Monday, January 31, 2011

Cat Comes To Town

The past week I've been offline and visiting with my friend Cat from Spokane.  During my travels, I spent quite a bit of time with her in Washington during the summer and last week she came down to Los Angeles for some business and stayed longer to hang out with me.  We toured Venice beach,  saw some movies, had some nice meals and did a photo shoot on the beach.  Since I spend most of my time alone, it was nice to have a house guest for a few days.

The best part about our photo shoot was that she was game to do about anything.  When I was in Cape Cod a few years ago, I took a bunch of timed jumpie pics as the sun was setting.  If you need an activity to look crazy in front of people and laugh at yourself, this is a good one to try.  It is stupid and is great for a good laugh and some fun photographs. Also, Cat is not as fond as birds as I am.  She was even willing to walk around a flock of birds and run towards them to try and get a shot of them surrounding her.  The one where she is standing still is a moment of her thinking, "Really? You want me to do what with the birds?" to the shot where she casually jogged through them, not missing a beat. Some of the best times you can have with a friend is being silly with a camera.

I haven't made the time to take my camera out to take photographs lately so it was a nice change of pace to do that again while we toured around.  Here are some photographs from our time last week.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

A Visit With John, Ellyn and Milan in Mexico

The other day I decided to venture out to meet John and Ellyn in Mexico.  I "met" John a few years ago on my space and we became pen pals.  I was instantly taken by his writing and after seeing a few videos he posted, I figured he was the real life "dude" from the Big Lebowsky, even though I know he gets that a lot. I meet a lot of nice folks on the internet and it's always fun to meet them in person after talking for a while to see how they are in real life.  John and Ellyn are exactly how I imagined...about as real as you can get.

They live on a house right on the water about 35 minutes from the border.  They don't have electricity, but do have propane and water.  They refer to their housing community as the "camp" and everyone knows each other very well.  John and Ellyn are entertainers with a traveling show so you might have seen them at your local fair or at the San Diego zoo where Ellen is "Dr. Zoolittle."

I didn't bring Max along for the ride, but I brought my cousin, Wendy.  I love it when I throw out a crazy idea and people say yes.  I told Wendy that I wanted to go to Mexico to meet an online friend that I've never met and she said "ok" without question.

What I like most about them is that they are energetic about everything.  You can talk about all subjects and they will have a story and will give their opinion without hesitation.  I felt right at home with them and love the life they both lead.  They follow their passion and do what they love.

I told a few people about going to Mexico to meet a stranger and most people worried that I would be ok.  I didn't think twice about it.  Of course there are many reasons to be afraid to meet strangers or travel to another country to do so, but that's the exciting part about it.  I didn't stay long on this trip, but I plan to go back again to soak up the experience of living at their "camp." Wendy and I were treated like family and Ellyn cooked the best meals!

It was also interesting to see that we were about the only tourists in town.  I will blog about that in another post but for now, here are some photographs to give you an idea of what life is like for Ellyn, John and their dog Milan.  I look forward to catching one of their performances soon.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Sorting Through Family Photographs

In my constant quest to live life with less "stuff" and as simple as possible, one of my goals is to clean out my garage and that means actually opening boxes and boxes of photographs to sort through them to either throw away or put in flood safe containers.  There are boxes of photos that I've moved from one place to another without opening the box.  When it's moving time, it's easier that way.  Also, I've inherited several boxes of photographs that belonged to my grandparents that I have yet to open.

My garage flooded a few months ago and ruined everything that was on the ground.  I know that cardboard boxes are the worst way to store things so I made a point to start opening the ones that were on a shelf to go through each box and sort through everything to either discard, keep or save to send to a family member.  This is not an easy task!  I spent the entire day going through photographs, cards, letters and old papers.  I think I made it through 3 boxes.

Seeing these photographs made me miss the loved ones that are no longer with me, but I was lucky enough to be close with my grandparents and my dad before they all passed away.  Seeing these photos brought a smile to my face and made me remember once again what is most important in life.  The relationship you have with loved ones.

One box was filled with every letter my father wrote to my grandparents ("Mama Lois" and "Big John") while he was in college at Oklahoma University.  I read a few but knew that I had to put them aside in order to tackle the project at hand.  The ones I read were pretty funny.  My father asked them to send the local newspaper so he could keep up to date on the local sports in the area (Mama Lois and Big John lived in Spanish Fort, AL at the time) but mostly he talked about working hard in his classes while spending most of his time studying.  Riiiiggght......

It was interesting to remember what it was before the technology we have today.  Back then, people would sit down to write a letter and wait a week or more to get a response.  In today's world, if you don't get a response from a text you sent twenty minutes ago you start wondering what's wrong.  He wrote to them a few times a week with about two pages long talking about sports, studying and girls.  What else is there to talk about with your parents when you are in college?  I look forward to sitting down and reading them all.

