Photo Diary: Summers are Grey

I can’t believe it’s already been two months since I last posted! The summer has taken me by a whirlwind, as it always does. Three months of scheduling freedom is more of a nightmare than a dream — I’m someone who thrives on routine. I like knowing when to do what, so long as I’m given creative independence.

Speaking of creative endeavors — I’ve been taking Marcus out pretty often, so I’ve amassed quite the collection of photographs. I would have updated more frequently (in fact, that was my plan), but every time I sit down to write, life gets in the way (but again, when does it not?). As I looked through my trove of photos on Lightroom, I began to play around with the black/white filters and ended up really liking the effect.

I especially love the way you can simplify the image and play around with the lighting to give viewers subtle cues. Plus, by manipulating the light curves, I’m able to create sharp lines and edges — two things I love in photos. A more aggressive style, if you will.

I’m still trying to learn more about Lightroom (I recently purchased the Creative Cloud Suite from my school). Since I’m more comfortable with Photoshop, I end up using it to put finishing touches on my photos. It’s not ideal, as I would prefer to have everything condensed into one program, but I figure it’d be the best way for me to get my feet wet with Lightroom.

I must confess, I’m not particularly proud of a lot of the pictures I’ve taken lately. I don’t think I’ve been as careful with the composition as I could have been. In previous posts, I’ve spoken about how I find photography to be a calming exercise; when I’m stressed, I like to take Marcus out for a quick spin.

But recently, it seems, I’ve forgotten my mantra. I’ve been in a constant state of restlessness — so much so that I’ve forgotten to take a deep breath and practice my patience. For the next month, I want to take more time when capturing my photos, waiting for the “decisive moment”, as Cartier-Bresson would say.

For now, here are some of the photos from my summer adventure in Cleveland.

I’ve got a few post ideas up my sleeve, and I’m really pushing myself to get a few more of these babies in before the school year official starts in two weeks. Until then, please use the comment box to let me know what you think and if you’ve been to any fun places this summer!

Fin.

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Strawberry Fields and that Analog Feel

This past weekend, my roommates and I decided to take a break from the urban life. We spent our Saturday morning at Patterson Fruit Farm (8765 Mulberry Road, Chesterland, OH 44026) picking strawberries. It was my first time strawberry picking (and I’ve only been apple picking once before, when I was a teeny tiny little kid) so I was super pumped.

I brought along my camera, Marcus (yes, I named my camera), to capture all the fun.

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We arrived at the farm a little past 10AM, when it was bright but not overbearingly sunny. I wore a black T-shirt and some shorts, but with the morning breeze, a longer pair of pants would’ve felt more comfortable.

The farm had opened not long before we arrived; even so, there were quite a few people there – mostly families with younger children. Some had already finished their picking for the day, and were preparing to leave.

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When you arrive at the strawberry fields, a few employees greet you to give you a basket to store your loot and show you what fields are open for picking. I noticed that they opened up more sections as the day went on, to ensure that no singular area was over-harvested. Plus, it means that you’ll always have nice, fresh strawberries to pick regardless of what time you arrive.

I also appreciated that the farm had lined the fields with straw; it had rained the previous night, and without the straw, the ground would have been soggy and muddy. The straw made it more bearable to kneel, or even sit, down onto the ground to harvest the strawberries. Because the strawberry bushes are low to the ground, it does mean you have to do quite a bit of kneeling and hovering. If you have bad knees, this might not be the best sustained activity for you (unless you bring a stool, which honestly, isn’t a bad idea at all).

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Overall, I had a lot of fun and got to nab some great pictures. I especially love the photo of me holding up the strawberry in the feature photo. Because there was so much direct sunlight, some of the photos looked a little bit bleached during post-processing (I set it on P mode, and don’t use a UV filter). I didn’t really mind it, because I think it gave the photos a cool vintage vibe, which prompted me to be more experimental in my photo editing. (I will probably grab my a UV filter from one of my dad’s old Minoltas when I head home in August, though.)

To give the photos that truly analog feel, I used Analog Efex Pro 2 from the Google Nik Collection (which is now free!). All of the photos were edited using the Classic Camera 7 filter, though I did play around with the film type and the dust filters.

While I quite like this app, though I do wish there were two changes – (1) that I could open RAW files directly without having to convert it first, and (2) that there was a save button that didn’t close the program after the new product is saved. It was a little bit tiresome to have to re-open the app repeatedly to edit more photos. If you opened more than one photo at a time, you end up editing all of them with the same filters. This is merely a problem with the UX, though; otherwise, the app does exactly what it says it will do and is easy and intuitive to use.

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I’m really happy with the results of the photos, and of course the 6 lbs of strawberries I harvested with my roommate! (We split into two duos; we harvested nearly 10 lbs altogether.) We’ve frozen most of it, while I added some to a homemade banana ice cream. Cassandra, one of my roommates, has plans to make a strawberry sorbet!

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After our time at the strawberry farm, we headed over to the Pizza Festival to feed our tummies. One of my goals this summer in Cleveland is to spend as much time outdoors as possible. So far, I’ve gone kayaking in the Vermillion metroparks (I wish I had brought my camera along for the view – it was gorgeous!) and spent some time exploring West Side Market and cooking with friends. (Another goal is, of course, update this blog as much as possible!)

Up next on my list are: Hocking Hills and Kalihari Water Park.

If you’ve got any suggestions for my Cleveland summer, drop me a comment! I’d love to find more places to go to.

Fin.

Writer’s notes:
1. Sun protection is real business. This summer, before you spend an obnoxious amount of time outdoors, make sure to check for the UV Index (here by Coppertone) and take other precautions accordingly.
2. I really like Uniqlo’s UV-protective clothing (here), and for my face I use Skinfood’s Aloe Watery Sun Water Gel (here). Biore’s Watery Essence (here) is really great too.