Streamlining The Process

Sloppy Joe's Bar in Key West, Florida
Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida

Ever since I started using Lightroom to process and manage my photos, I have continuously updated and improved my workflow. I’ve used my workflow as the basis for teaching Lightroom classes, individual tutoring and consulting. I carefully devised a workflow that suits my needs, primarily of organizing and identifying my photos, as well as using the various tools such as Pick flags, color labels and star ratings to tell me exactly where in the process a given photo or group of photos was.

Nightlife on Duval Street in Key West, Florida
Nightlife on Duval Street in Key West, Florida

 

Something for everyone in Key West, Florida
Something for everyone in Key West, Florida

As efficient as my workflow has been, one of the big downsides is that I was spending a lot of time in the Develop module for each of my photos, even those that were mostly “snapshots” and would probably never be printed or posted on my website. What eventually happened was that I only had a small percentage of photos that were marked as “finished” and had thousands of photos that had not been processed. These files are ones that I had marked with a Pick flag – meaning that I thought there was some merit to the photo that warranted further processing. And that backlog was getting larger and larger, to the point where I thought I would never get them caught up.

Scenery, Key West, Florida
Scenery, Key West, Florida

Part of my workflow over the years has been to create a group of Develop presets to apply to these photos when I import them from my card. I have a set of presets that take care of 90-95% (or more) of the work I do on a photo. But as good as these presets are, they won’t address things like dust spots and crooked horizons, so I would still go in and spend countless hours tweaking and fine-tuning all of those photos, regardless of whether or not they will ever see life beyond my hard drive.

Front porch, Key West, Florida
Front porch, Key West, Florida

 

Ernest Hemingway House, Key West, Florida
Ernest Hemingway House, Key West, Florida

One of the many lessons from my recent experience with dipping my toe into the mirrorless camera pool is the realization that the files from the Fuji X-T1 hardly needed any follow up tweaking. I was so impressed with the files right out of the camera that in many cases I didn’t do a thing to them, and anything I did do was purely aesthetic, or “because I could.” It was playing around with the files from that camera that made me take another look at my regular workflow and realize that the files from my Canon cameras were also really good, but that I had gotten myself in the habit of working with all of them that I had lost sight of the fact that all that extra work wasn’t really doing anything significant toward improving the photographs, but it was taking an enormous amount of time!

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

I have had a really difficult time letting go of the idea that every photo had to be “completely done” before I marked it as done. Since most of my files never go beyond my own computer, it’s been my own personal hang-up, and I decided that if I wanted to change it I could, so I did. For the last month or so I have been trying really hard to “trust the Force” and let the presets do their work. I still review each individual file for level horizons, dust spots or other things, but have been working really hard to only make those few corrections and to – as much as possible – leave my hands off of those other controls. So far it has worked pretty well. I can get through a lot more photos at one time, and the extra efficiency leaves me the discretion to spend more time with a particular photo or group of photos when I want to. And gradually my backlog is starting to recede, and that is a really good feeling.

Mom & the Kids, Key West, Florida
Mom & the Kids, Key West, Florida

In an upcoming post I will talk about some of the benefits of processing old photos with the new software and will show some examples. Sorry, but that will have to wait while I work on some more photos!

Shadow of our plane and contrail on the clouds during our flight from Key West to Charlotte
Shadow of our plane and contrail on the clouds during our flight from Key West to Charlotte

A Visit to Belmont, North Carolina

Downtown Belmont, North Carolina

Not too far from our home is the town of Belmont, North Carolina. Not surprisingly to many readers of this blog, there is a restaurant there that Kathy & I like to frequent. ;)  One recent Saturday night we took the short drive, and anticipating a short wait for a table I took along my trusty 5D.  Just some random walking around town stuff, and just for fun.

