The Barefoot Photographer®

a photography blog

Monday, November 30, 2009

Cemetery Sunday

Yesterday I spent sunrise in the Oak Hill Cemetery in Newnan. I have driven past the entrance many times -- always thinking that I would like to go in and look around. I have set aside two mornings to do this. This shot was from the first visit.

Late in November there were still quite a few leaves left on the oak trees that line the entrance road. The color of the leaves was nice in the early morning light. I also liked the color of the tombstones and bit of moss growing on them. The leading line of the plot edge, street, row of stones, and two trees in the distance works for me. I even like the small collection of leaves just inside the plot edging -- three small piles in a row. The photo worked well for me in color.

But then I had to give it a try in black and white...

Using Silver Efex I converted the tweaked color image to black and white. I like to use the best color version of an image to convert to black and white. I selected Kodak TMax 100 film for the look and then used a red filter to give the leaves on the trees an interesting look. The contrast was pushed slightly and structure was pushed a little farther than usual. I like how really pushing up the structure slider and using the filter gives this photo almost the look of frost on the ground and the stonework.

Same photo -- two very different looks.


Friday, November 27, 2009

From the Barefoot Files...

This past week was another family birthday -- my Uncle George. The photo today is a picture of him in his Army uniform standing between his parents, my grandparents. They have been featured in past posts -- Grandma Mildred and George King. I am wondering if my father took this photo. He was probably there -- but he is not in the picture.

Uncle George has always liked cars. He knows a lot about them. On one of the previous blogs I thought a picture of my great Uncle Walter was of him in front of his car -- nope. The car in the photo belonged to my Uncle George.

When I was little I used to call my uncle "Frog." This was because of a story my grandmother told me. She told me that when my uncle was little he liked frogs and would chase them around.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Gather Together, Take Photos

Happy Thanksgiving to all readers! It is hard to believe that it is Thanksgiving already -- soon December, Christmas, and 2010! Where did 2009 go?

Two years ago on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving I posted a blog with a couple recipes. As I type this post -- I have that same pound cake in the oven (well not the same cake -- but the same recipe). It is a great cake and one that we have at many family holiday events. It was my father-in-law's favorite. I am thinking we will have ours with vanilla ice cream and fried apples & cranberries. I love fried apples and this time of year it is wonderful to mix in fresh cranberries.

The cookbook is at my printer and will be ready for purchase by December 5.

As you get together with family and friends -- get out the cameras and take plenty of photos. Watch your backgrounds -- busy backgrounds steal the show from your subject. If you have subjects prone to red eye -- and yes some people are more prone than others -- here are a few tips.
  • use your red eye reduction feature on your camera
  • turn on more lights in a room
  • if you can, bounce your flash off of the ceiling rather than pointing it directly at the subject
  • have your subject not look directly at the flash/camera
  • you, the photographer, stand near a light source
Red eye is caused by the dilated pupil. The more ambient light or having the subject look at a light source can contract the pupil and minimize the chance. If this is not possible -- redirecting the flash or having the subject not look directly at the flash can also be a remedy.

Red eye is common. White eye is not. Anytime you get a white reflection instead of red, you need to have a doctor check out that subject.


Friday, November 20, 2009

From the Barefoot Files...

Digging through the many photos I have of my grandfather and taken by him -- I am finding so many that I really love. This is one. The only information I had with this is that it said "Puerto Rico." No year guess.

There is not a lot to say about these photos without know the background. They are interesting to see. You have a young man from the mountains of Virginia seeing the world.


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Finding the Time...

"I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."
-- Shakespeare

Two of the toughest things I have to tell someone taking a class from me is #1 -- read your manual and #2 make time to practice photography. No one likes to read a manual -- even me. But the way cameras are set up -- you need to read all of what that most excellent tool can do in your hands. Some of the best features on a pocket camera are hidden on menus; you can reach only by pushing certain buttons. So it is best to just accept that you need to read -- but do like I do -- look up in the index what you need to know at the moment and just read that part. If you read it cover to cover -- you will still have to go back and look things up when the moment arrives.

