Category Archives: Photo

2017 Goals

No resolutions this year, just simple definable goals.

2017goalsHealth Goals:

  • Lose the last 20 pounds (be The Guy)
  • Keep my blood glucose within ADA ranges and work toward the lower ranges
  • Maintain a minimum of 150 active minutes a week

Creativity Goals:

  • Add six more songs to my guitar competence list
  • Finish a writing project
  • Create a minimum of one good photo a month

Activity Goals:

  • Bike the Cap2Cap from Richmond to Williamsburg
  • Explore the parks nearby
  • Log a minimum of 1000 miles on the bike

Fun Goals

  • Visit five more historical sites
  • Go to the beach at least twice
  • Visit 20 wineries

Real Life Goals:

  • Find a new job
  • Find a new church home
  • Get involved with community group(s)

All of these are doable, one (the 1,000 miles) is a real challenge.  But it will be a very good year if I can hit all of them.  Let’s see how we do.

Hoping that the new year is what each of us desire.

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The Creativity Project – NaNoWriMo

 

One of the easiest ways for me to drift away from the creative side of my life is to get hung up on “getting it right”.  I’m not sure where this comes from, I imagine that it has many authors over the course of my life.  I know perfectly well that learning a new skill takes time, and that creation tends to be a process.  One that can have starts and stops.  It also has its share of total dead ends.  Ideas that simply don’t pan out.

And, to quote a friend of mine, it’s all good.

Every dead end, every failed attempt helps in honing whatever skill/talent I may have.  If I’m paying attention, I will learn something from each one.  I’m trying real hard right here to avoid words like “mistake”, “failure” or “total screw up”.  Thinking like that simply keeps me from continuing.

Which is one of the great things about National Novel Writing Month, known affectionately (and somewhat obscurely) as NaNoWriMo.  I know that gives lots of folks trouble when they try to say the word, so let me help.  It’s Nah-no-rye-moe.

And it’s about not stopping for the mistakes, the failures, the dead ends or the total screw ups.

NaNoWriMo is dedicated to getting people writing.  the idea is to write 50,000 words of a story in the month of November.  To do that you need to write 1,600 words and change every day for a month.  that is actually easier, and exactly as difficult, as it sounds.  The most important thing to remember about this challenge is that you never look back.  You don’t stop for misspellings, dropped words, or totally improbable story lines.  Your dialogue stinks in that last chapter?  Forget it.  There is no editing in November.  That’s what the other 11 months are for.  For the perfectionist, this is a form of torture.  If you commit to the concept, however, it is incredibly freeing.  You have total permission to simply plow on.  Write yourself into a corner?  Easy.  Drop back to some point where the story still made sense and begin again from that point.  Don’t delete the dead end!  You still wrote those words and they count!  Besides, later on, you may figure out how to use that stuff.  Just write.  Write whatever.  Stuck?  Write the backstory to your main character, or whatever character is thwarting your authorial desires.  Eventually, you will come up with something to write about again.

What’s the worst that can happen?  At the end of thirty days, you will have fifty thousand words of complete drivel.  But you will have spent thirty days writing, being creative.  Or you could end up with something that, with a little work, might actually be OK.  Some NaNoWriMo books have gone on to be published, sell many copies, or even be made into a movie like “Water For Elephants”.  There are at least fourteen other novels that began as NaNoWriMo projects that have been published.  My book “Shorts” was inspired by the month of writing but was written over a much longer span of time.  I have two projects that began as NaNo projects that I’m still messing with.

creativity-illo-2This most recent NaNoWriMo was not great.  A good idea that I’m still working at but the job loss and politics took me out of the mood to write.  I’m only just getting back on that bandwagon.  I will not make 50,000 words this year (I’ve only made it once).

What NaNoWriMo teaches me each year is that the only way to lose is to quit.  I picked up this year’s project just two days before the end of the month and cranked out another four or five thousand words.

If you want to be creative all you have to do is create.  Don’t worry if your creation is perfect immediately.

Just don’t stop.

Peace.

 

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The Creativity Project – Metal

In my ongoing attempt to keep the creative side of me flowing (which was the original purpose of this blog), I’ve decided to take on a weekly photo challenge.  It sounded like fun, so I’m giving it a try.  Photos on the blog are reduced to ensure faster loading.  So they actually look BETTER than they do here!

Week fifteen was “Artistic – Metal”.  Find your inspiration in metal, shiny, rusty, whatever.

Another week where lots of standard images occurred to me and I even shot some of them.  In the end, none of them felt like I was doing anything interesting.  I have no idea why I turned to my guitar but it seemed like an interesting challenge.  The real challenge turned out finding an interesting view.  I ended up shooting super macro, which put the front of my lens just millimeters away from the tuner.  You can see all kinds of dust on the guitar head even though I thought I had dusted it thoroughly.  At this magnification, EVERYTHING stands out!  I’m really happy with this shot.  Spent a lot of time trying to get the focus point where I wanted it.  One of the shortcomings of my camera is that there is no manual focus capability.  So you sometimes have to play games, even shift the framing of the shot to get what you want in focus.  The tuner is much more central in the original image.  I moved with the crop.

