Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Week 43...............

Feeling back in my groove................

I mentioned in my post last week that I just got the iPhone 5S and my "pic of the week" is one of the first images I made with it.

It had been awhile since I set up some flowers to photograph so I was happy to see that these Trader Joe's blooms had not faded too much. 

I shot this using only window light and processed it entirely in Snapseed. One of my favorite filters to use is the "Grunge" filter, but I like to bring the "texture strength" down to "0", which is what I did here. I also used "Center Focus" to blur the edges.

So here it is: Project 52 - Week 43 (unbelievable!!)

©2013 Dianne Poinski

Friday, October 25, 2013

Lessons Learned.............

In October of 2007, I was in the mountains of North Carolina enjoying the fall colors shrouded in fog. Photography heaven.............

I had borrowed a friend's Nikon D200 for the trip because at this time, the only digital camera I owned was the Infrared D80. I had traveled with a tripod and a camera release, determined to capture crisp, sharp photos of this scenic wonderland. I set the ISO at 200, and because of the precautions I had taken, did not worry too much about the slow shutter speed.........that is of course until the wind picked up.

What I failed to remember was this was not film! I could change the ISO at anytime and in doing so, increase the shutter speed. (This important and wonderful feature of shooting digitally was one that would take me awhile to remember and get use to.) This glaring mistake was obvious when I uploaded the files and noticed the blurry leaves on all the trees! I managed to salvage one or two photos from the trip, but every time I come across these images, I feel the pang of lost opportunity.

I have never laid claim to being a knowledgeable "technical" photographer, but after all these years I have managed to learn a few things about camera operation..........especially the operation of my Nikon D300 which I bought shortly after that trip.

Which brings me to the point of this post. I think I sort of screwed up.............

Back in August, I wrote a post about my visit to Washington and how I was thinking about renting a "mirrorless" camera for my trip to Ireland. The idea was to bring a light, small, but high quality camera and leave the tripod at home. I received quite a few encouraging suggestions about which camera to take (with the advice to try them out beforehand), but then the whole idea moved onto the back burner.

I felt pretty certain I was going to stick to my tried and true Nikon until late one night, six days before I was flying out. On this particular night, while trying to fall asleep after a caffeined fuel day, I started imagining the freedom and fun I would have traveling around Ireland, shooting with a camera that gave me the flexibility of my beloved iPhone, but with more megapixels. 

The next morning I logged onto BorrowedLenses.com and found myself forced to choose quickly if I was going to receive the camera before I left. 

A week or so before I made this hasty decision, a friend of mine stopped by the studio with his Olympus E-PL5 and let me play with it. It seemed pretty straight forward. The reviews I read were positive so I quickly decided to rent the next model up, which was the Olympus OM-D E-M5, with a 12-50 mm lens. One of the features I was most excited about was the ability to shoot using a high ISO with the promise of reduced "noise" (or grain....which is how I still think of it).

In order to avoid making this post the length of a bad autobiography, I will cut to the chase........taking a camera I was not use to was a bad idea. 

There I said it. A couple of things did not go as I had hoped. First, I think I pushed it too far. Wanting to avoid what happened in North Carolina, I set the camera many times to a very high ISO 1000, 3200 and even on one occasion........4000! You combine that with my dependence on auto focus with a lens I was not familiar with, and what you get are very "noisy", very soft images that had me feeling a little sick after I uploaded them to my computer.

Of course, not all is lost. I am extremely grateful that my style is already soft and textured. Things could have been much worseI am happy with many of my compositions and the light was beautiful most days, but I am not sure how large I will be able to print any of these images. In addition, having sharp clear photographs to begin with makes processing easier, so working with what I have is going slow.

I don't believe any of this is the camera's fault. I am sure it is a fine piece of equipment. I take full responsibility for what happened and you can be sure I won't make the same mistake again.

The other piece of this that makes me feel a little bit better is......this trip was not intended to be a photo excursion. It was a vacation with my husband (an extremely patient one at that....) 

I am thrilled and grateful that we were able to share that experience and a few "less than perfect" photographs cannot take that away.

With that said, here a few of my favorites images which look pretty good at this small size.................

.©2013 Dianne Poinski

.©2013 Dianne Poinski

.©2013 Dianne Poinski

.©2013 Dianne Poinski

So that's the story I have been wanting to share. It took awhile because I needed to sort through it first. It's all good..... I have quit kicking myself and will probably have a few more images to share in future posts. 

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Project 52 Saved.................

Last week I thought I was going announce today that I had abandoned my "Project 52". Given up...........jumped ship, whatever you want to call it. ("Failed" came to mind more than once, but I try to avoid using that word.)

The reason for this was, lately my "pics of the week" have been "less than creative". I have been busy, tired, and at times discouraged and frustrated. Too much has been going on since I got back from my trip and I have been longing for space and quiet.

The activities "peaked" this past Friday and I am relieved!

After making the decision to end my weekly "Project 52" posts, I took myself out for a long walk along the American River on Sunday. This was the final outing with my iPhone 4S and I needed to spend time alone, simply taking photos. (Many of you know that I just received the 5S and fired it up on Monday.....)

Sometimes I forget why I love photography. I will share more about this later, but my photo making experience while in Ireland left a lot to be desired.

I already knew this, and I have talked about it here more than once, but I thrive while on my own and those couple of hours out on Sunday proved it one more time.

