It’s Been A While

It’s been some time since I have updated my blog. In fact, it’s been nearly ten months. There is a reason for this, actually two reasons. The first one is that over all, I haven’t had much to say. I’m not an exciting person and don’t have enough in my life to write about and for the most part, I keep this blog as a small extension of my photography. The second reason is that if you have read the post before this one you know that at that time I had taken on the task of being my grandmothers caregiver as she was suffering from Alzheimer’s. Since that post, things have happened and there have been issues. If you care to know about them, I will summarize them below as an update to this blog.

 

My grandmother moved in with myself and my family at the beginning of October 2015 and at the end of November that same year I made my last post on this blog until now. At the time I said I had a singular subject to photograph in her and would stick to mostly the good moments of what I capture until I feel to do otherwise. Well, soon came that otherwise moment as she began to slip away more and more. I documented this through photographs and even a few videos. They were raw and graphic. I won’t say they weren’t upsetting as I know they were. My family and I lived it every single day and I decided that presenting this information in its rawest form to others would help bring to light what Alzheimer’s truly is. I mean I thought I knew but then I got a real hard lesson. I found others and others found me and we shared these experiences together. Even with sharing them only those that live it can understand what really goes on. We found support in each other. Sadly, support from some of my family members wasn’t all there.

 

Like I said, these images and even a few videos were raw and really cut to what Alzheimer’s is and even then they weren’t the full picture. Try being alone with a family member and having to clean and dress them because they messed themselves. Now you have to clean them all while they cry and scream. You later find certain bio matter on yourself that you have to clean off as well. It’s a very hard experience. That’s just one example but there is so much more of the things that go on. While bringing to light some of these things like the uncontrolled crying that comes from nowhere I had some family members not care to see what I was sharing and detested that I was doing so in an open way. I did have others that were supportive but even more that weren’t. Things were being said and no one was talking to me directly. The one’s that did were two uncles of which one called me to verbally jump and bash me while another got pretty colorful with his words and actions though we were able to talked things out. Never the less, there were others who just as easily could have talked to me as we try to resolve the issue but that never came about. The end result is that I went back to having not much family communication as I have for years and that’s fine. At the same time I built better bonds with others who while saw the images as hard to take in, they understood my reasoning.

 

All of this has left me with a bigger drive though. A drive to live in this world and do more to help others and causes I believe in. If I can do it through my photography then that’s even better. I am not in a position to be one to go out and capture certain things to raise awareness at this time. The Alzheimer’s thing I did have the ability to because I lived with it every single day along with my wife, my father and my mother. I hope my images were able to do something in this world. Maybe help another dealing with Alzheimer’s in their family or others to understand that’s its more than just one losing their memories. Believe me, it’s so much more than that.

 

In June, my grandmother passed away. It was sad but a good thing. Truthfully, there was a part of me that was happy. No amount of description can paint the picture of life at the end of Alzheimer’s and the damage it does. I took no photographs at this time with the last one being of her sleeping. I then took one video to show a strange sound she would make all day. That video showed and recorded the last sounds she made during her mortal life before she went silent. Still alive but totally silent as she slipped away. So yeah, I was happy for her when she died. The woman lived a life of travel. She was also very opinionated and into her golden years could hold quite the conversation about life and the world around her. Alzheimer’s took that away. I’m not religious, I’m not spiritual, I’m not really anything. Though, if there is something, I like to think she is back to the woman I knew growing up with everything that Alzheimer’s took from her restored.

 

So yeah, it’s been a long while since I’ve made an update to this blog. I don’t know when the next one will be. Again, I’m pretty boring. But you can follow me on social media. We can follow each other. If you like, check out my Instagram and go back a little ways and see some of what I documented with my grandmother because while there is raw material that is quite sad, there is also some really great stuff in there too. Stuff I will keep as fond memories for as long as I can.

 

26464803716_6374d1fbec_o

g01   g02   g03

Advertisements

Photographing A Singular Subject

I’ve never been one to photograph a subject matter or do a project. I just always shot things that I saw in front of me and wanted to capture. Sometimes just to capture it and others time to see it how the camera sees it as it has a way of bringing things out if a different way. Recently though I’ve found myself not only shooting a subject and in a way, kind of documenting it but I’m also living with it.

Some time ago my grandmother moved in and she has Alzheimer’s and dementia. I spent a lot of time preparing for her moving in where I read all sorts of information and watched all sorts of videos as I was to become her primary caregiver during the day time hours. I quickly found that all that learning, while a help, is nothing like getting the experience firsthand but the same could be said for most everything in this world.

Now I knew I would take photographs of her while here. I figured it would be something to share with other family members so they could see her living life and would be a nice way to keep up with what was going on other than just through phone calls. It quickly turned into me documenting her life and while not in full detail it’s been more than I expected. So much so that for the first time in the years I have been taking pictures I can honestly say I have a project or a subject matter. I try not to think of it that way as somehow I feel it a bit disrespectful being my grandmother and all but sometimes things are what they are.

