Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 367

It's been two days since I finished my 365 photo a day project...and nothing has really changed. I still carry my camera around with me, I still look for daily photo opportunities, and I still try to schedule some photo time into my schedule.

The kids have a lot of activities this week and today was looking like one of the few open afternoons. I decided to head over to Shadow Cliffs for a quick photo walk. I took a handful of shots with the film SLR and a couple shots with the digital SLR. Here are the digital shots...the film photos will get posted once I finish shooting the roll of film and get it processed.

After shooting my Nikon D80 every day for a year, it feels very comfortable and natural. The Nikon FM, on the other hand, feels a bit foreign to me. I set the f-stop, set the shutter speed, frame the image, manually focus the lens, press the shutter release button, and.....nothing. I forgot to advance the film!

The manual, film SLR is going to require some practice. It's been over twenty years since I've used a camera like this. It may take a manual camera 365 project to fully master it.....NOT!

I'm slowly figuring out the nuances of this film camera. I've become accustomed to shooting digital and will need to make a few adjustments.

First, I'm shooting C-41 processed "B&W" film, which is essentially B&W film that's processed and printed using color film processing. Unfortunately, this film is only manufactured in ISO 400. I love shooting with a shallow depth of field, requiring a large aperture. Shooting with relatively fast ISO 400 film and a large aperture in bright light doesn't work well...especially when the camera is limited to a 1/1000 shutter speed. I may need to get a neutral density filter to allow me to use larger apertures in bright light.

Second, I can't photograph the huge goose flying in front of me. By the time I set the shutter speed, f-stop, and manually focus the lens, the goose is long gone....if I'm lucky, I'll catch up to her 15 minutes later, perhaps while she's laying the golden egg.

Third....well, I'd better stop here. It's past my bed time. I'll continue this later, once I gain even more experience with the camera.

"Mister, can you spare a drop?"

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Mission Accomplished - 365 Finito

365/365 - Loyal Companion by Wayne-K
365/365 - Loyal Companion, a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Today marks the completion of my 365 photo project. For me, the project was more than snapping a photo per day for a year. Without a doubt, it has been the most rewarding, learning experience I could have imagined.

Like many cameras, my Nikon D80 (and Minolta film camera before that) lay dormant for most of the years, seeing daylight primarily on special occasions, including birthdays, Christmas, backpacking trips, vacations, and elementary school performances. It was used merely to document life’s achievements and record the scenery. In the three hundred sixty five days since starting my project, the camera has become a part of me. I've learned to appreciate light, notice the beauty in my daily surroundings, and come to realize every day is a special occasion worthy of being recorded in an image.

364/365 - Reflections

Thursday, March 24, 2011

A New Journey Begins

I went hiking with some friends on the Pleasanton Ridge yesterday evening. The weather has been wet and rainy for a week now, but we were able to squeeze in a decent hike between rain showers. We started our hike around 6:45 PM and hiked into the darkness, finishing around 9 PM.

The light was never really good, so I set my camera to its maximum ISO, aperture at f/1.8, and as slow as shutter speed as I could...then snapped a few shots. I envisioned the final images to be pictorialist-like...soft focus, grainy, dark, and moody B&W.

One of my friends was kind enough to let me borrow his Nikon FM camera. The FM is the predecessor to the FM2 I plan on purchasing. I'm looking forward to life with the FM2. My plans are to start a "day in the life" photo series, shot primarily with the FM2 and 50mm lens...and in B&W, of course!

Here are a few images from last night's hike.

Lyn on the Ridge

Evening Hike on the Ridge

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A Dog's View of the Dinner Table

When my daughter was a baby, Rusty, our beloved Golden Retriever, loved to sit next to her at the dinner table. Every time she dropped some food unto the floor, Rusty would snatch it up. At the end of the meal, Rusty would stick her nose into the high chair and clean it up. That was a decade ago, but while at work yesterday, I visualized a re-creation of those moments. Rusty is no longer with us, so I decided that I (and my Nikon D80 camera) would play her part.

Once I was finished with the photo, I posted it online and titled it, the “Dog's View of the Dinner Table.” I called my daughter over to get her thoughts on the photo.

She looked at the color photo and asked, "Dad, why isn't it in black and white?"

I said, “Because I think it looks better in color.”

She said, "But dogs can't see color."

Well, that was a good point…and one that I think has broader photography-related implications. Is the purpose of photography to document reality or is it an art form? Does it matter that dogs can't see color?

