Word and Image

Posts tagged “Photography

It happens once a year

Another year, happy birthday Jules. The IPhone message comes with balloon effect! A family – lovely daughter, husband – and happiness; I spent the day and did not get the ‘shot’ the one or two outstanding shots that are wow. Oh well, another day, but those days are fewer and fewer these days when we live so far apart. I wish you all the best now and forever. These images no matter what will live on in/on the ‘net for a long time to come. I will be gone before too long. But I will always love you just as I remember the day you were born.


Eyes

Portrait photography – the first rule – focus on the eyes. From the start, when I did film photography, it was always focus (manually) on the eyes. Nothing else is as important. Cats feel threatened when you point a big lens at them. It’s like a big eye. The cat does not like it. Mine, they are resigned. I have pointed so often that the lens is familiar. It’s still not easy. The skill is in putting the lens in front of their eye so it looks as though they are looking at you. Ha! And, salt on the tail, will catch a bird! It ain’t easy. But then again, if it were, all my pictures would be perfect. Right?


How much

No matter how I try, I cannot justify the expense of a $9,000 camera. The more $$$ the better image? At that point I would estimate that the photographer is the limiting factor. I’m just not good enough for the equipment. I’m lazy. My composition is poor. And, my hands would shake. I drive around with a camera sitting on the dashboard and take shots thru the windshield while the car is moving at speed. Yeah, this is all lost on me. All that detail in the lovely lens, is lost on me with the shaking moving car. I’m not the next – (name someone famous). Far from it, are my images worthy? They are fun. Night or day, small or large, macro or landscape, I have no specialty or particular need. Don’t speak of autofocus points or noise. The bottom line – image. I guess my kids have it right – iPhone. It gets you where you want to go, Dad? Meanwhile, I am very happy within my price range $. It’s a game – bang for your buck. At a certain point $9,000 is well spent on something else than a single camera. There are those for whom status is the key. Mercedes and Porsche bank on it. My need is to get from point A to B safely and reliably. And within reason, I like to drive more than a VW ‘bug.’ Like my kids’ iPhone, in a pinch, a screw driver can be a hammer.

I like eating out in restaurants. I have eaten in McD and I have eaten in white cloth restaurants. Would you spend $1,000 for a single meal? $5? We all have our personal price point. Yours?


Vertical

When I started in film, “they” always admonished me to hold the camera vertically – get a vertical shot – about 10% of the time. Or, more. Nowadays, I shoot 99% with the horizontal computer screen in mind. My shots are mostly horizontal. I can crop vertically, easily enough. Or, more than ever I hold my camera tilted off horizontal to get a more “street” or “edgy” look. Ha! The cameras I have all have a horizontal ‘indicator’ to hold you perfectly aligned which is anything but what I want to be. Come as you are! My images turn out vertically sometimes because I am holding the camera so far off horizontal. To which I might ask, if you have a round flower, does it matter – horizontal or vertical? To which, I might add, I never met a rule I didn’t try to break…


Happy

Happy… birthday. Happy!? I hope I have made you as happy as you have made me so. In a simple collage we have the essence of it all: cat, food, travel, spinning, beach… together. Good time?! Yup! Favorite cat? We all have a special one. Ha! Not really. If a picture is worth a thousand words… I hope you will know how my feelings are in this collage. Happy?…. as the cow jumped over the moon. Happy? … my wish to you.

Flag? Symbolism? Meaning? Interpretation? Philosophical? Deep? Poetic? … Nah! Spontaneous. It was eye catching as I edited… gestalt. Ah! And flowers….


Follow me

Depending on punctuation this can be a command or interrogative. To those who follow this blog, it doesn’t matter. You are already included in being notified about my posts. If someone does a basic search on WordPress, I am not immediately noticeable. ?? I don’t list myself in category or tag under “photography.” I did a casual search today and realized the omission. Now, begins the experiment to find out if this blog is noticed more. The rest – tags and category – may not have much relevance beyond letting me search for older posts. Let us see.?!


Camera or operator

Am I good? Or, am I good because of good equipment? Or, does the equipment make me good? And so on and on… Luck? This butterfly cooperated. This all has a lot to do with the butterfly, who held still for its close-up. My good luck! Look at the detail – eye, the hairs. Pretty nifty! Hey! I’ve done this before. It’s not my first. But, its rare enough that I appreciate it’s not a given. A lot of things come together to get to this point. Ho hum. Whip out an iPhone and shoot. Uh uh. Not by the hair of its chinny chin chin.


