Friday, June 17, 2011

Hello, Again

So here we are . . . updating again.  Fancy that.  As Jen has previously explained, we've both been super busy lately, you know, with life and stuff.  So, since we've ditched our weekly themes, I thought I'd post some photos that I've either taken recently or have been thinking of lately.

This first one, was taken during a set of portraits of my father.  He requested that I do a portrait shoot with him a while ago, and we finally got around to it in the last week or so.  I'm very fond of this photo because of the clarity and the great lighting. I really love the effect of outdoor natural lighting.  This was taken in the shade of my father's heavily wooded backyard, a quality that really helps balance the lighting.  I also like the natural pose and posture and slightly contemplative look on Da's face.  I think this is a pretty good representative photo of him, which is the goal of such a shoot.

This next shot, also a portrait, shares a lot of similarities with the previous: natural outdoor lighting, shade, etc.  One big difference however, is the nature of the moment in which it was taken.  This shot is completely unposed; in fact, the model featured was wholly unaware of my camera sniping ways.  What's really great about the shot is that it manages to capture a certain essential Jane-ness: she's smiling, her eyes are open and bright, and her hair is curling sweetly.  I think that her being unaware of the photographer is part of helps this photo be so cute.

This last photo has little to do with the previous two.  I took it last fall in the backyard when we got a surprise visit from a mushroom colony of some enormity.  I really loved the shots that resulted, but never really got around to using and/or editing them.  This one I like mostly because the contrast in focus between the foreground and the background is eyecatching. I'm also fond of the feel of the photograph.  This photo has a very autumnal feel to it with the browns, ochres, and yellows as well as the general dampness of the wood.

So anyway, that's what I've been working on of late. This weekend, tomorrow in fact, I'll be visiting a lovely yert garden for some photo awesomeness.  So, look forward to some more nature photography soon.

Monday, June 13, 2011

I'm a Bad Person, but Not Really

Er.  H-hi, guys.

So, some things have happened, lately.  First, there was this:

And then there was this:


And then there were a multitude of things that made me feel like this:

Courtesy of

So, that's pretty much the reason for my lack of posting.  And the fact that the cat is trying to dominate my lap and licking my hand as I type.  It's all very effective, let me tell you.

Anyway, many apologies for the lack of updates.  It is the plan to continue as we had before this real life stuff, with the exception of regular Wednesday posts.  Both Haley and I are quite busy, unfortunately, and eliminating the Wednesday post as a regular feature actually gives us more incentive to update this blog as intended.  They won't be gone forever, but until we actually have the energy, these posts will just have to wait.

Anyway part II, it's nice to be back.  I'll leave off with some photos I'll be working on over the next couple of weeks.  No narrative right now; that will wait until I complete the editing.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Outings and Gatherings

So, it seems everything in the blog this week has been running a little behind.  In large part due to the very subject of our posts this week.  Ah, well, on to some photos!

The best part about photography at social gatherings is the opportunity to capture some candid shots.  Really good candid shots are all about recognizing a good shot and taking advantage.  Personally I love the shots that both grab a viewers attention and illustrate some essential aspect of the subject's character.

To start with, we have this one of my very good friend Lizzi.  Being a bit leery of cameras in general, Lizzi is a difficult one to capture a truly candid shot of.  She tends to notice quickly when a photo is being taken, so you have to act fast if you want to get an unposed view.

The sunlight in this photo really makes it great.  It adds dynamic patterns of light and shadow, while creating flattering lighting for Lizzi (though, I'm told it was also rather hot).

Then we have our second photo, a candid shot of Jen facing off against her arch-nemesis, Archie.  It captures a hilarious side of their friendship as well as demonstrating Jen's own sense of humor.

Again, the lighting is very good in the photo, one of the benefits of outdoor summer gatherings.  It's particularly good here, since its filtering through the leaves of the trees, which has a softening effect on the lighting.

In our third photo, we see Archie in his natural state - that of evil laughter.  I love this photo because of how well it captures Archie.  It's difficult to get a moving shot of someone that doesn't blur, making it quite hard to photograph anyone, though especially Archie, while laughing.  This shot also recalls the great time everyone had that day by being a snap shot of a reaction to that fun.

