Following the third year of a holiday letter comprised
of my (increasingly complex) life via a (increasingly complex) year-in-photographs, I
wondered what it would be like to join the great experiment of 365 days of photographs.
I'm not a photographer,
I'm a writer. I'm a visual thinker, and if ever there was proof that a photo is worth a
thousand words, it would be the story a photo tells me, or in this case, about me.
Follow me on this adventure, where I
learn about photography, my ability to record my life, my dedication to something (I've
never been known for doing anything everyday) in my posts. I've also discovered I'm
learning about time, the history of it, and the odd practice of recording it, measuring it,
turning it into something tangible, and I'll record these explorations in the sidebar.
As always, feel free
to say anything. My experiment is not a spectator sport.

January 31, 2009

January 31 2009 The Menu

It is the time of year when I obsess over having my house ready for my two parties. I only throw two parties, ever (aside from my children's birthdays) and my already budding obsession was fed by the guest on NPR's Whaddya Know who wrote about Cuisine of the Mississippi Delta. Food... It's a potluck, so if you find an invitation on your doorstep, start thinking about which dish is yours to bring.

Taken with my traditional "no flash" on the indoor setting, without macro, my picture came out pretty good. You can even read my writing, but I won't because it will just make me hungry. Sazerac, anyone?

January 30, 2009

January 30 2009 The Celestial Alignment

Not that I pay attention to horoscopes, but it's the metaphor of the stars controlling our lives that strikes me today. Everything is primed. Things are aligned. Venus, the Moon, and me...and about one alignment a year it's a false alarm. Nothing happens. All the potential is there and nothing happens. Manifestations? Today I got the first call for my services for a month. And I didn't get the job. Anything else? Yeah, I could gripe all day about the meetings, the connections that could but didn't happen.

Hey, I said I'd post a photo every day that I took each day about something that struck me each day. I didn't say they'd be good photos. With something as far away as the heavenly bodies and something as imprecise as me, my tiny camera, my mini-tripod, and the roof of my car in the parking lot while I'm trying not to leave all the child-safety responsibilities to my husband and failing miserably, I can't hardly believe there is one shot that you can tell there is a bottom-crescent moon with a Venus just below it, being the only lights in the evening sky. The others looked like I was photographing vehicles with lopsided headlights driving down a dark road.

January 29, 2009

January 29 2009 The First Purchase

We went to the grocery store. He saw the Hot Wheels display. I asked him if he brought his money. He thought about it and said he hadn't. I told him he would need five quarters to get a car. That was last week. Today we went out. He found some change to bring. We went to lots of stores with nothing to buy. This evening I took him to the grocery. He put his hand in his pocket and showed me his money. He had five quarters. Then he got a car. With his own quarters. Having thought ahead. He's four.

"Mom, please take a picture of my new car. Not any of my old cars," pushing them aside.
I used the Indoor setting and took lots of pictures because he wouldn't stop wiggling, moving the car, re-setting things...Ah, a clear shot. Complete with fingers itching to move it again.

January 28, 2009

January 28 2009 The Knit Wits

Status update: "Alw_ays thanks two cool cats for an evening of hot drinks and cool knits."

Macro on "Foilage" setting about 2" from the subject. It adds a bit of yellow which looks good bouncing off the heads of the needles. I love this view. It makes me happy, and makes me want to put them to work.

January 27, 2009

January 27 2009 The Invasion of the Tetrahedron

Day three of spacial reasoning practice included getting toothpicks to stick together with clay. That can only be done after she learned how to roll balls, which is apparently not a natural thing. Take up space. Build something. Experiment. Practice. Try again. (I really had to fight the urge to start constructing bridges and other architectural phenomena.) (Also, the boy's creation is named "Spikey")

Macro and flashless, I took the angle of being able to walk through the project. It's like a construction site, stuff going up here, nearly finished stuff there, watch out for the dust and dirt piles on the smooth, white concrete finish. Wood and clay, life-sized, dim, because a construction site is only sun-lit when it's open air, at least until the electrical is run.

January 26, 2009

January 26 2009 The Calendar Project Part One

I use daily what's called an "engagement calendar" (the husband: "you haven't moved on to marriage calendars yet?") and they're remarkably rare, so I thought I'd make myself one this year. This the stack I will scan my photos from. There's Michelangelo on the bottom, Picasso, Norman Rockwell, Great Artists, Leonardo DaVinci, Monet, Lang Johnston, Dali, and two National Museum of American Art. And a kid's book because this stack is irresistible by even the littlest in the house. And some of the husband's notes, because the stack is conveniently located for stacking upon.

