May 2014 Challenge - Trees, Nostalgia, Where You Live, Refrigerator

June 02, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

 

May Challenge Themes

Nostalgia, Trees, Where You Live, Refrigerator

 

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May whizzed by in all its springtime glory, punctuated by gardening, working, and vacationing (at least for me and Barb).  The Skinners ventured to Paso Robles mid-month to attend Dave's 50th high school reunion.  So there were hundreds of pictures taken, but few which met the monthly themes criteria.  Oh, well, that seems to be the story when you're distracted by the bigger fish.  It was a wonderful time visiting with the Dahl's, Guffey's, and antiquated classmates.

Without further ado, let's see what the month has to offer.  It looks like it will be another Don and Davy Show.  So, fasten your seat belt and be prepared for awe-striking photography.  Ha!

 

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Old Davy will go first with his "Nostalgia" offering.

I was shooting a band concert on Memorial Day, but the exposure conditions were less than wonderful.  Firstly, the setting was a dilapidating cemetery in Woodbridge that I had visited before, but was never able to get inside the locked gate (they try to keep kids and their beer bottles out of it).  So this was an opportunity to get up close and see things from a different perspective (other than through a fence).  Unfortunately, this poor place is a dusty remnant of its former glory, and even though I've seen people working in it when I've visited Lodi Lake before (it's right on the edge of the lake), it's still a mess.  Many of the gravestones are fallen and broken as you see in this first "Nostalgia" shot.  Note the unfinished poem(?) on the bottom of the stone and misspelled word.  Letty Taylor was born in 1806 - a true California pioneer.

Nikon D90, 12-24mm zoom lens.

 

 

 

While shooting the Memorial Service, this tree caught my eye (thinking of the "Tree" theme), so I zoomed out, framed it and shot. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm lens.  Let me say that I take two cameras for most of my shooting now.  The D90 sports my 12-24mm wide angle lens, and the D5100 wears the 55-300mm long zoom lens.  It looks weird, wacky and nerdish with one camera on my neck and the other on my shoulder, but it works great - they don't crash into each other, are lightweight and I have a huge advantage of not having to change lenses.  This tree is nothing special, but the yellow leaves provided a stark contrast to the oak backdrop.

 

 

Here's another "Nostalgia" picture, taken Saturday night at a two-band concert in Lodi, where my friend Rich was playing trombone in both bands (he also played at the cemetery venue).  A huge dance floor was provided for frolicking to the old Swing Music songs, but very few took advantage of it.  Maybe it was due to the fact that most of the attendees were in their 70's and 80's.  Wonderful music, but horrible lighting conditions. I used my SB600 flash for this shot. In Photoshop Elements 9 I used the "Dodge" tool to lighten the band group. Nikon D5100, 18-70mm lens.

 

 

The "Where You Live" theme can have a wide range of opportunities.  I noticed a dragonfly land on a branch of my birch tree out front here at home and thought, "Dragonflies don't land in birch trees."  I quickly retrieved my camera and shot with the 55-300mm zoom before changing the lens to the 55mm MicroNikkor close up lens.  After taking a few dozen shots, there were only a few in pretty good focus with good exposure and background. This female California Darner had pretty ragged wings, with spider web remnants scattered here and there. Pretty distracting, so I used the "clone" tool and erased them. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm @ 220m, f5.3, 1/200, ISO 400.

 

 

 

The last "Where You Live" photo shows the proud, screaming parents and relatives attending Angel's 8th grade graduation.  Delta Sierra Middle School is in North Stockton. Every school in North Stockton (north of Hammer Lane) is in the Lodi Unified School District, not Stockton Unified.  The area around the school is middle class (like the one I live in), non-gated, and a big mixture of cultures. I wanted to capture this in the picture. Nikon D5100, 55-300mm lens @ 195mm, f18, 1/500, ISO 400, using the "Posterizing" filter in Photoshop Elements.

 

 

My final entry is another "Nostalgia" photo, taken in Don and Janet's backyard.  The wooden wheelbarrow, blues, rust, old metal and composition were calling my name and I couldn't resist the invitation. Nikon D5100, 55mm MicroNikkor lens, ISO 200, 1/125 sec, about f8 or f11.  The added grain and moire patterns were added in Photoshop Elements 9.

 

 

 

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Okay, Don, it's your turn to show your stuff.

Don's "Around The House" photos are a mix of eclectic decorative items, including this jelly bean dispenser.  He says, "I seem to be hung up on things made of glass. I also realize I need to restock the Jelly Belly dispenser."  So here are my questions:

  • Who gets to clean all the glass?
  • Why didn't I see this when we visited last month? Maybe you keep it in your bedroom.
  • Did you use your macro lens or 18-200mm zoom for these pictures?
  • What did you do to 'de-highlight' the main reflection on the logo?

The bright reds and yellow carry this shot. And the added multi-colored jelly beans add interest as your eye roams around the picture.  Were you 'tasting' them while looking at the different colors?

 

 

 

 

Glass and more glass create a perceived vanishing point in this next picture.  My guess is that Don shot this through the rounded cabinet glass, using a really small aperture (note that everything is in focus, near to far). Overhead kitchen light and available window light (note the green reflected in the back boards) were all that was necessary to capture this essentially warm-touchy-feely composition.  

 

 

 

 

Another Don 'shelfie' composition adds book title interest.  Land Warfare details how war methods have evolved, specifically in the 20th century.  Don bought this because he has a love affair with big metal objects like Army tanks.  They Felled the Redwoods  has a lot of great photos in it, kind of like a comic book for grown-ups. Paso Robles area history is a Twisselman forte. Don enjoys boning up on all the local trivia so he can impress people with his vast knowledge on Facebook.  I'm trying to come up with a good reason that The Redneck Joke Book is in the collection, but am afraid of offending anyone, especially Don!  The Cat Who Went to Paris  was written by a former cat-hater.  Go figure.  And Cats in the Parsonage is a light hearted look at Taffy and Tiffany, who spend their time teaching their owner about life: "Ask the animals and they will teach you" (Job 12:17).  

All of which is to say, you can learn a lot about a man from his library.  And what does this have to do with photography?  Absolutely nothing.

 

 

 

 

I really like the painterly rendition of Don's newest glass collectible. He says, "Janet picked this jar up at an antique store a few days ago. What do you serve when the revenuers come calling? White lightnin' and pretzels.  Actually, it's pretty weak.....she watered it down a lot."

 

This is a masterpiece of still life composition, especially with the addition of the pretzels.  Take away the pretzels and a lot of interest and intrigue is lost.  The golden browns in the bottle compliment the wood slat panel in back.  And the cork and wood handle add to the 'softness' of the picture. Great photo, Don.

 

 

 

 

Don's last entry emphasizes the 'old time' feeling provoked by this close up.  This also fits the "Nostalgia" theme category.  I'm curious about the light source in this shot.  There is a lot of blue and strong direct light from above on the handle and wire, indicating it was taken outside.  But the cork and glass look a bit muted.  Don, did you burn in the cork and some of the glass in Photoshop?  Inquiring minds want to know the secret here. 

 

 

 

 

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Well, that's it, folks.  Another month and another Challenge have come and gone.  It's time to face the hot summer with a smile and thank God for air conditioning.  June should be a wonderful time of going, doing, sprucing, visiting, buying, eating, enjoying family and friends, and all the other blessings given to us so fully and freely.

June's Challenge themes will be:

  • Big Smile
  • Nature
  • Technology
  • Architecture

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