Wednesday, December 31, 2008

2008, my year in pictures

This is a selection of pictures that I've uploaded to Flickr this last year that represent some of my experiences and observations through the lens of my photography. They are a mix of personal favorites and significant milestones in my life's experience. I would provide a running commentary but time is short and I think it's best just to let the images speak for themselves. It's only about 30 pictures altogether... some you may have seen before and others maybe not. To watch the slideshow, I believe you need to click on the image to move to the next in the series. Enjoy!

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My Best and Worst of 2008

My best meets my worst

This is a submission to an online contest "Best and Worst Photo of 2008" on Flickr. The idea is to take your best picture of the year and juxtapose it with your worst. Picking a "best" image can be tricky when you are doing the judging. I had a lot of favorites and off-the-cuff portraits that mean something to me, but do they translate to other people as well? I love my cats dearly and felt like I had some breakthrough photography with them as subjects, but does anyone really care about tabby cat photography? Ultimately, I went with my gut instincts in picking something simple but effective.

Defining "worst" is much harder than establishing some basic criteria for "best." This got me to thinking about what my "worst" photo is... Worst technically? Worst composition? Least flattering portrait? Most of what I would consider really short on technical or other contributing factors get deleted right away. Nevertheless, this was the year that I went DSLR and, as a result, took on a volume of shooting that was unprecedented heretofore. Part of this was the learning process of getting to know my camera and firming up my own aesthetic as a photographer. Another part was just embracing the ease and joy of snapping off picts at a rate that was never available to me before. As a result, there were a LOT of unnecessary, uninteresting or "ugly" images in my catalog.

Going off of both criteria, I selected the "Red, White & Bug" picture on the right, taken at our campsite in Iowa during a camping excursion in late August. I think it is a simple and uncomplicated image, but the silhouettes of the two insects bring a deeper context which is entirely subjective to the viewer. In other words, I wasn't trying to "say" anything with it as it just happened, but someone looking at it might see some deeper meaning in it.

The picture on the right was one of those moments that, in retrospect, did not call out for photographic documentation for any future or current generation's betterment but merely happened as a result of me being a bit trigger-happy and lazy with my camera. It was taken on the same camping trip when Jody playfully tried to bite her husband's butt while in the river. I can't exactly say it makes me proud as a photographer and I found myself wondering why I hadn't deleted it earlier, but then I wouldn't have a "worst" picture as good as this one.

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Friday, December 19, 2008

Photo restoration

Here was a fix-up I did for my ex, Samone, as part of a Christmas gift she's sending out to her family. It's a picture of her mom and sister from 1951 and was clearly showing signs of its age and was even torn in half and taped together. I was happy with the end result... click on the image for a larger version.

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Sunday, December 14, 2008

Camping in Iowa 2008 Edition

Fred is a shell of his former self

Phil tries out his new toy

The Red, White and Bug

So another year has passed and another trip has been made to the secret camping spot along the Maquoketa River in Iowa. I took pictures last year as well, but this year I had my new Canon 40D SLR camera and the assortment of lenses to accompany me. Needless to say, I went a little overboard in documenting the proceedings, but I think some good pictures came out of it. I shot nearly 400 pictures camping and another 100 or so on the road which have yet to be posted. It was an extremely difficult task weeding out the pictures that weren't worth posting, but I think this better gives a sense of the overall trip through the highlights. There are stories attached to the images of course, and I did my best to include some anecdotes on the website.

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Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Dark Knight's kind of town

My friend and co-collaborator Scott Greene has recently purchased a Flip camera so he could start making and posting short videos to YouTube. Above is one of his first videos: a short tour of the Chicago locations used in the latest Batman film The Dark Knight. If you've seen the film (and let's face it, who hasn't?), then you might enjoy getting the inside scoop from a real Chicagoan. The Dark Knight is more Chicago than Gotham City and Scott Greene is here to present the proof. Nice one, Scott!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

urban arrogance in motion: a day in the life of the EDGE

HD Version

NOTE: You may want to playback and then allow the film to buffer (load) before playing through so it doesn't stutter during playback.

High Quality YouTube version

Flickr Version

Here are the results from my first time-lapse experiment with my Canon 40D Digital SLR camera. I pointed the camera out of my living room window towards the large and unwieldy EDGE building in Williamsburg. It has been topped off, but there's still a lot of construction of the building underway. Using the software that came with the camera, I ran a USB cable from the camera into my Macbook and set the camera to shoot one full resolution JPEG every 30 seconds. My tripod is cheap and shoddy and it took a few bumps during the day, mostly I'm sure from the cats playing around it and batting at imaginary insects. I then exported these JPEG's into a new project in Aperture, applied a basic contrast and color enhancement, cropped to a satisfying 1920x1080 size frame (it was definitely more than I would have liked), and uniformly applied these adjustments to the whole album. This was then exported as an image sequence of JPEG files, imported into Final Cut Pro and dropped into a time-line so each image was set to a value of 1/30 of a second. I added a soundtrack using different sound bank elements, trying to find a dark counterbalance to the daytime cityscape.

But most excitedly, this was my first foray into the world of HD video; it's a real treat to see all the detail that the camera picks up at full resolution. Of the three embedded versions I've posted, I like Flickr's the best at full-screen as the compression artifacts are a lot less noticeable. As I have a bit more time on my hands these days, hopefully I can make some more of these in the days to come...

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