And then there was nothing.

(May 31, 2008)

Day 46


update


All of these photos are part of a series of exposures that were intended to become HDRs. After freezing Photoshop last night while trying to automate one, I gave up for the time being. This morning I tried again with the photo of the hand, and it turned out a little funny. Since the teal background has a bumpy texture of lowlights and highlights, the automation gave it a really hard contrast that gave it the impression of having milk spilled on it.

Rather than fuss with them and get angry, here is a series I like to call Bathtub Funeral, aka Shades of Orange, aka How Old Do You Think I Am?.

By the way, these were taken through a storefront window at night on the corner of a busy intersection. A few of them have reflections of the streetlights behind me. I started to clone those out in Photoshop, but then found it to be futile and gave up. I got rid of the intrusive ones though, and what's left are mostly in the negative areas of the photos anyways. I actually think it adds a little something to them. Truth, maybe.

Mark used to do this back during his original 365, and I'm going to copy him.

COMPETITION #1: First person to tell me where this was taken wins a prize. I don't know what yet since the prize will be individually tailored for the winner.






Title: The Followers

I was asked by a fellow photographer the other day why I'm doing this daily photo blog, what I'm getting out of it, where I'm heading, and what my influences are.

Those are fantastic questions. I've been asking myself the same things since Day 1. I've alluded to bits and pieces of answers to these questions throughout, but I've never come out and officially laid out my intentions, my goals, etc. So I'm going to attempt to do my best job here and now.

I have always been a casual photographer. I would only pick up my camera when it was most convenient for me. I have always considered it a hobby, and I have always thought of myself as slightly more adept at taking pictures than most non-photographers, but I would find myself going months at a time without snapping a single photo. I frequently thought about how I wished to change that, but it would never quite happen.

Then I met Mark, and subsequently Scott; both are fantastic photographers with Daily Picture Projects. I enjoyed looking at their work, hearing them speak about their photo-adventures, and seeing them play with all their gadgetry (eg lights, flashes, big dicks, etc). Mark is a big advocate of the project, and often told me that anybody that's even remotely interested in starting one should just do it. Well I was more than remotely interested, so I quietly started taking pictures everyday. I initially had no intention of keeping it going for a full year (currently my minimum goal), but rather a week or two to see how it felt, or if I could keep it up.

About six months ago I decided to do take a picture of myself everyday (ala this guy [you might know him from here], and many others) to document the growth of my beard. I called it Life Happens 2 (I had briefly toyed with the idea about a year prior and had only persevered for one week, and didn't want to confuse my most recent attempt with that one...hence the "2"), and it lasted for 93 days with only two or three "oops" days that I missed. It was an interesting project because it barely became habitual (even after doing it for three months), and I would often be lying in bed at night wondering if I had taken that day's picture (which I more-often-than-not had). I would do a little post-processing work on each photo just to crop them all equally and align my face identically within each, and I would only do this once every two weeks or so. Aligning my asymmetrical eyeballs to a grid for 14 photos was time consuming and boring...my face never changed (except for the beard, which is not much more entertaining than watching grass grow, and we all know how much that sucks). When I finally stopped taking the pictures, a week had gone by before I even realized it. I picked up my camera one day to take my picture, and I scrolled through the old photos only to realize that the last one taken was days old. I then proceeded to set my camera down indifferently and indefinitely. Thus Life Happens 2 concluded.

I expected the Photo a Day project would take on a similar role in my life: bitter tediousness. I became very aware of how boring my life was; what was I supposed to take picture of? Me in my boxers playing Diablo? Whoopty freakin doo.

As it turns out, there are plenty of pictures to take in my life. You just have to look for them. I started to consciously look at the aesthetics in the world around me and try to find potential photos in unassuming places. This is something that I am still working towards, but I have already noticed a difference. I think about photography constantly throughout my day, and my camera comes with me most everywhere. I don't always bring it to work with me because I know it will be left unattended for hours at a time and I won't have any photographic opportunities during that time, but that's one of the few exceptions. I guess I abandon it during frolfing too because I have enough pictures of that already, and it gets in the way. I don't want to be toting it around and never use it...that's how shit gets broken. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that this project in a big way is just me trying to expand my artistic scope, to become a better photographer, to understand my camera better. It differs from Life Happens 2 in the fact that it's constantly changing. I never know what the next day's photo is going to be of. I have to actively and consciously participate in the process, making it much more captivating for me. I love a good challenge, and would pick it over habitual tedium any day.

