Sunday, May 15, 2016

Thoughts and Shots: May 12, 2016

Google Keep reminds me every week that I'm working on a Project 52. My heavy purse reminds me that at any moment I can pull out my camera and be a shot closer to being a better photographer. That said, it's hard to pull it out and take shots for a number of reasons. If nothing else, this challenge may help me care a little less about what others think, and that's a step in the right direction for me.

This past week I went to Acerogami in Downtown Pomona for an Insecure Alex show. Another set of musicians that I really like, Jook and Pro, were going to open up for them and I figured it would be a good opportunity to just take some shots. I decided to commit to nothing but my ID, debit card, phone, lip gloss, and camera. More importantly, I decided not to worry about what people might think of me as I weaved in and out of them taking pictures. I ended up with nearly 150 shots and a chance to practice some editing.

Unfortunately, everything I know how to do in Lightroom has either come from watching someone do a quick editing demo at a workshop or googling "how do I _____ in lightroom?" I know the basics of composition and exposure. I also know there are LOTS of things you can do in Lightroom. The problem is I don't know what all those things are or why I would want to do them. So I started by adjusting my photos using the overlay tool and cropping them to be 5 x 7.

The venue was dark and the stage light colors were constantly changing. I think I ended up with a lot of shots that were underexposed because every time I would hit Auto Tone, the exposure would be increased. At first I found myself wanting to do that for every shot, but the more I worked, the more I noticed they lost some of their "effect." I don't even know what that effect was, mind you, I just knew that it was important to fight the urge to simply hit Auto Tone. I tried to manually adjust the exposure myself on some shots, but I noticed that the photos ended up grainier when I did that. The more I worked, the more I decided that the darkness and shadows worked. The following 2 shots were the only ones I didn't edit beyond cropping:

That said, I do think either Auto Tone or my own adjustments improved some shots:

I also played around with making some shots black and white--not because I knew what I was doing, but simply because I thought they looked cool:

As I look back at the photos (these and others--all of which I will post on Facebook), I realize that a lot of the ones I liked tended to be dramatic. On this particular night, I was able to capture some of the passion and drama that I love about live music and I'm hopeful that I can capture other emotions and moments throughout the year--as long as I pull my camera out of my purse, of course.

Project 52: Shots 16-19

Old (May 12, 2016)

If there is one thing I have learned from the death of my grandmother it is that we don't have forever with the people we love. I was painfully reminded of that most recently on Mother's Day and thankful I had the chance to make some memories with Papi Chevy a few days later.  Since Mami Tere's death, he hasn't really left the house for anything other than doctor appointments, so when he asked my dad to take him to a local winery, my sister and I invited ourselves to tag along. While we were wine tasting at the Galleano Winery, Papi Chevy was telling us about when he used to work there and naming people he used to work with and for. The lady serving us was polite while she listened and admitted that she didn't know anyone he named. It made me think about how much my grandfather has seen and experienced--so many memories! And when he goes, they go with him.

Same Subjects, 5 Angles (May 12, 2016)


The winery had a ton of old equipment just lying around in a field near the vineyards. It looked like it had been there for a while--trust me. I did a Google Images Search on "antique tractors" and I'm pretty sure the tractor above is from the 1940s. My excitement at crossing this off my shot list outweighed my fear of spiders and bugs while I worked my way around it and closer to it. As I look at the images now, I can't help but notice how the sky (when visible) is a slightly different shade of blue in each shot. The same goes for the background. In one, you can see industrial buildings in one, and palm trees in another. This is definitely a lesson in the importance of multiple shots. When I first started taking photos, I had a very "one and done" mentality. Now, the more photos I take and the more Lightroom work I  do, the more small differences I see. I'm hopeful that's a sign I'm improving and learning.

In Full Sun (May 12, 2016)  

There was virtually no shade out there in the field so I figured it would be a good time to take my "In Full Sun" shot. It was only when I was looking at this in Lightroom that I noticed there were still shadows. Looking back now, I wonder if should have pulled back more to make the full sun more evident. I also think I need to keep an eye out for more shadows because I haven't been able to take my "Let the Shadows Tell the Story" shot. I tried doing it that day, but I couldn't seem to find a story in any of the shadows in the courtyard or yard area so on my list that shot remains.

A Street Scene (May 12, 2016)

This ended up being a long day. After the field trip and a Bad Ass Book Club meeting, I went to a local bar to see Insecure Alex and Jook the First with MC Prototype. It was a great show and I was able to take (and edit) some good shots. As we were leaving, I looked to my right while crossing the street and I couldn't help but notice how empty it was. Empty. No cars. No people. Just the street and the lights.  Now when I first started working on these shots, I thought my street scene was going to be an urban shot with lots of people and action in broad daylight. Instead, it ended up being an empty 2nd Street in Downtown Pomona a little before 11 PM. 

You can see the Antique Row sign and looking back now, it was a perfect shot to end the day. In some ways, it falls in with the theme of some of my earlier shots that day and in others, it's a juxtaposition. 

I am now right "on track" with my Project 52. It's the start of the 20th week of 2016 and I have taken 19 shots. I still don't know if I should try to take a photo a week or just keep hacking away at it the way I have been. 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Project 52: Shot 15

Your Spouse/Significant Other: How You Think of Them (sic) (April 30, 2016)

When you see my boyfriend for the first time, I know what you're thinking. The media and movies have been shaping your thinking about men who look like him for years. I hope this shot changes that.

With his dark skin and sunglasses, I am sure my boyfriend looks unfriendly. The type of person you wouldn't want in your neighborhood. The type of person you picture when listening to dedications on the Art Laboe show. The type of person Trump seems to think all Mexicans are. Look at what he's wearing though: the shirt of an alternative rock band. Now look at what he's doing: grilling barbecue chicken on an RVQ.

I think of my significant other as my opposite match. He and I have had similar experiences growing up in this country where people think they know you once they see the shade of your skin. You look at him and assume he knows Spanish; you look at me and assume I don't. I used to like dopey-looking white boys until I found this man whose background has been full of experiences both similar and opposite to mine. He has an RV (something I equate with old white men) and yet drinks the same beer that my dad does. I find that comforting. While I talk and overthink, he is quiet and thoughtful. I find that inspiring.

My significant other is a strong partner and dependable teammate. The picture indicates he is capable of feeding me, but what it doesn't show is how supportive he has been of me and all the things I've gone through during our time together, starting with my cousin's suicide the day after our first date. I've never wanted someone to take care of me: I've wanted someone strong enough to be able to take care of me if I ever needed it. Back when I was dating, my dad would tell me I was too picky; my mom, not to settle.  I am so glad I listened to my mom on this one. As a result, I found someone worthy of being with me. Someone who is as strong as I imagine myself to be. Someone whose actions show me more than words could ever tell.