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Monthly Archives: November 2011
The answer is neither, though if I were forced to choose among the two, it would be Toy Lens, since the photograph above is one of Denver’s Light Rail. The shot was taken using a Lenbaby 2.0, the selective focus system that gives you the ability to produce images with a sharp ‘sweetspot’ while the reamining portion of the image blurs to various degrees.
The version I have (2.0 – see photo below) requires the user to compress/decompress the lens to bring the subject into focus, and then bend the front element housing to create different blurring effects, such as moving the sweetspot off-center while creating even more blur on the opposite side of the image. Since with my lensbaby I can’t lock the position it takes a steady hand to hold the position and release the shutter. The shot above looks pretty sharp in the sweetspot, but it’s not. That’s why I’d consider this lens as more of a toy. It’s fun – to a point. It’s also very frustrating trying to hold it steady.
Newer versions, such as “Control Freak” and Composer allow you to lock the front element in place. However, neither allows metering, so you’ll have to experiment, or use a “real” lens at the same aperture to estimate the exposure needed. There’s also the Pin Hole/Zone Plate version, which I do find somewhat appealing and may eventually look into obtaining.
I’ve never fallen completely for Lensbaby, though I have seen some really nice portraits done with it and I have used it once exclusively for shooting (the autumn snow-storm in 2008) which resulted in some nice images. I lost my first one (see “The
Tree That Stole My Stuff“) and I liked it enough to replace it (via eBay), but I’m not sure I want to invest any more in the system.
I like the effect created, but I find that if you view too many photos using Lensbaby after a while you become numb to it. Sort of like smelling candles: you go into a store that has a large variety and start sniffing; Pine, Lilac, Pumpkin Spice, Ocean Breeze, Vanilla-Pear, Tuna-Banana, and after a while you can’t smell the difference! For me, Lensbaby hotographs (and candles) are that way. So, I’ll still use it, selectively, and you’ll still see shots in Visual Notebook from time to time, but I won’t become a Lensbaby fan-boy, of that I’m certain.
Thanks for reading,
When it comes to photography, I tend to think in terms of projects – groups of photos with a common theme, and a common look and feel, right down to the paper they’re printed on. Over the past couple years, my mind as been a veritable fountain of ideas for projects, most of which I didn’t feel I had the needed expertise or the proper environment to accomplish. But the projects are still good. I’ve even written a few ideas down, though honestly I’ve forgotten a lot more then I’ve recorded. Nevertheless, the initial excitement at the prospect of starting a new project is quite a thrill.
So, if you’d like to see some of my completed projects, click on over to my website, http://jstrongphotos.com/ and take a peek. What’s that you say? You’ve been there and there aren’t any completed projects? Just a page showing a couple of ongoing projects? You are correct.
And therein lies my personal trap: when is a project complete? How long do you let it go on before you jettison the idea and move on? I haven’t come up with an answer yet, though I do spend a considerable amount of time thinking about it. I’ve formulated the basic structure of the project – for me, it’s when I have enough photos that I can print out 10-12 in folio form. Good examples of folios can be seen at http://www.lenswork.com/fineartindex.html.
I know what I want to end up with – I have no problem visualizing the process and I have a good handle on the physical aspect of the final product, but getting from idea to photo to print is a real pain. The question is, why? I think the answer to that is not singular. One reason is time. Time not managed as well as it should be given the fact that I also have to maintain a full-time job. The second reason is indirectly caused by the first, but it’s still something that can and should be able to be dealt with. As I mentioned above, I have lots of ideas, and I tend to spend way too much time thinking about how to bring them to fruition, at the expense of a current project I’m working. This results in my losing interest in a project for a while. Get enough new project ideas, combined with the lost time and motivation and you wind up with uncompleted projects.
Maybe I’ll make a goal for 2012 to start and finish two to three projects. I’ll set up the parameters for the project, the expectations, make the arrangements and shoot with that project in mind until it’s complete. It’ll be my sole purpose in photography.
