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On Focus and the Doldrums

Focus: To cause to converge on a perceived point (I focus my camera lens on the subject of the image); close attention or concentration (I was focused on correcting and stylizing the photo); to direct one's attention or efforts (I will focus on growing my art photography business).

Photo of California poppies just before they unfurl their petals in the sun

Tough sell, that last one. I'm still fighting the effects the pandemic had on me. I often feel like I can't concentrate; my mind jumps around so much that I never seem to finish tasks I've set myself. And therefore, the doldrums - a state of inactivity or stagnation. The term, of course, originates with the Intertropical Convergence Zone near the equator, where the northeasterly and southeasterly trade winds converge. This virtually windless zone could cause sailing ships to slow, or even drift, for days or weeks at a time. In my case, the doldrums always seem to hit during the last few weeks of winter and in early spring, before we can camp, and before the flowers have begun to bloom.

Photo of Elephants-head lousewort and a Hunt's bumblebee
Elephant's head and bumblebee

When we lived in far northern California, spring always seemed to arrive for anywhere from two days to two weeks in late February or March, just prior to the first heat wave that always seemed to signal a months-long summer. Lilacs would bloom, the California poppies were everywhere, lupine burst out on nearly every piece of disturbed soil. In Colorado, spring takes its time. We occasionally have snow in April or early May. My baby lilac bush has oodles of blossoms this year, but on the last day of April, they're still tightly closed and probably won't start opening for about another week.

For us, the wildflowers are most visible in late June through August and steadily climb the mountain slopes with the warmth. These Elephant's heads were found at about 8000 feet in early July on Rabbit Ears Pass. That same week, the nighttime temperature at that location got down to 30 degrees.

So, in the late winter and early spring, I wish for camping weather, have a hard time focusing on photography, and struggle to make additions to my website. However, we have plans to head for Mesa Verde next week, the camera is going with us, and I've had some success in preparing a new set of images for posting to the website! I suspect that can be called progress against the doldrums.

Here are samples of what I've been working on:

Photo of an old red barn against a hill in Wisconsin
"The Old Red Barn"

This photo I took of an old barn several years ago when we visited Wisconsin has always appealed to me, but I couldn't ever get it where I was happy with it. However, I recently tried a new texture effect preset with it, and it finally pops. I really like this effect on agriculture-themed images, and tried it with some others, such as this abandoned grain elevator at Simla, Colorado, a victim of water rights sales to cities (below).

Photo of an abandoned grain elevator/storage building in Colorado
"Death of a Breadbasket"

Working with different post-processing techniques is paying off creatively because some images, like the barn, have a lot of potential, but the original capture is too bland. The building in Simla was beautiful in the "golden hour" light, but again, it needed something additional to increase interest.

One favorite image from our trip to Texas last fall was already featured in a previous post, but deserves attention again because it was accepted into the Colors 2023 exhibit at the Southeast Center for Photography in Greenville, South Carolina. The exhibit opens Friday, May 5, and runs through the month of May. (You may remember another, "Modern Religion," was exhibited under the theme Abandoned Landscape at the same venue in April.)

Photo of a grain elevator in north Texas, taken during the Golden Hour
"Dalhart Elevator"

In this iteration, I used a different post-processing effect than I'd experimented with previously, and am even happier with the result because of the "golden hour" glow on the concrete towers.

So, I think that making these attempts to 'get out of the doldrums' and to improve my focus is having some success - let's hope for more creativity in the next few weeks!

In the meantime, please review my website,, for images you can use to beautify your workspace, home, or commercial location. Many images are available in multiple sizes and media - prints, canvas wraps, and metal prints - to fit your specific requirements. If you have questions or comments, please contact me at

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