ann arbor

Rainy Autumn Days

The fall colors this year have been a lot of fun to watch, especially here on campus. So I couldn’t let a little thing like a rainy day stop me from wandering and grabbing a few images.

Orange, yellow, green, muddy browns – all the October colors were there. Although the rain would knock many of the more colorful leaves down.

I haven’t had the time or energy to get out and take autumn photos like I’ve wanted to. We had the weekend up north, and lots of Halloween fun, but I feel like I’ve watched this autumn pass by. Thankfully, an umbrella makes dreary day image making possible.


Steps to Music Discovery

So Hard to Get Along

So Hard to Get Along – Ann Arbor, Michigan

Lately, I feel like I’m exploring more and more musical acts, especially in progressive rock and metal. So many musical discoveries have come from a combination of Spotify, YouTube, Amazon, and following the bands I love. I feel like I’m awash in music, and it brings me a lot of joy.

Don’t get me wrong: I still purchase my music, usually in physical form. I give myself a monthly musical budget, and I’m not afraid to spend that money.

But music discovery? Spotify makes this so easy.

The steps go something like this:

  1. Listen to a band I enjoy
  2. Look at the “Related Artist” tab on Spotify and poke around
  3. Check out YouTube to see if the artist has any music videos (remember those?)
  4. Head to Amazon to see what reviewers say about their albums
  5. Put an album in my Amazon wish list to reference later
  6. Purchase the album

Rinse, repeat.

I don’t do like the kids do these days and use Spotify (or Apple Music, or any other streaming service) for all my music needs. But I do find that it’s perfect for experimenting, and for checking out albums that I’ve always wanted to hear before I buy.

(And thank goodness for YouTube. If an artist is not on Spotify, chances are someone has ripped and uploaded their album to YouTube.)

For those bands that have been on the periphery of my musical tastes, digital music venues offer me a free sample. It costs nothing, except a potential album purchase down the road.

I haven’t been this excited about music since around the time I was in college, when so much good stuff was coming my way from friends in school and college radio. Today, the material is almost overwhelming, because now the entirety of rock and roll’s catalog is at my fingertips. A lot of these newly-discovered artists have quickly become some of my favorites. That’s a fun feeling.

Supporting my favorite artists with actual money is so important. Thanks to these streaming services, I can find more favorite artists to support.

(Follow along on Spotify if you’re interested in what I listen to!)


Photography As Fitness

Photography As Fitness

Since January, I’ve been working on a modest fitness goal: lose 10 pounds and start working out regularly again.

So far, so good. I’m down eight pounds, thanks to a combination of healthy eating and exercise, and I hope to reach my goal before the holidays (when I’ll really need to work on my discipline!).

Part of the program involves photography. Landscape, nature, and street photographers already know this, but including photography in your fitness plan is easy. You walk, you shoot, you get some fresh air – each thing reinforces the other. Heading out to shoot is a great excuse to get some exercise.

So that’s what I’ve done. I’ve made it a point to head out, especially during my lunch hours at work, and take a long walk, camera in tow.

The result has been a ton of new street photography experiments. Getting out and exploring Ann Arbor has been a lot of fun. And after a summer of getting outside, I’m really noticing the benefits.

A few tips:

  • Take your lunch hour and get outside. It’s your time!
  • Pick a new route to walk each day. This one’s easy for me, since I’m working in a new city, but note some new neighborhoods or parts of the city you haven’t been to, and go see those.
  • Your camera’s charged or loaded with film, right?
  • Start a project, and look to these walks as a way to accomplish it.
  • Walk at least once a week. After a while, you’ll look for excuses to do it more often.

Win-win, right? Fresh air, slimmer waistline, and an excuse to make photographs.


Tim Kaine Comes to Campus

Democratic vice presidential nominee Sen. Tim Kaine came to the University of Michigan’s campus on Tuesday.

I took my lunch hour to sit on the Diag and listen to his speech. It drew quite the crowd – even a half dozen pro Trump protestors (who didn’t find much sympathy here in Ann Arbor).

In America, a lot of politics is performance and theatre, both from those on stage and  in the crowd. It was a lot of fun to walk around and see the spectacle for myself.


Local Film, Local Photography

Support your local film photography vendor

Friday, during my lunchtime walk, I discovered a new camera store here in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

I walked in, and it had the usual suspects of a camera shop: new tripods, fancy bags and straps, a bunch of new Fuji and Nikon and Canon cameras sitting on shelves. And, a wall full of film.

Joy!

Because there are fewer and fewer places selling honest to goodness film these days, trying to snag a roll was random and difficult. If I didn’t want Kodak instant cameras or Fuji Superia, I was stuck using Amazon or B&H – especially for my favorites, Agfa Vista and Ilford HP5.

But CameraMall had those and more. Medium format film! Kodak Ektar! Weird Ilford film I had never heard of! My beloved Agfa! It was like a candy store. As a bonus, they also develop 35mm film.

It felt really, really good to plunk down the $10 for two rolls of film, knowing that I had a local place to shop from. They benefit (yay, camera stores!), I benefit, and somewhere down the line the photography industry benefits.

And really, the film costs the same in store as it does online, I get to geek out with the guy behind the counter, and it’s an excuse to get out of the office and go for a walk.

Find your local place, if you have one, and shop from their film selection (or memory cards, or tripods, or whatever). Order some prints. Check out their used gear section. I know ordering online is super handy, but the benefits of shopping local are numerous.

I’ll bet that after you do, like me, you’ll feel better about doing it.


Welcome to Art Fair

Every year, during the hottest week of the summer, Ann Arbor puts on a giant art fair, shutting down streets downtown and welcoming thousands of people over four days.

I’ve been to Art Fair several times, but this is my first time working on campus during the event. As the artists set up their booths, I walked around town grabbing some of the behind-the-scenes shots.

It’s fun, seeing the event before the event starts. A lot of the art was already on display, but many artists didn’t have their tent up yet, and their wares were sprawled out on the University of Michigan lawn, waiting for hanging.

There were these weird juxtapositions, like fake cactus and palm trees baking in the Midwestern sun, or giant metal sculptures just hanging out on University Ave. And hot. Everything was hot.

Should be a fun couple of days, trying to get into work.

For a few minutes yesterday, though, the setup gave me a great chance to wander around and see what I could see.

A suggestion: If you find an artist you like at one of these art fairs, a good way to support them is to buy a small print or notecard, especially if you can’t afford one of their bigger prints. I found one from photographer Amber Tyrrell that I really liked, so I bought a notecard from her. Three bucks and some change is an easy vote of confidence.

Any little bit of support helps the artists, helps the arts economy, and makes the whole humid thing seem worth it.