Numbers Project


Over the past year I pretty much abandon blogging, and to a large extent photography. I still took pictures of the family and while on vacation, but I didn’t spend much time just taking pictures. I tried to get into the August 2010 Photo Challenge, but only managed 19 shots. 2010 was an off year all around for me. This year I’m trying to get back into shooting more photos for myself. I was hoping would have some good themes to keep me motivated, but it looks like the site is on hiatus. (I sincerely hope new challenges come up soon.)

I decided I needed to come up with my on themes and Numbers is one I’ll be working on all year. Numbers are all around us and define much of our lives. We see them in everywhere we go and in almost everything we do. I’ve decided to try to take photos of as many numbers as possible this year, focusing on numbers below 1000.  I came up with a few guidelines for myself:

  • No addresses unless it’s a really compelling shot. It’s just too easy to get numbers from homes or businesses, and I want this to be a little challenging.
  • No repeating the same subject. I could take a lot of number shots of speed limit signs, but that will get boring fast. Part of the challenge is to find different subjects as well as numbers.
  • Don’t use the same number twice. So far this hasn’t been a problem, but I did add two shots of the number 4 to the set. One was taken long before I started this project, but was the kind of shot I want to do.
  • Try to get just a number by itself, without other words or other numbers. For example, a keyboard has numbers, but it’s hard to get each number by itself, although it could make an interesting macro. I’m not to let this limit my shots, but the point is to focus on numbers.

So far I’ve taken nine shots for this project this year and have started a set on Flickr. I’ll add to it as much as possible throughout the year.

January Reflections

All in all, a good day
I have certainly hit the ground running this year, at least in terms of photography. I decided to attempt the 2009 Photo Challenge so I’ve been taking a lot of photos. I’ve only missed one day so far, which means I’ve posted 34 photos for the challenge alone. I’ve also posted about 40+ other photos to Zooomr and Flickr. That has to be one my best months ever with about 75 photos in the month.

I’ve also been very pleased with the quality of the shots I’ve been posting, and several have received a lot of faves and views. While I’d like to think I’m growing as a photographer, I’m certain the 2009 Challenge has helped me improve. In fact, a friend is buying prints of three shots taken specifically for the 2009 Challenge. That will be my first photography sale. I’m also contributing a photo to a fund raising auction for my kids’ school later this month.

One of the high points of January was my first photowalk with Jeremy Brooks and Andrew Lighten. I was on a jury in San Francisco and Jeremy and I decided to meet up one evening. It just happened that Andrew flew into SF that day. Hanging out even for a short time with other photographers is very rewarding. Thanks guys. I’m definitely going to make more of an effort to get to other Bay Area photowalks this year.  This is one of the shots I took on that walk:
Night on the Bay

January was a good start to the year for me. I know the economy sucks and California is heading into a severe drought, but I’m looking forward to this year. And looking back, this is my favorite shot of the month:
Day 28 - Water

One final thing, I want to give a little promotion to the PhotoNetCast podcast. I’ve only recently started listening to this and have really enjoyed it. It’s entertaining and informative. I know everyone listens to TWIP, but you should also listen to PhotoNetCast. Really.

Alone in this world

Alone in this world

Corner of Rohnert Park Expressway and Stony Point Road, Rohnert Park, CA.

Rohnert Park is not really in my local community, but my family does bit of shopping in Rohnert Park and we drive through it often. This particular location could have a dramatic impact on my local community, though. The land in the middle distance of this shot is slated to become a Las Vegas style casino built by the Federated Indians of Graton Rancheria. Imagine a large building with lots of blinking lights obscuring the view of the mountains in the background. For those that cherish open space the casino will be a horror. The cow pastures will be replaced with parking lots. The street I stood on to take this will likely be too busy for me feel safe standing on. Not that the view would be worth photographing if the casino gets built.

Most folks don’t want the casino, but with the casino the city will get a nice kick-back for fire and police service. I think there will also be money for schools and other organizations as well. The tribe says they have the right to develop the land, even though the local community is vehemently opposed to it. This impacts Petaluma because Petaluma is only 11 miles South, and between Rohnert Park and the greater San Francisco Bay Area. Basically, everyone coming from all points South and East will have to drive through Petaluma to get to the casino. The casino would be about 45-60 minutes from San Francisco. Well, not considering the extra traffic that will no doubt clog Highway 101.

