I am participating in a project called the Straight out of the Camera 52 Week Project with some other Photographers I banter with and about on Twitter.  The basic gist of the Project is that each week there will be a theme or subject where participants are to plan and capture an image based around that theme.  As an additional requirement, the image is not to be touched in Lightroom nor Photoshop before posting.  The point is to take the mundane and make it compelling and do so with attention to exposure, lighting and arrangement.

The other Photographers Participating Are:

Chris Lane
Pete Glogiewicz
Eje Gustafsson
Bruce Aulrich
Doug Patterson
David Baker

You can click on the names to link to their images for the project.

My Images are linked to the subjects below:

Week 1 - Utensils - SOOC/Processed
Week 2 - Footwear - SOOC/Processed
Week 4 - Porcelain - SOOC/Processed
Week 3/5 - LIghting/Night Sky fusion SOOC/Processed
Week 6 - Green - SOOC/Processed
Week 7 - Water - SOOC/Processed
Week 8 - Love - SOOC/Processed
Week 9 - TV - SOOC
Week 10 - Tire - SOOC
Week 11 - Auto - SOOC
Week 12/13 - Too "effing Busy/Wood - SOOC
Week 14 - Mirror - SOOC/Processed
Week 16 - Bloom - SOOC


Current Weeks - Bloom


Amidst the various Transitory ducks passing through spending a few days on the pond (You can see them HERE), we were visited by a little Mudhen with some sort of a wing injury.  We initially found our beagle chasing it around a puddle in the front yard.  We corralled the beagle then carefully herded the wounded bird back to the pond where it was a much happier camper.  It stayed for about three weeks and then I am assuming got better and flew away.  As I am out working in the orchard I had become accustomed to the noise it made.  I miss that a bit.  Only the raucous of our farms domestic ducks and geese remain.



To Effing Busy and Wood

So a couple weeks ago Doug was asked to provide subject matter for week 12 and given his circumstances he came up with "Too Effing Busy".  A week later it was my chance and I chose "Wood". 

I think we are all feeling the pinch of Doug's world.  I have a month left in the university semester and my students are pulling me in a million directions.  My research consulting has picked up with some new projects recently and then the Farm and Orchard is beckoning with a busy season to come.

I had figured out my version of wood before I even selected it.  It would feature the apple orchard. 

This year was an abnormally cold and snowy winter.  Much of the pruning I might have done in January or February I could not do with 20+ inches of snow on the ground and too many days spent below 20 degrees to count.  So now come late March/April it is all hitting at once.  I have 100 apple trees to prune for the coming season, and had another 30 arrive and need planted.  Torrential rains have made the ground unfit to dig and it seems that the good days to work have occurred when I am on campus teaching.

In other words...I am too effing busy.

So I decided to find an orchard Image that captured both the busy-ness of the season and the original topic of wood. 
Yeah - I'm killing two birds with one image again...

So with no further ado..."Wood" & "Too Effing Busy"...

While Watcing TV, my Automobile blew a Tire

SO I fell behind again.  by Quite a bit.  I had grand plans for TV but that didn't pan out.  An observation I had while efforting TV led to Chris calling out Tire to be the following week and then Bruce decided that tire meant Automobile.  Or that is how I seem to remember it going.

Life has been busy yada yada so all these slipped by since the plan for TV went astray.

This week we have been away to central coastal California.  Beautiful locale, both the coastline and the farms which seem so different than the farms we have in the Midwest.  Alternating areas of rainforest supporting Redwoods to semi-arid hills that feature grassy knolls and beautiful spreading oak trees.  I haven't taken nearly enough images but you can see select ones I have captured HERE.  As I forgot to put Lightroom back on my laptop after it's recent meltdown, these images are nearly SOOC save what I can accomplish with Microsoft Picture Manager.

Yesterday we left the Monterey/Salinas area and headed into SF to visit one of my consulting clients for lunch.  After lunch we wandered around SF.  I have visited frequently while full time as a Marketing Scientist but I tended to stay in a pretty bounded area of the city.  With Jenny along we explored some of the more touristy locales.

Up near Fisherman's Wharf is the Musee Mechanique which is a collection of coin operated arcade machines collected over the past 100 years.  While walking through, looking at each we soon realized we were running out of change to get back to the BART station.  the Machines fund their own exhibit.  We came upon one near the entry way that featured two racing cars, driven by two spinner wheels.  Put your coinage in and then two contestants spin away until one's car crosses the finish line first.  Based on the cars in the machine, I would date the machine to the 20's or 30's.  The I realized "Hey I could get one of my SOOC images today!" 

