Wanda Merritt Anthony

Wanda Merritt Anthony

Sunday, June 5, 2016

All But Blind

Yes, it has been a long time since I wrote.  I've been going through great and terrible transitions.  Between losing my usable sight, and moving across the country, I haven't been able to write until now.  I will talk about photography too; afterall, this is a photography blog. 

As most of you know, I was diagnosed with glaucoma in 2011.  the eye drops haven't been able to control my inter ocular pressure, so my sight got progressively worse. 

Last fall I was able to upload some Halloween cupcake pictures.  I was encouraged because this was close work but I needed to use my magnifier to check the image on the back of the camera.  I knew my eyes saw pictures on Photoshop as overexposed so I didn't adjust Levels.  Many were accepted by stock agencies and some sold.  After Thanksgiving I only set up one Christmas concept.  It was the close candle with the wreath boque, or however it's spelled.  Normally I'd look it up but using the screen reader is still a challenge for me.  I know the files were accepted put I don't remember if any sold.

By the time I took the Christmas pictures I needed the magnifier for everything.  I had to use it to check and change settings, as well as see the image on the back of the camera. 

Using the computer had become increasingly difficult.  Everything I wanted and needed to do on the computer was a chore.  Submitting photographs had became an ordeal.  Online bill paying was scary because it was so difficult to make sure I was in the right field.  Enjoyable pursuits such as Facebook and Youtube were a frustration. 

I had been trying to get screen reader lessons since I'd been diagnosed with glaucoma.  All kinds of obstacles appeared before me.  Things started out well; a lady came out to discuss my needs and screen reader lessons were at the top of my list.  I wanted to guard against the day when I could no longer use the computer normally.  Before I had my first lesson, the agency lost funding for at least a year.  Then because I didn't want to attend school or seek employment Services for the Blind decided they wouldn't pay for the lessons.  The Center for the Visually Impaired also have screen reader lessons but their clients must be at least fifty-five years old.  At that time, I had a couple years to wait.  I was told a branch of the public library offered screen reader lessons.  Either I had just missed the class or another would be starting in the spring, summer, fall, after the first of the year, etc. 

In September of 2016 I turned fifty-five and could seek help through the Center for the Visually Impaired, CVI.  I jumped throught their hoops and finally got to talk to somebody.  I was told how difficult learning a screen reader would be.  The Lady suggested I learn to use an IPhone because IPhones have great functionality for blind people.  Next, she asked if I had an IPhone?  I told her I didn't.  She said I'd need to get one. 

I am a computer person, not a smartphone person.  I have a cheap smartphone I bought when my sight was better.  I thought I would enjoy using it because most people like theirs.  I set it up and tried using it; I didn't like it very much.  My blind friends are fond of saying how much better an IPhone is than an Android.  I borrowed an IPhone 4 to see how it was different than the Android I already had.  Both Voiceover and Talkback made me want to throw the phone out the window.    Somehow I killed S.E.R.I. so I returned the IPhone 4 to my friend. 

I spoke to CVI in December so the plan was to get started in January.  I didn't hear from them in January, and by then I had planned to move to South Dakota.  Every day I hoped there was no mail.  Dealing with mail was almost impossible, even on a closed circuit tv.  Someone needed to take me to the grocery store because I could neither see to push the cart, nor chose items off the shelves.  My youngest daughter and her boyfriend took pictures Christmas day.  She also did most of the cooking.  While my daughter was home from college she mentioned my moving to South Dakota so she could help me with mail, bill paying, and cooking. 

Things fell into place like a miracle.  I put my house on the market and had an acceptable offer in four days.  We found a newly built townhouse community near campus.  The still had a few openings and I was able to get one.  I flew out of Atlanta to Sioux Falls on March ninth.  I signed my lease in Vermillion March tenth. 

