I have taken my last photo for the Clickinmoms scavenger hunt and I am exhausted. May the best mom win!
I never would have woken up one morning and said “hey, I think I’d like to do some shooting in a lightbox today”. I like to be out and about, taking candid shots of people, cool things or scenery. Setting up still objects in a white box and shooting didn’t sound like much fun. Now I know for sure that it mostly wasn’t.
See, my friend who is learning photography along with me has a friend that makes jewelry. This friend had something happen recently (I didn’t get the whole story) that caused her to need a new website and hence new photos of her work. She asked my friend to take the shots for a modest fee. My friend immediately agreed, ordered a lightbox online and called me for help. I’m not sure in what order this occurred but yes, I was shanghaied.
I initially was actually interested in helping; though it doesn’t sound like the most appealing type of shooting to do long-term it would be something interesting to learn. So Friday night I grabbed my equipment and my tripod and headed to my friend’s house.
I took one look at the lightbox and the jewelry and asked “Surely we aren’t doing this without wine are we?”. You can guess where this is going.
Equipped with a few minutes of google “studying” (me), a bottle of red wine (poured by my friend), a brand new lightbox and lights and a box of jewelry we started. Two hours, a hundred or so shots and 3 burned fingers later we decided to call it a night. I would take the pics home and see how they looked on the big screen and after a little Photoshop magic.
So here is what I did learned:
- I really don’t like lightbox photography.
- I know better about how to light and expose the shots. And I know we need more off-camera lighting.
- I think it is important to like what you shooting – shooting ugly jewelry is not fun (not that it was all ugly…just the first one that we started with and spent the first hour on. And it kept getting uglier).
- It is hard to climb on a stepstool while drinking red wine. Occurred to me the next day that this could have been avoided by putting the lightbox on the ground.
- You have to manually focus. Neither my camera nor my friends produced shots that really sharply focused the entire piece.
- Photoshop can do wonders – yea for Photoshop!
Now that we have our first try under our belts, my friend is going to try it again later this week. I’m not sure I’ll be able to join her but that is okay, I’ve helped her as much as I know how. I am not putting in an order for a lightbox any time soon!
When I started getting into photography this last time I started thing about my hobbies and about how there were some I was really really into for a time but now never spend time on them. Examples:
- From my teenage years until shortly after my son was born I was a “crafter”. I mostly did cross-stitch and crochet but played around with knitting, scrapbooking, etc.
- From about 2000 until 2008 I was totally involved in training showing dogs – obedience, conformation, agility, tracking, field work, I did it all. At the height of this hobby I was showing about 30 weekends a year.
- Now, this year, I’ve picked up photography (again).
This made me wonder, am I just fickle? Do I do something for a while (though most of the serious hobbies have lasted 15-20 years) and then just drop it when something else comes along? What does this say about me?
I think about, though, at the (maybe not so obvious) similarities and differences in these hobbies. The crafting fulfilled a mechanical need to use my hands and a need to produce something. You might think it fulfilled a creative need but honestly I was always following someone else’s pattern so I think “mildly creative” is the strongest spin you could put on it. This hobby was also “mildly social” as I would occasionally get together with friends to sew, or whatever.
The dog training and showing also fulfilled a mechanical need (as you are training the dogs you often manipulate them physically to show them what you want) but, to me, seemed to also answer intellectual and creative needs as well. It is mentally and intellectually stimulating to get the exacting behaviors required in the advanced levels of competition obedience and I have certainly had dogs that required all my creativity and problem-solving skills! I studied, attended seminars and trained for heaven knows how many hours to prepare for shows. It was a lot of work and I loved it. This was also a highly social hobby; I trained with friends and traveled hither and yon with them to attend seminars and dog shows.
(Here’s Jester – Erinwood’s Court Jester UDX, the hardest damn dog I ever trained! Now at 12 1/2 she is the queen of the house.)
I think now the photography now meets the need to physically manipulate something, the intellectual needs and requires even more creativity than I’ve had to show to date. I am back in learning mode, studying and practicing, and I am really enjoying it. It isn’t a terribly social hobby for me yet (I did attend the Santa Fe Photowalk though – what a ball!) but I can see it becoming more so as I progress.
So maybe I’m not fickle, maybe this is all part of my evolution as a person. I still have my craft “graveyard” of unfinished projects and maybe once a year I make an afghan for a gift or something. I still have two of my show dogs, the youngest of which could be polished up and put back in the ring to continue his show career if I was so inclined. I’m not really but I am thinking of hitting a few local dog shows this fall to take pictures!
And so he doesn’t feel left out here is Cimarron (Toastin’s Western Wish CDX, RN).
And at the Rainbow bridge are Sunny (Georgia’s Golden Sundance CDX) and Barna (Georgia’s Death by Chocolate UDX, OA, NAJ) – no pics of them but they are in my heart.
Is I said in the last post, I started getting serious again with photography earlier this year. I studied online, bought books, actually read the manual for my camera. It took a couple months but I am finally able to produce more of the pictures I like (which doesn’t mean they are good, necessarily) on a more regular basis.
Then I got a new lens (Nikkor 80-400); now I feel like I am starting over! I am determined to get good, sharp pictures with this lens – it certainly cost enough! I was very discouraged the other day until I remembered having similar problems with my old lens until I learned how to use it. So now I’ll just have to practice. I’ll think of it as exercise – lugging that thing around is certainly weight lifting!
Here are a few shots from Sunday. These are of my son’s friend (it started sprinkling by the time my son started playing so the camera equipment got put away!). The first one is way to soft for me; I had it on a tripod but I think I needed to change the ISO and shutter speed. The second is better but I had it on shutter priority so it was able to get a smaller aperture. Not sure if that is the difference though.
Today I am trying to get caught up with my picture stuff – Photoshopping those that need it, uploading to Flickr, getting set up on Smugmug…and restarting this blog! I hope to write about what I am shooting, what I am learning and what feedback I am getting. I know I have improved a lot since the first of the year, when I the hobby back up again for the 3rd time.
The first time I was seriously interested in photography was in high school. My parents bought me an Olympus (forget the model) for Christmas and I took some classes at school. The problem for me was the expense; film, processing, print were all expensive for a high school kid.
The second time was after college, after I moved to Atlanta. I moved here not knowing anyone and decided I would take classes as a way to meet people. Again the expense was prohibitive so I took up other hobbies. I remained interested in photography though.
We got our first digital camera in 1999, before my son was born. We still have that clunky old Kodak – and it still works great and is now my son’s personal camera. I didn’t get a dSLR until about 2 years ago and though I liked it I didn’t really GET INTO it until early this year. Now I am hooked! I’m so excited to write about it and share my work; please feel free to comment and (gently) critique my shots.
I took this in the backyard with my new Nikkor 80-400. I’m still getting used to it – it is a heavy puppy!
Enough for now, more catching up to do!