Monday, November 30, 2009

Christmas Wish Lists

A friend asked what was on my ""Santa list", things I want for Christmas. My first response was that I didn't have a Santa list but upon more thought I decided there were things I'd like, things like world peace, an end to hunger, health care for all, a meaningful job for everyone who wants one. Those aren't in Santa's bag though.

There are things I'd like for myself too. I'd like to be in better physical condition, more like I was 18-24 months ago before I got off my regular diet and exercise routine. I'd like to have more people buy my prints which would result in me having more funds to pursue more photography.

The problem with all the above, not just the first group of wishes but the personal ones as well, is that they aren't things. They are conditions and conditions can't be given to you by anyone else. You have to create them for yourself or in the case of the first group contribute whatever you can to create them.

So my real Christmas wish is that we would all remember that the things we give and receive for the holiday, no matter which of the several holidays that fall around the winter solstice, are only symbols of our real desires for conditions that will only come about through our actions. Or as Gandhi said "Be the change you want to see in the world".

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

I went out this morning and wandered around the yard in my shirtsleeves. We are having a mild day, overcast but quite pleasant. We were able stand only 5-6 feet from the bird feeders and talk to a woodpecker as he ate from the suet feeder. Diane wondered if he was the same one who rapped on the house this summer every time the feeders got low. The chickadees flitted about as if we weren't even there. They are so used to us that I can stand within an arms length and they will continue feeding.

Dinner about one. I have to go and work on today's project, a storm window for the kitchen window over the sink. I hope everyone has a great meal and much to be thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

When I first began doing digital photography the available image browsers either didn't let you apply keywords to images or if it did they used a proprietary format that other software didn't recognize. Eventually software publishers realized that the numbers of photos being generated by digital photographers required more than just "looking through" an archive to find a particular photo. A standard format was created and cataloging software was born in place of mere 'image browsers'.

I have used Adobe's Lightroom since it was first offered but I had scanned and shot many photos prior to getting Lightroom so I am still playing 'catch up' on the process of adding searchable data to all my older images.

I'm up to spring of 2005 on my catalog organization project and am starting to run into folders of images that I had done some cataloging & organizing of on a random basis in the time since first getting Lightroom. I'm also playing with some older files making new 'creations'. Anyway here's one that I morphed from a 2005 photo that I shot and never did anything with at the time. I liked the cloud reflections on the water with the little lily pads and stump as counterpoint but the straight shot came off as too detailed, too much surface litter breaking up the cloud reflections, too cluttered. I simplified it in Photoshop and now it works IMO.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Convergence of Ingenuity?

That is what a friend called it when The Online Photographer blog referred its readers to the site of a photographer on the West coast who was making tondi (art speak for round, also sometimes called tondo) images that were similar in flavor to some work I had been doing (see my "Ways of Working " post on Nov. 7th). Now I encounter another example in the Newsletter of the Photographer's Formulary. This involves another 'thread' of work I have played with but haven't shown anyone previously, photos of car details (hood ornaments, radiator emblems, rear view mirrors, etc.) like the one above. Mostly it is old cars, they're so much more visually interesting than the new ones, but I have shot a number of new car details, mostly headlight and taillight images. The compound faceting of the reflectors and lenses is very abstract and interesting.

Convergence of ingenuity is when two or more people independently have the same or very similar idea at the same time. With all the people taking digital photos these days I'm sure it is happening a lot in photography.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Shredding Leaves and Ear Worms

In my last post I mentioned that I’d been chewing up leaves by running over them with the riding mower several times. There is one corner of the yard though where there are more trees, thus more leaves and the mower ended up plowing them instead of mowing them.

I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden in the shade

So I had to rake them and run them through the shredder. I’ve been at it for two afternoons and this morning.

He'd let us in, knows where we've been
In his octopus' garden in the shade

So I’m picking up bunches of leaves, with hearing protectors blocking out everything except the now muffled roar of the shredder and a song that keeps running through my head in an endless loop.

We would be warm below the storm
In our little hideaway beneath the waves

I did listen to that album on a few days before...

Resting our head on the sea bed
In an octopus' garden near a cave

But I’ve no idea why this song is the one that shredding leaves brings to mind.

