost much, and taken much away from those who for centuries, lived with the river on it’s terms. 

 

You cannot be a rafter, spending countless hours flowing with a river and not come to understand that it is us who must adapt to the river. It carries us but it is up to us to figure it out, to learn to listen to and perceive it’s nuances not the other way around. 

 

I have often thought what an adventure it would be if we could raft the Columbia river free of dams. From Canada to the ocean. The major rapids, on a river that flows up to 200k cfs, wow. To float by the cultures who have lived their lives along it as their ancestors did. But that will never be. 

 

It is hard to raft for days and pass though lands that are owned. You cannot stop and walk up a hill, sit in a grassy field, pick wild berries because in so many places, the land is owned. If you think about it, parks are wonderful, but they are little bits of property set aside so we can see and experience them. They are filled with people, signs tell us to go here and not there. No dogs, not this or that and knowing people, it all makes sense, yet it is a poverty.

 

So we pass through the property we are not allowed to set foot upon. Chief Si'ahl said his people had no understanding of the ownership of land. How can you own the sun on your face or the wind against your body? It was foreign to him. 

 

I wonder what it  might feel like if that were true today?I use my imagination to try and find out, to feel it if only in a small way, but I cannot. 

 

I realize at my age, if I was living like the indigenous peoples of this land did, I would probably be dead by now, at least there would be a very good chance of it. Then I wonder if that would be so bad, would a fuller life, one connected to the earth, the air, creatures and trees have left me fulfilled in the end? Would a life that was so much more rich, with the fullness of understanding that I was part of this earth, and everything in it, not just a mental understanding, but a deep, balls to bones understanding, be better than just existing for a couple decades longer?

 

I don’t know but I can guess.  

 

I think of spirituality, how it works, and how it doesn’t.  What can I learn from it? What is it really? I have ideas but I know there is something greater, even with all my years of study, prayer, meditation, listening to mentors, I still have only scratched the surface. 

 

I wonder how my culture has influence and maybe infected my understanding of the truth found in the holy scriptures.  

 

I have been using my imagination to try and see what it was like in king David’s time and how we tend to think of it like things are now. How big was Jerusalem as he stood on his porch looking at the stars, or gazing upon the beauty of Bathsheba. Do we unconsciously relate Israel to the US or whatever country we happen to have been born in? Was David’s Jerusalem like Washington DC?

 

I live in a very small town. My town covers around 2300 acres. It certainly is not what I would think of as a thriving metropolis and to tell the truth, I would not want it that way. Then I think of David’s Jerusalem, it covered 15 acres. It had a couple thousand people in it.  Nazareth, where Jesus came from, was smaller yet and held less than 200 people. The smallest town I have lived in was 400. 

 

This would have a great effect on your outlook and understanding of spirituality. Jesus walked in the wilderness to talk to God, it wasn’t far away. We need to go miles to find a park. Or a river. 

 

Our culture was created by a handful of people in a small insignificant little piece of land in Europe. It only came about because they managed to figure out a way to use gunpowder and had a mindset to conquer the world. And for better or worse, they did. 

 

Their whole understanding of the world separates us from it. Separation has become part of our DNA. We feel alone, or at least I do. Most of us don’t even realize it, so there is little effort to change things. We as the song says, become, “comfortably numb.”

 

But are we comfortable? Or is there something deep within us telling us that things have gone awry? With the subject-object distinction built into our language and unconsciousness we can only relate to something, or someone by distinction, by seeing that which separates us from it, and it from other things. I think of watching Sesame Street with my kids and hearing, which one of these things is not like the other? And it begins. We superimpose this mindset on our Scriptures and come up with, and do things that seem so foreign to the will of a heavenly Father whose nature is love, and we do it without ever asking ourselves why we think God would condone such behavior, because we unconsciously hold that it is right. 

 

I wonder if it is too late, if we have gone down the road too far to come back? I wonder how many will even think of asking the question? I wonder if they will ever see, the main problem is not what we think, it is what we think with. It is the way our consciousness has evolved causing us to not even question ourselves, when one look around, tells us there is something tragically wrong. 

 

I see the young raging in the streets, they are angry, justifiably so, and yet as I listen to them, I see that they hardly know themselves at all. I see the same separation, the same self-centeredness, inflated ego and sense of self-worth that plagues the folks they are protesting against. In the end they will change little or nothing. My generation didn't.

 

I see a movement to try and bring Christian revival to the streets thinking that will change things, and yet they too are trapped in the same place as those they are trying  to save. They are just putting forth a different philosophy. 

 

I ask myself will they ever see the truth, will I, does anyone really see it? Then I realize that the answer is no, at least not yet. I ask myself if our own scriptures tell us (we only see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as I am known) why is it that we walk around spouting off like we know it all? Why do we find it more attractive than loving God and our neighbors These are the two commandments Jesus tells us upon which rest all of the law and prophets? Think about it for a while, really think.

 

This mindset of acting like we know it all has been handed down to us by our culture. With all its wonderful aspects and achievements it is the worst parts of it that separate us from creation, the Creator and each other. 

 

So I raft, I talk to my Creator, my brother the river and learn from them both, because learning from the revelation of the Creator in the created is a way to see. 

 

Paul tells us that the whole creation groans in anxious expectation for the revelation of the children of God. The creation cannot groan without experiencing emotion, and as J. Robinson, Greek scholar, tells us that you cannot get around this, do with it what you will, but it is there. And that is just what we do, fueled and guided by our culture of separation. We kill nature, we make it other, not living beyond the flora and fauna, insects, bacteria and the like. We separate ourselves from it so we can study it and we miss the fact that we can relate to it in a deeper sense, and in that sense, the river is truly my brother as the great Chief says. 

 

In the end, I leave you with this, I don’t understand it totally but I experienced it.  On a particularly nasty swim when I flipped my raft at flood stage, and like a fool I was running alone, without any other rafts along, I was being carried downstream. It was in the spring, big water, cold water but I was in a dry suit and was actually sweating because of working to get out of the river. I really wasn’t worried but after close to a mile I was getting tired, I had to keep going to get by trees in the water. It was hard to get out of the current when I found openings. And, after a while I was praying I could get out and then what came out of me was this. Without thinking, I asked my brother, the river, to give me a hand because I was tired. I never would have thought of this myself, and had just been praying to God. As soon as I did I was released from the current and floated into an eddy, made shore, and began my trip back upstream to find the raft, and equipment. 

 

Was it just by chance I was released? It sure could have been. One thing I have found out about God is we are always left with alternative explanations and we must choose to whom or what we give the glory and thanks to. Also another thing I have noticed, in all of the instances like this in my life is God, my Creator, my father, my mother (yes God is as perfectly feminine as masculine) teaching me something I needed to know, and the best I can do, is choose to listen. 





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Christian Creation Earth Experience Indigenous Native Participation Photography Rafting River Spirituality Universe https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2020/8/i-am-a-rafter-what-it-has-taught-me-about-spirituality Mon, 10 Aug 2020 17:47:30 GMT
On Creating an Authentic Spirituality in Today's Divided and Antagonistic Cultural Climate https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2020/5/the-struggle-of-creating-an-authentic-spirituality-in-todays-cultural-climate

 

For decades now I have been interested in spirituality. I have sought not only to understand its inner workings, but to develop an authentic spirituality that finds its home within my relationship to Christ Jesus. 

 

I have been told that I make things way too hard, and I am sure that is true. It would probably be much easier if I were only interested in finding a type of spirituality that would make me feel good.  

 

It seems to me, if we are trying to develop an authentic Christian spirituality or any authentic spirituality for that matter, then we would have to be dedicated to truth, or at least as close as one might come to it. 

 

Part of this path toward truth would have to include the identification and release of things in our lives and psyches that tend to get in the way of this discovery. And that is not a comfortable pursuit. However, it must happen before we can address similar things elsewhere.

 

We also must look squarely at the world around us and be honest about what we see. Our honesty must take into account the highly probable possibility that we are not always seeing things clearly, especially things that other people might have come to a different understanding or conclusion about. 

 

Oh I would love to be able to find and live in a world where I could honestly develop a feel good philosophy of life, one that let me be positive all the time and have only good and refreshing thoughts.  But I don’t, and my understanding of authenticity and truth, prevent me from trying to make the world in which I find myself fit into a false reality.

 

That being said, a continual wallowing in the evil, frustration, anger, criminality, death, destruction, and hate does untold damage. In becoming authentic we cannot dismiss or ignore such realities but we serve a God whose nature is the substance of the three theological virtues, faith, hope and love. 

 

So how does one look into the abyss and remain whole? How do we look into the darkest portions of ourselves and walk away intact? Or do we? Is the brokenness I feel right now a desired trait, is it the result of my path? Is this where I want to end up in this life? 

 

Are we like David says, sojourners here, wanderers without hope for this life and waiting to feel at home in the next? 

 

I know the pop Christian culture answers for this and while they come from a truth, It seems to me that so often they arrive in the form reminiscent to the platitudes trotted out by Job's dogma bound friends.

 

 

It seems some folks are quoting the scriptures while in a state of denial, or ignoring the real problems of this world, or those in their hearts, rather than looking deep into each. 

 

I am not saying they are not suffering for many are, we all suffer things few know of, both physically and spiritually.  I am certainly not claiming to be better or more enlightened as I fear I have only scratched the surface myself.

 

I want to feel good inside but how is that totally possible when there are so many suffering in the world, in this country, even friends and family. Is being at peace predicated uopn feeling good, or is that an aberration given by a society that has lost its way? One that prizes ease, good feelings, achievement, ability, intelligence, and a plethora of things over character, long suffering, empathy and love. 

 

Our culture may give lip service to these things but in the end, when the rubber meets the road, they fall flat prostrate in the worship of, "ME". 

 

How can any of us be whole if we ignore those things that break us into pieces. Is the culture in which we find ourselves is so weak, so bruised and fragile that it cannot, or will not take a look at itself? Looking inward not to wallow in, but to acknowledge its presence, weaknesses, its faults, the sins of our ancestors, and our own, then seek forgiveness in whatever form it might take. To go forward, is a difficult but necessary path. 

 

I see people of color screaming at the top of their lungs, asking the very same thing that Job cried out to God for. The very same thing that his friends did not understand while they hid behind their dogma in an attempt to answer the why rather than actually hearing him in the one thing he really wanted. Arrogantly answering a question that is not even asked, gives the person answering the illusion of superiority, when it is a religious answer, it becomes particularly distasteful.

 

I see my Native American friends, people I grew up with living on their reservation, whom I played sports alongside, went to school with, asking this same thing when they talk about getting ripped from their families and put into Indian schools. When they talk of women being forcibly sterilized clear into the 1970s.  When they talk of the millions who were exterminated by a growing America. Having their homes and lands torn from them and being moved onto reservations.  When they talk of the over 59 million indigenous people who were killed worldwide by the Europeans and that Christ was used as one of the excuses. When folks want to speak of the ultimate evil that ever happened they speak of Hitler and the over six million Jews who were exterminated, a true horror and evil, but it the extermination of indigenous peoples are hardly mentioned.

 

When African Americans scream about what they go through in this country. Growing up, in places where some are afraid or at the least are uneasy about walking down down the street, or go jogging without being harassed or killed. Where some police officers profile them because of their skin color. Not all, not even a majority, but how do these folks know which one they might meet at any given time.

 

When they scream about what much of life has been like for them, their friends and families. They are screaming because talking hasn't worked.

 

Other people of color have their stories, like the Chinese immigrants who are hardly considered, a plight shared with the Native Americans, or those I have not even mentioned, who rarely are, what are they asking when they speak, what was it Job asked God, the request, even demand, his so called religious friends failed to see?

 

They all screamed for one thing. TAKE MY EXPERIENCE SERIOUSLY! 

 

Don’t think that trying to tell why is going to help, you probably won’t be right anyway. Don’t think you will be the one to fix it. That will be a joint effort. For God’s sake don’t use it to make you feel better about yourself and make it about you with some touchy feely nonsense. And please don’t come with this victim culture thing, it is more about those who bring it. It comes from someone who has never confronted their shadow and uses the problem of racism to project it on others where it is far safer for the projector to hate it. You can see it in the vile, hissing, spitting hatred and disgust they have for those they are blaming. It is the consequence of a life filled with self-involvement rather rather than self-knowledge. And it is certainly not born from love or caring for others.  

 

Folks are calling out, Just Take My Experience Seriously.  Listen to and acknowledge that cry. Then things can begin to change. Then maybe a real conversation might start. Or where it has already begun, might deepen.

 

God saw how Job was asking, "Take My Experience Seriously," sure He corrected the friends, and asked Job some very hard questions about who he was in relation to Himself and let Job know that there was such a vast difference in knowledge and power but in doing so he also gave Job what he wanted. He took his experience seriously and he showed up in a Theophany, a divine visit with a light and sound show par excellence. 

 

Acknowledging the call to take My Experience Seriously, is the first step. When we do folks the honor of doing this it can lead to discussion and when we are talking we are not fighting. We need to listen first, try to understand. Try and imagine what it must be to raise kids in a world where they are not safe. Where they are made to feel inferior. Put ourselves in others shoes. Everyone knows this but we need to do it. Use our imaginations to try and understand how things might feel. You will never get there but it is better than digging your heels in and being unmovable. 

 

Take My Experience Seriously, lets start there and maybe at some time we all can learn to take each other's experience seriously, that will be real progress. Yes white folks have an experience as well. One small aspect is, many of us who grew up being taught how evil racism was, who believed it and have stood against it still get can be lumped into the racist category because we are white. While that pales in comparison to what people of color have suffered, it still causes some folks to dig in and refuse to see instances of racism right in front of them. Deal with what is, not what should be.

 

If I am going to build an authentic spiritual life, one I can call Christian then I have to look at these things. I have to take other folks' experiences seriously. I need to be thorough in my introspection  and rooting out things in my own psyche that make me willing to accept things the way they are. Things which diminish my ability to care, and might show me where my actions are motivated by self-interest rather than love. 

 

These things hurt. It hurts to see and admit these things in one’s self. But once we face it and acknowledge it, we find a freedom the truth truly does set us free. Not free to be perfect, but free to acknowledge our imperfections, and that takes a weight off our hearts, a huge weight. 

 

So it seems the peace the truth brings us could be what I am searching for. Maybe in some sense I have it more than I know and it is more satisfying than all the good feelings I might experience. The brokenness while at times is painful is actually more a sign of growth and strength than weakness. It seems helpful to realize we are just sojourners here and a much better place is in our future when we are able to go to our true home. We can learn to enjoy the times of ease, of feeling good and appreciate them without falling for the lie that we need to try to hold on to them. In the end we find that acceptance of our struggle removes a lot of stress. And to remember what my generation's parents taught us both in word and deed. Face this and other evil straight on, first in our selves and then in others or where ever we find it. It is a strange experience to come to the realization that the personal spirituality I have been seeking is, beyond my reaction and working out my love for family, friends, and all humanity, is not about me at all. At least that is the way I see it now.

 

 

 

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Acknowledge Christianity Experience Happiness Learn Listen Love Peace Racism Spirituality https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2020/5/the-struggle-of-creating-an-authentic-spirituality-in-todays-cultural-climate Mon, 01 Jun 2020 03:26:58 GMT
Art as a Spiritual Pursuit 14 The Dreaded Block https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2019/1/art-as-a-spiritual-persuit-14-the-dreaded-block The DuomoThe DuomoA painting of the Duomo in Florence Italy by DarlaBeck-Luiten

 

Anyone creative who has done much of anything has run into the big mean bully called, The Block. We have heard it called Writer’s Block but it is just as prevalent in other creative disciplines as well. I figured I could find out about writers and painters, since my wife is both.

 

 

So, I just asked her and she said, yes they are similar and then added, but different. Well, she cleared that up. Actually, I get it.

 

 

Action is the best way to deal with the block, however, your action may differ depending on what form your creative outlet is taking.

 

 

My mentor, Dean, would tell me to write and keep writing. When it seemed you could not go forward, it would be time to take a break and appease the editor within.  He said not to edit as you go, just spew it out and then go back and edit when it was time. I have found it works for me, and talking to Darla, it is primarily what she does as well.

 

 

In photography when I don’t feel like going out, I am bored or tired of shooting my little patch of earth, I could give in and not shoot, but usually, I will go out and eventually will find something interesting. For me changing up what I am shooting helps out. Switching from landscapes to street photography or to some other aspect of photography always seems to get me going.

 

 

Darla does the same thing, she will go back and edit, and if editing is not working and she is still stuck, she will read a novel. I will look at books of great photographers work, people I admire. I also belong to a great group of fantastic photographers and seeing their work always makes me excited to shoot.

 

 

I used one of Darla’s paintings here. It is one she did years ago as it has a rather interesting story which is pertinent to what we are dealing with here.

 

 

I met Darla in my last year of seminary. She moved into the studio across the hall. I was still doing photography in my studio. She had just returned from Florence, Italy after a four-year apprenticeship with a master painter.

 

 

We were married in three months, yeah I know, but twenty-seven years later we are going strong. That was the best decision I have ever made.

 

 

We had all these dreams, she with the painting and writing (she had kept this interest secret), me teaching martial arts, and becoming a spiritual director, and of course photography.

 

 

A couple years into our marriage Darla told me she was blocked and wasn’t sure what to do to get out of it.

 

 

In reality, I am surprised it took so long for it to happen. I mean really, she had come home after living in a medieval palazzo, in the oldest part of the city that was the center of the Renaissance, a block away from the Arno river and all those wonderful bridges. Wherever she looked there was art. It was a dream for an artist to live and work there. Her entire crowd was artists, writers, photographers, chefs and the life they lived was one of constant creativity.

 

 

Then she returned to the land of strip malls, where one-hundred-year-old buildings were considered old. Eventually, the change caught up with her and she was blocked. Darla wasn’t a landscape painter, (if she had been, things would have been easier for her) she painted people and architecture.

 

 

I didn’t know what to do to help her so we went to see my mentor at the time. A wonderful old Anglican Priest who had taught spirituality and prayer at the seminary I had just graduated from.  

 

 

When she told Francis that she was blocked, he didn’t skip a beat. He looked at her and said, “Paint the block.”

 

 

So she did, and she painted this swirling, powerful force of nature. Everything was being sucked into this spiraling hole. Filled with darkness, colors, and texture. It was rough, built up from the canvas with a tactile essence not found in most paintings.

 

 

She poured herself into it and then it was done.

 

 

I remember a friend came and looked at it and stood there in tears. He was a very unemotional man, to boot. He looked over and said, “There is no hope.”  And that touched him to the bone.

 

 

When Francis came to see it, he pointed to a small point in the center of the storm that was her painting and said, “Right there, that light, there is your hope.”

 

 

She went on to paint some wonderful paintings that touched me and many others deeply. When she paints, something from deep inside always makes it onto the canvas, something that touches anyone who will spend a bit of time with her work.

 

 

So, if you take a close look at the painting I posted, you will see that there is something under the paint. Yep, it is the block Darla painted. There was no way I would part with this painting and it hangs over our bed. It is the first thing I see in the morning and the last thing at night.

 

 

When I photographed the painting I shot it with the light coming at too great an angle. It is not good for photographing art but it shows the texture of the block. I wanted to show that there is something underneath. That is like all of us, while we might not be able to see it, it makes itself seen in our lives. This painting would never be the same without it and neither would we.

 

 

Fibromyalgia has made it hard for her to paint and for the past several years she has taken up writing and danged if she isn’t as good at that as she is painting.

 

 

 

I  guess what I wanted to get across with this is, blocks will come in all aspects of our lives, expect them, but don’t worry about them. Then trust yourself and go forward. You are creative and that creativity will come out. We weren’t created to hold it in.

 

 

 

Love created the universe and you, love will give you the strength to move forward. Love your art, yourself and others because when we love we tap into the creative power that put everything into existence.

 

 

Frustration, anger, anxiety, fear, you name it, all those things we are told, are the mark of the creative, cannot stand next to love. We may experience all of these emotions as they are part of life but they do not have to define us. If we love, work in love, play in love, and live in love, we will touch freedom. Love makes you free.

 

 

Get out there and create something wonderful. Be free.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Art Block Duomo energy Florence Freedom Growth images life Love Oregon Photography Psychology Self-help Spirituality https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2019/1/art-as-a-spiritual-persuit-14-the-dreaded-block Wed, 30 Jan 2019 00:59:22 GMT
Photography (Art) as a Spiritual Pursuit 13, Limitations https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2019/1/photography-art-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-13-limitations

Limitations are a part of human existence. Some of us face more limitations than others.  All of us, however, have the ability to respond to limitations in either a positive or negative fashion.

 

I was listening to photographer Anne Liebowitz speak to some students. She talked about limitations. She even suggested adding limitations to their photography in order to enhance their creativity.

 

By nature, limitations produce or strengthen creativity in someone who chooses to push through them.  

 

It seems that when most of us talk about limitations we speak of those that are physical or mental. While these are types that will make it difficult for people to deal effectively in life, there are many other kinds.

 

Creativity must have a release.  I have watched my wonderfully talented wife live her life for close to thirty years now. She suffers from severe Fibromyalgia among other health problems.

 

When I met her she had just returned from a four-year apprenticeship with a master scultor and painter in Florence Italy. Her painting is truly amazing. I have said many times that she is the most creative person I know.

 

I began seeing problems almost immediately but it was years before the disease was diagnosed.

 

She has a hard time painting now although I know she will do so again. I have noticed that even if she cannot get up and move around much, her hands are going full speed. She knits hats and gloves. Makes presents for people, the creative impulse drives her to create.

 

A number of years ago she decided to become a writer and jumped into it full steam. She wrote a book, and it was pretty dang good. It is a wonderfully imaginative story and she used writing it to learn more about writing.

 

She is now getting close to finishing a completely different work. It is a fantasy-romance novel that will be a ten (or so) book series. It is pretty much written. Thousands of pages are now being separated and edited into the first novel and those to come.

 

What I have read is remarkable. She has created a world with different rules of reality and characters you cannot help becoming involved with. She explores good vs evil, love, friendship, loyalty and so much more. I am amazed.  

 

I think her physical, mental and even emotional limitations (caused by 24-7 pain) have given her insight, and empathy, and her artistic drive propels her to create.

 

She has chosen to let limitations be a source of creativity rather than misery and loss. Doing this takes guts and a creative spirit that will not be denied. I am so very proud of her.

 

My own experience with limitation is much different. Sure I have dealt with injury, disease and other things but the one that I have to fight on a daily basis is spatial.

 

I will not go into the how and why I have talked enough about it in the past and the thought of doing so makes me nauseous.  

 

A few years ago we found ourselves broke and having to start over. The only job I could get at my age, even with multiple degrees and decades of experience was driving a school bus.

