Friday, March 25, 2011

From last week's beginnings, to today's latest...

Friday afternoon: fun with phone-camera after work...

For background, first, an excerpt from the New York Times:

       A basic tenet of photography is that the best camera is the one you have on hand when you need it. For many people these days, that means an iPhone.
       It’s easy to understand why: not only is the iPhone a universal communications tool, its one-button camera is also stunningly simple to use.
       “It really opens your eyes creatively when you have to take a photo with something with such limited functionality,” said Chase Jarvis, a commercial photographer based in Seattle who has been smitten by the iPhone’s camera. “The beauty is in its simplicity. There are no lights or other equipment.”


Today after work, I needed to drive up to the far NW side of Tucson to pick up my packet and t-shirt for Sunday's half-marathon...The running-store where I picked those things up is not far from the actual course for the race, and I hadn't been up in that area in a while, so I thought I'd drive along the running route.

It's not actually in Tucson; it's in Oro Valley--intriguing name for a town only incorporated in the mid-1970's. There is no 'downtown.' It's suburbia: strip-malls of chain-stores and traffic...but it's suburbia-with-scenery. The 'backside' of the Santa Catalina Mountains is gorgeous--canyons and uplifted outcroppings soaring above the saguaros.

Spring desert evening light flatters cell-phone-camera-photos--the only camera I had with me:

The wilderness-y hills hide suburbia, lurking just beyond the saguaro-studded horizon...
This panorama stitched together on the iPhone, using Cloudburst Research's AutoStitch app.

These photos were taken in an area along the route called
 'Honeybee Canyon,' a natural preserve surrounded by

Looking forward to Sunday morning...

Friday, March 18, 2011


I start with this scanned photo from the early '90's:

...fresh out of high school, with a plain ol' point-and-shoot, I took this in Odae-san National Park, along the east coast of South Korea: autumn morning, steam from cooking fires at a temple in the mountains.

All through high school I'd wanted to take photography classes, but it never fit in my schedule or my parents' budget...During my senior year, a brand new fine arts wing opened, with a state-of-the-art darkroom...Alas, it was not to be. After I graduated, I started college right away, attending summer quarter so that I would be able to take fall quarter off to visit relatives and tour around Korea--a slightly delayed graduation-trip. (My grandmother died while I was there; a sobering privilege of sorts, to be able to be at her side as life left her...)

After returning home, I went back to my old high school; my former art teacher had asked me if I would come show her some photos from my trip. She lingered on the photo above, telling me "that's a good one; like, something you'd see in National Geographic." Encouraging words (!), especially since I'd never taken a photography class and didn't even have a 'good' camera! (It didn't even have a zoom!) And her opinion coincided with mine--this is still one of my favorite photos from that trip...

And so I begin this photo-blog with it...
...and a few more from that autumn in Korea, so many years ago now...

another October morning photo from Odae-san National Park:

skyscrapers of downtown Seoul, from the walled compound of the 15th c. Tõk-su Palace:
Yes, it is a worn travel-writer's cliché to talk about 'the unique contrast of old and new,' or 'the blending of the ancient and the modern;' nearly every major world city is a combination of traditional and post-modern...BUT, as the first major foreign city that I came to know, Seoul's amalgam of pre-modern upswept roofs, post-war skyscrapers and omnipresent mountains still anchors my eye as the first place where I  learned to truly look photographically at architecture and landscape....

...and to see smaller details as image-worthy:
dried fish for sale in a small-town food market:

Going back even further, I found this photograph of me looking at Seoul's 14th-c. Namdaemun South Gate--
an uncle took it when I was still in high school.
The summer between my freshman and sophomore years, I spent a month in the countryside--in a village where the majority of the residents were related, in varying degrees, to my mother's family. Once or twice a week we would take the bus and train into Seoul: errands, visiting people...and me looking at everything--with a camera bag slung over my shoulder...

So, the begnnings of my photography-hobby-sans-fancy-camera...


Have you heard of the 'best camera' app?
              "The Best Camera is the one that's with you" is more than a catchphrase, it's a belief in the power and immediacy of the photographic image. The best photos don't come from megapixels or expensive cameras, they come from being there to capture the moment as it happens. It's a liberating concept..."

And, this morning's New York Times happens to have this interesting article about photography:
             Chimping and Other Photo-taking Tips
                       Hmm..."chimping?"--funny new word for me...only in this digital age...