Monday, March 23, 2009

My Pictures

I use a Canon SX100 pocket camera powered by two double A batteries. It has 10x zoom and a variety of settings of which I use but the simplest. Many pictures I take with the auto setting and for distance shots I focus on the whitest spot and create contrast quickly and easily, rather like the old polarising filter on film cameras. Sometimes i set the camera to the shutter speed (Av setting) and set the light to whatever conditions apply ( tungsten for indoors cloudy or sunny for outdoors) and I play with shutter speeds to get the contrast I want. Other than that it's point and shoot.

Bill Lovejoy of the Santa Cruz Sentinel told me his main "trick" many years ago and he said get in as close as you can. Can't go wrong if you get in close. So I try to do just that. Sometimes I need to take pictures from further away so I try to make them interesting by the angle or putting something ( a Bonneville?) in the foreground. Or I hold the camera up over my head or I lay in the dirt.
Making mistakes is easy to deal with because you can check your picture there and then. I try to erase pictures I don't like right away so when it comes time to download I just have the right number of pictures for the essay. I don't use photoshop or any enhancing medium. If I screw up the perspective I crop from time to time ( I did that a lot on the Closely Observed Riders essay).
Following from my habit as a radio journalist where I carried lots of cassette tapes and flipped them out of my recorder when I heard a good comment I write to the pictures mostly. When I was composing long radio stories I listened to the sound bites at the end of each cassette recording and wrote to the soundbites. Nowadays I look at the pictures and decide what I want to say which makes the writing easy, so each essay takes me about an hour to write and clean up once I have the pictures downloaded onto the "New Post" page on blogger.
I try to keep up to a week's worth of pictures lined up in the "Edit Posts" page ready to publish themselves automatically at 12:01 am each morning, so I try to keep the writing generic using the old journalistic standby "recently". If the text gives a timeline it's because I wrote and published it that day and moved the others back to give that essay a particular published date. Otherwise the pictures could easily be up to a week "old." I mention that only for people wondering how I keep publishing one a day...
Night photography takes a lot longer as I experiment much more with shutter speeds. Sometimes the "auto" function works a lot better, other times I use the "Av" stting and manually adjust shutter speeds. Sometimes I like the "golden effect" and use a daytime setting, other times I like the cold white effect (on Casa Marina Court) and use the "tungsten" setting. Up to about a half second shutter speed I try to hold the camera, above that it usually requires balancing the camera or using the gorilla pod. If I balance the camera on the top case I have to turn the engine off as the Bonneville at idle gives the camera the shakes. Frequently with the gorilla pod (a very slinky type of short tripod) I have to use the delayed shutter release (auto timer function) to give the camera a chance to stop shaking before the shutter releases. It took me 45 minutes to get the dozen pictures for Casa Marina Court essay and there were no "spares." Thus I prefer to sleep in the recliner during my lunch breaks in the middle of the night...
I hope that helps in response to queries. I am not a photographer I shoot places and faces and I produce a blog I'd like to see more of : nothing more complex than daily life as it is lived. I find the photo a day concept too restrictive because I enjoy words too, and a photo a day allows for no nuances. I don't do art pictures or clever compositions because I am not an artist. You may use any pictures or words anywhere at any time- there are no copyrights I give a shit about . I do just ask that you give me attribution because I did do the legwork. I want no money, no advertising and I am open to suggestions for essays. Sometimes I forget, sometime s it seems too much like hard work, sometimes I am simply not organized. Subjects I am holding in my brain are Duval Street Food, Mailboxes, Manatees and something else I forgot.
PS I don't let my blog interfere with family time with my wife. That would kill this effort deader than dead. Luckily I have lots of time to myself. I enjoy my own company. I don't write about the Police Station because I like my job and I genuinely enjoy going to work. I am skittish about local politics because this is a very small town. If you want to read my thoughts on the economy I have my Mr Hyde website at Conchscooter's Common Sense where I vent my aggravation at the economic nightmare much of this planet is now facing. It is not a joyous place, because I see no joy in our economic future. It's there for me to get things off my chest without smearing them across these happy pictures. About which I have now said plenty.


Singing to Jeffrey's Tune said...

Nice, thank you for that. How do you push all your pictures to Picasa and then pull into the blog? I have been having trouble with that. Any advice (other than read the FAQ, did that).

irondad said...

Please don't tell anybody, but I really like your blog. It's because of what you described. I enjoy your commentaries on the photos. Sometimes it's just a description. Other times there's a bit of a bite to the words. Like we're seeing just the tip of a mean streak.

The photos are a shallow snapshot of a moment in life. Your words reveal a glimpse of a person I'd enjoy getting to know a little better.

Got to go, now, I'm starting to feel warm and fuzzy. I hate it when that happens!

Allen Madding said...

Irondad - having had dinner with the author, I'd have to say your take is spot on. You need to make a trip to Key West and sample the plantains.

He is quite out going and loves meeting readers. I hear he will even give an autograph if asked nicely.


Conchscooter said...

blogspot uses picasa to store the pictures but I've never bothered to use it. It just sits there. I pay my $20 a year so blogspot sotres everything for me and I retrieve what I want from the blog pages.
As for Allen- thanks, I look forward to wringing your neck when you come back and irondad is so swet I amy have to reak down and cry. Yuck.

Unknown said...

yikes, what have we done !!

Irondad: said "I'm starting to feel warm and fuzzy. I hate it when that happens!"

Conchscooter: said ". . . and Irondad is so sweet I may have to break down and cry. Yuck."

time to leave you two lovebirds alone now . I feel so left out.

bobskoot: wet coast scootin

Jack Riepe said...

Dear Sir:

Thank you for a glimpse into your creative process. I was especially intrigued by the mental editorial schedule you maintain, and your method of collecting pictures for your blog.

While I too have a process for choosing topics, it is far less organized and resembles a crock pot of simmering scenarios that I have blundered through at one point or another. I regret the truth factor in my stories, particularly the ones where women slip me the thin edge of the wedge, is rather high.

My pictures are taken as afterthoughts or by someone else as it usualy hurts too much to get on and off the motorcycle, owing to the arthritis. But your influence is such that I intend to make a stronger effort to acquire more local color... Starting with the divorcee next door, who sunbathes in the buff.

Your blod is a tonic for the common man.

Fondest regards,
Twisted Roads

Anonymous said...

Just wanted to write to say that I recently found your blog and have begun to follow it daily. My wife and I love Key West and are frequent visitors. Your blog offers a look at the Key West that few tourists get to see and I applaud you for that. If you ever get a moment and are so inclined, check out my Key West photo galleries on my web site or blog.

All the best,

Conchscooter said...

Er, yours are the pictures I should be taking but as is most abundantly clear by now I hope, I just wander round and point and shoot and sort of hope for the best.Perhaps I should re-name slapdash key west. It's fun though isn't it?

Anonymous said...

It's definitely fun, yes, but really more of an addition. Whenever we visit, I really can't wait until I can wander around in the quiet calm of morning and go exploring. We're convinced that one day we'll move down. Until then, I'll have to be content with visiting as often as we can and taking pictures.

Keep up the good work!