 

First of all, as it turns out I love the job and thoroughly enjoy seeing the kids each and every day. They are amazing and so much fun. I am fortunate they all are rural and farm kids, they are respectful, but kids just the same. This job has taught me much about myself. It is a job and experience I never would have chosen if not forced into it, and it has become one of the best of my life.

 

The downside of the job is it is only part-time and while it has increased lately, for a number of years the hourly wage was pathetic in comparison to most driving jobs, especially when one  considers the responsibility the job entails.

 

To help out with bills I picked up the camera again. I had been a fashion and advertising photographer years ago and thought I could do some portraits and even weddings to help out. While it hasn’t been easy it has been quite the learning experience.

 

Also, I shoot and sell what I call Earth Portraits, not quite landscapes but an attempt to capture the spirit of a place. I haven’t talked much about this and I love it when someone gets it and mentions that I have made that connection.

 

The limitation comes in, at least in my mind, when I see friends who are great photographers sharing photographs of wonderful places all over the earth and I am stuck here, seldom traveling more than a few miles from my house. Even thinking this way makes me feel like I am acting like a crybaby.  I realize I am fortunate to live in a wonderfully beautiful place, have my health and a wonderful family, but still, I feel the limitation in my bones, as I have always been a wandering spirit.

 

So I made a decision. I would shoot and shoot here in my little patch and attempt to convey the beauty I find all around myself. I began a series I call Out My “Office” Window. The office is my bus. I get to drive in the hills above the Willamette Valley in Oregon and it is beautiful. I have been driving the same route for almost eight years shooting the same couple of places. I can only take photos between routes, so sometimes I must go back and shoot something I saw during my drive when I am off work.

 

Some very good photographers who are my friends have suggested creating a photo book about my office window, and I am thinking about that.

 

The limitation has forced me to look and look again, to see, feel, and experience in a way that is much deeper than I would have if I could just go anywhere and take photos in iconic locations.

 

Probably the biggest reward personally is I have come to know more about myself, especially what in my personality gets in the way of happiness, creativity, seeing and basically the experience of life as a whole.

 

I have tried to touch on many aspects of this experience in my blog series, Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit.


 

Richard Bach says it like this, “Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly”

 

Embracing the limitations thrust on me by loss has allowed me to grow creatively. In that growth, I have found fulfillment and happiness. If for no other reason this made it all worth worthwhile.

 

Yes the love and acceptance of my wonderful wife has helped, and in a great way, facilitated the personal work I have done, and I will be forever grateful. Her endless encouragement and remarkable ability to look past financial concerns and find the positive in almost any situation cannot be underestimated.  What she does naturally, has not only been my inspiration but it has been my goal for living and impetus for moving forward.

 

There are countless stories of folks who have lost so much more than I have been talking about here, and used to it jumpstart their creativity and overcome whatever was before them. They all can be an inspiration, and the power of their story cannot be underestimated. Nothing is as powerful as the decision to find a creative solution and make that first step.

 

When that step is made things begin to happen. The universe begins to move things your way. A personal belief of mine is that one of the attributes we share with our creator is the desire and ability to create. The power behind this ability is love and in love, we live and move and have our being.

 

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) art creative energy growth happiness life love photography positivity https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2019/1/photography-art-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-13-limitations Tue, 15 Jan 2019 18:37:02 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 12 Embrace Your Shadow https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/11/embrace-your-shadow

 

“How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow? I must have a dark side also If I am to be whole.”  Carl Jung

 

In my last post, I kind of took a detour from photography into the world of mysticism. It was important for this series to touch a bit upon the subjects I presented. But, as it was a bit off topic, I will now turn again to photography as a metaphor for the spiritual life.

 

The past few years have been pretty tough for my family in a number of ways that I will not go into.  What has come from it prompted my last post, and will be the underpinnings of this one.

 

 

Over the course of my life, one bit of truth has become crystal clear, great things can come from dark times.

 

Photography means writing with light, and this tends to get us looking for light in order to make a good photo. That is as it should be. However, what makes light look good is shadow.

 

Shadow gives depth, it offsets color and brightness, shadow frames what we see, and it should be embraced in our photos, as well as in our lives. Shadow gives the appearance of texture in a photograph. Without shadow, the picture seems bland and boring.

 

It is the same with the dark periods in our lives. The tough times, those filled with anguish, personal pain, and confusion, will, beyond making us tougher and more resilient, add texture, grit and perspective. If allowed to, tough times will make a life far more interesting and beautiful.

Different subjects call for different approaches. Usually, when I set my camera’s exposure I desire to protect the highlights so they don't blow out. Because the dynamic range of a camera is not yet able to compare to the dynamic range of the eye-brain combination, there will be a trade-off. If I expose for the highlights, the shadows will many times go black, and if I expose for the shadows, I will of course blow out the highlights.

 

Sure we can take multiple images with different exposures and combine them in an HDR photo but I seldom do that especially in street photography or while shooting a wedding, there is not enough time. And even here, shadow plays an indispensable part.

 

When I shot negative film back in the day we were taught to always try not to lose information in either the lights or darks. Film's dynamic range is far narrower than digital photography, and the information once lost was gone for good, making it impossible to recover and alter the outcome.

I love the old Jazz photography, and while much of what we see in those photos was brought about by the limitations of film, I like the look. It is very moody, dark, interesting, it works your heart, and these images are as much a part of the jazz mystic as the music itself.

 

Photographers tried to capture the essence of that art form, and a light airy photo would not have done it. Jazz and the Blues delve right into the darkness of our souls, and there they find beauty and meaning. A good photograph does the same thing. Neither is possible to an artist who shrinks from the shadow in their work and life.

 

We as photographers and artists must embrace the dark and as Jung tells us, we as humans, if we desire to be healthy, must do the same.

 

A person who has not accepted the darkness within them usually ends up highly judgemental in and quite puerile in nature.

 

Health does not come from the denial of our darkness but in acceptance and only then can we work to minimize its effects in our lives.  

Don't be afraid to seek out a spiritual director, counselor or psychologist. Many of us have experienced true horror in our lives and a trained professional can be invaluable.

 

When we take a peek into the darkness,we need to be kind to ourselves. Especially if it is our nature to beat ourselves up over every mistake. If we do this then we too may want some help sorting through it all. Remember that wonderful line from the Desiderata.

 

 

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.

 

When we have embraced our darkness and determined to work on it, we can forgive ourselves for things we have thought and done. Things which guilt has uses to sabotage our lives.

 

 

It will also give us the power to resist all who would use that darkness against us. Many folks are good at this ,as is the enemy of our souls.

 

Just as in photography the shadow gives substance to the photo, it also gives substance to our lives. Remember what Jung said, “How can I be substantial if I do not cast a shadow.” If I cast no shadow, I am more or less, chimerical.

So, we must cast the shadow, accept it and accept ourselves, it is the road to health. Then live!

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Darkness Energy happiness Help images Love Oregon Photography Psychology Self Spirituality https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/11/embrace-your-shadow Thu, 29 Nov 2018 05:32:17 GMT
Photography (Art) as a Spiritual Pursuit 11 Chop Wood and Carry Water https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/11/photography-art-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-12-chop-wood-and-carry-water Hood BluffHood Bluff

 

There is a famous Zen quote, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water.”

 

It is very tempting here to make a go at what would no doubt prove to be a long and somewhat confusing explanation as to what enlightenment might mean in Zen. However, that would just prove to be an arduous task with little benefit to the subject at hand. Not to mention the fact, that trying to explain Zen is in itself, so very, not Zen.  Let's just say this, it is not quite what it sounds like to the western mind. It can be a full experience of reality, but it almost always means a small one along the path.

 

I have been dealing with mysticism in this series, how it relates to art or art relates to it, and how it can change our whole life.  I am departing from talking about art or photography to relate more to understanding the experience itself. However, know that art is definitely one way to approach the experience in question. Also, I will be speaking about Jesus now and again. How could I not? While art is one way in which I approach this experience, my relationship with Jesus is the ground upon which it is built. It may not be yours and that is fine, however, we speak from what we know. It is not religion I am interested in here but direct and immediate experience.

 

I have been studying and practicing this fascinating subject for over thirty years now, and I am little closer to understanding it than in the beginning. That is the point, isn't it? Mysticism is not something to be understood nor studied, at least if one wants to enter into the experience, and that is what it is about, a direct and immediate experience.

 

This experience with Reality is at the heart of Mysticism.

 

This connection, this experience of being united with Ultimate Reality, "if you are a philosopher", the Ground of Being or Ultimate Being, "if you are a metaphysician", and among others, God, "if you are religious", is the ultimate aim of our endeavors.

 

There is one thing that I have found over the years while studying many different philosophies and religions, and it is that the mystics in each tradition or discipline while using different words to explain the encounter, are referring to primarily the same experience. It is afterward that they interpret this experience in unique ways. I am not writing about religion itself or such concepts as salvation and other aspects that religion concerns itself with. Our interest here is simply a direct and immediate encounter with Reality, and the life-changing effect it has upon the one who comes into contact with it.

 

All of us, most likely, have had fleeting experiences of this nature. This is not unusual, because we are all united to this Reality whether we know it or not. For some, that fleeting experience beckons them to go deeper, to find a way to sustain the awareness of the unity of being, that state of connection with Ultimate Being, in which or whom all creation lives and moves and has its being. And as one learns the way, and disciplines his or her self in the appropriate manner, the experience will become more and more available to them.

 

This requires the breaking down and letting go of idols that we have created or appropriated as we learned to exist in this world of multiplicity. These have no connection to Reality. It is interesting that religion, which is supposed to bring us to God, has created idols which in themselves are barriers to this experience, and hindered the progress of its adherents.

 

What is important is to understanding that this experience is available to all who would seek it. If you do seek it and you, at some point, come to find this unfiltered connection with Reality it will change your life.

 

Now, we are back to chopping wood and carrying water. That means living your life. Before you enter into this life-changing experience, as after, you live your life. Yet, while nothing changes, everything changes.

 

Jesus said that he does nothing except that which he sees his father doing. What he sees his father doing is giving life and existence to all. His father is the one we call God. But, the moment we reference God, our preconceptions are activated, and we form some sort of an image. Some think of God as portrayed by Michelangelo in his painting of a white-haired man reaching down to touch Adam coming just short of making contact with him. While I understand what Michelangelo was trying to convey, this image is misleading. This painting and Jesus' term, Father, has caused people to cause people to anthropomorphize their image God for centuries. When we impose human qualities on God we get into all kinds of trouble. This has been either the cause or excuse for so many horrible human acts that have been perpetrated in the name of religion.

 

When a person experiences Reality, or God if you will, Jesus' words takes on a fresh meaning. One's life is transformed. One sees with the heart as well as the eyes, and entire universe perceived in a new way. Afterward one still chops wood and carries water. Get up, go to work, go home and whatever else, all stays the same and yet it has all changed. I think in modern western society we have been conditioned to think that enlightenment should be followed by fame, wealth or other trappings related to the world of multiplicity and material acquisition.

 

This life altering experience is available to all no matter their religion, non-religion, philosophy, etc.  It is there for those who seek it and do the work it takes to find it. Mere curiosity will get you nowhere. Jesus said seek and you shall find.

 

I found this quote years ago and kept it, not sure who wrote it. It is probably out of Eugen Herrigal’s Zen in the Art of Archery.

 

Dhyana Buddhism, which is known in Japan as “Zen” and is not speculation at all but the immediate experience of what, at the bottomless ground of Being, cannot be apprehended by intellectual means.

 

The quote speaks of immediate or direct experience and lets us know the folly of trying to talk or write about it. I think many of the true Christian Mystics got into theological trouble when they attempted to write about something that it is not possible to intellectualize and it is that very aspect that makes mysticism seem like folly or worse to the practical person.

 

The one thing I will write of my experience at this point is of the understanding that filled me through and through. And that is, Everything is going to be okay. That for all of humanity's foibles, anger, politics, wars, inhumanity, you name it, and as bad and horrific as it is, it has no more effect on the ultimate direction of Being, Reality, God, and the overall design, than that of a few fleas riding on the back of an elephant, fighting among themselves over the direction the elephant is traveling.

 

And yet this image breaks down because the elephant takes no cognizance of the flea beyond a light irritation, if at all where God is concerned. For God is perpetually providing for creation.

 

To the extent we let go of our idols and preconceptions we become free to experience Reality. Then how could we be possibly be influenced by the preconceptions that others have of us, and are so fond of sharing.

 

God/Reality created and is creating and sustaining all out of nothing. The uncreated or uncreate, is manifesting its nature by the act of creation, and in this act is one overall reality, love. Love is the purpose and power behind, under, within, through all, and it gives us existence, life, and in our limited way, the ability to love.

 

This is where I believe Judaism and Christianity are correct in relation to a supreme being. If the universe is created out of nothing by love, and held together by love, and life is given by love, then we are speaking of a self-determining being, for unless there is the possibility of making the choice of not love, love cannot exist. Therefore it takes a personality, a consciousness to be able to love. In Being's case, love perfectly.

 

This Being is more like the ultimate mind than anything we can conceive. The Father is a spirit. The thinking mind wants to explain this, the mystic heart wants to experience it.

 

The first four words of the Bible are translated from one word in Hebrew. This word is translated in most Bibles as, “In the beginning, God.”  Another translation is just as correct, I checked with a "Hebrew professor and he agreed". It is interesting how culture can influence translation.

 

Those first four words can just as correctly be, “In His mind, God,” followed by the rest of the sentence, "created the heavens and the earth."

 

In His mind, God created the heavens and the earth. This is definitely food for thought.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Energy happiness how images Love photography Psychology Self-Help Spirituality to https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/11/photography-art-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-12-chop-wood-and-carry-water Sun, 11 Nov 2018 07:22:27 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 10 Be Yourself https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/11/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-10-be-yourself

 

 

The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are.  -- Carl Jung

 

We have to dare to be ourselves, however strange for frightening that may be. -- May Sarton

 

Art and life really are the same, and both can only be about a spiritual journey, a path towards a re-union with a supreme creator, with god, with the divine; and this is true no matter how unlikely, how strange, how unorthodox, one’s particular life path might appear to one’s self or others at any given moment. -- Genesis P-Orridge

 

I remember when I was a young man, I first heard about being yourself or finding yourself, and thinking, “well who the hell else would I be.”

 

Now I find it interesting just how insightful as well as unperceptive that statement seems to be.  

 

When I was young I had not yet lived a lifetime under the pressure of a culture that is trying to make you conform.   A culture that in many cases provides for you desires that it values and with just a bit of thought you would see that you don’t.

 

Personally, at least after reaching an age where I could assert my will into my life, I have never been much of a conformist. I am not saying that I never fell prey to goals and directions that did not really fit with who I am as a person, but that I tend to go my way rather than follow or be directed by pressure from outside sources.

 

For me, the societal and even family pressure to be someone else than who I was, reared its ugly head in a different way. Although it never could stop me from going my own way, it did, however, induce me to feel guilty about doing so.

 

The pressure to keep me from being me was never able to subdue me for long, but the guilt for doing so became an almost intolerable burden, sucking some, if not all of the joy, out of so much of life.

 

Over the years pop psychology has taught so many to blame their parents for their internal problems, and there may be some truth in this, however, most parents are just working through their fears and anxieties as well. I think personality has a lot to do with it. I am not making light of folks who had truly horrific childhoods, that is something completely different.

 

So, as we grow we should be developing into that person we were created to be and I think that for most of us that process keeps on going whether we like it or not.

 

While it is very tempting here to go into some long psychological theory on how this happened and the method of fixing it, this is where I depart, for reasons that I hope will become apparent, that direction is really diametrically opposed to the growth I am dealing with here.

 

This blog is about spirituality and photography, well art in general, I just use photography because that is the art form I am familiar with, so the analogies come much easier.

 

My personal opinion is that the true artist tends to be a mystic. I hesitate to use that worn out and oft-misused word, because of the seemingly limitless baggage it carries with it, but alas, I have no other. However, if we define mysticism as the art of union with reality, and see the mystic is a person who has attained that union in greater or less degree; or the one who aims at and believes in such attainment.  Then we can get a glimpse of a way one can become their true self and in a strong sense, become real. For how could it be possible to experience reality without it having its effect upon us in a life-changing manner.

 

At some point, a true artist is going to come face to face with his or herself, and it is here that they are presented with the opportunity to take the path of authenticity. Conversely, they also have the ability to ignore that opportunity, and stay within the subjective reality they have created for themselves. While this easily could lead to commercial success it most definitely will end up in the suicide of authentic personality. The interesting thing is, that they may never know.

 

The path of authenticity is not easy, one has to face his or her self at every turn and yet it is the most fulfilling path one can travel. I will say here that when you face yourself in this manner, be gentle. When I was young and ignorant of the path I set out to accomplish it quickly and part of that delusion was the belief that I could by sheer force of will remove the false-self. At that point, I could not even identify the false-self let alone deal it a deadly blow. Instead, I found myself embarked on a journey that caused serious harm to my personality. When I figured this out, you guessed it, more guilt. I remember praying seriously about this and I believe the Lord spoke to me in my heart. (not words but an intuition, I will have to relate in words to get it across) “Yes, you are damaged, you caused harm to your psyche, you need to realize that you are in a war and there are forces who want your destruction. However, I will heal you and you will be better than before you started, trust me.” Again, this was not a conversation, I did not hear words but in an intuitive moment, I believe he spoke the whole understanding into my heart and mind. And, it has turned out to be true. I have been healed of all that pain.

 

My path, and it has been a very hard one, has called into question just about everything I believed about life and my understanding of God and our relation with him in Christ.  It has taken decades, (it is not over) and has taken me through a number of great mentors and a couple degrees, a bachelors in Psychology and a Masters of Divinity, with a few years of post-grad studies in Christian literature focusing on the mystics. I probably could have saved a great deal of this time and effort if I would have just listened to my wife. However, even though she was right, you cannot force this change, it must come on its own.

 

My path through all this was through study, meditation, prayer, friends, mentors, education, photography and martial arts.  God, reality, can use anything.

 

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is -- Infinite.”  William Blake

 

I hope it has become clear by now that I am not looking for nor writing about the fluff that passes for spirituality in so many quarters these days. It is not a feel good, we are all perfect kind of spirituality, it is as hard-nosed as the truth often is. But that doesn’t mean that we are in for a self-flagellation of the spirit. It is a kind, even caring path but one that will bring us into direct contact with the truth of existence and where ever the truth is involved there are times where we are less than comfortable. What we must know up front is that I am writing about things that may be at times uncomfortable, not condemning. If you experience any sort of condemnation that is not from God. However we only can approach this truth, this reality or ground of being if we are ready to allow things that get in the way to be stripped away, that is what I am referring to here.

 

Growing in spirituality is an amazing experience, one that is so well worth taking. There is no way to really describe it, and the mystic way is far beyond anything the practical self can imagine.

 

I am going to quit here right now, and I know it seems that I am just getting started, but where I go from here will take time to flesh out so I will begin that in the next post. I promise I will not take weeks to do so. (Okay, we will see.) It will come.

 

Thanks for reading, I am totally amazed when people take the time to read what I have to share. I thanks those who have contacted me to encourage me to keep writing, I appreciate that greatly and will continue as long as there is interest.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/11/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-10-be-yourself Sat, 03 Nov 2018 17:27:27 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 9 "Capturing Spiritual Essence in a Subject" https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/10/photography-as-a-spiritual-persuit-9-capturing-spiritual-essence-in-a-subject  

Capturing Spiritual Essence in Your Art.

 

I received a great compliment yesterday. A very nice woman who had just come across my work said, “ I love your gentle spiritual approach.”  I really liked this as that is my goal in my art, to capture something of the spiritual essence of a subject, no matter what it is.

 

So, how does one go about capturing spirituality within their art? It really isn’t like you would think, well at least like I would have thought.

 

If we set out with the thought of capturing the spiritual in our mind, we will tend to try and make it happen, and we will end up with something devoid of spirit, and most likely interest.

 

The best way, at least in my mind and experience, is not to think about it at all. Go out and find what moves you, what makes you feel something, and capture it as best you can, hoping that what moved you, might move someone else.

I think that probably the best advice I can offer, is to spend time on your spirituality, deepen your connection with the world around you, with nature and people and in my case with God. You may have a different idea of spirituality or method and then pursue that. The more spiritually connected you become, the more it will show in your work.

 

Probably the two best compliments I have had in my photographic life were first from a friend who is an amazing photographer, he said he could see the connection that I have with nature in my work. That was great. The next was from a wonderful Native American woman who grew up on the same reservation that I did, she said she could tell I was connected to the earth, both from my photos and way I felt things.

I think that the search for fame, recognition and money can seriously hamper this connection. While I perfectly understand having to make a living, if done right, at least as I see it, we will make a living of some kind as we pursue the depth of our art for the sake of the creative process.

 

I really recoil from the idea of self-expression. It is not my self that I want expressed, but the reality, the beauty, the essence of my subject. I think that art that has become only a mode of self-expression is devoid of life and substance. It is weak and has no life and usually ends up relying on things such as shock value to get noticed.

The ego that foists itself on others, is not one that relates to them in any manner than that of a tyrant demanding adulation. When this type of person seeks self-expression it quickly becomes obvious that they have not asked the most important question.  Do they in fact have a self that is worthy or even fit to be expressed?

 

Attaining any kind of true spiritual connection with the subject absolutely forbids this type of approach. It takes a selflessness in stead. How can we approach the reality of a landscape if we are only interested in ourselves? We cannot connect if our eyes are turned in upon ourselves.

 

So, there you have it. If we are to attempt at all to relate spiritually with the universe around us we must attempt to become self-less. It really is the only path that I can see.

While our western worldview makes us almost proof against such experience, we can, through time and effort, become less aware of how we think we ought to see, and just learn to see.

 

As we attempt this, we let ourselves go and enter into the journey, and then we become more spiritual as a person as well as an artist. It can only help us in the long run.  

After all we are a being created of of both spirit and matter, we are are already connected, we just need to get out of our own way and experience what is already there.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/10/photography-as-a-spiritual-persuit-9-capturing-spiritual-essence-in-a-subject Sat, 13 Oct 2018 04:00:55 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 8 Creativity and Freedom https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/7/photography-as-a-spiritual-persuit-7-creativity-and-freedom

 

Freedom and Creativity

 

I have, in past posts, written about creativity and spirituality, now I would like to explore the notion of freedom in creativity as a spiritual path.  It might be more accurate to state it as freedom is the goal and the substance of the spiritual path.

 

Having been a minister and even more pertinent to this discussion, also being an extremely flawed person, I have spent much time thinking about the concept of sin and its effects on people.  Please don’t let me lose you at the mention of this overused and misunderstood word, it does, however, hold a place in this discussion. Also, when you read the word sin, please try not to think of it as most have come to, or you will miss the point. Remember, I am not reffering to morality here. Please allow its definition as it pertains to this little work to unfold naturally as you make your way through this post.

