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I’ve been kind of busy for the last week, not to mention I have been fighting a few sicknesses, so I haven’t been able to write like I have wanted to. But, the good news is I have been taking my camera with me, so I’ve got some stuff to show you.

First of all, baseball season is just around the corner. It’s so close I can almost reach out and grab it. It seems like an eternity has passed since I was able to sit down, eat something unhealthy, drink beer, and watch a game. It’s been a lot longer, as a Royals fan, than it has been for any team that played in the post-season, but that’s nothing new for me.

More and more baseball teams are adopting an event held sometime in the winter to promote their teams and generate revenue in the offseason. For the Royals organization, this event is called “FanFest”. Basically, before the guys report to Arizona for spring training, they all gather for one day to sign autographs, meet fans, etc. The girlfriend told Santa to leave some tickets in my stocking this year, so I got with one of my best friends and we were off to Overland Park, Kansas. I don’t condone many people or things from Kansas, so it should be noted the Royals actually play in the Missouri portion of Kansas City. When we got there, we estimated about 6,000 people in front of us, and a line for miles behind us. There is a lot of excitement in Kansas City this year, which is saying a lot for a team that plays in a usually mediocre division and hasn’t made the playoffs in 27 years. That’s right, I cheer for a team that hasn’t been to a post-season as long as I have been alive. If they suddenly become a great team, don’t even come at me with that “frontrunner” bull.

My friend brought his wife and their five year old son. He “likes” the Royals, but just standing in line is a lot for a young boy. Hell, it’s hard for me to stand in line at 25. I start fidgeting, pacing, sighing, and then I try to invent new things to do in crowds like make bird calls and see if anyone returns the call. Rarely works, but sometimes. So we were there in line, waiting and waiting and waiting to go see our team, and I was able to capture a quick candid of the two. I pretty much fell in love with the shot, but I would venture a guess to say that pretty much every photographer gets all jacked up about their own stuff once in a while.

kilemaddox

By the way, you’ll notice that I’ve got little watermarks on my pictures now. Just thought I’d start rolling like that. Yes, I know it looks pretty crappy, but unless one of my readers is going to make me one, that’s what I’m going with. (hint, hint)

I know the shot is bright, but you should have been standing in that room. It was like my eyes were overexposed. I wanted to cry.

Once we got in, they had all kinds of stations going with things for people of any age. I ventured towards the back of the room, where they had this wannabe gangster trying to hype up the crowd. He couldn’t have got a cheer from a nursing home, it was god awful. But, I knew that eventually they were supposed to bring some players up there and let them talk, so I took my seat in the second row. It wasn’t but a few moments later that they announced the entire infield was going to be on stage, answering questions from the audience and just talking about the upcoming season, so people started flocking to the stage. I turned my nose up to all those dickheads that were pushing past us to get in the door, and here we were with prime seating.

The team talked and talked, and I just ate it up. It was a super intimate feeling— being that close to the guys that I watch on TV and pay ridiculous amounts to see in person. They fielded questions from kids which were all super adorable; anything from “when did you know you wanted to play professional baseball” to “if you were an animal, what would you be”. I loved it. For some reason, I took like 120 pictures of this conversation, and then probably took 10 the rest of the day. I got several shots that I was pleased with, but you don’t want to see all that crap so I will just cut to one of the better ones, which is here:

royals team-3

Even if you’re not a Royals fan, please say a little prayer or send some good vibes or tell whoever you worship or talk to that it would mean so much to me to see them do well this year.

Next, I’m briefly going to share a cool little event I attended today called “Eagle Days”. It was held in Stella, Missouri (again, think Winter’s Bone). Basically they have this town-wide festival for all of these eagles that migrate into the area. I wasn’t sure what to expect going down there… “was it like, the eagles just come and chill with you while you eat? do they just walk down main street and high-five the kids?” Not exactly. They give you a map of the town, give you all the information you need to know about spotting eagles, and send you on your way. They do have a small park that some conservation department guys were set up at with telescopes, but that’s about it. You are directed to drive up and down country roads until… well, until you find an eagle.

