Finding Myself in B&W Photography

I’ve always loved black and white photography. Not really because it makes things “moody” (a color photo can be “moody” if done the right way), but because of everything it reveals: patterns, textures, blemishes, scars. It’s like looking at something in its raw state.

A few months after I turned to freelensing and never looked back, I switched a few of my photos to B&W and realized there was a whole new world beneath the surface of all that color. Like a parallel universe. After that, most of my photos became B&W, and then I started to shoot for the sole purpose of taking B&W, and began looking specifically for textures and shapes and patterns.

Check out my B&W nature photos

Check out my B&W Tree photos

But somewhere around six months ago, it got into my head that I should be doing things in color. I practiced a lot with color editing in Lightroom, and I guess I did alright, but I never felt satisfied with my work. To me, color covers up those raw parts that only B&W can reveal. Continue reading

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My Daughter, The Ballerina

Goo started ballet a few weeks ago. She got a pink tutu on her birthday, a pair of split-soles to match, and on the evenings after class she shows us what she learned.  She talks about it all the time. Her teacher says she’s “giggly.” It’s exciting to sit in the waiting room and listen to the music play in the other room. But it didn’t dawn on me until just a couple of days ago that I haven’t gotten out the DSLR to get some pictures.

Might not seem like a big deal, but she’s just turned four, and her doing ballet is something I always fantasized about while pregnant, and I feel like this is more than a new and fun thing for her to learn. It’s also a milestone. She’s gone from chubby and toddling, to long and limber, and for the first time I can actually *see* that she’s growing up right before my eyes.

I didn’t have a lot of time before her class, so I quickly got her dressed and put her in the nearest area of natural light. I was on the floor and shaking and changing lenses and standing on chairs and wobbling and freelensing. She was very good…probably because I bribed her with chocolate.

For the editing, instead of going black and white, I decided to go with (very faint) pink highlights and crushed blacks for a “filmy” look. I also lowered the vibrance to make the pink more subtle.

What I learned:

–Always make sure your window is clean.

–Keep an eye on frames and make sure they’re straight.

–Keep an eye on wood floors and make sure the boards are straight.

 

My Favorite Photos of 2016

I took a TON of pictures last year, so it was hard to dig through them all and figure out which photos were my “best.” And what makes a photo the “best,” anyway? Is it one that follows all the rules? A spot-on white balance? Is it the amount of thought/creativity that went into the piece?

Luckily, I’m a hobbyist, which means my “best” can be whatever the hell I want it to be. So I consider my best work to be the work that means the most, regardless of rules. They’re the photos I look at and say: “Awwww, I love this. I need to print it and put it in my box.” Because the best deserves more than a hard drive life.

These photos may have flaws. There might be head chops and limb chops and weird angles and odd colors, but I couldn’t care less. They’re the ones that have stopped me in my tracks every time.

 

 

Reading, Writing, and Photography: My 2017 Bucket Lists

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Resolutions, for a lot of us, are tough to stick to. Case in point: the Project 365. I have embarked on at least four of those, but I always manage to forget one day, sending the entire project into a downward spiral of “catching up.”

Don’t get me wrong, new years resolutions are great. They inspire us to want to do better by ourselves, but they just never stick for me.

That’s why this year I’m doing bucket lists instead. My only deadline is 2018. No more forgetting to take a picture a day and no more stressing over the fact that I haven’t sent out a query by June.

There’s only the excitement that comes by checking another off the list.

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Reading:

1. Read at least twenty-five books

These books may or may not include:

-The Last Star by Rick Yancey

-Something else by Diana Wynn Jones

-Something new by Ransom Riggs (fingers crossed!!)

-Raise High the Roofbeams..etc. by Mr. Jerome David Salinger

-Romeo and Juliet

-The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

-Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice

-The Entire Collection of Edgar Allan Poe

-Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

2. Read Goo at least five chapter books

These books may or may not include:

-Matilda by Roald Dahl

-The BFG by Roald Dahl

-Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

-Odd and the Frost Giants (the illustrated version) by Neil Gaiman

-The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

3. Find a tiny bookstore and leave with a few books (and read them)

4. If I go on vacation, buy a book

On the inside cover, I’ll write down where I bought the book and what we did on our vacation there.

5. Read a Graphic Novel (or five)

6. Watch a movie based on a book before reading the book

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Writing:

1. Send out at least one query

Right now I’m in a “why am I doing this?” phase. I hope sending out some queries will remind me why I worked so hard in 2016.

2. Write a short story in second-person

3. Write a creative nonfiction piece

Then send it to Brevity Magazine

4. Write a few book reviews on the blog

5. Write as many Haikus as I can

Why Haikus? Because they’re like tiny snapshots.

6. Use my photography in a fictional piece

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Photography:

1. Pick a theme for each month, and one for the whole year:

This could be something as simple as “clocks.” Every time I see a clock, I’ll pull out a camera (I always have one, even if it’s just my phone) and I will take a picture of it. At the end of the year, I’ll have thirteen cool collections that, in their own unique way, show I’ve been somewhere other than my living room.

Theme ideas:

Clocks

Bare Feet

Clouds

Framed

Horizons

Lazy

Mushrooms

Violet/Blue Hour

Patterns/Textures

Raindrops

Rocks

Reflections

Shadows

Anxiety

Sky

Wheels

Wood

2. Moving Pictures.

I am going to try and take at least a 10 second video every week. Yes, yes, this is more like a project 52. But I won’t sweat this one. I can always take more videos, or take longer video. The goal is to put them all together at the end of the year and bring 2017 to life.

Check out The Sixty Second Photo.

3. Take at least 20 self portraits.

This might seem a little vain to some, but I’m still not sure I want to do this. I don’t have the greatest self-esteem when it comes to myself. I suffer from epilepsy and anxiety, both of which ruin my whole perspective of me. I’m hoping this idea will force me to celebrate something positive about myself.

