Sunday, January 29, 2012

Week 4 - Leading Lines

This is been a busy week.  Every night of Week 4 I have had a commitment to do something after work, a class, a play, a board or committee meeting.  It is bad enough that during this time of year I leave home to go to work just after dawn and I rarely do I make it home before dark.  So my shooting opportunities are limited with natural light.  Usually I'm too tired to shoot after a 12 hour day.  Because of my fatigue at the end of a day, I have not tried my hand at night photography.  That is for the weeks to come.

This week's theme is 'Leading Lines'.  I like those.  As you can see, for me, leading lines tend toward patterns.  This week I used my iPhone to take this one.  The only places I was this week was work, meeting rooms and classrooms, which for me are all the same.  So, when I was able to run an errand on Saturday morning I saw these as I grabbed my cart.  The red caught my attention and I saw the lines.  I whipped out my iPhone and snapped the shot.  My camera was in my purse, but that would have taken time.  You know what it is like, take it off your shoulder, find the camera, take it out of the case, put the case back...  Because I snapped it when I did, I caught the happer shopper at the end of the leading lines.

My old iPhone 3G doesn't have the large mega pixel that the new one has.   My first photography teacher always said, "It's not the equipment.  The photography is always taken six inches behind the lens."  I have always remembered that.  The shot is in your mind.  The photographer has to bring it out through the tools he or she has.  Thanks Mr. Jones, who I believe is still teaching at SMC.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Week 3 - Black and White

Black and White is the Week 3 theme of the FOCUS 52 Project.  When I hear black and white, I think of the old riddle, "What is black and white and red all over?"  The traditional answer is "a newspaper".  The print is black, the paper white and red is the homophone of read, to read the paper.

Black and white in photography is the origin of photography for me.  Black and white photos are what lured me to the art form.  I first learned to shoot color chromes, slides, because there is little room for error.  I then learned more deeply about this media with black and white photography.  I learned everything from shooting, to developing and printing.  The entire process gave me a holistic understanding and appreciation of photography.  Edward Weston, Georgia O'Keefe and Man Ray being among my favorites.

I have found shooting digital challenging, especially with black and white.  All of my photos seem muddy.  I have a friend who usually shoots in black and white and I just love the shades and tones in his work.  So I through I'd give it another try.  I went to some of my favorite places to shoot and the photos weren't feeling right to me.  They all looked muddy and mirky.  I tried shooting them in color and changing them to black and white with software, but they just weren't what I was looking for.

While driving, I thought about my neighbor's lions.  The story with the lions is as follows.  The house across the street had gone into disrepair due to the fact that the owner was elderly and could no longer maintain up keep of the house.  When the new owner began fixing up the house the neighborhood was thrilled because the place was no longer falling apart.  As we saw the property looking more and more manicured we were glad to know that, once again, this house would be restored to it former glory.  Just when we thought it was finished, other additions began appearing on the property.  Without taking you all through that experience, let me just finish this tale with the two lions.

Yes, lions in my neighborhood.  When they first arrived on either side of the stairway that lead to my neighbor's front door, I was mortified.  When their owner decided to paint their manes gold,  I was dumbstruck for weeks.  This was the tackiest thing I have seen since the Beverly Hills Sheik painted the pubic hair of the statues that surrounded his house.  (A local story that caused traffic jams for months.) The schock and disdain lasted for some time.  After a while, I became accustom to them.  They didn't bother me as much as the initial schock.  I guess most eye soars don't hurt as much once you get used to them and they just became a part of the background.  One rainy day as I was leaving the house and I looked over at the lions.  They were were wet from the rain and their bodies look not concrete gray as usual, but jet black.  This with the shiny gold mane was one of the most gorgeous statues I'd ever seen.  They took my breath away, again.  Even though they are truly striking in color, I hope you can see the majesty in this black and white photo.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Week 2 - I am ...