Sound stupid? It was bad ass. I mean BAD, ASS. Yes, you really do drive up and down dirt roads until you find them flying, or perched in trees. It’s like hunting, only with binoculars and cameras. 90% of the ones that we saw today were in flight, but there were instances where there could be five-plus in one tree. Collectively, our group saw upwards of 100, probably more. They were everywhere, and even though I’m not some tree-hugging nature freak, I loved it. Anytime you see an eagle, it’s probably in a cage or on television. Those things will soar and soar and soar and seemingly never come down. Most of the time it just looks like they’re coasting, too. We were able to go off the beaten path and stand underneath a tree that had an eagle probably 60 feet above us. Unfortunately, the only good closeup I got of this one was in flight, because my lens doesn’t zoom incredibly far, and even though it did, I had my aperture set low and it focused on some damn branches in the foreground. So, here’s my eagle in flight:

eagle

Cool enough for this year, I suppose.

Lastly, in one of my earlier posts I mentioned something about a local photography group I recently joined. One of the things they do is give out monthly assignments. I didn’t have my camera in time to get in on December’s “candid” assignment, but I wanted to dive right in to January’s which was “masks”. Basically, you get paired up with another local and you take pictures of each other wearing a mask. The only rule was that your mask couldn’t cover your entire face. I was super nervous because most people in this group know what the hell they’re doing and I didn’t want to seem inadequate. Luckily, I got paired up with an extremely patient and helpful young lady who had her own in-home studio and some backdrops. She made her mask out of a fake poinsettia and some potpourri leaves, and it looked pretty cool. I wanted to share a couple of shots I took of her, starting with this close-up:

mask2

And here was my entry for the assignment. I had to edit out some scratches in the backdrop which was my first real time trying blemish removal, I thought it went well enough. She had her own lighting and pretty much told me I was free to do whatever I wanted with it, so I did. I bounced two different lights off the backdrop to try and separate my subject from it. I also wanted them offbalanced because I’m weird, but I thought it went pretty well. I made some rookie mistakes, like standing right in front of one of the lights at one point. She politely told me photographers usually don’t do that. Noted. I also dropped a blue filter on top of it to do something different with it. I didn’t want to present a piss-poor product, so I consulted Sarah from Sarah E. Nice Photography about my exposure, colors, etc. She was super helpful, and it turned out we used almost the exact same slider settings to edit it. I felt pretty accomplished, because she really knows what she is doing. Here is my project:

mask1

I’m going to try to write a little more often, but the more I take the camera out, the less I’m at home to jot my thoughts down. Thanks for sticking with me through my learning process. I’m looking at a few things right now, including a 50mm 1.4 Canon lens for portrait taking, some backdrops and stands, and some lighting solutions. I am also planning to purchase out WTFisPHOTOGRAPHY.com.

I’m planning on starting a little portfolio. My next project will be doing some band photos for some friends, and I’m going to have a lot of fun with that. Still so much to learn, but there’s still so much initiative within me that I haven’t utilized, and it’s turning into a blast of a journey.

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Hey gang! Remember how yesterday I was talking about putting on my metaphorical armor and slaying dragons just to keep you reading? Well, now this is happening:

dragon!

Oh hell yeah.

After being disappointed with all the noise my pictures have been turning up with, I decided I had to nut up and figure it out. It happened multiple times, and it just wasn’t going away. Since I really don’t have any people that like standing in awkward poses for extended periods of time, I turned to another circle of acquaintances: my Legos. And what did I just so happen to find? Yep. A freaking dragon slayer. Dude even has a cape. If you’ve seen The Incredibles, you’ll know why capes suck. It’s cool, I can lose the thing. Seriously though, if that’s not a sign that I was born to write about amateur photography in my spare time, I don’t know what is.