4. “A Day in One Roll of Film”

This one’s easy: buy a roll of film, put it in the camera and use it up in one day.

I could also do this with my Instax, since developing film is a bit of a hassle for those of us with no darkroom.

5. Miscellaneous Fun

-Take a picture from a moving vehicle

-Take a picture from up high

-Take a picture of a rollercoaster

-Take a picture of an animal that does not live in America

-Take a picture in the rain

-Spend a morning/afternoon bird-watching and taking pictures

-Take a picture of something from the 1800s or older

-Go rock hunting and take some fossil macros

-Take some pictures during the great August solar eclipse of 2017!

6. Pentax!

I have a Pentax K1000 with no lens. I’d love to play around with this camera. My goal is to buy it a 50mm and just go nuts.

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Aside from my hobby/career goals, I also have a few personal bucket list items, like learning how to do a handstand in yoga, and to travel somewhere further than one hundred miles away from home.

Maybe I’ll find one of those “ten most beautiful/haunted places to visit in your state” things and take the family on a weekend road trip.

I think if I were to have at least one resolution it would be this: follow my flow. I don’t want to force myself to do anything I don’t want to (except laundry…I kind of have no choice with that). If I don’t feel like sitting down to work on the “big project” then I should allow myself to work on something else, like a new short story, or a blog article, or even a mindless journal entry. If I want to watch Miyazaki films all morning instead of scrubbing the bathroom, then dammit I’m going to cook some ramen and sit on the floor with Goo and put together a Totoro puzzle to “Howl’s Moving Castle.”

Lazy? Maybe. But this year I want to be less stressed. I forced myself through 2016, and beat myself up mentally when I didn’t get things done to my standards. The only thing that comes to mind when I think of last year is all the stress I put myself through. For what? I’m still in the same position I was at the beginning of last year.

This year I want to focus less on what I need to do, and just follow my own current. I want to turn back on New Years Eve and say “I had so much fun this year!!!”

Because my kid refuses to stop aging, which means I’m forced to age with her, and the last thing I want is to miss time with her because I was so busy worried about whether or not I could cut 30k from a novel.

Speaking of 30. I’m turning 30 on the 30th. That will never happen again.

I gave this picture a (desperately-needed) makeover.

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At first I was excited by the colors of this picture. I don’t know why. I had this weird preset on Lightroom that I’d made and when I clicked on it, I felt like it worked great for this image.

But I kept seeing it throughout the year, in my folders, on my Flickr, on the blog, and the more I glanced at it, the more I realized the colors were all wrong. I love blue and pink together, and this seemed more like a cross-processed nightmare. Too much yellow. Too much yellow-green. I’m a cool-toned gal. I wanted cool blues and a soft pinks.

So I returned to Lightroom. With a brand-new computer, I have a whole bunch of new presets that I’ve made these last several months, including a low-vibrance thing I’ve been giving a few images, such as the following:

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I love the soft, powdery tones this preset provides. And since I’m freelensing, I’m always hoping for a “dreamy” effect. The soft colors–at least from my perspective–allow that.

So I gave the preset to the image, and this is what I got.

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Whoa moody! Looks almost like a Christopher Nolan movie. While I love his work, this is not what I was going for. I wanted a bit more color, a bit more sky blue and cherry tree pink. So I tweaked the color settings and upped the vibrance just a bit. I also toned down the vignette.

Once I was happy with the colors, I decided to give it a texture. A few years ago, I slathered some acrylic on a sheet of canvas board, then scratched it up a bit. It creates something of a powdery–I love that word, apparently–almost chalky texture. So I opened the spring image in Photoshop and added the texture. I changed the texture’s blend mode to “soft light” and lowered the opacity.

Finally, I got what I’d envisioned when I first saw those blossoms moving in the damp, spring wind.

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Here is a before and after:

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Click on the image to see it bigger

Have questions about freelensing, editing, or textures? Feel free to ask in the comments below!

All photos © by Lina Forrester

The First Snowfall of the Season

Winter doesn’t technically begin until tomorrow, but since the temps here have been in the 20’s or below, I’ve come to the conclusion that Jack Frost threw out his calendar.

We had our first *real* snowfall the other day, which wasn’t even an inch, but it was just enough that we decided on giving Goo something she’s been asking for.

“Santa came by last night to give you an early present,” we told her. “He figured, because it snowed, you might have more fun with this now.”

Her face lit up when Daddy came up the stairs.

“It’s a sleigh?” she asked. “A pink sleigh?”

She plopped herself on it and grinned.

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It was about 6 degrees outside, with a windchill of -10, so we bundled up Goo ’til she could barely move, and my husband pulled on his thick coat and hat, and the two of them ran outside. Continue reading

A Roll of Film and the Windy City

My last visit to Chicago was over five years ago. Depressing, since it’s my favorite place on Earth. Even now, I can still hear the wind gushing through the tallest buildings I’ve ever seen, can still see the birds pecking at the pieces of omelet we tossed them as we enjoyed breakfast on Navy Pier, can still taste a Gino’s East deep dish pepperoni. I can still see the shadows of sailboats in the morning fog.

We went during Labor Day weekend and I was about 20 weeks pregnant. We had just found out we were having a girl, and we talked about one day taking her to the LEGO shop and the American Girl shop and to the Museum of Science and Technology.

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I brought along my Canon Rebel T2. Bought with a meager paycheck in 2006, it’s a pretty basic SLR still attached to its kit lens, but since my Canonet broke (coincidentally, during a previous visit to Chicago) it was the only film camera I had, and I wanted to get some filmy shots of the Windy City.

Good thing about my Rebel is it never disappoints. Continue reading