Friday
Jan192018

WIRR 2018, January Week 2

This was my first full week without taking daily photos. I actually went hiking on Sunday for the specific reason of getting a good photo before the week was over. And I did, I got a good photo. Not a great photo, but a good photo. One that I could post without embarrassment. But then a funny thing happened. Out of habit, I reviewed the images that I shot over the week. And, in fact, I had taken a picture the previous day, of a light fixture in Torchy’s Tacos. Not only was it good, it was better than good. I’ve been collecting photos of ceiling lamps over the past few years, and I found I really liked this one. This became my favorite image of the week.

Spiral Lights

iPhone X, standard lens, Halide app.

Digital Darkroom. The big change here was to use the Touch Retouch app to clean up the image. I had to take out an electrical outlet, a fire suppressant sprinkler, and two walls that intruded into the sides of the photograph. After that, the simple clean lines were all I needed. Minor changes to clarity and whites and I was done.

In case you were wondering, here was the other image:

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

 

Wednesday
Jan172018

WIRR 2018, January Week 1

The Gardens on Spring Creek are a set of community gardens in Fort Collins. While the focus is obviously on botanical exhibits and programs, every year they transform the grounds into the Garden of Lights, an impressive Christmas light display. This year we visited in early January. I had a lot of fun shooting photos, including a number of shots where I zoomed the lens during a long exposure. This shot, though, was simpler, just a collection of red lights made to look like a flower. It became my favorite image of the week.

Red Ball of Lights

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 55mm, f/5 at 1/60, ISO 400.

Digital Darkroom. The main focus here was on cleaning up the image. I used Touch Retouch to clean up some small lights and reflections in the background. I lowered shadows and blacks to make sure the background was a solid inky black. Finally I cropped the image to a square to emphasize the symmetry.

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

 

Saturday
Jan132018

Reflections on 365 Photos

At the beginning of 2017, I started a daily photo project. Every day I took a photo and posted it on my Instagram feed. 365 images later, the project was complete.

 

Image #365

 

 

I’ve Done This Before

Long-time readers know that I’ve done this before. From May 2015 to July 2016, I did another 365-photo project. Back then, I restricted myself to using my iPhone camera, both because I wanted to learn how to use it better and because I always had my phone with me. I enjoyed shooting daily, and achieved my goal of learning how to take quality images with an iPhone. By the end, though, it turned into a slog, and the “daily” project turned into a “4-6 days a week” project. It was a relief to be done, but a few months later I got a new camera and the itch to shoot started coming back. 

 

Ceiling Lamp; Fort Collins, Colorado

 

This time I started on January 1, 2017. I wanted to spend more time mastering my new camera, and I again wanted photography to be a daily part of my life. My Fujifilm XT-2 was light and small enough that I could bring it with me almost everywhere I went, and the majority of my images were shot with this camera.

 

Rawah Lake at Dusk; Roosevelt National Forest, Colorado

 

 

The Good

One of my favorite quotes of the year (source unknown) is "You are what you do every day." If you write every day, you're a writer. If you ride a bike every day, you're a cyclist. If you write code every day, you're a programmer. If you sit on the couch and talk about doing these things you’re…, well, you're nothing. A close friend of mine lamented on her death bed that she wished she had done more with her music. I don't want to be that person, and I'm not going to be that person. I'm a photographer- I take pictures every day. 

 

Frozen Fish; Fort Collins, Colorado

 

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily. The secret of your success is found in your daily routine.” — John C. Maxwell


It’s hard to overstate the importance of this. 2017 was an extremely busy year at work as we scrambled to finish and ship a project I had been working on for four years. No matter how many hours I worked in a day, taking my daily photo was a lifeline back to normalcy and sanity.

 

Floral Kaleidoscope; Front Yard

 

“Every day you don’t practice you’re one day further from being good. If it’s something you want to do, make the time.” — Ben Hogan


There is great power in doing something daily. It engenders discipline, never a bad thing. As an artist, I’m a huge fan of the idea that you don’t sit around and wait for inspiration to strike. The way to make art, and to improve at it, is to put in the time and work at it.

 

Painted Lady Butterfly; Front Yard

 

“Inspiration is for amateurs. The rest of us just show up and get to work.” — Chuck Close


I learned more about the Fujifilm XT-2. At the beginning of the year, I hadn’t memorized all the controls, so picking it up and using it regularly really helped. As an experiment, I spent most of the year shooting everything in full-manual mode. This forced me to slow down a little and pay a bit more attention to ISO, aperture, and shutter speed. 

 

Lonely Tree; Centennial, Wyoming

 

“I write only when inspiration strikes. Fortunately, it strikes every morning at 9 o’clock sharp.” — Somerset Maugham


In addition to the mechanical practice, I also benefited from the artistic practice. The constant awareness required to find pictures in places where I’ve been 10,000 times helped hone my ability to see the world.

 

Water Lily; Redlands, California

Finally, I got some really great images! Not every day was a great shot. I’d argue that most of my pictures were not that great. But generally I got one image every week that I was proud of, and sometimes two. That adds up, and I ended the year with a nice little portfolio of photos that make me smile.

 

Early Morning at American Lakes; Colorado State Forest

 

 

 

The Bad

Some days shooting a photo was a chore. When I work in my Old Town Fort Collins office, it was relatively easy to take a short break every day to walk a few blocks and shoot a few photos. Almost without exception I could find something shutter-worthy. This held true during my frequent trips to Redlands, California and on my other business trips to places like Chicago and San Diego. And on the days were I traveled to the mountains for hiking, finding a good picture was easy.

