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.

February 28, 2009

February 28 2009 A Task Accomplished

So the photo I really wanted to take today is impossible. I found my rechargeable batteries I've been mourning the misplacement of, but I can't take a picture of them if I'm using them. Kind of a paradoxical dilemma. So I chose the location all my burned up batteries go, because they go to recycle. What? One of my handles is "Imarecycleitall" and not for no reason. Geesh, I knit plastic bags. What more can you ask for?

I'm not tall enough to get far enough away from this box to get the picture I wanted, but I did alright. I'm learning the limits of stand-back-and-zoom. My height seems to be one of those limits.

February 27, 2009

February 27 2009 A Usable Shape

I'm working on my joint strength so I can study saber set. "You have swords?" They are more knives than swords. I'm looking for a picture. Dang it! There is nothing like...what...I... "A photo a day." Oh, yeah. I'll just take a picture of my own. Thanks. The top one is a practice saber, once used by a youngin to hack weeds. The bottom one goes in the sheath, and is lighter. Both were gifts.

I stood on the table and turned the camera upside down because the ascetics of the curve was better from that side. I could have flipped them over but the other side of the sheath isn't as attractive. I could have turned them around, I guess. Anyway, I only got one shot on who-knows-what-setting before my batteries died again. Must...find...rechargables....

February 26, 2009

February 26 2009 A Sign of the Times

You know it's a recession when:

Had a few great moments in the day. However, the one that kept me laughing was this picture my husband went back into the store to snap with his cell phone and email to me. Because it was just that funny.

February 25, 2009

February 25 2009 A Bit of Work

Double whammy today: I got new work from two of my jobs. Quite satisfying, actually. I'm only discussing one tonight, though. Since it is a new year and I learned a million little things about working with parents of students in the past year, I composed a new contract. A million little things on one small piece of paper. Cover my rear, if you know what I mean. You don't get to not pay me. You don't get to cancel or not show up. And you are not my student, your child is. If you want me to teach you too, that's extra. Geesh people. Let me do my job.

In this photo today, I aligned my artist-made stamp with my contract so you can't see my name and really, not much of my terms either. If you want more specifics, you have to hire me. However, the stamp is personal. If you can track that, you know everything. There's only one like it in the world. It took me about ten shots to get this right: focus, lighting, and anonymity. Still came out a bit dark.

February 24, 2009

February 24 2009 A Place to Hang Your Mug

The blacksmith at his forge created hooks, chain ends, and brackets to hang under our drinking vessel collection on the shelf. Today they are up, just in time for Mardi Gras festivities, which revolved around eating everything in sight and marveling at the new forge. The kids did some digging in the dirt, and there was plenty of society. It was a good day.

There was a bit of peeking around angles to get this shot, as the winerack stood in the way of my head, but trust in the concept allowed a little point and click. I like the balance in this shot, of all white wall on the right and the darkness on the left, divided down the center by the bracket in the foreground.

February 23, 2009

February 23 2009 A Kneaded Bake

After a night of poor--very, very poor-- sleep, I hopped up bright and early to trot around town for groceries to help my son make the King Cake he earned by finding the baby last year. I read the instructions, and what the hey, it's not Cake at all, but Bread. Okay, I don't cook, and I sure as heck don't make bread. Apparently, today, though, I do. Though not after nearly losing my mind as a 4 year old proceeded to make a mess out of everything. Oh yeah, that's what they do. We'll ice the thing tomorrow, but finally, the bread is baked and I am no worse for the wear.

Look, I messed around with this cake-bread-thing all day, and then cleaned my house. I am in no mood for photography. Take the picture and be happy with it. Some days, I guess, are like this.

February 22, 2009

February 22 2009 A Motivational Photolog

I do this every year: December rolls around. Thanksgiving, gift making, cards, letters. Christmas Eve, Christmas, an anniversary, New Year's Eve. A birthday on January 1, a birthday just after, and another just after that. Things don't really slow down around here, and I just let everything go. Then Mardi Gras comes and BAM who needs spring cleaning when you have a Mardi Gras party to prepare for? Stay tuned for the new mug chain going up under the drinking vessel shelf there in the back.

I have been putting off before-and-after shots for a long time. Well, a month at least. This, though, has got to be why they were invented. In the first shot, I was just going for as much crap in the picture as possible. In the second, as much of the room as I could get. I was all scrunched up in a corner. I was probably something humorous to look at. Anyway, just normal auto with flash, no zoom. Apparently I'm not likely to have closed cabinets in my life.

February 21, 2009

February 21 2009 A Bonnet with All The Frills Upon It

A birthday gift made by one fashionista for another, simply designed, appropriately fancy. My fashion designer has an exceptional eye, and the only way anyone can influence a great child's artwork is to take it away at the right time.

