The idea for this photo struck me a week or two ago. Jupiter is hard to miss in the sky right now and being a bit of an astronomy junkie, I stare at it all the time while walking at night. Then I realized at the right angle it seemed to hover above this church's steeple. The photographer in me thought that was cool as hell. The non-believer in me was less impressed. But I got through today without any photos that I thought were worth a damn, so...
Here it is. Make of it what you will. I see Jupiter, pleasingly juxtaposed against this church. That's it. You might disagree.
The weather has been bone dry around here. The weather reports keep calling for rain but we get a couple minutes worth and that's it. So I've rather deliberately not been mowing my lawn. In the front of the house you can barely notice. In the back, it has a few tall spots. Like this one.
I'm using this 365 day photo project to improve my shooting skills. One thing I've always struggled with is black and white. I know when it looks right but getting the appropriate conditions to make it look right is where I get baffled. So you'll probably see a bit more black and white coming up as I experiment with what I consider a serious weak point.
There was this great dead tree in the neighborhood. Not great that it was dead, just great in that it looked cool. But they finally cut it down and it currently exists as a pile of logs and a pile of sticks. The sticks have become an instant big hang out for small birds in the neighborhood. This shot shows a small section of the flock hanging out on the pile.
The worst part about finishing anything is that it generally means facing a totally blank page (screen) to start something completely new. With a first draft of Hive behind me, it's important to clear my brain and go in a different direction. After a few weeks I'll go back and read Hive again. Hopefully at that point my alpha readers will have gotten back to me with some feedback. Then I can start a second draft.
But now I need something else to write. I had some choices in mind. Typically I keep several projects in mind at once so I can switch gears quickly if I run into trouble on another one. The current short list of ideas had three things on it. One was a page one rewrite of Joe Bob the Messiah. Joe Bob remains my favorite character that I've come up with. And based on feedback from anyone who has read it, I'm not alone in that view. But I've never been totally happy with the story I have him in. The core concept is solid but in practice it seems off to me. I'd try to lighten it up, make it more focused and a lot funnier.
The second idea was a horror story I've had kicking around in my head for years now. For some reason it started popping into my thoughts a lot more often after my mother passed away. I'm not sure what that says about me.
Finally, that zombie thingie I keep mentioning. Originally that was going to be a movie but now I'm seriously thinking web series.
And the winner is...
The zombie project. That one has been on the back burner for awhile because I hadn't come up with a story or characters. There were a few scenes but no connective tissue. But a couple days ago I sat down and just started writing a stream of consciousness document with anything I could think of for the scripts. And eventually an idea popped up. An idea that just got better and better the more I thought about it. And that's all I'll say about that.
The point of this post is to talk about the writing process a bit. I write with headphones on and music going. What I listen to varies by project. For Hive I listened exclusively to Bear McCreary's score for Battlestar Galactica. And if someone ever buys it and wants to make it, I will campaign heavily for him to be hired to compose the score. It seems only fair. He provided a lot of inspiration for it. The choice of that music was very deliberate. That score combines traditional orchestral with a mixture of less familiar instruments, and a distinctive percussion. I've read comments from him that he did that to contrast the human and cylon cultures. That related, in a way, to what I was writing so it became my personal score while writing.
Now that I'm seriously attacking this zombie project, I'm digging through my music library for stuff that inspires me. Which is tricky because I'm just starting to get a feel for what I'm doing. To be honest, I don't know half of what's on my computer. Every year I download the collection of songs from the acts playing SXSW, usually 500-800 songs each time. It's fun to set those to random and see what pops up. And that's how I'm building my play list. Every time something grabs me, it goes on the list. So far it contains no film scores or metal, which surprises me to no end.
That's it. Off to bed. I'm going to try this sleep thing I keep hearing about. I've heard good things.
Update (2010-09-13 07:51:11)
I see I'm not the only one to take this approach. Screenwriter John August has a pretty similar approach.
My mother's birthday is coming up this week. Oddly, it is exactly six months from the day she died. The boys decided that they wanted to go visit her grave site and have a picnic. It is a beautiful spot a few dozen yards from a pond with fountains. Perfect for their idea really.
Unfortunately, I forgot my camera. I don't know why. I take it pretty much everywhere these days. Maybe I didn't expect anything to catch my eye. Or maybe I was just too tired and flat out forgot. Whatever. The point is that we arrived and there was plenty to take pictures of. So I borrowed my wife's little point and click. It's a great little camera for snapshots. Not so great when you have higher aspirations.
It is often said by photographers to people still learning the craft that a great camera doesn't guarantee great photos. This is true. They want to get across the idea that framing and composition are the most important elements of a photo. If you don't learn those, no camera will help you get better. I totally agree. But having said all that, a better camera does make a difference. This shot had bad color, lots of noise and blown out highlights. It took pretty heavy massaging in Adobe Lightroom to make it somewhat respectable. And it still has a couple of nasty hotspots in the clouds.
It's not an awful photo by any means. But I see the weaknesses very clearly and know that they are there because I forgot my camera. Lesson learned. I hope.
And yes, harping on the photo keeps me from thinking too much about mom. That wound isn't healed yet.
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