May

Lake Superior – May 2014

Another month, and another post. Other commitments are keeping me from blogging as much as I used to; as I’ve said repeatedly, I haven’t been taking as many photos due to those same commitments. A recent arrival of a new digital camera has meant that I can more easily share images (yes, his was supposed to be the black and white film year, but that project had to be abandoned after reality hit. Maybe another time) and has found me shooting a bit more, but not a lot.

I’ve said before that I really have stopped caring about camera equipment. It’s true, really. I just don’t give a shit anymore what camera I’m using, or what anyone else is using. I try to find things that work for me and that’s all that I really care about any longer. The new camera I acquired is one I’ve long wanted (in theory); it’s a full-frame sensor onto which I can graft a variety of “legacy” (read: old, manual) lenses. This was recently realized as a no-longer-theoretical image-maker when Sony released the a7. So, after waiting a few months, I got one.

I added an adapter for use with my rangefinder lenses, and tried it out.

Posing – May 2014

Memorial Day weekend meant a trip up to the far norther corner of the state, to visit with family and enjoy the sunshine and warm weather. I took along the new camera, a few lenses, and my increasingly-trusty Ricoh GR to see what I would come up with. I have to say, the camera is impressive in use so far. It was a nice challenge to manually focus on the camera body, and totally different than what I’ve been used to.

Aside from the new camera, it was nice to spend time with my family. It was relatively relaxing and we got to have some quality time together. There is essentially no cell reception or Internet access, and we spent a lot of time outdoors, which was refreshing; it reminds me that we should do it more often.

Orange – May 2014

At the end of the day, I found myself gravitating to one of the lenses I brought far more than the others, and it was tricky to use at times. All told, the results were acceptable and I can’t wait to have more time with the family to just take photos, relax, and refresh.

Until next time,

-Trevor

Romance – May 2014

Harbor – May 2014

Phone – May 2014

April

Arlo

The past month has been defined by the gradual onset of spring. Winter is slowly fading, and although it hasn’t given up easily, the warmer weather and longer days are slowly winning out. This has led to an increase in the amount of time spent outdoors, which in turn has led to more opportunities to shoot. Still, I’m far from having the kind of time I used to have to get out and shoot; perhaps this is the new normal? As much as I’d prefer it not to be, I think it may be.

Evening Swing

I have been meaning to do a write-up of a camera I have been loving lately, the Ricoh GR. It has come to be my go-to camera every day, everywhere, for virtually every situation. The focal length was a bit of a problem at first, and it’s still not my favorite, but I’m learning to work around it and challenge myself; other than that, the camera is essentially perfect. If Ricoh made more of these, in different focal lengths–say, 21-28-40, or something–they’d sell a boatload. It’s awesome.

But that leads me to another point I’ve been pondering: gear. I’ve come to despise talking about gear. I spent the better part of 5 years obsessing in varying amounts about the type of gear I was using. I was fetishizing the equipment rather than what I was doing with it, and in the process spent a lot of money buying and selling various types of gear. I was a digital convert, a film purist, and Leicaphile…in short, I’ve covered the gamut of gearhead obsession and self-identification.

Sunrise

Over the past few months I’ve given myself some distance from gear-based forums. I’ve stopped following many on various social media outlets that only talk about gear. And amazingly, it all came about naturally. I just…stopped caring. I no longer care to debate the optical qualities of a certain lens, the megapixel count of a given sensor, sharpness, resolution, etc etc. I just don’t care. Because I don’t care does not mean I am on some high and mighty, holier-than-thou moralistic crusade; if that’s what interests you, then knock yourself out.

There are camera collectors, and there are photographers. I believe that due to the technical side of the art form, those two necessarily converge at some point in all those who take photographs, but how much varies. I used to be equal parts collector and user, and in some instances was more collector than user. If you take photographs of your cameras, or choose your camera as an accessory you’d like people to see, you’re in that territory as well. Like any recovering cameraholic, it has taken distance and time to be able to see that about myself.

What I’ve come to understand, only more recently, and with the benefit of space to reflect on this, is that my priorities were skewed. Yes, the addition of a new camera is always a thrill, but it’s a cheap thrill. Before long, you’re stuck in a never-ending cycle of adding yet another piece of gear to achieve the same rush again. Eventually you don’t even use the equipment you have assembled, despite your reasoning to yourself that you’re only acquiring the gear to use, and that it will help you somehow. It won’t. The ever-shorter window that you own the gear before swapping it for something else means you can’t. You don’t get to know it; rather than becoming a trusted old friend, the article in question is never more than a passing acquaintance, something you only know superficially before bidding it adieu and welcoming another.

