seattle photos and hawaiin thoughts
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photos (from seattle):
1) steps down to golden gardens park, there are many, many more
2) golden gardens pier
3) golden gardens mermaid
4) andre the giant has a posse
5) little purple feet swinging
6) kevin…stop…please kevin
7) a warm day, plus a permissive aunt, equals a flooded patio
8) a warm day, plus a permissive aunt, equals a wet aunt
9) i was ordering sheets, a hooded doggy sweater was on sale so i had to order, it arrived while i was away, my daughter sent this photo to me while i was in seattle

Today is Ironman competition in Hawaii. I only know that because my studio cycling instructor told the class this moring and made it the theme for the workout. My favorite part was when she played the theme song from Hawaii Five-O.

Did you know that an Ironman competition begins with a 2 mile plus swim, in the ocean, followed by a 112 mile bike, followed by a marathon run?

How do they do this? I drove myself the .5 miles ot the Y this morning for my cycling class.

The record time for a man is just over 8 hours and for a woman just under 9 hours. My instructor says the record-holding woman has a smile in her face the entire time. What?

If they started their competition when I started my cycling class, they would have still been racing while I drove home, walked my dog, made muffins, cleaned up the kitchen, chatted with my family, laughed at a funny buzzfeed post my daughter showed to me, perused and edited my Seattle photos, drank my coffee, made my lunch. As I sit here and type, the fast ones are halfway through their workout.

They will still be racing while I shower, go to the hardward store, go to the grocery store, work on cleaning the linoleum glue off of my kitchen floor boards, take a walk or rake leaves, and make dinner.

And then, at least the fastest of the group, should be done.

I admire these athletes for their focus, discipline and hard work. If I were there, I would be cheering them on, wildly. I hope they are safe and smart and injury-free today. I hope they all PR.

While I am happy to be home doing what I am doing today, instead of doing what they are doing (even in Hawaii), they may have inspired me to walk to my yoga class tomorrow morning…

Hope you are doing just what you want to be doing today.

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photo 111: assignment 8, hard light with detail

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photos:
1) wakefield chair and our puppy finnegan (deaf and nearly blind and nearly 12)
2) finny and his bunny, see how finny’s tail uncurls when he sleeps? it also uncurls when he’s upset
3) my favorite creamer, though it has never held cream, usually maple syrup
4) experimenting with salt on a black mat board
5) i loved the shadows these wooden rabbits made, i used them for my shallow depth of field post as well

It has been some time since I have written about my photography class. Being without photos today, it seems like a good day to get back to it.

According to my instructor’s assignment sheet, alternative titles for the Hard Light with Detail assignment include “sunny light”, “directional light” or “undiffused light.”

My instructor included a specific requirement of ensuring there was good detail in both the shadows and the highlight. This is tricky, which I think is the point!

When you are shooting in bright light, it is both easy to have have light areas blown out and over exposed, and shadows underexposed. The goal is to get the exposure as close to perfect as possible, by bracketing and then making minimal corrections with the exposure brush (in Lightroom). Bracketing is trying a range of fstops.

The top photo is the one I turned in for a grade. But you can see in the other photo of my puppy, that the light has blown out the detail in the rug.

My instructor suggested shooting in the early and late hours of sun, with the sun at the side of the subject, and shooting from a low angle. The texture of the subject will be more dramatic. I’m not sure I’ve captured a lot of texture, but I love shadows, so I enjoyed this assignment.

I have 4 more assignments to cover…and then maybe I’ll try the assignments all over again, before I forget things like bracketing!

photo 111: assignment 7, urban

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photos:
1) westside books and vintage typewriters
2) lorax in the alley with a switchblade
3) backdoor pacific rim
4) lightpost behind ann arbor art center
5) lightpost near the lucky monkey tattoo shop

If you were asked to take a photograph that represents the word “urban”, what would you photograph? This is what my classmates and I were asked to do for our 7th assignment.

Living in a college town, we don’t find too much of what you might automatically think of as urban in our fair city. There isn’t a lot of…edginess here. We used to have funk, but we’re losing that too.

We do have homeless people and pan-handlers, who, come to think of it, would have been great subjects for an urban photo. But I’m not that bold and anyway, it seems disrespectful. I wouldn’t want to benefit from someone else’s suffering.

