Sunday, August 29, 2010

Art + Photography…

Today I got up way too early for a Sunday and had all of my typical household chores (groceries, cleaning, trash, dishes, laundry, etc.) done by around 9am. So I decided that it would be a good day to take the new camera out for some practice. Also since I recently became a member of the Dallas Museum of Art at a level that gets me into 130 other museums and galleries, I figured what a better way to practice than going to see the Ansel Adams exhibit at the Amon Carter in Fort Worth, TX.
Upon arriving at the Carter, the very nice and peppy young lady at the reception desk informed me of all of the areas where I could and could not use my flash (but I had come prepared to not use any flash at all, so this wasn’t a big deal). She also informed me that the Adams exhibit was on loan, and thus I was not allowed to take photographs in that gallery [thus why you will not see any Ansel Adams works below.]
I was lucky enough to walk into the Ansel Adams installation right before one of the curators offered to give a brief talk on the exhibit. I am always impressed by curators; the amount of seemingly endless stories they have about each piece of work is amazing…stuff you would never glean just by looking at the 4’x5’ plaque next to the photos.
Here are a few shots I took while at the Carter. First is a piece that I can’t remember the artist, but found it interesting that the work focused on the transmission lines near the Hover Dam. I think I shall carry this photo with me to all meetings I have with architects so them  that the systems I design as an electrical engineer are in fact worthy of being “art”.
These next images are all of the same Georgia O'Keefe painting. I was testing the exposure to see how best to photograph in low light without flash. None of these images do the work justice. I’m still learning how this works.
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After I left the Carter, I figured since I had driven all the way to Forth Worth, I might as well visit The Modern (also on my list of 130 reciprocal member museums and galleries with the DMA). The Modern not only has some great works, the building itself is awesome. Not to say that the Kimball (designed by Louis I. Kahn) or the Amon Carter (designed by Philip Johnson) aren’t impressive, they certainly are. But Tadao Ando’s use of rubbed concrete, Y-shaped columns and clean linear vocabulary is almost connected to what one visualizes when you use the word “Modern”
Outside The Modern is a towering work by Richard Serra called "Vortex". I tried to capture the clouds and the color of the sky. I tried shots without any filters and then with my UV filter to improve the glare. The photos below are the best of the bunch. First without a filter, the second with. Also messed with exposure on the second one to improve the trueness of the sky.
Once inside The Modern I again started to play with different features. The shots below are where I am adjusting the White Balance and exposure settings while shooting the same work in one of the lower level galleries.
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Like I said, the building itself is Art…here is a shot with clouds outside, clouds reflected off glass and clouds thru glass. If I had time I’d learn how to Photoshop out the incandescent lighting inside the gallery.
Next, trying to use reflection and blur to evoke the sense of movement. Not quite there.
Out of Focus tests
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I left I tried to play with the f-stop and zoom to blur objects in the background with varying levels of success.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010


So I can already tell this new photography hobby is going toto get expensive quick (just like golf and hunting and frankly most any hobby. But don't judge me, I'm sure you have a money sucking hobby or two as well). After only one outing with my new camera for the company boat cruise, where I was disappointed in my ability to take nighttime portraits, I have ordered my first accessory. A new speedlite flash (and diffuser) is on the way from Brooklyn NYC (B&H) as we speak. It should be here on Friday (baring any UPS catastrophes). Can't wait to see how it works.

On a side note, at lunch today Jessica and I bored the living daylights out of Sarah as we discussed our new cameras (she got a new Nikon D90). All the f-stop and ISO and how to get good image stabilization with and without automatic modes was a little much for a casual lunch discussion. Sorry Sarah...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Company Boat Cruise...My First Photos

Last night was my first time out with the new camera. We had our annual company cruise on Lake Lewisville. My company rented a catamaran and set sail for a sunset outing. It was a relaxing night once the blazing hot sun went behind the horizon. I was able to get a few good shots...and some pretty bad shots too.
Things I learned:
(1) Need a better flash than what comes on the camera...too hard to get good night portraits.
(2) Need to remember what all the different mode abbreviations mean...couldn't seem to remember the difference between Tv and Av on the dial.
(3) I have a lot more to learn.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

And thus it begins...

My first blog post...I figured I'd wait a minimum of a solid half a decade to see if this blog thing was really stable. And I figured since blogging is almost past its prime, it was time to join in and maybe even be considered "retro" for the internet age. The cutting edge is for the foolhardy.

I named the blog "Actually..." as a catharsis. For those that know me, they know it is my most overused phrase. I have this horrible tendency to interject trivia or factoids or corrections into conversation...and I used to almost exclusively start with that friggin' word "Actually". I've tried to cut down on the use of the word, but frankly now it is like a running inside joke with all my friends and co-workers (most of which are also my friends). They even have turned the act of "Actually-ing Doug" into a game or badge of honor. If you can "Actually Doug", then you have one-up-ed me and that is always good for a few laughs.

Another reason for the blog is to share photos. I recently splurged on a new DSLR camera and want to share my photos. I know there is Facebook and Flickr and all sorts of photo sharing sites, but I wanted someplace that my family could see my photos without having to join the social media scene if they don't want to. Of course, I will still use my Flickr account (even linked it to this blog) and post on Facebook, and keep on TwitPic-ing; but this medium should be fun to also be able to embellish with a diary-style prose that 140-160 characters just doesn't allow.

I have no photos to share as of yet (and frankly as of now I have not a follower to see them) but there will be some shortly.

Have fun and hope you enjoy...whoever you are.