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Posts published in “Photography”

When the Sun is Nice, Take Some Photos – November 10, 2021

Sarah purchased these outfits for the girls a while and ago and we’d been looking for a good time to use them. She worried that we were too far into autumn for another outdoor shoot, but the climate change gods came through for us, delivering a warm, lovely November afternoon. We were also fortunate enough to have the sunset shining directly between the houses with which we share a weird, communal back yard.

All in all, we had about four minutes of prep time for these. Get the girls dressed. Throw a blanket on the lawn. Go go go. The sun dipped behind the buildings shortly after taking the last photo. It’s nice when things come together at the last minute.

A For-No-Particular-Reason Photo Shoot – October 25, 2021

Sometimes you just bathe the kids and force them to sit near a window as the sun sets so you can get some photos. I think it is important to make regularly scheduled photos of the girls, even if you have no great purpose. They’re just growing so dang fast.

A bunch of these came out really nice. I find I have a hard time editing out photos because I have emotional feelings about the subjects. So, you get bloated, unfocused galleries. No big deal.

I was playing with a diffusion filter I purchased recently. I think it added a pleasing, dreamy haze to some of the photos, even if it wasn’t quite the right light for it. In other photos, it kind of just looks, I don’t know, soft? Diffuse? That’s the point, of course, even if the outcome wasn’t exactly what I normally like.

The Inaugural Pumpkin Patch Visit – October 28, 2021

One of the nice things about working from home is that I can decide to get up and go to the pumpkin patch in the middle of the day on a Thursday in late October with Sarah and the girls. And no one except my dwindling prospects and collapsing career can tell me otherwise! Supreme freedom!

It was a beautiful day here in lower, slower Delaware and we couldn’t bear to miss the opportunity to drag the children out for photos. And I think they’re pretty dang cute in their Halloween-y witch outfits. They seemed to enjoy the trip. Penny was totally jazzed the rest of the day, until 6pm when she promptly fell asleep.

Upstairs, in a Window – August 8, 2021

Here’s a gallery of photos of the girls sitting on the sofa upstairs I shot this summer. Well, sort of sitting. Slumping. Sliding off. Loafing. It took me a while to share these because, well, I am forgetful and I didn’t yet have a way of sharing Google Photo albums. But now I do! So I am sharing these. This also means sharing photo galleries will be easier in the future. Be excited.

I’ve shared some of these photos on the social medias already, but Instagram really crushes the quality out of them.

A new tool.

About 13 years ago, I wrote about the purchase of a new camera in a series of posts. That was the last camera I purchased and it has been through hell with me. After untold thousands of photos, a complete replacement of the shutter assembly, dings and scratches, and even more miles, I’ve decided to replace that old 5D Mark 2. She’s been a valuable work horse, but the technology is long in the tooth and I’m feeling a touch impulsive.

I have children now. Taking photos of kids is like taking photos of sports (that line is my dad’s, not mine). The 5D2 is no longer up to the task. Honestly, the 5D2 wasn’t up to the task in 2008. The AF performance is all right for adults who know how to sit still or for landscapes or for tables filled with inanimate objects. The astute reader will recognize that children are none of those things. My kids aren’t even really mobile yet and already trying to get them in focus is a chore. Wiggling newborns are beyond the limits of the 5D2’s antiquated AF system. I got pretty good at the old “focus and recompose”, but it’s not the best method and modern technology has solved the problem.

She also never worked well in low-light. Anything above ISO 1250 and the photos displayed easily discernible noise bands. Some noise is, of course, fine. But horizontal lines of noise through an image are not. Maybe I’m particular, but I don’t like stripes through my photos. So that meant fast lenses and long shutter speeds, both of which come with their own attendant issues. It was a problem I ran into when trying to photograph my little Olive in her hospital room. The natural light was mostly insufficient, the artificial light was hideous, and I couldn’t push the camera past ISO 1250 for fear of ruined images, so I shot wide open and long shutter speeds. But wide open and long shutter speeds means tiny focal ranges and motion blur—there was no IBIS in 2008—which also means bad photos. I missed a lot of photos of Livvy that I shouldn’t have because of technical reasons. That was incredibly frustrating. Beyond frustrating. It was heartbreaking.

Now it is time to retire the 5D2. She will live on in my camera bag as a back-up until I find something better to do with her.

Say hello to my new friend, the Canon R5.

My cell phone, though newer than 2008, still doesn’t take great photos.
So cute.

It should come as a surprise to no one that I went all out. It was a terrifying purchase, but thinking of all the cute baby photos it is going to make helps me feel better about the splurge.

