That’s More Like Me

I sort of gave away the ending by sharing my very best image from my recent Minnehaha Falls outing in my very first post on the day. It wasn’t just the best image from that outing, it was one of the best photos I’ve ever made. I use the word “made” deliberately, because it wasn’t my typical fire at will and hope for the best type photo. I know, because I “take” a lot of those photos.

In fact, when I showed that first image to my mom, her comment was that it looked more like a photo by Jane than me. Which is both true and a compliment of the highest order. Today’s images are more like what I thought I would be getting during our outing. The first one is my standard style, nice interesting landscape. Don’t get me wrong, I’m perfectly happy with it.

This second one is a little more abstract. I went with a cool tone in the b&w conversion, just to be different. You can still see it’s a stream in the snow with some tree shadows, but the focus is a lot tighter.

This third one is reaching the level of abstraction I was hoping to achieve. You can tell it’s snow and shadows, but I wouldn’t call it a landscape. These are the types of images that appeal to me more and more. I’ll never quit photographing landscapes, particularly when we we are traveling, but I feel like a real artist when I can produce images more like this one.

Dial it In

I finished processing my L.A. trip photos a while ago, but I haven’t gotten around to posting any of them. I probably won’t end up posting many, as the vast majority are, of course, photos of Nola and even I can only handle so many of those. The rest of the material is pretty thin, with one notable exception.

During our drive to L.A., just after a gas stop, we visited a quirky little museum devoted to General George S. Patton. The inside portion of the museum was a little dingy and extremely musty, filled with fading photos and moth eaten memorabilia, but the outside was a glorious field full of rusty vehicles. I was positively giddy.

I love me some rusty old trucks with lots of dials and buttons. I actually didn’t spend a lot of time on these particular images, as I was whipping through the almost 500 photos I ended up processing.

I’m thinking I’ll go back through them and try some black and white conversion and/or really punching up the grunge factor. But I did want to get a few posted, so they don’t completely fall off my radar. I’m feeling very photographically inspired these days.

Sometimes One is Enough

I met my friend Jane on Saturday afternoon near Minnehaha Falls for a photography outing. I dressed for the artic and didn’t bother to bring more than one lens. I was kind of hoping to get some decent images of the black creek water edged with ice and snow or of trees and their shadows stretching across pristine snow. I didn’t get the images I expected and yet I got so much more.

Almost immediately, I started rueing my lens selection. I should have brought my macro for closer focus, I should have brought my 300mm for more reach, blah, blah, blah. What I did bring was my amazing 50mm f/1.2, which didn’t provide enough reach to get the creek/snow/ice photo I was envisioning, although I did get a few decent images. The snow was trampled everywhere, so forget any tree shadows against a pristine white backdrop.

I started making my focus smaller. I photographed some birch tree trunks and their spidery branches. But the background seemed cluttered no matter what angle I considered. Then I spotted another birch clump a little further from the main path, so I walked over to it. I took some photos of the trunks and some photos of the branches. Then I started focusing on a single branch with the trunks serving as an out of focus background. The final result was this image.

The Best of the Rest

As promised, this will be the last post on my Ft. Snelling photos. I’m calling it the best of the rest for obvious reasons.

These are the last three images I’m planning to share, with no particular “hook” to tie them together. I always struggle a bit with that.

Because the lack of a theme means I don’t really have much to write about. But I think I’ve written enough about this outing already.

I guess I just have to hope that these three images speak for themselves. Meanwhile, I had an amazing photo outing at Minnehaha Falls on Saturday with my dear friend Jane. I hope to make that the subject of tomorrow’s post.

Front and Back in the Cold

Today I have three more snow images shot from my yard to share.
What I don’t have is a theme, beyond the cold close to home. This first image is a twig from a small tree in our yard. The tree is right outside of our kitchen window and on more than one occasion, I’ve photographed it through the window.

This is a tree in the park across the street from our house. I was shooting with 100-400mm lens, so while it’s not in our yard, I photographed it from our driveway. Which totally counts in my book.

Finally, I have the remains of one of the perennials in my garden. I cleaned up this image quite a bit. There were a lot of extraneous, out of focus parts that really distracted from the overall image. It comes off a little odd because of the pure white background, with the stems just floating in space. Now that I see it here, I’m thinking it really needs a black border to set it off. I’ll have to remember that next time I’m working on a photo with a white background.

The Way Back Machine

I’ve managed to keep up with posting a random photo of the day on Facebook every day since November 25th. I couldn’t just keep posting current material, so I decided to get in the way back machine and dig up images from the archives. I have nearly two Terabytes of digital photos, so I should be able to find plenty of material.

The reality, however, is that it’s an extremely daunting task to troll an archive of that size for “random” images. I therefore made the decision to go back to the beginning and started the first week of the new year with images scanned from film. Some of them were featured here, back in 2010. I try to avoid duplication, but I think having nearly seven years of separation is okay.

I won’t be posting the same photos here and on Facebook in quick succession. The photos I feature here need some story connecting them, while the ones on Facebook are, well, random. Hence the title. But, if I find photos during my trips in the way back machine that do tell a story, they will end up here instead of Facebook.

