Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Thoughts and Shots: June 28, 2016

Yesterday, I went to the La Brea Tar Pits and despite the fact that I took my camera, I only took 11 shots. I am still really self-conscious about taking out my camera and shooting. I think I need to grow a pair of balls the size of this Columbian mammoth:
I love this shot. It was the first one I took and I consider it my best one of the day. I like the shape of the tusks and how I managed to shoot through them. It's what I was attempting to do in my Shoot Through Something shot for my Project 52.

There are two things I remember about my previous trip to the Tar Pits during elementary school: 1) how hard it would be to pull myself out of tar and 2) these mammoths outside:
My original shot of this iconic scene felt too trite initially.  I tried to make my own statement with the editing by cropping out the male. I learned that males wouldn't even spend time with the herd except when mating. That really resonated with me so I decided to have the focal points be the female trapped in the tar and her baby. Take a closer look at her baby. (Click on the photo to make it bigger. Go ahead. I'll wait.) Look at that anguish as he (or she!) calls out. Now look at the male again. Look at how the imminent danger doesn't really seem to register with him. That's why I cropped most of his ass out.

The day was hazy so I wasn't able to capture as much blue sky as I would have liked in this shot:
Now, I know you're not supposed to have your subjects centered because it makes your picture less interesting, BUT I'm pretty sure you're allowed to break that rule occasionally. Plus when I was editing, I found a crop overlay that was a more narrow version of the rule of thirds. The trees lined up fairly perfectly so I think it works. 

I feel like I'm starting to get a little better at editing in Lightroom. One of the things I'm having a hard time with though is making more than one version of a photo. For example, take my first shot in this post: I edited it, exported it, and shared it on Facebook. Then I decided I wanted it in black and white for my staircase photo display. You can't really make "copies" of photos in Lr (or maybe you can and I just don't know how) so I ended up looking at the history of my edits and going back to before I applied the filter. I then applied a black and white filter and exported it again. Is this the right way to do this? I don't know. Should I stop worrying about the "right way" to do things? Probably.

I guess it helps to think of my photos in Lightroom as drafts, perpetual rough drafts that are only final when I export them. And even then, they can always be reworked and exported again. I guess it's like writing. When I think of it that way, it starts to make sense.

[Update: I just learned how to make a photo black and white in Lightroom without any filters. I don't know if doing that first would have had any kind of an impact on the mammoth shot or my Dynamic Black and White shot though. Oh well. The more I learn, the less I know, right?] 

Project 52: Shots 24-25

Details (June 25, 2016)

My boyfriend and I recently took his son to the Santa Monica pier. We had tickets to see Finding Dory at the El Capitán later that evening, but riding the Expo Line to Santa Monica was a game time decision. Apparently, we were not the only ones who had that idea on this day.

I took this shot from one end of the pier and I'm pleased with how it came out. I used the golden spiral crop overlay when I was editing it which I don't get to use very often so I was excited. I realize there is a lot going on, but I think that's the point.

Dynamic Black and White (June 25, 2016) 

I have been trying to get this shot for a while now. I don't know why it's been so hard. Maybe because it required me to imagine the shot in black and white while taking it in color. Or maybe because it's supposed to be dynamic, but I tend to think of photos as static moments that are frozen in time. Looking back now, maybe dynamic and static aren't mutually exclusive when it comes to photography. 

Seeing the waves crashing along the posts of the pier and the white spray against the darkness of the area underneath made me think this would translate well into black and white. I had some shots without the people and rides but I used this one because I felt they added context to the shot and made it more dynamic. Plus when I was editing it, I used an overlay that had a bunch of triangles and both the waves on the bottom left and rides on the top right lined up where they were supposed to according to the guide.

This is one of the first shots where my finished product is relatively close to what I was imagining in my head before even taking it. 

Project 52: Shot 23

A Treasure (June 12, 2016)

This photo was taken in the desert. People who don't know my girlfriends and me very well think "we're going to the desert" means we're going camping in the middle of a desolate, barren wasteland. Nope. To us, a desert trip means relaxation, food, and shopping.

These trips always begin with charcuterie upon arrival. The treasure in this shot is not the collection of cheese and processed meats you see before you. It is my friendships with the women who consume the aforementioned cheese and meats. The women who let me drive and keep me laughing the whole time. The women who let me indulge my need to eat every three hours. The women who know every store along Highway 111. I have known these women for over a decade now and I plan on keeping them around when I retire. I'm thankful that this photo project allowed me to capture them in this way.

Yes. We love cheese and processed meats. 

Project 52: Shots 21-22

A Tradition (June 2, 2016)

Randy and I seem to have started a tradition of finding places to watch sports while traveling. It started last summer when we discovered El Torito in Puerto Vallarta (no relation to the corporate Mexican restaurant here) and watched UFC 189 and the Home Run Derby there.  The cruise we took this summer continued that tradition when we discovered a bar above our dining room. We were able to watch Game 1 of this year's NBA's Finals and have a few post-dinner drinks since we had chosen the early (read: old people) dinner time.  

Depending on who scored, different sides of the bar would cheer. I don't know if the staff had organized the seating that way on purpose or if the fans had looked for and found their own kind. At any rate, it made for a nice memory of our first night on the cruise. 

I feel I should mention that I felt über-hipster (read: dorky) arranging and taking pictures of our drinks. I'm still working on my I'm-being-artistic-so-don't-bother-me-right-now attitude.

Frame Your Subject (June 3, 2016)

Did you read my Shoot Through Something post? Do you remember how I wanted to create an unusual and artistic shot? I feel like this shot is a little closer to that. That must mean I'm getting better! 

This shot was taken at a restaurant in Ensenada near the Bufadora. Randy and I decided that hiring a taxi would be our best way there. It ended up being about the same price as the ship's excursion but at least we weren't crowded on a bus. Instead, we had someone to talk to and answer our questions. Correction: I had someone to talk to and answer my questions. (I would have asked questions at our muster drill the night before, but someone didn't let me.) Allegedly, this wasn't the Michelada we were looking for, but the food was good and the view was great. I used my words and we were allowed to sit at the top level of the restaurant which allowed me to get this shot.

If you read between the lines of my True Happiness post, you learned that my relationship with Mexico is a little more complex now than it used to be. It felt a little weird to be in Mexico on this particular day. Maybe it was because the entire Bufadora area seems to be a tourist trap. Or maybe it was the brief amount of time we were there. In addition to that, I couldn't get my cell phone to work so I couldn't send my cousins in Aguas a quick message or photo on What'sApp. I felt disconnected and it really didn't feel like Mexico propa' to me.

Project 52: Shot 20

The Everyday (May 17, 2016)

Waze usually sends me home along a different route each day, but on most days, it sends me north on Euclid Avenue. I love those days. Now I'm no civil engineer, but I believe Euclid could be described as a tree-lined, split street with a green belt. I love progress and civilization, but every once in a while, it's nice to drive on a street that doesn't have any strip malls on it. 

During the last week of school, I drove home one day with my moon roof open, and I just happened to glance up while I was stopped at a light. I realized that the view straight up was just as beautiful, but I had never even seen it. I pulled my camera out of my purse, did my best to meter at the next red light and then just took some shots. Straight up.

It probably wasn't the safest thing to do, but I love blue skies with a few clouds! I'm glad I have this shot, and I've already uploaded it to be the background of my Trello board to kick off the upcoming school year.