Week 13 – #38 – Selfie

Not too long ago I was given a “vintage” photography book: The Amateur Photographer’s Handbook, by Aaron Sussman, first published in 1941. The copy I have was the 6th printing, from 1962. A lot of material is quite out-of-date, of course. In one section, the author compares images from a cheap camera and an expensive camera. His “expensive” camera was
selling for $50! Assuming 4% inflation every year since 1941, that $50 camera is a $900 camera today. His “cheap” camera cost three dollars. And it’s true that Kodak Brownie cameras in the 1940’s were generally under five dollars.

On the other hand, many parts of the book are still applicable to digital photography. The rules of composition haven’t changed, and the section on how to light people for portraits still works today. What I like best about this book is some of the quotes. From the author’s foreword: “People have often asked me how I happened to take up photography. The fact is, you don’t ‘take up’ photography. It takes you up. One day you’re walking around grim and growling, like Herman Melville just before an escape to sea. Then, suddenly, you have a loaded camera in your hand and all is well.”

In a chapter titled, “What Camera Shall I Get?” Aaron makes the point, still valid today, that it isn’t your camera that plays the biggest role in determining the quality of your photographs. He makes an intriguing claim: “I have a hunch there would be more Cartier-Bressons, Edward Westons, Ansel Adamses and Edward Steichens if we all had to start with a box camera and prove we could use that well, before we were allowed to touch another camera.”

Of course, only an antique shop will sell you a box camera these days. However, what you can do – and I think this is worth doing – is set your camera up to act like a box camera. Put on a 28mm lens, or adjust your zoom to 28mm. Set the focus to about 16 feet. Put the dial on M, the aperture to 8.0 and the ISO to 200 (or lower if you can). Set your shutter speed to either 1/25 or 1/50, depending on the light. Now, don’t touch the controls, and take some pictures. Keep your subject at least 8 feet from the camera; everything at that distance and farther will be sharp. Avoid very bright sunlight and dim indoor settings. Practice until you get an idea of what level of light gives you a good exposure. Then go take some great photos, with your “box camera!”

This self-portrait was taken with my Pentax K-7 set up as described above. I haven’t done any post-processing other than to crop it down.

Sam for Blog

Week 12 – #39 – Shot Though Glass

Shot through glass and water, to be precise. These photos are from the Sea Life Aquarium in the Grapevine Mills mall in Grapevine, Texas, where we took our two grandsons Saturday. This was our first visit to this aquarium, and we were very impressed by the design of the tanks, which almost never required us to pick a child up because they couldn’t see into the tank otherwise. I was glad to get such a good view of all the sea creatures, but when it came to the sharks, I was extremely glad to be shooting through glass!

Shark

Shark

Brendan with a Sea Turtle

Brendan with a Sea Turtle

Brendan with a Sea Turtle

Brendan with a Sea Turtle

Sharks and Rays

Sharks and Rays

Seahorse

Seahorse

Seahorse

Seahorse

Shark

Shark

Clownfish

Clownfish

Starfish

Starfish

Week 11 – #9 – Drops of Water

We had a sleet storm overnight in the Dallas area (including some of the dreaded “thundersleet”!), and these photos show what remains of one of my tulip beds. These were already drooping, with petals falling off the flowers, so I didn’t try to cover them. And if you are nit-picking, it’s quite true that none of the water drops seem to be perfectly in focus, but that’s the best I could do while kneeling on ice with sleet falling on my head.

Tulips after the ice storm

Tulips after the ice storm

Tulips after the ice storm

Tulips after the ice stormTulips after the ice storm

Tulips on Ice

Tulips on Ice

Week 10 – #44 – Someone Working

My last post included two photos taken at the Dallas Arboretum, but I didn’t include any flowers, except as a distant background in the portrait of my wife. So, to remedy that deficiency, here are some more photos from the Arboretum on Valentine’s Day, 2015. This first one is an artist who was working on her canvas – hence the choice of theme to post these under. I had hoped for a shot where she was actually applying paint to canvas, but I think she was in the cleanup stages by the time I arrived.

Artist Working at the Dallas Arboretum

Artist Working at the Dallas Arboretum

The following photos show off some other scenes from the Arboretum the artist might have chosen as her inspiration.

Flowers by a Wall

Flowers by a Wall

Ornamental Cabbage

Ornamental Cabbage

Daffodil

Daffodil

Koi with Lilypad

Koi with Lilypad

Week 9 – #49 – Two of Us

Saturday – Valentine’s Day – was a beautiful day here in the Dallas area, with a high temperature near 80 degrees. My wife and I headed to the Dallas Arboretum. Their big springtime exhibit, “Dallas Blooms,” is set to open on February 28, but they have been inviting people in for a preview. The place was pretty crowded Saturday. Daffodils were blooming, and tulip leaves were showing, but very few tulips were blooming yet.

Since it was Valentine’s Day, my wife, Barbara and I did this “The Two of Us” shot using our shadows on the bottom of a shallow pool.

The Two of Us

The Two of Us

So you can see what she really looks like, here is a portrait I did later in our visit.

Barbara at the Arboretum

Barbara at the Arboretum

Week 8 – #26 – Masked

After a long hiatus … and it is remarkable, how once circumstances have forced you to miss posting something for two or three weeks, it seems harder and harder to get started again. So, I have no idea any more what week I really should be in, but since my last post was “Week 7,” I will call this one “Week 8” and go on from there.

For the “Masked” theme, I found a pair of Chickadees visiting my bird feeder today, and got some nice photos of at least one of them. They were very seldom both at the feeder at the same time, and the one photo I snapped when they were is not worth posting.

Carolina Chickadee

Carolina Chickadee

You may ask, isn’t this a Black-Capped Chickadee? I am certainly not enough of a birder to tell the difference, but Dallas is in the range of the Carolina Chickadee, whereas it would be unusual for the Black-Capped cousin to be this far south.

Here are a few bonus shots.

Carolina Chickadee on Crepe Myrtle Branch

Carolina Chickadee on Crepe Myrtle Branch

Carolina Chickadee Feeding

Carolina Chickadee Feeding

Carolina Chickadee with Safflower Seed

Carolina Chickadee with Safflower Seed

Week 7 – #3 – Backlit

I attended the Plano Balloon Festival Friday evening, thanks to a media pass provided to members of the Plano Photography Club by the festival organizers! Unfortunately, circumstances limited the number of balloons launched to just one. However, there were some skydivers, and they provided a good opportunity to use the “backlit” challenge as they flew between me and the late afternoon sun.

Skydiver with US Flag

Skydiver with US Flag

A Facebook album with more photos from the Plano Balloon Festival is at this link: Encountered Moments Photography on Facebook.

Skydivers with Texas Flag

Skydivers with Texas Flag