Thursday, May 29, 2008


Shoegazer, originally uploaded by dbwalker.

Yes ... I take a lot of pictures of my feet. I've got about 19 pretty good shots... Perhaps a PDF book is in the works.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Just words

Just words, originally uploaded by dbwalker.

Sometimes words have no meaning.

I was listening to a Radiolab episode (WNYC Podcast) that was talking about the world wide popularity of traditional country music. Turns out that the aborigines in Australia's outback have an unquenchable thirst for chortling yodeling country music.

The reasons proffered by the podcast were interesting. As it turns out, the "cry break", the yodel-esq twang that is a signature of country music singing, is a universal sound that strikes a chord in many people, regardless of the meaning of the words in the song.

This sound, said the podcast, evokes a longing for home, a nostalgia for times gone by, a universal plaintiff wail that crosses the lines of language.

You don't need to know the words to know what the song is about.

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Flickr: Project oriented photography group

SoFoBoMo 08

Project oriented photography group on Flickr

I enjoyed participating in SoFoBoMo so much, that I want to extend it, or at least practice more project based photography. I'm willing to bet there are a few more SoFoBoMo'ers that may want to do so as well.

To that end I have created a Flickr group for it.

Group Description:


This is a group dedicated to the photographic series. I have found that a series of photographs that belong together are not only dificult to produce, but far more rewarding than striving to produce a single photo that might say ... make explore, or be included in a greatest hits photo compilation.

If you prefer the long playing form of photography, please join and post your projects to the pool. (See posting rules).


Lets see whats in your project!

Project oriented photography group on Flickr

Saturday, May 24, 2008

All my colors

All my colors, originally uploaded by dbwalker.

Still life @ 30,000 feet or .... What to do with things you get on an airplane on the tray table in front of you.

From left to right back to front:
A water bottle
Emergency procedures pamphlet
A half full water glass
With a red straw in it

Taken with a G9, manual focus blurred, with camera motion...

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

SoFoBoMo wrapup: Processing the files

Can't make up my mind
(Photo: "Cant make up my mind" - from a trip to Austin TX last week)

In my last SoFoBoMo entry I discussed shooting, and a little processing. In this one I'll discuss how I processed the files in a more in-depth manner.

After doing all the shooting, rating, sorting and deleting many shots I ended up with over 100 shots to process. I wanted to process all of the RAW files in Adobe Camera Raw, move into Photoshop and do the black and white conversion there. I quickly figured out that it would simply take too long to finish that way. (Largely because I waited till the last 2 days of the fuzzy month to do the processing, lesson for next year ... set a date certain for end of shooting and schedule at least a week for post)

I ended up using Aperture for most processing and black and white conversion. And, in hindsight, it may have been better to do it that way. I could look at all of the files at once, smaller groups of files, two up etc. It gave me the ability to make judgments as to how well the shots fit together in terms of content, composition and processing.

Consistency was the name of the game. Had I done this processing in ACR and Photoshop, I'm sure I would have had to do a lot more re-edits to get the to look consistent. Using Aperture it changed the process from editing a single image and moving to the next to editing them as a group. Zooming in and out on groups of them and looking at them as thumbnails helped to smooth out the rough edges a lot.

I made the decision to go for a film grain and toned look early in this process. Unfortunatly Aperture does not have a grain (noise) generator, and the toning simply leaves a lot to be desired. With 108 images to process and only a few free hours over the last 2 days of my fuzzy month I had to take the easy way out.

I ended up using Alien Skin Exposure. I selected a TRI-X 400 preset and worked with the grain and tone controls to get a look I enjoyed. I then exported the files from Aperture as TIFF and created a Photoshop action to help apply the plugin to the files and save them as new files.

Then I took these files, and imported them back into Aperture for final sequencing and layout ... yes ... layout.

Next: Creating a PDF book with Aperture.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Thursday Walk 5-15

Thursday Walk 5-15
Originally uploaded by dbwalker
A 30 second walkabout.
Original music ....
Mmmmmm fun.

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

SoFoBoMo wrapup: Shooting Rodin

(Photo: From a promo shoot for one of the bands I'm in)

Shooting other peoples art is tricky. Some might say that when you photograph another persons art you should endeavor to only document the piece, and not try to expand on it or try and claim your photograph as art. Some would say the exact opposite. I am leaning towards the latter.

