Thursday, January 30, 2014

What does one make of social media.

I feel that I have a good grasp on the various aspects of social media and have a good idea how to navigate it.  Over the last week though I have had two experiences which have me a little baffled.  The first is how Google+ works and people adding one to their circles.  I have mostly used Facebook but have been more active on Google+ for the last four months or so.  About 5 days ago I had a large jump in activity where I suddenly added over 350 followers.  Normally I would welcome this but as I look at those who added me I find that I have nothing in common and that none of them have actually liked or commented on my work.  In a previous rant I mentioned that I find this type of behavior odd and in this case it may make me rethink how I use Google+.  Since anyone can add one to a circle with out asking permission to do so I may not share as much on this social media or may not post some items publicly but only to select circles.

The other observation I want to share is more to the subjectivity of photography. While I do share to a number of photo sites I have one which stands out from the rest.  This is Mobli.  Unlike all the others where results are more consistent and predictable, Mobli tends to have a very different life of it's own.  Considering that I only have 107 followers it makes the numbers I will share below with each of the past five day's photo's more incredible.

January 24.  I shot this iPhone capture of a Hugo Boss perfume bottle as my photo of the day.  On Mobli it gained 157 views and 7 likes.
I had shot this photo earlier in the day out at Kamp Kiwanis of the camp cat.  It garnered 235 views and 9 likes.
January 25.  We had a gorgeous day in Calgary so I took my class out side to work with some subjects on locations.  There are six photo's here. This one had 247 views and 11 likes.
This one 374 views and 14 likes.
383 views 12 likes.
187 views 9 likes.
382 views 15 likes.
380 views and 11 likes.
January 26.  My Sunday self-portrait for this day was concentrating on my hands and one of the tools of my trade.  This one had 178 views and 8 likes.
January 27.  I received a new camera today courtesy of the Airmiles rewards program, a GoPro Hero 3 black edition. I am looking forward to experimenting with this baby and see what I can achieve.  Although classified as a camcorder the still camera is 12MP and has an awesome wide angle of view.  It has a remote control function which can work from either the provided controller but also an app for the iPhone/iPad.  344 views 9 likes.
My photo of the day of some orchids at St. Stephen's Anglican Church. An iPhone capture which garnered an addition to the popular page and 919 views and 19 likes.
January 28.  A last minute idea for this photo of the day, I took an apple from the fridge and placed it on some blue tiles.  This also made the popular feed with the result being 3046 views and 36 likes.
January 29. A quick stop at Safeway this evening and found a few items to grab some iPhone captures of.  I just posted these so the numbers are still climbing and I really don't have a handle on how come some images get picked up and made popular but I will have to see how these ones do.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

When is your creative period?

We all have full lives and busy days.  With family and work commitments it is hard to always be at one's most creative.  I know I can find inspiration at all most any time of the day but for me my most creative time seems to fall late in the evening.  I guess this maybe that most of the time this is when my mind frees up from the chores of daily life and I can let myself explore.

On that thought I find that I will look at objects I have handy and find a way to make them interesting.  I try to attempt to do things different each time and experiment.  Some of these photo's from the past few days are an example of this process.

January 20.  I took a few of the shells I have in my collection and was examining them when I noticed that this scallop shell had some translucent properties.  I took one of my Alien Bees and attached a small Chimera Soft Box on it.  I put it on a small stand and pointed it straight up this creating a light table with a stronger intensity.
After photographing the scallop shell I tried the Starfish and added a reflector to kick back some light on to the surface.
I then tried this Sand Dollar and like how it had two levels of translucence which created a wonderful shot.
January 21.  Another macro image using a couple of special editions of Canadian quarters.  A little side light from the softbox helped to bring out the texture of the design.
January 22.  Tonight I was teaching Low Key lighting styles to my class at SAIT.  I brought Cool and Luke in to model and a few props for them to use.  I waited till after my student's had finished and then had my boy's strike this pose.
Our other subject was Mary who we were using a more dramatic style of lighting using grid spots.  As I observed and instructed the students I formulated an idea and then before we put the equipment away I posed her and climbed on a chair to capture this portrait of her.
January 23.  Last week I resumed teaching a group of seniors at the Greater Forest Lawn Seniors Centre.  One of the nice things is that I still have the same small group of students that I had last fall.  One thing I felt was that for this session of 10 classes I wanted to get them to use their cameras more when we are together so I can observe where they may need specific help.  Today was our first day and we walked around the facility looking at different things.  I spotted this plant with large leaves with one leaf up against the window.  The sun was shining through illuminating the veins and I created these two photo's.
In another area of the centre I found this snowman suck in a dark corner and liked the light that was falling on it.  After downloading the file I decided to uploaded back on to my iPhone where I could use Snapseed to do the final post processing.
This final image is from Cool's recital where he was singing late this afternoon.  I captured this shot while he was rehearsing feeling I captured his enjoyment of singing the song "When Can I See You Again" by Owl City.  If you want to check out his performance here is a link to the YouTube video.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

