The photographic explorations of a former film student.

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October Shoot

My apologies for not blogging in October. I will have to blog twice in November to make up for it. Fortunately, I’ve been out to shoot three times since I last blogged, so I have material.

My first shoot for the fall was at a local forest preserve I enjoy. There was lots of colorful ivy on the trees.

One of my favorite things about going out in nature is that it is always changing and full of detail. There is always something different, something I haven’t seen before or haven’t seen in this light. To me, this tree trunk looks like the head of an animal with its mouth open. What do you think?

I don’t think I’ve ever photographed the pond much, but I liked it that day. I liked all the leaves blowing in the wind and the late afternoon sun.

I hope you were able to get out and enjoy some lovely fall scenery where ever you live.

Knit-Cro-Sheen Flowers

This is my quick, late blog for September (still September in my time zone, but not for long at all). I didn’t forget. It’s just been one of those months. I lost someone quite dear to me. Before arthritis, she was skilled in crochet – her primary handiwork. She made numerous items including doilies for her living room tables, afghans, doll dresses, and fake flowers.

Like the doilies, the flowers were made from a fine, threadlike yarn known as kint-cro-sheen. They also had to be starched. I’m sure it was quite the process. There’s been talk of washing and redoing them. Perhaps I will someday as a relative knows how and has offered help. But for now I will leave them as they are: still showing the skill of their creator and reminding me of her and how much she enriched and nurtured my life.

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Next Time:

It’s fall. I hope to have a few good fall color shoots this year. We’ll see.

Mid-Summer Flowers

My last photo outing was in early July, and I’ve finally edited it for the blog. There are a lot of other things on my mind right now, as there have been for the past several weeks, but at some point, a person has to move on.

It was a lovely early July day.  I met my father out at a local forest preserve.

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My intention was to photograph wildflowers, but I didn’t find much that interested me. Lighting was also a bit stark.

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I ended up photographing the pink clover, blue cornflower, and grasses at the entry to my parent’s subdivision. There were some bugs as well, including our much hated invasive Japanese beetles.

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Summer is about over now. Time to think about fall. This next month will probably not be the best for me, but I might try to get out for photography or do some still life. I’m not sure what my official September blog will be, but I hope I’ll have some good fall photos for October and November.

Archive Fireworks

I photographed more than one subject on July 4th, 2019. That was a normal 4th of July: festivals, parades, car shows, and fireworks. No worries about COVID-19. I had no idea where we would be today when I chose to save these photos and post them in July 2020. Since some cities are cancelling fireworks shows this year, I’m glad I saved these photos for today.

Photographing fireworks is not seen as serious photography, but it comes with its own set of challenges. To begin with, you are working in the blind. You can’t really see what you are capturing. The subject is there one moment and gone the next. It’s a long exposure, requiring a tripod. Usually, I focus on the first blasts. I’ve read to focus at infinity, but that doesn’t seem to work. I also ignore the recommendation to include a building or other landmark for sense of place. This is mostly because the best fireworks show in my area for good looking buildings is in a part of town I don’t feel safe in, particularly after dark. I forsake the city and trudge along the cornfields to the athletic field of a small town high school. The roads are lined with trucks full of families, and the ditches are thick with mosquitoes. But I can get close and get a clear view. Sometimes, I decide I need to back up a bit after the first bursts go off. I stand with my camera on my tripod and work as the blasts light up the sky and the sound waves resonate around me and through me. For me, a fireworks show is an active event, not a passive one. I am caught up in it, seeing it, feeling it, and capturing it.

Digital is a big help with fireworks. I can see if I’m on the right track with exposure. I used to always start my exposure when I heard the launch. I’d read to do that somewhere. The problem is, a long exposure captures the event much differently than we see it live. The fireworks end up looking like flowers with long stems.

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It’s a cool effect sometimes, but it doesn’t really look like fireworks the way we see them in real time. So I started waiting longer and trying to time them closer to the actual explosion. There’s also the problem of the light trails. To they eye, fireworks are little specks and dashes of light. But again, the exposure to capture the whole thing unfolding makes them look like continuous lines. So I started trying to time it so I didn’t have the full duration of some of the fireworks to get a little more sparkle. The loud little gold ones could be helpful with this, but they also make a lot of smoke. The smoke illuminated by the blasts does not look pretty.

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Practice, luck, and some editing for contrast and saturation. And I crop. As you can see, I chose to abandon normal aspect ratios for many of these. Fireworks photos are pretty abstract sometimes. Find the flowers, the trees, the space jellyfish, etc. Imagine. Have fun. In the two below, I see a flowering cactus (I admit I rotated it) and an ornamental tree. What’s a celebration for if you can’t have fun with it?

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I know things are different this year, but I hope you are able to have a safe and happy holiday anyway. You made it a little more than halfway through 2020, and that itself is worth celebrating, even if you aren’t an American observing our Independence Day.