That is to say, I did not approach the sculpture garden to just inventory and document the works there. I wanted to capture it's effect on me, it's often visceral and wrenching effect. So I put all of the tools I could to work towards that end, camera position, composition, light, focal length, aperture, bokeh etc.

The Martyr, Rodin
The Martyr, Rodin

Light became a bit of a problem, in that there was way too much hard light most of the time. I had set aside lunchtime to work on this project so the middle of the day was when I had to shoot. I was lucky in that there were some (rare) overcast days while I was there.

Over the course of shooting I tripped the shutter a total of about 1000 times on 6 trips of between 1 and 2 hours each. It's a 15 min round trip to the garden from work, so a few long lunches were involved.

All of the photos were imported into Aperture for initial editing and ranking. However, my fuzzy month was made even more fuzzy because of that crazy bad flu going around. Being in bed ate up a lot of shooting and editing time. As a result I spent my up-time shooting, and down time in bed. This left most of the sorting and editing to the end which, in hind sight, was a mistake.

Looking at the book now (with a weeks perspective on it), I should have cut it down to about 1/2 the size. But, without the limitations of SoFoBoMo I bet I would still be out shooting.

Next: Creating the book itself

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

SoFoBoMo Wrapup: Why I love/Hate to talk about gear

(Photo: From a promo shoot for one of the bands I'm in)

In short-
Why I love to talk about gear: I'm a geek/knob twiddling boob.

Why I hate to talk about gear: The knob twiddling boob in me often gets in the way of producing creative output.

There were some great essays (here and here) regarding the question of "Is it the camera or photographer?"

After reading both I decided to tell all my friends to buy the gear listed below, but only if they wanted to be serious photographers. NOT! ... :)

Truly, in photography, music or any other kind of art it is the passion of the individual and the ability to communicate that passion in their medium that matters most. If the person is truly passionate, they will also select the tool that allows them to best communicate that passion. Both of those essays make that point, to me at least.

To that end, these are the tools I used to try and communicate what the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford is like:
Canon G9 point and shoot
Canon 400D XTi

Tamron 17-50mm F2.8
Canon 85mm F1.8
Canon 50mm F1.4
Sigma 30mm F1.4
Canon 75-300 F4-F5.6

In addition, I decided early in this project, not to put any info about the gear used in the book. I also decided to not us the words "me", "mine" or "I" anywhere in the book. The book is not about me, or my gear. The book is about the Rodin Sculpture Garden at Stanford. I have too much respect for the art Rodin created to put anything else in the book that was not on point.

But ... perhaps I should include a BIO in the next book, and a gear list. I did enjoy reading those in the other SoFoBoMo Projects..... :)

Next: Shooting SoFoBoMo Style ... I think ...

Monday, May 5, 2008

SoFoBoMo wrapup part 1, back to the beginning

(Photo: "Mike" From a promo photo shoot for one of my bands)

I've completed my SoFoBoMo book. I did it even though I had the worst Flu I have ever had in my life! I may have finished the book, but I did not get a chance to blog about it much at the time. So I will roll back and blog about it a little before I move on to my next project.

To begin from the beginning then... My interest in Photography has lead to an interest in The History of Photography, which has lead to an interest in Art history which has lead to ... etc etc etc... Now I cant help it, I'm obsessed with the visual arts.

I decided to make SOFoBoMo a learning experience as well. I picked a subject I knew little about, but found fascinating, and used SoFoBoMo as an excuse to research and learn more about it.

I first heard about the Rodin sculpture garden from my friend Kenny, he used some photos he took there for an album cover. While watching the Gallery Channel I ran across a fascinating biography of Rodin put the two together, I realized I was sitting on (near) the third largest collection of pieces by this master in the world.

The third factor that lead to selecting this subject was happenstance, I had to deliver of a performance contract to a client at Stanford. While there I took a walk around campus with my camera to see what I could see. I walked into the The Burghers of Calais and fell in love with these bronzes as a photographic subject.

Next entry "Why do I need to talk about gear?" or "Why I love to talk about gear" ... or something similar... :)