Learning to Like Photography

For me, photography has always been an interesting dichotomy or dilemma, a sort of love-hate relationship.  I enjoy looking at photographs, but as someone who has always drawn or painted, to me, photography often seemed rather pointless other than “creating memories.”  It’s the exactitude of a photo that gets me – little in the area of artistic endeavor.  However, as I have been doing it now for about five years, I am slowly changing my mind.


Let’s travel back in time.  As a kid, I had a camera, and took snaps.  I also have a handful of photos from times past, images of my family and parents and of a generation past.  There is something to be said for these pictures – a name has a face – a flavor of a time is caught.  No, these are not “art” as I think of it, but bits and pieces of the quilt which is my life and the lives of others.


In my twenties, I bought a Canon A-1, thinking I’d be a hotshot photographer because I finally got a “good” camera.  Hah!  I have a number of snaps of deer butts – yes, indeed!  a fine collection!  The reason is simply because I had no education in photography or concept of construction of a photo – of waiting, of thinking, of taking the time to wait for a picture.  The cost of film processing was dreadful, and so I put away the camera until the digital age.


The beauty of digital, as we all know, is the fact that film and processing costs go out the door.  A few classes helped me learn more about the camera, and soon I had a few purchases and thousands of pictures under my belt.  Truth to tell, I was – and still am – somewhat caught in a love-hate relationship with photography.


Now I am returning to film, and finding there is something about having to wait to see my photos.  Digital has given me the opportunity to learn more about the elements of composition and how different lenses work.  There are some lenses that are my favorites, many of which are manual focus or prime digitals.  Some of my cameras I prefer more than others.  There are also software programs and plug-ins which can trigger the creative process.  Finally, it is a real pleasure to be able to scan my own analog images and play with them.  Perhaps at one point I will develop and print, but for now, that cost factor and failure factor, and the where-the-hell-will-I-put-these factor all create a “no” for now.

Mooooo (1 of 1)

I am learning to like photography more, and appreciate it as an art form.  Some of it is an appreciation for the historical.  Some of it is going out with friends and looking at what others do.  Reading about different ways to “see” helps as well – working with the rule of thirds, layering of fore-middle-back, action, direction – all these are helping me see the world around me as it happens, which is very different than creating a picture on paper wherein I am the god(dess) directing motion, movement, or whatever.

Under the Greenwood Trees

Somewhere I read one must dedicate 10,000 hours to an art to gain a modicum of mastery.  Maybe I am on my way.

Lunch Window (1 of 1)

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Cornmeal Biscuits

Cornmeal Biscuits

Instead of the usual corn tortillas to go along with our homemade chili verde, I thought cornmeal biscuits were a good idea. At first, cornbread floated through my mind, and then I thought of biscuits . . . why not combine the ideas together?

Cornmeal Biscuits

Preheat oven to 425 F.

3/4 c. butter, unsalted, finely diced
1 1/2 c. unbleached flour
3/4 c. yellow cornmeal
1 tsp. baking soda
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/4 tsp. salt
2 T. white sugar
1/2 c. chopped, fresh sweet pepper (I used pale, green Hungarian)
1/2 c. corn, fresh or frozen
2/3 c. buttermilk (or thin yogurt)

Combine dry ingredients – flour, cornmeal, salt, soda, cream of tartar, and sugar – in a bowl. Blend in, as for pastry, the butter, until combination resembles coarse meal. Stir in the pepper and corn. With a fork, stir in the buttermilk.

Check biscuits for consistency, adding more flour or buttermilk as you think is necessary.

Create a ball out of dough and knead briefly on floured board.  Roll out biscuits, about 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick, on floured board, using 2.5 inch biscuit cutter.

Place on baking sheet. If you want, brush tops with extra buttermilk. Bake for 15-20 minutes, depending on your oven quirks, until lightly golden. Cool on wire rack.

I got a nice baker’s dozen, but YMMV.

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Bilious Green Horrors


A nightmare of green.

This is Rollei Crossbird Creative Edition film. It sounded interesting. In a green-ish landscape, it is a nightmare of greens. This looks like something designed to torture.

91260005 91260012 91260035 RCCE - Trees 1 (1 of 3)

As you can see, with too much green it only devolves into creepiness.

But, if you have reds in the image, suddenly it becomes interesting.

RCCE - On the Table (1 of 1)

RCCE - The Bar (1 of 1)

RCCE - In the Surfboard Museum (1 of 1)

I actually rather like these. These are straight out of C41 processing.

