This is a little experiment. You may be wondering why in the world is there a photograph of the back of a restaurant featuring a blue box and a mop handle on this site? Well, as I was walking with a DSLR photography student this scene immediately caught my eye. Before reading below, can you see what I found interesting about this subject matter and why I photographed it? Let me know in the comments if you saw it at first too.
What I saw was a smiling face. It reminded me of perhaps the only commercial I ever liked in my life, an American Express ad that featured all kinds of inanimate objects that looked like frowning and smiling faces. To me it was a kind of simple genius. I also think it would make for a great photography project, if not finding smiles, then something similar to what they did in the ad.
I find it amazing how simply appearing to have a face can anthropomorphize an object. When I look at that blue box it makes me feel a bit warm inside to see its curvy smile. Is the mop handle a long nose?
Post links to your photographs of random inanimate object smiles (or frowns) below in the comments. Here is the commercial:
A recent trip to Rainbow Springs proved to be very fun, and also very fruitful for photography (waterfall, landscapes). The most unexpected find of the day was a zoo haikyo. In our excitement to go swim in the cool waters of the spring and escape the monumental Florida heat, we totally missed the posters at the entrance showing the history or the springs. Now they exist only as a swimming hole and a gift shop. However, when the springs first opened in 1934 it was an entertainment complex as well, complete with a monorail and the aforementioned zoo! All of that closed in 1973. We saw no trace of a monorail, not that we knew to look for one at a time. The zoo haikyo was baffling to us as well, since we were just walking through the forest looking for the waterfalls, and all of a sudden cages and iron bars.
At first it was even hard to tell the place was a zoo. Around a corner a small sign saying this place was a zoo confirmed it. I do not think many modern zoos construct the cages out of such natural elements like stone as they did in 1934, but then again, not that I frequent zoos as I view them as prisons, but I guess modern zoos have mostly done away with barred cages or confined areas.
Thankfully these cages will house no more animals, and have not for a long, long time. So long in fact that tall trees have sprouted right in front of a former viewing area. As one often wonders with haikyo, why were these structures even left behind? Could not the stones walls be used for something else? Perhaps the owners wanted to preserve the historical heritage of the springs.
Beyond the regular cages, further into the woods, things got a bit creepy, if not scary. I of course, having an active imagination, believe in monsters, and if it were not for some companions with me to go in first, I do not know if I would have squeezed through the outer fencing and walls to enter the above dark, dilapidated structure. The 1/2 second exposure makes things look a good bit brighter than they were, and on top of that mosquitoes and horse flies were swarming around. I tried to sacrifice my body to get some shots, but I did rush nevertheless.
Now, it is darn useful to explore haikyo when some of your companions are civil engineers! For example, he told me that the brighter stuff on the ground in the photo above, which kind of looks like light green moss, is actually asbestos! I really wanted to get a photograph of this, and had to really sacrifice the body as we were swarmed with insects, to get the shot I wanted I had to shorten the tripod to just two feet off the ground, and to expose things the camera need 1.6 seconds, a seeming eternity to hold perfectly still while holding the shutter down and you dare not look down at what is biting your ankles.
Despite all that, it was really fun and definitely a cherry on top of one of my best days back in Florida. Plus, my civil engineer friend has now caught the haikyo bug and wants to go out exploring more soon. His wife is also one and has to inspect places deep in the countryside and has found haikyo for us to check out next. I will wear pants for sure and long sleeves too!
My DSLR Photography Lessons with Chris are a little different than others. I find his photography questions push me and to answer them I have to reveal my photography secrets. Though they are not secrets at all. They are out there on every street in the world. It's just up to one to find them, to feel them, to use them.
I learned DSLR photography, or rather what I know of it, out on the streets of Tokyo. I took thousands of shots a month.
The second lens I ever bought was a Nikkor AF 50mm f/1.8D. For at least ten days I was studying about it, building it up in my mind. By the time I finally bought it was beyond stoked. All this for a piece of kit that cost only around $100! However, like most photography gear, there is no magic wand built into it. There was a learning curve necessary. However, once I taught myself to be competent with it, again by taking thousands of shots, I loved the lens and used it often, out on the streets.
So during our third lesson (1st, 2nd) this morning, when Chris asked me, "how do you know what to photograph?" (paraphrasing), a question I have been asked before by students, I could not answer at first because I do not know what to photograph by words, I photograph by feel. My mind is always framing the world in terms of shots. I am never not looking at things like a shot, unless I consciously turn that thinking offline.
I ended up telling Chris to just shoot what looks interesting to you, what makes you feel good to shoot, and that will show itself in your shots. I told him I shoot first and foremost for myself, to make photographs that I, myself, like. If others like them, great. If not, as long as I made a shot I liked, that is enough for me.
I took Chris into my favorite alleys in downtown St. Petersburg. He had an interest in photograph shadows. We found this fire escape pattern in foul odored section of a back alley near the postoffice, a place I purposefully shot in before. I encouraged him to get low, to go at off angles, and to shoot at f/2 with his own 50mm f/1.8D lens. Play with the DoF. Find the angle that makes the shot a photograph of interest to your own eye.
I really enjoyed this philosophy of photography lesson and to be reminded of how much I like to shoot with my 50mm prime lens, a lens I almost never use in my paid work.
Most of the weddings I have been photographing lately have been on the beach at sunset. This one was also on the beach, but in the late morning. Even in May this mean we would feel the Florida sun's near full wrath. I was of course clad in synthetic breathable materials, very breathable. The bride, however, was in a beautiful but no doubt not breathable wedding dress. So I made sure we made for what shade there was to get shots like the above, that both gave cover from the strong sun rays as well as softer light. That shot also took a good amount of time to setup, making sure the hand placement was flattering, the strobe was coming in at the best angle, all while I was quite far away shooting with my Nikkor AF ED 80-200mm f/2.8D lens, at the full 200mm. I wanted a shallow DoF (depth of field) for the shot requiring me to use a large aperture and long focal length.
The sky was very blue that morning and the sea, BP oil free still, very green. One is usually always pressed for time when doing the formal shots after the wedding ceremony, all the more so when guests are under threat of melting. The bride, Cathie, and her maid-of-honor were the only two in full wedding attire. I tried to work as fast as I could to get the shots they wanted of the two of them together. We were in direct sunlight for the above shot, no diffuser.
In the end everyone survived, though perhaps a pound or two lighter. The wedding reception was to be at Ft. Desoto Park, where I am sure Cathie was happy to finally be out of wedding dress!