I said I was going to post wallpapers less regularly, and I passed on April. But I was getting tired of that scene and wanted something springy. Spring has sprung here in North Carolina, although the usual spring-almost-summer temperatures haven’t decided to stay yet. We’re still in that “heat in the morning, AC in the afternoon” stage that usually ends in April. That’s OK with me!
There isn’t a lot of lavender here in North Carolina. This is a lavender field in Seafoam, Nova Scotia from a few years back. I’ve been reliving 2013 lately and this seemed like a good candidate to occupy my desktop for a while. I hope it goes well on yours, too if you are so inclined.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
I’m going to try something a little different starting with this month’s calendar. For the last year or so I’ve been mostly dredging up old landscape photos mixed in with a few more recent shots. I’ve recently started to realize how much my photographic emphasis has changed over the last few years, and I find myself photographing a lot less nature and a lot more of what I call “found scenes.” Sometimes they are scenes I find in nature, but often they are scenes I come across just walking down the street in some town I happen to be visiting.
These photos won’t necessarily be the iconic “hero shots” that I have been posting as wallpaper, but I feel like I need to be true to my own sense of what it is I happen to be seeing and shooting. And that changes, necessarily I think, over time as I learn and grow. Some readers may enjoy this work and others may not. For those who like it, please say so and thanks. For those who don’t, please feel free to let me know!
I may also add in a few abstract photos that I’ve come to enjoy. Those also make nice wallpaper, although they may be a little different from what I’ve posted here in the past.
This particular photo was taken in Charleston, South Carolina, last winter. For me it represents the change from winter to spring – winter from the bare branches on the trees, but spring through the green on the bricks in the background, set against a whitewashed wall that hints of color but also could be seen as representing snow. Not in Charleston probably, but certainly in many parts of this country, even in March.
I hope everyone enjoys this little change of pace and I hope everyone has a nice March!
I’m not exactly a bandwagon sort of guy, but as I see other photographers post about their favorite photos from the year before I can’t help but think a little bit about my own favorites. I tend not to think of time in orderly chunks like years, but it is sometimes convenient to do so, since things like birthdays, anniversaries and tax returns tend to happen on a pretty regular basis. So, why not a post about favorite photographs from the previous year? Why not, indeed.
Overall I’d have to say that 2013 was a very good year for me and Kathy. I didn’t do a lot photography relative to what I have done in prior years, but I didn’t exactly sell the cameras and take up basketweaving (not that there’s anything wrong with basketweaving). But my time, attention, energy and money was spent on things other than photography. The good thing is that the things that we did spend our time, attention, energy and money on last year are investments in our future, and should ultimately make it easier to do the things we enjoy, like traveling and taking pictures.
Selling a house is not an easy task. Moving is a pain in the butt. Building a house is not for the faint of heart. We not only did all three, but we moved twice and actually sold two houses! Fortunately we only built one. But the one we built is intended to be our “lock and leave” house, allowing us the freedom and flexibility we seek in the next act of our lives. And of course, mixed in among all that work was a little play.
I’m not going to recount my entire life over the last 12 months. Those who care have been around and already know, and those who haven’t been around probably already know as much as they want to know! I’m also not going to try and narrate every photo, although I’ll probably throw in a comment or two along the way. And finally, I’m not trying to keep this to a certain magic number, so we’ll see what we end up with.
The Light Factory
If you are in the Charlotte area and have an interest in photography, there are two things that I wanted to mention.
Many folks are familiar with The Light Factory, a museum of photography and film that has existed here for many years. TLF is one of a very few organizations in the country that are devoted exclusively to photography and film. Their educational programs have been excellent and their outreach programs have helped a lot of people. I have taught classes for them over the years. In what is probably a sign of our times, near the end of last year the former board decided to close the organization down, citing declining revenues and increased expenses. The staff was let go and the doors were locked. A small group of dedicated members has taken over to move the headquarters and teaching space, which was accomplished in December.
Keep an eye on their website and Facebook page over the next few weeks as they get operations bank in gear. I understand that they are working on a Kickstarter campaign to raise some funds, and in doing so will be offering some interesting rewards for people who donate.
Second Tuesday of the Month Club
A long-time tradition of the Charlotte photographic community is seeing some new life. Joe Ciarlante, a local commercial photographer and educator, has recently taken on the task of revising these meetings. Held fittingly on the second Tuesday of each month, the first such meeting of the resurrected group is this coming Tuesday, January 14 at SparkPoint Studio at 625 Griffith Rd. Suite 105 in Charlotte. Time is 7:00-9:00. This is a great forum to get to know other photographers, get feedback on your work, talk about equipment, or just hang out. Stop by and check it out if you are in the area and have an interest.
