Thursday, April 10, 2008

Paul Lester Isn't the Only One Having Fun

This morning, I headed out the back door to grab some of the small water bottles stashed in the garage, where we keep those backup supplies. It’s only a few feet to the door of the attached garage, but in that few feet I was hooked. Ummm. Nice shadow. The next thing I knew, I was out there in my pj’s—cold, but shooting like mad and having more fun than a grownup should. This got me to thinking. How on earth do we all thank Paul Butzi enough for issuing his challenge? I, for one, expect to be feeding off this experience the rest of the year—at least. I certainly hope he is enjoying the trip.

Like Paul Lester, I am enjoying the shooting so much, I will have to give myself a nudge to dig deeper into the layout and editing. I suppose I need to set a deadline. Phhhhht. Deadlines. Yesterday was a good example of how intoxicating this experience is. If had had any sense at all, I would have made it a short day after the three-hours of sleep the night before. Nope. I thought I saw the potential for the sunset shot I had hoped for, so we headed over to the Haul Road with an eye on the sky. (The Husband is often willing to set the standard for patience and act as my faithful Sherpa—fact is, he enjoys that type of outing.) The sky looked promising, but while we waited for the sun to slide down, I wanted to shoot some of the plants. From out of nowhere, we had a reprise of the morning's wind gusts—making close-ups of plants in waning light impractical.

As recently as a few weeks ago, I would have caved in to frustration and resigned myself to waiting for the sunset show to begin. That was then. This is now. I decided if Nature didn’t want to work with me, I would work with Nature. It was a good opportunity to play for a few minutes with impressionistic images. Before I had time to fully exploit that possibility, the wind died as suddenly as it had begun. In the meantime, the colors were beginning to show and the flocks of crows were arriving, headed for their roosting place for the night.

The whole evening was free, legal, non-fattening, and no animals or humans were harmed in the making of any images. We had a splendid evening—walked a bit, enjoyed the quiet, the fresh air, ogled all the horseback riders passing by and silently evaluated the parade of horseflesh. I have several sunset shots, more than a few with crows in flight. I got one impressionistic keeper and feel still more comfortable with another tool in my kit. Who needs sleep when you are having that much fun?

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


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On a day you have planned for some macro photography, you don’t want to fight 12 to 20 miles-per-hour wind gusts—and broken tree branches already on the deck warning you there may be more where that came from. Thankfully that seems to have finally passed.

On a day you have planned to accomplish anything creative, you don’t want to get by on three hours sleep. I am blessed, and deeply grateful, to be in exceptionally good health considering I am a woman of a certain age—you’ll get no more than that out of me in a public statement. Still, my body pulls a few dirty tricks now and again, and wrings me out good. As I chatted with my general practitioner yesterday about my CT scan, we came to some interesting conclusions about my digestive system. I was elated by the news that I passed the test. Who has time for a surgery now?!! However, since the mystery remains concerning my mysterious episodes, I submitted that my gall bladder evidently “takes a great picture, but just doesn’t work”. My doctor quipped, “You mean it’s pretty, but can’t act.” Perfect. And still one more demonstration that if you mention “The Industry” in Los Angeles, everyone knows you are talking about the film and television industry. Even our most serious-minded and professional doctors can converse in Hollywoodese.)

At any rate, with so many of today’s plans disintegrating, the strategy is obvious: scrap initial plans and rethink the day. Besides, it’s not as if I don’t have a to-do list longer than my arm, so it won’t be a wasted day. Although the end is in sight, the husband and I are still hip-deep in tax preparation. Furthermore, we are deeply immersed in negotiating the sale of one of our small businesses that my husband has operated for twenty-five years. Another education.

