Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Super old self portraits

When I take pictures, I vastly prefer using natural light to flashes. Natural light meshes better with my style of photography. Which is to say, artificial lighting is stupid and I get impatient with it and it's ugly and I hate it, so there.

Really, I don't know what it is with my inability to conquer flash photography. Impatience has a lot to do with it. I don't want to bother with setting up more equipment than I have to and dragging it around with me wherever I go. I feel more inspired and improvisational when it's just a camera in my hands and I'm free to go do whatever I want or need to do. 

I worked briefly at a Sears Portrait Studio in 2006 and obviously that demanded the use of strobe lights. That's all well and good, but the camera itself was attached to a giant, cumbersome tripod-ish thing on wheels that was six feet tall and had a sliding arm to move up and down to change the height of your view. The camera was not removable. Which begs the question, if you can't hold a camera steady and frame it properly, why are you working in a photo studio? The answer to this question is studios like this will hire anyone off the streets and tell the people after the fact that their primary job is sales. But let's save the horrors of portrait studio work for another post and say I don't like being impeded by extra crap when my only focus is what the camera is focused on.

After high school, I took photography classes at the good old within-walking-distance community college. I had access to the studio and often took advantage of it despite clearly not knowing what the hell I was doing. I came across some negative scans from a self portrait shoot I did about seven years and two cup sizes ago and I still have feelings when I look at them that range from "I had fun when I did that" to "these are so fraking terrible."

You can't grow as a photographer, artist or human if you can't look back at what you've done and recognize the good and the bad and how you've changed to become the person you are today. What stands out to me the most with these are the lights were far too hard and I decided it would be a brilliant idea to use as many gels on the lights as possible. So, washed out photographs that are impossible to color correct  my favorite! I've probably thrown these through Photoshop four or five times over the years and can't get them to my liking. But this arduous process continues to teach me what to look out for (if there is a) next time.

All in all, this is a cool shot. Just me and my camera, twirling around to the Dead Milkmen. I bought this dress at a thrift shop for a couple bucks and it was perfect for my intentions: DRESS UP PHOTO PARTY! I like/get annoyed that my right shoulder looks like a bad Photoshop lasso cut. It's not. It's just velvety.

This picture irks me for so many reasons. It's washed out to hell, the colors were so ridiculously mixed that the only way to make it even somewhat viewable was to desaturate it and the lighting is so harsh that a more unflattering photograph of my face you'd be hard pressed to find. And what is that face I'm making? I feel like Migrant Mother and Scarlett O'Hara on crack mixed into one person. The pose is kinda cool though, and the slight motion of my left hand is neat. My hands look far bigger than they actually are, still trying to figure that one out. I'd be a far better guitar player for sure.

Another thing about this photo shoot is I don't think I made any adjustments to the lights during the hour and a half I had the studio. I didn't reposition the angles, didn't move the stands, didn't change the intensity of the lights, nothing. And really, I'm not being that hard on myself. This is one of my first studio experiences so it was really a matter of experimentation. That's how I learn the best. It seems like the set up I had worked better for photographs where I was closer to the camera. Still some weird colorization and my face is still washed out and casting hard shadows, but my skin tone doesn't make me look like Vladimir Lenin's corpse. That's important to me. Oh, and if you don't want to look at pictures of the naked body of a communist leader who died in 1924, I'd advise against clicking that link.

Actually, I think this picture's badass, all things considering.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

This Day In History: March 26, 1997

This is not anything I took pictures or video of, but I would be remiss as a Red Wings fan if I did not acknowledge the glorious event that occurred 14 years ago today.

The Brawl In Hockeytown was the result of a heated rivalry between the Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche coming to a head. The year before, Colorado's Claude Lemieux took a cheap shot at Red Wing Kris Draper that pretty much shattered his face. After a season of this act going unavenged (plus the Avs winning the Stanley Cup in 1996), payback was finally given in this game at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

Darren McCarty pummeling Claude Lemieux into the position that would grant him the nickname, "Turtle."

The guy with the A next to the Winged Wheel? That's my man, Brendan Shanahan!

Even the goalies were getting in on the action! Avalanche Patrick Roy got his ass beaten by Red Wing Mike Vernon.

The refs finally stopped Mac from beating up Lemieux when the guy looked half dead. Meanwhile, there goes Shanny on the other side of the picture!

Vladimir Konstantinov doing what he did best: beating the crap out of his opponents! This is how #16 is remembered.

