Saturday, February 28, 2009

gotta get my creative juices flowing

A really close friend of mine (Seth Gooby @ is currently involved with this project called the RPM Challenge. On the most basic level it is a challenge to musicians around the world to put together an album of all new material during the month of February. He's doing this with his band Breakfast Song (which is a duo between himself and his girlfriend Isis).

This is the third year Seth has been involved in the challenge. I've always admired the way he's been able to jumpstart his creativity through this month-long record making process. I've been struggling lately with trying to figure out what I want to shoot, and have been trying to come up with concepts and things to make images for, but I've been only half heartedly doing it.

So imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon a post at the Online Photographer blog about a very similar challenge for photographers. It's called the SoFoBoMo (Solo Photo Book Month) and it's an open group event where photographers from around the world spend about a month (31 consecutive days) putting together a photo book of their own images. The rules state that you should include at least 35 images, all of which need to be shot during the "fuzzy month" that the challenge is happening in.  

Here's a little spiel from the website:

SoFoBoMo is short for Solo Photo Book Month - a group event where a bunch of photographers all make solo photo books start to finish, in 31 days, at more or less the same time. It's modeled loosely on NaNoWriMo, where participating writers all write novels in a month, and NaSoAlMo, where musicians write and record solo albums in a month.

So far 168 people have signed up for SoFoBoMo '09. View a list of all SoFoBoMo '09 participants

For SoFoBoMo, the goal is to make the photos, write any needed text, layout the book, and produce a PDF image of the book, all in 31 days. Rather than confining it to a single calendar month, we use a 'fuzzy month', where you can pick any contiguous 31 day period inside a two month window - this makes it a bit more flexible and encourages broader participation.

Sounds like a pretty sweet concept, right?

So between May 1st and June 30th of this year I will be putting together a photo book. Given the time constraint I think I'll rely on the trusty digital camera for this one instead of film, but I am toying with the idea of only using images taken through my 50mm lens. I think constraining myself with that might help me actually piece something together.

I'm encouraging any of you photogs out there to join in on the fun. Just visit for more info and start thinking about a subject for you book! I'll plan to post up a progress report of sorts on here from time to time.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Finally posting the last from the winter series

I added what I hope is the last of the winter shots to my Etsy store today. Last only because I'm ready for spring to show up. I'd like it to arrive tomorrow. Tonight would be even better.

It's not so much the cold that bothers me, or the snow, it really comes down to the fact that I don't want to wear a big coat anymore. I'm ready to wear a spring jacket now. Strange reason to want winter to be over I'm sure, but that's about all I got.

Here's the image I posted to the store (you can click it to go to the listing):

It's a 7.5"x17" image printed on 8"x17.5" paper. It's the balance between the trees and snow on the left, and the negative space on the right that I find appealing in this one. Does it work?

So yep, that's the last of the winter scenes I shoot for the season. Next up is green and color. I hope.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

And they're off

My poor scanner has been sitting idle waiting to eat new film, but I have no film to feed it.

Yesterday I mailed off a package of two exposed rolls of 120 film to Dwayne at his photo shop in KS. I've had three rolls developed there before, and for a lot cheaper than I can find locally, so until I go all B&W and start developing at home, I'll probabaly keep mailing Dwayne my film.

Last set of film I mailed off took about 10 days round trip before I got it back, We'll see how long this batch takes.

The B&W develop only cost is 4.49, the color develop only option is $3.49. Return mail costs $4 for the first roll, and $.50 thereafter. So for two rolls I spent $12.48. Seems pricey, but it's still cheaper than the $7.99 per roll my local lab charges.

I'd love some suggestions for cheaper processing, so if you read this, and you've got a tip please add a comment.

In the long run I might end up buying a developing tank and some chemistry to do my own processing at home, but if I do that I'll probably still send my color negatives out.

Here's a link to Dwayne's Photo:

Friday, February 20, 2009

Fun with photoshop

So the whole fake tilt-shift miniature trend is probably about 2 years stale now, but I was browsing though some old photos and found a few candidates for the look so I figured I'd try it out.

The effect is good on one of these images (the rooftop minus the dude) and just OK on the other two, but you get the idea. It's funny how some selective focus can trick the eye into thinking it's looking at a miniature. I'm sure there's a physiological explanation as to why this happens, but I'm too tired to look into it right now. Instead, take a peek at this link if you want to find out how to do this yourself:

Choosing a good image for the effect is pretty critical. I think the ones that look the best are taken from above the subject, looking down at a shallow - to 45degree angle, an angle that mirrors the angle you'd be looking down at a miniature from. Search Flickr for examples, there are a ton of groups dedicated to this style of manipulation.

