February 28, 2006
Evan Ties One On
|Camera||Konica Minolta 7d|
|Lens||Sigma 100-300mm f/4-5.6 @ 300mm|
|Shutter / Aperture||1/125s / f/7.1|
|ISO (Adj.)||200 (+0.30 EV)|
This is my brother Evan; everything about him is amazing and unique. He is the entire reason for this second photo series on Japan, and the entire reason that I showed up twice in Japan in one year for a vacation.
I promised him a trip to anywhere he wanted to go in the world when he graduated from high school and if he at least applied to go to college. He readily chose Japan as our destination, almost exclusively to see the nation that produced people such as Yasujiro Ozu who's grave we later went to go and visit.
My brother has a near encyclopedic memory for anything he gets interested in. I've never seen such a breadth of knowledge so vast in a person so young. He always makes me feel uncultured.
The process is simple, you walk up to the fortune area, deposit 100 yen (about a dollar) and pick up a cylinder filled with sticks. You shake the cylindar and turn it over such that a single stick protrudes from the opening of the can. You remove it and match the number on the stick to a drawer in the fortune area. When you open the drawer there is a little piece of paper containing your fortune.
Both Evan and I took our fortunes. Evan's was just about as bad as a fortune could be. Moving was going to be difficult, he would have no love, studies were going to be hard, his health rocky. Mine was as good as it gets; everything was going to be terrific. Was it true? I'm not sure, but I do know Evan had a pretty tough year as a freshman in college...but who doesn't?
My favorite part of this process is that if you have a bad fortune, you tie it on a piece of wire along with the other bad fortunes. Monks will then say a blessing over the bad fortunes and burn them to ward off the bad luck. If on the other hand you have a good fortune, like myself, you have to do nothing more than carry it with you and impress your friends with your amazing luck.
I'll admit to doing the cheesy tourist/brotherly thing and I had him pose there after he tied it on. Look at how cute he is. Awe...it was totally worth it. You either love the depth of field and perspective compression of the long lens or you hate it. I'm a big fan of that effect for moments like these if for nothing but to create visual intamacy with the subject.
See that little watch on his right arm? We found that cheap lady's watch on the sidewalk of Nicollet Mall in Downtown Minneapolis after a really fun night of shooting. I loaded my SLR with fresh film and Evan packed his camcorder and we threw caution to the wind and interviewed and shot candids of street life all night long. It fantastic time and one I hope we get to repeat again.
I am still scratching my head at this one. Yesterday I saw one of the most horrific scenes of my life.
When I arrived at the University yesterday, nature called. I headed to the bathroom up from the parking ramp into the student union building. When I entered, I browsed the row of stalls until I found one unoccupied and opened it. There I faced the terrible scene.
Inside the stall was a cafeteria tray set atop the toilet paper dispensor. On the tray was a styrofoam plate with a half eaten burrito sitting in a pool of salsa accompanied by a large fountain beverage and straw. My mind filled with shock and a thousand questions: did they order their food with the expressed intent of brining it into the bathroom? Did they have the sudden realization while on the throne that, "hey! I'm eating on the toilet! What the hell am I doing?" then pull up their pants and get out of there? Are they some sort of evil genius that leaves half-eaten burrios in toilet stalls for people to wonder about?
Or, in the best of all lights: perhaps they are over protective about their food and decided to take it with them into the bathroom, but why oh why bring it all the way in the stall? And why leave it? They became disgusted with it, why not just throw it away?
And to think, we will never know the answers to any of these questions. Life can be so cruel.
February 27, 2006
The Wheel of Dharma
|Camera||Konica Minolta 7d|
|Lens||Minolta 24mm f/2.8|
|Shutter / Aperture||1/100s / f/3.5|
I'm back and ready to have my website banned by all of France!
Before some Internet censor bureaucrat gets their undies in a bunch, this isn't the Nazi symbol of yore: this is a Buddhist swastika on one of the huge temple lanterns at Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, Tokyo, Japan. It is left facing, techinically making it a omote manji ("front-facing swastika") representing love and mercy. How is that for a symbolic diachotomy?
The highlights are a little blown in the right of this image. Hey, the site would be called "awesome wonderocrity" if I shot perfect frames. This one is definately in the mediocre category. Nonetheless, Japanese temples can offer some challenging shooting characteristics, especially around noontime.
There are the throngs of tourists to contend against for photos. Also, the ground is often composed of stark white gravel instantly blowing out both wide shots of architecture as well as causing difficult reflections onto the more reflective surfaces in the shadows. That is exactly what happened here.
My life is once again in order and I am going to posting much more often with a goal of getting back up to five days a week. Don't take me off that RSS feed just yet!
February 17, 2006
My apologies for not writing anything for the past week or so. Somewhere between the list of things I needed to do and the things I wanted to do the blog went to the wayside. It's a shame. I really felt the absense of being able to produce something creative if but only a few nights a week.
I'm ready to gear up again; At home I've got a new PC and a new monitor calibrated and ready to go. Expect me to post some new entries to the photoblog soon.
Moving over to a new PC and migrating all of my data has caused me to re-examine my present strategy for catelogging my photos. The way I'm doing it now seems to take too much time and effort and it doesn't map well onto the world of virtual albums or Flickr-like tags.
The way I'm organizing my photos now closly tracks how I've been posting them into my on-line gallery. The system is: I arbitrarily decide how to divide my collections of photos in a evermore complex and personal hierarchy with sufficently detailed filenames to maintain searchability. There are no tags or keywords and often little to no reliance on any metadata.
I've heard over the years that people have liked the way I've organized my on-line collection. I think they find it interesting to see how I've divided things up...but truthfully its just too hard to maintain. A Flickr-like system of tags and virtual albums would be far, far more tenible. I want to change the way I organize things and I want to do it now. The first thing I've realized is that I'm going to need to make a tool change and a file organization change.
Here's the procedure I'm thinking of using starting from importing the data to my PC from the camera to how I would like to be able to later slice and dice the data:
- Copy all of the files from my camera's memory storage device and rename the folder into one or more folders taking the format "YYMMDD-NN Short Description of Grouping" where Y, M, & D are the familiar date elements and NN is a number like "00", "01", "02, etc. depicting what import number it is from that day.
- Rename all of the files in that directory as "YY - Folder's Short Description - Place/Subject.ext"
- Add tags/keywords.
- Optionally create interesting virtual folders based on tags/keywords in my age-old metal hierarchy and publish these to my on-line gallery.
I've already ruled out Picasa2 to help me achieve this procedure: it simply doesn't have the capability to construct a hierarchy of albums or (as far as I know) to be able to combine its keywords into simple boolean statements—such as, create a folder with photos of "japan and (me or Evan) and 2005"—so I'm evaluating ACDSee Pro to see if I can bend it to my will.
Does anybody else have any other suggestions out there? How do you keep things organized without overhead overkill? Are there any other tools out there you would suggest?
As for my old photos and my old organization strategy, I'm going to make 2006 a landmark year and just make the change going forward. I'll put the old stuff in an directory named "before-2006" and go through it every once in awhile when I want to feel haunted by nostaligia as I do with my other old drawers and boxes of junk.