Recently passed the anniversary of my father’s death. And like I’ve seen several people do in the last few days, I was tempted to post a picture of my father on Facebook or somewhere, as a memorial. But very quickly I decided I don’t want to celebrate someone’s death… I’d rather remember their life.
Another year, another dragon*con. The closest thing I have to an annual vacation. 5 days in Atlanta with friends and 50,000 additional crazy people. Less dancing on my part, this year, for various reasons. It’s a strange time… always seems to include fun, friends, tragedy, illness, food, lust, costumes, and more. There’s the old and cranky people, and the young and crazy. The obsessive, and the laid back. But you know… despite being 4 days full of often intoxicated, sleepless, hyped up people, everyone I have ever met there — in the halls, in the events, in the rooms, in the elevators — they have all been friendly and happy. That’s kinda weird.
You have to shut off all of those voices and look for these special moments—these moments that you accept you have no control over. So much of my job is to not think—to be open to what’s there, and then use my intuition to see where it takes me.
When I got my first real, paying job, probably my biggest expense was film developing. I never really gave it much thought at the time, but I loved riding my bike around town and taking photos. Wouldn’t be at all abnormal now, with our camera obsessed culture. But back then, the main stereotype we laughed at about Japanese people was the idea that they’d take photos of everything.
So… I took pictures. Buildings. Fields. Bridges. The lake. While my first camera was a pink Kodak Disc Camera, it never really worked. So other than a few months where I could borrow an SLR from the school, most of my photos until 2001 or so were taken on a little Kodak 35mm point and shoot. Fully automatic… no settings. Just frame the picture and snap. And I don’t know why, but I enjoyed it.
This photo — of an old shed on the rail line at the edge of town — it stands out in my mind. I think it’s the first time I was consciously going out of my way to get a picture of something. Walking my bike down the railroad tracks, which felt dangerous. Was sure I shouldn’t be there. Got there, took the picture, and left. Nothing terribly amazing, but I keep coming back to it. It has a lot of hallmarks of things I now enjoy capturing. But at the time… I had never put any thought into these things.
I’m sure the building is gone now. A big reason I like photos, right there. Seeing back in time.
What was new this year, for me? New people, as always. (Tiny, drunk lesbians. Impossibly sweet, little, Indian woman. The lady with the most awesome job ever. “Don’t panic” girl.) And dancing each night until 6am. (Well… white guy “dancing”). Hearing Bruce Schneier, Alice Cooper, James Randi, Anthony Michael Hall, Billy West, and David Prowse speak. Nothing really special from the vendors this year… a couple pins and some pieces of art. Though there was an awesome gift for a friend, found in the artists’ alley.
As always, the real enjoyment for me is relaxing with friends and taking pictures.
Wonderful night out with friends… well… most of the second half of last week. Thursday was the Die Antwoord concert I’d been waiting for. Friday I got out of the house as needed, and ended up bar hopping on H Street with friends and catching a Burlesque Show at the Red Palace. (Ran into Katie, from the Derby… very nice to see her again).
Saturday was the housewarming for Eldridge. He has a wonderful new place out in the woods of suburban MD. There was fire, watermelon decapitation, lightsaber fights with hawt chicks, and plenty of barbecued meat. Rounded out the night sitting on the roof with awesome friends, watching the party dwindle down below.
Saw another Since Antarctica show out at Fat Tuesday’s. Wonderful time. The music was, of course, awesome. The hipsters were a bit much, bouncing in front of me every time I went to take a photo. Amanda (sparklypoof) thoughtfully offered to kick their ass, for me, though.
This is one of those sets of images I come back to every so often, when I’ve learned new things. I try new things, see if I’m any better than I was, with my tools. Yeah I like this much better. But she was still pretty awesome to begin with.
At Pennsic, the parties apparently used to be much more diverse, and, well, weird. But with age and success, things seem to homogenize. You can basically be assured of a bar, a drum circle, and fire demonstrations of some kind. This picture came from Vlad’s camp, the night of the slave auction, I think.
I love this photo. He just nailed the depth of field. The colors and the lighting are incredible. The urban-porn of all these different people going in every direction from the train platform. The single, centered vanishing point. The halo around the girl.
You want a horribly colored photo? Stick me in a room with incandescent lighting, and beige walls, and beige furniture. No matter how much I mess with the white balance, I can never quite get it right, under those conditions.
For the nations who were deeply involved in World War II, the war effort was total, with women volunteering in huge numbers alongside men and filling traditionally male positions at home, in industry, and the military. Women took both active and supporting positions in factories, government organizations, military auxiliaries, resistance groups and more. While relatively few women were at the front lines as combatants, many found themselves the victims of bombing campaigns and invading armies. By the end of the war, more than 2 million women worked in war industries, hundreds of thousands volunteered as nurses or members of home defense units, or became full-time members of the military. In the Soviet Union alone, some 800,000 women served alongside men in army units during the war. Collected here are images of women involved directly in the events of World War II, and some of what they experienced and endured.
The family reunion was at the bass club in San Angelo again this year. Same old everything, but that’s kind of the point. Took Heidi. Family likes her better than they like me. But they’re quite disappointed to learn i’m not gay.
I just love this photo. That is all. I saw them being cute on the hill above me, while I was taking some photos of the house, and when I pointed the lens at them, they posed. Normally I hate poses. But this came out very nice. And I had to laugh when I looked at it later, and realized how similar their poses were. I have a picture somewhere of my mother and sister unconsciously doing the same thing.
This is Rockstar Shannon. This is not Friend Shannon. Friend Shannon is not as angsty and full of venom as my show photos of her often look. Friend Shannon sits in her old apartment, playing a highly customized version of “horse with no name” on an acoustic guitar; wearing long, stripey socks. But Rockstar Shannon is pretty awesome too.
And to all my friends who are jealous of the attention these few women received? It’s just because you don’t pay me as much to do your PR as they do.
While overall, I can be drawn to a photo for many reasons, there are some obvious trends in my favorite photos (taken by other photographers); as seen by looking at my favorites on Flickr.
Many of the Japanese photographers in my Flickr list have similarities in style. It’s a soft-focus, high-contrast style; often in black and white. It conveys an intense and intimate atmosphere. Bokeh is big; or at the very least, a short depth of field. Some of my favorite Chinese photographers are similar, but often with a deep, sharp focus, instead of the shallow soft of the Japanese.
You pick up a camera. You walk out into public by yourself; or with a friend or two. And you take pictures of other people, other places, and their stuff. It’s very hard for most people, because not only are you outside of your own comfort zone, but you’re invading other people’s. You might be capturing beautiful pictures. You might be documenting the every day around you. You might be telling stories and sharing moments. But it’s all coming from the public around you with minimal staging and equipment.
(Ironically, I had a hard time finding sample of “street photography” on Flickr that I could use. These people whose livelihood as photographers relies on an open, public space, had all locked down their photos and disallowed uses like this entry. Don’t share with me? I won’t share my audience with you.)
I did another one of the Latex Body Paint photo shoots, last weekend. Wonderful model… good time. I was told the privacy standard this time was basically “the model doesn’t want to be recognizable”. So I’m posting one of the few photos without a face in it. Click below to see it. (Warning: It contains nudity that may disturb small animals, children, and my mother.) If you’re my friend and interested in seeing the rest, let me know… Continue reading →
So one of my dream locations to photograph would be the shipbreaking beaches in India or Pakistan. When oceanliners, tankers, and cargo ships get too old to operate any more, they beach them in these places, and workers chop them to bits.
This isn’t clean, or safe, or tidy. These are people with no safety gear, in one of the most polluted places on earth, doing dangerous work. It’s the tail end of the commercial world. It’s the stuff every cyberpunk story is built upon.
Speaking of which, I missed a dream shot on Friday, in a decidedly less hostile environment. On the way home from seeing a movie — fittingly Bill Cunningham New York — I saw it. It must have been about 11:30 at night, when we walked past the H&M store in downtown DC. The business core of DC tends to turn into a ghost town around 6pm. So by that time of night — on a Friday no less — it should have been empty. But in the store, right near the doors, was a lone worker. She was sitting on the floor next to a white platform, and a little zone of light in an otherwise dark salesfloor. She was pulling white fluffy … things… out of a box. She’d puff them up, and place them on the platform. It was surreal and monotonous at the same time. And the sparse color palette and dramatic range of light made it all the more interesting to me.
Of course, for like the first time in forever, I had left the house without a camera. Poo.
Finally processed most of the photos from the shoot a couple weeks ago. You can click on the photo below to see them. WARNING: There is nudity, and it’s probably not safe for small children, nor my family.
I love this photo. Came across it a while back on Tumblr. It was taken by Gerard Malanga, of Patti Smith and Robert Mapplethorpe. I hadn’t known until I heard an NPR Fresh Air interview with Patti Smith, that the two of them were a couple at one point in their lives, and lifelong friends. The dress and the location are just perfect. The look passing between the two of them. Such an incredible confluence of art in one photo.
Just had another photo chosen as Photo of the Day on DCist. And immediately — and not for the first time — received some comments about photoshopping.
