Thursday, January 03, 2013

New Directions?

As I sit writing this stuff, I get to wondering why I write what I do. Two reasons, I think: to document my travel along this mortal coil, and to share my experiences so that others may learn something by it. Sometimes what I write is trivial to all but one or two people but I like to think that if one looks at it as a gestalt, there's a consistency that others might take as a learning experience.

It's like the concept of ongoing TV series'. A number of people I've talked with recently say they don't 'get' the Big Bang Theory show but you have to watch it enough to get into the characters before you can appreciate it. Or reading the first page or paragraph of a novel: you can't know if you're going to get something out of it until you read a bit more. 

So, dear readers, thanks for sticking with me. My goal is to share ideas and directions so that you'll go off exploring on your own. I've had over 15,000 discrete hits this year: substantially less than I hoped for but more than I expected. Please share the link to this blog with those you know. Maybe they will also enjoy this smorgasbord of ideas and images as they taste it one small lighthearted bite at a time. 

If you don't already receive my "blog update" email, or if you want to add someone else to the list of people who get a quick notification that there's something new posted here, please click on this link.

New Directions

Like your birthday, New Year's day is just another way of benchmarking time. You know: "I'm 'x' years old today and here's how I'm going to change my life in the next 12 months". Or "it's 2013 and I'm really going to make this an awesome year".  Why should that start today? What's the significance of the first of January or in my case the 8th of September (I give you permission to note that date in your calendar if you want to wish me happy birthday. OK, I'm a hypocrite!)?

What I'm really saying is, "why wait until a coincidental orientation of dates to improve your life?" The world is FULL of people who make and then virtually instantly break, new years resolutions. Every year, people say "I'm not doing that this year". And every year, like clockwork, they do. The gyms and fitness clubs LIVE for those resolutions. People join a gym and, I heard yesterday, 80% of them stop going within 6 weeks. If I owned a gym, I'd find a way to rent exercise machines for a couple of months, then close down and go on vacation for the rest of the year!

So did I make a list of things I want to do this year? Of course I did, like everyone else! I mentioned some of them a couple of weeks ago.
  • Consider where I am as an artist
  • Monetize
  • Explore other media
  • Travel
  • Work on relationships
Nice list. It reads more like a "To-Do" list than resolutions, though. Good, because I won't keep resolutions. I have a better chance of achieving something with a To-Do list. I've already started creating a hierarchical breakdown in some of the categories.

Artist stuff

I'll be the first to admit that I still haven't figured out where I am, artistically. Every time I think I've discovered my 'style', I change my mind. And I'm really fickle and impressionable. HDR's, for instance: for a while I really liked kitchy, cartoony images with huge saturation levels and detail coming out of the yin-yang. While I still think that technique has a place, I'm ready to get much more subtle. 

A couple of people whose opinions and knowledge I respect have commented on my work recently. My art is starting to overshadow pure technique, which is one reason I'm not turning in winning images to club level competitions any more. That's good. That's where I want to go.

I'm doing a presentation on digital HDR at the Richmond Hill Camera Club in February. If you're a member (or even if you're not!), come on out. I've not completed it in detail yet, but you can expect me to talk about the 16 Zones that negative film can give you (yes, 16. Maybe even more. Not 10), how to approach a shot, how to process it with several different programs or plugins, what to watch out for. Should be fun. If you're not a RHCC member, email me for details.

Great Book:

I'm reading and re-reading a book I found as an eBook at the library: The Art of Photography by Bruce Barnbaum. Then I bought a hard copy of the book because I was so impressed. Here are links to it on Amazon:  Canada USA When I first started reading it, I thought there was a lot of inapplicable stuff because a good deal of the book focuses on (a) traditional negative-and-paper photography (and I've been purely a digital guy for 15 years) and (b) black-and-white. But almost everything the author says is applicable to digital, so don't skip those sections when you read it! Also there are some absolutely outstanding images in the book (much bigger and better than on the iPad!). Each one leaves you thinking, "boy, I wish I could do that!". Read it.

A little recognition...

If it's still January while you're reading this, wander over to "The Imaging Forum (TIF)" where they selected my image for the banner. I used the same shot for the cover of my Winter Wonderland eBook and was going to use it here on the blog, but since they chose it, I decided not to. I'll find another image (hard to find stuff that fits in 950 x 200 px!)

Pet Packaging Peeve

You know exactly what I'm talking about. You buy something and take your life in your hands trying to open the damned blister packaging. First of all, the plastic they use is so stiff and thick that you need a sharp knife to cut it. And once you do, and you don't cut yourself doing so, you're almost guaranteed to bleed when you try to pry the product out, unless you cut all the way around.

Here's the WORST example I've ever seen. I bought a 32Gb Sandisk Ultra SDHC card at Costco (awesome price, $20! But 'Ultra' is slower than 'Extreme'. Transfer speed 30MB/s compared to 45MB/s. Still, $20...). Anyway, it came in a thick cardboard/plastic blister package that measures 10" x 15", and you know what size an SDHC card is: about the size of your thumbnail. Even worse, when I got it out of the packaging, I discovered it doesn't even come with a little plastic case! Just 3 coloured labels you can write on, which I wouldn't use for fear they would peel off inside my camera.

Bananas are there for size comparison. The packaging must have cost them $1. It has what looks like not 1, not 2 but THREE of those security anti-theft RFID tags in it. There has to be a better way. (iPhone photo)
A couple more scanned images

This was a shot of my ex-wife in May, 1973 (40 years ago!) just before my daughter was born. North-facing window lighting, what else? This one stands the test of time, in my opinion. The original is again, a 35mm Kodachrome 25 transparency. I made some slight adjustments because I could! All in Lightroom: dropped the clarity a bit to smooth the skin, spot-removed a couple of blemishes, whitened teeth and eyes, and got rid of Big Bird's left eye which was half-hidden and distracting. And the vignette.

Reisting, Northeast of Munich, was built by Siemens (my employer in the '70s) in 1967. Given Moore's Law, I'd imagine the technology would be laptop sized today! I thought the juxtaposition of the gigantic other-worldly Earth Station and the ancient church was worthy of this September 1973 photograph. I added grain and texture and converted it to black-and-white with Silver Efex Pro and Topaz adjust. 
Back to work on my HDR presentation!

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