Monday, June 29, 2009

SoFoBoMo 2009 – A Walk around the Pond

Well I finally finished my SoFoBoMo 2009 project. It always seems to take more effort near the end, as those little finishing details do seem to add up.

A Walk around the Pond

This year, due to 2 unforeseen events, I was not able to truly complete it within the 31-day timeframe but I did make it by the closing date of end of June.

Since this is not a judged competition with strict rules I hope it is still acceptable since the primary driver is a self undertaking to learn and grow in your skills and have some fun at the same time.

Thoughts on this Year’s SoFoBoMo Book

As I stated in the previous article this subject material was not my first or even second choice but an opportunity that made itself available on one day. While in Denmark I knew I still wanted to make the book, but I wasn’t sure on the subject. Several things floated around in my head as possible ideas but nothing really gelled as I was not always in control of my destinations during this stay.

One day my brother and his wife decided to take all of us to see some water with high cliffs. At least that was my translation’s abilities. I initially had vision of jagged cliffs with large breaking waves along the bottom.

My translation was not perfect and we arrived at Maglose Lake completely surrounded by land and with no large breakers at the shoreline. In fact to me this was more of a pond than a lake.
It was as we started the walk around the pond that I thought I might be able to make the book out of this adventure and then focused on getting more shots that I could use.

It is not a great photographic book but I did manage to complete it and to tell a story at the same time so I was at least successful with that part.

To produce great photography books I do believe that it requires a great investment in time and perseverance. The time it takes to capture your subject in many lights, at different times of day and even in different seasons. Not an undertaking that normally can be completed, at least the photography, within a few hours.

With my second SoFoBoMo book, I realize you do get experience in creating books, which is more than just a compilation of images. There is a need to tell a story with the images in a specific sequence as they unfold. There is also the need to write prose to support the story.

I know that there are some participants that did not finish their books and I wonder if they felt that their effort was not going to measure up against others. I think it is a big mistake to measure yourself in contrast to the other books. Do it because you love it and others will find good parts if not the whole effort great.

The technical stuff about producing this ebook

I once again used Open office to create my document and save as a pdf file. The main reason is that border can be set right to the edge of the page, which I was not able to do in MS word because of printer default limitations. There was always a residual edge and if choosing a coloured background, the whole white edge would show.

Book format is 18cm x 23cm about 7” by 9”

I chose Century Gothic at 11pts as I find the serf fonts harder to read.

The one thing I forgot from last year’s experience was to set each image to anchor on page. In paragraph anchor the image would sometimes move around when changes were made.

I also inserted my text within a frame and anchored this also to page. This gave me complete control to position text anywhere I wanted without having to think about tabs, margins and line spacing. After all, this is mainly a photo book with some text.

I made jpegs with the utility ‘Instant Jpeg from RAW’ and placed into a folder. There I used Adobe Bridge with star rating to reduce the set. Any images with no stars would be deleted (only jpegs). I would keep doing this until I had a manageable set.

I then placed these all into the document and with view set to 25% I would position the images around as I though the story would unfold. This process would also cull a few images and once I felt the set was right I would then work each image in Photoshop for desired effect and size. At the same time I would start working on the text for the images.

Will I do it again Next Year?

Most likely yes. It does take a significant amount of time and energy but in the end it is worth it. If we are serious about art and photography then it will take commitment and determination to see it through to truly learn.

I had wanted a Top-of-the Chart type book with just exceptional images. I was worried at first that my effort would not be good enough and wondered whether I should still proceed or back out. The word failure was slowly rolling around in the back of my mind.

With some reflection I came to the conclusion that this is mainly a book for me, a project for me to learn and develop as a photographer and now a little as a book writer.

If you are being artistic then in my view there is no word “failure”. There is only your vision, skills and effort. If you worry too much about success then the joy and pleasure this should bring starts to disappear and re-emerge as negative thoughts.

It was an interesting challenge to compile the images from such a short excursion and duration. Not a challenge I plan to do again. Maybe next year I may be able to undertake my original theme.

I hope that in the book you find a few enjoyable images and find the excursion interesting and maybe give you a few thoughts about how the ordinary may seem interesting depending on the view.

Niels Henriksen


Anita Jesse said...

Congratulations! I enjoyed very much the walk and thank you for sharing it. I am a big fan of the way you organized the photographs to give me a sense of the ponds and the surrounding area, as well as other visitors. Very effective storytelling with beautiful pictures. I came to the end of the book with a feeling of peace and relaxation that I imagine somewhat resembles what one might feel accompanying you for a walk around the pond. Well done!

loriann said...

Congratulations Niels! What a gorgeous and VERY ambitious project. Your compositions are strong. But most important from an artist's standpoint, your art gave me a feeling of lush relaxation.Tranquil. mmmmmmmmm. I wish I could be there to paint! Bravo!

nielsp said...

Anita and Loriann:

Thanks for your kind words of support. I am glad that you find the photographic story interesting and conveys a mood that you enjoy.

I was concerned that with such a short shooting period only a couple of hours that the images would not be up to my standard of excellence.

Out of the camera there were a little soft in impact, but by using photo-editing tools to crop and enhance those elements that need the viewers attention I now believe that I was able to achieve this focus.

Photo-editing while not a do-all tool can overcome to some extend situation when you can’t always wait for the perfect time of day and lighting conditions.

Great lighting produces great images, but sometimes we can help poor lighting a bit.


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