A little rant on social media sharing.

I love to share what I do using a variety of social media sights.  One of the things that I find a little strange is the number of people who crave followers but don't follow back or respond to those who they follow.  When I choose to follow someone it is based on the fact that I am interested in their work and thus will express it by hitting like.  That is just the way I am so unless I miss your post I usually will respond to your work.

Lately I have had an explosion of people in Google+ adding me to their circles and when I look at their profiles I don't see anything in common and thus don't add them to a circle back.  These same people who then choose to follow me never show that they are looking at my work by hitting a +1 so I can hardly be flattered that they have chosen to put me in a circle.

Now this is not a situation limited to Google+, I see the same with Facebook, Instagram and others.  I have followed the trends for a number of years now and know that only about 5% of people who follow ever share a like on one's posts.  Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that I expect my followers to do anything more then they are doing now and I do appreciate when they do throw a like my way.  It is just that maybe I use social media in a much different way then everyone else.  I share my work and limit those whom I follow to those who I enjoy so that I can see their posts instead of having them get lost in a sea of posts.  If you are one of these, consider yourself a member of a privileged few.

Here are my Photo's from the last three days.

January 17.  I received a nice little candle set for Christmas from a true friend.  I was looking at them and thought it might be interesting to see what I could do with a close up of the flame.  Using the 7D with my 24-70 I got in as tight a I could but still retain the reflection of the flame in the glass.  Here is the result.
I was able to shoot this portrait of Luke as he sat in the gym before his class sang at a school event.  He is a real sweet heart and he sang wonderfully.
January 18.  I was lying on the couch when I looked up and saw the boy's minions from Incredible Me 2 looking at me from the shelf.  I got up close with the iPhone and took a shot, then used snapseed to give it an ominous look.
January 19.  The third day of my Sunday Self-portrait series.  I had to take my camera collection of the shelf to get access to something behind it.  As I was putting them back I though I wanted to try a set-up using it and taking a photo of the view-screen with my 7D.  I set everything up then positioned myself care fully in front of the Hasselblad lens.  I had preset the focus by positioning a light stand where I would sit and then placed a mark so I could return to that spot. It took a few try's with the biggest challenge being the reflection on my glasses, yet I got the shot I wanted.
Cool had a recital tonight with Music Makers where he takes his guitar and vocal lessons.  Tonight he played a song which he just learned yesterday.  Though it was not perfect he did a good job with it.  I captured a few shots while he played.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Just keep looking.

Finding time to take a photo a day can be tough as we all have busy schedules.  I combat this by always looking for something that I can work with throughout the day.  Some days this can be taking an ordinary object and looking at it from a unique perspective. Other's can be of family activities or having go to ideas that one can count on.  These last ten days had me using all of these in continuing my streak of consecutive days taking photo's.