I called the Independent Living service as soon as I was settled.  A lady came out and we discussed my needs.  "Here we go again," I thought.  I mentioned screen reader lessons first thing.  She said they have a technology guy that will come to my home and teach me whatever I want to learn technology wise.  She said an agency called Dakota Link would pay for five hours of technology lessons.  She told me about a free screen reader called NVDA.    I really didn't expect anything to come from this meeting; at least not anytime soon.
In late April or early May, I got a call from CVI in Georgia.  The lady apologized profusely for taking so long to get back with me.  I told her I had moved out of state.

Shortly after meeting with the lady from Independent Living, I got a letter from Dakota Link.  they wanted me to set up my first appointment for technology lessons.  The tech guy came the following Wednesday.  After four hours of NVDA screen reader lessons I can do quite a bit on the Internet.  My goal was to learn how to use Facebook with the screen reader.  I figured if I can use Facebook, other websites will fall into place.  I used my fifth hour to get a handle on my tablet.  Like the smartphone, Talkback makes me want to throw the thing out the window.  As I said before, I'm a computer person, not a smartphone person. 

Even though Dakota Link prefers Apple devices; they were willing to instruct me on the products I already had.  I'd complain to friends, "I've already got a computer, why do I need to spend $600 on a smartphone.  I don't even know if I'd like it."

"A man is plowing the field behind the apartment," Andrea said.  For a brief moment, I was excited.  I thought about the photographs I could take.  During this moment I thought of wide, overall shots; low angles with lots of sky; high angels from upstairs windows using a telephoto lens, detail shots of the machinery, furrows, and the machinery making the furrows.  I could get a few video clips too.  That wonderful moment was replaced by the memory that I can no longer see to take photographs and video.  This saddened me for the rest of the morning.  If I were still taking pictures I'd have had another category to offer my stock images in.  I would have been able to follow the crops growth from planting to harvest.  So I mourned the loss.  While I was writing about this, I just remembered I sold my telephoto lens along with my older camera equipment. 

My sight changes throughout the day.  No matter if it's bright and sunny or dreary and gray, it is quite dark when I wake up.  Turning on the light makes little or no difference.  It takes about five minutes for my vision to 'improve' if it's going to.  At this point things looking normal with or without something that looks like tiny water droplets, bright and foggy, or dark and foggy.  After about half and hour normal disappears; it's either bright and foggy, dark and foggy, or dark with faint light perception.  These change throught the day with the addition of bright and blind.  Sometimes all I see in the middle of the night is white.  Before my vision started to change I'd put in my first set of eyedrops after I get up.  Drops didn't effect what I saw on dark and/or foggy days; but they did cause the good moments in the morning to shorten.  I experimented by waiting for my mision to worsen on good days before putting in drops.    I'd be upset with myself when I automatically put in drops on a good day.

Remember, the drops weren't controlling my inter ocular pressure.  A good IOP reading is in the teens.  Last time I saw the eye doctor my pressures fluctuated wildly.  My left eye, which I had laser surgery on, had readings in the twenties and thirties.  My other eye would change from 19 to 61.  All within the space of a few minutes.   I have a friend who stopped taking his eye drops because he thought they were doing more harm than good.  He has since changed doctors and started on another drop.  I don't know how it's working for him. 

Sparkles woke me up to take him out the other morning.  This messed up my normal routine of putting in eye drops right away.  This happened to be what I call "A good eye day">  I had a few hours instead of a few minutes of somewhat good vision. I decided not to put in eye drops first thing in the morning when my eyes are somewhat good.  I wanted to enjoy those extra few hours of decent vision. 

This was one of those mornings I was mad at myself for forgetting to leave out my drops until later.  I put in the drops and the fogginess came.  Some of my friends with glaucoma have scary stories their doctors told them.  One friend said she went to the doctor because of terrible headaches.  Her doctor told my friend her pressure was so had her eye would have burst if she hadn't come in.  Another friend's eye doctor told him his pressure could get so high a blood vessel could rupture in his eye while he was sleeping and he'd bleed to death before he could do anything about it.  I don't believe these tales, I think they are akin to urban legends.

This morning I told Andrea how I was mad at myself for taking my eyedrops on a good eye day.  She said something about you may can see better but you may be harming your eyes.  She said, "That's like saying 'you can sleep when you're dead;." 

