I’ve enjoyed playing with Instagram. Sometimes its filters have a way of making the photo look to the eye like the image represented feels to my insides, adding a layer that closes that gap between intention and expression and compensating for my failures as a photographer.
But some images are so pure and beautiful that filters are unnecessary, even unwelcome.
Here was the view up High Street as I was loading the kids into the car last Thursday morning.
And here is a shot, taken 20 minutes later, of the fields across the street from Alden’s school.
No talent required to take these photos. No technique needed.
I just happened to be there with my shutter open. The sunshine did the rest.
This is one of those moments when captions aren’t necessary.
On Saturday, our friend Jiho came to town with his cameras in tow. If I had been thinking ahead, I would have taken a picture of his impressive collection of lenses, flashes, memory cards, and external hard drives. The man was prepared for a take-no-prisoners photo shoot, and we, the willing subjects, did our best to keep up.
Like a well-seasoned athlete, he sprang into action, shooting the family as we walked to the farmers market to buy stun buns and some flowers for the garden. When we returned to the barn, he took some shots of the kids gardening, then of all of us looking out the barn window, and then of the barn itself.
Next we did the interior shots, which consisted of the kids painting, the kids writing, us writing and painting with the kids, us writing and painting by ourselves, us writing and painting while August lounged happily in his bungee bouncer.
Every 1,200 shots or so, Jiho was forced to download his photos and delete his memory card to make room for more. You heard me correctly. We were only halfway through the shoot list when Jiho told us that he had just topped the 2,500 shot count. The man was on fire. Every once in a while, he would stop to show us some of the shots he’d captured.
From what little we saw in the tiny window on the back of his camera, we know that we’re going to be happy with the final results.
Jiho’s burden was considerably eased by his lovely assistant Chungwon, who filled such important tasks as carrying lenses, moving furniture, and keeping August out of trouble.
The shoot started at 10:30am. We took the final shots at 7:00pm.
Or so we thought. Jiho kept clicking away throughout the dinner that followed. Apparently, he drove out of Chestertown with 4,200 images from the day. Of these, we’ll see approximately 20 percent. Shooting the photos is only the first part of Jiho’s work. Next, he’ll go through the entire shoot and select only the best images, which we’ll see in about three weeks time.
We can’t wait.
Today, we are in for a treat. And so is all of Chestertown. Today, the one and only Jiho Sohn is coming to town to take pictures of our family.
Who is Jiho? It’s like asking for answers to the riddle of time.
On one hand, Jiho is a colleague at my “real” job. He is a brilliant coder and doer and understander of all things web-based and technologically shiny. He is also the most astonishing spinner of metaphor I have ever met. Jiho does not say anything in a straightforward way. Instead, he conjures up remarkable visual/conceptual frameworks to explain anything at all.
But (to get the the point of today’s visit) he also has a remarkable, ever evolving talent for photography, and as such, is the founder of Jiho Nation, a blog about photography and design.
Jiho came with us to Alaska a few years back, and took some of the most stunning photos of our stretch of beach that have ever been captured. If I were more organized, I’d post some, but it is early on a Saturday morning and I have a photo shoot to prepare for. Here is one of my favorite-ever Jiho shots, taken a few months back at my office in Baltimore.
Here is Jiho, by Jiho.
We have an ambitious day planned for Jiho, with many shots to capture. Here is the shoot list (provided upon request).
• Portrait of entire family: M, R, kids, dog, cats (on couch or around flat table in studio)
• Series of publicity shots of M and R only
- Smiling together, looking at camera
- Posing with books, looking at camera
– Making books in studio
• Something showing the barn from the outside. Need to figure out the shot. Maybe we’re inside, looking out from the living room window. Maybe we’re out front, and Jiho gets down low and shoots up at us with barn in background, cropping out electric wires, etc?
• Matthew working at his computer
• Robbi illustrating/painting, etc.
• Kids painting at their easel
• Kids writing with pen/pencil
• Shots with us helping the kids make books
Would like to have:
• Shot of M and R working at flat table, August hanging from bouncer, Alden painting at easel, Kato standing on flat table with no pants on. Jiho standing on flat table, looking down, perhaps with wide-angle?
• Family in Wilmer Park,
- playing in pavilion
- having picnic in gazebo
- throwing rocks near boat launch
– standing near pilings with river in background
- feeding ducks
- running wildly in open green space.
• Signature shots of both living spaces (living room and studio), both with and without us in them.
• Shot of Matthew typing into his computer while Robbi folds laundry right next to him.