The camera captures what is in the viewfinder. From this perspective, a photographer is in essence documenting reality. However, there is a level of artistic control which affects the image, rendering it very like or unlike what is seen in reality. The photographer controls what he wants the viewer to see in the photograph by framing an image to include (or exclude) specific items. A zoom lens compresses perspective and effectively “crops” what one would normally view with two eyes open. The photographer also selects an aperture to control the depth of field, again controlling what the viewer sees. He selects a shutter speed, which controls how motion is displayed in the image. The same applies to the selected film choice (affecting color rendition, contrast, etc.), ISO, and the specific exposure selected.

So, if photography captures reality and is an art form, when is a photograph no longer a photograph…and when does it become just an art form? Are you scratching your head with that question? What I mean is, how much manipulation is “allowed” to a photograph after it’s captured before we need to call the photography police? In today’s world of digital photography and PhotoShop, for example, one can make power lines disappear from a beautiful landscape, replace a frowning child’s face with a smiling one, add clouds to a cloudless day, add textures, convert a photograph into a watercolor painting, etc. I believe all of these manipulations have its place in the art world, but at what point do we lose the essence of the original capture and transcend “photography”...effectively transitioning into another art form?

Okay, I’ll let you ponder that last question. Perhaps a discussion on religion and politics would be less controversial…

I'm not sure if dogs can see color, but if not, here's the physiologically correct photo.

Dog's View of the Dinner Table

Monday, March 21, 2011

How to Lose on eBay

360/365 - Focused by Wayne-K
360/365 - Focused a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

My brother has a saying...."the best way to save money is to not look at stuff." I believe his exact words replaced "stuff" with an American slang for "merde." Anyway, his point is, if one spends a lot of time checking out eBay, Amazon, the Dollar Store, the Sunday newspaper ads, etc. one will find absolutely great deals on hundreds of items one does not need.

For that reason, I don't have an eBay account. This prevents me from catching the highly contagious auction fever and saves me a lot of money. I have only purchased a few things from eBay and got some pretty decent deals. For example, a professional Wilson A2000 baseball glove, an aluminum baseball bat, and a Hawaiian turtle (honu) pendant. Actually, I think that may cover just about everything I've gotten on eBay. When buying these things, I've asked my brothers to place the orders for me. Typically, these have been "buy it now" deals that were significantly cheaper than the non-eBay competition. I could probably have saved a few bucks by actually bidding on these items, but for me, it's not worth the hassle (especially for things that are already priced well).

I've been shopping around for a Nikon FM2 camera. Today, I found a great deal on one in mint condition. The auction was ending in 1 hour and 45 minutes, so I asked my brother to bid on it. Unfortunately, he wasn't in a position to bid on it, so he gave me his login info so I could bid on it....and I logged in immediately and bid on it.

Lesson learned....that's not how to win on eBay. I was supposed to wait until the last ten seconds and then throw in my bid. But, I probably did myself a favor. The title for my blog today is "How to Lose on eBay," but I should probably have named it "How to Save Money on eBay."

Here's a picture of the little one with her new glasses. She was focused on the computer screen, doing her homework.

Below is a picture of our family crest. This photo is dedicated to the people of Japan, especially those who have been impacted by the enormous earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster.

359/365 - 1001 Cranes

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Track and Field

356/365 - Almost Cleared by Wayne-K
356/365 - Almost Cleared a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I was the volunteer photographer for the high school Freshman basketball team this year. I shot the games with my Nikon D80 and 50mm f/1.8 lens. All throughout the season, I was wishing I had a Nikon D700 for its low light, high ISO performance and a Nikon 70-200mm f/2.8 lens for the flexibility of a zoom lens and its wide maximum aperture. However, I kept reminding myself that I'm not a sports photographer and shooting low light, indoor basketball games was a temporary gig. The rest of the sports were going to be shot outside, so my D80 and 55-200mm f/4-5.6 would be more than adequate.

Guess again! I shot my first high school track meet today....and today turned into tonight! My son's pole vault event was shot after dark, under the lights. I bumped up the ISO as high as it would go and set the aperture as low as it would go....and I still couldn't get enough light through the lens. Boy that D700 and 70-200mm f/2.8 lens would have been nice.

Below are a few more photos from the track meet. Kevin was pretty psyched. This is his first year doing the pole vault and he's loving it....and he set a new PR today.


