Photo Project 2015: Update

A few photos from the first weeks of my photo project: Kitchen Window:

I’m having fun playing with shutter speeds to see what gives the best effect for the light available on each day. And it seems to be snowing every other day, which makes things interesting!

OK – So, I slept in on the 20th! But the sky was such a clear blue that I had to take a shot…

Next time I check in, Daylight Savings Time may have begun. What to do about that? Hmm…

Photo Project: Step Three…

Well, I’ve continued to take several photos every day of the same scene — the one I can see from my kitchen sink window. My inspiration for the experiment came by way of a museum exhibition of Robert Weingarten’s photographs, taken every morning at 6:30 AM. See my earlier post, Museum-worthy Inspiration.

In Step Two, I tried to set some parameters: digital camera, ISO 100, JPEG Fine, focal length ~21mm, and a possible aperture of F11. All of the above were taken at F11. Eventually, I took a few at F16 instead and decided to make that my constant aperture. The only real decision left was time of day.

Now, Weingarten chose precisely 6:30AM for his project, as measured by a quartz clock that he owned. I’ve set the clock in my camera to be fairly accurate. But what time should I really choose for my project? Here’s the sticky point. At this stage of my life, my health is more important to me than any obsessive adventure I might embark upon. That being said, I’m not going to set an alarm clock just to take a photo! (Picture me sticking my tongue out at my past self!) When my kids were young, I’d jump out of bed to a 4:50am alarm, just to have enough time to exercise, shower, dress, and have some quiet time before they got up. I functioned, but not very well. I’ve finally learned the value of taking care of myself and sleep has become a priority. Although I still consider myself a morning person, if I’m up late at night, I’m still going to aim for seven or eight hours of quality sleep.

So, I tried a few photos in the afternoon instead.

The view faces north, so it catches the light of both sunrise and sunset. But sunset can vary by several hours as the seasons change. And it’s much less likely that I’d be home every afternoon than every morning. The project needs consistency. So, in the end, I settled on morning for my project.

But what time of morning? In my next post, I’ll show you the fun I had on Feb. 5th taking photos from about 6:45am to 9am. And I’ll share my decision about time…

Photo Project: Step Two: Parameters…

It’s been two weeks since I visited the museum exhibition that inspired me to start this project. (See Museum-worthy Inspiration.) My first step was to choose the scene that I would photograph daily. Check. Now, I must decide what constants my project will reflect and what variables will remain as variables.

For the past week and a half, I’ve been experimenting. When I began, I had no idea that I would learn more about my camera and about photography in the process. But I have. To produce his photos in the exhibit called “6:30 AM”, Robert Weingarten used a slow speed film, procured and cared for carefully, so as to keep this medium as one of his constants. He also set a fixed aperture, focal length, point of focus, time of day, and scene. His only variables were shutter speed and mother nature. By some trial and error, I think I’m close to settling on my constants, too.

Jan 27th Blizzard!

Jan 27th Blizzard!


My camera is digital. So, no need to worry about the condition of film. I set my camera’s ISO on 100, apparently as slow as it can be set. I set the images to be recorded as JPEG Fine and I won’t do any after image editing. The focal length seems to be around 21mm in all of my shots so far. It’s hard to keep it strictly constant when I use my camera for other events and then have to remount it on the tripod for this scene. But, I consider the boundaries of the scene as constant enough to keep the focal length in check. I do want aperture to be a constant, but have been experimenting a little with it. I know I also need a constant time of day, but that’s been a bit tricky and isn’t completely settled yet, either. (More on that later!) My main variables, like Weingarten’s, will be shutter speed and the weather.


Jan 28th F5

Jan 28th at F5

At first, I tried using mid-range apertures between F5 and F8. The camera’s recommended shutter speeds for these settings produced overexposed results. And the foreground was not in focus. Oops! So, I chose F11 instead, in order to keep most of the scene in focus. I learned how to use the Manual setting on this camera — which, I hate to admit, I hadn’t tried in the year since I got it. I set the shutter speed to under-expose because the white snow and white January sky were otherwise overbearing. If I set the camera on auto, the F-stop automatically set at F5.6 with a faster shutter speed. Look at the two below, taken on January 29th. The differences are subtle, but having the whole thing in focus is important. I wonder if I dare use a smaller aperture? Maybe I’ll try that tomorrow.

