Blue cup

20120711-140805.jpgI swear I do my best work when I’m supposed to be doing something else. I just came across this image that I did a couple of weeks ago and forgot to add to the blog. I was on a Friday-afternoon conference call, the kind in which I have nothing to contribute except saying “uhn hunh” every now and then. When in actuality, what I’m doing is tappety-tapping away on my iPhone, reflexively clicking on image after image, modifying and enhancing. I snapped a picture of the cup of coffee which was supposed to be getting me through the meeting and before I knew it, I had this image and instantly was wide awake. Yessss! Nailed it.

And I’m sure if I had 10 free minutes and TRIED to take a picture, nothing would have happened.

Classic iPhoneography

20120709-110028.jpg I don’t know why, but sooner or later, every iPhoneographer will take a picture of a tea kettle on a gas stove. Maybe because Chase Jarvis did it. Maybe because it’s easy. Well, it’s not THAT easy. I’ve tried it many times and finally came up with something I like. The kettle is brushed stainless, of course, because just look how many pictures I’ve taken that make use of its unique qualities.

So as obvious and common a subject as it is, it’s fun, accessible, and a must-take shot for any portfolio.

Toe surgery

20120709-083523.jpg More pedicure photography. What else is there to do while someone cuts off your cuticles?

While the shot itself was not particularly interesting, I cropped it down and enhanced the details to give it more graphic interest. My eye is drawn to the Y-shape of the two hands and the foot. The technician’s bent head and arms give a nice framing to that Y, which is the focal point of the picture.

Stealth portraiture

20120709-071457.jpg I’m trying to get out of my comfort zone. At work, in my studies, and photography too. In fact, photography is the safest place to experiment, because nobody really needs to know about any lack of success. Of course, I advocate constantly about not shying away from “failures”, because they represent experimentation. Not all pictures are going to work, the only “unsuccess” is to not try something interesting and, occasionally, difficult for you.

I have not been doing a lot of street photography lately, which includes stealth portraits like this one. It’s not only good practice technically, it expands my comfort zone. This young man is a very interesting subject because he looks like a completely different person from different angles. I like the thoughtful, abstracted expression on his face.

Mysterious Hal

20120709-092059.jpg Every now and then I go through my Camera Roll folder and delete a few hundred pictures.  While hitting “delete-ok-delete-ok-delete-ok” about 50 times, I suddenly noticed this pic and it took me a second to figure out what I was seeing.  It’s the bandstand where the Doc Branch Band was playing for a barn dance, a red light shining on fab guitar/vocalist Hal Mekeel, with a couple of dimly lit figures in the background.

I love how it is difficult to figure out at first what you are seeing, and also the silhouetted figure in the center.  I did no editing whatsoever to this, why would I need to? The happy accidents, such as this one, can initially get tossed into the “reject” pile, but there might be a sapphire amonst the garlic (if I might stretch a couple of metaphors to the breaking point).

The very fabric of space and time

20120705-105136.jpg Just for the record, this was a lot of work.  Still not perfect but it’s the effect I was going for. (The fingernails are wrong, and the “5K” t-shirt can be read.)

As I posted a few weeks ago, I bought some fireworks (sparklers, really) because I needed an excuse to be taking pictures of the fireworks tent.  If you’re over the age of 8, sparklers aren’t much fun, so were used strictly for photographic subjects.  And it turns out that to get a picture of fireworks that is not totally hackneyed and pedestrian, you have to do some kind of sci-fi thing like above.

This was done with PaintFX’s HDRPro filter, set to have a radius of 0.  (It’s technical.  If you don’t do iPhoneography, don’t feel bad you don’t know what this is.)  Anyway, it created this thing that looked like a magic wand had opened up a tear in space-time.  Or else an electrified mouse.  Personally, I like the space-time warp better.

Sci fi corkscrew

20120709-094011.jpg This looks like the cover of a science fiction paperback, I love it.  I suppose some cropping could make it more abstract, but I like the full graphic corkscrew and details. And the details are incredible!

This shot was simple to set up and take, and then more complex to edit.  To take the picture, I set up a pitcher of water on the kitchen counter, then dropped a corkscrew into it.  Why?  Just because I thought of it, no other reason.

Then for the editing:  a boost to the contrast, and then HDR Pro effect in PaintFX.  This setting will bring out the “grain” in an image, and can enhance detail on a micro level that is spectacular.  It’s not adding anything that wasn’t there, but many pixels that were not noticable now stand out.  Color is enhanced as well.

PaintFX, incidentally, costs $.99 at the App Store.  That’s not a lot of money for something that gives you such advanced enhancement capabilities.  I recommend trying it, for a buck you have nothing to lose except another excuse.

Harlequin Pitcher

20120703-143646.jpg

Oops, your intrepid iPhoneographer posted just the picture and forgot to write anything; if you visited earlier in the day, my apologies.  Shows you that even meticulous planning can go off the rails now and then.  Actually I make plenty of mistakes, and I would go so far as to say that I never learn much of anything until I DO make mistakes.  Perhaps I’m too lazy to learn otherwise, unless I make a mess of something which I need to then undo?  I am a lazy soul, which is why I work so hard all the time, to keep from going backwards.  Also, a former life as a musician taught me the discipline of daily forging-ahead.  If you want to improve, you must put in your time wood-shedding, which is what we’d call those tortuous hours in a practice room, deconstructing a piece of music until it was reduced to a movement of a finger from one key to another, supported by the breath in some subtle, repeatably way.

And thank goodness I don’t have to do that any more!  Photography is a lot of work, make no mistake, and the attempt to get better at it can be painful, emotional and time-consuming.  But make no mistake about this either:  nothing feels better than seeing your work pay off.  NOTHING.  The picture above makes me let out a long slow breath and just bask in the pleasure of seeing something come out exactly the way I intended.

Boxed In

20120703-083839.jpg I’m not usually big into nature photography, but when you’re on an early morning walk in the woods and nature plops a box turtle right in your path and you practically step on the thing, it’s mandatory to take its picture.

This turtle is absolutely beautiful!  Look at the orange.  I saturated slightly, because the pic was taken in the thin gray dawn (by which I mean 7:00 am), but even without any touching up, the detail is amazing.  And look at those claws!  It pays to pay attention, there are probably wild animals all around me.