One of the great truisms of the internet is that a successful blog needs cat photos. Which puts me in a bit of a hole. I don't own a cat (at the moment). I do have a dog though. Dog photos are certainly popular on the interwebs but it's not quite the same. Still, I'll have to make do until I can acquire a cat (which will have an appropriately pop culture name like Cthulu). In the meantime, you'll have to settle for this.
Yeah, it's a bit cold here. That post is supposed to be holding a bird feeder but I took it off during a fierce wind storm a couple weeks back. We had a bit of snow and ice in the meantime.
So we woke up to find this in the driveway this morning. There was a nasty windstorm that rattled the house and made it near impossible for me to sleep (Like I need an excuse). My wife found it when she was leaving for work. It was right behind our cars, having missed them by a foot or two.
Clearly it's time to break out the chainsaw.
Not every day is awesome. You didn't need me to tell you that though.
My passions in life are simple: my family, sports and movies. Pretty much everything I write here relates to movies, so that's well covered. My family I don't tend to talk about much here because I don't feel the need to share everything with the world. But sports I can talk about endlessly and often do. Writing about it, not so much. I don't really know why.
Today was a tough one on the sports front. I'm a huge fan of the NY Giants and they lost a heartbreaker today against the Packers, giving up the winning field goal as time expired. It was a great game, hard fought and exciting. But a tough loss. Later in the day came the real crusher though. Jose Reyes, long my favorite player with the NY Mets, left the team as a free agent to sign with the Miami Marlins. That hurt. It's been a tough few years to be a Mets fan. Since 2006 when Carlos Beltran watched strike three go past him to end the NLCS, pretty much nothing has gone right for the Mets. This felt like the exclamation point on five years of futility.
So I haven't been in the best of moods all night. I even made myself a drink, a real rarity for me. But then I dumped the day's photos onto the computer and found this gem. That's my son, learning to ride a bike. That was the good part of the day. One of my passions managed to step up and take the sting out of the failure of another passion. It doesn't manage to make it a good day, but it does make me smile. And that's something.
There was thick fog blanketing the area this morning, so I grabbed my camera on the way out the door as I herded my kids to the bus stop. What I discovered along the way was that fog makes spider webs stand out. And once I noticed that I started looking for them, which led to finding them in surprising places. Like the power lines. I had never noticed it before but the power lines are loaded with gigantic webs. Apparently spiders are after electricians, not bugs.
I took a bunch of great shots but this one is probably my favorite.
I don't like to pose people for photos. Partly this is because I'm not very good at it but mostly because I prefer more natural photos. So many people stiffen and become not themselves when they know they're being photographed. My approach is to simply not tell people that I'm taking their photo and try to catch natural moments. It works pretty well for me. The photos are usually good but the main drawback to this approach is that you never find that perfect moment and thus don't get anything at all of worth.
This portrait was actually requested of me by the subject. She told me exactly what kind of photo she wanted. I agreed but didn't exactly set up a time to get the shot. And luckily for me, she settled into just the position and activity she wanted a photo of at a time where I could approach unnoticed and get the shot. I took about ten shots and after the first four or five she noticed me. So she did start to pose a bit, but because she was already doing something she loved, it didn't become stiff and unnatural.
I narrowed it down to two shots, one taken before she noticed me and one after. The before shot is a tiny bit more relaxed but has another person somewhat awkwardly in the background. So we settled on this one, taking the compromise between a slightly less relaxed pose and a better background.
The toughest part remains. I have to remember to physically print the photo and mail it to her.
I took this photo on Memorial Day. We live in a small town and every year they have a small town parade. That means all the fire trucks, the firemen, the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the high school band and the town band. It takes longer to set up the parade than it does to run it through town. And yet there's a good crowd every year.
I tend to miss the parade because they hold it at 8 AM. I'm a night owl, so that's just too damn early to be up on a weekend. But now I have kids old enough to be in the Boy Scouts, which means they're in the parade and my ass had better be along the parade route, camera in hand, looking proud. Which I am.
This all culminates in a ceremony at the fire department with speeches from local dignitaries and decorated war vets. I took the opportunity to scan the crowd, looking for interesting shots. That's how I found this little guy, entertaining himself by playing peekaboo with another kid behind him. Which leads to my advice to photographers. Don't just watch the action, watch the people watching the action. Sometimes, that's where the best shot is.
