The photographic explorations of a former film student.

Still Life

It’s Dairy Month – Have a Cookie

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in 4-H (suburban 4-H, we didn’t even have a cat back then) and spent the month of June promoting dairy like crazy. Cow spots everywhere (I had a scrunchie). So in honor of good old Dairy Month, here’s a picture of milk and cookies. I ate them while editing.

Three chocolate chip cookies on a plate with a glass of milk.

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.

20200930_CrochetFlowers_0005

Next Time:

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


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.

GirlAndLlama

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:

IMG_1383

(Cell phone pic of her cuddling with me.)


Christmas Wish

It’s a bit late (an unfortunate theme for me this year), but I still wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas. I wish you warmth, light, and comfort in this often dark and cold season. May you find hope and good things in this time, and in the year to come.

ChristmasFloral


Things Found in Woods

June flew by so quickly. Before it’s over, I have one picture to share with you real quick.

Insectoid

These fungi frequently look like bugs or butterflies to me.


Light Meters

Back before auto mode and built in light metering, photographers relied on separate hand-held meters to determine the correct exposure. Many are roughly palm sized devices that use selenium cells (https://www.britannica.com/technology/exposure-meter#ref1164349). I was introduced to the old Sekonic incident meters as a Freshman film student. Eventually, I acquired my own incident light meter that seemed to work better. (Despite the faculty’s insistence that nothing was wrong with the school’s meters, rumors swirled about which ones were malfunctioning. I wanted reliability and consistency, so I got my own meter that I knew no one had dropped recently.)

Last month, I purchased two old light meters at a thrift store. I’m certain they aren’t accurate, but they are cool. The first is a Weston Master II cine meter. I love the numbering on the dials, so I decided to take some close-ups of the aged meter.

WestonDial1WestonDial2

The second is a much less serious meter: a little pink GE. Cute, but not high end.

GE

Although modern cameras have built in metering, the old, and sometimes no so old, incident meters persist. They still have a following and a purpose. You can even get a light meter ap in the style of an old incident meter.

Next Time: Spring?

I hope the next few weeks will bring some green to my corner of the world. Either way, if the weather is good, I’m going out to a park with my camera.

 


Valentine Hearts

Happy Valentine’s Day! I have a busy next couple of weeks, but I wanted to send greetings. Right now, I feel like I haven’t been in a good artistic state of mind for some time. However, I want to keep the little momentum I have going, so I did a couple quick still life shots for this month’s blog.

GlassHeartHangingHearts


Hot Cocoa

It’s frigid outside. Time for a nice cozy mug of hot cocoa.

cocoamug


Merry Christmas!

It’s officially almost too late for a Christmas post. Nevertheless, I did take a few shots of my upgraded mantel decorations, and I wanted to share a couple.

BaublesBellsPineconesGoldThroughGlass

Wishing you all light, beauty, and time with those you love most over the next few days. Merry Christmas!


Good Bye Fall: Gourds

I purchased some ornamental gourds when I went to the apple orchard about a month ago. Since they were pretty and I spent money on them, I photographed them. Fall is just about over. The gourds have rotted and been tossed. But at least I still have the photos.

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Next Time: Christmas

I should be able to put together a Christmas post in two weeks. Decorating is in process.

 


Dairy Days

June is Dairy Month. Or at least that’s what we Midwestern 4-H kids used to celebrate it as a decade or more ago. (Yes, I was in 4-H. No, I did not live on a farm. No, I did not have animals.) Why did I think of this more this year than the last 5 Junes I’ve been blogging? It might just be all the old photos my sister scanned and gave me. Whatever the catalyst, my inner dairy promoter was awakened and I started to worry I wasn’t getting enough calcium. So I’m drinking a glass of milk every day this month. I’m not going to photograph them all (I thought about it, but that got boring fast). Anyway, here are some quick shots of some of the milk I did drink.

Happy Dairy Month!

Next Time: Train or More Milk

Which one depends on how things go. Milk can get boring, but I had a fun idea for a more fancy milk shot.


Argus C3

I was looking for a 35mm camera from the 40s or 50s for my collection when I found this one at an estate sale. A little worn and dusty, but he’s cute. This is an Argus C3 made in Michigan either before or after WWII. Eventually, I’d like to do more research on this camera, but for now I’ve just cleaned and photographed it. Poor thing was pretty dirty. I did quite a bit of Photoshop work on the camera because of the dust even though I cleaned it a lot before shooting. For more information about Argus cameras, visit http://argusinfo.net

ArgusSideViewArgusFrontDials

 

Next Time: More Table Top or Nature

Maybe you can tell, I’m pretty rusty with the still life/table top right now. Due to other commitments, I shot very little last fall and winter. Right now, I think maybe getting back to more of the basics would be good, so I might do some objects on white. Otherwise, we’ll see what Spring brings.


Dictionaries

I finally finished it. Getting back to still life with as little as I’ve shot since last summer (and such a small percentage of that planned table top) means I’m rusty right now. I have to make myself do this. The joy and fluency will return as I keep at it. But enough of my inner frustrated artist.