And, yeah.  We'll see you next week, hopefully with more prompt, detailed and well written postings.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Social Gatherings

 Hi, all.  Yes, it's one of those weeks--when real-life stuff gets in the way of a decent (and punctual) blog post.  However, attending a very fun social gathering with friends this weekend got me looking at my photos at various events and how sometimes photos taken just to document a good time actually look like Ahtsy works of art.  And, no, they're not entirely unplanned photos--indeed, both Haley and I subject our friends to modeling even during these occasions--but it is pretty cool when really good photos crop up just from hanging out with friends.

Jane at Green Mountain - May 2011
At left is a lovely shot of my dear friend Jane at Green Mountain.  I had taken this shot just last Saturday, and though many people had come and had a great time, I managed to take some (read: a lot of) time out to do some photo studies while also taking a lot of candid shots.  Jane didn't really realized I was taking this photo (much to her chagrin), but I think this shot benefits from the model being unaware of the camera.  Jane's complexion goes very well with bright sunlight and a woodsy background, so everyone join me in telling her shuddap, it is a good picture.

These two photos make me smile, particularly since they consist of an adorable boyfriend and girlfriend pair: Haley and Phillip.  We had gone on a day trip to good ol' Chattanooga, and though these two photos were taken at different times and different locations during that day, they still compliment each other very well based on expression and posture.  Also, they're just so gosh-darn cute, aren't they, kids?  Yeah, they're sickening.  Just sickening.  However, I do like this series of shots, and I am quite pleased with how they turned out.

Lizzi and Sarah - Munich, Germany (May 2008)
This last photo, seen right, is actually a bit more candid.  It was taken in 2008, when my college history class took a trip to Munich, Nuremberg, and Berlin, Germany for two weeks.  Here, we see my friends Lizzi and Sarah enjoying the spoils of the outside market in Munich.  I am fond of the ladies' expressions, which depict their characters very well: bright and sunny.  This photo also represents a very enjoyable time of my life, as this was the first time any of us three had set foot in Germany (and I liked it so much that I returned to work).  Carefree nostalgia comes into play, and the photo's visual interest is just good enough to catch the audience's eye.

Well, that's it from me.  Perhaps you'll see some candid social bloopers for tomorrow's post...

Friday, May 20, 2011

More Pets!

Because, you know, we thought you were dying for more cuddly animal photos. But really, I'm not sure why Jen thought this was a good topic for the week:  I only have hundreds of photos of my furry friends, and that's hardly enough to base a blog post on. Seriously.

Louis, Sleeping
One of my favorite parts of photographing animals is catching them in a moment that's completely unplanned.  Those moments where I have gone out with the express purpose of taking a photo of a pet, but instead happened to have a camera in my hand or nearby when the pet in question did something unbearably cute.

Of course, for the chihuahua featured in our first photograph, unbearably cute is his natural state.  My father's chihuahua was cuddled up next to my leg when I noticed how adorable his little paws were stretched out in front of him.  It was a difficult shot to get really, since I had to lean around and engage in some acrobatics to get it (I'm actually facing the same direction as the dog in the chair). But, yeah, it was worth it, and I really like the composition that feels like you can reach out and squeeze a paw yourself.

Avi Roar!
This second picture was taken shortly after I discovered my cat Avi (who has since moved on, sadly) playing in the monkey grass.  Technically, I think he was yawning in this photo, but it's all about timing.  You'd never know without being told (oops) that he was fearsomely roaring.

I also really like the vivid colors of this photo, with the green standing out so nicely against Avi's black, silver and cream colored fur.  The clarity of the photo, with each of his hairs distinguishable was also a pleasant surprise, since I was shooting on a camera prone to blur at the time.

Thelma in the Snow
In this next photograph, I was actually romping in the snow myself, when I notice our family dog, Thelma doing the same.  Then, she paused at the top of our deck and surveyed her kingdom.  Click.  It was just too perfect to pass up really. I love this shot, particularly for how poised and elegant Thelma looks.  For anyone who knows my dog could tell you that she's anything but. However, for this photo she sets aside her rather comic perpetual puppy nature and decides to be a model. I also enjoy the composition of the photo, the direction of Thelma's gaze drawing our eye to the line of snow covered railing, and the wintery landscape adds a certain softness to the photograph.

And, we have time for one last photo before our weekend break.  This last photograph really illustrates my point about how fun it is to catch a pet just being himself.  I give you.... Sebastian!


Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Be still, no, AHHHHHHHH, blarg.

Haley, here. As the title implies, today's blog post will be about some of the difficulties a photographer faces when attempting to take photos of a pet (though, I suppose this applies to a good many non-domesticated animals as well).

