Saturday, June 27, 2009

SoFoBoMo - Done

I finished! My book on our Smokies vacation is completed and uploaded. I'm going to let it sit for a bit and then I'm probably going to try to convert it to a physical book via Blurb. I'll also need to see if any of the verbage needs to be changed. Take a look at it and let me know what you think.

You can download it here.

Monday, June 22, 2009

SoFoBoMo - Trying to Finish

I've been trying to complete a SoFoBoMo project ever since this years event started.  I really wanted to get two projects done this year.  For my first book, I was going to start in May, with lofty goals and a daily shooting schedule.  One thing I forgot was how things seem to kick in high gear in late April or early May and don't slow down for quite a while.  Plus I had picked a subject more to push myself rather than something I was really interested in.  

By the time late May got here, it was readily apparent that while I had a few images, I didn't have enough.  Since I'm somewhat picky, rather than put out something I wasn't happy with, I moved on to my second subject and started over.  I got a good set of images, though not quite enough.  A chance or two to get out again and get a few more shots was all I needed.  Then things got even busier.  I never got a chance to go finish up the rest of the images.  It's still on my plans, but I'm not going to be able to do it before my fuzzy month is up.

So I'm falling back to my backup plan.  We spent a week on vacation in the Smoky Mountains the first week of June.  I spent my time photographing in the mountains and in Gatlinburg, Tennessee.  I've picked a set of images I like, and I'm starting to assemble them into a document.  Hopefully I can get it done be the end of the month.

Looking at the completed projects, I see a lot of great images and a high bar to hurdle.  I know this is supposed to be a self completion project, as much or more a testament to personal growth as it is to just completing a book.  However, with the self doubts I have, I always wonder how my work will compare to what everyone else puts out.  

Congratulations to those that have completed, and hopefully I will be able to count myself as one of those soon.

Note:  The set of finishers can be seen at


Thursday, June 18, 2009

Kodax TMax 400

I've been slowly, I would say too slowly, going through a box of TMax 400 4x5 film. A lot of people like this film, which is why I decided to try it. So far I like the more obscure things, like the pink tint the film has until it is properly fixed, but I don't like the fact that it takes twice as long in the fixer as other films. As far as the images I get from it, for what I do, I'm not sure it is worth changing over to it in the long term. I've been a Ilford film user for the last several years, and I want to support a company that has commited to black and white film for the long term. I don't get that from Kodak, so unless something comes up in the near future, the next box of film I buy will be Ilford.

The image above is the astronaut statue outside the Gerald R. Ford Presidentail Museum in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan. It was taken in the early evening during an outing I went on with the Midwest Large Format Asylum. It was more of a grab shot than anything else, at least as much a grab shot you can get with a large format camera. After developing the film, I found I kind of liked it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Out at night.

I ran another night outing for the local camera club over the weekend. I seem to do this once a year or so. It gives the newcomers to the club a chance to get to know other club members. It also gives people the chance to learn how to photograph in low light conditions. These take place in downtown Grand Rapids. Since it is an area I've been in a lot, at times it is difficult to come up with something new. Luckily I can usually come up with something.

While I didn't get an exact count, we had between 15 to 20 folks show up. We attracted one more, a gentleman who was in town for the afternoon from Traverse City. He was in the area to photograph and walked with us for an hour or so. We had a pleasant evening, and as usual, we would get people asking us what was going on. We even had one couple ask us if we were staking out a restaurant to get a photograph of Eminem. It seems he had been in town recently to film a movie.

All in all, fun times. I need to do it again.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Vacation in the Smokies

I know things have been a little quiet on the blog front lately. Part of it is because I'm busy, part of it is because we were on vacation last week. We rented a cabin in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, which bills itself as the gateway to the Smoky Mountains National Park.

I haven't been to this area since my family went on vacation more years ago than I care to remember. I tend to overplan vacations, and this year I promised my wife we would stay in one place more than a day or two. Renting a cabin worked out for both of us, we weren't driving several hours a day trying to get to the next place, but I had plenty of things I could photograph.

I spent several evenings in the park, trying several spots to get sunset photos. The best place I found was the Morton Overlook, where the above photo was taken. I also tried one morning to get sunrise photos, but I never found a good spot for them. I also didn't really care driving up dark mountain roads at 4:30 in the morning.

We did spend a morning driving around the Cades Cove area, where we saw this family of bears out in a field at noon. We also saw several deer grazing or sitting at the side of the road, where cars where streaming by 10 feet away. In one case, we saw a grazing deer and a lady got out of her car and walked up to the deer to take its picture. It completely ignored her.

Unfortunately it rained the latter half of the week. Not too bad at first, but at times pouring down bad enough that I didn't feel comfortable driving the car. We spent part of Thursday in town at the Ripley's Aquarium of the Smokies. Being a big aquarium geek, it was the only attraction we really did.

Gatlinburg itself is a typical tourist town, eager to seperate the tourist from their money. Outside of town, there is a area called the "Arts and Craft" trail. A several mile section of road full of galleries and studios. We spent more time in this area than we did in town. I only saw one photographer set up though which somewhat suprised me.

All in all, we had a good time and both of us were reluctant to leave. I have a long list of things I never got around to photographing, and we really enjoyed the cabin. We will be back.

I got enough good photos, that I may do a second SoFoBoMo book out of them. I'm still working on laying out the first one though, so we will see how it goes.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Festival of the Arts Opening Reception

The Festival opening reception was held last Friday. All the selected work was hung, the building would be open on Saturday and Sunday for people to start seeing the exhibit. Of course with Festival opening this weekend, it will be open again starting Friday and closing on Sunday.

There were several people I knew that also got accepted, and it was good catching up with them. There was a small buffet of finger foods and a cash bar also.

The photo of an abandoned church in Gary, Indiana was the one photo I was unsure of. I was pleasantly surprised when it got accepted. It also generated the most conversation of the three I entered.