Photo Posts

Task #77 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Take 101 photos with black & white film

There were very few tasks on my 101 list which truly spanned the full length of the 1001 day project, but this was one of them.  On 1 January 2012 one of the first contributions I made to my list was to shoot some photos with my film camera, and she was still working hard in the final few days of my challenge last week.   My little F80 travelled with me all over Melbourne and down the Great Ocean Road, although admittedly she was always the camera which was left behind when I had to pack for a flight!

Nothing could ever replace the anticipation of waiting for film to be developed. I usually sent in a few rolls at once without knowing what they contained, so every time I picked them up it felt a bit like Christmas morning.  For somebody so accustomed to the instant gratification of digital this was a much needed lesson in the art of patience and that was really satisfying.

I have a lot to learn about shooting with film, and like everything else on my list I would have produced far better results if I had been pulled in fewer directions.  But done is better than perfect, and I’m happy to have created a collection of 101 little black & white, analog memories.

 

(I’m testing out a new gallery plugin, and am especially curious to see whether this layout survives all the way through to my RSS reader.  If you’re reading this post through a newsfeed and don’t see a collection of thumbnails below please click through to my website instead.  I’d love to hear from you if you spot any problems!)

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Task #79 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: Complete an alphabet photo series

For almost three years my deadline for the this project, 28 September 2014, has seemed a very long way away.  It’s hard to believe that I’m staring down the barrel of the final week.  Just 6 days to go!

This is the 88th completed task, and I promise that sounds far worse than it actually is.  So many of my tasks are neeeearly complete, and those that are yet to be started are part of a special plan for next weekend.  More on that later.

But first, enjoy this fun little photo series.  Each photo represents a letter of the alphabet, and the only rule was that I needed to find objects which accidentally formed the shape of the letter.  I tried to not take this too seriously so there’s a mixture of DSLR and iPhone photos in here.

AA BB CC
DD E F
GG H I
JJ KK LL
M NN OO
PP QQ RR
S TT UU
V W XX
YY ZZ

I’ll be back soon with an update about some of the art I’ve been working on over the past couple of weeks. I seriously can’t wait to get back to normal blogging.  One more week…

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4seasons

Task #80 of my 101 Things in 1001 Days project: photograph a street scene or landscape in all 4 seasons.

I was really excited to finally finish this particular task. When I first added it to my 101 list I think I envisioned setting up a tripod in the Botanic Gardens, or even photographing my own pretty street throughout the seasons. But then I heard about Macedon and it’s beautiful Honour Avenue and decided that it would be the perfect scene for my 4 Seasons photo project (despite the long travel time!).

The idea is simple: Each season take a photograph from the same position, for one year. I chose to shoot a few angles of the same street.

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In response to the tragedy of World War One most Australian districts erected memorials to commemorate the lives of the soldiers and nurses of their district. One special form of memorial was the Avenue of Honour, and many of them have become important cultural landscapes that are unique to Australia. By 1918 the casualty rate of Australian soldiers was so high that every Australian was closely associated with somebody who had been killed, so lots of people became invested in the creation of these war memorials.

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Macedon’s Honour Avenue honours the 154 men and women of Macedon and Mount Macedon who enlisted for service during the Great War of 1914-1918. Each oak tree was planted for an individual and the order was determined by ballot, not rank. It was a real community effort, certainly more hands-on for the community than a creation of a monument which was often manufactured far from home.  A real labour of love.

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There are definite flaws in each series of photographs. In a perfect world, and with bottomless supplies of time and patience, I’d have taken a tripod and measured the height of the camera. I’d have replicated the aperture settings and focal point, and taken lots of notes about my EXIF data.

I didn’t do any of this and I don’t have any regrets. I set out to complete my 101 list (and this task) in the spirit of done is better than perfect, and I think this series captured that spirit completely. I even packed the wrong lens for my Spring shots!

I did adopt a few strategies to make sure that the final product was as good as possible, without stripping all the fun out of it by measuring everything. I used a few roadside landmarks to remember the position of each shot (mostly speed limit signs) and took along reference photos of previous shots to help me eyeball my next one in the viewfinder. I did my best to replicate the number of fence posts down one side of the shot, while copying the gap between two trees on the other side. Of course, all this went out the window on the day that I turned up with the wrong lens in September, but even that was kind of a liberating mistake. It taught me how to use what I had to approximate the work of another lens and focal length.