Kathy & I moved into our new home this past weekend, just in time for Christmas. We’re still waiting on our local internet monopoly to get around to connecting our service, so I’m posting this (with some difficulty) from my phone.
We’d like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a joyous New Year.
Wow, last month of the year! And although it’s been a good one there’s a lot to look forward to in 2014.
This month’s calendar is something a little different, but hopefully not too different. It’s a little more “abstracty” than sometimes, but I was looking for something a little different, that spoke to the season without screaming “CHRISTMAS.” Not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course. It’s just that I wanted something a little…quieter.
I hope everyone has a great month, a joyous Christmas/Holiday season and best wishes for a wonderful 2014.
This post has been rolling around in my head for some time, but Thanksgiving and all the Black Friday hoopla seems to be an appropriate time to gather these thoughts and put them out on the blog.
On our recent journey to Charleston, I remember at one point commenting about the number of car dealerships clustered around a particular interchange. I think it was somewhere around Columbia, SC but it could be anywhere in the US big enough to have car dealerships. As much as I love and appreciate nice cars, the automobile business has always served to me as a prime representation of marketing-driven consumption. If I wanted to be negative I could say “greed and excess” here, but it wouldn’t serve my point. So we’ll call it marketing-driven consumption. Black Friday is another prime example of marketing-driven consumption to the max.
I specifically remember, shortly after buying a new car several years ago, someone told me “congratulations!” as if to imply that purchasing a new car was some kind of heroic achievement. But that’s how cars have always been marketed, as symbols of success and status. When I was growing up, each September my brother & I would start sneaking into the storage lots behind the local car dealerships to get a peek at the new models to be introduced in the fall. Back in that day, models tended to really change between model years, rather than just another homogenized ToyHoNisOlet, because the manufacturers relied more on the cars to sell themselves. And they all had somewhat distinctive features, from styling to performance.
Today, many cars, at least those the regular folks can afford, all look pretty much alike. So it takes marketing to make us want one over another. And that marketing is usually aimed at making someone feel young, attractive, successful, more interesting or some attribute only accomplished by purchasing a particular product. Because it’s been hammered into our heads for so long, whenever someone sees a friend driving a new car, there is often a tinge of envy (or worse) and at least a little bit of “must be nice.” I usually look at it and think of what I could do with the payment. But that’s just me.
Anyway, the comment that I made when I saw all of these car dealerships was that if there was some way we could be identified and ranked (because after all this is all about judging and ranking – a subject for another post) not by how fancy our car is or the neighborhood we live in, but by the size of our 401(k) our IRA or our savings account, would there be investment offices at all of these interchanges instead of car dealerships? Would we make different decisions if they were based on mindful reasoning instead of marketing? And how would those decisions be reflected in our personal wellbeing if they didn’t involve spending huge sums of money or committing to an endless stream of payments?
In that same vein, why do so many people tend to judge how serious someone is about photography based on the type of equipment they own or the subject matter that they photograph? Have we been convinced by marketing and promotion by the camera manufacturers and retailers that the only way to take meaningful photographs is to have the latest and greatest camera and lens? Perhaps. But I prefer to appreciate a photographer’s work based on the quality of their photographs, and when possible the stories behind the photographs. THAT is what photography means to me, not what brand of camera someone has, or which lens or how big their sensor is. Or even whether they are using a digital camera or film. But that’s hard, just like resisting the temptation brought on by advertising and marketing is hard.
As someone who doesn’t own a television or listen to commercial radio (I usually say that “I don’t watch TV” because saying “I don’t own a TV” makes some people uncomfortable) I’m not bombarded by all of the marketing messages that drive consumer spending. Kathy & I just don’t buy a lot of stuff, and when we do, we buy it because we need or want it. Being on sale isn’t generally a factor in our buying decision, although once we make a decision to purchase something we will often wait on a sale to buy it if we aren’t in a rush. But I still find myself attracted by the “Sale” or “Limited Time Only” mentality, and sometimes have to work hard to curb that feeling I get when something looks attractive because I’m afraid that I might not be able to have it.
As Kathy & I prepare to move into our “downsized” new home, and after having lived for the last 6 months in a rented apartment with just our most essential belongings, we have come to realize that all of the things we have been storing since May are things that aren’t really necessary for our daily lives. And while we did a really good job of paring down the things that we deemed “disposable” before we moved, we now think that maybe we didn’t go far enough. Many of things we have been storing are things that we’re going to have to think really hard about, in order to decide how much of it we even need or want to keep.
