Photo Challenge Day 1 – Winter Clothing

dec-1-winter-clothing_edited-1I am so glad that the challenge does not have to be worked in any certain order.   Work today seemed all consuming.   I spent part of the work day on the road.   I got back to the office with emails that I had to deal with yet today and phone to calls to return.   It was just one of those days where at the end of the day I was tired because nothing was easy.

I looked over the list and living in Montana we have lots and lots of winter clothes.  So I grabbed some winter clothes put them in front of the stove.   I laid down on my belly and shot it from all sorts of angles, and then swapped out clothes and tried it some more.   This ended up being the best with a little Photoshop Elements thrown in.

December’s Challenge

If November was not challenge enough, I am taking on another one in December.   This month I am going to challenge myself to take a photo a day.   I follow a Worqshop, woman’s blog who’s creative work I admire.   On the last day of the November she told of this challenge she was doing for December.    I thought it sounded interesting enough to try it for myself.    I have tried photo challenges before, but failed often because I limit myself to scenic photography.  In my mind that requires you to get out and drive some place to find that shot.    This is further hindered by the fact that I work virtually for my employer from home, so many a  day I never leave home.   There is not even the drive to work  for me.      This challenge is definitely not scenic.  It will not only challenge me each day to take a photo but also will challenge my composition skills in ways I haven’t be challenged in in a long time if ever.      Here is my list of what I am to photograph this month.  Notice the third from last item; how could I not participate in this challenge?

I will be posting those to my Pinterest account at DianaAtLooking and possibly do quick posts here as well.

Remember to Print and Share You Photos

Everybody clicks today, but do they share?

Today there is a new accessibility to photography.   Even the dumbest cell phone can take some kind of photo.  Which is great because so many more family moments are getting captured.   Unfortunately in this digital age very few of these snapshots are getting saved in a means that will likely survive time.   Before the digital age the only way to know what you took was to have your film processed.   For most of John Q Public that also included printing your photos.

I have boxes of photos taken before the digital age.  There are many that my husband and I have taken.  My mother had tons of photos she took and she has gone through them as well, labeling them, and sharing them with the kids.    Before that  grandparents had photos they saved and passed on.   By the very act of printing photos they were preserved.   Someone has to look at them and consciously pitch them in the trash.   It increases the odds they will survive.

In this age of digital photography we tend to share photos by asking people to look at the back of our phones.     That for most photographers is as far as it goes.   If you are a little higher up on  preservation, you are moving photos from your phone or camera to a computer.    Being a tech-weenie I can not tell you how many times folks have called me and said I lost my pictures or music.    Most folks never back things up, so history is lost in many cases.   In a perfect world that stuff on your computer gets backed up to a  local external hard drive and some cloud based place.

Even if you are preserving your digital photos on the cloud odds are when you are gone no one is going to look through them determining what to save and keep.   Odds are when you are gone so is your digital photo history and the significance of them.

Five years ago a social acquaintance at a mutual friends birthday party showed me the answer to preserving memories.   Print your digital photos and share them.    This acquaintance was there with her digital camera recording the friend’s party.   Two weeks later in the mail I got a snapshot of my husband and I walking hand in hand she had taken, with a post-it on it that said “We don’t often get pictures take by others. Enjoy!”  This picture still sits on our bedroom dresser, it was a great moment she caught, because we seldom are folks who PDA even as simple as hand holding.  It is a rare moment saved.

I can’t tell you how many times at gatherings someone has asked to take our picture.   We are dressed up and think yeah this would be a good photo and yet we never see it.    We have all been there.  Today many photos are shared on Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Flickr and other online social media.    It is there for the day and then as more stuff comes in it is lost in the shuffle.   I recently saw a family snapshot taken by a waitress in a restaurant of friend’s family.   It was an amazing photo of the whole family.    Hope they print a couple and share all of them together smiling deserves to be looked at a year from now.

How can you do this print and share?   I suggest:   If you have a color printer it may be as simple as that.   I personally like sending them to a local pharmacy or discount store and having them printed “traditional.”   Whatever works best for you.   Bring a smile to some one’s face.   Be an unexpected bright spot.   Be the only thing in the mailbox besides bills.     Who knows someone might pay it forward and you will receive the same?  Preserve and share some memories this holiday season as you gather with family and friends.

Another one off the List

Yesterday my husband and I visited the Holter Museum in Helena, Montana.   It was on my list of things to visit before I leave Montana.

It was the first time I had been there, though several of my friends had visited it before and it was a highly recommended stop.   We finally made the trip because it had an exhibit of Ansel Adams works and I wanted to see his work once in person.   It had two other exhibits Montana’s Living Landscape and Black Pinto Pony, Monte Yellow Bird.

We arrived to discover that there was no admission charged, a suggested freewill box was by the door along with a guest registry.   I can tell you that a free admission opens the doors to so many who might not otherwise explore art.    I remember years ago as a student in Minnesota, Thursday night at the Minneapolis Institute of the Arts was free.   A girl from a small town in Illinois went almost every week because as a student free was good entertainment.  As a young woman with no idea about art I  got to experience the Dutch Masters; learned what the Impressionist were;  see original van gough; saw King Tut and other goodies from his tomb;  saw the works considered to be America Sublime, including  Thomas Cole, Albert Bierstadt and Thomas Moran;  see Picasso and other work from modern art, some I learned to like some and others I could never figure out.

Ansel Adams understood the power of cropping.

