Cello Detail

Posted on 1 February 2015 | Comment

Cello Detail

Cello Detail

Cello Detail. San Jose, California. June 6, 2014. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Close up photograph of a cello — strings, fingerboard, bow

This is a photograph from my three-year project photographing the members of two professional classical music groups. Most of the photographs were made during the fall academic terms while I was on a sabbatical, though much of the post-processing, editing, and organizational work continued beyond those periods. In fact, some of the photography continued in the same way, and I continued to photograph both groups outside of the specific time frame of the project. This is one of the photographs from that outside work, as it was made in June 2014.

As I photographed these groups I found more and more things to “see” photographically and more and more ways to photograph them. Part of the reason for this, no doubt, is that I had never before had the opportunity to focus on a single project for so long where the main subjects are people! Frankly, at the beginning of the project I had a lot to learn about that — and one of the best outcomes for me has been learning how to create photographs of human subjects, from the technical, aesthetic, and human perspectives. But I also have become much more aware of the visual possibilities of things I might not have considered photographing before. This detail shot of a cello might not be the ideal example, as the forms of string instruments have long interested photographers. However, I recall first “getting” the qualities of the large string instruments when I made a photograph of the entire lower string section early on in the project. I saw the obvious after making that shot, that these very large instruments, with their attractive shapes and rich wood textures and evidence of use and wear are visually interesting objects and evidence of the relationship between the player and his or her instrument.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree

Posted on 31 January 2015 | Comment

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree

Red-Winged Blackbirds, Wetland Tree. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A tree full of red-winged blackbird, in a San Joaquin Valley wetland marsh

This tree and I have become good friends over the past few winters. I have driven past it many times while out in the San Joaquin Valley photographing migratory birds and the flat, agricultural landscape of the place. It is a landmark of sorts on this looping drive — after passing by flat areas with no trees at all, it is the first tree before the route arrives at a grove near the furthest point on the loop.

This tree stands alone on a small peninsula along a levee separating shallow ponds during the winter and adjacent fields the rest of the year. Because of the open landscape, by moving my camera position I have many options for what appears behind the tree, though often the sky itself may be the main show. (Not so much here, since the variations in this foggy sky are quite subtle.) The isolated position of the tree also opens it to light from all directions, so it is interesting in different ways throughout the day — on clear days the sunrise light hits it from the right and the evening light comes in from the left side. The tree is frequently a meeting place for raucous groups of active red-winged blackbirds, and a group of them are perched in its branches in this photograph.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

Quintet of Cranes

Posted on 30 January 2015 | Comment

Quintet of Cranes

Quintet of Cranes

Quintet of Cranes. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

Five sandhill cranes in San Joaquin pasture land on a foggy winter day

Many years ago in college I read a book that mentioned the sandhill cranes and which spoke of them almost reverentially. At that time I was largely uninterested in things like birds (with the possible exception of egrets) and even less interested in flatland things — my interests were in the mountains and the higher the better. But somehow the existence of these birds stuck in my mind, even though I really had no idea what they were. Then, not all that many years ago, when chance led me to go see the migratory birds of California’s Central Valley, it was the cranes that were my object — a friend had told me about a crane refuge, and that was the sum total of my knowledge of the birds, so that’s where I went. The cranes were, in a sense, my gateway drug to developing a serious interest in all of the birds that show up in California in the winter.

In the last few years I have photographed the birds extensively, and I’m becoming more fond of the cranes with their unusual and striking call (often heard while the birds are unseen), their low and level flight, propelled by slowing flapping wings, the striking difference between their beautifully graceful forms in flight and their rather ungainly appearance on the ground. This winter there have been a larger number of cranes at the location where I often photograph, and on this visit the numbers were quite impressive. As I came around the far end of the place, there were several small groups of them right on the gravel road I was traveling on. I slowed, got my camera ready, and knew that they would soon take off, probably providing an opportunity to photograph them in flight. They did fly, but not far, and I stopped and photographed this group against the green of the pasture, and the slightly fog muted light on the trees of this flat landscape.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

The Landing

Posted on 29 January 2015 | Comment

The Landing

The Landing

The Landing. San Joaquin Valley, California. January 25, 2015. © Copyright 2015 G Dan Mitchell – all rights reserved.

A large flock of Ross’s geese lands following a mass take-off.

The day followed a familiar pattern, starting with a long, pre-dawn drive to a favorite location in the San Joaquin Valley, where we arrived in thick fog to meet friends. We began photographing before sunrise — though you would hardly know there was a sunrise in the thick fog — and continued to work the foggy landscape for several hours. A first pass through the area gave us a better idea of what we might see later. By late morning the light was becoming more flat, and we decided to take a side trip to a different spot, returning to where we had begun after lunch.

The locations and activities of the birds continued to evolve as the day wore on. By afternoon we had figured out where the many cranes and even more geese were congregating, and it was looking like a big group might turn up in a pasture where we often are able to photograph them. One more pass through the area brought a few of us to this pasture and, sure enough, a couple of very large flocks were beginning to assemble here. A couple of us settled in along the edge of this meadow, trying to find positions that would include an interesting backdrop of trees and the setting sun. As the geese moved, we moved, too, mostly backing up to the east as they moved the same direction. Periodically something would set them off and huge groups of thousands of them would take to the air at once, in a maelstrom of wings and calls. After circling for a few minutes, in groups that became more widely distributed, things would calm down and they would return to the pasture, picking some spot where hundreds would begin to land at once.


G Dan Mitchell is a California photographer and visual opportunist whose subjects include the Pacific coast, redwood forests, central California oak/grasslands, the Sierra Nevada, California deserts, urban landscapes, night photography, and more.
Blog | About | Flickr | Twitter | FacebookGoogle+ | 500px.com | LinkedIn | Email

Text, photographs, and other media are © Copyright G Dan Mitchell (or others when indicated) and are not in the public domain and may not be used on websites, blogs, or in other media without advance permission from G Dan Mitchell.

older posts »



Optimization WordPress Plugins & Solutions by W3 EDGE