When I hear or read the word dictionary, this is what comes to mind:
TheDictionary

The big, red dictionary was once my Uncle’s. I don’t know how it got to us, but whenever my Mom told me to look something up in the dictionary, this was the book I picked up. We had other dictionaries, but this was The Dictionary. Mom let me take it with me when I moved out.

Not all dictionaries are venerable tomes though. I found this pocket dictionary at a library book sale a few years back. The writing in the front cover tells me a teen girl owned it back in the 1940s.

PocketDictionary

Next Time: Observatory

Speaking of old and venerable, I spent yesterday at an observatory constructed in 1895. In the early 1920s, it was such a big deal in astronomy and astrophysics that Albert Einstein himself visited it.

 


Annual Valentine Encouragement

Because this was a long week for me, and because I realized this will be my last post before Valentine’s day, no dictionaries this week.

Back when I was in college, my roommates would get flowers from their boyfriends for various occasions. I didn’t have a boyfriend (which I’m not sad about, because it was the right thing for me), so I would photograph their flowers.

Rose

It was good fun at times, especially when no one else was around and I could turn out the lights and experiment with LED flashlights.

FlashlightFloral

While we’re on the subject of boyfriends just a week from Valentine’s Day, I’m going to say it (like I have for the past couple of years): single people, please don’t let Valentine’s Day get you down. Not having a significant other doesn’t mean you can’t observe the holiday. Love comes in many varieties. Romantic isn’t the only one. So take some time to let your friends and family know how much they mean to you. Call, write, send a card, or make plans to meet for coffee. Observe the day as a celebration of the love you do have. Happy Valentine’s Day!


Merry Christmas! (With Decorations)

This year, I did things differently for Christmas Decorations. For one, I decided to hang my little beaded whatever it is off my living room lamp. I like it so much I’m not sure why I didn’t think of it sooner.

beadwreath

Then, my mother thought I should change up my mantle decorations a bit, so she gave me a tall round glass vase to put ornaments in. After looking online for ideas, I decided I wanted pine cones too. I thought I’d have some fun with the reflections and surface curvature while photographing the end result.

DecorationInGlass

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Wishing you peace on earth today and throughout the coming year.


A Companion in Adventure

I said I was going to photograph the lovely old Polaroid folding camera. Despite my best intentions and the best intentions of my father, neither of us could find it. However, I did find the ancient Kodak Medalist II. Although it’s not as old as some of the other cameras in my father’s collection, it is by far the most worn and well-traveled of them all. My father acquired it while cleaning out a photofinishing plant in Wisconsin after the place went out of business. The Medalist’s owner had died by then. Reportedly, he was world traveler, and this camera was his companion on many adventures.

KodakMedalistII

The Medalist II was manufactured in the late 1940s. It was a fine camera in its time with rangefinder and other focusing helps. Like many items from that era, it was built like a tank. This top view shows just how wide it is.

TopView

The focusing mechanism is also quite rigid and sturdy. In the camera’s present state of disrepair, it is difficult to turn.

LensOut

You’ve probably noticed I’ve made no attempts to clean or retouch this relic. My father decided years ago that it should stay as he found it: someone’s old companion in adventure bearing the marks and dirt of its life and adventures. Although the former owner had it repaired on several occasions, it would take a lot to get this one back in shooting order even if we were to try. I’d estimate the last repair was about a decade before my father acquired the camera.

CaseDates

This Medalist II belongs to the past. However, they are such fine cameras that some people are still fixing them up and shooting with them. Here’s one man’s story of getting his Medalist II in working order: http://blog.timesunion.com/chuckmiller/welcoming-the-kodak-medalist-ii/21899/

Next Time: Fireworks

It’s hard to believe the 4th of July is gone already. I shot the fireworks lat night, but I promised a camera post this week, and I didn’t have much time to edit today.


Club Shoot Archive

Here are a couple of archive photos from January’s photo club table top night. I brought my own light source and reflectors as well as some subject matter, but it is kind of a free for all, so I ended up photographing mostly items the other members brought. Mine ended up being mostly floral items and a vintage green glass dish.

YellowFlowerInGreenDish

PinkScarf

Next Time: Sand Dunes

I went to Michigan and checked out a National Lakeshore area.


Turquoise Mug and Books

Spring is starting to show up, but it’s not quite ready yet. I posted a different photograph of this mug awhile back, but I just didn’t think I did my favorite mug justice. I love this one. It is a nice color, large, heavy, holds heat, and was rather unfortunately chipped (no, you can’t see it in the photo – Photoshop). Because of the last attribute, I will have to give it up someday. So I’m kind of pre-memorializing it. I’ll admit that’s weird – especially since the mug is much more likely to be found on my grey laminate desk next to an LCD monitor than on a nice wooden surface with an old musty book of fiction. But this blog is more about photography as art than photography as a true historical record, so I’m taking artistic license. Anyway, here is the new, better photo of my favorite mug:

TurquoiseMugAndBooks

Next Time: Spring Flowers

Some of them just got here today, more are coming.