Here's my try at it (click the images to enlarge):

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Team in Training and Etsy

In January I signed up to run a half-marathon in Lake Placid, NY with Team in Training. For those out there who aren't familiar with Team In Training they are a fundraising organization that is part of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Team In Training helps every day folks like you and me train for and complete endurance events like marathons, triathlons and cycling events. During the training period before the event the racers are teamed up with a coach and mentors who are there to help get you ready for the race and just as importantly there to help you with ideas to reach your fundraising committment.

For each event you sign up for you also agree to raise a certain amount of money for the LLS to help with cancer research, education and patient outreach programs. That brings me to the reason why I'm posting this.

One way I am raising funds for the LLS is through my Etsy store. Until June 14th (the day of the race) I am donating all of the profits from the sales of my photos to the LLS. So far I've sold 6 pieces and I'd like to sell a lot more.

Here is the link to my etsy store:

If you're interested in following along with my training progress I'll be posting at least weekly updates to my fundraising page:

And of course I would love it if you would link to this post, tweet this post, tell your mom about this post, etc. etc. etc. to spread the word for a really great cause.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The old barn

A friend of mine asked me to take her wedding photos last fall. I was petrified. I'm used to stressing out over non-critical photos, i.e. photos I'm taking for me, so imagine how freaked out I was pondering the pressure of getting the right shots. I had my checklist in my head: #1 the kiss, #2 family staged shots, #3 environment shots, etc. etc., but even with a good plan I was still pretty nervous.

I revisited the shots I got recently and overall I am pretty happy with them. It was definitely a learning experience though. I know that I don't want to be a wedding photographer. The couple I shot couldn't have been nicer, the location couldn't have been more beautiful, and the people at the wedding couldn't have been more accommodating of an obviously novice photographer. After it was all over I was imagining what would it have been like if everything went to hell and the people weren't so patient and friendly.

So, to the title of this thread. The reason I was looking back at the images was because my wife asked if I had anything I could hang up in our bedroom - she had three frames lying around and 8x10 mats. I immediately thought of some shots of these paper lanterns that were hanging in the barn where they bride and groom had their reception. The barn was beautiful, and these lanterns added just the right amount of light.

Monday, February 16, 2009

I'm featured on another blog!

The Art of Craft blog has a weekly featured photographer, and for this week it's me! Check it out here:

The Art of Craft featured photographer

The blogger who posted me also has a shop on Etsy - check it out:

Friday, February 13, 2009

The power of the internet

Last month I posted about this site:
While hiking in New Hampshire this summer, I found a digital camera at the bottom of a river. Although the camera was completely destroyed, I was able to carefully take it apart and safely recover the photos from its memory chip.

Well it turns out that after only 8 days the guy who put together the blog was contacted by the camera's owner:
This evening, a mere eight days after setting up this blog, I received the email that I--and lots of other folks here--was hoping for! I will be sending the family's photos and movie clips back to them this week. I will leave this blog site up until the end of February, just for folks that might be checking back in to see the great news!

Pretty amazing stuff! Through twitter, blogs, digg, etc. the owner was finally reunited with their lost camera and more importantly the images and videos it held.

hooray for the internet!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Parking garage

Today was probably the nicest (warmest at least) day in Boston that we've had in a very long time. Temps almost touched 60 degrees. Knowing today was going to be good weather I packed my camera along with me thinking I could sneak out at lunch and find some things to shoot. 

Of course today ended up being one of those days where I have a meeting that runs just about through lunch and then a full afternoon, so I never had the chance to get out to take pictures. I hunted for something interesting on the way to the parking garage, but came up empty and I was running late anyway.

I did manage to find some interesting scenes in the parking garage though. Here's what I saw.

It only took three months, but I finally got a sale

Last night, after three months of being on Etsy, I finally got my first sale. I'm not ready to quit the day job yet (especially considering the fact that the money I'll earn from the sale is going to my fund raising), but it's still a very gratifying event.

The image that was sold is one that I took in San Francisco that has been posted here before. Here's a glimpse:

I'm hoping this opens the door for more sales. I've got about $1,200 I still need to raise as part of my Team In Training committment and every bit of money I can squeeze out of Etsy is going to help.

If you're reading this and you're interested in helping out my fund raising you can either click this link to go directly to my fund raising page or you can click here to visit my Etsy store and buy something - all the profits until June are going to go straight to my fund raising.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Just in case you missed it...