But the nightmares can be changed into something – better? different? more interesting? artistic?

RCCE - Trees 1 (3 of 3)

RCCE - The End of Summer (2 of 2)

RCCE - Door & Mirror (1 of 1)

Oaks & Pathway - Sunflower Fields - Topaz Restyle

Yes, I think so. I used my own presets in LR, Topaz Restyle, and a few other things.

Conclusion: This film is weird, but that is what it is supposed to be. I bought it because it was an experiment. It tweaks the mind. Also, a lot of the photos, I actually like, and wish I could turn them into something more normal.

I shot this with my Nikon FM2n and 50mm f1.4mm AIS lens.

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A Day at the Movies, Sorta

The Windows

Above, what looks rather ominous (IMHO), are really windows from which cameras could shoot water scenes.  I think the African Queen, with Humphrey Bogart and Katherine Hepburn, was shot here….maybe from these windows as they floated along!

Corriganville Park was originally part of the California movie industry. According to Wikipedia:

Corriganville Movie Ranch was a working film studio and movie ranch for outdoor location shooting, as well as a Western-themed tourist attraction. The ranch, owned by actor and stuntman Ray “Crash” Corrigan, is located in the foothills of the Santa Susana Mountains in the Santa Susana Pass area of Simi Valley in eastern Ventura County, California. The site is a public park in the City of Simi Valley, called Corriganville Park, and operated by Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District.

It’s a really nice little park, now, with large eucalyptus trees, rocks, derelict relics from the days it was part of the movie industry, and a variety of beautiful views and plants and trees native to the region.

It is also enjoyed by the locals.  I went out with a small meetup group, leaving the house at 7:15 a.m. to get there by 8.  Given it was 93 F by the time I headed home at 10:15 a.m., it was a good thing to be there early.  As well, the light was gorgeous.  This, combined with companionable people, made for a nice way to begin the weekend and end my 10-week summer break.

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Dirt Road

Dirt Road

Yesterday it rained. Tomorrow it will rain. Today, maybe it will rain.

Here, in the drought, a tropical summer thunderstorm is something that I have never seen in SoCal. It will be interesting to see how this affects the dryness all around. As well, having an air humidity above 0% makes for crankiness and stickiness – not something I am used to in the summertime anymore!

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A Day in the Garden

As we head toward 100 F weather this weekend, I am glad to have taken the time to head out, once again, to the local botanical garden.  It is always such a refreshing place to be – new things to see, changes to the familiar.  I went out with my Nikon Df, and a classic lens, the Nikon 105mm f2.5 AIS.

While I was there, I brought along my Nikon FM2N and a roll of Ilford HP5 to use with different filters – orange, yellow, and green – to see their effects on B&W film. Hopefully I will develop my own roll this next week! And, on the way out of the garden, I took a wonderful tumble, scraped and bruised myself quite nicely, and had a good mouthful of dirt to go along with my lost dignity. I’m quite sore!

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Dry Spring

Mr. Bee

We are in the middle of a serious, serious drought.  Water issues should have been addressed four years ago, but weren’t.  Now we are looking at shortages of water unprecedented within the state of California.  There are arguments and court rulings against tiered water usage in residential areas, and arguments that agriculture and industry should be exempted.  Aquifers are being pumped at alarming rates.  Water is becoming the scarce commodity predicted years ago.

Along the Lower Trail (1 of 1)

That said, life continues despite the drought.  This is seen in the resilience of nature.  There are flowers to be seen in the chaparral areas, even as vast swaths of dried grasses are in the fields of open space, fields that are the faded color of late summer in the middle of April.

The End of Spring

We do try to be conscientious of our water usage, but there is still the need to grow plants in pots, whether sweet-smelling alyssum, or a tomato plant for the pleasure of harvesting something we grew.  Our backyard is gone, and we are seriously considering what to do.  The front yard, for now, is status quo, though I am beginning to seriously study the replacement of various plants with native flowers and shrubs.

Waiting for Rain

The fact is humans (at least this one) need nature.  We need air and land and plants and animals and birds and bugs.  The smell of dust, bruised herbs, resinous plants is as exciting as the flight of birds…just last night, a hawk flew a few feet over our heads as we took the dogs out for a walk in the early evening.

Yellow Buds

Our spring has been exceedingly dry, but still there are plants growing and flowering, creating seeds for the next generation.  I hope my generation will figure out something to do which is constructive and adaptive to our situation, and be able to bring forth seeds for success for our future.

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