• Shot of Matthew cooking dinner while Robbi vacuums.
• Shot of family out for a walk on the brick sidewalks on High Street.
• Alden on her bike, Kato on the trike or in the wagon.
• Shots with Iggy.
• Shots of us at Bookplate (bookstore), looking at books.
With any luck, we’ll find a suitable replacement for our now-tired publicity shot, taken at 2:00 in the morning by no one (we put the camera on a stack of books and set the timer).
We’re also trying to get a nice gallery of photos of the family for the new Bobbledy Books web site. And then there is the relentless grandparent demand for pictures, pictures, pictures. When Jiho is done with us, there should be enough photos to last for a long time.
We’ll report back when the long day is done. For now, go to JihoNation and revel in the beauty.
When I was in my office the other day, a converted firehouse that is now a design studio, I happened to look up.
I love the geometry and the texture, the sense of being in the company of something old and deliberately made.
With all that is hanging over our heads as we make our way through our busy lives, would that every ceiling could be so beautiful.
New York City we are not. Times Square we do not have. But as we were taking a family walk along the evening sidewalks last night, I thought to snap a few photos of the quiet beauty of our small town lights.
Tall white church on High Street
Crossing signal at corner of High and Cross
Lemon Leaf Cafe
The pedestrian crossing sign
Completely unnecessary at the 8:00pm hour, but a welcome reminder, nonetheless, that we walking people are the priority in this small, subtly lit town.
Robbi has been busily working on Volume 32, a beast of a book that should be really fun once it’s finally complete. Yesterday’s challenge was a complex diagram that required prolonged focus and no children in the house.
So the kids and I set out to run errands and eventually wound up in Baltimore, where we visited with Christian, Emily, and Iris. Being a big city, cosmopolitan sort of gal, Iris had not one, but two pairs of sunglasses. Being a generous sort of person, she shared one of them with Alden.
Nothing short of full-bore glamour ensued.
Luckily, I had my camera.
A few minutes later, the actual paparazzi arrived and elbowed me out of the way. For more photos, check the cover of next weeks’ US Weekly.
After a brief and torrid love affair, my entanglement with Instagram has cooled somewhat, but I still pull out the app from time to time when the moments of my life require a bit of softening. I downloaded the update yesterday and was delighted to find Instagram much improved: three new filters, an easier way to compare filters when choosing among them, the ability to turn borders on and off, faster upload time, etc. Let’s just say, my interest was re-piqued.
Here’s how my photo of Kato looks with no filter:
And here it is with one of the new filters, Amaro:
All three of the new filters fall into the “subtle” category. Some of the old ones are more dramatic. Kelvin, for example.
But my favorite, for this photo anyway, is Hefe. I like the tone and the texture, the color and the contrast.
But maybe you’d prefer Inkwell?
All this is to say that Instagram is fun—and free. If you enjoy taking pictures and want an easy way to play around with mood, tone, and framing, you might want to give it a try.
The other day I let Alden take the camera for a spin. I don’t know why, but I was surprised at the things that she thought were photo-worthy.
My Fish and Kato’s Fish:
It should be noted that it was actually remarkably prescient to take a picture of My Fish that evening, as the following day he was lost out of Bucket during some frolicking in the park (further underscoring the lesson about “lost” which we used for successful Binky Termination). It should also be noted that this photo is not of Lady who was on the outs during the Binky Termination Project, but rather of Lady who was happily retained. The first still remains banished on the countertop. It should further be noted that the moment in time captured in the last photo was part of the Photo Termination Project, which was initiated after the camera was dropped to the floor one too many times.
The other day, Robbi got a new lens for our Canon SLR. It is a standard 50mm lens with no zoom and a wide aperture. It’s different from our current lens because it has a shallow depth of field, which means that it can focus on something at one depth while blurring out other aspects of the shot. The foreground can be sharp while the background is blurry. Or vice versa. It’s a fun tool for the artist type that Robbi fancies herself to be.
The moment she got it out of the box, she wanted to try it out. I was the closest available subject.
She asked if she could take my picture.
I said sure. I asked her how she wanted me to look.
“Look natural,” she said.
And so I reverted to my natural state: sultry.
Apparently, that wasn’t what she had in mind, so I did “dazed and oafish” (something that does not come naturally to me at all).
Still she was not satisfied. I ran through my bag of tricks.
For some reason, Robbi put down her new lens and shuffled back to whatever it was she had been working on before the box arrived. Apparently, I had failed to please her.
I like to think I’m just too much for one small lens to contain.