The fruits (vegetables?) of my labor

So as I say in my little introductory “about me” thing, gardening is one of my hobbies. It’s a relatively recent one though and this is the first year I have had my own garden. I thought I would do a container garden in order to help separate my vegetables from the environment some and to keep my soil from be completely washed away. Here it is:

My garden. 18 gallon tubs with lettuce, peppers, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

My garden. 18 gallon tubs with lettuce, peppers, herbs, tomatoes, cucumbers and beans.

Quick photo information: the picture was taken with my D70 with an 18-35 mm lens at 18 mm, exposure was 1/500 of a second at f11 at ISO 200. Metering was showing about a stop and a half less exposure than that. Lighting was my SB800 on a light stand at the right, triggered my radio slave, set on manual at 1/2 power with zoom set at 105 mm.

Those containers each have pea gravel in the bottom and two 40 lb. bags of potting soil in them. I was hoping that they would drain more efficiently than this region’s rather slow soil. Plus, I can manage their feeding weeding and pest protection better. Still, there’s no such thing as separating an outdoor garden from the environment and my veggies size has been limited by those containers. Have two flat containers at the end of the garden too and the plants in those have had their growth severely limited by the container size and by the fact that they simply do not retain enough water. Those will only be used for herbs next year. Oh and since these were planted in July, even though I bought plants as opposed to seeds, I started way too late.

I also have a container with compost in it, with the knowledge that it wouldn’t really be usable until next year. Speaking of next year, I’ve already decided that I will be tilling out actual plots on the ground, sometime in the fall and spreading them with hay and compost over the winter and then turning the soil in the spring. I’ll start plants from seed indoors in March and bring them out after the almanac says the last risk of frost is past. I also have the convenience of having a huge number of people with more knowledge than me available to have their brains picked in the area.

The real reason I’m posting about this now though is that I was recently able to harvest some peppers and I wanted to shoot a little Edward Weston tribute.

Ok, so not exactly Weston stuff

Ok, so not exactly Weston stuff

I lit it with a portable strobe on a light stand and was not able to work with the highlights like I would have liked. Also, the radioslave was repeatedly triggering the strobe for some reason. It’s an ok picture, but in the end, I wouldn’t say that I’m exactly happy with it, but I told myself that I was going to make a photo of my peppers for my blog and there it is. I don’t remember the exact exposure information, but here is a diagram of how I shot it:

My drawing skills (even in photoshop) are why I got into photography. I suppose I could have had one of the three graphic designers around the office whip up something nicer, but I didn't feel like bothering them.

My drawing skills (even in photoshop) are why I got into photography. I suppose I could have had one of the three graphic designers around the office whip up something nicer, but I didn't feel like bothering them.

The shot you are seeing used the snoot rather than the umbrella. Roscoe Cinefoil is my friend. The graduated backdrop didn’t make much difference, because with the snoot, it just went to black anyway. I suppose I am happy with the look of the hot spot, just not the look of the highlights on the peppers. Oh well, I didn’t feel like working it more, it was really hot in the office and my strobe was malfunctioning. Finally, here’s the color version:

Tasty. Actually a very small bell pepper in the center. They are delicious on pizza and sweeter than those I have gotten from the store by far. Next year, they will be bigger and more numerous.

Tasty. Actually a very small bell pepper in the center. They are delicious on pizza and sweeter than those I have gotten from the store by far. Next year, they will be bigger and more numerous.

So even if I’m not super happy about the closeups of the peppers, I am quite proud of myself for growing something edible on my first time out. And I tell you, I am going to kick this garden’s ass next year.

We might not agree on everything…

This morning (early for me), I shot a photo of a pair of Illinois politicians from our wide geographic area as a publicity image for the expansion efforts for U.S. Route 50. The gentlemen in the photograph are State Senator John O. Jones (R, Mt. Vernon) and former Secretary of Agriculture and retired State Representative Chuck Hartke (D, Teutopolis).