 

I remember spending quite a bit of time studying and thinking about sin, oh, not specific sins like so much of the church is obsessed with, but the concept of sin itself, as a reality we must deal with and how it affects us.

 

Over the years I have come to the understanding that sin is at once a smaller and a greater problem than it is given credit for.  However, what sin does do is to restrict freedom to the extent it is allowed to hold sway in one’s life. Again, remember here I am not dealing with specific sins that people call out, and usually concerning others but a concept and a power, something within us that is actively attempting to keep us tied up and become less than we were created to be.

 

The Greek word for sin in the bible refers to missing the mark.  This is interesting to me as it has taken on a far more sinister role for so many.  They really can’t put their finger on it but they know it is bad, and it is, but usually in different ways than they think.

 

The mark that is missed is a person actively participating in the pulse and power that is actively working within, behind and through the entire universe. The bondage that we are seeking to be free of is that impulse within us that attempts to prevent this participation.  The very definition of freedom is this participation. The participation I am referring to is deeper than the idea of a mere 'working in cooperation with'. It is more akin to Barfield’s idea of participation where in essence our being participates in a more mystical sense, approaching the idea of what the mystics called contemplation. Again the common usage of the word contemplation does not work here but it is easily researched.

 

So I guess I ought to get right into it. Again, this is not about specific sins, at least in the way many think of them, but an overall understanding. It is also more about how it affects us as persons and what we might be able to do about it.

 

For those who actually understand the Christian message of what Jesus Christ did for folks, it is the start of the journey toward freedom. Although if one looks at the actions of so many of these people, it sure doesn’t appear that way. In the Christian message, the power of sin has been defeated in Christ, as has the bondage that goes with it. However, it may take years to realize this in one’s life to an ever-increasing degree. So many people never do, mainly because it may never have occurred to them that the possibility exists. If they did recognize the reality that this bondage may be remotely possible to overcome, they are stuck within a religious ethical system that seems not to care about this aspect of freedom. Far too many are focused on the prohibitory nature of the way sin is viewed in our society.

 

Okay, sin, as I  pointed out, means to miss the mark, and when someone sins or is in sin they are called to repent. This is another word that has had its meaning change over the years. It is often true that familiarity breeds contempt. The Greek word that is translated as repent is usually understood with the meaning to turn, to walk away from, and this is correct. However, the word also has a literal meaning of with yourself. The Greek word metanoia is used widely in psychological studies with an understanding of integrating one’s personality in a healthy manner.

 

While it may seem so, my intent is not to build an entire theology on the back of these two words, that would be absurd. However, taken along with everything else, they give us an interesting view of humanity. We are not free. The Bible speaks of humans being captive, and the good news, coming to set them free. I am sad to say that a misunderstanding of this entire concept has led to a great deal of misconception concerning the nature of sin. Consequently, this misconception focuses our attention on sin itself, which has intensified our bondage, rather than entering into the power of the true message which leads us to freedom.

 

Beyond the tendency of people to mistreat each other, the bondage I am referring to is personal. To a varying extent, it gets in the way of everything we might attempt to accomplish. It is this bondage and the freedom from it that I am interested in here.

 

Sin is the great lie that has brought about the creation within people of what has been called the false-self. You will find this understanding in the writings of the great Christian mystics and in a great deal of Psychology. The stronger this false-self is, the more constricted the true personality becomes. This must be recognized before one can begin the journey toward freedom from its tyrannical rule.

 

 

A number of years ago I had the opportunity to train in martial arts with Vladimir Vasiliev one of the founders of a Russian art called Systema. One of the first things you notice about Vladimir is the way he moves, it is amazing. You try to strike him and he seems to always be just out of reach. No matter how close you might get to him, he seems to melt away from your strike.

 

I asked him how he learned to be so relaxed and fluid and he said, “ I am not relaxed, I am free.”  This stuck with me. Relaxation is something you can learn, freedom, however, is a state of being. So much of what we do is hampered by being bound up, tight, self-conscious and it shows up in our movement, our art, in everything we do.  We may work hard and become very good at something, but freedom is an entirely different animal. Everything improves in direct proportion to the freedom we gain.

 

Years ago, Darla was commissioned to paint a portrait of Jazz great, David Friesen. I remember talking to him at his house and we got onto the subject of spirituality and music. He told us that he had been asked why he did not play for God, which really meant, why didn’t he play in a church?  He said that he had responded to that person by saying, that every time he played he was playing for God. How could that not be true? God puts the music or art in us and when we act according to the nature God has given us, we are doing so for Him. This is true for all the gifts we have been given.  Well, as long as they are used in truth.

 

 

David talked about making the space he was in sacred, whether it was a hotel room or concert hall, it would be the same. I have to admit, I have been working on that one for years, trying to get to the depths of it. I was too young and inexperienced at the time to fully understand its implications.

 

David was asked in an interview whether his concept of Jazz has changed, grown, complicated or simplified over the years. His answer was very interesting. “Simplified is a good word. All this has given me the ability, the confidence, the strength, the mobility and the authority to give up my own way and follow the music.” This is profound.

 

 

He was speaking of freedom, a freedom that can only truly come after a lifetime of work. It is not a false or fake freedom seen in so many young artists, (rarely are they free), but real freedom, a freedom that lives and breathes life into art. This is a transcendence of the false-self, and it is living and working in the true self. The true self exists with in the divine nature that we find in all creation, and especially in us, as it has been placed there. It is here that life and art take on a different dimension, one of truth and beauty, of revelation, moving us beyond the prison created by our egos.

 

 

I recognize this battle within myself taking place in my photography. The photographs I like best are spontaneous, I see and feel something and do my best to capture it. It is fleeting but if caught it brings a bit of that moment with it in the image.

 

 

Where I get into trouble is when “I” decide what I want to do and then begin planning it out. I am not against planning, as it is necessary for success, especially in a professional shoot. It is when I force my plan onto the flow of the shoot, that I may miss that creative moment, which seems at times, to have a life of its own.

 

 

I think one of the problems we have run into beyond a culture that seems to celebrate the ego or at least the false ego, is the idea that art is a mode of self-expression. Of course, it is and it will be, but which self is going to be expressed? I have watched so many young artists create hideous things in the name of being avant-garde and so often an ignorant public eats it up.

 

I personally think that it is cheap and easy to create shock value by deliberately offending for the sake of offending. Yes, offensiveness can be used as a powerful tool but for its own sake is lifeless and confining. I hope you understand what I mean here.

 

I  am writing about a person who is hell-bent on self-expression. And this person has never done the work to develop a self (or has not even considered asking the question) if they have a self that is worthy of expression. I get it that many of these artists are attempting to break away from a societal idea of what they should do. But they are falling into a trap. It is still their false-self seeking acceptenance, albeit from a different society that has rules more ameniable to them.

 

 

This is not freedom but willfully running headlong into the abyss of deception, and doing so with such a false vitality that they drag a multitude of equally deceived people with them.

 

 

When we as artists begin to allow the art, ( what ever it may consist of, writing, painting, poetry, music, photography or what have you) to flow from the deepest determining part of our being, where we are connected to creation, we shall move into that new life that contains the very creative power of the universe.

 

 

We need to get past telling ourselves to do this or that, and past others ideas forced upon us because we have brought God into the equation. Piggybacking on those ideas, are so many fears corresponding to and fueled by their notion of who God is or isn't. When accepted as truth either consciously or unconsciously, these fears ultimately cause us to create for ourselves a world governed by precepts that are dictated by what we believe we should or should not do in accordance with these fears. It is only when we can move beyond these notions and fears that we begin to let creative freedom flow. It is then that art, which is born from freedom, begins.

 

 

Our true-self becomes a part of something greater than ourselves, and the lines between us blur. We are still ourselves but also much more, and we connect with the infinite. This is one of the things provided for us by the Holy Spirit.

 

I have asked so many pastors a simple question, "What is the gospel?" They usually have all the normal answers, "I am saved," "I am going to heaven," and so etc, all of which are a part, but there is so much more. Jesus told us of this mystery when he said: "On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you." Bishop Brent called this interpersonal interpenetration. Through Jesus, we are brought into a vital relationship with God, and thus with all creation.

 

 

Art is one way we can help ourselves to see where our false-self gets in the way, and the more we can remove its influence, the purer our art can become, and consequently, the better persons we become.

 

 

So, for the spiritual artist, our art is not only the goal but the method, process, and co-recipient of the benefits of the freedom we seek.

 

 

The key to unlocking all of this freedom is love. We were created in, by and for love, and like the Skin Horse,in the Velveteen Rabbit, it is love that makes us real. After all, becoming real is the true purpose of our existence.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/7/photography-as-a-spiritual-persuit-7-creativity-and-freedom Tue, 31 Jul 2018 07:00:11 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 7: The River https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/7/photography-as-a-spiritual-persuit-6-the-river Milky Way Along the Grande Ronde River

 

I am going to make a bit of a departure from my regular musings in this post.  While I am still considering this to be about spirituality and photography it will pertain more to being on the river than the photography that happens there.

 

For those who don’t know me, I am an avid whitewater rafter, although I have slowed down a bit in my later years and don’t take the chances I used to, however, I still love the river and what it does for me each and every time I raft.

I just finished a wonderful six day trip with my son Jake and some very good friends and it has gotten me to thinking a bit.

 

It is not by accident that the pioneer Psychologist Carl Jung has equated water, a river, a lake or the ocean with the depths of the psyche. Water has a magical quality and can do wonders within our soul when we give it a chance. Loren Eiseley writes, If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water, and I agree with him. Some of my best spiritual breakthroughs have come while on or close to a river.

Maybe it is a bit more natural for me as the river has always been a part of my life. I grew up in the little town of Coulee Dam on the Colville Indian Reservation in Eastern Washington. The Columbia river ran right through the center of the town. The Grand Coulee Dam pretty much obscured the view in its direction. We lived on the hill and our house overlooked the dam and that enormous spillway.

 

This was before they added the third powerhouse to the dam which in essence screwed up so much of what made that place special. First of all the huge run over the spillway was no longer happening all spring and summer as the water now went through the new powerhouse.

Second, the government decided that they needed our property and took it. Yeah, that is kind of a thing in the area. I would have never been the same anyway, gone was the magnificent sound of the water crashing hundreds of feet down to the river below. More water than runs over Niagara Falls. It was loud, the ground shook and we loved it. I went to sleep every night listening to that awesome sound.

 

We fished out of the river and as a kid it was great just to grab a pole and a couple friends and head to the river for some fishing, swimming, building log rafts and floating, it was pretty much heaven. All that is gone now, as is the wonderful beach that we used to have so much fun at. The fishing places along the river below the dam are gone, sure there are others but some were just special.

 

We lost a lot there and yet there were folks who lost much more when that majestic river was dammed in the first place. My Native American friends lost the river in total. It changed their way of life, the river was the center of it and in the name of progress, it too was taken.

 

I don’t know the extent of the impact that it had spiritually on those who lived there before and I guess even those who were born after the dam was built but I am sure it was great. I can still feel my loss which is minuscule in comparison.

Yes, I know, I am on a rabbit trail but that is how I write, I go where it takes me just like my photography. I seldom plan anything but try to capture what the earth gives me. I want to hear or feel her voice and do so as a bit of worship to the God who created her and all the rest.

 

For what is worship without gratitude? Sure, sometimes I get down when I think of what I was forced to give up but then I probably would have moved anyway as for many years that big ole world called and I followed for better or worse.

 

I have learned over the years that the earth doesn’t forget us even though we may forget her. God is always there and in her, he created something of a pathway to better know Him.  

Our society has gone pretty much cerebral and we have come to think that spirituality is a cerebral thing. The great mystics, however, disagree, too bad they are seldom listened to by church folks anymore, it might change a lot. As an Anglican priest once told me, “The mind is a great servant but a horrid master.” I have always liked that.

 

Yes, the river can work magic, all by itself with no help from us. The following little story illustrates this quite well. I was there and saw it happen first hand.

A while back when I was working on a degree in psychology, (yes I think education is important, this is not a one-sided approach), we had to do a practical application for a final grade. Some of the people volunteered in their church others worked for a couple of weeks at child services, others found many different things that interested them, I went rafting.

 

Okay, it was a little more than that but in essence, that is what I did. I saw a little thing in the syllabus saying we could do the practical on something called life enrichment so I pitched my case and got to do it.

 

I came up with a plan for a father-son rafting trip through a friend’s church and set it up. I got some friends with rafts to volunteer their time and rafts and we planned the trip.

 

I was asked by the pastor of the church and professors what I was going to do. Was I going to have a special time to study scripture, give a sermon, or what have you? I said nope, we are going to float the river for three days and watch what happens. If you want to read your bible or pray do so. If you feel like preaching ask if someone wants to listen but it will not be required. The only actual requirements will be concerning safety.

When the day came we all piled in our trucks and headed for the river. There was one young man in particular who came. He was a kid who had been picked on and was withdrawn. He came with his uncle as his dad was gone and he lived with his mom.

 

His hair was long and covered his eyes, no problem with long hair but here he was using it to hide. He would not talk much and when he did he would not make eye contact, he had almost zero confidence.

 

On the first day, not long after we put in on the river he got to help save a life. He was in a paddle raft with some boys and men when just in front of them a fisherman standing in the river in waders was swept away. The paddle raft was faster than our oar boats and caught up to him as he was going under again and were able to pull him out and get him to shore.

Out my tent doorOut my tent door

Over the course, of the three days he learned to climb rocks and one of the dads took him and some of the kids to the top of the river valley, and it was very high and steep but he made it.


 

We also got into the middle of a huge fire that was burning along the river and it jumped the river just behind us. It was scary but he took his cues from the guys in his boat and did not get panicky.

 

He overcame his fear and rafted some pretty big rapids including one where the guide of his raft was thrown out, he helped get him back in. He learned not to give into fear and do what was necessary.

He went up with the kids and jumped off of a high rock into the water overcoming that fear, not because someone made him but because he wanted to. He did all these things he had never done before because he wanted to and he hung out with some great men who showed him that they thought he was worth something.

 

By the end of the trip he was helping out with all the work, something he did not do in the beginning and he would look each of us in the eye when he talked.

 

I visited the church a few months later, he was all cleaned up, well in his own style but it was cool and he was there talking with his girlfriend, that was new too, he did not have the courage to approach her before.

This all happened because there were some wonderful men and boys on the trip and because we were on a river and it worked its magic. We could have never planned all that but the river or God through the river had an idea of what was needed.

 

I know I put off some people when I talk about the river in a way that makes it seem that I think it is alive, well I do in a sense. Heck, even the Bible points to that. “For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed.” Romans 8:19.  Many of the best Greek scholars point out that this gives so many scholars pause, it is in there and thus must be dealt with by anyone who claims to be a Bible believer.

 

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,

Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

- Hamlet (1.5.167-8), Hamlet to Horatio

We live in an utterly magnificent universe created by a God who exceeds all description and yet He himself says his very nature is love.  I have to believe that this love, this creative spirit is touchable in nature as well as internally through the Holy Spirit and for me the river is the place I find it the easiest to do it.

 

You don't have to be in a raft, (but it helps haha) you can be anywhere but for me, I need the river and God Knows that and has blessed me with the ability to be there when I really need it.

 

Also, you don’t have to be a Christian or even believe in a god at all to be touched by the river, to be healed in mind and body. It is just that wonderful.

 

But, don’t go looking for how it will happen or even worse with a preconceived notion of what it will be like, just go and trust. They keep yourself open and you will feel it.



 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/7/photography-as-a-spiritual-persuit-6-the-river Sun, 01 Jul 2018 23:39:28 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 5 (Creativity) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/1/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-5-creativity

 

Creativity

 

I am not sure how one can have a discussion about spirituality without touching the subject of creativity.  I truly can’t imagine a discussion of photography without it.

 

So where does one begin a subject like this?  I guess we just start.

 

This will undoubtedly seem a bit obtuse but I do hope it comes clear in the end.

 

When studying the internal styles of Kung Fu I came upon something that has helped me in many endeavors. A different understanding of will or willpower.

 

My sifu in teaching me how to control and work with Chi (the bioelectric energy that flows through our bodies), he would refer to using my will.  Well to me will was that thing that I would stiffen, strengthen into an unyielding force within me as I attempted to perform something or fight against something. I think you get this, just think willpower.

 

The more I tried to use this willpower to accomplish the cultivation and use of my bodily energy the more it would elude me. He would watch me and shake his head. Even though he said I was a very good student I am sure he also wondered how I just could not get it.

 

When, by a happy accident, while working on the healing methods of Agnes Sanford it finally saw it. I will not bore you with how that happened just that it did.

 

I now felt it in my movement and was able to control it, somewhat. It was in a very rudimentary form at this point but it was there and working. Later I understood it in more detail and it became easier.  

 

I had to learn to try softer, not to force anything, to allow it to manifest and move, it was always there I just didn’t understand that.

 

Rather than stiffing up my mind and trying to force I learned to relax and use my will in the correct way. Okay, try this. Lift your left hand and touch your nose.  Great, you did not have to think about that at all, nor force it, you just did it, that is the understanding you need. It is just that, doing without forcing, relaxed movement. Yes, it is almost impossible to describe this in English. Better in one of the Chinese dialects.  English is an engineering language which is amazing for that use but woefully inadequate for spirituality.

 

You still use your mind and will, just in a relaxed manner, stiffen up and it leaves.  

An interesting side note is that when I went to my lesson the next day I began my form and he stopped me and said, “very good, you have found your energy.” I was kind of shocked that he could tell. Being the skeptic I devised a little test. As I was doing my form I would make my mind (not body) rigid and unyielding and of course, I could feel the energy leave. He instantly looked at me and said it was gone. I brought it back and he remarked it was so. I did this a  number of times until he asked me what in the heck was wrong with me.  I explained what I had done and he just laughed at the crazy white guy.

 

What is am getting at is this, when you are working to develop your creativity or spirituality or both as I do believe creativity is highly spiritual, we do serve the creator don’t we, we must be relaxed in a sense. Especially when things get tough or tight.  I have found so many Christians that totally stiffen up in times like this.  We try to force things either through more study and discipline and it eludes us. Sometimes in the creative process, we do the same, just work harder and again it eludes us.

 

We ought to take a lesson from nature. I have noticed that when on a river trip and I need a drink, depending on the river I am on I will just take a drink. What you do is do not take a drink in the swift water but in a pool where the dirt and things can settle out.  The best way to deal with muddy water is to let it settle. Nature always will teach us how to do things and it is no different in our hearts and minds.  

 

Relax quit striving and worrying.  Jesus tells us this many times. He tells us not to worry because we mean a great deal to God who takes care of the animals how much more will he take care of us. Well, part of the problem comes in when we have desires that may or may not be granted, as for our life, he cares.

 

If you read other spiritual traditions they too deal with this and many create systems that are to help with this.

Relaxation is totally against our America ethos, the Calvinist work ethic, and thus we have a hard time with it or feel guilty when we do. The type of relaxation I am speaking of is not idleness, it is a way to work, not being tense or worried. Sometimes, however, it means just that. Stopping long enough to let the dirt settle so things become clear.

 

God is here and cares and if we can trust and unclench, things become clear.

 

Tension, stiffness, fear etc. will stifle creativity, well sometimes a good dose of deadline dread can get us moving but that is a totally different thing.

 

Here is a photo tip. Grab your camera and go shoot. It doesn’t matter if you have shot the heck out of the area you live in and are bored with it, just go shoot. Relax and allow things to appear, they will. Also, don’t think that just because you have your camera you need to take a photo. If nothing strikes your fancy don’t shoot, don’t force things, in the end, you have had a nice walk or drive.

 

The same goes for prayer or meditation.  It is not always exciting nor do you always get some big breakthrough in the understanding of being. It usually is just uneventful, at least in such ways.  It does, however, change you, bit by bit usually in unnoticeable ways until one day you look at yourself and notice a change. Yep. relaxed and unforced.

 

So in closing, I personally believe that learning to unclench, relax, loosen up both physically and mentally will allow creativity to flow just as it does with the energy in our bodies.

 

Afterall, it is all intermingled anyway.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2018/1/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-5-creativity Sun, 07 Jan 2018 15:56:50 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 4 (No Mind) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/12/photography-as-a-spiritual-approach-4-no-mind I have always enjoyed hearing the various misconceptions concerning the Zen idea of no mind.  So many folks in the west and not a few who are spiritual leaders consider no mind to be referring to not using your mind at all, I have even seen it referred to as a person being stupid or a dolt. 

Probably the closest we can get to it in English is, no preconceived notion.  It can also be referred to as no second or third thoughts concerning a course of action. However, like most things Zen, if it is to be apprehended at all, it is with the spirit or being rather than the critical mind. Again this falls short, so I will leave it at that.

You can see why this would be attractive to the martial arts practitioner. How many of us at a crucial point in time have hesitated while making a decision? This is a dangerous thing to do when a sword is slicing through the air toward you.

It is really easy to overthink some things and the ego can get in the way as well causing us to worry more about how we might be perceived than what is actually going on.

A friend once asked me a question while we were on a rafting trip.  He asked if I ever meditated and I replied, of course, I do it a lot. I asked him what he was looking for that he thought he might find in meditation. He told me that he wanted to focus his mind more and be of one mind. He wasn't sure he had ever experienced that. I told him meditation was great for that but I also asked him he by chance had any extraneous thoughts while we were going through the class five rapid just upriver. The thought for a while and said nope I was pretty focused.

I personally find the state of no-mind is harder to achieve when I am pondering life's questions and directions than when engaged in martial arts or in class five rapids. Of course close to 50 years training in the martial arts helps and many years on the oars as well but still, it is harder when one is thinking of something as open-ended as life and one's direction through life.

So again photography helps. We usually have a bit of time to get a shot when shooting some things, others like street photography, weddings, performance, well that takes quick and decisive action. So let's consider shooting a landscape. Normally you have a couple minutes before the light changes too drastically although this is not always the case. So in those two minutes, you can bog yourself down with decisions, composition, settings, the idea of what you are trying to convey and so on. Here is where I say know your technical stuff so well you don't have to think about it then listen to your heart, it will guide you. 

I am really fighting the temptation to go into some lengthy explanation here that I am quite sure would not help anyway. So, when something moves you to shoot, look, feel and try and capture that feeling in the viewfinder then shoot. I think you will be happy with your results.

Know enough about the spiritual life not to get into trouble then relax and don't overthink. No Mind.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/12/photography-as-a-spiritual-approach-4-no-mind Fri, 22 Dec 2017 20:34:36 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 3 https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/12/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-3  

 

It is amazing how the arts we do can give us an insight into our psyches.  I remember years ago when I operated my martial arts school a student made an interesting observation when he contrasted the way I approach dealing with an attacker with the way his other teacher who happened to be a friend of mine did.

