Beginnings (the start of a visual journey in 2010)

Many widely recognized yearly photographic efforts are made by the likes of Jim Brandenburg, among others, but I decided to undertake this series for many reasons. The first spark occurred when I came across a collaborative daily blog turned written documentation, A Year of Mornings, which appealed in a human way. It was a part of the photographers' daily lives, a document of the passage of time, as well as an aesthetic effort.

This project is designed to amass a series of related and unrelated images as they flow and feed off of each other, creating a vision of a whole year of experience.

A larger reason to shoot so much was to force myself to continue to push images. Some days I have projects in mind, other days I'm inspired with a flash of insight, and some days I think, "damn, what am I going to create tonight?" Either way, I've kept going.

When this series began I thought of it as a 365+ project because the goal was to have the equivalent of a year's worth of daily images that would follow and reveal twelve months. But, because I'm also working and a full-time graduate student as well as a human being with other interests, I gave myself the leeway of not photographing every day, so long as the final number of images surpasses 365. When I began posting on a social network site, I started by sharing an average of two photographs a day; by the end of January it looked as though the quantitative goal would be reached halfway through the year. I tend to work in series and like to show context, so a challenge has been paring down daily posts to just one or two images. With this blog I will try to be more particular and share no more than two photos per day.

Thus far, we're 1/12th of the way through and not a day has been missed. More importantly, though, I feel the tendrils of inspiration not previously imagined, and for that reason, this already feels like a success.

Please enjoy, contemplate, comment and share with your friends.


March is drawing to a close, which marks the completion of 1/4 of the year and this project.

Reviewing the images I'm pleased by some and bored by others. Many photographs would not make the cut were it not a daily regimen. But, though I missed one day due to illness and, technically supplanted one day's picture amongst its vacation brethren during the week and a half of Alaska photos, the gears are still rolling.

The images I've been more pleased with have been the light/color compositions, although projects such as the water droplets, reverse lens macro, smoke and TTV photography were also highlights. Where I seem to grow stagnant are with images relating more directly to documenting me or my life, especially the mundane, but perhaps that's personal perception. April will be kicked off with a weekend in Chicago.

Keep on checking in as I keep on keepin' on. Recent layout goodies includes the ability for you, oh honored viewer, to rate posts and vote on imagery types.


As June winds down, 365+ nears its crest. Counting back, however, just over one hundred images remain to be posted.

These past few months I've embraced the loose design of the project and shifted into a relaxed schedule of posts. In favor of sharing greater context and more consistently solid imagery while maintaining an eye on the year as a whole, I may not shoot or post every day, but continue to translate the spirit of the time. Early July marks the beginning of the descent and holds the promise of visual adventure as I head back to Alaska.

Please be aware of new links on the right column noting Artists, inspiration and intriguing ideas or commentary.
*Clicking on most photos will enlarge the image*

Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

April 27 ~ creative lighting workshop

Our Nikon sales rep and a national trainer held a short wireless lighting demo for employees prior to this evening's workshop for registered customers. They went over a few situations and then set us loose to create our own versions at some pre-envisioned stations. The trainer, Paul Van Allen, has a flickr page devoted to his projects for home studio set-ups designed to be budgeted under $25 each (assuming you have a camera, lens and speedlight).

A few of the projects reminded me of the Camera Creative book I've recently gleaned some inspiration from, especially, of course, the water-droplet demo. Typically I prefer to shoot alone, but it was fun to play with this group.

More images than usual today but I also struggled regarding whether I should post these, since, although I made decisions, the original concepts are Paul's. This runs into the master's theme I intend to explore, regarding image ownership.

For this image I deviated from instruction a bit, merely in the act of playing with flash manual settings rather than TTL. That choice led to the yellow portions. The setup was a folded piece of paper on top of an opaque tub. Underneath the lid was (what looked like) an SB-400 speedlight, and optional red and blue Honl gels.

I prefer this image rotated. It was shot with a softbox set up to the left of a left-facing flower.

I adjusted the white balance for this shot of a cheese-grater, which is shown cropped and upside-down.

