The 365 Photo Project Challenge – Day 1

That’s right folks. I decided to try a 365 challenge.

Why?

That is a very good question. It is more than just a “because I can” excuse.

It is because I am feeling stuck and directionless in life. I’ve grown lazy and undisciplined. This has to do with more than just photography. Those closest to me know I am feeling completely lost and I have no idea what I am supposed to be doing right now.

It also just seemed like a good idea.

Anyway, I don’t want to get into that at this point and time, not on here anyway.

It’s a big task. One photo a day for an entire year. The trick is to not think of it as one year, but instead as 365 photos. Yes that still seems like a lot. But seeing how I have shot anywhere between 150-1000 photos in a single session the idea of 365 photos seems small and almost simple.

I plan on doing a number of things. Like this blog, there will be some specific categories I plan on using (though at this point the only consistent category is Vimeo Finds). There is always room to experiment. It’s all trial and error.

On that note, let’s get this party started

PS. I changed my twitter handle to @thekiltedartist. Follow me on there as well.

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The SC State Fair

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It has been a while since I had been to a state fair. The SC was a bit different from what I am used to. Indiana’s focuses more on the agricultural aspects. This one is more of the fried foods and midway rides.

It was also the first opportunity i’ve had in a while to do some street photography. Normally, at least in Europe, i am able to snap off photos with nobody noticing. I guess there is a first for everything. She wasn’t rude, just not sure why i was taking a photo. Some don’t understand the concept of street photography or that taking a stranger’s photo in public is completely legal. I deleted it anyway. Blurry.

One of the more interesting things i saw was the photography exhibit. I should have submitted something. There were some interesting shots, and I am sure there was a picture of an owl in the “advanced” section that was stolen. It had some bad distortion on it. There were a lot of bad and over priced shots too. Oh well.

In the end, I did get a few shots I am happy with (i didn’t get a lot of photos). Enjoy.

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Vimeo Finds: Enter Pyongyang

And we’re back with this week’s installment of Vimeo Finds. I am a sucker for good time lapse videos. It isn’t something i am terribly good at, but none the less I do love them.

This one however is also a travel video. I am usually a bit critical of travel videos people do. Mine are no masterpiece by any means. But at there very least I try to establish life in the location I am at. Most just show off the interesting things they saw and the people they were with with no environmental context (i’ve done that as well).

This one is different. The filmmaker does a great job of showing the audience the flow and movement of life in the city with in the context of the environment. You see the city, you see the people, you see a bit of the life. Or at the very least, we see as much as the government allows to be seen. Very few are allowed to visit Pyongyang, even N Korean citizens. This video is a interesting glimpse into one of the most secretive and closed of countries in the world (just look at recent events, the leader hasn’t been in the public eye for over a month and rumors are spreading)

It is a well done and well executed piece. My biggest complaint is that I want more. I want to see more and i want to see more of the people going about their daily lives.

Things I Learned on a Gratis Shoot

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanhughes/15253622639/

You will read all over the internet that as a starting photographer, one should never just do work for free. I’d agree, with the exception when your skills have gotten rusty and you need to improve. That is when you do some photos for a friend.

Since moving to Columbia, South Carolina, I have had very few opportunities to do any actual photography. The last time I did a shoot was rather awkward for me and i didn’t really know what I was doing. Before then, the last serious photography was in the Philippines (check out this photo). So my skills have become quite rusty. I would really hate to see how my cinema skills have deteriorated. But then again, I think those might have faired a bit better.

Anyway, a good friend of mine wanted to some good pictures. I needed to practice photography. It was a win-win. For the most part, it went well. But truthfully, I am a bit disappointed in myself. I’ve gotten dull. It is not like last year wear I was filming and photographing all the time. That was my job. I’ve grown rusty. On top of that, there are a few things I need to pick up. It wasn’t all bad. We had fun and I learned some things

1. Have a Plan

First thing’s first, I need a written plan of how I am going to do the shoot. From poses to locations to lenses. I like having a plan, even if I through it out the window. It is good to have a guide and structure for what you are going to be doing. Even if I threw it all out, it’s because I feel comfortable enough to do so.

2. It is a collaboration

I am not a director. I learned that in the HU DMA program. Running the show is not my strength. But I am very comfortable working with someone else. That is why I like being in cinematography. I get the opportunity to collaborate with the people around me and still do a very important job that involves decision making. Working with a client/model/subject should be no different. I am not necessarily in charge of everything (well, actually I am). It is a collaboration between 2 or more people. You are working together to make something great, so everyone has something to bring to the table.