Illinois State Senator John O. Jones (R, Mt. Vernon) and retired Illinois Sec. of Agriculture and former State Representative Chuck Hartke (D, Teutopolis) have differing political views, but they both know that the expansion of U.S. 50 from two lanes to four would be a social and economic boon to southeastern Illinois.

Illinois State Senator John O. Jones (R, Mt. Vernon) and retired Illinois Sec. of Agriculture and former State Representative Chuck Hartke (D, Teutopolis) have differing political views, but they both know that the expansion of U.S. 50 from two lanes to four would be a social and economic boon to southeastern Illinois.

Since I’ve moved to southeastern Illinois, it’s been very easy to see that the single act that would have the most impact on this region economically would be the widening of U.S. 50 from two lanes to four. It’s not hard to come to this conclusion and there actually is a group of State and local leaders that wish to see a widening of 50 from Salem to Vincennes, Ind. become a reality.

One of these local leaders is a friend of mine, Olney Mayor Mark Lambird, who is also, coincidentally, my boss. I asked him if there was any way we could get two people that are well known in the region when I thought of this shot and he got on the horn and soon had the arrangements made.

Mark, a journalist that has some photographic knowledge, is no stranger to shooting with me, both as a second photographer or as an assistant. We scouted locations a week prior to the shoot and decided on Beard Road, just between the Marion and Clay County Line. There was a sign for 50 and standing on Beard Road looking west, 50 winds out behind the sign. The road is on the rise of an overpass too, so that helped with the look.

Morning of the shoot, we came out with a Nikon D70 and an NikonSB800 on a lightstand with a radioslave attached. It was about 8:20 a.m. when we were planning to shoot. Senator Jones was already waiting for us when we arrived, so Mark talked to him while I got the equipment ready. The strobe was nearly useless because we had strong direction sunlight pouring over the hill from the east. Shot a few sample frames and when Mr. Hartke arrived, I began to shoot. The two men spoke with each other and I shot images of them conversing until a truck roared by, when I had them look at me. They have posed for enough pictures that direction wasn’t really necessary. I don’t know if the flash even fired for the picture we decided to use.

Exposure was f9 at 1/500 of a second at ISO 200. flash was high and slightly to the right with no diffusion. Sunlight took care of most of this. I had thought about using a polarizer to darken the skies and dragging my shutter for a little blur on the truck but that would have taken more test shots. These men are busy enough and were kind enough to come to a spot on the road that wasn’t even near very many towns, so I didn’t want to make them wait for the shot. For something like this, vanilla was ok anyway and I think the image works for it’s purpose: as a promotional piece and as part of an ad.

When asked if Route 50 should be widened at a town hall meeting in Olney in 2006, President (then Senator) Barack Obama answered simply “Yes,” before moving on to the next question.

Those who would like to see US 50 widened would do well to voice their opinion to the representatives on a local, regional and state level. Members of the Route 50 Coalition would also likely be able to tell those who want this to happen where their efforts could best be used.

It takes a lot to know a photographer….part 3

Now we get into the fun pictures. Well, they were all fun, but these are the pictures of other photographers. They know what you are going through. They know how to make a picture, they know…that if they don’t pose, you won’t pose for them. First here’s Amanda.

Amanda and the hallway of the mass communication building at SIUC.

Amanda and the hallway of the mass communication building at SIUC.

I don’t know if she had resigned herself to the idea that she was in fact, a photographer, not an English major, when this photo was taken, but if she hadn’t, it wouldn’t be long. Long enough ago that I’m a bit fuzzy as to how exactly this was shot. My guess, Nikon D100, 18-35 mm 3.5-4.5 lens at 18 mm, exposure around f3.5 at 1/60 of a second at iso 400 or 800. Next, we have Gonza:

Gonza reallt playing it up for the camera. If all subjects knew how to act this well, no photographer would yell.

Gonza reallt playing it up for the camera. If all subjects knew how to act this well, no photographer would yell.

