Birthday Girl

It's been too long.  I want to maintain this blog, but want to branch out from the normal post-a-picture-every-6-months usual.  



Freyja_1st_Birthday - 21.jpg

Here's a picture of our new (well, we got her like 8 months ago) dachshund, Freyja.  (Get it?  Thor and Freyja?)  She tries to fill the void that Cleo left with lots of barking and mischief.  I guess Dachshunds are just bred to be brats.  But we love her.

Split-Tone Time Machine With Dogs

Today was a glorious Fall day.  I decided to do a portrait shoot with the pups. I also split-toned the photos in lightroom to give it that vintage look.  I added yellow to the highlights and purple to the shadows.  This is not to be confused with using Instagram as a crutch to try and make a boring cell-phone photo appear interesting...  

Personally I love these shots (but I'm biased based on the subject matter).  I'm not always a fan of this coloring technique, but with the lighting and the shallow depth of field, I think it helps the images quite a bit.  I love these photos of Cleo.  You can just see her age in every white hair on her nose.



Meatballs and Covered Bridges

A couple of weeks ago on Labor Day weekend we took a drive out to Indiana.  It was a spontaneous adventure. Our mission:  Check out the "Little Italy" festival in Clinton, Indiana.  Then, maybe find some covered bridges (they are fairly prolific and the area is quite proud of them).

When we arrived to Clinton, Indiana, we were surrounded by a scene stuck in the 50s.  I've been in the midwest long enough to know the type of small towns that are scattered across the counties, left behind because they are just a few miles away from the Interestate.  We were greeted by the smell of marina sauce, fried snickers, and farm equipment.

Our luck could not have been better, because just as soon as we made our rounds of the artery-clogging booths and ederly arts-and-crafts vendors, we saw that they were going to start the meatball eating contest.  The children's contest was amateur hour.  What I was interested in was the Men's division.  The real olympians of gorging yourself with balls of meat.  I hope I captured "The Last Meatball Supper" adequately.

It was quite impressive to witness in person.

After we had our fill of nachos and diet soda, we headed out to find the old, forgotten, dusty roads that wound around and through some covered bridges.  I had never seen one in person, and they were kind of fun to photograph.  Christina was a little anxious driving over them, but I've seen the trucks people drive around these old dirt roads, and I knew we'd be fine.

And we were.

Photo 52 - Week 32: Christina

If you haven't already, meet my wife.  I rarely shoot portraits, but when Christina needed a photo taken for her work's website, I was more than happy to pull out my nifty 50mm f/1.4 and give it a shot.  I'm extremely happy with how they turned out, especially this one.

The late afternoon light was perfect, and all I did in Lightroom was a little warming up of the white balance and boosting the contrast.  It helps that the model was so good looking also.

Photo 52 - Week 30: Solo Silo

I returned to the scene of my Week 2 crime.  I had come up short for the week, and in the late July heat, I figured I'd take my camera to work and head down to the graffiti grotto at Lunch.  Much to my disappointment, the place was gated up so I couldn't actually go in. 

I did snap this shot of the outside of the building.  I made it moody with a grainy filter and desaturation.  Nothing to write home about, but hey, they can't all be winners.  Oh, and walking around at noon at 90 degree/70% humidity weather is not a great idea, pretty much ever.

Photo 52 - Week 27

Way back on week 6, with the snow still thick on the ground, I took some shots of a shut down lumber shop in town.  I was taken aback by the bright red brick and the stark white lettering with missing letters and felt compelled to capture it.

I didn't think much of the building after that, until last week, when, while driving around I noticed some big changes happening.  Half the building was torn down, with piles of that same red brick standing as monuments to the building that once stood there.

Seeing the building torn down halfway gave me a unique glimpse inside.  On Sunday afternoon I decided to go try and captures some images there.  I had fun wandering around the ruins and playing archaeologist, trying to find evidence of what this extinct civilization used to do.

Photo 52 - Week 26

Am I a time traveller?  Somehow I arrived at the mid-point for the year a full 2 weeks early.  This shoot is for the week of June 12, which is really the 24th or 25th week of 2011, depending on how you count.  I haven't figured out where the extra week came from, but I'm not going to fret too much about it.

Chrisitna and I spent our anniversary weekend in Anna, IL at the Davies School Inn.  We had a great relaxing weekend.  That Sunday, as we drove home through the rolling hills and rich farmland, we pulled over frequently so I could capture shots like the one above.

This particular wheat field was the only one left standing; the rest had apparently been cut down very recently.  In fact, if I had come back later the same day I shot this, I fear it would have been cut down as well.  I'm noticing a lot of transcience in the things I shoot.

Someone was nice enough to leave a bunch of hay bales near the side of the road for me.  I had a particularly hard time finding a good way to compose the shot, but I kind of like the one above.

The rolling hills and quiet country roads of Southern Illinois were a nice place to spend a sunday afternoon and a nice backdrop for some shooting.

And remember, I've compiled all my previous photos of the week in a Flickr set. Click here to view them all.

Photo 52 - Week 25

Week 25.  I've got to admit I'm very proud of this one, and it was sort of a spontaneous shooting session.  I had been wanting to shoot the rows of sprouts that are very common in this part of the country in late May.  When the sun was creating a very perfect "golden hour" one evening, I went to nearby Parkland College's experimental fields and shot the sprouts you see above.

