Hey, maybe I’ll stop whining now.
Last week was a fairly fantastic one. I played a gig which, while it did contain more ridiculous and impossible-to-play notes than I’ve dealt with recently, did not make my soul bleed. And I got to do it with people I really enjoy playing with and being around and also maybe haven’t seen in a while. I also got to spend ridiculous amounts of free-time wandering around Champaign-Urbana, which was one of my favorite past-times while I lived there and apparently remains so today. I want to take a moment to point out one of the things I really really really appreciate about my current not-in-school but teaching-and-gigging-a-lot situation in life. This thing I appreciate is that I am able to earn some money, and due to the sheer number of gigs available to me, it’s a fair sum of money. More money than I anticipated making at this point and probably more than I would be if I was working that crappy part-time job I wanted to find after I finished school. But at the same time that I’m busy with gigs and teaching, I have a lot of free-time, free-time of the sort I’ve never really had before. And in that free-time, I’m able to satisfy my other creative itches, whether it be getting that stubborn, elusive music out of my head, or photography.
I’m fairly certain that I’ve learned more about photography in the past three months than I have in the past three years. I want to make the statement here that a local photographer friend-of-the-family shared with me, and that is that no amount of photography technical know-how or camera-understanding will result automatically in better photos. It’s all about the eye of the person behind the camera and what they see and how they capture what they do. But by jove, knowing more about my camera and the things I can do with it certainly does help me to capture things a little more fearlessly and with a fresh eye. Plus, I know how to get more of the types of shots I have in mind. I really like the photos I’m taking, and I wish I could have understood better what I was doing, especially in exposure, lighting and focus six months ago when all of a sudden people asked me to take photos of them doing things like playing their instruments in unnatural lighting.
I think my personal learning curve in camera-workage started off extremely steep and took years to climb, and then picked up once I had done my tedious homework and learned some terminology and techniques beyond the basics of point-and-shoot photography. Truly, this vast leap in the camera learning curve of recent history came out of re-reading the entire manual for my D40 and BAM. Exposure readings. Focus modes. ISO. White Balance. Focus and Exposure Locks. Technical know-how: Gained.
Back to my week in Champaign, I took a lot of photos. I made a point to wander around my favorite out-door areas, in particular Meadowbrook Park in the Southerly part of Urbana which is essentially 130 acres of mostly Prairie, and the mysterious agricultural research areas of the University, located a stone’s throw from Meadowbrook Park. Here are some photos of Meadowbrook:
That last one is my favorite.
Of course it’s all in the eye of the beholder, but I firmly believe that Central Illinois is a beautiful place all seasons of the year for one reason or another, despite it being flat as a door-nail and occasionally grid-like. That said, maybe these photos are a snooze, especially if you’re kind of eh about landscape and especially eh about the Midwest. But the thing I find eye-catching about these parts is probably all the LINES, there are just so many lines, and the shapes that emerge from those lines. Not to mention the expansive-ness that is a direct result of the flat. The skies here are occasionally outta this world. So that’s a bit of what I wanted to capture.
I guess all of what I just said could be true of these next photos, taken two days later in the research areas at the University of Illinois. A little about the location: if you go far South on Lincoln Ave, you’ll come across the U of I Arboretum and the Japan House just a little south of that, and if you walk beyond these areas, you’ll find some expansive prairie grass testing areas, as well as a bee-keeping house and some sparse (but kind of freaky) woods. I really enjoyed the Prairie grass research areas, which also contain shrubs and and other flora that are original pre-corn-and-soy Illinois inhabitants. What I like about this area is that instead of a crazy and disorderly mix of prairie grasses in each plot in these testing areas, the plots were highly organized and clearly divided into particular grass varieties. Since each variety was a completely different height or texture than the next, there were neat visual effects resulting. BEHOLD, PRAIRIE GRASSES AND SHRUBS:
Again: last one is a favorite. Here are some more.
Big, crazy tree.
Striking sky and aforementioned kinda freaky woods
I’m covered in BEEEEEES
Freaky pond, near Japan House
This was taken approximately 5 minutes before crazy weather occurred
And with that, I SLEEEEEP.