Anyways, I got to dig through my legen (wait for it…) DARY, my legendary Lego collection tonight and I had a lot of fun. And then it got all awkward, because as I was sitting there posing a couple of figures for some shots, I kept thinking about how at some point between my childhood and now, my creativity is gone. That used to be my most powerful tool, and I’m not utilizing it anymore. How does one channel their inner creativity and use it daily? I hear it come out once in a while. Like, I’ll have a unique idea at a meeting that no one had thought of until I bring it to their attention. But that kid that used to sit and play with these legos… He was always coming up with new things and ways to improve on a design. Where did he go?

Okay, that’s deep enough. I’m going to hit you with some more of these pictures: Just me, some Legos, and my kitchen table.

Indy-2

In this picture, as you can tell, Lego Indiana Jones has conquered my salt shaker like a BOSS.

horseman

Yeah, there’s obviously a lot of post-production stuff happening here, but I couldn’t help myself. I’ve been editing my stuff in Lightroom and this raw file just screamed “Yesteryear”. So, I did. And I added the vignette, but I re-shaped it, and that helped. The way he is waving goodbye is almost like it’s the end of an episode of Bonanza or something John Wayne.

stickemup

This one pissed me off. I had to take it sixteen times because the guy on the left kept looking away from the camera, blinking, yawning, and sneezing. He was a real jerk to work with.

chief

Chief Yellowhead keeps a watchful eye out for crumbs in the kitchen.

busted

Caught these two yellow-handed trying to escape with my plastic treasure.

monkey around.

Just monkeying around.

going medival

You guys have probably noticed that I don’t name any of my pictures. If that’s been pissing you off, I have the cure.
I call this picture “Going medieval on that jackass that speeds his bike up and down my street”. Thought of it myself, actually.

One last thing, I snapped this one quickly and quietly just to show you how interested girls are in grown ass men playing with Legos.

bored

That’s all I have for now. I’m pretty pleased with how these turned out since my last several batches sucked. Lesson learned: Keep Calm, Shoot On, (but keep the wine chilled).

Okay guys and gals. This is serious.

I really want you to follow my journey. ………. When I say journey, I feel like I should be fighting dragons. Like, I have a silver sword, and I’m about to slay a dragon to save an entire village. But then I remember: no one lives in a village anymore. That’s from them “olden days”. Regardless, I’m willing to slay a dragon for you. How many of your blog friends are willing to do that just to keep you around? I would presume a big fat zero.

But now, with me, you have one. One blogger to rise above them all. One who would put on his metaphorical armor and slay a dragon right outside your child’s window while you read them “Goodnight Moon”. Seriously people, it’s the best freaking book since Samuel L. Jackson voice-overed “Go the F$%# to Sleep”, which is a damn good read for a guy who drinks as much as me.

Anyways, tonight, I made a Facebook page. Yep. I’m active on the book, and you nor any of my 1,400 friends can persuade me otherwise.

“What should I do!?”, will certainly ask the commenters below. I’ll tell you what to do. Go to http://www.facebook.com/WTFisPHOTOGRAPHY and click the “like” button. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You might even lose ten pounds, regardless whether or not it’s solely from your tears of disappointment. I don’t care how you do it, I just care about this: I will keep in touch with my readers a great deal better if they’re on my facebook page and it affords me two opportunities. I can 1) spam my posts on your wall without feeling guilty about doing it as your friend, and 2) it will weed out the a-holes that are my facebook friend only because I got drunk and they remember me as “that guy who sang the song from ‘O Brother Where Art Thou’ ” that night at open mic karaoke.

Well, damn it, that was a fabulous rendition if I do say so myself, but regardless, more content, laughs, cries, pictures, and awesomeness is coming.

And to those readers and commenters who say “WTF have you been doing the last five or so days, mattyflex?”.

Well, to be perfectly honest… I tried my hand at sports photography. While I got a positive response from the subjects I shot, I’m not satisfied with my work. I even had a young man say “I’ve been wanting someone to come and take pictures of basketball this year, but my family isn’t able to afford it”. Well, I’ll tell you like I told this dude: I’m a friggin amateur. I will print whatever pictures you like, and I will give you whatever pictures on whatever foam, frame, or canvas you want, and I will do it at the exact cost to me. It’s really an honor when someone says “nice picture”. That’s part of learning photography and that’s something that, for a while, I’m simply not going to budge with. I swear, if I made six figures doing photography, this is where my heart would be. Moments like “I can’t afford a photographer” are what I live for.

