Onward and Upward


That third class I wrote about, you know, that one where I get to show you what I’ve been doing for homework. Well, I finished it this week and I’m not going to tell you I did horribly bad.  I am also not going to tell you I did horribly good either.  Horribly good?  Really?  What does that even mean?  Let’s just say I didn’t do as well as in this class as I did in my first two classes.

It all happened on the last assignment, I was hovering around 93% – 94% ish for the last several weeks and I thought it was ok, an A or A- won’t be the end of the world, my last assignment was worth 300 points and I figured I’d get most of them and keep the A’s going.  My final was a photographic narrative  on the Marriage of culture between the United States and Okinawa.  Pretty neat idea since I live here and it is distinctly Japanese but yet American also.  Anyway, these are some of my images:

The Flags


The Shoes

I really like this one.

What a great sign, right?

Jake and one of his good friends, who is Japanese, at their “graduation” from C-san to B-san.

Best Friends

Anyway, there are 16 others that made the final cut, I can show you more if you want.  Maybe I can download to flickr or something like that, hmmmmmmm.  I got a 222/300 on my final.  He just didn’t see the cultures mixing in my pictures.  Of course I completely disagree if he read my write up you can totally see it in my pictures.  His comment on this last picture was that this could be from any school in America.  Really?  I mean seriously!!!!  Any school in America where the kids wear Japanese name tags on their uniforms?  Where are these schools?  My wife is DYING to get Jake in to a Yochien in San Diego but with the pay cut we’re taking it’ll be impossible.

There are two others:

Quinn at the seawall


Kira at the seawall

He said these could be at any beach in California, or maybe it was any beach…regardless he thought they could have been taken anywhere.  Ok, the first one is Nemo, with Dory’s tail with Bruce and the Hammerhead in the back, and way back there is Sponge Bob, overcast day, beach, ok…I’m not going to totally disagree with it, but in my artist statement I do say something about American influence on food, drink and cartoons.  With Quinn being in the pictures I think it kind of makes it a Japanese picture and it should be in the narrative.  The next one with Anpanman or the bread faced guy, is a Japanese cartoon character and I think superhero.  With his bread face saves people from starving by letting them eat his face…What can I say…It’s Japanese.

Anyway, I don’t think he liked me very  much, I can only hope to avoid him in the future.  Kinda like the first time at PUC where you’d hear don’t take ____’s class he’s a jerk, take it from ____ he is much better/easier.

So thanks for letting me rant, I’m sure after I get over this I’ll be a better photographer at least I’ll be one who can shoot pictures of a California coast while in Okinawa.


How Has My Life Been That….


I’m on Facebook these days.  It’s been nice to re-connect with some folks I normally wouldn’t have ever spoken to again for the rest of my life.  I’ve got friends now, again, in my list, I was friends with but have lost touch over the years.  Now I can “talk” to them through the ol’ FB…you know how it is.

At this point I feel like I need to send out a pre-emptive sorry to “L” for not asking if you mind if I write about our short conversation on “The World of Brent”.

So…Facebook.  I’m checking my e-mail and I open another tab and put FB in that tab just so I can see what people are doing in their lives, or if I can pick a fight with someone about Japanese whaling, or just in case I see something that peaks my interest.  So…I check my e-mail, of which I get so few it only takes a minute…if that…I click on the FB tab and low and behold I have a message.  How exciting!!!!  Ohhhh, a FB message, I wonder who could be messaging me????  I’ve been hearing about these people going to Whidbey Island and I’m wondering if this woman I know from Japan is writing me to tell me she has told everyone I want to come out there and they are going to fight for me…they are going to get the detailer to change my orders…they WANT me…they NEED me…YEAH, WHIDBEY ISLAND HERE COME THE YAMADA’S AND THEIR HIPPY…Oh, it’s from someone else.

I open the thing up and when it comes up this girl…again, sorry “L”, I know you are a woman now but I’ve got this problem…I’m still remembering when you guys first got to Hanford and you used to come over and watch the A-Team….  She says she reads my blog.  Now I am not really one to need people to read my stuff…it’s mostly for family…who know I am a horrible caller and an even worse e-mailer, in general I’m just not as communicative with “home” as I should be…right Mom and Hannah?  Anyway, “L” reads my blog once in a while, sweet, but…she tells me…as she remembers it, I am an athiest.  I’ve written a few things, here, and here, but also here, here, and here, about God.  Not a prolific writer but enough to let it be known I’m listening and trying, really trying….