At this point I’m no advocate for Alzheimer’s and dementia as my images have been of peaceful times. The truth of the matter is, this lifestyle of being a caregiver to one with a mind not at 100% working ability is a tough one. It’s mentally and physically exhausting. I never thought I would have to clean up things from my own grandmother that require me wearing gloves or even having to bath her because of an accident while she cries and begs me to not look. It really kills you inside. My images show none of this or any other moments of struggle and hardship and right now, I don’t care for them to. At this point in time what I document and what I share will be of good things and only share something not so good if it’s really worth doing so as part of the narrative and even then I’m not really documenting this all to the best it could be done. As such if you wish to follow along you can find some of my images posted on my Flickr gallery while I post more and random stuff through my recently activated Instagram account.

Links for both can be found here…
www.DecayStudio.com

22731408825_3415923d70_z

 

A Half Priced Mistake

It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything here and it comes down to I haven’t had much to say let alone to update on. My life is not exciting and worth writing or documenting about in any form on a regular basis. It’s not a bad thing in my mind as I enjoy my quiet life. Still, I felt it worth posting a bit of an update as I have had a small adventure since the year began.

I own many film cameras but only one digital camera. My wife and I are not rich and live a happy yet frugal life and that’s just fine by us. So when my Digital camera finally gave out instead of going and just buying a replacement I had to spend time thinking about what to get and invest into. I was happy with the performance of my Sony SLT A33 as I don’t need anything fancy but since its release so many things have advanced that I’ve been wanting to explore. As such I finally decided on a camera and what should have been a simple order and wait for its arrival turned into an interesting surprise. Instead of getting the camera that I paid for, the Sony A77II, I received a Sony A7II. If you aren’t familiar with the Sony lineup to put it simply I paid $900 and got a camera package worth (at least at the time I ordered it) a little more than double that price. I found this funny because my last entry here I wrote how I wasn’t ashamed of my crop framed sensor. Hell, more and more professionals are shooting on them because of advances in technology and certain advantages they get from the sensor size but now here I was looking at a camera that was full frame and possibly to become my new digital camera. Keeping a long story short, I spoke with the company I purchased it from and about the mistake that was made on their end. They wanted me to pay for return shipping/stocking and were giving me the run around. I’m not going to name names here but in the end after talking with management I was told to keep it. I am now the owner of a full frame camera and paid a lot less than market price.

This does give me a bit of an issue though in that all my glass is a-mount and the A7II uses e-mount. The lens that came with it is OK but I’m really happy with the glass I have now and have been using for years. Luckily there is an adaptor of which I ordered and with its help have been getting to know the camera. Still, I long for the A77II because a good portion of how I shoot the use of a crop frame sensor is a nice bit of help. Namely that I use glass built for full frame and thus get a bit of a further reach. Besides, when I ordered the camera I also picked up extra batteries and a grip for it so I’d like to put them to use because again, the company wanted me to pay for its return and even stocking yet I’m not the one that made the mistake. In the end it’s their loss really.

So now I’m getting to know my A7II with plans of purchasing the A77II soon. Though I did buy a used A200 for $100. It was barely used and came without even a scuff mark on it and I’ve been looking to shoot on one for fun. It was my very first DSLR and ever since I sold it years ago I’ve felt bad for doing so. While not the best camera out there, even when it was brand new, it was still a champ at what it did and I’m honestly glad to have one in my hands again. As such I’ve gone from only ever having owned one digital camera at a time to now owning two and soon will own three.

Neither the Sony A200 nor myself are professionals but I still enjoy the results.

I’m Not Ashamed of my Crop Sensor

SONY DSC

More people with an interest in photography are getting into full frame sensors. Prices have been going down and making it more affordable for the average person and this is great though it doesn’t mean they are cheap, just cheaper. Still, many are slapping down the cash for these cameras and at times the glass to go with them. There are some advantages to it and it seems that maybe there are people feeling they can ride the idea that since they have a full frame sensor it automatically makes their work better. I only base this on those I have spoken with, overheard or the way some talk in online communities and when I look at their work I wonder, “Why did they spend the money?” This doesn’t apply to everybody and I’m not trying to say the photos others take are bad but they aren’t exactly that great either, at least not good enough to justify spending the money they have on the camera they use let alone the glass they got too. It’s their choice though and it’s not like it affects me.

With that said, I myself, am not ashamed that when it comes to digital photography, I shoot on a crop frame sensor. Nothing about this makes me feel bad and I honestly have no intent to make the move to full frame anytime soon. This is not to say that I don’t shoot full frame because I do, at least when I shoot film photography. As I shoot Sony when it comes to digital I can then shoot Minolta film cameras and use the same A-mount lenses. When I do I can see a difference in how things look but to me it’s not that big of a difference and plays little in my work and how I shoot. Sure there’s all sorts of arguments about full frame and what it can do and how it’s better this or that but it’s not all entirely true, especially as the technology advances.

