Thursday, December 27, 2012

2013 Goals

Self-portrait in the bell of a trombone

I don't know that I'd classify myself as a goal-oriented person.  But I recognize the value in setting goals.  I do need something to work toward in order to improve.  I like goals as a way of gauging my progress.  At work I have to write up To Do Lists a few times a week just to keep track of everything I have on my plate.

My mom sent me an article recently on the dangers of excessive goal setting.  I'm choosing to ignore the article and set goals anyway.

I think this will be the first time I've set a specific photography related goal.

After reading "Her View Photography's" free ebook, 10 Challenges, I am going to set a couple goals for myself related to the book.

1) Project 52 - one photo a week on a specific subject.  I'm choosing food.  It's the most consistent and interesting thing I can commit to for an entire year.  I'd like most of these to be with my SLR, but I will be content to use my p&s or even my phone in a pinch.

2) Storytelling, make a book - Being the unofficial-official church ministry photographer, I was thinking making a photobook that tells the story of the church would be fun.  And hard.  I still haven't figured out what story I want to tell.  But I know it will take several months to compile the right images to tell the story.  (And now that I have LR 4, which has a book module included, this should be even easier to accomplish)

3) Street photography - I'm intimidated by this one.  I admit it.  Which is why it's on my list.  I live near a great city for this goal.  I thought I'd start by visiting the local Farmer's Market.  Get a taste of street photography nearby.  Then when I feee comfortable enough with it, go to the city and do it for real.  Visit the tourist stops (so easy to blend in there with a camera) and then maybe venture off to the more local locales.  This could be another great book(s).  The various neighborhoods and spots.

That's it.  3 goals.  But they're daunting.  I need a plan still to accomplish said goals.  But I'll figure it out.  I also need to do a little more research for 2 & 3.  To really look at some storytelling photos and street photographs.  To get an idea of how to compose and how I want to do these.

I need to remember that I'm doing this for me.  My photography is for me.  I'm not selling it (although I've not eliminated it as a possibility).  I'm not trying to impress anyone.  I just like making art.

What if I don't succeed?
  • If I skip a week or two here and there on my Project 52, I'm OK with that.  I just want to keep going.  The idea is to challenge and stretch myself.  To not get bored and keep it interesting.
  • I'd like to get a good start on the Storytelling photos.  To really be in there taking photos and telling the story.  Even if I don't get it assembled, I want the photos there.  I may give myself 2 years to do this one fully, just because of the grand nature of this project.  And because it's my first one and I don't have lots of spare time.
  • Only laziness and fear will prevent me from accomplishing some street photography. This is one that can be crossed off in one day.  Just going out to do it.  So I just need to schedule a Saturday morning to go and then ... go!

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Long Exposure and Christmas lights.....

Enjoying some fun with long exposure shots and outdoor lights.  I have so many more ideas in my head, but they'll have to wait until I have more time and can maybe pose the shots a bit.

Some are from church and some from home.


Advent Wreath at church with snowflake bokeh lights

Advent wreath and lights on stage

Candlelight Service

Candlelight service

Luminary lights


Advent Wreath again

Fireplace, mantel, advent wreath

Christmas scene


Thursday, December 13, 2012

Long Exposure and Candles

Due to a very tragic accident, there has been a candlelight vigil on my street this week.  Tonight I discretely (and respectfully) went out to try to grab a photo of the candles and practice some long exposure night photography.

The candles on my street, leading to the end of the street with the Christmas lights in the background.
Same photo with some decreased vibrance, a pseudo B&W effect
OUTTAKE: UPS truck drove down the street right after the shutter clicked open.  Cool effect, but not what I wanted.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas Bokeh



I was asked to take some photos for a going away gift for our church choir director.  She is also an organist and is in love with our church organ.  So I took some photos of the organ.  So as not to have a boring photo straight on of a dark organ, I had to be arsty and make it a collage.  Here is the end result.