OK -- now beyond reading a manual -- you need to set aside time to practice and get to know your camera. This is really where I lose people. 'Set aside time? I don't have any time for what I do now.' I know -- I feel that way too.

I have the most excellent elliptical machine setting in my bedroom. I used to use it a lot and then I kind of fell off the wagon. Time -- I needed time to get on it. All I wanted was 30 to 45 minutes a day. But I had no time. Enter Sadie and now I make time -- to walk the dog. We walk about 30 minutes in the morning and about 40 minutes in the evening. So I did not find 30 to 45 minutes extra a day -- I found over an hour! It is a great way to spend some time -- I like it, Sadie likes it, and I have lost over 10 pounds since May.

Learning to use a camera and learning to take better photos is no different than if you were learning any other new activity. If you woke up one day and decided you wanted to play guitar, you would need lessons and practice. You could not expect to pick up the guitar and play a perfect tune -- it takes practice.

I am experiencing this first had with my attempt at life drawing. Monday nights I go to a life drawing group. There is a live model striking poses and we sketch. I take along my camera to record the pose. As I am sketching I think -- OK -- this is not too bad and tomorrow or later this week I need to get out the photo and sketch and work on it a little more. I have been going to this class since September and have yet to find the time later in the week to rework a sketch. To check out the artwork from the group leader visit Studiowasteland. I have about three sketches from this class that I like and one I am thinking about for an abstract type of painting soon.

Many people begin a project to give themselves a push to keep to a practice schedule. There are a lot of 365 projects -- meaning a photo a day. One of my friends paints very well and takes awesome photos. He started a photo blog (he already had a blog for his painting). This is really committing to the task and daily exercise. The more you shoot -- the better you get.

Blogging is fun and a great way to spend a little time per week. Some people say that they don't have the time to blog. At the end of 2008 I made a commitment to myself that I would post more blogs in 2009 -- and I have. I also feel that I have improved at blogging.

I think about that time I spend walking the dog and wonder -- what did I do with that block of time before? I thought I did not have 45 minutes to spare -- but obviously I did. I am sure I have more time that could be spent productively. But -- we all need a little veg time. So I don't push it too much. If it ever gets to be like work -- half of the fun is gone.

"Time is on my side, yes it is."
-- The Rolling Stones


Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Bat in the Bookstore

It isn't everyday that your teenager agrees to dress up in her bat costume from second grade (in public.) Yesterday my high school senior dressed as Stellaluna to read at our local Barnes & Noble during her school's book fair event. Stellaluna was her favorite book as a child. I made this costume for her one year for fun. In the second grade she wanted to wear it to school one day. I checked with the teacher to see if it would be OK. The teacher was fine with it -- and after she saw it -- she told me if we ever decided we did not want it any longer -- she would love to have the costume for her classroom. I think that was the last time it was worn in public -- until yesterday.

I took a few photos of her and played around with them this morning. I was looking for an interesting effect in the Color Efex plug in. This is solarization -- and tweaking the sliders gave me a look that I liked.

Photos like the one of my daughter remind me that not every photo we take is a super artistic shot. As photographers we are also documenting our lives and the life of our family. We take photos to remember an event as much as we take them for the beauty of the photo. The old photos I have that belonged to my grandfather are wonderful to see for the content as well as the art of some of them.

Just the other day I mentioned on Facebook that Sadie was wearing a new sweater on our early morning walk. A few of my Facebook friends asked for a photo. Of course I had to take one. This photo of Sadie will never make it into a contest and normally would not make it on the blog -- except to show that sometimes a photo is just for fun.


Friday, November 13, 2009

From the Barefoot Files...

Since this past Wednesday was Veteran's Day and Tuesday was the Marine Corps birthday I could not think of a better photo to have on the blog than this one of my granddaddy. Last May I wrote about him on the blog. I have written about him a number of times; about his garden, finding arrowheads, about fishing, about walking through the woods with him as a child.

