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Sep 29, 2014

Two Lil Punkins

Last week we received a miniature pumpkin in our veggie basket from the co-op we are in. We aren't sure if it was meant to be consumed and, if it was, we wouldn't know what to do with it. Maybe it would roast up nice and tender but, for now, it is purely decorative. It was the perfect prop for the next series of photos of our daughter.

  Photograph My Two Lil Punkins - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

  Photograph My Two Lil Punkins by Jay Scott on 500px

Again, I know this is not everybody's preferred style of photography but I wanted to post it and keep it here even just as a record for the times I will come back to look at these posts. Sometimes the best way to see how well your skill is developing is by looking at where you've come from.

This was taken at the same time as the fall images in the previous post.

  Photograph Robin Smith Memorial Garden Abstract by Jay Scott on 500px

Sep 26, 2014

Oh, Autumn.

  Photograph Robin Smith Memorial Garden HDR by Jay Scott on 500px

You're so lovely. But today is our likely last day above 25 and one of the last days that our house will get warmer without help from our furnace. Enjoy the weather and the beauty while it's easy to get out and enjoy it without a 20 minute clothing application process. That said, I'm planning on trying to find more locations to safely shoot from my van this winter. Try to stay safely warm, but still make something interesting. One shot in particular, I have in mind. I'll let you know if it gets made.

  Photograph Robin Smith Memorial Garden Double Exposure by Jay Scott on 500px

Above I was trying to continue with the abstract by making a double exposure of the tree in the photo below and the path in the top photo. Like it? Hate it? Let me know.

  Photograph Robin Smith Memorial Garden in Full Autumn Beauty by Jay Scott on 500px

It was a very comfy day for Fiona's first-of-many trips to the Forestry Farm.

Sep 25, 2014

Paul's Odyssey

 Photograph Honda Odyssey WA HDR by Jay Scott on 500px

For awhile Paul and I have wanted to make a great photo of his van. Once we found a location it was a matter of finding an evening that worked for both of us, had a decent sky at sunset, and was warm enough for two quads.

  Photograph Honda Odyssey WA HDR 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

The wind was cool, but we were busy making photos. I likened it to ice fishing. When they're biting you don't notice the cold.

  Photograph Honda Odyssey HDR Telephoto by Jay Scott on 500px

I have always respected those photographers who are willing to, day after day, night after night, return to try to get the shot they want. Dedication like that is rarer and rarer, whatever the field might be. We found ourselves with the right to pat ourselves on the back for many reasons that evening.

The first was that we needed to move the van. Paul could not just hop in there and move it over in 30 seconds like an able-bodied person could. He had to get in, pull up the ramp and close the door, transfer into the seat, get positioned and then, finally, move the van. After that he had to get back out. That is dedication. Enduring the wind and cool temperatures that we did, with our reduced ability to maintain body heat was dedication. The final dedication will come when we redo the shots with the knowledge of what we gained that evening and now that I have my new camera back. Again, it's not the camera that makes a great photo but when I know I can get a better quality image why wouldn't I take the extra steps to do that, if possible.

Soon I'll have a bunch of photos that I've made from the last little while as the colours have really begun to come out. I still don't like autumn because of what follows it but these last few days of high 20° temperatures are just fine with me and I'm making the most of what's given to me right now..

Sep 22, 2014

One Month, Already

  Photograph One Month - 1 by Jay Scott on 500px

Saturday Fiona turned one month old... Already! So many have said how little she is, but that is a big bear and chair. Today was her one month checkup and she's 11lbs 13 oz. She is quickly outgrowing her current clothes and is easily kicking the end of her bassinette.

  Photograph One Month - 2 by Jay Scott on 500px

"They" say responsive smiles and interaction takes longer than this to occur. There are coincidences then there are the regular things we see from her much more than half of the time.

  Photograph One Month - 3 by Jay Scott on 500px

She has her evening fussiness, and there have been a few poor nights lately, but she really is a good baby.

  Photograph One Month - 4 by Jay Scott on 500px

I believe today was the day that Kiwi went from uncertain to excited about her. Until now Kiwi has been cautious but not sure what this little noisy thing was. Twice today she excitedly went running around the house looking for Fiona and when we arrived home from appointments Kiwi was quite interested in Fiona in her car seat.

  Photograph One Month - 5 by Jay Scott on 500px

As time between feedings increases, and everyone figures things out a little more each day, I imagine we'll feel freer to resume a few more normal activities. That said, we did enjoy supper out with friends Saturday evening, even if we didn't have the energy to join them for birthday cake after. It was still great to be sociable, again.