It’s funny how forgetting that lens wasn’t a dealbreaker in Spring, but when I noticed that my Summer photos were too similar to the Spring photos I actually went back and re-shot them two weeks later.  Fortunately the very first few autumn leaves were changing by then and it created just enough contrast with the previous season.  I put my most recent photos at the top of each series just to create a little more distance between Spring and Summer.

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I shot four different scenes hoping that one year later at least one of them would work out.   It turned out that all four were worth keeping, and they make quite a nice series together.

This was such a satisfying project and I recommend trying it yourself – even if it’s just on your camera phone!

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Beautiful treasures outside ‘Mollisons’ of Kyneton.  I’d like to come back to this store with an hour and a fistful of cash!

The last couple of weeks have been strange, and I’ve noticed that whenever things in my life are out of balance the blog is the first thing to go quiet.  I’ve been taking a little bit of time to get my groove back and it’s done me a world of good to just press pause.

The Boston marathon bombings have coloured much of the past two weeks for me, and it didn’t seem right to talk about it when I had nothing new to say.  As the drama unfolded we were glued to a live stream of a Boston news station for two days straight, and it struck me how often I recognised a spot where I had stood just six months earlier.  I took a bunch of photos in Copley Square last October that hold even more meaning for me now.

Since my very first visit to Boston six years ago I’ve felt a kinship with that city that’s hard to explain, and I’ve had trouble getting Sweet Caroline out of my brain for the past couple of weeks.  Boston is the toughest city I’ve ever known and I don’t think I’ll ever forget some of these stories of tragedy and heroism.

(Tim’s sister was supposed to be working at the medical tent at the finish line that day.  I can’t even let myself imagine how different things might have been if she hadn’t changed her plans at the last minute – there must be thousands of people wondering the same thing, for different reasons.)

… and just to keep things interesting, while this was going on our little fleabag had a medical emergency of his own.  In the course of a single weekend we had five trips to the vet and he got very sick.  He’s on the mend and should make a full recovery, but man.  I love that dog, and he really gave us a scare.

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Today was a bit gloomy, and we decided it was a good time to get out of the house and see something new.  I wanted to see some pretty autumn leaves before they all disappeared so we jumped in the car and checked out two towns we’d never been to before – Macedon and Kyneton.

The foliage wasn’t quite as perfect as our stay in Vermont last October (that was magical!) but the colours were so much brighter today than I had expected.  I’m so glad that we were able to see it this weekend while so many of the leaves were still hanging on.

If you live around here, I bet it’s still going to be incredible for the next couple of weeks.  You should go.

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Bawsten.

by Elizabeth on February 23, 2013 · 0 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

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I visited Boston for the first time six years ago and I remember falling it love with her hard.  All the beautiful buildings, the Freedom Trail, the squirrels and the buskers and the food and the history – it felt like I’d found my North American home.  It reminded me so much of Melbourne that I wasn’t surprised when I discovered we were sister cities.

Our visit to Boston last September was a bit different to the last, mostly because we had so much to do in a short space of time.  We rented an apartment in the city through AirBnB (which, as it turned out, belonged to a reality TV contestant and E-grade celebrity) and we stayed there for 2 nights with one set of Tim’s parents.  We were so lucky to have them as our tour guides, plus they spoiled us with seats to a game at Fenway Park.  I have now been officially initiated into the cult of the Red Sox.

We ate really, really well in Boston.  We found a beautiful Italian restaurant in the North End, seafood on the waterfront (I miss you, Legal Seafood!) and the finest hot dogs and crackerjacks that Fenway provides.

My Fenway Park photos deserve a post of their own, but these are some of the other beautiful sights that we saw during our whirlwind stay.  I can’t wait to be back in this beautiful city.

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Tim’s Dad made me practice the pronunciation of Concord until I got it right.  Pro tip: Just say “conquered”.

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FAO Schwarz – Fifth Avenue, NYC

by Elizabeth on January 9, 2013 · 3 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

I can only imagine how incredible it must be to visit FAO Schwarz as a child, because believe me – it’s pretty freaking great when you’re in your thirties.  This place isn’t just a toy store, it’s an experience and their collection of toys is beautifully curated.

