Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Sky Is the Limit?

It'll soon be a new year of photography for me as we approach January first and I can't wait to get out and learn more about how to take a photograph. This year has been a year of learning. I know there are areas of my photography that have improved and I know that there are many other areas that I have yet to understand. Another thing that truly amazed me as well was how much photography has improved my karate and how much my karate has improved my photography.

Twenty-three years ago when I joined the Atlantic Karate Club I learned how to punch using the karate methodology, specifically, the Chito-Ryu way. It's something you generally get taught in the first few classes. The mechanics were fairly straight forward. Start with your hand in a fist and positioned next to your hip with the palm facing up. Punch straight out at your target being careful to keep your elbow tucked in to ensure a straight delivery. As you make contact, rotate your fist to obtain the best possible penetration. Voila, a Chito-Ryu karate punch.

When I first learned about photography I learned how to take a photograph. Load your film and set the ISO/ASA on the camera. Point the lens at the subject and adjust the focus to ensure the subject is in pefect focus, adjust the dials to make sure you have the proper shutter speed and depth of field selected to create an image with good exposure. Push the shutter release and capture the image. Voila, a moment captured on film.

The parallels do not end there as I have learned in both karate and in photography that there is so much more to each of these processes and as you learn each new detail and nuance your skills improve. On the surface they are simple but underneath there are details and complications that have to be explored and learned before you can say you have truly learned those techniques. And if you think you've learned all that you can learn about punching or taking a photo then shake your head as you must be mistaken. I know it's cliche but it truly is about the road and not the destination and I am finally, after twenty plus years of karate and photography starting to learn that concept. The beautiful thing about that is that once you learn that, once you have embraced the idea that there is always more to learn then your skills improve.

I think this sentiment is such a cliche, however, I also understand why it has to be repeated over and over making it even more cliche. It's and easy concept to understand but a very difficult one to actually embody in your day to day life. As a martial arts movie fan I've heard many, many times that one must empty their cup to taste another's tea. I beseach all of you in the photography world to learn from the karate world and to please empty your cup.
Posted by Picasa

Friday, December 03, 2010

Passing By

Passing By
Originally uploaded by Iguanasan
I went to my photography club meeting the other day and during the meeting we watched a small clip of an interview with Jay Maisel. I had heard of Jay Maisel before but I had not really known much about him and the video really gave me a few insights.

During this short clip he made a few suggestions about the way he shoots and why he shoots. While I had not, in any way, tried to copy him my shooting style was very similar so I tried a couple of his suggestions and today I managed to capture this moment.

I realize it has some technical issues, however, I don't really care. I just love the moment that I captured and I wouldn't have captured it had I not adjusted my shooting style based on the video clip I saw. I am still not trying to copy Jay Maisel but instead I internalized some of his comments and tried something I was previously afraid to try.

I still have lots of work to do to improve my images but I am certainly enjoying the journey. Like these two gentleman it's all about walking the path.

(More details in the comments below...)

Monday, November 08, 2010

Learning to See

Sunny Leaves
Originally uploaded by Iguanasan
Fall is here and winter is fast approaching and I have just realized that this has been the most phenomenal spring, summer, and fall for me in terms of making images. Arguably, I've created some of my best images ever in these past 8 months and I wonder if I can keep it up or will the soon to be dreary winter months send me backwards in my endeavors.

I believe I will continue and the reason why I think I will continue is that this year I am learning to see. No, I'm not talking about getting better glasses. What I'm talking about is learning to see the world around me for what's there waiting to be captured. Many, many times people walk by something and the reflected light shines on their retinas but they really don't see.

This image is a perfect example of what I'm talking about. I took a short walk through the Old Burying Grounds in downtown Halifax on a cloudy afternoon this fall. As I was there the sun was peeking through the clouds here and there and my eyes picked up this leaf on the ground as it acted like a spotlight for anyone who saw it.

Most people would have walked by just another leaf on the ground. After taking thousands of shots I saw yet another image forming in my mind an immediately set to work to capture it. I had to lay on the ground in the cemetery - laying down in a cemetery can be dangerous, thank goodness, it's not an active cemetery - and wait for just the right break in the clouds to capture this one.

Learning to see has been my most valuable gift this year and I think it's something that is difficult to un-learn so I feel safe that this dreary winter may be enhanced by my new ability to see the images that I could not see last winter. Cheers and happy shooting! :)

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Birth of a Chestnut

Birth of a Chestnut
Originally uploaded by Iguanasan
First time using the Flickr blog feature. This will be interesting.

Well, autumn is coming to Halifax. Hurricane Earl blew in on the tail end of the summer months and blew away our 30C (and higher) summer days. We're now around 20C during the day and dropping to 12C and 13C at night. Autumn.

I really love this time of year. Yes, it's sad to see summer go but the crispness of the air in fall is awesome and I love a cool night for sleeping rather than the oppressive humid heat.

The leaves will start to change colour now and present an amazing array of photographic opportunity. Get your camera's out and keep shooting in fall.

Sorry, this post is not a well organized, thought out post but a bit of a ramble. I'm thinking I post infrequently because I try to write an essay every time instead of just blabbing what's in my head. I decided to try the blab for a bit and see how that works. Maybe I'll post more often.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Busy, busy!

