Prehistoric Forest – Irish Hills, Michigan
“How learning works: ‘you practice music scales so you can forget them when playing music.'” – Luke Wroblewski
Same goes for technique and photography, or color theory and design. Make the technical stuff muscle memory, then go out and do what you feel like doing.
(That’s The Neal Morse Band in Cleveland, Ohio. Great show, and great new double concept album.)
Back on New Year’s Day, I came down with something terrible: fever, chills, aches, and an all-encompassing drowsiness. It was so bad I had to cancel holidays plans with my family.
By day three, I was going stir-crazy, so the boy and I headed outside during an unseasonably warm January day to get some fresh air. It had to help, even a little, to take a walk around the neighborhood.
We walked our usual path down by the lake, and through the neighborhood trails – to the giant pile of concrete rubble that sits on the farm property just outside the residential zone.
The walk didn’t end up helping all that much, long-term, but to my feverish head and aching lungs, breathing that foggy Midwestern air provided a much-needed break.
John Carey at 50 Foot Shadows, after his X-Pro broke, picked up a classic Canon 5D after a long absence.
Funny thing happened in that, I found myself inspired by the change of pace. The original 5D has such a beautiful sensor, it’s like changing film. While I miss flexibility in ISO and dynamic range the photos I get from the 5D are moody, colorful, contrasty, they really have a life of their own, in fact, as some of you already know, the camera defined my style 10+ years ago when I started to shoot with it.
Carey took a look back to when he first put down his 5D. His feeling then matches my own now: “This is a still photo camera. There is no shame in that.”
No shame, indeed. In fact, I see it as a point of pride. When you want to take pictures, you pick up a picture-taking machine.
Fun look back at the history of US-12 at Concentrate Ann Arbor:
Michigan Avenue has been recognized for its significance as a Historic Heritage Route. Given the fact that it’s persisted so long and been so essential to the state, it seems more than fitting to refer to this road, which spans the entire east-west length of the state, as Michigan Avenue.
US-12 has fed a life-long fascination for me, and is becoming a long-term photography project. It’s a road, and an area, rich with history.
Maybe it’s waking up out of winter, or maybe it’s just a little more sunshine affecting my brain – but I recently splurged on some photography gear.
This year, to kick off my project, I treated myself to a new camera strap from Gordy’s. It’s not going to make my photos better, and it’s not one of those $100 artisan leather products that get all the reviews. It’s a simple leather strap that holds my Canonet around my neck. And it’s dark brown, with red and burgundy accents.
It’s half fashion, half pragmatism. My old strap was a simple nylon affair, thin and unassuming. It did the job, sure, but not well, and it wouldn’t win any beauty contests. With this new leather strap, at least I feel like human beings made it with attention and care.
I also have this thing where all my camera straps need to be brown. Whatever.
Today is my birthday. I turn 36.
Today is also the start of a project – one that I’ve thought long and hard about since the holidays. It involves taking a photograph every day for a year and not sharing it with anyone.
Then, at the end? I’m not sure. I’ll figure it out when I get there.
That number keeps circling around my brain: 36. Thirty six. More than halfway to Old Man.
An idea is brewing.
Time to break out the Canonet.
After thinking about my favorite type of camera – small, single lens, 35-45mm range – I loaded a roll of Agfa Vista 400 and hit the streets for a just-starting-to-feel-like-spring afternoon in Ann Arbor.
From loading to dropping film off at the camera store took less than an hour. I had 24-ish chances to capture something walking around an unfamiliar neighborhood. And I had 40mm to express what I saw, with a rangefinder focusing mechanism to express it.
I also had a serious limitation: the bright, sunny afternoon was killer when the Canonet’s highest shutter speed was 1/500. That, combined with a 400 ISO film speed, meant having to pull the ISO down a bit, or else the camera refused to take a photo. Chalk it up to one big learning experience.
The point is, I took the Canonet for a spin, and blew through a 24 exposure roll of film. That old saying about potato chips, that you can’t eat just one? Same rule applied to that roll of Agfa Vista. It was easy to just keep visually snacking.