I took a break from my blog for a while, which always seems to be the case during the cold dark months of the year. Now that Spring is in full bloom here in Auburn things look so full of life and so colorful it just brings new inspiration to everything. Even though I took a few months off from my blog I still kept writing throughout the winter, but for some reason it always seems to be a little different. I wish I could find a way to better merge my offline writing with my writing here, but it would probably change how I write offline. Anyway, hope everyone is enjoying their springtime colors as much as we are down here in the south.
Last night Auburn started their SEC conference play. This is always a favorite sports season of the year for us, so I started off with a little iPhoneography art of Auburn Arena. Something I love about my iPhone is how it gives me the ability to move beyond formal photography and put my own artistic flare in the image. Some don’t like it, but over the years I have grown to love the freedom in living outside the rules of photography.
This image results from a technique I use called stacking, which is just something I made up, but comes from stacking the image in different apps where the end result is something you can’t just get from one single post processing app. You can certainly overdue it, and the garbage in garbage out rule of photography always applies. Now with the iOS Panorama you can get some really cool results, like this, and with all the great apps like Camera+ and others the artistic results are almost limitless. Some day I will have to list all the photography apps I use and how they work but that’s not for today.
It’s not like anyone ever wants to remember a 63-21 total blowout like what happened on Saturday, but there is more to life than football, even in the south. I’m not just saying that because we have only one single win against a ULM team we probably should have lost to, I said that in 2010 when we won the National Championship as well. That doesn’t mean people, media, fans, and the like can’t be brutal when Auburn doesn’t win every single game, or a single game, just look at the cover of the OANews below, but it’s still not the end of the world as we know it (just ask the 1952 fans).
There have been a few things this football year that have been interesting and fun. I did finally get a decent shot of Nova, Auburn’s Golden Eagle from the Raptor Center (below), and last Saturday we have 4 F-16′s do a flyover at the game for military appreciation week. The flyover was rare for Jordan-Hare Stadium lately (see my iPhone video of the flyover here), I can’t remember the last one we had, and they actually didn’t really even fly that low and loud either. I didn’t stick around for the parachuting team that jumped at halftime in the dark blustering cold, but all the military appreciation fanfare was outstanding. This may have been a day to forget the score and the game forever, true, but it’s fall in the south. We were blessed with being able to see with our eyes and hear with our ears yet another day the Lord had made.
There is nothing quite like a stadium full of 87,451 fans creating a sea of orange and blue. It actually doesn’t happen all that often, and it’s even harder to capture all 87,000 people in one single photo. My expectations for the rest of the season are very low at this point, but that’s ok, Auburn is still Auburn, and while there are many reasons why I love this town, football is one. Ever since the iPhone 5 came out this shot above is the very shot I had in my mind for the new panorama feature, and I finally got to take it during the Auburn vs Arkansas game. The result is something that can only be seen with a very wide angle lens, or in a stitched panorama shot of the stadium, from the south end zone. I loaded a full size high-res version here if you want to take a look at the shot at full size.
It does take a little practice to get a decent panorama shot using the new iOS 6 camera feature, but with some practice you can really get some great shots that you can’t get without a lot of work and specialized skills otherwise. My first real professional attempt was done at this scenic vista in Colorado called Lake City back in 2008. That setup required an elaborate (but well worth it) set of tripods, panorama ball heads by Markins (an outstanding ball head), levels, and some good knowledge of Photoshop to be able to stitch together the final panorama product. Today, a mere 4 years later, it’s a much different landscape with the iOS 6 option where the software allows you to take the shot above, automatically stitching together a series of shots taken simultaneously.
If you have your own iOS 6 panorama example leave it in the comments below. I’m going to offer a how-to on the iOS option down the road, but for now, stadiums make a great subject.
I remember landing in Amsterdam on October 5, 2011 after being in the air for almost 10 hours. I turned on my iPhone and AP news alerts started pinging my phone as happens when a “world event” takes place. I read through the Fox News, CNN, Sky News alerts and articles, and read through my Twitter and Facebook feeds. As we pulled up to the gate I had already received the text below from Deborah (yes I have all my text messages from years ago), a message received in my hand sitting on a runway in the Netherlands thousands of miles away from Auburn, Alabama.
As we pulled up to the gate I took the photo above of the Delta flight parked next to our gate, pulled it into my Camera+ app, put a boarder around it and posted it to Instagram. At this point I had already checked my email, responded to a few emails, and looked up our connecting flight information. All from a small piece of metal, glass, and plastic that didn’t exist a few years earlier.
