3 Day Quote Challenge (Day 3)

Where the train takes us may not be important…

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Past meets present, as we reach infinity.

 

“My heart is warm with the friends I make,
And better friends I’ll not be knowing,
Yet there isn’t a train I wouldn’t take,
No matter where it’s going.”
– Edna St. Vincent Millay, The Selected Poetry

THE 3 DAY QUOTE CHALLENGE

This is the final day of the 3-day quote challenge that I was given by Mysticalwriter.  First of all thank you for given me the challenge.  As you can tell, I stuck to my plan of using photos to lead me to quotes.
Today’s quote is from American poet Edna St. Vincent Millay; her poetry has always stuck a chord with me.  These lines are a perfect description of life’s journey, which ties back to the image.

HERE ARE THE RULES:

One quote a day for three days. They can be your quotes or quotes from other people. Post one a day for three days and nominate three bloggers per post. Also, thank the person that nominated you.
My nominees for today are:
  1. Instamatic Gratification
  2. With Only One Life
  3. Things Understood

Have fun!

Shot of the Week – vol 3

The path leads forward…

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The Path

This week’s shot of the week was taken this past Thursday during my commute.  As I prefer backroads when driving to work, there are plenty of opportunities to find spots that have some photogenic qualities.

My favorite spots are those that are not apparent to all who pass them; this is definitely one of those, as this is a road that goes up to a state mental hospital that is no longer in use (of course it is about time that the good old mental hospitals from the 50’s and 60’s are being shuttered).  Just out of the shot to the left is a ‘No Trespassing’ sign, which didn’t deter this person walking their dog.

This photo was taken with my iPhone 6S with the standard camera app and adjusted with Instagram.

3 Day Quote Challenge (Day 2)

The sound of the waterfall…

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Chapman Falls in Devil’s Hopyard State Park, East Haddam, CT.

“When I was walking in the mountains with the Japanese man and began to hear the water, he said, ‘What is the sound of the waterfall?’ ‘Silence,’ he finally told me.”

– Jack Gilbert, Collected Poems

The 3 Day Quote Challenge

This is the second day of the 3-day quote challenge that I was given by Mysticalwriter.  First of all thank you for given me the challenge.  My plan is to use one of my photos each day and find some quote to go with the photo.
Today’s quote is from American poet Jack Gilbert.  I like it for its simple depth and zen quality.

Here are the rules:

One quote a day for three days. They can be your quotes or quotes from other people. Post one a day for three days and nominate three bloggers per post. Also, thank the person that nominated you.
My nominees for today are:
  1. Zero Creativity Learnings
  2. silverpepperofstars
  3. MIDI Mike

Have fun!

Let’s Talk Some Trash!

Broncos will be busted with some Patriot missiles!!

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Return for Refill!

The work week is coming to an end once again, or at least slowing down a bit, as there will be some testing that I’ll continue over the weekend.

Of course, like most of you, I have plans for the weekend, but most of them will be rather pleasant and relaxing, as I’m not overdoing it after fighting off this nasty stomach bug!  So here it goes…

  • Guitar lesson on Saturday!  Yes, this will be an hour of fun, as my guitar teacher makes it enjoyable and ensures that at the end of an hour’s playing, I always feel better about my ability than I should realistically.
  • The basement project shall continue…I’ll at least spend a couple of hours to further progress.  Baby steps!!
  • Hang with the dogs!  Did I ever mention that Cardigans are a blast to hang around with?
  • Hopefully not clear too much snow…the forecasters are saying that most will stay south of us, but you never know!
  • And watch the all-important game this weekend, as the Patriots exact revenge on the Broncos to complete their next step in the Farewell Goodell Tour!  Sorry Peyton (not really), but this is not your time, as Brady has his weapons of choice and will not be denied!

Enough trash talk for the moment!  What are your plans for the weekend?  Whatever they are, have a great one!!

How did you learn photography? (part 3)

Photographing agility competitions allowed me to hone my camera skills

Building more skills

Photographing agility competitions allowed me to hone my camera skills, exposure and scene understanding and quick decision making to get just about any shot in an instant.  Add to that an understanding of just about any breed of dog and how they jump, so that I could just about guarantee that I’d catch them in their best look, and I was in demand for dog sport photography.

The one missing element was the personal satisfaction that I was stretching myself creatively to a level that I felt I could.  I had joined a camera club and enjoyed the interaction with other photographers, and this did help me determine to some degree what I wanted to do as a next step.

My true desire was to be able to produce images of the quality that one would expect from a professional photographer; the kind of image that you see in a magazine or in advertising or in a gallery.

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Macaroni and Cheese

So I made a list of the skills that I needed:

  • Lighting a subject under various circumstances
  • A well-developed artistic eye
  • Ability to pose subjects for a pleasing result
  • Knowledge of tools to produce the final image

A pretty basic list, which can take thousands of hours to master.  Time to get serious about learning!

Learning approaches

In addition to the books that I already gathered, I started taking some workshops and seminars and participating in group shoots.  Each of these approaches had their merits and helped me learn in different ways.

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Solitude

On-line courses were great in terms of fitting into a hectic work week, and getting a lot of well-prepared technical or artistic information in written form for later reference; each course required me to submit assignment shots by a certain time, which were then critiqued by the instructor(s).  I took classes ranging from flash skills, conceptual photography (Solitude) and food photography (Macaroni and Cheese).  Food is definitely one area of commercial photography that I enjoy; after all, who doesn’t like food?

