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Thursday
Dec162010

Because I Can, Part III (A Rant)

65.365 105mm f4 1/60 ISO 1600May I take a moment to vent?  I read, before I started this project, about how there are days in a 365 project that feel uninspired and when picking up your camera is the hardest thing to do.  And sure, there have been some hard days so far in my two months of looking for something to shoot.  But not until yesterday did I find myself actually annoyed by the assignment I'd given myself and the constraints I feel boxed in by.

Oh let me count the ways:  It's winter.  There is no daylight.  Or anyway I'm never outside when there is.  I feel cornered, forced to shoot things inside my house.  This leads me to make still life after still life and I find myself looking at them and saying to myself Yeah, it's pretty (or interesting or colorful or strange) but what does it DO?  

In case today's picture seems at all interesting or colorful or strange (and in case you wonder what the hell it is) it's actually a close look at one of the bright spots of winter for me:  grapefruit.  These frothy bubbles represented my breakfast yesterday morning as well as one of my last days with the fancy borrowed macro.  So, because I can, I shot a picture of details of my breakfast I would never see with my naked eye.   

And then I put the camera down for the day, cranky.  Enough already.

Wednesday
Dec152010

Because I Can, Part II

64.365 105mm f4 1/50 ISO 1600

Generally speaking, I prefer a photo that tells a good story to one that is all mood and atmospherics.   BUT.  I'm playing with this macro lens I have on loan right now so I'm just gonna go for it.  Embrace the moody.  Plus, it's dark outside and I already posted a picture of a Christmas ornament last week (though for the record, I did make another one with the macro last night and I liked it way better).

Anyway.  The macro.  Sigh.  First of all, the 105mm 1:2.8 is a fine piece of equipment.  I mean, you can just feel it when you hold the thing.  It has heft.  You could use it to bludgeon an attacker.  Or you could just embarrass them by getting really close and shooting their pores.  (This is probably why they invented the ability to de-clarify photos in Lightroom.)  Because mine is borrowed I will not use it as a weapon.

But since the macro is kind of like an invitation to experiment with abstract composition, I aimed it at this clay candleholder I brought home from a business trip in the Middle East a few years ago.  I've always loved the shape of this thing and the pattern of light it casts but I've never been able to play with it photographically before.  I love the minute detail the macro allows you to see, but also how the focus drifts away and emphasizes the curves the potter built into this piece.

I think I have a better understanding now of why so many photographers I see on the web go moody and atmospheric:  because they can.

Tuesday
Dec142010

Because I Can, Part I

63.365 50mm f1.4 1/800 ISO 400I've been eyeing a couple of new lenses and wondering which one I should focus my wanting on, you know, in case Santa is listening.  Then last week one of Santa's helpers cleverly disguised as a colleague and supporter of my photography endeavor excitedly told me he has this lens I must try - the 105mm macro.  When I told him that I have been eyeing that and trying to decide between that and the 50mm f1.4 he said oh, I have that 50mm too.  I'll bring them both in and you can test drive them.

First of all, thanks Santa!  I've obviously been a very good girl.

So this evening in the grocery store parking lot I pulled out the 50mm.  Holy crap, people!  Look at this:  1/800 on a 1.4 aperature as the sun dips behind the mountains?  Are you kidding me?  And just because I had to test the DOF on this I aimed it at the nearest fairie lights.  For the record the depth of field is about 2 hairs width.  And the bokeh!  Beyond.

And then I went to take some pictures of my friend's one-week-old baby and I realized newborns move more than you'd think.  Before you know it the only thing in focus is her elbow.  It's a very cute elbow but still.  That's when I realized this lens can make you look like a genius, or a complete sucker.

Monday
Dec132010

Sugar Rush

62.365 65mm f4.2 1/15 ISO 400I had a hot date with a short guy in my kitchen yesterday, where we spent the whole day baking Christmas cookies.  When you are two you apparently believe that you are the first person to ever discover that butter creamed with sugar is a good combination.  Ezra would have been satisfied to stop at that step in the recipe and lick the bowl clean.  For me these are the sorts of observations that make parenting a toddler worthwhile.

It was not, however, the sort of scenario that lent itself obviously to a photograph, but as the day ticked away in a fog of flour, butter, sugar and chocolate I realized I needed to do my best.  It seems odd that on a Sunday, when I ostensibly have plenty of time to make an inspired image, I find the time only to shoot what's exactly in front of me.  But there it is, an ordinary, every day picture, commemorating a small moment that would otherwise be forgotten.  And forecasting the insulin shock to come.

Sunday
Dec122010

Pixie

61.365 102mm f4.5 1/13 ISO 200There is a picture, famous in a small circle, of my friend Angela and me on the occasion of the surprise 25th birthday party she threw me.  I met Angela shortly after I moved to Denver when I walked into a salon in my neighborhood, laid eyes on her, and asked her to cut off my shoulder-length hair.  The minute she put her hands on my head I was in love.  The fact that the pixie haircut she gave me actually inspired people to stop me on the street and tell me how great my hair looked compounded my affection.

It's been years since I let my hair grow out, but lately I've been feeling like it was time to return to my sassily shorn coif.  Yesterday I sat down in Angela's chair and let her go at it all over again.  When she was done I think we both felt like it is more than a haircut; it's kind of like a time machine which transports us back momentarily to that time, more than a decade ago, when we were always together.  For a moment I thought I caught a faint whiff of hedonism in the air.

We're both waaaay better-behaved now.  But I had to take this picture as an homage to that fateful haircut, a famous picture, and the enduring love a girl has for her hairdresser and friend.