Here are some of my favorite photographs that I found so far.  It's funny how technology can turn your photographs the way they once were.  Now and days, the only clue to when a photograph was taken is with the clothing and hair styles.

I am very fortunate to have these reminders of the people who are no longer physically with me.  I look forward to finding more "treasures" and I would encourage you to do the same.

The photograph on the top is my father sunbathing in 1967, "Mama Lois" (Father's mother) camping in 1963, my mother and father in 1968, "Big John" (Father's father) and me in 1972, Both Grandfathers ("Poompa" and Big John") in San Diego in 1965, "Big John" with his car and "Mama Lois"(Dad's Mother) and my dad in 1962 - his letter writing years in college.

Monday, January 17, 2011

The LA Photo Show Experience

Nothing quite moves me the way that photography does.  This past Saturday I went to the LA Photo show for the day and it was and experience I won't soon forget.  As soon as I walked in, I felt like a kid in a candy store. So many beautiful photographs from today and throughout history.  Life shown on every inch of space on the walls of the Santa Monica civic center.

As if it were the last piece of cake, I wanted to savor every moment I was there.  I carefully visited every booth up and down the isles, not to miss anything.  At times, I went outside to take a break and let what I just saw absorb into my brain.  What I am drawn to is not necessarily what others would love. This is what I love about art.  There is something for everyone.  I especially love documentary photography and photographs that are personal to the photographer.  I think all photographs displayed are beautiful but there is something about capturing a moment in time that wasn't staged that gets to me.  Some of those images are the most raw and I could look at them for hours.  I am drawn to the subject and want to know more about their life and about the photographer's life.   One of the images that stuck out for me was one in a series of images by Bruce Hall.  He is documenting the life of his autistic twin sons.  Bruce is legally blind.

Events such as this one can be overwhelming.  Especially if you take the time to look and think about what you are looking at.   I was so engrossed in the experience, at times I had to look around and remember that other people are there.  In fact, there were a lot of people there but I didn't notice.

It was a beautiful sunny day in California so I decided to sit on the grass in the front of the center to have lunch.  I took my time eating and thinking.  I really was in my own little world.  I've been to the civic center a few times a long time ago for other events.  After lunch, I wandered to the chain tree sculpture to take a few photographs with my camera phone and to sit under it for a while.  Moments later, a woman came up to me and politely asked me to move since they wanted to take a photograph of the front of the civic center building.  She said I could join them to watch, so I did.

I stood around with a few people looking at a giant wet plate camera.  People were video taping with their phones and taking all sorts of photographs so thought something special was about to happen.  Some of the people were smiling and giggling around me, while taking photographs of a man with a black apron on.  A woman in a sun dress next to me would alert the small group each time a cop car drove by. Now I was intrigued.  Who cares if a cop car drove by? I started flipping through the legality of shooting in a public place in my brain and from all I've researched, we were fine.

I asked the woman who asked me to move about the photographer and she turned to me, smiled and told me it is Luther Gerlach. He teaches classes at the Getty in Wet Plate photography and it just so happens that he has built and takes 22x30 photographs with the largest wet plate camera in the world.

He started telling people what to do so the moment was getting close.  I focused my attention on the photographer and what he was doing that I didn't look at what he was shooting at since I knew it was just the front of the building.  I was standing next to him watching his every move when I noticed everyone snapping away at what he was taking a photograph of.  I casually turned to look and there it was.  The woman I was standing next to was perched on the chain tree, nude. With all of the other on lookers, documented it with my camera phone.  The moment lasted about 10 seconds and then Luther ran off to his van to develop the print.  A few moments later, the finished piece was on display outside of the van.

I am glad that I went and look forward to more art events in the future.  I hope that you get out to appreciate arts in your neighborhood.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Best iPhone Camera Applications

You might have gathered that I like to take pictures.  I have a few cameras but the one I use most often is the one in my pocket, my iphone. I usually have it with me wherever I go and it's easy to snap, edit and upload online or email to a friend with just a few clicks.  I've used several apps on my iphone so I thought I would list my favorites along with some before (snapped with just my iphone camera) and after (edited on the phone with the application) shots to give you an idea of what you can do. This list are applications that I've used, but there are many more out there to play with.  If you are interested with one, click on the name and you can see more examples of what it can do, or to buy the application.  I am not affiliated with any of these programs, I just wanted to share some favorites so you can play with them to see what works for you and to have some fun!

Did I miss a good one?  Let me know what your favorite is!

1.) Hipstamatic - $1.99
This might be the most popular app and I can see why.  It takes you back to a time where imperfection is king and you don't know what you will get until it's "developed" in your phone.  There are several lens, film and flash options to purchase to achieve the look you are striving for.  I used this the most on my trip across the USA.  I don't have a before and after since you take the shot directly through the app just like you would if you had the older film camera.  You have just once chance to capture the image with the film and lens combination you choose.  I put together a video of the photographs I took on the road with this app since it's hard to choose just one example from this app.

