Rainy, humid morning. My initial thought was I’d slip on some waterproof shoes, a rain jacket and go stomping through Pomerance Nature Preserve but, when I opened the door and felt the oppressive, 95% humidity, I said ‘no thanks. I’ll just go early to the coffee shop.
Getting out of the car at Aux Delices I spotted the sunflowers next door at Porcelanosa and decided I could make them my subject for the day.
I ran into an unexpected problem early on: the humidity and relative heat outside the car caused my lens to fog up almost immediately when I removed the cap. The first pictures I tried to take (the one above being the first) didn’t come out so good. Patience, however, is not only a virtue but allowed me to wait until the temperatures of camera and outside evened out. Then, I was able wipe and keep the condensation off the lens and proceed.
Last year I had taken pictures of the sunflowers growing here using my iPhone. Today I had my Olympus with a 14-42mm lens which allowed me to get some decent shots from fairly close (about 7 inches), so I concentrated on trying to get some detail shots.
I know nothing, really, about sunflowers – or flowers in general – and, so, every time I take a close look at them I’m amazed by how otherworldly they seem…
… and by seeing something I’d never noticed before, like disk florets: the center of the sunflower pictured below is a field of flowers inside a flower! Maybe nothing new to anyone who knows anything about them, but it’s been all I can think about since I took these pictures, just adding to that otherworldly feel for me.
So, though I didn’t get to go on my usual morning walk, it wasn’t a water morning: I not only got to take some nice pictures, I got to learn something new as well!
Equipment: All pictures taken with an Olympus OM-D E-M5III (mostly set on auto) using an Olympus M.14-42mm lens at various focal lengths and edited using Snapseed on my tablet while drinking coffee.
Ordinarily I like to use aperture priority so that I can get some depth of field – for example, I would have liked to capture the church in the background in a couple of shots – but it was a bit breezy and the flowers just wouldn’t stand still for a longer exposure.
INTRODUCTION/RECAP: I recently read an article called ’13 Creative Exercises…’, yada-yada, by Todd Vorenkamp, yada-yada, link to the article at the bottom, yada-yada, this is my attempt at the third exercise. (See this post for a full explanation)
Exercise 3: Four Corners
The instructions for Exercise 3 were simple: Choose one subject and place it, where it exists, in each corner of the frame for four images.
I can already hear your sighs of relief: whew! Only four images. Sorry, I took about fifteen! Cheer up, though, I’m only going to post eight.
It took me a while to get this one done because I had hard a hard time coming up with a subject to photograph.
My reading of the instructions were that it had to be something that either couldn’t move or, at least, wasn’t going to move while I was shooting it. Okay, fine: I could do another tree or some more mushrooms, but the whole point of my doing these was to move away from that. Then, the other day, I’m walking around town (Greenwich, CT) and spotted Melvin.
Melvin is a statue standing in front of Cavalier Ebanks Galleries (not his real name, I named him after my late father-in-law – both solid men). Always looking at his watch as if waiting for the galleries to open, he is possibly the second version of the statue – I’m pretty sure there was a different one in front of the gallery at it’s original location before it moved three blocks up Greenwich Avenue (I remember him wearing a suit).
I cornered Melvin in the four pictures below.
So, I promised (threatened?) eight pictures. The four exercise shots plus the featured and the introductory images make six, below are two bonus shots.
The other day I received the B&H Newsletter, something I usually ignore – I normally ignore emails from vendors unless I have an order in process – but the first words of the subject line caught my attention: 13 Photo Exercises Guaranteed to Jumpstart Your Creativity… Again, stuff I usually ignore. Not because I don’t think I could use the help, but every time I start reading one of these, they tend to be full of silly advice like ‘wrap your camera in aluminum foil and stick it down your trousers to take a picture of the the nearest building.’ However, I’ve been feeling a bit stuck in a rut: taking photographs of the same flowers, plants and buildings, so I thought ‘why not?’ and started to read.
SIDE NOTE: If you don’t know B&H (B&H Photo, Video & Pro Audio), they’ve been around as a physical store in New York City for ages (AGES!) I remember rummaging around their store on West 17th back in the late 70’s and 80’s. I’m pretty certain that’s where I bought both my first SLR, a Yashica TL-Electro X and my second, the Canon AE-1.
I wonder whatever happened to the Yashica – literally have no idea. I remember rushing out to buy it after seeing a great add in Playboy likening it to an iceberg: the greatest parts are hidden beneath the surface! As for the Canon, I still have one, but not that one – the original was stolen by an old girlfriend’s drug addict neighbour, giving him, I’m sure, minutes of enjoyment).
Digression, digression, digression: sorry!
Anyway, just wanted to say that a year ago, when I started to become interested in photography again, I was happy to find they were still around AND on the Web. I enjoy their site mostly for the links to product reviews, how-to videos and articles. Their prices aren’t any better or worse than other places and, when comparison shopping, I find their prices about the same as Amazon’s so I tend to buy from them out of loyalty to ‘an old friend.’[SIDE NOTE NOTE: they’re no longer at 17th street, but there is still a brick and mortar store in Manhattan near Penn Station]
The email linked to an article by Todd Vorenkamp and, as I read through his exercises I found myself thinking… ‘well, this might be fun… and this might be fun too!’ I eventually decided that I would go through each of the exercises and bore you all with my attempts.
At the bottom of this post I will put a link to Todd Vorenkamp’s article for anyone interested.
Exercise 1: Two Dozen
The instructions for exercise one were: Pick a location. Stand in one spot and make 24 unique photographs while standing in the same place. You cannot move your feet.