And besides, it’s probably the only place you can buy an etch-a-sketch for $1500 (it’s completely encrusted in Swarovski crystals), a $30,000 3D motion simulator or a $25,000 Barbie foosball table. (If you want one of those you’ll need to be quick – only 8 of them were made and Charlie Sheen has already bought one of them!)

Of course you can’t talk about this place without mentioning the Tom Hanks film Big, especially that iconic scene with the floor piano.  It was pretty great to see it in person when we were there a few months ago.

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I imagine when you’re a kid this place must seem as though it never ends.  You’re greeted outside by a real toy soldier, whose main job seems to be to pose for photos and get kids extra excited.  When you walk through the door you find yourself in the Grand Hall, where you’re surrounded by a jungle of Steiff stuffed animals and racks of plush toys.

Upstairs is a seemingly endless maze of toy departments, all staffed by friendly people who encourage the kids to play with the stock.  It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but I don’t remember any mess or a single bratty kid.  It was probably too mesmerising for mischief!

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FAO Schweetz was just as amazing as the rest of the store.  Aside from having an enormous collection of candy to choose from, it also boasts a range of BIG oversized confectionary.

Some of the best brands have collaborated with FAO to reproduce their products in giant sizes, and even the packaging is in perfect proportion.  If you can visit this section of the store without cracking a big, fat smile your brain is probably broken.

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There was plenty of competition, but that boy right there was the most delicious thing in the store 😉

There’s a section upstairs called the Whatnot Workshop where you can create your very own Muppet extra.  You choose the parts and they’re built for you in store while you wait, or you can jump online and use the Muppet Whatnot Workshop instead!  It doesn’t look like they ship internationally (boo!) but it’s still fun to play around with.

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Here’s a couple I made while messing around tonight:

whatnots

FAO Schwarz is the oldest toy store in the United States, and in 2012 it celebrated its 150th anniversary.  These days it’s owned by Toys “R” Us and the flagship store in Fifth Avenue is now the only one standing.

Visiting the store fulfilled a wish that I’ve carried since I first watched Tom Hanks play that piano in Big, and it didn’t disappoint.  If you’re ever in NYC this needs to be on your to-do list, even (especially!) if you don’t have kids!

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The lights of NYC: Times Square

by Elizabeth on January 8, 2013 · 1 comment

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

timessquare

I can’t write a post about Times Square without posting this fantastic animated GIF.  I managed to track down the source for this one – it’s a segment of a beautiful video by Hang Zhang.  His time lapse film brings back so many memories of the places we visited last October.

Mention Times Square to a New Yorker and you’ll almost certainly get an eyeroll in return.  Times Square is one of those places that locals avoid like the plague, but it’s such an iconic part of the city that you almost have to go there once as a tourist.  I’ve been a few times now, and I can’t help loving it each time.

I mean sure, pick your time.  Don’t go there on New Years Eve unless you want to begin your year despising all of mankind.  Watch your bag, watch out for the people in costume, and definitely don’t attempt to drive through there unless you want to be abused by drivers and pedestrians alike.  If your head isn’t in the game it’s probably not a good place to be.

When we visited in October the weather was incredibly hot and humid, and we arrived at Times Square just in time for a strange looking sunset – little more than an eerie orange glow through the haze of the clouds.  It cast a warm tint on everything, and when I look at these photos I remember how heavy the air was with moisture.  It felt like soup, and it was raining just enough to be annoying, but not quite enough to need an umbrella.

The rain probably helped to clear away the less enthusiastic tourists, as I felt it was less chaotic than my last visit.

The people-watching here is amazing.

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See more of my photography from NYC, October 2012 here:

Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge
Central Park
Strawberry Fields – Central Park
Giant Bubbles – Bethesda Fountain, Central Park NYC
Streets of NYC

 

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Streets of NYC

by Elizabeth on January 7, 2013 · 0 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

nyc

Source: Tumblr. I can’t find the original artist, can anyone help?

I never intended to let my USA vacation photos spill over into 2013, but here we are. It’s taken me this long to wade through the thousands of photos I took while we were away, so this month I’ll be bringing you some of my favourites from NYC and Boston. I promise to have this all wrapped up before February, if only so that I can finally stop living in the past!