  Photograph One Month - 6 by Jay Scott on 500px

Sep 20, 2014

Eggs Platinum

  Photograph Precious Egg by Jay Scott on 500px

Some people like their eggs poached, some fried, some Benedict with a rich hollandaise sauce. I like my eggs made of platinum, displayed on a pedestal and guarded by lasers.

At least, that was the look I was going for in Zack Arias' DED PXL Assignment 06. For those who are following Zack's new community you will know what I am talking about. For everyone else, simply put, it is a new site with regular assignments, editorials and critiques of the work produced by those assignments. Until the next assignment, there have been no prizes. Just invaluable critiques and feedback with the goal of helping people become better photographers. Before this assignment I had not taken time to participate but decided it was time to get back to the photography I most enjoy and him capable of. Don't worry, there'll still be plenty of new photos of Fiona. I just found this to be the perfect opportunity to get back into shooting other things.

Recently I have been reading "The Road to Seeing" by Dan Winters. He's had quite an illustrious career and what he has to say moves so far beyond the camera settings and light setups. The vast majority of his work is portraiture but so much of his problem solving, hard work ethic, and approach to his work can be applied to any type of photography, or any career, for that matter.

When speaking about some photographers' need to explain the process in order to safeguard a photo's success, Winters rightly says, "I may find it interesting that the artist labored intensely to make an image, but the process alone is weak footing on which to stand. The photographic image should stand on its own. Perhaps this is due to digital technology and the ubiquity of mobile devices and apps – the photographic process has been demystified to the layman. The public perception that anyone can take a picture has, for many, marginalized the medium."

It used to be that to say "I'm a photographer" held a degree of credibility and understanding of the person's skills. Now with every cell phone having a camera with the capability to produce a reasonable image quality, everyone is a photographer. Even more so if they spent $399 on an entry-level DSLR kit. Both of those tools have the capability to do the job to a certain degree. But because of the low cost of entry the above statement can be made by someone with a few hours of study and a little bit of experimenting, or it can be made for someone with 30 years of experience behind them performing weekly shoots having budgets nearing six figures. That is a huge span of skill and experience in a statement containing three little words.

I know that some of my best photos were not necessarily my most elaborate and complicated setups but I know that I always place a higher value on the photos that took a lot more work and coordination. I suppose part of the value of experience is knowing when less is more, when the mystery of a deep shadow causes more reaction than making certain everything in the photo is lit and discernible. Regardless, I know how I felt when the reaction to one of my most complex photos, Midnight Rose, were not as significant as I had hoped.

  Photograph Midnight Rose by Jay Scott on 500px

That photo of a simple white rose required coordinating purchasing the roses at the right time so that one of the best ones would be in full bloom at the same time the moon was full and would rise in the sky at the time of the evening that would be suitable for shooting. The moon was the first light source. The four others were color-coordinated, set up, adjusted for the exposure of the falling light and the rising moon, all aimed and modified as I saw fit to hit specific parts of a perfect rose clamped to a stand.

The camera was in place on a tripod and as the moon rose the photo was made when it arrived in the right part of the frame. To miss that thirty second window would have meant to shot was done because to raise the rose and realign the lights would have taken longer than the 30 seconds that the moon talk to move across the frame again. I could only see through the viewfinder of the camera on the tripod at the height it was at. Had we (Angie's help was essential to this shot being made) missed that first shot I would not have gotten the angle on the flower that I wanted and would have been estimating where I was aiming and focusing because I would have been unable to see through the viewfinder beyond the time I had set up for. All of this done on a night when the sky was clear.

The next night the moon would not have been full, the lights would have to be set up again, the perfect rose would have been beginning to wilt and the moon would have been rising about 20 min. difference in time than the prior night. Had the 20 min. been closer or later to sunset, the sky would not have been dark enough and you would not have gotten the deep blue that we had on the evening of the shot or it would have been black, removing the value the tree silhouettes add.

All this shows is that there may be factors in your control and there may be an element of luck in getting the shot. Without preparation and knowing what you are doing because of forethought and experience you will not make photos like this.

Do the viewers of this photo realize the factors juggled? Probably not. Does that matter to me? For whatever reason, yes. When their reaction is mediocre I feel the defensiveness rising in me, wanting to explain how difficult this was and how, despite the silhouette of the house that I am displeased with, it was a huge feat for me and you should praise it. Obviously, that is ridiculous. The photo should speak for itself. But I guarantee you that someone who just picked up there brand-new Canon Rebel for the first time was not capable of making something this complex.

Without trying to defend or justify, only to educate, what went into the photo of that simple egg? First was selecting an egg with the exact shape I was looking for; slightly taller and elongated as opposed to rounder. Second was boiling that egg, cooling it and painting it. The funny thing about boiled eggs is that they sweat moisture through the shell as the rise to room temperature from being refrigerated. Combine that with low-quality, water-based paint and each coat you put on has a degree of futility when spots of paint just dissolve off the shell before your very eyes. I got them covered well enough that I had one perfect side of the egg to shoot.