I agreed with her.  Given the choice to live three to six months with the vision I had two years ago or living into old age blind, I'd choose the three to six months of my old vision.  I'd take the time to photograph everything on my bucket list.  I'd use the money I got from the sale of my house to finance the trips.  I don't know if I'd shoot stock for old times sake.  I'd buy a macro lens and another telephoto lens, take some photography workshops, and live and breathe photography.  I'd get the online versions of Photoshop and Lightroom, and spend nights learning to use them.  So much for wishful thinking.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Total Eclipse of the Moon

Thanks to my daughter's web serfing I learned there would be a total lunar eclipse.  She wanted to find a good place to view it.  We didn't find the "perfect spot" but fortunately we had a decent view in from out front yard.

I went online for exposure settings so I'd have a jumping off point.  Settings for photographing a full moon were as expected; use a tripod, cable release or two-second timer, F8 or F11 at 1/100 to 1/125 second at ISO 100, manual focus.  I experimented with the white balance to see how that would affect the moon's color.  You can see the different results here. Getting exposures right once the moon darkened became more difficult. I started with the recommended settings of ISO 400 at f5.6 at 1 sec. We found this setting what we thought was overexposed and definitely noisy. We tried various combinations of ISO 200 and different shutter speeds. We decided to stay at f8 for a good compromise of detail and shutter speed. Although I was worried about a 3 sec exposure it gave us the best results. I was worried about the long exposure because I was afraid the camera would pick up ambient light from nearby street lights. I was also concerned about the natural movement of the moon and the earth's shadow. Final settings were ISO 200 at f8 for 3 seconds. A lunar eclipse is a good time to experiment because it lasts for hours, giving you time to experiment with different settings until you get a pleasing effect. Use these settings as a reference point. Your settings may vary based on how far the moon is from you. Yes, a few thousand miles make a difference. When the moon started taking on an orange color my daughter and I tried to fix out exposure. The orange part of the moon had nice detail while the uncovered part was a blank white disk. Dispite all our efforts we couldn't get the uncovered part of the moon to show any detail. Later, when I was online I saw pictures from agencies that should know how to photograph a lunar eclipse with the same characteristic. http://earthsky.org/tonight/total-lunar-eclipse-blood-moon-hunters-moon-october-7-8-2014 and http://www.newsweek.com/photos-total-eclipse-moon-276099. We decided a camera will show this phenomenon; to avoid it, maybe you need a telescope. At lease something more powerful than a 300mm lens. I would welcome comments and recommendations on this issue. I narrowed my many photographs to eighteen to make a slideshow. Individual images can be seen at http://www.blindaseyelook.com/Events/Lunar-Eclipse/October-8-2014/i-cdR2Bt3. I am thankful that through the telephoto lens I could see the eclipse. The full moon looks like a bright light blue ball. Other phases look like a smaller, less bright ball. I don't see crescent moons and half moons. forget about craters. I could see detail on the moon and later the eclipse by using the live view feature through my camera's telephoto lens. When the moon turned orange I couldn't see it at all with my naked eyes but I could use my camera to see it.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Senior Pictures

While searching photography videos on YouTube I came across some how to footage about senior pictures.  I clicked through thinking it would be nice to get some tips on photographing senior citizens.  I quickly learned the seniors they were talking about were high school seniors, not old people.  I knew high school seniors got photographed in their graduation gowns but i knew nothing about high schoolers, especially girls, dressing up, going on location, and getting a whole portfolio of photographs taken. 

I figured this is something Ialso could do.  First and foremost, I had a living, breathing, high school senior girl right under my roof.  On top of that, this senior girl had been my model since she was in fourth grade. 

Now for a cool location.  Piedmont park, no.  There's no good place to change clothes if we take MARTA, and parking is expensive.  Plus been there....So I hit the internet.  I found Stately Oaks Plantation in Jonesboro, Georgia.  Stately Oaks is thought to be Margaret Mitchell's inspiration for Tara in Gone with the Wind.  Though I wasn't able to get hold of an antebellum dress we had a good time.  While there we toured the house, general store, tenant farmer's house, and kitchen.  Just bring your patience while touring the house.  They use a CD during the week and the man on the CD talks on and on.  I'm told live people conduct the tours on Saturdays; I hope they move a bit faster. 

