Sunday, January 27, 2008

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

So I am very horribly late on this post. That's because my last week looked like this:

Disaster area

That's right. It's grant writing season around here for us academics. (Read: Time for all-nighters. And you thought having a degree meant we would have learned how to avoid that in college. Really it just means we have a degree in being proficient in it.)

Self-portrait in what remains of my coffee

Unfortunately, grant writing means I read a lot of articles. (Read: I stare at anything except what I'm supposed to be reading.)

View from my stationary post of two weeks.

But I still managed to squeeze out a few pictures. In this last week's photos, I tried to be more cognizant of my framing. My friend Darwin and I must have been on the same wavelength, since he talked about the rule of thirds on his photography website's blog last week. Please go by to check out his amazing photographs and support his new venture!

The cloud formations also reminded me of Alfred Stieglitz's Equivalents.

Sometimes you have to take what you can get. But even with the ability to easily retouch digital photos, it's still better to get it right the first time. Especially with the last photo, I should have been more aware of how tilted the photograph was. I love the color of the sky in the last one, but I feel that the floating chandelier effect is ruined from being off-centered. Another photo did yield a more centered floating chandelier and was able to be cropped and tilted, but the sky had already changed dramatically by then.

Some rudimentary post-processing in Photoshop to reproduce the original sky was unsuccessful, but I like the result that did come out of it. I do plan on revisiting this photo though when I become more versed at post-processing photos. (Read: When I get the grant *crosses fingers* and have more "time.")

Friday, January 11, 2008

Take Me Down

Who is that girl I see
Staring straight, back at me?
--"Reflection," sung by Lea Salonga

I may be a grad student (read: poor! broke! in the lab all the time!), but Christmas doesn't feel complete to me unless I put up a tree. Of course, season's end brings the inevitable decision: leave it up or box it up for the next yuletide season. Roomie and I are lazy, but we like our space.

I was taking down my ($40-worth of decorations from my $2-) tree when I caught sight of my own reflection in a shiny ornament and was reminded of this photo. Hmmm...I think this means it's play time!

Perhaps I should turn off the flash....?

Well, I knew my hands weren't that steady...How about opening the aperture? shortening the shutter speed? using my knees to steady the camera? some combination of these? Oh, and I should turn on some lights behind me!

If I were a smart woman, I would have also thought to turn on the lights on the tree. Too bad I didn't think of that until after I had taken down the entire tree. It might have made for some interesting foreground, too. In general, I should have concentrated a little bit more on framing the subject instead of just my reflection. That's what I loved about the picture that inspired this one: The intended subject of the picture was visually interesting at first glance, but it was just plain fun discovering all the new things in the fisheye lens view of the ornaments!

Another note for myself....I definitely have a distinct taste for clear, defined images. Even though we live in an age of digital manipulation and I know images can be fabricated, part of the reason I like images with clean lines is that it becomes more impossible to contradict a situation when it looks visually plausible, and when things are blurred, it becomes easier to doubt. (Wow, that sounds a lot like life, ha.) Although, one of my favorite photographers, Jerry Uelsmann, often subverts this notion.

I guess if you're comfortable with what you're doing, you've been there before.
--Jerry Uelsmann

I notice myself getting frustrated when I take a picture with blurry lines. But perhaps I should push myself and just let it happen.

I'll leave you with some fun images from my week! (Read: So you aren't looking at the same ornament over and over again!) These pictures were actually taken by my friends: Hi Brian! Hi Mary! They're both now hooked on my dSLR and want one. (Hey, I don't mind being an enabler.)

Making ice cream the old-fashioned way.

Swing dancing

Monday, January 7, 2008

A New Dawn

Sun in the sky
You know how I feel

Breeze driftin' on by

You know how I feel
It's a new dawn
It's a new day

It's a new life

For me

And I'm feeling good

--"Feeling Good," Nina Simone version

Ever since I can remember, I have loved taking photographs. I love hearing the click of the shutter. I love feeling the weight of the camera. I love ratcheting the lever to wind the film forward...or backward. I love sharpening this crazy world into focus. There is this indescribable magic in capturing the moment.

I had rescued the moment by using my camera and in that way had found a way to stop time and hold it.
--Alice Sebold, from The Lovely Bones

When digital became easily accessible to the modern day consumer (read: poor broke student), I loved the instant gratification...and I especially loved being able to see how truly candid those spontaneous shots were! Although film photography will always be my favorite (that is a post for another day), it is undeniable that digital has wormed its way into my life. It helps that it is inexpensive compared to film photography -- and eases this perpetually broke graduate student's pocketbook!

Spending the New Year with Old Friends

Last year while browsing through some knitting blogs, I read about Project 365 and thought it was an awesome idea, but armed feasibly within budget with only the lightweight Sony Cybershot DSC-W70, I didn't have the enthusiasm to make it past day...3? This past December, however, I was gifted with something that reminded me much more of my film photography love. For my birthday, my parents gave me a wonderful new toy: a digital SLR, Nikon D40X. I think you might agree with me that that is some highly proper motivation.

For those who know me well, the last year has been extremely difficult for me, and I went (and am still going) through a lot of changes in my life. Of course, as with everyone, the new year brings about a time of reflection -- and for the first time in my life (read: not forced to do it for a school assignment), I have made some New Year's resolutions!

One of my resolutions for this year is to take a picture a day to become a better photographer, to chronicle the mind-bending transformations along with the oscillating fluctuations in my life.

Snow on my car after a two-week vacation in more summery settings.

This blog is my first and will primarily serve as a photo blog. Eventually other fragments of my personality may slowly seep their way onto the public blogosphere, but my objective for this journal is mostly to follow my discoveries in photography. I have a few goals for myself this year:
  1. Take a picture everyday. I have a few ideas of things to explore! Like self-portraits, macros, time-elapsed photography, night photography, and action shots!
  2. Start a photo blog (check!) and blog about at least one Project 365 picture once a week.
  3. Become adept at using the manual mode on my dSLR.
  4. Learn how to post-process photos (eg, Photoshop).
I plan to post all final cuts of my Project 365 pictures over at but blogging about my favorite shot of the week here. Feel free to wander back and forth -- and please feel free to leave me comments, constructive criticisms, and encouragement!

Fog on the Gulf of Mexico at sunrise, aerial view

I'm excited about the new adventures my camera and I are about to embark! Won't you join us in our journey this year?