I wanted to get one more post in before the end of the month. January coming to an end is great. Almost as great as the end of February. The days are getting a bit longer, the sun has a bit of warmth to it, and spring is on its way!
I have a few new photos on my gallery website (www.cdubphoto.smugmug.com), documenting a quick sojourn through a couple of alleys in downtown Calgary earlier this week. You’ll also notice a redesign. I hacked and slashed myself through some CSS and HTML code and I am fairly pleased with the results. I have to say, SmugMug has been great to work with. I’m increasingly satisfied with the user-friendliness now that I’ve spent a few hours with it, and I am particularly pleased with the customer service. They came to the rescue within a couple of hours of my inquiries throughout the customization process. And there were more than a few inquiries. SmugMug also provides pretty good web forums, found at www.dgrin.com. They actually moderate their users and commentary, unlike others (one in particular). In fact, I even got myself in trouble on only my third post! How?**
**-tangent to follow
Glad you asked, because I’ve been meaning to make mention of it on my blog! A photographer named Andy Williams is a senior member of SmugMug, and I enjoy his pictures. Williams appears to be an established pro photographer with a good commercial business and fan base. A professional and an influencer. On his blog recently, he talked about the popular camera accessories manufacturer Really Right Stuff, who make and sell ball heads and accessories for tripods. Opinion on the internet is that RRS makes high quality stuff. However Andy Williams discovered that the owner/operator of Really Right Stuff contributed $16,000 USD to support Proposition 8 in California in the recent American election. Williams decided to stop using and supporting RRS as soon as he found out, and made sure his fans and customers were aware of what was going on. I am complimentary of his efforts and applaud his tactfulness. (Note: he’s since removed his post, and in consideration I’ve decided not to link to the cached Google page, but I suppose you could find it yourself)
Anyway, back to my story. Dgrin.com had a thread speaking to the virtues of RRS products. I chimed in by informing people of the subject and added some of my own opinion – which was polite and diplomatic, but forward (as usual), which sparked what you could say was some decidedly non-photography-related discussion. Subsequently, my post and those thereafter were swiftly removed and my hand was slapped.***
***- end tangent
So speaking of my recent photographs, Calgary’s been really challenging to shoot in the last few weeks, what with the brown on browns, the flat light and the chill in the air. Zero may be warm this time of year, but it’s still zero. I’m also finding myself wanting to learn more and become better than I think is realistic right now. I have expectations, as well as several friends who’s photographic ability and imagination I am inspired by.
In my last photographic session I concentrated on F stops, specifically smaller apertures and playing around with deeper depths of field to increase the sharpness of my pictures. On that front, I am very satisfied – these last pictures are my sharpest yet, despite shutter speeds as low as 1/20. IS is a godsend. But I am still humble before my camera. I am at its mercy. Only by shooting and shooting some more will I better understand what I am doing, and only after that will I understand why, when and how.
A week from now we’ll be heading to the mountains to listen to a lecture by Canadian and leading photographer Edward Burtynsky. Burtynsky is one of my artistic heros, and probably one of the most celebrated photographers in the world, let alone Canada. I’m rarely fond of photographic art, but his work really speaks to me. His is a style of photography that exudes enormity and unadulterated surreality. He takes very real pictures of very unreal things. His focus, borrowing a statement from his website, is “nature transformed through industry,” or human-modified or created landscapes. Quarries, pit mines and factories are some of his subjects. I am very much looking forward to hearing him speak, because I appreciate his work and the values he expresses in them.