You can see the gallery at http://www.blindaseyelook.com/Portraits/Andreas-Senior-Pictures/

Contact Blind as Eye Look Photography to book a portrait session, senior pictures, wedding, or architectural photography.  blindaseyelook@live.com.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Describing Photos, NO

There was a big discussion on "The Blind Community" Facebook page about describing photos.  I had no idea this was such a hot topic until after Merritt's wedding.  I posted a photo along with a link to her  Smugmug Gallery.  Basically I was putting it out there that I'm a legally blind photographer.  A lady commented in a snide fashion about this being "The Blind Community" and was I going to describe the photos.  She said other blind people may be intrested but she wasn't.  I responded that the interested people would ask and I skip posts that don't interest me.  In my opinion she simply wanted something to complain about. 

I could have responded, "Bride and groom standing close together in front of the Kansas City, Missouri Temple."  Would this have been enough?  I have no idea.  Do I need to describe the couple's facial features, their attire; if it is a full-length, three-quarter length, or head and chest; the part of the temple that is showing, what?  Merritt had described her dress to me but what I imagined was different from the actual dress.  

Later on still another blindness oriented site someone posted a picture and another person asked for a description.  For some reason the picture posted without the caption.  I decided to exercise my describing abilities.  I described the scend and materials but I don't think I did it justice.  If the person who asked were to go to the place in the picture I wonder if he'd think it had been described well.

Facebook is a place for sharing what we want to share.  If you like it good, go ahead and hit like or leave a comment.  If you don't like it say so in a respectful comment and maybe an interesting discussion can get going.  If you expect regular people with many other things to do to describe in enough detail to make the description worthwhile your expectations are unrealistic.  Captions help tell the story in these posts but don't describe the photo.  Here's and example.
The Missionary Training Center, which prepares young adults to spread the...
NPR|By NPR Staff
  This is the last photo I will describe unless if's for a stock photography agency.  People may be very interested in what every photo on Facebook (where I got this on) says but I don't believe it.  The photographer is situated above the subjects so the tops of heads can be seen. Ten Mormon missionaries, two of them women, standing in a circle with their heads bowed and arms folded in prayer.  They are in a classroom with the door open.  Desks can be seen behind some of them.  One desk has papers beside it on the floor.  The side wall has a coat rack with 5 black jackets and 1 blue jacket on it.  The back wall has three flags hanging sideways from it; Union Jack, another flag that incorporates the Union Jack, and a flag that looks like the Samoan flag but the star is wrong. 

If I described this picture for a stock photography agency I'd simply say, "Mormon missionaries praying at the MTC." I've had my rant.....moving on.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Available Light Photography

It has been said the photographers who label themselves existing light photographers don't know how to use flash.  I can only speak for myself; they are right.  I don't know enough about flash to use it effectively.  I do know enough to not turn on my built in on-camera flash.  When I had a separate flash for my film camera I knew enough not to point it straight at my subject.  I knew enough to tilt or swivel the flash head but me results were terrible because I didn't know how to adjust the flash output.  Now I know enough to not only buy a flash that tilts and swivels but to also get a stand to put it on, remote, (The remote may be already built into the camera and/or flash unit), and possible a reflector.    Because I don't have the money for all that, and haven't studied how to set it up, and practiced, I'm still an existing light photographer. 

I've been thinking about calling myself an available light photographer.  This came about at this club/bar/restaurant we were in the night before my daughter's wedding.  Between the need to photograph people in low light, and wanting as little noise as possible in the pictures I was momentarily in a quandary.  I started out by using that terrible on-camera flash.  I don't know why, wishful thinking I guess.  As you know, the pictures turned out awful.  I put on my thinking cap.

