Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Color and composition, yes?

Focusing on shape and composition is difficult for me. I'm not sure where it all started, but in my mind it is contrived artsy nonsense.

I know that this is a false statement and the wrong way to feel about it.

It's difficult to break this belief for me though, I've carried it with me for so long. Admitting I have a problem is the first step! This is where art history would be so unbelievably helpful.

At work today Ryan and I discussed my current point and shoot excursions. He suggested that my focus this quarter be on taking more photos than just my 365 shots. He said bring my camera with me literally everywhere and take photos of anything and everything that catches my eye, no matter how big or small. I started today and I had fun with it.

I felt kind of like a bird, my eyes darting constantly around me as I walked around the halls and off campus. Felt a little ADD too, seeing as I double or triple checked everything shiny. Maybe a little crazy too, because of standing really close to random objects or squatting down and cocking my head to the side.

I miss having a camera with me literally at all times. I love my D80 and I miss it terribly right now, but I really appreciate how easy it is to pull out the pocket camera, snap a photo and then put it away. No muss, no fuss and it doesn't kill my back or scream, "I'm kind of expensive so I tempt thieves". 

Up there I wrote that I'm going to carry my camera with me at all times now. This kind of gives the impression that that wasn't my goal previous to today, which isn't the case. I've gone on and off having my camera with me on all outings and leaving it at home. Having my D80 with me at all times doesn't necessarily make it easy to use at all times. It's not particularly inconspicuous. I don't like it when people look at me funny.

I probably shouldn't care though.

I've considered purchasing a new point and shoot, but I'm having a difficult time justifying it. My old point and shoot, a trusty Sony from June of 2004, did me well for three years. But it's old now, and far too slow for speedy me. It looks as though Jake and I will be getting iPhones in June and that'll eliminate any situation where I lack a camera.
I greatly look forward to it. Can't wait to join The Best Camera community!


Sunday, March 28, 2010

An unexpected turn of events.

My camera broke the day that we got back from California. It was horrible. The bathroom stalls at airports are simply not large enough to accommodate someone with two carry-on pieces. And I HAVE to say, the bag hooks SHOULD BE LONGER. I am doing my best to not dwell on fault or blame about this situation, because that does no good. However, if I was going to be angry about this, I'd be angry about that damn short hook on the bathroom door stall.

So. Camera bag goes on hook. I start turning to use the toilet. Camera bag slips and turns mid slip so that the top of the bag (oh so coincidentally where the camera rests) is pointing toward the ground. Camera bag completely slips off of hook. Bag crashes to the ground. Irritated groan from me. However, I didn't think any damage had been done. I didn't see my camera the rest of the day, amidst unpacking I didn't give it a second though. I had already posted my 365 for that day too.

Let's cut to the following day. Time to prepare my camera for some photographs. After a few unfortunate days in the past where I left without a memory card or a battery, I always check that my camera is loaded with both and is working. Commence camera check list!

Uh oh.

If I had been in my right mind, I might have taken a photo of what my camera looked like, but I was beyond distraught.

Never again will I travel with a lens attached to my camera body. This is something that I've heard before, but never applied to myself. Smart, right?

Lens is half off the body. "Oh my God, oh my God". Uggghhhh. Crap crap crap. I take the lens off the camera, carefully, and a tiny spring and two small metal pieces pop off of the metal ring on the front of the camera body.

Woo. Commence uncontrollable sobbing.

Jake went straight to work researching camera repair shops in the area. Unfortunately, there aren't any. The closest places are in Seattle, which we kind of figured.

Cut to the next day! We headed off to Seattle and found our destination in Ballard at a place called Camera Techs. My worst fears were confirmed when the kind man behind the counter inspected my camera and told me that the entire mirror box needed to be replaced because the impact ripped the metal threading from the plastic body. Excellent.

I don't know yet when I'll have my camera back or how much it'll cost. I know it'll be at least $300.

This was a rather devastating turn of events. I felt oddly empty and alone when I looked at my broken camera moments after the metal pieces popped out. Even though I use my camera everyday and photography is my passion and it's what I want to do with my life and what I'm going to school for, it's like I didn't realize how much I loved and depended on my camera. I miss it.

For now I'm using my mom's point and shoot. I was really bothered by this at first, because the camera is so simple. I miss the control I have over photos. However, perhaps this is happening at a good time. The week or two before spring break, my boss at work was talking to me a lot about being more creative with my work. Mostly, letting go of the technical aspect and getting to the core of photography and composition. He kept telling me I should use my Holga, but that thing makes me so angry. This simple point and shoot seems like the perfect alternative. I have almost no control, so I have to rely entirely on content and composition.

Terrible. Just terrible. This is a bad photo in many ways. I was still really disgruntled about using the "simple" camera, so I just didn't try hard.