Most of my 130+ followers don’t have a damn clue about me. Let me give you a brief history about my life: I was born of a mother who was in no condition to take care of me, I grew up in a trailer, and I worked my way through my company for the last five years to be where I am today. And, if I fail, I can just blame it on her. Okay, that’s not true. I’m old enough that I have no one to blame but myself and I am where I am today because of resiliency.

I think what I’m trying to say is that… I’ve been there. Future people that want nice pictures taken of their families, I’ve been there. Single moms that can’t afford to pay for outrageous photography fees.. I’ve been in a nearby boat, and I am willing to help you at zero cost.

But… at the same time, I am just a dude that is trying to learn about photography.

Also with my last five days, I attended a birthday party and was granted permission to take some candids. And guess what? They sucked. I mean, my f/stop was about right, I thought, but I keep getting noise. And if I keep getting noise, I’m going to make some noises and say some words that perhaps would offend reserved church-goers. But I now know what it’s like to try and be taken seriously, only to have a terrible product. I’m going to fix that.

I’m ending this post by saying this: I think my blog is going more places than my actual photography. If that’s true, maybe I should be a counselor. But, if I can bring just an ounce of joy or rememberance to someone who, because of budget constrictions, may never have had it, I have done my job.

So… families, friends, couples, and individuals wanting amateur photography done for free… Hi! My name is mattyflex and I am here to serve you. I really, really need the practice.

Here comes post number two that isn’t 100% about photography, but it’s from the heart.

Today was a day of milestones for my blog:

100 e-mail followers
1,000 views
150 comments
100 likes

all in two weeks of work.

I’m not on here doing the funky chicken or anything, noooo. I’m just here to thank you.

You all might not understand what it means to me that when I get off work, I have 10 or 15 comments from people that are genuinely interested in what I am doing with my photography, but more so in my life. Someone, just today, left a comment that seriously choked me up. I had to take a moment to collect myself, no lie. I have 10 or 15 new followers almost every day. I saw an old friend from college found my blog and followed it. He is a good ol’ country boy, and I don’t think he is interested in photography. I sent him a message to make sure it was him following, and he said “Yeah! Is that okay? It seems like you’re always doing something cool in your life”. We had a bro-moment. If you’re reading this, everyone raise a glass to my buddy Casey.

It genuinely does motivate me in so many ways. It motivates me to take this photography thing seriously, and actually put my time in to making myself a better picture taker. It motivates me to put time and effort into writing here. I want to produce humorous, informative, but most importantly real material. In order to put out real material, I couldn’t strictly write about photography this evening. It had to be about the people that come here, read, and comment on my stuff. Because that’s really what’s on my mind.

It also motivates me in my life. If any of you have read my first post, you’ll see where I talk about finding what I truly love to do in life, and thinking “whoa, possibly that something could be photography”. With the warm response I have received from here, I’m starting to think writing might be what I truly love to do. I realize I’ve got a long way to go… writing is difficult. But it might be worth my investment of time and financial resources. Anyways, I have started looking in to some journalism classes and maybe, just maybe this is what motivates me to go back to school and get the degree I actually want. Maybe that motivation is you. So, I’m not really good with this stuff, but… err, umm…

THANKS! Seriously, thank each and every one of you so much. I’m so pooped when I get off work, but every follower and every comment and every view pushes me to keep doing this, and to do it better each and every time.

Now, let’s get back to work. Pictures. Photography. Cameras. Lenses. Aperture. ISO. Shutter Speed. Rule of thirds. And stuff.

These pictures were all taken this last weekend. They didn’t strike me as absolutely loving them, but I at least saw enough good in them to share them here. I want to know the good and the bad, and I don’t want you withholding any of your impressions. Brutally honest is the best honest.

tommytom!