I adjust things like the lightness and darkness and sharpness. In that sense, yes it’s photoshopped. But these are the same things photographers have been doing in the darkroom since the beginning. (Ansel Adams was probably better known for his darkroom work than his picture taking). But I don’t add or subtract actual items in the photo.
Occasionally I play around with things like cross-processing and vignettes and such, for artistic effect. But I never promised you an unadulterated photo. I promised you an interesting photo. Photographer Clayton Cubitt had a quote something to the effect that “When he photographs something, he kills it. He has to adjust the image to give it back the life as he originally saw it.”
Last weekend, in recovery mode after a party of which no photos will be posted here, some friends revealed ignorance of the joys of wet corn starch. This needed to be resolved, and the next hour or so was spent playing at the dining table, and making a thoroughly satisfying mess.
So I was recently in a photo show, at the Washington School of Photography. (I’m not a student, but it was an open call for entries). The theme of the show was “faces”… specifically human faces. I only had 1 day’s notice to select photos and mail them in, but 2 out of my 4 submissions were chosen for the show.
I’d been waiting until after the show opened to display the chosen images. One is old, and one is new to most people.
So what did I think of the show? Eh. I was kind of hoping… or expecting, that since it was hosted by a photo school, and in a city with so many photographers, that I was going to be lucky to get into a show and have my work surrounded by pieces much better than mine. That people would have wonderful concepts, or capture special moments, or show amazing skill. But I didn’t really see much of that. At least half the shots were travel photos, captured in the moment, and not with any great eye. Then there were some generic portraits. The only one I would have called ‘conceptual’ didn’t even have a face in it, implied or otherwise. And listening to the judge speak, it sounded like she made her selections on the way out the door to lunch.
I liked being in the show. I have heard good things about their other shows. So maybe it was just an unfortunate series of events.
I don’t think the photos have sold. If you’re interested in either, they’re both professionally framed.
Before I started, I didn’t really understand the social aspects of public drinking.
I’d been to plenty of bars and clubs, and ordered plenty of sodas for myself or drinks for friends. But that was the extent of it. In my mind, the bar was a dispensary and the bartenders no different than cashiers, albeit with a specialized knowledge. And actually, you can easily get by like that. You may not get the most prompt service, but any respectable bartender is still going to take your money and be polite.
Now I realize that bars are social beasts. You’re generally going out to either drink and enjoy yourself or drink and forget your sorrows. In either case, you want a welcoming, friendly atmosphere. If you go somewhere with any regularity, develop a relationship with the bartender, because they will start to remember you, one way or the other.
A friendly relationship with the bartender means service. A friendly relationship can mean that not all of my drinks will end up on my bar tab. A friendly relationship can make unrequested drinks show up in front of me unexpectedly. (I almost wonder about the financial mechanics of this. Bars must have some basic policies… how do they come about?)
That person on the other side of the bar not only probably knows exactly what’s available without even looking, but they likely know more mixed drinks than I’ll ever try in my entire life. (Though I’ll damn well work on that…). It has been a universal truth for me that any time I let a bartender recommend a drink, it is better than anything I would have specifically ordered. And most bartenders seem to enjoy serving something besides vodka-cranberries. And the friendlier the relationship, the more they seem to put into mixing something special.
Practicalities aside, how much more enjoyable is it to laugh and catch up with someone, (or get to know someone), rather than to sit silently staring into a glass. I’d much rather feel like I was socializing than just being a ‘customer’. The bartender is a person too, and deserves as good a day as anyone. Like any other social interaction, everything goes both ways
And while the alcohol undoubtedly loosens things up, I notice a huge difference in the amount of socializing done with other patrons. The kinds of bars and clubs I prefer are not for the reclusive. It’s a social activity in a public place. I can be extremely anti-social when the bad mood strikes, and yet I usually end up talking to someone new on most every visit.
Yeah… this is all probably blindingly obvious. But it stands out, to me. A little world I didn’t know about until I fell down the rabbit hole.
May Day celebration at the Inverted Ark. Including a May Pole dance or two, which inevitably involved strapping someone to the pole. (Insert your own joke here).
I have been pleasantly surprised lately, by two people I recently connected or reconnected with. I am horrible — completely useless — at getting an accurate impression of people I’ve just met. People I’ve liked, who no longer talk to me. People who I could barely stand to see, who I now go out of my way to support. As of late, the revelations have all been good. People with more depth and joie de vivre than I ever suspected. Persons with passion for life, and plans, and ideas, and…
Wow… it’s been 4 years since this shoot. Was just cataloging my backup drive, and browsing the import. Don’t think I ever highlighted this image before. Despite MANY, MANY issues with that shoot, I still like this image.
Wow… it’s been almost a month since I posted anything.
Plenty of things to write about, but I’m not in the mood. Thought I would just leave you with a photo.
Great Falls National Park. Dave and I went out there easter sunday. The picture doesn’t really do justice to the scale. Those rocks out in the river — the smaller ones — are the size of a house. No Niagara Falls, but still beautiful, and unlike Niagara, it’s not surrounded by a dirty, depressing city.
I was in the mood to write something. But it’s getting late, so I think I will just share a photo from one of last year’s shoots. This girl was wonderful. Very mature, and a natural in front of the camera.
I just posted my annual collection of photos, for 2009. (Yes… a little late). Same as always: It’s a collection of photos I took last year. The criteria for inclusion is subjective. Some I liked for technical reasons. Some for aesthetic reasons. Some were important events or people, (or cats). Some… I just felt should be in there. They’re not the best of the best… they’re just 2009.
In past years, I’ve felt like I didn’t do much. But towards the end of last year, going through my archives, I was reminded of how much had gone on, and with who. Flipping through these photos made me very happy.
Reworking some photos from the shannon shoot from a year or so back. Learning new things all the time, and realizing how questionable the old shots look. Some revamped images, and a couple new ones.
(Click for the whole set, duh)
I took Jenny’s advice and called the head of repair at Penn. He returned my call within about half an hour, after checking with the factory. They apparently had been waiting on backordered parts. But given the length of time so far, he says they’re trying to replace it instead, at the same price as the repair.
On one hand… nice. On the other, it makes me nervous. The quality difference between one lens and the next, even of the exact same model, can vary. And I loved the quality I got out of the original. Tack sharp with saturated colors.
We’ll see. Nothing certain yet, anyway.
by Lung S. Liu
In no particular order… There’s a wide range of tones here, from deep black to not-quite-blown-out-whites. And the overall tones are evenly distributed. The depth of field is very nicely handled. The subjects are sharp, and really pop out against a silky background. The stairs not only provide a nice place to watch the progression of the DOF, but the diminishing perspective on them leads my eye up to the faces. While they both bend at most of their joints (see past reviews), you have one more solid and upright, while the other folds in on herself and relies on her partner for balance. It’s a casual photo, in everything from the body postures, to the tree-diffused lighting, to the open door in the background. The poses do compliment each-other. The light on the main subjects is so perfect, I wonder if a reflector or flash was used. It’s a posed photo, but you get the feeling that it’s a very authentic moment. And as always, I like that the situation feels lived in. Leaves and dirt on the stairs. It’s not all pristine and new. And the people are reasonably framed — with the heads near the top of the image. And the stairs are given space to finish up. They’re such a strong directional line, that it would have been awkward if they had been cut off any sooner.
A good general rule of thumb for photography in DC: “Get Closer”
It appears to be an almost universal impulse for tourists to stop when they see a famous building in DC, and take a picture or have their picture taken in front of it. And by in front of it, I mean 5 blocks away. So many people stop halfway down the mall, to take pictures of the Capitol building.
On an average camera with an average lens, you can literally be on the grass in front of the capitol before you fill the frame. And no one is going to be impressed by a photo of the White House taken from Scott Circle, 6 blocks away.
Combine this with the whole “stop centering people’s heads in your photos”, and you can actually get quite a lot in your pictures.
after recently discovering that no one really knew what they were doing with my camera lens, I got a call yesterday about my other big toy that’s been in for repairs — the laptop. While replacing the case which had been cracking all to hell, they apparently damaged my screen. And since they’re doing all the repairs locally, they have to order in the part and take another 3 days.
Breaking stuff seems to be the easy part. Getting it fixed… not so much.
We’re going on 7 weeks since I dropped off my broken lens at Penn Camera to be fixed. So I thought I would bug them again since I was out running errands. The promised me a week ago they would call Tamron and check on it, and call me. Never happened.
“oh… yes… let me call them… I’ll call you later when I hear back. Really.”
They did call this time. “Tamron sent us an estimate. But we didn’t get it. But now we know. So…”
So it can be repaired. But really… how fucking hard is it to remember to follow up on something you’re getting paid for? Either company. “We asked for an estimate a month and a half ago… I wonder where it is?” Or… “We got this lens sitting here. Not sure what to do with it ‘cuz we asked these guys what they wanted, like… a month ago!”
Often when I’m walking the streets at night, after being out with friends, (or while still in the act), I really have this urge to just wander and take pictures. Cities take on this whole new life at 2 or 3 AM on Fridays and Saturdays. Crowds fill the street like it was rush hour. And cars line up from corner to corner.People are loud and boisterous. Instant connections are made that last 30 seconds. The police can be seen around the edges, not so much strictly enforcing the law as encouraging people to keep the mal-drama to a minimum.