Irish

This would the the “luck” of the Irish on Colleen’s side. We almost had a yard sale by the side of the highway in West Virginia in the absolute middle of nowhere. We had a low tire warning signal and the right rear tire was losing pressure at about a pound per mile. I made it to an exit off the highway with a gas station. And we got directions to a tire place about 7 miles down a twisty winding country road. I had just about lost faith in the directions when the tire shop came into view. Of course, it was “worst case scenario.” The nail hole at the tread rim was leaking enough that we could hear it. The tires need to be matched. That is – you need four matched tires on this particular model car. So, four new tires: they just happened to have our size. And, we were back on the road after about an hour’s delay. This would be considered way better than the alternative scenario. Irish! Colleen has Irish in her heritage. I feel so lucky! Coincidence? Colleen met a guy waiting for his car to be serviced. She and he knew common people all around the state. You just can’t seem to go anywhere without running into someone….


Great shot

What’s great? It’s all subjective. You see it while you are editing. That’s it! I have too many good shots to count. There’s no time to dwell. It’s a gestalt thing. See it. Pick it. My back yard, it’s so serene. There you are. Everything was good all at the same time in this moment. The red flower? Rolling Stones – it’s a tongue. Water droplets on the petunia never fail to make me look twice. I tried. There’s not enough time and too many images. I cannot stay within posting one image per day. Great shots are everywhere. I’m so lucky.


July 4th

We don’t. We don’t July 4th. Not much anymore. I have mixed feeling, since living in Saudi and having gone thru the Trump years. For us the flag is now associated with the conservative “big lie” Republicans. Sure enough, we ran into a bunch in our conservative town on this day back years ago. Frankly, it’s sickening. Rah rah. Democracy is demonized and the flag never felt more like the connotation of “love it or leave it.” I don’t feel much like a part of that “gang.” When did America stop opening its arms to the “tired, poor, and huddled masses? It’s just so hard to cling to any hope. Colleen is an optimist. She will never give up believing in “good.” I will do so because she is my hope.


How often…

… do you see eight cats sleeping simultaneously in my house? They must have been exhausted. It must have been a very busy day stalking one another, falling off the balcony, scrounging for food, and chasing all over after each other. Who knows? We do “cat count” periodically. I like to know that no cat has gone AWOL. In about 5 minutes I located them all. And, each was asleep! Really!? Peace on earth! They never sleep simultaneously. Someone is always prowling about the house. Nope. Asleep! … I have a feeling that no one sleeps tonight.


Ambush

Ambush, a game the whole family can play. Sh’t flows downhill. The big cats are picking on the little one. ?? … ‘cause they can. I am breaking them of the habit. It’s sort of working, so far. So, I came upon this scenario. Stalking. Peas was in a new cat bed. Spice and Feather were sitting 10 feet away, waiting, waiting to pounce. I broke that up. I’ll never know what might/would have happened. And, meanwhile, Ray managed to fall off the balcony when he jumped to chase a bird. We went on a merry chase to get him back into the house. There’s never a dull moment around here. And, no, I do not have a pic of the moment Ray fell off the balcony. I am not that good. I am happy I noticed he’d fallen and I will take credit for getting him back.


Depth of field

I did a composite of three images, it is obvious if you know what to look for. Or, it is obvious if you notice something is not quite right. I will explain. Look closely and you will see three distinct levels of focus: front, middle, and rear. And in between each zone, the flower is out of focus: soft. It’s subtle but distinct. It gives the full view of the flower. If you didn’t notice then my manipulation was successful in illustrating the flower. Me? I noticed it was unnatural right away. Then it took a moment to realize the explanation. The macro lens I used has no depth of field whatsoever. It is the nature of the lens. And, in this case, it illustrates the concept of depth of field nicely. Confused? No worries. You can appreciate the image without understanding the technical details.


Digital vs Photography

Digital is free. A memory card holds thousands of images. The cost per image is fractions of a penny. Film was costly. It cost money to buy film, develop negatives, and print a picture. You got 36 negatives per roll. If you were Ansel Adams you carried around a large view camera and a limited number of photographic plates. Each image was a process and they had better count because it was not like a machine gun; you could not just spray and shoot. I learned a while ago, that a motor drive will not get you the critical moment when you are shooting sports. There, actually, is skill involved. If you don’t appreciate this, then keep your finger on your iPhone shutter and blast away. A blind squirrel is said to get a nut sometimes. The majority of results do not respect the process and the images reflect the lack thereof in kind. Too complicated and don’t care, yes, in the universe of bad images, this is the majority. And, even I, admit to taking too many pictures these days. Press the shutter – I will edit or change things in Lightroom or Photoshop later. It is interesting to think upon the process. I am guilty. I fire away and defer the consequences to a later moment. Or, should I take a real picture? Less is more? Do you think about one good image? Or, is it, close your eyes, press the shutter and hope for the best? Black or white? I do a little of both. Experience, there is something to be said for having tools Ansel Adams never had. At the end of the day, did you have fun? For me, digital is my negative. I shot 26 images to meld into a single shot. Ansel would have worked his negative to get all the detail onto a single plate. Today, it’s called HDR. We are both working the problem with what we have in our tech arsenal.


