A few recent photographs of female painted buntings not willing to share.
A few recent photographs of female painted buntings not willing to share.
Lake Apopka is approximately 30 miles northwest of Orlando. It’s the 4th largest lake in Florida and has a fantastic 11 mile drive around the lake to view and enjoy the state’s natural wildlife. One note to keep in mind is the wildlife scenic drive is only open on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
It’s mating season or soon will be and these two Great Blue Herons’ are getting their nest ready. Photographed along the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in Lake Apopka, Florida.
Last week we did an overnight trip to Lakeland’s Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s one of the few reserves where there is activity all day long thanks to an abundance of wildlife. You don’t have to get up early and be out there at sunrise, though that is still a good idea, to capture nature’s beauty.
Black-bellied Whistling Duck
Big Blue Heron
Anhinga Taking in the Sun
Photographs from the Delmarva Peninsula.
Wild horse at the Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge
Sunrise at the Bombay Hook NWR
Snow Geese Silhouette Bombay Hook NWR
Snow Geese – Bombay Hook NWR
Shorebirds at Sunrise – Chicoteague NWR
In an earlier post I wrote about how I designed my own book covers for my previous books using my own photographs. In this post I focus on the book cover for Bitter Ends my forthcoming collection of short stories.
Part of the thrill for me in creating a book cover is digging into my files and discovering that one photograph that expresses what’s in the pages in between and expressing it in a way folks who see the cover will be interested enough to take a peek inside and maybe even buy the book.
Like my previous book of short stories, Devious Tales, Bitter Ends is a collection of tales filled with murder, revenge, greed, and other mayhem along with a couple of slightly less deadly yarns. That said, the cover needed an ominous look informing the potential reader what they are getting.
In digging through my files I first focused on a few images taken in New Mexico back in 2013. One in particular was of a deserted highway with its colorful mountains in the background. I felt it reflected a feeling of vast emptiness and a bit of dread. I saw bodies potentially buried everywhere.
Below is the original image followed by a series early versions of the book cover.
We were on our way to visit Georgia O’Keeffe’s Ghost Ranch located in Abiquiú, New Mexico,when I pulled over and took the above shot that was my first choice for the cover. Cropping it was the first step followed by the lettering. I tried various fonts and colors before settling on the image on the right.
I spent some time reviewing the image, asking myself was this what I wanted. Did it visually express the stories and entice potential readers. The more I looked at it, the more I wasn’t satisfied that it did. I went back to digging into my photographic archive.
I next found a photograph taken just two months earlier in Yellowstone National Park. We were on a photo tour and came across this area in the park that had burnt. We stopped and took a series of photos, one of which is the first photo below. Looking at it, I thought it projected a dark, eerily, end of life feeling.
Some cropping followed and then some software experimenting resulting in the two early versions below.
I still wasn’t completely satisfied and kept working at it. Finally, I came up with what I envisioned visually expressed what I wrote. Below is the final cover.
Bitter Ends will be available in January from Amazon and Barnes and Noble as a paperback and ebook.
If you are ever in Burlington Vermont, drive over to the nearby town of Shelburne where you will find the Shelburne Museum. It’s not your typical museum. Located on 45 acres of land there are 39 exhibition buildings consisting of a wide variety of art, prints, folk art, and plenty of Americana.
The General Store dates back to 1840 and was a fascinating look back.
Haugee’s Cod Liver Oil, Renne’s Oil Compound, and Hanford’s Balsam of Myrrth were some of the health aids available back in the 1800’s, but the best or at least all-purpose was DeWitt’s Stomach Bitters, an all-everything concoction for improving your appetite, invigorating the system, regulating the bowels, Liver and Kidneys, curing Dyspepsia, heartburn and a sour stomach.
The label goes on to say, it’s an invaluable aid to persons in delicate and feeble health. Restoring strenght (that’s the way it is spelled on the label) and vigor to wornout constitutions.
Directions: a wineglass full before or after each meal.
A wineglass is most appropriate because most of these types of “medications” contained quite a bit of alcohol.
One of the brands on the above shelf are still in business..Durkee’s.
I have no idea what or how these pills were meant to help. The web revealed nothing when I typed in the name other than lot’s of hits on Harvey Weinstein and pills that will enhance your sex life. I doubt this Harvey had much to do with either.
Men and Women’s hats of the day.
Some of the products sold in these bottles include Citric Acid, Gylcerin, Sodium Bicarbonate, and Antimuniun Crud. The last word most likely should be read as Crudum. The bottle’s label is worn after the “Crud” so likely it was spelled correctly as Crudum.
Recent photos from a week spent in Vermont. Some of the photos are available or purchase. You can check them out and more by clicking here.
I have been designing my own book covers, for better or worse, except for my first ebook of fiction (Murder with a Twist), and have been using my own photographs for the covers. Professionals say this is a potential road to disaster. I assume that may be true, but as a photographer with a backlog of thousands of photographs available, it seemed to me I should be able to find suitable cover photos if I gave it the thought and time. That said, in this post I thought I’d share some of the creative process involved in selecting the right photograph or photographs that work with each book’s subject matter.
Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames Per Second
My first ebook, Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames Per Second, consist of a collection of film articles from my film blog Twenty Four Frames. When I first became interested in photography, back in the 1970’s, I lived in New York City and many weekends were spent roaming the streets photographing. I sometimes merged my love of movies and photography by photographing the movie theaters that were all over the city. This was before the bland, box cutter multiplexes we have today. Over the years, whenever I traveled I continued to photograph classic movie theaters that have managed to survive the onslaught of multiplexes. One of these survivors is the Tampa Theater.
My wife and I moved to Florida some twenty years ago and we have attended many film showings at the Tampa Theater (built in 1923). I had photographed the exterior on a few occasions, but wanted to photograph inside the theater. One afternoon, with camera in hand and between film showings I took a series of shots including the one that graces the cover of Film Noir at Twenty Four Frames (I did ask for permission to shoot). The original photograph was in color but keeping in line with the book’s dark theme of film noir, I changed it to black and white giving it a darker look in line with the subject matter. Below are both the original photo and as it appears on the book cover.
Lessons in the Dark
Skipping over my first work of fiction (Murder with a Twist), Lessons in the Dark was the second book where I used my own photographs. The cover is a collage of multiple photographs of various New York movies theaters now all sadly gone except for the Paris theater on 58th street. Most were shot on black and white film which I did a lot of at the time. Lessons in the Dark is collection of article on films that hold up a mirror to both our past, and our lives today. These are films though made thirty, forty or fifty years ago remain relevant to our world today. Life and art repeat themselves. The fear mongering, the racial hatred we hear today from plastic gods promising greatness for America feeding the hate. I knew that I wanted to use a movie theater photograph and began searching through my files. I came to the decision the one theater would be too bland but realizing I have many photographs of movie theaters and a book that looks back in time I felt a collage might work. I began arranging and rearranging my various theater photographs. There were multiple versions until I came up with the final cover. Below are a few of the original photographs used followed by the final book cover.
Devious Tales needed something dark and maybe a bit mysterious considering the subject matter. The original photo was taken in 2016 along Santa Fe’s Canyon Road, known for being a street filled with art gallery after art gallery, many artist owned and run. The photograph was taken outside the entrance way of one of those gallery’s. The image was all shadows reflecting off the gallery’s adobe building. The photo came across to me as somewhat dark and shadowy. Below is the original photo, a black and white version followed by both the final ebook cover and paperback cover.
In a future post, I will take a look at the making of the book cover for Bitter Ends, my upcoming collection of short stories.