Dear Academics…

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I have a message for you.  A serious message – illustrated by a serious, intent baby.  Please do not steal my blog posts or photos.

You see, I have this nifty little gadget from WordPress that allows me to check how people got to my blog.  And if suddenly I start getting large amounts of views from a website titled “Alternative Photography 2015” then I’m going to be suspicious and click on that link to go see what you’re up to.

To be completely honest, I’m not very happy about you copy/pasting large chunks of my blog posts for your cyanotype syllabii.  Granted, I’m happy you included a link to my cyanotype tutorials so that your students can read up on my trials and errors.  I am NOT happy to see my work used instead of you getting off your arse and actually, you know, doing the job that you’re PAID to do and creating your own course work.

To be brutally blunt, I’m appalled.  Universities are the last bastion against plagiarism.  Professors spend an inordinate amount of time checking their students’ work for plagiarism.  And to turn around and blatantly steal my work?  You should be ashamed.  I’m ashamed for you.  What a bad example you set!

To your students: I’m glad you’re here.  Poke around, check things out, and feel free to message me if you have questions about my work.  I can’t promise I’ll swiftly reply, but I’ll do my best.  I really hope that my work can challenge you, intrigue you, or inspire you to do better than me.   Good luck with your projects and remember that sometimes, alternative photography is a series of interesting mistakes.  Run with it!

Sincerely,

me.

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I hate it. I love it. I just don’t know…

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Ever stared at a word long enough that it starts to look mis-spelled?  I do that with images.  If I fuss over it long enough and dither back and forth, I eventually end up hating it.  Even if it’s a good image I can over-analyze it to death.  And sometimes, if it’s a bad image, I get to the point that I simply can’t tell.  That’s pure death in an artistic vacuum.

I think I’ve reached that point with this image.  When I shot it, I loved it.  I like the motion, the colors, the shapes.  After I stared at it for about 15 minutes of back and forth editing, I decided the center post is glaringly annoying and that’s all I can see when I look at it.   That’s usually the point that I walk away and leave it for a few months so that my editing eye has a chance to forget my initial reaction.

Instead of leaving it, I’m going to post it.  Because even if it’s a horrible shot, true to my goal with this blog, it’s what I’m working on.

I think the main reason I decided I hated it is because I went out of my comfort zone and tried messing around with altering it.  Right now its only edit is (beyond correcting the light and a square crop) adding a vignette.  I think vignettes look artificial and corny unless you do it the hard way (with the lens.)  I admit, I’m an old-school snob at times.

So there you have it.  A weird shot with a weird effect.

Details: Subject is a wind spinner, paint weathering is all natural.  f6.3, 1/400, and ISO 400. (don’t ask, was working with low light on another shoot and forgot to change it.)  Square crop, lighting adjustment, and mild vignette added.

Portrait Myth #465 – look at the camera!

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I have to admit, I’m purely going on my personal opinion here.  That said, some of the best portrait shots I’ve seen by noted photographers did not have the subject looking squarely at the camera with a vapid smile on their face.  Nope, most of the more interesting ones I can think of, not that I’m thinking very well at the moment being annoyingly sick, may not even show the subjects’ face at all.   Looking back at photographs of Corbin, most of my images of him that tell a story are not facing front to the camera.  In fact, one of the recent best doesn’t show his face at all!  Not to say that classic portraits don’t have their place – a good mix is best, as in everything.  Especially if you’re sending photographs to distant grandparents who don’t get to visit that often.  More is better!  (Frequent is better too, but I’ve turned into a lump of tired mommy lately.)

 

That said.  Here’s Anarah at 4 months.  She’s highly interested in what her  big brother is doing at the moment.  She’s watching every move he makes (and eyeballing nearby crayons with a speculative eye.)   She’s so excited about what’s going on that I had to stop every few shots and haul her back up onto the pillow.  Otherwise she was reduced to chewing on the pillow and slowly slipping below eye level because of all the kicking and wiggling.   Big brother Corbin has been  a great help getting good shots of Anarah.  She’s so interested in what Corbin is up to that she tends to ignore the annoying thing hiding mommy and making noises.

You’d think 2 kids in that I would have this baby photography down pat.  Nope!  I’m still learning.

  • Baby girls look a lot more feminine (when bald) if they wear a headband.
  • Distraction is key.  Siblings are great!
  • Get on their level.  Shooting at a downward angle hides their eyes.
  • Boppy pillows are great photography tools.  And no, I don’t get paid for that endorsement.

Image details:  shot indoors in natural low lighting, with a pretty hefty ISO that ended up making a lot of images too soft to use.

My kid could do that! (he did)

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Corbin is 2 years old.  Well, 2 and a few months, which in kid world is FOREVER!  He considers himself such a big boy, especially when he sees all the babyish things his little sister does like drool everywhere, be incredibly boring, and not play with all the cool toys.  (although both he and the dog thought the squeaky teether Anarah recently acquired was a wonderful thing and totally wasted on her.)

And since he’s such a big boy, it’s only natural that he move on past the boring, dated squishy toys and onto something better.  A techno-gadget toy.  One that actually does something.  Like my old camera.  It has all those wonderful buttons (oops, he turned on the red-eye!) and the shiny thing in the front (cue Corbin fingerprint photographs.)  And it makes gadget noises!  Awesome!

