I’ve had an extended break from blogging in a vain attempt to catch-up with all of my other responsibilities and draws on my time. I’m not fully caught up but I’m back.
I know a lot of people look forward to the new year with a list of resolutions. I do something similar to that too, although my list is usually a combination of the pragmatic and the impossible. Things that I absolutely need to get done and things that only in my wildest dreams would come true. Usually there’s not a lot of stuff in the middle. In no particular order here are a few of the things from my list:
1. Publish a book of my photographs
It is becoming easier and easier to self-publish. The recent announcement of the Beta version of Lightroom 4 includes integration for Blurb. One can only imagine that a raft of self-published photobooks will ensue. Makes me think that if everyone’s going to be doing it then I’ve missed the boat but then I could say the same thing about photography too!
2. Complete the planning for a trip to Shikoku in early 2012
3. Learn Japanese in anticipation of my Japan trip
While languages are certainly not my forte Shikoku appears to be far enough off the regular visitor trail that some Japanese could come in handy. The Rosetta Stone language immersion program looks like it would be a good way for me to get started.
An exhibition of my photographs will be up at the Rocky Mountain School of Photography gallery for 3 months starting the first week in May. Very excited about that. Please stop by and say hello if you’re in Missoula the first Friday in May.
5. Live more sustainably
I’m not much of a tree hugger but when I see things such as the albatrosses that Chris Jordan shows with his work it makes me want to be more conscious of the things I buy and how I get rid of it. Quality over quantity has to be a good thing.
Still on the sustainable living theme – the image below is taken from Azby Brown’s book ‘Just Enough Japan’ which is a look at how the Japanese in the 1600’s facing a lot of the same problems that we face to day dealt with them. Very interesting reading.
Last post of the year for me. Time to refresh and reenergize. Time to think about the year ahead. I thought you’d get as big a kick out of this video from Bob Krist and Joe McNally as I did when I saw it first a couple of years ago. An oldie but goodie. Enjoy!
Were getting to the time of year when people review the year just gone and plan for the year ahead. I guess I’m doing the same, although I will leave the ‘my 12 best images’ post to others.
It’s interesting to look back over the last year and see what images I consider to be my best how these compare to last years work and how they relate to one another. I started the year with the intention of making a set of color images of the coast on clear mornings. This idea began to evolve during the course of the year as I made a number of images during foggy conditions, trying to make the most of my time photographing. Even with a clear plan of what you want to achieve, being flexible enough to respond to the situations you find yourself in, can lead you in directions you hadn’t expected. Perhaps for you, as has been the case for me, these photographs will be standouts and serve as jumping off points for new projects.
Why do we photograph? There are at least as many answers to this question as there are photographers. Chris Jordan‘s work shines a bright light on American Consumerism and it’s impact on the environment. The work that I most personally connect with are his photographs of the baby albatrosses on the Midway atoll in the pacific. The baby albatrosses’s stomachs are filled with plastic that their parents have mistakenly fed them with plastic from the Pacific Garbage Patch causing them to starve to death. The midway video can be seen below.
‘There’s no such thing as bad light, only light that’s inappropriate for the subject you’re shooting’.
Increasingly I’ve found that I limit my photography to the edges of the day. That’s not necessarily a bad thing but it is restrictive. Choosing the margins of the day for photography is largely because I have yet to figure out how to get the kind of pictures that I like in full sunlight without carrying around diffusers and other bits of gear. This doesn’t stop me from carrying a camera though. I’m particularly interested in what light works for what subjects.
I was pleasantly surprised that the reflections that I caught above we’re taken at noon on a bright sunny day. Something to store away for future reference. Naturally I’ll be back at this harbor, and others, on bright days looking for more of these reflections.
I feel like I must be the last person on the planet to have stumbled upon the utility of picture styles as they seemed to be called by Canon or Camera profiles as you might find them in the Lightroom Develop module. Do you use them as part of your raw file workflow?
