Apr 14, 2006

Taking pictures and stuff

In my job as a graphic designer/typesetter I have to prepare photos for print. Sometimes that means scanning paper originals; nowadays it's adjusting digital "originals". It also means cropping the photos. I learned how to do that from Grandpa.

My maternal grandfather, originally a diesel engineer and a good mechanic, was given the suggestion to take up photography so he'd have a hobby when he retired. He turned out to be a natural, and won several prizes at some local amateur shows. He learned to develop his own black and white photos and there were times when Grandma told me I couldn't use the bathroom for the next half hour because Grandpa was developing photos. I don't remember that as being a nuisance. Instead, it became anticipation: We'd soon get to see his new pictures.

He was critical of his own work, but he achieved perfection several times. Grandma would paint from his landscape photographs, and somewhere in my stuff is a very descriptive black and white photo of a very young me getting drawn by a street artist. I took home dozens and dozens of his color slides as my "inheritance" and one day hope to go through them and hopefully transfer them to digital. Anyway, I watched him work, and he let me mess around with an old box camera, giving me pointers on framing my subject, lighting, exposure, etc. I even went as far as getting an SLR camera of my own, but it fell into disuse some time in the 80's.

I use my "eye" at work and for years didn't bother with much picture-taking beyond the usual vacation snaps. With the advent of digital cameras, I rekindled my old hobby, and also discovered that I had actually forgotten some of what I once knew about composition, and had to re-teach myself. During today's walk I took some pictures. The disappointment comes often from having a camera that just isn't able to "see" what I see. Cropping the photos afterwards can help put the idea I had back into the picture, though not always successfully. My two best efforts, pretty much right from the camera (a simple Canon ixus V2) from today's walk are here:

The green moss on the trunks stood out and fortunately my camera saw it, too.

Snowdrops. I put the camera on macro and I love the feel of depth because the background is out of focus (for a change).

A third effort is this view, which looked striking as I stood on the path, but which just didn't translate through the lens, and cropping wasn't enough. Using iPhoto's vignette feature made the picture work, if not perfectly. (I notice that scaling the picture down also detracts from it.)

For more of my photos, I have a bunch of albums on my dot Mac site.

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