Finally some outdoor exercise!

Man I’ve been waiting for spring for ages. With lots of office work to do and one adorable baby Adrian to help take care of at home, it’s been tough to get out to walk around on the few nice days we had up till now.

So today I walked a good 3 miles round trip toward town to Staples to drop some eBay sales off for shipping. It felt great to trek some sidewalk and get some fresh spring air too.

Within an hour of my return from the stroll Justin came over with chocolate cake and caramel swirl ice cream to totally negate the exercise I just finished. Luckily I took a BEFORE photo in case there was a run in with chocolate this weekend.

Get out there and get some air, you’ll love it!

Skinny Eric, 150lbs!

35 pounds off and WITHOUT SUBWAY! Take that, Jared.

(Oh, and this photo has the chin… walnut thing – what is that called? – that Adrian acquired. Any guesses from when this was taken?)

Lightroom 2 BETA, no April joke

Gotcha. One of my new favorite photo reads, the Strobist, had me pondering overclocking a speedlight (flash) – which I tried once before realizing I was still awake really late and it was now the first of April. Dohf!

Similarly tonight / this morning I got wind that Adobe has released Lightroom 2 in beta. I checked the date, then clicked over to see what was cooking. No April 2nd jokes here!

Adobe Lightroom 2.0 BETA announced!

Certainly worth a try! I started using LR in beta when it was first available, and even while the beta bugs were being worked out I really liked the setup. We picked up a full version as soon as it was ready and have been running with it ever since. Lots of goodies but it’s best to pick them off the Lightroom site itself – so check it out!

http://labs.adobe.com/technologies/lightroom/

Geeking out.

Spring has sprung – a snow leak!

March snow showers

My little sis came home from Missouri last weekend for Easter and to meet my baby Adrian. She missed her flight from Chicago to South Bend and made it to the Bucholtz (Polish) Easter late Saturday. Her flight back out early this week was canceled because of severe wind storms. The next was canceled because of this stuff – globs of slush falling from the sky. Something like 2″ of snow. It’s not Spring *yet* as far as the icy blasting snowstorms are concerned. Oh well, a few extra days to visit with sis.

Cold as it was, the snowfall got some Over the Rhine Christmas songs stuck in my head, and got me inspired enough to go shoot time exposures after midnight. This one was about 15 seconds with a little pop of fill flash just before the shutter closed. (It was still pretty windy so the branches were moving all over!)

Stay toasty. And if at all possible, play some Over the Rhine – this weather’s perfect for it.

Endeavors in Illumination

“There are two kinds of light–the glow that illuminates, and the glare that obscures.”
– James Thurber

It’s hard to say when it began to stir, but I welcome the nudge to do something new, to try new ideas, to expand on proven practice of what I understand in lighting.

The changing of seasons always seems to inspire me. New years has its resolutions and new start, spring breathes new life into the frozen, summer lets loose with bare feet and the smell of cookouts with friends, fall paints the landscape and gets out the warm fuzzy clothes as winter returns and the circle completes. Even while this current year’s winter inundated us with shut-in, bone chilling days, I do enjoy the seasons in Indiana. There’s something inspiring about the changes happening.

Weather patterns aside, it’s easy to get in a creative rut when you stick with what you already know and don’t get to try new ideas. It’s safe, but reliable, predictable but repeatable. Peppered throughout last year’s wedding season’s celebrations were so many photos that just popped. A new look, a different angle, a moment where everything just worked the way I hoped it would come together. It is in the pursuit of these dramatic, creative photos that I find myself wanting to do more with what I’ve learned and try new ideas. Inspiration can feel dangerous.

This March especially I’ve had a lot of ideas running through my mind’s eye. It is, in fact, some of those same creative brainstorms that kept me from returning to sleep early this morning. Watching the sunrise, even if I’ve been up most of the night leading to it, always sparks a bit of creativity and refreshing. As we count down till April 26th, the start of our spring wedding season, the stirring to hone my use of lighting has been growing.

To explain what has been stirring reminds me of the first few rolls of film I shot through my first SLR. What a sound as the shutter snapped! What a feeling to hold a manual 35mm body, focus a 50mm lens, and see your ideas in print. In 2003 when I checked out some photography books from the downtown library I was surprised to find a sticky note with my handwriting on it stuck inside some of my favorite books I read over and over when I started off with my 35mm camera.