I remembered YouTube videos where the photographer used a flashlight to "paint" light where needed in night scenes.  "Andrea, turn on your flashlight app," I said. 

"My phone is dead," she answered.

I thought a bit more.  Then it came to me, my magnifyer light.  I dig out my magnifyer and turn it on.  I hold it in one hand and my camera in the other.  Now I'm able to angel the light so it makes their faces look pretty good for a club/bar/restaurant. 

Use substitutions in a pinch.  For the most part shoot in conditions your equipment can handle.  Be an available light photographer when you have to be; it's better than putting your camera away.  


Give this video a look 

"People like to take pictures, not have pictures." Constance Merritt

 Recently I had a unique experience at a wedding.  I may step on some toes but I've only calmed down a bit since the wedding.  I had offered to photograph my oldest daughter's wedding as my gift to her and her groom.  How hard could that be?......

My experience as a wedding guest or as the wedding photographer is both limited.  Maybe I should crash some weddings to see what happens at picture taking time.  Times do change, am I not with them? 

When my best friend Shirley got married in 2000 I offered to photograph her wedding.  She had planned a small church wedding but her friends showed up anyway to wish her well.  I wish I had some shots from back then to compaire with my current work.  The shoot was uneventful. 

In 2003 when my sister-in-law got married in her home church, wedding guested gathered behind the photographer in an effort to capture the same shot he was taking.*  He asked everyone to wait until after he had shot each pose, then he'd give them time to get the same pose with their cameras before he moved on to another pose or grouping.  This worked well, he got his shots without people firing off flashes at random times potentially ruining his exposures.  Guests interested in taking pictures heeded his instructions and nobody positioned themselves in front of his tripod on any plane to take a snapshot. 

My neighbor's daughter employed a different tactic at her wedding.  The ceremony and reception were held in a Victorian house converted for weddings and such.  I was the photographer for her wedding so I was aware of her plan.  All the guests were to wait in the dining room until the DJ called their family or group to come to the stairs to take pictures.  This worked well too.  Again, nobody got in front of my tripod's plane to snap off a picture.  Most of her guests stayed in the dining room as requested. 

My daughter's wedding was a photographer's nightmare.  As soon as she and her new husband emerged from the LDS Temple they were bombarded with well wishers wielding smartphones and possible a camera or two.  As soon as I got set up nothing changed.**  The location of my tripod made no difference to these wedding guests; they simply moved in front of me and kept snapping away.  I was told somebody would be taking the video.  If someone was taking video they were shooting in the midst of the smartphone mob.  I'm sorry to say I lost it when two people realized they didn't have any shots with the bride's mother and sister in them and offered to take them for me.  Maybe I should have lost it sooner because they finally backed off and I was able to get some pictures.  I have never seen anything like it and hope never to see anything like it again. 

I had come prepared and with high expectations.  My youngest Daughter was my second shooter.  She has less patience than I and got pictures of the guests huddled together with their phones and cameras snapping pictures. 

We don't mind if you take pictures at events; really we don't.  We do mind if you prevent us from getting pictures.  Stay behind the tripod and make sure the photographer isn't about to press the shutter if you're using a flash.

My daughter's wedding pictures can be seen at http://www.blindaseyelook.com/Clients/Weddings/Merritt-And-Gabriel

*You are not going to get the same shot the photographer gets.  You may be close but it won't be the same.  The photographer or his tripod is covering that spot.  Being a bit to the left or right, higher or lower will change the shot.  Other things determine the look of the shot as well; focal length of lens, exposure with it's permutations of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO; if indoors the white balance settings, post processing, etc.  

**We were a bit late setting up because we had the wrong address. 

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Stop Selling Yourself Short.....

I wrote this for The Beazler but think It may fit here as well.  

.....and stop expecting something for nothing.  I see both these trends on Craigslist and it's got to change.  There are so many of us out ther competing for the same dollar that pricing has gotten to be ridiculous.  As independent contractors we've got to stop selling ourselves short.  We need to stick together and educate the public about the worth of our craft.