The machine was near the entrance so I had some difficulty getting the exact shot I wanted without standing in everyone's way.  There was a glare from the glass so I had to break out a polarizing filter.  I wanted very low DOF so I used my fast 45mm (90mm eqv) prime lens.

When I reviewed the images I had captured later that night, for presentation I had to choose between the exact focus I was looking for vs the full composition I wanted.  I chose to show the image with the better focus.


After leaving the Mussee I had an idea about tire that would be different than other contributors.  We tend to think of tires as pertaining to automobiles, but boat people use tires as well, but when they use them, they used the worn out ones and use them as bumpers, retainers etc.  SO as we walked around the wharf and marina I started to look for tires being aquatically used.  Didn't take long.  I liked the angles from the ropes using this tire as a mooring device.  SO I give you:


Finally as we walked back to market street to catch the BART back out to the airport to where our car was parked, we took a diversion through China Town.  When I had previously visited SF on business, my employer's office and my hotel was always just a few blocks from the Bush Street gate to China Town so many a evening was spent killing time wandering through the main stretch perusing all the souvenier (Junk) shops that line Grant street.  It is a great place to find a sweatshirt that says "I Escapd fom Alcataz" at a deep discount.

On this trip along the way we passed a Tea shop that had a TV mounted just outside the door with a video playing that espounded the virtue of the teas inside.  Of course the whole thing was in Chinese.  I liked the cultural juxtaposition relative to the what we would regularly see on TV so it became my TV shot...



SO Eje had the great idea that since his week included Valentine's day the theme should be Love.  Given David's addition, Love was slid back and of course I am a week late on the shot and the topic now makes no sense without context.

But anyway.  Most the other guys took pictures of spouses or kids.  I consulted with Jenny and she was ok not being the subject of the shot.  Quite pleased to not be included actually.  So in her place, I hired a "Model", I needed to come up with another subject fitting of the topic.

It took no time really.  In our family room there is an original 5 panel door from when the house was built that leads to the heating closet.  On the doorknob are reminders of some friends who are no longer with us.

About 18 years ago, my first wife and I decided to get a dog.  She knew I wanted a Corgi, and heard about a breeder who had a mistake litter of Bassorgis.  We went and I was smitten with one in particular.  We chose his name to be Tater Tot, shortened to Tate and then became Mr Tot as he grew more distinguished in his advancing years.  Only thing is the first wife wanted a dog that would make her feel safe while I travelled on business.  Tate didn't quite fit the bill.

So six months later we got Sam from a rescue organization.  Sam was a Chocolate Beaglador.  We looked at his feet and was sure he would get large enough to provide the needed sense of security.  Well - he had been starved by original owners to keep him under their apartment's weight limits and he never quite grew like we thought he would. 

A few months later we got Daisy.  A white and fawn husky mix.  She had the size of a security fulfilling dog but never really the personality.  Daisy was looking for a brave male lead and frankly Tater just wasn't it.

A few months later, we found Peanut.  She was a likely mix of German Shepard and Collie that produced a dog that for all intensive purposes was a Belgian Malinois.  She was a little small compared to Daisy, but she had a heart full of courage and the others followed her into the unknown with unflinching purpose.  Mission accomplished.  We had our security dog(s).

A few years down the line the first wife moved on but the dogs stayed.  I am glad they did.  When Jenny came along I wasn't sure how she would take to them, but she became their biggest fan.

Three years ago Peanut went missing after a storm blew open a gate.  In the two weeks that she was gone the world wasn't right.  It was a tough time.  She was found 65 miles away at a farm that trained herding dogs.  We figured she had always wanted to go to college and didn't want to put it off any further.  In her travels there she navigated two interstate crossings, lost 15 pounds and wore her paws raw, but she was back.

We lost Daisy first, about 6 years ago.  I still miss my big silly fluffball.  The other three have passed over the past 18 months in succession - Tate, Sam and just this January Peanut.  Aged 16.5 years, 16.5 year and 15.5 years.  A Significant part of my life was shared these friends.  Losing them was hard.  I miss them.

We hung their collars, the original ones plus Tate's bonus "Jingle dog" and Peanut's bright red "I'm Not a Coyote - If I wander off to college again" collars on the door knob in the living room.  They are always there with us.  The young dogs (Millie and Bonnie) we got to fill the void when the time came that the first group was gone still wander up to the collars every so often and sniff them.  I think they miss their friends as well. 

Jenny and I sure do.

Straight Out of Camera



So David Baker recently joined the project and we let him pick the final subject in the first rotation through the list of participants.  He got back to something very much in line with the original goal for subjects (Something Mundane) and he chose water. 

Most of our cast of characters reached for macro extensions or synched strobes to their automated eyedrop dispensers etc to capture water in its detail.

