Happy on the Inside

One of the projects that I set for myself this year is to create 250 ‘instagram’ images. Not necessarily to post 250 images to Instagram but to finish 250 images taken on the iPhone and processed using apps. That means ~ 60 images per quarter. It’s been an usual start to the year which was the major driver for me reaching the 100 mark last week.

Looking back over the images is see that I clearly have a preferred color palette as well subject matter. My 100 a images are an eclectic collection of mostly color abstracts and landscape images.

The image above, taken on the last day of a short trip to Portland, is a clear outlier.  Without exception the other 99 are all of subjects outside, even if they were taken from the warmth of a coffee shop the subject was outside.

I doubt that there will be more like this – never say never – but it does make me wonder why I haven’t been shooting indoors more and what it would look like if I did.

Notes From The Road

After two weeks of dealing with an virus that went through our household decimating everything in it’s path I’m finally getting back to something like normal. It’s interesting to me how presumably the same virus can manifest itself differently, shining a light on your weaknesses? My son and I both had respiratory problems which involved a trip to the hospital for him and a lingering shortness of breath for me. I’m still winded doing the simplest of tasks, even something as simple as walking feels like I’ve just done something strenuous. Hopefully it won’t last for too much longer.

I’m once again on the road. It was fun to see Massachusetts and all the snow that we’ve had this winter from the air. I was surprised that there wasn’t more ice in the bay but I should be careful what I wish for!

On the Road Again

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I’m traveling again this week which is unfortunate on a number of levels. I’ve been pursuing a winter tress project over the last couple of years and have been looking forward to extending that project this winter. Unfortunately we’ve had very little snow so far this winter. It looks like that is about to change in spectacular fashion when Juno passes through the area later today and tomorrow.

We’ll see what that does to my travel plans!

How the Right Software Can Recover Your Files

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When I’m on a photography trip I take all of the obvious precautions that I’m sure we are all taking with digital files. I have two card readers in case one fails, it will eventually and it can be a pain to replace depending on where in the world you are, I download the images to two separate places and have enough memory cards so that I don’t need to reformat cards until I get home.

What this system doesn’t account for is what happens when a memory card goes bad. This has happened in a couple of different ways for me. In one case the memory card wasn’t being read by the card reader but could be read by the camera. Easy fix – plug the camera in and download the images. Slower than it would be with a card reader but it worked. In the second case the card wasn’t being read by the card reader. The lights were on but no files appeared on my computer even after waiting for an age. It’s at times like this that the card recovery software that is often free when you buy the memory card is what you need to have. I foolishly always toss the unlock code for the software along with the other packaging materials from the memory card and so when I needed the software I didn’t have it. I ended up paying what felt like a lot to get a ‘free’ program. Fortunately this software worked a treat and I was able to recover all the images on the crashed card.

So the moral of the story is – if you haven’t done it already, the next time you get a new memory card make sure you download the card recovery software. It’s unlikely that you’ll ever need it but when you do it’s an absolutely blessing to already have it installed and ready to go.

Resources for Photographing in Iceland

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Many of us experience new places to photograph in the context of workshops or tours. In those cases there’s often little forethought or planning needed. You book the trip, bring your gear and photograph. Making the most of a trip that you organize for yourself can take a little more work. Here’s the process that I typically use applied to a trip to Iceland.

What have other photographers made of Iceland?

Looking at what photographs others have made can be a touchy subject for some. I know some people who don’t want to be contaminated by the work and ideas of others and prefer to go into a location ‘cold’, which they believe positions them better to make original images. I want to know what the cliche images are for a particular location, what the postcard shot looks like. I know that I’m going to be drawn into making the obvious photograph and accept that, take the photograph and then try to push beyond it to make something that is my own.

For Iceland I looked at the work of Hans Strand, Bruce Percy and Josef Hoflehner. This is obviously a very short list. Who else would you recommend?

Finally spending some time on Flickr could also be instructive. You could also connect with local photographers and ask for advice regarding locations, weather conditions etc. this kind of local knowledge can be invaluable.

What are a selection of potentially interesting locations?

From looking at the work of others I’m looking for locations that look like they have potential for the kinds of images that I like to make and then looking for where these places are on a map. I’m a big fan of large scale paper maps that I can lay out on the living room floor, but you might prefer google maps. For Iceland there’s a great paper map for photographers and an accompanying eBook (eRoadbook). I’m not sure what the map is made from but paper doesn’t do it justice, perhaps a tyvek like paper? In any case it’s very resilient, and waterproof ideal for taking with you on a trip to Iceland.

How to connect these into a workable itinerary?

With a list of places to visit how best to connect them? For me this is the most attractive part of making up my own schedule. I’m not going to be jollied along from one place to the next to the next without having an opportunity to explore each location. Again I don’t think that there’s a right answer here and my bias is obviously showing through. I like to visit and revist locations to learn about a place and how best I might photograph it. Being rushed from one spot to another doesn’t work for me. How do you prefer to work?

General travel logistics?

For general travel planning I use all the resources that the internet has to offer. I will also spend a lot of time with the Lonely Planet and, if they cover where I’m going, the appropriate Moon travel guides to where ever I’m going.

A Travel Photographer or A Photographer Who Travels

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I’ve been watching David (the Strobist) Hobby‘s video series ‘The Traveling Photographer‘ on lynda.com over the last few weeks. I’d resisted lynda.com for a very long time for no reason that I can put my finger but given the number of courses available (check out David Hobby’s other courses here) that I wanted to check out I finally took the plunge.

Watching David Hobby’s series I had a couple of thoughts. First I hadn’t put him in the travel photography camp, perhaps I should have?, and second I had a visceral reaction to the thought of ‘travel photography’ as a genre. It was an odd reaction and perhaps I was thinking largely of the cheesy postcard photos that are used to advertise high-end vacation spots, photographs that do little for me.

I’ve been traveling a good bit this year and while I wouldn’t put myself in the travel photography camp, it’s clear to me that I’m a photographer that travels. This was brought home to me when I mentioned to a friend that I was heading out to iceland and they commented on the potential for great photography. While this is true, some might argue that Iceland as a photo tour destination is now somewhat a cliche, what I’ve increasingly found is that regardless of where I go I end up taking photographs that in essence I could have taken anywhere. I’m drawn to particular things, water in the landscape, rocks, intimate landscapes and abstract details. I’m compelled to take photographs of these things, to the exclusion of perhaps more obvious grand vistas. I find that I even like particular colors or combinations of colors and will be more attuned to potential photographs with those colors than others.

Travel for me broadens the range of opportunities to find combinations of the things that I’m interested in that I haven’t seen before. What are the reasons you travel?

Better Packing

I’m on the road this week for the first time in a while. There were a few back to back years where I clocked in excess of 100K miles but I haven’t done that in a while. Those years did teach me something about packing for business trips – pack as little as possible so you can carry your bag on, bring a minipower strip and have back-ups for important data and computer gear. All the obvious stuff. What people can’t teach you, and you won’t find in a book, are the things that are important to you. The small things that will make life on the road tolerable.

I have yet to develop a system that I’m happy with when it comes to packing for a photography trip. This is especially true since most of my photography takes place locally, or at least within a days drive, which means I can just put all and everything into the car without having to think to hard. When faced with a technical question I always start with Moose Peterson. Check out the videos below for comments from Moose on packing for travel.

and John Paul Caponigro on the Art of Packing and in the video below the Art of Travel