While he did see the difference between our approaches he attributed them to the wrong reasons.  We both were teaching and internal style of Kung Fu at the time. 

When attacked he would evade and end up to the side or behind the attacker. He was much smaller than I and very quick.  When the same attack came at me I would move but not really relinquish my ground and through the movement of my center and timing and positioning relative to my attacker I would manipulate the attacker and end up in the same relative position to the him.  In both of our ways, the attacker would lose their center and be off balance basically depending on us for their balance which put them in a precarious position.

The student's assumption was my size and weight that I would use and not move causing the attacker to move. While size can play a function here, what I was doing was done with less than a couple lbs of pressure upon the attacker and my friend would use about the same and more at the end to cause the unbalance when he was behind them.  

One of the hardest things I had to accomplish when teaching or doing a demonstration was trying to get people to understand that  I was not using my size and strength beyond exerting a few lbs of pressure. In the beginning I also had to learn to not use my size and strength in this art as well, it would have been easy to do so and cheat  so to speak but I always approached it like I was dealing with someone the size of the Shack where my size and strength would have been so overwhelmingly outmatched I could not rely on it.

Well, what does this all have to do with spirituality? First of all, to me, the student represents assumption which is a very dangerous thing to make while exploring spirituality.  The wrong assumption will stop us from learning, we must approach things with what martial artists call the mind of a child or no mind, this is essential in learning. If we approach a situation with a preconceived idea we will miss what is there for us to learn.

I remember when our student said he thought he would like to learn with my friend because he doesn't use his size and he too was a smaller man. I said fine as my friend is a very good teacher and he would learn a great deal there. However, his reasoning was incorrect but if he had come to training with an open mind he may have been able to see that.

I selected the photo above because it kind of represents what I am talking about here. This obviously is a photograph of a sunset. Here is the story behind it. I was driving along and saw that the sunset was going to be brilliant. I came upon a place to shoot and got out of my truck. There were other people standing there all taking photos of the sunset. From this position, one could make an okay photo but not one I would get too excited over. However, as I always do, I turned around and looked behind me, away from the sunset itself and saw this.  The big cloud formation was low over the land and the sunset created this color on the clouds. It was amazing and was in the exact opposite direction from the actual setting sun.  It was also amazing that no one else even noticed it.

Lesson learned, always look around. For photos and in our spiritual life don't get bogged down but how you or others think things ought to be but look for what they can be. Sometimes the herd is facing the wrong direction. In photography and the martial arts, you ought to know the basics because they act as guidelines to keep you safe or make sure your art comes out good. In the spiritual life,  your vision or interpretation will add much after you know the basics. Don't get stuck on someone else's idea of how they should operate.

Again learn the basics to keep you safe, take the advice of those who have traveled the road before and trust your heart as well. No place for ego here.

I think one of the major problems in churches today is that they tend to present a fairly narrow idea of what the spiritual life is. While it may be satisfying for a certain personality type it can leave many wanting and eventually they will leave looking for something deeper. Christianity has a wonderful and deep history of spirituality that often is ignored to our poverty.

While in Seminary I was perplexed to find that the training was almost exclusively for the mind. Yes, this is critical it is however not enough. In our curriculum was one class on spirituality and an elective on prayer, that was it.

I was fortunate that the professor teaching both classes, an Episcopal priest who had run Agness Sanford's school of pastoral care after her husband died became my mentor until his death years later. It was sad that with his wealth of experience and education in the area of spirituality he only taught a couple two-hour classes in prayer and spirituality. He also had been a student of Carl Jung and had been part of the Pentecostal dialogues with the Pope. He had many wonderful insights to share that few ever heard.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) energy happiness images love photography https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/12/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-3 Sun, 03 Dec 2017 22:29:10 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit 2 https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/11/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-2  

Well, here we go, grab your camera and let’s have some fun. By the way, this blog is not going to cover settings, technical things, and the sort.  Those you can find anywhere and if you are not comfortable with your camera you need to study them and learn so that the technical aspect is in the back of your mind. If you have to keep calling it to the front it will get in the way of your photography and everything we are trying to do here.

 

We are going to try and learn to shoot with our hearts, with our spirits and the only way possible for that to happen is that we really can’t be spending time fidgeting with our cameras. If you haven’t spent the time to learn the camera, inside and out. Well, the basic settings so that you can get what you want in the image.

 

My method if you can call it a method is: see, feel, shoot, process. I spend no time trying to define what I am feeling, for me that will get in the way of execution and tend to preclude that I will get the image that touched me.

 

This is a right-brained process, and yes I know that the latest studies are wanting to refute the actual right and left brain understanding but for the sake of communication, I use right brained in the traditional sense.

 

The things that attract me reveal something about my spirit. A friend once said to me, “I love your work but your photographs are so dark.” Before I even thought out of my mouth came, “I am a dark person.”  Before this happened I just thought it was that I liked the dark moody photographs. Not the morally dark, even sick ones, but dark and shadowy. If you look at the photo I chose to head this whole blog, the tracks going alongside the cemetery in the fog you get an idea of what I mean.

 

I have not chosen the photo for this post yet but I am sure given the subject matter it will be of a similar nature.

 

You may always see sunny photos, cheery and that is fine. You may choose to shoot those because they are the antithesis of the darkness you are attracted to, also okay. Just shoot and don’t over think. Keep shooting what attracts you and see what appears. I would hope that it would go without saying here, that for our purposes, we want to avoid any type of photography that objectifies and demeans another person or treads on our most basic lusts. That is just way too easy and will not aid us here. Although it too is revealing. In the end, you will find your own path. However, at some point, a true spirituality will inevitably have to make a moral judgment. But before you run down that road please think of the puritan in the parable at the end of my first post on this subject. In the end, it is you who will have to figure out where the line is to be drawn and remember that is your line.

 

It will be easy here to go off thinking that the rules of composition and image are not necessary especially after what I said about the technical side. That would be a mistake. Good composition is essential to convey the feeling that attracted you to the image in the first place. Do your best. If you are a beginner you may find as I did many years ago that you see something, it touches you and you shoot it only to find that later the image has nothing of the feel you liked about it. Many times, in the beginning, we will shoot something that touches us and not think at all about proper composition, lighting, setting, and so on and get a photo that just doesn’t work. So when you find that thing you want to shoot, look at it, really look at it and find what conveys something, you don’t even have to understand what. In reality, your image probably if it touches someone will do so in a far different way that it did you unless it is some tragic event, and still it might.

 

Don’t worry about anyone getting it. That is not the point. The point is that you shoot what makes you feel. If you accurately capture what you are feeling, it will touch someone, just be ready to let it do so in that person's own particular way.

 

I learned this bit of letting go of the image from my wonderful wife. Darla is an amazing painter and writer. Probably the most talented person I know, and I know some very talented people.

 

I met her while I was in Seminary and she had just returned from a 4-year apprenticeship in Florence with a master painter and sculptor.  I was amazed how she could finish a painting and then just let it go. Things people said both positive and negative would not touch her. She was about the doing and was already on to the next one.

 

She is about to publish her first novel and I am so very interested in seeing how she handles the response to this. She has spent a decade writing this and six others in the series now are polishing up the first book and will release it by the first of the year. A painting takes her weeks, this has been her life for ten years, much more invested and I will be very interested in how she deals with this.

 

So, go out and shoot. Then process. For me, processing is just as important as the shooting, maybe even more so. When I process I don’t really visualize what I want I just begin and the photo will guide the processing. What to do will come as I go.

 

It is funny, I shot fashion and advertising many years ago and I found the same true. I would plan the shoot, work the plan and more often than not the photos I shot around the set and those became the ones the client would want rather than the ones we had planned together. As a pro, you need to be able to give the client what they want and that takes planning and ability but I also found that the spirit was in what was happening with the people during the shoot and I would try and catch that as well.

 

I call my landscape shots earth portraits, not sure where I heard that but it fit.  I am not a true landscape photographer. I can not often sit out there with my camera on a tripod waiting for that perfect light. I need to move, experience, see, and shoot as it prompts me. That is just who I am. I do however love good landscape photographers work. It always amazes me. Then there are times like the photo above where I had to use the tripod and wait for the composition and feel to be right.

 

I love street photography, the being out there among the people going about their lives. I love the energy and the ever-changing dynamic of each and every scene. Trying to capture a poignant snippet of that energy. A street photographer has to see and react quickly. It is so much fun.

 

This is one of the reasons I like shooting weddings. I shoot photojournalistic style if you have to put a name on it. I love shooting the candids and capturing wonderful moments in time, the emotions and love, trying to do so in an artistic way. When it works it is magical.

So go out and shoot, shoot what attracts you. Try it all, landscapes, street, portraits you name it and then process letting the energy and spirit reveal itself through the process. That is a great start. After a while you will begin to see things in your work, some calle it style, maybe it is, I think it is a bit of revelation into your soul and spirit.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/11/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit-2 Mon, 20 Nov 2017 21:25:28 GMT
Photography as a Spiritual Pursuit https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/11/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit  

 


 

Okay, I guess I ought to say right off the bat that this will probably be about much more than photography and spirituality.

 

If you are one of the two or three fine folks that have attempted to follow my writing you know that I tend to be all over the place.

 

While it may be hard to tell from the outside my life has been about the search for an authentic spirituality. This has been a long and sometimes painful journey that has shown no sign of coming to an end or even stasis. I guess that is spirituality, in a nutshell, if you think you have it, it is gone.

 

Spirit is life and life cannot be contained, forced or coerced it must be free to take its own course.  

 

Many of us begin the journey into spirituality with some idea of what it is we are going to find and then set about trying to make our experience fit into that model. It won’t so don’t try. Really, you can spend years in this manner and only leave yourself frustrated and depressed or worse, deluded.

 

Another trap we get into in the west, maybe the east, I really don’t know if it is particular to us or it a human thing or maybe just appeals to a certain type of personality, whatever the case may be it is a trap nonetheless. I am speaking of learning about spirituality.  

 

Learning about spirituality can for a time satisfy that inner longing that propels us on in the search of that connection a true spirituality offers. True spirituality costs and much of its price our minds are reluctant to part with. Learning gives the mind a bit of control it may not otherwise have, nor is that control conducive to a real spirituality.

 

An Anglican priest once told me, “The  mind is a great servant but a terrible master.”  I did not see the depth of truth to that statement at the time but it has become abundantly clear over the years many of which I spent serving that terrible master.

 

I think that the learning however it necessary to a healthy spirituality. A spiritual director is of great help along this path. I have always been a loner and that bent has pressed its character into my spiritual quest for better or worse. So I owe a lot to my education, what I have learned has brought me back from the brink more than once. I have had five great mentors in my life two were spiritual directors in the full sense of the term. Of course, I tended to go my own way until life forced me to see the wisdom in what they told me.

 

I guess I ought to get this out of the way for those of you who do not know me. I grew up in a wonderful church in a wonderful little town on the Colville Reservation. I attended college, seminary after earning a Bachelors of Psychology, Master's of Divinity I worked for a few years in postgraduate studies in the area of Christian Spiritual Literature. I did not finish my Ph.D. for a couple reasons. First, my mentor passed away and second I found what I was looking for and by this time I knew I would never again work as a pastor or in a church.  This decision is not about any anger or a perceived slight, it really came about because at the end of it all I realized that organized religion was just not for me. Nor do I think it is what I am called to do. Working out a calling is an interesting task especially for someone who does not fit in traditional roles, but it is possible whether or not others understand it.

 

I did spend over a decade as a Regent on the board of a highly respected Seminary. This is my one lasting bit of traditional Christian ministry and I am very proud of it.  I also will say right here that as one gets into spirituality and for lack of a better term I will use that old, battered and worn out word that is full of baggage which leads many astray of the truth, Mysticism, theologians tend to get nervous, and much of the time rightly so.

 

I have to admit that I, in a large part do not understand theologians and their spirituality yet it has been to a few that I have turned when the way gets muddled and believe me it does. Their contribution to Christianity cannot be overestimated. 

 

I don’t think we need spend much time convincing the church that we need theologians, well maybe these days more than ever we might, but I do find that the church has a problem with mystics and that I do understand however they too are important.  I have to admit that I  also have problems with the modern idea of a mystic.  The ones that seem to teach that once you have reached that spiritual plane everything is now easy and there are never any more problems that touch you. They now walk around in a false, floaty superficial faux spiritual act trying to convince themselves and others that they have arrived. Where I have no idea.

 

The old Zen adage, “Before enlightenment, chop wood and carry water, after enlightenment, chop wood and carry water,” is well worth remembering.  

 

Yes, I have spent a lot of time learning from other spiritual traditions as well as Christianity. I will say this, for one who is grounded in your faith it can be quite enlightening.  While reading writings in Zen, Taoism, Sufism I came to see that the mystics of all the religions I studied, on some level, are saying pretty much the same things. This was a huge eye-opening experience for me. That many of their experiences and ah-ha moments convey similar truths.

 

I  read, I think, all or least most of the works of Thomas Merton. A brilliant thinker and Trappist monk. He spent years living in a Zen monastery while remaining a monk leaning of the Zen way. He has many very interesting things to say on the matter. One of my mentors was a friend of Merton and had many interesting insights to share about this man.

 

Lastly, I have studied the Martial Arts for around 50 years. I have studied in Okinawa and Japan and I have spent over a decade studying Chinese internal martial arts. My Sifu, a wonderful Chinese gentleman who is a Christian has taught me so very much about the Spiritual life.

 

The other thing that will probably make its way into this is white water rafting. There are so many great metaphors to be had on the river it will be hard to resist.  But for the most part, I will use my approach to photography in an attempt to help you understand what I am trying to say.

 

I certainly do not believe I have THE truth or even much of it. What I do have is the experience that has come from decades of my struggle along this road. It is my way and I am not in any manner trying to say it is the way or even a way, as you will find, your way will open itself up to you as you seek if you are just honest with yourself and willing to admit failure which seems to be the largest prerequisite for growth.

 

A line from the Desiderata, and yes I am aware this document is not what it claims to be, it is however still worth reading, says, “Beyond a healthy discipline, be gentle with yourself.” Truer words have…

 

This short parable below, I think, tells more about my journey and what I have found to be true than anything more I could write. I hope you understand it. Spend some time with it, let it speak to you in a way beyond words, in that place my mentor Francis would call, “the deepest determining part of your being.”


 

THE GREATER SEA

From The Madman

By Kahlil Gibran

My soul and I went to the great sea to bathe. And when we reached the shore, we went about looking for a hidden and lonely place.

But as we walked we saw a man sitting on a grey rock taking pinches of salt from a bag and throwing them into the sea. “This is the pessimist .” said my soul, “Let us leave this place. We cannot bathe here.”

We walked on until we reached an inlet. There we saw, standing on a white rock, a man holding a bejeweled box, from which he took sugar and threw it into the sea.

“And this is the optimist.” said my soul. “And he too must not see our naked bodies.”

Further on we walked. And on a beach, we saw a man picking up dead fish and tenderly putting them back into the water.

“And we cannot bathe before him.” said my soul. He is the humane philosophist.”

And we passed on.

Then we came where we saw a man tracing his shadow on the sand. Great waves came and erased it. But he went on tracing it again and again.

“He is the mystic,” said my soul, “Let us leave him.”

And we walked on, till in a quiet cove we saw a man scooping up the foam and putting it into an alabaster bowl.

“He is the idealist,” said my soul. “Surely he must not see our nudity.”

And we walked on.

Suddenly we heard a voice crying. “This is the sea. This is the deep sea. This is the vast and mighty sea.” And when we reached the voice it was a man whose back was turned toward the sea, at his ear he held a shell, listening to its murmur.

And my soul said, “Let us pass on. He is the realist, who turns his back on the whole he cannot grasp, and busies himself with a fragment.”

So we passed on. And in a weedy place among the rocks was a man with his head buried in the sand. And I said to my soul, “We can bathe here for he cannot see us.”

“Nay,” said my soul, “For he is the most deadly of them all. He is the puritan.”

And then a great sadness came over the face of my soul, and into her voice.

“Let us go hence,” she said. “For there is no lonely, hidden place we can bathe. I would not have this wind lift my golden hair, or bare my white bosom in this air, or let the light disclose my sacred nakedness.”

Then we left that sea to search for the Greater Sea.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/11/photography-as-a-spiritual-pursuit Mon, 20 Nov 2017 19:57:12 GMT
Review of the sleeklens Forever Thine Wedding Workflow https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/9/review-of-the-sleeklens-forever-thine-wedding-workflow The fine folks at sleeklens contacted me about trying their Lightroom workflows. The set I tested was their Forever Thine Wedding Workflow. You can see these presets and many others at their website  https://sleeklens.com/ I will be posting photos from a wedding that I  processed with the workflow that I was sent and I grabbed a few photos from a previous wedding and did the same.

All of the photos start with a preset from the set and most have very little tweaking of the settings. 

There are things I would do to these photos but I wanted to show how the presets looked without much interference.

 

I was a bit hesitant as I am not a person who uses presets but after thinking about it for a while I thought why not. When I shoot a wedding sometimes I process over a thousand photos. Due to the amount of time that it takes I was thinking of drastically reducing the number of photos I would offer the client. I thought if I could just save a couple minutes per photo that would really add up. I could save up to a third of the time it takes to process a wedding. 

 

The problem was that I had never found a preset that I would use for a wedding. I just have not liked what I have seen and also figured I could build my own just as easy. 

Well, I have changed my mind. I did find some presets in their collection that I like and used for a starting place. They used some settings that I would never have thought of and I truly liked the outcome.  What I did was to find the preset that I thought fit the look of the wedding and processed a few photos with it, tweaking them a bit to fit my vision then created my own preset from that and off I went. In the end, this saved me a great deal of time and I was able to deliver the photos weeks before the date I had promised. This is definitely a plus.  

Even if the preset only saved me thirty seconds when processing a thousand photos this saves around eight hours. So considering this alone I am very happy with the sleeklens wedding workflows. 

With the Forever Thine Wedding Workflows, you get 112 presets and 23 brushes. I have not tried the brushes yet but I will and will add to this review.

I found the whole process from download to use to be very easy and intuitive. I highly recommend this sleeklens workflow, if the others are this good then it is definitely worth looking into and purchasing. I will be using this set for some time. 

Thanks to sleeklens for asking me to take part in their review process and sending me the workflows. It has been a great experience. 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) how to images lightroom presets photography photoshop presets processing sleeklens wedding presets workflow https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2017/9/review-of-the-sleeklens-forever-thine-wedding-workflow Thu, 21 Sep 2017 17:02:26 GMT
My Take on Wedding Photography https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/11/my-take-on-wedding-photography  

Lake Oswego Wedding at The Foundry.

One of the things I dislike most is talking about me or my work.  Oh, I love to answer questions and yes I take pride in my work and always strive to do the very best that I can for a client, but singing one's own praises, to me feels self-serving, and just plain wrong.

So you won’t find my page on the top of search engines because just about everything it takes get there I just cannot do without feeling like I am being as egocentric as some photographers seem to be.  I have had many marketing people tell me that I must talk myself up in that way, but I just cannot do it and feel good about myself.

Rock Springs Ranch WeddingRock Springs Ranch WeddingMegan and Brian's lovely wedding at Rock Springs Ranch in Bend Oregon

So then what can I write about while trying to let people know about my work and the way I love to approach a wedding, portrait or commercial shoot?  I guess I can discuss what I strive for, how I look at the process of photography and what my goals are.  I will not be discussing what I am trying to get across in a particular photograph, as that to me is just as bad.  I believe that if my photographs do not stand on their own and convey a message or emotion or tell a story and give the viewer that little tug of the heart, then I have failed and no amount of supporting text will change that.  I am happy to discuss a certain photograph if asked but to post one somewhere with a long explanation just doesn’t work for me. 

Kiah Lodge Wedding.Kiah Lodge Wedding.Wedding at the lovely Kiah Lodge resort in Poulsbo Washington.

Part of this way of looking at things I get from my talented wife. She is a world-class artist who learned to paint as an apprentice to a Renaissance master in Firenze Italy, where she spent many years learning her art. She too shrinks from written descriptions or explanations of her work. It either stands or falls on its own.  I find that amazing because a painting takes so much more effort than a single photograph does to produce.

So with all that said, here is my approach to my work.  The technical aspects of photography aside, and I believe this can be set aside, because if a photographer has not mastered the technical aspects of his or her craft then they have no business calling themselves a pro and taking people’s money all the while hoping they don’t get into a fix that will take some real skill and knowledge to get out of.

A photographer only has a few tools they can use to make a photograph work. These tools used correctly and creatively are essential to convey the emotion, the feeling, or to tell the story of what is happening at that moment when the shutter clicks.

Beyond the technical aspects and the rules of composition which are fairly easy to learn, it just takes time and experience to be able to see and capture these wonderful moments. There are three main tools once can use or if you will, aspects that make up a good photograph especially in wedding, portrait and advertising photography. These are light, composition and human emotion.

To me, the first in foremost is light. A photographer may have the all the rules of composition down but if they do not understand or cannot see light their photos will look flat and will be lacking in personality.  Light is one of the strongest allies we have in making a great photograph and it must be used wisely to have it work for us in creating a photograph with stunning visual impact.  Wedding photographers, especially those of the photojournalist style, must develop an innate sense of light, where it is coming from and how it will impact the image because they must do everything on the fly. There is no time to pose each shot. 

This is also where camera knowledge comes in; we must be able to change settings instantly to whatever is needed to be able to get the shot.  As the subjects move the light changes and what you can do with it differs, different backgrounds call for different exposures and the wedding photographer must be able to keep up. I have seen way too many wedding photographs where the photographer just set the camera on auto and that was it. If everything stayed the same they might have gotten away with it.  Most don’t.  I think that the new washed out look that has become popular is fine, but I have seen it used as a way to hide bad exposure. I think that the photo must be well exposed and then if you want to go that direction in processing fine, but it never should be relied upon to cover up less that adequate technical skills.

Kiana Lodge Wedding in Poulsbo WashingtonKiana Lodge Wedding in Poulsbo WashingtonBeautiful wedding at the beautiful Kiana Lodge in Poulsbo Washington.

Light tells the story; it sets the mood and conveys the emotion of the moment in time that was captured.  The greatest painters know that, look at Rembrandt’s work, his understanding and use of light is amazing. Lord Leighton is amazing at using light and dark to create fabrics on his women that you can almost feel. There are so many other wonderful painters we can learn from. They, however, and not to take anything away from their brilliance and skill, get to add light where needed, journalistic style wedding photographers, as a rule, do  not have that luxury. When we do add light to an image we need to do so in such a way that we avoid that on camera flash washed out look. Only one of my cameras has a built-in flash and I have never used it. They produce horrid light. 

We need to spend our lives looking at and learning the properties of light and how it reacts with the world around us. This can be done all times all days.

