Sunday, January 20, 2013


**If you don't want to read about photography and be bored witless, I understand if you pass this up**

Photography.  I like it.  Taking pictures, recording images, creating art, I like it all.  My old photography professor still swears by film.  I gave up on film because of the cost.  For some that is the place to be.  It is perfect for them.  I took awhile to come around to the digital persuasion.  I wasn't convinced it would work well, nor was I convinced it could do what film did.  But, in 2003, my parents bought us a Kodak digital camera.  It was only 2 megapixels, but it showed me how versatile digital photography can be.  But, with the ease of use offered by digital, there are other results.  For instance, it is no longer a pass time of the elite who has thousands of dollars to blow.  ANYONE can pick up a camera and create decent images.

Just recently, I gathered all the film that had been hanging around and collecting in baggies and took it in to be developed and printed.  I had a bunch of black and white.  I used to take a lot of black and white because (in a perfect world) I bought it bulk and could develop it at home and then get prints made (it would be cheaper).  I never did.  So I ended up with a small collection of film that never got developed.  So, when the film was finally all developed and printed, I nearly dropped my jaw at the price!  HOLY COW!!  Almost $200 for 13 rolls of film.  You gotta be kidding me!  Now I remembered why I didn't like film!

When I bought my Nikon D-90 I spent months deciding on the right camera.  I wanted one that I could grow into as a photographer.  It has almost all the bells and whistles without the exorbitant price of the pro-models.  I have had it for two and-a-half years now, and it is still going strong.  I have two batteries for it and several lenses.

I did my research, and everyone said to take my photos in RAW (the format that the camera records the image in initially) and that JPGs just would not work well for a professional.  I did not have a program that would work with RAW, but, keeping in mind that I intended to, I shot in RAW AND JPG.  This effectively gave me two images for every shot.  It took up about 2/3s more memory space than JUST jpgs.  I shot like that until summer of 2012, when I switched to jpgs only, this was only supposed to be temporary.  I got an updated version of my program that could work with RAW images.  I tried to work with RAW and had very little success.  I couldn't understand why it was so good.  I DID notice a HUGE jump in speed.  I was very happy being able to take 19 or 20 images before the buffer filled up.  I kind of forgot to switch back to RAW.

The subject of RAW came up when I was talking to a photographer friend.  I decided I needed to look into it a bit more.  My situation has changed significantly since I first got my camera. This summer I obtained a copy of Photoshop.  It can alter RAW.  When I first got the program I fiddled with RAW half-heartedly and forgot about it.  When I began looking for why RAW was a good thing to shoot in I found a few videos that describe very good reasons.  One is in some details of images get lost in jpgs, and you CAN do a lot more altering than I thought you could.  I've been playing with it.  I am glad I only missed a few months of RAW shooting.

I began by going back to photos I'd taken when we went to China.  I've found a few goodies in those files after leaving them sit for awhile.  Now, two years on, I am still finding worthwhile images in them.  I am glad I do not delete like some people do.  Because I think I have a few that were golden that I did not recognize as such before.  Live and learn, I suppose.

So, here is the initial image, as it was in the camera.
 As you can see, it is hazy, it has a shallow look and is just not optimum.  The next photo is a jpg version that I tried to fix using just the jpg controls in Photoshop.  It's a little better, but still nothing you just absolutely want on the wall.
 When I opened the RAW version I saw the first photo, so I warmed the photo up.  I did a few extra little things that I did not even know existed until today and VOILA!  I have turned the flat, haziness to an advantage and I think this is a photo that I would very much like to put in the wall.
    Now, I am an amateur.  I don't boast any special training.  I took all the photography courses offered at our local community college.  I aced every one.  I have a good eye.  I am talented in that I can draw well, and paint and take photos.  Photography is a many headed monster that has so many facets that one person can never know all of them at once.  He forgets some as he discovers more.  I think the basics stay, though.  I am continually learning, though.

Digital gives so many advantages over film that it is difficult to believe more than just a few still use it.  But film photographers die hard.  You can still get a lot more detail out of film, but, in order to do that it must be shot the right way.  Digital allows you to know if you shot it right the first time while you're still there, or if you need to keep going.  If you want black and white photos you don't have to unload the roll you have and load a different roll of film.  You can simply switch it to black and white in the camera or later when you're home at the computer.  No late nights spending time in the dark room.  You can sit and watch TV and edit photos.    I like that.

