A Walk through the Woods

I walk through the woods a lot. Always fun and an incredible workout, by the end of the walk I’m gasping for air, dehydrated, and every muscle in my body feels alive. My last walk was with a few of the kids in my neighborhood. Every year when the weather warms up they’re begging me “Can you take us through the woods???”

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How did I become the Woods Excursion Guide? It’s Ok . . . I love it. I took this photo with the toy camera setting on my point and shoot.

About 7 years ago we got a new neighbor who wasn’t too friendly. He put up a gate with a no trespassing sign and threatened to “put down” the dogs that were running free. It was crazy. We all stood up for the dogs and eventually the gate and sign came down. It is a public road after all.

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Now, without fear of being shot, we have access to the pond and a bunch of woods again. When I was a kid, my friend Chase was the person who dug this pond. It was bigger and much cleaner. It’s trashed and toxic now.  Hmm, could make a good location for a horror or end of the world flick.

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We walked the trail around the pond which was lined with bamboo. While we were immersed in discussion about Koala bears, one of the boys managed to scare everyone with the old “SNAKE!” routine.

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The woods are so interesting. I like seeing the changes in the environment as it transitions from winter to spring. The leaves on the ground are crunchy and so pale and bland looking.

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We came across this beetle which spurred a discussion about beetles and their behavior and their grossness. And of course there’s always someone who touches it. The same person who tries to scare people by yelling “SNAKE” in a crowded woods.

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Does anybody watch Ninja Warrior? I love that show. It always makes me want to get out and get better at traversing obstacles, and the woods is a perfect playground for that. Plenty of places for climbing, jumping, running, balancing, and so much more.  I took a break from climbing up a steep incline to take a quick pic of this dog loving the walk as much . . . if not more than we were.

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Years ago I told everyone these were alien spacecraft. The story has stuck. My imagination is always vivid, but there’s just something about the woods that makes my imagination go wild. I took this picture with my toy camera setting. It works pretty good as a digital lomo pic.

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this picture was taken earlier on the walk, there’s my dog, Sunny

The sun was beginning to set and the excursion was finally coming to an end. I was glad, cuz I was so beat. Sometimes I can’t believe there is so much variety just in one area of my neighborhood. I know your area has tons of variety too. Grab your camera and have fun exploring it with your family and friends.

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Photographing the White Iris Flower

I sat down near these irises to spend some time looking at them and practice taking better photos. I sat there so long a couple of large birds landed at the top of the trees right in front of me.

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They were squawking loudly but I couldn’t see them. I wanted to, so I got up to try and spot them and of course I startled them. As they flew away I got a glimpse of one that was brown . . . I think it was a hawk. I have a friend who never believes me when I say I saw a hawk, but I’m pretty sure it was one.

I was using my Nikon DSLR with a kit lens and I was shooting in aperture priority. It was around 10 to 11 in the morning, and the light was slowly moving and landing on different parts of the flowers. The shade of the trees acted as a natural diffuser so the sunlight wouldn’t be too harsh on the delicate petals.

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I’ve taken so many pictures of irises since they bloom every year in my yard and all over my neighborhood and I don’t want to get caught up taking the same boring pictures of the same flower, like in the photo below.

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The light is flat, the background is boring and distracting, and I could have gotten closer to focus on a specific part of the flower.

3 Things to Remember When Photographing Flowers

Light – Flowers look better in a flattering, soft, light just like in portraiture. You can use a diffuser to soften the light on a bright day, clouds on an overcast day, or shade from a tree.

Background – Using a shallow depth of field helps to separate the beautiful flower from a potentially distracting background. Always be aware of the area all around your subject and decide if your background will add interest or take away interest.

Get Closer – Unless you’re taking a landscape photo of a field of poppies or bluebonnets, you should practice getting closer to the flower. It will help pull your viewer in closer to the subject and highlight unique details. You could also sprinkle water onto the flower and get close to the droplets and play around with the light.

If you’d like to know more about irises , I found this article at American Meadows interesting. I’d also like to share a video about light metering, by the Angry Photographer. I came across his stuff a while back, and this guy knows his stuff.

 

These Are Not Clouds

Yesterday when I took my dog for a walk, I decided not to bring my camera. I figured I’ve been taking enough pictures lately and I should just focus on the walk. It never fails though. Whenever I don’t bring my camera, I end up wishing I did. Within five minutes I saw something I wanted to photograph, so I ran back to my house to grab my camera.

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2 planes

A whole bunch of planes were high up in the sky filling the blue expanse with whatever that is . . . they resemble clouds, but they’re definitely NOT clouds. After the wind moves these “clouds” all around, they sometimes create interesting formations.

