Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seven days in November

I simply could not have picked a more appropriate week to chose "grey" as a prompt. In fact, I think my doing so might have brought on these biblical rains. Here are seven grey and soggy shots.




100:365 Not quite a murder. A manslaughter, perhaps?


101:365 Friday night at Victory Meat


102:365 A still from Carol Shields' Departures and Arrivals


103:365 My nightly ritual


104:365 Sodden love


105:365 The tree across the street


In case you haven't seen it, Painted Maypole celebrated her 100th photo by sharing a list of what she's learned so far. I started a comment over there today in response to her and Mary and Gwen, but I ran out of time to finish it. I've clipped what I said over there and pasted it here before adding a bit more on the end. Here then, is what I've learned so far:

"'I do, however, still fall into the trap of mostly taking pictures of my kid and pretty things in nature that strike my fancy.'

Yup. Uh-huh. I also agree with your next statement about those shots not always being selected as my picture of the day.

Let's see, what have I learned?

Like Gwen, I still rely too heavily on words, but if I could only be more like Gwen in my reliance on words, then I would be happy with how those words shape my photos b/c I do envy the way she yokes the two.

I use my DSLR regularly now. I can tell you why a 50mm lens is da-bomb. I have played far more with depth of field, shutter speed, manual focus, shifting focal point/weight, manipulating light with ISO and white balance settings, taking continuous shots in order to capture a moment, and shooting in black and white than I ever had in the past. I've learned the rule of thirds but I usually forget to apply it.

I now know what bokeh is and that I kinda like playing with it a lot. My results have not yet been ideal, though. I've also come to realize that I am drawn to extreme close-ups to the point where I fear my year will look myopic. Honestly, I must force myself to stand back from the object I want to shoot if I want to bring variety to this collection. I also realize that when I go back over my shots, I tend to prefer the long-shots because they are such a welcome relief in what is a never-ending stream of close-ups.

I've learned to lie down to get shots, or alternatively to stand on chairs. I've learned, sometimes not always, to notice where the sun is and why that matters. I've come to realize that there is no good interior light in my house to shoot by. I've also learned that I lack courage--the courage to shoot strangers, the courage to simply pull out the camera wherever/whenever and look like I am perfectly entitled to do so.

I walk down the street now seeking out the visual, whereas before I was always trapped in my wordy thoughts. I've learned not to feel anxious first thing in the morning that I won't get a shot in that day. I have learned to feel a bit defeated when by sundown I still haven't clicked the shutter.

I've come to realize that the people around me are really beautiful and dynamic in ways that I'd never really noticed. I've also learned that I like to take pictures of people even though I'm usually too much of a coward to do so.


One of the things I had hoped to achieve from this project was a slowing of memory loss. I don't know if that's working for me, but given that this week is supposed to be all about remembrance, I think it's high time I had a prompt that dealt with that concept in its broadest possible sense. So for this week, feel free to tackle memory.


  1. i love your photos. they speak to me of fall and rain and the texture of slightly wet things, not glamourous things but good, solid, comforting things. i hope they have given you some comfort.

  2. Wow, Sue, these are truly beautiful.

    I love all the things you've written, too. Hearing your perspective and about the things you've learned is thought provoking. I'm glad you do share words!!

  3. Sue, this is so wonderful to read. I'm so happy you've found your camera. Also: I'm still a coward when it comes to shooting adults. I feel the same way - there's such an affection for faces when you're thinking through a lens. But it's tough to then point the camera at someone, because 90% of the time, that person will either grimace, hide, or at best, glance sidelong and nervously. And from behind the camera, you feel like you're invading. All I ever want to do is say "No! No really! You look so lovely and please let me capture you and please trust me..." but I never do. Not the way I want to.

  4. Twitter made me look! Beautiful November pictures.


  5. regarding photographing people... yes! i try to capture the May Queen the most, of course, and she gets upset. I tried to take a lot of people photos when in FL for my grandfather's funeral, but none of them really captured the individuals. i got some nice group shots, but they aren't great photographs. I love extreme closeups of people, but they do feel so invasive. Maybe I need to have the telephoto lens on to capture them without intruding. I, too, suffer from the lack of courage to whip my camera out, and often think "what does that guy in the car think of me on the ground taking pictures of these pumpkins"

    Do I really care? Apparently so. I'm working on it.

    and oh... your prompt may just get me to try a technique I've been meaning to do. It would be perfect.

  6. Love your comments.
    For me, all those earlier fears about running out of time, etc., have resulted not in not taking photos--I still have those, though they have not yet been loaded, but in not looking at others' nearly often enough.
    I get around the courage thing sometimes. For instance, I'm really please with the shot I got of my step kid crossing the finish line at the regional cross-country meet. It was at the finish-line, and the organizers were shooing everyone away from that side of the track. I was wearing a fair bit of denim with a cap straight from Scotland. I looked artsy and photog-ish. I had actually been asked earlier whether I was a photographer. Anyway, I got out my telephoto lens, put my case over my back, went straight up to the organizer and chief shoo-er, said to her, "It must be a real pain to get people to stay where they're supposed to be." She agreed that it was. I grinned conspiratorially, walked across the track, and set up for the shot I knew was coming. She assumed I was someone significant, and left me alone to take my shot.
    I liked that, a lot.
    I have learned a lot from this, many of the things that you have, Sue, and others that I'm still pondering. It's been wonderful. And, like Juno says, I'm still in.

  7. Oooh! I was just thinking exactly the same thing - I lack courage. I don't even try to take photos of strangers (nor do I plan to start trying), but even simple, silly things - I pulled over today to finally take a picture of a barn that I admire every single time I pass by it ... but I wasn't brave enough to get out of the car where I could be seen by all the passing cars, so I just snapped a shot through my windshield instead. This is why I will never really be a photographer.

  8. Great photos! I'm glad you're getting a lot out of this project. I kind of wish I'd had the time to play along.

  9. Slightly late here--apologies.

    What I have learned? Well I too keep meaning to read the manual so that I can take more advantage of my camera’s features. Although it’s only a point and shot—it is a fairly fancy one and I know that I am not taking full advantage of its features.

    I still am not comfortable taking pictures of people (whether people I know or strangers) and most of the people pictures I’ve taken are pretty pedestrian. But I’m not certain that I want to devote a lot of time to improving my people picture skills. I worry that I could end up behind the camera taking pictures of an occasion, rather than experiencing it.

    Like Sue I’ve learned that perspective changes things a lot. Crouching down, standing up, laying down, moving to one side or another—it’s amazing how different angles change a picture. I’m not doing as well working with light—it’s more serendipity there.

    I too would like to make the inanimate and quotidian more interesting, memorable, photographic? I’m not sure exactly what word exactly captures what I want—but surely if this project is in part about capturing a moment in one’s regular day—then I should be taking more pictures of those everyday, overlooked things. The things that you both don’t notice when they are there (or think are boring), but notice when others admire them or when they disappear.