Last Snow

Increasingly, I have spent more time shooting for myself. And if I’m honest, I can barely tell the difference in varying optical qualities of lenses and sensors most of the time unless I’m looking at them side-by-side at the pixel level. When it comes to photographs that mean something to me, more important is that I have the photos, not that they are technically perfect. When someone looks at the photos of my life, will they care if I used the Summilux or the Summicron? When I look at them in ten years, will I care? Will I even notice?

So the GR may not get a review, as I have done with previous cameras. I have to say that consistently, it is the camera reviews I have done that garner the most page views. I get more traffic from them than from anything else I have posted over the years. I guess that says a lot about others as well, and how the prioritization of gear has consumed photography for a lot of folks.

Expect to see less about gear going forward.

Happy Ninth

One: Walking

I want to say happy birthday to the little being who has half of my genetic makeup, and who is halfway to adulthood. Wow, does that make me feel old–”halfway to adulthood”. It is what it is, and today is his big day.

I’m glad that despite all the gear I’ve gone through over the years, one thing has remained constant: I have tons of photographs of my son. They are among my most prized possessions, and in the event of a house fire, I’d grab them instead of any camera every single time. Without hesitation, every single time.

Happy birthday, buddy. Enjoy it…time flies. Let’s take a little stroll through the years, shall we? Cue the nostalgic music!

(Get ready for a long line of photos.)

Two: Strutting

2.5: Smiling

Three: Watching

3.5: Embarassing

Four: Blowing

4.5: Ringing

Five: Peeking

Six: Losing

6.5: Staring

Seven: Laughing

7.5: Dangling

Eight: Popsicling

8.5: Evolving

And finally, we have arrived at the modern iteration of my offspring. He is now nine years old, almost done with third grade, and halfway to being a legal adult. I told him if he made weird faces they would get stuck…looks like I was right.

Nine: Goofing

One more time, happy birthday! I will always be your #1 fan, no matter what.

Love, Dad

Long Layoff

Lines – February 2014

So, it’s been a while since I’ve posted–it’s been a long time since I’ve even looked at WordPress. There are a lot of reasons why that is, ranging from work, to family, to winter light being hard to come by, but the biggest reason of all is that my inspiration for taking photos has waned. I still usually grab a camera when I go out places, but not always. Often, I’ll take it out with me and then not shoot anything. I don’t see any photos at the moment; nothing grabs me and demands a photo be taken.

Perhaps it’s a temporary thing, perhaps not. I wonder sometimes–worry, even–if my love and passion for photography has started to fade. I haven’t been looking at photos, I haven’t been shooting. I abandoned my film project for the year after a month. The motivation to carry on just wasn’t there. My motivation to shoot, to share…all of it. Perhaps other things have simply taken my time and attention momentarily. I’m not sure.

Empty – February 2014

My thoughts on photography have begun to shift. I’ve begun to ask more fundamental questions about the point of making photographs, the way I make them; about the process of photography, and about what role photography should and will play in my life going forward. I don’t have many answers at this point, only questions. Some recent influences have caused me to question a lot of this, and it’s probably good to have more questions than answers–but it’s not always easy. Perhaps that will be the focus of upcoming blog posts. Then again, maybe it’s best to figure it out on my own and come back when I’ve got a direction?

I’m fully aware that today’s post is a mess. The photos have no focus, and I was tempted to not even blog at all today, but thought that I should post something from the past few months. I’m not even sure who wants to read the narcissistic, self-indulgent, woe-is-me ramblings from some guy who takes snapshots of his daily life. Regardless, I’ve put together a few shots of my recent collection. I’m hoping the warm weather will finally re-introduce my will to go shoot; coupled with more hours of daylight, that usually does the trick. Winter up here gets to be really long, and by the end I’m worn out.

To all who keep visiting: thanks. I’ll try to get things up and running more frequently again.

-Trevor

Megan – February 2014

Franklin Freeze – February 2014

Lines – February 2014

Winter – February 2014

Last of 2013

3 of 5 – Saint Paul, MN

(I should apologize in advance for the rambling, aimless nature of this post. If nothing else, scroll down and see a few photos before closing your browser window.)