I took this shot not of the binding side of books, as they're often photographed, and not of the top, and not of them open. I chose this page side, the cut paper side, the parallel, least "informative" side. I let the flash add some tacky brightness to them. They're books, old, aged, smelly, awkward, and still perfect. There were "prettier" photos in this set, but I liked the mood of this one. They're art books. They're manufactured, reproductions, mass marketed. They're not the art themselves. They're thoughts of art.

January 25, 2009

January 25 2009 The Day of Boredom

It could have been worse; it could have been forced upon me. But today, feeling weak from accomplishments yesterday and recovering from some virus of the head-cold variety, we decided "better" was a long way off unless we actually did nothing. He never got out of his jammies, as incentive to stay put. I had occupied my compulsion of having to have something to do by scouring the dvd collection for special features and marking all the disks with watchable production documentaries or other fun features.

So as the evening came to a close, I grabbed my camera and wandered around the house taking pictures of things that had crossed my mind during the day, because I had not actually done anything. Except this. What's interesting about this photo is that you can tell my compulsion to organize by genre was halted before the second shelf. I sat in my chair and took this picture with a flash from across the room. Looks like my shelf.

January 24, 2009

January 24 2009 The Spacial Project

With a kid of each gender, it's easy to assign qualities to "boys" or "girls" instead of the individual that possesses them, but in one very specific case, the stereotype fits my children. My son has uncanny spacial recognition abilities. My daughter sees in subject matter and subject potential, and her spacial skills need practiced. Today, we practiced. On the right, the first four exercises and on the left, the reverse of that exercise. She struggled so hard with the first three, and finally on the fourth, threw her whole imagination at it. It's a totally different perspective.

I'm battered with flash usage. I got a good shot in my "natural angle" but kept at it until the flash looked good. I'm thinking I'm generally too close to the subject and the reflection is just too much, so I tried to compensate for that. I'm also not trusting the screen on my camera: the computer shows much less glare.

January 23, 2009

January 23 2009 The Notebook

Spontaneous projects with kids often involve paper, and if they're lucky (and you're crazy), scissors. Paper. A circle. Four circles folded into eighths, cut one eighth from one, two from another, three from another. Taping the edges of the remaining eighths together to form nesting cones. Running a pipe cleaner through them and through a circular scrapbook page which the adhesive fused the plastic overlay to the paper, then stacked with other circle papers. Stapled in one--uh--corner. Let loose with markers, colored pencils, and other drawing objects.

I dislike thoroughly the flash on my camera. Must everything white be pure white? Back to Color Accent. In this shot, the color accented is the redness found in the bench, chair, shirt, and paper stripes. I don't know how it chose this color, but I love the way it turned out. I also like the grain effect in the chair, the bench, with the stripes on the paper and the sweater. To stretch that image, the bucket of pencils is also a series of parallel lines. And the whole project was about circles. How about that?

January 22, 2009

January 22 2009 The Tab Catalog

I've been writing a website for my tai chi instructor, if you remember the mess from earlier, and we have finally decided on layout and function of 11 pages and 2 gallery templates. I have worked on a variety of websites, as an editor and as a writer, and I have never seen something so useful as the Firefox add-on Tab Catalog. Instead of working with a sheath of pages to take notes on and make changes from, I can print one, comprehensive page by using Tab Catalog and print screen.

See? That's three, count them three versions of the site, the top one being all links work, all layouts work, all graphics work... it took me all day to get this far and I only had to print three sheets of paper. Exhausted, I grabbed my camera after this final printing and took one shot: I think flash is terrible. Okay, no flash. One shot, upload it, goodnight everyone, see you when it's live!

January 21, 2009

January 21 2009 The Philosophy of Broken Glass

It is so that a crafter would save broken drinking glasses for years before using them. Alternately, an artist would purchase a new set of glassware to break for a project today.

I played with different settings, having discovered that "SCN" on the camera dial has several options. This came out nicely, just like I was seeing it: Color Accent, no flash, macro focus. I have no idea what color I told it to accent, and it definitely didn't make the background monochrome, but nothing this nice came out with any of the other thirty settings I tried.

January 20, 2009

January 20 2009 The New Dishes

Watching the Inauguration at my mother-in-law's because I don't have any television, I enjoyed some loose Moroccan Mint tea in a piece of her new set. Then I enjoyed a slice of pizza on the same new set. Then I hunted down the box with her old set and took them home, giving my cabinet a makeover. Then I sipped a cup of coffee in my new set. I love Monet, but prefer dark or bold colors to pastels.

