Antique Fatigue

I’m not really suffering from it, but you may be by now. Anyway, here’s the last of the “antique alley” set I started sharing last week. I’m going to keep commentary short, because although I went to the doctor Monday about my continuing arm troubles and he put me on a round of steroids, as the dosage tapers off I find my arm already starting to hurt again. It looks like there are some steroid shots for me in the near future. There has to be some way to remedy this, because not blogging or editing photos is simply not an option. Moving on.

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I didn’t know much about Brownie cameras before snapping this in one of the antique stores, but I found a decent webpage dedicated to them – this “Hawkeye Flash” model came out in 1950; you can read more about it, and other Brownies, here.

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I apologize for this picture, but it was too good to pass up. I’m not going to provide any links to what Ken might be getting up to here; I think you can figure it out. And no, I did not set this shot up this way.

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I couldn’t find too much information about this particular old radio (Allegro Telefunken Hi Fi) but the company, Telefunken, still exists and has a website. There are a few of these for sale on eBay though, anywhere from $200 up to $800. I think this one was on sale for $99 at the shop. I probably should go back and get it, but I can’t remember what store had it for sale. And now for some color:

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By the way, with all of these shots I used with the burn and dodge tools in Photoshop to enhance shadows and highlights. I liked the end results, but as Beth pointed out in my last post, the changes really aren’t noticeable enough to bother making comparisons. Plus, making comparison shots takes more time, and my arm was hurting so I decided to go as easy on the clickwork as possible. I will say that in these shots though, the tools really helped bring some dimension to these metal signs, which were very dark and flat in the original shot. Especially the hot dog, which may or may not be obscene and/or racist…?

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This one is clearly not an antique of any kind, but I liked the bright colors and how I captured the spinning wheels. These were all taken, of course, using my new Canon SL1 with my 40mm pancake lens, as were all the previous antique store shots. I also used that camera and lens to snap some quick pics of a few wigs I wanted to sell on eBay this week; it was great for that purpose also, and so much easier to use than the 7D. Still completely pleased with that purchase.

A few rambles: Some time soon I want to take shots in the little “antique room” we have in our house – our home is older, and has a formal dining area that for some reason I loaded up with antiques and covered in dark red wallpaper. It’s very pretty, but not really suited to the rest of the house (which at the moment isn’t suited to much of anything, but we’re working on that). For the past several years it has been used as storage for a Christmas tree and a huge tube television as well as other assorted items; but we paid a junk removal and recycling service to clear everything out of there and it is a living room once again. As little as it matches the rest of the house, I think it is a lovely setting for photos; it has a dark, Victorian vibe. So even though we are doing home overhauls this summer, including painting and taking some wallpaper down, I’ve decided to keep it. Who says a house has to make sense from room to room anyway, and a few interesting spots for photo ops in a photographer’s house isn’t a bad thing at all. I’d like to do a little shooting in there this weekend, but I’ve got to go order new carpet for the house tomorrow and a few other random things, so I might not get around to it that soon. We’ll see. I do plan to take before and after pictures of the house too though, for good measure. Happy weekend everyone!

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More From The Forty

The more photos I edit from Thursday’s jaunt down to the antique district, the more I understand why people over at Phoblographer are enthusiastic about the Canon 40mm pancake lens. I also had to get past the boredom of going over the shots from this particular part of town because, as I think I mentioned last time, good deals to be had there or no, it isn’t very photogenic:

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See what I mean (and how did I miss cropping out that pole)?

The feature of this lens that gets the most raves (aside from the light weight and unobtrusive size) is its clarity, something I wasn’t particularly looking for when shooting candids of people at my nieces’ graduation party, but I admit when looking over the photos from this set I was struck by how sharp they came out:

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Every time I go to Historic Rosenberg I take a photo of this wall 

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Another oft-photographed and nicely-detailed building; too bad I managed to turn the sky brown when color-correcting it 

I did come across a store I hadn’t photographed a million times already; it’s a new store that sells contemporary furniture and clothes rather than the antiques (ie, junk) most of the other stores sell. I popped in to see what  they had going on, but it didn’t interest me – lots of big metal Stars of Texas and slogans burned into driftwood and clothes with rhinestones, that kind of thing.

