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*

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

June 30 ~ aflight again

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

June 28-29 ~ The Oldest Tree in Minneapolis

An estimated 300+ year old oak tree on Franklin Terrace is slated for removal this autumn. The tree, just off Franklin Avenue in the Seward neighborhood by West River Parkway, did not bud this year. Community members have suggested a memorial sculpture and replacement sapling. You can read a City Pages 1996 article about the tree, here, where a citizen is quoted speculating that it could last another day, five years or fifty. Well, it made it fourteen.

Remnants: Someone left behind a bracelet.

A group of children ran toward the tree just as my friend JP and I finished making images.

*these images were made on July 19th; that post date is slated for Alaskan overflow imagery
Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, Tokina 12-24mm, Yashica-D, Manfrotto legs/head

Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 25-27 ~ Chicago, more more more (April 1-4)

Here are a few more images from that photographic weekend in Chicago.

If you visit EC Photography, you'll see a few similar shots (we were walking around together). Who influences whom? Whose image is it? We feed off one another.

previous pics from Chicago: portraits, initial post

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

Thursday, June 24, 2010

June 24 ~ Lake Calhoun

Continuing with my renewed interest in TTV photography, here are some shots made on Lake Calhoun, near sunset. Many characters roamed around the farmer's market downtown today, but I was distracted by food and didn't return to work on visuals, and portraiture didn't catch my fancy at this location.

A story, however: Training wheels in place, a child pedaled her first bike next to her jogging daddy. He told her it was good exercise for her legs. She replied that it was also exercise for her arms. Amused, he asked why. "Because I'm holding on so tight!"

Top image shows a fifty percent desaturation, while the bottom photograph--ghostly implying that, yes, people were wandering around--is tinted a slight six percent warm monochrome.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, Yashica-D, manfrotto legs/head, cardboard square tube (this enables shooting the TLR's viewfinder with the DSLR and earns curious looks from passersby)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

June 23 ~ and the cotton is high

more summer scenes on a hot sunny day, cooling it in the shade

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

June 22 ~ the fish are jumpin'

Lazy summer afternoon. Temperatures exceeded 90, but a few cool breezes teased the shore of the Mississippi.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4, Yashica-D

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

June 21 ~ and the livin' is easy

Yesterday didn't afford the chance of shooting these pics, but today was a prototypical summer day with beautiful heat not gently creeping, but slamming into our consciousness. Solstice, you have arrived.

Soon I'll be able to cycle to work again. Folks along the West River Parkway were out en force, on foot and wheels.

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

Monday, June 21, 2010

June (18-)20 ~ longest light (summertime....)

Light beamed through the trees, sweeping across a valley, around 8pm on the eve of the summer solstice.

I dusted off the TLR to create a crudely stitched panorama out of four images, shown above. The awkward blend of the images was sought, however I did make use of CS5's new content-aware fill on a few areas (note the missing red guide lines). Two original images of the focus screen follow (notice their backward orientation, which is true to the file, but flipped from real life). Directly below the stitched concoction is a simpler wide angle image of the scene, while the final image is a vertical shot through a diffusion filter for a softer look, and then tinted a warm monochrome.

Gear: Nikon D90, Yashica-D, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, Tokina 12-24mm f/4, Manfrotto legs/head, diffusion filter

Sunday, June 20, 2010

June 17 ~ minuscule monster

This little carnivore keeps the basement relatively free of other little critters. My mother shudders at the thought of centipedes, but, if he stays out of my way, I'll stay out of his.

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

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

June 16 ~ dreamlike seeing

A fine harmony exists between natural and planned. My parents created a quiet oasis in their backyard landscaping, integrating flowing nature into their organized gardens. To interpret their vision with a dreamy look, this exposure was made at dusk and, in addition to the sparse and careful line composition, the bare black-and-white scene is tinted a slight selenium tone-like blue and the image surface is blurred.

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

June 15 ~ geometric organic

Nature's appearance among precise shapes and edges reminds of the power of life and wilderness.
What drew me to the top photograph, a section of a footpath, was the mixture of carefully placed squares and rectangles amidst the tangle of grass - such lovely textures! But every time I look at the image, it reminds me of gravestones. The earth consumes.

The bottom photograph illustrates a strong mix of human and environment, with a dominant, heavy block infiltrated by gently powerful greenery. The balance tips downward, adding mildly uncomfortable weight, and the angle makes it easy to imagine the block as a skyscraper. I could draw in windows and figures to create a full blended illusion. A subtle change, obvious when observed, is the purposeful absence of color other than green. Originally reddish, the block's color was removed to create a starker contrast between constructed and grown.

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

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

June 14 ~ warm neutrals

Iridescent, waves, opaque, transparent, layers, shades, soothes.

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

June 13 ~ femininity

The stool, shoulder and handbags were all my grandmother's.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 50mm f/1.4, SB-600

Sunday, June 13, 2010

June 12 ~ a philosophy of images

Photographer Chase Jarvis recently began a campaign encouraging everyone, professional and novice alike, to shoot whenever the moment strikes. Pleasantly free of technical constraints, the philosophy is simple: the best camera is the one that's with you.

