Carnival of Lights

A sure sign of summer here in New Mexico is the arrival of the traveling carnival.  The carnival arrived this weekend and although I am not one to go on the rides much these days, I certainly wanted to head out to the event and made some time exposures and capture the neon lights.  Here are some of the images from the carnival.

This first image (above) was taken with a Nikon D7000 and Tokina 12-24mm f/4 lens. 

 These next images were all taken with an iPhone 4s.  Most are using the Hipstamatic app for different borders and effects, with a few exceptions.  This image (above) was taken in the afternoon before I was certain I would be returning this evening to shoot.

 This image was taken with the iPhone 4s, ProCamera app and an optional eternal fish-eye lens.

 There are a number of long exposure options for the iPhone.  This swirling Ferris Wheel shot was done using  Slow Shutter Cam (by Cogitap Software).  I placed the iPhone on a tripod to keep everything still.


365 - the beginnings

With more than a week done in my first 365 project I am already starting to notice a pattern to my shared images.  They are not the big, exciting shots like I would go for when covering events for The Gallup Independent or getting photos for the yearbook.  The 365 project is about what I am paying attention to, a personal exploration, and right now I am finding that the things I am shooting are small and intimate.  They are a lot quieter and more reserved than other images I have taken.

In addition to the images you can see at the site, I am adding a second gallery - an alternate album for second best shots.  The 365 project site only allows a single image for each day on the calendar.  If there are second choices they have to be put into a second album.  I also learned that I cannot swap out an image from the site.  If I post an image in the day and that evening find I have a shot I like better I cannot replace it.  So there will be times when I will be posting a second image on the project site in this secondary (alternate) album.

Other times I am happy with the image I shot, but want to share other images from the day - those images will end up being shared here. These are some examples of images that I liked, but did not make the cut to be the single image for the day.

*All of these images in this post were shot on an iPhone 4s and used Hipstamtic 280 camera app.


Project 365 up and running

My original plan was to start my Project 365 next weekend, using the Memorial Day weekend as the launch. When I went to set up the web site for the project I did a test upload and then I added a few more photos to see how the whole thing was going to work and look.  That ended up being the start of the project.

Because shooting a photo each day for an entire year could become repetitive and draining I am not restricting the project very much.  The images will simply be images that I encountered throughout the day.  Not all of them are going to be masterpieces. And not all of them are going to be pictures of my dinner or self portraits.  Sure there may be a few - I have never been one to explore the self-portrait thing and I might decided to try it once or twice over the next year.

My point is that after decades of shooting for other people it is going to be a learning experience for me to be taking pictures that are about my own life.  Some of the images will end up here - especially the outtakes since the project site only allows a single image to be posted for each day.

It is a personal project. Somewhat like a visual diary, but one that I am willing to make public.  Consider becoming a follower of my project, and don't be afraid to leave comments and questions.

(A few outtakes from this week's shooting)


Photo Social

Although Facebook is the ultimate image sharing site right now, it does have some issues with it.  One of the biggest is that they are claiming ownership of images you post on their site.  You still own your images, but although they say it is for them to be able to cover themselves legally in handling and hosting your images, there are stories that keep popping up of people's images being used by FB and other companies.

Also, Facebook is about a lot more than just photography. The real interests I have online are playing games to relax, and learning about photography - seeing the work others are doing and sharing my own work.  Since really becoming interested in iPhoneography I have spent a lot of time looking at phone apps and more recently image sharing sites.  There are a lot, and each has its own unique workflow and appeal for users.

The obvious ones include Instagram for phone images and then there is Flickr (1,000 GB free!).  What else?

There is my dilemma.  What is the best all in one spot image sharing site? I have not found one perfect one for my own tastes yet, but there are a few that I have liked enough to set up accounts on and share some images. 

My list includes:

EyeEm  - As other reviewers on the net have said, Instagram is about sharing your life and EyeEm is about sharing images that are interesting and artistic.  Plus, Instagram kills your image resolution to a poor 640x640 pixels and does not allow anything to upload except through your phone.  EyeEm welcomes photos from all formats of cameras and they have a marketplace where your images can be sold for real cash, not just photo credit.

VSCO - A lot of serious photographers that I know like this one, and even though I have given it a try several times and it just is not very intuitive to use.  The app on the phone has some nice filters, and the company offers some filters and presets for use in Lightroom and Photoshop that work well.