Sounds to me like the perfect place to take pictures.
It’s come up in several discussions with friends that they don’t always bring their cameras into questionable areas, or places they could get damaged. It’s reasonable. But for myself, my choice was always to bring the camera just about anywhere. I’d rather run the risk — especially since these are often the more interesting situations — and get some great shots. Cameras can be repaired, but moments can’t be relived.
Though honestly I wasn’t too worried about having my camera out in a nice hotel room in downtown Atlanta. But even so, while at Dragon*Con, a rather large, solid, intoxicated man landed on me, and knocked my camera to the ground.
A 3 month old lens. Ultra-wide angle, so not exactly cheap. By the next morning, when I went to pick up the camera, I noticed the lens body separating into two pieces. And it’s been getting slowly worse ever since. As of this afternoon, the auto-anything was dead. I couldn’t zoom, and it was still sagging.
Took it into Penn. $150 estimated repair, though that’s just their average for this kind of lens. 4 to 6 weeks wait. And even then, I won’t be surprised if it’s not salvageable.
Eh. I’m not really too upset. I did get plenty of wonderful shots that night with the lens. And none of the damage was intentional. Even in his drunken state, the first thing the guy worried about was wether he’d damaged the camera. It sucks, but life goes on.
Okay… so I’ve now had my camera strap from My Funky Camera for about a month now. (See previous post on this topic). I’ve had one photo shoot, and a long weekend trip that is probably my most intensive camera use each year. And to give it the highest possible praise, I can just say that during those events and most other times, I never really thought about the strap.
I never worried that it would break. I never worried that it would damage the camera. I never worried that it would slip. I never worried that it would get in the way.
I never had to think about it.
Don’t get me wrong, it still looks good. And given the construction, I expect that will last for quite a while. At the absolute least, I don’t look like a walking billboard for a camera company. And it stores well in my camera bag.
My only thought now is that I wish I had the wrist strap as well, since I so often simply wrap my neck strap around my wrist to secure it. Will have to give this serious consideration.
I do wish there were a couple less girly imprint options. It doesn’t need to be guns or bikinis or beer bottles or anything. But maybe a few without lovebirds or pink polka dots on them? That, plus a little more detail on their website, and I’d be happy.
So I was in a fairly bad mood by the end of the photoshoot this weekend. Normally on these shoots I worry about many things, and they always turn out much better than I expected. But in this case, to one extent or another, every concern I had expressed in the previous months came true. And that’s about as specific as I’ll get about that. So I went home and fell asleep on the couch because I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone.
When I woke up the next morning, I realized I had spent the day taking pictures like the one below. And no matter what was bad, it still beats sitting at home, playing video games or something.
Several people have asked me how I block various people from seeing some parts of my facebook feed, so…
1 – Go to your full contacts list. “Friends” -> “All Friends”
2 – Create a new list and name it whatever you want
3 – Add the people you wish to hide things from to this list
4 – Now go to “settings” -> “privacy settings” -> “profile”
5 – Take any section you wish to filter from this list, and choose “customize” from the pull-down menu
6 – at the bottom of the resultant window, under the “except these people”, type in the name of the ‘bad people’ list you created earlier.
That’s it. I just mostly filter out potentially offensive stuff from my work contacts.
I get a lot of benefit out of continually learning how to use my tools better. Today’s example:
I recently watched some tutorials by photographers using Lightroom. Picked up a few things I didn’t know. And because of it, discovered a few other variations that were even better. I knew this stuff in Photoshop, from back in college. But — as is the point — Lightroom has a much better interface for doing it.
Here’s the original RAW photo, from the recent shoot with Lea. Blown out, yadda yadda yadda. Won’t bother going into why it is this way… but it just is. A lot of missing details, though you could tell it was a beautiful look.
Thankfully, by shooting in RAW format, you preserve a lot of information that would have been lost in a JPEG. I lowered the exposure, and recovered a lot of detail. Still a bit light, but much better. Really pushed it, though. To the point where the boundary on the face between the light and dark has gone slightly yellow. But still a stunning woman.
After watching the Lightroom videos, I have been moving away from strictly relying on the exposure/black/fill sliders for color correction, and relying more heavily on various features of the Curves. It gives me much greater control over individual light levels in the photo. Transitions are much smoother. More details are preserved. And as I said, the interface to do all this is very intuitive.
I think this last photo is the best so far.
This — of course — is also why I tend to be so reluctant to pursue photography professionally. While I often think “These are some great photos”, somewhere down the line, I almost always look back and think “gawd… I am SO much better than I was when I did THAT!”.
Okay… this is what happens when you don’t proof on multiple monitors. New version, without the gray. (Thanks, Jenny)
I tried copying some photos off a CF card I haven’t used in a while. This card has never been used with the newer card reader. No matter what I did, it wouldn’t show up. Then I noticed a “hot” smell, and when I went to pull the card out of the reader, it burned my fingers. It had been in there off any on for less than a minute total.
Works fine in the old card reader. No heat.
Picked up a new toy, this week. Well, I picked up several, but this one is my favorite so far — a new camera strap.
The old strap — from Epic Software — itself was holding up fine. But the connectors for attaching it to the camera were failing one-by-one. The smallest leather straps actually snapped less than a week after I got the strap. But not big loss. I just merged a couple of the metal bits. But in the last month or so, the larger leather straps have been failing as well. One is already gone. And while I CAN again just merge a couple metals connectors, I lose the capability for the strap to swivel, so it inevitably becomes twisted. And the last leather connector gets worse every day. Every time I grab the camera out of the bag, I cringe and wait for it to snap.
And even if I was willing to live with that, because I’m now down to metal bits connecting the strap to the camera, it has been scratching the hell out of my camera body. While I’ve never been one to baby my equipment, I don’t feel the need to purposely deface it either.
Older cameras just had small swivel points with just a single small hole in them for mounting a strap. So ring connectors made sense. But newer cameras almost universally have slots for attaching straps. These nylon strap connections are less damaging, more flexible, and usually last longer.
But since I had neither the thin straps nor the sewing machine to attach them, I just went looking for a new strap. Can’t stand the straps you find at most camera stores or online shops. They’re all either flat black straps, or the come with the manufacture’s name emblazoned on them in bright, bold 150pt type. But almost no one makes more interesting straps. Epic’s straps were great looking… very retro. But I wasn’t interested in going through the same problems again. A little searching, though, and I finally found My Funky Camera. A woman who apparently buys the parts and makes her own straps — neck or wrist. Thy sounded pretty good, and I found some good reviews online. Her website is a bit lacking in details, but I figured it was worth the minor risk. My order arrived yesterday. Initial impression: I was impressed. It was actually made of much sturdier material than I expected. And it did indeed have the nylon attaching straps. I’m dubious about how long the extra neck padding will last, but it looks good right now, and could be easily removed later. It fit easily only to the camera. It looks great. I have a shoot tomorrow, and a major trip coming up in a couple weeks, so I will be putting it though it’s paces.
While looking at pictures of a photographer who recently died, I notice in dozens of photos, he is never holding a camera. Old pictures of photographers… say… 1800s through approximately 1960s, when you saw a “candid” picture of a photographer, they had a camera in their hands or in front of them. But now? Not so much.
I’ve been looking for years for a decent “To Do” application. Much as I hate the idea of it, I am much more productive at work when I have lists to keep me organized. (10 – 15 jobs at any given time, with various stages in each…)
Something that lets me create a list, with child items. Allows me to very simply prioritize items. Make changes on the fly with little effort. I want to be able to check off items, and collapse items for simpler views.
I don’t want feature bloat. I don’t like most of the “GTD” applications and ideas, because they’re more impressed with their lists than what they can accomplish with them; and they often rely on multiple interlocking lists. If I have to think about this list, it’s blown its point.
While I found a couple that seemed promising, they all either were too expensive or were not available for my version of the computer’s OS. So I’ve just kept the idea on the back burner for a year or so, assuming I would pursue it the next time I upgrade the OS.
Today… looking for a video program in my Applications folder, I realize one of the bundled free applications this computer came with (quite a while ago) was OmniOutliner.
Which does… you know… exactly what I need in exactly the way I want. Already licensed. Sitting ’round. Waiting for me to … well… you get the idea.
IMO, Ray Bradbury can put words together like no one else. I would read a recipe book, if he wrote it. But as he has shown repeatedly in recent years, he is a cranky old fart. 🙂 Thankfully I don’t need to worship someone to like what they produce.
Playing with some TTV photography, today. (Taking pictures with a modern camera through the viewfinder of an antique box camera.) In this case, sitting on the fountain in Dupont Circle. Click the image for bigger.
I have no doubt I am being greatly biased by my wonderful memories of Friday night, but…
I really like this kind of picture. Reasonably good quality. Highly dynamic. High Contrast. Capturing a very specific, unique moment. And it never would have looked this good on my previous camera.
There were some other great shots that night:
Walked past the Chinatown subway exit on my way to a store on the same block. Went in, found what I wanted right away. I paid and left. Walked back towards the metro.
People were crowded around. But there was a guy playing Caribbean music, so i just figured he was popular. Saw bright red KoolAid spilled on the ground near the exit. Then I noticed the guy slouched in the corner, with his hands over the side of his face. And there’s a cop standing over him.