What I don't like about other photographers is pretentiousness.  Many of them seem pretentious and selling themselves as something other than what they are.  Another thing is that they are often out for money.  I don't know if it's because I do not have a business mind or I am too humble, but I can't imagine charging an arm and a leg for photos.  I guess it's a lot more about what I enjoy.  Perhaps that is a good thing.  I can see trying to make money, but unless you are only doing photography, I just don't see it being profitable.  Especially when any idiot with a computer and an iphone can make decent photos.  Hell, there are kids in high school taking senior photos.  They do it cheap, and at times they offer more creativity than some "professional" photographers.

I am reminded of my own wedding.  The photographer we had used a beautiful medium format camera.  He could have used it to great effect, however, he chose to hang back and create photos of people surrounded by large amounts of background.  some make it difficult to see faces clearly.  His photos, as I look at them now are blase and boring.  I bet you if you gave three teenagers a couple point-and-shoots and a little training you'd have a lot better results.  Still, you live and learn.

I don't like people who come off as full of themselves, and, yet, I don't come across humble very often, myself.  That, however, is a persona I affect.  It is a false me.  It is a me having fun and sharing a joke with the world.  Just like when I give my students my normal speech about what to call me.  "You can call me Mr. Huffman, Mr. H, Mr. Awesome, or Oh Great One."  Then I instruct them to only call me Oh, Great One in the hallways in front of other teachers and follow it up with some bowing and arm-waving.  I explain, it's all part of my new PR program to drum up jobs.  They laugh.  Then they call me Mr. Awesome...which is considerably better than things they COULD call me.  I sometimes wonder if the other adults in the schools see the humor or honestly think I think I am all that.  I try not to come off too proud of myself.

So, should I sell myself?  Make myself a brand name?  People who have less equipment than I are making money with their cameras.  People with less technical savvy and skill are using photography to supplement their income.  Why not me?  I guess, I  should be more ambitious.  You know, out there trying to drum up sales.  But, I see so many wanna be photographers doing their thing, and I just don't want to be that way.  I want my work to be recognized, but I guess I am just not invested enough in it to create a "look," trademark, or try acting like I am doing someone a favor by taking their photo.  I want it to be fun.  If life isn't fun, it isn't worth living.  I think the same applies to photography:  If it isn't fun, it isn't worth doing.  Fortunately, fun is subjective.

Now, was there a point to this long tirade?  I think it is that I like the versatility that digital gives me.  It's cheap.  and it's fun.  And, like the ability to draw pictures, anyone can do it if they put their minds to it.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


 I've spent the last two days sicker than a dog.  I stayed home from work yesterday and have not moved very far today, either.  Cora and the daughter went to town to do some shopping and get out of the house.  I was allowed to stay here and relax.

I watched a video on RAW photo manipulation the other day and it got me thinking.  I have taken thousands of RAW photos (which are exactly what the sensor saw, jpgs are compressed and much of the data is lost), but I have not done much with them.  I knew I might need them, but wasn't sure how best to use them.  Well, I was doing a little tinkering today and I think I came up with a few winners, where once there were crappy dull photos.  What do you think?  I particularly like the last one.

It has been two years since we were in China, and it doesn't feel like more than a few days.  I remember it so vividly!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Two Years a Family.

I could wax on poetical, but my eyes might blur for tears.  
The emptiness that was is filled with the past two years.  
That smiling face is always there, sometimes it's crying, too.  
But, Chloe, I will never forget the day that we got you!  
You were so small, you still are really, still you have grown so much.  
You are not that little baby we brought home, though you are the same to touch.  
A father I've been for two years now, but the briefest moment in time.  
There is no way I could ever record these deep feelings in a rhyme.

So, I won't.  I cannot believe the privilege it has been to be a father to someone so undeniably special and unique and powerful.  My daughter changes every day.  She is the world and the universe.  We talk about her even when she's not in the room.  She surprises us every day.  I just can't believe that two years have gone so fast.  It's a heavy feeling, knowing, now, how quickly life flows when there is a small one.  Every day dragged when we were but two.  When we added that third magical person, time began to dilate.  Now it is two years on and I just can't believe the speed.  I want to have it back again, and relive it day by day, without the worries of jobs and illnesses, but to enjoy that time we have.  I'll make sure to hug her a few more times each day, and maybe that will slow time down.  Nights come and nights go.  Some are easy and some are hard.  But every morning I awake knowing there is a small person in the house, whose company I enjoy quite a lot.  Quite frankly, I don't know how we did it before she came to us.  We are a happy family, and in that fact I rejoice.

Here are some pictures from the last two years!!

Asleep as the Thunderbird roar over head.  My girl.

Taken January 16, 2013.  asleep in Mom and Dad's bed.

I love our family.