Monday, January 01, 2018

Starting 2018 right!

It's that time of year again

It doesn't matter who you are, somehow on this day or this week, you wonder where you're going to be in 12 months. Last year you probably set some goals: how did that work out for you? Are you richer, smarter, have more skills, happier, have better relationships? Did you write that book, get that job, take that trip? I hope you did.

The definition of how successful a year is depends a lot on how old you are. Not necessarily physically, in your spirit. If you're young at heart (yeah, I know: trite, overworked phrase!), you have ambition, things you'd like to accomplish. If you're not, your goals revolve around things you enjoy. None of us are 100% in either of the young/old camps. There are, for all of us, things we would like to learn to do better and the satisfaction of doing them. And each of us wants to experience the warmth of things that impact us, whether it's the growth of relationships or the people around us or more mundane things that touch us emotionally or intellectually.

Not making sense? The young want to DO things; the old to EXPERIENCE them.

I'm not young any more. 2017 was not a great year for me because I finally came to that realization. Sure, there are things I want to accomplish, but on a daily basis, they take a back seat to what I want to experience. Music touches me, for instance: but I finally accept that I can't MAKE music as much as I can feel the music others make. I get carried away, sometimes, listening to music until the wee hours. I did go to Newfoundland again: but I accept that some of the other places I always wanted to visit are beyond my reach now.

I'm not going to write about my regrets. Because I don't want to admit them to my self nor do I want to expose them to the light of day.

Making art — with my camera, my paintbrushes and pencils, with my computer — that's been a success, although I feel I've learned more and I'm poised for a breakthrough, as opposed to having accomplished something this year. Ditto, writing. And sharing my experience with others, that's really my passion. These things are what my life's about now. Will I be healthy enough (that's the elephant in my room) to take any of those things to a higher level next year?

A year from now, I hope you look back at 2018 and say, "that was a pretty good year".

Printing revisited
If you're not a photographer and you have no interest in printing tips, feel free to skip this section. Go ahead. I won't mind!
Last time, I talked about preparing your images for print, and the problem that what you see onscreen — even on a calibrated monitor — is going to look different from what you see on a print. 

Every printer lays down ink slightly differently from every other printer. Every printing paper absorbs ink and handles it differently from every other paper. Fortunately you can simulate that on your computer using the "ICC Profile" of that printer/paper combination. Any decent professional lab will send you their ICC profiles — even Costco does — and after installing it in your computer you can "soft proof" your image before sending it to the lab. You turn on soft proofing (it's available in both LR and PS) and adjust your image until it looks correct on your calibrated monitor. Generally you can copy those adjustment settings to a group of images but of course if you're fussy, every image is different. So ask your lab for their ICC Profiles. Make sense?

If you print at home, same thing. You should be able to get the ICC profiles for the printer and the paper from the manufacturer's websites.One caution, though: if you use aftermarket inks, you're on your own. They'll be different, of course, and the printer manufacturer certainly isn't going to support it.

Camera and Computer Gear

Who among you have acquired new equipment this year, or have changed directions? We live in this material world, so my guess is, "lots of you"!  The trend, of course, is to move from DSLR to mirrorless. Sensors are awesome (Sony makes the big sensors for Nikon. It figures that their own lead the pack too). Optics are great, maybe not quite up to Nikon (or grudgingly, Canon) Pro standards, but with advances in computer controlled machining, they exceed most of what was available back in "the day". Mechanically they are faster and more precise and of course smaller and lighter. To use a word banished from the Queen's English, these new little mirrorless wonders are "Covfefe".

Sometimes heavier is better. It's true with rifles, for instance. You want accuracy over a mile, you go .50cal. Benchrest rifles have humungous barrels that weigh 20 or 30 pounds. And it's true with the big light-gathering long super telephotos like the Nikon 600mm f/4. Or, I hope, with the Nikon 200-400mm f/4 which weighs almost as much. I said "I hope" because I'm about that far away from buying one.