Here’s a sweet candid of my dog, making his sophomore appearance in my blog.
What I like: I feel like my depth of field on this picture was just right. I also think the colors are radiant.
What I dislike: My roommate’s KC Chiefs doormat being in the picture. I tried to photoshop it out but it looked piss poor.

beach,NOT

Here’s a picture of an old mining hole that filled up with water. If you’re a Missourian you probably know these areas as “chat piles”.
What I like: I spent $22 on a lens polarizer and it made the water look pretty awesome. Also, it kind of looks like a beach shot when in fact I applied a blue filter in Lightroom. The setting was actually a very dark grey.
What I dislike: I had to take this picture out in the boonies. I’m talking Winter’s Bone style. There was an RV parked across the unmarked road with three barking pitbulls and a prized fighting cock. Get your mind out of the gutter; cockfighting is real and I know people that do it.

wholehouse

This is actually a photo of the house I took the black and white flag in a previous post. It was really cold outside, so I was shaking a little bit, hence that it’s a little blurry, but still (to me) an interesting shot.
What I like: It’s a creepy freaking house. There were two windows open on the top floor and this house has been abandoned since the tornado.
What I dislike: It’s a creepy freaking house and I think it cursed me. I really dislike that it is blurry though. I may go try this one again sometime.

lego man with his rifle

When I was younger, I used to have an amazing lego collection. Recently, I boxed it up and brought it with me. Here’s a farmer holding a shotgun. That whole nation-wide debate about guns?… Not even going there.
What I like: It’s pretty cool. Seems as though my f/stop was about right. Lighting is okay, it was right after the sun had set just to the left of his head out the window.
What I dislike: The noise in the picture. I have no idea what happened there… maybe you do?

playhouse

Found this old playhouse in a friend’s grandparent’s backyard. He said he used to play in it, but his grandparents are now hoarders, and it was full of stuff.
What I like: The dark, reminiscent setting it puts forth.
What I dislike: It’s not exactly centered up, and it’s not perfectly crisp.

logs

Just some logs I stopped to photograph along my walk on Saturday. This was the most exciting thing I saw before the checkerboard, so you see why I was so pumped about finding it.
What I like: I wanted my focus to be right in the middle of the logs, and it was. This picture had really good balance in comparison to everything else I have taken.
What I dislike: The asshole that cut this down left it right in the middle of the walking path. If you’re that guy and you’re reading this blog, F*$% you.

And lastly…

offthetrack

This was a picture of a coffee shop on main street that was built after the tornado. Nothing too interesting, but here it is.
What I like: Again using the polarizer, I was able to get a little bit of gradient color in the sky. To the naked eye, it was bright blue across the board. By using an antique filter and lightening it up a little I was able to give it a bit of an old-timer feeling. I especially like that there’s a newspaper dispenser in the picture.
What I dislike: Meh, it’s okay, I guess.

That’s all I have for now, I should have some new pictures over the next couple of days. Until then, anything you want to say just drop it in the box below!

**** If you read this in your email, there was a character mistake that has been fixed in the article. My baaaad.

I’m about to head off to my first photography meeting, I’m pretty excited and nervous at the same time. Dawn Shields will be at our meeting speaking on personal projects. Dawn is an award-winning photographer. She mainly does weddings and portraits, and even though that isn’t my forte as of yet, I’m lucky to be able to attend this and hear her speak. If I have anything to share later, I will do my best to post it.

Now, on another note, if you say Russel Crowe was the worst choice for Javert in Les Miserables, there’s the door, and I hope someone punches your face off when you get outside. I bought the motion picture soundtrack highlight CD today, and I am as blown away by it as I was when I saw the movie in theatres on Christmas day. Everyone including the guy at the bookstore I bought the CD at is poking fun at him. Adam Lambert freaking blasted the guy. As if Russel Crowe is renowned for his musical ability, he came in and delivered a very satisfying performance throughout the entire movie. Maybe he is, from a vocal point, a little rough around the edges. But, think of this: does Javert have the same story as Jean Valjean, Fantine, Cosette, or for that matter anyone else in the movie? No. He doesn’t. And that leads me to believe that he doesn’t have the emotion that everyone else does as they tell their stories. And that leads me to believe his voice is going to be gruff, unpolished, and perhaps not perfect at a point in the movie.

