CLASSICAL PHOTOGRAPHY by Jess Isaiah Levin, Raleigh, NC

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June, 2009

A Flying Lifestyle

I do mean this in more than one sense. My own life for the month of June has seemed like an incredible flight, both in terms of how many activities have flown by so quickly, and in the ways that I've been able to let my imagination fly. This page will mostly be devoted to living things that fly, but...deep breath...there has also been a chance to revisit some of my photographic explorations from years ago. I have been inspired to see what more I can learn from examining my own old work with (I hope) new eyes. So, I'll begin this entry with an image that has nothing whatsoever to do with my stated topic, but will certainly make for some contrast.

Fort Macon Shadows, February 21, 1994

Fort Macon shadows

"Fort Macon Shadows" was shot with fine-grained medium format black and white film, and a traditional chemical darkroom print took the Blue Ribbon at the NC State Fair fine arts competition that year. Looking at the print this month, I saw the same things that I had in mind when I composed the image and when I printed it with the enlarging techniques that were available to me in 1994. However, I also felt that I could get more out of it and create a better realization of my original vision. I scanned the negative, and used various tools in Adobe Photoshop to control contrast in ways comparable to what can be done with an enlarger and chemical development of light sensitive paper, yet with greater control and, in my judgment, yielding a superior result.

I will be offering for sale limited edition prints of Fort Macon Shadows and other images that I am currently revisiting with the arsenal of digital tools. If you are interested in this image, please contact me at

We now return to actual flying life:

While at home, I spotted a moth on a screen. Nothing unusual, except that with its wings spread in a delta shape and its body underneath, it looked to me like a fighter jet. The light in the background added to the illusion, but the screen keeps us on the ground.

delta moth

As I was photographing the moth, a hoverfly came by for a visit. It was not easy to capture it with the camera equipment that I was using for the stationary moth, so this is far from a top quality image, but doesn't it show how interesting life can be when you don't expect it?

hover fly

On a very quick trip to the coast, I briefly practiced following shorebirds in flight.

banking gull

soaring gull

scouting gull

level gull

gull in blue

The sky changed a lot between shots. When I got up the next morning, the sunrise was disappointing (at least in terms of brilliant colors), but I had scouted out a "fency" composition at night, so it was worth getting up for it.

fenced shoreline

Back home, after a few days of missing birds against open sky (lots of trees where we live), I had some fun with bumble bees.

bumble bee hang

Large or small, flying life can be a challenge, but it sure is fun to photograph!

Next: head shots


All images on this site © Jess Isaiah Levin