I initially was stumped - didn't really want to do the sort of thing others were doing.  I had thought about a Curt Fleenor-esque long exposure of waterfall.  In this case the waterfall would be indoors coming out of a faucet and into a cup which was overflowing with bubbles thanks to the help of a smidge of dishwashing soln. 

Who knows, May still try that at some point, but ultimate inspiration came from the weather forecast.  This year was the snowiest winter since they began keeping records in Indiana.  And we aren't through February yet.  54" so far and as of 5 days ago 20"+ was still on the ground.  But then we had one of those middle of February warm spells capped off by a night of tornado warnings.  Just Like the ones grandpa used to talk about.  Yeahhh...

So I knew this meant I was going to have water en masse very soon.  So I decided that would be the subject of my image.  Behind our farm we have a stream, a tributary to the Little Blue River.  From our property down to it is a 40' sheer drop, a cliff is an exaggeration.  On the other side of the stream is a flat forest.  I figured the forest would flood and I was correct. 

Went out at noon, took a look and realized the sun was not in my favor.  At three I went back out and got what I was hoping for, long shadows of trees across the water engulfed flood plain.  I like the contrasting angles of the shadows and the submerged tree trunks.  I show this in Monochrome as the woods and the river itself was a whole lot of bleak shades of brown.  Figured the B&W treatment would make it look better.  I did process the image but it didn't change much so it is not posted here. 

SO I give to you  - WATER.

Current Week - Green

So the time cam for me to choose a theme, and I decided to go with Green.  I figured that could mean something literally green, something referencing a movement (like the REM album by the same name) or something that had a green feel to it.  I recall a couple movies where the entire cinematography of a film was centered around a dominant color withinin or across every scene. For example - see the movie "Hero", yes it has Chinese subtitles, deal with it.  It is the story of a story told three different ways, with each telling of the story, the dominant color is changed to differentiate the versions of the story.  I think it to be a pretty cool movie. 

Another reason I chose the theme was that in the images of another photographers participating in the project often times seemed to have a Red theme to his images and I was curious if he was aware of that and what would happen if he had to change from that.
So I was initially going to simply head to one of the conservatories that is within an hour or two from me and take some pictures of plant leaves or something to that effect (Like THIS or THIS)  But then I realized I was taking advantage of an opportunity or resource that others in the project had no access to.
My next thought was to take some macro images of some of the seedlings growing in my office.  I grow stuff in containers and take the veggies to a winter market.  But I didn't like any of those images.
Chris posted first, and as it turned out he provided better inspiration.  His image is linked above, but featured a Kabocha squash with some little green toy critters around it.  BAM!  I should take a portrait (or something) of the rubber Gumby I have had for years. 
The first thing I needed was a back drop.  I should have taken him to one of the conservatories.  I pondered how to pose him and most of the options I came up with involved buying stuff and I didn't want to spend a fortune on a just for fun image.  Jenny and I ended up at a craft shop today and I realized I could get some Green 'Stuff" that could later be repurposed for Jenny's stained glass work or for our farm's Jelly/Fruit Butter products.
SO I set up for the shoot and realized.  Aw crap. Gumby isn't really all that green.  He is more teal than anything.  Perhaps he was greener 20 years ago but not so much now.  So the Processed version of the image recolored Gumby to be a bit greener.  Hope you are at least mildly amused....




  1. I like this, very clever composition, keyboard layout pattern ? Can't stop looking at it :-)

  2. I like this! Reminds me of a utensil piano.

  3. Ohh that is lovely love the play here... And from the looks of it you did very well in camera at least it don't look like needed much post processing to it.

  4. The footwear shot is a good abstract, it took me a few seconds to figure out what it was. The SooC image is nice and the lighting angle adds real texture to the tread, but like you I prefer the processed version of the shot.
    I LOVE the porcelain shot, the processed version doesn't really add much to the original SooC
    version. Beautiful textures and the composition makes it look like a comical face.

  5. On both of these beautiful images, I actually prefer the SOOC version. Very well done! I just sat and stared at the footwear one...couldn't figure it out. ha ha

  6. Very nice, I really like the black and white version of the foot wear shot, but think the muted colors of the porcelain shot is my preferred one of those two.

    Had it nor been because I see your setup for the foot wear I'm not sure if I would been able to immediately tell what it was.

  7. I prefer the SooC versions to both also. The color on the footwear and the lighting is just fantastic. Love it! And like Eje, probably wouldn't have figured it out without the setup shot. I don't think I've seen a tread pattern like that before.
    The bath one is nice as well, and while the processed version does make it pop a bit more, It's not that necessary, in my opinion. I'd really like to see a full tub shot of that thing. Awesome plans for the remodel, it sounds!

