Saturday, April 5, 2008


Since April 1, I have been doing most of my shooting in the yard here at the house and I’m having such a good time that I think, if need be, I could do the entire 35 images here. We have had mostly overcast skies with patchy and erratic sunshine parts of each day. Of course, as is usually the case with such exercises, I am seeing things I have previously only looked at. Moreover, some things I have long enjoyed, but never attempted to translate into a photograph are getting new attention.

My plan from the beginning of this project has been to shoot in three locations, and I think I am staying with that plan. However, only one day seemed promising for shooting in one of my favorite locations—along Little Tujunga Wash. From the beginning, I have had my heart set on at least one sunset shot taken along Haul Road. Sunsets there are one of the special things I will hold in my memory once I leave my home in the foothills. Unfortunately, the evening I was there ended with a slight mist and the setting sun completely obscured by a thick cloud cover. Still, I enjoyed the first part of that shoot immensely; and, at least for now, some of those shots are in the “temporary choices” folder. I will bide my time for an evening with a few nice clouds in the west providing one of those sunset extravaganzas.

In the meantime, the experimenting and exploring continue. A sort of rhythm has developed of more shooting and processing one day, then more writing the next. There has been no intention to switch back and forth—it has just worked out that way.

Yesterday, I did some experimenting with proofing a couple of files with the Blurb profile and correcting for out of gamut colors. Even though I plan to prepare a PDF version of my book to meet the requirements of SoFoBoMo, I want to get a feel for the preparation of files for the printer. (Even if I am not crazy about the final result of this exercise, I want to carry it through to print so I can see how effectively I handle preparing files for printing by Blurb.) For my second test run, I switched the files to CMYK mode to make the corrections—using mostly the selective color adjustment layer, and then switched back to RGB. I am discovering that some images bring up only a few problems and others are quite discouraging. I am hoping to get some advice from some folks who are a lot smarter than I am about this part of the workflow.

I can’t be certain I will have time for shooting tomorrow, since it’s another Open House Day. After all, I hope we will have prospects coming through. Still, I will feel a bit lost if I don’t find some time to get out the camera.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It's Alive!

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Uh-oh, my SoFoBoMo book is morphing—taking on surprising new characteristics, and all those soothing certainties are slipping away. I am confident that this will be all for the better—even excited about new directions. Still, the rapidity with which my clarity evaporated and the ambiguity that has crept into its place are unsettling.

I had been so sure that I had a real handle on what I would shoot, how I would shoot, and some fairly strong convictions about the overall look of the book, if not the specifics of layout and design. However, in just three days of stirring up the feelings that fuel my project, I am back to rethinking much of my plan.

My book is titled—for now, at least—“One Last Look” and is meant to be a visual record of my immediate surroundings for the last twenty years. I knew that digging into my feelings about this move—fear, doubt, buyers’ remorse, and this weird pre-nostalgia melancholy—would arouse all the ambiguity I was already experiencing about the upcoming life-change.

I can’t say the emotions are a surprise. For some time I resisted the project choice in an attempt to avoid the pain. Furthermore, I recognize the lack of certainty as a positive sign that my unconscious is working—eager to play its role in this endeavor. For the moment, I am caught in the struggle for dominance between my conscious mind’s craving for safe predictability and my subconscious mind’s urge to experiment, play and plunge into the unknown. I was so sure this was settled. The next few days should be interesting, as I attempt to hold on through the twists and turns of discovery.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

SoFoBoMo Questions

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This morning, I am full of questions. I haven't yet decided whether to produce a PDF and have that serve as my fulfillment of the SoFoBoMo requirements, or to actually order a book. I suppose the decision will ultimately depend on available time. To order the book, I would need to allow the time to revisit each image for the conversion to the Blurb profile, and the bad news is that I was painfully slow with that process when I did a bit of experimenting. The experts in that type of work probably knock them out quite rapidly, but I poked along at a snail's pace and the idea of going through that thirty-five times—on a rushed deadline—isn't particularly appealing.

I have some images in my mind regarding the general look of the book that I am going for; still, I continue to vacillate on size. I have decided to prep my PDF in a size available at Blurb, since I am going to try that service whenever I carry through to print. On SoFoBoMo eve, I spent some time at the Blurb site watching training videos and found the capabilities of the program quite impressive. I had flirted with the possibilities of Blurb many months ago and never followed through, but it appears to me that they have refined both their site and their videos to a considerable degree. The flexibility of their program certainly is promising. I took particular note of the ease with which one can translate a blog into a book. I immediately thought about some of the other participants in SoFoBoMo and what wonderful books could be produced from their blogs. So many of my favorite bloggers are not only amazing photographers, they are gifted writers and they could put together superb books with previously written text. Perhaps I will start egging some of you guys on to do this. Gordon, is there room for one more cheerleader on the squad?

