Friday, April 30, 2010

Sunday May 2nd - A Moment in Time

The NY Times is sponsoring "A Moment in Time". They are asking people to take a photo at 15:00 UTC on Sunday and upload it to their web site. For those of us in Western Michigan, that will be 11 am.

I'm planning on participating. I'm just not sure how. Do I just stop at 11 am and take a photo of wherever/whatever I see? Or do I plan on photographing something specific. I guess I'll see what happens.

The original article announcing the project is here. Some questions answered about the effort is here.

The above photo really doesn't have anything to do with the effort, it just seemed appropriate. It is a booth at a carnival where they are making elephant ears.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Get Closer. Really Close

Fire Ants tending Aphids

Dogwood Blossom

There is an old saying in photography, if your photo is boring, you're not close enough.

I had the opportunity to test that saying this week. I was invited along with a group to do some photography among the Apple and Dogwood blossoms, at a friends of a friends house. Most of the group was photographing a couple of models that had come along, but a few of us just wandered the property. I used a 100mm macro lens for the whole time. I picked it mostly to limit my options and to try to get a different view than I normally get, but I also knew I would have times when I wanted to get close.

I got a few photos I liked before I tried the close part. I also learned a few things. Like if I put the lens on manual focus I can get a lot closer than I thought. For the photo of the ants, I had the front of the lens about two inches away from the subjects. I also used a flashlight to try to brighten the photo up, since it was getting near sunset. I was surprised how much the light affected the ants. Once it started illuminating them, they started moving.

The two blossom photos were taken in the shade, also somewhat near sunset. I hadn't brought anything to anchor them and the wind was pushing them around. It was an interesting task to get a sharp photo.

So get closer when you can.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Wyoming Carnival

Carnivals in early spring are such a great place to photograph. Still chilly enough that you don't get really big crowds, but enough people to make it interesting.

There was the annual April carnival in the city of Wyoming last Saturday. Mike and I met there and wandered around for a couple hours just photographing. The attendees tend to be friendly, the workers want to talk your ear off and there is plenty of room to set up a tripod.

This is the third year in a row I've photographed this event. They had some new rides this year, ones I hadn't seen before and it was fun trying to figure out how to photograph them. I even managed to stay away from the elephant ears, which are a weakness of mine.

I tend to like to do night photography in general and having all these subjects in such a small area is a big bonus. I can't wait until next year.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April Links

Worldwide Pinhole Day is Sunday, April 25th. Nick Dvoracek has some good info if you're interested in trying your hand.

Another pinhole article, How to drill your own precision pinhole apertures.

If you think you need to spend more time in front of your computer, here is the Definitive List of Online Photography Magazines.

While I like to do night photography, I haven't done a lot of light painting. A nice tutorial on how to set one up is at Joe Reifer's blog.

If you're not doing anything on Sunday, May 2nd at 11 am Eastern, you may want to participate in the New York Times Global Mosaic.

A handy reverse search engine to find out if any of your images are being used in places they shouldn't be.

The above image was taken this past Saturday at the old Grand Rapids Public Museum. It represents some of the animals that used to be used in the old style dioramas. There is something strange about using stuffed animals to teach about the natural world, especially when I think about it the day after Earth Day. It's probably just a changing sensibility. I certainly thought it was cool when I was young.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Michigan - Land of Riches

When I was growing up on the outskirts of town, I spent an inordinate amount of time at the Grand Rapids Public Museum. Being a young geek, what better place was there than a building full of stuffed animals, dioramas, a visible human model and a planetarium? I spent at least one summer at a camp downtown, with my parents driving me in every morning and picking me up in the late afternoon. When I grew up, I moved out of town for a bit, the old museum was closed, while a new building was built along the Grand River.

Museums also changed, becoming less a place to view stuffed animals and learn about the environment to a resource about the community. Part of me mourns this change, because the old style exhibits helped instill in me a love for nature. Part of me likes this change since those that don't learn from history are doomed to repeat it. Even local history. It's a lesson learned to see the ebb and flow of the furniture industry in Grand Rapids that is now being repeated in the auto industry. I'm sure that if the city becomes dependent on another single industry, it will be repeated.

I was delighted to learn that the old museum building was going to be open on selected dates, and artists were being invited in to customize the old rooms. The museum is trying to figure out what to do with the space and since it hadn't been opened for over 15 years, they needed some sort of display to show off the space and solicitate comments. I wanted to see if the old building was as big and wonderful as I remembered. I also knew someone displaying at the building and I wanted to see what he came up with.

It turns out that what I consider the back half of the museum, where the old gaslight village and the planetarium had been converted into archival storage for the museum and were not open. The front half was open, and full of a lot of the old displays. As usual, a lot of the art I didn't understand and there were not a lot of placards explaining the thought process. It was still fun to walk through and see everything. Someone even hung a paper whale where the old whale skeleton used to be.

And yes, it was as big and wonderful as when I was younger.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Steve McCurry

Steve McCurry, best known for his 1985 National Geographic cover was in town Friday to talk at a local college. While I was unable to go to the talks, I was able to go to a gallery opening and book signing he attended at the college. His latest book, "The Unguarded Moment", looked like a book I would like to have, and I always like to have the photographer sign them when possible.