After that rant, I should point out that I am completely heterosexual.

I don’t really have another format to voice my opinion, so I am really sorry if you came here looking for photography. The least I can do for all of my followers is post a picture. So, here it is. When I was out this weekend, I drove past a house for sale that still had tornado damage from May 2011. It looked like someone had started to repair the insides, but the exterior was so distressed. And, on the house hung a flag, presumably that survived the tornado. For your seeing and critiquing enjoyment, here:

damage1

One thing I have already heard was that I need to “get up close and personal” with my subject, if my subject was indeed the flag. I replied to the guy “yeah, I was just trying to get out and shoot some stuff”. He said to me “I do that too… Just shooting something that looks cool. What you need to figure out is what are you trying to say with this photo?“.

My response was “yeah… well, I just got the damn thing, so I was really making sure it just works”, but he does indeed serve up some food for thought.

Anyways, let me know what you thought of Russel Crowe in Les Miserables and let me know what you think of the photo in the comment section below. I’m out for now!

So, you guys, I’m going to get to all the comments you’ve left over the last few days just as soon as I am done sharing some shots I took today. All of my followers and commenters are totally rad and you guys have really been the motivation for me to continue writing about my journey, so KEEP IT UP!

I went out with a good friend of mine today to give my camera its’ first taste of the world. He shoots from a 35mm Canon and I have insane respect for him because he really knows a lot about photography, and he is comfortable knowing that he isn’t going to waste a lot of film since he knows what he is doing. So if you’re reading this blog and you’re shooting a film camera, I’ll buy you a beer any day of the week.

We began our day by meeting at Subway for some breakfast. I had a flatbread sandwich and a cup of coffee. I asked the guy “hey, do you give refills on coffee?”, to which he replied “yeah, there’s not really a refill coffee button on the register, so I can probably do that”. Hell yeah, I’ll just drink my coffee down while we eat and top it off on the way out. So we ate, and I stopped at the register on the way out. “Mind filling me up before we head out?”, I politely asked. He nodded, and I removed my lid and pushed the cup towards him. I was met with a rather awkward facial expression. I looked down to find that it would have been impossible to put any more coffee in my cup, because apparently I only sipped about an ounce out of it over a half hour. WTF! How embarassing. Even in real life I look like I have no clue what I’m doing.

We headed out south of Joplin to the Wildcat Glades Walking Trail. Even though I read up quite a bit before ever receiving my camera, I explained to Zach that it was a lot different actually holding the thing in my hands, so he gave me some friendly pointers related to aperture, f stops, and ISO. The walking trail winds through an old part of Joplin and has a creek that slithers along beside it. We had been walking for a little over a mile on the trail, and I had only taken a couple of pictures, and they all sucked. I was starting to feel a little discouraging, especially after reading so many of your blogs. You guys always have cool stuff to take pictures of, and here I was at a loss, in the middle of nature. I glanced to my right and saw a couple of wooden chairs on a rock bank about 10 feet off of the creek. Not wanting to sound like a rookie, I told Zach there might be something interesting over there, and that we should go and take a look for a possible photo op. ***ALSO, I figured out how to not be an idiot, so now if you click on the photo, it takes you to a page with the full size goods.