Since then, I’ve been wondering…what have I done in my past…during my life, that would make someone think I am an atheist?  I’ve been wracking my brain…I’ve replayed countless events…I’ve thought and thought and thought…an atheist?  Really?  Dictionary. com defines atheism as 1.the doctrine or belief that there is no God.  2.disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.  (noun)  How much of a wishy-washy Christian have I been in my life that I could have inadvertently given someone the impression that I don’t believe in God?  An atheist chooses to not believe in God, or a god(s).  Ok, ok, yes, it is true I AM going to church on Sundays now…but it’s a Nazarene church…Joelle says it’s the closest to SDA…it’s fun, I enjoy the people, I listen to the sermon(not just because I’m running the slides), OH…I RUN THE SLIDES…but I’m still going to give one or several SDA churches a chance to tickle my fancy when I get back to Sandy Eggo…SD…San Dawg.  I went to PUC out of High School…I went to Armona Union Academy, for like 14 years(no, not because I was held back, my mom taught there)  I’ve brought donuts to my moms 7th and 8th grade classes, many times.  I used to go to Armona SDA church, then Hanford SDA church…I got into a car accident and probably should have at least been hurt…virtually unscathed…except a little scar on my toe.  Our guardian angels were watching over us that day for sure…otherwise at least one of the three of us would be dead.  Atheist?

Hmmmmm.  I’ve not really been able to come up with any reason or any time in my life when I’ve even come close to NOT BELIEVING that God just didn’t exist.  There have been times when I’ve not walked with the Lord…I’ve left Him outside the bar waiting for me to return, so he could help me back to the ship…drunk.   He’s helped me not died from getting my head kicked in because I was to drunk to run.  He has shown me the “green flash” as the sun goes down below the horizon, and countless other things…I rode an elephant, a real live elephant…fed them bananas.  So many things He has shown me….

“L”, Please accept my most humble apology for leading you to believe that I didn’t believe.  I’m sorry if I have ever influenced you to consider He doesn’t exist.  Please know that my walk with God has only gotten stronger, it has wavered, but I’ve always known He was there with me, waiting for me.  I do believe in God, He does exist and is with us to this day.

The Experiment Was A Success


I saw this really cool thing in Popular Photography Magazine (thanks Pop and Grandma Judi) this guy did with different colored lights, flashlight, colored LEDs, penlights, that kind of thing.  Something that is easy to turn on and off and that emits light.  A long exposure, several seconds.  And some sort of prop, a table, chair, loose wires.  Anyway, since I saw that I’ve been thinking about trying it out.  I just want to see

A.  If I can do it.

2.  How long it takes to do it.

D.  What can I do with it creatively

Ok, so that’s the background, something I want to try….  Now for the set up…  For the last couple of weeks I’ve been learning about Shutter Speed and Aperture as priorities in my shooting.  What effects each has on a picture, how to convey movement to the viewer, how to isolate a subject from the background objects, that kind of stuff.  At first I was like…I already know this kind of stuff, let’s move on already.  I mean this is the second week of the same thing, it’s getting a little boring taking pictures like:

Narrow Depth of Field

And this

Slow Shutter Speed

What I really want to take is that shot of the freeway going into the city at night with all the lights blurred so you just see a streak of red or white coming from the city.  Or lightning that would be super sweet.  Oh ya, we get lightning here but it seems every time I see it, I’m on my way to from or at work without my camera and with very little time.  Anyway, on with the story.  I had to post several pictures, using the Aperture as a priority, and several more using Shutter Speed as a priority, while being creative blah blah blah.  I did that stuff last week, GIVE ME SOMETHING NEW!!!!!!!!!

I came up with the shots, I had Jake’s help, our neighbor D came out and his sister A.  I got a couple of snaps of them but I didn’t want to use them because I get to be a little leary of taking pictures of other peoples kids and posting them online and not knowing to much about both the legality and security of that…so I stuck with my own son.  Huge helper that he is, “Hey Jake, I need you to ride your bike so I can take a picture of you.” and the son replies “Ok Dad.”  “Hey Dad take a picture or me”, says the son several minutes later, after I’ve already gotten what I need…he likes to have his picture taken and then look at the LCD to see how he did.  Maybe it is how I did taking the picture.Hmmmmm

Ok, now don’t let me get to sidetracked.  I ended up with plenty of pictures showing different depth of fields from really deep, meaning the front stuff is in focus and so is the stuff in the back.  To really shallow, meaning only what I want you to focus on is in focus, unless there is something else that happens to be on the same focal plane…yaddah yaddah yaddah…technical stuff which I would be happy to explain but I won’t  put everyone through it.  You can comment or e-mail me if you need me to explain it, heck you can even call, just remember for the next month or two I’m still in Japan.  That is in the +9 India time zone, which means I’ve already started my day and have been in it for 9 hours when Greenwich, the one in England hits midnight.  Ok so maybe don’t call….

