Snapshots – Racing the Dawn

The sun begins to rise over a corn field in Buford, Georgia. July, 2009.

The sun begins to rise over a corn field in Buford, Georgia. July, 2009.

Tonight, I have been looking through my archives. I was searching for some images of a friend from about 6 years ago, tabbing through camera raw files in a folder of non-selects, when this image popped up. The image was a snapshot. I didn’t take any other images like it. Just a single frame, snapped on the side of the road while heading home one morning.

Snapshots are pure magic; they come together on their own. You don’t work a scene to get one, you are just lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time, pointing your camera at the beauty laid out before you.

 

As I look through my archives, I will post more snapshots that capture everyday magic. Here is why I posted this one:

What I like about it:

I like the way my eye runs in the grass down the length of the fence. I love the warm sunrise light washing over a hemisphere of green. I like the slight haze and the fog burning in the background. This image really puts you in the place.

What this image means to me:

This image represents memories of southern summers at home spent irresponsibly and nights with friends that play on a loop in these digital universes. The image is quiet and serene, but full of anticipation as to what the new day will bring.

 

Tell me what you think! Do you love it or think it’s just okay? What does this image portray to you?

 

 

How to Plan a Photo Adventure and New York Portfolio Review

On October 4th, my husband and I were wed. We had debated back and forth about where to go (and how much we could afford to spend) on our honeymoon. However, there was one place that was on the top of both of our bucket lists, and we just had to make it happen as our first big adventure together as ‘man and wife.’ So we planned a three-week-long photo trip/honeymoon to New Zealand! I will be sharing some photos from the trip soon, but I wrote a post for National Geographic’s Your Shot blog about how to plan a photo adventure around your honeymoon or vacation, which you can read here: http://yourshotblog.nationalgeographic.com/post/110110587429/planning-a-picture-perfect-adventure-jen-shook

I have been braving the DC cold and working on a couple of shoots to keep making photos. I have also been using the cold weather as an excuse to stay indoors and go back through my photos. There is an open call for photo submissions to the Third Annual New York Portfolio Review (sponsored by the New York Times Lens blog) and the deadline is February 11, but I would love to be accepted and want to learn more about becoming a better storyteller. If you’re interested in submitting for the review, here is the link: http://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/02/03/apply-to-the-new-york-portfolio-review-part-iii/?module=BlogPost-Title&version=Blog%20Main&contentCollection=Multimedia&action=Click&pgtype=Blogs®ion=Body&_r=0

I’m still very much in my own head planning some goals, doing research, learning, examining my work, working out ways to make better stories. I will post some new photos, soon!

 

 

National Geographic Your Shot Assignment: Behind the Adventure

Back in November, I went to Banff National Park in Canada to attend the Banff Mountain Film Festival and run logistics for our National Geographic team. It was an absolutely beautiful place with abundant wildlife and 360 degrees of gorgeous views. You should absolutely go if you ever have the opportunity!

Let's Explore! The National Geographic Logo at the Banff Mountain Center in Banff National Park, Canada. November 2014.

Let’s Explore! The National Geographic Logo at the Banff Mountain Center in Banff National Park, Canada. November 2014.

I also got the opportunity to participate in and help a little with a National Geographic Your Shot Meetup there, led by Jimmy Chin – a fantastic photographer who is also one of our grantees. We held a photo walk to lead up to the Behind the Adventure Your Shot assignment. I shared some of the images I took during the walk on my Your Shot profile, so go check them out there. While you’re there check out the assignment Behind the Adventure. The assignment video features some of my photos (!) and offers some tips about shooting the assignment.

You still have time to submit to a really fun story assignment. The assignment closes on January 12th, so go start digging through photos of your greatest adventures and start the year out on a high note!

Quick Update for the New Year

Happy New Year! I hope you are as excited about the prospects of a new year as I am. This past year was simply incredible. I traveled extensively for work, married my husband, went on an epic photography trip a.k.a honeymoon and created a lot of cool content. The only problem is that I haven’t shared any of that with you. I received my snazzy snapshot of my site and blogs posted in 2014 and I had posted only three… how pathetic. However, I am feeling fresh, energized and creative and intend to correct that.

At the turn of the new year, I always get lost in my head for a few weeks contemplating the previous year’s successes and failures, what my goals for the new year are, am I working towards my goals for five or ten years from now? It is a great time, but it can be hard to move past the thoughts and get some things accomplished.