Downtown Belmont, North Carolina Downtown Belmont, North Carolina Downtown Belmont, North Carolina Downtown Belmont, North Carolina Downtown Belmont, North Carolina

Looking Back – 2006

Bluebird on Split Rail Fence, Groundhog Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia
Bluebird on Split Rail Fence, Groundhog Mountain, Blue Ridge Parkway, Virginia

When I started going back through my photos from 2006, my first thought was “gee, this isn’t going to be as interesting as 2005.”  Not so, I think.  We maybe didn’t travel to Alaska, but we still managed to haul ourselves to some pretty interesting places!

Pine Tree Branch with dew, Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky
Pine Tree Branch with dew, Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky

 

Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky
Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky

 

Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky
Natural Bridge State Park, Kentucky

 

Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky
Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

 

Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky
Cumberland Falls, Cumberland Falls State Park, Kentucky

 

It was in 2006 that I sold my Mamiya 7 film camera and bought the 5D.  A lot of these photos were taken with the 20D, and a few of them were taken with my Powershot G5!  I need to dig that camera out of the closet and play around with it.  It was a pretty nice camera and would a bit “retro” to be carrying around now!  A 12 year old digital camera is pretty Old School, just like me. ;)

Great Smoky Mountains Railway in downtown Dillsboro, NC
Great Smoky Mountains Railway in downtown Dillsboro, NC

 

One of the things that I had forgotten about with the 5D was the fact that that big old sensor tended to attract a lot of dust.  And since I was typically shooting landscapes on a tripod I tended to use pretty small apertures.  I didn’t know what a self-cleaning sensor would be like just a few years later, but these photos have and had a lot of cloning done.  Thank goodness for the dust removal tool in Lightroom!

Sunrise from Craggy Pinnacle, Blue Ridge Parkway NC
Sunrise from Craggy Pinnacle, Blue Ridge Parkway NC

 

Orchard at Altapass, Little Switzerland, NC
Orchard at Altapass, Little Switzerland, NC

 

Orchard at Altapass, Little Switzerland, NC
Orchard at Altapass, Little Switzerland, NC

 

Orchard at Altapass, Little Switzerland, NC
Orchard at Altapass, Little Switzerland, NC

 

Fall Colors, Green Knob Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Fall Colors, Green Knob Overlook, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

 

This is another case where the newer process version in Lightroom really brings out the goodness in some of these old photos.  I’m working on a before & after post to show some examples, but between the differences in the software and my own changing personal taste (me, taste?) there is quite a difference in some of these.

Crabtree Falls, Crabtree Meadows, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Crabtree Falls, Crabtree Meadows, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

 

Crabtree Falls, Crabtree Meadows, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Crabtree Falls, Crabtree Meadows, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

 

Charlotte Skyline at Dusk, Charlotte, NC
Charlotte Skyline at Dusk, Charlotte, NC

 

Mountain Island Lake, Huntersville, NC
Mountain Island Lake, Huntersville, NC

 

Ring-billed Gull at Litchfield Beach, SC
Ring-billed Gull at Litchfield Beach, SC

 

Sunrise on the beach, Litchfield Beach, SC
Sunrise on the beach, Litchfield Beach, SC

 

Sunrise on the beach, Litchfield Beach, SC
Sunrise on the beach, Litchfield Beach, SC

 

Cantilevered Barn at the Tipton Place, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park
Cantilevered Barn at the Tipton Place, Cades Cove, Great Smoky Mountains National Park

 

On to 2007…stay tuned!