I could go on but I’m not here to rant. Only here to say there is no shame in my mind for not shooting on a full frame sensor and that others should feel the same. If you have the money to spend and you want to go full frame then do it. As for me, I like what I have and don’t need the latest technology in any part of my life, cell phones included.

winking-emoticon-small

Speaking of no shame, I also have no shame in my choice of cameras, that being Sony and Minolta. I also have no shame in my love of focus free cheap film cameras and I have no shame in myself so the photo above is a self-portrait.

Miracles Can Happen

SONY DSC

Miracles can happen and sometimes I get my way. My wife never lets me take photographs of her and the ones I do have, after realizing what I’ve done, I get “the look” as she hates pictures of herself. I can understand though as I hate photographs of myself as well but recently I wanted to test some shots using a small LED light panel and asked if she wouldn’t mind helping. First image I got was the one I liked the most and after letting it sit for about two weeks and a little persuasion she gave me permission to display it. Like I said, miracles can happen.

Getting Pretty Sad Out There

SONY DSC

I have to honestly say that it’s getting pretty sad out there in the world of photography. It seems anymore the moment a person gets a DSLR, discovers depth of field and picks up some software with wicked cool effects they’re suddenly a photographer, a PROFESSIONAL photographer. Even worse the next move they make is opening a photography business because you know, now that they have this artistic ability might as well cash in on in right?

Now the so-called business has to have a name. Nothing original or artistic, just simple and unimaginative. Always the same format it goes as such, *insert name* and then add the word “Photography” at the end. Make sure people know what you’re all about because photography is your business.

I could go on but it’s sad really. I see so many of these things popping up and it’s all about the money and I feel bad. I feel bad for the world of photography and I feel bad for the poor saps who are conned into paying many of these people good money for less than stellar work.

I’d like to see more people get to shooting just because. No real reason, it’s just something they enjoy doing. I’d like to see more simple shots where more thought was put into it than time sitting in front a computer working on post. I’d like to see just pure imagery created and not made because money was its driving force.

Print Calibrations

SONY DSC

So at some time or another one will want to print their photographs and for many a simple print from most anywhere will do. Heck even my wife has had a few of my photographs made into a print from a family event and sent them out to others for their scrap books. Printed from Walmart they came out fine and if I had to be perfectly honest better than expected but if I want the best print I can get I go with another more professional printing service. I don’t care who you choose to make your prints there will be an issue of what you see on your screen and what you see from the physical item.

Now printing is important because you want others to see what you see and while technology helps us share more of our work more easily a print lets others see it the way it was meant to be seen. I say this because everything that displays a digital image will always show whats on its screen in a different light, literally. No two computer monitors, phones, tables, television sets and more are ever set the same. People will either use it however it came from the factory or make adjustments to how they feel it should be especially with TV sets having modes for movies, video games and more built into them. With a print on the other hand you can show off your image the way you feel it is at its best and as an artist that is part of what we strive to do. While things can be left to interpretations we want our viewers to see the colors, highlights and shadows the way we see them. It’s not always possible what with some people being colorblind of which I am not making a joke, I know a few colorblind people and others whose vision over all is not the best. Still, we want to show our work the way we see it as best as possible. We can’t control how others see it on their digital end, at least not within the realms of full control but we can regulate how they see it face to face and this is how I accomplish that task.

The first thing I do is set aside a small collection of photos. In my case I have ten of these and they range from colorful and vibrant to a bit bland. From simple black and whites with good toning to high contrast with pure whites and the blackest blacks. Of these ten images two are set aside for charts with one being a gradient chart in black and white and the other in color. All of these combine so that I can make adjustments to my display so that I know when I send out images to be printed they will look the same when physically in my hands as they do on my monitor. It’s really that simple for me. I use good lighting to make sure they are shown as they should be and spend the time to get everything looking the same. Every so often I check back with them making sure everything is still good and periodically I get them reprinted to make sure that my print company of choice hasn’t changed anything on their end that might skew the end results from a printing run.

So that’s it! Its low tech but for me it works and helps keep my monitor in check as well as my printing service. Sure, one doesn’t have to go this far as many places make fine prints without getting complicated but I think if you want to keep the integrity of what you are trying to express then it’s worth doing a little work to make sure that artistic vision is given the best opportunity to shine.

Also, if you want to know who I use for my prints, it’s Meridian Professional Imaging. No promo here as I’m not getting paid or any kickbacks, I just simply enjoy the service and product I get. Go with whoever you like, it doesn’t matter to me personally. Just make sure you get your monitor and prints to match so you can better show yourself off.

And as for printing at home, that’s nice and all but unless you have some serious money for some serious equipment it will never match what a professional printer can do for you.