While I was there, I tried to capture the quiet warmness of the late spring evening as best as I could.  Hence, the cliched shot of a street, and of a dandelion silhouette.


Photo 52 - Week 24

Week 24 took a turn for the photojournalistic.  During a week of pretty awesome and awful thunderstorms, we had a series of Tornado warnings.  As soon as the siren sounded, we rounded up our dogs, laptop and my camera and went downstairs to the basement.  While we were down there, I decided to pull out my 28mm prime and shoot some journalistic style shots.

I love the above shot, because of Thor's motion blur, Christina's expression, and the fact that you can they are all framed by the stairwell, and you can see the basement paraphenalia at the edges of the photograph.  Like all good journalism, this photo tells a story.

I also shot some other photos while I was down there.  I was practicing in Manual Mode, and decided to get artistic and black and white with the lightbulb and floor joists.

Photo 52 - Weeks 22 and 23

Week 22

Week 23

Well, a confession I have to make is that Weeks 22 and 23 were taken on the same day.  Blasphemy!  Kill the heretic!  Buuuuurn him!  Boo, hiss...  Well, what do you want?  It's free, so you get what you pay for.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I've gone off the rails as far as calendar weeks go, but the point is I tried.  I really tried!

The above photos for weeks 22 and 23 were taken at my work.  No, I don't work in a dumpster or at a flourescent light factory.

There's a big office space right near where my office is that has been sitting as a sort of white-collar archaeological dig site.  I had been meaning to take a picture of some stuff in there for a while, but never seemed to bring my camera.  Just so happened I wanted to take some photos of some baby geese that had hatched in the parking lot overnight.  Well, by the time I left work the geese were gone (went to find an actual pond I guess).  However, the light was great and I had my camera, so I shot the pile of flourescene lights.

I also shot an exit sign.  It was dead when I found it, I swear!

When I went back outside to wait for my ride, I wandered the parking lot looking for some gosslings.  Instead, I found an excuse to practice some basic composition.  I like the "NO PARKING" text in the foreground drawing your eye to the off-kilter dumpster.  I also love the texture of the ground and the whole thing looks so moody and gritty in black and white.

When in doubt, I think I'm going to take my camera to work.  When I get out of work it's usually great light - problem is it's 90+ degrees and high humidity.

Photo 52 - Week 21

First an apology for the lack of updates!  I promise it is not you, it's me.  The month of May was kind of crazy -- maybe, or that's just my excuse -- and I haven't been consistent in shooting.  So, the next few "weeks" will not literally reflect a calendar week.  There are times I've gone 12 days without shooting, and then shot 3 evenings in a row.  During these droughts when it's just a little too warm or rainy, or my camera battery isn't charge, or whatever the excuse d'jour may be, I have to pick a photo of something to fill the slot closest to that calendar week as possible.

Ladies and gentlement, Week 21 was one of those weeks:

This was taken in Christina's vegetable bed.  Not quite sure what it is.  Tomato?  Chile?  I don't remember.  I took plenty of other shots on the wrong days or wrong times of days, and out of those this was the only one with decent light and clarity.  In Week 25, yet to be posted, you will see what I think is a much better attempt at capturing what I was going for above.

So, thanks for being patient!  I will post weeks 22 through 25 before the week is out.

Photo 52 - Week 20

Welcome to the big two oh!  Week 20 pretty much sums up this Spring in Champaign.  Menacing clouds, clattering thunder, soaking rain and nagging wind.  Today was a gorgeous 75 and sunny, but the rest of May has been pretty fickle.  Nature in the Midwest is a cruel mistress sometimes, but I don't seem to mind when it's just so damn beautiful.

Photo 52 - Week 19

Christina and I went to the Farmer's Market in Urbana the first weekend it opened a couple of weeks ago.  It was windy and a tad chilly, but the promise of great local meat, crafts and produce was alluring.  The pickings were a little slim this early in the season, but I did find this gentlemen, a one-man-band adorned with instruments and putting on a puppet show, and while I was there, talking to reporters.

One thing I am hoping to improve on is my portraiture.  It's tough taking pictures of people in general.  This guy, with his getup and not-so-mean-looking demeanor was not a subject unworthy of my attempts.  I put a dollar in the hat he had on the ground, pulled out my camera with the 50mm f/1.4 and tried to compose some interesting shots and subsequently get mud on my knees.  But that's photography, right?

I think I got a couple of good candids of him, but most of my shots were just plain out of focus.  I think that's the fickle nature of autofocus on a wide aperture (I was probably shooting about f/2.8) while I'm hand holding with natural light.  Out of maybe 25 shots I had 5 that were "tack sharp"

My goal is to do more street photography this summer, and going to festivals, farmers markets and other outdoor venues with lots of people is a great way to get the opportunity.

It was a fun shoot and a nice break in the routine of shooting sewing pins or dogs or toys or whatever I shoot when I'm not stepping out of my comfort zone.

I want to take my camera with me more places, I just need to be disciplined about it, and make sure Christina is okay with it, since I tend to wander off when I have a camera around my neck.

Photo 52 - Week 18

Hanging out with Christina while she was sewing herself a purse (we have wild nights at home, apparently), I spotted these pins stuck haphazardly into the ironing board.  I stopped down to a wide aperture on my 28mm, got on my knees and tried to gt a single pin in that razor thin depth of focus.

I'm a fan of the high-key exposure and the texture of the ironing board cover. And the pin that is in the focus plane is sharp (in both senses of the word).