I put the setting on "night snapshot" and turned off the flash. I do not seem to like yellow with flash. I went for the handles/shadows look, because a stack of plates is kind of boring. I have noticed some of the darker pictures are indeed really dark on my husband's laptop. They look great on my computer though, so if you're having problems, it's your monitor's fault.

January 19, 2009

January 19 2009 The Strike Pose

Visiting with my husband's dad headed through from out of state, we all went bowling. Besides the dibilitating injury to my wrist which prevents me from bowling like I once did, I was further buried under the score of my husband, though a little heckling (he claims he didn't hear) threw him off, once. I don't know, what else should you expect from a fan of The Dude?

Taking these shots were fun. I had to adjust for a lot of apron in the foreground, and this one came out well. There really isn't a better way to take shots of bowling than long shots. I set my mini tripod on the apron and clicked at the end of the approach, just after release. Without the flash nothing came out, so we get to see all the dust on the apron, but hey, the ball's in the air, and after it fell, curved to hit the head pin right in the 1-3 pocket. Notice the red light reflected from the end of the lanes; I'm loving the laws of light physics. One light, first ball, truly a strike shot.

January 18, 2009

January 18 2009 The Melted Plastic

Queen of recycling, I hate to throw things away, and I'm always looking at what does go in my trashcan with an eye of suspicion. About a month ago I had an empty chip bag and Googled for what people were doing with them. Besides this fantastic folding, sewing, incredible bag project, there was this melt-it-in-the-oven project that I had grand hopes for. Today was my experiment day. Tools: bag, scissors, hole punch, brad, oven, candle, metal rod, and fire (the last three for detail work).
Result: (which constitutes the vast majority of a family-sized chip bag)

After assembling the flower (which I will likely attach to a bag knit of grocery sacks), I assembled the tools of the project. I realized I was trying to take the shot from the same angle I "always" do, so I changed it toward an angle like the one of the leek soup. I like the perspective, and the feel of utilitarianism, as if the stuff in the foreground contributed, as opposed to complemented, the final product. I also combated shadows, and a strange vivid yellowness from the legal pad, to, I feel, success.

January 17, 2009

January 17 2009 The Poker Winnings

Poker tonight. Penny ante. Played nickels and pennies and whatever people had in their pockets. Two newbies tonight, one will turn eight soon. Brave, raising nearly every bet and never folding, he took third most in the winnings. This is it.

Quick shot, the only remnants of the game, taken before I left. No attempt at decent photography, though I do wonder what it is about me and taking shots at this angle. It keeps a lot of background out, which is what my goal is, but is this the best way? I'll play with that thought for the future.

January 16, 2009

January 16 2009 The Roll Back Wheel

The baby of a girlfriend of a friend came to play today. Since I don't get any more babies, I had a hard time finding something good for her to do. The above reason is also why I have this toy still: I can't give it up. It's a perfect little toy for tables; I don't know why I didn't use it when I took my babies out, back when they were babies. And when little baby girl left, the yo-yo still sits, nary a wobble, on my table while I write. It'll be there until the kids get up in the morning and bat it around, more as if it were a baseball instead of a ball of yarn.

I hoped for the reflection on the table when I took the shot, but it would only come out if I hit it with a flash, too. It has an e-bay quality look to it, like it's inviting someone to shop for it and take it as it is. I guess the e-bay look has nostalgia written all over it, and that, I guess, is good enough.

January 15, 2009

January 15 2009 The Pun that No One Got

So I had this great idea, to make wrapping paper for my sister-in-law's birthday with junk mail envelopes that I collect for various reuses. Then I decorated them with a little rubber-and-ink pattern, and I even let the children loose on the project. (Come on, you still don't get it?) Two of the letters in her name are made from a lead typesetting die I got at an antique store. I misplaced the letter "A" from my stamp set, so I used my antique die. The other was the first "i" for styling. (You still don't get it?!)

I couldn't decide how to take this photo, so I turned the flash off, angled myself with the light behind me, and aimed nearly 45 degrees on the wrapped gift. The angle is in the gift's wrapping, not in the camera, speaking of 45 degrees. I'm actually quite pleased with the color that came out in this, the little purple punch in the right bottom corner in a kind of yellowed, old paper look. No, Gillian, I did not just call you old; I called the paper old.

P.S. State the pun in a comment. It won't show right away, so everyone will get an equal shot. I'll publish comments and--if no one gets it --the answer, in a few days.