Miko in a Drawer
Most commonly, you encounter a pet, being adorable and practically demanding that a picture be taken.  Once you grab your camera, line up your shot, and prepare to capture the cuteness for all to see, said pet begins . . . moving.  In this photo, Miko the cat, demonstrates such behavior to a tee. As she cutely romps through my dresser drawers, she decides to move her head at the exact moment I snap a photograph.  I'm convinced this is intentional.

Miko in a Drawer, Take Two
However, with the right amount of patience and a little luck, you can still capture a really great photograph.  As you see here.  Timing is everything when photographing a pet.  If you're not snapping a photo at the exact moment the pet decides to cooperate, you're out of luck. One handy trick I find useful is to always snap multiple shots.  As soon as you spot your pet looking all cute and cuddly start photographing and don't stop.  Though admittedly, this is only useful if you're shooting digitally; otherwise, you're just wasting film. Part of getting great shots, though, is not being afraid to have some really bad ones.

Furry Black Shape on Quilt
Another problem I've encountered when photographing a pet is particular to my latest cat, Sebastian, who has been gifted with a genetic mutation that makes him all stripe.  This condition is also known as being a black cat. Photographing a black cat provides an entirely new challenge as a result of color.  Solid black, as it turns out, is very difficult to photograph.  As a result I have plenty of okay or so-so shots of Sebastian, but few great ones. As you can see, while not inherently bad shots, his color makes it much more difficult to get a shot of him at his best. Here he looks more like a furry black shape on a quilt.

Christmas Gato!
To compensate for this, I have found that lighting is key when photographing Sebastian.  However, not any light will do (as befits any animal as regal as a cat).  Flash does not help at all; if anything it makes a photograph of a black cat worse, resulting in a photo of a SHINY, furry black shape.  Every now and again flash photos turn out alright, but for the most part you want to seek out natural lighting and lots of it, sunlight in particular.

As you see, it is indeed possible to get a lovely shot.  Here, the natural sunlight filtering through the window combined with the lighting in the room illuminates Sebastian enough that we can see his shape in more detail.  It also creates some areas of contrast on his fur which adds a depth not present in the first photo.  And now, I place you, dear reader, at Jen's mercy.

 Jen: Haley has done a good job at explaining some of the issues when dealing with pet/animal photography.  I've also had many blooper shots with my pets, and cats in particular are oftentimes difficult to shoot.  Like Miko, Teazer usually moves right at the wrong moment, or she wants to sniff the camera.  (Poppet tries to lick it.)  Here are some of these shots:

 With Poppet, I have the opposite problem Haley has with her cat, Sebastian: Poppet is nearly all white, which sometimes makes it difficult to take decent shots of here in natural sunlight, as picture left.  While the shot itself isn't bad, the photo is entirely overexposed, causing the viewer to squint when looking at the pup.  Though the overexposure could provide visual interest, this particular case doesn't work too well in this regard.  The solution for such a problem is to avoid early afternoon sunlight, if the day is bright.  That, or find a nice shaded area where you can play with the light.

This next photo of Teazer also isn't the fault of the subject, but rather the lack of real interest in the photo's composition (other than it's a picture of a cute, if evil cat).  Again, the lighting doesn't work well; it was taken in my room during the afternoon, and Teazer was back lit.  Now, this problem can easily be fixed with some Photoshop editing, which I may eventually do with this photo, if I feel the desire to fix it (I have many photos that are better than this one).  So, other than choosing better lighting, you can also brush up on your Photoshop skillz with Levels, contrast, and saturation (among others).

See you Friday!

Monday, May 16, 2011


Now, here's a topic that I KNOW Haley and I will have no problem finding photos for: PETS.  We like our pets quite a bit; some may say we even love the flea-bitten varmits.  Not only do pets provide good companionship, but they also provide good model material for a semi-bored photographer.  Allow me to show you some examples:

Double Poppet!  What does it mean?!
One particularly warm February day, I sat outside with my parents' dog, Poppet.  Poppet is a lovely pup of about seven years, and she's always been a favorite animal model of mine.  I love how in each photo one can see the gentleness (or lazy aloofness) in her eyes.  This particular couple of shots is another result of one of my studies--in this case, taking two photos together and splicing them for a double shot o' Poppet (with some tinting and lighting experiments, too).  I used a slight orange tint in these photographs, since the browns of Poppet's markings and eyes were enhanced very well with this tint.  The left shot in particular displays Poppet as she is: a gentle, mountainous clutz of a dog.