These shots were fun to make. We could have dropped things into a fish tank all day! Jeff, our rep, was very kind to continue holding a focusing aid (in this case, a hammer) in the tank, in between strawberry drops. Of course, the top image is rotated to my preference, again. Two flashes were used for this situation: one behind to illuminate the water, and one to the side for the strawberry.

These last two images are even less my own. I had little hand in the composition aside from post-production cropping. Paul set up a camera on a tripod and we each used the cards we'd been shooting on in that camera. He also physically depressed the shutter on several of my shots, while we talked about timing. But, they're posted here to illustrate, again, the fun to be had with patience and water, as well as the creative possibilities of adjusting white balance. He also stressed utilizing the reflective property of water, demonstrated in the bottom image with a pink flower. I liked his idea to use a clamped, pierced water-filled plastic baggie, as it created such a nice steady stream of drops... so much better than my one-handed attempts with a turkey baster, on January 17th (but that worked, too).

Gear: Nikon D300s, Nikkor AFS 85mm f/3.5 micro, SB-900 (unless otherwise noted)

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

April 26 ~ late nights

Working full time, classes, friends and other interests leads to late nights. I'll breathe a sigh of relief when the semester's over in a couple weeks.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4

April 25 - technically 84

A friend is moving north. To see him off, a few of us gathered for a night of bowling and beer.

The last game I bowled was probably with the same group of people, about two years ago, and I bowled something like a 40. Incidentally, it was around the same time Obama was teased for his similarly low score.

Along with the token fun graphics and greasy bar food our chosen alley featured a computer tally that records the speed of your ball. A few friends were frequently reaching 17mph, but I was the gentle giant with consistent throws at 8mph.

Those were mesmerizing, spinning journeys down the lane.

During one such crowd pleasing turn, the computer went awry. An employee was called but the next couple throws weren't tallied right, and a few of us were cheated out of points.

But, we know our scores.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 24 ~ links

Here are a few more examples of distorting panoramas. Over the past few days I've frequently worn a meshlike linked necklace, sometimes with its matching bracelet. Originally I'd thought about exploring possible images just via a macro look at the links, but this is pushing the design element further. As previously noted, I'm not a huge fan of a lot of post-production, so I probably won't do this again for a while.

The top image was created via the ideal sort of panorama, with a rectangle of flat bands, distorted per discussion in the previous post. Imagine a landscape surrounded by blue sky on all sides. I may need to try that one.

The bottom image was made using my quasi-panorama technique from the last post, creating a new document four-repeated-images wide and then proceeding as if it were a regularly aligned panorama. Then, I cropped out the vertical center section and rotated it.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 60mm f/2.8 micro, photoshop

April 23 ~ earth-like

Of course, this isn't literally earth-like, but the circular center and dominant colors reference a global world. More than that, though, I browsed the Camera Creative book for inspiration and noted a section that describes turning panoramas into "small worlds." The effect is cool and ideally, this method calls for straight typical panoramas with straight horizons, but, I didn't feel like creating a perfect typical panorama to start from, and, ideals needn't be adhered to. This image was made by reusing the same abstract flash image (from the series posted February 10th) four times in a row, then stretched into a square and finally distorted via the polar coordinates filter.

The change isn't as dramatic as the alteration of a normal skyline, since it's shifting from one abstract image to an altered version of that abstract image, but, I'm an abstract fan.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 60mm f/2.8 micro, SB-600, photoshop

Thursday, April 22, 2010

April 22 ~ earth

While driving home yesterday, I thought about this image I'd taken of the MN north shore ("After Our Earth"), using a fisheye lens. I wanted to recreate the same sort of play on an earth-horizon look for Earth Day. The image I made in October 2008 does a better job of fooling with scale, but these blues and greens turned out well. This is a small pond, and if I'd taken the time to visit a nearby lake, then maybe the mix of scale and horizon would be more dramatic. Unfortunately it was close to raining.

Gear: Nikon D90, Tokina 10-17mm fisheye

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

April 20-21 ~ greenery & landscapery

building toward Earth day tomorrow, please enjoy some outdoor imagery. I had a chance to take a nice walk at midday.