Runners on Your Mark

Amador Valley High School Track


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

For the Joy of Photography

354/365 - The Chair by Wayne-K
354/365 - The Chair a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I love walking around and snapping everyday photos with my Nikon D80 and 35mm f/1.8 lens. The beauty in this set-up is the simplicity. I considered bringing this rig with me to Dallas, Texas on my business trip, but decided on the wife's Canon SD780IS point and shoot camera instead.

The Canon is great because it fits easily into my pocket, creates vivid color photos, and takes decent quality images in good light. It's a really nice point and shoot camera. However, I just don't enjoy shooting it.

I like looking through a viewfinder of a camera when I'm framing an image and not the back of an LCD. When I'm looking through a viewfinder, my eye is focused (no pun intended) on the image in the viewfinder and how it's framed. All I see is the image, framed in black, and with no distractions. When I compose using the LCD, I find my eyes wandering to the buttons on the back of the camera, to movement in my peripheral vision, and to other distractions in my field of view.

I also like to control the camera instead of having it control me. I like fiddling with the aperture and shutter speed adjustment dials on my SLR in manual mode, controlling the look and feel of the captured image. This allows me to control the depth of field, control how motion will be depicted in the image, and determine the best exposure for the mood I'm trying to convey (which may not be what the camera's matrix metering had in mind). I also like focusing the camera where I want it to focus and not fighting with the camera when it decides to focus elsewhere.

I firmly believe great images can be created with any camera, whether it's the most expensive, professional SLR, or the most basic pinhole camera, made by a child. I decided to carry the Canon point and shoot this week to challenge myself and to see what I could produce with an "idiot" camera. It's definitely been a challenge, but I think I was able to create some semi-decent, artistic images.

The challenge with the Canon point and shoot is it's fully automatic nature, offering very little manual control. That's why I'm looking forward to the Nikon FM2, a fully manual camera, offering very little automation. It's a manual focus, manual exposure, film camera. The film is even manually advanced, manually rewound, and the ASA manually set (no DX encoding).

The camera is so simple, the only way to screw up the image is via the photographer! But it will fun. Once the film is loaded, it'll be just me and the camera, with no distracting automation or LCD screen. This will allow me to just go out and create images...for the joy of photography.

353/365 - More Triangles

Sunday, March 13, 2011

T-2 Weeks

352/365 - The Arid Triangle by Wayne-K
352/365 - The Arid Triangle a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

Just two more weeks to go and I will be done with my 365 project! I started this journey in March 2010 and it's taken me through some new and exciting territories. Right now, I'm captivated by black and white photography. Interestingly enough, the theme in my second week of the project (almost a year ago) was "B&W Nature"...and it was followed by three more B&W oriented themes. My interest in B&W photography lay relatively dormant in my heart for the subsequent months....but it finally jumped out and took over my camera!

The theme for my photography project this week is "geometric shapes." The wife and I walked to the bagel shop this morning for coffee and bagels. I love taking walks with my camera...oops, I mean, with my wife! The sky was overcast for most of the day (eventually turning to rain), so I didn't take many pictures on the walk.

For today's photo of the day, I decided to start with nature's geometry. The obvious shape in the succulent plants is the circular shape of the plants. However, when I looked at them more closely, I saw the beautiful triangle formed by the three plants.

I'm going to be in Dallas, TX for the next three days. I considered taking my SLR camera, but decided to carry the wife's little point and shoot. I hate to finish off the final weeks of my 365 project with a P&S, but it'll have to do. Ultimately, good photos come from good photographers and not good my challenge for the next three days is to figure out how to make the best use of my eyes and tools to get a few good photographs.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Henri Cartier-Bresson

I've been studying the work of a few photographers over the last several months and I've been inspired by a few of them.

Galen Rowell influenced me to travel light on the trails and in the backcountry. He often carried a light weight, variable aperture, consumer grade, zoom lens. While these lenses aren't great in low light, they are very sharp when stopped down and are much smaller and lighter than professional f/2.8 zooms....perfect for backpacking. This inspired me to get the Nikon 55-200mm f/4-5.6. The longer focal lengths add another dimension to my photography out in the backcountry.

Ansel Adams was a master at B&W landscape photography. While my landscape photography over the years has been in color, lately, I've embraced the beauty of B&W landscape photography. I especially love winter scenes for the great contrast between the snow and the darker trees, mountains, and rocks. While I am not overly fond of the cold, I purchased snow shoes this year to enable me to get out into the winter wonderland with my camera. Some of my favorite photos are my recent B&W snow scenes.

