Saturday, July 16, 2016

Within the Frame

David duChemin, one of my favorite photographic writers, has published a revision of the first of his books that I purchased, Within the Frame, and I am having the same problem I had with the original.
The photographs in both books are phenomenal, beautiful, insightful… but I cannot relate to them. David travels the world taking photographs. I joke about getting as far away as Conroe (which is about as much true as it is joke). I am never going to photograph a man performing his devotions in the Ganges, a camel herder in Kenya, a Monk in Tibet, or unlike Mad Carew, never steal the green eye of a little yellow god in Khatmandu. I have a difficult time relating to photographs that are beyond my realm of probability.

That does not denigrate the book, which in my opinion is one of the best texts on photography currently in publication. But it did make it very difficult for me to get interested in reading it. I owned the book for probably a year before I could even start it. It looks like I am going to have the same problem with the revision even though I have a pretty good idea that I am going to enjoy it immensely if I ever do start it. Just wish that David traveled more on the North American continent.
No one cares if you create your photographs with a Canon or a Nikon; they care if the photograph moves them.” David duChemin, Within the Frame, page 43

…nor any of the other minutia we photographers get hung up on—just sayin'...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016


...has been a photographic subject that I have enjoyed since starting it in the oil fields that surrounded my home town of Burkburnett back in the late 1950's. The oil would cake the sand and the softer areas would be blown or washed away by weather; fire would sculpt wood; rust would wear away and sculpt metal; the mud in the river bottom would dry and crack or wind would move the lower branches of plants into graceful arcs in the sand.

I didn't have a name for it for many years  but I was always photographing what I thought of as unplanned design. Design that was from circumstance rather than conscious intent. What I now call Randomness.
I know that graffiti is planned, it is intended. But there are things that happen during the painting of the graffiti--paint runs and drips, surfaces create breaks in the application of the paint. Things happen after the fact--the surface weathers, glass is broken or cracked. Things that are not planned--which are random in nature. I find it fascinating to find my own design within these random happenings.

I have been photographing one of my favorite places in Houston, a building on the corner of Yale and 12th Street since Hurricane Ike. While our electricity was out Janet and I spent a lot of time in the air conditioned car driving around looking for randomness. The graffiti always stays around long enough for the weather and additional graffiti to affect the work. It also gets a fair share of posters, something that generally weathers more interestingly than graffiti. But unfortunately when we stopped by a few days ago the building in being renovated. Another favorite place an old Target (I think) store on the corner of Parker and Shepherd fell to the wrecking ball a year or so ago. As the inner city gets more yuppiefied it is losing it's interesting ambience.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Kemah Boardwalk Fireworks with NWHPC


 This time I went with the 17-35mm so that I could get the boats and reflections in the water. This was more what I had in mind on the previous shoot but couldn't accomplish because they moved the barge closer to the boardwalk.

I set everything on manual, focus, aperture and shutter speed. These are at ISO 200 but 100 will work. I set the lens to infinity because there is no way I can focus before or during the firing. I set the shutter speed to around 15 seconds to start so that I can catch several bursts but I will vary the shutter speed during the shoot, especially toward the end so that I will not blow out a lot when the bursts are coming closer together and overlapping more and I cut it down to 4 to 6 seconds max.

Some of the above photos are single shots, many are composites where I pick out bursts that go together and combine them into one image in Paint Shop Pro. I do not use Lightroom or Photoshop. The only thing that matter to me is the final image. How I get there is immaterial.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Thoughts on Photography Meet Up Groups

A few years ago Meet Up took the country by storm. I don’t even recall the name of the first group I joined, Houston Photography Meet Up, I think. They met in a small back room at Jax Bar and Grill and eventually moved to a restaurant out near the horse track, The Carriage House. After a year or so, like the horse track, the group was not able to sustain a viable interest. The original organizer left and slowly the group faded away.

I was a strong proponent of NWHPC expanding into a meet up to bring some life to an aging club. I am pleased that after five or so years NWHPC is still an active group. Has it done everything for the club that I had hopped—not at all. But it has been a positive. New people are still coming in as a result of the meet up. That is good for the club.

At one time I probably belonged to a dozen or more groups. That made for a lot of photographic activity which I have greatly enjoyed. I had at least one shoot a week and often two or three. Unfortunately almost all of the groups no longer exist. Three or so years ago Meet Up changed the rules about charging and many of the organizers saw Meet Up as a cash cow and totally lost the original purpose. Most met a fairly rapid demise, as, in my opinion, they should have.

I just went through a clean out of the groups I still belong to as you might notice from the shortened list on the right. There are still a number of active groups. By active I mean a shoot maybe every month or two. Almost all charge or limit the number of photographers so I usually don’t know about the shoot until it is filled to capacity and I have little interest in paying for what I would get out of most of the pay to play groups. I miss the activity but that’s okay. I will find other things to do.

I still belong to the four most active groups although I don’t always attend as many of their events as I would like. If

The predominant Meet Up Group in Houston is still Houston Photowalks. Nothing can hold a candle to Joe’s dedication and organization. I attended the first meet up he put on and have made the majority of them since. Although he sometimes goes off on cruises that I cannot afford but I enjoy the stories and photos when they get back. Like most meet up groups that have been worthwhile, it is the organizer that makes the group and for that no one comes close to Joe Lippeat. If I could only be a member of one group it would be Photowalks.

I still attend when I can meet ups with the Sugarland and Katy groups—both are excellent groups; great organizers, great members. And after a two year hiatus I have rejoined Northwest Houston Photo Club. I swore I would never again hold an office with NWHPC but somehow I hadn’t been a member long when the editor of the newsletter passed away and I ‘volunteered’ to edit the newsletter for the remainder of the year. I hope that I made it clear that at the end of the year I am out.

I am still a fan of Meet Up and wish I had the wherewithal to start a small, limited group to discuss photography. But I have too many irons in the fire to take on another one.

More Panasonic

At breakfast--I was supposed to be reading the instruction manual...


Playing with the 'art' presets and Topaz...


At the camera club model shoot I spent more time talking than I did shooting...


So far I am pleased with the Panasonic. Now if I can only find my 17mm lens I will try some street photography.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

First Time Out with the Panasonic GX8

No time to read instruction manuals--fumble, fumble, fumble--and Alcy got the best shot of the day...


To start out we stopped in Alli's Pizza for a cold drink and an opportunity for me to cram the manual. Alcy picked up the camera and asked if she could try it. Silly me said yes. Won't make that mistake again...

Was taking a photo of the graffiti sticker on the handicapped sign when this young fellow asked me if I did music videos. When I told him that I didn't he asked what I was shooting. I told him the sticker so he moved over beside it. I assumed he wanted me to take his photo so I did.