Gee! photography… again

“When you see a disposable photo you know it’s real and it wasn’t crafted or put together,” he said. “It just happened and it was captured. That’s what makes it so exciting.”

Gee! WYSIWYG – what you see is what you get. No filters?! Not Instagram? It’s still social media. Better? Who knows? Every time you turn around someone is inventing the wheel and trying to make money from it. Good!? Real photography is work. Huh? Or is it that no one wants to work? Or…. Whatever. It seems to be an excuse to not blame the workman for the poor workmanship. Spontaneity? Freedom? No responsibility? It’s pretty easy to see how spontaneity can slip into “staged.” But, keep to your fantasy. You still have to press a shutter. And, something is better than nothing. Do you need to chase fame? Do you need a million followers to feel fulfilled? Whatever?! Someone is due to make a ton of money on this idea.


Aha!

Chances are that you are reading this blog for the pictures. The technical aspects are merely curiosities and my diatribes on photo technique are too much; just get to the picture. After all my photo magazine subscriptions ended, I began reading online. Here is a recent article right up my alley:

1. Covid and all those unscanned slides? Sure! Go ahead and scan your old slides.

2. Software – The Nikon scanner software just disappeared. Vuescan or Silverfast. Silverfast is clunky hard to use. Aha! Right!

Honest! I didn’t do this. My cat jumped into the basket and fit himself into the cramped space. He was perfectly content to nestle in and just stare back at me. Don’t ask me which twin this would be. Whatever I say would be trouble for me. Colleen will correct me and I always listen to her. Always….


Canon G3

Canon G3

I have to credit Lisa with transitioning me to digital photography. She bought me this camera one birthday long ago. Until then I was an Ektachrome slide photographer. Nikon would not put out the digital D70 for a year or more. This (G3) was the camera recommended by the camera shop. I enjoyed the use of it though I never made it my “go to” camera. Nonetheless, I used the G3 to shoot some of Susan’s daughter’s wedding though I never did use it extensively. And then, the Nikon D70 came in 2004. I shot Dave’s high school graduation and never shot another frame of slide film after that. Just like that – analog slide to digital. Julia swore she could always tell my scanned slides from digital images, until she stopped complaining one day. Yup, I still have this camera. It’s unused. It occupies a treasured spot on the shelf, honorably retired. (My mistake. it’s gone missing. The G3. I have an extensive collection of unused gear. It’s there somewhere, just where, I’m not sure.)

The latest greatest? I just learned (realized) how much I have evolved. I did a photo shoot with a mirrorless camera. Advantages over my big Nikon DSLR: smaller, lighter weight!, LCD viewfinder. I shoot at different angles and compose differently. Embrace change? It’s a tool (camera). Know your camera and it’s capabilities. Use it. I love learning new things after all these years.

And, once more I apologize to my dear (present) wife. Colleen weaves. She reads (weaving), takes classes, and watches video at every opportunity. I have often wondered why? You know it, already? And then, I look at what I know and how it evolved. She’s always right. And, I can hear, “I told you so,” coming right around the corner at me!


Art… again

Okay, here’s more fun in the museum. Inspired? I have been on a tear since one member of our family disparaged our enthusiasm for art. True, there is a lot of art that does not move me. And then, there is art that calls for interactive participation. Fun! Yes, art can be fun. And so, here we are. This internationally renowned artist photographs ordinary objects and makes one look at the extraordinary aspect of their use. Take a wrench, make it your own. How about enthusiasm?

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Or think for yourself?

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Birdwatching?

Symmetry?

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We had a lot of fun. Art appreciation is for everyone.


Art critic

The Biggs Museum runs/ran a photo exhibition. Submit your photo for criticism and be selected, get displayed and maybe win a prize. Oh, okay. I found out it’s completely subjective. You are at the mercy of the likes/dislikes of the juror. Submitting work is a crap shoot. You may have excellent work. You may think you have excellent work… It was enlightening to understand the process of selection. Basically, anything goes. There was stuff I would have thrown out that got honored. And the grand prize went to a picture I would have tossed. I’m not whining. In fact, the lecture opened up new thinking for me. I don’t need a juror or a show. I don’t need the credit. For as many years as I have been a photographer, it has been for pleasure. It is definitely not my day job. Although I would be happy to do a job for you. Ha! No pressure. Keep on shooting. If anything goes:

 

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Shoot the moon. Ignore the power lines. It’s the moon. Power lines add interest. Well, I don’t agree. But….

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Charge your phone. Vampire. Just scoot on in to the lecture, help yourself, charge right up. No matter there’s a photo show/op right there.

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Cat/silhouette, I would have shooed away the cat. Now it is better to have tension in this picture of the morning star.