The following day is when I had my realization that this was actually a fantastic opportunity in disguise (minus the money necessary to repair my slr). My perfect time to be forced to focus on composition and content.

This is Jake's book. He was reading while we were on the ferry on our way to Ballard to drop off my camera for repair. Looking at it now, the horizon line is a little too close to center frame. Other than that, I really like this one.

My friends' house has some beautiful purple flowers growing along their driveway. I took a whole bunch of photos, all the while thinking hard about composition and eye flow. This one ended up being my favorite. I think the twig helps, it points straight to the flower.

I believe that this one is very compositionally interesting! The make-up display was eye-catching and pretty, both in arrangement and in color scheme. The vanishing/diminishing viewpoint of the eyeshadow containers tells the viewer that the make-up counter just keeps going and going.

Here is last night's photo. I worked hard on this one. Jake gave me the idea after I told him that my word of the day was, "neither".

I experimented with different placements to try to direct the viewers eye. Was it effective? I think it was. I moved the pepper shaker to the left because I felt it created more of an arrow to the fork, which points directly to the seasoning. With the salt on the left it blended too much with the plate and napkin and lead (led?) the eye right out of the frame.

I haven't taken my photo of the day yet. I'm not sure what it'll be just yet, but you can bet I'm going to be focusing hard on content and composition.


California Day 4

Disneyland! Unfortunately, I didn't think to take a shot of the front of the park, what is wrong with me? You'll just have to pretend there's an establishing shot here. *sigh* Anywho, fun filled day for Andrew, Jake and me. We spent the entire day in Disneyland, from 11or12 to past midnight. It was awesome. Going with Andrew was like having Mickey Mouse there with us, he knew pretty much everything about the park! He knows the layout like his own house. We went straight for Space Mountain to get our fast passes and then went to Toon Town!!

We had a delicious lunch (that was a little pricey), but actually really good. We ate at a table with an umbrella and people watched. We were next to town hall, so every 20 minutes the clock would chime and a new character would come out to entertain the crowd. Very fun :)

I was disappointed to see that the Roger Rabbit ride was closed. Bummer! So I settled for this photo of Jake instead. I'm pretty sure I was on this ride with my mom and sister 12 years ago, but I hardly remember.

Mickey Mouse fountain! It cheers my heart. I love Mickey. I want to be able to visit more often. 

We went for the Mad Tea Party, which was fun. Here was our view of the Matterhorn while we stood in line. 

We were able to go on quite a few rides in one day, more than I anticipated. Thanks to the fast passes we hardly spent any time waiting. What a fabulous invention! Space Mountain, Big Thunder Mountain Railroad and Indiana Jones Adventure are the roller coasters we went on.

There were plenty of other smaller rides that we had the pleasure of attending as well! Star Tours, Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Peter Pan's Flight, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters and Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage. We also walked through Sleeping Beauty's Castle!

Such a full day. It was extremely satisfying. 

Here is Jake greatly enjoying our spin on the Mad Tea Party. Andrew was spinning our tea cup and making it go super fast. I believe the motion blur really adds to the effect. I also really appreciate that Jake's sunglasses are so reflective because you can see Andrew and me in them!

Andrew spinning the tea cup with everything he can muster!

Big Thunder Mountain Railroad. It would have been nice to ride it again! We only had to wait about five minutes because of our fast passes. I love wooden roller coasters. This one has a fantastic scary dip where it looks like you're about to run right into the ground.

Jake and me standing in front of Sleeping Beauty's castle. We're sporting our Happy Anniversary buttons! Andrew grabbed them for us from the customer service booth. Through the day we were greeted with a pleasant cries of, "Happy Anniversary!" from strangers and cast members. It was really nice.

Here's a beautiful view of main street Disney. It was hot and crowded. I love the shops though. There were too many strollers. Too. Many. Almost all of them were two seaters too. Children under the age of 3 everywhere.

While we were in line for Finding Nemo's Submarine Voyage we were able to catch the fireworks show. It was really nice! I love fireworks. When they started I was bummed because I didn't want to miss them, but the line for the ride was so long that we were able to catch the entire show. A good and a bad thing. Fireworks were good, ride wasn't good enough to justify the long wait time. Oh well.

Here is me while we were waiting in line to get on Mr. Toad's Wild Ride. So much fun! This was moments before it was our turn to hop into a cart.

Ahh, Sleeping Beauty's castle lit up beautifully at night. Extremely high ISO for this one, seeing as it was very dark and I had to hand hold the camera (no tripod at Disneyland!).

I wish I had photos of Pirates of the Caribbean. A flash ruins the ambience of the experience, and it was so so so dark inside the ride that I don't think even the highest (and crappiest looking) ISO setting on my camera would have captured anything. I'll just have to keep my memories fresh by thinking about the experience often.