Here’s what the setup looked like from a little ways out.

chairsbythecreek

I noticed that there was something on the chairs on the left hand side. Now, I think this is cool so don’t rain on my metaphorical parade.

checkers1

Yeah, true story. There wasn’t a house nearby that I was aware of, yet someone took the time to paint a checkerboard down by the creek. And they’re using rocks as pieces!! Unbelievable. I thought it was an incredible find. So, for your enjoyment, here’s some more shots of the chairs and board.

checkers2

checkers3

checkers4

checkers5

checkers6

One of the things right off the bat I noticed is that I need to increase the depth of field on the images to bring more of the rocks and more of the board into focus. I believe a commenter made that observation on my last post, and I obviously failed with several of these images. One thing I do like about photography in general (at least what I know so far) is that I really dig a picture where your subject is in focus and everything else is out of focus. To take pictures like the ones I saw utilizing this tool was probably the reason I got into photography in the first place, so it is definitely an element that I value fairly highly even at this early stage. I know that for more landscape style shots I want a broad depth of field, but I didn’t see a whole lot in my outing today that warranted that style of picture taking. I did have a few other shots from today that I will blog about later on tonight if I have time, but for now, I thought I would at least get these out there for you all to see.

Somehow I have amassed over 50 followers without even posting a picture. I guess the time has come.

The most important rule I have read to date is “never put your camera in auto mode”. When I unboxed the thing, the first thing I did was put it in fully manual mode. Off the bat, I can tell you that it doesn’t matter how much I have read about cameras, it is very intimidating actually holding one and trying to adjust settings.

Last night was poker night with the guys, and I thought it would be a perfect time to go ahead and put my camera to use. I had a couple of drinks, broke even, but endured probably the worst headache of my entire life. I usually have 2-3 bad headaches a year and otherwise I am fine, but last night was the penultimate noggin burner. I had to call it a night a lot earlier than I wanted to and probably missed out on some good shots, but I guess that’s just the way things go sometimes. I have given up soda for a while, so it’s possible that cutting out something I depend on screwed with my head.

I was really looking forward to having a whole slew of photos to play with this morning, but it didn’t quite work out like that. From the completely manual mode, a lot of photos I took somehow turned out blurry. Yes, the Image Stabilizer switch on the lens was clicked to “on”, but is there something furthermore that I am supposed to do from manual mode to help with the blurring?

I did have one I thought turned out “okay”. Okay to me is probably miserable to the trained, artistic eye, so please don’t hold back with your criticisms; I’m only going to get better by knowing what I am doing wrong. The comment section is down there, please don’t hesitate to use it. Oh, and I don’t really see the need to watermark or name my pictures at this stage, so I guess thieves: have at it.

mymove

Let me first start off by saying it’s pretty ridiculous that there are 34 people following my blog and 375 reads. That’s all in less than week, and I haven’t even done anything cool. I’m just a guy who knows absolutely nothing about picture taking or cameras or anything, yet here you all are. Granted, I know of a few people that came by just to make fun of me, I have been overjoyed and extremely grateful for all the views, follows, and comments. Interacting with others is what life is all about, and so far you all seem pretty cool, so keep it up.

Now, for the good stuff. UPS finally came through for me. At 1:39 PM CST they dropped off my camera, lenses, bag, and SD card. Unfortunately for me (lucky for you), that might mean I’m not going to be writing as much so I can try and figure this beotch out. Anyways, here’s a picture taken with a Samsung Galaxy SIII of a Canon T3 before I left my office today. Please don’t tell me how crappy it is, I already know. It’s a phone first, then its a camera.

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I am all grown up now. I moved out onto my own 8 years ago, I pay my own insurance, pick out my own clothes to wear every day, shave my own face (but not lately), cut my own grass, wipe my own butt, tie my own shoes, eat junk food whenever I want, play video games in my underwear, occasionally skip showers and no one knows it, drink beer, shoot deer, can go see Les Miserables and cry all I want (and boy, did I ever), build things with my hands, change my own oil, and now, I own my own camera. Damn, it’s like I’m a real boy up in here.

Before I depart to embark on this beautiful friendship I am about to commence, I just wanted to know if anyone ever names their camera. I can envision someone dropping their camera, picking it up, and saying “oh honey, it’s okay, I’m so sorry!”. It’s kind of like how people name their vehicles. My truck is named “Tanpanga” (tan-pain-guh). It’s named after Topanga from Boy Meets World, but my truck is tan, so… yeah. If your camera has a name, I want to know what it is and why, and while you’re at it, I’m going to need you to throw out some creative ideas for the name of mine.