And maybe that wasn’t KoolAid. And judging from the spray, and the fact he was holding the side of his face, I’m guessing that wasn’t a bloody nose. Must have gotten slashed.
And the steel drummer played on.
I think I love Navicat.
I have used it as a desktop-based, graphical user interface for various databases. It can handle MySQL, PostgreSQL, and Oracle databases. Has every conceivable option for connecting to said databases. (Most of my clients’ only allow for local access: no problem. VPNs? Secure servers? no problem.). No problem with any type of data manipulation.
It’s been great for setting up a staging server, and then cloning it to the final server.
But where it’s repeatedly really saved my ass is the backups. At the most basic level, it does great one-click backups and restores. But when you then add a scheduling capability that doesn’t even require the application to be running at the time, …
I’ve had hacking attempts on databases. I’ve had just plain fuckups. Today I had an ISP who corrupted every database when they upgraded MySQL. And with 1 click, the site was back up and running.
No… I don’t know anyone who works for Navicat. And they’ve never given me anything. If anything, I think they charge too much. But the reality is it’s worth it. When something works so well and is better than anything else I’ve tried, I like to share.
The opening reception for the DCist Exposed Photography Show is on Friday, February 20 from 5 to 9 pm, at the Flashpoint Gallery at 916 G Street NW. (Just a little over 2 weeks from now).
I have a photo in this show, and will be going opening night, (to make fun of everyone else’s work). Hope to see you there.
Okay. This is what I want to do when I grow up. (Not the woman! Okay, well… the woman would be good, too. But I meant taking pictures like this.) Just amazing. I can’t imagine pulling a print of that.
Photo by Camilla Douraghy.
I wonder how easy it would be to find a photo of somebody?
Assume you’re given collections of photos from a group of friends. Each collection is separate and unlabeled. And you know the names of the photographer for each set. How hard would it be to find a photo of each photographer?
Use flickr as an example. Assume I was a privacy fanatic and didn’t tag any photos. If you went to my account, you could look at my profile, and see which other members I consider to be close connections (“friends” and “relatives”).
I’m assuming that in general, the least likely person to show up in each photographer’s collection is themselves. (barring special projects like flickr’s “365”). But that there’s a good chance you show up in the photos of you close connections.
Looking briefly at my collection, I have a fair number of pictures of certian people. (ie, Kier, Stephanie, Shannon). Even without knowing who they are, you can remove them from consideration, not only from my collection of photos, but from the collections of everyone else as well.
How long can you keep narrowing it down? Can you come reasonably close to finding my photo?
(just an example… i label all my photos. could find picture of me in no time flat).
Was digging through my photo archive last night to find a batch of images. Looking for some that either hadn’t been posted before, or variations on ones that got posted. I came across this one of Shannon from the 2006 photo shoot.
I recently read some articles on nikola tamindzic and his photography. It caught my attention when he started talking about working with models. He said you interact with these people. You ask them to do things, and keep watching. You ‘feel around’ and find the edge of their comfort zone. And that’s where the good photographs are. But that you had a certain responsibility, too. Because if you put your model in such a vulnerable position, you owe it to them to take the picture, and give them back something worth their risk.
I’ve never been excited about staged photo shoots. I mean, I’ve done a few. Even have some planned. But they don’t usually hold the thrill for me of event photography. Capturing the moment. But using the process nikola describes almost makes the staged shoot into an event.
And while it wasn’t intentional at the time — because I was largely clueless and still am — this photo comes pretty close to that.
I was looking at the shadows as I walked back from getting lunch today. I noticed the difference in shadows between the tree leaves verses unnatural structures, like signs and buildings and stuff. It eventually occurred to me, the shapes of the light through the tree leaves amounted to a natural occurring bokeh effect. It wasn’t something I had heard of before. And google searches don’t turn up much.
But if you look up pinhole cameras on wikipedia, you find out that Aristotle and Euclid both wrote about tree-filtered light being essentially pin-hole camera technology.
So I’m only a few millennia behind the curve.
There are images that should be captured. Moments that feel like they exist to show you something. Beyond just “I wish I had my camera”, they have everything coming together, and you can see it all slipping into place, and you know something’s going to happen.
That’s about what I felt for the above photo. I was just watching a protest coalescing on the far side of the street. I was in a small group of reporters from various media sources. They were all trying to figure out what to shoot next, while I was just thinking that the protest had pretty much run it’s course. It would still go on for a couple hours, but the passion and excitement was gone, and people were only protesting because they were there to protest.
And while I’m watching, this black-robed group detached itself from the main body of protesters, and started sweeping across the street. And that was it. I could see this was the image. I took a quick glance around to see how many people I’d have to fight to get space to make the shot. But no one was paying attention. None of the professional media people cared. None of the vastly more numerous public photographers was watching. You can even see photographers in the background of the image, ignoring them completely. And there was an empty spot just 5 feet away, right in front of the smoothly approaching image.
I swung around and pulled up my camera, and cars started driving in front of me. Bastards. And seconds are slipping by, and it’s only 4 lanes, and they’re getting closer. And then… click. One image. I normally shoot a 3 or 4 shots of anything, just to avoid a blink or a sneeze or… but no. I got off 1 image. And they were gone. But I love it. Contrast, repetition, art, humanity, the unexpected.
This wasn’t my most popular shot of the morning. But I like it the most.
Stupid little buggers.
I went to take pictures at the Anonymous protest, yesterday. Anonymous — if you’re unaware — is a protest movement against the Church of Scientology. The movement’s organizers cloak themselves in anonymity to “protect” themselves from the Scientologist’s well-documented harassment of any critics. So the protests are generally a lot of people in masks (see: Anonymous) waving signs outside any branch or office of this “Church”.
The general things that the protesters are upset about include Scientology’s secrecy, their financial focus, questionable physical and mental health practices, their tax-exempt status as a church, and their harassment of former members any just about anyone trying to find out any details about them.
But I had a vaguely bad feeling when I was reading a bit on the local Anonymous chapter’s website, here in DC, on Friday night. They were specifically telling their ‘members’ to be doubtful about anyone who showed up that wasn’t part of the protest. Anyone who stopped nearby, or anyone who asked questions, or talked to them in any way, was supposed to be viewed with distrust, since they could be a scientologist “mole”. And sure enough, within about two minutes of arriving, and taking pictures from a nearby meridian in the street, (right next to the traffic cop assigned to keep order), I had people looking at me suspiciously. There were plenty of people pointing at me, soon enough. And lots of pictures and video footage including me, eventually. A few of the braver souls eventually yelled across the street that I should have been more subtle… I was too obvious a plant.
A plant for what? I wasn’t talking to them. I wasn’t getting in their way. I wasn’t trying to disseminate my own message. Assume the worst… that I was L Ron Hubbard reincarnate… then what harm was I still causing to them? Are protesters there to be seen or not? Is there any value to being rude to people asking questions, as I watched them do to a couple others, just because they aren’t part of your protest? Isn’t that why you’re there? You will never convince someone who’s already hard-line for a cause. You’re whole purpose in protest is to convince the people in the middle, who aren’t firmly decided. To ignore them, or even chase them off, is just shooting yourself in the foot.
But… also not particularly shocking. The majority of the protesters were — by appearance — black block-ers. The people who go to ANY protest, in all black, wearing masks and imagining themselves to be the hard-core true-believers. My biggest problem with the black block, besides the fact that most of them are just obnoxious little pricks who protest because that’s what “you’re supposed to do”, is that they always do it with their face covered. Attending a public protest with your face covered is meaningless. You protest because you want to stand up and say that no matter what the risk, I personally support this cause. To do so in a mask removes any personal commitment, making you a useless twat.
And of all the things to be pissed about — to choose scientology says just as much about you as it does about them. They absolutely have some questionable practices. And I have a real problem with anyone who isn’t open to questions. But in just about every major religion you’ll find all the same basic issues as you do in Scientology. They all expect money… (tithing would have you give 10% of your income to the church). Mormons are just as secretive about their buildings and papers. Jehova’s Witnesses have difficult and questionable restrictions on medical practices. I don’t believe the scale at which the Scientologists do these same practices warrants this special attention. And on the chart of fucked-up institutions and practices that humanity inflicts upon itself, they don’t even make the Top 100.
In the end, I don’t care what they yelled at me. And if they want to film me, it just adds on to all the tourists’ shots I probably already show up in ever summer. And attacking me just for taking pictures of people acting strangely on the streets of one of the main tourist locations in the country makes them no different than the cop who stopped me a week after September 11, 2001 for taking a picture of an empty street. I’m sure the black block will love that comparison.
to follow up…
I ordered a hard drive today, for the photo back-up thing. I went with a 500 gig external firewire 400 drive.
It also has USB 2, though I don’t intend on using it. When you’re dealing with long, large transfers of data, firewire easily outpaces USB 2, regardless of their specs. I didn’t go the SATA route because my main computer is a MacBook which doesn’t have an expansion slot for the appropriate card needed to connect to the drives.
