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Posts Tagged ‘photography’

Friday Fun! (October: Orchards, Hay Rides, Motorcycles, and Hiking)

October 31, 2013 Leave a comment
Copyright Amanda McNeil. Image of a hay ride down a country road surrounded by fall colors.

One of my film shots from the orchard of the hay ride going by us.

Hello my lovely readers!  Happy Halloween!

We had a rather oddly warm October here in New England right up until this week.  Which was ok by me because a) cheaper heating bills and b) more motorcycle rides and outdoor activities.  A particularly nasty cold has been going around the city, and unfortunately both myself and my partner caught it.  I wound up having cold symptoms for two weeks.  Since I started focusing on health a few years ago, it has become rare for me to have a cold for more than a few days to a week.  This one knocked out pretty much everyone who got it.  I am pleased to say it is finally gone, but it definitely put a damper on some of our activities this month.

In spite of the doom cold, I still managed to get out and enjoy fall!  My partner and I took a motorcycle ride out to Western Mass to go to an apple orchard.  Since we were on the bike, we didn’t buy bunches of apples (also, we get lots from our CSA anyway), but we did drink cider, eat cider donuts, take a hay ride, and do some old-fashioned film photography.  My bf bought me a sardine can film camera recently, and I am enjoying starting to get into this photography thing.  The orchard was the perfect place to try out my first roll. 🙂  The hay ride was also fun, as were the apples we picked to eat on our walk.

I also go to go for an old-fashioned hike on some state land with my bf and a friend.  It was so so much fun to scramble up rocks again and be out in the fall colors up close.  We had a lovely picnic with curry egg sandwiches and the salad I made that I mentioned in yesterday’s review.  Then when we got off the trail, I warmed up with a salted caramel latte. Yummm

I hope you all have a lovely Halloween tonight! My plan is to go to the gym then have dinner and a scary movie at home with the bf. The perfect Halloween celebration for this introvert. 🙂

Book Review: Bad Glass by Richard E. Gropp

October 18, 2012 2 comments

An assortment of black and white and sepia toned photographs.Summary:
Something strange is happening in Spokane, and the US military has taken control of the city, closing it and its happenings to the press.  Dean sees this as the perfect opportunity to break into photography before he graduates from college and is forced into giving up on his artistic dreams to work a regular 9 to 5 job.  So he sneaks into Spokane, where he meets an intriguing young woman and her rag-tag household of survivors, and quickly starts to see the inexplicable things that are going on inside the city.

Review:
Dark fantasy is one of my favored genres, but unfortunately not a ton comes out in it in any given year.  So when I saw this title available on NetGalley, I just had to snatch it up.  I’m glad I did, because it’s a truly enjoyable read.

The basic plot uses a trope of dark fantasy–a creative outsider comes to a town where bizarre things supposedly happen then starts to document them happening.  The twist here is that the creative type is a photographer, so the art form being used is photography.  This was an incredibly refreshing way to approach the topic.  Each chapter opens with a description of a shot that Dean will get at some point in that chapter.  It’s fascinating foreshadowing, and also Gropp shows real talent in describing photographs of both the fantastical and more ordinary varieties.  The descriptions also talk about more technical aspects of photography, and these show up within the story too (such as lighting and shutter speed).  Describing instead of showing the photographs was a choice that I at first was not certain of but I ultimately appreciated.  By not reproducing the photographs, Gropp leaves quite a bit of the mystery up to the reader and doesn’t spoil whatever images the reader has already established within her own mind.  But the descriptions are also so well-done that the impact of seeing one brief moment in this surreal world is still rendered.  It’s a unique and well-done choice, and I’d recommend this read to people based on that creative storytelling aspect alone.

