Friday, April 1, 2011

Epilogue: Closing Thoughts

Well, it's over.  I made my first post exactly one year ago today, and it's finally come to a close.

Doing a 365 project was not as fun and as easy as it seemed at first.  It started out pretty exciting because I saw only the romance of embracing something fun and creative that I could share with the world.  There was something about the "anything goes" aspect of choosing the picture to post each day.  I never dreamed that it might actually be hard to come up with one measly picture per day, but on several occasions it was.  I had so much trouble getting a good shot for my very first post that I almost didn't even start it that day.  I had been working overtime all week and struggled badly.  I barely got it done before my bedtime.  I remember thinking that I hoped it wouldn't be that hard every time.

My shortcoming:  I'm not a creative person.

I think my quality standards made it hard on me.  I have seen a lot of people's 365 projects on the web, and believe me when I say people will post a picture of anything. I've seen some of the worst crap you can imagine posted on 365 project sites.  Photography is art, and everyone knows art is in the eye and mind of the artist.  I'm not talking about creativity in this case though.  I'm talking about grabbing a camera and taking a picture that is poorly composed, poorly executed (wrong settings), or just a stupid, stupid picture subject.  For example, taking a picture of a doorway to a 7-11 store you happened to stop at on your way home, or a flash picture of your dog looking up at you.  Many of the people do 365 projects are just average point-and-shoot camera types and are just chronicling their day-to-day lives--For those it's okay.  I'm talking about the ones that consider themselves "photographers" and should have higher standards.

I didn't want any of my pictures to be that way.  I wanted to put thought into my pictures.  Did I succeed?  Not entirely.  Day 197 comes to mind.  Bad Ricky...

Many times it was almost bedtime and I had no picture.  Sometimes my "last minute" pictures ended up being very good--surprising even me.  Other times they looked, well, like last minute pictures.  One of my favorite "last minute" pictures was the shot I took of an old pair of my glasses on Day 329.

One thing you don't think about when you start a 365 project is the winter months.  The lack of daylight, the rain, the cold--it will all wear on you.  It will keep you from getting out and wandering in search of good subject matter.  It will also depress you and stifle your creativity and inspiration (if you have any to begin with).

I've learned a lot.  Doing a 365 will force you.  It will stretch your skills.  It will make you bend a little farther and try something you might not otherwise try.  Some things might be out of your comfort level.  It will teach you do's and don'ts about lighting, settings, and many other things.  I will teach you how to "save" a picture by creative use of filters.  It will teach you how to use your post-processing software with confidence.  It might teach you to browse the web for ideas and tweak them a little to make them your own (Day 212 comes to mind).  It will teach you to carry your camera with you everywhere.  It will teach you that you seldom get a second chance in photography.  When you see something good, don't file it away for next time.  Stop or turn around.  Get the shot NOW.

Sometimes it's as if real life and the camera's viewfinder need a translator.  It's funny how many times I took several shots knowing that I had some good stuff, only to be shot down when I viewed them at home on the computer.  For whatever reason I wouldn't like any of them.  Conversely, sometimes I'd be looking at my "catch" from a day of shooting and something I didn't really even consider just totally POPS when I see it.

I have learned my shortcomings as far as photography goes.  Sue will always outgun me with her photography skills because she is very, very good at spotting and composing a shot.  We can both be walking on the same sidewalk and she'll see things I won't.  We seldom choose the same shots from a lineup either.  Our taste is different.  I find myself now going more for a monochromatic look in pictures.  I'm drifting more towards black & white photography.

I believe my photography has gotten better in many ways since I began this project.  I find myself looking at light and shadows now.  I find myself ignoring ISO settings now too.  It used to be that I always strove to get shots at the lowest ISO setting I could for the sake of clarity.  The trouble is, it was usually self-defeating.  Instead of the low-grain clarity that a low ISO could offer, I ended up getting high-blur because my ISO was too low for the light I was shooting in.