Then there's the documentation part of it. This is what I have been having the most trouble trying to define. This project is essentially a visual autobiography. But am I taking the pictures to define my life, or am I defining my life by taking pictures? Basically, am I taking pictures as a candid representation of my life, showing what I'm doing and thinking throughout my days? Or should I modify my life by setting out to take the most epic photos I can? I mean if I want to take a photo from the top of Longs Peak, I would have to physically climb that mountain to capture the view. It was the fact that I wanted to take a photograph that brought me up that mountain and gave me that experience, but I might not have done it if I didn't think there could be a Photo of the Day waiting for me at the top.

I noted this dilemma a few weeks ago. Be sure to read Mark's comment. I think it was what he had to say that really got me to think about the longterm purpose of my photography and this blog in general. What I have concluded is that documenting is documenting, no matter what the inspiration is. If this blog drives me to do different things from day to day just to get new, unique photos, then I'll happily accept that. On the other hand, if I've had a boring day, I'm willing to try to squeeze a mediocre photo out of my too-often-photographed surroundings. And sometimes the photo isn't necessarily going to coincide with that day's events, but that's where the writing comes in.

I write to document the minutia of my life, whether the photo represents that or not. I realize that it's my boring ramblings that drive people away from this blog (I have a number of friends that have seen this but never read it). I'm no Earnest Hemmingway here, and I understand that. So I have decided that I am going to write for me, write to remind myself of what my life was like. I hope to someday look back at this writing and happily relive the memories.

But the photos, those are as much for you, my readers, as they are for me. When I go through my photos every night, I typically choose the most aesthetic (if one exists) of the bunch; the one that I hope will bring my readers back tomorrow. This blog has a bounce rate of ~75%, meaning that three quarters of my visitors leave within 30 seconds of coming or go idle and don't really navigate around. I'm fine with that, and in fact I expect it. If people come to just look at the pictures, then I have done my job.

Of course, people aren't going to like what they see every single day. I sure as hell won't either. But I love trying.

By the way, the above picture is my first attempt at an HDR. I think it turned out pretty okay and I'm excited to try it again and refine the process. I tried a few tonight, and I have one being processed in Photoshop right now, but it's taking too long. I don't think I'll be able to post it tonight. Maybe I'll update tomorrow morning.

Good night. For now.


5 comments:

Ally B said...

I know... but I'm not telling.

dave said...

Your readers are mostly comprised of lay people. Please explain HDR, and other acronyms for us old folks.

I tried cheating by looking in the reflections for hints to where this was taken, but to no avail.

scott lawan said...

love the mannequin...it's the teal that gets me goin !'
and those photos take me back to highschool and my first year of college when my friends and i would go photograph the window displays at cherry creek most nites.

29th street mall?

The A in AJ said...

Oh I've really got nothing to say. I just think you're great.

No clue on the location.

Have fun photoing tomorrow! We should go photoing/hiking soon. I'll to the hiking, you can either hike as well, or just ride on my back and take photos. It'll be like thunderdome. Only you'll be normal sized and I won't be a retarded giant. Just a normal one.

advman said...

Michael,

Thanks for the profound answers. It was pretty much the same for me, and the experiences are very similar. Fact is, you grow in the process.

Not only your way to look at the world changes, you also look with a purpose. One could also call that "single-minded" and that's true in a certain way, but greatness always comes along with concentration. Well, mostly at least. There are exceptional genuises, but for the rest of us, one area of excellence at a time is more than enough :)

If you follow my blog, you may already have found Ted Byrne from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. If not, check him out, he is damn good at broadening one's horizon. And if you don't already know it, the Daily Critique over at The Radiant Vista is a must for anyone interested in artistic photography. It's always inspiring to see Craig Tanner's mind work on an image and, in a totally positive way, bring out its potential. Would be a good idea to submit an image for critique too.

Enough of that. I've just subscribed to your feed. I can't promise that I'll be very active as comes to commenting, but I'll be following :)

Thanks again

Andreas

email
mike at rhymeswithmilk.com