Next is personal emotion. We must be able to capture that instant when the emotion is there, that fleeting moment the emotion passes across the subjects face and then is gone forever. We must be vigilant, ever watching, and give it everything we have to not lose those precious moments.  Sure some will get by us be we need to be able to capture the majority of them.  I still ache inside about a couple shots I missed; I can still see the light hitting the subject and the photo what would have been made. Luckily they were street shots and not a wedding but still.  Street photography is a wonderful way to train yourself to be able to see light and capture emotion as well as anticipate how the elements in a scene will play out and the image that may be created from them. It keeps you hopping and you have to keep that camera up and looking through the viewfinder or you will miss something.

Sometimes that street photography look works very well for a wedding image, another reason to learn and practice street photography.

Cell phone cameras are a part of weddings now so get used to it. They will be there unless the couple asks that they not be taken out, but usually they are all over.  There will be some great shots taken with the phones and they will be posted so your work needs to be good enough that it will, for the most part, stand above those photos as everyone will see both.

These are the elements that I believe go into making a good wedding photograph and I spend my life trying to improve my abilities and bring the very best to the work at hand.  I will never be as good as I desire to be but that keeps me growing and there is always plenty of room for that. 

So this is what I am about and I will do everything possible to get the best photographs of your wedding, portrait, and event, well you name it. Yes as photographers we are told to pick a specialty and don’t venture outside of that, well I have and it is photography, I just love shooting and creating interesting and powerful images that will capture those wonderful moments in time so they can be relived and shared.  Images that will draw one into them and convey the message directly to the heart, these are the things I can talk about because they are what excite me.

I have been a photographer for decades and am currently training my son in the craft. I shoot weddings as well as many other genres of photography. We limit ourselves to six or eight weddings per year this allows us to do the very best work and I do all of the processing myself putting eyes and hands on each and every photograph.  Doing so I can keep wedding photography a passion rather that just a job. Sure a pro will do nice work on any job but a passion, that brings wonderful results.

I live in the quaint little town of Silverton Oregon it is located just outside Salem and less than an hour from Portland and while I love shooting weddings here in the area the majority of my work is all around the pacific northwest and I am available to travel where ever the wedding is held. We love to travel and have the ability to enter a new location sized it up and produce quality photography.

 

The best way to contact me is either go to contact on this page or email to luitenimages@gmail.com  email is the best way to get to me as I am out of cell contact much of every day. Thanks.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/11/my-take-on-wedding-photography Sun, 15 Nov 2015 01:41:19 GMT
You are the Artist https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/8/you-are-the-artist Over the past few years I have put my photographs out to the public in a number of forums. I was curious how they might be received. Overall I have been happy with the results and I have learned a lot.

Some of my most popular photos that I have shared on Facebook are not my personal favorites. The same goes with 500 PX and Flicr. There have been a few other places as well. I belong to a few photographer groups as well but one, a closed group with maybe a couple hundred photographers in it is my favorite. There are some shooters that are totally amazing in this group. They hail from all over the world and in my mind are tops in their field. There are Fashion, Landscape, Portrait, Travel, Street, Fine Arts, well you name it and they are there and they are very good.

I find this group tends to like same things I do. I can place a photo on Facebook at it will get little attention but the same photo in this group will receive some of the highest praise of any I post. The opposite is true as well. Please don't get me wrong I am very appreciative of the wonderful comments and likes I get for my work in either group. It truly is nice to hear that someone likes my work and maybe they feel something while looking at it as that is what I am trying for.

I can think of nothing better than having someone view some of my work and have it move them in some way. Maybe make their day a bit better, or it could make them think on something that is what a photograph is about and if it happens I am a success.

However what I am writing about here is how one has to approach their art. An artist has to do work they like. Sure we all will create what a client wants but when we shoot for ourselves then we must create images that please us. If we begin changing to get more likes or attention we become kind of like a politician changing his or her views in reaction to polls. We lose our soul.

I am not saying that we don't take advice or attempt to grow in our art. Heck maybe after a number of years we can find ourselves going a totally different direction as our interests change. Also as our style begins to emerge we follow that and it may lead us to something different or more focused. We begin to learn what we like.

One thing I learned from my wonderful and talented wife Darla is to hold onto our completed work lightly.  For those who do not know Darla is an amazing artist. She was trained in Firenze in a style called New Renaissance which combines the old techniques handed down from master to apprentice over generations with the freedom of modern art.  She spent four years studying as an apprentice working twenty-four seven.  When working with galleries they would always tell her to be more this or that to fit into the American and local culture. She didn't do that and I have always admired her for it. Of course, it might help to have one's art hanging in the homes of royalty, artists, world-class musicians and even one of the most popular restaurants in the world among food critics. I have seen her art in many food magazines and TV shows as they did reviews on this wonderful eatery in Firenze.

I have watched her finish a painting and have people see it and everyone has a comment some are not very nice. She handled it all with grace and equal equanimity.  When she is finished with a piece she is finished and is on to the next one. This is a great way to be. I find that when I finish a photograph that I like, I can look at it for a short while and enjoy it, then I am bored and must go for the next one.

In closing all I am really taking so long to say here, is that you are the one you have to impress, do what you like and push yourself to get closer and closer to your vision. In the end, if you don't do that you will become quite disillusioned with yourself and your art.  When people like and comment positively on your work, well that is the frosting on the cake.

Do I think these are my best? Probably not, but right now they are the ones I sort of like best but that will change.  

 

That probably is the natural way of things.

Happy Shooting!

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/8/you-are-the-artist Fri, 07 Aug 2015 20:38:43 GMT
Arrivederci https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/arrivederci  

Sometimes you have evenings that are just special. Last night was one of those. Darla and I went up to Arrivederci Wine and Jazz Bar in Milwaukie Oregon to see Kate and the Crocodiles. Now most of you have figured out by now that Kate, Gavin and Craig are good friends and we have said many times how much we love them as well as their music.  So having need them in so many venues things have to go really right for us to have an exceptional evening at least compared to all the other wonderful time we have had seeing them in concert.

Steve is the gentleman playing sax in the photo below. I need to talk to him again but I think that he runs the place or manages it. It belongs to his son is what I think he said, I will have to check that out to be correct. Anyway he brought his sax out and sat in a few songs and that was a pleasant surprise. It is a really cool atmosphere at Arrivederci and a lot of fun.

It was our first time to go to Arrivederci and I was very impressed. We made a reservation and got a great table right in front.

 

Our waitress was a beautiful young lady who was just as nice and helpful as she is attractive. That is always a plus.

Over the years I have gotten to be a bit of an Italian food snob, well not really, but I do hesitate to order spaghetti in a restaurant as I seldom find it done correctly. Okay my pseudo snobbery ( I am really not a snob, just like good, well prepared food) has come about because of my wife Darla.

 

When I met her she has just returned to the U.S. from a four year internship as an apprentice to a master painter and sculptor in Florence Italy. They would eat the majority of their meals at a little trattoria.

 Trattoria del Garga is a world famous restaurant that Rachel Ray has called her favorite restaurant in the world. That is a pretty good recommendation.  Darla learned a lot from her friends who own and operate this little gem and she as passed much on to me.  So when I say I am kind of picky about my Italian food I have good reason.

 

Last night I steered away from the pasta for the reasons I mentioned above, a new restaurant and all, and went for their pizza. For around twelve bucks you get a generous sized personal pizza made from fresh dough and ingredients.  The pizza I had was called the Shameless Seamus. Seamus is a chief from New York who is hanging here for a couple months and they are getting some new and cool dishes from him.  It has a spicy marinara sauce on perfectly done crust.  Genoa, salami, red onions, mozzarella, parmesan, sliced mushrooms, roasted red peppers & it is topped with fresh basil.  It was amazing. I like big bold taste and this pizza had it to spare. I am now looking forward to going back to try their pasta.

 

I think I described it to someone as being liked getting punched in the mouth with flavor. Now it really isn’t like that and I meant it in only the best way. But really I love it when I take a first bite of something and get flooded with flavor. It really was that good.

 

Darla had the Molte Bene. She too liked her food very much. She said it tasted like something she would cook. It is a chopped chicken sautéed in garlic and onion with a mixture of vegetables and topped with shaved parmesan.  I didn’t get to try it but I did insist that she have a bite of my pizza and she loved it.

So I would highly recommend Arrivederci if you are looking for good food and some great music.

 

Kate and the Crocodiles have never disappointed and last evening was no different. They are always writing new music, which added to songs that have become favorites of mine, always makes for a wonderful experience.

 

It is hard to pinhole their genre as it is so broad. They do take some well-known songs and mess with them as Kate calls it and none have failed to be truly enjoyable.

You will hear songs ranging from Pat Benatar to Nat King Cole and all are done uniquely and perfectly.

 

For those of you who do not know them Kate Morrison is an accomplished vocalist. Craig Bidondo is an amazing pianist who plays in so many different venues around Portland and across the country. Gavin Bondy is an amazing trumpet player who also has played with Pink Martini for the last twenty years.  These three amazing musicians come together and produce a truly unique and wonderful experience for those fortunate enough to hear them play.  I would highly recommend that you get out to see them and if they are playing at Arrivederci you will be in for double the enjoyment.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/arrivederci Sun, 26 Jul 2015 01:27:44 GMT
What is the Best Camera? The One you Have! https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/what-is-the-best-camera-the-one-you-have  

I am often asked what camera is the best? That is a tough question. In the fast changing world of digital cameras if you are a tech geek who always has to have the latest and most advanced equipment you will go crazy or broke, or both.  

 

My answer to the question is usually, the camera you have in your hand is the best one.  If you are a pro and depending on what your main subject is, you will find cameras that do the job you want it to. It will need features  that can do what is required.  A sports photographer will need a different camera than a landscape photographer.

 

If you are looking for a camera that will take nice photos of family, landscapes, or what ever, then your really don't need to go crazy. 

 

I personally like DSLRs, even if I am just shooting for myself. I came up on film cameras and they just feel right. A mirrorless may be what you are looking for.  Many point and shoots are very good now as well. 

 

If you are on a budget and want a good camera, maybe look used.  The top cameras of a few years ago are very inexpensive today, well comparatively. 

 

I have a couple pro cameras. One the Canon 1D MK lV was over seven grand new now you can get it for around three or less. It is a fantastic camera and will do all you could ever need it to. The other a Canon 5Dmk ll  was around twenty five hundred new and now you can get it around eleven hundred. It is still being snapped up by videographers. It was used exclusively to make a number of movies  you may have seen. Still a great camera.

 

Another camera brand I have that I used until I went pro again was Pentax. They make a great camera and if I had not gone pro and needed some of the add on gear that second party manufacturers only seem to make for Canon and Nikon pro equipment, I probably would have stayed with it alone. I had a K100D, a consumer level camera that takes great photos and you can buy now for around a hundred bucks. My son still uses that one. 

 

Also a K20D this is an amazing camera that takes great photographs. Also a K5 both Pentax again.  The K5 and K20D are considered pro-sumer cameras. Personally beyond the ancillary equipment problem, much of which has been remedied in the last few years, they are pro level. I would probably have stuck with the K5 forever. I still use it and love it.

 

So just to give you and idea, the photos below were shot with the K100D, K5, 5D mk ll and the 1D mk lV.   Oh yes and one was shot with an old fujifilm point and shoot. You probably could get that one for around fifty bucks now. I think you can tell that one pretty easily.

 

If you see quality you would like in every day scenic shots then you can find a camera that will do the job. There are many other great cameras out there these are just the ones I have owned.  

 

Don't be fooled by megapixels or what ever just find something you like in a camera.  Just for your information.  Fujifilm 3mp, K100D 6.1mp, K20D 14mp 5D mk 2 20mp and the 1D mk 4 18mp. With 6 megapixels you can make a beautiful 20 x 30 print.

See if you can tell which photo was taken with which camera. If you are interested you can ask me either in a message here or below the link on facebook.

 

So if you are in the market for a camera, first figure out what you are going to shoot primarily and that will help you to decide. Don't waste money on features you will not need. 

 

If you would like feel free to contact me for any help.

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Camera Canon Fujifilm Megapixels Pentax landscapes https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/what-is-the-best-camera-the-one-you-have Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:14:56 GMT
Black and White or Color? https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/black-and-white-or-color Some photos can be processed either way and will look good in both. Others will only look good in one or the other. I guess for me it is more of a feel when I see the photo. Some people go out to shoot one or the other and in the film days we had to. Well there was a way to print black and white from a color neg but I never thought it looked all that great. Of course it could have been my darkroom technique as that is something I only did a few times.

The above photography, I think, works equally well in both. It really is a personal choice. I had to do a bit more burning and dodging on the black and white to make it look as I liked it.

The second I saw the above scene as I drove over a hill in Colorado I knew it would be black and white. It just had all the qualities that I like for a black and white image.

The above image actually looked good in both but I chose the black and white to create more of the mood I thought a bare tree in the fog was showing.

I think the old saying is true that you have to do a better job of composition and the technical aspects of photography for black and white because very often a color image can get by on the color alone.

This image above in color just would not make it. Black and white was the way to convey the feeling I was looking for. This was taken a few years ago on the day, okay one of the days the world was supposed to end. I wanted to portray the solitude and loneliness such a prediction can create in someone who had no family or friends to cling to if it truly was the last day. Of course my wife and I were together and went over to Voodoo Donuts just before snapping this maybe a block away. 

Here is one that works equally well in both color and black and white. It is interesting to not the entirely different mood given by each one again showing the power of each medium. 

If you have not tried shooting black and white go out and try it. It is a wonderful medium for expression. Back in the film days black and white is kind of what I was known mostly for. I loved shooting it especially in medium format. The tones were amazing. I love the tones we can get with digital as well. If I were to have to pick only one processing program I would go with Lightroom you can do it all in there. I do personally use Photoshop and I love NIK Software's Silver Effects Pro I think it is the most powerful black and white program out there, well the last time I looked.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/black-and-white-or-color Sun, 12 Jul 2015 22:39:16 GMT
Photographing Fireworks https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/photographing-fireworks I probably ought to have posted this a week ago. It seems that every year when I post a few photos of the fireworks display that my family and I go to watch I get asked how to shoot fireworks. I usually reply personally but thought others might be interested. This will be here for next year so you can look it up if you want.

There are a couple methods. Back in the film days I used to use a set formula, it was set times for certain ASA, on your digital it would be ISO. Here are the ones I used.

ISO 64     1/30th @ f2.8

ISO 125   1/30th @f4

ISO 400   1/60th @ f4.5-5.6

ISO 1000 1/60th @ f8

The various ISO chosen was because of the type of film available it changed a bit over the years as more film speeds became available.

(In the image above I held the shutter open and let the light streak until the little white explosions went off the let it shut. There were 4 bursts in that time. I was lucky that they were all the same color it made a great look.)

 

You could easily meter the scene if it was say a city and get the exposure you like and let the fireworks do what they do and that will look fine as well or even shoot on automatic as long you used the exposure compensation adjustment. I would start with a two stops underexposed and see how that looks. If not remember that meter in the camera will attempt to make the scene 18% gray so you will get a lighter scene that you probably want.

Lately I have been doing it all differently and a lot simpler. With digital we get to see our results so we can experiment a bit more and still get some good shots.

(In this Image I waited for the second burst and got lucky that it happened in the the middle of the first.)

 

I set the camera on Bulb or B. This will set the shutter to stay open as long as the button is pushed.  Of course I use a tripod as this will be long exposures. I also use a release cable well it is not a cable anymore but electronic but the same idea. That way you can hold the shutter open without touching the camera and keep from giggling it.

The photographs I am showing here were shot around 160 ISO and f5.6 I only used 160 ISO because the particular camera I shot these with seems to prefer that ISO. The vertical shot was at 100 ISO and probably the same f stop. It really doesn't matter for the fireworks but lately I have wanted to get a bit of the crowd in the shot as well in keeping with the small town America theme.

(Again waited for the second burst which gave time for the first to trail down.)

 

So here is my complicated technique. When I hear the firework go off I either open the shutter then to get the trail or I wait and guess and just when it will explode after a couple that is quite easy. Then I hold the shutter open until I see what I want in terms of the fire works. I am sitting in a chair and not looking through the view finder as I have already set the camera to where I want it to see.

 

(I opened the shutter just as they were shot and held it open until all three burst.)

 

If I hear or see two launches I may wait until the second explodes and get that shot. If you wait and keep the shutter open too long you will begin getting  jumbled mess. I prefer up to maybe three explosions at the most. There are techniques that you can keep the camera from advancing to the next frame and moving it a bit to fill up the frame with multiple bursts that I did sometimes with film but I find it easier to do that in post now although I don't ever really do that.

Well I hope this helps, sorry it was after the 4th but if you have any questions let me know and I will try and answer them the best I can.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) 4th July Oregon Photography day fireworks how images independence learning lesson of to https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/photographing-fireworks Mon, 06 Jul 2015 18:47:16 GMT
Another July 4th at Mt. Angel. https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/another-july-4th-at-mt-angel

 

Well the fireworks at Mt. Angel didn't disappoint, Darla, Jake and I had a great time. This year Darla made a great pasta salad and strawberry short cake. She made pound cake and whipped the cream herself. Living the life. 

 

One of the cool things was somebody a block a way has a drone that kept flying over us and out by the fireworks, I'll bet they got some cool photos.  I think people spent as much time watching that as they did the fireworks.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) 4th of July Families Fireworks Independence Day Kids Mt. Angel Oregon Sparklers https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/another-july-4th-at-mt-angel Sun, 05 Jul 2015 10:02:34 GMT
Happy 4th of July. Even if it isn't your countries holiday I still wish you a great day. https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/happy-4th-of-july-even-if-it-isnt-your-countries-holiday-i-still-wish-you-a-great-day

 

I captured this image at the Mt. Angel Oregon fireworks display last year. We go every year.  There are certainly larger displays around but this one is special. We all take our chairs, food and drink out to the Mt. Angel High School football field, the marching band plays and it is just a slice of Americana.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/happy-4th-of-july-even-if-it-isnt-your-countries-holiday-i-still-wish-you-a-great-day Sat, 04 Jul 2015 20:39:57 GMT
Having Portraits Done? Here are a few tips https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/having-portraits-done-here-are-a-few-tips

Hi all,

So it’s time for a portrait and you want it to be one you will cherish for years. So here are a few tips to help that happen.

There are many kinds of portraits here I will be dealing with the individual or family portrait for family or personal use.

Probably the biggest mistake I ever see in portraits sessions is not being ready. People pay good money for a quality session and they don't put any effort into it. In reality they don't do this every day so most would not think about it at all, just make the appointment and show up.

However if you want a great picture all the elements must be there and these are elements that one feels more than sees unless they are used to looking for them.

In our hurried lives we pass over a lot, we get a perception or a feeling and that is how we make our judgement concerning certain things.

So what are the elements that make up a great portrait? Well certainly it is the skill of the photographer, they must know how to light, and this is whether it is in the studio or outside.  Experience, ability to work with people, a good eye, imagination, and yes decent equipment are all necessary.

However all of these things will not help to create that amazing, emotionally satisfying portrait if the subjects don’t follow a few simple suggestions.

The things below not only will help the photo look better but will let you know you are ready and help you feel your best and more relaxed. This will help the photo greatly.

I always try and make the sessions fun and a fun session is the best way to get a great portrait.

This is what I recommend for what to wear to a portrait session

  • wear solid colored clothing
  • choose muted tones that are a bit subdued
  • choose similar tones for your top and bottom (both dark or both light)
  • choose 1-3 colors for your group portrait, ones with similar tones that go nicely together and have everyone work within that color palette. For example: dark green, navy, and burgundy – all dark jewel tones.  OR tan, a lighter olive green, and denims – all lighter, softer tones.
  • choose a top with sleeves at least to the elbow
  • choose long pants for men/ladies or a skirt below the knee for ladies
  • choose dark socks and footwear (unless it’s a barefoot photo on the beach)
  • keep jewelry simple and minimalistic
  • do your hair the way you’d normally do it while wearing these clothes (I’ll explain more later)
  • if getting a haircut or new hairdo, make your appointment at least 2 weeks prior to your portrait session
  • I do advise hiring a makeup artist, I recommend having you hair styled as above, the most problems I have seen is with makeup it really helps having a professional do it.
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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/7/having-portraits-done-here-are-a-few-tips Fri, 03 Jul 2015 21:03:45 GMT
My Daily blog https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/6/daily-blog Hi folks, I am trying a daily photo blog here, we will see  how well I do hahaha anyway I will be posting photographs that I have done and maybe a bit of explanation of what went on and how I did them.

I had the honor to be booked to shoot a fabulous concert with Kate and the Crocodiles. I snagged this shot while the band was getting ready. It is taken through the backdrop and the color is from the light shining on the back drop. When I shoot concerts I am pretty much always in manual mode. There are only a few exposures one needs and I memorize them and switch between them as needed. If you learn the reciprocity table you can easily figure out what shutter speed or F stop you need as you move one or the other.  Here and in some of the following photos you will see many different colors and intensities and from that one figures out the exposure needed to get the shot desired.

In this shot I wanted to give the viewer the feel of what I was experiencing at the time. Kate was singing a beautiful emotional song full of love and loss. Gavin was playing softly and his soulful trumpet was wafting trough the theater in an almost ethereal manner. It came to us like something not fully in the consciousness working its way in and adding depth to the experience.  The blue light was perfect and I exposed for the highlights on Kate which let Gavin fade into the back ground but like his music still a part of the reality of the experience. 


When I saw the light striking Gavin I knew I had a good shot. I was temped to move because the lid of the Steinway was between us. I decided to use it to get the black at the bottom of the photograph and run the lights across the frame.  Again in a shot like this I exposed for the highlights. This does a couple things. First it gets the look that I wanted with the highlights exposed correctly and the rest going black.

In the film days one had to know their exposures better because beyond a Polaroid you had to make the judgement on the exposure then trust it for the outcome. When I shot medium format I had a Polaroid back but that would not have worked here. 

Now with digital you can chimp (look at the screen) to see what you are getting but it is still important to know your exposures and what they do as when an image like this pops up you have to get it quick and don't have time to mess around.

The second thing you get out of this is that you can lower your ISO a bit. I shot this at 5000 ISO and 1/250 @ f2.8. What I was after here was getting a sharp image. I shot this with a 70-200 zoom When using longer lenses you want to shoot a bit faster because it amplifies the shake. The rule of thumb is match your shutter speed with your focal length. If you shoot at 200 then be at least at 1/200 of a second. It is just a guideline and like all guidelines can be broken but it is a great way to remember and get in the ball park.

I do think the easiest part of photography is the mechanics. They really are not that hard to learn. The toughest if training the eye. That takes a life time unless you are one of those wonderfully gifted persons who just naturally see artistically.