Poppet and the Stick
Poppet also happens to like sticks.  This shot was taken in the same photo study above, but by this time Poppet had found a delectable gourmet stick on which to munch.  With her distracted as such, I had an easy time getting photos of her, and this one turned out pretty well, I think.  I like how her nose is in sharp focus, and you can also see the flecks of saliva coming from her mouth from nomming on her high-end treat of tastiness.  Her whiskers also provide a nice contrast to the shadows in the background.  Basically, it's a study of Poppet doing what she does best: eating anything and everything.  She's certainly a dog.

"I am unamused, human."
Disgruntled cat is probably not disgruntled, but hungry and/or demanding attention.  This is that rare instance when flash is acceptable and actually benefits the overall photo quality.  This shot was taken in the daylight, though I was in a poorly-lit room, thus requiring flash.  The result provides a richly black background, which emphasizes Teazer's beautiful markings (she's a cali-tabby).  The whiskers, as in the above photo, make a nice contrast to the black background, and the various shades of grey in Teazer's markings contribute to the photo's interest.

Plus, she's a cute widdle kitty.

That's all on my end (though I have scads more pet photos to show you).  I'm thinking Wednesday's post can center on candid pet photos, rather than the Ahtsy ones I've shown here.  See you Wednesday!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

More Travels

Ahhh travel.  As it grows increasingly hot here in the South, I find myself longing for vacation.  And, while this is highly unlikely to occur, we can at least reminisce via some travel photography.  Having been nowhere near as spiffy as Jen's Europe, I nevertheless have some gems to offer.

Guanajuato, Gto Mexico
Travel photography can manifest from such a variety of motivations.  For me, photography, whether I'm traveling or not, is first and foremost an art form and an expression of my creativity.  Travel photography specifically is also very much about capturing the feel of a locale as well as preserving my memory of it.

This photograph was taken from the lookout point at the statue of Pipila in Guanajuato.  I like this photo because it offers cityscape vantage of Guanajuato.  It captures the European influenced architecture and vibrant Mexican colors that are so much a part of the city and its life.  I can smell the air and feel the dry heat of the place as I view this photo, which is part of what makes it effective: it fuels nostalgia.

Taking the Virgin to La Basilica
This photo demonstrates another potential aspect of travel photography by capturing part of the culture of Guanajuato. Every afternoon in May, there's a parade through the streets of the city, carrying the Virgin to the major Basilica in el centro (downtown) of Guanajuato.

We can see the people of the city in a somewhat festive setting, which adds interest. And the composition of the photo, with the crowd curving toward the viewer and beyond makes us feel a part of the crowd and the moment (which, indeed, I was).

Gothic Cathedral in downtown San Miguel de Allende
Here we see some more of the interesting Mexican architecture.  This cathedral differs greatly from the majority in Mexico; it's architect wanted to pull from the old world gothic style and prove that it could exist outside of Europe.  This creates an interesting juxtaposition of distinctly European architecture in an otherwise very Mexican setting of el centro.

Mountainous Mexican Countryside
I'm particularly fond of the composition of this piece, with the cathedral peeking over the sculptured trees (typical of town squares in the area).  As all good gothic architecture should, the cathedral juts dramatically upward towards the heavens, further emphasized by the angle of the photograph.  I also love the clear blue sky and the palm tree to the right of the cathedral, which remind us again that we're in Mexico.

Lastly, I offer a landscape view of the Mexican countryside to counterbalance my initial cityscape photograph.  And, since blogger's formatting refuses to cooperate any longer, I'm off.  Please stay tuned for some more photography analysis (along with some awesome photos) on Monday!

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Traveling Around the Web for Travel Photography

Haley: So, I'm feeling somewhat lazy tonight, and since Jen hasn't started a Wednesday post yet, I figure we'll just go with our standby of photography links.  In keeping with our travel photography theme for the week, here are some links for travel photography that I find interesting.

This first link is for Fodor's webpage on travel photography.  Fodor's is a somewhat natural thought when it comes to travel, as they provide some fairly nice guides.  This webpage, provides some guidance for would-be travel photographers.  Don't neglect to explore the linked "chapters" on the left of the page as well as the links at the bottom of each chapter page, as these really get into the meat of the article.