More in my next post about time of day…


Jan 29th at F11

Jan 29th at F11

Jan 29th at F5.6

Jan 29th at F5.6

Photo Project: Step One

Well, I’ve continued to consider the photo project I wrote about in my previous post: Museum-worthy Inspiration.

First, I needed to decide what scene, what piece of open space, what part of my world I would DSC_0638subject to daily photographic scrutiny. And I found it.

I was standing at my kitchen sink, as I do several times a day, every day, doing dishes. I love the view from that kitchen window. It’s peaceful: trees, birds, squirrels, fallen limbs, floor, and sky.

There was just one problem with my choice. You know how the mind sees what it wants and ignores what it doesn’t? Well, the back porch railing cut right across the bottom of the scene. Normally, I ignore it. But it looked downright disruptive in the few test photos I took. So, I moved upstairs to the bathroom window directly above. Problem solved.

The photo at right is my chosen scene. Taken at three o’clock in the afternoon on the day of an approaching blizzard, it looks a bit flat. But hopefully it’ll be enhanced by the rising sun in subsequent shots. I think I’ll call my project “Kitchen Window.” (Sounds better than bathroom window!) After all, the kitchen was the real scene of my inspiration. And I can call it anything I want, really… So, “Kitchen Window” it is.

Thoughts? Comments? Suggestions?

Museum-worthy Inspiration…

Just the other day, I visited the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem, MA. When I was a lot younger, my mother and the woman down the street (along with some of that woman’s ten children) would take us on outings to the PEM. I have some vague recollections of viewing miniature ship replicas. Anyway, I’d only been there once as an adult, until this week. That first time, I had gone to see an amazing origami exhibit. It was fascinating! This time, it was a couple of their current exhibits that piqued my interest.

One of the exhibits was called “6:30 a.m.” Photographer Robert Weingarten had chosen a scene close to his home and photographed it every day for a year at…guess what time? 6:30 a.m.! The variations of light and color were incredible! Purples, oranges, blues… Only five of his photographs hung in this exhibit. The rest were available for viewing in much smaller dimensions in a hard-bound book. I would’ve loved to see more of them up close and enlarged.

But, I’ve been inspired. I’d like to try something similar, although I do have a few questions first. Did he ever go on vacation? Was he ever sick? Did he really take all 365 photographs himself? Did he stand outdoors in the changing weather or capture the scene safely from behind a window?

With these questions in mind, I think I’ll choose a scene soon and make up my own rules– call it “artistic license.” I’m tempted to try my experiment from a window, but my views are a bit limited. So, I’ll probably end up outdoors. And I’d also like a couple of vacations…away from home. So, I may not do it EVERY day. I don’t know that I’ll post every photo here either, but I’ll let you know…

OK, now I’m excited!

Who I Am & Why I’m Here…

I’ve been blogging on and off for over three years, but I still feel like a newbie. So, I’m taking the Blogging101 course and this is my first assignment. I do have an “About” page that sort of answers the questions of who and why, but they’re worth thinking through again…

I’ve been a writer, a poet, and a photographer since I first learned to spell and to hold a camera. But that hasn’t made me an expert. It just means that now they’re in my blood or my skin or my bones or however you’d like to imagine it. Sort of like a tree that incorporates an object leaning against it as it grows. They’re part of me. And the subjects of my essays, poems, and photographs reveal a lot about who I am: woman, wife, mother, adult child with aging parents, nature-lover, gardener, birdwatcher, musician, mathematician, spiritual and curious human being.

Why a blog? Well, I’ve had a few things published locally, but I don’t write consistently enough to keep my skills sharp or to improve much. I wanted to change that, so I started a blog. It helps to have an instant audience – one that’s willing to give some feedback or to relate to what I’m posting. I expect to grow and learn as a writer and a photographer in direct proportion to how much time and effort I put into my blogging.

With this in mind, I’m excited to participate in Blogging101. I see it as a personal challenge and a great opportunity. Thanks, WordPress!