I’ve shot a lot of pool in my life. I played competitively a bit, and it was interesting to try to gauge the skill of your opponent by how he or she presented themselves. Something that would always get a rise out of me was meeting a player who had his own very expensive cue and case, a glove, and myriad other accoutrements, that I would proceed to beat soundly. I’m of the mind that your equipment should match your skills, otherwise you can look ridiculous.
So it is with photography, where I’ve waited until I felt my skills justified the investment before upgrading equipment. But even technique or editing gets this scrutiny for me; I feel you should be ready for it. HDR, for example, is a rather advanced tool that can be dangerous in unskilled hands. (For a compelling rant on that subject, see The Idiot Photographer‘s recent post here.) And, though others would disagree, I might put black and white photography in this category, though mainly because I feel I abused it early on. With the recent trip to Iceland, however, I decided to tackle my reluctance head on, since much of that country’s landscape is seemingly made for B&W. Here is an HDR shot that has been desaturated into a sepia tone, as well as other editing tweaks. I think I’ve worked this shot so long I’ve lost the ability to be objective about it anymore; I’ll leave it to the reader to decide if this came out well, or if it is Frankenstein’s monster of photography.
For those who may not have noticed I’ve been working with a fellow blogger, Sometimes Interesting, to offer up a unique view of my favorite city to explore. Many of the urbex photos I’ve posted here are from buildings in Gary Indiana; I’ve been to the Sheraton Hotel and climbed 14 monotonus floors to get to the roof. I’ve poked around the ruins of Gary-Aldering Settlement House, a building who’s history was largely forgotten as it was based almost soley in racisim. My first introduction to urban exploring was the grand old relic, Mahencha Apartments and not long after we found City United Church which is quite possibly the most well known abandonment in the city and has been in several motion pictures, both major and independent. I’ve climbed the scary stairs in one of the most decrepit buildings still standing and made it to the rooftop of Ambassador Arms Apartments.
I’ve strolled through the wreck of the Palace Theater, once the pride of the city. I wandered the halls of Emerson High School, and Horace Mann High School. In every case Sometimes Interesting has done the hard work of researching and writing the stories of these buildings and the people behind them, I simply had to have some fun exploring and take photos while I was at it. If you haven’t read any of these stories but have enjoyed the photos I’ve provided from these locations then I would suggest perhaps you stop on by his place and take a look. For me, learning the history of these buildings has deepened the experience of being there, knowing that this isn’t just another empty building, but a place that once loved, important and held meaning to the residents of the city.
Why can’t all pigeons be this pretty?
A huge perk of photography in Iceland this time of the year is there is no night to speak of. Sure, the sun sets for three hours, but that merely throws the landscape into twilight. If cloud cover isn’t too heavy, the “golden hour” of optimal light can stretch seemingly forever. At the time of this shot, roughly 11:30 PM, the sun was crawling down towards the horizon and casting the boulders and mists of the alluvial plain in sharp contrast.
Somewhat hidden inside a ravine in Thingvellir was this waterfall, one of the most beautiful I would see in Iceland.
I’ve been hanging on to these photos for far too long, it is time for some more Takin baby action.
I mentioned that last time I was at the zoo they were feeling frisky and acting like adorable fools, here is the evidence.
High speed galumphing!
And it wasn’t just the one either! It isn’t easy to get both of them into the frame at once, but I got lucky.
There was a fair amount of play fighting too, practice for when they’re all grown up big boys.
Some times, you just have to jump around for the sheer joy of it.
Ubiquitous in this country are cairns, or rock piles, which punctuate the landscape. Dense in some areas, occasional in others, cairns can be a memorial, a bit of folk art, or, seemingly, a simple way of saying “I was here.” The first shot is from the base of a sea cliff.
The second, from a hilltop not far from an excavated viking longhouse.
As unremarkable as moss may seem here, in temperate climates, it can take on fantastic forms in Iceland. It is one of the few types of flora that thrives in this cold, damp climate. While driving the ring road east of Vik, I came upon vast lava fields that at first glance appeared to be green crumb cake. In fact, each rock and boulder had grown a thick coat of moss and lichens. When I left the car to get a closer shot, I found jumping from rock to rock to be like trampolining, the stuff was so thick and spongy.