Not my photo. Soon my lens! I hope.

So I've gone in the opposite direction. I figure I'll go mirrorless when I get old and I have to! Sort of kidding: those who know me, know I'm a dinosaur.

When my desktop computer died, it didn't owe me anything. It was time. I decided to finally go to the Dark Side and buy a Mac. But then, the screen on my laptop died. So I converted it to desktop use and ended up buying a Macbook Pro. I don't want to foster a huge debate but I've been using it for a year now and the only conclusion I can come to is, well, it's like comparing an Audi with a VW. They're both essentially the same thing, the Audi is more expensive but it's just better.

By the way, the PC laptop finally gave up the ghost last week. I still need a Windows machine to run my old accounting software, so I found a used one for next to nothing. It works. It ain't pretty, but it works.

On the software side, I bought Helicon Focus which automates focus stacking. I've just played with it until now but it's something I want to work with more in the new year.  Stretching my senses. Pretty left-brained, though, I have to admit.

So which direction are you going this year?

Want to come to Newfoundland this summer?

I'm planning another trip to Newfoundland. The basic concept is to spend the entire summer there in two or three places. I'd like to rent some 2-bedroom places so that I can invite friends to spend some time there with me. And I'm working on lining up some experts to take people to the best spots and events. Think icebergs, whales, puffins, gannets, night shots, outports, seascapes... 

If you are possibly interested in coming down for a week or so, let me know. I need to get the planning under way. And if you happen to know of suitable accommodations in Newfoundland, please contact me too!

Enough words. Time to share some pictures.

Tied up with other things, I didn't shoot much this month,. And it's been c-c-c-cold so I didn't really feel like getting out either. I did a little, though.

Snowflakes are tough to shoot! When you don't get them right, you can always get artistic, right? Makes a dandy Blog Header photo, though!

This is a little better, but nowhere near what I want to do. It's too cold to shoot them right now (two reasons: even if it does snow, you don't get neat crystals at these temperatures; and I ain't going out there to shoot them. An hour-long session at -30°C? My mom didn't raise any stupid children!). Don't worry, there's lots more winter to come. 


Frozen soap bubbles, on the other hand, work better when it's colder.  The complexity of the crystals in the bubbles is a function of the chemical composition. Sugars form the crystals: the top one is from maple syrup, in the bottom one I added some brown sugar to the mix.  More to come! 

I had a great day trip to Algonquin Park  with Amin Shivji and Kevin Beer. We didn't see much wildlife, other than a variety of birds, some beavers and otters (but they were really far away) and a quick glimpse of a pine marten. I kind of liked this shot of a blue jay because of the composition and the complementary maple leaves. 

This blue jay decided to pose for a portrait atop a pine tree. Some post-processing using Topaz Studio helped out here. I've actually ordered a large canvas print of this shot! 

But I realized I couldn't let 2017 get away without doing some landscape shots. 

I wanted to remove the complexity from this shot, to let the patterns of the weighted branches and virgin white snowy path speak for itself.  

While looking for landscape shots, I happened to turn around in this driveway. The setting sun added a golden glow (enhanced by choosing a really warm white balance) and again I simplified the shot. After posting the picture on Facebook, i got a message, "Hey, that's my house!". A dynamite canvas print is on the way.

Parting Shot

I've used that quote from Pablo Picasso before: "Good artists copy, great artists steal".  I saw an image on Facebook that gave me an idea, and I went back to my June visit to Peggy's Cove in Nova Scotia to borrow the concept of a silhouette against a colourful sky with a moon for counterpoint. I have a similar, less posed image, from Old Woman Bay on Lake Superior and a shot from Stephenville in Newfoundland. Here's what I came up with. I'm going to be looking for more of these!

I promised myself I'd get back to painting. I'm planning to paint from this image. Wish me luck!

Have a super 2018, everyone!

— 30 —

No comments:

Post a Comment