Well, I am proud to say that I have really gotten some things accomplished in these past six days. For example, I stopped procrastinating about figuring out my sewing machine – which I have done for almost two years. I sat it down in front of the TV and YouTube’d my way into sewing four pillow inserts. I also took down every photo frame in my house and recreated my gallery photo wall in my living room to incorporate the photos my husband and I took on our trips to Ireland and New Zealand. I also went hiking, got a library card and subsequently library books, got a “Wunderlist” account to keep on track with my goals and planned out at least three new blog posts.

What do all of these non-photography related things have in common? Action! I am a NOTORIOUS procrastinator, as you must know, however I am really trying to make a lifestyle change here and be proactive. Life is more fun that way. So this is just a quick update to say that I will be putting out more blogs this year. My goal is to do at least one a week with the intention of being more mindful about my passion. Wishing you a wonderful new year with many thanks for your support!

All the best,

Jen

Ireland by Holga

If you’ve been following along the blog, you know that when I went to Ireland, I took with me a Holga toy camera that shoots panoramic images on 120 black and white film. I finally have gotten the film processed and am excited to show some of my favorite images here.

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Despite my best efforts to prevent light leaks, many of the images were scarred with them. The light leaks are less disappointing than the exposure letters and dots burned into the film. Some people have contributed these to a bad batch of film. At this point, though, I have to contribute them to light leaks in the frame counter window, since the entire roll wasn’t afflicted. You can see some of the issues I experienced here.

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I have to say that I am pleased with the results I got from this plastic camera. However, I continue to be shocked by the cost and the risk associated with shooting film. I have much greater respect for the great film photographers, and much more gratitude for the freedom shooting digital allows.

Robertson Wedding

On December 21st, 2013, my cousin Taylor married Cullen Robertson in Young Harris, Georgia. And thus, our family grew!

Return From Ireland

From October 3rd through October 15th, I was traveling in Ireland, with my now fiancé (!), and I must say it well exceeded my expectations. We lucked out with the weather and had mostly sunny days and everywhere we went, a picture unfolded. I fully intended to blog in real time while I was in Ireland, but the internet was spotty, and there were too many adventures to be had. When I returned to the States, I had a business trip to LA, so alas, I am a few weeks late in posting, but I will try my best to recap the trip.

We landed in Dublin and spent our first two days in the city. The city’s streets seemed to be even more disorganized than DC’s, and it was much easier to navigate on foot, which was great for photos. I have to say that my favorite part of Dublin was Trinity College’s library. The lighting on the books was gorgeous, and I spoke with the bookkeeper there for some time about the history of the library and the books that come through. The rest of our escapades in Dublin centered mainly around pubs, so all I can say about that is that the people in Ireland, even in Dublin, are quite friendly.

We left Dublin, heading towards Cork, and made a stop at the Rock of Cashel. This was one of the most gorgeous days of our trip, and since the former-castle is high on a hill, you could see green countryside sharing blue skies for miles. I played around quite a bit with the 120 film camera here, as well as my 5D. Then we made our way on to Cork. I actually don’t think I took a single image of Cork on my DSLR, because we spent most of our time there socializing in speakeasies with the locals, who were the most friendly people we met on the entire trip!

We took the obligatory Blarney trip, but I was amazed at how beautiful the grounds at Blarney were. Cobh, is not far from Cork, and we decided to make a detour because I have a fascination with Titanic history. The roads in this area were quite treacherous and hilly, and there weren’t as many photo opportunities, but the smell of the Celtic Sea was exciting. We didn’t stick around too long, as we wanted to explore Gougane Barra Forest, a few hours away, off the road to Killarney. I don’t think all that many tourists stop by this forest, but it was my favorite place we visited. The trees and forest floor are covered in moss and shamrocks so the whole forest is green. Some locals in Cork told us that many Irish believe that Gougane Barra produces genuine magic and many people go here to be married or experience something significant. I can certainly understand why.

At Killarney, we visited Killarney National Park’s Muckross House and Torc Waterfall. Both offered beautiful photographs, but we were anxious to start driving, so we only spent a few hours there. The Ring of Kerry is one of the most popular road trips for tourists, and it is no wonder. You might as well walk it because you will be stopping the car every 5 minutes to take a photo. The first leg of the ring, we had significant cloud coverage, with spotlights of sun. We made a few stops in small towns along the road, like Sneem, but the most scenic portion of the trip unfolded when we got to Caherdaniel and Waterville. We arrived just at the Golden hour, and we got several great images.