 

This photo was a bit harder than it looks. It is Havasu creek just at the confluence with the Colorado River in the Grand Canyon.  

The problem here is that it was a very bright day and part of the photo was shot in the shade of the overhanging rock but the sun is hitting the other side and of course it is hitting directly on the water.

Part of the interest of this place is the water, that creamy light blue. I wanted to show everything but not let the river blow out the highlights.

I had to overexpose just a bit probably 3/4 of a stop to get detail in the dark and yet leave enough to get detail in the river.

This would have been very hard with film but a secret for digital is shooting in RAW this gives you much more latitude to draw information and detail out of the dark and light. In a good digital camera you have maybe eight stops of Dynamic Range where with film it was about three. The human eye sees around 11 stops I believe and some cameras are just now getting there.

This camera was an entry level Pentax K100D. A great camera for the money. The big thing here is not the shutter speed or F stop but the relationship with the dark and light, shooting RAW and the Pentax helped me achieve this photo and still let the viewer see the water just like it looks with that beautiful creamy light blue.

In this photo the story is told less by the mechanics that the composition. This place had a magical feel to it and I wanted to show that. It was about the rafting trip not just a scenery shot so the rafts are in a dominant position. The rope in the foreground is to let the viewer know that we were tied up there and to at a bit of interest to the image.

The use of the leading lines created by the rocks and water draw the views attention into the photograph.  If you look the area where the water disappears into the rock is a bit lighter than the foreground this also helps draw on into the photo as the eye will naturally gravitate toward the lightest portion of the photograph. This is something to remember especially when shooting portraits.

 

A number of things came together to make this shot. As most of the time my camera was set on AV. That lets me control the f-stop to get the depth of field I desire. This one was probably around f8 and I think the shutter speed came in around 1/160th of a second. The lens is a 24-70. I like shooting AV as it is quick and easy. Keep the ISO up enough so you can used a fast enough shutter speed to keep from blurring.  Another trick that I learned from slide film works much of the time digital as well is to underexpose between a half and 2/3 of a stop and the colors get richer. The deep blues come from the early morning light which has a lot of blue in it. The light reflecting off the water especially in the small streams here contrast with the dark sand that I let go black to get the effect I wanted. I liked the strong graphic design of the scene.

This image was shot just a few minutes earlier than the previous one. Everything was done pretty much the same but the fist light striking the waves make for a cool effect. As the sun began to peak over the hills to the right rear of the scent the first light only lit the white of the waves.

The image below actually was the first photo I took that morning. The light had of course lit the sky some but no direct light on the scene itself. I bit higher ISO and longer exposure allowed me to capture what light there was and the rest I brought out in processing. Remember shooting in RAW give you far more dynamic range to work with. Most people don't think about sunrises on the left coast but they do create some cool images.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Bondy Concert Crocodiles Gavin Jazz Kate Morrison Music Powerhouse Theater Walla Washington and the https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/6/daily-blog Fri, 19 Jun 2015 23:11:44 GMT
5 Minute Photos (and stuff) Silverton https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/2/silverton-profiles-and-assorted-stuff  

 

Mark Heinman. What Mark has to say about himself, "Smiles a lot. We have two ears and only one mouth - for good reason. Pay it forward.  

 

While Mark lives in the country outside of Silverton he comes into town to bring his dog Akira to Veterinarian  Lauren Acton at Abiqua Animal Clinic in Silverton, whom he speaks very highly of.

 

Mark is among other things an amazing potter and creates highly unique pottery. He is also an EMT, yes you can see a trend of helping and creating things for people's health and pleasure here.

 

You can view and even purchase Mark's creations at   http://www.lostmountainclayworks.com/ Check it out, you will be glad you did.

 

Donovan and Tristan Mattole.

Donovan grew up on the Lost Coast of Northern California where his parents decided to move from New York City and live off the land. Donovan did not have electricity or running water until he went to college and he loved it.

After graduating from Wheaton college in Chicago he attended school in Jerusalem and then moved to Portland Oregon with his wife and new baby. He got a job with Borders Books and Music where he worked for the next ten years, first running three stores and then moving into Human Resources.

After being given the Salem store to run he moved to Silverton and lived here for the next eight years before career opportunities moved him on.

Donovan still returns to Silverton often. He owns the Julius Alm building on Water Street which houses the Lunaria Gallery and the Chocolate Box.

He is currently the Head of People for Mars Global Retail which includes the M&Ms World Stores around the world and My M&Ms business.

Donovan's life partner is Emily and his passion is kids, Heather, Tristan and Maddox.

I do happen to know that he kind of likes rafting as well as he and family and some work colleagues have rafted with me in past.

 

Gary McGuire: Artist

 

We met Gary and his wife Merial at the Lunaria art gallery where Gary is showing several pieces of lovely wood art.

 

When Gary was asked to tell us something about himself, the first thing that came to Gary's mind was, "I am happily married."

 

Darla asked Gary, "How long have you been married?" "Not long enough." was his immediate answer.

 

Gary has Osteoarthritis, but he hasn't let that stop him!  He retired early, at age sixty, soon after he decided to take his love of woodworking to another level.  His heirloom quality wood art shows in intimate knowledge of wood. Each piece draws you in, invites you to touch the smooth surfaces and follow the intricate patterns of tree ring growth.

 

But Gary doesn't create his art by himself. Merial handles the oiling process as well as classifying each piece. "She's my organizer." Gary said.

 

Gary and Merial have five children and ten grandchildren and are very happy.

 

To see Gary's work go to.    http://www.turn-a-round.com/

 

 

 

 

 
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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) America Americana Art Energy Interesting Life Love Oregon People Photographs Photography Silverton Small Town happiness images photography https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2015/2/silverton-profiles-and-assorted-stuff Sat, 28 Feb 2015 18:18:29 GMT
Faith in America https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/10/faith-in-america

Faith in America is going to be an ongoing blog and hopefully a book.  What I have decided to do here is spotlight some of the ways the Christian faith is good for America.  It has become pretty popular to bash religion lately and not without some good reason yet there is still an incredible amount of good being done every day by people of faith.

It is that good that makes this world a better place and it is that good that would cease to exist without people of faith exercising that faith in outward, tangible and helpful ways.  It is to that end that I have started this project hopefully to remind people that the majority of Christian people are decent people just doing their best to get through this thing called life and trying to make a positive difference along the way.

I am certainly not saying that Christians are the only ones nor even doing the most I just want to point out that this country and the world is truly better off because they are here. As this progresses I would like to expand it to other religions as well. Religion, like people, has both its good and bad and here we are looking at the good.

I have decided to start with a couple of people that I know personally and have watched over the years, who I can personally vouch for their character and also have personally seen the good that they do and the people that they have helped in the name of their faith.  It is my hope that each story will somehow lead to another but I am not opposed to suggestions either.  So if you the readers know of people, who are helping others and are doing in part because of their faith, please feel free to suggest them to me and I will look into it.

 

 

 

Terry Motte (Pastor, Hospice Grief Councilor)

 

I met Terry a number of years ago when I decided to go back to college and earn a degree in Psychology.  I could tell Terry was not your typical pastor and as I listened to him during the classes his insights into the human condition and the loving way he approached his Christianity prompted me to get to know him better and now I am proud to call him a friend.

Terry does things right, well at least in my opinion.  In a world where some pastors have become their cultures rock stars, making million dollar book deals and getting rich off of their television shows Terry might be seen as somewhat of a throw back.  He doesn't make much money and he is perfectly happy trusting God for his welfare.

 

Terry pastors a small Free Will Baptist Church in Salem Oregon and he works as a bereavement coordinator with a local hospice to fulfill his vocation and pay his bills.  With Terry it is about the work and his work helps a great many people.

Terry and is wife Debbie live in a small parsonage provided by the church and his kids are now grown and out on their own.

Terry has found a small niche that he can fill with his particular talents and personality providing council and comfort to those seeking to find their way through the loss of a loved one or are trying to take the next step on their spiritual journey.

When asked how Terry’s work serves the community he answers:

Loss is part of the human condition and so is the grief that follows significant loss.  My work as a hospice grief counselor cuts across all strata of humanity.  Communities have cultural and ethnic differences to negotiate as we handle loss along with the rituals and ceremonies we use to give recognition to those losses.  Each must be honored while addressing the real psychosocial needs of each family and individual.  Facilitating grief support groups, taking referrals from hospitals and doctor offices, getting a phone call from the friend of a friend, or speaking at a community memorial service is all part of how I serve my community.  In addition, I provide comfort and counsel to local nursing homes, adult foster homes, or assisted living facilities—both staff and residents.  I recently spoke to the residents and staff of a nursing home where a staff nurse had taken her own life, helping them to “make sense” of something that seems so senseless.  Educational in-services to these facilities are part of my work.  I may speak to a group of 30 CNA’s on how to avoid burnout and/or compassion fatigue.  There was the time when an administrator called saying a resident had died and her aide is not doing well, can you come?  There is also the face-to-face counseling done in my office as a string of bereaved are scheduled each week seeking to be consoled who just lost a loved one on hospice.

At least in my humble opinion Terry is a man who lives what he believes. He does what he says he will do and a love of people and God is at the core of everything he does. To me that is what it is all about.

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Acceptance America Charity Counseling Death Faith Giving Good Help Love Loving Sharing. States United Work https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/10/faith-in-america Wed, 22 Oct 2014 04:49:20 GMT
WellKrafted https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/8/wellkrafted

For the last few weeks I have been having a blast photographing artisans for Maggie Jones WellKrafted website

 http://www.wellkrafted.com/ .

Beyond the obvious reason that I just love photography and working to create pleasing images, I like meeting new and interesting people.

This is one of the coolest thing about WellKrafted. Maggie had the great idea to create a website that would promote the wares created by artisans who were passionate about their products. In fact I would venture that product isn't an accurate word, it would be more truthful to say work of love, so I am going to replace the word product with work of love for this entire article.  Yes work of love, that seems to be it. Maggie has talked about the wonderful artisans she and John Parenteau have met since they began this work and they all have one thing in common, they love what they do and it shows in the quality of the works of love they create.

 If you are interested in finding about a bit about John check out his page on IMDB and see all the movies and television series he has worked on.  Yep, Maggie has an Emmy winning talent right here working on this wonderful enterprise with her. 

Okay just a tidbit, they were sweet on each other since grade school then finally got together later in life, it is a beautiful story that I will not spoil by attempting to tell. I am sure that they will get around to telling it sometime.  :)

My first assignment for them was to shoot Mt. Hood Coffee Roasters. Rick the owner and guy who does it all is so passionate about what he does it is contagious. Heck I was in love with his coffee before even tasting it and tasting it was far from a let down, he is great at what he does. 

Maggie's pension for finding interesting characters for her site was definitely running full tilt when she found Rick. He has the whole area of Rhododendron interested in what he does even when he is not working on his business.  You see Rick spent many years in Army intelligence and while he insists that Mt. Hood Coffee Roasters is a more than full time business the roomers floating around that small mountain village still create a bit of wonder at Rick's quiet mountain life. 

Rick has created a small alpine retreat with his shop, store, house and cottage. He has created a wonderful life out of his love for coffee and people. Rick truly is an artisan worthy of display on the WellKrafted Website.

It is hard to think of an artisan shoot that would compare to a coffee roaster living on a mountain but Maggie came up with one and I got to shoot a friend and his business as well.

Maggie, John, Darla and yours truly got to spend the day hanging with Jeff Desantis one of the owners of Seven Brides Brewing.  Seven Brides was already a favorite of Darla's and mine we love their beer and the food they serve at the Tap Room.

Jeff's love of brewing becomes instantly apparent as he begins to talk about the whole process from brewing beer in his garage with the other owners to having a very well received work of love that is gaining fame across the country.

Earlier that morning Jake and I got to shoot the brewing of their latest batch of beer and I found that fascinating. 

In the evening we began the work of love shooting in earnest. We shot the three varieties of beer that will be sold on the Well Crafted Website and a couple glamour shots for the Tap Room and of course Jeff himself.

You can always find Jeff hanging with the customers and talking beer and food when he is not off on a customer service trip across the country. He loves what he does.

The very cool thing for all of you out there in the world is that you can now get Seven Bride's world class beer sent right to your home and at the same great price that you would pay for it a the Brewery.

That is the genius of Maggie's idea, to work with artisans, just the ones she has personally tried their works of love and found them to be superior, and then sell them without a markup of their original prices and then ship them right to your door.  Yep pure genius.

Oh and yes they are selling some of my framed prints on their site as well.

So far this has been just a wonderful experience meeting and working with creative people from various walks of life and for me personally it just fits into what I like doing most, well right up there with rafting and hanging with my family not necessarily in that order hahah.

Please check out the WellKrafted website and if you see something you like give it a try.  Their Website and Facebook page links below.

https://www.facebook.com/WellKrafted   http://www.wellkrafted.com/

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/8/wellkrafted Fri, 01 Aug 2014 09:57:45 GMT
A Few Good Reasons to Hire a Professional Photographer https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/6/why-do-professional-photographers-cost-so-much

 

I have been perusing some wedding pages lately.  As I photograph weddings it is a good thing to do for ideas and to keep up on what is going on in the industry.  One thing I have noticed that really has blossomed since the advent of the digital age is the "guy/girl with a camera" offering to shoot weddings for a lot less than the pros are charging.

At first glance this may seem like a great idea, things are definitely easier now, the professional's "secrets" are a thing of the past and heck this guy or girl can shoot a couple thousand photos so some are bound to come out. Well that is the thinking anyway.  Heck they might have a good eye and you could get lucky and get some good photos.

I am happy that photography has in some respects gotten easier since digital has taken over and I am happy to see so many people getting into photography it is a very rewarding pursuit but there are some things one ought to consider before hiring that guy/girl with a camera. 

 I was reading about a woman in Salem who was shooting weddings and then she would not give the photos to the couples. There are multiple complaints with the attorney general about her. I cannot think of any reason to shoot the weddings and then not give the photos to the client other than she messed them up so bad and had nothing to give or was embarrassed about the images she had taken. So here are a few things that can go wrong in the digital era.

Camera Failure  The guy/girl with a camera has just that a camera.  Cameras fail and if they have only one camera and it fails, the wedding is lost. Just to give you an idea I personally bring a minimum of three professional grade cameras to a wedding and my daughter brings another.  A while back I brought a brand new camera to a wedding. I had it for a couple weeks, enough time to get to know it. Yep you guessed it, half way through the wedding it failed.  I was very glad that I had two back up cameras to finish the wedding with.

SD or Compact Flash Card Failure  Like it or not the cards that the camera records the photos on fail from time to time. I always buy new cards for a wedding and check them before I show up. This too adds cost to shooting a wedding, sure I get to keep the cards but I still have to purchase something that I normally would not need. This also brings us back to Professional level equipment. My cameras have dual card slots where I can record a second copy of all the photos as I shoot them so in the event that the new card fails (and it has happened) there is a back up.  Speaking of back up I also will always create a back up file for all the photographs on an external hard drive.  That way I will have my main file that I am using for processing, a back up and two dual camera cards as well so I will have a main file and three back ups. I don't delete the photos on the cards until I have processed and delivered the photos to the client.  You cannot reshoot a wedding.

Equipment is one reason we pros have to charge what we do, and yes we have to support our families as well. When I show up to a wedding I am carrying three camera bodies worth in excess of $11,000 and lenses $12000, this is not unusual among professional photographers.  This gives me excellent glass and the ability to capture a wide variety of situations something the guy/girl with a consumer grade camera with a couple kit lenses will not be able to do.  On top of this I bring flashes, strobes, radio triggers and other equipment that runs into the thousands as well. I, as other pros, had to pay for this and pay for its upkeep. A pro camera also has a larger buffer. A cheaper camera may let you shoot continuously but the processor is slower so after a few shots the buffer will be full and you have to wait for the processor to catch up before you can shoot again.  This can very easily cause a photographer to miss those wonderful moments that happen so sporadically.  For example the camera I use has a huge buffer and it also has multiple processors that are so fast I have yet to see the camera stall even when shooting sports. Sure this is a technicality and sounds like camera nerd talk but it does make a difference. The point is that the pro will choose equipment that can do things that the consumer grade camera cannot do, things you should never have to think about.

Equipment Upkeep  As a pro and having purchased professional equipment I am eligible to belong to the Canon Professional Services Program which helps pros keep their cameras working perfectly. I know that Nikon has a similar program as do most makers of high end equipment. Owners of consumer grade cameras cannot join this professional service and being being a member is very helpful and allows us to get cameras repaired and returned with in a couple days not to mention many other professional services.  I have known friends to wait months for consumer program repair to return their equipment and if they were shooting a wedding they would have to rent then show up with a camera that they are not familiar with.

Professional Organizations Along with many other professional photographers I belong to the Wedding Photojournalist Association or the WPJA. Here in the words of the WPJA, is why this makes a difference to the client.  Since 2002 the WPJA has been the number one trusted source for the best wedding photojournalists in the world. Recognized for excellence by leading wedding publications including BRIDES magazine, the WPJA is an international network of vigorously vetted professional photographers whose work is regularly judged by award-winning photojournalists (including many Pulitzer Prize-winners) and news photo editors.  With ongoing curatorial vision the association identifies emerging talent, keeping our talent pool fresh and cutting edge. The WPJA is dedicated to upholding the highest standards in creative wedding photojournalism while promoting best business practices. There are a number of professional organizations that aid the photographer.  The provide information, training, seminars and a host of other activities that help the professional photographer grow at his or her craft.

To become a member of the WPJA is not easy and membership tells the Bride and Groom that the photographer has met the creative, technical and professional requirements to get in. 

The Ability to Perform Under Pressure  Like it or not a wedding is a high pressure event. A great deal of work has gone into it and the event is filled with great expectations.  This can be a daunting challenge for someone who has not worked under that kind of pressure. There are a great many challenges that can come the way of a photographer from equipment challenges to location problems.  The light is hardly ever perfect and the photographer has to be able to adjust to each and every situation seamlessly.  This is usually beyond the abilities of the guy/girl with a camera. The seasoned pro can enter the toughest situations and come away with the best images possible.

Assistants and Second Shooters  Most pros have assistants and they too need to be paid.  I always have at least one assistant and usually a second shooter.  As a male I prefer to have a female photographer as second shooter. This helps in a number of ways.

Professionalism  Professionalism includes all of the above and more.  First I have a wedding agreement where both parties agree on what is expected of my company.  I take very seriously the reverence of the occasion and the understanding that as a photographer I have one chance to get it right.  A professional photographer also knows that he or she must be able to work well with the other vendors at the wedding. We understand that the wedding is about the Bride and Groom not us and we need to work with not against those others who are all working to create that special once in a lifetime event.  The last thing needed is squabbling vendors.  All venues have their special rules. Many do not allow flash photography during the ceremony and the photographer must be competent enough and have equipment capable of shooting in ultra low light and still get wonderful images also having professional equipment helps in this instance as well.

Experience  No one is great the first time out. Becoming good at shooting weddings takes time and experience. While shooting a wedding may seem easy it most assuredly is not. I have personal experience that reminds me of this lesson. When my wife and I were married we had a friend shoot the wedding. He was a very talented commercial photographer. He did a great job of exposing the photos, all were technically perfect but he missed the emotion of the day. I was in graduate school and I had friends attend who were from many different Asian and African countries they all wore wonderful traditional dress from their respective countries. This would be a wedding photographers dream yet we have not one photo of these people most of whom we will never see again. An experienced wedding photographer would know to get those shots. While I am still very grateful for the work this fine photographer did for us an experienced photographer would have not let so many once in a lifetime images get away.

Time I had a friend once say to me, wow I wish I could work one day a week.  I found that extremely funny as I put in way more time now than when I worked a normal weekday job. There are many hours that do not relate directly to the client. Things such as marketing, dealing with keeping your equipment clean and in good working order. Trade shows, seminars and other learning events take up lots of time. Hours of looking at what is going on in the industry and much more. Here are some things that do directly apply to the client.  Time for correspondence, meeting and working with client to get a good understanding of what is wanted. Engagement photos, I include this with some packages.  The day of shooting, usually that is a ten to twelve hour day depending on the wedding.  Then the processing and color correction. I will shoot over a thousand photos at a wedding and will have to go through each one. Yes I discard some if they are the same as the next one or I may shoot rapidly to catch just the right emotion and the photos on either side of the choice may be discarded.  However I still have to put eyes on each and every photograph. If I give the client lets say eight hundred photos each will be processed and color corrected and this takes time. It is not unusual for me to put in well over one hundred hours working on a single wedding's photos. Then there is retouching which I will do for the photos of the bride and groom. This takes far more time. Sometimes I will put in more than an hour on a single photo depending on what is needed. Multiply this by a hundred or so and you can see how the time adds up quickly.  Also the years I have spent learning my craft, from the actual photography to the processing. Back in the film days I learned darkroom work and spent the hours there now it is Photoshop, Lightroom and other processing programs that took a couple years to get really comfortable with.  I became a professional photographer in 1980 and that is a lot of experience. I shot fashion and advertising for years and didn't start shooting weddings until around 1987 to help pay for graduate school and I fell in love with shooting weddings at that point.  I know photographers who have been doing it longer or even less and are great photographers. The point is that it takes time and the guy/girl with a camera doesn't have the experience needed to put the thinking clients mind at ease.

Its Your Choice   It is your wedding and you will make the choice, you can have wonderful images that you will treasure for the rest of your life or save a bit of money and take a huge chance. I would hate to think of others wishing they had photos of friends they will never see again.  I could go on and on with this little post but I hope I got my message across and my message is simply this. A Professional Photographer is Worth the Money.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Photographer Professional ability experience images knowledge photography photos pressure time https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/6/why-do-professional-photographers-cost-so-much Fri, 06 Jun 2014 17:14:43 GMT
Breaking the Rules https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/6/breaking-the-rules

Hi again. Sometimes we need to break the rules a bit to get the mood or feeling that we are looking for.  I love a great technical photograph. Where the zone system is correctly applied and each zone is faithfully represented with detail in the image, truly I do but I also love a moody, emotional image as well and sometimes to go for the mood one must throw caution to the wind and go for it.

The image above is of a hallway next to the  concert area in the Crystal Ballroom in Portland. This venue has a long and interesting history of concerts that began with great big name bands even before the place opened. People squatted in the old abandon building and found a way to have concerts there in the sixties and early seventies. It was a great time.

In the shot above I wanted to try and convey a bit of what I felt as I walked down this hallway with my wife Darla and a great Vocalist, Kate Morrison. I am going to refrain from trying to explain that feeling because that would detract from any feeling the viewer might have.  For art really is less about the artist conveying feelings than it is about those feelings the viewer might have that are born out of their life experiences. So from now on I will just talk about the technical or maybe lack of technical aspects of this photograph.

