I Want to See More

•March 10, 2010 • Leave a Comment

It’s a new semester and no one could be more pleased than me.  I changed teachers and although I admittedly did learn quite a bit last semester, I would have wished for a more enjoyable experience.  This term, I am at a different college and have an amazing, warm, funny, patient and open-minded teacher.  Thank God for Scott Lizama (my teacher) as he has energized my passion for the study of photography and recognizes that there are many definitions to what is a quality picture.  I am having a blast and loving my class…whew!

We have had three assignments thus far and each have been worthy in their own right.  He doesn’t get too philosophical about our assignments, even though he is a thoughtful artist in his own approach to his skill.  The first task was to shoot pictures that demonstrated our understanding of ‘depth of field’–easy peasy.  The second assignment was creating a series of photographs by shooting an overall pic and then dissecting it with four more photographs to demonstrate our ability to perfectly expose and meter.  I chose a old train yard and opted to go a more abstract route with my photos.

Here is an example of depth of field, which when played with can create a type of distortion as you see in this photo.

Sorry–for whatever reason, I can’t get my train shots to upload–I will try later again.

The third assignment was to utilize the HDR software (high dynamic range) to our photos.  At first, I wasn’t convinced HDR was for me, but as I used it with admitted moderation, I found it an interesting way to bring out details that otherwise wouldn’t be seen.  I selected two landscape photographs and three portraits for my HDR critique.  I was pleased and thought the comments in the critique were helpful and something to keep in mind for future shots.  I guess what surprised me was when the teacher said “Your portraits are amazing–they make me want to see more of your work.” I acted all cool, but wanted to jump and down :).

Of course, they aren’t wanting to upload either–gah.

He briefed us on our final project, which we will work on while we are still doing other assignments.  We will be creating a slideshow of our photographs set and relevant to music.  This means that I will need to have a ton of quality pictures–about 1 pic for every 3-4 seconds of the song.  I just spent the morning listening to some of my favorite artists and I hate to admit that I took notice of the length of the songs!  I also know that I don’t want to do photos that are too literal of the song, rather ones that bring the song and photos together in more of a montage spirit.  I have created a short list of Tracy Chapman, Josh Radin and a new musician, Sergey Lazarev.  Sergey has a gorgeous song that is relatively unknown called “Your beautiful”.  I was thinking about putting together a collection of photography of all the women in my life, young, middle age and mature, but still thinking on this one.


To see or not to see…

•January 25, 2010 • Leave a Comment

Now, having shot thousands of photographs of everything from the family dog, weddings to competitive bicycling, I have determined that the most  exciting photography are the moments that capture the spirit of the second….an expression….a glimpse…a gesture.  Photographing a cactus, while beautiful, simply isn’t as inspiring as that click that captures the painful grimace or that joy of winning.  This past weekend I watched (and photographed) a bike race that is called a “criterium” which simply means that the race is much more compact and allows you to view a fair portion of the event unlike most bike races.  It reminded me more of a roller derby where the skaters bump, push and do whatever it takes to win.

Imagine watching an event like this through a set of binoculars and that is pretty much what it feels like to photograph it.  While it allows you to see details, and catch the more raw expressions than without those super lens, it also keeps you from sometimes seeing the bigger picture.  There were a couple of other photographers so, they were ok with me following them around to catch the best angles and shots.  There we were, three of us with our heads buried in our cameras when the race went awry and in an instant we were in the middle of the race.  Some wild riders went wide on the turn and came onto the dirt and of course, there we stood, frozen like statues while a stampede of bicycles rode inches from our sides.  I must admit my heart raced as I realized my predicament…as you can imagine I hauled my ass as quickly as I safely could out of what had turned out to be a danger zone. Next time I will likely remain a resident of the sidewalk.

So, the above picture (of Jason, my son) is my first picture choice for my first assignment of this semester.  The assignment was to take two photos showing full depth of field and one without meaning full clarity of the entire picture and one where only the forefront has clarity…as you can see in this picture the clarity remains fairly strong from the bicycle tire in the front of the picture to Staples in the rear (which is probably a mile+ away).  I chose this picture, not only because it is of my son, but I love the shadow the bicycle shadow as well as the expression on his face–the face of a tough rider in a tough race.  I opted to convert it to black and white because the colors were so beautiful that I felt it took away from the ruggedness of the actual event.

This picture (above) is an example of Depth of Field (dof) that has chosen to provide more intense focus on the foreground.  You can see that the further you look into the photo, the more blurry it becomes.  This is a choice, not a mistake.  Personally, these are my favorite type of photographs because they put the focus on the subject versus the incidental surroundings and/or backgrounds.  In this photograph, I don’t know the riders, but I really liked their expressiveness, the multitude of bicycle shadows and the intense clustering of the bicycles themselves.

On a different note, it was fun to see a Jason’s friend win the highly competitive race–way to go Jon….

Just a couple of more “arty” photos that I thought turned out interesting…


Hahaha…couldn’t resist the sun kissed cacti….yes, they are still beautiful too.

Lessons Learned at My First Wedding

•January 21, 2010 • 3 Comments

The Bride and Groom

I knew I probably shouldn’t have accepted the invitation to shoot my friend’s wedding…really now, I have only been studying photography at any level of seriousness for about 5 months.  A wedding?  I still have buttons on my fancy, schmancy camera that I don’t know what the hell they do….Well, you know I couldn’t say no and I figured it would be a good experience.  Of course, I am sure my father who now resides in heaven as a retired Southern Baptist Minister has enjoyed the irony of his little girl taking on photography, much less than it was a Mormon wedding at the Temple…it is pretty funny.