Will I do another 365?  No.  I do think I'll do another project of some kind though.  The fun is still there--I just don't want the pressure that the forced picture-per-day presented.  I'm leaning more towards some kind of project that uses a common theme.  Maybe some sort of photo-journalism like pictures of disappearing Americana or something.  I really like candid pictures of people out in public, but I lack experience getting those shots.  Maybe I'll throw some of that in.  I dunno.

I did find it sort of a bummer that I rarely got a comment from anybody.  From my vantage point it meant that nobody was watching and I was doing the project solely for me--just for the sake of doing it.  Although that is true, people do appreciate a nod from the audience every now and then.  Anyway, even though this one has ended, the Leftovers blog has not.  I will continue to post things there.
At any rate, I hope those of you that have followed this project have enjoyed it.

Now, get off your butt, blow the dust off your own camera, and take some pictures!

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Day 365 - The End.

There are a lot of different ways you can go when you decide that you're going to take a picture with a number theme.  The first one that comes to mind is a house address (which I already did on Day 306).  This idea popped into my head several days ago.

I was somewhat surprised at how these type of post office boxes have gone away.  The first place I stopped last week (I was preparing for today's shot) didn't even have the number 365.  Apparently it had to do with fitting certain amounts of certain sized boxes into the space they had to work with.  I found this one in Kent yesterday.  Even these are different from what did originally looked like--The original combination locks have been replaced by key locks.

Anyway, I stopped on my way home, knowing exactly where it was so all I had to do was casually stroll into the post office, past the line of customers, and hone in on my target.

Mission accomplished.  Blog completed.  Woohoo, I did it!

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Day 364 - Comfort Kitty

It's funny how everyone associates their critter with camping out in front of a comfy wood fire.  Thing is, it's usually a dog.  We always associate hound dogs (pronounced "dawgs") with laying there sleeping in front of the wood stove.

Well, we have a kittycat that feels the same way.  Cookie loves to stretch out in front of our cozy fire.  She rotates herself around in such a way that she looks like shes twisted inside out.  Like I said in Day 16, she turns into Crescent Kitty when she's feeling comfortable.

There just ain't much more comfort in the world than a comfortable wood fire on a dreary day is there?  Just ask Cookie.

Tomorrow:  The LAST day!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Day 363 - Keepin' it Dry

This guy was really moving along when I saw him.  He was obviously in a hurry... Timing the crosswalks to his advantage by hitting one late and the next one early so he wouldn't have to stop.

What strikes me is how he's all wrapped up from the rain already, but he needed that cheesy little worn-out mini umbrella too.  I guess it's just to keep that cigarette dry.  After all, they're expensive nowadays.

Only 2 more days!

Monday, March 28, 2011

Day 362 - Just a Babbling Brook

This is someone's "back yard" brook for lack of a better explanation.  It's next to a road that is fairly well-traveled, but it's within a fence so all you can do is look or take pictures.

It's early spring and this particular spot was so green I actually had to tone down the green slightly so it didn't seem unnatural.

Only 3 more days left!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Day 361 - Colorful Schnapps

These two bottles of Icelandic schnapps came home with us.  I didn't plan on buying any schnapps while we were there, but while we were waiting to board our plane we fell victim to the classic airport conspiracy:  The placing of the duty-free shop right there in front of us at the boarding gate.

We had both heard of Brennivin before--It's the brand they affectionately call "The Black Death".  The other variety was something new to us.  The Brennivin nickname is pretty accurate--It's like pure poison.  It's basically fermented potato mash and flavored with caraway seeds.  It's interesting at best.  The other is much better.  While the Brennivin is cheap enough the be their local choice of alcoholics, the orange Icelandic Schnapps is much better.  It was twice the price of the Black Death, which actually put it at what you might call a standard price for a pint of liquor.  Believe it or not, it is flavored with lichen moss!

Only 4 more days!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Day 360 - Stalag 13?

We were out driving around in Tacoma today, looking for the infamous Kalakala ferry.  We didn't find it, but we did find this building in the heavily-industrialized port district.  The barbed-wire fence coupled with the nasty-looking boarded up windows gave this place a prison camp feel.

I just had to go black & white with it.

Only 5 more days before this project ends!
What are you looking down here for? Get outside and take some pictures!