Gear: Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24mm f/4

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

April 17-19 ~ Whirl

Time moves quickly. I'm under thirty, but feel it. Children complain about how slowly time moves, but for them each increment is a larger portion of their knowledge. Each hour, day, week, month, year, flows more and more as these portions merge into smaller increments of our experience.

How prudent, then, that I designed this project to allow for the fluctuation of time priority. What of the last few days? Errands, exercise, reading, gathering with friends, relaxation, printing, work, stress, homework, class, exhaustion. My commute to work and campus and typical haunts hovers around the twenty mile mark, so I also tend to spend time driving. At least I like my little car and get good gas mileage. Somewhat unrelated, since returning from Chicago the same album has taken up permanent residence in the car's stereo. It makes me happy.

At any rate, pictures were made these days--a few on my camera phone and some with a compact camera--but those won't be displayed here. Instead, below are three unrelated images that work curiously well together.

By the way, back in January I considered making long night exposure to document the streak of taillights, but had a hard time thinking of a bridge from which to safely shoot the image unimpeded by fencing. I've thought of one. This will occur. We'll see if I can make anything special out of it that markedly improves the January pic.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, Nikkor AFD 60mm f/2.8 micro

Saturday, April 17, 2010

April 16 ~ shake it up

In the interest of keeping things interesting, here's a little creep factor. There's something nicely unsettling about these two images together. I do enjoy the way the cool tones play off each other.

You may come across articles of top ten "don't do it" lists regarding image editing ("don't make your subjects look dead!"). On the whole I'm critical of "arty" adjustments. Too easily, they can end up appearing like you're trying too hard to work through an image that doesn't have enough chutzpah to stand on its own, but I consistently enjoy reducing individual saturation levels. I'm not sure if it's because I don't usually stage standard portraits or if it may also reflect my loosely tethered connection with color (sometimes an image is much better off without some, if not all of it).

Or, maybe there's an alignment with my affinity for vampire books and shows. Hm.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, (for bottom image, add plastic dummy lens for Pentax 18-55mm color demo)

Friday, April 16, 2010

April 15 ~ flaura

Last night I shot a few images outside the store as the sun set, streaking bright pink across the clouds. As I was walking outside in Minneapolis tonight, a fresh flower bud caught my eye. It was laying on the ground near nothing else like it, perhaps carried there by the wind. I picked it up, smelling it periodically. What a nice end to the day.

Gear (blended image): Nikon D300s, Nikkor AFS 70-200mm f/2.8 VRII, Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, close-up filter

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

April 14 ~ more pretty light color

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, close-up filter

April 13 ~ light figure

It's been warm enough the past couple days that I've pulled a few skirts out of hibernation. This one I don't wear often but it's got quite a sheen to it. While I was observing its light patterns a quasi-neolithic wall drawing figure appeared.

Its contour line presence also looks a bit like my light drawing figure from a late January post. I like the swooping character of his limbs. He seems to actively rest.

Originally, I began looking for color and light patterns, and do appreciate this one.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4

Monday, April 12, 2010

April 12 ~ testing and touring

Tonight I exam-ed for a class and am prepping to tour again in the morning, so today's pic may not be posted until sometime tomorrow.

I was chatting with a friend about the touring and belated prepping. He asked what age group it is this time, and I responded pre-K, to which he replied, "How hard can it be? They're only 4 years old." Right. They can smell fear. And, hopefully my confidence is not shaken (nah) regarding my base rule. What's my base rule? How kind of you to ask. The base rule is that no one gets hurt. It's my base rule because, of course, it is a good rule, but also because it is supposed to be achievable.

Last week, a fifth grader broke my base rule, along with some skin.

He was climbing on a sculpture. A Sagacious Head, to be specific, in the garden. He cut his leg. There was some blood. At least it was outside. One of the chaperone moms had band-aids, and I directed them to a nearby bathroom. One of the chaperones was also his grandmother. Later, I asked how he was doing; she knew he was fine as soon as he was running around again.