The lights are blown out, too light they are off the zone system scale. Technically they are poorly exposed.  The blacks are the same, no detail in places again poorly done. The rule of thirds is pretty much broken but I did manage to get some leading lines. If however I would have exposed it correctly which would have been hard given the dark room and bright lights I would have had a gray photograph that may have worked but would not have had the impact that is created by the "incorrect" exposure used here.

So what I really am saying is that exposure as long as it gets across what you want really is never incorrect it is taste and feeling that dictates it.  One does however want to know how to do correct exposure and understand the value thereof so when the time comes to ignore it, it can be done intelligently with an end in mind.

So really if you visualize an image and then expose and achieve that image I guess that the exposure would then become correct no matter how many rules it breaks.

Lastly when shooting for yourself, you are the only one that you really need to appreciate the image. 

Happy Shooting.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Feelings. Mood Photography System Zone blacks darks exposure images lights whites https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/6/breaking-the-rules Wed, 04 Jun 2014 05:46:20 GMT
Taking the Mystery out of Exposure 2 https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/6/taking-the-mystery-out-of-exposure-ll

The other day someone mentioned this photo and said they like to shoot at night as well.  I too love shooting at night and catching the dramatic effects you can come up with if you pay attention.  This photo as well as the whole series however was taken during the day.  What I had in mind was a night shot but Gavin had just returned from a world tour with Pink Martini the band he plays in and he was so gracious to drive all the way from Portland to Salem for the shot on the same that he returned. He was also dead tired and yet was such a great sport I just couldn't ask him to hang around until evening.  To get around this I under exposed the scene by a couple stops to make it look dark like it would at night then lit him with an Elinchrom monoblock strobe (powered by an Inovatronix Mini battery pack) in a beauty dish on a boom placed where a the light on the building over the door was. Of course it had not come on because it was daylight. I adjusted the light around one and a half stops lighter and shot the photo.  There you go, instant night photo.

The second photo was shot primarily in the same fashion. I put the strobe close to where the streetlight (which was not lit) was positioned.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/6/taking-the-mystery-out-of-exposure-ll Mon, 02 Jun 2014 03:49:09 GMT
Taking the Mystery out of Exposure https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/3/taking-the-mystry-out-of-exposure Hi all, one of the things I get asked about most is exposure and why people's photos do not come out like they saw the scene they photographed.  Probably the most important factor in getting what you see recorded (wow I am still getting used to not saying something like down on film) is to understand what the meter in your camera is trying to do.

Light meters try to get the exposure to come out to a perfect 18% gray. This doesn't mean that it will make photos gray but that it will try to find a neutral tone that corresponds to that tonality one gets with the 18% gray card that we used to use to set our meters and exposures back in the film days. Well many people still use it today many professionals still meter to get that perfect exposure to begin work with.

I guess what I am saying here is lets say you go out and take a photo of a street and night. You see the very dark or black night sky, the bright lights and the way their light plays off the buildings or the street. You like the contrast and find the mood appealing. The shot is taken and it comes out kind of a wishy washy gray tone with no real darks or whites. That is the meter going for the 18% Gray.

To get the photo you saw in your head you are going to have to adjust your exposure.  On a dark scene and as counter intuitive as it may seem you will need to underexpose sometimes a couple of stops.  Many of the modern digital cameras have a meter control that will say plus or minus then a 1,2,3 after it so you can still use auto exposure and set the camera to underexpose up to the limit of the control

If you do not have this option or the degree you may want to alter the exposure is beyond what it will allow you will need to go to manual exposure.  I know many people who dread this but it really is very easy once you get the concept down.  If you set your camera on M you will have complete control of what it does exposure wise.

Check the meter in your view finder and when it shows perfect exposure (check your manual to see how it will display this) your exposure is set for 18% gray, then you can under or over expose as needed you will see the markings on the meter in your view finder. Now the good thing about digital is that you can shoot and chimp or look at your screen and see if the exposure is what you are looking for if not adjust it and since you are shooting digital it costs nothing to do. In  the old days many people bracketed the exposure shooting a stop over and under and steps in between to get that perfect exposure that will have information in all the lights and darks of the photo so a nice print can be made. That got expensive but now you can do it and it wont cost a thing but a bit of effort and time. Some people do this instead of meter they just shoot and adjust, it works but metering is better and especially when you begin to want to control all shades in the photo.

One other thing I would add here is that I always shoot in RAW, this will give you a greater latitude in exposure and dynamic range, the range of light to dark that the sensor will capture.  The human eye captures around 11 stops of light. A stop is a measurement for photography and the aperture and shutter speed combination will allow you to adjust that.  Anyway the cameras I use are able to capture 8 stops of dynamic range and most digital cameras are around this maybe a stop or two shallower.  Film captures about 3 stops of dynamic range which is why those of us who shot it for years really had to learn to expose correctly to avoid blown out or black spots in the photo. Sometimes the black looks great but I rarely see a blown out portion that looks good and they do not print well at all.  Nikon has come out with the D800 this camera will grab to 9.5 of dynamic range. It is almost approaching the human eye. I am sure in a few years we will be there and that will be amazing. 

To get the best dynamic range out of your camera shoot RAW if you shoot JPEG the camera processes the photo for you and you loose stops of range. Of course if you are not processing your photos then shoot JPEG and let the camera do the work for you but you loose control.

As far as a processing program I would recommend Lightroom, I use Lightroom 5 and it is amazing. I also use some plug ins for it as well as Photoshop CC and I will get into that later but if I were forced to choose one processing program that is the one I would go with.

Well this is a good start and I will add some tips specific to certain photographs to show how they were metered in my next Post.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/3/taking-the-mystry-out-of-exposure Tue, 01 Apr 2014 04:36:03 GMT
Bad Weather Means Good Photos https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/2/bad-weather-means-good-photos I was looking at some posts of Facebook a couple days ago. We had just received about eight inches of snow. Now for those of you who don't live in western Oregon, an inch shuts this place down pretty fast.  Anyway I was reading posts like Oh I hate it I am stuck at home with nothing to do.  I am bored there is nothing to do. Of course all the neighborhood kids were out sledding down the hills, people cross country skiing down the streets but so many were just sitting home. Some of them are photographers.  One of the major rules of outdoor photography is that bad weather makes for good photographs so when the weather gets bad, get outside and shoot.

 

I headed out to some of my favorite places and figured I would see how they looked covered in snow. I was very glad I did. I found some wonderful snowy scenes that had a great feeling and mood to them. Above is a drive up to a house that I have photographed a number of times before, I have shot it with rainbows setting down next to it and with wonderful clouds right after a rain, now with a beautiful blanked of white that contrasts beautifully against the trees, bushes and house.  I loved the shadows the trees made on the road as well.

Here is another shot of the same tree earlier in the year.

The change in the feel of the scene is remarkable. The cold of winter gives way to the warmth of summer and the colors of fall are in stark contrast to that of winter.

Exposure in the winter is a bit trickier all the white tends to through off the meter a bit. One thing to Remember is that the meter in your camera always meters for 18% gray so if you shoot a perfect exposure according to your camera many times you will get a blah photo instead of the image you had in your mind. Change your exposure a bit try going over exposed a bit for the snow scenes and you can try under as well. If you are shooting digital you can see your results. Back in the film days we had to be a lot more careful in our metering. Exposure is one way to get the feel that you are looking for so it is good to learn this inside out.

I love color shots in the winter because you really get the black and white look with a touch of color. The dark greens here play well with the white of the snow and the muted color of the house looks very good to me. I also like that there are a lot of grays in the photo like the barn.  I have driven past a few of the places in this blog post without taking a photo as I just waited for them to look their best and the soft blanket of snow did the trick.

 

One of the things to look for is patterns, in this case the dark of the tree trunks and branches contrasted with the snow resting on them as well as on the ground they live it. A pattern is a gold find for a photographer.

Obviously we photographers like to look for leading lines, that is a given, sometime they are blatant other times they are more subtle. Here the thing that actually caught my attention was the red posts, all the other colors were muted earth towns and the bright white of the snow so it was the red posts that really looked out of place and for me at least, added some interest to the scene.

Sometime we find a place without leading lines but we have a great way to use space to create balance and interest. The small tree on the hill gives balance to the group of larger trees at the bottom and they seen naturally holding their end of the seesaw down.  The little pond in the foreground tends to give dimension to the large area of white. If you can it also is always good to add something interesting in the foreground as well.  What I like about this scene is the balance between the upper and lower halves of the scene.  Usually I don't put the horizon line in the middle unless there is an equal interest in the sky and earth. Here I think it works well though and the blue and white seem to help each other out.

One of the things I like about using Facebook is that every so often someone contacts me with questions about photography, cameras or other equipment and I enjoy attempting to answer their questions.  Many years ago when I decided to become a pro photographer I met a very skilled photographer in Seattle named Bart Attebery.  He was a great photographer and I met him while he was photographing the tunnel boring machine I was working on at the time. I took him to lunch and worked up the guts to ask him if I could work as his assistant. He politely refused as he had tried having an assistant once and the guy kind of let him down, plus Bart said he would spend too much time teaching me, but over the years was there to answer any questions I had if I ever called. Bart was very generous with his advise and I hope to be the same way.  One thing he told me that I should have listened to was to go to school. He went to the Los Angeles Art Center School and said that going to school would take ten years off my learning curve. My guess it would be more like fifteen hahaha. Anyway if you are thinking about being a pro photographer take his advice and find a great school it really would help.  If not, well dig in.

I think that the hardest things to learn about photography are not technical but artistic. The technical is pretty easy and once you have the basics you can figure out the rest. Also it is much easier now than in the film days, then we really had to know the technical. Some people think that it is wrong that digital has made something's easier but in reality the camera is only the tool and what ever make it easier to get the art out of us is cool.

 

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2014/2/bad-weather-means-good-photos Tue, 11 Feb 2014 00:51:06 GMT
Caravan Palace at the Star Theater. A Wonderful Young Band in a Great Venue. https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/7/caravan-palace-at-the-star-theater-a-wonderful-young-band-in-a-great-venue Wednesday Darla and I along with our friend Gavin Bondy went to see Caravan Palace, a French band that is touring the USA.  Darla has been following these wonderful musicians for over a year now and was very excited for a chance to see them live.  She had told Gavin about them when we photographed him in concert a few weeks ago.

You could tell that they absolutely love what they do and they really enjoy the people in the audience. They play very upbeat and happy music and it gets the whole place in a great mood.

My only complaint would be that someone needs to teach the sound person a few things as it was hard to hear the wonderful musicians and vocalist over the bass line and drum beat. That said it really was a lot of fun experiencing their raw enthusiasm for their art and the people they are playing for.

The Star Theater is a very cool venue as well. The stage is small and the place intimate and it is designed really well with light and cool spaces for people including an outdoor patio area that is great. I really enjoyed the people who work there as well they were all very friendly and fun.

We met a nice guy who let us share his table and had a good time talking with him when we could. The prices weren't bad either, the concert was $18 each and the beer was only around $2.60 a glass which is much better than a lot of places I have been.  This is a great place run by people who love what they do and it shows.

Caravan Palace is a band that I am sure we will be hearing a lot more of in the years to come. They are young and very talented and again love what they are doing and that shows as well as infects all who are at the show.  All in all it was a great evening.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Audience Band Beer Caravan Energy France French Fun Oregon Palace Paris Portland Star Theater Venue https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/7/caravan-palace-at-the-star-theater-a-wonderful-young-band-in-a-great-venue Fri, 26 Jul 2013 04:19:25 GMT
Always Take a Camera! https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/7/always-take-a-camera

Well I was going to write about firefighters but I guess I don’t have enough experience to do that.  I did fight fires for a couple years for the National Park Service but only got in on a couple fairly big ones and a bunch of lightning strikes that we caught before they got big. I do have to say that a forest fire while it is nothing to take, lightly doesn’t scare me as much as running into a burning house.  That said I have had city firefighters who thought it would be the other way around so maybe it is what you are used to.

I think that I am going to take this thread a bit different direction and go on a bit about taking a camera with you when you are out and about.  If you are a photographer you will get this. We live for the image.  We ought to always be ready for the unexpected and carrying a camera with us is the way to do that. Well it helps to have your technical skills down to a level where you don’t have to think about them but beyond that just be ready because you never know what might pop up.

The photos I am showing in this blog entry are all photos that I captured while out doing something else. They are a surprise that I was able to catch because I had a camera with me.

I learned the lesson many years ago. I lived up by Seattle and one morning I was heading into the camera store to pick up some slides that I had developed.  I thought to myself “ah heck, I don’t need to take the camera it is only a few blocks” and headed off cameraless. On my way there a gas tanker truck exploded on the freeway ahead of me and a huge fire ball went a few hundred feet into the air. I would have had plenty of time to get the shot as the fire was visible before the truck blew. I was glad no one was hurt but very angry with myself for not having a camera along. 

The firefighter photos happened because I took a camera out when I was walking the dog up at a lake and my wife spotted the fire as we were driving afterward.  Of course someone who came with Darla and I didn't bring her camera, now its lesson learned. Funny both of us learned it through fire.

 

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/7/always-take-a-camera Wed, 24 Jul 2013 07:57:30 GMT
Day at the Beach https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/7/day-at-the-beach  

Thor's Well or Gateway to the Underworld. This is a powerful almost mystical place on the Oregon Coast. I tried to convey that feeling here.

Yes I make my living photographing people.  I shoot Weddings, Portraits, Travel, Events, and Concerts wherever people are doing the things that they love doing and are important to them. I shoot in studio and on location. I spent many years in the fashion photography business which gave me the love and understanding of shooting in the studio and in the great outdoors as well.  I love the people, the clothes, and the things that are important to them and I love working to make photographic images that hopefully they will love and cherish for a lifetime. 

A photo of my son Jake as young Harry Dresden. Jake is a good sport and helps out with my weird ideas. He kind of liked this one it fits him.

 

Recently I had the privilege of running into someone I had photographed probably close to thirty years ago. When she introduced me to her daughter she said “he took the black and white photo of me that is in my room.”  I was very pleased when her daughter said that it was her favorite photograph of her mom however I was astounded that her mom still had the photo around.  It just makes me want to work harder to create those images.

A firefighter in Mt. Angel Oregon, really nothing more needs to be said here

 

So what does this have to do with a day at the beach?  Well nothing at all beyond that I just love photography and just lately in my career I have discovered the joy of getting out and photographing this wonderful creation in which we find ourselves living.

The Bonneville Salt Flats. This is another wonderful place with a mystical feeling about it and again I tried to convey that feeling here.

 

While in seminary, (yes I attended and graduated from seminary) our theology professor Dr. Stan Johnson made a statement. “The reason we do theology is so that it may bring us to worship.” That statement has stuck with me the many long years since he spoke them to a group of eager young students.

Just outside Green River Wyoming heading toward Flaming Gorge Utah. I have always loved the road and road photos also invoke the mystical, the possible and the excitement of what is around the bend, at least in me.

 

It strikes me that the reason I do photography is the same. It brings me to worship and maybe others as well.  I photograph God’s creation and for me people are every bit as much a part of it as are the animals, insets, rocks, trees, rivers and well, the whole universe.

To me nothing shows the beauty and wonder of the human spirit like the arts. When ever I listen to these wonderful artists my spirit soars and I feel free much in the same way as when I spend time with one of my wife's paintings or sit on my raft on a beautiful river for God is the greatest artist of all.

 

I am a follower of Jesus Christ, it is however with ecclesiastical methods, actions and attitudes that obscure His teachings that I have little sympathy. I am also truly sorry that I feel a need to make that distinction.  I have many close friends who are followers of other religions and of no religion.   Three of my very close friends are Atheists (Not these three close friends above).  I have watched them out on the river as we were rafting and have seen this wonderful world touch them as it does me. One is a good rafting buddy and the other two are a wonderful young couple, she is a Scientist and he is in our Special Forces, all are quality people.  I talked at length about this on the river with my very close friend as we took our rafts down the Deschutes one November weekend. It was a perfect time.  We agreed that gratitude was an essential feeling that one must have when looking at this world in which we live.  My gratitude is toward a creator God, his toward the wonderful place in which we found ourselves, but there was gratitude.

The place where I feel most at home on this earth is on the river. My blood pressure drops and my muscles relax as the tension of daily life just falls away.

 

So if in some small way my photography can nudge people in the direction of gratitude or worship I feel that I have been a success.  To me a day at the beach is a metaphor for the grateful and good life.

Standing in such a spot one can feel the grandeur of creation.  The young people in the photo as well as the rest of us were just overwhelmed by the sheer immensity and beauty of the place, a true work of art.

 

With all the negative stuff in the world and it gets overwhelming at times I just want to highlight the beautiful, the Nobel, courageous and sublime. That is all I am after when I head out on a day off to explore and share this wonderful world which we find ourselves sharing.

I just like this place, drive by it a lot and on this day with the fog and bare tree reflecting on the pond the image reflected my feeling of it.

 

So the photos in this little post may have nothing more in common than they somehow in my mind fit into that list of those subjects that I want to highlight. They are a few of the photos that I kind of like and may not even be my best but make me feel something or I have a kind of connection to in other ways. I hope they do something for you as well.

To me the image of this precious little girl shouts of being in the moment. No worries, thoughts, or self-consciousness, just pure action and joy of the now.

 

My only regret is that my skill and artistry is no where close to being of the quality that I can effectively share the beauty and grandeur of this creation in which we live.

What more that lightning speaks of the beauty and power of this wonderful world in which we live and move?

 

If you have stuck with me this far I thank you very much it is nice when ones work is appreciated enough to read to the end.

Heceta Head Lighthouse south of Yachats Oregon.

 

Well, a day at the beach probably ought to start and end at the beach.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Christian Non Photography Religion Spirituality The cherish friends good happiness images life live living people purpose rivers https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/7/day-at-the-beach Wed, 17 Jul 2013 00:20:38 GMT
Great Music, Great People and Great Fun https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/6/great-music-great-people-and-great-fun

The great photographer Joe McNally once said a photographer should keep the camera ready because you may never know when a wonderful image may appear, he said that  many times he has captured his best images before or after the actual shoot. This image was after the concert, the band and audience were upstairs in the reception room drinking wine and having a good time. I am not sure why Gary walked back down to the stage but it seems that he just can’t walk by a piano. He sat down and began to play. I don’t know if he knew I was there or not. I had followed him down, (I had a feeling something magical was going to happen) and found a position at the back of the stage where I was able to capture him playing this wonderful Steinway in a great auditorium for no other reason than Gary loves and lives music.

 

Kate Morrison is a Walla Walla favorite and they had better get out to see her every chance they get because I can’t imagine that she will not be on the international stage very soon.  I was talking to Gavin Bondy who is no stranger to international notoriety as he travels the world with the internationally popular Pink Martini. Gavin said that Kate has an amazing voice that just seems effortless and I wholeheartedly agree.  If you ever get a chance to see  Kate and the band in concert do yourself a favor and don’t miss it. Kate is just as sweet as she is talented and beautiful, Darla and I agree that it has been a real joy getting to know her and her husband Sean who by the way is a seriously good winemaker. Heck I am enjoying the fruit of his labor as I process the photos and work on this post.

 

Well since I was mentioning Gavin I would like to add that he is just plain amazing, he is one of the best trumpet players in the world and can improvise perfectly with anyone. He has played in the greatest music venues in the U.S. Asia and Europe and somehow he manages to remain a genuinely nice guy and a very down to earth caring person.

Dan Cox is a drummer and percussionist extraordinaire. In a previous blog post I mentioned the great people he has played with in the Jazz world so I won’t embarrass him again with that but I have to say that I am continually amazed by things he does.  While at the party after that concert at the Power House in Walla Walla I hear the drums down in the theater so I stepped out onto the balcony and there was Dan giving a drum lesson.  Dan is a true musician and teacher and another heck of a nice guy.

I am just getting to know Michael Simon; he is a family man who heads home right after the shows are over.  Michele is a great bass player and I love it when he gets cut loose on the upright bass, truly amazing. Michael is also a sound engineer for both concert and recording and he quietly goes about his business doing the sound for the concert. I am not sure how old Michael is but I do know it is simply amazing to find that much skill and knowledge in such a young guy. 

Yeah I know I mentioned Gary Hemenway in the beginning but that was more about the photography and the evening than Gary himself. I did say that for Gary it was all about the music and I am quite sure that is true.  I am so glad that Kate and Gary are playing together, musically they fit. Gary in an amazing musician and arranger and composer and they just sound right together. Kate brings her awesome talent and work ethic as well as Sean who does so much behind the scenes.  Gary brings not only his abilities which are considerable but he has played on the world stage with some of the greatest musicians alive and has the experience to take them where ever this group might go. Gary also brought Dan into the group and of course gave Gavin a call to come play with them for these concerts as well.  Kate brought Michael into the mix and that was a win for all concerned. 

This is a great band and well worth the time, money, travel or what ever it takes to experience one of their concerts. I always come away feeling much better about life than when I went in.

Gary had a surprise for us all, in the middle of the concert he invited two of his daughters up to sing. It was a surprise for them as well but they were magnificent. It was quite a treat for us all, the whole evening felt like a family affair.

The unsung heroes of the music business are those men and women who set up, tear down, run the lights and sound concerts would be nothing without them. Brian ran the sound for both concerts and I caught him here working on the lighting as the guy who was supposed to run the lights was in the hospital. Brian and Michael just figured it all out and the show went on and was great.

I guess I just needed to add that I have known Gary and Gavin for probably thirty years and I just continue to be impressed with their abilities and humanity. While we didn’t see each other for a great many years, getting together again feels like we have just been hanging out all this time.  Life just keeps looking better all the time.

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/6/great-music-great-people-and-great-fun Tue, 18 Jun 2013 05:09:46 GMT
Ft. Vancouver: A Day Steeping in History https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/5/an-old-and-wonderful-craft My family and I had a wonderful time experiencing the historical flavor of Ft. Vancouver.  You can really get an idea of what life must have been like for the mountain men, Native Americans, trappers, soldiers, pilgrims and pioneers who all found in Fort Vancouver an essential point of convergence of their rugged lives.

A favorite attraction in the fort is the blacksmith building. It continues its life as a working forge and blacksmiths still may be found applying their craft creating the same items made by the original blacksmiths back in the 1800s.  All of the hardware used in keeping the fort in its original condition is still made in the blacksmith shop. If you keep an eye out you will see these items used in many applications around the fort.

They made traps and many other items used by trappers who would come in after more than eighteen months in the wilderness and trade their pelts for the supplies then needed. There was sufficient room and equipment for four blacksmiths to work simultaneously.

 

The trading post store is open and set up just as it was. The gentleman running it was a fountain of information concerning all that went on in and around the fort. He filled us in on what things were worth in trade and how they were used.