Go to the Services/Creative section on Craigslist and you'll see what I'm railing against. 
With the digital age of photography and the convenience of having my own studio, I'm offering headshots for only $25. Included is one free 8x10 and high resolution digitally edited copies of the shoot on a CD/DVD at no additional cost. No gimmicks, no crazy sales, nada. Just great pictures at a reasonable price. (Mon - Fri only, sorry.)

For an confusion about this, I'll break it down like this. For $25, you set up an appointment for a 30 minute headshot session at my studio. Bring an outfit change or two if you like because we can take A LOT of photos in just 30 minutes. Once done, we review the photos. You pick five that you like, I edit them immediately, and print one 8x10 while I burn a DVD of the photos. You walk out with an 8x10 print, a DVD of all images of the shoot including the chosen (edited) and unchosen images. All photos are in high resolution large enough for a billboard.

Now lets break this down to see how or if this photographer is making any money.  She will spend more than thirty minutes with this client, especially if the client brings two changes of clothes.  Pouring over the photos to choose five will take another five to ten minutes.  Editing five images will take another half hour or so depending on what needs to be done.  Printing the 8 by 10 and burning the CD will take a few minutes too.  Now comes payment and more pleasantries when the client leaves.  This photographer has invested at least ninety minutes in the photoshoot.

Because she decided to print photographs herself she has the added expense of a quality printer and the right inks.  High quality 8 by 10s take a lot of ink.  (I don't print my own photos because of the high cost to get good looking prints at home.  When I did try home printing in years gone by, the ink took a few minutes to dry.)  The cost of photo paper and CD has to be considered.

She had examples of her work on the Craigslist ad and it is quite good.  This lady is selling herself short in price and getting no residual effects.  She is giving away full resolution images so her client can print them at Heaven know where, put them on Facebook and share them with all his friends, and all the photographer got was $25.  

True, pictures of you aren't like stock images and lots of people will want them, but the client wanted them.  Maybe close loved ones of the client will want some.  But she just gave any potential future business from this client away.  I think she should have put the five edited images on an online gallery so he and/or loved ones could order them from her.  You may think the client will look up this photographer when he needs more pictures taken.  He might, but he won't find her.  She'll be out of business by then.

Another trend is to shoot and give the client all the pictures straight out of the camera.  I don't like to do that because some ordinary images can look amazing with a bit of tweaking.  Do you really want your clients to see your test shots, your bracketed shots, the one with Aunt Millie sneezing, or the one where the sun is glaring off Grandpa's glasses?  Everybody and their brother shows pictures straight out of the camera.  Why would a photographer want to show the same kind of thing.  My new camera over exposes by a full stop.  I've adjusted the settings but I wouldn't want clients to see those images in their unedited state.   

Freelancers of all kinds; lets price our work fairly so we all can make a decent living.

There are also posters on Craigslist that want us to work for free.  They place ads for inturns or for TFP work.  These posters like to say they're starting out and want you to work for free or trade.  They say you can use their gig to build your portfolio.  Yeah right.  I build my portfolia on objects and Andrea.  I shop one wedding for my portfolio  but the bride payed me something.  I've got my portfolia, thank you very much.  If there are no clients there is always stock.

I call posts like this ads with audacity.  Look under Gigs/Creative.

We are a label on the southside of Atlanta looking to build a team of up and coming camera operators, directors, producers and photo and video editors. We are a rising label with clients both major and indie who are looking to work with new talent. THIS IS A NON-PAYING INTERNSHIP however, there are ways to make an honest dollar and gain exposure for your works. You will be assigned to projects and partnered with clients that need our services. If you are serious and interested, then please leave your name, contact number and links to your work. Photoshoppers are welcome and so are students. We are looking for the best of the best so be competitive! **Full studio will be provided for your works**

A new web series is launching in Atlanta.
It will take everyday people and transform the way they live, dress and act in relationships.

We are looking for videographers and cinematographers for this project.
If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please send us an email and include your equipment (camera type(s), mic(s), lighting, etc.) and years of experience.

This project is unpaid, but your work will gain exposure and will be a great addition to your portfolio.