Saturday, December 29, 2007

Into the twilight wood

In the twilight days of 2007, I'll be in the woods of Door County, Wisconsin to greet the new year as it arrives. Hopefully, I'll bring back a number of film and digital images.

Blessings to you in the coming year.

Image taken during yesterday's snow in the upper Midwest. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Moon bound

The nearly-full moon of Christmas night makes its appearance through the branches of distant trees. The effect is that of a moon bound by strings and wires.

More experimentation with the new Fujifilm Finepix S700. It has an effective optical zoom range comparable to 38mm-380mm on a full size sensor (or 35mm frame of film). I thought I'd try out the maximum zoom.

Exif data: 1/15 second at f13.6. ISO 64.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Crystal dawn

Crystals of frost on my garage window mimics the faraway branches of trees in a neighbor's yard, while the light of the new day shines through both.

I received a digital camera (Fujifilm Finepix S700) for Christmas to supplement the two film cameras I regularly use. Yes, it's my very first digital camera. I've been a filmie ever since I took up photography as a hobby ten years ago. This shot was a test of the super macro mode and aperture priority settings. So, kind blog reader, you will be subjected to the experimentations of said digital camera whilst I acclimate to its use, the main one being the sheer volume of images that can be taken.

I shot more than 150 frames the first day alone - equivalent to 6 rolls of film. Film teaches you to be very selective with your shots - each frame costs money to process and print. Many has been the time that I've meticulously framed a shot only to decide that pushing the shutter button was just not worth the time and money. It's a rare day that I end up shooting more than one roll of film. Digital allows you to fire away with impunity because after all, it's only electrically charged ions.

I'll let you know when I decide it it's a blessing or a curse.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Christmas brings color to a cold, gray world

Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned. Isaiah 9: 1a-2

Merry Christmas.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Foggy day in the neighborhood

When the winter fog obscures the cars, gaudy lawn ornaments and houses in my neighborhood, it's a beautiful thing. This photo was taken on a walk through my suburban subdivision.

Amazing how much beauty there is when you get rid of the clutter.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A perfect world

Of course we know it isn’t. Life, as nature, isn’t perfect. But we can create the illusion that all is in balance and no imperfections mar the landscape.

Until someone figures out the camera tricks we’ve employed and the fog and snow clear away, revealing the truth that was there all along.

The saddest victim is the person who successfully fools himself.

Photo: A perfect world. Composite photo taken in fog. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Christmas wishes

Posting here at Points of Light will most likely be sporadic throughout this holiday period. For those of you who get your photo fix here, you can subscribe via the RSS button in the lower right sidebar so you can be notified when new photos are posted.

Hope your holidays are merry and bright, celebrated in the warmth of good friends and family.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Winter dream

For a season that offers stunning reality checks, the idea of a dreamlike view of this season of ice and snow seems to go counter to the sharp lines and absolutes continually handed down by the season we call winter. Temperatures that are measured in negative numbers are not only inconvenient, they are deadly. We cower in heated cocoons only one power outage away from disaster. A layer of ice on the landscape (and roadscape) convinces us that our world, with all of its important meetings and critical pieces of business, can wait for a day or so. A blizzard brings life to a virtual standstill. We are seldom so often reminded that we are so not the boss of us as we are in winter.

Yet we do dream. We romanticize the harsh cruelty of winter. Perhaps because even in that harshness lies a primitive beauty that calls to us to take a closer look at what God hath wrought. Amazing things happen when you strip life down to its barest essentials, and winter has the power to do that.

Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I (heart) Christmas

About two decades ago, my wife, with some help from our kids, crafted a nativity set out of some clothespins, Popsicle™ sticks and scraps of cloth. Every year since then, that makeshift manger scene has graced some portion of our home at Christmas time. Over the last 20 years, the kids have grown up, I’ve grown older and not necessarily wiser, and the world around us has changed dramatically. The pace of life is faster. Everything is more complicated. Nothing is certain any more.

So for me, that nativity set is a link to a time when life was slower-paced and simpler in so many ways.

The years may have passed and the world spun out of control around them, but those simple items continue to tell a simple story and proclaim a simple truth that transcends time.

Photo with good Karma: Barn in winter won this week's open theme photo contest at Flickr's Karma group. Winners are chosen by vote from members of the group.