Up to this point the first few steps following import of a photo into Lightroom have been to apply the lens profile, add a small amount of sharpening, crop & straighten if needed, set overall brighteness and adjust contrast. Then I’m over in photoshop for more adjustments.
I did play with picture styles a very long time ago and decided that they weren’t doing much for me. Since then I’ve studiously ignored them. When I have some time I will often click around prices of software just to see what things do. That’s what I was doing when I clicked through the various picture styles that are available beyond ‘Adobe’ that I had been using.
Of the 4 additional picture styles I feel like Landscape, used for the image at the top, gives me the best base to build from for this particular image. Still some work to do on this image but less than I would have had to do. Well worth a look.
Ketchum has used his photography to champion environmental awareness much like his friend and mentor Eliot Porter had done. He has worked to shine a spotlight on areas as diverse as the Hudson River Valley, California’s Big Sur coast, Alaska’s Tongass rainforest, Ohio’s Cuyahoga River Valley and, most recently, to Bristol Bay in southwest Alaska. His work in Bristol Bay is in opposition to the proposed Pebble Mine which given it’s location would likely have a dramatic impact on the salmon fisheries in that area.
Beyond his environmental activism, Ketchum continues to explore the possibilities of the digital darkroom. Watch him describe some of his digital creations below.
I carry a camera around with me all the time, whether it is my iPhone, pocket digital – canon G10, or a DLSR. The more I look for images the more I find and with tools to capture them easily to hand the more likely I am to stop and try something. When I’m with others this is met with reactions that range from curiosity regarding what I’m seeing, tolerance for the tourist to outright disdain. Disdain, perhaps because I’m supposed to be paying attention to something else or that I’m not following expected norms of behavior. Breaking the rules, the photographic rules that is, is something that I’ve been thinking about recently. Something that has been encouraged by the photographs I’ve been taking with my iPhone. As a beginning photographer, you’re told shoot on a tripod, if you’re hand-holding then use a shutter speed of at least 1/focal length. I certainly have been interested until very recently in making photographs that are a sharp representation of life in front of the lens. When I was out walking this past weekend I was surprised at how low the light was even though it was the middle of the day. In order to achieve a shutter speed that would allow for a sharp image I had to be at a wide open aperture and iso 800. Which made me wonder what if I pushed in the other direction what would that look like. I played until I got a shutter speed of 2 secs and then looked to see what I could do. It was a fun exercise and one that I’m likely to repeat in the future. The image that I liked the best from the set is the one above. It really gives me the sense of water rushing by. What do you think? Any other fun exercises to keep things interesting?
I’ve been aware of Andrew Zuckerman’s photography for a while – I read the reviews of his Wisdom project when it came out and recently bought the Creature ABC book for my kids. His photographs are interesting in the simple way that they are shot, all against a plain white background. It wasn’t until this week when I came across his presentation at a Ted conference that I had a reason to dig into his work more deeply. I didn’t realize for instance that rather than have his subjects come to him in his studio in new York he took the studio to them. Not sure that I could handle traveling with that amount of gear. He talks in his 99% presentation about inspiration. Andrew’s take on it that inspiration is the convergence of curiosity and rigor. I like that. Check out the 99% presentation below.
Regardless of whether you live in an area that people would travel to because of it’s natural beauty, or whether you live in an area that people feel they need to leave to experience natural beauty there are images to be made. The skill that we need to learn is to see them. This is something that takes practice. Freeman Patterson’s book ‘Photography and the Art of Seeing‘ is a great place to start. A new edition just came out – it’s exceptional and should find a home on every photographer’s shelf.
Learning to see the possibilities around you means carrying a camera around with you and using it every day. For me there are days when that’s not an issue at all and then those other days when I’m running to stay in one place, not so easy. But I keep trying.
I’m finding with the iPhone that I enjoy the exploration of image after taking it, at least as much as taking it in the first place. The image above was taken while I was waiting for my son to be released from school the other day. I played with it in photoforge and phototoaster.