I've been rather busy lately and haven't posted a blog post in a while so thought it was about time to get another one posted. Luckily, I have plenty of shots to work with as I shot about 450 shots yesterday. The morning was the Scott Kelby World Wide Photowalk and the afternoon was the Halifax Pride Parade.

This shot is from the parade. I saw these two sitting on the float and I was snapping away trying to get as many good shots as possible. I saw her lean into him to whisper, held my breath and caught the shot. I am rather happy with the result. I continue to bemoan my lack of a decent lens as the kit lens just really didn't get the detail I would like but I do the best I can with what I have while I try to save for a new lens.

I really enjoyed being out with a bunch of other photographers on the photowalk. I ran into an old friend and I was also invited to become a member of the Sackville Photographer's Club and I am considering joining. I poked around on the web for the Halifax version since I live in Halifax but the Sackville club seems more alive and active. Also, Wednesday's work well for me :)

Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interesting Angles

Went for a walk the other day and found some train wheels sitting in a pretty row. Got a few interesting shots. This one was inspired by my friend Jim who reminded me that you do not always have to have a straight horizon.

While I took a few shots the way I would normally have taken them I also added in a couple with a deliberately skewed angle. I was happy with this one as I liked the convergance of the parallel lines but I'm still not 100% happy with it. I think
shooting in this manner has possibilities, certainly Rick Mercer has used it quite well in his rants.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Well, I've seen many pigeons over the years but when I saw this one in the tree I thought to myself that I don't ever remember actually seeing a pigeon in a tree. I've seen them on the ground, I've seen them on buildings and statues. Walls, fences, power lines. But never a tree. So, when I saw this pigeon just sitting there daring me to shoot I had to shoot it.

I've noticed a little change in my photography lately. I still have a long way to go but I notice that I can see many issues before I take the shot and not after. And as GI Joe said, "knowing is half the battle". I find that most of the shots I screw up happen when I try to rush through the shot.

I'm also learning more about the "magic triangle" and why it's not really a triangle. While adjusting the settings to balance the light with thought to a triangle is not completely inaccurate it's not as straightforward as that as adjusting the settings effect more than just the amount of light hitting the sensor. This image, for example, had to have an aperture large enough to ensure the entire pigeon was in focus. Opening up to f1.8 would have been great to let more light in but it would have caused half the bird to be out of focus.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Been a while since my last post but wanted to post another so I don't let my blog get too stale. I've really been enjoying spring. Images of the flowers that have been poking their heads through the soil much earlier this year than in past years have been a source of inspiration to me this spring. That combined with the warmer weather has gotten me out the door more often with my camera in my hand which has helped my photography more than anything else. If you want to get better, you gotta shoot!

I've been discovering a few new technical bits which I knew but didn't know. Wait, what? Yeah, I know, it's confusing. I know that DOF is controlled by focal length, distance, and aperture, however, I kinda forgot about this as I was doing a lot of shooting lately. I think my images have been a bit soft because my DOF was too shallow. Another issue which seems to have cropped up is focus. I think I can manually focus better than the auto-focus. I haven't done a scientific type test of this problem, however since I've been paying closer attention to DOF and focussing manually I've been getting some nicer shots. Really, though, I think it's all about shooting more and more.

The weather in Canada is getting nicer. Get out and get shootin'!
Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Signs of Interest

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs. Blockin' up the scenery, breakin' my mind. Boring signs suck. They block the view and are generally annoying when you have your camera in hand. There are exceptions though and these exceptions are reserved for signs in which people have put some thought. I really like those signs. Ones that catch your eye and make you look a little deeper. We seem to have quite a few around Halifax which is not a big city. If you visit my Flickr photostream you'll find a few of the ones I've seen around town.

The one you see here (above) is one I stumbled across on Tuesday while out for a lunch time walk. It's a small sign but you can tell someone has put some heart into it. Strange Adventures is a comic book shop here in Halifax and this sign found on the front of their store makes you look twice. The colours are nice and the image makes you think a bit. I also wonder if they have one like this on the front of the Fredericton store.
Posted by Picasa

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Frozen Edge

I went for a walk on Sunday past as the weather was nice and I was getting a bit stir crazy, plus I hadn't really gone shooting for a few days. The winter weather kinda puts me in the doldrums and my photography suffers because I'm not as interested in the monochrome world of snow and dirty snow. I prefer the bright, cheerful colours of spring, summer, and fall.

It was a nice and beautiful day for a walk around Sir Sanford Flemming Park. The woods were warm but the wind coming in off the Arm was fairly brisk. I headed along to the little waterfall for a few shots a couple of which you can find on my Flickr page. On the return trip I noticed the large triangular chunks of ice at the border between the deeper water of the arm and the ice packed beach front. I thought they made an interesting pattern and had to take a shot.

I've been thinking a lot about my photography muse. I often read blogs or hear podcasts about improving your photography and people talk about photographing the things you are passionate about but, honestly, I can't seem to find that passion. Don't get me wrong, I love to take my camera out for a hike as I did on Sunday but I don't know if I'd say I'm passionate about it. Is it nature photography that I prefer or have I just not spent enough time trying different kinds? Nature is easy because the subjects are so cooperative. Could I be a good people photographer? Wedding photographer? Something else? I just don't know right now. For now, I'll continue the journey. It's not about the destination after all, it's really about the journey.
Posted by Picasa