I went with 500 gigs, because while still being obscenely large, it was a bit more stable than the 1 TB drives. Most reviews on the larger drives make them still sound a bit flakey, which is reasonable considering how new they still are. Even so, I’d guess as a strictly photo-archive, 500 gigs will hopefully last me another year or 2. I calculated that the largest my photo collection could currently be is 140 gigs, but I think realistically it’s gonna be somewhere between 20 and 40, not counting thumbnails and crap.
I picked up a reasonably-well-reviewed drive from Newegg.com for $120 including shipping.
The picture’s a couple weeks old, but I still love it. It was a sort-of-miracle capture. I’m walking down the street, in the cold, while my friends are goofing around and walking at the same time. It’s dark, I don’t have a flash. Even shooting wide open on a 2.8 lens, all my shots were blurry. And then there was this one.
We’d gone out to a club (Spellbound) and gotten kicked out at about 2:30 in the morning, as usual. We were walking down the street to a crepe place that stays open ridiculous hours just for such stupid people. And Nguyet wanted a piggy-back ride.
This was a pretty good weekend. I really didn’t get enough work done, but I did get to relax. After the stress of last week, and the likely stress of this coming week…
After spending some time with Vail, Jessi, and the Boy down on the Mall, we all headed out to Sarah’s “Living in Sin” party. I love having friends that I can spend 9 hours crowded into a small space with, without wanting to commit various homicidal acts.
It’s a shame I didn’t have time to grab my flash. I’m happy overall with my photos… but…
I take a lot of photos.
But they pile up on my computer for a month or so, and then get backed up to DVD. At which point, I don’t access them very much. Call it frustration with having to dig up the disk and look though it. Call it “out of sight, out of mind…”. But I just don’t go back to my old photos often.
So I was thinking maybe I could get a huge external hard drive, and try to dump ALL my photos on there. I mean… just now I found a 1 TB gigabit ethernet SAN drive for about $200. That would hold me for a little while.
(I really do tend to find I get much more use out of things when they’re accessible.)
I took this about a block from my apartment yesterday. I was getting out of the house for a mental break, and thinking that I needed to photograph something for my daily shot. I had just started literally looking around me, when I saw this sign.
Some things never change, in this neighborhood.
Most new buildings in this city actually go as far underground as they do above. Always disturbing to see these gaping holes in the earth, filled with little ant-sized men doing funny things.
Of course they put parking down there. And I’m sure they offer generous storage space, since so many above-ground office spaces are already just used to store boxes. And no doubt they’re trying to build as solid a foundation for the building as possible. But really… what else are you gonna do with all that space?
It’s now a bit after 6:30 am, and I just sent off some art to the client. I promised them something by this morning, and unfortunately I seem to be better working on this particular project in the wee hours of the day. But I quite like the design, (*knock on wood*), and the payment for the job is pretty good.
This was yesterday’s “picture of the day”. I took it on my way down to Penn Photo to get some pictures developed. I like it, though I’m having a hard time thus far saying why. It has nothing that jumps out at you. But it’s distinctly city, and of a street not yet made up totally of homogenous boxes.
Gawd. It’s getting light out. I really need to go to sleep now. I have a hard time sleeping in daylight.
I feel better. I deposited a couple big checks today. And given that it’s also the first of the month, which is when I normally pay myself, I took the opportunity to pay off my credit card, which is the only real debt I have. For years I had kept the balance down to nothing, by paying it off every month. (And relatedly, never getting an increase in my credit limit). But early last year, I got hit with a series of expenses, such as needing to replace my old laptop earlier than expected. And while it never even reached $4,000 at it’s worst, it still bugged me knowing that it was there.
But now it’s gone.
I took that picture above while I was just walking home yesterday. I’ve been here so long I very easily forget how much there is to this place. Almost any kind of travel refreshes my vision of the city. And I try occasionally to take pictures of that ‘bigness’, because I know enough people who don’t see it every day.
I went ice skating last night, for Sarah’s birthday. Which was fun, itself. I haven’t really skated much since grade school. And I got my balance fairly quickly. Never once did I fall on my face. But that’s mostly because I stopped myself by smashing into the wall, shoulder first. It must have been a minor spectacle, because everyone looked at me like I was crazy. I suppose the fact that it shattered the front of my skate didn’t help much. I’m still a bit sore today, but mostly when I stretch or sneeze. No great pulsating bruises or anything fun like that. Bad this week: My power adapter for my laptop choosing to die for no particular reason. It worked just well enough to keep the computer running, but not to charge the battery. But… Good this week:Apple replaced the adapter under warranty in less than 24 hours. Also good this week: Dave and Shannon helping me to get a new web server up and running. I’m hoping to put all my clients who ask for help finding a server on there. Not only does it give me a bit more control and a LOT more options, but I could concievably make a little money off it. Not much, but every little bit adds up. And recent “meh”: I picked up a free external camera flash from the freecycle mailing list. a REALLY nice flash. Tilt, swivel, programmable, fill flash, etc. About 23 years newer than my current flash. And it powered up just fine. But… despite being only a couple years old, it was never built to handle digital cameras. So while it would focus and program itself just fine, it refuses to fire.
For now I’m holding onto it. First, I don’t know anyone who shoots film anymore that doesn’t already have better equipment. And since it can be slaved, it can still act as a secondary flash. Plus, one of my goals is to get a Canon AE-1 to play with. Ought to work fine with that.
Another one of my favorite photos. This time, it’s Shannon, as taken at the halloween party thrown by Jeff, last year. I love the look on her face, and the hair being pulled up by the static electricity. I love the ominous balloon looming overhead, and the skeleton peeking over one shoulder. This night was my first real test of my external camera flash, and the lighting came out great, here. There’s detail and texture I never would have captured with just a fast lens. And I love it because it’s such a wonderful picture of a friend. Shannon so often goes blah in front of a camera, that I love it when she’s playing it up here.
I think I love that photo. Instant classic.
Yesterday was Nguyet’s birthday party. Which means, you know, lots of people in one place, to annoy with my camera. Oh, I tried to behave. Really I did. I was probably there for 2 hours before I ever pulled out my camera. But when someone else stuck the frog on their head, I really had no choice. You can’t blame me, man. The whole set of public photos can be found on my flickr account.
And it was actually a great night overall. I got to see many friends, even if not for as long as I might wish, for most of them. Was able to talk to Dave about some of my hosting questions. (i’m trying to find some industrial strength hosting for a couple clients.) And that eventually evolved into talking about databases and work, and even assholes. And Nguyet and Doug had their usual ridiculous amounts of very good food. But by the time I got home aorund 3, and managed to process most of my photos, I was passing out hard. I literally passed out just as I finished posting my Daily Photo.
Daily Photo: There’s a common practice on flickr, usually referred to as 365, where people generally take a new picture of themselves every day and share it. They’re usually pretty posed. (And they’re usually pretty women). A friend suggested a similar project, albeit less structured. The original, basic idea is that you take and post a new photo each day of anything. But even that’s mostly a guideline. Certianly very few of the people are posting every day. And of those that do, I can only tell a few who are actually taking new photos every day, as opposed to once a week or dipping into their archives. You know… whatever you want to do. But I’m sticking to the original concept, because it’s the only thing that challenges me. Collecting a bunch of shots once week is nothing special. And pulling from my archives would make it just an exercise in ego.
Anyway… happy birthday Nguyet:
I felt kinda good about today. Was an overall positive day. And I felt like I accomplished something while working. And Refresh was entertaining, if not educational, tonight.
So it’s unfortunate when I got home that my email was clogged with messages from clients whining about a pile of petty little things. Doubly depressing when, after handling what I immediately could and filing anything undeserving of a response, I had only 1 email left. So not only did they piss on my mood, but it wasn’t in the least bit productive.
This calls for a photo collage. My recent favorites:
Thanks to Stephanie, I went to the ‘yardsale’ the Washington Photography School was holding this weekend. I could have gotten in a lot of trouble there… but I generally behaved myself.
I picked this camera up as soon as I saw it. I’ve been wanting to try out some Through the Viewfinder photography, and the glass on this camera’s viewfinder was in perfect condition, and huge. (Yes, yes, I was looking for a nice piece of glass).
Every piece of identification has been removed from the camera. All nameplates remove. There’s been some painting on the top, I think. But from what I can tell, the body, at least, is a 1928 Rolleiflex Original. But the viewfinder housing doesn’t match up. The body and lenses are such a dead-on match, though, that I have to assume this is either a poorly documented varient, or a well-done mod-job. (All future versions of the Rolleiflex changed distinctly, so it’s not one of them).
I haven’t gone out with it yet. Just tortured pixel with a few pictures.
Besides that, for myself I just picked up a couple polarizers and some color filters.
But oh… so much temptation.
I played with iPhoto 6 this weekend, in probably the most detail since I got it. It leaves me conflicted.
The problem comes from timing. I’d been using iPhoto for years, since I bought my first digital camera. It’s never been the most powerful tool, but it was the most flexible. I got this most recent version of iPhoto when I bought my new laptop this spring. But the new computer triggered several things. I’d also been waiting for a new computer with a DVD burner, so I could switch to shooting in RAW format. (RAW files are just too big to easily backup to CDs.) So now I had the new computer, and started shooting in RAW. And conveniently enough, the new version of iPhoto was the first one to handle RAW files.