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When I looked up to take the picture I noticed a rainbow. I thought it looked pretty cool with the sun shining behind the tree so I went picture crazy.

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Just two more . . .

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I love the simplicity of this last picture. I finally quit shooting the “clouds” and focused on the walk like I had originally planned. Sunny, my dog, was probably thinking FINALLY!

ce ne sont pas des nuages

After I named this blog post, I was reminded of the surrealist painter Rene Magritte, who painted, “The Treachery of Images.” It’s not a pipe but it’s actually a painting of a pipe. He was going for a play on words and images.

My pictures are not of clouds, but of some weird substance masquerading as clouds. How do you say, “These are not clouds,” in French?:

ce ne sont pas des nuages

rm this is not a pipe

 

Early Spring Flowers in East Texas

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The weather in Nacogdoches is a comfortable 70 degrees, and the early Spring flowers are starting to bloom. My area is well known for the Azaleas, but we have so much more than that.

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I’m not 100% sure on what each flower is, but I think the pictures above are a pear type of flower.

 

As I was walking my dog through my neighborhood, my eyes were drawn to a bright yellow burst of color from a distance. As I got closer the sweet aroma just pulled me over. I think this is a Forsythia bush. The pics I found online weren’t exactly like mine, but pretty close.

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Whatever they are, they are so pretty and smell soooo good.

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I feel pretty confident that this one is a Texas Redbud. They show up early and the purple pops beautifully against all the deep greens.

 

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Flowers can be hard to photograph, but it’s a challenge that’s always a lot of fun to tackle. I love to watch them change throughout the season and enjoy their pleasing aroma.

I don’t know if I can choose a favorite because I love them all, but roses and tulips are high up on the list. What are your favorite flowers?

The Olympus Trip 35

So I took a little trip into my attic for something and like most people I’ve got a lot of stuff. My peripheral vision took over, and I got completely distracted by an old forgotten box.

In college, I was blessed with a bunch of film cameras and darkroom equipment that I got from the father of a family friend. I used a couple of the cameras at the time, but I haven’t looked at the stuff since then.

A Cult Classic 1967-1984

Immediately, I grabbed the sturdy looking metal one. I did a google search on the Olympus Trip and found a ba-jillion hits. So, you know what to do if you wanna learn more in – depth info about this wildly popular vintage point and shoot.

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Posed with Vintage Samsonite Luggage

It’s British, and it’s an easy vacation camera, originally made for people to take with them on their holiday trips. The camera grew in popularity in the 1970’s after the popular British photographer, David Bailey, starred in an advertisement.

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Elevated with a quality Zuiko Lens, and equipped with automatic and dependable controls, this compact camera is “so simple anyone can use it.” That’s good cuz I’ve been stuck in the digital world and haven’t shot film in about 7 years.

Locked and Loaded

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I hit up my local super center for film. From their very limited selection I bought the 4 pack of 35mm Fuji Film. I guess I’m not the only person stuck in digital. Who still shoots on film anyway, right?? (Lot’s of people!) I love digital, but film has a unique and rich quality that should never be forgotten.

The camera seems to be in good condition, except for a bit of grime that might’ve had some foam or something, which could possibly cause a light leak. All of the mechanical parts run smoothly and the film was very easy to load. Now all that’s left to do is start shooting. I’ll just shoot one roll for now and get it developed and we’ll see what this baby can do.

If Cameras Could Talk

You might want to search through your attic, or the attics of some old people. (Well, make sure you know these old people first, don’t just scope ‘em out and wait for them to head to senior night at the Bingo Hall.) Check out garage sales, and vintage stores on the Internet.

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Old cameras often come with an interesting history and can open up creativity. You never know what cool cameras are waiting to be found and what strange Trip they’re waiting to take you on.

And don’t forget to let me know about it . . .

Red Morning Pictures

I was headed to the kitchen this morning when I saw a red glow shining through the windows. I grabbed my point and shoot camera and headed outside hoping I was quick enough to capture the red hue before it went away.

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Light changes quickly so I only managed to get one decent picture. It was a tad bit redder when I first saw it, but that’s still pretty red. I wonder what kind of particles were in the atmosphere to cause that color.

Lo-Fi Time

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For this picture I activated my “toy camera” setting and it gave me the option of choosing a warm, neutral, or cool tint . . . I went with warm. The warm glow in the sky was pretty much gone by this point, but maybe that filter helped some. I positioned my camera at my hip and snapped the picture.

I like how it turned out. I like all the vertical lines created by the trees in the background, and the variety of diagonal lines created by the yucca plants and that stick in the foreground.