There's a really great Q&A on Strobist today with photographer Bil Zelman. The interesting part of the piece, for me anyway, was that it was about stripping down and shooting images for emotion, not technical approach which is usually what strobist is all about. I love reading strobist to understand lighting and how to reverse engineer a shot, but even more interesting to me are the conversations that happen between David Hobby and other Pros.

Included in the piece on Strobist is a brief video featuring a slideshow of Bil Zelman's work and a recording of him talking about his process and philosophy. One thing he said in there really struck a chord with me, and it's something I am trying to remind myself of when I think about what I want to capture and create:

"There's a big difference between style and technique."
- Bil Zelman

from and

Monday, February 9, 2009

The three greatest words in the English language...


I have a few strange habits, but probably the strangest is my fetish for receiving mail. When I get home from work, after I say hello to the kids (and sometimes before even saying hello to the wife) I usually ask if we got any mail that day. Even if I'm not expecting anything.

So when I'm waiting for something I've ordered, and I check the UPS or FedEx status and see the words OUT FOR DELIVERY I get this Christmas-eve, last-day-of-school, night-before-vacation excitement.

Today, and for the next three days, I expect something to arrive at the house for me. First up is the scanner which I have already posted about way too many times. Along with the scanner I should be getting two prints that I had done up from the two winners in the photo club theme contests I've been running (another post coming on that at some point).

Tomorrow should be a few prints for the house that my wife wanted to hang up. She's my only customer right now (hint: Etsy shop link here for your convenience where you can buy my prints ).

And on Wednesday I'll be getting in the frames and mats for prints I'll receive today. These theme winners are being hung up at work. Pretty exciting, although since I am running the monthly meetings and heading up the club I have taken myself out of the competition.

It's a very exciting week for mail at my house.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Finally! it's back in stock!!

man that seemed to take forever...

After finally settling on a scanner I went to B&H (had a gift card) to see about ordering it only to see that it was Out Of Stock. That was about two weeks ago. I dutifully signed up for the Notify Me When This Is In service and would routinely check the site just because I don't trust those services much. There must've been a massive shortage of these scanners because I could not find one anywhere - even the Epson store itself was sold out.

Well just a minute ago in my inbox arrived a note from B&H informing me that the scanner was back in stock and ready to be ordered!

It should arrive on Monday, providing countless hours of sleep deprivation and excitement. I predict I'll be needing a new harddive soon.

In case anyone is wondering, the scanner is an Epson v-500 - see it here: Epson V-500 @ B&H Photo

This is by no means an endorsement... I'll give my two cents when I have a week or so to play with it.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Last shot from Alaska, and a post to Etsy

I thought I was done with the Alaska posts, then I decided to put up one more shot from our stay in Vancouver on the way to Alaska.

This is again from our room at the hotel in downtown Vancouver. We had decent weather while we were there, but on this day it was entirely overcast. The buildings shed this really eerie green light.

You can click on the image to see it in my Etsy store.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


I lived in Vermont for about four years while attending college. Unfortunately at that time I hadn't been into photography at all. I went back there last fall to attend a friend's wedding and she asked me to take some photos for her of the ceremony. I was definitely nervous. 

While wandering around the farm where they got married I was struck by these massive trees and the way the sun like was filtering through one of them. 

Monday, February 2, 2009

What's it like to take photos of our new President?

A short post on the Caucus Blog gives a glimpse into what it's like to take part in a 'pool spray' - a presidential photo op that is very much like a run and gun event.

From the size of the crowd and the amount of shutters you hear firing I would guess the approach is a 'spray and pray' one - hoping that if you bracket and fire off as many exposures as you can that you'll get at least one good image.

I can't imagine what it must be like to be one of these photographyers. It would seem that all the joy and passion of taking images is completely gone when it comes to something like this.

Anyway, here's the link that contains a video of the event - just don't blink or you might miss it:

The White House spray

from from The Online Photographer

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Photography and music I like

I was pretty intrigued by the cover and liner shots of Andrew Bird's new album, Noble Beast, so I went looking in the album credits and was happy to see that the photographer's name was included. 

Cameron Wittig was the photographer who took the album shots, and his website is here: His site shows a lot of his art, and of particular interest to me are the images under the music section of his portraits.

I had never heard of Cameron Wittig before reading his name in the liner notes, so imagine my surprise when I stumbled upon him again from an image that was posted to

Anyway, I figured I'd share it with you since I am a fan of the man he captured on film and recently became a fan of the man who captured him.