Russell Farm

Late Spring

A nice hike led me along these frames this late spring:



These photographs were all the “rejects” that I did not select for entry in the challenge. I opted for this image of a mushroom because I believe it is much more impactful for the theme of OPPOSITES.


rank = 16th
1/125 sec, f8, ISO 200

I opted for a simple set of opposites shared in a single subject where the frame would highlight the differences. The closeness and color conversion really emphasize the theme. I received some great feedback on how the frame seems top heavy and that the top portion out of focus might have looked better as the smaller 1/3 of the frame. However, I like it as is because in the competition for your eye, it really pushes the oppositional tension between the top of the mushroom and the underside.


I recently had the pleasure of visiting and documenting a local farm that grows produce for several restaurants at the beach. While I prefer not to shoot in the middle of the day, I was able to tweak the settings on my camera to handle the harsh lighting and successfully document the fields and high tunnel. It is a little different style of shooting for me to do. I’m used to capturing subjects in unique and interesting ways, but my ways might distract the growers from their job. All of the images I captured are to be used in the record keeping and to plan for next year’s crops: sequencing, row spacing, and so forth. I definitely would like to go back periodically and have good product images of the produce grown that they would be able to use for marketing.

I really enjoyed my time out in nature surrounded by the life and abundance. It feels magical around so much thriving greenery. The energy really uplifts and revitalizes my own life force. Can you feel the love?

As I see it…

Seeking a respite from Summer Streets, I took a summer stroll through the state parklands. I brisk walk can at first seem monotonous in a dancing of green light as I breathe in the forest smells and be in a walking meditation. I stopped though because on top of a picnic area moss grows on some weathered shingles roof. I climb up to look down, and from my perch I gaze up higher still. This is what I saw:

Mosshingle © 2013 NATE METZ

173: Favorite Spot

It’s my first time at this specific spot, but a favorite nonetheless. In my free time I hike the many trails local to my area which led me along a small pond’s edge where nature had mottled a full frame!

Nature's Mottling © 2013 NATE METZ
Nature’s Mottling © 2013 NATE METZ

rank: 20 of 22
1/40 sec, f2, ISO 64

Again, I’m rather disappointed with my ranking. That is until I remember I snapped this in passing on my iPhone and did not spend a lot of effort in capturing a favorite spot on the trail. It’s a classic yield for effort, thought, and planning. Onwards!

Magnolia Dream

Bored one afternoon this spring, I pulled out my 55-200mm f/4-5.6G ED IF AF-S DX VR that I haven’t used since I first bought it 5+ (?!) years ago to test it out. I thought, erroneously, that it would only be good when out scouting birds or taking tourist type shots that I could zoom up onto monuments and so forth. And that is precisely why I hadn’t been using it, focusing instead on my prime lens to capture a nice bokeh and shallow DOF for my translucent light studies. I have had a lot of micromovements in some of my throwaways, so I decided to play with the VR by standing 7-10 feet away. These are the shots I came up with:

Magnolia Dream © 2013 NATE METZ


Spring is not quite yet upon us. Looking to the ground I see small signs of the burgeoning life forces. Green still are the pines against the pale blue skies of late winter. With cabin fever and a temperature near 50F, away I went with my Sigma 10-20mm f/4-5.6 to walk a new forest trail.

Around frame 24, I decided to make a left and hike further into the Pemberton Preserve. I’m really glad that I did because I started to capture better images. The landscape changed, bringing more than the faithful pines that predominated my views. In addition to upwards I went onwards. Alone with the trees I was sun-bound.

My total trip was about 5 mi hiking that lasted 4 hours with 300 shutter actions. These are 56 of my favorites:


Biltmore Conservatory

A month ago I toured the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC. I brought my full kit (4 lenses, camera, and external flash) so that I could get some pictures, but was surprised upon walking in the front door that all photography was prohibited inside the main house, including cell phone cameras! I claim no expertise on historical preservation, but I’m pretty sure flash-less photography does not harm the subject in any way. My guess is that the Estate wants the tourists to purchase the official and professional photographs from the gift shops. While I may have taken a few of those style to document the trip, I’m more interested in colors, shapes, and textures and other more abstract pictures. I clearly disagree with the ban because I feel as though they misunderstood the type of photography that I wanted to do! So, I had to rebel just a little bit. I took this photograph in the basement with my cell phone:

I's © 2013 NATE METZ
I’s © 2013 NATE METZ

By the time the house tour was over, I caught a break in the rain and decided to check out the conservatory. I have been to Longwood Gardens several times and really enjoy taking pictures of the flora because of the soft lighting and near-perfect subjects. The conservatory at Biltmore is much smaller and had much less variety, I was able to take several interesting photographs. These all remain untitled for now. As I select a few favorites for prints, frames, entries, and so forth cleaner edits and titles will emerge! For now, enjoy an early look of spring:


Smokey Cactus © 2013 NATE METZ
Smokey Cactus © 2013 NATE METZ

It’s almost hard to believe that another challenge has come and gone. While on vacation in North Carolina this month, I had about an hour in the Biltmore Estate Conservatory to take photographs. Tucked away in a side room were the cactus including this Old Man Cactus. With my signature tight framing, the wisps of hair instantly reminded me of thick wafts of smoke. I knew when the challenge prompt included this direction– “The theme of your photo should clearly be smoke, NOT a person smoking, or the word (smoke). You are welcome to use as much post processing as you like.” –black backgrounds with white or colored smoke in elaborate, decorative patterns would be common. As quickly as I thought I’d experiment with that type of photograph, I decided to upload Smokey Cactus.

I’m happy with how well my entry fared in the challenge voting. The feedback I received through comments were about the technical proficiency and how it related to the theme. All but one comment acknowledged that it was a creative interpretation and different in approach. The lone dissenter’s comment was arrogant,disrespectful and narrow-minded. So, I won’t discuss it further. I am grateful at the warm reception and hope that my work continues to challenge a status quo, to make my viewers reexamine their own beliefs, and to make such bold statements!

Challenge 168: SMOKE
PS postprocessing: crop, levels, auto color correct, resize, USM, export
Rank: 13th
Nikon D80: 1/125 sec, f5, ISO 360