Doug's (bpdougd) 52 week project for 2020 - week 23

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Nick has inspired me to take up a 52 week photo regimen. Like him, I will try to use all of my gear at one point or another in hopes of applying some reason and logic to thinning the herd.

I have even settled on an overall theme: music. (Pun unapologetically intended.) Why music?

All of us have a soundtrack, music that is cemented in our personal myth and memory. Since one of my other goals (I don’t do resolutions… not since I figured out how bad I am at keeping them anyway) in 2020 is to pick up my guitar again after a decade of neglect, it struck me that the meanings, memories, and impact of the music that has adhered to my life would make a great complementary visual theme.

I will also attempt to make this an exercise in storytelling. I will do my best to explain why I have chosen each musical selection. Whether or not I spell out the connection between the music and the photos will likely vary.

I may also, on occasion, bend the rules a little bit by including “vintage” photos if they provide useful context or comparison to the new photos.

Unlike Nick, I’ve never run a marathon. Here’s hoping I have the stamina for this.
 
We've gotta watch out for that Nick guy.....he's contagious! Gee, now he's infected -- er, inspired -- a couple of us to join in on this project! I'm no runner or marathoner but I am still regretful about not having finished a 365 Day/POTD project back in 2009, and this time I am determined to go the distance, cross the finish line!

ETA: just realized that I forgot to say how interesting this will be, with the theme of music as your primary focus!
 
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kilofoxtrott

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Wow!
That sounds fantastic, Doug.
Now I'm curious and looking forward to the results.

All the best wishes for the new year
Klaus
 
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I'm a day late posting my week 1. My excuse is that this is a short week and I'm sticking to that excuse.

My plan for these weekly posts:
- I will pick a specific theme for each week within the overall theme of music.
- I will attempt to tell a story with each week's post, in words and, hopefully, with the image(s).
- In addition to setting the context with the "story" of the theme and the relevance of the photo(s) to the theme, I will explain the where, when, how and why of the specific photo(s): where the photo was taken, when it was taken, "how" to include the camera settings and conditions at the time of capture AND the post processing. I will, when I can, also describe why I chose the time, place and subject and the intent of the post processing steps.

Week 1 post forthcoming.....
 
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Week 1. Theme "firsts".

I may have been a little, ahem, ambitious in my choice of a theme for this 52 week project. It is really hard to remain true to the theme (music) and find meaningful photo opportunities that fit.

Anyway, here goes.

The theme

For this first week, one obvious linkage between music and photos is “first”. So, I racked my brain for “firsts” related to music: First song I can remember? First song I ever played?

I settled on first song that moved me emotionally. Not the superficial stuff. I have always been a sucker for sad songs and all those “teenage tragedy” songs from the fifties and early sixties could always bring a tear. I was going for something that stuck with me, made me think and reflect. Something that evoked images. For me that song is Wichita Lineman performed by Glenn Campbell.

The music and the story

It is a very simple song with some subtle departures from standard pop ballad structure. The first part is in F major. Since the song is attempting to express loneliness and longing, a shift in the second part to the relative minor (Dmin) would be expected. But, the composer, Jimmy Webb, wrote the second part in D major. Even if you know nothing about music theory, that difference is noticeable to the ear of anyone accustomed to pop ballads.

The first time I heard the song I was struck with how lonely it sounded. Living in Houston at the time, we often drove on pool-table-flat two-lane blacktop with wooden poles and black cable extending to a vanishing point. If you have ever stood on a county road on a cold, windy day you instantly “get it”.

The photo(s)

DSC_1405-Edit.jpg
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The image looks a little darker posted here. Not sure why.

The where, when, how and why of the photo

As noted, I am a day late posting my first week’s work. Hoping this does not become a trend.

When and where
The picture was taken yesterday, Saturday the 4th of January. The location was Smith Ranch Road, west of Colorado Springs on US24 (39°01'34.9"N 104°26’29.7”W).