As I say in the caption, she’s really playing it up here. Gonza was a photojournalism major, so the studio was relatively new at that point in time. This was shot on a Hasselblad, probably around f8 at 1/125 of a second at iso 50. Fujichrome Velvia cross processed to negative. Then there’s Steve.

Steve asks why the damn dishes aren't done yet.

Steve asks why the damn dishes aren't done yet.

Steve was technically also a roommate, but he’s a photographer too, so there. Shot on a Nikon D100, 18-35 mm 3.5-4.5 lens at 18 mm, extra small softbox at camera right with a travelite in it, ambient exposure for background light. Exposure was likely 1/15 of a second at f 5.6 at iso 2oo. Finally, there’s Derek.

Derek Anderson. A great photographer and very close friend.

Derek Anderson. A great photographer and very close friend.

Derek Anderson is a great photographer and an up-and-coming master of the picture story. If you want to see what the images produced by this madman look like, place a rabbit skull in a shoe box, put it under your front step and say the name of the person you want to….Ah, just go to http://www.dlanderson.com/

Anyways, Derek and his rommate Pat were having an opening at their apartment and for the publicity fliers, I took Derek’s picture. It was going to be called “Hanging at the crib,” or some such, but after I took this shot and Pat brought in a shot where he was a rosary-bearing hitman, they changed the name of the show to “Murder and mayhem,” or something like that. I do not remember what camera I shot this on, so chances are it was a Nikon D100 with the 18-35 lens. I used a SB28 (I think ?) in an extra small softbox on the left, triggered with a radioslave. A friend with a q-beam or max million flood light with a red gel to the right and behind him is a chest freezer box soak in charcoal lighter on a broom stick. Two other friends on stand-by with dry chemical fire extinguishers. God I miss college.

It takes a lot to know a photographer….part 2

So more of the gracious friends and family that were harassed into getting their portraits taken. So starting in the family, we are getting to the younger family members. In my immediate family, this means my brothers, Willy and Tyler.

It's my brother Willy, the middle child of the family (I'm the oldest, the youngest is coming). He's posing by a fence with grafitti on it near the Burger Baron on Grand Ave. on the near west side of Chicago

It's my brother Willy, the middle child of the family (I'm the oldest, the youngest is coming). He's posing by a fence with grafitti on it near the Burger Baron on Grand Ave. on the near west side of Chicago

Willy and I don’t always get along (especially when we travel together), but he has always been one of the most encouraging people around when it comes to my photography. I believe this was shot with my old Nikon F100 and a 28-105 f2.8 Tamron lens. Exposure was (and I’m guessing again here) about 1/250 of a second at f4 on iso 400 fujicolor Press 35mm film. Of course, there’s another brother too. His name is Tyler.

I really like what Tyler is doing in this picture, but it was years ago and now I don't actually remember what it was that he was doing. Looks good though.

I really like what Tyler is doing in this picture, but it was years ago and now I don't actually remember what it was that he was doing. Looks good though.

Tyler here was shot on the Hasselblad again, f 2.8, iso 400, Hp5 film. All available light. On an interesting side note, both of my brothers got interested in China during their school days. Now they both live there, in Shanghai. It’s hard to admit, but I do miss them. Our mother now refers to me as her “resident son,” which sucks, because even though I’m the closest, I’m still a four hour drive away.

Family members aren’t the only people college photographers take photos of though. I went to Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, which is about six hours south of the familial home in Oak Park. So local subjects were a must. Some times these were just the poor saps that happened to be around. Like say, a roommate:

My old college roomate, Tony, being a relatively good sport, given that this was probably the hundreth time I took his picture.

My old college roomate, Tony, being a relatively good sport, given that this was probably the hundreth time I took his picture.

I’m guessing this one was about 1/60 of a second, f5.6 at iso 100 on the Hassleblad. Shot, in all likelihood, on Provia 100F.

Other people were just coworkers, like these two newspaper guys:

Daudi, doing a fashion shot for me on top of railroad tracks outside of Cairo (the impoverish Illinois town, not the impoverished Egyptian city).