 

“You can't wait for inspiration. You have to go after it with a club.” — Jack London


Much harder were those days spent at home- whether working there, or spending the day doing errands and chores. I took pictures of just about every flower in our garden, and then… improvised. While the flower pictures were fine, many of the other images were shot out of obligation not inspiration, and posting them for the world to see was often an embarrassment. Every Instagram “like” those bad photos got made me feel like a charlatan and a fake. “No, no, this isn’t good work- please don’t like it!” I would yell at myself. And yes, on one or two occasions I jumped out of bed at night with panic and a sudden realization that I hadn’t clicked the shutter yet.

 

My Worst Daily Photo of 2017

 

“Countless studies and interviews with my photo heroes confirm: Inspiration doesn't ‘strike.’ Inspiration is scheduled. It happens when you allow it the time and attention it deserves. It also has a better name: work.” — CJ Chilvers


The only good thing that came out of that is that I would often start the next day twice as determined to get a real photo. It was rare to have two truly bad photos in a row, and when it happened it was usually for a legitimate reason like being home sick.

 

“Your first 10,000 photographs are your worst.” — Henri Cartier-Bresson


 

 

 

Thank You

Thanks to the friends and random strangers who viewed, commented on, and liked my photos on Instagram. My previous 365 project was on tumblr, where apparently nobody ever saw it. Getting feedback and knowing that people were watching made a big difference and provided an extra jolt of inspiration.

 

Virginia Creeper Berries; Backyard

 

 

 

What’s Next?

A friend asked me if I was going to shoot 720 images. No. I felt a little relieved on January 4. I did take a picture, but it was a run-of-the-mill photo of my son, and not especially artistic. The next day I did take some artistic photos. And the day after. And the day after that. Good habits are as hard to break as bad habits! However, the obligation and the guilt is gone. If I spend a day doing laundry and cleaning the house I don’t have to scramble to turn that laundry pile into a mediocre abstract photo so I can check the box on that day. Thinking about it that way feels like a big relief.

 

Don't Worry, Bee Happy; Backyard

 

However, there are too many good things about the project to end it entirely. Photography is important to me, and I still want it to be a daily part of my life. My goal for 2018 is to spend time on photography every day. On many days, that will mean creating a photo. On other days, it will mean going back through my Lightroom catalog and editing an older, undeveloped photo. There are many images from the past few years that have never been seen by anyone. Either way, 2018 will be another year of daily photography and art-making.

 

Bue Umbrella; Redlands, California

 

“Now let's get started.” — Steve Jobs


 

 

 

Random Geek Facts

As it turned out, 266 images (73%) were taken with my Fujifilm XT-2, 97 with my iPhone, and 2 with my old Canon 7D.

If it’s a 365 day project, and I started on January 1, why didn’t I end on December 31? I was bed-ridden with the flu for three days in early March, so I had to hit the pause button on the project. That was the only exception, and I don’t feel bad about this. Through a stomach flu, a week of horrible back pain, and even minor surgery, I managed to get up and shoot a photo every other day of the year. I extended the project to January 3 so that I would get the full 365.

 

Thursday
Jan042018

WIRR 2017, December Week 4

I like this picture. I like it to the point where I fear my dispassionate critical eye is failing me. This photo is meant to be an abstract- a bold solid triangle thrusting out into the picture. Hard black lines, alternating with white lines that further accent the black. Light and dark shades of blue, with reddish-brown anchoring the arrow on the left. 

Viewed another way, it’s a photo of the new Ginger & Baker restaurant on Linden Street in Fort Collins. I love the architecture, and when I pointed my camera straight up and saw those beautiful bold lines, I knew I had a great image. What I didn’t know at the time was that turning it sideways and flipping it took away some of the obviousness of the subject and increased the abstraction that I was aiming for. I hope the rotation isn’t too obvious or too distracting, but it works for me, and this became my favorite image of the week.

Triangle Abstract

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 18mm, f/7.1 at 1/300, ISO 200.

Digital Darkroom. Other than the previously mentioned rotation and flip, I didn’t do much to this image besides tweak the exposure and contrast. Saturation wasn’t touched at all. I made a half-hearted attempt to remove the letters on the top of the building, but gave up quickly when I realized it was probably beyond my Photoshop skills.

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.

 

Thursday
Dec282017

WIRR 2017, December Week 3

I’m not going to lie, this was photographically a slow week. For most of the week, my focus was on getting ready for Christmas rather than making images. Nevertheless, my daily photo project accepts no such excuses, and the image-making continued. This is a small statue in Old Town Square in Fort Collins, usually covered with climbing children. With just a dusting of snow on top, my vision for the image, as well as the title, came to me at once, and this became my favorite image of the week.

Frozen Fish

Fujifilm X-T2, Fujinon XF 18-55 f/2.8-4 R LM OIS at 32 mm, f/4 at 1/5000, ISO 200.

Digital Darkroom. I knew when I pressed the shutter exactly what I was going to do with this shot. Converted to black and white, I created a split tone, with the darks turning to blue, and the whites remaining uncolored. I wanted to convey a sense of c-c-cold. I added clarity to bring out texture in the statue. I finished the image off by using Touch Retouch to remove a few patches of dry pavement that showed through the thin snow cover.

WIRR stands for Weekly Image Rich Ruh. This regular feature on Das Has von Ruh will show and describe my favorite photo created during this weekly period. My weeks start on Mondays, as does the WIRR. I’m hoping to include commentary on the story, the setting, the specs, or the sentiments, depending on the circumstances.