Monday, April 28, 2008

Photo o' The Day

Or Photo du Jour. However you want to say it.

I found a blog once, for a woman (suburban white mother who worked full-time, blah blah blah...basically, she's as vanilla as I am) who paints. I first typed "who is a painter." But then I deleted that and wrote "who paints." I think that's stronger. It's active instead of passive. My high school English teacher would be very proud, as she made us write our entire final paper senior year (all 25 pages...single spaced...with half-inch 10 point type...uphill both directions in the snow!) in active voice instead of passive. Doesn't sound hard? Try writing a single paragraph in all active voice and tell me what you think. We are a society of passive writers, I'm afraid.

I digress.

So this woman who paints...once she set a challenge for herself to paint a picture a day for a month. Wow. That's a pretty damn big commitment. I can't even get up at the same time every day (some days are two-snooze days, some days are a lot more), and this woman, this artist, challenged herself to paint a new picture every day. And painting is like a big damn deal, you know, because you have to get the canvas all ready and then think of something to paint, then actually paint it, and then there's the clean-up. I'd like to be a painter some day, but I think the clean-up would prohibit me from being successful. It's just too much damn trouble.

But if she can do all that work, just to paint one picture every day, along with working and raising a family and doing all that other living stuff, then why can't I photograph an image a day? Should be easier than painting, right? No clean-up! I mean, this is not to say that we photographers have it easy. Oh sure, in the digital age now we don't have to mix chemicals and fuss over water temperature and spend 30 minutes getting the darkroom prepped and then 30 minutes cleaning it all up again (chemicals need proper storage, after all)...but we have a whole new ballgame with the computer. Post-processing can be a bitch. Your technically perfect "negative" still has a lot that needs to be done before it's presentable.

For instance, even if my shot is framed just how I want it, and my exposure is dead-on, there are still certain things I have to do with it just to make it suitable for public viewing. First step is downloading, which depending on how much I've shot can take awhile. My "perfect" shots still require adjustments of levels and curves, plus sharpening. All of which needs to be tweaked by hand for each shot (after all, some require more sharpening than others). (And yes, contrary to popular belief, you can over-sharpen.)

Sometimes a little dodging and/or burning here and there (you can't expose for every pixel, after all). Then you need to save your raw file as a .tif, which makes it lossless and easier to work with, and then if you want to post it on your blog you have to "save for web," which cuts the size way the hell down (so much for lose a lot of data when you save for web) from a gajillion gigabytes to something more suitable for quick downloads. Then you gotta pull up that .jpg and size it so that if someone chooses to open the full size .jpg on their screen it fits, so you don't have folks trying to view your grand panoramic vista by scrolling left and right like mad. And when you pull up the .jpg you gotta tweak those settings just like on the original as "saving for web" is not so good with preserving all the work you put into making the original something you'd actually want to show.

So, yeah, even creating a photograph a day for a month would take a lot of commitment. And perhaps the pressure to post something that I'm less than happy with, just to get something up.

But it doesn't mean I can't try.

One caveat: if I'm feeling particularly uncreative, I reserve the right to pull from my archives. Hey. I'm busy here. I got a lot going on, and work is getting ready to spin up to heights of busyness heretofore unheard of. Ach. Screw it. Why put that kind of pressure on myself?

But I'm carrying the big dog camera with me all the time now, so let's see if I can't find something to photograph every day for awhile. Or at least stock up on the weekends to carry me through the week. Shot my wad down there with all the Zozer pix from Saturday, though. Damn. Shoulda saved 'em and strung 'em out. They'd have lasted me a good couple weeks. Oh well. Live and learn.

Here's my photograph for today:


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