Photo: I (heart) Christmas. Heart-shaped bokeh created by placing a piece of paper with a cutout in front of the camera lens. Figures lit by a small flashlight. Exposure: 1/8 second at f5.6, 100 ISO film. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Christmas is a time for love

Christmas began with a heart of love. And that love prompted a gift. And that gift was light and life.

For God so loved the world, He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life. John 3:16

Photo created without Photoshop. Paper with a cutout heart placed in front of camera lens, out of focus highlights assume the shape of the cutout. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Turn on your heart lights

There was no Photoshop trickery involved in making this image. Just a couple of simple household items and a little mad science. I showed a friend the image I had made of my out-of-focus Christmas tree. He told me he had taken a photo class where they had placed paper over the lenses of their cameras, each having a cutout shape. The out-of-focus points of light took on the shape of the cutouts.

So I grabbed some light cardboard and located a heart-shaped paper punch and placed the punch in the center of a round piece of cardboard I had cut the same size as the front of the lens, then taped it in place. Voila. Heart lights for the holidays.

I have several more lighthearted photos that I made with my new toy. Look for them here this week.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Thursday, December 06, 2007

Winter moon

For me, there's something about seeing the moon in a winter landscape that adds to the metaphorical chill of the setting.

Comparisons: The moon is barren, stark and cold. A measure of that bleakness is visited upon the earth in winter.

Contrasts: The earth will warm and regenerate with the coming of the spring. The moon will continue its journey in cold silence.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

Snow lines

If autumn is when God’s palette is worked to the limit, then winter is when the whole scene is painted over in white and begun again.

This photo was taken after a windy snowstorm did some overnight repainting. The rising sun cast long shadow lines over the scene. The exotic location? A drainage basin in front of the suburban subdivision where I live.

A little repainting can make any location look magical.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan.

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

About snow

Performing a Google search on the word snow returns about 18 million Web page results. Trust me, it does. And a lot of them say basically the same thing about snow – it’s frozen water vapor (really!). Snow is a pretty common substance (except for you folks in warmer climes), and the forecast is calling for a bunch of that substance to fall here in the Midwest sometime today. But, with snowstorms, you never know how much you’ll get or when you’ll get it.

Dieter Sturm is a guy whose job is to ensure that when snow is called for, it’s there on time and in the quantities required. Sturm is a special effects coordinator who specializes in making snow. You’ve probably seen his work in any of dozens of motion pictures, television shows and advertisements. If you were a David Letterman fan in the mid-1990s you may remember some guy coming on the show every so often and flash-freezing food. That guy was Dieter Sturm. There’s just something satisfying about watching cheese and bratwurst explode (by the way, Sturm is based in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin). The same flash-freezing technology allows Sturm to snow up a storm on cue. Sturm’s latest venture is a chain of snow parks, allowing snow boarders and skiers to do their thing anytime, anywhere, any season. It’s a ground-floor opportunity if you’re interested in making an investment in frozen water vapor.

While we’re on the subject of snow, is it true that no two snowflakes are alike? The answer is a qualified “yes.” An atomic physicist has figured the odds of any two complex snowflakes since the formation of earth being exactly alike at a staggeringly huge number – one in ten followed by 158 zeroes. But he also asks the Zen-like question, “If two identical snowflakes fell, who would know?”

I’ll give you one guess.

Photo: Barn in winter. Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2007 James Jordan

Sunday, December 02, 2007

A little traveling music, if you please

Courage, hope and friendship – all in the context of finding one’s way home again. That’s the vision that Italian composer Francesco Lettera held when he created The Wizard of Oz, a symphonic poem honoring L. Frank Baum.

Mr. Lettera recorded his work and recently released it on DharmaSound, an internet label based in Italy which offers 30 titles under Creative Commons licenses, which means the works are available for download at no charge for non-commercial use.

Mr Lettera contacted me a few weeks ago asking permission to use my photograph Into the Sun (above) as cover art for his CD. He discovered the photo while searching Flickr, where I cross post many of my pictures. Once I understood how he was distributing his work, I readily agreed.

The Wizard of Oz is a richly orchestrated, multi-textured work in six movements. The entire work can be downloaded along with artwork for a CD label and CD sleeve. Lettera’s two previous albums are also available at DharmaSound, along with works by a number of other artists.

Who knows? I may have just solved your holiday gift giving for everyone on your list.

Click on pictures to enlarge. Into the Sun © 2007 James Jordan.