Monday, April 27, 2009

John Paul Caponigro

The photography group in Traverse City, the Traverse Area Camera Club, hosted a seminar with John Paul Caponigro over the weekend. Walking into the seminar it was obvious they had their ducks in a row. Multiple vendors, a nice room and projection system, well thought out registration and great door prizes. They also had a good turnout, especially considering it had been almost 80 degrees the day before. It appeared to me that they had about 150 or so attendees.

They seminar itself was great. The speaker is a well known digital artist and the son of a famous photographer. He spent the morning talking about creativity and especially honed in on the process he uses. I was surprised by how much planning he does. What especially struck me was the amount of thought he puts into a photo shoot before he gets to the location. He showed an example from a trip to Antarctica. He had done a series of sketches showing possible compositions with icebergs, the water and mountains. Basically just line drawings, but definitely more planning than I'm wont to do.

After lunch, he talked about printing. He went over the steps he considered needful to get a proper print and especially emphasized the need for color calibration. After a short break, he spent the rest of the afternoon talking about his work and a little bit more on creativity.

All in all, an excellent seminar and I'm glad I went. While a little artsy for a camera club crowd, I learned a lot. I'll have to think about some of the pre-planning exercises he does and see if I can start incorporating some of them into my work. Kudos also to the Traverse City group who sponsored it.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Carnival Season Starts

I'm a really big fan of photographing carnivals. Those ones that set up in mall parking lots. Especially after dark. Some are more grungier than others, but the people are always friendly. By accident I came across the first one I've seen in town this year. I spent Thursday evening wandering around, talking to the workers and the customers and generally having a good time. After the sun goes down, what was a pretty drab place transforms into one gigantic light show. A ride that can look pretty inoccuous during the day can change into something darker when the colored lights play across it. A great place for a photographer to go out and play.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

The Midwest Large Format Asylum does West Michigan

The Midwest Large Format Asylum came to West Michigan over the weekend. It's a group I try to get out with when they meet once a month, and being in the area definitely made it easier. We spent Saturday morning and afternoon in the Allegan area, and moved to Grand Rapids to do night shots of the river.

Of course a group of folks with 4x5 cameras attracts some attention. I was asked 5 or 6 times about the cameras. Some of the most interested folks were a group of high school kids from a prom being held at the public museum. They must have spent 10 or so minutes talking to me.

Sunday morning, we met again downtown and photographed the area around the Grand Rapids Art Museum. The chalk drawings from the Chalk Flood that was held the day before were still around and that was an attraction as well.

All in all, a good weekend.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

SoFoBoMo - Prairie Wolf Park

With SoFoBoMo coming up about two weeks away, I've picked my first subject. It will be a park a couple of miles away from me called Prairie Wolf Park. A 45 acre passive use park that was formed out of farmland, it's surrounded on most sides by still working farms, though the township hall is on the north boundary and there is a small housing development to the west.

As you can see the park is pretty much open space. It runs to the back set of trees in the above photo. Things have started to green up since this was taken, hopefully the trees will come out soon.

Not well used yet, but there are people out in the park on nice days. I expect once it gets warmer, that I will see more people in the park.

One reason I picked this park is that I've pretty much discounted areas like this in the past as not interesting enough to go out and photograph. A lot of the area near me is like this, rolling hills, broken up by trees, usually planted with corn or converted to housing developments. They seem boring from a landscape type view.

While I may not get landscape type shots, after spending some time in this park, there will be enough to photograph. There are the typical wildlife usually seen in the area, deer, small animals and birds. There is also a so called stream that looks more like a irrigation ditch, along with a wetlands area and a small pond. At the front of the park is a small orchard that hasn't been trimmed in a long time, the apple trees starting to take menacing shapes in the early morning light.

The people I've seen so far using it have primarily been walking their dog. There have been a couple of skaters using the short paved walkway as well as the lady painter shown above.

My plan so far is to spend an hour a day at the park for a good portion of May. Still fuzzy are my plans on what the final subject will be. I'm wondering if I want to focus more on the wildlife in the park, or do I want to focus on the people using it? I don't know, I'm thinking I'll probably merge both into a "day in the life" sort of thing. Or maybe do both subjects. I'll have the photographs after all.

I'm looking forward to starting this.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Big Box Rant

This is a rant on my part, be warned....

I went to my local big box store this morning to pick up a couple of things. While I was there, I wanted to submit a photo to get printed. Since they have a customer operated networked set of computers to do so, it should be no problem. Guess again.

It turns out the customer kiosk is only available while the photo department is open. From a technology standpoint, that makes no sense. The kiosks are networked to a central server that drives the printers. Since the store is open 24 hours a day, it makes no sense that at least one kiosk is available during store hours.

So I decided to open an online account so I can submit the stuff online. That was until I saw the form. They want not only a user name and password, they want all sorts of other info. Stuff such as which store I want to use, my birthday, my phone and address. All I want to do is submit a photo and pick it up the next time I'm in the store.

Plus frankly, their privacy policy sucks. It basically says they are not responsible for anything their partners do. Looking at the list of exclusions, it was surprising to me how much of their web site is run by third parties. Plus any privacy policy changes are at the customers risk to find. There is no notification provision at all.

I decided not to go ahead. I guess I'll have to find a printer that is more rational. Last time I checked, sites such as MPix and others weren't quite so nosy. Time to try mail order.

Friday, April 10, 2009


When I was up in Sleeping Bear a couple weeks ago, one of the things that intrigued me was the contrast of the birch trees against the darker bark of the other trees. I looked for a grove of mature trees with no other trees intermixed, but I was unable to find one. I did find some small stands, but none were really what I wanted. It's something I need to start looking for once the leaves go away next fall.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Ionia, Michigan

John, Mike and I spent yesterday morning and early afternoon in Ionia. A nice town with friendly people that didn't get caught up in the tear down everything old fad in the 70's. A lot of interesting architecture. We got plenty of suggestions on what part of town had interesting things to photograph, and we found plenty of things on our own. It looks like an interesting place to photograph at night also. I will need to go back.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Magazine Print On Demand

An article in the New York Times about print on demand for magazines. With the talk on the SoFoBoMo blogs about books and pdfs, it could be another option for those that want cheaper printing of the finished product. At the quoted 20 cents a page, a 40 page magazine would be $8. That may be more palatable for those that want something to hold in their hands, but balk at paying the prices print on demand publishers like Blurb charge. It will be interesting to see where this goes and how good the output looks.

Print on Demand for Magazines (NY Times)