Spring Cup of Tea

Spring is playing hide and seek with us. One day, it looks like Spring is finally here! . . . then we get four inches of snow again. Unfortunately, that means no nature photos yet. So I turned to one of my favorite indoor subjects – mugs. This little mug/teacup/coffee cup is one I’ve had for a long time. Since it is rather old, I decided to go with a vintage theme and photograph it on a table from the 1970s with the matching china cabinet behind.

SpringTeacup TeacupAndCannister

I also shot it with a tea canister that includes many of the same colors. However, I think I like the photo of the teacup by itself better.

Next Time: More Mugs or Finally The Great Outdoors


Valentine Flowers

A bit of a late Happy Valentine’s Day to all of you. This is the time of year I really start wanting it to be Spring. It is also the time of year you can easily purchase a floral bouquet. Last week, I purchased a single rose and some “pompoms” at a local supermarket. I’m pretty sure “pompom” is just florist for big showy mum. Anyway, I set up the light and some backgrounds and pulled out the macro lens.

This was my pinkish rose. Lovely while she lasted.

BacklitRose

Twirly in the center and a beautiful hue.

ECURose

I stuck one of my old rings in it in honor of Valentine’s Day. There is nothing like a macro lens to show you how cheep your costume jewelry is. I spent some time retouching this one, and I’m about to swear I will never shoot it again. Nonetheless, it does look kind of romantic.

RingInRose

A little less seasonal, here is the “pompom”. This was more fun with the macro lens than the rose. I loved the long, spiky petals in the center.

LgPurpleMum

Kind of off topic, but I wanted to say I know this can be a tough day for single people. Personally, I think our culture is a little overboard when it comes to celebrating romantic love. There are other kinds of love and relationships in most people’s lives that are worth remembering and celebrating on this day. So if you can this weekend, take a few minutes to call or message a friend or relative and let them know you love them. And remember, the chocolate goes on sale tomorrow.

 

 


More Nail Polish Necklaces

I’ve decided to photograph some more of my old craft project necklaces and list them for sale on Etsy. At first, I shot them with the 500 watt bulb and no diffusion, but I decided that was a bit harsh for most of them. I’ve kept one shot from that shoot.

PinkGlitterSquare

After looking around a bit to see how others photographed similar necklaces for sale. I decided to use window light, reflectors, and the scrim as I felt I needed it. I also changed the backgrounds.

DarkPurpleAndGlitterCrackle

GreenAndGlitterCrackle

GreenGlitterSquare

As before, very little retouch was done on these for truth in advertising.

And yes, the shameless commerce division (as they say on Car Talk): https://www.etsy.com/shop/NecklaceArtAndCraft?ref=hdr_shop_menu

Next Time: Snow or Valentine’s Day


Back to Still Life – Mini Trees and Mirror Lake

I was going for something that looked like an imaginary world with this. The idea had been bouncing around in my head for several months. Fortunately, the Christmas season intervened and the right tree props became available. The snow is quilt batting, the mirror is from the dollar store, and the “rocks” are flat marbles for flower arranging with nail polish painted on the bottom (like the necklaces I did last year). I decided to put a silver-grey poster board behind it all fearing white would be too blank. It’s supposed to look unreal/otherworldly anyway. In post, I did some cloning on the “rocks”, cleaned up the mirror, fussed with the color, and added some glow filter.

SingleTreeLS

TwoTreesReflection

Next Time: More Still Life

I haven’t exactly decided what it’s going to be yet. Maybe more like this or maybe more mugs.


Returning Indoors: Mugs

It’s cold outside, so I’ve turned my attention back to indoor photography. Mugs were a subject I’ve been thinking to shoot again, so I chose a couple and began dusting off my tabletop skills.

This is a recent mug I bought for my father after I knocked another mug out of the cupboard on top of his old one and cracked it badly on the rim. Incase you think me extra clumsy, I was not the only person in the household to make that blunder. Someone else did it to my mug. Anyway, I owed Dad a new mug. It is sturdy and manly and not made in China, so he is satisfied.

DadMugMorning

This is my mug. The very same one that was chipped just as I chipped my father’s former mug. I can’t fix it in real life, but I can Photoshop the chip. For this shot, I decided to leave the teabag in and use the base of an old lamp and a book for props. I am much more likely to blog or otherwise work on the computer while drinking tea than I would be to read a book, but the old book looks way better in a photo than my computer would.

MyMugAndTea

Next Time: Christmas

I’ll be photographing decorations or some other Christmas related items in honor of the season.


Black on Black Part 2

Last week, I shot profiles of two black shoes on black. These are straight, catalog-type shots, done primarily for practice purposes. Sometimes, it is good just to do a technical challenge. Just one thing, then go back and combine it with more artistic work.

PlainShoe

PatentBlack

 

Next Time: Still Life or Nature

I hope it’s nature, but the weather isn’t too promising.