The model is the artist, and was incredibly antsy. Of course, her pop telling her that she was a model helped still her long enough for one more well-composed shot.

February 20, 2009

February 20 2009 A Painting of No Importance

I did a lot of drawing once. It was part of my identity. I have binders and notebooks full, illustrations, comics, designs, doodles, and in the fight for creativity, my writing won. I do not feed my drawing muse much anymore. The girl-student did a lesson Grecian art, and painted vessel-shaped replicas on construction paper with tempura paint. When the project was over, there was still some paint in the dish. It became mine. At first, it was just lines, and then it became what it is, and I filled it in. I was pleased.

Nothing special about how I took the picture today. I opted for an angle that showed off the style, but that's about it.

February 19, 2009

February 19 2009 A Delicate Process

I hate cleaning up, I really do, but what makes it worth it is to do something I've intended to do for a long time. Today, I knocked three of those off the list at once. One: the Christmas decor is finally all put away. Two: I moved the round table with the delicately finished top and the lace table cloth out of the walkway and switched it with the narrower table, which is hardier for daily use. Three: I washed the lace. I felt very old-fashioned hand-washing the old lace. It smells distinct. I can't imagine always having lace cloths to wash all the time. It would be a common scent. Anyway, it is up to dry, and will go back on the delicate table against the wall out of harm's way.

I used the flash for without was too yellow. I used bokeh technique in my position and zoom so that the focus is about...there. A good focal point. Auto and Macro. That's the story. The end.

February 18, 2009

February 18 2009 A Dog You Didn't Know I Had

What, there were no photo worthy moments today? The Grecian Vessel art project? The kick arse movie Bill Maher did? The fact that the girl at the knitting circle had the exact same orange color I have been knitting with (a blinding kind)? The girl's hat? The tasty bread? Nothing? No, it must be I am a slacker. What are the rules of this thing? Since it's my game, I guess I get to make them. Obviously, every photo doesn't have to be taken with my camera, nor is every photo even by me. So what then? I get to take a photo of something about today, and post it today (by cheating at the post time). Okay, sounds like a good rule to me. Here's the creature that lives in my house and noses at my legs and thinks she's a lap dog.

"Can you sit still? Must you sniff my jeans for everyone I was near today?" Dogs don't understand English. Can we fix this? Make a chip or something? "Oh, you're lying down now. Fine. No--Don't--Stay there...Oh crap." I used the setting for "Kids and pets" and it seems to do some good. Odd pet-eye reflections, still, but a faster shutter speed and a crisper action shots. That will do.

February 17, 2009

February 17 2009 A Toast to Nothing in Particular

Don't serve a girl like me a Belgian like this unless you intend on taking good care of her for the duration. But only serve a girl like me a Belgian. Anything less is too light.

Stand back and zoom. Fully automatic, I'm not in the right mind to think about it more than that.

February 16, 2009

February 16 2009 A Writer Writes

This writer writes. This writer writes a lot. This writer writes a lot of nonsense. This writer writes in awkward positions to see what has been written and what will be written. This writer is inconstant. Yet, this writer writes. I write for pleasure, I write for pay. The writing conference is on the horizon. I will listen to the writer. I will teach and listen to young writers. I will talk about writing.

Dumb battery problem still, resulting in choice for flashless, but the complement of yellow to white from one writing surface to another is a good end product. Yes, I do write this way. Not always, but many days. Composition is so much easier when you stand back.

February 15, 2009

February 15 2009 A Forge for Jealousy

It is heavy. It is amazing. It gets hot. It melts stuff. It is power. A forge. From whence all good things are made, what separates man from his civilization predecessor. Melt and mold metal. Create. Hephaestus. Wealth. Industry. Fortune. History and future. Working out in the garage, making room for the new forge, I wore myself weak and wielded new respect for the artist and the twists and turns he makes from small things to strong to bend. This, the new tongs, used by several sets of hands before his, will help him create something amazing, out of nearly nothing.

It is the right distance,the right zoom, and even though I was tired I didn't shake too much.

February 14, 2009

February 14 2009 A Wake Up Call

Going to bed late leads to waking late, if you don't have a weird random bonking banging. Okay kids, cut it out. Now knocking? Kids! The door? The kids checked under the curtain and started hopping. Presents? Okay, there's a big basket of Halloween-style treats. Open the card, it says "Surprise!" Sure enough, it was. Who is he? I lived next door to him in my early college years, in a rental house. A hole in his head and loss of utility of his left limbs from a nigh-on-fatal motorcycling accident in his early years, played hard and fast, I met him 10 years into his recovery. Every time I see him he is better, smarter, faster, and most importantly, happier. How humanity can appreciate humanity: this is what he teaches me. This is St. Valentine's legacy.