3. Learn to Direct

That being said, the photographer is still the one calling the shots. I think it is more of a confidence issue. Its hard to keep a clear head when there is a lot of pressure to do well. That is why I need to have things planned. I’ve stated I am not a director

4. Learn proper posing technique

I went to school for film. This is not something I learned in school. Reading up online, this is something a lot of photographers struggle with. As a result, I ordered a book recommended on DPmag. It is the one thing in photograph i really need to learn.

5. Be comfortable/be yourself

When i am a bit stressed, my ability to communicated drops a bit. Not only does the subject need to be relaxed, but so do I. I need to be myself. Only then than i work my best. Being comfortable lets me communicate better and make the whole thing enjoyable for everyone.

Have fun is the obvious 6, but it is the unwritten rule. The crazy thing is that when it comes to the moving image, I do most of things fairly well. Something about photography throws me off. I do great and candid, street, and some portrait work. But photo shoots in a semi controllable situation i struggle with. It is sort of backwards for film. I do ok at street, candid, and event; but I am at home in a controlled environment. But then again, I a trained as a filmmaker. I specialize in the moving image.

But this shoot was fun and worth it. It just goes to show i have a long way to go with a lot to learn. Thats good though, I’m always ok with trying to improve.

https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanhughes/15253839077/in/photostream/   https://www.flickr.com/photos/stephanhughes/15436729721/

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Music: Onward to Freedom

This is a category that will pop up from time to time. Sometimes I will be talking a song I like, dislike, or absolutely hate. And if there are visual elements, well, i think you get the picture

Tourniquet is one of the Christian metal bands of old. One of the few to start in the late 80’s/early 90’s and actually be good. Today they still have a good following and will soon be releasing a new album Onward to Freedom.

This song is awkward. Everything about it is awkward. Tourniquet always was a bit weird, but in a good way. But this song just doesn’t seem to mesh well for me. It’s all over the place and very inconsistent.

I think the biggest things are the vocals and the lyrics. Let’s start with the vocals. There are two different vocalist on this song. You have Michael Sweet, who is from the 80s christian hair metal band (sadly i am not making his up) Stryper. Then you have death growls/screams done by the vocalist from For Today or whatever (I never listened to them). Its just doesn’t mesh well. It uncomfortable.

Then there are the lyrics. Ok, I get it. You are a Christian band. It is great that you love Jesus, but this is metal. It’s almost to cheesy, and that is saying something because a lot of the earlier Christian metal bands had them. Tourniquet usually did a good job on mixing this sort of thing in there without being cheesy.

The band Theocracy takes stuff straight out of scriptures with there lyrics and pulls it off unbelievably well. I like these guys. Bold and for the most part they do a good job without being cheesy.

Then there is Becoming the Archetype. Oh. My. Goodness. They ruined How Great Thou Art for me. In a good way. All other versions of the song feel weak.

But you get the idea. There is no excuse. With so many good christian bands in world of metal now, there is not excuse for something that feels like it is almost stuck in the past. Tourniquet used to be a big deal.  I loved some of there other stuff. They were bold and creative.

Though this Tourniquet isn’t really Tourniquet. Its the drummer, Ted Kirkpatrick, carrying the legacy. He wrote all the music and lyrics and just had guest artists preform. It would have been better if it was a collaboration, like some of those super groups that have emerged (made up of members of different bands). That is what I, and i think many others as well, would like to see.

This of course is just my opinion and i have a feeling most of you have no idea what I am talking about. It’s ok. I like my metal. It might not be popular but it is what speaks to me (i highly recommend Demon Hunter, another great one).

Wish List #1

I love camera gear. It is my favorite kind of technology (followed by computers). As an artist it is one of the tool I use to create, whether it is a still image or a moving image. Yes I have two different camera kits, one of which i need to expand with a couple of new lenses. But a guy can dream can’t he? It doesn’t hurt to wish (unless i am lost in a day dream wishfully thinking and run into a wall, that would hurt).

There is some method to this madness. I don’t have things in an exact order, but it runs from what would be more practical to things not so practical at the moment/things i only may only get to drool over (yet is still obtainable). That really only applies to the last 3 items. They are expensive. However, medium format photography is the direction i would someday like to move towards.