How
My intent all along was to create one or more B&W photos because of the atmosphere I wanted to capture. I almost never shoot in monochrome so I shot the pictures with my normal settings. One setting of note is the high shutter speed. The wind was howling but I wanted relatively sharp foreground elements (because of my PP plans, more on that in a moment). Thus, 1/2500sec.

Back at the computer, I culled the twenty or so images and settled on three candidates. My goal was to replicate as close as possible the look of pushed Tri-X film but without the trademark graininess that resulted from pushing. The steps were straightforward but a matter of trial and error. All edits were made in LR CC Classic.

The initial steps were:
- Exposure tweak… all images were slightly underexposed on purpose so they required a little boost to hold up to the tone curve and dehaze adjustments planned for later which have a tendency to darken an image.
- 100% desaturation to get a monochrome image
- Tone curve adjustment. Adjust sliders to encompass the left side of the histogram. Drop the curve at 25% and boost the curve at the rightmost part of the histogram. Adjust the left side to sort of “follow” the histogram.
Screen Shot 2020-01-05 at 11.31.03 AM.png
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- Graduated filter for the top 2/3 of the image with a dehaze adjustment to add contrast and interest to the sky.
- Texture adjustment.

It took a few iterations to get it all the way I wanted it since some of those adjustments interact.
.
Why

Much of the "why" is described above but to summarize:
- Wichita Lineman, to me at least, evokes cold spare landscape, loneliness, and longing for home. The landscape of the song picks the location of the photo.
- The song and the emotion seems to mandate black and white.
- Of the three images that made the finals, this one lent itself to the widescreen format which, in turn, was the most spare and stark of the crops I experimented with.
 
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Wow, Doug, you have put a lot of thought and energy into this! Jim has chosen the right word here, "evocative," and this image definitely is that! Very nicely done. Also I like that you tell us about your thought process for the planning, execution and then post-processing of the image(s).

Yes, I agree that it looks a little dark on my monitor screen, too......a little lightening-up wouldn't hurt.....
 
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A little closer to what I see in Lightroom...


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Wow, Doug, you have put a lot of thought and energy into this! Jim has chosen the right word here, "evocative," and this image definitely is that! Very nicely done. Also I like that you tell us about your thought process for the planning, execution and then post-processing of the image(s).

Yes, I agree that it looks a little dark on my monitor screen, too......a little lightening-up wouldn't hurt.....
The details are enlightened self interest. The more information you provide the better and more specific the critique.
 
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Not simply evocative, but philosophic too. It's probably what the intent of the 365/52/12 shoots were intended for. I can just about hear the wind "zinging" through the fence and phone lines!
 
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Not simply evocative, but philosophic too. It's probably what the intent of the 365/52/12 shoots were intended for. I can just about hear the wind "zinging" through the fence and phone lines!
Thanks, Nick. I agree with you on what the intent of these projects should be. All art is about capturing and/or conveying emotion.

"I hear you singing in the wire, I can hear you through the whine
And the Wichita Lineman is still on the line"
 
Not simply evocative, but philosophic too. It's probably what the intent of the 365/52/12 shoots were intended for. I can just about hear the wind "zinging" through the fence and phone lines!
I tend to be rather spontaneous instead of planning a specific subject; I'll get the urge to go out and shoot and see what I find out there....or sometimes I'll be looking out the window and see the ducks or geese doing something interesting or there is a new bird that hasn't been around here before -- and so I grab the camera and run out to the deck. At other times my eye will fall on something around the house and I start thinking about how it could be an interesting subject, so I'll pick up the iPhone and play around with it a bit or decide that hey, this subject is worth really getting into so I get the camera and an appropriate lens out and start experimenting.... Much of the fun is in the process of experimenting, seeing what the camera, lens and I can create.

Occasionally I do think ahead, shades of my 365 days, and while I am at the grocery store may pick up some flowers or fruits or vegetables not with the intention of using them for their intended purpose but rather as potential subjects.... That 365 project also helped me develop the habit of looking around, being observant, on the prowl for anything which could make an interesting photograph.
 
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That's one heck of an opening Doug. Shot works excellent with your theme and thoughts. I think I'm going to learn some things this year. :)
 

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