This may sounds like a lot of poetic musings for a phone, but for some reason my mind wasn’t ready for this particular piece of news that morning, and it confused me. I was on my way to Africa, and the only reason I was going to have any personal connection with my wife halfway around the world was because Steve Jobs had decided he was going to invent and create what I was holding in my hand.
Here was a man who shared no convictions with my faith, a brilliant man who had no understanding beyond the pluralistic view of Christianity known for centuries mixed with his version of Buddhism. He just couldn’t go beyond his own understanding and even made this statement to Isaacson:
“The juice goes out of Christianity when it becomes too based on faith rather than on living like Jesus or seeing the world as Jesus saw it,” he told me. “I think different religions are different doors to the same house. Sometimes I think the house exists, and sometimes I don’t.”
Yet I still felt some connection, even if a minor one, with Jobs, sitting on a runway in Europe, as if the plane full of people melted away leaving me and my connection with Jobs sitting in my hand. He shared none of my beliefs, yet he changed the world, my world, and still does on a daily basis. After I got home from Africa I read, back to back, the biography on Steve Jobs and the biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer by Metaxas. What an amazing contrast of times and cultures, beliefs, and both had the ability to change the world. Ultimately in death, as we all will do some day, either looking to what lies ahead, one perhaps clinging to life here on earth, so did these two great men.
I boarded the plane to Africa, still thinking about Jobs’ fate and wrote this as we took off.
The biggest surprise to me so far [on this trip], was upon landing, finding out that Steve Jobs died. I was truly saddened to hear this. I know we are all temporary to this world, but this man, who for all accounts wasn’t a believer, changed the world. He forever changed the way the world communicates, how we are connected with each other, and the reason I can talk to Deborah from this plane in Europe while she is in Auburn.
He affected so many people through his innovations. How are we to greave his death? I’m saddened over his death as if he was someone I knew personally, and at the same time I really don’t know why either. Death seems so imminent for all of us, especially when you hear about Jobs dying at 59. I know why we die, the fall created this and Christ had to die for us, but it’s still so hard to understand. I didn’t even know Jobs, but I will miss him. The new iPhone announcement yesterday had people wanting to see Jobs at the event, people who never knew, other than God, that he would die the very next day. I pray for his soul.
I’m not even really sure why I write this today other than to acknowledge the gravity this one person had on our world. A person I vastly disagree with on almost all aspects of life, yet he was someone who had a positive impact on so many people.
Jobs once said “simplicity is the ultimate sophistication,” which really became his whole life philosophy, and was carried on today by Tim Cook and Apple with the video on their front page and the letter below. What other for-profit company would take down their entire front page just to show a 2 minute tribute video. Simplicity and sophistication.
I love photos of Auburn’s gameday. Since Auburn is off this week with a bye, and they really couldn’t have a better Saturday than today, I thought I would just post a few pics from last week’s game against LSU. This game I decided to not fight the gate entrance camera police by trying to take my camera into the stadium (Jordan-Hare Stadium no longer allows Digital SLR’s taken in by the fans sitting in the seats, technically it’s “cameras with detachable lenses or cameras with lenses longer than 4 inches“, a policy vary randomly enforced, unlike the food policy). Instead I opted for my new iPhone 5. These are my very first images taken with the iPhone 5, and so far it has done quite well. From a camera perspective it didn’t make big leaps but there are a few nice updates, including the panorama feature I will post about some other day.
I have posted images using this camera phone since the very first one came out years ago, but each time the technology gets better, and the images allow for even greater creativity for the photographer. For a camera phone, these lighting conditions were near impossible to capture a few years ago (at least capture well), now, even low light shots are starting to be possible with just your phone. The first shot, the one at the top was taken from my seat in the end-zone, and the last shot was taken from a parking deck as the game ended. That shot has been one of my favorites over the years ever since I took this shot of the night we lost to LSU back in 2008 when Auburn lost 21 to 26 in a heartbreaker. Still, LSU never disappoints as far as quality football goes, and I got some of my favorite ESPN Gameday photos during a game at the LSU game that year.
So this week while we get to watch everyone else fret about their team losing here are a few gameday photos from Auburn last week via my iPhone. War Eagle!
Yesterday we had the treat of being able to tour the Independent Presbyterian Church in Birmingham on our way home from UAB, and what a gorgeous church it is. If you haven’t been to Birmingham, Alabama before, the Magic City has a ton of things to see, but the skyline around town has several incredible churches that sit nestled into the rolling hillside between downtown skyscrapers and medical buildings. Many of these churches were built around the turn of the 19th to 20th century, and this is one of them, founded in 1915, with the sanctuary being completed in 1926. I absolutely love getting to visit and photograph churches like this, I just rarely get the opportunity to do so.