We would sing and dance around
because we know we can't be found

I don’t hear it in my head the rest of the day, but this morning after I woke up...

We would shout and swim about
The coral that lies beneath the waves

As soon as I thought about finishing the leaf shredding job, it popped back into my brain

We would be so happy you and me
No one there to tell us what to do

My timing was great. I finished the pile I’d raked just as it started to rain. There are more leaves around the edge of the yard that I should rake and shred though. I wonder if the song will be back when I do.

I'd like to be under the sea
In an octopus' garden with you.

We'll see in a couple of days when I start on another batch of shredding.

*excerpts from Octopus's Garden by the Beatles

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Fall Chores

I spent part of the afternoon chewing up leaves, yum, yum. We have 30 plus maple trees around the perimeter of our one acre and they drop a humongous amount of leaves each fall. I used to rake them all and pile them in the back yard to compost but the supply of compose out stripped my need and after we got a riding mower (our son noted that happened after he left home) I decided to just mow over the fallen leaves several times and chew them into little bits that would decompose almost immediately into the lawn. That works pretty well if the weather cooperates and this year it is being very cooperative. It was cooler today than the last few days but it was still in the mid-40ºs and dry which is the more important part.

In the process of my chore I noted a couple of photo possibilities, the latter of which is represented here. It is a cedar tree which fell in the backyard directly toward the house but it wasn't quite tall enough to hit the house. The bark is coming off and there are some very neat insect burrow patterns underneath. They remind me of tribal tattoos I've seen in photos of some aboriginal people. Markings of the Cedar tribe perhaps?

Monday, November 09, 2009

Summer is Back

It was a very mild today for this time of year. The temperature was in the high 60ºs which is as warm as most days were this summer. I'd wager that I could count the days it was warmer than that on my fingers and toes. I could count the days we had over 80º on my fingers, possibly on the fingers of one hand. After breakfast Diane said it was too nice a day to stay inside and suggested we take a walk on the Stone Valley Trail in Colton. I agreed and took my camera of course.

On the way down the gravel road to the trail we met a couple on horseback who were enjoying the weather. Later, along the trail I saw the shape of the rock shoreline from the trail above the river and thought it might make an interesting photo so I went down to the shore. When I got down closer ...bonus... from the lower angle there was this great reflection of a pair of cedars growing among the rocks in mid-river.

We got home in time for lunch then I chewed up leaves in the yard with the riding mower. Mowing over them beats raking them any day. I have more leaves to do but the warm weather (not quite as warm as today) is expected to last for the next 6-7 days.

Sunday, November 08, 2009

Follow-up on Yesterday

I watch several other blogs and this morning Chris Orwig posted an interview with Jay Maisel who is one of my role models. I've never met him in person. I first encountered Jay via a series of videos that Epson put out and I run onto interviews and his photos from time to time. I admire several photographers for different reasons. Jay's great quality is his attitude toward photographing and his ability to communicate his joie de vivre. The audio interview at jay maisel / interview is a must listen.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Ways of Working

Today's post is in response to an article in the NY Times which an e-friend sent the link to.

In thinking about the approaches to shooting that the article describes I'm somewhere in the middle between shooting hundreds of photos and editing out all but what he calls "happy accidents" or carefully considering each shot. In my opinion those who carefully consider each shot before tripping the shutter miss a lot of opportunities by pondering too long unless they are shooting in a studio and controlling every detail. OTOH shooting like crazy and trusting that luck will yield something worthwhile is not creativity (IMO) any more than winning the occasional $10-20 LOTTO prize is wise investing. I would add that the jackpots are about as frequent in either.

I began my life in photography as a photojournalist. I was taught to shoot the first view that grabbed me and then 'explore' the subject for other ways of seeing it. It is a strategy that I use to this day. If in doubt, I will take the photo and decide later whether it is good but the best shots usually come from 'communing' with the subject.

Today's photo is part of a series of photos of river foam. The foam forms naturally, often in eddys below waterfalls or rapids. I like capturing the patterns. It is an exercise much like the childhood pastime of finding shapes in the clouds.