Beach chairs and umbrella, Hilton Head Island, SC
Beach chairs and umbrella, Hilton Head Island, SC

 

Fall leaves at Mountain Island Lake, Huntersville, NC
Fall leaves at Mountain Island Lake, Huntersville, NC

 

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

 

Half Moon Cay, Bahamas
Half Moon Cay, Bahamas

 

Blackbeards Castle, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands
Blackbeards Castle, St Thomas, US Virgin Islands

 

Sunset, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands
Sunset, Cane Garden Bay, Tortola, British Virgin Islands

 

Spiral Staircase, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, FL
Spiral Staircase, Fernandina Beach, Amelia Island, FL

 

Reflections at the Fernandina Beach Marina, Amelia Island, FL
Reflections at the Fernandina Beach Marina, Amelia Island, FL

Looking Back – 2005

Mount McKinley from Stony Hill Overlook-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Mount McKinley from Stony Hill Overlook-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

I’ve recently begun a project to go back and “finish” processing photos from prior years that I never got around to finishing. These are photos that I had marked as “Picks” but for many reasons just never took the time to finish. It’s been an interesting project so far, and there have been a few photos that, now that I have gone back and looked at them again, are ones that I wonder how I overlooked.

Tree and rocks, Pilot Mountain State Park, North Carolina
Tree and rocks, Pilot Mountain State Park, North Carolina

I’ll write about the details in a future post, but my Lightroom catalog contained more than 8,000 photos that had Pick flags but had not been processed.  That number is miniscule by many people’s standards, but it has been a huge personal monkey on my back for a long time, so I decided to do something about it.  I finished 2011, then decided to go back to the Beginning of Time. So far I’ve completed 2005 and the number is now down to 6,700.  Woo-Hoo! ;)

Sunset from Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Sunset from Waterrock Knob, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

 

Sunrise from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
Sunrise from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC

 

Sunrise from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC
Sunrise from Clingmans Dome, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC

2005 was a good year. I purchased my first digital SLR, a Canon 20D along with a few lenses in April that year. We traveled to the Smokies early that year, and I have a few decent photos from there and spots along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC
Cape Hatteras Lighthouse, Cape Hatteras National Seashore, NC

 

Sand Ripples near the Former Coast Guard station, now abandoned, Pea Island near Oregon Inlet, North Carolina
Sand Ripples near the Former Coast Guard station, now abandoned, Pea Island near Oregon Inlet, North Carolina

 

Ocracoke Lighthouse, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Ocracoke Lighthouse, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

 

Silver Lake Harbor, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina
Silver Lake Harbor, Ocracoke Island, North Carolina

 

Sunset over Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island, NC
Sunset over Silver Lake, Ocracoke Island, NC

 

Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, Rodanthe, North Carolina
Chicamacomico Lifesaving Station, Rodanthe, North Carolina

In May we headed to the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week. We also spent some time in the mountains later in the month.

Sunrise at Cone Manor, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Sunrise at Cone Manor, Julian Price Memorial Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

 

Car lights leave a trail on the descent from Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina
Car lights leave a trail on the descent from Grandfather Mountain, North Carolina

 

Sunrise from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Green Mountain Overlook near Boone, NC
Sunrise from the Blue Ridge Parkway near Green Mountain Overlook near Boone, NC

 

Sunset from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina
Sunset from Craggy Gardens Visitor Center, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina

In July we took the first of our two trips to Alaska, this one to celebrate our 25th anniversary. That was a Really Big Deal, and I brought back a few decent photographs.

Mount McKinley-Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska
Mount McKinley-Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska

 

Sherman City Hall-Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska
Sherman City Hall-Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska

 

Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska
Alaska Railroad from Anchorage to Denali National Park, Alaska

 

Mount McKinley from Stony Hill Overlook-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Mount McKinley from Stony Hill Overlook-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

 

Alaska Range-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Alaska Range-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

 

Mount McKinley from Stony Hill Overlook-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska
Mount McKinley from Stony Hill Overlook-Denali National Park & Preserve, Alaska

 

No Self Service
No Self Service

 

Gracious House Lodge and Flying Service, Denali Highway, Cantwell, Alaska
Gracious House Lodge and Flying Service, Denali Highway, Cantwell, Alaska

 

Wrangell St Elias National Park near Copper Center, Alaska
Wrangell St Elias National Park near Copper Center, Alaska

 

Fog Rising from the Bay, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska
Fog Rising from the Bay, Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve, Alaska

After that it was back to North Carolina, mostly the mountains in the fall, a cruise and that was about it. It was a fairly “light” year as far as photos are concerned, and my Lightroom catalog for 2005 now contains only 755 photos. I was still shooting film then, and there are about 90 scanned slides in a different folder. Chances are if I ever decide to use any of those they will need to be rescanned, since I don’t think they are up to today’s standards. Plus, the more I work with digital files the less I want to work with the old film scans.