No, I don't know what kind they are. But I love the formation and the color contrast. I don't have a lot to say on this photo. I took it and liked it a lot and I'm not entirely sure why it's so satisfying.
Two days ago was our wedding anniversary. It's been 16 years. Our marriage is now old enough to drive.
I'm the sort of guy who tends to stumble from one bad idea to the next in life. Or, I was, before meeting and eventually marrying my wife. She is the rock in my life. Her laid back practicality is the perfect antidote to my aimless flittering. If you meet me and come away thinking that you met someone who really knows where there towel is, my wife gets all the credit.
And a lovely side effect of marrying her are our two children. They make me want to tear my hair out with great regularity but they've also given me more joy than pretty much anything else. Thanks to them I see the world with different eyes. They've helped me find a lot of wisdom and maturity.
So that's my sappy moment. An ode to my wife in non-specific ways so that she doesn't get bent out of shape that I'm writing about her in public. Not all of us can be Kevin Smith.
So here's another picture for your perusal. This cute little fella is from my wife's family and about the happiest most easy going baby I've ever been around. He went happily from person to person, put on a cuteness show and never got bent out of shape. In fact, over the course of about three days, I never once heard him go into a full throated bawl. He was also ludicrously photogenic. I have literally dozens of pictures of him ranging from ultra cute to merely very cute.
I do admit to using a lot of post processing on my photos. Not Photoshop work mind you, just tweaks in Lightroom. This one I didn't play with very much at all. Saturation was brought up a bit, not to emphasize his eyes but because I shoot very flat to preserve as much detail in the darks and highlights as possible. Some sharpening was done as well, for the same reason.
The biggest change was that I cropped the photo. My wife was originally in the shot, holding the baby. But she was at an awkward, unflattering angle to the camera, so I cropped to focus the shot on the baby, which is what I wanted anyway. I was shooting with a prime lens, so zooming in wasn't an option, or I would have cropped her out with the lens when I took the shot. And since we were in adirondack chairs, side by side, moving closer wasn't an option either.
I mention all this because people often view post processing as cheating somehow. I disagree most of the time. In this photo, I'm not cheating anything. I made specific choices when taking the shot, knowing full well what the process would be for the RAW image once it hit my computer. That's generally how I work. Occasionally I use heavier processing because I want to achieve a specific look that wasn't possible in camera without a lot of equipment that I don't own. Again, not a cheat, just another way to get to the goal. Sometimes use post processing to correct problems with a shot, like skewed angles, poor light or bad framing. That's a cheat. That's me hiding my mistakes. And I do it because I'm a perfectionist and can't stand to show my mistakes. But I know I made them and that's in my head the next time I shoot, which helps me learn. So there's still an upside.
Now, actually changing a photo radically using Photoshop to fundamentally alter the original image can be a huge cheat. Or a stylistic choice. Or something you planned all along. For instance, say you wanted a motorcycle rider with a flaming skull for a head. Models that fit that description are a bit hard to locate, some digital trickery is going to be needed. And is a ham fisted segue to the trailer for the new Ghost Rider movie. I wasn't at all looking forward to it but the trailer sold me on the movie. And that was before Nic Cage peed fire.
I only want one post a day, so I'm inappropriately putting these things together. Why? Because I can.
So an interesting trend developed after I finished my 365 day photo project a few months back. Every time I ran into someone who was following along, they complained about it being finished. Now, this is the sort of complaint a guy doesn't mind getting. When someone enjoys what your doing to the point that they feel the need to complain when you stop doing it, that's nice to hear.
But I wasn't about to start a second 365 day photo project. It's just too much work and right now I want to have my limited free time available for other projects like writing scripts and making short films. So I hit on a compromise. I take many more photos than I've ever had time to post. So I will simply dip into that deep archive and post a picture a day from it. When I have new photos I like, they can go up too. But since this lacks the whole having to take a good original photo every day, it won't take up much of my time.
All of the photos will go up on my Flickr account but I will try to post them here as well, possibly encouraging me to write something here on a daily basis as well. No promises on that part though.
The first photo for this new stream is one I shot on vacation this year. I braved a pretty good rain storm to get the best angle of this island. The boat was a happy accident. What's odd to me about this shot is that I clearly remember everything about shooting it but the end result feels like something else must have happened. In other words, I look at it and wonder, "How the hell did I do that?" even though I know damn well how I did that. Odd.