Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Up North

The plan was to spend a long weekend in the Sleeping Bear Dunes area. I have to admit it started out good.

After a late start Friday, I took my time getting to Empire. I needed to stop at the park office to get a new pass. Of course I arrived after the office had closed. Making note of the office hours, I started scouting places to photograph. I had an some idea of locations, since I had visited the area before. Trying to get to some places I had noted on the map, I immediately ran into a problem. Several roads were still closed due to snow. Pretty much any place that was sheltered from the sun still had piles of snow present. There was also ice still in the lake, though not much. By that time, the sun was starting to set and probably the best light I've seen this year started showing up. The kind of light you wanted to bottle up and take with you to use later. A warm golden light that made me want to sell my house and move to Traverse City. I started kicking myself because I hadn't arrived earlier and staked out a place to photograph.

The next morning, after stopping at the office and picking up my pass, I started looking at a few more locations. After climbing up and down bluffs and walking the beaches, I came to a belated realization. As beautiful as the area is, aside from a few specific areas, it's not what I'm looking for photographically. A long stretch of beach, while relaxing, doesn't have much interest or dynamic tension for a photograph. I'm going to have to go back to look at the areas that were blocked to me, and there are several streams that I want to walk up a ways also. But I don't think I'm going to get the grand landscape vista that I'm looking for.

After a long morning and early afternoon in the park, I spent some time in Traverse City. The college museum has a display of portrait Polaroids done by Andy Warhol that was somewhat interesting.

My plans to go back to the park Sunday morning was rudely interrupted. I woke up to 6 inches of wet snow with more promised for the day. While I had prepared for a light snow, that was more than I wanted to deal with, so I beat a strategic withdrawal.

On the way home, I thought about what to do next. Sleeping Bear still has some attraction to me, but I think I'm going to start looking at some lakeshore areas on the east side of the state. I'm going to start researching areas and see if I can find something a little more interesting.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Data Rot

An article in the New York Times that just reinforces my opinion on not trusting electronic media. Including CD's and DVD's.

New York Times: Should You Worry About Data Rot

Sunday, March 22, 2009

SoFoBoMo 09 - Getting Ready

I decided as part of this year Solo Photo Book Month that I needed to get past the issues that tripped me up last year. Specifically, producing the pdf book. I had the images produced, all I needed was to design? a cover and add the images.

First off, I wanted to look at Scribus, which is a open source page layout program. I figured that if I learned that, I could produce the file on any of the computers I use. Being that the main computer is my Mac laptop, I downloaded the Aqua version of Scribus and tried to start it up. The operative word is tried. After about 5 minutes of waiting for the thing to start up and being unable to do anything with it, I deleted it. I'm sure it works better on Linux and Windows, but I wasn't in the mood to try.

Since I had the Mac page layout software, called appropriately enough "Pages", I ended up using that. I did have to stop at the local Apple store for some help with what I consider a basic question, but I couldn't find the answer on the support site.

Once I got my question answered, producing the pdf file was easier than I thought. I agonized over the cover for a bit, I knew what image I wanted to use, but the title and font was another story. Since this was a test book, I went simple. In another hour or so I ended up with my book. A title page, a copyright page and 36 images.

My original plans for the book last year was to do some notes within the book. That went out the window, since I didn't document what I wanted to say.

I now have a 12 meg. pdf file and nowhere to put it. The next step is to figure out where to upload it so people can see it. Luckily I believe this year that the plan is to host books on the sofobomo.org site. I also plan on trying out a few of the print on demand publishers to see what I can get.

For the moment, if anyone wants a copy, leave me a comment with an address or send me an email. Be warned the file is 12 meg., so hopefully your ISP will allow that. Addresses in comments should be in the form of somename at domain dot com. Hopefully that will forstall spam address harvesters.

Addendum: Since at one time I had created a Issuu account, I published the book there. It's probably an easier way to view it than requesting a copy. See it here. I'm still making copies available if requested.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day

The Worldwide Pinhole Photography Day is coming up in another month. The date that's been picked is April 26th. Make or find a camera and participate. You'll be surprised at what you can do with no lens.


If you need to know what a pinhole camera is or how to make one, check the resources tab on the pinhole day website.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lake Michigan

We had a great day Sunday. Warm for March, sunny, blue skys and clouds. I went out and burned some film in my 4x5. After that, I drove to Saugatuck to look over Oval Beach on Lake Michigan. I had heard about the remains of old docks near the mouth of the Kalamazoo River. I wanted to look them over and see if I wanted to do a photo study of them. I got to the beach and found out that Lake Michigan was smooth as a mirror. Not exactly something you see much. Spent some time wandering the beach and photographing. There were the remains of several docks in the water, and extending up on the beach. I'll have to go back.