  8. Thanks for the comments! On the tub shot, I have a series I have done over the years of such subjects and I tend to go pasty and over saturated on purpose for that series. On this particular image I might not have processed at all but I don't think my screen has a particularly vibrant range toit so I assume images are flatter than they are and hence need some work. It's only when the picture made it to my phone Did I realize the soon would have been fine.

  9. The footware shot reminds me of a SEM image of a nanosurface. Very cool!

  10. Very nice on the lighting/Night sky image. Really cool effect for sure. Well done.

  11. I like the depth of this image. This is another one that I really like the SOOC version. I know you changed the color of Gumby to a more green version, but I like the SOOC one too. Nicely done!

  12. Nicely done. Your processed image looks more like how I remember him from when I was a kid also.
    The linked conservatory photos are also really nice.

  13. I'm with Bruce, I really like the SOOC version, the figure really pops out in that version but than I'm not familiar with this "Gumby" figure so the processed might be a more accurate version of him. Either way well done and well played. Like the composition and it's very well lit.

  14. It's Gumby! I also remember him being greener than he's shown in the SooC shot, but I actually like that one better than the processed shot. It seems to have better highlights and contrast, but both have an interesting composition. Cool idea for the challenge!

  15. Like Eje I'm not familiar with this Gumby Fellow, it must be because we are civilised Europeans ;-) I agree with David that the SooC seems to have a nicer contrast than the processed shot, and as I'm not familiar with the model the colour isn't an issue for me. Good concept too.

    On the Water shot, I love B&W images of trees anyway, and this one with the shadows on the water is beautiful, some really nice intersecting lines and great contrast here, really brings some nice opposing textures into play. Awesome shot.

  16. Love your love story. Pets can be such a integral part and truly becomes family and it's very hard times when they pass on. I love to see and hear what you done and to keep those collars out there as a tribute and momentous in their memory is just awesome to me. Great picture and a great story. Thanks for sharing your story and really enjoyed your creation.

  17. I'm with Eje, love the story and that's a neat way to tribute lost love. We have four dogs now, one diabetic that's fully blind, not sure how much longer she'll be with us despite the twice daily insulin shots. We've lost a fair amount of pets for various reasons and it's always hard. Black and white was probably a good choice here, more solemn.

  18. Awesome blog post. I really enjoyed the story. You had some dogs that really lived a long time, by most standards. Sorry to hear of the loss of your buddies. Great photo too! I especially loved the part about that one going to college. Hilarious way to look at it!

  19. This is a really nice post. The image stands well on its own but the write up takes it to another level. Whichever way you look at it, pets become a very important addition to any family unit, and its often a sad fact that their lifespans are relatively short compared to ours. This is a really nice way to remember them and it was kind of you to share the story with the rest of us.

  20. This is terrific, both the image and the story. This post really hits home for me, as we just got a dog for our daughter for Christmas. We've been cat people all of our lives, but I have to say that even after such a short time with him, having a dog of our own is one of the most rewarding things I have ever experienced. I really like this image, John. It really shows how much love you had for your dogs, and hanging their collars on the door is a beautiful way of remembering them. What a touching post.

  21. The short DOF on the car picture definitely makes it I think. Nice colors on it also. How was the other one in composition different to this?
    The tire one, you are right, the lines of the rope make this particularly interesting, drawing the eye into the tire.
    The TV shot I'm not all that fond of, but I do see the cultural angle you are going with. I think the wires in the back bother me, but obviously not something you could have changed.

  22. I agree with Chris about the Tv one. And of the three the Tyre one is my fave. The ropes work really well as it is but combined with the reflection it's a really interesting image and it was well spotted.

  23. I like this shot, it's a really good way to combine the two themes. Sounds like you have a busy season ahead of you, and Wood in it's natural form is always a good interesting subject, no two trees are ever the same.

  24. i definitely like the processed bird photo better. It's more vibrant, clear, nicer contrast, etc. Personally I'd probably crop in further.

  25. Think the flowers in the bloom picture gets a bit lost and would have liked to seen a bit closer up on it. But interesting subject for sure.

    Really like the different take on the mirror and like the colors there.

    Great work.

  26. I agree with Eje about the bloom image being a little busy. And partly with Chris regarding the contrast. However I wouldn't crop in tighter for this particular exercise, after all the reflection and mirror like appearance of the water is what ties it into the theme.

  27. The bloom image was a bit rushed. I wanted a picture of that clover patch for my orchard ' s blog before they were past prime. We had 25 mph wind for three days straight including the day I took it which was then followed up by 5 days of rain.


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