My second link is to a video interview with Mark Edward Harris, a well known travel photographer.  The video is designed to provide tips for aspiring travel photographers, although I find that it provides some fairly good general advice as well.  His advice does seem geared toward those considering photography as a true career, as opposed to Jen and I who consider photography a somewhat serious hobby.  He's somewhat rambling, but overall, it's a fairly interesting video with some good insights.

Lastly, we have something a little more local.  I present a link to a photo gallery of U.S. road trip pictures from National Geographic.  And really, I think the photos speak for themselves.  Also, it's nice for us to remember that travel photography doesn't have to mean foreign locales and a passport.  This genre can also mean family vacations and all the nifty places in our own country.

Jen: Go easy; it's hard for me to brush my hair, let alone initiate Wednesday blog posts.  Have pity on the special one of the pair.

If you're into the Flickr community, I suggest browsing through the Travel Photography group.  I contribute from time to time, and it's a nice little gallery to go through when searching for photo ideas and places to put on my list of things to do.  But, really, it ultimately makes me realize how overdue I am for a real vacation.

Unrelated to photography but sort of related to travel, check out the "folkestral" band Hey Marseilles for a musical version of how it's like to specialize in not just traveling (and the photography that accompanies it), but wandering.

What?  So sue me; it's a band website.  The band's songs deal with traveling/wandering around the West Coast.  I'd like to photograph the imagery within their songs.

Last, and possibly least, here's a link to my old Fulbright blog that details most of my travels.  There are a few photos there, but I relied heavily on narrative when maintaining this: Deustchlanding.  Shameless plug?  Yeah...  Really tired?  Yeah.  Otherwise, I'd do a better job with finding links.  Promise.

Stay tuned for the Friday post!

Monday, May 9, 2011

To Travels

So, as I sit here thinking of potential themes for this week, I started thinking about my many travel photos.  This time last year, I was in my ninth month of a ten-month stint as an English Teaching Assistant in Celle, Germany, and you can tell how well living in another country and my love of photography meshed.  I traveled to quite a few areas in Western Europe during my stunt there, and though my favorite aspect of my time in Europe was my job, it's quite obvious that photography was not too far behind.  Also, this week's theme can really stretch to landscape photography, and both Haley and I have plenty of pictures to show to our rabid fan(s).

Sagrada Familia - Barcelona, Spain (2010)
Whoo, the Sagrada Familia!  They charge you too much to go in, but who cares!  It's the Sagrada Familia!  A creation of Gaudi, this landmark is admittedly one of the most interesting cathedrals I've had the pleasure to visit.  Gaudi's designs are very distinct and visually striking, and I attempted to capture this distinction in conjunction with the modern construction still ongoing.  I found it interesting, anyway.  I like how the photo's composition features both Gaudi's curved structures while also emphasizing the multiple angles caused by the cranes.  Though the photo was just fine in color, I'm of the opinion that the curves and angles are more visible in black and white.  Regardless, though it's a simple photo of a structure, Gaudi's masterpiece establishes itself as an immensely interesting subject because of the juxtaposition of classic architecture and modern machinery.

The fact that it will still be in construction twenty years from now is pretty awesome, too.

Oslo, Norway (Apr. 2010)
I was also fortunate enough to visit Oslo, Norway to see a lovely university friend of mine during my time in Germany, and this photo is a result of it.  I'm very fond of the water, despite my inability to, er, swim (I'm going to fix this!  Really!)  So, I very often take photos of harbors and the like.  I'm fond of this photo for many reasons: The lighting worked very well with the water and the boats; the boats provide a lovely horizon and contrast against the sky and water; and the photo lent itself well to a bit of yellow/pink tinting.  Personally, it gives me a pleasant memory of Oslo, and if I had to describe that city in one photo, this would be it.

Retiro Park, Madrid, Spain (Mar. 2010)
And, here's one of Madrid, the awkward middle child of my spring break trip.  This particular photo was taken at Retiro Park, a lovely patch of green in an otherwise grey city.  (Ahem, not that you can tell in this photo, which is a grey rendition of the green.)  Again, I like the lines in this photo (jeez, this week's theme could just be lines), as the benches, the trees, and the path wind upward as all grow further away.  I even like the trio of birds breaking up those lines about midway into the photo, as they provide more interest to the photo while contrasting nicely with the light path.  I think my favorite aspect of this photo is how lonely the park appears to be, despite the fact that it was teeming with people (and people-watching is one of my favorite pastimes).  Traveling to many places is a bit lonely in and of itself, even if you're traveling with others--no destination is really home, though one can feel at home in the loneliness of it all.  And I think that's why I like travel photography so much; it really documents the path of the wanderer.