Moon Over Price Lake at Sunrise, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC
Moon Over Price Lake at Sunrise, Blue Ridge Parkway, NC

My conclusion after looking at all these files is that I was still a very “subject oriented” photographer back then. I made a lot of documentary shots, with a few of them showing signs of what I feel I am looking at today. Considering that I was just learning digital photography and really just getting started in photography in general, it shows that I still had a lot to learn but had a pretty decent start.

Classic Boats at the Lake Norman Classic Boat Show, Queens Landing, Mooresville, NC
Classic Boats at the Lake Norman Classic Boat Show, Queens Landing, Mooresville, NC

Taking the Time

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

One of the things that I often accuse myself of, and for the most part it’s true, is not taking enough time with a subject to fully explore it. I am one of the most patient people I know, and when I get behind the camera I usually do a pretty good job of focusing myself so that I take as much time as I need. But sometimes I get to a point where I start to lose interest, or I see something else that I want to work with “next” and I move on before I should. That’s one of the reasons why I seldom bother with macro work. It’s just too fussy for me, although on the occasions where I have taken the time the results have been pretty good. But it’s a good example of what I mean. When I am taking very close-up photos of something like a flower, I see a flaw or something that I know will detract from it being a good photograph, then I just give up and move on to something else.

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

One of the advantages of working with a subject that is already “flawed” is that it then becomes an exercise of simply representing it from an interesting angle, or emphasizing a certain quality or exploring how the light shapes the subject or brings out form and character. That is one of the reasons why I love shooting what I refer to as “peeling paint and rust.” I tend to give up if a beetle has been chewing on a flower petal, but if I come across an old boat or a rusted car, that is something I can work with!

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

We live in what I call a “hurry up society.” This is an age that encourages moving along. We now have text messages that go away in 24 hours whether we read them or not, museums who give us a time limit for how long we can view a piece or prevent us from re-entering a room we have already visited. And heck knows we have no shortage of distractions. This all affects our photography in many ways, most of them negative, I think.

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

 

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

It’s far too easy in our always-connected age to take a photo and upload it instantly, so you can share, brag, complain or whatever. Then sit there and wait for all the Likes, Plusses, OMGs and LOLs to come pouring back on you. But that’s not what I’m about. For the most part my connectedness tends to be one-way. And only when it suits me. I’m just not an “always on” kind of guy! So this idea of taking all the time I need really appeals to me and is something I need to push myself to do more.

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

This group of photos comes from 2011 at a place called Stumpy Point, North Carolina. It’s an “unincorporated community” which means that it isn’t actual town, but it does have a fire department, and there is a boat ramp at the end of the road where several old boats have been hauled up on shore and abandoned, just like the hopes and dreams of the owners, I suppose.

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

I’ve been there a number times, but this particular visit was during my Road Ends project that I did for that year’s SoFoBoMo (so glad to hear that it’s been resurrected!). Look it up on a map – it’s a place where all the locals wave because they know that for one reason or another you are there on purpose. It’s not really on the way to anywhere and it is a long way from everywhere. I like it because it is quiet – we were there on July 3 and there wasn’t another soul around. I think during my handful of visits there I’ve only seen three people there, and that was the first time.

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

That’s one of the things I like about going there. It’s quiet, I don’t need to worry about “rent-a-cops” and their imaginary paranoia telling me it’s illegal to shoot there. I’ve never seen anyone to ask, but I suppose if I did they would say something like “ain’t nothin’ else to do out here, have at it.” I probably give them something different to look at for a while.

