Monday, May 19, 2008

Concept to reality in about four months

After my first visit in December 2007 to the grounds of the old Northern State Hospital near Sedro-Woolley, Washington, I was struck by how amazing the contrast would in a series of shots with a pretty, young woman in this decaying, abused, and dying setting.

Initial selections from the shoot

A series of fateful coincidences occurred to make the shoot -- done on Sunday, 18 May -- a reality. We finished late on Sunday, and it's going to take me a few days to go through the shots (599 frames initially short-listed to 207 ...).

The People

Photo © 2008 by Jan Klier, all rights reservedFirst -- I made the acquaintance of a fellow photographer -- Jan Klier -- at the location during my second scouting trip. This time, I invited shooters from my photo club at work and from my amazing Seattle Flickr Meetup group on Flickr.

It was clear from the outset that Jan saw the potential of the place, and he and I stayed late, trying different lighting setups all over the grounds of the abandoned dairy (here's my favorite - a shot of me taken by Jan). He also had the technical lighting skills I am only now starting to acquire, and has been generous sharing his learning with me.

Second -- I learned that one of my favorite baristas, Kymi Jo, -- pretty, clever, with a great sense of humor -- had experience as a child model. I mentioned the asylum concept to her, and she was immediately eager to pose.

That was in February.

Developing the Concept
The more I thought about the shoot, I began to realize it needed to be a little more edgy. I thought about the dirt and the graffiti and the litter, and considered what else could enhance Kymi's natural freshness and beauty ...

A wedding dress.

Pure, white, delicate and clean ... the opposite of these old structures.

Talked over the idea with Jan and started searching Flickr and other sites for images of wedding dresses ... found a reference to a site called "Trash the Dress" that had some similar bridal shots in contrasting environments.

The Dress
So, inspired by the location and by Kymi, I needed to find a dress. A size 2. That would fit within my meager budget.

Started scouring Craigslist and posting around. I stopped in every thrift store between Mount Vernon and Bellevue almost weekly.

Even asked my Flickr friends about a dress ... ( and now a group are heading to the asylum soon to do a group event ... I am certain to be humbled, as always, by their results).

I found lots of dresses -- but in the size 12 -14 size range -- rarely anything smaller (not sure what to make of that observation, but there's a photo story in there I think).

Then, a week ago, as I was giving up hope and considering a Plan B (hospital scrubs maybe?) I found THE DRESS. A beautiful satin skirted, lace sleeve and neck ... and Kymi's size.

More later ... out of time!

Sunday, May 11, 2008

First Image Captured with the D300

New member of the family today.

Super fast, and not noisy at all.

Acquired in preparation for a long-planned shoot coming soon.

Utterly speechless.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Shooter at Work

Shooter at Work
Originally uploaded by HonuPhoto
Thanks to my new Mount Vernon-based photo buddy Peter Verschoor, -- I have a few interesting shots of myself doing whatever it takes to get the shot!

I did plan ahead a bit and had a cap (good) and gloves AND a cheap plastic blue tarp, to help keep the mud off me and my gear.

Peter's an amazing shooter -- I do hope you check out his work.

He lately returned from a trip to China with his teen-age son, and I can't wait to see those shots.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Spring Snow

Tulip Festival 2008 (28 of 30)
Originally uploaded by HonuPhoto
I lived the beautiful Skagit Valley of Washington State for nearly 20 years, but last year (2007) was the first time I ever tried to capture tulips.

This year, with the help of my D80, I was hoping to do even more, but the weather and my schedule is against me.

I had one more day to try for some tulip shots this year, and as we were heading to the fields ... it started snowing.

And snowing.


On April 20. And no, I do not live in Alaska.

Spring in the Pacific Northwest can be a little unusual, and as odd as it can be, you wait 10 minutes, and it changes.

So, we scouted some fields, and waited for the snow to stop.

It didn't, but snowed more.

After 20 minutes, some of the group headed for the fields. 10 minutes later, I joined them, and the snow started to diminish.

It snowed off and on -- with breaks of bright sunshine -- until about 1000, when the snow stopped for the day.

Later, as I looked at the shots on my PC, I was pleased -- no, THRILLED, with a few of the shots I captured.

Thanks to my friend John, and the amazing people in the Seattle Flickr Meetups group and the photography club at Microsoft, who have inspired me, and been so generous with their expertise and advice.

Monday, April 7, 2008

And Now for Something a Little Different

With apologies to the late genius Israel Kamakawiwo'ole and music fans everywhere, I have decided to subject the world to my attempt at music.

I have loved "Bruddah Iz's" music for years, and in November picked up a used ukelele from a co-worker.

Never having played a string instrument (except for the piano), it was (is) tough, but I've gotten this song to the point where I am OK sharing. Just wish I was singing in tune!

