Road Trip: Day Two

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Greetings from Chicago!

Day two went according to plan. After a delicious breakfast (crepes!!!) at the West Side Market in Cleveland, we barreled through Indiana with a couple of pit stops along the way. After a typical rest stop lunch, we headed on to Illinois. We hit some traffic coming into Chicago, but managed to get to Navy Pier just in time to watch the sun start setting from the top of the massive ferris wheel.

Afterwards, we walked around the city for a bit, had the best meal of our trip so far at a place called Labriola, then headed back to our hotel for the night. It wasn't long before we were all sound asleep...that is, after the girls hit the pool.

Below is day two's recap. Tomorrow we head to Des Moines – after dim sum in Chinatown, of course.

Home Sick & Feelin' Blue

Fairly certain that I had unwittingly become New Jersey's "ground zero" for the recent Enterovirus D68 outbreak, I found myself home sick for several days last week, along with my eight year-old who was similarly affected. Together we hung out all day indoors despite the perfect weather, nursing what felt like twin colds from hell.

Round about the end of day two, and desperate for any screen-free alternative to Minecraft and KhanAcademy, we came across a previously unopened gift that our girls received over the summer from their cousins.

The sturdy box (pictured here) measured roughly 8'' x 8'' and contained a similarly sized and really well-written 80-page booklet by Paul Grivell. The book, entitled The Sunlight Print Kit: Materials, Techniques, and Projects for Homemade Photography summarizes the history of photography in general and cyanotype image-making in particular. Along with that, were ten sheets of light sensitive cyanotype paper, a black felt marker and a mix of different silhouettes printed on acetate to use for making contact prints.

While the gift was clearly awesome in that it was thoughtful and would provide the girls with a meaningful learning experience, it was also clear that it was the kind of gift that would require a certain amount of focus, time and space that just aren't easily had in our tiny and perpetually bustling home – which is why it sat on a shelf, until last week.

So here's our first effort. We snuck out of the house to pluck some fern fronds for our contact print. At one point we must have accidentally nudged the acetate that we used to cover the leaves a bit and on top of that the ferns were clinging to the acetate because of static electricity – so the edges are not quite as sharp as they might have been if we used a heavy piece of glass, which we'll be sure to do next time.

The developing process was so simple and relatively clean (as I recalled my days in the darkroom) that an actual kid DID do it. In the end, the little imperfections didn't matter – especially to my daughter. She was every bit as amazed as I was when I made my first pinhole image and that made it the highlight of our sick day.

In a Cloud of Social Media, a Silver Lining

©Nick Hall Photography

©Nick Hall Photography

Like many photographers, designers and artists these days, I've spent a fair (trans.: insane) amount of time and energy trying to make heads or tails of how best to utilize social media – especially where promoting my craft is concerned. In fact, I'd sort of gotten into the habit of thinking of these tools only in terms of how they could be used for business and marketing, when recently I was struck by a most wonderful and unforeseen byproduct of my narrow-minded efforts.

A few weeks ago, I began following award-winning adventure travel photographer, Nick Hall, on Twitter. Not long after, I received a message from Nick asking if it would be possible to purchase a print of one of the images featured on this very blog.

Now, it's not every day that I'm approached by super-talented photographers asking to buy my work, so naturally, my first reaction was to re-read the message to make sure it was intended for me. But after confirming that it was indeed properly addressed, I found myself in the curious predicament of having to quote a price on one of my own prints for a fellow professional. (...and I thought bidding on commercial jobs tough!) Nick must have sensed my dread, because even as I crafted my reply, he let me off the hook with the exact same propostion I was about to make: a swap...of course!

As we firmed up the details with a few back-and-forth messages, it was as if a light came on for the first time. Why hadn't this idea occurred to me before? I hadn't even considered it. I asked Nick if he'd done this sort of thing with other photographers and he said he hadn't. Nevertheless, we were both excited about our exchange and agreed that this would be a really fun way to build a photography collection. In addition, we thought it might be a good idea to tyr to spread the word and encourage others in the community to follow suit, provided they were open to it. Perhaps the best thing to come of this though – better than the flattering thrill of having one's work appreciated, better even than becoming the proud owner of a Nick Hall original, was the experience of connecting with a fellow photographer on the basis of nothing other than mutual admiration.

In this age of tight budgets, in a hyper-competitive industry that's busting with talent and being re-defined daily by technology and shifting markets, this experience has been a real breath of fresh air and welcome reminder of the joy that comes from the simple act of creating something and sharing it. So, thanks again Nick!

As for the rest of you – do yourself a favor and reach out to someone whose work you admire and spread the love...you'll be glad you did.

Still Life Season

 

Every year about this time, when the temperature inevitably drops well below freezing, I find myself suddenly passionate about still life. My imagination experiences a kind of rebirth and begins to thrive in direct proportion to the extent that the rest of my body begins to resist any sort of activity whatsoever. So, late at night, as I lay awake long past the hour when I should be sound asleep, (the result no doubt of too much food and coffee) these visions come to me. One after the other, I get ideas for shots – particularly the kind that require working in a heated studio, with plenty of music and coffee on hand. And that just about sums up what I've been up to these past weeks – coming up with ideas for still life and spending every spare moment I can scrounge to bring them to life. There are lots more on the way, but if you check the main site, you can see some of the newly added work under still life.

November Spawned A Monster

 

I know, I know...enough already with the leaves! It's just the shapes and lines and colors are
so amazing and before we know it, it'll seem like forever since we've seen any leaves at all.

These are a few dried up Japanese maple leaves that I'd been passing by for a few days in
a row in my comings and goings until finally I couldn't take it anymore. They were practically begging to be shot.

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Point+Shoot

So there was an issue recently with one of my lenses – in particular, the one that I usually use when I'm out and about with my DSLR, just tooling around, looking for whatever I might find to take pictures of. You can imagine how bummed I was when I shipped it off to the factory for repair only to learn that it would be a week or so before I got it back. Well, the good news is that it's repairable. But the real silver lining in all of this has been that I've gotten reacquainted with my G10. It's a fine tool for capturing all sorts of images that I normally wouldn't be able to get with my SLR and I'm especially fond of its macro capabilities.

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Real Body Bootcamp

Over the summer I was so busy shooting and working on the new website that I barely had time to edit. As I result, I've amassed a hefty reserve of images that I've yet to share. Some of them I've added to my portfolio/website, and yes, some of them I've shared with friends, family and subjects, so if you've already seen them, please bear with me. My disclaimer is that part of my motivation here is to populate this new theme with images. But for the most part, I'm guessing that many of these shots will be new to anyone visiting the blog. This is just the first in what I hope will be a good long run of posts featuring images from shoots that date back quite a ways. These are excerpts from a shoot I did for Real Body Bootcamp.

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