Organ collage

We printed it at 11x14 (or whatever size is one bigger than 8x10) and put a cream/brown matte on it.  Then all the members of the choir signed the matte.   It was quite lovely.

As a secondary gift and kind of a joke about our church building, I did a photo of the building.  I created an overlay collage, again to make it interesting.  I did a multiple exposure of the church name on the front door over a photo of the building.

We printed it 5x7 and framed it without a matte.  Just something small so she doesn't forget the circus tent church building.

worship center overlay

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

More Coast Pictures

Went back out to the coast to get some shots of the stormy waves and sunset. Well, the sunset didn't happen. There were way too many clouds in the way to get anything substantial.

It was a good opportunity to practice low light outdoor stuff. I learned the limits of my lenses and camera.

I did some with the wide angle, some with my telephoto, and most with my kit lens. I just needed something inbetween wide angle and zoom. The kit lens did the trick as far as focal length, but I would've liked something a little better to get rid of the noise I had. And my camera is a limiting factor there too. And I was trying to get fast shutter speed to get the cool wave movements, but it was too dark to get anything decent.

I started out in the rain, so I covered my camera with a trash bag and stuck the lens out of a hole. It worked well. Except that I had to keep cleaning my lens. That added a different challenge for me. I've never had to deal with water droplets on my lens before.

At any rate - here are some of my better shots from the outing.

The ending of the storm

big waves crashing on the rocks

Was trying to get the large waves and the people standing on the rock.  Disappointing with grain and lack of sharpness.

A few "God Rays" poking through

I thought the contrast of the gull in the serene tide pool with the raging waters behind it was funny.  

Hazy and misty view

Love the silhouette of the people on the beach with the waves in the background with the calming clouds.  The storm has passed and the sky was clearing up as the sun was going down and it was getting dark.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Wide Angle Lens

I have two lenses for my DSLR.  I have the kit 18-55mm lens, and a cheapish 70-300 telephoto lens.  Neither one is super fancy.  It's really alright since I'm not out to make a living with my photography, just take some fun and pretty pictures and get better.  But every time I come up to the coast I wish I had a wider angle lens.  The kit lens is pretty good for my basic needs, but photographing the ocean and the redwoods really calls for something better.  So I rented a moderate (ok ... one of the cheapest) wide angle lenses for my vacation on the coast.  I don't know how I discovered, but I love them.  In addition to the great tips and photos on their blog, they have a great selection of lenses.  This really isn't a review of them or their service, just a quick unsolicited plug.

I rented a Sigma 10-20mm.

I'm not too experienced with wide angle lenses or landscape photography.  But the best way to learn is just to go do.  So I'm doing.






Monday, October 15, 2012

Mare Island Photo Walk

This past Saturday, Oct 13, was the Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk.  I've been wanting to go on a photo walk for quite some time, so was very excited to get the opportunity.

I joined a photowalk in Vallejo, CA at Mare Island.  (

Going into the walk I was well aware of my lack of experience and overall knowledge of photography.  My hardware pales in comparison to everyone else there.  I have a lot of the know-how, but because I haven't been practicing it long, it's not right on the top of my head.  My vision is the one thing I know I really need to work on.  I do OK, see some of the same cool photos other photographers see, but something gets lost in translation between my mind's eye and the camera's lens.  And that's where practice comes in.  And lastly, my post-processing skills still need to be developed. Trying to learn how to get the software to do what I see in my head - and honestly that would be a lot easier if I were capturing what I see in my head better.

At any rate - here is my first real venture into the world of Photo Walks and architecture-type photography.
















The rest of the photos can be found here:

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Inspired by 10-Challenges

I'm doing the 10-challenges from Her View Photography.  One of the challenges is to tell a story and make a photo book.  Well, I'm not up to that task yet, but I did think that maybe I would try to be more story-telling with my photos.  Here's the story of Audrey brushing her teeth.