First impressions after having for just a few hours? This thing is slick and surprisingly small compared to the 5D2. It makes sense that it would be smaller since it doesn’t need to make room for all the mechanicals that lived inside the older DSLR, but holding it in my hands I still find its size a little weird. Nice, but weird.

The operation of the thing is amazing. The metric of a good tool for me is that it doesn’t stand in the way of translating thought into action. Let my brain tell you what to do and then do it. Don’t erect a bunch of extra steps for me to climb. The R5 feels like it is going to prove itself to be a good tool. Even the test photos I took around the house to familiarize myself with the camera are beautiful. Not good photos, but technically beautiful.

I’m going to take it out for a walk tomorrow while the babysitter is here and will be back with some sample photos to share.

Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto For Growth

The other day as I was clicking through Tumblr, a network I am finding increasingly strange, I happened upon an image with three points labeled “Incomplete Manifesto for Growth”. After following the tumble trail to its absolute origin, I found this: Bruce Mau’s Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. Man, I love shit like this.

Originally written in 1998 by designer Bruce Mau, the list outlines his design process. But, more importantly, I think the little snippets of advice and guidance can inform any creative process, from writing to design to filmmaking to music. Whatever it is you’re struggling with creatively can benefit from some alternative perspective. You may not always take the advice, but if it causes you to think differently about the problem you’re trying to solve, then it was helpful. As I said yesterday, creativity is problem solving, and anything that helps you solve a problem is good.

And this list is filled with all sorts of good lits bits. If I were forced to pick my favorite five, they would be these.

2. Forget about good.
Good is a known quantity. Good is what we all agree on. Growth is not necessarily good. Growth is an exploration of unlit recesses that may or may not yield to our research. As long as you stick to good you’ll never have real growth.

3. Process is more important than outcome.
When the outcome drives the process we will only ever go to where we’ve already been. If process drives outcome we may not know where we’re going, but we will know we want to be there.

9. Begin anywhere.
John Cage tells us that not knowing where to begin is a common form of paralysis. His advice: begin anywhere.

11. Harvest ideas.
Edit applications. Ideas need a dynamic, fluid, generous environment to sustain life. Applications, on the other hand, benefit from critical rigor. Produce a high ratio of ideas to applications.

32. Listen carefully.
Every collaborator who enters our orbit brings with him or her a world more strange and complex than any we could ever hope to imagine. By listening to the details and the subtlety of their needs, desires, or ambitions, we fold their world onto our own. Neither party will ever be the same.

40. Avoid fields.
Jump fences. Disciplinary boundaries and regulatory regimes are attempts to control the wilding of creative life. They are often understandable efforts to order what are manifold, complex, evolutionary processes. Our job is to jump the fences and cross the fields.

I know, I know. That was six. I tried not to post the whole list. Get over it.

Check out the remainder of the 43 points here: Incomplete Manifesto for Growth.

Number 15 on the list, Ask Stupid Questions, reminds me a lot of Leonardo’s to-do list from the post yesterday. “Ask Benedetto Portinari by what means they go on ice in Flanders”?? That is a stupid ass question. Maybe I’m not asking stupid enough questions.

Family fun in California.

Last weekend I went to California for the wedding of my dear old friend Sean to a woman I had never met but who seems quite lovely. The wedding was beautiful. It took place outside at a bed & breakfast in Fort Bragg, CA, a little town along the coast about 3 hours north of San Francisco. They had llamas and dancing and vegetarian food and lights and the whole thing was really nice.

I didn’t take a single fucking photo of that bullshit.

Instead, I took a bunch of photos of my brother’s young family at their house in San Rafael (which any person from the Bay Area will know is pronounced “san ra-fell”). Take a look!

[flickrset id=”72157627794973319″ thumbnail=”square” photos=”” overlay=”true” size=”large”]

I think the photos are nice. Nothing crazy special about them. I am totally in love with my niece Sienna though. My favorite moments of the trip where when she’d come in and wake me up on the sofa. “Hi, uncle Joe.” “Hi, SJ.” “Did you see my doll?” “I do now, SJ.”

Here’s a good example.

And then I got this e-mail from Leah.

Subject: Sienna misses joe.

When I just put sienna down she asked me to tuck her in like a baby burrito and call her SJ.’ Then she said ‘why did uncle joe have to go back to new York?’

Reference: the first night there I read her a bedtime story and then tucked her in and told her I was wrapping her up like a baby burrito. God damn, don’t you just want to smother her?