Daudi, doing a fashion shot for me on top of railroad tracks outside of Cairo (the impoverish Illinois town, not the impoverished Egyptian city).

Dave or Daudi as he’s known now, was a graphic designer at the time, but he’s done a lot of photo work of his own since then. This was shot with a Canon Eos A2 with a 300mm f4 lens and a 1.4X teleconverter at around 1/250 of a second at f 5.6. Lighting is a radioslaved Nikon Sb 28 on a lightstand bouncing into an umbrella. Then there’s Geoff.

Geoff also being a very good sport and even smiling during his portrait session.

Geoff also being a very good sport and even smiling during his portrait session.

Geoff’s picture was taken on a 4X5 with a 150mm lens. Exposure around who-cares-there’s-a-strobe at f22. This was shot on Kodak Vericolor film. It was a 160 iso film, but I would shoot it with two extra stops of exposure and then cross process it into a chrome. I cannot for the life of me remember how I lit this. As I said before, there were strobes involved, and it was in the studio, so it was probably Speedotrons, with perhaps…a softbox. I’m really just guessing.

Even the neighbor gets his picture taken:

Justin, or Ed as I knew him, in the house he was renting when he was my neighbor, a geodistic dome built in Carbondale by the world-famous Bucky Fuller

Justin, or Ed as I knew him, in the house he was renting when he was my neighbor, a geodesic dome built in Carbondale by the world-famous Bucky Fuller

The house Tony, my other roommates and my self rented in Carbondale was across the street from the Bucky dome, a geodesic dome built by Buckminster Fuller, or the Fool on the Hill, as the Beatles referred to him. Ed was the guy who rented that dome when we moved in and we became friends with him. Shot on the Hasselblad, exposure unknown, diffused umbrella on Ed, grid spot on the dome behind him, both are 750 w/s Travelites.

Continued in Part 3: If a photographer shoots a photo of another photographer, does anyone care?

It takes a lot to know a photographer….

Especially when they’re in college. College photographers have to take a lot of images, hopefully any photographer does. I’d like to say it was because I had assignments then, but working at a paper, I still do. Anyways at least as much time is spent by college photographers haranguing their friends, families and casual acquaintances into taking pictures as is spent on, well, actually taking them.

Some folks, like Dad here, are gotten out of the way early.

My Dad, Jim Haglund. came to visit me at school and got his photo taken as a brooding candid.

My Dad, Jim Haglund. came to visit me at school and got his photo taken as a brooding candid.

The secret to this lovely picture is that he was tying his shoe. Shot with a Hasselblad 501CM with an 80 mm lens, exposure was a how-did-I-manage-to-get-it-sharp 1/15 second at f 2.8, iso 800 color negative film (fuji NPH, I think). The shoe goes on, he hears that wonderful Blad leaf shutter and the -thunk- of the mirror and says “Don’t take my picture,” but the damage is done. I have never gotten him in a posed picture that I was anywhere near as happy with as this.  The only problem is that my Dad doesn’t have any musical talent and I think this would make a great CD cover. “Jazz with Jim” anyone? A quick note: I certainly don’t remember the dust spots being this bad in the past. I bet it’s the computers fault.

Soon, you start going to other relatives as well. If you follow the wrinkles-are-character line of reasoning (and what student photographer doesn’t), you either head to the old folks home or get a grandparent to pose.

My grandfather, Alexander L. Haglund. Name sounds familiar, don't it?

My grandfather, Alexander L. Haglund. Name sounds familiar, don't it?

This is my namesake, or one of them anyways. Alexander Luther Haglund, my grandfather and father of that guy that’s above him. Shot with a 4X5, 150 mm lens, I’m going to guess on the exposure and say f22 at an inconsequential 1/125 of a second. This photograph was lit by a single diffused 60 inch umbrella on a Calumet 750 w/s travelite, probably at full power. I honestly don’t remember the film, but it seems there’s a good chance it’s Kodak Portra 160VC. Just guessing. Unfortunately, grandpa has passed out of this existence, depriving me of my very favorite conversational partner. Good thing I’ve got the memories.