So yeah, just had to indulge myself a little in the glory that is the Detroit Red Wings. Even Wikipedia has a page about this one night: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Wings_%E2%80%93_Avalanche_brawl 

Friday, March 25, 2011

This Day In History: March 25, 2004

Downtown Royal Oak has come a long way in the last seven years. Remember when the corner of Lincoln and Main was Erb Lumber? That was ages ago. That space is now occupied by a bank, but even that wasn't built over night.

Fifth street also saw its share of construction and changes, as evidenced by these bird's eye views through the second floor windows at Barnes & Noble:

The northwest corner still had some finishing touches needed before opening as the current day Noodles and Co.

Meanwhile, the fancy French restaurant, Bastone, was still mostly comprised of plywood at this point.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Regional Dialect Video Meme

I joined Vimeo today! Cat over at Midwest Mayhem made a vlog the other day (right here!) about regional dialects so I decided to follow suit. Here are the words and questions if you're inclined to participate:


Aunt, Route, Wash, Oil, Theater, Iron, Salmon, Caramel, Fire, Water, Sure, Data, Ruin, Crayon, Toilet, New Orleans, Pecan, Both, Again, Probably, Spitting image, Alabama, Lawyer, Coupon, Mayonnaise, Syrup, Pajamas, Caught


What is it called when you throw toilet paper on a house?
What is the bug that when you touch it, it curls into a ball?
What is the bubbly carbonated drink called?
What do you call gym shoes?
What do you say to address a group of people?
What do you call the kind of spider that has an oval-shaped body and extremely long legs?
What do you call your grandparents?
What do you call the wheeled contraption in which you carry groceries at the supermarket?
What do you call it when rain falls while the sun is shining?
What is the thing you change the TV channel with?

Friday, March 11, 2011

How every single Becky on this blog feels about politics

When it comes to politics, I proudly consider myself an independent. I have my own views that admittedly lean often to the left, but they are my own. No one tells me what to think. I make my own informed decisions. I’ve never voted straight ticket at elections and I’ve voted for (and occasionally elected) Libertarians, independents and Green Party members.

With that said, it rubbed me the wrong way when Rachel Maddow repeatedly spoke on her show about what “the Republicans in Michigan” are doing to destroy the state. Not all Republicans are out to tax the elderly and low income citizens, nor are they looking to cut education budgets and control cities in desperate financial straits. Hell, half my family leans to the right. My grandfather owned a business for many years. It drives me nuts, but I don’t call him out on watching Fox News when I’m at his apartment. I get it. But I’m also pretty sure that he didn’t instigate all the stuff Rick Snyder is trying to push through, either.

The generalization bothers me to no end. Just as it grates on me to hear about the “liberal agenda,” I can’t stand listening to anyone spout off about a large demographic as if every single person included feels the same way about each and ever single issue brought to the table. No, I don’t agree with a lot of what’s happening in Michigan right now. But when fingers are being pointed, it’s often with such generalization that the accusers may as well be blindfolded. To group so many people together like that inevitably drags unwilling participants into the argument. I would much prefer being called out by some fanatical pundit on national television specifically, like: “Becky Locke wants prayer out of YOUR public schools! She wants you to work side by side with GAY PEOPLE! She thinks recycling is a GOOD IDEA!” At least I’d be able to shrug and say, “Yeah, and?” Everyone would know that it’s the truth because I, speaking for myself, would not dispute the allegations and then no one would have anything to fight about. Oh wait.

All that aside, this clip from Rachel Maddow’s show is an interesting insight into what’s going on right now in Michigan. As she points out, it would be one thing if these tax increases on old folks and poor folks were helping the budget, but in fact it’s only paying off the tax cuts Snyder is giving businesses in the state. Figure that one out.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Moo + Etsy = new business cards for Becklo!

As a seller on Etsy, I keep my eyes open for special deals. Moo.com does a great job of making exclusive offers on business cards and I pounced on their latest special: 50 business cards for just shipping costs ($5.50). It took a couple days longer to receive in the mail than I anticipated but it was well worth the wait!

The packaging is a lot of fun. I opened the box with careful deliberation so I can save the Yay! sticker – I think I’m going to put it on the steering wheel in my car.

And even the inside of the packaging features some great advertising. These are clever people over at Moo.

Cards can have as many different designs per order as desired, even if you want to use a new design for each one. I chose nine different images for this order and the back of each card has my name, email address, URL and a banner logo.

The one caveat to this deal is a small banner across the front of each card that advertises both Moo and Etsy. I actually designed the cards specifically to be able to crop the banner off without losing any details from my own contact information. But the nice thing about the banner is each one has a unique code for 10% off Moo orders for first time customers. Since I imagine that could benefit some recipients of my cards, I think I’ll leave the banners on after all.