Minolta X-370 35mm film camera body

Everyone needs a creative outlet, and more so, I think, when you use your creative outlet for work. When I was so busy with photo work last summer that I didn’t get out much to shoot on my own I picked up a Holga to try new ideas and get away from the things I did for work. I loved the break from the digital realm and really love the funky photos the Holga makes. It was a shot in the arm for creativity. I even snapped a few photos with this $25 plastic gem while at “work” with $10 grand around my neck and waist in optical Nikon stock. That’ll turn some heads!

Short story long, I ran across an impressive photography and lighting blog that has really outlined this quest of creativity. The Strobist Blog outlines The Lighting Journey as such:

  1. Ambient light is best. (I love working with great ambient light and using minimal extra gear! It is, however, only one of the ways I light a photo.)
  2. Competent on-camera flash. “It is comfy and predictable – which is not necessarily a terrible thing. Warm milk is not a terrible thing, either.” Eesh.
  3. Overdone off-camera flash – going nuts with lighting setups, “nuke it till it glows” (not a problem I’ve run into, thank goodness!)
  4. Experimentation – while the other stages are “comfy and predictable, experimentation is error-prone, and sometimes random in its quality. Which I will take over predictable and boring any day.”
  5. The Bag of Tricks – knows what works, versatile and flexible, knows what will sell. Hey, can hear a camera shutter and know if it’s too slow for a sharp shot, or see a flash / lens combination and know if there’s enough range to get a good exposure. But then again, I should know it that well when I rely on reflexes to catch fleeting moments. I have a good bag of tricks techniques I use very well.
  6. Personal and Unique Lighting Style – Often with this style comes huge financial success – and rampant, blatant imitation from others. (Not there yet on either account.)
  7. Subject-driven Lightdefined by absolute mastery of the craft to the point where it transcends into art on a regular basis.

    The command of a wide array of techniques leads to a pure versatility unmatched by other shooters. The key is a variety of styles – singular or combined – from which to choose The Appropriate Response to a given challenge.

    It’s the difference between a very good cellist playing a piece, or that same piece being owned by the late Pablo Casals.

    It is being so far beyond the mastery of technique that “how-will-I-light-this” is replaced by sheer, instinctive vision. It’s craft to the point of genius. It’s Dean Collins in his prime.

So much to ponder. The sun’s bright in the sky lighting the overcast morning sky, coffee’s done and I’ve got music streaming. This day is looking pretty inspirational.

Itching to get outdoors

I’ve been itching to get outside and hike. Ok, itching and hiking aren’t a fun pair of words. I’ve been eager to go hike again soon. I came across a contact sheet print from my film classes when I lugged a nice Bronica SQ manual 120 rollfilm camera around with me while I hiked my favorite paths around Worster Lake.

Potato Creek’s Worster Lake, North Liberty, Indiana

Happy St. Patrick’s Day.  No green in these B&W shots, feel free to pinch em.

week of the geek, birthday of…

Unbeknown to me (what a fun word, unbeknown) today was the “birthday” of some of the most used software in my line of work. February 19th rolls around with the anniversaries of version 1.0 of Photoshop (1990), Camera Raw (2003) and last year one of my personal favorite Adobe apps, LightRoom. It’s moreso the date that the ground breaking apps shipped but we just finished cheery pie and ice cream at home so it feels like a birthday.

Adobe birthdays on Feb 19th

Need to geek out and want to read more? Thought so. Here it is.

new year by the numbers

A late entry to the New Years greetings list:

New years glasses

Reminds me of 2002 when I celebrated a New Year three times in three countries. It started off in Hometown, USA on January 1st. I got to spend an evening of games, laughs, and good times with a handful of friends I haven’t seen much of since we all went our own ways, traveled, deployed, or life got too busy.

Next celebration was in Beijing, China in early February after a couple of weeks of teaching English at a school camp. It was right around the day that I got to walk around on a stretch of the Great Wall, pretty amazing sights. Fireworks at New Years is nothing new nor quiet over there. Plus, dumplings to celebrate the festivities. They’ve really got something going there… mmm.

Lastly, and likely my most favorite New Years of all, SONGKRAN water festival in mid April in Thailand. In Indiana and Beijing it was winter and frigid but in Thailand it was up to 105˚ F each day this time of the year. Imagine dousing and being drenched by total strangers while walking to the store, to work, or sitting on the bus. How about a pickup truck with barrels of ice water in the back pulling up along side your open-side bus and someone throwing freezing cold water on you? Imagine being a foreigner and being one up on the neighbor kids and getting them first. :o) Man I miss being in Thailand.

Looking back that was a crazy year and it needed at least three celebrations.

Wherever and whenever you celebrate it and however you number it,

HAPPY NEW YEAR!