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Getting Back to Work

As you may have gathered from:
  1. The somber tone of my previous posts, and

  2. The long gap between posts

I am in the midst of a significant transition in my life.

My wife has wanted a divorce for a long time, but hasn't been willing to take the step -- probably because of the financial challenge. Neither of us has been happy for a several years now, but it got to the point where I was avoiding time at home -- with my incredible daughters -- to avoid being around their mother.

After wrestling with the decision for 6 months, I finally mustered up the resolve to take action.

So, I moved out. And have spent the past couple of months in a myasma of self-pity, regret, lonliness, and depression.

Done with that. Get busy living, or get busy dying -- and I'm not ready for death yet.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Day 35 of 366: The End of the Beginning

Feb 3 35/366
The worst day of my life. The hardest thing I've ever done. As I knew it would be. So as painful as it is, the ache and anguish are seasoned with a pinch of relief.

I have imagined the events a thousand times before today, and every time, they were worse -- far worse -- than the actuality.

Still, the actuality is still so bad, I feel physical pain. My intellect is telling me to get up and go, and set this aside for a while, but my spirit wants to wallow in self-pity a bit longer.

The brain is going to win, and I'm off to watch the Super Bowl with my brothers, and see if New England can overcome the Giants for a perfect 19-0 season.

But who really gives a shit?

Sunday, January 27, 2008


Day 20 of 366: De-Animated
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
I was going to write about this last week, but got so busy, it fell on the floor.

The intended outcome was NOT the image at right -- I spent a few hours setting up, executing, and processing the shot (stay tuned), without thinking things through far enough to realize I wouldn't be able to post the image in the format I needed (animated -- was hoping to PNG but ended up with GIF).

Day 20 of 366: De-Animated

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Flashing at Sunset

Day 22 of 366: Sunset Flasher
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
My trip to the asylum with my Flickr and friends and photo enthusiasts from work gave some additional knowledge and inspiration to get my flash out more often.

Since I'm working half days now (6 a.m.-6 p.m.) -- I rarely shoot during the daylight, so there's lots of time to practice, not that I have committed to a photo a day for the year.

This was one of more than 50 shots I took -- the sky started out colorful, but considerable lighter). Problem was I needed my tripod for the camera, and I had only my GorllaPod (LOVE THIS) to mount the flash onto. Just couldn't get it high enough. There is a light stand in my near future.

So I held the flash in my left hand, and varied intesity, with/without the diffuser, etc. It kept getting darker and darker, but near the end, it looked like I had a series of good shots.

Alas, I wasn't in focus. I was getting cold, and didn't zoom ein enough on my preview screen to discern the fuzziness.

Composing myself and getting into focus is the most maddening part of this entire 366-Day project ... but I wager I'll have it figured out before the year is up.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Expedition at the Asylum

Paul Swortz - Photo by Jan Klier
Originally uploaded by janklier
I'm scouting locations for some future shoots, and invited some friends (I'd never met -- but that's what makes the inter nets so cool!) to come along.

One of them, Jan Klier brought his lighting gear along, and after we'd walked the grounds a while, we hauled them up the hill to one of the old barns.

I learned more about my flash, metering, and light in the 60 minutes or so we worked together than in the three months since I started using external lighting -- Jan was so generous with his time, expertise, and equipment.

You can see my work from the event here (I got a few I like), but my favorite of the day was the black and white version Jan got of me.

Friday, January 11, 2008

A Million Little Pictures

This little art cooperative in Atlanta had a great idea: give a bunch of people identical disposable cameras and a theme, then see what happens.

I loved the idea, but since there is no instant feedback (gosh, I love digital), I don't know what the shots will look like, if they were in focus, or precisely how the composition turned out.

But that's part of the fun.

So 227 people couged up $16 bucks for the cameras, and shot the theme "Adventure."

I don't know if I'll get to know in advance whether my shots get used in the gallery)... the exhibition is from noon-9 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 15. Trouble is, it's in San Francisco, so I am unlikely to make it. I hope they'll have something online.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

My celebrity look-alikes?

I personally don't see it ...

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Multiple Exposure

Day 3 of 366
Originally uploaded by Honu Photo
I was trying to think of something interesting to do when this idea occurred to me ... trouble is, I hadn't my flash nor my tripod, and didn't want to draw TOO much attention to myself at the office.

I balanced the camera on a neighboring desk, and took a couple of test shots. It was clear I needed to do something about my face -- the overhead fluorescent lights left my eyes in shadow and made me look even more sinister and fat than I am.

I grabbed a small desk lamp, and held it in my left hand while firing off a bunch of shots quickly with my remote.

I want to do this again -- but with my off camera flash and some time to clean off the desktop and do something about the cables beneath the desk.