 

When I cropped the shot down a little I suddenly had an image that left me with the “Did I shoot that?” feeling.  Always the best.  ISO 200, f6.4 @ 1/20.

Next week’s challenge is Portrait – Motion.  Portraits are usually static, so the challenge is to include motion.

This is part of a year-long photographic challenge.  Dogwood Photography came up with this interesting challenge (HERE) where you have to come up with a photo a week in one of three categories – Portrait, Landscape or Artistic Impression.  Each week has one with a slightly different challenge.

For the folks who are interested in technical type things:

My primary camera is a Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd.  It is a 10.0 Megapixel CCD, sensor size is 1/2.3″.  I shoot in the Fine JPEG 3648 x 2736 format and usually in the “Chrome” setting.

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The Creativity Project – Texture

In my ongoing attempt to keep the creative side of me flowing (which was the original purpose of this blog), I’ve decided to take on a weekly photo challenge.  It sounded like fun, so I’m giving it a try.  Photos on the blog are reduced to ensure faster loading.  So they actually look BETTER than they do here!

Week eighteen was “Artistic – Texture”.  Can I make you “feel” the texture through the photo?

 

Have to admit, this is a long time favorite subject of mine.  No idea why, but I am fascinated with capturing the visual texture of stone, wood, cloth, whatever.  The problem became, what can I do that is going to be interesting and new?  I found two images that jumped out at me.  This was from a wall in an alley I wandered down:

 

It was a grab shot, so I didn’t spend much time setting it up.  The result is that the full photo (this is cropped about 50%) has a section that goes out of focus slightly, which spoils the effect for me.  You can still see some of it along the top and bottom on the right side.  But I still liked the effect.  I want to run my fingertips over it and pick at the cracks.

I was much happier with this one.  The downside is that it’s a very familiar subject.  Beautiful tree bark (no, I have no idea what kind of tree.  Big, old with lots of leaves in Byrd Park, Richmond).  The lighting was right to give shadow and highlight.  Different patterns within the bark.  Even a few tiny bugs if you look for them.

TextureProject

 

ISO 200, f6.4 at 1/70

Next week’s challenge is Portrait – Messy.  That may be a problem, so I’m thinking about it.  May have to push that one down the road.  Still haven’t gotten my panoramic in, maybe I’ll focus on that.

This is part of a year-long photographic challenge.  Dogwood Photography came up with this interesting challenge (HERE) where you have to come up with a photo a week in one of three categories – Portrait, Landscape or Artistic Impression.  Each week has one with a slightly different challenge.

For the folks who are interested in technical type things:

My primary camera is a Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd.  It is a 10.0 Megapixel CCD, sensor size is 1/2.3″.  I shoot in the Fine JPEG 3648 x 2736 format and usually in the “Chrome” setting.

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The Creativity Project – Urbanscape

In my ongoing attempt to keep the creative side of me flowing (which was the original purpose of this blog), I’ve decided to take on a weekly photo challenge.  It sounded like fun, so I’m giving it a try.  Photos on the blog are reduced to ensure faster loading.  So they actually look BETTER than they do here!

Week seventeen was “Landscape – Urbanscape”.  This week we were challenged to go into an urban area to shoot.  It felt a little like cheating because I’d been doing this for a while now.  I truly enjoy living in a less urban area, but I love having easy access to a city the size of Richmond.

Looking for something that spoke of the city while avoiding the cliche skyline photos turned into a more difficult challenge than I had expected.  I wandered the streets looking at colors and repeated lines and images, but didn’t see anything that grabbed me.  One of the great things about digital photography is I can just snap away, virtually endlessly, and then sift the results at home.  On one side street this grabbed me as a particularly urban image:

 

Power meters

 

It was set just below street level and I could either square the image up or not get the full effect of the 30 meters.  Because of the angle, I was stuck with the two on the right.  So it didn’t quite appeal to me.

So I kept wandering and shooting.  What I found was this:

Urbanscapew

There is something quintessentially urban about watching the world go by a storefront window.  It’s kind of the reverse of Edward Hopper’s iconic Nighthawks painting.  In his, it is night and you are looking in through the window, here I’m inside (with some ice cream) looking out at the day.  I loved the colors, plus the feeling that something is about to happen just beyond the frame.

ISO 200, f7.1 at 1/400

Next week’s challenge is Artistic – Texture.  Take a photo where you can almost feel the texture shown.  I have loved doing that kind of photography for years, so I’ve been looking forward to that week.

This is part of a year-long photographic challenge.  Dogwood Photography came up with this interesting challenge (HERE) where you have to come up with a photo a week in one of three categories – Portrait, Landscape or Artistic Impression.  Each week has one with a slightly different challenge.