The gallery was not packed but it had a steady flow of visitors.  I overheard one  visitor say they had never see it so busy.   I enjoyed the landscapes that one has come to associate with Adams, but some of my favorites were of images I had no idea he too.  Portraits and cityscapes.   I always knew from past study that Adams was a master with lens filters, anticipating the moment when to click the shutter, knowing what to crop, and a master in the darkroom.    What I did not know is he had taken photos at the Manzanar Internment Center, when the Japanese Americans were relocated.  He published a book of that work.   He also took some portraits though as you can imagine it wasn’t his favorite submit.   I so enjoyed those, but haven’t be able to find many of those in a Google search to share with you. He also took photos of San Francisco.   Something I would never have imagined.   I so enjoyed getting to know the photographer for more than his famous black and white photos of Yosemite.

The Montana Living Landscapes was a collection of local photographer’s work.   Some of it moved me.  Others of inspired me to be more creative and use my camera more.   Much of it inspired me, and some of it like all art I looked at and said that is art?

This work by Kate Davis clearly qualifies as art.

The last salon had the works of Black Pinto Horse, Monte Yellow Bird: Stories, Traditions and Faith.   It was interesting in that it used old papers as the basis for his art.   It was a traditional Native American work inspired by the paper he found.   They were almost full of subtle nuances that you could only find by looking at all the details and trying to tie the artist work with the paper it was done on.

I so enjoyed my visit I recommend to to anyone.   It is a small enough museum that you don’t need to plan to spend more than an hour or so.      It will be something I will try to take in each time I run to Helena.   Like any museum it will expand your horizons.

My visit the Holter Museum reminds me of why I put access to the arts on my list of criteria when thinking about a place to retire.   I want to continue to learn about the arts and expand my horizons.

Taking Photos

I love to take pictures.  Here is a picture taken of me, wading out into the Wise River to get just the right picture.   Let me tell you that mountain stream water is cold even this late in the season.

Capturing the perfect shot.

Digital Changes Vacation Pictures

Town Signs

I have been taking pictures for years.  I got my first camera while still in grade school, a used box camera, that took large format black and white.  Since that time  I have taken thousands of pictures; owned more than my fair share of cameras and equipment.  One of the things I have learned is as part of the yearbook staff is  that we need to document our pictures.  Who, what, where and when.   What seems like an event you will never forget, overtime the details become less clear. I see thousands of unmarked pictures every year at antique stores and estate sales.   Without names no one wants them, they no longer have meaning though they are part of history.

When we go on vacation we take lots of pictures, and now with the digital camera we take even more. There is no more limiting our vacation pictures to rolls of 12, 24 or 36.   No more thinking about what film developing costs and being stingy with our memories.   Today we get home and upload our hundreds of new pictures  to our computers and the debate is on.  Where was that?  Is that the Lion’s Peak, take near Superior or Lamb’s Point by Morris, we saw both of those that day?

Sign of Where We Spent the Night

Almost every picture software has the ability to see properties.   Properties will tell you the date and time of your picture.   It is not necessary to set your camera to put that date on every picture.   It is there behind the scenes, sort of like the old dates that appeared on the white when you developed your pictures.   Properties also allow you to add captions and tag your pictures.   Captions are notes that tell the story.  Captions are more conversational.  Tags are searchable notes.   I tag everyone in a picture.  I also tag the location (some photo programs call this a geotag-geographic tag).  Tagging is great when you later want to find all the pictures of  Glacier Park, you search for that tag.  The same can be done for a person, pet, or any other tag you enter.   My only caution is don’t over tag to the point you can’t remember.   I tag all my sunsets, vistas, as scenic; not as each type of scenic.  Tag the way your brain works, that is the best advice for tags.

In the days when we were stingy, this would sound like insane advice, take pictures of signs!  Because you can delete pictures you don’t want and they did not cost you a red cent, you can take place reminder pictures.  Those reminder pictures will make tagging your pictures so much easier.  Take pictures of road signs with town names on.  Take a picture of the sign when you enter a park.  You don’t have to stop unload the family, it can be a blurry snapshot taken out the car window as you drive by.   But when you start looking at pictures a home these signs will fill in your details so much faster, accurately and with more detail.   Don’t be afraid to take a picture of your hotel sign each night.  Yes the date on the properties of the picture will tell you when it was taken, but you will likely remember your vacation relative to a hotel or restaurant more easily than date.   This habit is also great for those of us who keep a camera and find ourselves taking this vista or that an then not downloading our pictures right away.   A week from now it is sometimes hard to remember where was I when I took that picture.  When you are done tagging all your pictures you can delete all those unwanted hotel, restaurants and road signs.

Signs are Much More Fun When Someone will Get in the Picture

Lastly print a few pictures, not on your digital printer, but sent them out to a local pharmacy or online photo printer.   When they arrive remember to write on the back who, what, when and where. In this digital age we tend not to print pictures.   I fear that as a result pictures of a whole generation may be lost.   You don’t see folks buying up old negatives, or them surviving to make it to antique stores, museums or estate sales.   Your pictures on your portable drive, or computer will not likely survive if they don’t get printed.   As a person who does genealogy and family history.   I can tell you everyone wants to see pictures.   Don’t let your family be a generation who has no pictures who survives.

Lost Essence

Moon setting in the early morning at Gordon Reese Cabin.

I have always loved photography. Now with the digital age one can easily take hundreds of pictures.    I miss that capturing of the true reflection of light on the film, the lines, the colors, all of that has been lost with the end of Kodachrome and the migration away from print photography. On the other hand the digital age has reduced the expense, and most days I can live with the pixels and 200% magnification.

No matter what your photograph  digital or traditional, I find that you can get a great scenic picture, but you can never truly capture the essence of the sunset, sunrise or other magnificent outdoor event.  I am not sure if it is knowing the sounds that were there when I took the photo or feeling the breeze on my face but I always feel like something is missing  in even my best photos.   In spite of that we keep taking pictures, as we should.