So what does this all have to do with anything? In the last few days, like many of us I’ve been bombarded by e-mails from every merchant I’ve ever done business with promoting their Black Friday “Doorbusters.” I don’t know about everyone else, but I haven’t yet seen a “deal” on anything I’d actually buy. I don’t think of camera equipment as something that is an impulse purchase. Most people only buy a camera when they need one, after weeks or sometimes months of analysis or research. I’ve enjoyed several recent exchanges on the blogs of some of my photo friends, discussing things like the aesthetics of a particular camera. Talking about how a camera feels to hold versus another, the ease of use or feel of the controls. Discussions around the mindfulness of talking photographs and cutting out the noise and chatter that distracts us from the pursuit of activities that make us happy. Things that matter to those of us who actually use a camera to take photographs, not just collect equipment or are constantly chasing after the next great thing. But that isn’t stuff you can buy at the mall or Best Buy.
Monte has demonstrated that you don’t need to necessarily buy the latest version of a camera, that the introduction of a new model can mean a good deal on the previous one. That makes the older model a good value, because it will do exactly what he needs it to do for a fraction of the cost of when it was new, or of the cost of the new model.
Chris has spent some time comparing the relative qualities of several mirrorless compact camera models, and has formed an opinion that seems to be contrary to the popular opinion. But if a particular camera meets your needs, then it is the right tool for you. Whether or not something is on sale doesn’t make it a good deal if it isn’t what you want. And I guess that is my point.
And Cedric wrote a similar post about how the ergonomics and feel of a camera means more to him than megapixels and dynamic range. His story about an exchange with a photography professor about the “feel” of a camera was a good one.
Mindfulness is a theme I have been pursuing lately. Decisions made in a calculated fashion, not driven by a marketing frenzy. Just being on sale isn’t a reason to buy anything we don’t want or need. Not buying something means you have saved the entire price, not just a percentage. And not needing a place to store all of our accumulated junk means we have room and resources for things that do matter to us. A purchasing decision made mindfully is a good one regardless of the price of the item being purchased.
I’m looking forward to living even more mindfully in 2014. We’ll see how that actually plays out. But first I’m going to have to sort through all the stuff that the movers are going to deliver in a couple of weeks! I’ll probably decide to start planning a vacation…that’s a lot more fun than a car payment.
Kathy & I spent some time in Charleston, SC a few weekends ago. I took a few photos, and these are a few that show my take on Charleston, although perhaps not what most tourists take photos of. I got a few of those, too. That will be the topic for some future posts. For now, here are a few of my “non-typical” Charleston photos.
I’m still working on Nova Scotia photos…hoping to come up with 12 that are calendar-worthy. Not that I don’t think I can find 12, I just don’t want to find the perfect one after it’s too late!
Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia is a real tourist destination, and for good reason. It’s a beautiful location, has a little history, it’s got a lighthouse, a bunch of boats and a quaint little harbor. The day we were there is was relatively uncrowded and the weather was beautiful. And even in the middle of the day, the light was fantastic.
The biggest challenge for me in photographing a place like this is deciding whether I want people in my shots or not. I like people just fine, but I don’t always want to include them in my photos of a quintessential maritime fishing village! Sometimes I just need to be patient, and other times I just need to accept that there will be people! 🙂
Another thing that works well is to photograph someplace that people are less likely to be, like the edge of a dock. Most people don’t like to spend time in the water in places like this.
And they don’t let people climb the lighthouse, inside or out.
Generally when I am in the process of taking a photograph, I have a basic idea what it is going to look like when I am finished processing it. When I’m sitting at the computer working on an image, it just sort of “develops itself.” Most of the time the direction I need to go with an becomes pretty clear to me. I open up an image in Lightroom, work on it a bit, and after a few basic tweaks it is pretty much done. Unless I’m going to make a print, there isn’t a whole lot more I do.
This particular photograph has me a little perplexed. I processed it exactly how I expected to. It’s a little more processed than usual, but there’s quite a lot of dynamic range going on here. But for some reason, I just can’t seem to get comfortable with it. There’s nothing really “wrong” with it, in fact a lot of people would probably wish that they had taken it themselves. But for some reason I am struggling with it.
It’s a typical Cowee Mountains Overlook sunset. It’s got a nice sky, detail in the foreground, and there’s a lot going on. Too much, I think. It is a very “busy” image, as opposed to a lot of my photographs that are a bit more simplified. I’ve definitely processed it a lot more than I usually process an image. Maybe that’s it, I’m not sure.
I think the thing that I keep coming back to is that it doesn’t seem like it’s mine. It’s the sort of landscape photograph that I’ve taken for years, but I just can’t seem to connect with this one. No, I didn’t switch memory cards with someone by mistake, but it’s just such a departure from the type of photography I’ve been doing recently that I may just have to spend some time with it to figure it out. In the mean time, it just doesn’t feel like my style, and I find that interesting.