 

The pelt building is still full of old pelts. Beaver, Muskrat, Mink, Wolf, Wolverine, Badger, Otter, Fox and Bear pelts were present.  It was not surprising that this was my daughter’s least favorite building in the fort.  The pelts were brought to the fort in large leather bundles in which they were shipped to England.  Standing in this room you get an idea of just how many animals were killed in the area to support the demand for furs by the gentry back in England.  There were huge tobacco leaves dried and hanging in the pelt room, they were bundled up with the pelts to keep insects away from the valuable furs.

 

Above is a huge counterbalanced fulcrum used to dipping water out of the well, much easier than pulling it up with a rope, and of course all the hardware for the fulcrum and the bucket were made in the blacksmith's shop.

The glass in the windows was all made in England and sent over by ship. The fragile glass was kept safe by submerging it in barrels of molasses then it was retrieved, cleaned off and used once the barrels arrived at the fort. 

The carpentry and cooper's shop, the barracks, bakery, officers’ quarters, jail and lookout towers are all places you can walk through to get a feel of how life operated back then.  It is truly a very interesting place to visit and take a peek back into our very interesting history of the Pacific Northwest. 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Blacksmith Ft. Vancouver bakery barracks furs history jail officers pelts photography quarters trading https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/5/an-old-and-wonderful-craft Mon, 27 May 2013 22:19:16 GMT
Life is Art https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/5/life-is-art

Hey everyone!

It’s Michelle. So, the other day I was hired to do some live shots of a band at Oregon’s local Wooden Shoe Tulip Festival. It was an absolute blast; the music was great, the scenery outside the venue I was shooting was beautiful, and the air was heavy with the scent of spring. It. Was. Gorgeous. I had a great time with the band; listening to classic rock and taking stills of them working their craft.

I have to say, musicians are some of the coolest artists out there. It’s really interesting how a musician’s mind works; they can sit around in silence and hear sounds in patterns and rhythms that aren’t there. Or, like the bassist Erich Cogburn was doing all day, listening to a song he’s never played before and knowing how to jump right into it and play a string of notes that fills the song out and sounds like it fits.

He’s the first one on the left. In the middle is the lead singer, Nick Ignelzi, famous for his skills with a guitar. To his left is Matthew Franklin, and I have to say he is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet.  The background isn’t much to look at, but that’s the trial of having to use a snack bar as your backdrop.

It’s a lot of fun hanging around these guys. I enjoyed listening to quality music and seeing people enjoy themselves; children dancing to Brown Eyed Girl, or people singing along to Werewolves of London – Nick also improvised a little bit there. Bet you didn’t know American Pie and Werewolves of London are the same song, huh?

Between Nick goofing off and Matt cracking up, and everyone just had a great time, that’s when I realized: yeah, I’m here for a job. But this is so much more than a job for me. I am meeting new people, making friends and memories… That’s what art is about. Art is Life. Whether it’s music or painting, writing or doing scientific research, art is doing what you love.  

Art: noun; the expression or application of human creative skill and imagination, and the works produced by such skills and imagination. Art is life.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/5/life-is-art Tue, 14 May 2013 04:18:03 GMT
From Dream to Reality a new Business Opens https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/5/from-dream-to-reality-a-new-business-opens Saturday the 27th was the grand opening of a new counseling center at 388 State Street Suite 704 in Salem Oregon. Allison Bradely M.A. LPC and Anne Carroll M.A. LPC both highly experienced and capable counselors brought to fruition a dream that has been a long time in the making.

I was privileged to be able to shoot their promo and website photos as they were getting ready for this great day.  I had a wonderful time working with them. I have been looking forward to seeing their new office and how they would decorate it and as I expected it was wonderful, cheery and inviting.

The reception area was filled with great snacks and naturally that is where we all congregated. I had some very interesting conversations and met some great new people. All in all it was a great time and we ended up staying longer that they had planned. In the photo below check out Allison and PS's beautiful little girl peaking around the door.

Here is the contact information for Allison and Anne by the way I just went in alphabetical order with their names if anyone was interested.

Allsion Bradely, M.A. LPC Child, Family & Individual Counseling (971) 599-1485 or www.allisonlpc.com

 

Anne M. Carroll, M.A. LPC Child and Family Therapist (971) 208-5096 www.acorrolllpc.com

 

I cannot recommend them highly enough, both are very good at what they do and bring first class education, training and experience to their work.  If you are in need of counseling services or just wondering if it may be of help, then give them a call you will find them engaging, professional and downright nice people. I have known Allison for many years now and have really enjoyed getting to know Anne.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Allison Anne Business Therapist. counselling https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/5/from-dream-to-reality-a-new-business-opens Fri, 03 May 2013 04:55:41 GMT
Street Photography, a Great Traning Ground. https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/street-photography-just-for-fun

If you ask ten different photographers to define street photography you will probably get ten different answers. I used to shoot street photography many years ago and when I became too busy with my fashion work I just kind of let it go.  I am once again discovering the joys of this particular art form.

When one thinks of street photography, there are a few names that jump to the forefront.  Henri Cartier-Bresson is usually the first as he well should be. Mr. Cartier-Bresson is considered to be the father of street photography. His work has inspired generations of great photographers. Another of the greats who continues to inspire me is Jay Maisel, I have been following his work for forty years. 

You ought to Google these names and take a look at their work.  Now I could go on and on here but I will only name one other knowing full well that for every one I name there are a great many just as good.

My brother in law George Wieser who is an incredible still and motion picture photographer had the privilege to study with Roy Decarava who is another icon of street photography, well photography in general for that matter.  If you look up these people you will have days’ worth of wonderful photographs to experience. I would urge that you do so if you are at all interested in photography.

Street photography is a great training ground, it is tough, it forces you to be on your game and stay to alert.  A photograph is there and then it is gone just as quickly. I still have the images in my head of missed photographs.  This fast, gritty experiential type of photography will help train you to be a better all-around photographer. It forces you to get outside your comfort zone to capture the images you see. It trains your eye and your shutter finger.  One can easily see where it may help Photo Journalism but I think the same can be said for Weddings, Portraits, Fashion, Travel, Lifestyle well any form of photography you may choose to do.

I hesitated to post my photographs in the same article where I have mentioned the above names, but if I rightly think of my photography as a work in progress, a striving for improvement and realize the greats of photography are the ideal (of course they would not have thought so, they were working on getting better also) then I can post my meager attempts in the same article with the names of a few of the greats.

Street Photography is about shooting for the love of shooting and experiencing your world on a different level and hopefully allowing others to catch a glimpse of the world you see through your lens.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) experiential fast. gritty photography street think training https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/street-photography-just-for-fun Wed, 24 Apr 2013 01:10:05 GMT
A Different Concept for Prom Photos https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/a-different-concept-of-prom-photographs

If you are like me you remember those horrid prom photos standing by the tacky backdrop. Well here is an idea, get together a group of friends and hire a pro. He or she could meet you when you get out of the limo for dinner as we see above or be there when you meet you date or any number of locations. With permission they could photograph the dance depending on school rules. The shot above the young folks were climbing out of the limo in front of the restaurant. In the photo above I acted as a paparazzi photographing celebrities, this would look cool and be great fun as you come out of the dance. Be a celebrity for a night.  With a little creativity you could come away with some wonderful photographs that would be great memories for all involved, parents included.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Prom celebrities. creative dance different friends images photos https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/a-different-concept-of-prom-photographs Mon, 22 Apr 2013 00:50:14 GMT
Big Jake: How I created this shot. https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/big-jake-doing-what-you-love-loving-what-you-do  

 

 

I received an email from a young photographer who wanted to know how I achieved the look in this photo. She had tried to copy it but the image did not turn out the same so she wrote and asked me how I did it. So I figured that I would share it in case anyone else was wondering.

After composing the image I took a meter reading of the overall ambient light and set the camera accordingly. I wanted to keep the ISO down to get the look I was going for so I set it at 160. I wanted to have a depth of field that wasn't really crisp yet not so blurred out that you could not tell what was in it. I chose a 24 to 70mm lens which I set the aperture at f4. The overall image was shot at 1/15th of a second. I used a tripod to keep the camera steady and Jake was able to hold still enough and the flash also helped to freeze any movement for a crisp shot of the subject.  Then I set the main flash to the power that would work well with the ambient light exposure, once I had that where I wanted it I set the other speed light about a stop hotter than the main flash. 

I used a Lastolite softbox on the main speed light, and to direct the fill light and keep it a bit harsher I made a snoot out of a large McDonalds drink cup. I cut the bottom off and stuck it over the speed light this directed the light where I wanted it and kept it from spilling over onto areas of the photo where I didn’t want it.  The main light was positioned to the right and above the camera about two o’clock if you were looking at the clock from camera angle. The fill light was to the left of camera angle and slightly behind the subject just out of the frame. 

With the Canon 580 speed light and pocket wizard radio triggers I could have shot TTL through the lens metering but my secondary speed light was a Lumopro LP 160 which is a manual flash so I had to shoot in manual mode. Back in the day that is all we had when working with strobes so I am used to that and it gives me a lot of control of each aspect of the shot.

The grunge or edgy look was created in Adobe Lightroom by increasing the clarity and decreasing the saturation and playing with some of the other sliders until I achieved the look that I was after. 

Well that is about it, I figured since I was asked maybe there was someone else who might be curious as to how the image was made so here you are. Thanks for the question I found it flattering that someone would try to get a similar shot and go to the bother of asking for assistance.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Composotion how instruction light lightings modifiers relationship speedlights to https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/big-jake-doing-what-you-love-loving-what-you-do Tue, 16 Apr 2013 15:21:21 GMT
All That Jazz https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/all-that-jazz

I love what I do, and I always enjoy the people I work for.  Photography is a great job, sure it has its challenges but overall it is a wonderful way to make a living.  Sometimes however you are fortunate enough to have an assignment in which everything comes together.  All the things you love seem to be there.  Shooting for Sean and Kate at Something Big Cellars is just one of those occasions. I love music especially Jazz and bluesy kind of stuff, this weekend was full of great music. I also love creative people, musicians, film makers, artists (I married one of those) you name it. I truly enjoy all of those people who experience the world a little bit differently than the rest. This last weekend was truly great, got to shoot creative people doing what they love and hanging out with new friends and basically enjoying life in general.  If whitewater rafting was involved then it would have been like being in heaven, but hey I did get to don the Keens and get into a creek in the name of photography. Above we have David Glenn on the Trombone. David is the director of Jazz studies at Whitman College in Walla Walls and on the bass we have Michael Simon who is an adjunct instructor of bass also at Whitman. 

While this image is most likely one that will not make it into the promotional materials I kind of like it and thought it would be fun to share.  Kate Morrison is a wonderful vocalist, classically trained and I truly believe she could hold her own with anyone.  From left to right Michael Simon who is mentioned above, Dan Cox a fantastic drummer who has played with many international Jazz greats and on the right Gary Hemenway who is one of the best pianists and entertainers I have ever run across.  I worked with them a few weeks ago when it was the first time they every played together as a group, no practice just got together and went for it. That is what I love about great Jazz musicians they can do this and it was flawless.  It was fun working with them again last weekend and they will be together again around June 15. With them will be international Jazz trumpet great Gavin Bondy if you have followed any of my work you will recognize that name or more like likely from the groups he plays in, The Shanghai Woolies and Pink Martini.  Check back for details or check out Something Big Cellars for information: http://somethingbigcellars.com/

Gary Hemenway, it is hard to really know what to say about this musician, sure he is great probably one of the very best.  When people get to a certain level it is hard to know if one is better than another and at that level it really doesn’t matter and Gary is at this level. I am sure there are people Gary looks at and is in awe of but dang this guy can play.  That however is only part of the story, he can lead a group, compose, well musically you name it and he can do it very well. What I find to be so amazing is how he can get a crowd involved in what they are doing on stage.  You feel his love of music and people in every note.  He is a consummate entertainer yet this ability is not just a learned skill it is born out of his love of the music, the people he is playing with and the crowd. When he is playing with people who play at the level of those seen here you can feel their energy as they play off each other and their energy fills the room. It is a happy energy and at the end of it all you feel that you have been on a great ride and you leave happy and fulfilled. You will find yourself thinking about it and reliving it for days later. This is more than ability it is part that but the other part is gift. You can find out more about Gary at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-Hemenway-Music/263794091519

Daniel Cox! Well that is all that really needs to be said. Those who know Jazz and drums know of Dan. Gary calls Dan a truly world class drummer and I am quite sure he is right. Daniel toured with Arturo Sandoval and has played with other greats like Wynton Marsalis to name a couple, but really naming names usually is just to get people to pay attention, once Daniel starts to play there is no need for that.  It is a joy to watch Gary and Daniel get doing and push each other, well Gary says it is Daniel doing the driving. When he gets turned loose to solo it is nothing short of amazing but one of the things that I find so interesting is that Daniel can blend so perfectly with every change, nothing gets him off beat although he pushes it right to the edge and brings it back. He is such a consummate professional that he works adding to the music and never drawing attention to himself but when someone does take the time to watch and listen to him they are in for a treat. His big smile and lively play add to the experience that I mentioned above. He brings and energy and love to the group that is good for both the other musicians and those of us who have the privilege to experience his work.

Here is Kate singing with David sitting in. It was great David just showed up with his trombone and he was invited to sit in with Gary, Kate, Michael and Dan. It was like he had been practicing with them for years, truly amazing.  Kate Morrison is another wonderfully talented person who has put in the work and it shows. Kate is a fantastic vocalist whose incredible voice fits so many different types of music. I believe I mentioned that Kate is a classically trained vocalist and I believe she has a masters degree in music from Whitman, please correct me if I am wrong.  I have thoroughly enjoyed working with and getting to know Kate and her husband Sean both are wonderful, giving people. If you ever find yourself in Walla Walla check out their winery http://somethingbigcellars.com/ and try their fabulous wine. Sean is a talented and award winning winemaker you owe it to yourselves to sample their wares.  Kate not only is a great vocalist but she is a graphic artist as well you can check out her work at http://www.kate-morrison.com/music.html Yes it was an all-around great weekend.

Above is Michael Simon on the bass. Michael as I mentioned above is an instructor of bass at Whitman College.  He is one of those rare musicians who seem to like standing just outside the limelight yet as a singer songwriter he is just as comfortable shining. His quite yet positive personality is a definite plus for the group. Kate has spoken many times about Michael’s ability not only on the bass but as a wonderful person whose encouragement and positive attitude has been of great help to her personally.  I have always liked bass players, that rare breed who hold it all together and march to that different rhythm.  If you are interested in finding out more about Michael check out his Facebook page.  https://www.facebook.com/michaelsimonmusic

And another shot of Gary Hemenway at http://somethingbigcellars.com/     Gary's Facebook page:  https://www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-Hemenway-Music/263794091519

 

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Big Cellars College David Glenn Jazz Lane Michael Morrison Music. Simon Something Whitmen Wine https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2013/4/all-that-jazz Thu, 11 Apr 2013 21:23:02 GMT
Tips for Great Photos at Your Wedding https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2012/11/tips-for-great-photos-at-your-wedding In response to a number of inquiries concerning how to make sure the photos at a wedding or portrait session look their best, I have decided to write some articles in an effort to help people answer these questions and get the best out of their photography.

I believe that when you hire a photographer for a portrait and especially a wedding, you would like to get what you pay for.  Yes, we professional photographers with many years of experience are quite expensive. At least that is how it looks but I will explain this a bit later.  First I would like to say that if you are going to hire a competent professional then it would make great sense to do things that will make his/her job easier.

The best professional will always be limited by the setting they find themselves shooting in.  For example, in an outdoor wedding we will get you good photos at midday, we are trained and experienced enough to do so but that said, we will get you better images in the morning or later after hours when the sun isn’t beating straight down creating all kinds of unflattering shadows on the faces and clothes. 

Light is the most important aspect in a photographic image, it is what creates the drama, beauty, and mood. It is what creates the image in the first place.  So, why settle for less than wonderful lighting?  Again a professional photographer has the experience and equipment to add and subtract light as needed but there are so many things you can do while planning your wedding that will make for wonderful images that you will cherish for years to come.

When you are looking for a venue check out more than just the area the actual wedding will be performed in. Look at the dressing rooms where the bride and groom will prepare for the wedding. These are very important, because a good photographer will be able to use these areas as props to capture wonderful images. It might be good to book your photographer first and get their input on various venues and what ideas he or she might have to capture magical images at these venues.

Decorations are an important part of the event, so take the time to think how they will look, not only on the day of the wedding but in the photos, don’t be afraid to ask your photographer about this as well. It is our job to think about these things.  For instance, if you plan to have an evening wedding, add candles to the tables and other areas, as that will give beautiful and dramatic light for the photographer to work with.  Adding twinkle lights will give your photographer more ways to create mood and emotion. A good photographer can use twinkle lights in in several ways - in the background out of focus, creating a pleasing bokeh, a Japanese term for blurred background, adds interesting layers in the images. 

As a note, keep a watch out for the Luiten Images page on Twitter where we will be continuously posting tips and links to things that will help you make your wedding memorable, beautiful and easier to plan.  We will do the research so you may have one place to find links to answer your questions and get ideas. 

As I promised, I will quickly address the cost of photography.  I have run into a number of people who have said that anyone can take a good photo because of digital cameras.  True they can take “a” good photo.  But, to take consistently good photos throughout the course of a wedding or portrait session takes someone who knows what they are doing and more importantly has the experience to do it.

The experience to work and deliver under pressure is a must and cannot be learned any other way than being in such a position over a long period of time.  I can remember traveling out of the country to some fashion shoots that would include sometimes over fifty models, each having multiple outfits. I was working with only one assistant, sometimes alone, and I had to produce. Problems occurred, equipment failures, you name it!  And being out of country, where I did not know the area or have access to the stores and things I was used to I had to improvise.  I have had camera failures at weddings, flash failures which is why we professionals bring multiple cameras, I never bring less than three cameras and flash units.  Even when we check our equipment things can happen. A pro is ready. 

The money that we sink into professional level photographic equipment is tremendous. Sometimes I laugh when I load up my truck, because the gear is worth more than the truck and I have a nice truck.

Another reason why professional photographers are worth what they charge, is because of the amount of time we spend before, during and after the wedding and reception.  I spend six to eight hours shooting a wedding, (I always have two photographers and sometimes and assistant), but after the wedding and reception, while the happy couple is away on their fantasy honeymoon, I continue working. 

I process an average of about one thousand photos (between both photographers).  We shoot all of our photos in RAW format, which gives us the best image quality, but that high quality means I have to process them all.  Just doing basic color correction and pulling the best image out of each photograph takes time. For example, I always retouch the formal Bridal Party portraits, and this can take up to an hour per photo.  The basic color correction and processing can take five or ten minutes per photo. I am usually looking at least a couple weeks working full time to accomplish the post processing of a wedding. With all things considered our hourly rate isn't very high at all.  This is just to give you an idea of what is involved.  Professionals can perform under pressure, do the work, make sure it is done right and provide you with beautiful images that will last a life time.

Well, in this opening post I gave a few general ideas, and of course, a bit of an explanation of why you should spend the money to have a professional photographer record the memories of your wedding.  Please, check in with us often, as I will be placing further posts concerning ideas and tips that will help you plan your wedding in a way that you will get great photo memories. Also check out Luiten Images on Twitter where we will continually post tips and links that are intended to take some of the work out of your research. We are here to serve you, any questions you may have are totally welcome and I will do my best to answer them!

Thanks,

Rick

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2012/11/tips-for-great-photos-at-your-wedding Wed, 14 Nov 2012 01:00:01 GMT
Doing What You Love and Loving What You Do https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2012/10/doing-what-you-love-and-loving-what-you-do What is the secret of having seemingly endless energy and motivation to keep working when others quit. Well there are a great many answers to this question but when it comes to business and livelihood the answer is quite simple. Do what you truly love doing, something that you would do for free or maybe even pay others to do.  When you are doing what you are created to do the energy of creation flows through you.  You cannot wait to do more, to create more. Sure we may have to do things that are hard, laborious, and monotonous but the goal is worth it, it is that goal, that love that keeps us going and also will inspire others to come along and do their part as well.  This creative energy is infectious it can propel us and pull others along the path we have chosen. This can be anything as long as it is honest, honorable and provides something others need or desire.  Sure many are powered by greed and other motivations but this type thing creates a false energy that actually damages the soul as one relies on it to keep going.  There is an energy or motivation that comes from the creative principle behind everything and that is the power of love, creativity, selflessness etc. and this energy allows one to keep moving, pushing ahead and actually invigorates the soul, builds it up and strengthens one as they move on through life.  What is that thing each of us was created to do, the thing that gives us this energy. It is that which makes us happy, fulfilled and provides a service to others; in short it is what we want to do.  If we are stuck and not sure what this is then we need to take some time and get quiet inside and it will come to us. This desire has been with us for most of our lives in one way or another. Finding it really is not a struggle; it is quite natural, and then we must find a way to do it. It may be a way to make a living or it may be something we can do as a hobby or in our spare time, it just needs to be done.  It is to that end that I am going to be writing this blog, I want to showcase people who do what they love and love what they do. It will be those whom I find in everyday life, the ones that stand out, those who live in this wonderful creative energy that is there for each of us.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) Boundless Change Energy Motivation Satisfaction. World the https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2012/10/doing-what-you-love-and-loving-what-you-do Fri, 26 Oct 2012 01:02:15 GMT
Become Like Little Children https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2012/9/become-like-little-children

Jesus tell us that we cannot enter the kingdom of heaven unless we become like little Children. Picasso says that all children are artists and the problem is how to remain artists after we grow up. There are countless referals to childlikeness in Zen Buddhism. The Sufis believe that the best way to please God is to return to a child like purity. I hear many people quote sayings on being childlike and then the person goes into a long explanation as to what being like a child involves.  Funny, it seems to me that this is one of the aspects of adult behavior that stands directly counter to that childlike consciousness. Take the photo above, this little girl is in the moment and that in itself is what I find most attractive about this image.  Sure the light is cool, there are colors and falling water but she is oblivious to all of that at least consciously, she simply having fun.  While watching the kids play my mind ran to thoughts concerning the cleanliness of the water, being in a huge pool filled with hundreds of kids I was kind of heading toward the ick factor. She however was just busy trying to catch droplets of water on her toungue and enjoying the feeling as they dropped on her face and hands.  We as adults overthink things, kids as a rule don't they just do.  This is the essence of what I think Jesus, Picasso, Suzuki, the Sufis and I am sure great minds in other religions and philosophical traditions are reffering to.  It is this that allows us to apprehend our natures and that of others without getting so over involved in thought and judgmentalness.

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luitenimages@gmail.com (Rick Luiten Photography) (childlikeness Buddhism Child Children Jesus Picasso Sufis Suzuki freedom) girl happiness joy pool waterfall https://www.lu-10.com/blog/2012/9/become-like-little-children Sun, 30 Sep 2012 18:24:39 GMT