I really don’t like the way it works. The first time you edit a RAW photo in iPhoto, it resaves it as a JPEG. (First rule: always preserve the original file). And from then on, you’re always resaving off that JPEG. But that means if you want to make non-destructive changes to your image, you have to start over again from scratch. And even if you’re willing to do that, iPhoto has never been the most efficient piece of software in the world. 2 or 3 copies of each photo can really add up.
So I stopped using iPhoto. I found a system that worked better for me.
But playing around this weekend, I found they had made a few improvements in iPhoto that really would have made my life so much easier. Just being able to adjust the temperature and tint (essentially white-balancing) is amazingly handy. And it works right on JPEGs, which I don’t think even Photoshop does natively.
First Draft, c. 4/06:
So I used the few photos I still had floating around in iPhoto as test files. Color correction mostly. I’ve always been obsessed with color, like and half-decent designer. But I’ve only been white-balancing my still camera for about the last 6 months. So I have plenty of orange photos laying around. My basic color correcting would fix the worst of the color casts, usually. The above picture was a first pass at correcting, from last spring; (though admittedly not my most detailed). Some of the orange has been removed. There’s a bit more contrast. Nothing serious. That is how the image was posted at the time.
But with the new version of iPhoto, and it’s finer level of control, this is what I got. It really just blows away the last proof. All of the color cast is gone. The black in the dress is incredibly rich. And the decorations on the corset practically sparkle. And with a little bit of sharpening, which iPhoto handles amazingly well, the whole thing just pops. It’s really incredible what you can now do in iPhoto.
iPhoto. Which I don’t use any more.
(Disclaimer: Yes the photo is blown out, because the lighting at the shoot was too blown out for my setup. And yes, she has incredibly pale skin in real life as well. Probably not the best person to be shooting in a black dress against a dark backdrop.)
Really makes me want to go back and clean up that whole shoot, though.
I am a bit behind on my photography, in general. My pictures on strangeday are months out of date, though I keep my flickr account much fresher. And I spent much of the afternoon and evening going through about 8 months of photographs, (at a complete guess – 5,000 photos?), to find some for developing/printing. When I first got into digital photography, I pretty strictly kept only digital copies; the idea being of course that you could print off a new copy at any time. But maybe a year or so back, I sorted through my collection of film photographs. I can’t remember how many their were, offhand. Maybe 3 or 4 thousand? But I do remember the feeling looking at those glossy physical prints, that you just can’t replicate on screen. It’s so much more saturated, so clean, so real. So between that feeling, and the always possible coming of the end of civilization (half joking), I figured it was in my best interest to start having a selection of my digital photos printed once enough had accumulated. Today, I sent off 102 pictures to Kodak.
This batch of photos I went through today also spanned my shift from shooting in JPEG format to shooting in RAW format. In simple terms, it’s just a matter of what format the camera saves your files in. In JPEG mode, the camera interprets the image it captures based on some standard settings, and saves a reasonably sized image to the memory card. In RAW mode, the camera doesn’t interpret anything; but instead dumps the raw data onto the memory card to be interpreted later, presumably by your computer.
RAW vs. JPEG: The most direct benefit for me in shooting RAW was the amount of control I gained over my images. While you should always come up with the best shot possible before pressing the button, when you shoot RAW, you can always go back later and make technical corrections to the image. All those indoor pictures that always come out a bit orange? No problem. Underexposed your picture? No problem. Contrast? Channel Noise? Vignetting? No problem. You are just manipulating the same pixels, one way or another. But the two great benefits to doing the changes to a RAW file are 1) It’s so much simpler. If I want to adjust the white balance to get ride of a color cast, it only involves choosing from a pull-down menu of presets or using a slider. Exposure? Another single slider. And so on. Whereas much of the work on any other format image is done through the magic of curves and levels, which are practically black magik by comparison. And 2) When you’re working from the data in a RAW file, you have an unadulterated image to start with. You usually apply all your desired changes, and only then render a completed image. A JPEG on the other hand has already been interpreted and rendered once by your camera, without much feedback from you. Should you need to correct it, you’ll be saving again and introducing additional compression and artifacts each time. (Every time you save a JPEG, you lower its quality by varying amounts.) So RAW files are easier and higher quality. And while it may be all in my mind, I feel like I can correct a greater range of issues in RAW, that I might have been forced to give up on if they were a JPEG.
Looking through the photos today, I realized that there was a distinct and sudden improvement in the quality of my images at the exact moment I switched to shooting in RAW. To start with, you can never underestimate the importance of realistic color in photographs. While I’ve seen so many poorly colored images that they don’t really stand out any more, when I watch such an image being color corrected, there’s an instant when the image suddenly pops, and you just know this is the color it was meant to be. Color correction got to be much more important after I bought my 50mm f1.8 lens last year. The selling point for me with this lens was that I could take so many more pictures without a flash. But taking non-flashed images in those kinds of situations where you’d normally use a flash, you almost always end up with a color cast, (simply: it looks like you’re viewing the photo through a thin sheet of colored acetate). I kind of wonder if the sudden freedom from having to worry so strongly about color in my images let me spend more time thinking about a good composition, too?
Of course, this was at the same time I had the sensor on my camera cleaned. All the dust on my sensor was very disheartening. Going through photos after a shoot always involved trying not to cringe at all the black spots. And more time was spent removing the blemishes from the photos than anything else. Again, it’s very freeing to no longer have to worry about that.
I will say though, that for all the benefits of digital photography, I keep remembering something I saw in a Gary Winograd documentary. They mentioned that he tended to sit on his film for a while before doing anything with it. He’d leave it for up to a year after shooting it, to get some emotional distance from the pictures. He supposedly didn’t want his mood from the shoot — good or bad — to affect his decisions on what was a quality image. In my recent work, where this has come back to me the most is from the fashion photo shoot. I spent two days going through about 900 photos, just to get something out there for people. I never claimed they were all the best images. They were actually just the “ones that didn’t suck”. But every time I go back through them for something new, I find myself winnowing them down, and casually reassesing what I think are the best. Not to mention, my color correction is substantially better when I’m working on limited sets or individual photos, rather than the obscenely large original batch. I occassionally wince and pray that the models and others don’t think I was really so sloppy. Every time, I fight off the urge to go back and edit the set down to just the best; because in this particular case, I think it’s more important to offer a large batch of raw materials to the people involved, than to massage my ego.
I love my photographs. I definitely consider photography to be an art form. But for me it’s all about capturing that perfect moment and freezing a memory in place. I love situational photography so much more than still or posed work, because you’re really grabbing something out of the air and making it permanant. I have plenty of art on my walls that I find beautiful and inspirational. But only the photographs make me smile. (Especially Heavy Metal Heather.)
Something I did know: Mail, under Panther or Jaguar, had a habit of not deleteing all my email off the server. As near as I could narrow it down, it seemed to be a matter of Mail not deleteing anything off the server that had been moved out of the inbox before it was done checking mail. (And I have many scripts that sort and move mail upon reciept.)
So occasionally I’d need to go into the preferences and clear all the mail off the server, assuming it was all old and duplicated. Something I did NOT know: Mail in Tiger (OS X 10.4) allows you to do a GetInfo on the mail folders, and one of the options in the resulting window shows you the headers of all the mail sitting on the server for each mailbox, and even allows you to individually or mass delete the messages.
Though all the messages seemed to be from just one day a couple weeks ago.
This has been sitting in my to-do pile forever, so I’m gonna post it and get it out of my way.
The Musée de l’Elysée in Switzerland put on an exhibit recently called “We Are All Photographers Now”. The concept was to explore how the average person on the street has become part of the journalistic process, due to the increasing commonality of cameras. They asked people to send in images of public events and happenings. Those images would be displayed in a ongoing slideshow in the Museum. Random images from the show would be printed each week, displayed, and then archived in the museum’s collection.
While I would be most likely to argue that an increase in tools does not mean an increase in usable content… especially when it comes to photography, I still thought it was at least an interesting, subdued, little project. I sent in my ever-popular image of the granddad and baby on the motorcycle, as well as a shot from this year’s protest at the State of the Union address.
A few days later, I received the pictures below, showing my images on display. I think they’re each displayed for 5 or 10 seconds. But it’s still interesting… first time I have proof of being in Switzerland.
Thought I would post this out there, since unless I had needed to renew my domain names, I wouldn’t have discovered this. Do you use RegisterFly?
Registerfly, a domain name seller, is in the process of going out of business the hard way. I don’t know all the causes, though i saw something about deceptive marketing and such. But ICANN has pulled their accreditation. After various lawsuits, it appears registerfly is giving up.
Godaddy is assuming control of all domain truly registered with Registerfly. But Registerfly originally was just a reseller. All those names are defaulting back to the original company. (Usually eNom).
Of course, if you’re like me, you may have used Registerfly’s spam-prevention service which replaced your email addresses in the whois data with a temporary address. But that service is no longer functioning, and I can’t change those addresses in my whois data.
eNom, thankfully, has a process where you send them screenshots and a copy of your license and such, (not very secure,… but what are they gonna do?!). They were very clear and helpful so far. And godaddy seems to be doing their best as well.
Registerfly has been a bitch throughout the entire thing. They’re still taking orders but not fulfilling them. As of last night, their site still says nothing about any of this. They’ve disconnected and unlisted all their phones, and are not answering email.
