Photo – Back To My Roots

In the beginning, there was black and white.  That’s where you began.  It’s where you learned.  I skipped over that part.  I have no formal training at all.  I picked up a camera and started to play.  And I played in black and white.

It was never my primary film of choice.  I was a slide guy (and that is an enormous pain in the ass today.  Somehow I have to come up with the money to get hundreds of slides digitized.  Sigh.  Prints I can scan quickly).  While I love shooting in color, I continue to be fascinated by the unique artistic and creative challenges of black and white.

So I’ve been playing with some shots recently.

This one is almost cheating.  The keyboard is black and white except for some orange icons on the “f” function keys.  But the original color version just felt blah to me.  So I flipped this to black and white and cropped it a little.  Everything seems to pop a little more for me here.

This one started as a much wider angle view of the washing machine at the laundromat.  If you spend much time in such places, you know that boredom is the one constant.  So it can be a great place to try and find some way of being creative.  Because I didn’t want a perfectly centered picture, I took this from the side.  That resulted in an image that looked titled and no amount of simple cropping fixed it.  So I zoomed in tight on just the door.  The blur in the window is my laundry underway.  Laundromats give me a slightly disoriented feeling, and the blur of the clothes plus the slight blurriness on the edge of the door give me that same feeling.  Again, almost a cheat because the majority of the item is silver.  But what little color there was in the image was distracting, so the B&W works here again.

There was plenty of color here, but again it felt like it distracted.  This is my writing desk set up.  The dual screen is a new experiment that I find intriguing.  The lighting has a noir feeling to it that is offset by the whimsey of the rubber ducks and Wrimer, my writing companions.

Just as when people ask writers where our ideas come from, the answer for photographers is the same.  Ideas are everywhere.  You just need to keep your eyes open for them and be willing to experiment along the way.  Play with something new, go back to something old.  The process of playing is a large part of the process of creativity.

All images are the property of J.D. Phillippi.  All rights reserved.

Copyright 2018

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Photo – Playing With Toys

Photography remains one of my favorite outlets for creativity.  When I started back in the dark ages, the creativity came in two phases.  Through the lens and in the darkroom.  I understood the darkroom concepts but never used them.  I trained myself to get the image in the viewfinder.  Not being able to afford the level of film expenditures that the pros used helped that way too.

While that’s great training, and one I recommend to every beginning photographer, it does still leave some options off the table.  Which is why the digital age has been such a boon!  Now darkroom options are available to everyone.  It doesn’t require a dedicated room, just a few pieces of software on your computer.

There’s still a learning curve.  And I’m enjoying puttering along the way.

Here’s a photo I took with my camera phone (an LG K20 PLUS, which I really like).  The brilliance of the leaf on the reflective surface caught my eye.

But it’s not perfect.  The tip of the leaf is out of focus and the interior of the car is too visible.  It’s distracting.

So I jumped into an app I picked up, Photo Painter (0.99 at Google Play), to see if I could improve the image.  The interface is easy to use and offers several options.  I chose the edit function which then lets me play with various styles (Impressionism, Realism, Expressionism, etc).  After fiddling with it a bit, I chose Expressionism.  And it gave me this:

This solves a lot of my issues.  The interior of the car is reduced, the sense of reflection is maintained and the edges of the leaf are much sharper!  Now, I suddenly notice the clear, non-reflective section at the bottom left.  It hadn’t bothered me before but does now.  That’s easy to fix!  Using my favorite photo viewer and editor, Irfanview (Free), I can quickly crop the offending section out.  The added value here is that it takes the leaf out of the center of the frame.  I think that’s a much better presentation.

So here’s the final version:

Is it lying in a puddle, or a pond, or on the windshield of a car?  It can be anything you want.  When I look at this one, I am very happy.  I took a grab shot and turned into something that makes me happy and proud.  Not bad.  Not bad at all.

 

All images are the property of J.D. Phillippi.  All rights reserved.

Copyright 2018

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.

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.

 

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.

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.

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.