Blog - Photo Blog Written by John Shea
I'm way behind on posting these on the website. Pretty much all of my free time is going to novel writing at the moment, so this place is getting the shaft. If you really want the photos daily, keep an eye on my Flickr page, which is the main spot for the photos, so that is always up to date.
So here's one whole week at once:
On an unrelated note, my NaNoWriMo novel stands at 9,356 words so far. I am slightly ahead of schedule. It's tough going though. The differences between novel writing and screenwriting are enough to make me always a bit uncomfortable.
I like this shot because of the timing of it. When I first set out in the morning to walk my kids to the bus stop, I looked across this field and was struck by the cold grey feel of it. But I was in too much of a hurry to be able to stop and take a shot. By the time I made my way back, the sun was getting close to making an appearance and the sky had turned this lovely salmon color. Ten minutes or so made for completely different looks for the same exact spot. Sure, there's still a cold grey feel to this, but it now stands in contrast to that brightly colored sky. And five minutes more caused these colors to fade pretty drastically, changing the feel of the space yet again. It's a damn good example of photography being an art form concerned with capturing light and being aware of how it can change.
I mentioned in the previous post that I was writing all the time and that's why I was falling behind in posting photos. The reason that I'm writing all the time, beyond simply being a writer, is that I have decided this year to take up the challenge of National Novel Writing Month (aka NaNoWriMo).
If you've been reading this site for a long time, (and why would you?) you might remember that we had a guy writing TV reviews here by the name of Sam Brady. While he doesn't do that here anymore, we've stayed in touch and thus I became aware of NaNoWriMo. Sam had done it at least the last two years and it always seemed like a fascinating idea. Simply put, contestants must crank out 50,000 words of a novel in a single month. Now, the idea is not to create a complete finished novel in that time. More specifically, the idea is to come up with a first draft. Even more specifically, the idea is to train writers that disciplined regular writing makes you a better writer.
I rarely have that level of discipline. To be fair, I spend a lot of time mentally working out what I'm writing, so that when I do sit down to type, it comes out in big bursts of productivity. But that's not disciplined enough. So I decided to give this a try.
The biggest problem for me is that I'm a screenwriter, not a novelist. I've never attempted anything like this before. In school I had a few short stories but nothing longer than a few pages. When the idea for my script She Hates the Idea came to me, I started writing rapidly with no script style or format, so that I could get the basics down on paper without needing to stop for formatting. That was probably the longest thing I've written in that format and it doesn't even vaguely approximate the size of a novel.
This is something very different. And the reason it took me a few years to decide to try it was the jump from screenwriting to novel writing was a daunting one. The format is completely different. Novels are very internal, allowing the reader to hear the thoughts of characters. Scripts are very external, depending on visuals to be added later in the film making process. Novels are much longer than scripts, allowing for a lot more of everything.
I spent years working on the craft of writing scripts. Switching gears to something so different was intimidating. But I want to get better, to stretch my wings. And so I took an idea that I had abandoned as a script because it wasn't working in that format and made it the basis for a novel.
After two days of writing, I'm at 4896 words, almost a tenth of the way. The first day was very slow and awkward as I tried to get the feel for this different style of writing. Attributions and viewpoint were the biggest stumbling blocks. Movies have a very specific viewpoint that is rarely, if ever, found in novels. So not writing that way was awkward. Attributions aren't that difficult but when you aren't used to using them, they slow things down. The first day I only managed about 1300 words. So things are looking up.
I'll try and post regularly on the progress of this project but don't expect them daily. I need my time for writing this book, remember?
Yes, once again I'm double posting because I'm running behind. Writing all the time can do that to you. So without further comment here you go:
Day 197: Dad, quit taking my picture.
It's been years since I've dressed up for Halloween. Not that I have anything against doing so. It's more that I'm a perfectionist, so if I decide to make a costume, I'm compelled to take it to ridiculous levels of detail. And not having a ton of spare time these days, it's been easier to not make a costume. This year I was going to go for it again. I had collected all the stuff to make a good Shaun of the Dead. But that's a costume with short sleeves and it was fingertip numbing cold out today. Yup, I wussed out. Maybe next year.
My kids were much braver. You can tell that they get their influences from the movies I take them to. Aiden is a Viking, which is something he had likely never heard of prior to our trip to see How to Train Your Dragon. And I never once mentioned that the only thing that really says Viking about that costume is the helmet. The history junkie in me is wigging out over the details but I have the sense to not torture him with them.
His older brother gets to go to a few more movies because he isn't as easily scared, so he's watched and loved Iron Man and Iron Man 2. So naturally, he dressed up as ol' shell head for Halloween.
Yup. Way behind.
So, yeah I'm slacking off here. After the film festival, I pretty much crash for a few days. Sort of. I actually have to work more than normal to make up for the time taken for the film festival. Combine that with being exhausted by the festival and I get pretty lazy about other things. Like posting up photos. So quickly, because this still leaves me a day behind, here are a couple I missed.
Both of these were taken using the new 50mm lens. The thing I'm still getting used to is that this lens does not zoom. Which means that if what I'm taking a picture of isn't framed properly, I have to actually move my lazy ass to a position where it is framed properly. That's a pretty big change in procedure. For instance, this fuzzy plant here. It was growing in a stream bed. From the top of the bank, I wasn't close enough to get this shot. So I actually had to climb down the bank and balance on a rock in the stream to get the shot. With a zoom lens, that's not necessary.
I'm sure that makes you wonder why I would want to do such a thing. That's a very good question. It is certainly much less convenient. But it does force me to think very carefully about the shot. Instead of quickly and easily firing off a shot and calling it good enough, I have to think about it and move around to get the shot. It is less convenient but it is makes the shots more considered, which shows up in the results.
These pumpkins are another example. I had to back up a lot to get the shot. And since I had to move, I tried more angles, eventually settling on one that had the best background and the most pleasing angle for the shot. If you compare this shot to the first one I took, it's obvious that being forced to move resulted in a better photograph.
Being forced to deal with restrictions can be a way to encourage creativity.
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