I thought the photoshoot this weekend was great. The models were beautiful and patient. The photographers worked well together. The Art Director/Make-up Artist had more testosterone than any man in the room. (Squeeze your boobs! Look Surprised! “Hey! I have boobs!”) Heather was a great hostess and peanut gallery. Everyone contributed something. Wouldn’t have been the same any other way.
And Pete looked damned good in (and out of) womens’ clothes.
You can check out each model in their own set, as well as some candid and after-hours shots here.
Or if you’d prefer to see them all at once, check it out here.
World Press Photo recently posted a gallery of the winners from their 2006 competition. There are some incredible images there. I can’t even link to the ‘good ones’, because there are so many there. Just start anywhere and look at them all.
I went to the DC Copynight this week, for the first time, over at RFD in Chinatown. From their website:
CopyNight is a monthly social gathering of people interested in restoring balance in copyright law. We meet over drinks once a month in many cities to discuss new developments and build social ties between artists, engineers, filmmakers, academics, lawyers, and many others.
In general, it was a positive experience. The moderator referred to it several times as a “salon”, which was a very apt description. The discussion was very intellectually-based. The people were fairly intelligent, (some of them consciously so). But it was very much a discussion group, with no thought, speech, or action given to remedying the problem they believe exists. It’s a small group, that still seems to be trying to find it’s feet. I’ll definitely consider going back again next month. And maybe offer them advice on what seems to have worked for Refresh DC.
I did get to meet the man behind the Command Line podcast. We didn’t really talk, but he seemed friendly. And listening to yesterday’s podcast, he brought up my name, which made my skin crawl in self-consciousness.
Independent workers — be they self employed or professional freelancers — seem to be much less emotionally invested in their work than people employed full-time by a company or organization.
It’s great when you can find people who are enthusiastic about a goal that’s not their own, But by being emotionally involved with a project that they do not control, it leaves those people open to a lot of personal conflict.
I wrote before about using a secure connection to retrieve your email, using OS X’s Mail.app. The biggest problem was properly importing the secure certificate.
Well, it worked faithfully for me, right up until this evening. The certificate expired today, and a new one was issued. You cannot, however, import the new certificate without removing the old one. The existing certificate does not reside in any of the keychains that show up by default when you open Keychain Access.
After a bit of searching and misinformation, here was the solution:
Open “Keychain Access”.
Under the ‘File’ menu, select ‘Add keychain…’
Navigate your way to the ‘System’ folder at the top level of your hard drive. Inside there, go to ‘Library’, and then go to ‘Keychains’.
In that folder, open the ‘X509 Anchors’ file.
When this keychain loads in ‘Keychain Access’, look through the list and delete the existing certificate.
From this point on, follow the steps in my original post to import the new keychain.
Yeah, I know. It’s a pretty cheesy mirror shot. But it felt right. Five months ago, I tried pretty much the same thing. But I couldn’t lift one arm, and the other was shaking. And within a couple day’s I couldn’t even walk.
Time passes, and I feel fine.
But why does my hair look better before I’ve even combed it?
Something just occurred to me. I took some pictures over to CVS to be developed, at 8×10 inches. Their kiosk, when you choose 8×10, gives you a blow up of your photo showing a proportional box where you can define the area of the image you wish to print. It’s not the first time I’ve done this. But it never really struck me how much of an improvement this is. Before these kiosks, you were always left to the whim of the photo developer, who would decide how to crop your image. More than once, I sent off images in a very specific layout, only to have the developer, (both storefront and online) recrop it to their liking. Annoys the holy fuck out of me. Not that people were trying to be mean before, but until you have a technology like the kiosk, printing from digital images, it’s hard to do those custom adjustments on a mass scale.
(But really… people… printing a 8×10 from a digital file is NOT an enlargement. The file was NOT small to begin with. Digital photos do not have a set physical size. And if it’s not smaller to begin with, it’s not really an “Enlargement” is it?)
But what I want now, is a kiosk with internet access. It’s kind of silly that I have to burn a CD each time I want to take photos over to CVS to develop them. I want to walk in, pull up a service like Flickr, and say, “Give me 10 copies of this photo”. I don’t see how this would conflict with flickr’s existing online photo developing. It’s not like the type of people who use online developing are suddenly going to stop, just because they can go to the drug store and get their prints. Online developing is a convenience business. And in flickr’s case in particular, they already have licenses on every image, that the kiosk could follow for permission-to-print.
Tips and Tricks
1. Customer Service Tip #3418: Never answer a sincere question with a sarcastic remark. It just fucking pisses me off. Regardless of how common-sense you feel the answer should be, the other person obviously doesn’t know. Being sarcastic to anyone except a friend is just going to leave them feeling put down or insulted. Or in my case, leave me wanting to bitch-slap you ’til you cry like a little girl for your ignorant action. “Yes, this is a one-hour photo, but this would hardly be the first time I walked into a one-hour that was so busy it would take longer. Just trying not to rush you, you pompous fucknut.” or “Pardon me, I just assumed a place called ‘The UPS Store‘ would actually offer ALL of UPSs services instead of just the most expensive ones.” Or really, just about anything. Sarcasm is almost never well received by friends. Can you imagine what it does to people you work with?
2. Quick Money Tip #4532: Are you in Washington DC, and looking for a Bank of America ATM? Are you near Metro Center’s 13th street exit? This is a pretty popular, central area, for locals and tourists alike. And that set of ATMs is almost always busy. But what most people don’t know, is that about 15 feet away is a door that goes into a vestibule where there’s another BoA ATM, that is seldom busy, and even when it is, it’s better than waiting in the rain.
3. Cleaning for the Lazy Tip #3145: Do you feed your pet dry food? And inevitably, there’s those last crumbs and bits of food in the bowl when you pick it up to refill it. They won’t just pour out, because your pet has drooled on them. And who really wants to scrub them out and deal with brown, smelly chunks in your sink? But if you start swirling the bowl, the few loose buts there are start acting as an abrasive, and very quickly scour the rest of the food off the sides of the bowl. The more it scours, the quicker it goes. (Would this qualify as a stupid pet trick?)
I was thinking a couple weeks ago that my year had seemed pretty empty. That nothing much had happened. But for some reason, while thinking this, I started looking through my photo archives. And ya know, the pictures kind of contradicted what I was thinking. I didn’t win an election or anything, but my year was pretty full. And it was all pretty good*. A surprising number of the photos were of friends and family. Made me all the more grateful for both.
So I decided to put together a collection of photos from the last year. There were no hard and fast rules for inclusion. Some of the images are visually attractive. Some are meaningful to me. Some are important events to me. Some are important people and some are fun. Blah, blah, blah. 2006: My Year in Photos
It’s an automated slideshow, so you can just sit back and watch.
*The whole health issue would seem to contradict the “good year” thing. But surprising even myself, when I thought about it, I couldn’t justify calling it “bad”. Inconvenient. Stressful. Certainly wouldn’t want to repeat it. But like the condition itself, it was all pure dumb, blind, bad luck. Now DC’s Medicaid department on the other hand…
Is this all concieted? Sure. But journals exist to express yourself…. so live with it or move on.
It’s pretty simple and obvious, but I’ve honestly never seen it written down anywhere, so…
Most people taking snapshots or amateur photos — where the subject matter is a person or people — will frame the picture so that the heads are in the vertical center of the photo. It’s perfectly reasonable, given the priority we assign to the head. But it tends to make for unbalanced photos. You often end up with a large empty space in the top half of your frame.
Pull your frame down, before taking the picture, and not only will the image look more natural, but you’ll probably be able to zoom in a little closer, since you’re no longer using only half the frame to try and capture a full person.
Of all the boneheaded…
iPhoto — my photo management software — isn’t allowing me to drag more than one photo at a time. But I need to drag all my recent photos to a new folder where i can sift through them. What does the problem turn out to be, preventing me from dragging more than one photo at a time?
“If you’ve disabled or removed the font Helvetica, you won’t be able to drag a selection of photos in the Organize pane, though you can still drag a single photo. “To drag multiple photos, enable and/or replace the Helvetica font.”
Yay! Dragon*Con. Or… ”What I did on my Summer Vacation”.
Many of my friends are geeks, and therefor attend the annual geek prom gathering in Atlanta known as Dragon*Con. Besides being 60% geek myself, I also have no backbone, so I must do what all my friends are doing. After several years of encouragement to attend, I decided at the last hour to go ahead and buy a ticket.
The last minute thing, (actually more like 4 weeks) seemed to be beneficial. It was all just a casual adventure,… to… uh… a 4 star hotel with 50,000 other people. But there’s something liberating about hopping on a quick plane flight to a city you’ve never visited, taking the subway you’ve only checked out a map for once, and stepping out someplace new. And it doesn’t hurt I was only a block from my final destination. As opposed to friends who’d been panicking for months over costumes and hotel rooms and whatnot… I was having my own little redneck adventure.
The hotels are really absolutely beautiful, having been built in preparation for the ’96 Olympics. Aside from their horrendous food service, ($5 for a slice of pizza, $6 for a beer), the only bottleneck the whole weekend were the elevators. And even at the height of the Olympics, they probably weren’t carrying 10 people each, non-stop, 24-hours-a-day.