Friday, May 6, 2011

No Good - That's What I've Been Up To.

So, in line with Jen's Monday post on her recent works, I've decided to post on some of my latest photography ventures.  I've nothing so flashy as Jen's photo-editing, as recent life events have consumed most of my time.  However, I do have some shots that I've taken of late of which I'm fairly fond.

Rachel at Lookout Mountain
All of these are from Jen's and my recent visit to Chattanooga, TN.  This first is of one of my good friends, Rachel, admiring the view from Lookout Mountain at Rock City.  This one of those photos where Jen and I were of one mind when I took it (she has an identical one taken with Ernst).

The composition holds our visual interest well.  The curving line of the balcony pairs well with the curving line of the more distant lookout as well as the curvature of the landscape and the shadow on the land.  Meanwhile Rachel is positioned at an opposing angle to the curve, drawing our focus to the model.  Her position in turn moves us to see what she's looking at, and we notice the gorgeous view with the rainbow of colors on the horizon line.

But mostly, I just love this photo.  It's one of those rare photos that are just great without editing.

Next, we have a photo from the Tennessee Aquarium. Naturally, the seahorse exhibit was a hit with Jen and I; they were such good little models.

I think the reason I really like this photo because its goodness was such a surprise.  The seahorse exhibit was very dark and they were moving quite a bit, so I was certain that all my photos would come out blurry and gross.  Instead I wound up with a crisp, clear photograph.  I particularly like the subdued, cool color scheme.  The patterning on the seahorse also stands out very well. The black background of the tank enhances the colors of the photo and creates sense of space in the photo.  Rather than a 2D image, this photo speaks to the 3D reality, giving the viewer a much better sense of dimension. This is furthered by the seahorse's floating position between the two pieces of green coral.

Duh nuh
My last photo, is quite possibly my favorite of the three, and certainly my favorite of the two animal photographs.  To be fair, this opinion is heavily influenced by my own devious nature (*drums fingers together evilly*).

I really don't have much to say about this photo. I think it's awesomeness speaks for itself.  Obviously, I was thinking strongly about composition when I took this.  I made sure that 1) the camera was on the same plane as the crocodile's floating head and 2) the camera was looking through some the foliage, giving the photograph a feeling of being out in the wild.  This latter effect also enhances the drama of the photo, giving it a more realistic feel. And yep, that's all I have to say.  Jen and I will see you Monday!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Alike, and Yet So Different

So, this Wednesday's blog post (posted on Thursday...) focuses on how two photographers can take a picture of the same thing differently.

Jen: Today's theme is...moss!  This was taken at Rock City during a recent trip to Chattanooga, TN.  Gotta say, this isn't my favorite picture in the world--the composition doesn't hold enough interest for me.  However, I guess this can be considered yet another study in texture, as I was drawn to the interesting lines of the creeping moss on the rocks.  This shot was more on a whim and is more or less a glimpse into my "practice" shots--I get a grasp of what I want in a picture or composition through these shorts, which are sort of throwaway, in all honesty.  Still, this photo is an intriguing look into my own photo processes and how seriously I can take my concentrated studies even in not-so good compositions.

I could actually do some really interesting things with the photo: manipulation, use over another photography to create even better textures, etc.  So, along with practicing in certain studies, I also look at ways I can actually use a photo like this in more creative ways.  See?  Everyone wins!  And now to Haley, who will discuss her methods behind her picture.

Haley:  So, my photograph from this set is quite a bit different from Jen's close-up mossy shot (which by the way, might benefit from super-saturation, while we're talking about how to photo edit it).  Nevertheless, we are actually taking a shot of the same thing.  Mostly.

Like Jen, this photo is a fairly good example of my photo-taking aesthetic. Jen likes texture and still life, I like nature and portraiture. (Also, I seem to suffer from a compulsory disorder that forces me to photograph Jen).

Unlike Jen, I'm pretty fond of this shot.  The composition, while not stellar, is good. The arching stone cradles Jen and draws our eye to her, meanwhile her positioning, sharing the center of the photo with the beginning of the moss draws our attention the mossy subject as well. Thus, we create a dual focus in the photograph, balancing the natural element with the spontaneous portrait.