California Day 3

So today we went to The Getty, a free museum in LA. The only payment required is $15 for parking. It's per car, so seeing as we went as a foursome, that's not even $4 a person. It's a huge museum too.

Now, museums. A good idea before I get there, but once I'm there I kind of start to zone out. The paintings are amazing but after the first 5 or so my mind starts to drift.

However, the architecture was amazing. And! Photography is allowed, just no flash. It was nice to carry my camera around and not worry about someone telling me to put it away.

Here are the front steps. This is what we saw after riding the tram from the parking lot. Part of The Getty being a fantastic museum is its architecture and the fact that it's seated atop a huge hill that overlooks a bunch of cities. Therefore the parking lot is at the base of the hill and we have to ride a tram up the hill to the building. It was fun, but it surprised me.

The entrance building has a model of the layout of the museum so attendees can get an idea of where everything is. Here is Andrew pointing to where we'll be going and in what order.

There were two photography exhibits being shown on this particular day. One was by Frederick H. Evans, a pioneer of photography! It was amazing to look at all of his old photographs.

The detail in the photos from 100 years ago was astounding. It was the perfect thing for me to be a part of, seeing as I need to spend more time learning about the history of photography and researching early work.

The second photography exhibit going on was modern work. One artist in particular had urban panoramics that had amazingly vibrant colors. I really appreciated the color work done on the prints.

So once we finally got through the endless rooms of paintings, we were able to enjoy some really amazing old furniture and sculptures. There were marble busts that were carved so meticulously, I can hardly imagine how long one of those would take, or how heavy the original block of marble must have been.

Other than the photography, my favorite part was the furniture. It was just so old and ornate. Furniture nowadays looks nothing like it. It makes me feel so immersed in history just to be around the beds and couches and chairs.

That is a side table.


The very first room we visited was filled with old books and manuscripts. They were all in glass cases with spotlights on them. Each book was opened so we could view the pages. I believe they were all in latin. They were so intricate, all hand written. The illustrations were amazing. It was fun to think about people hand writing and hand drawing, hand binding all of the books. They were 200-400 years old. 

We spent a good portion of the day outside of the museum enjoying the sunshine. We brought sandwiches to eat at the tables so we didn't have to worry about buying lunch while there. Then we wandered the grounds and the gardens and I took a few more photos.

I decided to bring Colin along and he wanted to make sure we didn't miss anything important.

I quite like this photo of a line of trees. They were along the walkway down to the gardens. I wonder what they'll look like when they're in full bloom? I'll have to ask Andrew.

Jake and Andrew enjoying the view together.

Jake and me in front of the water garden. The flowers made a kind of hedge maze.

Some more fantastic architecture. It was an enjoyable experience for me, I wanted more practice with this anyway!

We went to the roof of the building about 15 minutes before the museum closed and enjoyed the view. The flower boxes were full of these amazing flowers. They look like birds of paradise! I don't know what they're called.

There were some rather pleasant climbing vines near the flowers as well.

A short break before leaving for the day. They decided to rest while I fluttered around and took more photos.

More beautiful architecture. The curves and straight lines really drew my eye in. I hope I was able to capture the structure well.

The beautiful blue sky made for a fantastic natural backdrop to the buildings.

So after a day of culture and art, we hopped back on the tram and to the car. The tram was fun, it curved through the forest and around the hill so it kind of felt like we were in Jurassic Park. OK, lots of photos to look at, I hardly posted any from the wealth of photos I took.

Day 3 is a very long one. After The Getty, we went out at night to Santa Monica Pier! We were supposed to go yesterday, but our escapades at Venice Beach went too long. I was tired from The Getty, but I knew the next few days were going to be far too busy to make time for Santa Monica. It was important to me to visit, apparently it's a famous place! It was pretty glamorous too, totally worth the visit.

I wish I had brought my tripod. I didn't think to, for some stupid reason, even though I packed it for occasions such as this one. I made do by putting my camera on a bench though. I quite like this photo.

I wish we had places like this here in Washington. Or if there are ones in Washington, it'd be nice if they were on the Kitsap Peninsula. I love ferris wheels and vendor booths!

I believe Andrew took this photo. I think it's fantastic! I was very pumped to be experiencing the pier and enjoying the view. It was hoppin' at night.

I spent a lot of the days experimenting with flash plus movement, it made for some really fun photos. This one looks like Andrew is spewing a fireball at Jake!

Jake was kind enough to take a photo of Andrew and me.

It was almost impossible for us to get this shot. Andrew took maybe ten. Things kept happening. We were laughing, or looking stupid, or random fishermen were hooting at us. This one I love though. It was worth the trouble.

Establishing/closing shot to prove that we were there.

To end this fantastic cultural day, we went to In-N-Out. Jake and I had never eaten there before and it was delicious! Wish we had them here in Washington!


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