My grandfather enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1922. He continued active service through the late 50's and then civil service into the 70's. I have many photos from his early years in the Marine Corps. He was a good photographer and documented a lot with his camera. I have his camera -- a Kodak Hawkeye -- and his light meter on my desk.


Sunday, November 8, 2009

Sams Lake Sanctuary

Yesterday morning I spent some time at Sams Lake Sanctuary. This property is close to my house and one of the properties owned and managed by Southern Conservation Trust. Their website has maps of the properties they manage and directions to them.

I had an event scheduled by the SCT -- to be on hand and invite anyone interested to come out to photograph early morning at the lake. Since we are now back on standard time -- I arrived at 6:30am to be there as the sun come up. When I first arrived in the parking lot -- it was still pretty dark. I could see quite a bit of mist rising from the water. Another member of the photo club showed up at about the same time. We walked out near the water to look around and take a few shots of the early morning.

For future reference, I timed sunrise to when the sun rose above the tree line. When the sun comes above the trees at the main lake area -- the light goes from great to very harsh. I took about 35 minutes after sunrise for that to happen. Now I know if I want to get over there early -- what my timeline is. On many mornings while I am walking Sadie I look at the sky and think that the colors are great and I should hurry over to the lake for some photos.

I really like these two photos. At first I did not know there were any geese around -- the mist was heavy and it was dark. As it become brighter, some of the geese took flight. The beaver lodge is also a great focal point for photos.

It can be a little wet and marshy around the lake area. I have a great pair of boots -- I call them my "Target Wellies." Sometimes I wish I had waders like my granddaddy wore when he would go fishing. Thank goodness I wore them yesterday -- I walked through a small streamlet to get to another area of the wetland. Also I stood in the water at the edge of the lake. My feet were dry -- but I could feel how cold the water was through the boots. It was cold. I dressed warmly wearing a turtleneck under a thick woolly sweater. To have my hands free and not to have to haul a bag -- I packed the pockets of my vest (that great Safari vest from Cabela's) with the gear I needed. To help keep my hands warm I wore the winter golf gloves. They kept my hands warm -- except for my pinkies -- they got so cold!

Sams Lake Sanctuary is part of the site specific category for Nature Undisturbed. The call for entries for this show ends January 30, 2010. Check out the website (or the link on this blog page) for details on the show and to print an application. If anyone reading has any question about the show, please feel free to email me.


Friday, November 6, 2009

From the Barefoot Files...

In just a few days it will be my mother in law's birthday. I am featuring a photo of her on the blog today. Last May I featured a photo of her with her Army nursing unit. Then last August there was a photo, perhaps taken by her father, featured on the blog.

Since my mother in law was a nurse, she has always been a great go-to source for medical advice over the years -- especially with the kids. Not only was she good at nursing and taking care of people (she took care of her own mother for a long time), she has given me some great recipes. In the cookbook, I have her mother's pound cake recipe. I have tried many pound cakes -- but that recipe makes the best cake!

She made quilts for all of her children and grandchildren -- Sunbonnet Sue pattern. She was always making some type of craft. We have Christmas decorations that she made for us -- a stuffed wreath and Christmas tree. She and my father in law made beautiful advent calendars for the grandchildren -- a wooden tree cut out that holds tiny cross-stitched ornaments. They also made the children small tabletop Christmas trees -- perfect miniatures to have in their rooms.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Cookbook

I have been busy as a bee reworking a couple family cookbooks I put together into one volume. For a long time I wanted to combine them and add in some of the old family photos I have.

The photos and stories I have featured on the blog are now spread throughout the cookbook. These photos show many of the people who tested and altered these recipes to get them 'just right.' There is the photo of my Grandma Mildred and the recipes of her coconut cakes. My Granddaddy Sam is in there -- and so is his recipe for Dandelion Wine (which I have made).

I am testing a pdf version of the book that will be available through my website. The hard copy will be available soon also (pages need to be printed!).


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