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Oh, and cowhides.

The area all around these few blocks of shops is pretty run-down, and although it tries to make itself presentable, there just isn’t much in the way of foliage or character to give it panache. The historical society is always doing things to promote the area, though, including restoring this historic home:

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Pretty, no?

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Well no, actually.

I’m not sure how this home will be used once it’s completed, but if it’s going to be residential they’ll have to seriously watch the kids when they’re in the backyard. That’s how this area has always been: come across one pretty structure and you’re sure to find something industrial and/or run-down right next to it. But they keep trying. And if you ever get tired of it and don’t know how to get out, they also sell these at a reasonable price:

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Click your heels together and a bunch of sequins fall off.

So, this ended up being a post more about Rosenberg than my 40mm lens, but the two have some things in common. They’re small, they’re functional, they’re good deal-oriented, and they have more going on beneath the surface than you might think. Suffice it to say I like both of them just fine.

Antique Technique

Thursday morning I went to the antique district up the road from our neighborhood to seek out some new end tables for our bedroom. I know I mentioned the new carpet we are getting this summer already, but while clearing out the house to prepare for that we decided we also needed to get a big dresser for our bedroom (we’ve been using the same old hand-me-down furniture ever since we got married because neither one of us care much for decorating and generally don’t take it into consideration). We have a lovely new dresser coming Monday, but we didn’t like the idea of pairing it with the same old cheap, crummy end tables we had on either side of our bed; we also didn’t much care for  the idea of paying over $300 per table for new ones, like the furniture showroom where we ordered the dresser wanted us to do. I mentioned to the salesman, in fact, that I was going to hit up  antique stores for tables and he sniffed at me, “You’ll have to go to Salvation Army to find a decent end table for under $200.” Well, folks, allow me to share with you a quick picture of my non-Salvation Army end tables I found for a whopping $50 each:

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I think the showroom had almost the exact same table for $300. These are not antiques, but were found in an antique store nonetheless. I actually like that they are new because they aren’t rickety as hell like a lot of the antique ones were. Moving on.

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I stood there quite awhile trying to get the flag to mirror the sign. Got it eventually.

When I headed out Thursday morning to table-hunt, I threw my Canon SL1 with the 40mm lens attached into my purse with the intention to shoot some street stuff while I was out and about. I’ve been reading about the 40mm lens, and walkabout photography in general, and I decided to follow some of the advice I’ve received: I had a fixed shutter speed and ISO setting on the camera before heading out (although I did lower the ISO when shooting outside then bump it up a little when heading into a store), and I made a conscious decision to approach the focal length differently by trying to appreciate its simplicity. And, I shot in monochrome so I wouldn’t be worried about color. Never having shot in monochrome before, I didn’t realize that when I pulled the RAW files up on my computer they WOULD be in color – yeah, that’s how novice I still am at certain things. I went ahead and converted some of them back into monochrome anyway because the color was, in fact, not that great with the light already blasting everything out by 11:00 AM.

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Good advice

I took about 150 pictures, but most of them, quite honestly, bore me. I am not much of a street photographer, so this is probably always going to happen when I take these sorts of photos, Plus, I’ve shot this antique district several times before and over the years it hasn’t changed much, so it doesn’t really inspire me (it’s only a few blocks, and once you’ve taken a photo of the old buildings and Coca-Cola ads painted on the cracked brick walls, well, there’s not much else to shoot). Add in that I was on a specific shopping mission, and the photography came in pretty low on  my list of priorities for the day. Still, I had fun shooting the photos I did take, and the SL1 was a dream to deal with – so light I could easily shoot while holding the thing with one hand, and once I accepted the fairly boring perspective of the 40mm I enjoyed the experience. It’s a great little camera, and with that pancake lens on it in particular it’s a breeze to carry around. My only complaint is that the focal points are barely visible; on my 7D the points are bright red and clear and I can easily see where I am focused through the viewfinder, but on the SL1 I cannot see them at all because the red is so faint it disappears into the scene I’m trying to focus on. It’s a minor quibble, but it is irritating, and I’m wondering if there’s a way visually to brighten the focal points so I can see them better. I’ll have to check into that. What can I say – I’m an autofocus kinda gal.

