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photography

Families Belong Together March

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On a sweltering Chicago day, thousands of people turned out to protest the Trump administration’s family separation decree. By then they had promised they would reunite the families, but the system is fraught with problems, and everyone knew that it was not a solution. I joined the throngs with my camera, to capture their voices. I don’t necessarily agree fully with everything I saw, since a naive part of me still believes in civility in political discussion, but these are strange times…

in the clean fresh air

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I just got back from a trip to Colorado, one of my favorite places on earth. Granted, that seems a grand statement, for I have not seen a vast majority of the earth. So let us say… it is one of my favorite places on earth that I have visited thus far. And one thing I am oddly enamored of… the outhouses. No really. Outhouses. For you see, Colorado has some of the most scenic outhouses I have ever seen. Not old-fashioned relics of rickety clapboard with a moon cut out in the door, but actual functioning places in which to conduct one’s business while in pretty remote locations. Most up bumpy old mining roads. One of the main reasons I find these fascinating is simply the implications of what it took to get them there. The tenacity of early miners to get their equipment up there with nothing but a few recalcitrant mules already has me in awe, but in this modern day there are still folks out there (the Forest Service, local parks departments, volunteers) who not only built, but maintain and keep clean outhouses at 11,000 ft. Give or take a couple thousand feet. And so, as I tiptoe through the morass of pictures taken from this last trip, I submit to you one of the outhouses I came across in Eureka, Colorado. This is actually pretty accessible, gotten to by a county road (unpaved, all gravel, but still pretty easy compared to the mining passes.) It sits near the ruins of a massive old mill. Which I also have pictures of. But right now, you are more interested in the outhouse, aren’t you? I know you are.

Scenic Outhouse - Eureka Colorado

learning to love light. more.

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I must admit, I appear to have a long standing love affair with light. I started out as a stage lighting designer. Then I designed architectural lighting for theatres and small galleries. Then I went to grad school and fell in love with 3D, where once again, I could light, but this time I could defy physics by telling lights to cast or not cast shadows, or telling them to not cast light on certain objects at all, the discovery of which made me cackle maniacally in a the way only a lighting dork could. Then I started learning mental ray, the physics-based lighting and rendering system inside Maya, my program of choice at the time, and now I work with Vray, the physics based rendering engine for Cinema 4D, my current most-used 3D program.

And then I got a camera. Not a point and shoot. A nice DSLR. Then I got a better one. I got better lenses. I spent some time in the mountains, and received a book of Ansel Adams wherein he outlines his zone system for conceiving of and developing photographs, and I was suddenly yanked out of my virtual world of lights where I became a goddess of photon-based physics and back into an art form that is truly just the capturing of light. Everything we see is light bouncing off of objects, and in photography you are capturing the light as it bounces back into the camera lens.

But with all of my past build up of lighting, I had no idea how to actually manipulate light for the camera. A camera can not pick up nearly the range that the human eye can. Ask anyone who has ever taken a picture in a low light situation. You’ll see it. And so with my growing passion for photography, I decided to take a class in studio portrait lighting for photography so I could learn the magical ways of lighting in real life for an actual live camera. I have to confess… it makes me giddy. Somehow this has managed to reach all the way back to my early days working with theatre lights, pull it back into the present and combine all of that with my knowledge of the digital art world, and just concepts of composition in general. Below are a few of my favorite samples from the class. I am sure they are rough, because I literally just laid hands on lights for photography for the first time in this class, but oh my, the possibilities I can see…

communing with the jellies

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I am lucky to live in Chicago, a city with many fine cultural institutions. I am doubly lucky to have a friend who works for the Shedd Aquarium, one of these fine institutions, that can get me in to see the beautiful Jellies exhibit. I am triply lucky to have had my DSLR with me, and for the jellies to be one of the few exhibits bright enough to decently shoot without flash. They are mesmerizing little buggers.

Here is more of my maiden attempt at indoor contained aquatic photography.

sneakers

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I recently acquired a shiny DSLR that makes me ridiculously happy. Now I need to remember to stop and capture those moments I see a hundred times a day. Number one from this evening. Coming home on a foggy, rainy evening, and seeing the comforting sight of my neighbors’ shoes, stacked next to each other to dry from the rain. They are a sweet couple who are more attentive to one another than most couplesĀ  I know. Somehow this just struck me as emblematic of their sweetness.