This photograph also shows the benefit of a little photo editing (see original to the right).  I've slightly enhanced the color saturation here, removing the dull overcast gray of the day (which you can still see in Jen's photo above) and replacing it with a vibrant green.  This effect also emphasizes the underlying stonework of the moss-covered bridge and the texture of the moss itself.

Until tomorrow, when I shall update the blog with some of my latest favored shots.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

What I've Been Up To

Hi, all!  Things are gradually getting back to normal, as far as posts go.  It's still surreal down here in Alabama, but I want to do a huge shout-out to the people who have come together and helped out those in need.  We have really handled this terrible situation admirably.  So, say what you will about Alabama--but we're kind of awesome.

Now, back to our regularly-scheduled programming.

As the title has suggested, this week's Jen post deals more with the loose ends I've been working on with my unexpected time off from work.  I won't really go into too much detail analyzing the photos, but I will let you know that I've had quite a bit of fun sprucing up these photos in Photoshop.

Aye, I see with my eye.  (2011)
Hey, it's a photo over another photo!  Fancy that.  In a nutshell, I took a "texture" photo of river water, set in on Overlay (I think) as a new layer over the portrait, and adjusted the transparency settings.  Kind of neat.  I actually ended up using two duplicates of the texture photo, as it had been taken with my old point-and-shoot camera (whereas the portrait had been taken with my DSLR, Ernst).  It's worked out fairly well, though I want to fiddle around with it some more to see what I can do to make it even neater.  This is one of those photos that I have fun creating, and I created it because it's fun.  It's a nice respite from trying to be Ahtsy, particularly when I achieve nice effects, like this.

Bottles! - Lowe Mill, HSV, AL (2010)
Another fun foto (see what I did there), featured left, has a few things going for it: lighting, color, interest (if you like still life), etc.  I actually didn't have to do too much editing with this photo except for a bit of color saturation, but, were I to create a series of Bottle Photos (So indie!  So hipster-tastic!  So Etsy!), I may hold an art exhibit of these beauts in some decrepit log cabin.  Or at least display them in an apartment.  Still!  I like the photo's composition, particularly because the chain draws the viewer's eye all along with picture's length, thus emphasizing the bottles' colors and lighting. 

It was also a bit fun trying to wedge myself under these things.  I'm incredibly short, but I'm sure it was amusing watching me position myself.  For Aht.

Besides, it makes an oftentimes-lackluster art scene more interesting and bearable.

Haley Being Haley - March 2011
This last one is one of my favorite types of portraiture: spontaneous.  This kind of portraiture combines both skillz and luck (well, timing, rather), and I'm always very glad when my skillz get lucky.  This one was taken right as Haley was laughing evilly over beheading a Peep and smearing its head and body with red food coloring.  The evil glee is definitely obvious in this captured moment, and I'm quite pleased with the overall feel of the photo.  I mean, don't you want to evilly cackle along with her?  I know I do.

All right, kids.  Tomorrow will be another mixed post, featuring both Haley's and my photos of the same object, but interpreted differently.  Stayed tuned, and be sure to await the upcoming blog post with baited breath! 

Saturday, April 30, 2011

In the Land of Oz

Haley here. It does indeed feel a little surreal around here.  My family and I drove down to Hartselle today for ice and food.  I'm now sitting in a Starbucks in Decatur enjoying some internet time.  We're all so lucky right now not to have some of the hardships other areas of North Alabama are suffering at the moment.  I can handle lack of power and interwebs for a little while in exchange for that blessing.  *mad laughter* No, really.

So, a little late, while I'm killing time waiting for everyone else to finish up before we head home, I thought I might as well do a little blog post.  I find it appropriate that our theme for this week was supposed to be nature.  It certainly showed both Jen and I what it was capable of.   In celebration of everyone still being around, I thought I'd post some photos of the softer side of nature.  We've certainly had enough of its bolder awe-inspiring side lately.

Study of Bark
This picture was taken during a recent trip to Chattanooga at Rock City.  Phillip was in the process of poking fun at Jen for taking so many texture photos, when I decided that I needed to take one myself.  Texture!  Teeeeeextuuuuurre! (That's a jibe at Jen, by the way, dear readers)  I really liked the way the bark stood out in separate pieces and I decided that an upward angle would add nice composition, and voila.

I'm running on reserve battery power now, so don't expect too much more analysis. Jen, feel free to add some if you so desire.