It’s also great to see a story centering primarily around 20-somethings.  Often literature tends to stick to YA (teens) or jump right over those of us who are in that truly young adult phase of our lives and into 30-somethings.  Although the primary focus of the story is what precisely is happening in Spokane, conflicts frequently faced by 20-somethings come up within this framework–what to do for a career, do you give up on your dreams and settle down into a cubicle or not, when and with whom should you settle down, should you settle down at all, when should you respect your parents and their experience and when should you stand up to them, etc…   Long-time followers know that one reason I enjoy genre literature is it addresses these real life issues within the context of the fantastic, and the good ones do it integrated and in a thought-provoking manner.  This book achieves that.

The main character also is bisexual, while being primarily interested in a woman.  It was so awesome to get to see a bi male main character and have it be presented as just a part of who he is and not a big deal at all.  Although there is certainly a need and a place for the coming out tales and stories where the character’s sexuality is a central issue, it is also nice to see glbtq characters where that is just one aspect of who they are and is not dwelled upon much.  It is just a part of who Dean is.

As for the central plot–what is happening in Spokane–I admit that I hoped for slightly more answers than we ultimately get.  Readers looking for nicely tied up endings or even a hint at an answer will be left wanting.  I enjoy an ambiguous ending, but I also felt that perhaps the plot could have been a bit clearer.  In particular, without giving anything away, I felt that the scenes revolving around the hospital while powerful left me feeling a bit like perhaps even the author doesn’t really know what’s going on in Spokane.  Perhaps that is the point, but it did leave me feeling that the plot was not as up to par as the world building and characterization.

Overall, this is a wonderful addition to the dark fantasy genre.  Gropp gives us a unique main character and also utilizes writing about photography in a creative manner.  I highly recommend it to fans of dark fantasy, particularly 20-somethings and those with an interest in photography.

4 out of 5 stars

Source: NetGalley

Buy It

Product Review: Print from Easy Canvas Prints

August 24, 2011 1 comment

I was wonderfully excited to receive my second offer for a product review from Melissa Pont of Easy Canvas Prints.  In her super-friendly email she gave me the opportunity to create my own 8 by 10 print in exchange for reviewing my experience (and the print) here.  As a 20-something slowly trying to decorate my apartment like an adult, I jumped at the opportunity.

The site basically creates professional artist quality prints from your own photos.  This means any one of your many digital photos can become a piece of artwork in your home.  By far the only difficult part of my whole experience was choosing which picture I wanted hanging in my home!  I love taking photos, and Boston as well as my visits home to Vermont gave me a whole slew of scenic items to choose from.  I finally decided to narrow it down by first choosing which section of my apartment needed decoration the most.  My kitchen won by a long-shot, as it only had one picture hanging in it.  Once I chose my kitchen, I knew which picture I wanted in there.

I took a picture my senior year of undergrad at a New Year’s Eve party of raspberries in champagne with SoCo in the background.  The colors in the photo (yellow and red) go with the color theme I’m slowly working on in my kitchen, so that was the choice!  I then had to visit Easy Canvas Prints to create the print.

The website is clearly set-up and guides you through each step smoothly.  First you upload the picture.  Second you choose which size you want.  Third you choose if you want a border or not.  If not, your photo wraps around the edge.  I wanted a border, so I then had to choose what style.  I selected a solid color and a golden-yellow to match the color of the champagne.  You then simply place your order.

My print arrived in just about a week, which I think is a very reasonable time-frame for creation and shipment.  It arrived well-packaged in completely recyclable cardboard and brown paper and clearly stamped as “Fragile.”  Hanging it literally took me about one minute, as the bracket for hanging was perfectly placed on the back, so I simply had to stick a nail in my wall.

It’s a truly gorgeous print and has absolutely added a level of class to my kitchen.  I had a wonderful experience with Easy Canvas Prints, and I encourage those looking for professional quality art for their home made from their own photos to check it out.  It’s a truly unique way to decorate your home.

Print of champagne.

Close-up of the print.

Picture on wall of kitchen.

Print hanging on my kitchen wall. Notice how the raspberries match my red toaster. 😉