Really, for the price of a ticket, (anywhere from $40 to $80) you got access to an amazing amount of information and entertainment. Non-stop crowds of people all begging to be ogled at. Twenty tracks of simultaneous programming on every possible sub-genre of pop-culture; from 10 to 10 every day. After hours, there were concerts and shows and parties and contests. There were hundreds of dealers and exhibitors hawking their wares. There were artists showing their stuff. In the hilton I never quite made it to, there were rumors of gamer gatherings in rooms smelling of Febreez, and hallways full of celebrities.
And don’t forget the free food.
I went to presentations on art, and tattooing, and science fiction, and … I don’t know what. At least 15 or 20 programs over those days. A little bit of celebrity gawking too, at a Stargate panel. If you have some random useless interest, I probably indulged in it.
It probably would have been the geeky nirvana I’d been promised if I hadn’t gotten sick within a couple hours of arriving. Even now that I’m mostly better, I have no idea what hit me. It wasn’t just a simple cold or flu, since there were no temperature flashes, hot or cold. I thought it was exhaustion at first, but no matter how much I slept, nor how well I ate, it came back. It had all the symptoms of hypothermia, but barring overzealous air conditioning, the temperature never dropped below 70. Bu even so… if I got too cold, I would start trembling, and be unable to raise my body temperature. And nothing was going to stop it until I laid down under a warm blanket for an hour or so. In the meantime, every bone ached and my head swelled to near bursting. I finally suffered what felt like a small stoke in the foodcourt, one meal. My eyes glazed over, I couldn’t hear, and I could barely think. (I’m sure that’s not just a reflection on KFC’s food). It did eventually pass, and I slept off the effects, though disappointed the friends I asked to watch me to make sure I got back to my room bailed on me. Otherwise, friends were very supportive all weekend about the ridiculously timed disease.
Feeling good as I was, (note: sarcasm), I got a call on Saturday morning. My sister had just taken my mother to the hospital, due to shortness of breath. By that afternoon they found 3 blood clots and had admitted her to the hospital. That really sucks. But now that the problem was identified, she was stable, not likely to worsen, and just resting in the hospital. Spending days and massive amounts of money to get back to NY seemed like an over-reaction. But it still makes you feel kind of stupid to be watching people prancing around in costume.
I’m not trying to make it sound like all was despair. Quite different. Sick as a dog, with a family crisis, and friends bickering about petty things, Dragon*Con was still so loud, so big, so full of energy, that I couldn’t help but enjoy myself. I don’t know about next year yet.But I can think of worse way for this weekend to have gone.
My one real problem with my camera was taking flash-assisted shots. I don’t have an external flash at all, much less a nice adjustable one with built-in-diffuser. And without diffuser or some angling, flash shots always come blow-out, with sharp, dark shadows being cast, and backgrounds being lost.
But while digging around last week for information on flash units and diffusers, I came across directions for an interesting method of diffusing the built-in flash on an SLR camera. There are plenty of suggestions for making such diffusers, but they usually involve taping sheets of something to your camera. In this case, you trim down one of those translucent 35mm film canisters you probably have laying around; and it fits snugly over the flash unit, and provides a smooth, stable diffuser.
It’s absurdly easy to make. And once most people get past the initial shock of what-the-hell-is-that, they tell me that they’ll have to try it themselves. Of course, they may just be being polite, now that they know I have access to sharp instruments.
Pixel served as an unhappy test subject, when I tested the contraption on Friday night. It was just one set of photos, so not a great sample. But the lighting was definitely more even. The foreground didn’t wash out. And the colors were true-er.
I took it all with me to a party on Saturday, and Took about 50 shots with the setup. And really, under less than ideal circumstances, it performed great. My only problem now that I can use the flash again, is that my camera doesn’t take the light from the flash into account when calculating the light levels in Aperture Priority or Time Priority or any other such modes. So saturday, I was playing around, taking multiple shots, to find an appropriate aperture/shutter-speed, relative to the use of flash. But overall, it was great. Not a single completely unusable photo the whole night. And quite a few I really like.
About two months ago, I went through my print photos. This wasn’t a small job. The main collection alone averaged about 2,500 photos. There was no organization, and probably half of them were not in albums. Most of them had never been labeled. And frequently, the negatives had fallen out of their envelopes and become mixed with the negatives from 20 other years worth of photos. But they’re now sorted, labeled, and booked. The negatives have been broken down by subject into envelopes.
One of the things I noticed, was how frequently I would look at a negative and realize I don’t have a print of at least one of those shots. For the most part, this doesn’t particularly concern me. Ninety-five percent of the pictures were taken on 35mm film, which can still be developed by every street corner drug store and grocery market. Besides which, one of my long term goals is to get a negative scanner–preferably with an auto feeder, so I can have some high quality digital versions of all of my images.
But I did find one ‘roll’ of film from a disc camera. A miserable failure of a camera format, that went too far in trying to appeal to the lowest common denominator. (*cough*APS*cough*). I didn’t have prints of any of the shots on the disc. And unfortunately, I haven’t seen any place in the last 15 years that regularly develops Disc film. But as with everything else, the internet is the answer to all things. Dwayne’s Photo will for a reasonable price, develop your antique film formats, and for an unreasonable price, ship them back to you. (They charged me $5+ for shipping, but spent about $1.88 on the envelope and postage).
The pictures are from a weekend trip I took to my friend’s (Michelle Rink) graduation, back in high school. (Yes I had a crush on her, but living a couple hours away, without a car, took care of that.) As stupid as I may have been back then, I do remember very good things about that weekend. Back then, just getting to see her was great. And she lived on this beautiful bit of land near Cazenovia. The strongest memory from that weekend has to be from the party after graduation. At one point, we were watching movies in a media room, and it was her and I curled up on a couch, yelling at other people in the room. And it felt like the best thing ever.
Gawd. Looking at these pictures now, I can’t believe how cute she was. And she was so sweet, and looking back, so smart. I was soooooo stupid not to stay in touch for longer after she joined the Navy. I regret many of the choices I’ve made or had thrust upon me, about women. But somehow the earliest one’s are the hardest to live down.
I remember getting a letter from her a couple years ago. She was married (now Michelle Eiband) and living somewhere new. Never heard anything after that. I found her the other day on classmates.com. But I don’t exactly have the money to spend $30 just to send her an email right now.
The National Arboretum is really an amazing place. You not only have all these wide-open, beautiful, natural settings, but the space is so wide-open, and the visitor population so relatively low, that you can sit there in peace and contemplation without being disturbed, even by the sight of people, usually. Living in the heart of a city where I can’t get away from the sounds and sights, even in the deepest recesses of my home, it’s nice to have somewhere nearby you can retreat to.
Boohiss. I was thinking of going to MoCCA this year, but it turns out it’s the same weekend as my Texas trip.
So, last night, I found out that, despite my best efforts, the magnets in my stereo speakers have been affecting the screen on my TV. (It became apparent, when I removed the speaker, and the picture went to hell). I then proceeded to somehow snap the pin off my admittedly beat-to-hell power adapter for my laptop. When I fell asleep talking on the phone, I bent the frames on my glasses. And after being woken up by a redundant request for information from a minor client, I noticed my cat was bleeding.
But for some warped reason, I was in a fairly good mood all day. In good cheer, and very mellow. If I had been depressed or down, this kind of day would have just wiped me out. As it was, aside from falling behind in work, it was the best day I’d had in a while. I ran to the Apple store first thing and picked up a new power adapter. (My conscience wouldn’t let me claim it as a warranty repair, since I had practically destroyed the thing previously). I took Pixel in to the vet, and she had, as I suspected, another ruptured anal gland. (Yes, it’s exactly what you think it is). My glasses were fixed with a pair of pliers. And the TV righted itself overnight.
Life balances out. Well… except for my checkbook, which took a more than substantial hit.
A new week, a new website layout. A little something simpler, and cleaner. Done on a whim and a bit of inspiration. Fuck off the navigation until it’s needed, and let me see what I’m there to see. And by God, it’s even working in Lynx.
I did just survive a rather traumatic experience. My baby was sent away again. In the middle of some serious alien slaughtering, my poor laptop up and died. Well, the video system, anyway. It’s not like a designer needs to be able to see what they’re working on. But with a little fixing up of a temporary backup, and a lot of love from AppleCare, all is right in the world again. Seriously. There were many times I wished to write last week. But I couldn’t bring myself to sit at the desktop machine and type something meaningful. Deep thought seems to be reserved for the couch.
This was an incredibly unproductive weekend. I feel so lazy. Some movies. Some cleaning. A few drawings. Finally framed a woodcut I’ve had sitting around my apartment for six months. And something’s got my stomach in knots. I don’t know if it’s something causing problems, or just the lack of sufficient opportunity to release.
Just a quickie, I guess, tonight. Must sleep now, or tomorrow will be useless.
Mac mini enthusiasts have been looking for a way to get dual displays working with their computer for the last year. Well, we have some good news to report! Aniel of Firefall Pro has posted some pictures and information about his Mac mini setup with dual displays. He’s using Matrox’s new DualHead2Go video solution to split the signal between two 17″ Westinghouse LCDs and extend the desktop.