Once he got over the shiny not-so-newness of his new, supervised toy, he got down to the nitty-gritty of what you can actually do with it.  Since it does have a view screen on it despite being an absolute dinosaur, he’s learning to frame his pictures and hold the camera still while he takes the shot he wants.  And he certainly knows what he wants – I was told in definite tones on a walk recently, “take pictures of trees.  Pictures of leaves.”  Which he then proceeded to do.  He’s fascinated with the year rings in tree stumps, and the first time we saw some on our walk, he shot over to them and started snapping away.

It’s terrifying and cute at the same time to watch him hold up the camera and concentrate on the view screen.  He’s so serious!  I’ve seen that same look on professional photographers trying to get that perfect shot.

House rules: you must always wear the strap around your neck.  Problem is, when he bends over the camera smacks the ground.  I’ll have to get a smaller strap for my budding photographer.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the camera won’t last that long though – after all, he is two!

On our last photo shoot in a visit to Shenandoah National Park, I pulled out my camera to get a shot of him sitting on a log.  He immediately hopped up and said “Corbin take pictures!”  Um, no!  Mommy’s camera is off limits!

Humor aside, I’m fascinated to watch him take pictures.  What he decides to shoot, the viewpoint, and the angle are all uniquely childlike.  What we wouldn’t consider worth a second glance he finds interesting.  He generally shoots it from the viewpoint that catches his interest – a child’s eye level, and up close.  I’m super proud of him, and I’m looking forward to seeing what he does with this in the future.

The depressing thing is, with an auto setting and decent lighting, you can’t really tell a 2 year-old took the shot.  Digital: so simple a toddler can do it.

Meet Anarah

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Hullo blogging world

Meet the newest addition to the family – Anarah.  She decided to wait until her exact due date, and she weighed exactly the same as her older brother when he was born.  Go figure!  We’re glad to have her here – me especially! pregnancy with a toddler in tow is no picnic.

When we had Corbin, I decided to do a monthly photo shoot with him documenting his growth for the first year because they grow so quickly at first.  We’re doing the same thing this go around with Anarah, although I’m having difficulty hitting the exact month schedule.  This image is Anarah at  about 5 weeks instead of a month.  We’re a lot more casual about things with the second kiddo, but I’m astounded by how quickly she seems to be doing some developmental things – like reaching for her image in a mirror and holding her head up.

 

I can already see that my next big cyanotype project will be a set of images of my kids when they were little – I tend to like the more conceptual images in black and white while the family prefers the color shots.  Both are good to have, but the conceptual ones will make a good series.  I might, if things go well, get this series done by the time they’re teenagers.  We live in hope!

Seriously though, I’m tearing my hair out trying to tend to the needs of both children without neglecting either of them.  Bedtime is a much appreciated milestone in our day – the parents, not the kids, duh!  I shouldn’t complain really – Anarah is truly a happy, well-adjusted baby who sleeps well, and I’m so blessed to have two wonderful children.

 

About the image:  shot indoors, with natural light and a pretty hefty ISO. Basic darkroom edits only – like I have time to manipulate images these days!

Angled, again

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Time flies.  Trite, but true!  It’s been a few months since I posted last.  I’ve got to stop saying “sorry” because obviously, this is the hallmark of the new, not-so-improved, mommy me.

 

Anyway, I did it again.  I shot a photo at an angle (accidentally) and ended up liking the shot because of the way it framed the subject.  And yes, it’s wholly accidental – when your two year old son offers you a strawberry (and you’re 8 months pregnant sitting on the ground) the only way to capture it in time is to throw the camera up and click the shutter!

I do have to point out that it looks deliberate.  That makes the sin of the angle a little less problematic.  If you happen to get a slight angle in your image or the horizon isn’t completely straight, it can sometimes look like you accidentally goofed and just weren’t paying attention.  This was deliberate.  Yup! 

Corbin and I went picking strawberries this season, and unlike last year, he actually ate all the ones he picked instead of squishing them.  None of them made it in the bucket, but that’s ok.  Quite a few made it on his shirt, so as far as photography outings go this wasn’t truly a winner.  And I have to note: yes, he does actually have scars on his face, that’s not strawberry mess.  The poor kiddo face-planted off the sofa into the carpet and skidded a bit.  I seriously considered editing out the evidence but we can’t remove all the less-than-happy memories from our photographs.  It’s not very truthful, and someday we might (might!?) actually laugh over the incident.

 

Hopefully the next time I post there will be brand-new baby pics of the new little one. 

 

Moving on

We’re headed out!  We’re finally going to Washington DC, and I won’t be able to post for a while (like I’ve been posting all that much!) because my computer will be in storage until the housing situation is finalized.  Life has been hectic lately with illness, move details, and house hunting.  I always seem to have some excuse or another.

I’m going to miss living in NY – we’ve been here long enough to put down roots.  Pulling up those roots always hurts, even though we’re excited to see what’s in store for us in DC.  Hopefully a new house without issues, a dog for Corbin, and a lovely new back yard for both Corbin and dog.  We’ll see!

So even though this image is symbolic and all that conceptual jazz, I have to say it’s from our recent trip to Long Island NY.  It’s the lighthouse passage from the tiny stone house nestled at its foot to the entrance of the lighthouse itself.  Because it was super hot and Corbin wasn’t allowed up the lighthouse stairs on the tour, that’s as far as we went.  And, I have to say, my new lens is awesome!  Let’s hear it for wide angles!
Hopefully my next post will be full of DC iconic images  – so much history there.  I’m super excited to try and catch the DC cherry trees in flower next spring.  Here’s hoping for the best!