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Aaand We're Off!

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Best of luck to all those participating in the SoFoBoMo game. And a special big thank you to Paul Butzi for coming up with the concept and issuing the challenge. In theatre, one wishes colleagues a good show with “Break a leg”. What is the equivalent in the photography world?

It is a joy to be part of such a fine crowd. We have our hero, Paul Lester, who showed us that we could do this. After all, if Paul could accomplish “One” in less than three hours, surely a month would be more than enough time for even those of us who may be slowpokes to produce a project. Paul Butzi named Gordon McGregor as our cheerleader. Gordon has been doing yeoman service for some time, but outdid himself with his new “pipe”. Combine that with John Seltzer’s blog, “Tell the World”, Colin Jago’s list of participants and collection of posts, plus Paul Butzi's collection of posts at the mother ship and it’s easy to keep track of what the SoFoBoMoers are up to. Recently, I nicknamed our fearless leader, Paul B. The Instigator, then later elevated him to Pope Paul. Now Paul L. has picked up that name and repeated it, and I find myself wondering what other names Paul B. might earn in the course of this coming sixty days of feverish activity. I think I see a wicked streak in him with this offer of a print to anyone who completes two projects in the sixty days. Hasn’t he yet learned that you don’t throw down the gauntlet to this crowd? He is bound to get a few takers, so I hope he has chosen that print and is prepared to ship some “prizes” to the “winners”. Perhaps he should also be prepared for some spouses or significant others producing voodoo dolls of the fellow who started this sublime madness.

The Sound of the SoFoBoMo Starting Gun

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I had intended to sleep in today and save what little energy I expected to have for taxes after a tiring day yesterday. However, the SoFoBoMo starting gun woke me at 6:30 AM, and I couldn’t go back to sleep. It seems I have changed my mind yet again and decided to start my project today, after all. It will be just a toe-dip in the pond, but I will officially start my photobook. I had thought I would be logical and do some catching up first, but all the exciting new things I have learned in the last couple of weeks have me itching to get going.

The last few days had gotten a little crazy. Last week ended with jack hammers at the front of the house and tar paper at the rear. The plumbers were destroying the sidewalk and half the driveway, while the roofing contractor and his crew got rid of damaged rafter tails (almost sounds like I know what I’m talking about, doesn’t it?) and repaired a portion of the roof that might have aroused the interest of an inspector. The Husband had taken repairs as far as his skills, tools and, most of all, time would allow. It was time to bring in a team of pros.

Before the dust had cleared, we ran away on Saturday to Bear Valley to recharge the batteries. Part of the plan was to take a break before grappling with the final stages of filing taxes. That would clear the decks for me to plunge into SoFoBoMo. However, a funny thing happened on the way to the starting gate. Last Friday, my doctor instructed me that a first test checking my gall bladder raised questions and I was set for a CT Scan for Monday (yesterday). Have you ever had one of those delicious barium shakes? Oh, yum. To make a long, very boring story short, I spent most of yesterday fighting the typical nausea and headache after-effects.

I did manage a few meager accomplishments other than processing a few shots from our weekend getaway. I discovered that the reason I was no longer able to print a PDF out of Pagemaker was one of one of those all-too-common-for-me operator errors (Distiller offers way too many choices for novices like me.) One more problem solved. Yesterday morning before I got away for my rendezvous with foul liquids, my Shutterfly book arrived. Speedy service. I placed the order late afternoon Tuesday, March 25, and the book arrived Monday around 10:00 AM. Another question answered. It's “no” to Shutterfly.

The biggest problem with Shutterfly is that this service offers no profile and I have never run across one. (I will ask Mark Hobson about this. He mentioned using Shutterfly and liking the results.) In the case of some photos, I was quite disappointed. Obviously, their lab tweaks the exposure to “help out the photographer”. In the case of one highly stylized shot (posted here Saturday, March 8, 2008), they had brightened the shot to bring back much of the detail they assumed I had lost by mistake. In the case of another shot that I had liked for its subtle tones (Tuesday, January 29, 2008), they blasted it with color and turned it into something quite garish. I certainly can’t complain since I threw this book together pretty fast and, after all, it was free. (Without the freebie, the 8x8 book would have cost $29.99). Next time I will try Blurb.

The accompanying photo was taken on Highway 223 on the eastern edge of the San Joaquin Valley just as you come down the western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. This spot is about forty-five minutes away from our place in Bear Valley. No doubt, I will be making multiple visits.