2.) Instagram - FREE
If you want some old analog looks but want to take the perfect photograph before you edit, Instagram gives you that option.  Unlike hipstamatic, you can take your photo before hand and then upload it to the application to edit and get the look you want.  You will get a square image so you will need to crop or zoom your photo to fit the dimensions.  You can also use this program to take photographs first then decide if you want to keep it to edit in the program.  My favorite look is the "earlybird." This program also gives you the feature to post all of your final photographs online to show your friends.  You can also choose not to use the social network option. The first photo of Max at the dog park is my original photo and the second is using the "earlybird" look in the selected editing options.

3.) Cross Process -  $.99
If you like the photo you took on your regular camera but want to give it an extra punch, this is the easiest to use.  Just take a photo, click on the program, choose your picture and it develops it right in front of your eyes to the same dimension you took the photo.  There are options to choose the color combinations that is right for you.  This is a fun, instant editing option. The photos on the left are the original and ones on the right were uploaded and developed in the cross process application with just one click.

4.)Shake it Photo - $.99
Just as the name implies, you shake your phone to develop your print.  The app will automatically crop your photo to a square size and give it an added punch with a border.  You have less control in this app, but it's easy to use and the sounds of a polaroid developing the print will give you the feel that you are developing your photo as you are shaking the phone. This application automatically crops your photo to a square so you don't have the ability to adjust it on your own, but it also adds a nice border. This is an example of a shot out of my camera phone and then through the shake it Photo application.

5.) Camera Bag - $1.99
Like your picture, but bored with the colors?  Camera bag gives you the option to see your photo in all sorts of processing looks.  From an instant look to a magazine shot, you get to choose.  It even has a fish eye lens if you want a fun feel.  My favorite is lens is the Lolo. The first shot is the original and second is using the "lolo" process in Camera Bag.

6.) Camera +  - $1.99
My newest favorite of the bunch.  This app does everything the others do and more.  You can see your photograph in several processing options once you take it out of the lightbox to edit.  It also has an HDR effect, which I like to use from this application.  After you choose your process, you have the option for borders, flipping the image, cropping it and even backlighting darker shots. This is an example of the HDR filter.  First photo is the original and second processed with the HDR effect.

7.) Infinicam - $1.99
As with Camera Bag, you can choose the process, borders and options to send as a postcard once you are finished.  If you like a certain style, you can save to your favorites to use on any photo you choose from your library. This shot is with my normal camera and then the "Autochrome" filter on the Infinicam application.

8.) Pro Camera - $2.99
One of the features I like from this app is the ability to use a timer with your shot.  The camera that comes with your iphone doesn't have this so if you want a self portrait that is further than arms length, click on this program to set up your phone, click the timer and run.  I have the first edition and this is all I use it for but after researching it, there are many more options on this app.  For the first shot, I used the Pro Camera for the timer and Cross Process for the border and processing. The second shot is using the pro camera app for the timer then a tilt shift lens for the blur and saturation (will talk about this app later in the post).

9.) Diptic - $1.99
Have a hard time choosing what pic is best of your trip to the lake, family gathering or swap meet adventures?  This is the application for you.  You can choose up to four images to put into one photo to showcase the best photographs in one.  Here are some trees during a walk that I took on a fall day with different cameras on my phone and turned it into one photo with this application.

10.) Old Photo Pro - FREE
Want to take a trip back in time?  Upload a photo to the Old Photo Pro application and see what it would look like in the olden days, complete with scratches and torn paper at the edges.  Just like the before and after photo of my camping spot in Florida.  I can see what life would look like camping in the olden know when they camped with this exact same tent.

11.) Tilt Shift Generator - $.99
As a bonus, my top 10 list goes to 11!  If you want a SLR camera feel, but want it on your camera phone, use this application.  From the photo you already took, you can upload it to this application, focus on one area on your pic and the application blurs the rest.  As an example below, the first is the original pic, second is using the Tilt Shift Generator  to put Max in focus and blur the rest, and the third is using the Tilt Shift Generated photo in Camera Bag with the Lolo effect with border. Confusing?  You'll get the hang of it once you play around on your phone for a while with the applications.  Need time?  Take a six month road trip alone with no phone reception or television to keep you busy and you will learn all of these pretty fast.

I hope this post gives you some ideas to create your own personal style and most of all, have some fun with it!

Resolution word of warning: As with all camera phone photographs, you won't get the highest quality in resolution so use caution.  Some of the apps will lessen the resolution of the photo once you take it.

As an example, this phograph I took using the hipstamatic app was selected to participate in the Fotoweek DC road show in the camera phone category but was later rejected because the resolution was too low.  Hipstamatic has now changed a feature to include a higher resolution photo.


Related Posts with Thumbnails