Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Social Side of Photography

One reason I took up photography was to get out of the house. Not the main reason, but a reason. For the last 3 years, I've worked remotely for a company in California, attending to the care and feeding of some of their computer systems. This tends to be a somewhat solitary activity, broken by the occasional phone call or instant message.

For that reason, I attend a lot of photography related events in the area, or just getting together with someone to go out and photograph. Not only do I get some good photos, but I get out to see people.

While I attend the meetings of the local photography clubs, I've found that the internet is a big help in finding these opportunities. From meetup groups on to flickr to facebook, I've been able to find people to go out with, events to photograph and friends to make.

I started with Flickr, first by just uploading photos. But then I decided to attend a local photowalk. Now I go on several a year, and they are always enjoyable. When I went to San Jose last month, I looked for opportunities available when I was there, and that led me to Nothing unfortunately was scheduled the weeks I was there, but I did get ideas. When I got home, I noticed a Facebook friend of mine was attending a local group I hadn't heard of that gets together every now and then on Sunday afternoon to photograph. Since it was an open group invite, I tagged along. I met some new people and got back in touch with some other folks I haven't seen in a while.

The local camera clubs have photowalks and workshops I attend and sometimes run. Also I belong to a couple of internet only photogroups, that while international have people get together.

Being out with others is not only a great way to make friends, but it is a great opportunity to learn something as well as get good photographs. If your not actively looking for these sort of invitations, you are missing out on a lot of good times.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Creativity Book

As I've stated before, I'm a big fan of books. Mostly fiction, but also photography, and science. I also go through periods where I get into themes. Since I'm a procrastinator, every once in a while, I'll go crazy for organization books, like David Allens, "Getting Things Done".

Lately I've been on a creativity kick, partly inspired by Paul Lester's blog, partly because I always think I'm not creative enough. Browsing through the local bookstore, I came across Eric Maisel's, "The Creativity Book: a year's worth of inspiration and guidance". Leafing through it, I liked what I saw. Ten months of reading and exercises, with a two month creative project after.

I bought it, and then went to San Jose for two weeks. While I took the book, I didn't devote much time to it, the procrastinator remember? Now that I'm back, I need to pick it up again. The first part of the book is getting to know yourself better. You start off by writing a 2500 word autobiography. It's difficult and I'm still not done. There are always things in everyones life that are hard to put down in writing and I am no exception. Considering myself somewhat of an introvert, I have a hard time writing about myself, even in a private setting.

You go from there to listing creative blocks and trying to get yourself in a habit of making some time for your creative self. I don't think I'll make it in the year timeframe, but I am committed to finishing the whole book. I'll try to remember to leave notes once in a while how I'm doing.

To help in the organizing side of my life, I recently started using "Evernote". This is what is considered a "cloud" application. I can make notes from any of the computers I use, or even my phone and they are automatically synced up and stored on Evernote's servers. The service is free so far for the amount of data I'm using, but I may move to the pay version for some of the features available and to get rid of the ads. The ads though are not obnoxious, so they really don't bother my.

One of the reasons I bring up Evernote is that I have created a notebook within the application just for this yearly project. That way I can work on it whenever I want, no matter what computer I have with me. As a back up for those few times I don't seem to be around a computer, I'll use a notebook, one I carry with me regularly anyway.

At the moment, I'm not sure if this book can really help me be more creative or if it is some kind of placebo for insecurity. Hopefully I'll find out.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Calla Lilly

It kind of surprised me to see Calla Lilies growing on the hillsides. I knew they had to grow wild someplace, but I didn't think it would be in the U.S. Turns out, even though it is considered a native plant here in California, they originated in Africa. I would imagine they were transported here and like a lot of invasive species, they made the warm climate their home.

They are pretty though, and these were found near the Golden Gate in an area that's been replanted with native plants. I've seen several large patches of these as well as lots of smaller patches and individual plants in the area.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


I been on the far left coast of the country for my real job. I have had a little bit of time to get out with the camera. The area around San Francisco is an amazing place for photos, from architecture to landscapes to people to historic buildings. I spent most of Saturday around the Golden Gate bridge and just north of it. Not even touching the surface of the possibilities. I need to spend a week or more in the area, with just a camera and a map.
The above photo was taken in Fort Point which used to guard the entrance to the bay of San Francisco. Now it stands underneath the Golden Gate bridge and is a state park.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Quiet Time

Things have quieted down a bit photographically for me the last couple of weeks. My real job has picked up a bit and will continue to do so for the next two weeks. It's spring here or at least feels like it, so spring cleaning is starting to rear its ugly head also. Photographically, I sort of feel like the lifeguard stand in the photo above, just waiting for something to happen.