I took this one about a foot away. I had gorgeous sunshine lighting system. I put it on macro, else the words wouldn't be clear. The shot with the flash was cool, with dark edges and shadows, but the same darned glare front and center... oh well. I'll play with shadows a different day.

February 13, 2009

February 13 2009 A Video Game Beating So Bad...

Broke out xbox's Soul Calibur II for my xbox 360. My 12 year old niece slaughtered me head to head in button-mashing battles for our lives. 14-4. I resign.

Decided to take "Stand back and zoom" to the extreme. I zoomed as far as my piece would go, even to the end of its digital zoom range: 24x. Set my tripod down, aimed, and shot. Three out of four were good.

February 12, 2009

February 12 2009 A Risky Strategy

It's actually the name of the game, Risky Strategy. It's how I learned about the electoral college and the truth about presidential elections. It's also a good way to start talking about politics and elections. And the economy. Which is what happened. It's always good to have the economist over. I have no idea what an economist does, but he is one and we have good debates. Also, don't get a cutting-edge hair style done just before a press conference. You'll have to fork some states over to your opponent.

I can't express how my new-found "step back and zoom" method has increased my confidence in my photography. It takes fewer shots to get exactly what I am looking for. I feel so powerful, to make the machine produce what I imagine it should. What's next?

February 11, 2009

February 11 2009 A Cookie Day

My photo was a battle between freshly opened boxes of Girl Scout cookies and a beautiful plate of homemade cookies made by the knitting group hostess. I decided there were plenty of photos of Girl Scout Cookies, and my hostess' cookies were quite tasty. I did not photograph my knitting because it looks a heck of a lot like the results of last week's knitting, just a few rows longer. The knit group hostess has a kick butt bean bag chair that if enough people show up to kick her husband out (or scare him out) I am snarking the chair. I have dibs. I may spend the night in it.

Having learned to step back and zoom, I am so happy to learn that I can better control the composition of my photo with this technique. I used no flash and the stove lighting. It works well.

February 10, 2009

February 10 2009 A Lesson from the Ancients

Art chapter three, after reading about cave drawings and Egyptians, the people of the Two River Country* did not bake their bricks but instead only what they glazed, because they did not have an abundance of wood to burn for firing. With these tiles, they built mosaics. Also, the Girl Scouts will be exchanging Valentines this week so girl-student needed some to hand out. Double whammy. Mosaic valentines.

With regular batteries that will die soon in the machine, I return to my regular equipment. Having learned how to cope with flash lighting, I stepped back, zoomed in, and voila. Useful photo.

Bonus points if you can list two of these four civilizations, a valentine in the mail if you can name all four.

February 9, 2009

February 09 2009 A Mark Downtown

I happen to love my downtown like no one loves their town's downtown. I also happen to love graffiti on the back of downtown. I also happen to live downtown. And I also happen to have a whole book of designs of what I would graffiti on my own downtown. Though I don't. Anyway, I can't pass a wall decorated without inspection and introspection.

My camera still doesn't have batteries; the rechargables are still incognito somewhere. And since the hundred-dollar incident I had to pay for today or go to court for tomorrow, I carry his cell which has a camera when I have the kids for extended trips. This is a cell-phone photo. Not much zoom capacity. A photo none-the-less.

February 8, 2009

February 08 2009 A Place to Get Lost

Collections are not just about having things, but visiting and revisiting them. Our aunt has a beautiful collection she wants to share with her children half a continent away. Our Christmas gift to her was a photoshoot and some prints. Today was the photoshoot. It was hard to stay out of the room while my husband-photographer took shots, there is so much detail to get wrapped up in.

This is the pro's shot. I could not have captured what I saw here with my equipment and abilities. What I do know is that he uses Canon equipment, about 5 different lenses, a 50-year-old lighting system that brings daylight to any place (which he obviously didn't use here) and a real, full sized tripod that's actually pretty cool as far as tripods go. Yeah. I have no real concept of his stuff.

February 7, 2009

February 07 2008 A Good Loaf of Bread

I actually made a New Year's resolution. It's to enjoy the cornucopia the Grand Valley offers. This bread is made in a bakery about 3 blocks from my house. It's soft, tasty, local. I bet if I went to my front porch at 5 a.m. I could smell fresh bread being made, it's that local. So far it's the only local thing I've enjoyed this year besides the local-roasted coffee sold at my warehouse store and the local brewed coffee at the knit group and the local brewed beer at the microbrew 12 blocks away. Actually, listing all those things, I don't think I'm doing too poorly on my resolution. [Insert pun about toasting my progress]

How to take a picture when the batteries are dead: Turn camera on and quickly turn off display. Point, shoot. Save-light flashes just before camera auto-offs. Adjust mechanically adjustable settings. Push power button, point, shoot, watch for save light. Repeat until camera ceases to take or save picture before power dies. Plug camera into computer and upload photos. Choose the least terrible shot. Write post. Be grateful one was pretty good. Make a note to find the rechargeable batteries. Also, make note to find battery charger.