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

 

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

According to my metadata I probably spent about 30 minutes shooting on that day. I don’t remember but it was probably hot and humid, and if there was any kind of breeze it would have helped keep the mosquitos away, but in July it’s not a cooling breeze. But I got what I went there for and came across a nice little series of photos. And I have some nice photos of the same boat that I made on previous visits. She’s not going anywhere. I suppose at some point a storm will come along and wash her to her final resting place, or someone will finally accept her fate and haul the remains off to a trash heap somewhere. But for a few visits she was a great subject for photography. I wish I knew her name, but there hasn’t been anyone around to ask!

Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina
Road Ends at Stumpy Point on Stumpy Point Road off US 264 near Stumpy Point, North Carolina

Some More Photos From Key West

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

Not much time to write this week, but I have been processing photos.  Here are a few more to look at.  Be sure to read some of the captions! :)

Coconut disposal, Key West, Florida
Coconut disposal, Key West, Florida

 

A group of bicyclists celebrate at the Southernmost Point marker after riding from Miami
A group of bicyclists celebrate at the Southernmost Point marker after riding from Miami

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

US Coast Guard Cutter Ingham on display at the Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida
US Coast Guard Cutter Ingham on display at the Maritime Museum in Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Statue in front of the Key West Museum of Art and History, Key West, Florida
Statue in front of the Key West Museum of Art and History, Key West, Florida

 

St Paul's Episcopal Church, Key West, Florida
St Paul’s Episcopal Church, Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

My new boat, bought it in Key West, left it in Key West
My new boat, bought it in Key West, left it in Key West

 

Kathy's new boat.  She got the better end of the deal.
Kathy’s new boat. She got the better end of the deal.

 

Around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida
Around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida

 

The original Sponge Bob, around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida
The original Sponge Bob, around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida

 

Around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida
Around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida

 

Evidence that Kathy did indeed go to the top!  Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida
Evidence that Kathy did indeed go to the top! Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

 

Fresnel lens at the Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida
Fresnel lens at the Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

 

Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida
Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

 

Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida
Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

 

Today's Educational System at Work
Today’s Educational System at Work

 

Ernest Hemingway House, Key West, Florida
Ernest Hemingway House, Key West, Florida

 

The Conch Tour Train in Key West, Florida
The Conch Tour Train in Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Birthplace of Pan American World Airways in Key West, Florida
Birthplace of Pan American World Airways in Key West, Florida

 

Marina at the Westin Resort in Key West, Florida
Marina at the Westin Resort in Key West, Florida

 

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida

 

Many forms of transportation on Duval Street
Many forms of transportation on Duval Street

 

Many forms of transportation on Duval Street
Many forms of transportation on Duval Street

A Visit to Key West

The Queen and her Throne. Key West, Florida

Several weeks ago Kathy & I finally made our journey to Key West. We had talked about going a couple of years ago, but instead decided to upend our lives for a year while we sold a house and bought another one. Last winter we had just moved in, were recovering from the move and our vacation budget was severely depleted. Things are pretty much back to normal for the time being, so when it came time to make our plans for 2015, we decided that this might be a good time to go.

Key West, Florida
Sloppy Joe’s Bar in Key West, Florida

Our original idea was to take a week or two and drive to Key West and back from North Carolina, stopping at a few places in Florida along the way. While we like Florida, the idea of using up a couple of weeks’ vacation time on a drive through Florida just to get to Key West might not be the best use of our time. Especially that early in the year when we have to make our meager allocation of vacation days last for a whole year! So we decided to take the money that it would take to drive there and just fly. We’ll get to see the rest of Florida another time, and as fun as I’m sure it would be to drive out through the Keys along Highway 1, that wasn’t high on my priority list. I’ll gladly wait for another time, and if the opportunity doesn’t arrive that will be OK.