January 14, 2009

January 14 2009 The Leek Soup

Colorful, textured, sautéed: leeks and red peppers in the pot with butter and peanut oil. Sprinkle with tarragon and thyme. Add from here: chicken broth, water, Picpoul de Pinet Ormarine 2004, and cream. Warm and stir, serve and eat. And eat. And eat...and eat. Me? I do the eating part. The rest is according to the chef, the one I married so I wouldn't die of starvation, or boring food.

The chef also requested this particular angle. My first try was steamy; my second got too much pot. Apparently the chef knows about taking photos as much as he knows how to cook. Thanks to the photographer-chef for help with this shot. Lighting: flash, incandescent stove hood lighting, and florescent kitchen lighting--you know, totally amateur circumstantial.

January 13, 2009

January 13 2009 The First Braid

A horse whose former owner braided and re-braided the tangled plastic doll hair mane and tail so frequently it has permanent kinks has bequeathed the beauty of the braid to the daughter. Momentous for few, but a highlight of any afternoon, the first success of a skill that will follow her forever, into friendship bracelets, random strings, hair, wires, sleeves...

Getting the model to smile at all was difficult. Sometimes models are moody. Keeping extraneous models out of the shot was a group effort. Getting one of several attempts to be not-too-close, not-too-much-rear-end, not-too-far, not-too-indistinguishable... was one in a million. This is cropped, and gets the great little smirk, stillness, lighting...oh, the joys of photographing people.

January 12, 2009

January 12 2009 The Dualing Workspace

Writing webpages involves sitting down with the user. Wouldn't it be easier if I just had an office? Instead, I draw out my monitor, keyboard, mouse from the spare places in the house and wire up a tower. Wireless internet, two versions of the website going at once. Change this, edit that, add these things, don't get tangled. See you tomorrow, where we learn how to change the pictures.

Way less cool is this same photo with the flash on. I'd have to go into explaining dust, etc. No, this no-flash shot gets the glow of the monitor that is on. Had I thought of it, I would have taken this same shot before shutting down the other computer, just to demonstrate the dualing glows. The long shot demonstrates the chaos. I'm good at chaos.

January 11, 2009

January 11 2009 The Artist in Progress

I have an artistic treasure of a niece. She draws absolutely fantastic works of art on scrap paper, with whatever she has around. The gift of this sort she gave her father made us all a little teary, but enough of the raving. For Christmas I gave her some proper tools for her work. It is warm and fuzzy to see it in action.

She worked on this all evening, and it's not done, but I had one shot to get it before she put it away. This is it. Penciled, inked... and sharp. This shot surprised me when it came out, because it really looks like what I saw. Isn't that what photography is supposed to be?

January 10, 2009

January 10 2009 The Recycled Calendar

The year is 1998. The calendars have been printed. The year commences. But wait! It's not 1998 at all! The calendar deceives us! No! It is actually the year 2009, and I have 1998 calendars hanging. I must be absolutely crazy. Or am I...? (Don't answer that. I know I'm a rare breed, hoarding old calendars until the year they're useful again. It's kind of fun, though.)

The stability returns, thanks to about three hours of Tetris. (If you have to ask, you didn't get the memo that Tetris is good for the psyche of the traumatized. Google for yourself.) I learned that the weird shadow is the zoomed lens in the way of the flash. Adjusting for that, the shot came out nicely. A little bokeh here, little macro there, and we have a successful shoot. That's a wrap.

January 9, 2009

January 09 2009 The Old-Fashioned Way

When the husband left, he took the coffee pot. Which is great, really, because I love my French press. However, he also took the last pot of coffee. So I ground the remaining beans and brewed one cup, the old fashioned way, in the cup. It was beautiful, and fragrant, and stupid, because I then had to dump the coffee through the filter from the coffee machine, and I should have used the little espresso milk steamer pitcher for ease of pouring boiling brew. Did I mention it was beautiful?
Tired of fighting with my trembling nerves to get a still shot, I used the mini flex-leg tripod. I spent a fair amount of time on composition on this, as the batteries in my camera being dead will attest. Shortly after I uploaded I read an article about the art of crooked cameras. I didn't feel so original anymore. I did succeed in hiding the mess of the kitchen, however.

January 8, 2009

January 08 2009 The Breakfast Project

The first morning after the husband left for the mountains, and I'm still exhausted from the events of the other night. Thus, the kids can make their own darned breakfast. Yes, put the pancakes in the toaster. Yes, you can have two. Yes, you can have the icing from the french toast sticks. Yes, you can use the sprinkles. Will you just eat already?!

The macro feature was the one that worked best, and without the flash the shot just wouldn't come out. I'm still a bit shaky so I am impressed that at least one came out clear. The flash is too glarey, and I have no idea what made that shadow. I don't think I'm cut out to be a photographer, so it's a good thing I'm just running the point-and-shoot and not some expensive equipment. Who knows, maybe things will change!

