Thursday, December 29, 2005

Winter Warmer

You can see the gallery of this photo shoot here.

My favorite seasonal beer is Anchor Brewing's "Our Special Ale". I love the winter spices in such a dark beer, and I think Anchor does it the best. This year is not my absolute favorite (I think 1998 might have been the best year they've ever had), but it's very good. I'll crack open a selection from previous years tonight to see how they are aging -- I think I have a 1998, a 2001 and a 2004 at least.

I also got a new remote shutter release for Christmas, so I was able to take these in low, warm light. The pictures aren't as absolutely sharp as they might have been, because the exposure was over a second, but they are sharp enough considering the exposure time, and I could never have done it without the remote release.


Wednesday, December 28, 2005

Long-term Projects

My mother had a great idea. I am taking the same shot of my house from across the street every so often over the course of several years. This is the first good winter shot I've gotten. I'm bothered that I got it only after the plows had been through. I'd like on unspoiled by the concrete.


Friday, December 23, 2005

An extreme close up

You can see the full-sized version of this photo here.

I love how my old, Phoenix-brand macro performs on the new digital camera. This is from this past Spring, when the crocuses were just coming up. I spent a fair amount of time on my stomach in the front yard waiting for the right shot. This guy went in face-first, so I had to strike the flower with my finger to get him to turn around. I think the effort paid off when he looked my right in the face and smiled.

The flecks of pollen and the joints of his antennae are the best reward. I go through long periods of dissatisfaction about my photography, but patience can really pay off with the macro.


Wednesday, December 21, 2005

An earlier, better day

You can see a larger version of this photo here.

This is from a previous shoot downtown, in September. We got up early and were downtown for the sunrise. This shot is taken in Millenium Park looking West into the city. The morning light gave this building a golden glow, with the deep sky behind. It's nothing special, but I like the colors and the feel. I named the picture "Morning Glory".


Saturday, December 17, 2005

An uninspired day downtown

You can see the larger version of this photo here.

Boy it was cold. I think it was the cold, but I was unable to get inspired and there really weren't any photos I took that I think are even marginally good.

I guess it happens to everyone, but it was not that good a day.


Friday, December 16, 2005

Photo shoot 2

You can find a larger version of this picture here.

Tomorrow morning I'll head in to town for a second photo shoot with friends from work. Looking forward to it.

This is from the last shoot downtown. On advice from a friend, I desaturated the photo except for the reflection. I like the feeling of the photo, but I'm unsure how I'm going to see such opportunities on my own.


Wednesday, December 14, 2005

For Luke

My friend Luke and I talked today after I visited the local liquor store. This store, Binny's Beverage Depot is known around Chicagoland as the area's largest liquor store. They are the size of large grocery stores, but with wine, beer, liquor and cigars.

Luke has been a drinking buddy of mine for about 15 years, and we've had a lot of good times attending beer tastings, and generally just enjoying great drink and cigars.

Today I picked up the Anchor Distillery's single malt rye whiskey, and let me tell you it is as good as one might expect from Fritz Maytag. The man virtually started the micro-brewing explosion in this country with Anchor Steam, and he's gone and started a micro-distillery dedicated to the early American styles of Whiskeys and Gin. I love the Junipero Gin, and now I can say with assurance that he's struck gold again with the Potrero Single Malt Rye Whisky. The whisky is smooth and sweet and complex. I love it.
Luke, this drink is for you.


Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Trying to find The Eye

The full-sized version of this image may be found here.

Talking with some friends at work with whom I occaisionally go out shooting, I mentioned how envious I was that each of them appeared to have a good eye for composition, whereas I did not. I am technically very capable with my camera, but I never feel that I am seeing a shot that more artistic photographers see.

My friends came up with a theory. This theory was that I wasn't patient enough when considering a subject, to find that angle or story that existed in the scene. I think they were being kind in disagreeing that I didn't have an essential artistry in my soul, but whatever.

So here was an attempt directly derived from that conversation where I found an interesting sculpture, and instead of taking a complete shot of the whole, tried to find a graceful note in a partial rendering. Comments welcome...


Monday, December 12, 2005

No northern lights for you...

The full-sized version of this image can be found here.

I have this friend. She announced one day that the Aurora Borealis was coming to Northern Illinos, and it would arrive that night around midnight.

So I did some research on photographing the lights at night, and headed out that night to find a place far from Chicago's bright lights. I drove for over an hour to a field by a factory of some sort, that had a very nasty dog guarding it.

I took some test shots, with an exposure of about 30 seconds, and then settled in to wait for the show.

Time passed.

Then time passed some more.

Time was hopelessy repetetive in its dedication to passing. No lights. I was out in that field until past 1am, and then drove home. The next day at work I gave her no end of grief, as all I ended up with were test shots.

Amazingly, I really liked the test shot. The night was very black, and with an exposure so long the sky has a marvelous shade of purple. You can see the beautiful artistry the shot would have created had the lights actually shown and silhouetted that tree. In the lower right you can see the edge of the factory from which the scary dog terrorized me.

-- msd

Sunday, December 11, 2005

On assignment

A larger version of the image can be found here.

My wife sent me out to the local forest preserve the other day, having really liked the look of open land in December.

The wide shots of the ground never came out, but one reason I like digital photography is the flexibility in post-prodcution -- I don't have a dark room at home. The resulting photograph is the best of the bunch, and in its way shows Northern Illinois in a kind of stark beauty.


Saturday, December 10, 2005

The first photo

The full-sized image can be found here.

Trying the first photo blog entry. I invite all critiques and comments either on the photo or the subject. This was taken from Navy Pier on an outing to downtown Chicago in September.


Friday, December 09, 2005

Learning what they don't teach

My grandfather advised his children to take apprenticeships and to learn what they don't teach -- in other words, do the job they ask, but also learn what makes the business run. There's a lot to learn when you chose to look up from what's filling your time.

It's good advice. My problem is that so much is left untaught, and most of it is garbage. How do I find the right lessons from competing messages?

We decorated the Christmas tree tonight. It was a lot of fun. I love some of our ornaments, and the re-discovery of old favorites is so much of the joy. My daughter is six and she has just begun to recognize the continuity of the holidays and is busy try to enjoy the memories.

-- msd