Since the water was so calm, I decided to drive up to Grand Haven and photograph the lighthouse at sunset. The water wasn't as calm when I first arrived, but by the time the sun set, it had calmed down. Unfortunately, the temperature dropped more than I expected also. By the time I left, it was quite cold. But I got some nice photos.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Mac Slide Show Software

I had a couple reasons to produce slide shows come up recently. I got roped into producing a short show for the local camera club, the program this month is a selection of members programs. The second reason is my nephew is getting married later in the year, and I've been asked to make a slide show to be displayed during the reception.

The last time I had to produce one of these, I used a program called SmoothShow, that ran on Windows XP. While it worked ok, there were a couple issues, including keeping the sound going while the program played. If I still used Windows a lot, I would just purchase ProShow Gold and be done with it. It's acknowledged, at least by everyone I talk to as the program to use for these sort of things. Well now I use a Mac, and for some reason Photodex doesn't make a copy of the program for Mac.

I spent some time trying to use iMovie 06, to create a slide show, but I really didn't care much for the interface nor the selection of transitions and effects it had. Adobes Lightroom created slideshows, but they have to run inside a Flash player on a browser. I need to create stand-alone type progams.

After searching around the web for quite a bit, I came across Boinx FotoMagic, I downloaded a trial version, and ended up purchasing it. It's easy to use, has the transitions I want and produces slideshows in a variety of formats. I ended up creating the slideshow I need for the club and uploaded it to YouTube.

Totally recommended if you need this type of program for the Mac.

Monday, March 9, 2009

People will race anything

It seems that if it has a motor in it, someone will race it. Mike and I went to the arena races last night to grab some photos. More glorified go carts than real cars, they still get going pretty good around the track. A couple crashes and a lawn mower race during intermission and you have a good evening.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Some things never change

Seen on Tim Brays Ongoing this morning.

"Every medium suffers from its own particular handicap. Photography's greatest
handicap is the ease with which the medium as such can be learned. As a result,
too many budding neophytes learn to speak the language too long before they
have anything to say."

- Will Connell

Published in a book called "About Photography" in 1949. This sort of follows the theme of my last several posts and I suppose I suffer from the same problem.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

On Suckage

There's been a meme going around the photography bloggers and I assume other artists of suckage and a minimum amount of work to get good. It seemed really get going during what seems to be the "retrospective" part of the year. That time just after New Years where everyone makes resolutions and looks back at what they did the previous year.

It really builds on a saying purported to be by Ansel Adams, and probably others, that you don't really become a good photographer until you take 10,000 photographs. The mindset that you need to take a lot of photographs to become good, that the more time you spend behind the camera, the more the camera becomes a part of you.

Does hitting a magic number really mean anything, especially in these days of point and shoot processing? If for some reason you did the exercise of seeing how fast you could get to the 10,000 mark, you probably didn't look at many of the photographs. You probably didn't display any of them, nor did you get feedback from any other photographers about the work.

I see photography as a journey with a process that in engineering terms would be called a feedback loop. A photograph is produced, by any means, whether it be a digital camera, film or any other device for capturing an image. The artist works on the image, producing the image that portrays the message they want to say. There probably is a judgment about whether they feel the work is worth carrying on. This would be the first decision point. While they are evaluating the image, there is also internal feedback. Whether the work conveys what you want to say, whether it fits your style, whether the aesthetics works.

If they decide it is worth moving forward with, they may then put it where it can be seen, whether that is an online gallery, a print in a coffee shop or on the wall of their home. Maybe not, while I think a work should be seen, others don't.

I believe that it takes time to develop. That and hard work. Sitting thinking about taking photos, doesn't move you any further in developing your style, your vision and becoming something more than a snapshot photographer.

Sunday, March 1, 2009


I caught part of the movie "Round Midnight" yesterday. Unfortunately I started watching part way in and had to turn it off early. A pseudo realistic account loosely based on the real life relationship between jazz musician Bud Powell and music lover Francis Paudras. A movie I need to track down and watch the whole thing.

One quote from the movie struck me enough that I had to go and look it up. Especially after the Zach Arias video and all the talk the last few months about the journey a photographer takes to get better.

"You just don't go out and pick a style off a tree one day. The tree's inside you, growing naturally."

Happy March 1st.