Anyway, because of lack of any other categories I want to blog about at this time, here is my wish list from B&H. So if you wish to buy them for me, I would be eternally grateful (just kidding, though that would be awesome and you would be on my list of all time favorite people).

  • Sigma 18-35mm f/1.8 DC HSM Lens for Canon
  • Sigma – 24-105mm F/4 DG OS HSM Lens for Canon DSLR Cameras
  • Lensbaby – Edge 80 Optic
  • Lensbaby – Sweet 35 Optic
  • GoPro – HERO4 Black (Adventure Edition)
    • 6 of these, because they are awesome
  • Matthews – Hollywood Century C Stand
    • 4 or more
  • Impact – Soft and Natural 4 Socket 3 Light Kit
  • Panasonic – Lumix DMC-GH4 4K Mirrorless Micro Four Thirds Digital Camera
  • Spiffy Gear – Light Blaster Strobe Based Projector
  • Spiffy Gear – Blaster Creative Kit – Backdrops
  • Spiffy Gear – Blaster Creative Kit – Wings
  • Pentax – 645Z Medium Format DSLR Camera (Body Only)
  • Pentax – HD PENTAX-DA645 28-45mm f/4.5 ED AW SR Lens
  • Pentax – Pentax-D FA 645 55mm f/2.8 AL[IF] SDM AW Lens

Hopefully, next post will be interesting. I am still trying to find two more categories that i want to post on a regular basis.

Introducing: Vimeo Finds – The Light and the Little Girl

“Inspiration is for amateurs – the rest of us just show up and get to work.” – Chuck Close

Yes, I agree. Sitting around waiting to be inspired will result in you sitting around doing nothing for a long time. I had a professor tell my screenwriting class that creativity does not happen in a vacuum. He also told me I should never write, and other professors in LA told me otherwise.

But I digress.

Though one should not wait for inspiration/motivation/[insert other things we wait to happen], it might not hurt to look somewhere for a nice little nudge in the right direction.

For me, one of these sources is Vimeo. Its a video hosting site for the more creatively inclined. Leaning more towards the cinema side of the image, it is a great place to find what different creative people are doing. The trick is not to compare one’s self or work to these people, but to learn from them. I have a lot to learn, and I hope to be able to improve, as do all creative types.

This is a charming little film about a girl trying to capture the light coming though the window. While it is not a outstanding story, it is an interesting perspective through the world of a child. And as the little girl cannot bottle up the light to keep in a bottle, we as artists cannot capture and bottle inspiration. Sure, just like a lightbulb is continual man made light, you can find websites devoted to creative inspiration. But is it really the same? Is the light from a CLF bulb the same as the light and warmth of the sun shining through the window? Of course it isn’t. So where does inspiration come from? I think that depends on the person.

As a man made light cannot truly replace the sun, reading about creative inspiration will not create true inspiration. What inspires one painter, or photographer, or whatever will not necessarily you. Or if it does, it will not inspire you in the same way.

As the little girl in the film discovered, natural light cannot be captured and kept despite her best efforts. Yet she discovers that even though she cannot keep the light from fading, it will return. It might not always be in the same place, but it will return. Genuine creativity is very much the same. As awesome as it would be to bottle up natural creative inspiration to use whenever, it will appear and vanish in a similar manner as the light.

But do you give up when the light coming though the window is gone? Does it mean you have lost that creative spark? No. Like the beams of light shining through the window, creativity has it’s own natural cycle. And creativity is sparked by the world around us.

I think that is where I currently struggle. I am not working, I don’t get to see my friends often, so I feel my creativity has dried up. I don’t feel inspired. The key word here being “feel”. Even our creativity is motivated by emotion. As much as that can enhance, it can also hinder. Instead draw inspiration from the world around you, even if your tiny little world is a very limited one. If the world was created by something bigger and infinite more creative than us, then inspiration should not be that hard if you know where to look. Sometimes, all you have to do is look within to find it.

It is pretty clear I am talking about God in those last few sentences. I mean the God of the Holy Bible. If this world was created by God, then how do we tap into even the smallest fraction of that creativity? That is what inspires me. And how it inspires me is going to be different than others in the faith. I think that is a different post for another time.

So what drives you to create (or do whatever it is that you do)? Why? How?

Those last two questions are ones I am still trying to answer.