I started out on the main bike trail at the river, but many times ventured off on to dirt paths, many of which led nowhere. I didn't care, it was the thrill of the hunt that had me celebrating. This was the best I had felt in weeks!

One of those paths led to a cluster of trees where I found this tiny flower blooming. It was only one of three blooms and they seemed incongruent with the warm autumn colors all around.

©2013 Dianne Poinski

Another path took me to this beach which I didn't even know existed before.

©2013 Dianne Poinski

My "Pic of the Week" however, is this image of the welcoming light and apparent open arms of the trees that led me down the bike path at the very beginning of my walk.

©2013 Dianne Poinski

So for now, I am going to continue my "Project 52". I have already taken my iPhone 5S (32gb!!) on a couple of adventures and we are getting to know each other. It sounds strange, but trading in my first iPhone for this newer model made me a little sad. We had been through a lot together and I give it some of the credit for reigniting my passion for photography...........but it was time.

I know I am not the only one who needs solitude in order to regroup and find center, but I would love to hear how others deal with times of disconnect, fear and longing for a different approach to living.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Project 52 - Week 41

Note to self: Do not schedule events to happen right after returning from a major trip!

Another week has gone by with barely a photo taken. I spent most of last week preparing for a show I am in with three other extremely talented women. While I had the foresight to get the files to my printer before I left, there was still a lot to do to prepare for the opening. 

Most people are not aware of how much time goes into properly hanging and lighting an exhibit. Even with four of us, it took pretty much all of Thursday to finish the job. 

Before that were emails and social media posts announcing the show. Throw in the fact that I am still catching up on basic home and business activities, and what you have are very few images to claim as my "pic of the week".

So here it is........a photo of my "wall". You can see the other walls by clicking here: Facebook.

Project 52 -  Week 41

Design Elements
4 Artists / 4 Mediums
Now showing at the ARTHOUSE upstairs gallery

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Light For John..............

I FINALLY slept past 5:30 this morning and it feels great! Traveling to Europe is wonderful, but that eight hour time difference kicks my butt every time! 

But.......this post is not about my trip to Ireland (soon, I promise......) Instead I want to share about something that happened last week.

I began wondering as early as Tuesday, if I was going to have a "photo of the week" for my Project 52. I was tired and I had just been to a beautiful country that was so full of photographic possibilities that overwhelm set in the moment I began uploading photos to my computer.

While I was away, I made the conscious choice to be "offline". One of the reasons was to refrain from advertising the fact that my house was vacant, but I was also being extremely frugal with my "data usage" and did not want to rack up international charges if I didn't have to.

I was also feeling the need to disconnect from the noise of social media and instead chose to stay present and soak in all I could from my travels. I can easily get frustrated and impatient with online activities, but something happened last week that showed me the power and beauty of the global possibilities the internet provides. This experience shifted my perspective and filled me with gratitude to be living in such a world.

A few months ago, Kim Klassen, who writes one of my favorite blogs, revealed in a post that her husband had been diagnosed with leukemia. I have never met Kim or her husband in person, but have come to know and be constantly inspired by Kim's writing, images and the occasional email exchange.

Having lost my mother and a good friend to this undiscriminating disease, I was filled with sadness when I heard this news. I know first hand how a diagnosis like this affects everyone. (I am sure most of you do too........)

I wasn't aware that her husband was scheduled to have a stem cell transplant until while scrolling through my Instagram feed, I came across this post by Kim's friend Myriam Joseph:

I immediately grabbed a candle and then spent ten minutes looking for matches. This really was the only photo I made last week, so of course it is my:

"Project 52 - pic of the week".

The point of all this is, here I was feeling a little "snarky" about social media when it was brought to my attention the power of the online community. Of course I wish deeply I could do more than light a candle and this won't cure any disease, but sensing the energy this simple act was creating, made me pull back, count my own blessings and send good thoughts through the universe for a friend and her loved ones.

This is a small sampling of the 193 posts made with the hash tag "LightForJohn". 

Before I end, I just want to thank all of you for being part of my community. This includes my online friends and those of you I am lucky enough to be able to engage with occasionally in "real time". Participating in social media through this blog, Facebook and Instagram has definitely enriched my life and broadened my experience of the world. While it's not always perfect, I now have a stronger sense of the important role it plays in our lives and I am grateful.

To read Kim's eloquent account of this experience, click here: Friday Finds (You will quickly discover, if you don't already know, she is an inspiration to many and I am so grateful I came across her work and her words when I did......)

PS You can still post with the hashtag "lightforjohn". While the surgery was a success, they will continue to need our support in the weeks and months to come.......

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Catching Up............

I am back from my trip to Ireland! What an amazing place and I will have many more images and stories to share when I get over this damn jet lag, but for now, I thought I would catch up with two weeks worth of "Project 52" images.

These are both iPhone shots because I was able to process them while on the plane home. 

This first one was made in St Stephens Green, a beautiful park  directly across the street from our hotel in Dublin. I believe I may have taken it the first full day of our visit to Ireland.

Project 52 - Week 38

©2013 Dianne Poinski

This next one is from the town of Cobh, (formally known as Queenstown). This place is steeped in history and may be most famous as the last port of call for the Titanic before it began it's voyage to New York. This is a "Hipstamatic" shot, using the "C-Type Plate" film and the "Jane" Lens combination.

Project 52 - Week 39

©2013 Dianne Poinski

So that's it for now............I should be back to my regular posting schedule by next week!