There’s no way I can share all of NYC with you in just one post so I’ll be breaking these photo posts down into a small series.  This installment is about the city streets and the people that fascinated me. You may also be interested in my earlier posts about Brooklyn Heights and the Brooklyn Bridge.

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Starry, starry night

by Elizabeth on January 4, 2013 · 0 comments

in Melbourne, Nikon D800, Photo Posts

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Melbourne sweltered through an uncomfortable 42C (107.5F) day today.  Even as I write this at 11pm the temperature has only dropped to 35C, and in parts of the country there have been serious bushfires today that have been fueled by strong winds.  Black Saturday isn’t far from most peoples’ minds today.

The winds also cleared out all traces of cloud over Melbourne, so it turned out to be a nice night to stand on my driveway and take photos of the stars.  I’ve signed up for a NASA alert every time the space shuttle is visible from my city (sign up here, it’s free!) and with a sighting scheduled for tonight I decided to finally break in the tripod that Tim gave me for Christmas.

The space station zooms by quickly, so I only had a few minutes to grab my shots.  The photos below are 30 second exposures and if you know your stuff you’ll be able to spot Orion too.

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It blows my mind that there are actual people living on that space station, zooming all around the planet.  What an experience that must be.

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I’ve set myself a challenge to complete 101 Things in 1001 Days, from 1 January 2012 to 28 September 2014.  #78 on my list is to take 101 photos with my Fujifilm instax mini 25 camera.

I’ve had this fun little camera for a while now, and we seem to go through phases with each other.  There are months on end where it sits neglected in a drawer, and there are days where I go through 3 packs of film before lunch.  It’s a great little toy when I remember it’s there.

I decided to call this task “done” when I had taken 101 photos that were good enough to share.  Some of them turned out as expected, others are happy accidents probably look like mistakes to the average person!  I’m sure I could have presented an entirely different set of 101 photos if I kept this open until the end of my 1001 Days but it’s time for me to start concentrating on the other items on my list.

Enjoy the little video above, and try not to notice the terrible nailpolish!  We all do things we regret on New Years Eve.

Photojojo Fuji Instax Camera

Image from photojojo.com, which is one of my favourite places for photo gadgets.

The Fujifilm Instax Mini 25 takes instant photographs, much like a polaroid camera.  The photos are about the size of a credit card and there are enthusiasts out there who use them in journals and other crafty projects.  Lots of people are making albums that are sized for these photos and there are stacks of accessories on etsy and ebay.  I think people who love this camera really love this camera.

This camera isn’t for everybody, although most people would enjoy the novelty factor of instant film.

Through trial and error I’ve learned a bit about which lighting situations will work for this camera, and which ones won’t.  One of the  main frustrations that people have with the instax mini is that there’s no way to manually control the flash or shutter speed, so there’s an element of risk each time you take a shot.  Most indoor shots will cause the flash to fire and that can cause annoying glare on reflective surfaces.  If you’re photographing people indoors the flash does a great job and gives a fun 80’s feel.

The photos I liked best were taken in full sunlight, or in places with HEAPS of bright ambient light.

 

TIPS AND TRICKS FOR USING THE FUJIFILM INSTAX MINI 25

The page where I have been posting my instax photos has been attracting a lot of google traffic throughout the year, and I’ve noticed that most of the search terms are related to problems that people have with using the camera.  I thought it might be helpful to share some of the things I’ve learned, especially since the manual that comes with the camera is pretty useless!

I’m not an expert (I’m not even happy with all 101 shots) but I did get better at it over time.

FILM

  • You should expect to waste a few packets of film when you first get your camera.  Film isn’t cheap, but in my experience the only way to learn is to keep shooting.  Photograph the same object multiple times, adjusting your distance or light source, until you figure out what works and what doesn’t.
  • I always buy my film through eBay now because it can be much cheaper than the usual places.  I usually get a good deal when I buy them in packs of a couple of hundred.  Whether you’re buying film online or in a store always check the expiry date.  Sometimes the price is too good to be true, and a seller who doesn’t disclose this information in their product description is probably shady.  My last few purchases have been made through cameragirl and they’ve been great.
  • Once you have your film don’t let it sit around collecting dust, and remember that it expires.  If you’re too precious with your camera or your film you’ll never learn to use it to its full potential.  Be ready to pay about $1 per photo, and don’t be too mad about the ones that end up in the trash.