I ended up a little short on the amount of shutter speed shots I needed to turn in.  Those can get a little boring, because he wants us to use a tripod and have the movement blurred while the camera stays still…to me this is boring…I mean who cares about the background?  It’s the BACKGROUND.  The thing that’s moving, that’s the interesting thing.  Every time Jake rides by on his bike I want to pan (technical stuff).  Every time I see someone pictures from class with all the movement I want to pan.  It’s difficult to master this technique, and right now I’m hit and miss, but when I hit…WHOOOOOOA DADDY!!!!…It’s AWESOME.  Wait…sorry…ya…I was short on shots showing shutter speed and I decided right then and there I needed to take a chance and try this new thing….

So, that’s the story.  I’ve got a neat thing I want to try and shutter speed.  Here is what I came up with.


if you look closely you can see the time on the stove clock….  And this…


And this…

Print and my mug

And finally I had Joelle help me with a little more light, she was able to “paint” my face into the picture.

It's the last one.

It was pretty cool, and fun to watch the way I got to move around and actually have create my own thing with this effect.  My shutter speeds ranged from 10 to 30 seconds, although 30 seconds was a little long.  I moved around and the shutter was open for so long I mostly didn’t get caught until I wanted to.  I did have to practice writing my name a couple of times.  I wrote it backwards so I wouldn’t have an arm in the way of the light, and besides that way the light would be shining straight into the camera.  I did use a tripod, and my camera remote(Thanks Dad).  If I can find some, I know they exist, I’d like to try some different colored LEDs, maybe even try to figure out some slow sync flash and some sort of prop or scenery.  Anyway, when I get that stuff figured out I’ll be putting it here so you who are interested can check it out.

Real Homework, and I Love It


I started my third college class a couple of weeks ago, it is Principles of Digital Photography and is taught by a professional photographer who I am still trying to figure out.  Figuring him out isn’t my focus over the next several weeks, my focus is the stuff you will see pretty soon.  There are roughly a dozen people in my class, all photography majors, some have quite a bit of experience and others have very little, some listen to instructions and others just do their own thing.

This last week I’ve had to do some “practice” with aperture and shutter speed.  I was surprised with the results because I did it with my kit lens, the 18-55mm.  Now I’ve known how to make certain effects happen on my pictures…I can stop a speeding car, I can keep the car in focus and blur the background, or keep the background focused and blur the car.  I know how to get bokeh in my pictures.  That is that wonderful blur in the background while keeping the subject in focus.  I can get waterfall to show it’s drops of water in midair or I can make it have that whispy flowing look.  All this stuff I know how to do, I’ve known it for some time, I’ve just have never been forced to HAVE to do it.

With aperture and shutter speed  changes here is what I came up with.  First let’s take a look at the shutter speed:

Shutter Speed

I have Joelle to thank for this.  She helped me by driving in circles through the parking lot at the youth center over and over and over and over and over….  It was raining, and I managed to mostly stay out of the rain by being under this eve that stuck out about 2 feet by a door to the gym part of the youth center…not much but it worked.  Honestly though Jo’s job was much more difficult than mine.  I had to just sit there and change the camera settings, she had to drive the same speed through while making sure no kids came running out in front of her.  The top picture is the blur, you can barely see the van but it is there, and the bottom one isn’t completely frozen in time it was rainy and getting worse and I could have made a couple of adjustments to get it stopped but…rainwater…electronics…Hmmmmmmm.

The next part we did was aperture.  This is where that stuff called bokeh comes from.  Bokeh is that wonderful artistic blur you see where the person in front is in focus and the people behind are a little(or a lot) out of focus.  This is also where I can let less light into my camera so I can slow my shutter speed down enough to catch that whispy ghostlyness from the waterfall, or that crazy blur while I try to pan and keep Jake in focus while he is riding his bike.

Here are the results from those shots.

Wonderful blur

Both of these things I’ve known how to do since I took that photography class that got me hooked.  I had to have 2 other contact sheets with 15 photos each showing the little steps I took to get from the top picture to the bottom picture.

Actually the biggest problem I’ve been having is putting together a slide show in Lightroom 2 that is in a jpeg form small enough to put online that doesn’t take 3 days to download…and multiple page PDFs…and….

It’s all ok though, I’ve gotten it done before so I know I can do it again, it may just take a a while but that is ok.  I’m having fun getting all this done, the shooting, the post processing(which at this point doesn’t exist), putting it together so I can get as many points as possible, posing it and responding to other people’s work.

I’m getting done this time ’round….