I happened to call my Dad the evening after he went on the photo club outing to the train museum. He informed me there would be a live steam event the next day. An old train was up and running and about to make a journey it hadn’t made in decades. I was disappointed I’d missed the train museum, so I decided to join Dad and go see the train at one of its stops. It was an hour late, so it only stayed 20 minutes. A large crowd of train enthusiasts and families with curious children gathered to see it.
After the train stopped, we all went up to get a closer look. The steam practically caused it to rain on us. The train had many interesting details, but the short stay and large crowd made getting a lot of photos difficult. As the train left, I noticed many of the passengers were taking video of their trip. So many train enthusiasts were elated to see the old engine up and running again.
Next Time: 4th Festivities
It is a bit early to know for certain what I’ll shoot next week, but there’s a good chance of the typical Midwestern 4th of July staples: fireworks and a car show.
Last week, I loaded up my gear and headed to one of the most acclaimed state parks within reasonable driving distance. Since it was such a nice day, my father and his gear also came along for the ride. We quickly decided this park was way too busy for us. Both of us are used to going out in parks where we only pass a few hikers here and there. Not so at this park. There was a constant stream of people from every ethnic group and age group you could imagine. The sights were amazing, but the morning sun wasn’t flattering anything. I took a few shots of the rock formations and we moved on.
In one canyon, there was a hanging vine illuminated by a ray of sunlight. I saw a photo I wanted, but it was dark and the vine was moving in a gentle breeze. The ISO on this shot was much higher than I’d normally use, but this is the closest I was able to get to the shot I wanted.
Unfortunately, our lack of familiarity with the park and a crowded parking lot resulted in us spending a lot of time trying to find the correct parking lot and our car so we could do something about water and food. We were pretty exhausted when we finally found the car, being that we’d hiked quite a distance on steep trails, dad had spent the last night working on the lawnmower, and I was carrying about 15 lbs. of gear. (Since he is a view camera guy, dad had left his equipment in the car until he found a shot with good lighting.)
After lunch, it was overcast. I decided that would make better lighting conditions for one of the waterfalls than what we’d seen in the morning. Dad still wasn’t sure it would work for him, but we agreed to head for the nearest waterfall and check it out. I took a few shots in the overcast lighting. Dad considered how the coming summer solstice would impact lighting and at what time of day he’d be likely to get the best shot. Yes, I think we’ll be coming to this park again, maybe after school is back in session and not so many families are out on vacation.
Next Time: Fruit in Bubbly
I’ve been thinking about trying the fruit in club soda thing lately, so I may as well actually do it.
The end is finally here! My pour shot is done, and it went a little better than I thought it would. Equipment was one of my biggest concerns going into this one, but shooting my flash through the scrim seemed to work pretty well. My furry four-legged assistant was watching me, but she can’t pour liquids, so thankfully, my mother agreed to help with this one. It took us a few tries to get the timing down, but the result was well worth any inconvenience or spilled red pop. Here are a couple different shots:
Next Time: Nature or Vintage Objects
Last year, winter was mild in my area. This year, it is back to normal. So in honor of an actual winter, I’m taking some time off The Big Project to bring you snow photos.
First, I went to the local forest preserve, a well-known area I can safely navigate in the snow.
Water had oozed out of the limestone bluffs and formed murky icicles.
The creek was mostly frozen, with small areas of running water breaking up the ice.
Back home, I went to check out the spruce. It always has interesting ice and snow deposits.
Winter. It can be annoying, but it can also be beautiful. Live with the bad, love the good.
Next Time: The Big Project Continues – Transparent
I continued The Big Project with my black on black photo shoot. To be honest, I thought this one would be easier than it was. In school, it was easier than white on white, and I was pleased with my project from that time. Shortly after Christmas, I’d purchased three yards of all cotton black velvet to use as a background in anticipation of this project. The problem: my lights are hard to control. They have rather large bowl-shaped dishes on them, with no provision for attaching modifiers. Getting light either on the edges of the subjects or on mirrors or other reflectors without lighting up the entire background was a chore. It improved as I fussed with it, but in the end there was only so much I could do . . . outside Photoshop. The good news is that I am keeping up my Photoshop skills. Other than that, I’m thinking I may have to limit my on black shooting or buy some blackwrap. Maybe I’ll try this one again in a few months.
This is my little black puppy. Like the black velvet, her paws absorbed light. The shine on her curly fur reflected it.
The black leather wallet had some reflective shine on it, which made things a little easier.
Next time: Transparent or Snow
Everybody knows the old traditional Christmas colors: red and green. But increasingly, stores are offering decor in any color you fancy. Although I prefer the traditional, I followed the counter-culture this year and included a little pink in my decorating pallet. This was more of a “Man, where am I gonna store those pink vases?” moment than a brash throwing off of tradition. I bought some silver and white artificial flowers to accommodate my storage plans. While I was at it, I decided I may as well leave out this darling beaded angel. She’s probably a craft made by some housewife decades ago. I found her in a small town thriftshop a few years back and thought she was pretty.
Another slightly more traditional approach is the cream and gold color scheme. It’s rich and warm, but not very colorful. I’m in favor of having a little of it here and there.
So yes, I favor the traditional. Christmas comes at a dark, bleak, and often snowy time of the year in my corner of the world. Red is warm and bright, while green reminds us of life and vegetation. It’s what we need right now. Warmth, brightness, life, and beauty.
Merry Christmas Everyone!
Next Time: 2012 Year in Review
I finally finished my mug shots this week (that’s photos of mugs, not criminals). Confession: I cheated. This is obviously a teacup, but it’s cute. I wanted to try a white on white sort of shot, and this tells me I had better give myself some time when I do it again in January.
This is my “puppy mug” from my childhood. It’s an English “beaker” as I’ve heard mugs called on the britcoms. Back in the day, my mom let my sister and I each pick out a secondhand mug as our own. I had a thing for spaniels at that time, so this was an easy choice. Digging into the mug’s national origin, I chose to accent it with an old Shakespeare book and some shortbread cookies. I had the strongest visualization for this shot.
Lastly, I wanted to do something with hot cocoa and a ’70s vibe. My mother kindly let me borrow this wonderful tall old mug she has. It went well with the cocoa and the tall spoon, but I confess the cookies were an afterthought. Your order at the cafe is ready.
I tried out a method for adding steam in Photoshop. It’s something I’ve been playing with recently. Let me know what you think.
Next Time: Thoughts on Christmas and Color
I’ve seen pink trees, overheard talk of blue trees, and strolled down aisle after aisle filled with ornaments of non-traditional colors. Yet I still prefer the traditional.