January 7, 2009

January 07 2009 The Race Track

"Mom, will you play cars with me?" And out come the tracks, the kind with the loop-dee-doops and two-D-battery-powered car accelerators. An hour and several configurations later, two loops, two accelerators, and seven cars that passed the track test became the finale for the project. How many can go at once? Who can knock whose out of the track? Who will be a winner?

Catching toy cars in motion is tricky business with a simple point-and-shoot Canon PowerShot A710 which is what I carry. Shh...don't tell: after about twenty unsuccessful action shots, the car, for the moment, is still, and I still have weakness in my trigger finger leading to a nice, deceptive blur. See how the carpet's pile is smudged across the frame? The double track? Truly, I did not move the camera with the shutter open on purpose. One couldn't get that car to look like that if they tried.

January 6, 2009

January 06 2009 The Wreck

I am one now, the result of having caused one. Being that the vehicle didn't have a bumper cover, the bags deployed prematurely. How many people in an airbag-deployed wreck have ever actually watched the airbags deploy? Count me in. The dust was unbearably stuffy. Anyway, I walked away with a jammed finger and a 92 dollar fine. Congratulations, you get to witness my first wreck ever.

The photo was taken by someone with shaky hands and a bruised trigger finger. Yay for dusk shots. I don't remember why I turned the flash off. The force of the airbags blew out my passenger side window, so there isn't any reflection.

January 5, 2009

January 05 2009 The Birthday Reflection

"Four years ago, the day you were born, at night, when it was dark, just like this, you and I snuggled together in the bed in the hospital. I held you wrapped in a special blanket and I kissed you and I said 'I've never had a baby boy before, and I'm really happy to be your mama.' And now, I hold you before I tuck you in your bed, wrapped in a special blanket, and I kiss you and I say 'I've never had a boy kid before, and I'm really happy to be your mama.' "

And he says, "Tomorrow, you should make your hair stand all up pokey like this," holding my hair by the ends out from my head.

I was into taking reflected photos today. I took several of double-reflected words and of the convex mirror on the rearview, but this won out as my sentiment for the day. My husband had used the mirror yesterday at the birthday party, so I remembered it for today. Balloons on the ceiling, just before the boy pulls them out of the way. I turned the flash off because the glare was bad, but the lighting could have been better. I didn't take into account the shadow the ballons would make on the mirror. Interesting oversight.

January 4, 2009

January 04 2009 The Superhero Contest

Call me crazy, you wouldn't be the first, but the not-quite-set jello transportation test at the birthday party superhero school in the nippy weather of January, thus, over the carpet I hate and will replace soon, was ridiculous amounts of fun. And the new pink stains detract from the ancient grey and brown ones from several homeowners ago, and even look cheerful.

Cropped this photo from one taken by my husband. This is the left-most portion, with only jello dribbles between the right edge of this photo and the right edge of the full photo. Had it had the destination bowl on the bench on the right edge of the full photo, I might not have cropped, but this one shows the jello spoon, the dropped jello on the floor with old grey stains and the contrasting black superhero outfit in motion. I like this shot, and I like this crop.

January 03 2009 The Salvation Army Needs Saving

A lot of emotion today. From laughing my ass off at a vandalized sign saying Shitty Poop Day at the Chamber of Commerce to joy as my son, pushing a traffic cone at the ice rink his first time ever, exclaimed in pure happiness "I'm doing it! I'm skating!" to finally sadness as I repeat to myself "The Salvation Army Needs Saving" as if it were a headline (Capital letters included.)

I was really sad. I could write an essay on how sad I was. For briefness, indulge in this here photo of what looks like garbage, but is really great toys desperate for a new home.

The photo is good as a long shot but I could've left out the car in the background with a different angle, had I taken it into account in the composition stage. The pea-green vs the bright yellow in the foreground is nice, though. I kept the foreground with large items to draw the eye backwards to the clutter. The umbrella seems a futile touch. Generally not a bad shot. 3 for 3. See ya tomorrow.

January 2, 2009

January 02 2009 The Fashion Show

It was a night of joy, at least for the little fashionistas. I managed to finish cleaning the room just in time to entertain spontaneously.and due to being totally exhausted and it being midnight, enjoy the sideways version.

January 1, 2009

January 01 2009 The Adding Machine

Cleaned up again today. Dusted off the ol' adding machine. It looked better dusty.

Had to have the handle assembled properly or the keys wouldn't lift. The effect is good, but the photo isn't so much. Cheers to the first of three sixty five.