February 6, 2009

February 06 2009 A Lesson in Handwriting

Some have it, others don't. The girl's homework on the left, the boy's on the right. She's six, he's four. She's been writing for 2+ years, he just started. That boy has talent, and she needs practice without being overwhelmed. It doesn't matter, she knows more about Gothic Architecture than I do and is writing a play about the first two Europeans on the American continent. Just sayin'.

Flash, with zoom, from further away. Finally, a flash photo I don't hate.

February 5, 2009

February 05 2009 A Collection of Something

Shopping at warehouse stores increases the need for space and planning. I hadn't taken a good look at the organization of our pantry since we moved in, and things clearly weren't working. You had to take everything out of the baking shelf to find something, we weren't using our beautiful collection of tasty oils and vinegars, and the whole thing was pouring out onto the floor of our kitchen in a general in-the-way sort of fashion. Thus, the trip to buy hundreds of dollars of food for the next few months required my attention. After about 4 and a half hours time and a consciousness of how we use the food in the space, I came up with this.

It was a photo of the pantry, a dark place by its very nature, so I opted for flash. There's something disturbingly commercial about taking stock of one's food stores in a photographic manner. The visibility of all the labels, all the logos; it's not something that you notice as you use it, but recording it... On the topic of labels, please, please read Collections of Nothing by William Davies King. (At least read the article.)

February 4, 2009

February 04 2009 A Night Alone

Went to a knitting group at a coffee house tonight, and no one was there. I enjoyed my coffee alone for a while, then took up my knitting and enjoyed double-perling the fish, with 70s afghan yarn and small needles that made my hands cramp. The group over there was discussing the Bible; I always enjoy listening to discussions, and I always enjoy feeling free of the dogma. My two cents had something to do with why the Greeks so easily accepted Christianity, but I didn't put them in. He was listening to music on his laptop, she was working on hers, click click click, and the owner of the coffee shop asserted his beliefs on baking cookies. Some of them drove by, the group in the next room was youthfully noisy. He had an assisting dog, and hot tea. He left somewhere with a guitar on his back and a girl at his elbow. I have no idea where the people come from through that door. He said to someone on the phone about the girl he met on the bus never emailed him. I met a guy on a bus and never emailed him, either. What, your definition of alone is different?

I took this picture at home, being that a camera is another set of eyes and to use it is to disturb the isolation, and I couldn't bring myself to get it out of my pocket at the coffee house. Auto, no flash, florescent lighting.

February 3, 2009

February 03 2009 A Day of Waiting

Really, now, I have spent the last 12 hours waiting. Waiting for the refresh button to yield me something other than this. 12 hours! Did something go wrong? Where is my site? Today, today, today today! Already! *refresh* Blegh. Totally anti-climatic.

Photos of screens have always been fascinating. My husband takes them all the time--of the television mostly. I took this at 0 zoom from about 6 inches from the screen. It came out pretty good, with fewer diagonal refresh lines than I expected. Anyway, now you have the site address, and you can wait patiently or impatiently with me.

February 2, 2009

February 02 2009 A Demonstrative Push

Tai chi has been on my mind a lot lately, since I've been writing the site for my instructor. Also, I'm saving for a week-long intensive in the Utah wilderness in a few months. Since I'm practicing and learning new things, and the best way to learn is to watch, I go to other class meetings to learn with a different dynamic with different skill levels of people. Today, I watched specific moments of two whole forms I'm just barely catching the choreography for.

I was actually asked to take this photo because my classmate in the middle needed to see he was leaning, and my instructor couldn't find his camera. I turned off the flash due to the white everywhere in the walls, in the tunics, and in the light. And I took the photo when I was told to. The composition was merely to demonstrate differences. In short, this picture is my choice for today because it was not my picture. It was a moment of my day.

February 1, 2009

February 01 2009 A Moment of Peace

Of my albums of children photos, sleepers seem to dominate. There's something exquisite about a face that won't change so quickly I can't get a picture of it, but too quickly to trust my mind to remember. A rare moment is the siblings sleeping together: they've been bonding more strongly the past few months, playing more peacefully, planning world domination more artfully. Two together.

For sleeping babies it is best not to use flash, because that changes things. Of the photos I took, this is the best characteristic anonymity I can provide, what she is like, what he is like, in one frame they are there completely yet you cannot know who exactly they are.