Lots to be thankful for – including this blog and the serendipity it has fostered. This blog was 14 years old yesterday.
Donald Neff is an old friend and business colleague – who’s also a great painter of landscapes. We worked together as computer geeks in prior lives – and, while my journey into photography is a recent passion, painting is something for Don that goes way back. And he’s great at it!
This afternoon Don gave a talk at the Don Edwards National Refuge Education Center in Alviso about his most recent project – The Creeks and Rivers of Silicon Valley. Don started this project in November 2013 and, over the next twelve months, painted a series of sixty plein air paintings in the nooks and crannies of Silicon Valley. During today’s presentation, he told some wonderful stories about several of these places – full of suspense and delight. His exhibition at this venue will continue for a few more weeks.
Don’s got a lot of material about the project available on his website – and, if you like what you see, I’d encourage to to order his book on the project. It’s beautifully done – and in the same 8×10 size as his original plein air paintings.
Beautiful work indeed!
I’ve had a page titled “Inspiration” here on my blog for a while. I’ve been less than diligent in keeping it current – but tonight I made some major updates to it reflect some recent learnings – as well as filling out some of the actual experiences I’ve learned from those who have inspired me.
In my life, I’ve come to appreciate the power of serendipity in inspiration – how sometimes it seems that random events trigger a new insight, understanding – or just pique my curiosity to explore deeper. Increasingly, I’m finding new sources of serendipity – in my RSS feed reader and in both Twitter and Facebook – enabled by the current state of web technologies.
I wonder what we’ll be doing in five years to be inspired – wearing our VR headsets and exploring further/deeper?
Meanwhile, I’ll try to do better at sharing what I find inspirational – and welcome your comments here sharing what you’ve found inspirational.
I’ve been enjoying this 1999 documentary recommended by my friend Jamie Smith. It’s available for free streaming on Amazon Instant Video.
I started on episode 5 which began in 1919 and went through the building and opening of the Empire State Building in 1931. I’m now into episode 6 which starts out lamenting the impacts of the automobile on city life.
Filmed before 9/11, many of the images include the World Trade Center twin towers.
There’s a wonderful exhibition of the work of Cuban photographer Raúl Cañibano underway at Foothill College in Los Altos.
Today I wrote about my experience shooting with Raúl in Havana two years ago on InMenlo.com. A wonderful memory!
The holiday season for me this year has had an unusual and special quality to it. Our get togethers on Christmas Eve and Christmas day with family and friends were wonderful and joyful. Our 90 year old Mom is in great spirits and we had fun watching her interact with her two great granddaughters as they opened a few gifts (tossing the wrapping paper in the air doesn’t really describe their energy!). Exuberance!
My Dad’s birthday is tomorrow – New Year’s Eve. His father’s birthday – my grandfather – was Christmas Eve. Carl Sr and Carl Jr – father and son. Dad would have been 93 tomorrow – but we’re sure he also shared in our holiday cheer again this year as we constantly had him in our thoughts – and will be remembering him on his birthday tomorrow. Dad died of side effects from prostate cancer in 2010.
Quite a year it’s been – this twenty fourteen. Along the way, there’s been so much joy from new experiences with great people – old and new friends – and those wonderful moments of serendipity that always leave me with that new sense of wonder about how it all just fits together. I try to remember to slow down, step outside, breathe deeply and be in the moment – to appreciate these wonderful gifts of experience.
Best wishes for a wonderful 2015!
I’ve been enjoying reading Greg McKeown‘s new book “Essentialism” – and, after listening to the beginning, put together this image suitable for desktop or screen saver use. It’s a shot made in the kitchen at the James Johnston House in Half Moon Bay – and was one that seemed to focus on the essential!
With my friend Doug Kaye, we headed to New York City last week for a five day photography workshop with Jay Maisel. The workshop was truly a life changing experience for me – opening new eyes and providing new ways to see as taught by this 83-year old American treasure! Jay is famous for being a tough critic – but it’s from that criticism that new learning happens and bad habits get eliminated.
I spent the week shooting with my Fujifilm X-T1 – mostly using the Fujifilm XF 55-200mm F3.5-4.8 Zoom Lens (70-300mm equivalent on a standard 35mm camera) – along with occasional iPhone 5s shots. If my X-T1 could talk, it’d share even more about how things changed in my photography.
During our shooting on the streets, we used Jay’s preferred camera settings for street photography: ISO 1600 (which helps the camera take advantage of faster shutter speeds to freeze movement), increased sharpness and increased color saturation in the JPEGs.
Jay also brackets exposures when he shoots – with one image properly exposed based on the camera’s meter, one over exposed by one stop and a third underexposed by one stop. It was interesting to see the differences between these images – how often the colors in the image were also affected.
Unfortunately, exposure bracketing isn’t a strong suit for the X-T1. Although the X-T1 is capable of high speed burst shooting at up to 8 frames per second, it isn’t capable of that when choosing exposure bracketing. Rather, the shots take about a second to complete the three images – which often results in movement in the scene. Jay’s Nikon D3S fires off his three bracketed shots in rapid fire fashion – minimizing any movement. I really hope that Fujifilm can provide a firmware update to the X-T1 that enables rapid fire exposure bracketing – that would bring it from “pretty good” to awesome for this kind of street photography!
After trying exposure bracketing on the X-T1 for the first day and a half, I abandoned it – moving instead to film emulation bracketing. In that mode, the X-T1 takes one image and then applies up to three of the Fuji film types supported by the camera – I chose Standard, Velvia, and Black and White with a yellow filter. Nine times out of ten I found the Velvia images the most satisfying of the two color films – but many of the black and whites also looked superb right out of the camera. I didn’t work with them much, however, and Jay’s passion is all about vivid color photography.
With almost 2,000 images to review from the week, I’m slowly working through and posting some of those that seem pretty good to me. You can find them here in this Flickr album. I’d welcome your feedback on any of them!