I am making plans though. Worldwide Pinhole Day is April 25th this year and I really want to get out and photograph a lot. I'm planning on building either a 4x5 film pinhole or a 8x10 photo paper pinhole out of foamcore and get out that day. I've also been looking at Stephen Schaub's handheld pinhole photos and I'm wondering how he did it. I may have to try it. I do like the soft dreamy, almost impressionistic look to his stuff. I'm also fascinated by the handmade Japanese paper he's printing on. I need to look at whether he's making it or buying it.

The annual local Festival of the Arts is coming up the first of June. I want to enter the arts competition again this year and I need to get in gear and pick out what I want to enter. Usually I wait too long and I'm scurrying around trying to get ready. I want to be a little more organized this year.

Of course there are other things in the works. Projects and plans I want to do. Hopefully a good portion of them will work, but I would rather have ideas I can't do, than no ideas at all.

The photo above was taken the first weekend in March at the beach in Michigan City, Indiana. I kind of wish I would have gone landscape mode with a wide angle to emphasize the feeling I was getting. Maybe next time.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010


I haven't done a links post in a while, and they are piling up.

The Oscar for best short film went to "Logorama". If you haven't seen it yet, it's a hoot as well as a commentary on advertising. See it soon before it disappears to appear someplace else. Warning it's got profanity, violence and even worse logos....

Some amazing photos of wildlife drinking out of a watering hole in Africa. While they are amazing, I would think the photographer could have done something so he didn't come down with all these weird diseases while immersing himself in the water.

Worldwide Pinhole Day is April 25th. Pinhole cameras are easy to build and use. Try one out, you'll like it.

SoFoBoMo 2010 has been announced. SoFoBoMo being the Solo Photo Book Month. Shoot a project and produce a pdf book in a 30 day period. Being held in June and July of this year, the rules have not changed.

Cheap ultralight light stands made out of tent poles and rope. There is an earlier video that shows them being used.

A free monitor calibration tool. It's cheap, but a hardware device will do a much better job.

The dangers of trying to do Wedding photography with cheap equipment and a snide attitude. As a side note, why do people go on these shows?

A type of pinhole photography, long exposure solargraphy.

A DIY Bounce Card out of cardboard.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Stages of a Photographer

Now for something a little lighter. Posted on Facebook by a photographer friend of mine, Brian Gudas, I thought this was cute. I never got stuck in the "HDR Hole", but I seem to be stuck in the "Damnit, I Suck" plateau.

Seen at "Enticing the Light", the original artist seems to be unknown.

I hope you are having a good day.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Photography is still not a crime.

It's time once again for my semi-annual rant about photographers being hassled and jailed for doing an activity that is legal and safe. While I haven't had any run ins with the police, I have had some run ins with security guards this past six months or so. Luckily none of them have escalated into anything more than a polite discussion.

I have seen news stories lately that the father of a young boy was arrested as a pedophile for taking photos of his son in a busy mall. Other stories about photographers being detained for photographing in big cities because of terrorism fears. Usually the photographer is let go after a short stay in a jail cell, and if they decide to persue the case in court, they tend to get compensation from the municipality. Not always, but it happens. The trouble is, it shouldn't have happened in the first place.

Paul Butzi believes he has an answer. In this post, entitled "No more running", he said he's sick of it and he's not going to take it anymore. He thinks that the next time someone gets arrested or run off of a sidewalk for doing legal photography, the photography society should make an example of them. Follow the accuser, photograph them every chance they get, and basically ruin their lives. He thinks that if you do this one or two times, the image that it's legal and easy to chase photographers around will change.

I'm really surprised that there are only two comments on the original post and that there hasn't been any discussion about it on any of the other blogs that normally follow him. My take on it is: while I'm not a fan of ruining someones life, if I or a friend of mine was arrested for doing legal photography, I would help make the complainer very uncomfortable. I would hope I wouldn't be alone.

The above photo came across my rss feed from BoingBoing, I believe. Originally published on the Coyote Blog, who made the poster. The original photo is not really credited. If anyone knows who the original photographer is, I would be glad to credit them.

The Photography is not a crime web site.