The occasional, often ill-considered thoughts of a Roman Catholic permanent deacon who is ever grateful to God for his existence. Despite the strangeness we encounter in this life, all the suffering we witness and endure, being is good, so good I am sometimes unable to contain my joy. Deo gratias!


Monday, July 16, 2012

Photographic Fun

As some readers of this blog know, I'm an amateur (very amateur) photographer. It is a hobby I truly enjoy, and for a couple of reasons. First of all, photography permits me to capture and relive unique places, things, and moments in time. I simply enjoy preserving at least a glimpse of those things in our world that I find especially interesting and surprisingly beautiful. Photography allows me to stop time and enjoy these things again and again.

But photography also offers a kind of unexpected revelation, a surprising disclosure of detail or symmetry or color or light or contrast or beauty that was not fully grasped when the photo was taken. In other words, I especially enjoy being surprised by a photograph, when it seems to capture a moment and scene so differently or so much more completely than the reality I experienced when I took the photo.

Dad and his Leica in Germany
As with many of my traits and likes and dislikes, I seem to have inherited this interest in photography from my father. Like me, he always had a camera close by and the results of his six decades of picture taking are stacked on shelves here in my study -- thousands upon thousands of 35mm slides that I have been sorting through and scanning a few at a time for several years now. Of course, all of his photos were taken during the days of film, before the advent of digital photography. My goal, then, is to digitize his photographs and pass them on to his descendants. I'm especially interested in preserving the many photos he took at the end of World War II and during the subsequent occupation of Germany.

Dad always had the latest and greatest when it came to the things he enjoyed. He seemed to believe that one should never approach true interests hesitantly, but should jump in enthusiastically. I'm sure he would have loved digital photography and the tremendous freedom it offers the photographer. And, yes, I know there are still purists out there who use only film, but as digital technology continues to improve, I expect most will eventually make the transition.

For those of you who do no more than take occasional snapshots with your cell phone or point-and-shoot digital camera, I will give you a simple example of the capabilities of digital photography.

This afternoon, while going through some photos I took on a trip to Italy in 2010, I came across a picture taken of a portion of Siena's Piazza del Campo, one of the great medieval squares of Europe. The Campo is a large, oddly shaped square in the center of Siena in which the Palio, the city's famous annual horse races, are held. As Diane and I strolled along the edge of the piazza trying to choose a restaurant for lunch, I took a few photographs. I especially like one of these photos which depicts some of the locals and tourists enjoying the beautiful sunny afternoon following a rainy morning. Using Photoshop software, I gave the photo an "artsy" brush-stroke look, and printed it on my wide-format printer as an 11x14 color print. I will eventually print it in an even larger format on "canvas paper" to enhance the effect of a painting rather than a photograph. The doctored photo is below. Click on the image to enlarge it and you will better see what can be done quite simply with digital photography.


Siena's Piazza del Campo on a sunny afternoon
I also played with another photo taken on an earlier trip to Italy. This one is of a church in the Borgo district of Rome, adjacent to the Vatican. The Church, Santa Maria in Traspontina, has a beautiful old bell tower which I photographed. I thought the photo would be more dramatic in black and white so I used software to convert it and then printed it as a large 12x18 inch print. (See below)
Santa Maria in Traspontina (Rome)




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