LOMO Rules Followed

So, is it LOMO? I followed rules 1-3 that are specific to all photography, and I wont list them. Rules 8-10 also didn’t really apply cuz I didn’t worry about what I shot which means I obeyed them. I am focusing on the Golden Rules though, so I guess I broke Rule 10 a bit. Aside from them, I’ll focus on the following Golden Rules of Lomography:

4. Yes, I tried the shot from the hip. The composition turned out pretty interesting.

5. Approach the subject as close as possible. The sharp pointy ends of the yucca got me so I definitely obeyed this rule.

6. Don’t think. Done.

7. Be fast. And done.

Pics Before Coffee

My coffee was ready for me when I was done shooting. I love the feeling of productivity and creativity before I even get coffee into my system. Makes the coffee that much more enjoyable.

 

My LOMO – Inspired Digital Photography Manifesto

I knew a photographer who loved shooting on her Holga toy camera. At the time, I wasn’t crazy about the idea of a toy camera, but her pictures always turned out really cool. A few years ago I purchased an Action Sampler.

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Action Sampler, photo from lomography.com

It takes four pictures per exposure. I carried it around for a while and shot pictures obeying The Ten Golden Rules, and the promises that are specific to the Action Sampler. I still need to finish my rolls of film and get them developed. Until that happens I have a burning desire to take the kind of low fidelity pictures you get with toy cameras.

Can LOMO be Digital?

A lot of my digital photos remind me of the pictures that you get from toy cameras. So, I’d like to work on an on – going series of pictures inspired by the LOMO – style. Both in camera and in post processing. With my DSLR and with my point and shoot. Any way that I can achieve the style is acceptable, with the goal of staying as close to true Lomography as possible. So, Let’s take a look at the 10 Golden rules.

The 10 Golden Rules of Lomography

1. Take your camera everywhere you go.

  • Not a problem. All photographers should make this a rule. The moment I leave home without it, I’ve missed picture opportunities.

2. Use it anytime, Day and Night.

  • Another easy one. Both day and night offer all kinds of different lighting and subject opportunities.

3. Lomography is not an interference in your life, but a part of your life.

  • Done. Photography is a part of my life.

4. Try to shoot from the hip.

  • A lot of toy cameras don’t have a viewfinder. So, it became popular to shoot from the hip. I do it sometimes. I also try to shoot from above, from the side, and upside down. Being open to any vantage point can produce interesting possibilities. But for Lomographic purposes, it’s gotta be from the hip.

5. Approach the objects of your Lomographic desire as closely as possible.

  • I often try to get close to my subjects. I might be able to get closer though.

6. Don’t think. (William Firebrace)

  • This one is hard. I can’t help but think. I’ve got a brain and I try to use it. But, this is a great rule to attempt to follow. If you don’t think, you just shoot, you’ll end up getting some cool surprise pictures that you wouldn’t get if you sat there thinking. Sometimes, you can think too much.

7. Be Fast.

  • Sometimes you gotta shoot fast or you’ll miss it. This world speeds by and everyone tends to rush through it. There’s a time and place for waiting for the decisive moment. Just like there’s a time and place for those quick pics.

8. You don’t have to know beforehand what you’ve captured on film.

  • This is inherent in film. You just don’t know what you’ve got until you’ve developed your film and spent time in the darkroom making test prints. You can also do this with digital. That little screen isn’t giving you an accurate view of your image anyway. Ignore the screen and the histogram and just shoot. The surprise is really fun when you’re checking out your shots later.

9.  And you don’t necessarily have to know afterwards either.

  • This is something inherent to Lomography. Often times, you’ll produce images that are abstract, blurry, out of focus, strange colors, etc. You might never know what that photo is of and that’s part of the beauty that attracts me to this type of photography.

10. Don’t worry about any rules.

  • Being a practiced photographer, some rules just get obeyed naturally. But I love the idea of letting go and just shooting. Forget rules. This ain’t Group F. 64.

Rules are Meant to be Broken

Since rule 10 says not to worry about rules, then I have the right and the responsibility to break the rules. Which means that shooting an analogue style of photography with a digital camera is a big rule breaker. I think that as long as I try to stick with the original idea of Lomography, which is basically experimental and creative, then I’ll be ok.

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Before – Through the Windshield

This picture reminds me of Lomography. I took it through the windshield of a car and I didn’t do anything to it. It’s straight from the camera. In the photo below, I adjusted the exposure and color temperature in Lightroom using the “auto” feature.

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After – Through the Windshield

I like them both and I think they qualify as LOMO – inspired Digital photos.

Have you ever shot on a toy camera, or have you ever made your own pinhole camera? Do you think that an inherently analogue style of photography can be created digitally and be taken seriously? I guess we will soon find out . . .