January 7.  Sitting on the couch I was looking at the remote and using the iPhone was able to look at it from a different perspective.
January 8.  It was a wonderfully warm day after a nice dump of snow the previous day.  The boy's wanted to go sledding and I positioned myself down the hill with my iPhone.  They almost took me out but I caught the expression of the moment.
While waiting I looked at the setting sun and how the clouds were lit with a bit of drama.  Another iPhone shot captured the scene.
January 9.  I had to kill some time while Cool was at his vocal coaching so I dropped by the family print shop.  As I walked around the presses and equipment a few items caught my eye and I turned the iPhone on the to make these images.
I personally like the look of this big wheel on the old Heidelberg press and how the light reflected off of it.
January 10.  One of those good to images, not so much the subject but the style.  I take a simple object and using a mirror place it on it to create and interesting design.  Using the Canon 7D and using the 24-70mm on it's minimum focusing distance.  I used one of  my Alien Bees with only the reflector on it to catch the light on the widget just right.  I finished the shot off in Perfect Photo Suite 7 to add the white pinstripe.
January 11My boys love to play in the tub and Cool has developed his own way to blow bubbles.  I positioned myself with the iPhone so I could get his lips between the circle of his fingers and waited till he got the bubble to be a fairly large size.
January 12.  I went for a walk in Fish Creek Provincial park with the idea to do a self-portrait as part of my on going project this year of creating a new one every Sunday.  As I walked around I noticed the sun setting with these cattails in the foreground.  I moved in close and lowered my angle to frame up the cattail with the sun low in the sky using the iPhone.
Soon after I found a location that I thought would look good in the self-portrait, namely this fallen log.  I set up the tripod and got my settings and put the self timer to 10 seconds.  I wanted a contemplative look and enjoying a nice winter's day.  I tried a few different positions before I got one that I really liked.
January 13.  Another snow day and as I walked around the area around the school I found a number of shots that captured the essence of the day.
January 14.  Another one of those days that I used the mirror to create a reflection with an everyday item, in this case a pencil and sharpener.  I carefully sharpened the pencil to get the shavings to form an interesting pattern and then place it on the mirror.  I used a small softbox this time on an Alien Bee as the light source.
January 15.  The first night of shooting with my basic lighting class at SAIT.  Tonight we were doing high key and after the students had done their photo's I made some adjustments at the end of the session as I knew what I wanted, in this case a semi-silhouette.  Breanna struck the pose exactly as I wanted and using Perfect Photo Suite 7 to finish the image.
January 16.  What a difference a few weeks make.  The snow is melting under the +7C temperatures and revealing all sorts of little gems underneath.  Some like this leaf was still encased in ice and using the Hipstamatic app on the iPhone I captured this photo.
I then found this nicely shaped leaf still encased in the snow.  Quickly I had captured to different and unique images.

Monday, January 6, 2014

You take what you are given.

Over the course of a busy day we sometimes get so engrossed in the activities that the thought of taking a photo sometimes slip our minds.  Thus it can be easy to miss a day if we are not careful.  So we have to take what we are given in order to create an image.  Today after picking up some groceries at Safeway I was given one of their Texas Hold'em scratch and win tickets.  Upon returning home I scratched it and saw three Aces and the phrase WINNER.  I thought it might make for an interesting photo so I added the lucky penny that I used to scratch the ticket.  I'm not sure what the prize is yet as it is an in-store prize and I have to take it in to claim it.  Still it was a lucky day as I got my photo and a prize.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Self-portrait Sunday's

The self-portrait is a time honoured tradition in photography. From Hippolyte Bayard's "Self Portrait as a Deadman" to Cindy Sherman's "Untitled Film Stills" photographers have trained their lenses on themselves to tell stories and create fantastical scenes.  While challenging to create when they are well done they can be works of art.

The advent of digital photography has made it easier to create the self-portrait as one can now see the results of one's set up immediately to make adjustments in pose, lighting and set-up.  We can also easily incorporate multiple elements to create strange new worlds or fantasies.  Working with our self as the subject we have total control of the project.

However digital and smart phone's with cameras have tainted this form of expression as the "Selfie" has become common place with people taking snaps of themselves in all types of situations.  While I have no problem with capturing a moment and people turning the camera on themselves, I do have a problem with it when the images are less than inspired.  On many of the photo sharing sites I see people who have nothing but selfies in their feeds and most have a similar look thus making them nothing more then fluff.

Now there are still some photographers who have embraced the self-portrait as a means of expression and share them through social media.  Artists like Brooke Shaden and Lori Andrews have come up with themes and topics that resonate with viewers and they have developed a large following.  Both are imaginative and create wonderful photographs.  However I commented to one of them that it is easy to create a stir in the photo world when you are a young, attractive female.  Would it be the same with an average looking, middle age male.

So in addition to my photo-a-day project I plan to use Sunday's photo to create my own self-portrait.  Today I started simple using light as my main tool in trying to create a dramatic look.  I plan to use the week before each Sunday to come up with a theme and then gather what I need in order to take the photo's on Sunday afternoon's.  It is my hope that as I progress along that I will unleash some of that creativity and imagination  that I may have been missing the last while.