Workshops were fantastic opportunities to learn skills within a day or two and often get lots of hands-on work.  I worked with some great instructors, who are truly inspiring.  Rick Friedman’s workshops on Location Lighting taught me how to use Speedlights to light just about any situation creatively and for the effect that you want.  Bobbi Lane’s Portrait Photography workshops added a lot of portrait lighting for effect skill to my bag of tricks, as well as posing models.

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The Lady has Charm

Working with models was also crucial to my development as a photographer; even though most of my artistic work is landscape and abstract, working with models taught me to recognize the importance of managing lines in any shot.

What have I learnt?

Clearly, I have developed as a photographer over the past 10-12 years, and I have received recognition for a number of my images.  During that time, I have learned a lot of technical skills and unlocked some of my artistic ability, but more than anything I have achieved a level of confidence that allows me to take on just about any situation and come up with a solution for getting the shot that I want.

In the next part, I’ll go over some of the strategies that I use to get these images and what I see as the continuing journey of acquiring knowledge, skill and enjoyment from photography.

Hope to see you for that one!

How did you learn photography? (part 2)

After a number of years without much photographic activity, the bug slowly started coming back during the mid to late 1990s

Early Renaissance

After a number of years without much photographic activity, the bug slowly started coming back during the mid to late 1990s.  The advent of the digital camera era got my curiosity aroused, but the high price of the cameras kept me off the playing field.  That is until Kodak came out with a reasonably priced 1MP camera, the DC20, which retailed for $299.  Yes, times have changed!

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Halloween 2000

The DC20 was capable of taking either 8 shots at full resolution or 16 at half resolution and had a fixed focal length lens.  To get the images off the camera required attaching it to a serial port and waiting for the bits to flow!  It was fun for experimenting and some very basic shots, but produced horrible artifacts.

The Olympus C960 (IIRC) came next in 2000 and it allowed me to start doing some actual photography with a digital camera, such as the Halloween shot of my daughter Teegan (left) and her friend.

During this time, the volume of my shooting went up dramatically, as the results were a bit more controllable and pleasing to the eye.  My education in photography was getting back on track, as I started paying closer attention to composition and light conditions; a lot of this was still trial and error, but if I look back at my images over these couple of years, there is a progression.

In 2003, I needed a camera upgrade and found the Minolta Dimage 7i, which was a big step up at 5 MP and much more control.  The improvement in image quality and the added control with the optical zoom enabled me to start exercising more control over the final look of the image.  This accelerated my learning and provided the stepping stone to the next level.

Going to the dogs

In 2004, my wife, Kris, started competing in agility with on of our Cardigan Welsh Corgis, Darwin.  Going with Kris to these competitions, I brought my trusty Minolta with me to get some shots of Darwin in action.  Of course, I would get in a couple of practice shots of other dogs, so that I had an idea what I could expect and where to get the best possible shot of Darwin.  And, because during these competitions most of your time is spent waiting for the next time Darwin gets to run the course, I got bored and started photographing other dogs’ runs.

Pretty soon, people started asking me, if I would consider selling the pictures I took of their dogs to them.  I wasn’t ready for that yet, particularly since my camera had a slight problem: shutter lag.  If you’re familiar with the Minolta Dimage 7i, you might know that there is about 1/3 second between pressing the shutter and image capture; not bad for photographing a posed group, but tricky when you try to get running dogs at just the right time.

You get the idea: upgrade time to my first Digital SLR, the Canon 10D.  This immediately solved the shutter lag problem and gave me full control over all the functions of the camera.  Now the learning had to go into high gear, as my plan was to pay for this camera with photo sales from agility competitions.  I convinced a couple of clubs to let me photograph their agility trials and found something out very quickly: people love photos of their dogs in action.

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Buford, Superdog

Looking back at the images from the first couple of trials, I have to admit that they were pretty rough.  The first step was to learn what the limits of my camera and lens were in terms of the exposure triangle.  Stopping motion of a dog in mid-flight requires a reasonably fast shutter speed.  And with this camera, I couldn’t push the ISO too high, as color cast would appear due to the graininess.

By early 2005, I had a decent handle on my camera and was able to produce shots, such as this Basset Hound doing a superdog flight over the final jump (there is a story behind this shot…).  The key learning piece was all about learning to master the equipment, so that to a casual observer it would simply look like all these shots required was a simple press of the shutter.  I learned to estimate exposure values, adjust for the difference in reflected light off different colors, compensate exposure depending on the color of the dog, and anticipate what the dog would do.

During this time, I did start buying photography books to accelerate my learning.  One of the books that I found invaluable is Brian Peterson’s Understanding Exposure, which covers much more than just exposure, as he spends quite a bit of time on composition as well.

What’s Next?

In terms of learning, photographing action was an excellent school, as the goal is to not miss any great shot and be prepared for anything.  I learned to shoot with both eyes open, as my non-dominant left eye can pick up on what is outside the right eye’s field of view through the lens.  I studied a tremendous amount about exposure, and learned how to look at a location to quickly analyze where the good vantage points are.

What was lacking from the dog-sport and other action photography was a sense of artistic expression.  The next step was to expand my range of photography and skills, so that I could take on new challenges.

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Rose Particle

In the next part, we’ll go over the range of skills and artistic expansion exercises that have led me to where I am today.  Hope you’re enjoying this little journey along my photographic path.