The Southernmost Point, Key West Florida
View from the end of Spangler Street near the Waldorf Astoria resort in Key West, Florida

We’d always heard that Key West can be quite expensive, especially in the winter. But we learned a long time ago that the best time to visit a place was when it was best there, and not necessarily the best time to be away from home. Not being fans of heat and humidity, Kathy & I agreed that regardless of the higher rates in the winter season, that was when we wanted to go. So we did our research and went prepared.

The only time I wished for a longer lens.
Typical bar on Duval Street in Key West, Florida

As luck would have it, we picked a really good time to leave Charlotte, but it also corresponded with a pretty chilly time to be in Key West. The temperature on the day we left Charlotte was in the low 20’s, and the forecast for Key West called for temperatures in the upper 60’s and low 70’s. Not bad. We missed some very cold weather and some snow with lows in the single digits in Charlotte. Awww! The same front that brought the cold to Charlotte also came through southern Florida, and Key West experienced some unusually cold temperatures by their standards. It still felt pretty good to us, and we had one evening where the temperatures were in the low 50s and one day the high was in the low 60’s. We had hoped for it to be a little warmer but were glad we weren’t sweating!

She gets points for using the popup flash. Points deducted.
Remnants of an old wall at the end of Duval Street in Key West, FL

My impression of Key West is that it is pretty much like any other tourist town once you get out of sight of the water. Walking down Duval Street you pass the usual bars, restaurants, junky trinket galleries and T-shirt shops. There are a few really nice shops and galleries, but you have to look for them. Key West even has it’s own Diamonds International, in case you missed something during the last 20 cruise ship ports. During the day, and especially when the cruise ships are in port, it pretty much looks and feels like any other downtown shopping area. After dark is another story, but I usually didn’t carry my camera to dinner so I didn’t come home with any photographic evidence. Suffice it to say that there were sights we don’t usually see in our regular destinations!

Key West, Florida
Key West, Florida
Yard Art Obsession, Key West Florida

We managed to do a lot of the usual touristy things while we were in Key West. My friends on Facebook will see that I have proof that Kathy & I visited the Southernmost Point, and we’ve decided that we need to work on getting to the other three points on the compass as well. We toured the Ernest Hemingway House, the Key West Lighthouse, the cemetery, took the Conch Train tour and a bunch of other stuff. The weather turned out to be too nasty for a trip to Dry Tortugas, so if that turns out to be the last National Park on my list of parks to visit I’ll just have to go back and get there. We also didn’t go to Mallory Square for what is supposed to be a nightly sunset celebration. We were pretty much pooped out by that time of the day and still needed energy to walk to dinner, plus the weather was nasty on a couple of the evenings so other than the people watching I don’t think there was much sunset to see.

Something for everyone in Key West, Florida
Around the marina at Key West Bight, Key West, Florida

We stayed at the Lighthouse Court Hotel, one of six properties owned by a group called Historic Key West Inns. It was an excellent place to stay and we would stay there again. I wrote a review of the place in an attempt to win a free return trip, and will publish that as a separate post.

Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

I need to wrap this up so I can get it posted, but suffice it to say that we had a great time, and it was nice to take a vacation that didn’t involve a cruise ship. We have a few more plans in store for the year, but this was a good way to kick things off. A lot of people have told me that Key West is on their “bucket list” and I am glad to say that I have been there.

Key West Lighthouse, Key West, Florida

March 2015 Wallpaper

Remnants of an old wall at the end of Duval Street in Key West, FL
Remnants of an old wall at the end of Duval Street in Key West, FL

I said I wasn’t (necessarily) going to do a monthly wallpaper, but I keep remembering to do one so here is the third for the year.  No promises going forward!

Kathy & I got away to Key West for a few days recently and I’m still working on the photos.  I’ll have a few stories to share along with some pictures over the next few weeks.