Perhaps a year ago, a friend and colleague said, "all you need is a box with a hole in it." That elicits the vision of a pinhole camera (which is becoming an oddly, perhaps ironically common-place scene mode on compact and micro 4/3 cameras), but I like to imagine that there's an APS-C or larger sensor on the other side of that hole (which is filled with a prime lens), or maybe even a 35mm or 4x5 negative, if not something even sexier to the camera obsessed crowd. But, a chimp could wield a set-up worth twenty grand and never produce the insightful images a thoughtful artist may create with the simplest point-and-shoot. Given the chance, perhaps we'd get some interesting results if a hundred chimps were let loose with a hundred systems, but, who would want to clean up?

When someone asks my opinion I'll gauge the content of our conversation but try to remain true to the point, although certain equipment may be more versatile, what counts is the person behind the camera. "You be the zoom. Use your feet." "The camera isn't always right-- it doesn't know what you're shooting." And so forth. I can be snobby about lenses until the cows come home but that doesn't change the fact that wonderful imagery can be made via the cheapest equipment.

Last night I attended a pal's birthday bash at the 400 Bar in Minneapolis. The opening band and Ada Jane played great sets, cupcakes were on hand, dancing was had, and I cursed myself for forgetting my pocket camera. But, I made an image anyway. Even though the resolution makes me weep (well, at least wince)--and please, honored viewer, for the love of all that is upheld as proper in digital photography, please don't magnify the image with your handy loupes or command-plus key strokes--remember that this is posted because the idea is where it starts, and sometimes visual impact is possible without smooth tones. The aura hits close to the vision.

Gear: mobile phone LG VX8360

Saturday, June 12, 2010

June 11 ~ lenses

Refractions, reflections, sight lines, angles, directions, prescription, perspective, plane, focus.

I count four lenses present in this image. Do you?
Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor AFD 60mm f/2.8 micro

Thursday, June 10, 2010

June 8-10 ~ Catch any fish with that camera?

A few days ago the grocery store featured a display of cherries.

So I bought a bag.

Yesterday, the idea of people watching around Lake Calhoun kept creeping into my head, but I ended up on Lake Vadnais instead. I trolled around in the car for a while and observed that everyone had fishing gear. The idea of portraiture rolled around, but it didn't feel quite right. A mama duck and her brood crossed the road, however, so I parked the car and walked back to find them. Acclimated to humans, they didn't flee when I sat down on the embankment a few feet from them. The snack of cherries--intended for myself--piqued their interest.
We conditioned each other. They learned that if they started to leave I'd toss them a few chunks of cherry, and I learned that they were just bluffing.

Ya gotta love their duck butts. It's so cool the way the water beads on their oily feathers.

Some time later, I strolled past a fisherman who saw the camera hanging from my shoulder.

"Catch any fish with that camera?"
"Nope. I saw some ducks, though." I paused, "You catch any fish with that pole?"
A grunt. "Nothin's bitin'."

A few minutes later, driving out of the park area, I watched a fellow on the side of the road reel in a little fish.

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

Monday, June 7, 2010

June 2-4, 6 & 7 ~ portraits from Chicago (April 1-4)

I've been mulling about a few ideas lately and thinking about portraits and decided to revisit my Chicago images. These are posted for the first time. You may view, here, a short video compilation from the moments during which the last three images were made.

lovely Leslie.

Outside a bookstore, an accordion player.
Please pay here.

In front of the art institute, a percussionist jams with the beat of the street.

Sidewalk musicians crank out crazy fun on a Friday night.
The questionable attention of the fellow on the right (with his... phone?) cracks me up. Enter the scene, friend.

I've been paying more attention to color and enjoyed working through the subtle differences such tweaks can create in an image. It's far too easy to go overboard and knock an audience over the head, so I tend toward either subtle adjustments or clear choices. Above, the portraits of Leslie show the most change, to steer attention to and reference the great color of that coat, which is very her. The second photo doesn't reach the coat's aqua/green, which didn't work as well with the whole image--it resonated a sick, awkward tone--while the slight bluer tint felt solid. For the accordion player, I favored the yellows while reducing saturation, to soften the experience of viewing him. The drummer's scene got a kick of vibrancy to play off the already bright primary colors and the green sweater. Finally, the half-naked late night street band got more attention to their reds and yellows.

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

Sunday, June 6, 2010

June 5 ~ Cardinal Lajolo visits the MIA

A colleague
asked if I would like to help document a private tour given to the visiting Cardinal Lajolo, president of the Vatican Museum and Governor of Vatican State, at the MIA. I don't regularly make this sort of photograph but this image pleased me. There were a few moments during the tour when the Cardinal seemed drawn to a piece that was not dwelt upon by the director or curator; his attention toward this lovely sculpture was particularly wonderful.

Gear: Nikon D90, Nikkor 50mm f/1.4