The beautiful bride

Lesson One that I learned was that it is a good idea to have a secondary photographer…Thank you Austin!  Four days before the wedding my back went wacko and with enough heavy, medications I was able to function, but barely.  I couldn’t believe the timing of my achy bones. The value of knowing there was someone to back up my photos was almost as much relief as the muscle relaxers!

Sometimes, it is just the right moment to click

Lesson Two was that camera gels are very important and I was glad my back up photographer had some in his nifty backpack.  Why would a reception hall ever think that yellow lighting is a good idea?  Good grief. Be prepared for bizarre lighting and of course, remember that lighting means everything in a picture.

Sneaking a kiss at the reception

Lesson Three was that 6 hours of taking pictures is damn hard work.  I won’t scare anyone with a picture of myself–between the half of vicodan and muscle relaxer…oh my the haggard work of a beginning photographer.

Lesson Four was that weddings are about the dress…the bride and maybe even a little bit of the groom!  I have begun to think that the groom is the prop for the elaborate headwear, dresses, shoes and flowers or maybe it is that I just like to take pictures of well adorned and beautiful women!

Lesson Four was that I need to figure out how to manage this many pictures and to limit my promises to what I can really handle…we took over 1400 shots and ended up with 750 worthy ones. After burning more cd’s than I care to admit to protect the megapixels, I know there has to be an easier way.  I will figure that one out by the next wedding.

Lesson Five was that while it is important to catch all of the bride and groom ‘wish’ photos…take a few that are just for you, the photographer…the art of it.


The Dance

In the end, I am so glad I took the challenge.  The bride was stunning and the groom, handsome…capturing those moments for them and their lifetime together was an honor. I was happy to make this my gift to them and their future together. Not half bad for a rookie ya think?

Good ol’ Fred at the beach

•December 28, 2009 • Leave a Comment

This was Fred’s first time at the ocean.  He sniffed, rolled in the sand and ran from the tide….it was pretty hilarious.  He looked at the sea as if it was a huge playground and he ran until he was exhausted.  It was a blast shooting these pics.

Fred was running so happily (see all four paws are off the ground) with Jason (my son).  We thought he might freak a bit with the sand, but oh no he was one happy camper.

Jason’s footprint in the sand next to Fred’s paw print…pretty cute eh?

Holy Cannoli–it worked!

•December 5, 2009 • Leave a Comment

Not that I am compulsive or anything, but more than a few headaches have plagued me in the idea forming as well as execution of this final assignment on self, reflection and shadow.  In a gmail brainstorming session with my daughter yesterday, she walked me through dark room, long exposure, sudden light photography…sounded so complicated.  Anyways, last night after Randy (my husband) had already traveled to Vegas and back(for work) and then we hit a friend’s Christmas part, we collapsed on the couch.  I hate to admit that I was thinking about how to take dark room picture while on the couch…I think he was thinking something more amorous.  Hahaha….I convinced him to help me as my light assistant and to my delight he really got into it and we ended up with what I think are amazing pictures.  I AM BEYOND excited with this pics…they will be off to Costco printing in a few minutes and I can bring satisfactory closure to the body of work I did this semester.
Thanks Randy….Thanks Melissa…Thanks Jason (helped me figure out my tripod)…took a whole family to take this photo—HAHAHA! Oh, and Randy did end up getting a kiss or two 🙂

Reflection, Shadow and Self #1

Each picture you take with this method takes time and set up and definitely an extra set of hands…so, all in all we only took 15 shots. Generally to find that one perfect shot, sometimes you take hundreds…we should have bought a lottery ticket given our luck with so few shots.

Photo #2

Self, Reflection and Shadows #2

And finally, the last worthy shot.

Photo #3

Self, Reflection and Shadow #3

A Reminder of Italy

•December 4, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In my travels through Italy the summer of 2008, I was continually amazed at the amass of sunflower fields.  The greatest misery was that I was always traveling by train and it made picture taking impossible—so, the picture is in my head and on a postcard that I purchased. When Randy joined me on my adventuresome summer, he too was awestruck by the many acres of sunflower fields.  He said that when he saw the flowers in the store, he thought of our trip and he knew I admired their beauty, so he bought them for me…sweet isn’t it? So, with my final project looming over my head I set aside the assignment for further consideration and decided to capture the beauty of these works of art.

Thank you Randy for your thoughtfulness…love the flowers 🙂 and you too 🙂

Shot #2

Peculiar Pods go B & W

•December 1, 2009 • Leave a Comment

In preparation for our 24 Thanksgiving guests, I gathered up a considerable bucket of flowers.  I  am not sure what drew me to these  pod like flowers other than I thought they were interesting…it certainly posed a challenge for my daughter who took on all of the flower arranging.  They turned out beautifully and now, several days later I face that decision of whether to nurse them along or toss them out.  I have an assignment admittedly due tomorrow and decided that they were just bizarre enough to possibly make for an interesting photo…today, Monday morning was spent in manipulating macros of still life including the peculiar pods! I opted to find my photo subjects in my house..the pods, spider mum, fruit and cactus…Unlike my photo teacher, I enjoy photos that can be  simple in nature probably more than the bizarre or abstract…the shading and shape of a bowl of grapefruits and lemons are so beautiful–at least to me 🙂

Photo one

Photo 2

photo 3

Photo 4