Yep, Alexander L. Haglund. One of two namesakes as I said. I’m Alexander C. Haglund. And that “C” didn’t just come out of thin air. Sure enough my other grandfather, Clarence Komaniecki has posed as well. Along with him is a my only still living grandparent, my maternal grandmother, Annette Komaniecki.

My maternal Grandparents, Clarence and Annette Komaniecki, known to us grandkids as Grandpa Pens and Grandma Kitty

My maternal Grandparents, Clarence and Annette Komaniecki, known to us grandkids as Grandpa Pens and Grandma Kitty

This was taken as my gift for their 50th wedding anniversary. I was working with the first of my two photographic mentors at the time and he had a studio in Chicago, which he was gracious enough to let me use. Being as this mentor was a former youth group advisor of mine, he was genuinely interested in meeting my grandparents. My grandparents were interested in the fact that his studio was a loft. “I can’t wait to tell all of my New York friends that we got to go into a loft,” said my grandmother. They resided in Sun City in Tucson; Grandma still does. So that where the “C” comes from. And if you look at my photo, you can see that while I may have inherited my first name from Grandpa Haglund, I inherited my looks from Grandpa Pens, who referred to me as his “clone.” As for the photo, it was shot with a 4X5 camera on either Polaroid Type 55 P/N or Ilford HP5. I’m fairly sure it was Type 55, but I don’t want to be accused of lying. I just don’t remember and we shot both that day. Exposure was around 1/60 of a second at f22 at iso 50 (or 320 if it was the HP5). Lighting was a single 60 inch diffused umbrella on a Speedotron 2400 w/s head, held very high and nearly at center.

So this one took up more space than I thought. Part 2 is younger relatives and fellow college students (most of whom were photographers and had it coming anyway).

A new start, an older photo

Ok, so it’s not that old. I wanted to start strong. My reason for starting my photoblog is so that I can put my images up on a daily basis, but I feel that I need to lay some groundwork first. And that means older images. So….

Lightning strikes in the distance after a rain storm. Puddles are on the tarps, rolled out after the games were cancelled in the afternoon.

Lightning strikes in the distance after a rain storm. Puddles are on the tarps, rolled out after the games were cancelled in the afternoon.

Man, do I love lightning. I love fireworks too, and the technique is basically the same, but you know where and for the most part, when, the fireworks are going to be. Lightning is a little more difficult. This was one of the first images I shot after I started working in Flora. I shot it earlier in the day for a bit piece on the ball games being cancelled. I decided I wanted something better and came back at around 10 p.m. just after the storm had passed.

The Image is shot looking to the east. puddles in the foreground are on the tarps that they laid out to keep the field from getting soaked. I used my go-to camera, a Nikon D70. Exposure is about 20 seconds at f22 at iso 200. I used a tripod, of-course, with an umbrella (the rain kind) that was suspended above it by using two Bogen superclamps, one on the tripod column, connected with a spud to another on the umbrella. I’ve tried that setup again and realized it doesn’t work as well in the wind and switch to a less high-tech plastic bag with a hole for the lens, but it was calm that evening. I used an infrared remote to trip the shutter.

I have, as I said before, always loved lightning shots. I got lightning on film twice before this (funny I should phrase it that way, because on both of those occasions I was actually using film), but both times I was shooting through glass. Once was through a dorm window, the other was through a windshield in a moving car. Neither time did I really think of the images as successful. The time from the dorm room, the lightning strike was small and off-center and there was a reflection elsewhere on the image. The other time it was because, oh, I don’t know, I shot it through a freakin’ piece of slanted, tinted glass in a moving vehicle, hand-held for about 1/15 of a second and wide-open. The fact that it was a touch grainy was the least of my problems.

This image though, I think was successful. I’ve gotten cleaner lightning pictures with more detail in the strike since, but none I like better. Anyway, hope you like it.