LIGHTING

  • Taking a photo in full, bright sunlight will give vivid colours and a low-risk shot.
  • Some of my favourite photos were taken directly into to the sun, like the bird feeder and tomato plant above.  The brightest spots in the photo will be overexposed and you may end up with a black or green dot in your image.  That’s the film telling you that your scene was too bright, but I love it.
  • If you’d prefer to avoid this shoot your subject in direct sunlight but put the light source behind you.  The brightest spots may still be over exposed but you shouldn’t experience any burn.  The two photos of my dog above were shot this way, and while the detail of his white fur is lost to overexposure overall there’s more control in those shots.
  • The other four photos above (mug & lemons, baseball game, ivy & vases) were shot in areas with heaps and heaps of ambient light.  The instax needs a LOT of light, so it’s pretty quick to fire its flash if the scene isn’t perfectly lit.
  • The flash is brilliant for photographing people at night and in low light.

OTHER STUFF

  • Don’t forget that what you see through the viewfinder is just a guide.  As the viewfinder doesn’t sit directly over the lens there will be some differences in the framing of the final product.  It’s not easy to line up a perfectly symmetrical shot with this camera, so embrace imperfection!
  • The camera comes with a closeup lens, but it’s not a macro lens.  You’ll still need be a good arms length away from your subject to get it in focus, and I wasted a lot of film figuring out that sweet spot!  I also kept forgetting to remove it for landscape scenes which is why some of them are blurry.  I found I’m more tolerant of these sorts of mistakes with my instax than I ever could be with my SLR or DSLR.
  • Don’t buy this camera if you’re a control freak, or you will be miserable.  Embrace imperfection and you will love it.

If you have one of these cameras I would love to hear your tips in the comments!

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Central Park, NYC

by Elizabeth on November 30, 2012 · 4 comments

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

 

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Task #12 on my list of 101 Things in 1001 Days was Visit 3 new states in the USA.

 

See more photos from Maine:

Marshall Point lighthouse
Penobscot Bay
Sunrise at Port Clyde
McLoon’s Lobster Shack

 

 

 

 

 

More photos from Vermont: 

Vermont Fall foliage
Ben & Jerry’s factory tour
Lake Champlain 

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Lake Champlain, Vermont

by Elizabeth on November 28, 2012 · 1 comment

in Photo Posts, Travel, USA

I have such bittersweet memories from this day.

Biscuit is the young, yellow pup and she’s a very good girl.  She belongs to Tim’s dad and also happens to be the most polite dog in the world.  If she was a person she would always remember to say please and thank you and she wouldn’t be caught dead with her elbows on the table.

She and her friend Curly had fun chasing each other up and down the beach at Lake Champlain that day, racing each other through the water and wrestling over precious sticks.  This stretch of sand was bliss for these playful pups.

Curly’s big brother Strider had been sick for a long time, and the day we visited he was on his very last legs.  He followed us slowly down the beach, enjoying the smells and the waves and the wind in his face.  He didn’t seem to mind that he couldn’t keep up with the other two when they raced ahead; he was just happy to be part of the action.

It was pretty clear to us all that these would be the last photos of the two boys together.  I didn’t want to draw too much attention to it so I quietly snapped a few portraits of their special guy.  I was glad to have a moment when both dogs flopped down together in the sand so that I could photograph them side by side; these gentle giants were such good pals and their affection for each other was remarkable.

The sweet old gentleman in the photo above is gone now, but I’m so happy to have known him for that short time.  He was a smooch, a happy soul and a very good singer.  I hope there’s a big beach for him in doggy heaven where he is running around without pain.

I know somebody has already written a song about this, but dogs really are the best people.

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Strawberry Fields in Central Park.

Five minutes before these photos were taken we saw Yoko Ono getting into her limousine.

Well played, NYC.

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New York City.  Every time you turn a corner there’s something unexpected.

I’m going to let these photos speak for themselves tonight.  We’ve had some sad news over here and these pictures have been a welcome distraction.  But now it’s time for bed, and I hope I’ll dream of these big, beautiful bubbles.

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