Our Photographic “Legacy”

Random photos while walking around Charleston, West Virginia
Random photos while walking around Charleston, West Virginia

In one of Brooks Jensen’s latest Lenswork podcasts titled “Your Photographic Will”, Brooks explores the idea of what to do with all of our photographs when we head for that big darkroom in the sky. Brooks raises some good points and has some interesting suggestions, including deciding whether we should give away, sell, donate or destroy our work while we are still around to do something personally with it.

Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences, Charleston, West Virginia
Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences, Charleston, West Virginia

I’ve always found such discussion to be somewhat presumptuous, since for most of the photographers I know, I can’t imagine that anyone, not even our families, is going to give a flip about our photographs when we’re gone. Heck, for the most part no one gives much of a flip about our photographs while we’re here!

Kidston Island Lighthouse, Bras d'Or Lake, Baddeck, Nova Scotia
Kidston Island Lighthouse, Bras d’Or Lake, Baddeck, Nova Scotia

There are a number of photographers these days who are making a significant enough contribution to photography that their work is important enough that they need to think about such things. Brooks is probably one of those photographers, if for no other reason than being the editor and publisher of one of the pre-eminent fine art photography magazines around.  But for the most part, photography has become so ubiquitous and there are many photographers making reasonably good work these days.  The chance of anyone’s work achieving whatever level of acclaim is necessary to be considered important enough to worry about is pretty slim.

Random photos from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox
Random photos from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox

As much as I enjoy printing, I have never made a darkroom print, so I don’t have an inventory of prints that I have made over the years. Heck, I’ve never even been in a darkroom with someone else developing or printing, let alone done my own! Most of the inkjet prints I have made over the years have gone directly into a frame, been shipped off to a customer or torn up and tossed in the trash. I don’t keep a ready supply of prints hanging around in boxes.

Random photos from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox
Random photos from our cruise aboard Celebrity Equinox

I’ve given some prints away to friends over the years, but I’ve always felt a little guilty giving someone a gift that they were going to need to spend money to have framed. In our previous house I had made and framed a number of prints, but I made a conscious decision when we moved to our new place to start from scratch. I did keep and hang a select few of those prints, but many of the prints were from my early days of printing and not of a quality that I considered to be worth hanging on to. So I tossed most of those in the trash and either repurposed the frames or took them to Goodwill.

Walking around uptown Charlotte on a chilly February day.
Walking around uptown Charlotte on a chilly February day.

Recently I have been making some new prints of some of my work for specific locations in our new home. I have a few more to make and plan to do a blog post about them when I’m done. But those are prints done for décor, not for sale to anyone else. I have made “test prints” on my own printer but then shipped the files off to be printed by a lab on canvas or wood. There may be a metal or glass print in my future, but we’ll have to find the right photograph and the right location.

Walking around uptown Charlotte on a chilly February day.
Walking around uptown Charlotte on a chilly February day.

So as far as my own “Photographic Will” there’s not much to get excited about. My camera gear is probably worth more than my inventory of photographs. Other than a few boxes and binders of slides and negatives, most of my “serious” photography is on a single hard drive, backed up in multiple places, of course!

To Go Order?
To Go Order?

One of Brooks’ suggestions that I really did like was the idea of producing a printed book or a series of books of our photographs. There are many places to have books made, and they could be given away to family and close friends now, while I can enjoy sharing with them. I like that idea and am currently thinking of a few ways I could present my photographs that was meaningful to me while at the same time was something that others could enjoy too.

Random photos while walking around Charleston, West Virginia
Random photos while walking around Charleston, West Virginia

I’m actually kind of glad that I don’t have a lot of stuff to keep track of or worry about. Kathy already thinks I have too much stuff, but by a lot of people’s standards I don’t have much at all. She is definitely glad that it is all contained in a single room of our house. Except of course for the prints that I’ve been hanging on the walls. For that I think she is happy, or at least she hasn’t told me to stop. Yet!

Photographs and stuff!