See kids, this is a reason why we don't run and climb on sculptures. They seemed to learn.

Those kids were actually very good when we went inside on the scheduled tour. It's wonderful when they're observant and actively experiencing the art (mentally and verbally with indoor voices).

But, I can no longer boast of never seeing an injury on a tour. Sadly, I didn't make it a year with a clean injury record. I should keep a factory-like tally. Along with the tour badge lanyard, I'll wear a sign that reads: "__ tours without injury."

That's sure to be a hit with the kids.

This image doesn't have anything to do with any of the above, but I have worn these clogs a couple times the past few days.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4
Keep checking the Chicago posting (April 1-4) for new pics, and watch the video if you haven't yet!

Friday, April 9, 2010

April 9 ~ ancient cloudy jetstreams

A few jets streaked across the sky near one another, while I made pics of clouds from the deck. I began tweaking the levels more extremely than normal and appreciated the yellow-green effect with the vignetting. It's sort of a sickly metallic sepia that gives me the sense of improper processing mixed with a little sense of aged doom. Is it an old relic from an ominous warning before an apocalyptic event? "What happened here?"

Gear: Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24mm f/4

April 8 ~ and post

I've uploaded a few multiple exposure images, but those were all combined in-camera. Two pics were shot, here, with slow shutter speeds panning across small fields of color (the texture is from the yarn on a knitted blanket on the bottom layer, while the top layer was a colorful microfiber cloth and the swirl was actually the effect of the movement during the shutter speed, from a lighter colored source in the corner), then the final image was created post-production with a 90% opacity on the top layer and then some levels adjustments to tweak color.

Normally most of my photos are created at exposure, with slight adjustments later. The title refers to the image's dependence upon post-production for a large percentage of its existence. I was going to call it "pre and post" but I suppose pre-production would be more about set-up, so that didn't make sense.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4, stack of close-up filters

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April 7 ~ opticulars

So, check this out:
My eyes see things through a pair of those.

Well, I bought two new pair of glasses and like the frames (what you're not seeing b/c it's not important to this post is the bling on the third image's franes ... a sparkly floral design on each side... totally gives me street cred in the art world), but noticed tonight that the lenses seem awfully big, especially as it was particularly suggested that I buy the polycarbonate lenses, same as the last pair, in order to keep them small and thin. Observe one of the new lenses compared with the old ones:

Albeit, the frames are slightly bigger and the prescription changed a little, but the optometrist said it was the smallest change he could possibly make. So, I'm curious as to why the lenses are so different, if it's supposedly the same material and such a similar recipe of nearsightedness. I'm also curious why the salesperson didn't inquire about polishing, since the older pair are much smoother and more transparent around the edges than the new coke bottle lookin' ones, and, although I deal with optics all the time, I didn't even think of it.

This may require further investigation.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.4, stack of close-up filters

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

April 5-6 ~ catching my breath

Hello folks,

This entry will probably be edited in a few days when I catch up with things. We traveled for nine hours from Chicago on Sunday and I had to finish classwork, go to work and then went to class on Monday, followed by prepping to help lead a group of 82 5th graders on an art tour this morning (I led 15, with the help of three excellent chaperones), and working on another class's presentation materials for Thursday, as well as studying for a test on Monday, prepping for and leading another tour next Tuesday and preparing a project for next Thursday... so rest assured that picture ideas and implementation are in the works, but this week and next may be a little deferred. Please continue checking in.

There will be some fun images made in Chicago, to fill in the previous post, and I may post links to some video footage I shot from our trip, as well. I am not a videographer, but we happened to see a few street musicians. Also, my friend Erin, of EC Photography, shot images for a time lapse record of our travels, and a link to her finished project will be posted upon completion of that if she chooses to post it.

Saturday, April 3, 2010

April 1 -4 ~ Chicago



Organic skyline.

Gimme Some Love, Chicago

The accordion player briefly lingered outside a bookstore, the bucket percussionist performed in front of the art institute, and the half-naked brass band rocked out on a corner near a vegan restaurant.

Gear: Nikon D90, Tokina 12-24mm f/4, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4