Now the question is, what project? How about finishing the project I started in 2008, that of photographing Denver’s Light Rail? I’ll let you know around the first of the year.
This will be a commitment – a public commitment so to speak. Wish me luck. Better yet, wish me success in my decision.
Thanks for reading,
A blogging friend of mine posted a photo of her dog, Galen, today (see “Through My Lens”, http://ajesse.blogspot.com/) for some wonderful shots of her dog, plus, if you visit her website, some beautiful portraits of horses:- http://framinglightphotography.com. So, I thought another photo of Allie might not be a bad idea.
I’ve been photographing Allie for years, taking hundreds of shots. Most of the time if she could be said to have an expression, it would be one of distaste -she’s never liked a camera pointing at her. Back when she was more active, she would either turn her head away
anytime I pointed the camera at her (the brat!), or, if she really didn’t want to see the camera, get up and leave. Most of the time is was the latter. But those days are gone, and she’s more laid back the older she gets. This is probably my favorite Allie photograph.
I doubt if I’ll have another post before Thanksgiving – so, that being the case, here’s wishing you and yours a happy Thanksgiving with plenty of family or friends or both!
Thanks for reading,
I print my own photos – mostly. If I have a bunch of 4X6s or a canvas print need then out it goes to a pro lab. But for most prints, from 8×10 on up to 13×19 I’ll do my own on my Canon Pixma Pro 9500 Mk II. I use a variety of tools in my digital darkroom, which I’ve covered elsewhere, to produce my prints and currently I’m using a variety of Red River papers for the end product. I find their paper an excellent cross between quality and price and the final output from their fine art paper and Arctic Polar Luster is topnotch.
Still, some of my favorite paper is from Harman – I love their FB (fiber base) papers. Not only do they produce stunning prints, but they have one other characteristic that is, for lack of a better term, incredible. Open the box of FB paper, unseal the plastic sleeve the paper is in, open it, place your face close and take a deep breath. Suddenly, you’re
transported to the days of chemical and enlargers.
It’s 1976 and I’m in my small darkroom, the Gralab timer huge and nearly out of place in such a confining area, the enlarger sitting quiet and dark in the corner, the film
canisters stacked neatly, the radio playing classical music softly in the background and the smell of chemicals, virtually identical to the Harman paper smell, permeates the room. It’s a fine smell and I hesitate to use the term ‘chemical smell’ for the negative connotations it carries, but that’s what it is and if a chemical smell could ever be called fine, photographic development chemicals do.
The time spent in my darkroom in those days were sublime, an escape from the daily drudgeries, an hour of simple, quiet concentration to shine light on a piece of paper and
submerse it in developer and watch a picture slowly, magically appear under the constant ministrations of rubber coated tongs.
Those days are long gone, my darkroom equipment sold many years ago after returning from a tour of duty in Germany in 1979, but the memories linger. And when I put my face close to a fresh sleeve of Harman FB paper and take a whiff, they come rushing back. I can close my eyes and briefly, just for a moment, hear Bach softly playing, as I move a print from developer to wash to fixer.
I take another deep breath.
Thanks for reading,
Last week I was traveling on business and came down with a nasty bug during the trip. The result? Some of the things I had hoped to accomplish didn’t work out. Such is
life. One of those items was a “Thank you” to our veterans – people who, more than most, deserve our respect and gratitude.
I served in the Armed Forces (Army, if you must know) for just over eight years – they encompassed the last two years of the Vietnam era (I never saw any action), up until April of 1980 when, as a young man of 27, I left Ft. Bragg, NC and returned to my new home in Denver to a wife and son I hadn’t seen in six months. That six month period seemed to take forever, yet these folks serving over seas now routinely don’t see family for a year or more. They do it voluntarily. They do it because they see a need and they believe they’re doing what’s right. And they do it over and over again. It takes a special man or woman to serve with that sort of fierce patriotism.