My classmates and I submitted photos of buildings, alleys, trash, a rusty lock around a chain link fence, a crane at a construction site for a new apartment building, kids skateboarding…

I wasn’t thrilled with my photos. It was February or March when this assignment was due; I didn’t feel like being outside for too long. And one guy in an alley saw me taking photos and followed me to talk with me. He was a little creepy, so I decided it was time to go home.

Do I sound like I’m making excuses?! Yes, I do, because I am.

Some of my classmates needed no excuses. They did a great job on the assignment. Wish I had their photos to share. One of my classmates took a beautiful photograph of Detroit’s Renaissance Center. I looked something like this, but his was a better shot.

Another took a great staged shot of a group of people in a bar with a bokeh effect on a string of lights in the background that looked like this and a little like the red lights in the last photos above.

I learned several things from my FAIL on this assignment:

• people who make a good effort, don’t need excuses.

• if you’re taking grand shots, there has to be a focus or an unusual angle that makes the shot interesting. I took many shots of old Ann Arbor buildings that I consider beautiful. But when I look at the photos, they aren’t interesting at all.

• people are always interesting, even if it’s just a person’s feet.

• animals are always interesting, even it it’s just an animal’s feet.

• the bokeh effect with lights is pretty cool to have in a background (not necessarily illustrated in the photo above).

motawi tileworks, ann arbor

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I have been aware of Ann Arbor’s Motawi Tileworks for years, and thought I was familiar with their work. But I have also confused them with Pewabic Tile/Pottery of Detroit. Perhaps because Newal (pronounced somewhat like Noelle, I think). Motawi trained, after art school, at Pewabic.

I associated Motawi with earth tones, trees, landscapes and was so surprised when I looked at their tiles on their website. Motawi is so much more. Their colors are often vivid and I learned last week that they experiment with new palettes often. They have partnerships with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, Charley Harper, Yoshiko Yamamoto and with Louis Comfort Tiffany design.

Most of their designs are original, such as this swallowtail, this koi pond, and this tile titled, “tropicana.” I love the tiny black birds.

Motawi sells installation tiles as well as gift tiles (that include an indent in the back for hanging). They also have a weekly 11am tour, which my friend Cath and I attended last week. The tour was wonderful and included the history of Motawi, as well as the Motawi Tilemaking process, and ended in the “seconds” section where prices are greatly reduced (seem to be 50% off).

I was surprised to see how many different people work on each and every Motawi tile. I counted 6 from start to finish, and that doesn’t include the design work.

I really loved the amazing tile fireplace pictured above. It was designed for, and installed at, an Architectural Digest conference.

Our tour was a little crowded with about 15 people, but we were told summer tours are usually quite full, with many out of town visitors in each group.

It was fun to get out and learn more about my this local business that produces nationally known tiles, and to see an artist making a living at her craft.

I did not end up buying any tiles; there were just too many to choose from and I have to decide where I want to hang them. Cath purchased the tree tile pictured above.

I can’t wait to visit the gift shop, and the seconds shop, again soon!

My photos don’t do the tiles justice. I think the best photos are on the Motawi Tile facebook page. Or, even better, you can see Motawi tiles up close and in person at galleries all over the US. See their list of locations here.

If you’re interested in more information on Nawal Motawi, read this great Ann Arbor Observer article from 2011. (It includes a cautionary business tale.)

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photo 111: assignment 6, unusual angle

Photo 111: assignment 6, unusual angle

photos:
1) a birds nest in the top door of my mother’s barn.
didn’t that male bird make it fancy for the ladies? i wonder if he was successful or if they all avoided him for being odd. or if his special lady friend slapped him upside the head and said, “why don’t you just put an electric sign on it that says ‘hey cats! there are tasty baby birds right here!’”
2) from under one of my mother’s many bird feeder’s. the slinky is to keep the squirrels out, and it works!
3) a blue birdhouse my dad painted so many years ago, through a knothole in the barn loft. so many reminders of my dad all over the place
4) little hedgehog feet, next to a toaster
5) grumpy, grumpy hedgehog, next to a toaster

Though I’m not sure I was successful at this assignment, I enjoyed it. Changing your angle can turn a mediocre scene into something interesting. But as demonstrated above, finding the right angle takes practice. I’m still learning.

My son says the birdfeeder photo above is not an unusual angle, since we normally view a birdfeeder from below. He’s right. But still, a shot from directly underneath an active bird feeder is unusual. Especially in the winter when you have to lie very still, on a beach towel, in the snow for some time before the birds will come to the feeder.

