Tag Archives: series

Weekly Shot #2: Cop Out

This week was a bit of a cop out, but I wanted to show some discipline and produce something anyway. So I baked some cookies and took pictures of those. I was not very organized when I went ingredients shopping, though, so the icing is white instead of yellow. Sorry.

Weekly #2, Sequence   Weekly #2, Sequence

I did try to do something more elaborate, and in fact I spent a couple of hours trying to set up a self-portrait. The results were terrible. I’m a terrible subject, for one thing, and I didn’t really have a pose thought through. I tried to get my cat involved, and he was having absolutely none of it. And I don’t have a wide-enough angle lens to get any really fun shots of him leaping out of the frame.

I had been meaning to do some baking, and I figured that taking pictures of food I’d made would qualify for a deliberately posed shot in which I’d given some thought to props. I’m glad I did this, because it reminded me of some simple things that I forget in observational photography but that are key when trying to control the contents of the frame.

One is the way light bounces, picking up color on the way. Compare the overall color of the ducks on the plate to that of the plate full of stars. The temperature is actually higher on the duck photo, but it still looks cooler just because of the blue background with the very different density of warm-colored cookies. This is something I “know” but didn’t think about until I looked at the EXIF data on these shots. It’s something I’d rather incorporate deliberately than fret over when color-correcting. Another is that it makes a huge difference if you wait a half hour or 45 minutes between shots when you are using natural light. Again, this is something I know and would rather use actively than “remember” when I’m selecting shots I’ve just pulled of a CF card.

Weekly #2, Sequence

Also, if I’m serious about doing some nice, clean shots for this project, I really have to get an iron.

Weekly Shot #1: Wiener and Donuts

This week I was having trouble deciding between a hot dog and donuts for lunch one day. I know, this is a pretty momentous problem, and I bet you all wish you could have been there for me in that time of need. But I’m not just someone who complains about things I make no effort to change. What if, I thought to myself, what if I didn’t have to choose?


Normally a person would just have them consecutively. Go get a dog, and then have a donut on the way back, or maybe find that a donut makes a lovely appetizer. With the help of Audrey, an eminent wiener wrangler, I didn’t even have to make that decision.

Initial Testing

First order of business was to establish that Chorizo, a mischievous dachshund was in the mood to share the stage with donuts. We did this proof of concept with dog treats. But how would he do with succulent donuts, still warm from Trish’s Mini Donuts, down the street at Fisherman’s Wharf?

Proof of Concept   Donut Test

Wow! But we couldn’t help wondering, how far could we take this?

Wiener with Donuts

Three, ladies and gentleman. Three donuts, and three cheers for Chorizo!

More Shot List

And yet no shot list. I’ve made some progress on my shot list, though, and some patterns are emerging. I want to use people other than myself. (I was thinking last weekend that I’ll have to do a series of self-portraits in order to minimize the hassle factor, but the idea of setting up self-portraits engages me less and less the more I think about it.) I want to use animals. And I’m going to need some space.

Coming Out to Be Photographed

The purpose of this exercise is to get images in my head out of my head where other people can see them. This is pretty much the opposite of what I’ve been doing up until now, which has been recording things that anyone could see but other people didn’t notice.

Wading in the Lake

One of the areas of resistance I’ve had to “making” photographs (as opposed to “taking” them) is lighting. There is so much to learn, and the equipment can be expensive or at least require a lot of construction. I like making things, but when I think about lighting, I realize I like making things qua things. That’s going to have to change in a lot of ways if I am to go forward with this, because I’m going to need to make props, too.

Banana Drama

Part of the motivation here is to get a break from the frustration – so common in outdoor observational photography – of missing a shot. I realize that some days I’ll be replacing it with the frustration of not getting the result I want, but learning to close that gap is part of the exercise.



As an exercise to prepare for my weekly shot project, I decided to make a shot list. I want it to have a dozen doable items, and I haven’t managed to write them all out yet. I do have 7 items on it now, but a few of them require materials I don’t have access to, so I want to keep working. I plan to do a shot this coming weekend, thought, whether my list is “long enough” or not.

In the meantime, I’m carrying a camera every day, which I’d got out of the habit of doing, and that feels good. It’s making me realize that it’s a bit of a challenge both to get a lot of exercise every day AND to get out and do photography. While holding down a full-time job. We’ve had a special project going at the office lately that I’m tempted to use as an excuse, but that’s not the reason I’m moving slowly on this.

This photograph was taken through the window at an antiques shop near my office. I took it with a film camera, and I’ve definitely found over the last year and a half that when I need a kick start, it helps to shoot a roll or two. I pick up my most recent two rolls (from developing) the day after tomorrow, and I have another dozen rolls of a half dozen kinds of film waiting to play with. My project will be digital, for practical reasons, but film sharpens the mind and disciplines the movements.

New Project: Weekly Setup Shot

The majority of my photography is urban and nature observation. Over the last couple of years, I’ve occasionally set up shots, and in the last year or so, I’ve started to get – even become preoccupied by – ideas about photos I’d like to build, piece by piece, even a series or several.

Amy Pays Her Respects Amy's Expansive Corner

My first posed subject was my friend Amy. She’s an actor, and she was happy to give over a whole day to me one winter. I think I took something like 400 shots that day. It was a wonderful experience for me, because it gave me a chance to slow down and try a lot of different things – angles, locations, and processing approaches.

"The Poseidon Project"

Shortly after that, I participated in a project to create cinematic shots. For almost all the shots, I just kept an eye open for cinematic situations around me and tried to capture them. For one shot, I went out to the piers at night with a friend, and we walked around and looked for good locations, finally making this shot. Again, we had no concrete plan, just a general idea of where we wanted to go, and then seeing how the spirit moved us when we got there.

The Three Grape Smugglers

This year I’ve wanted to step up my game, and I’ve made – or at least designed and styled – a couple of shots I am truly happy with. Now it’s time for me to do more, and it has been for a while. I’m going to need help in the form of external pressure, though, because I haven’t been taking the further steps I need to on my own. So this is an announcement of my new project: One deliberately styled and directed shot per week, at least 12, until I finish a coherent series or at least figure out what I want to do next.

Do you have a suggestion or request? I can’t promise to honor it, but I’d love to hear it!