I got there about a half hour after it started and to my surprise, they where out of what stock of books they had received. I decided to head down to the local bookstores to see if I could pick up a copy of one of his books. Well, someone else also had the same idea, and had already picked up the only copy. I did find a copy of the 2001 National Geographic that had the article and photos of his search and finding the Afghan Girl at the local Bargain Books. I picked that up for a dollar and got the photographer to sign it.

I looked at the works on the wall, and after the signing was over, I talked for a few moments with Mr. McCurry. A very engaging individual, he was very pleasant and willing to answer questions. He's photographed all over the world, but has primarily stuck to Asia. No, before anyone asks, I did not ask what equipment he uses, though at one point I overheard someone else ask the question. I didn't hear the answer and I really didn't care.

The photographs, as usual, are much better in person, than printed in a magazine or a book. I recognized several photos that I had seen, but I hadn't realized who the photographer was. Once I've thought about them for a bit, I plan on going back and seeing the exhibit again before it closes. I believe it is open until April 24th.

The photo above was taken with my iPhone, because I had been silly enough to leave my camera in the car.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

I See Dead Buildings

I went to Gary Indiana this past Sunday with some folks from the Grand Rapids Flickr community. While Flickr is an online forum, the people frequently meet in person and someone proposed a trip to Gary for urban exploring.

He wanted to go to the old Methodist Church, Post Office and Train Station. I had already been to two of those, but I had been wanting to go back, so this was the perfect opportunity. Turns out there were thirteen people, eleven photographers and two models going with some more joining later in the day. We also knew of a group from a Chicago Urbex online forum going.

We got together in Holland to car pool. After a short stop for lunch near the Michigan border, we were driving through Gary. This city always depresses me. Block after block of boarded up houses, with a well maintained house with a well manicured yard stuck like a flower in a sewer pit in the middle of the block.

As we pulled up to out first stop, the Methodist Church, we saw a group of photographers walking out. Walking into the church, we saw a photographer with a women in a wedding dress, who I assume was a model, taking photos in the sanctuary. I figured then the church would be a busy place.

We spent pretty much all day at the church, with the five of us that drove together making a quick side trip to an old factory about a mile down the road. We didn't spend a whole lot of time there, but I know I want to go back as well as get to the other two places we didn't get to.

If I can get by thinking about the city itself.

We did have some people not want to go because they were afraid of getting hassled. The only question we got was from a resident near the factory. He just wanted to know why everyone was going by his house with cameras. We were the second or third group that day that had gone into the old factory.

The photo above was taken at the church, against the east wall of the sanctuary. Taken with natural light streaming in from a window above. Jessica was great to work with also.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Winter Landscape

Another film scan. I've sort of settled for the moment on Kodaks HC-110 film developer. I used that for this roll of Ilford Delta 100 film, and I have to say I really didn't care for the result. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think I'll be using this particular film again.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Another Grand Haven Lighthouse Photo

A photo taken in December of 2009 with the Mamiya 645. I just got around to scanning it and cleaning up the dust spots.

Dust spots on negatives are the only thing I really don't like about film. With two cats around, it always seems like hair or something is floating and getting on my scanner glass. Of course I have to spot my digital files also once in a while, so I guess there is no getting away from it.

Another Grand Haven Lighthouse shot.

Monday, April 5, 2010

A Nice Spring Evening?

It was really nice for early April here late last week. Saturday started out nice, but a rain storm rolled through and cooled things down a bit. After dinner, I noticed the clouds to the east had broken up and it was sunny. I figured I would head out to the coast and get some photos. Of course as soon as I headed west, I noticed the sky was completely clear. Just my luck.

I headed over to Grand Haven anyway. For some reason, I really like the photographic opportunities I get there. It should be old hat for me now, but for some reason it's not. Arriving in the parking lot for the lighthouse, I ran into an acquaintance from some of the local Flickr photowalks. We ended up photographing together.

The first thing I noticed was the incredible light. The light after a storm moves through is just great. The dust has been cleaned from the air and the clouds and what water vapor is left, just give a great warm glow to everything. The second thing I noticed that it was windy and darn right cold. I had brought a jacket as well as a sweat shirt. While it was in the upper 40's, the wind chill made it much colder.

The wind however had kicked up the waves and there were some nice high water being kicked up the south side of the pier and the end of the lighthouse. We walked out to the end for a bit and tried to photograph the spray backlit by the sun. After a few minutes of that, we walked back to the beach and set up for the sunset.

The sunset was nice and a cloud bank started moving up from the south. The sky wasn't going to be a total washout after all. We stayed and photographed until about 30 minutes after sunset. I would have liked to stay later, but the wind kicked up and was cutting through my jacket and hood. Since I hadn't brought gloves, my hands were feeling like they were ready to fall off also. We met a local photographer at a local brew house and after a beer and an hour or so of gabbing, it was time to go home. A great evening anyway.

The above photo was the last photo I took of the evening. A 30 second shot, with a aperture of around f11. I had the tripod set low to the beach and I wanted to get the really milky, cloudy water. While there is a hint of it here, I just didn't wait long enough for the sky to darken enough. Next time.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Test post

Posted via web from Steve's posterous

I've been playing around with autoposting from My coffee mug photo from my iPhone, messed about with Best Camera and sent to Posterous to autopost. You may see more iPhone shots in the future, though I'm not as convinced as everyone else is yet that it is a great platform for photos.