Now there is one more photographer, Henri Cartier-Bresson. Before I discuss Cartier-Bresson, first some background information. I've been interested in purchasing an old rangefinder camera, like a Leica M3 or a Nikon S2. Unfortunately, both are expensive, especially the Leica. I decided a Nikon FM2/FM2n manual camera would be a more cost-effective choice for film. I corresponded with a friend to get his advice. Interestingly enough, he suggested I do the "Cartier-Bresson thing" and get the Leica M3, for a pure photographic experience.

While most photographers today use highly sophisticated digital cameras with large, expensive professional zoom lenses, Cartier-Bresson shot with a Leica rangefinder camera, outfitted with a single 50mm lens.

I found this very interesting because my favorite lens for my day-to-day photography work is my 35mm f/1.8 (which is equivalent to 52mm on 35mm film). Furthermore, if I were to purchase a Nikon FM2/FM2n, it would be outfitted with a 50mm lens (and perhaps a wide prime for landscapes). While I haven't been influenced by Cartier-Bresson (yet), our preferred tools of choice are very similar! I think we both enjoyed the simplicity of a fixed focal length lens and perhaps a more pure photography experience.

351/365 - Lines

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Live Like You Were Dying

Honolulu Airport by Wayne-K
Honolulu Airport a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I'm somewhat of a procrastinator, just ask my wife, she will tell you. She asked me to fix the hole in our floor before the baby was born. That baby turns fifteen this year...and that hole is still there. In 1993, I had a new rear window for my truck. In 2011, that window is still in a box sitting in my garage...and my brother now owns that truck.

Well, I'm turning over a new leaf. I've had a few loved ones pass away recently, went to funerals for friend's loved ones, and experienced a few near misses. Life's too short to procrastinate.

Take a moment to tell your loved ones you love them, hug your kids, plant a mushy kiss on your wife's cheek, and go to Italy. Yes, go to Italy. My wife's dream was to go to Italy, so we're taking the family to Italy. Not "maybe next year..." Not for our 25th wedding anniversary. Not after the kids are out of high school. We're going in June. Life's too short to wait!

Tim McGraw said it hear him explain it by clicking here

My photo of the day is titled, "I Miss You." Don't miss the opportunity to do or say something from your never know if you'll have another chance.

347/365 - "I Miss You..."

Monday, March 7, 2011

The Home Stretch

Alviso Adobe by Wayne-K
Alviso Adobe a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.

I have three more weeks remaining in my 365 project. I cannot believe I've taken a photo per day for almost an entire year. It's been a long ride and I've learned a lot....but I'm going to be one happy camper when this project is completed.

If I counted correctly, my last day, Day 365, will fall on Saturday, 26 March 2011. I was thinking about heading out to somewhere special on that day to celebrate and enjoy the day....and maybe even snap a photo. =)

The theme for my photography project this week is "delicate." For today's photograph, I decided to totally ignore the theme....and headed to the Alviso Adobe Community Park to pursue another black and white image. The naturalist wasn't there today and the buildings were closed. I decided to shoot through the glass door to capture a photo of the interior of the building. I liked how the light entered the room through the distant doors and reflected off the floor.

346/365 - Home

Sunday, March 6, 2011

B&W Photography

345/365 - Untitled by Wayne-K
345/365 - Untitled a photo by Wayne-K on Flickr.
I majored in Aerospace Engineering and for my senior project, my partner and I studied the exhaust dispersion patterns of different nozzle shapes. The theory was an oval/elliptical shaped nozzle would disperse the exhaust faster than a round nozzle. So, what does this have to do with B&W photography? Well, we needed to take pictures of the cross-section of the exhaust flow in order to determine the dispersion pattern. We used B&W film to capture the pattern and developed the film ourselves. I'm not quite sure we captured or processed the film correctly because the final photos didn't come out quite right....and we got a "C" on the project.

So, that was my introduction to B&W photography. I'm sure Ansel Adams would be proud....well, probably not. Despite my failures in my early days of B&W film photography, I've developed an interest in B&W photography. I've even considered buying an old, Nikon S2 rangefinder camera. However, if I ever shot B&W film seriously, I think I'd want to build my own darkroom so I could create the final product according to my personal vision.

I'm reading "After the Photo-Secession: American Pictorial Photography, 1910-1955" and I love the grainy, moody, B&W photos of the period. In the upcoming weeks, I plan on creating a few B&W images...perhaps a few inspired by the great B&W photographers of the past.

342/365 - Turbulent Times Ahead