Everyone should be familiar with this picture. His name is Zeddie Little, and he became an overnight meme sensation after this ridiculously photogenic shot was taken during a 10k race in South Carolina. The shot was passed around more than a beach ball at a Nickelback concert and he gained fame for looking good while he was running. Turns out not only is Zeddie the best looking computer programmer in all of America, he is a great segway to talk about something that keeps crossing my mind as I wait for my camera to arrive.

When is it appropriate to take pictures of people?

Now, I completely understand sporting events, races, concerts, etc. People are performing, and people are watching. Usually when that happens, I think it’s an understood rule that pictures will probably be taken. I played sports and I’ve played in bands, and whether athletes and musicians admit to it or not, they’re aware of the cameras. They want to look good. Sometimes at concerts I’d show a little extra love to that camera on stage right. If it was being videotaped, hell yes I wanted to have a direct line between my face and my hawt moves and the dude or lady filming. It was an opportunity for pictures to show up on Facebook from people I didn’t know. It was like I had people that thought I was interesting enough for them to share with their friends.

Upon browsing countless blogs and Flickr pages, I’ve come to realize that there are a lot of photographers that will take pictures where people are their primary subject. Many of those times, it doesn’t seem like they’re familiar with these people— sometimes just a passerby on a busy street, I’ve seen photography shots a homeless person, even pictures taken alarmingly close to folks in the wake of tragedy.

Let’s get this out there: I do not condone nor will I practice photography at the expense of further damage to a human beings emotions. I would go as far as to say if I caught someone doing this with no regard, they’d be digging a size 13 shoe out of their asshole sideways. I read something just yesterday that was captioned “I was able to capture raw human emotion” on a picture of a seemingly not too far away mother and two children crying outside of their house that had just burned down. I’m not going to link to the person that thought this was some sick form of art, but in the moment I probably would have tested the bouncability of their expensive camera on pavement.

Okay, here’s what I’m talking about. Local readers know the devastation of what happened here in Joplin in May of 2011. They also know that although it is a long and undoubtably an extensive recovery, it’s getting there. Regional and international readers might not grasp what happened, so let’s just say “our sizeable town got freaking leveled”. The rebuilding process has been a thing of beauty, and there have been dozens and dozens of times when I thought to myself “damn, I wish I had a nice camera, because that’s an excellent photo opportunity”.

So today after work I was driving home and there was a little boy walking through a part of town that has not quite began the rebuilding process. He had a backpack on, and was kicking rocks along his way. He was walking towards the sun in the direction of the old high school. This is land has been leveled, but not developed. The sun was just over the treeline on the west side of town, and had cast an eerily artistic orange glow across the pavement and small mounds of dirt. I’m no photographer, but I’m pretty sure it would have made a damn fine picture.

Having that out of the way, the question I am posing to those of you that actually know what the hell you’re doing is when is it appropriate to take pictures of people?

I’m not about to go to the nearest park on Saturday and hop out of my vehicle and start taking pictures of your kids. I’m trying to take good pictures, not go to jail. I suppose it’s completely possible that I am misreading the content of the photos I am seeing, or perhaps the photographers are so good that they drop their friends in public and tell them to act like it’s their natural element, unless everyone that owns a camera has several friends in acting classes, in which case I’m screwed off the bat (camera for sale!), but I doubt it.

Do recreational photographers carry around permission slips in a Jansport fanny pack? Is there a proper, universally used set of magic words along the lines of “hey brah, lemme snap you dogg.”? Or do people just take pictures without asking permission? And, are there any legal ramifications if you use a picture a photograph that has someone without their permission? Help a brother out.

WTF, UPS!?

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Damn. UPS has delayed my shipment. I was really hoping my camera would be here for New Year's Eve, but, fail. I really needed the camera to document what happens tonight, as NYE tends to be one of those blackout drunk holidays for people. Oh well.

I hope everyone has a great, safe time tonight. Don't go thirsty.

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