Third was to set up the marble pedestal, lighting, candleholder made by my grandfather, tripod and camera. Once the egg was in place I made a frame exposed properly for the flashes involved in the photo and began working on the tricky part. The final element of the photo was the laser beam. Lasers don't show up unless they hit something. Fortunately I had a handy little smoke machine I bought about a year ago and, during the four second exposure, I made certain enough smoke crossed the beam to make it properly visible. No Photoshop, all in camera elements.

Does my explanation make the photo better? No. But I know the results I can achieve when the need or desire arises. I do understand that sometimes black and white is the proper medium. I do know that sometimes less sophisticated lighting setups make a stronger photo. I know that sometimes an ethereal look is more well-suited than tack sharp images. I like to make images that have a significant complexity to their creation because it stretches my abilities and makes my brain think hard about each little element of the photo. I prefer making images that are as sharp as possible because the engineers have been working hard over the years to give us the sharpest and cleanest images with the deepest colour possible. All of this can be taken away at the artist's discretion but I prefer to make the most of the best quality available to us right now.

Shortly into the final section of "Road to Seeing", Dan talks about some of his most respected peers and recorded a quote that I will be keeping in my motivation file for times when I am wondering what my style is or if I am shooting what I should be shooting. Even if what I'm shooting is not popular, salable or well-liked. The quote by Harry Callahan was "I make the kinds of pictures that I like to look at."

If that doesn't describe why I shoot what I shoot, and how I shoot it, I don't know what does.

Sep 13, 2014

She's Sure Growing

  Photograph Kiwi with My Baby Shoes by Jay Scott on 500px

It seemed like only a short while ago that we made the above photo to announce the upcoming arrival of our baby. We weren't certain how exactly Kiwi would respond but her submissive and gentle personality has shone through and she is very good with her new owner. She still seeks as much attention as possible but has no reason to feel neglected because I have been making an extra effort to make certain she is cared for and not denied the affection she was accustomed to in the past.

Every time there is a cry of glee or a cry of discontentment Kiwi comes running. We know from experience that when Angie or I have not been feeling well we cannot count on Kiwi to gently comfort us but to come running in full speed and lick furiously. She's not the most in tune with how we are feeling but she only ever means well. Thankfully, even when she's excited, she seems to err on the side of caution with Fiona.

I have no doubt that as Fiona grows, especially as food begins hitting the floor, that Kiwi will be sticking right by her side.

  Photograph Kiwi and Fiona by Jay Scott on 500px

Finally, are a few photos from a series that we did in her new bouncy chair, a gift from three of my wonderful caregivers from Home Care. The chair has been a lifesaver when we've been eating and it gives her an opportunity to be near us, active with her ever kicking legs, and give her the opportunity to sit up a bit straighter, independently and soothe herself by her own movements.

More than that, it felt good to pull out almost all of my flashes to really construct an elaborate photo from seven light sources. Candid snapshots are great but I was itching to get back to a thoroughly constructed photo with much complexity, for the practice to make sure I could still do it, but also for the unique look that you can only get from such a mixture.

Just for clarity in the chronology of the photos, the second photo with both Kiwi and Fiona is the most recent as of this post. The three below here were from approximately one week earlier.

  Photograph Day 16 - Explorative by Jay Scott on 500px

  Photograph Day 16 - Thoughtful by Jay Scott on 500px

  Photograph Day 16 - Bubbly by Jay Scott on 500px

Sep 3, 2014

The Prequel is Complete

This post has sat here incomplete for a few days because the rate at which time passes these days astonishes me. A day with only two or three things that I want to get done seems to fly by with maybe one or two being tackled. It's all good. Sleep has been a bit better the last few days, thanks in part to my mother-in-law. But there are days when I just can't believe how quickly it has come and gone.

Granted, there have been a lot of days with scheduled appointments and things to do and when you are timing an outing around a baby's schedule it may not take longer to complete but it may need to be hurried up to leave sooner or postponed to leave a bit later. Thankfully few things trump just trying to live life with the occasional event or outing but I must admit that it felt really good to make a photo for my project the other day just feel a little bit like the routine we knew as normal a few weeks ago.

The prequel I spoke of in the title of this post is the series of photos we did throughout Angie's pregnancy. You've seen most of them but this is the complete version including a final shot of mother and child. Each individual photo can be clicked on to see in a much higher resolution so that you can enjoy the time, effort and quality I attempted to put into each image.

I think I will take the opportunity to go to bed early tonight to get as much good sleep as possible. I will have some more interesting, unique photos for you in a few days.