I have two brothers that served, between them, four tours in Vietnam. I heard the stories. I saw the disgraceful treatment our soldiers received upon returning from a war not
of their making. I’m glad we can treat our returning armed forces men and women
with the dignity and respect they’ve earned. Even if we believe the war they’re fighting may not be justified, we still owe them that.
So from me, a belated Thank-You to all veterans, active-duty, retired military men and women, and of course to our reserves.
You are the best of us.
Thanks for reading,
U.S. Army, June 1972 – April 1980
Ft. Leonard Wood, MO
Ft. Jackson, SC
Ft. Carson, CO
Fitzsimons Army Medical Center, Denver, CO
Rose Barracks – Bad Kreuznach, West Germany
Ft. Bragg, NC
This shot was taken during my drive up to Glendive, MT from Denver on Sunday. I’m in Glendive for a few days on business, and instead of flying or taking the direct route from Denver we decided a sidetrip to this iconic landmark wouldn’t add too much to the already lengthy travel time. The weather was windy and cold, but the sidetrip was worth it; Devil’s Tower is a spectacular chunk of rock!
While we didn’t see any aliens, we did enjoy the light traffic of the roads in that somewhat remote area of Wyoming, and the expansive panoramas were beautiful. A bonus was seeing a magnificent bald eagle in flight – I tried to get a couple photos of him, but neither one turned out. Nevertheless, it’s an inspiring sight.
The photo above is a closeup of the ribs running vertically on this massive thousand foot landmark.
If you get a chance to visit this area, don’t hesitate – it’s well worth the time.
Thanks for reading,
Perfection in photography is an elusive, ephemeral goal for a photographer. As I discussed in “Pursuing the Perfect Pic” in September, perfection is essentially in the eye of the beholder. Nothing since then has changed my view, which gives rise to the question, why? Why am I revisiting the subject, especially since I made my thoughts on the idea pretty clear in the previous article? Because of a recent attempt at creating the “perfect” photo of a subject I’ve shot intermittently for the last year – my wife’s violin.
You’ve seen it before – “Black & White Wednesday – and a Nikon 1 Note”, my
September 28th post. I actually like the photo used in that post very much and had the focus been sharp throughout I may not be writing this entry. But more than likely I would. Perfection for me is a moving target and the violin calls for repeated attention simply because it’s a beautiful instrument and I want to create that photo which captures the violin essence, giving it a distinct definitive look. I haven’t managed to do so yet – and that’s a cross artists must all bear. When is a piece finished? Is it ever finished to the point that the artist is completely happy with the results?
I have more than one very good photo of the violin, including a framed version of the image of September 28th, but I’m still not satisfied and I’m beginning to think I won’t be. You just get to a point where you have to say, that’s it, I’m done. After taking probably a couple hundred photos of the violin, I’ve reached that point. I’m tired of seeking the perfect shot of this subject – at least for now. I’m happy with the two on this page. I’m
very fond of the “grunge” look of the sepia toned image, but for a straight up shot the other’s not bad either. There will probably be more images of this subject one day, but whether or not they’ll find their way to this blog remains to be seen.
UPDATE: In my last post I talked about printing (there’ll be another post concerning the printing process soon) and I mentioned that Canon had announced the Pixma Pro-1, but only in Europe. I went on to contact Canon and ask about the availability in the states and received a reply that they didn’t know if or when it would come here. Somehow, I doubt the rep was being 100% honest with me. The next day the Pixma Pro-1 was announced in the U.S. Well, okay, I can understand, in retrospect, why they wouldn’t tell me – I would have announced it a day early to all 3 of my readers! At any rate, the printer has officially been announced here in the U.S., and has moved to the top of my list of must-haves for next year…unless, of course, they come out with an upgrade to the Canon ImagePrograf series of printers, then, well, we’ll talk again.
Thanks for reading,