I have previously outlined my project for the year 2014, and these don’t fit that. However, I sent off a batch of undeveloped film in December 2013 to clear out the backlog of rolls before the project started in earnest. As long-time readers will know, I often keep film around for months before processing it–in fact, some of the shots for today’s post were shot in early June 2013–and I didn’t want to get rolls mixed up with the ones from the upcoming year.

Scanning my film with my new Pakon F135 is incredibly efficient and saves me a ton of time and money. Previously, I had been sending my film out to be scanned, which is incredibly costly. I’m been incredibly happy with the results so far, and would recommend the scanner to anyone looking for a great option for scanning 35mm film.

Above – Saint Paul, MN

I’ve written before on the importance (for me) of letting your images sit before looking at them. I find that waiting to look at them allows me to see them more objectively; it can be difficult to see the images without remembering the moment you took them. Excitement at the moment of capturing the image(s) can spill over to the review time and one can confuse this excitement for thinking you’ve got a strong image, simply because strong images often provoke strong emotional responses.

By allowing images to sit, I can see them at a distance. While I certainly still remember each image I’ve taken–the camera/lens/film it was with, where, when, and other details of the time–I appreciate the separation of viewing them later. Finally, I find that my favorite part of making images is just that: making images. Looking at my own photographs isn’t really enjoyable for me. Yes, you get the odd bout of excitement when you see that you’ve really captured a good photograph, but it pales in comparison with the enjoyment I get from simply shooting the images to begin with. I’m not sure if it is this way for other people who are serious about their photography (rather than those people who could care less about photography and simple want images to see later), but that’s how I see my image-making. It’s the process, not the end result, that matters.

Up – Badlands NP, SD

I think that’s why I shoot film now all the time. I hate spending time editing digital images. I hate spending time in Lightroom, Photoshop, flickr, or anything else. I don’t even really like to process my film at home, so I send it out. I have begun scanning with the Pakon F135 simply to save money, not because it’s something enjoyable. It’s not.

All of this rumination doesn’t really have a point other than this: this year is going to be challenging. Seeing my film faster, not seeing in color, never having a digital camera as a crutch…it’s all going to push me to make stronger images. At the end of this year, I may not be any better at making photographs than I am now. In fact, I may regress. But what’s important is that I’m doing something new. Something that I enjoy, and since it’s my hobby that’s what is most important, after all.

Winter – Saint Paul, MN

I’m hoping that I will push myself and end up with some strong images at the end of the year. I hope that it helps me to progress as a photographer, and doesn’t end up frustrating me. But maybe that’s what I need. We’ll see how it goes. In the meantime, I hope you enjoy some of the final images of 2013 before this blog goes strictly monochromatic.

Cheers,

Trevor

Top 20 of 2013, Part 2

Here is the second part of my top 20 photos that I took in the calendar year 2013. As I said previously, they don’t stand together as a set very well, because they represent a whole year and were not intended as a set when they were taken. Try to think of them as individual images that stand alone–I didn’t want to break them up into 20 different blog posts to keep them as individual images.

Without further delay, here is the second part of the series. I would love to hear your thoughts!

NYC, April 2013

London, January 2013

Yellowstone NP, June 2013

Washington, DC, March 2013

Yellowstone NP, June 2013

London, January 2013

Annapolis, April 2013

Baltimore, February 2013

Gettysburg, February 2013

London, January 2013

Top 20 of 2013, Part 1

I am a week or so late, but I’ve decided to make another contribution to the endless “Top XX of 2013″ lists that have been everywhere of late. I figured I’d post a set of my favorite images that I took last year. I debated on how to present this list; the nature of such a list means that the focus will be on single images. However, having them presented as a set means they won’t necessarily flow well, since they weren’t intended as a set. So I’m presenting a set that doesn’t fit together as a set, which makes it seem a bit disjointed. But try to think of them as individual images.

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and I will post the second part in the near future. I’m sure I’ve forgotten some images, but this is what is my top 20 as of today (it can change over time). I also wanted to avoid posting a set of images that only included my family and friends.

This first set isn’t in any particular order, but this is the first half of the top 20.

Wyoming, June 2013

London, January 2013

NYC, March 2013

Mount Rushmore, June 2013

London, January 2013

Annapolis, April 2013

Montana, June 2013

Delaware, March 2013

NYC, April 2013

Saint Paul, October 2013