Another concern for Petaluma is that another tribe has bought land on the southern edge of Petaluma. The tribe claims they have no plans for a casino, but residents don’t believe them. Just because they don’t have plans today doesn’t mean they won’t in the near future. If the casino gets built in Rohnert Park, Petaluma will be next. The goal of the casino developers is to buy land as close to the Bay Area as possible while paying the lowest prices. Petaluma is not cheap, but it’s not as much as Marin County or the South Bay. Our suburban town with a history in farming and agriculture will be transformed into a gambling destination. I don’t care how much money comes to the city or county, it’s not worth it. How much is your soul worth? More than a couple of casinos.

The Stop the Casino 101 Coalition has more information on how the casino will impact Sonoma County. The City of Rohnert Park also has information including environmental impact statements regarding the development.

This shot was taken as part of the 2008 Challenge at You can see where the shot was taken by viewing the Geotag on Zooomr.

2008 Challenge

Dairymen's Co-op

Well 2008 is upon us, and with it a new year of photos. Trevor Carpenter, who has posted a series of Photo Challenges, put together to organize a year long Community Challenge. Last year I tried the photo-a-day thing with somewhat mixed results. I ended up doing 1-2 per week, and completely missed the month of December.

This year I’ve decided to take Trevor up on his challenge, although I’m getting slightly late start. The idea is pretty simple: take one good picture a week of your community. I think I can do that, aside from missing Week 1. I have legitimate excuses, but they don’t matter much now. You can follow everyone who is participating in the challenge on both Flickr and Zooomr. I’m posting to both sites, but hosting the blog shots on Zooomr. It’s pretty amazing to see photos from all over, especially through the eyes (and lenses) of individuals, not through the media.

About this shot, I set out at lunch today to take a picture and as I was driving I thought, duh, why not start with the most obvious thing you can. So here’s the first shot in my year long effort to document my community.

In my community this structure dominates the view near downtown. I don’t know the history or building, but it’s pretty old. Last year there was a fire in one of the grain elevators that burned for over a week, stinking up the town with acrid yellow smoke. Everyone was grateful when the fire department finally put it out, although there was quite a price tag attached to their efforts. Not sure who paid that bill.

It is an impressive and imposing building that adds to the character of the town, and the economy. Petaluma still has a thriving dairy industry and I think is, at heart, a farming town. This building provides a visual reminder of the history of this town. Oddly enough, a new apartment complex sits just to the left of the building. Another reminder that the town is growing. Petaluma is definitely a place where the new and the old mix, generally to the benefit of the community.

Half Dome

Half Dome

Last weekend we went to Yosemite for a quick weekend trip. It had been six years since our family had been there, and our youngest had never been, so it was time. As expected, we had a great time and I got to take a lot of pictures. It’s hard not to take pictures because there are so many striking rock formations and Yosemite is one of the most beautiful places on the planet.

Half Dome is probably the most photographed formation in the park, and for good reason. It dominates the landscape in much of Yosemite valley. It’s hard not to
take pictures of it because it is so incredible. This shot was taken near Curry Village, along the road. I’m sure millions of people have taken pictures from this location. I geotagged in on Zooomr so you can see about where I was when I took the picture.

I found the lighting to be a little tricky, probably because of the time of year and angle of the Sun. Because the mountains around the valley are so high and the Sun is so low in the southern sky, the south side of the valley is in shade most of the day. With a clear sky you can get a wide range of contrast between bright sunlight and dark shadows. You really have to make decisions about what you want to highlight – the trees and meadows or the rocks towering above. Of course, if you time things really well you can get both. As you can see, for this shot I opted to expose for the rocks, not the trees.

For anyone planning a Fall or early Winter trip, here are a few pointers:

  • El Capitan is best shot in the morning. The light from sunrise hits it perfectly. Ask a park ranger when sunrise actually happens and get there early. The sun doesn’t hit the valley floor until long after it hits the rocks.
  • The meadows near El Capitan have really cool ground fog in the morning.
  • Half Dome is best shot late in the day, when the sun hits its face. There’s a great spot along the river near the Ahwahnee Hotel.
  • There’s not a lot of water in the falls. None in Yosemite Falls, very little in Vernal, Nevada, and Bridal Veil.
  • Take some time to stake out locations the first day, then come back to shoot. There are dozens of photographers with tripods set up early for sunrise and sunset shots, so plan ahead for a good locations.
  • Bring lots of memory cards or a laptop to download photos. I shot with a 4 gig card and downloaded every night.
  • The sun hits the North side of the valley near Yosemite Village early, so you can get some good shots of trees, meadows, the river, and possibly bears before you start your day.
  • You can get great shots from the road, but if you walk a little you can get better shots. Please stay on the paths and respect the plants.
  • Don’t forget to look for the details. Sure, the rocks are spectacular, but so are the leaves and grasses and rivers and countless other little things.