Which brings me to today’s images. I’ve featured dahlias here before, but these were captured with my very first digital SLR,  a Canon 10D purchased in 2003. It featured a whopping 6.3 megapixels. I wanted to try reprocessing some of the photos, since the software has gotten so much more sophisticated and I assumed I would get better results. What I got was sort of amazing. At least I think so.

Several of the images ended up looking more like paintings than photographs. The effect was particularly noticeable when I converted the photos to black and white. Which, of course, I promptly did.

You have to click and view the enlarged version of each image to really see it. The effect was particularly striking on the large monitor where I do my photo processing. I’m not sure why this happened, but my best guess is that it’s due to the (relatively) small and old image file being processed through a much more advanced version of Photoshop. Or maybe, it’s just a little bit of magic.

A New World Record

This is my 50th post in a row, which means I have shattered my previous consecutive posting record. I can hear the roar of the crowd now. The prior record was 46, just in case you were wondering. It’s not a small feat to crank out 200-300 meaningful words every day, but I try to provide some value for your dollar here at JustJacque.

I was supposed to have lunch with my mom on Wednesday, but given the snow and the cold we decided to postpone it, so we just talked on the phone instead. I had given her a stack of blog posts (she doesn’t have a computer) to read when I took her to see our house in progress on December 31st. Of course I had to ask her what she thought after reading them.

Turns out, she was disappointed I hadn’t written about her 75th birthday lunch. Really Mom? Fine, I’ll write about your birthday lunch. Actually, I thought I had. Not the first time I thought I wrote about something but didn’t. My mom turned 75 on November 19th. Since we bought our Phoenix home, I’m usually not here on her birthday, which she does not give me crap about, surprisingly.

Since we happened to be in town and it happened to be a milestone birthday, I naturally felt obligated to recognize it in more meaningful fashion than just my usual shitty card. So I offered to host a birthday lunch for her. By host, I mean pay for lunch for a small group of her friends at a restaurant. My idea of hosting only involves a credit card. I told her she could have ten people, but it ended up being six, including the two of us. Pretty sweet deal for me, actually.

My mom specifically stated that she did not want anyone to bring any gifts or cards to the restaurant. And no, she’s not one of those passive aggressive people that say they don’t want a fuss when they really do. The six of us had a lovely lunch in a quiet corner of a very nice restaurant. Somehow, the waiter picked up on it being a birthday lunch, so when we ordered a number of desserts to share, he brought one with a candle in it.

I would have slapped him, except that he was young and cute and otherwise a very good waiter. Everyone got along well, despite not really knowing each other and one of my mom’s friends even wrote me a thank-you note. So there Mom, I wrote about your lunch. Off me.

Cold Off the Presses

We had a couple of rounds of snow this week, because Minnesota. None of them were more than an inch or two, just enough to completely fuck up traffic. I went out Monday night and it took me 50 minutes to make what should have been less than a 20 minute drive.

I did take advantage of the fresh snowfall and got my butt out of the house not once, but twice to do a little backyard photography. I wasn’t really excited about what I was seeing while chimping.

Consequently I was pleasantly surprised when I reviewed the images on my computer yesterday. I was especially pleased with this trio of images featuring snow on my hydrangea bushes. I knew there was a reason, besides laziness, not to cut them back in the fall.

I would have preferred a more uniformly dark background, but there wasn’t an angle that provided one and I wasn’t ambitious enough to bring out something to create one. It was still snowing, as you can see if you look closely. I’m just proud I didn’t take the lazy route and shoot out the window, because I would have missed these beauties.

Close, Closer, Closest

Let’s call this my second to last post on the Ft. Snelling cemetery.

There’s a famous saying in photography – “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough.” When I am photographing almost any subject matter, I usually find myself moving closer and closer. (Unless I’m on the edge of a cliff, of course)

This can get a little creepy if you’re photographing people, unless you have a really long lens. But the technique works perfectly fine for almost any other subject matter, like headstones.

If you look closely at these three images, you’ll notice a small flag in the ground. It starts small in the lower left corner and gradually becomes more prominent. I like all of the images, but I think the third one is the strongest.

We’ve Been Framed

Well, partially. The first floor framing of our new home is nearly complete. We stopped by site this morning and the second floor trusses had been delivered. The build site is challenging because there’s not a lot of open level space around the house, so they can’t have materials delivered too far in advance of need. It’s a juggling act to get the timing right and I think it’s keeping our construction manager up at night.

It’s been so cold that we often can’t stand to spend more than a few minutes there. During the week we tend to go close to sunset, when the crew is leaving for the day, so we don’t interfere with the work in progress. The weekends are obviously the best time to go, but it’s pretty hard to wait a full week before checking things out. We spent a lot of time walking around last Saturday. I was decked out in my down coat, new Sorel boots and a big furry hat. I love me a big furry hat. I took my first selfie in the new house and posted it on Facebook. One of my friends commented that I looked like a Russian spy.

We had our first builder meeting of the new year today. The majority of it was spent talking with the landscape designer. He had received an estimate from a second landscaper, but was having trouble comparing it to the first one because they had broken the work up into different components. So we spent most of the time talking about ways to reduce costs. It’s an evolving process.