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Woodland Objet Trouvé

Okay, okay, so you probably don’t know what the term “objet trouvé” means in the title of this post. I apologize for pulling out my French in an attempt to be highbrow. But, what can I say? Every portrait photographer is an artiste at heart (oops! there’s that French again!) Hang in there, I’m getting around to explaining what “objet trouvé” means: it’s French for “found object”. It refers to the artistic impulse that arises when an artist “finds” an “object” that inspires their creativity. In this case, for yours truly, what I found in the woods at the Reserve behind Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma was a tiny red leaf, and an even smaller green leaf, snug on a stump with fungi growing on it. Compelled by this juxtoposition (oops, another highbrow word!) I spent two hours (TWO!) shaping the light just right, dealing with the whipping wind and, most of all, trying to discover the artistic composition within this “found object” in the winter woods on a chilly day. Below you see the results. Judge for yourself if this “objet trouvé” was meriting of an artistic inspiration!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

Bella the Hero Dog

A chocolate labrador retrieverI make no apologies whatsoever: I have a super soft spot in my heart for dogs. So, when a family shows up for their portraits, and they bring their dog with them, it’s all I can do to restrain myself and not blurt out, “Well, all of you just sit over there while I spend the entire session on your dog!” Willa and Kris showed up at their portrait shoot in Tulsa, Oklahoma with their chocolate lab, Bella. Like most retrievers, Bella displayed the typical behavior of her breed: extreme excitement at first,  quickly followed by the overpowering desire to lay down and nap! So, I made sure to catch Bella on the in between slide from one extreme to the other, when she was feelin’ pretty mellow. This shot is my favorite. It’s what I would call a “hero shot”: looking up at Bella as she gazes into the distance. The converging lines of the porch in the background add to the attention-getting sense of power that her position conveys. That Bella is a hero is true for two reasons: 1) she is a rescue dog, so she endured a lot before she came to her current—and permanent—home and 2) she is a joy and a companion to Willa and Kris in every possible way!

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

Ranch Panorama

Here is an image that I’ve been meaning to post for quite some time. It was taken back in August at the Double R Ranch in Centralia, Oklahoma. This is a marvelous ranch in Craig County, owned by a fine gentleman by the name of Frank Robson. Frank had me down for a few days to photograph their shipping day. While I was there, I had the chance to take this panorama, stitched together from seven (yes! seven!) separate images. I’m so pleased with how seamless it all came together. And, I like the fact that the image has no contrails in the sky, no power lines on the horizon, no motorized vehicles on the ground. If you didn’t know for sure that the image was taken in 2011, you could just as easily imagine that it was 1891. I like that. Vintage all the way.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

 

Autumn Family

On a cloudy, late fall day, the Aston family met me at Stuart Park in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was a chilly day for family portraits, but the daughter, Monica, who had organized the whole day for the family, was prepared for everything. She had a massive thermos of hot chocolate, extra wraps for family members when they weren’t in front of the camera, and even those high tech hand warmers, you know, the kind that activate when you shake them. So, with the family well equipped with a variety of warming strategies, they were cheerful and willing. And with me well equipped with my flash strobes to bring a sparkle of light to a drab cloudy day, we took portraits that made everyone look super.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500

A Natural “Portrait”

I love to photograph. I do! I wouldn’t be a professional photographer if I didn’t. So, when the slow winter months come along, I chafe. I want to be photographing! But, outdoor portraiture is a bit slow in the winter (I wonder why!?) So, when a mild day came my way today, I headed to the woods. To be specific, the Nature Reserve on the campus of Rogers State University in Claremore, Oklahoma. There were no people to photograph, of course, so I photographed nature. The seed that you see in the photograph below is tiny in real life—about the size of a pin head. And the twig it’s attached to is the length of a pin. So, I used a “macro” lens to focus extremely close on the seed and thereby make it much larger in the final image.

I like this image. I like the ruddy red in the seed, the yellow in the lichen, the rough bark of the tree, and the woody vine bisecting the image half way up. The funny thing is that, even though this is a natural object and not a person, I always end up photographing aspects of nature as though they were a person. To me, this seed twig is like a high school senior, standing tall and relaxed. Or like an elderly gentlemen leaning towards the sun. Or, maybe this seed twig is me(!) looking forward to the coming spring, when I’ll once again be busy making great portraits out of doors.

Tom Launius
Oak Tree Photography
918.729.0500