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Reflections, sure, shoot ‘em if you got ‘em. Juxtapose. See things in a new light. I shot this shortly after leaving the museum.

In a single day, I broke out of the doldrums. What I learned? Anything goes. Happy shooting.


Portrait of the artist

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I don’t consider myself an artist. I make images now. But it is more of a technical exercise with problems to solve. You solve the problem. You have the answer. The right answer gives you a 100 on the test. You get an A. Not so fast. There’s more than just pressing the shutter button. Lots of mundane ordinary photos are taken. Famous painters – Rembrandt, Da Vinci – painted themselves in self-portraits. We presume Da Vinci was left handed among other reasons because he did a painting showing his right hand. Clever! I’m a left hander in a right-hand world. I learned to operate right-handed and then adapted. I cut with scissors from the right and from the left. It’s no big deal. But if you are right handed I deem it a lot more difficult for you than me.  Ha ha. I go both ways. I have talent, but I’m still not an artist.


Trio

In the interest of fairness, I’m including the immediate family in 1975. My dad had died about a year earlier. Brothers John and Eric, and my Mom were in Disney World. Yes, me too. I don’t have any black and whites to follow. I started (photography) at the World’s Fair in 1966. Nope, none of those are around. Eric my have them in a drawer somewhere in Mom’s house. Perhaps that is why I so assiduously documented my kids’ childhood. At a certain point the task is too large to have photographed everything. And to store everything? It got way out of hand when the kids started taking their own pictures. For now, this trio is from the first roll of slides I kept, stored, and digitized.

“Preserve your memories” – Paul Simon, Simon & Garfunkel.

My only curiosity is – who will keep the numerous drawers with all those slides after me. The digital will be on multiple hard drives. Great! But I already have trouble keeping track of those.


Graduation

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This is the last slide I shot. My memory is/was correct. June,2004, I bit the bullet and got my first DSLR digital, the Nikon D70. The price was finally within reach of my budget. Early digital DSLR cameras exceeded $1000 considerably. David graduated and this last shot on the last roll of film is it.

After that the rest is history. Ha ha. I went digital. It was too seductive. No more home processing. I’d stopped that a while before. (I had a neighbor – since moved – who hated the running water in my darkroom at 3AM. Gee! I wonder why?) No more need for storage space. Too funny. I’d just built a cabinet of 28 drawers with excess capacity to store future slides. I had photo paper, chemicals, and film. Slide film would remain stored in the freezer for more than a decade (till I threw it out).

Yes, it was that abrupt. I have gone through a series of camera upgrades. David taught me that the Canon Power Shot series was excellent for detail. Currently my kids primarily use their iPhone as their image maker/saver.

Yes, indeed, David graduated on this day way back then. I just now put it together that we both graduated on that day. I estimate I shot 113,600 slides since 1975. By my count I have shot more than 367,000 digital images since 2004. That would be double the number in half the time. I’ve gotten exponentially better as I honed my craft through trial and error. There are about the same proportion of “keepers” and disappointments. I have immediate feedback but am often in too much of a hurry to check immediately. I shoot frequently in a fast-moving platform (our car). I shoot the same subjects (but better, I hope). I still shoot fewer people (shy). I could never have been proficient nor shot the fish in the Red Sea without digital.

Of all the things I do/did, I’m still learning photography after graduation.


Verrazano Narrows Bridge

This bridge connects Staten Island to Brooklyn. For a while it was one of the longest suspension bridges in the world. It was finished in the ’60. Before that three bridges connected Staten Island to New Jersey. In fact the island is closer to Jersey than New York City. The island became part of New York in after the winner of a row boat race around the island turned out to be from New York. Until the mid ‘70’s there were still farms on the island. Now it’s all about the biggest house you can build on the smallest plot of land. It’s a shame about the lack of urban planning. Meanwhile this aerial shot was taken after I became fast friends with Charlie, a former NYPD helicopter pilot and American Airlines pilot. He took me up in his Bell 47, MASH helicopter and we toured NYC. It was the first of many adventures. You can see the rain on the bubble in the lower right. Charlie was really doing me a big favor. He hates to fly in the rain. It gets the gears all gunky. But he had promised and we were going no matter what. It’s a view unlike anything else. And I have to say it’s about the most fun you can have with your clothes on.


There are a few times when Lisa and I agree – on a photo. You didn’t really wonder if we agree, did you? This one was an instant hit. Once again it wasn’t a technically perfect shot. It was a slide capture of son David, a grab shot at a hot summer birthday party for his cousins. I didn’t have a chance to correct the horizon. The background is pleasantly out of focus. It all came together in that moment. Automatic settings, no fumbling with focus or exposure, just shoot. It was my favorite for a long time. It still is a favorite. I just have many more now.