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Antique garden shop

This next shot is a good example of how random, spontaneous scenes get the better of me when doing street-type photography. The photo is of a small doll’s kitchen set I found sitting on the floor of one of the antique shops I visited; there was a lot of junk sitting around it, but none of it was very well-placed to show the scale of the kitchenette. I probably should have moved things around to set up a better shot, but I just didn’t for whatever reason. I tend to feel rushed in these situations, especially when shooting inside a store where I am always concerned someone might not like what I am doing, and I rarely stop to frame things well much less actually set up a shot. So, I ended up with a shot of this amazing doll kitchen, but nothing to really indicate that it’s tiny:

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Another problem I often run up against in situations like this is framing; this would have been much better if I’d gotten the shot head-on rather than being off to the side, but again, that would have involved moving a lot of stuff around because, even though you can’t tell, there was junk everywhere that would have gotten in the way from any other angle. Anyway, I still liked how sad and decrepit this little mini kitchen looked, so I decided to mess with it and try to make it more interesting. First step was to run it through Snapseed to give it more color and detail:

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Then I decided to try and make the wall behind the set look more dingy and old; I used a texture layer in Paint Shop Pro to do that:

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Then I decided the texture of the carpet was distracting, so I used Photoshop to smooth it out:

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Then I added some vignetting for a little extra visual interest:

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Buuuuut I decided I still wasn’t done. Now, I may have overdone it here, but I pulled the photo into Pixlr and gave it a go. Here’s the final result:

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Thank G-d for Pixlr, seriously. I have a few more shots I may process and share later, but that’s it for now. Have a great Friday everyone!

House detail

First off, it’s my birthday today. I don’t like forced celebrations of any kind as I generally find them tedious and more trouble than they are worth, so as usual I am doing nothing special for the big event. Just turning a year older, appreciating the fact that I’m still around to do so, and enjoying being back home after a weekend of traveling. Moving on.

In yesterday’s post I mentioned I’d taken a ton of photos of all the antique architectural details in my sister-in-law’s house, where we visited this weekend. While still there, the internet connection was too slow to bother uploading the photos, but now that we’re back home I can upload the first batch.

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This counter is in her kitchen, and was salvaged from an old general store. 

My friend Lana made an interesting comment yesterday that antiques can hold spiritual energy from the past, and I liked that idea. In fact I originally thought I’d try to conjure up a ghost for each photo here, but I was not creative enough to do it. I did however have a good ghost for this door (all the doors in the house are antique; most of them purchased from one particular resale shop in the Hill Country):

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This antique is haunted by The Ghost That Always Hits You In The Ass On The Way Out. You’re welcome. 

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Not an antique, but it is a cool picture.

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I mentioned this in yesterday’s post, but she bought loads of this recycled wooden trim and used it all throughout the house.

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I asked her where the wood came from, but I don’t remember what she told me.The bathtub isn’t antique – the Jacuzzi jets kinda give that away – but it is a claw-foot tub. 

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These lights are over the recycled store counter in the first photo. As a bonus, you can see my car through the window. You’re welcome again. Also, that painting on the left wall was painted by her grandmother. I have a shot of it I’ll process and upload tomorrow.   

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Light fixture out of jelly jars. I wonder if it gets jammed often. Double-bonus pun!

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Apparently this stove doesn’t work properly, but I loved the bright red knobs on it so whatever.

Lots of driving this weekend and I’m tired, so I’ll upload some more from this trip tomorrow.