Unfortunately I did not come prepared to do cathedral-type, stain glass, wide angle vaulted ceiling church photography when I left the house yesterday morning (not sure why, I should always be prepared for anything), but I did have my cell phone with me. The shot above was taken with my iPhone, so it doesn’t quite give you the overall beauty that a super-wide fisheye lens would do (like when I shot this museum in Auburn), but it worked ok yesterday, and I love getting creative with iPhoneography. I know one iPhone photo does not make a photo essay, so call this a preview for “some day.” They say one photo is worth a thousand words, and I could probably do that here, so for now one photo will have to do. Hopefully some day I will be able to go back and do a proper job with tripod in hand.
I’m not sure there are any new and unique ways to shoot Samford Hall on Auburn University, but I keep looking for them just the same. This was a new shot for me, sitting in my car stopped on College (very briefly), I took this shot out the window of my car. It’s such an iconic shot to me, and it has been photographed for so many decades that you almost get nostalgic walking across the lawn thinking about how many have stood here before. As Deborah and I walked across the lawn for lunch yesterday, I realized I love it now not because it represents football, or tradition, but because represents where I’m from, it’s where I live and work. In a southern college town in Alabama.
Tomorrow of course starts the insanity that is NCAA College Football, and somehow, I will be there in Atlanta when Auburn kicks off against #14 ranked Clemson. It starts off my 41st season as an Auburn football fan (see my 40th and photo outtakes), and each one has been unique, and memorable to some extent. This year, my favorite off-season football day had to be the unveiling of Auburn’s Heisman Trophy Winner Statues for Pat Sullivan, Bo Jackson, and Cam Newton, or Chizik and Trooper talking to the players along with the other shots of the players coming out of the tunnel for Aday 2012. I didn’t take my camera into too many games last year so I wouldn’t be hassled by the camera mafia as I walked into Jordan-Hare, but I did still get some shots representative of each home game last year, and that’s probably going to be plan this year. As Auburn makes it harder and harder to bring in cameras I’m left with take iPhone cell phone camera shots, but that’s ok, I tend to enjoy the games better anyway, plus I’ve found the iPhone to be one of the best point-n-shoot cameras around.
War Eagle everyone. I’m looking forward to a fun and exciting football season as always, see you on Twitter tomorrow from Atlanta (@scottfillmer), I’ll be sure to send out a few Instagram shots from inside the Georgia Dome.
The photo above that leads off this post is a draft of a poem on prayer I worked on this week. Surprisingly, once I started working on it, the bulk of the verse came together faster than any other poetic attempt, and I really only had to rewrite it a few times. If you have followed this blog at all you will know I have tried to put my creative mind to work through photography, reading, and writing, which includes poetry here and there. Poetry is one of those art forms our culture has ignored to such a point that it captured my attention, maybe because it has been so highly ignored by my generation. This is not to say I am a poet, but I do make attempts. Poetry is like photography in that if I never took any photos, there is a 100% chance I would never improve.
One thing I have learned about poetry is it’s every bit as difficult as I thought it was. It is difficult to understand at times, it’s extremely difficult to write, and overwhelmingly difficult to write well. Anyway, what I have learned about poetry is that when simple prose are inadequate to express the greatness at hand, poetry steps in and creates an entirely different level of expression, and that is incredible. Look for this poem later in the week, but this week, the images of the week include this attempt at poetry on prayer. If you are wondering about the bubbles image below, check out Weekly Photo Challenge: Purple, Oil and Water for an explanation.
For the last few weeks when I finally got around to reviewing the images for my Project 365 (see gallery of all P365 images here) I always seem to have a unique sunset or sunrise photo I like. The above shot wasn’t actually an official P365 image, but I really like how the abstract, somewhat pastel, sunrise turned out. This shot above was taken with my iPhone out of the window of my office-study around 6am while I was doing my daily routine of reading.
This week was a super busy week all around, and the images are really from all over the place. Two images in this set are part of larger posts, one of Deborah, which was posted yesterday, and another below is one image in a full set of images to be posted later in the week. These images represent my week well, and they are really all over the place, but my favorite image really has nothing to do with good photography, it has to do with the power of a yellow sticky note. I’m not sure I’ve ever received a more encouraging note on a computer left for me to fix. On a day I had almost no extra time to do anything I was handed a computer that didn’t work because of an unfortunate coffee spill directly on the computer’s keyboard. This note, and the fact that the computer was actually able to be cleaned up and get it fixed within about an hour was such a great end to my work week.