Thursday, July 30, 2009

Living with My Photography

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Recently, I mentioned the joys of hanging prints in our house and the more I thought about it, the more I realized how important it is to me to have some images on view.

Because our previous house was small, there weren’t many places to hang a 16x20 framed piece and I had never hung a 20x24 frame there. It was those old days of severely limited display space that was uppermost in my mind when I made those comments a while back, and I am getting a big kick out of seeing prints that previously were only hung at shows, or never before even printed, much less hung.

On the other hand, even back then, with more limited options for display, I was surrounded by prints. In the last couple of years that we lived in that house, I had come up with a makeshift way to keep me focused on what I was doing and why. I collected test prints, some of which were proofs either for clients, or pieces that were to be shown somewhere, and some that I had printed out of curiosity, after experimenting with a processing technique. Most of the proofs were 4x6 or 5x7, but, in a few cases, I printed 8x10.

The next step involved what I first came to know as “museum stick”. This reusable adhesive (one brand is Handi-Tak) had long been a staple item in our home. (In earthquake country, you want to have something around that holds valuable items secure when the earth starts rockin’ and rollin’.) One of the beauties of this sticky stuff is that it won’t damage finishes. (It’s always a good idea to test any product like this on the back or underside of a surface before proceeding. But I will say that I never found anything damaged by it, and we used a great deal of it.) Thanks to this handy adhesive and a stack of prints, I put prints in little nooks and crannies where I either couldn’t have, or wouldn’t have, thought of hanging a framed print.

Mostly, I stuck those prints on the insides of cabinet doors. The beauty of that casual treatment was no unsightly clutter on the outside and no need to matte the prints, much less frame them. Flexibility was a major bonus. I could change my display on any old whim. If I opened the medicine cabinet seeking relief from a tummy-ache, or some way to deal with a small cut that couldn’t be handled with a wad of tissue, I was greeted by a photo of our purple geraniums. A trip to the linen cabinet might include photos of beautiful horses galloping about, or standing just so with ears forward and eyes flashing. Reaching for a glass in a kitchen cupboard yielded a reminder of a favorite scene from a road trip.

It was an informal, simple, flexible, inexpensive (to say the least) way to display photos—dozens of photos, and I hadn’t realized how much I was missing that until we began hanging the larger framed pieces here. Now, I just have to find that museum stick-um that’s in one of those boxes somewhere. On second thought, maybe I’ll add it to a shopping list.

NOTE: Handi-Tak is available at Michael's Craft Stores and, today, I found QuakeHold! at Amazon.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Lost and Found Department

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For me, one of the small aggravations of moving was the number of items that were lost. Well, not really lost, but definitely misplaced. And let’s face it, misplaced means you can’t use the darn thing.

One of the casualties was my Canon G7. The camera, charger, and case had simply vanished. I knew it was here someplace, but for the life of me I couldn’t find it. Eventually, my greatest dread became finding it a couple of years from now ruined by an old and leaking battery.

Several days into my recent moving-in marathon, I opened a cabinet and discovered a tote-bag that was suspiciously heavy considering what I first saw was a small tablet, a magazine, a paper napkin (!), and some other odds and ends that I would have used on a road trip. Sure enough, at the bottom of the tote was the leather bag holding the G7. I was even more surprised to find that the battery was still charged and I was able to immediately take some test shots. Because the camera hadn’t been seen in at least eight months, my confidence in the G7 battery shot up a few notches.

I never used the pocket camera a great deal. When I bought it, I had been committed to shooting RAW files for a long time and had suspected that I might find it frustrating to once again shoot jpg’s. Besides, I found it difficult to give up my viewfinder. From the beginning, I carried my bigger camera, unless it was totally impractical. Still, there were times when it was most convenient to put the long strap on my shoulder, or the camera in a jacket pocket and be prepared for casual grab shots.

Friday night turned out to be one of those occasions when it seemed ideal to own such a camera. We were scheduled to go to the BVS Equestrian Center Lounge for a meeting of the Horseman’s Association to hear a talk delivered by a lady-historian whose work we know. Originally, I had been excited about the opportunity to hear the historian’s talk; but, I was still feeling the effects of my work marathon. My back was hurting and I hadn’t slept well the night before. I was close to bailing out, but didn’t.

By the time we got to the Center, I was noticing that the evening was beautiful and I was glad that, on a last minute whim, I had grabbed my handy-dandy pocket camera. It certainly wasn’t an occasion for lugging the 50D. The sight of the light on the building, trees, and grass immediately lifted my spirits and it was easy to make a snapshot.

A few minutes later, we sat mesmerized, while the delightful Gloria Hine Gossard told us tales about the earliest settlers of Bear Valley Springs. The Husband and I were already familiar with Ms. Gossard’s style and passion for history, since a friend had generously given us a copy of her book “Three Valleys of The Tehachapi-Bear, Brite, and Cummings”. Seeing Ms. Gossard in person and hearing stories in her voice brought all the characters even more to life. This lady has lived many decades, yet exudes a “joie de vivre” that would shame someone half her age. Her enthusiasm for her subject and depth of knowledge were inspirational. As the evening went on, I began looking forward to getting a picture of Ms. Gossard; but, she left the gathering while the meeting was in session. As her friend pushed her wheelchair from the room, my heart sank. Some things aren’t meant to be. Still, I wasn’t tired anymore. I had caught some of Gloria Gossard’s vitality.

The photo above was my first snapshot taken with the G7 in our new territory. (And, no, I didn’t boost those greens.) Who knows? I may carry my pocket camera more often now. After all, I may not have gotten a photo of our Bear Valley historian, but at least I got a picture that will remind me of my evening with her.