For the folks who are interested in technical type things:

My primary camera is a Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd.  It is a 10.0 Megapixel CCD, sensor size is 1/2.3″.  I shoot in the Fine JPEG 3648 x 2736 format and usually in the “Chrome” setting.

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The Creativity Project – Movement

In my ongoing attempt to keep the creative side of me flowing (which was the original purpose of this blog), I’ve decided to take on a weekly photo challenge.  It sounded like fun, so I’m giving it a try.  Photos on the blog are reduced to ensure faster loading.  So they actually look BETTER than they do here!

Week sixteen was “Portrait – Movement”.  Most portraits are static, add some movement.

 

Portraits remain a challenge for me.  So I’ve been wandering around just looking for inspiration.  I needed to head down to the James River for a different project and brought along the camera.  There was a rowing team practicing and that seemed like a really good idea.  In fact, there were two other photographers there (with tripods and telephoto lenses) shooting the same thing.  The problem was the easiest vantage point was right at the dock.  The team generally coasted through that zone getting instructions from their coaches in small motor boats.  I was just about to give up when some of the team (this is a BIG team, a couple dozen rowers minimum) decided to take another of the small motor boats out.  That gave me something to work with and I grabbed this:

 

I played with the crop until I got this version.  I think it fits the challenge.  At the same time, it was nice but it didn’t blow me away.

After these guys went by a larger speedboat went down the river and I shot several exposures of them.  Really didn’t think I had much to work with from that, so I finally called it a day.  When I got home I downloaded the shots and reviewed them. This one struck me as interesting but with a lot of flaws:

I liked the line of the wake and the boat speeding away, it just felt like more “movement” to me.  On the other hand, there was way too much water in the foreground and the trees in the background were almost unreadably dark.  So it was time to explore more post-production tweaking.

I have actually done very little of this kind of work prior to the challenge.  Some simple things but I’ve never really gone into the deep end on my software.  Here was the chance to try something different.  Cropping is easy.  It’s mostly a matter of trying a crop and seeing if the image works better that way.  Then I applied a blur effect to the boat.  I wanted to emphasize the “speed”.  Finally, I began working with just segments of the image to adjust the exposure of the tree/shoreline alone.  This was all new territory for me.  I had to free hand the edge of the water, then adjusted using the Curves function.  I’m only beginning with this option but it is an amazingly powerful tool for adjusting color and tonal range.  It took a couple adjustments to get the edge of the river correct but the difference is pretty amazing.

Byeprojectw

 

I wouldn’t enter this in a contest because it still has several flaws, but the learning experience is what the challenge is really about.  I learned a LOT on this photo and ended up with an image that largely matched what I saw in my mind’s eye.  So I’m very happy with it.

Next week’s challenge is Landscape – Urbanscape.  Looking for the beauty of the urban.  Back into an area of comfort.

This is part of a year-long photographic challenge.  Dogwood Photography came up with this interesting challenge (HERE) where you have to come up with a photo a week in one of three categories – Portrait, Landscape or Artistic Impression.  Each week has one with a slightly different challenge.

For the folks who are interested in technical type things:

My primary camera is a Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd.  It is a 10.0 Megapixel CCD, sensor size is 1/2.3″.  I shoot in the Fine JPEG 3648 x 2736 format and usually in the “Chrome” setting.

My image software for adjusting is Serif PhotoPlus X4.

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The Creativity Project – Zoom In

In my ongoing attempt to keep the creative side of me flowing (which was the original purpose of this blog), I’ve decided to take on a weekly photo challenge.  It sounded like fun, so I’m giving it a try.  Photos on the blog are reduced to ensure faster loading.  So they actually look BETTER than they do here!

Week fourteen was “Landscape – Zoomed In”.  The challenge was to look at landscape not in the traditional sweeping wide angle but zoomed in closer.

 

Another week and more discussion.  The two camps were those of us who saw it as challenging the shooter to get in close (down to macro for some) and those who saw it as using a telephoto lens for tighter focus.  I’ve been taking advantage of the urban landscape virtually at my door, so I went into Richmond looking for something interesting.  I found this down an alley.

 

What appealled to me here is that the alley walls reinforce the sense of “zooming in”.  I love the textures of the brick and metal roofing, with the blue of the sky above it all.  I am very happy with this one.

 

ISO 64, f4.5 at 1/210

Next week’s challenge is Artistic – Metal.  Finding inspiration in metal, shiny, rusty, whatever.

This is part of a year-long photographic challenge.  Dogwood Photography came up with this interesting challenge (HERE) where you have to come up with a photo a week in one of three categories – Portrait, Landscape or Artistic Impression.  Each week has one with a slightly different challenge.

For the folks who are interested in technical type things:

My primary camera is a Fujifilm Finepix S1000fd.  It is a 10.0 Megapixel CCD, sensor size is 1/2.3″.  I shoot in the Fine JPEG 3648 x 2736 format and usually in the “Chrome” setting.

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