We stayed in Portmaghee that evening, after I tried my hand at driving manual, and failed. Portmaghee was probably my favorite town we stayed in, maybe because I was still high off a day of beautiful photos or because I’d forgotten how good the ocean smells. Portmaghee is the town where you can take a boat to the Skellig islands, which we ultimately did not do. Instead we headed to the Dingle Peninsula where we could see similar bee-hive huts.

On the way, we stopped at Inch Beach to touch the Atlantic Ocean from the “other side” and when we turned to go back to the car, we saw beautiful mirroring on the slick sand. The beehive huts were cool, and situated in a civilian’s backyard. I will say I found it interesting that, in Ireland, old or ancient sites are allowed to be in people’s back yards. We saw random ruins everywhere! We scooted on over to Adare for the night and talked with the bartender all evening about “Irish” football.

We spent the entire following day at the Cliffs of Moher. We arrived early, and my boyfriend proposed! We loved the views, but realized we weren’t going to get that classic shot of the cliffs unless we stayed until the golden hour, so we did. Since we stayed at Moher the whole day, we didn’t get a chance to explore the Burren, and instead drove straight to Galway. I found Galway to be more “my kind of city” than Cork or Dublin. Galway Bay is gorgeous, and the Connemara mountains aren’t far away. We chose to explore the Aran Islands instead of the mountains, however. We managed to go on an unusually sunny and blue day and we had an incredible time biking the island. If you’re going to go, I would highly recommend Michael Faherty’s tour, he was incredible!

We wrapped our trip exploring Galway’s markets and Meath’s archaeological sites like the Hill of Tara and Newgrange. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience in Ireland, and I hope we can return in the future to explore more! I’ve added a gallery here of some of the places we explored on our trip. If you have any questions about where to go or what to see, please comment, and I will try to help. Hopefully, I will get the 120 prints back soon, and I will post when I do.

Updates and Results of film

Over the last month, I have been keeping very busy. After returning from New York, I photographed two weddings, received a visit from my brother, went to Michigan, and now I’m going to Ireland tomorrow! I am really looking forward to the trip, and I can’t wait to see what photos come out of it.

Before I delve into all my trip plans though, I wanted to share with you the results of my second roll of 100 ISO 120 Black and White film. Again, not all of the images came out, which was totally disappointing as I felt the exposure was right on for most of the shots. Only three images came out, and the rest were somehow over exposed. Anyhow, I really like the Empire State image:

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Jon and I leave tomorrow evening for Ireland and we’ll be gone until October 15th. I am so excited to shoot there, and I know we’re going to see some beautiful sites. I purchased a neutral density filter for my lenses and some rain bags, along with a shutter remote. I really want to get some beautiful landscapes in the southwest and try some long exposure night shots.

Our plan is to spend a day in Dublin and then spend most of our time in Cork, Kerry, and Galway. We are planning to go to the Gougane Barra Forest Park, Killarney National Park, the Skellig Islands, the Cliffs of Moher, and the Aran Islands. Of course we’ll see our share of castles, pubs, and farms. I hope to blog often, but I won’t be taking a computer, so I will have little control over how often I can post. If my posting is light, check for updates on Instagram @jen_sho. Slán go fóill!

Trip to New Yok

I was in New York last weekend, and had great fun shooting with my 24-70 lens. I took my DSLR and my new Holga 120 Pan for a test drive, I didn’t finish my 6 photo roll though, so more of those images to come after processing. I did shoot quite a bit on my DSLR and I went to the photography mecca for shopping- the B&H Photo Super Store.

I foolishly thought that half an hour would be enough time for me to find and purchase the three items I needed in this store. Never have I walked into a building and been so bewildered and overjoyed simultaneously. But I did walk out with a new camera bag. You can check out an interactive tour of the store here: http://www.bhphotovideo.com/find/superStoreTour.jsp

In my two and half days in the city, I mostly visited Queens and the Bronx. I will be posting shots from the Holga 120 pan soon. In the mean time, here are a few DSLR shots from the trip.

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Holga 120 Pan

Sorry for any audio issues in this. Hopefully you will find this un-boxing video informative. This Holga toy camera will accompany me on my trip to Ireland, in addition to my power house DSLR, to shoot some nice black and white panoramic images. Test shots to come shortly. By the way- I mistakenly reference this as a 120mm film camera, when it’s actually not 120mm, the medium format film is called “120” and is actually 60mm wide. Please pardon my mistake!