I did this in Bruce Park in a parking space on Wood Road, facing south toward the picnic area. Now, let me tell you how I cheated:
three shots in I actually moved my feet to go back to the car and get a second lens, BUT… BUT, I outlined where my feet were and made sure to stand in the exact same location and foot-placement when I got back, and
I actually took 32 shots because of subject movement – a cardinal that was hopping picnic tables and a tree (yes, I’m certain it was the tree that moved).
This was fun and slightly challenging. The first few shots were easy, but after a while I found myself thinking hard about what to shoot next (the cardinal’s sudden appearance gave me momentary relief).
I wouldn’t say any of these pictures are particularly creative (or, for that matter, even even particularly interesting), but … eh (🤷🏻♂️)! Lucky you, I only picked 10 to show here.
All pictures taken with Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III with either M. Zuiko 14-42mm f/3.5-5.6 or Panasonic/LUMIX 45-200mm f/4-5.6 lenses…
This morning I took a few pictures of the sun rising over an area called ‘Swamp Vue.’ To do so, I put my camera on ‘manual’ and took a few shots at different settings finally getting the shot I wanted with the aperture at f/22, the shutter speed at 1/160 sec, and the ISO at 250.
Usually, when I do this, I finish by setting the camera back to ‘auto’ before replacing the lens cap and turning the camera off. Well… I forgot to change the settings. Walking a little farther up the road I came to a bed of Chinese Roses (rosa chinesnis) and took a couple of quick pictures without paying attention to the settings. This is what I got…
When I got home later I was disappointed to say the least. Wondering whether I could rescue the shots, I transferred them to my iPad to go some quick editing with Snapseed – I figured if I could make a halfway decent job of it, I’d try a little harder later on my laptop.
I started by fiddling with the brightness, ambience, highlights and shadows; decreased the grain; then one thing followed by another. The results are passable – definitely worth spending more time on
Magnolia Blossom was lying under a tree at Pomerance Park when I met her, near the ruins of Wyndygoul, the old Seton home.
A chance encounter, almost didn’t see her, almost stepped on her actually.
I found her interesting and took her home where I set her on my desk then proceeded to ignore, and eventually forget, her as I worked.
I found her there this morning as I was getting ready to go out for my morning coffee. She was pretty much as I had left her. Though having lost some of her freshness and looking wilted, she was still attractive, interesting, still so full of colour.
I took her out to breakfast.
Alone together in the upstairs room of the coffee shop, I began to undress her.
[Camera: Olympus OM-D E-M5 MarkII Lens: Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 14-150mm F4.0]
all images edited in Snapseed: Cropped or expanded to 5×7 ratio; a little vignetting, detail reduction to give a soft focus look
One thing that’s happened this past year has been the great reduction of my social circle. It was never big to begin with – a group of women I usually sat with for morning coffee during the week, a bunch of regulars I would see and talk to at various pubs and restaurants, a couple of guys I would have coffee with on the weekends – but now it has diminished to, essentially, 7: two people I see daily for coffee, two couples my wife and I see occasionally, and one other guy – a crazy-talented artist who drops by with paintings every once in a while, the intervals between which have increased since, after nearly a year of unemployment, he found work.
One of my coffee friends is Jim. I’ve known Jim at least three years. We became friends a through mutual appreciation of alcohol – a friendship which developed over the years over our common interests in software development, politics, art, whisky, and general conversation.
In a recent post I mentioned my inability to stop taking pictures. This includes pictures of people I’m hanging around with. Jim presents a problem. He doesn’t like having his picture taken – at least not candidly and with the frequency that I take them. I decided to turn this reticence into a sort of regular feature of my Instagram posts.
In addition to morning coffee, we meet regularly for dinner at the couple of places we feel safe going to, and almost weekly on Thursdays for a <air quotes> writing workshop </air quotes>. The reason for the air quotes is that, actually, it’s my wife attending a writing workshop while Jim and I discover the benefits of good whisky (Scotch, mostly, but bourbons, ryes, and others are welcome).
Anyway, thought these would be fun to post here. All photos taken with my iPhone XR Rear Camera (ISO and shutter speed whatever the hell the phone thought it should be) and edited in Snapseed using a combination of filters – including ‘tune image’, ‘details’, ‘curves’, ‘vignette’, ‘brush’, and ‘vintage’ – sometimes more than once each.
Monday we had a large snowfall here in southern Connecticut – the largest in five years. By some reports we got 14 inches, by all we got no less than 12. Not a lot by some standards, but certainly more than we’ve become accustomed to here.
Around 3PM, snow still falling heavily, wind gusting to 30 miles per-hour, I got cabin fever, bundled myself up, and went out for a walk – initially just around the property, eventually about six miles around town. Of course, I had my camera and phone for pictures.
Though the selfie above doesn’t show it, except for the occasional wind I was pretty comfortable.
I was happy to see I wasn’t the only person out. There were people enjoying the nearby Bruce Park and I was passed by a woman cross country skiing down Riverside Avenue.
In my editing of these pictures – all on Snapseed after transferring them to my iPad – I tried to give them a winter postcard effect through the combination of a number of different filters, sometimes using the same ones more than once.
I may have mentioned before that, in addition to Snapseed, I use GIMP on my desk- or laptop for editing as well, but I must say I was surprised (and continue to be surprised) by the variety of effects I can get out of playing around with so simple a tool as Snapseed, which I once dismissed as a silly phone app when my daughter first recommended it. But, then again, my daughter, recommended it and she knows what’s what, so I had to give it a try.
I hope you’ll enjoy these efforts as much as I enjoyed both the walk, taking the pictures, and the editing.