And, speaking of education, I am reviewing my well-marked copy of Robin Williams' book, “The Non-Designer’s Design Book” and I have just gotten into my latest acquisition, Pete Masterson’s “Book Design and Production”. (Thank you Paul Lester for the recommendation.) When I wrote my acting books many years ago, I relied pretty much exclusively on “The Self–Publishing Manual” by Dan Poynter for the basics of layout and design, and it is an excellent source. Still, when I got the Robin Williams book, I gave myself a tardy, but swift kick where it would do the most good. Now that I have the Pete Masterson book, I may have to repeat that exercise.

Mr. Masterson’s chapter on software tools is a good news-bad news story for me. The good news is that the author validates my perception that InDesign is more difficult to learn than Pagemaker. (That’s a relief. I didn’t think I had started losing it, since I learned Photoshop at the same time I tried and failed InDesign) The bad news is that he has convinced that if I want to get serious about producing books (and that’s an unanswered question at this point) I should upgrade to InDesign and learn to use the dastardly thing. In the software contest, Pagemaker 7, my current choice, ranks with the “professional quality” programs, but it doesn’t rank number one. That spot goes to the pricey, InDesign. Since I haven’t yet committed to investing another large chunk of cash in a 5th edition of the first acting book or the 2nd edition of the second book—unless they are classics, books get old and die without massive measures to resuscitate. And, we won’t get into the third book that never went beyond the successful, but neglected pilot version that was introduced, and well received, at teachers’ conferences. When you consider that I don’t know how much text I will want to do in future photo books, I am still not convinced that I need to send Adobe anymore of my life’s savings. For now, I will go with “professional quality”, just not the best.

The photo above reminds me that someday I just may want shoot a personal-project photo book in Bodie, California. I could easily spend a week there reveling in the opportunities.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

A New Look

I am experimenting with a new look. Please bear with me while I play a bit.

The SoFoBoMo Expense Sheet

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Okay, these aren’t really SoFoBoMo expenses. One of the many beauties of this project is that it doesn’t cost anything to participate. Still, I note that a number of us have elected to use this project, as an excuse perhaps, to purchase some goodies we may have wanted for a while. My purchases were motivated largely by my recent loss of files in a freak situation where two storage systems failed within a single 48-hour period. Downright freaky. (By the way, I later discovered that I had a third backup on many of those images, so I dodged the bullet somewhat.)

Still mourning the loss of more than a few images and prepping for the SoFoBoMo starting gun, I purchased three additional SanDisk Ultra 2GB CF cards. Today I ordered more. This time two 4GB cards. I recall reading long ago comments from some photographers who never format cards when shooting for clients—they simply file the cards away and avoid concern for dying hard drives. As the prices for cards continue to drop, that plan is sounding more and more attractive as a backup system. I'm using Ultra cards (haven’t stepped up to Extreme and don’t feel the need—maybe someday) and the 2GB cards were $19.05 each at Amazon. The 4GB cards were $32.99 each. When I think what we were paying for the 1GB cards just a couple of years ago.

Monday, April 7, 2008

After a No-Photo Day

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Sunday was a no-photo day. Open House (just looky-loo’s this week) and taxes. Ummm. Fun and games for all. Today, it’s more taxes, but I hope to work in a few minutes of shooting. After all, I am perpetually “on location” with my project.

For several days, I have intended to call attention to this comment left here by Gordon McGregor on an earlier post (“The Sound of the SoFoBoMo Starting Gun”). Gordon quite generously gave me some tips for printing with Shutterfly. (Be sure to read Gordon's entire comment, but these are the highlights.)

“The trick … is to turn off the 'VividPics' feature which is on to 'enhance' every image you print with them, by default.”

“They also have quite a bit of ICC / profile info in the shutterfly help system - search for 'profile' and get more than you probably want to know.”

There are a number of things I like so far about Shutterfly: the quality paper they use, the sizes they offer, the ease of their interface (for a basic rush project), the general quality of reproduction, and the speed of delivery. Based on those considerations and armed now with Gordon’s tips, I might well use them another time in the future. The next time I must order the book before another freebie offer comes up. Otherwise, I will start to feel guilty.