Monday, June 17, 2013

Waxing Philosophical

It's Monday morning and I have a lot to say.


You know what's interesting? I find that the crazier my life gets (and it's just about as chaotic as it comes right now), the more focused I am.

I've always accomplished more under stress. ;)

This was what was fundamentally wrong with the first part of this year. I had lots of time and nothing I particularly had to do. It made me lazy.

I'm not saying I didn't enjoy my naps and long hours of reading. I totally did.


But it comes to a point where I couldn't see any progress, and now my time is wrapped up in things I must do, instead of things I want to do.

My brain needs something to keep it steady. I need to create so that I can bring order to my life. My time becomes micromanaged. I squeeze in any and all available minutes to writing and photography.

And it feels amazing.

Here's where I wax philosophical about photography.

Durning these moments of squeezing in time, I do a lot of thinking regarding craft. I think about how I can improve, where I see things are going off the rails, and I plot how I can start to learn new and better ways of doing things.

I study people I admire and ask myself: What is it about this that you love?

It's not about copying. Usually it's only a tiny piece that they do so well that I'm attracted to. And then I can make myself learn that technique and incorporate it into my style of work.

I'm speaking on photography today, but I do this with writing as well.

Don't be afraid to try something different. You will fail. A lot. But the rewards are so worth it.

This morning I was futzing around online, studying pictures, and I started to notice a lot of photographers saying that they only shoot with natural light.

I questioned: Why are they limiting their potential?

Using natural light can be amazing. Especially when you don't photograph the subject flat (light straight onto the face/body).

Shadows are what tell the story of your subject.

This was taken first thing this morning using natural light, in my office, when this punk woke up.

And, no, he's barely worn a shirt all summer. I make him put one on when we leave the house, but it comes off immediately when he steps indoors. Apparently, clothing is restrictive.


Why are photographers scared of learning how to use a flash? It boggles my mind.

Because using light sources helps you to create a stylistic shot. You take complete control of your vision if you control the elements.

Remember when I wrote that I wanted to learn how to use my flash? That blog post is embarrassing. I knew NOTHING about flash at that point. Ugh. Those pictures are awful. I only linked it because I think it's important to be honest about where you are in the process.

I don't think people are generally honest with themselves.

So I own that embarrassing post because I had to start somewhere.

I set up a tiny demonstration this morning to show what I mean about controlling the light and your shot.

This is straight out of camera (SOOC). This is what the picture looks like before I placed the flash.

This photograph was taken about 9am. There's barely any sun coming in that window. It's strongest in that room about 1pm.

In this picture, the black is slightly falling off the histogram in the bottom right corner. The rest of the detail is firmly within my histogram (albeit, clumped to the left. ha).

Getting a decent light on his face would have meant that the window and the room behind would have been blown out (white) and the bottom left corner still would have fell off the histogram. But it also would have meant that everything in the foreground would have been an even light.

[If I'd thought this through one more step, I would have taken that exact picture for demonstration. It would be something similar to this.]

It would have been fine to use only natural light. It just wouldn't have matched my vision.


This is what it looks like after I placed my flash (same settings, SOOC):

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Weekend Roundup

All right! *cracking knuckles* Time for an update.


I have a list that grows +2 for every one thing I check off. On one hand, I can see the progress from the checked off items. On the other, it's discouraging that I'm not nearing the end.

And I hate DirecTv at the moment. First of all, it took an HOUR to cancel my contract. Wherein I had to listen to nonsense like:

I'm moving to a house that already has television installed. They want me to continue my service in one room on a separate bill, so that I can maintain "HD free for life." I said, "Let me get this straight, you want me to pay $100 plus a month, for a year, to maintain a service that if I come back later would only cost $5 a month. So that's $1200... It would take me how many months/years to make up that cost? Why would this be something I'd want to do?"

The woman paused. "You'd have free HD for life."

.... No words...

But that, while aggravating, wouldn't have made me as furious as I am with them. No. It's the fact that in the five days since I've canceled my service, they've called every 15 minutes to get me to change my mind. I'm so not kidding.


I've had to shut off my phone. Thank god they don't have my cell number.


I've been playing with light contrast this month. I want my images to be powerful. To say something. I feel like I've grown stagnant in my work. So I've been pushing myself creatively. The firefly picture in the last post used flashlights. I also used the iPad and window light.

I looked for dynamic light situations. Waited and waited. And grew frustrated.

Then I broke out my flash.

Unfortunately, I stink at manual focus. Especially in the dark. haha.

Can't win them all. :)


Um... I am.

I really don't have much to say other than that. It's a first draft. I have to remind myself daily that first drafts stink. They really, really do. They're all drafty, full of ridiculous plot holes and lack emotion.

The characters are trying their best to develop their voice. They're growing. This is all I can ask. I see their potential. I see them struggling.

The tension is not there yet. It's plotted. It's alluded. It's not felt. I'm not so much worried about that as I am the characters, though. As soon as I can create characters who exude passion, tension will come.


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