Dave Hochanadel
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Portrait of a slinky

The star of this little blog post is the regular, run-of-the-mill, household slinky. I came across this old metal one sitting hidden in a cabinet at the bottom of an old bookshelf in my room, an enclosure that has effectively become a time capsule from my youth. I lit my silver, stretchy subject with a couple of strobes and also taped blue and orange colored gels onto the flashes for some of the shots. Of all the common pairs of complementary colors, this combination is by far my favorite.

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Memories stored in a baseball park

Rolfe Park in Maumee, Ohio. To skip down to the rest of the pictures, click here.

Welcome to my old backyard. Before moving in February, I lived just across the fence from a place called Rolfe Park in Maumee, Ohio. It’s nothing much — just a few baseball fields, a playground, and some batting cages. However, I made a fairly regular habit of walking there because it was sometimes the only way I had time to go outdoors.

I used to do my best thinking on a swing set in the park’s playground. But then it was torn down, and I haven’t had any good ideas since. The photo above is the jungle gym that replaced those wonderful, rickety swings.

Before the swing set’s demolition, I would spend hours on it thinking about how I couldn’t wait for high school to be over because college was going to be “so much easier.” Then years later I would meander around the baseball fields thinking I couldn’t wait to finish college and get a job in the real world, because it was going to be “so much easier.” Now I occasionally stroll about, missing the simple days of high school.

Rolfe Park became something of a geographic repository for my ideas. Since it was a location mostly reserved for pensive mindsets, it became a way to store thoughts and memories within a part of space. By returning there, I can easily access all those years of introspection.

I remember walking out countless nights and looking up at the stars, wondering what my future held, marveling at the hugeness of the universe and thinking of how long it took all that light in the sky to reach me. I remember exactly what bench I sat on when I called up Alicia for the first time (I paced around for a good 30 minutes before working up the nerve to dial.) I went there in all seasons and in all moods. I trudged through the snow to think about all I needed to do to make it through a school year, and I rested on a bench during summer evening bike rides to watch the sun set.

About the Photos

Some of this post’s images are more attempts at that love it or hate it HDR technique, which I mentioned a few weeks ago. HDR, or high dynamic range, has gained some added attention in recent weeks because Apple implemented a significantly toned-down version for use with the iPhone’s built-in camera.

I’ve concluded there are two kinds of outcomes when people try to use HDR: either they successfully bind a wide range of contrast into a beautiful, surreal photograph, or they turn already-bad pictures into a nightmarish and flat mess of color. My hope is, of course, that the ones I’ve generated lean toward the former, but I’m still a bit on the fence.

In terms of the merits of the technique itself, as opposed to my application of it, my sentiments largely align with those of Trey Ratcliff, the editor of the hugely popular Stuck in Customs blog and one of the leading proponents of the technique. Cameras, he wrote, “are not good at capturing a scene the way the mind remembers and maps it.”

When you are actually there on the scene, your eye travels back and forth, letting in more light in some areas, less light in others, and you create a “patchwork-quilt” of the scene. Furthermore, you will tie in many emotions and feelings into the imagery as well, and those get associated right there beside the scene. Now, you will find that as you explore the HDR process, that photos can start to evoke those deep memories and emotions in a more tangible way. It’s really a wonderful way of “tricking” your brain into experiencing much more than a normal photograph.

What are your thoughts on the HDR process — is it just a fad, or is it worth serious consideration as a new artistic technique?

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Summer deer

Of the thousands of photos I took throughout my college career, a small handful stand out in my memory more prominently than the rest. Among these cherished few are ones I shot on a fateful, frigid February day while meandering through a local metropark. A pair of trusting deer let me step within ten feet of them, and I snapped away as they stood before a snowy wooded background.

As summer begins its departure, memories like these are pleasant reminders that the colder seasons aren’t all that bad.

Of course, you’ve noticed the lead image of this post shows no signs of snow or cold. These photos were taken a few weeks ago in the peak August heat at Sidecut Metropark. Perhaps they can complement those chilled, snowflake covered deer. And maybe I should return for more once the leaves start to fall.

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Cooking up an impromptu photo shoot

My girlfriend Alicia’s birthday was a few weeks ago. Among her gifts were some new clothes, a watch she had been wanting for a while, and several books on the topic of cooking — the last of which I feel compelled to point out is not entirely, or even predominantly, self serving. For reasons unknown, Alicia loves to cook. This comes in handy, as my culinary skills are pushed to the limits once I get to “stir thoroughly and microwave two more minutes.”

As a side dish to these birthday gifts, however, I also served Alicia with an impromptu photo shoot, previously a staple of our relationship. The recipe is simple enough: just two strobes, an umbrella, and one willing model. Cook for about 30 minutes, season with a little Photoshop, and serve on a blog.

Of course, portraits have never been my signature dish, and this wasn’t a particularly ambitious shoot, but it’s another baby step in my mission to re-familiarize myself with the photographic basics after what seems like a year of absence from the craft.

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Brian and Debora’s wedding

My good friends Brian and Debora tied the knot this weekend. Decorum demanded that, as a groomsman, I not carry a camera with me down the aisle, but I was certainly able to get some shots before and after the ceremony. (You might also recall I took some engagement photos of them in July 2009).

Since my home is conveniently located across the street from the church, it became the changing room for Brian and all the groomsmen.

The ceremony was held at St. Joan of Arc Parish. Both my girlfriend Alicia and I had the honor of being in the wedding. She and I walked down the aisle together, and I told her not to get any ideas. Then everyone headed to the Holiday Inn French Quarters in Perrysburg for the reception. The building’s beautiful atrium-like “holidome” lent itself to good pictures.

Brian and Debora are off to a week in Cancun now. Soon after they return, they’ll be heading south again to start a new, warmer life in Florida. They will be missed.

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