Mobitog -  This is a community hat also recently added a phone app. It is more like a forum discussion group in that you have to post images into a new thread and to view the images you have to visit the forums and lick on the thread titles to get into them.  It encourages more discussion about the images, but it makes for slow browsing and discovering of new images and meeting new photographers.  They are also VERY STRICT that the images must be taken and edited solely on phones.

Oggl (by Hipstamatic) - A pretty new site that allows you to use your purchased Hipstamatic film and lens paks for free (just import them) or you can use the basic films and lenses in the app for free.  They also have an annual subscription option for $10 a year that unlocks all of the filters (lenses and film paks). 

Gurushots - This site is one that is full of image competitions with real prizes and is free to use and enter.  Upload your images based on the category of the challenge and then vote for other photos.  Easy to see and use, and a lot of strong images there.  Want to know how good other people think your photos are?  give it a shot.

And the newest joined site for me is YouPic.  This site breaks things into categories and keywords, and is easy to explore new images, rate them (and give ratings based on content, composition, technical, and creativity.  It is becoming my preferred image sharing app.


Light Chasing - projects and growth

In the mid-1990s photographer Jim Brandenburg was burning out.  He spent 10 years in newspapers, and 30 years working for the big leagues - National Geographic.  He needed to make a change and get to a point where he was taking images he wanted to take.  So he created a very difficult challenge: take a single image each day for 90 days.

In the old days it was not uncommon for people to take a single image here and there.  Rolls of film in people's cameras could have an entire year or more in those 24 or 36 frames. But Brandenburg is a professional photographer.  He would shoot dozens, sometimes hundreds of images each day.  Even when I was shooting film for the newspaper I would crank out as many as 8 rolls of film in a day (though my publisher did not like to see us using that much film on a regular basis).

Now with digital cameras and iPhones it is like everybody photographs everything, indiscriminately. Bandenburg was going the other way, and doing it on film.  He set his goal to be to only press the shutter release button a single time each day.  No bracketing or exposures, or changing lenses for a different view, and no chimping to see if he got the shot.  This must have taken nerves of steel and in the video about the project he admits he nearly threw in the towel a couple of times.

In the end his project ended up producing a book and a video, Chased by the Light.  It gave him a change of pace and made him reconsider his shooting.

Other photographers I know of have challenged themselves to shoot with only a single lens for a day or a week.  Imagine taking a portrait with a 300mm lens, or trying to shoot sports with a 12mm ultra-wide.

Why do I bring this up? When I worked for the newspaper I never even considered needing a personal project.  Sure, there were times I spotted something and pulled over to shoot it just for myself, knowing that it would never be in the paper, but I always had a reason to be looking to make images.  Since leaving the newspaper I took a break, working on my master's degree.  I continued to pick up my cameras for the school yearbook and for the annual calendar I create as Christmas gifts, but it was not a regular thing.  In fact, it was so irregular that I got rusty.  I found myself having to take time to relearn controls and double check camera settings whenever I pulled out my Nikons.

Christmas time 2013 my old cell phone stopped working and despite not wanting to spend the money for a data plan there really was no good choice for a regular replacement phone.  I decided to stop fighting the system and picked up the iPhone 4s.  It was not new technology, and I was not that excited about it as a phone or as a camera.  For almost a year I had the phone and seldom made any images with it.  Then several months ago something changed and I started looking at the possibilities of using the iPhone, trying a bunch of different apps.  The issue I was having was that I was trying to make my iPhone be my camera - using apps that would make the photos look the same as my Nikon bodies and lenses.  Then I started playing with the Hipstamatic app and it is really got me thinking about images not as reality (something that has been stuck in my head for a long time because of my journalism career) but as an expression of ideas, as art.

In a few weeks I will be having a birthday, summer will start with the Memorial Day weekend, school will be ending, and I feel like I need to push myself in a new direction.  No, I am not going to try to take on the Jim Brandenburg project.  But there are other project ideas out there.  I am planning to do a 365 project - posting a picture a day for a year.

I have not worked out the details completely yet - and it is okay.  I am not talking about taking selfies each day, or only using one camera and lens, or anything like that.  I am not even necessarily going to be able to post the photo on the day I take it - but I will shoot at least one image each day and share the image.

This type of project as potential to be frustrating, getting stuck in a rut, but then again it gives me a reason to make images and hopefully I can work through the ruts and come out on the other side with some great images.

I am going to try using a special web site for the project - but as I said I have not worked out all the details yet, and I may change my  mind.  For now I will be using this site to post the images.