This past week was my first full week back to work from Winter Break.  It is always a little difficult to jump back into work after three weeks off.  There is no winding down for Breaks or Off-Track time.  (A Break is two days or more plus a weekend.   And Off-Track time is the time that a certain track or session was off from school.  That could be anywhere from four to eight weeks.)  Well, as I said, there is no winding down and there is no gearing up.  You just stop what you were doing, usually at 45 mph and you pick it up at the same speed you left off.  This can lead to problems on take off and reentry, things get drop, jostled or bumped around.

I liken it to a Triathlon, you begin the race from a skydive.  I have never been in a triathlon, but my version looks this is.  You skydive into the ocean, to begin your first leg, the swim.  This is September and you swim until December.  Winter Break is the point at which the race stops, or better yet, it is suspended, frozen, for three weeks, just long enough to forget that you are in a race.  The race is unfrozen in January, when you reach the shore and you begin the second leg, cycling.  You mount the bike and begin pedaling as fast as you can.  This is when you begin to see that you really are in a race and have to assess your position in it.  You push yourself and other push you also, because we all know the finish line is coming soon.   You check to see if you are where you should be in the race.  You do this until Spring Break, when once again the race is suspended and you just stop.  The final leg is the 5K run, which begins at the end of Spring Break.  This is when all of your hard work has to pay off.   TESTING, the finish line, where you will be judged by your results, good or bad.  

I have digressed from my point, but The Triathlon analogy, gives you a hugh look into the Week 2 theme "I am ..."  My work is a big part of who and what I am.  It takes up much of my time, professionally and personally.  I am hoping to find more time for photography and other creative endeavors, that is what this project is for.  I am... theme has me think about how want to finishing that statement.

I could not find any one thing that I photographed this past week that would finish that statement well.  I am in the process of redefining myself, again.  I looked of my list of things and places that I want to shoot and tried a few of them and still came up, I felt, short of what I was looking for.  I felt that these doors were the best of what I shot that fit the theme.  They are old, have good hardware and open to great possibilities.  This is what I feel 2012 is about, many doors that are open to great possibilities.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Project 52 - 2011 in Review and New Project 52

Looking back on my Project 52, a photo a week, I feel that it was successful, encouraging, challenging and had fun.  I began the project to bring something creative into my life.  My mother past away about a year prior to me making the decision to start the project.  I felt that I was ready to begin something for myself.

I pulled out my camera and re-acquaint myself with it.  I began a list of places I wanted to shoot.  I signed up with a flickr group to keep me accountable to posting and see what others are doing.  I was able to look at this as something that was mine.  The best laid plans of mice and men...  I had a few set backs.  A personal tragety, seven months into my project, my father past on, eighteen months after my mother.   It was and still is difficult to live here without them after ten years.  The technical calamities began when my back up Hard drive died.  Then my computer, a six year old iBook, stopped working.  My iPhone wouldn't hold a charge. The technology stuff was hard because my photos were stored in the back up hard drive and computer.  I had no place to store my photos.  I started using my iPhone to take and upload photos.  When my iPhone stopped holding a charge. All of this happened within a two month period, it became more and more difficult to continue the weekly photo shoots and the upload.

But I persevered.  I missed shooting and submitting about 11 weeks overall.  That works out to about 80% completion.  That reminds me of a quote that I use often, "80% of success is showing up."  I don't know who the quote is attributed, to but it's a good one.  It reminds me that so much of success is being in the place of the best opportunity or being in a place where you can complete a task.  It says that if you are in the right place and make an effort, you can be successful.  So, I accomplished.

I feel accomplished even without seeing that I completed 80% of the project.  I feel accomplished because I enjoyed looking at the world through the eyes of a photographer.  I see things with a different eye.  I am continuing the Project 52 this year again because I wish to continue to develop my eye.

Here is my first installment for Project 52 - 2012, Week 1.  Week 1's theme is New.  I had been shooting before I knew the theme, so I submitted this one. This is the opposite of New, but I'm looking and shooting.  I have joined another group, FOCUS 52.  It is a smaller group and I hope to get and give more feedback.  I hope you all will continue to follow me.  Check out my shoot on my flickr site.