If you look at the satellite or hybrid view of Yosemite on Google maps, you can see the shadows on the south side of the valley to get an idea of how the lighting will be. Take into account the time of year, shorter days, and angle of the sun as Winter Solstice approaches.

I have roughly 500 pictures to go through, so this will likely be the first of many from the trip. I uploaded 13 to Zooomr last night and created a set so you can view them all in one place. As I upload more, I’ll add them to the set.

Our Love Shines Like Rain

Our Love Shines Like Rain

Here’s one from the archive. Nearly a month ago my family and I took a day trip to San Francisco to walk the Golden Gate Bridge and visit the de Young Museum. This is one of the shots from the de Young. Unfortunately I didn’t write down the artist or title. I would like to give credit, so if you know please email me.

I don’t have much experience photographing art work, and most of the exhibit halls have poor lighting for photography, so I didn’t take a lot of pictures. The lighting is great for showcasing the works of art, but there’s just not enough light for shooting photos. The museum has a “no flash” rule, so that wasn’t an option. I had been scolded for not carrying my backpack below my waist, so didn’t want to push my luck with a flash. All my shots from the museum have a lot of noise from cranking up the ISO.

The de Young has an amazing collection of art. There really is no way to describe it because the collections span every time period, medium, and style. No matter what your taste in art, there’s something there for you. We only spent a couple of hours there, but I really could have spent the whole day. My two younger kids got a little bored, but behaved exceptionally. Kids need a lot of stimulation and interactivity to really become engage in something (other than TV). While I think it’s good to expose them to the arts at a young age, I don’t want to do it at the expense of others enjoying it. My kids were great, but I don’t want to take them there for an entire day. I’ll go back soon with my wife and oldest daughter and really take my time. Then we’ll take the whole family to the zoo.

I didn’t take art history in college and really don’t know much about art, I just know what catches my attention and draws me in. It’s hard to pick a favorite from that day given the short amount of time we were there, but the Hiroshi Sugimoto exhibit running until September 23, 2007 really stands out nearly a month later. Maybe that’s because it is a photography exhibit, but I don’t think so. There is something truly magical about his work. To be honest, I had never seen his work before, but he instantly became one of my favorites. He makes photography a true art form. I’m glad I got to experience it in person the first time I saw it. Seeing it in a book or online does not have the same impact. The “Sea of Buddha” is amazing to see in person. Well worth the price of admission just to see that one piece.

Shot Details

Shooting Date: 8/18/2007 15:52:24
Shutter Speed: 1/25Sec.
Aperture Value: F5.6
ISO Speed:1600
Lens: EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Focal Length: 46.0 mm

It’s kinda creepy

It's kinda creepy
Just a quick post. I shot this at my youngest daughter’s soccer game two days ago. Not much to say about it, just look interesting at the time. I knew I wanted it to be a high-contrast black and white image when I shot it. It pretty much came out how I planned. Cool. As for the title, that’s what my oldest daughter said when she saw the shot.

Also, I wanted to point people to publicengery’s recent blog post. His stuff is awesome, and he rides. I’m jealous, biking is something I want to do much more of. Keep riding Dave.

Shot Details:

Shooting Date: 9/10/2007 17:55:05
Shutter Speed: 1/400Sec.
Aperture Value: F5.6
ISO Speed: 400
Lens: EF70-300mm f/4-5.6 IS USM
Focal Length: 300.0 mm

Western Pacific

Western Pacific

Many years ago I took a basic black and white photography class in college. Recently, I rummaged through the attic and found my old camera and a bunch of contact sheets, negatives, and prints from the class. It was a nice stroll down memory lane, and there were a couple of decent shots. Digital photography hadn’t started when I took this photo and the web didn’t really exist like it does today, so no sites like Zooomr were around to share photos. I figured I should share them now. I don’t remember the story behind this shot, and don’t have any details, I just like the high contrast and subject.

As I get images scanned, I’ll post them here when I don’t get out and shot new photos.