 

 

In Praise of Milk

FormalMilk

This post is in honor of my old 4-H days promoting dairy all June long. As an adult, I do fine when it comes to eating cheese and ice cream (probably too much ice cream). However, milk and I had a falling out. If I was up and moving around, I was OK, but sitting all day at my desk job, milk would start to quarrel with my digestive system. It also tended to spoil in my fridge before I drank it. So I opted for what my Uncle once called “the evil of the almond” instead of real milk. Recently, I’ve found some other options for people who have digestive issues with milk. I don’t buy them often, but when I do, it’s a treat. Real milk is so rich and sweet in comparison to almond milk. While I was shooting this photo, my furry little assistant became determined to get at the milk. I had to give her a bit of whipped cream to get her out of the way. She knows a good thing when she smells it, even if she’s not supposed to drink it. I spilled a few drops, and she promptly cleaned them up for me. As dairy month draws to a close, enjoy a glass of the good stuff. Just watch out if you live with a cat.

Next Time: Last Year’s Fireworks or Nature

If I can blog twice in one week, I’ll post the fireworks I shot last year.

A Fine May Day

Time-wise, at this point I’m just going to say I’ll do two posts this month to catch up. Anyway, to the blog.

May first was the first day local forest preserves in my area were officially open (COVID-19). Earlier in the year, you could park outside and walk in. Dad had been itching to go out for some time, I wanted to do wildflower macro, and Mom was worried Dad would be mauled by coyotes. With parks officially open, Dad and I decided to meet at a forest preserve we’d never been to, but many members of the photo club recommended. Mom was OK with this. Upon arriving, Dad did not see anything that interested him. We did see several people. No coyotes. We agreed to reconvene later at Dad’s favorite spot across town. I stayed and got in my annual spring macro wildflower shoot. Different species this time, but still a nice day.

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Later in the day, Dad and I met at his favorite forest preserve. The scene he was watching wasn’t right for the shot he was trying to get. I had walked down the road to and from his point of interest instead of driving because I wanted the exorcise. I found an interesting stump on the side of road. Dad was curious about what I was photographing. He decided he wanted to photograph it too. Waiting for him to get his gear set up, I decided to take a few more shots and see if I could get something I liked better. This was the result. I haven’t seen his yet.

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Next Time:

It’s June. It’s Dairy Month. As a former 4-H kid, it is my duty to make milk look good to you this month.

Change and Tulips

This is officially my April post. Yes, I know it is May. Yes, I need to work on my punctuality. At least I shot all of these in April. Anyway, to  the post.

Last fall, I planted tulips. This is always done with hope of spring in mind. There is joy and anticipation as the green shoots make their way out of the damp spring earth. And then, in this instance, there was hail. Hail that shredded the tulip’s leaves. One was trampled just after a blossom emerged. My garbage can landed on a row of them. Nevertheless, the tulips bloomed. Closed at first and still mostly closed when it’s not sunny, they provided a nice burst of color, even if they were a little bedraggled.

Then one morning, they were all open and the sun shone on them beautifully. I had to go out and photograph them, even if the finished product wasn’t as good as I had hoped. The changing hues throughout the petals were lovely, and I had to at least try and capture them.

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Since these photos, the tulips have continued to change. Some are nearing the end of their blooming season and look like it. The yellow ones have turned more orange. A few have yet to bloom. It looks like they will be purple or white. I look forward to the continuing surprises they will bring.

In a way, humans are like the tulips. We continue to grow and change, but we do so at different times. Some are hit harder by the hail or garbage cans of life than others. Maybe this isn’t the year some of them will display their full glory. Maybe that will come next year. Right now, we are all trying to make it through the hailstorms of this year. May we bloom and change into increasing beauty on the other side of the storm.

More Post Office

I haven’t really been into photo editing lately. I want off the computer doing something more three dimensional. Again my blog is late, and again my blog is Post Office.

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Old control buttons on the second floor.

Clock

Main floor clock over the doors.

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Lobby light fixture. Note the detail in the lower glass. I’m not sure how the background lighting turned out like this, but I like the colors.

 

Next Time: Flowers?

They are coming up, and, like most people, I’ve been spending a lot of time around home these days.

Love, Again

I post about love around just about every Valentine’s day. It’s kind of a broad concept. Again, I encourage Valentine’s Day as a day to share love with friends and family, not just significant others. (Write, call, visit, or e-mail your mom, dad, grandma, sibling, friend, etc.) Lately, I’ve been thinking of another sort of bond we as humans often enjoy: bonds with our pets. (Maybe this is because my cat’s approximate birthday is February 15th?) Those of you who have pets, whatever species they may be, please take time to let them know they are loved this Valentine’s day, even if you have a date with a human.

This was my quick still life practice for the month.

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I know llamas are not common pets, but it was a cute decoration, and I was looking for more stuff for my mantle. This is my love-love, Maggie:

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(Cell phone pic of her cuddling with me.)

Post Office Detail

One of my goals for 2020 is to blog monthly. My apologies for being a couple days late on the first one. These are a couple architectural details from a photo club outing to the Old Post Office in Chicago. I decided to do black and white on the first and split toning on the second in Lightroom for fun.

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Maybe I will do one for Valentines day in a couple weeks. Otherwise, I can continue with the Post Office photos.

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