For my assignment, I turned in the bottom photo of Dandelion, even though it was terrible. So much out of focus. My classmates loved it. Haha. My instructor didn’t. (I posted my daughter’s superior photos of Dandelion in a previous post, hedgehog: real talk, and taken with a small Canon pocket camera.)

High angles, low angles, framing photos through things like branches, are a good way to try out unusual angles.

Here are examples from some amazing pros:
Elliott Erwitt, such a classic, and his dog photos are funny

Arno Rafael Minkkinen, really interesting use of bodies

Vernon Merritt , great photos of 1969 NYC

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photo 111: great depth of field

photos:
1) massimo vitali beach photo
2) helen levitt street photos (so love her photos)
3) john pfahl nature photos

I started writing about my photography class in past posts, and never finished, like so many projects in my life. Sigh. The class ended April. So I thought I would go back to those posts.

There were 12 assignments, I have written about 3 of them (I skipped assignment 3, panning motion, because my photos were so boring and terrible…):

photo 111: assignment 1, he is the eggman
photo 111: assignment 2, stop motion
photo 111: assignment 4, shallow depth of field, and not so shallow barbie

Great depth of field was not one of my favorite assignments, because it required photographing a scene with everything in the photo, from fore to rear, being in acceptable focus. I just couldn’t come up with a scene I liked…It was January in Michigan and everything was dull and grey. Plus, getting the light right was difficult. As I said, January, Michigan, and I didn’t have a tripod at the time.

I posted some of the photos I took for this assignment in one of my earliest posts, snow day. The photos above are much better examples. To be fair, these photographers have pretty amazing cameras and lenses…

When shooting for great depth of field, you need to use the smallest aperture (f-stop) your camera allows, usually f16 or f22. Small referring to opening in the lens, which is a greater number because it’s really a fraction 1/16 and 1/22. So f22 is a smaller aperture then f8. So confusing!

Since you’re using a small aperture, it’s best to photograph on a sunny day so you have enough light. You don’t want to use a shutter speed any slower than 1/60 because that will make your photo fuzzy, unless you use a tripod.

Or you can just point your iphone and click and be happy.

The only classmate photo for this assignment that I can remember was of a tree line across a field of snow. The trees were tall, slender and dark and in nice contrast to the white snow and light grey sky. At first, I thought it was a black and white photo, but no, January in Michigan.

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I’m not sure where this week went. You know exactly what I’m talking about. It was just Friday and here is Friday again, and a holiday weekend.

“Boo” to time going so fast; “Hooray” for the holiday weekend.

Some things, in addition to a holiday weekend, that are making me happy this week:

1. Hats by Pooka Queen, to rival any worn by princesses at royal weddings.
This California based artist is an Ann Arbor girl making a name for herself in the west coast fashion world, and soon the rest of the world. It is hard to say which is more beautiful, the art or the artist.
Visit her web site and etsy site for more exquisite pieces including hats, jewelry and accessories.
http://www.etsy.com/shop/pookaqueen
http://www.pookaqueen.com

2. I hate shopping for pants. I even hate the word, “pants”. That whiny short “a” sound. It’s grating.
It’s difficult for me to get a good fit and one that doesn’t emphasize features that I would like to de-emphasize. BUT, this is the happy part, these Banana Republic Sloan Fit slim ankle pants work for me. I ordered them in a long so they are just slightly longer than those in the image above (I’m 5’9″). I wondered about returning them for ankle length, but my daughter says no, the longs make my legs look very long, so I’m keeping them.

3. I don’t have a lot of time for watching television, but, Arrested Development – SUNDAY! I am nearly giddy about it. (If you don’t watch, this where to find the never nude)

4. I had dinner with my former mother’s of daughter’s group this week. The group was put together by a clinical social worker, who led the monthly discussion of parenting daughter issues and eventually grew into parenting of daughters and sons and marriage therapy and personal therapy…whatever we need to talk about. This group, these women, made me a much calmer (I didn’t say “calm” I said “calmER”), better parent and helped me through some very difficult situations. I started attending when my, now 19 year old, daughter was 5. We stopped meeting a few years ago when most of the daughters had graduated from high school. Oh how I miss this group!

5. Convos With My 2 year Old video on youtube. I’m looking forward to more. Funny…and creepy.

Happy weekend to you!