This photo was also taken during the aforementioned trip, this time at the Tennessee Aquarium.  They have a lovely jellyfish display there at the moment, and I couldn't resist. I love the black background of this picture, particularly when paired with the glow of the jelly.  I also love the composition and angles created by the jellyfish positing its tentacle things (because I'm sure that's the technical term)

Phillip at Sunset
This was taken when I was still living in Tampa.  Phillip and I were driving me home to Alabama for a visit and we decided to stop off in Gulf Shores (before it was changed by certain environmental disasters).  It was December and so it was blessedly uncrowded.  We took a walk along the beach, collecting shells, when I noticed the compositional awesomeness of this photo op.  The silhouette effect created by the position of the sun, and the remaining beachy colors is amazing.

Anyway, that's all for me.  I'm about to head off to the no-power zone again.  I hope everyone is doing well.

Thursday, April 28, 2011


Jen: Some of you people may have heard that tornadoes swept across Northern and Central Alabama yesterday.  Fortunately, Haley, our loved ones, our unloved (but very well liked) ones, and I aren't splattered about all over the place, but there has been significant damage across multiple counties--and most of North Alabama's power is out.  (I'm located in one of the few places that actually does have power, and I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone.  Poor Haley and company do not have power at this time.) 

We at SLP extend our well wishes to those affected by the terrible weather.  Since recovering is the main priority, this blog has been put on another brief hiatus 'til all is in order.

We're pretty resilient over here in 'Bama.  We'll be fine.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Purdy Nature

 Haley here. This lovely post by Jen was actually posted on April 26, 2011. Blogger! *shakes fist*

Hi, guys!  We're back to our (kind of) regularly-scheduled programming.  As stated in the previous post, both Haley and I went though some exciting real life stuff last week, but things have simmered down enough for us to resume the awesomeness....ness.

But, anyway, I'm excited about this week's theme: nature photography.  I love nature photography, though I will admit that it's not one of my strongest points (though I am working on this and have improved quite a bit).  It's fun to go outside and capture what's buzzing about or invasively growing in your garden, and though I'd probably brutally murder both when invading my personal bubble, I aim to improve both composition and "interestingness" in my future study of nature photography.

To demonstrate:

Seahorse - Chattanooga, TN (2011)
Okay, so this one wasn't taken out in the wilderness, obviously.  The Chattanooga freshwater aquarium is filled to the tank with squishy aquatic things, and this little guy was particularly prone to modeling.  I particularly like the lighting in this photo, as the incredibly dark background and the glowing white of the seahorse lend an almost black and white feel to the composition.  The fact that the seahorse's body is partially concealed also provides a nice contrast to the rest of the dark aspects sprinkled throughout.  What I like about this sort of nature photography--one that involves a living, breathing animal--is the timing.  Animals do not give a damn whether you want to take a picture of them at a certain angle, and they'll move right along with their business (I'm thinking this is their way to, you know, "stick it to the man," or something).  Now, seahorses aren't fast-moving horses of the sea (they're definitely not mustangs, amirite?), but it is sometimes irksome to capture a moment in dim light.  Still, this photo came out quite well, and I am pleased with the overall composition.

Dead Rose - Athens, AL (2011)
Next up on our agenda is a pretty, dead (or dying, rather) rose from my backyard.  This past winter in Northern Alabama was especially frosty, which is great for us Southerners who like a bit of snow every now and then.  Another great aspect of the snowfall on this particular day was that it was also sunny outside--which contributed to awesome lighting and even better colors to certain objects, such as this rose.  I love Ernst, my DSLR camera, because it is able to capture lighting, color, and clarity to an alarmingly great degree, and this photo benefitted from it.  I like the composition of this photo, actually, because the flower, in its droopy...ness (give me a break; long day at work), takes up only the top half of the photo, leaving room for the white background to play off of the vibrant pink of the dying rose.  Awesome?  Yeah, I think so.  Besides, it's purdy.

So far, these are the two photos I am particularly fond of when considering nature photography (that I haven't yet shown in another blog post).  Studying nature photography is beneficial in many ways, as it not only encourages one to more critically observe his/her surroundings, but it also makes one go out and be active in ye olde wilderness.  (Or, in one case, go to an aquarium, which IS getting out there.)  I look forward to further developing my nature studies, especially now that the mountains 'round here are in full bloom.

'Til tomorrow!