Type, type, type, type

Still transcribing Grandpa’s letters.   I have, I think, four more letters to type.  There are lots of letters between Grandpa and his cousin, Otto, up until Otto reached Peru in the early 50’s, then they taper off quite a bit.  It’s so fascinating!   Things I have learned since reading these letters:

  • What the Marshall Plan was and what it attempted to do for European recovery after WWII
  • How difficult it was to get out of Europe at that time
  • What Grandpa was like before I was born

I am also working on scanning a bunch of old pictures that I will include in the book.   Photos of Grandpa’s graduation from The University of Chicago.   Pictures of him with his three children, pictures with me at three months old.   There are photographs of his mother, my great grandmother.   I do need to get in touch with Otto’s son Petr to see if I can get some photos of Uncle, Otto and Anny (Uncle, cousin, and cousins wife).

There are so many possibilities and directions I can go; I want to include some audio of family members reading the letters, maybe a short movie or two,   Embed some scans of the hand written letters and some other tidbits of information to help round out things mentioned in the letters.  My brain is about to explode.

Mom and I have also talked about making this available to the public via an iBook.  With my photography background, I am well aware of copyrights and I am trying to find an attorney that can steer me in the right direction – just because we have the physical letters, doesn’t mean we own the words.

First things first – get all the material together that I am going to use – type the remaining letters and scan all the photographs.  Almost there….


Ernst and Otto

Ernst was my grandfather.  Otto was his cousin.

In 2012, my mother found a box in the attic that was probably tagged to be tossed in the trash.  One last look uncovered a treasure.  Correspondence between Ernst and Otto dating from the early 1940’s to the mid-1990’s.   Letters outlining the birth of my mother and two uncles, stories about Otto’s ultimate immigration to Lima, Peru, tidbits about the book Ernst was writing, and all sorts of references to the world around them.

In a previous post, I talked about a Leica camera that I inherited from my grandfather – there are references to this camera in these letters.

I am taking these 50 years of correspondence and putting together an iBook.  A look at their extraordinary lives thru the letters they wrote to each other.  No ETA as of yet.  We are still getting all the letters organized chronologically and translated – most of Otto’s letters are written in German.   When I go to NC next month, we’ll look at photos that would work with the text.

I find it fascinating because it’s my grandpa.  I also find it fascinating with it’s history.

I should have paid more attention in history class in school.

Instagram the world…

I just added a new link – over there on the right.  It’s a link to my Instagram feed. Mostly fun and quirky stuff I find during my day.  Sometimes I will post an image from my Now You See Me project there.

I like Instagram. I like the app, the sharing, and the chance to meet new people. Our Chicago group is pretty active, meeting about once a month to photograph and have lunch or something.  There is even a couple that drives in from Indianapolis for our outings!  If you are interested, find us on Instagram at @igerschicago.  We’d love for you to join us virtually or in person!

I think the best part about Instagram is the part about meeting new people.  @awareofthevoid is one such photographer.  I am not sure who started following who first but  I can say it’s been a lot of fun getting to know him both on Instagram and now on Facebook.  He loves film photography and does his own developing.  It’s been fun getting his opinion on such things as equipment and films.   We’ve helped each other edit images for shows.   We’ve never met in person – he lives in Ireland.

The world is a wonderful place!

Check out his work here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/okmqaz42/with/6093913165/

You know how some women covet shoes…

Many, MANY moons ago when I started in photography, I was shooting Velvia slide film.  I was just learning and it was great.  Then the whole digital thing kicked in and I thought that that was cool so I went digital.  A few years after that, I had the opportunity to take a course on how to use a large format camera.

I fell in love.

By the end of the class, I actually owned a 4×5 Toyo view camera.  What I loved about it was that it slowed everything down.  I actually had to know how Sunny-16 worked.  I actually had to learn how to use a light meter.  And because of the price of materials, I actually had to really want to snap that shutter.

Today, I own three 4×5 cameras.

Then yesterday, after a 7-month journey of looking for parts, my Grandfather’s Leica SL finally came back home; fixed, cleaned, and meter calibrated.  I have some old 35mm film in my fridge that I will run thru the camera this weekend to make sure all’s well (I am sure it is).


First time for everything….

It’s official.  One of my photographs will be on a cover of a publication.  Fifth Wednesday Journal will put one of my photographs on it’s cover.

This was pretty serendipitous.

I was referred to them as someone having images that may work.  Emails were sent back and forth.  Sample images were shared.   The one below was selected for the cover.   It will wrap around the front, spine, and back.  What’s really cool is that the ‘back’ could stand on it’s own as an abstract.

This is the first time my photography has been used in this fashion and I am more excited than I can say.  Head on over to Fifth Wednesday Journal and order yourself a copy, or two or three.

The journal will be sent out in May.


© Amanda Dussault 2011  All Rights Reserved

Building a website

Since Apple got rid of iWeb, I lost my web site hosting.  And frankly, GoDaddy doesn’t need any more of my money.  I researched some different options for building/hosting my website…I tried a few sites.  If they required a CC for a trial I didn’t go any further.

RapidWeaver:  $80 or so, mac only.  not all that user friendly.  I’m a computer programmer and user friendly-ness is important.  This wasn’t all that user friendly.

Squarespace – reasonable.  struggled a bit with the free trial and the embedded images.  couldn’t figure out how to easily manage a portfolio and rearrange images, resize.  I spent an entire Saturday morning with this and did fall in love.  A website could be built quickly.  Templates can be reapplied without losing content.

VisualServer – really easy to use.  limited templates and not all that much of a difference between them.  I picked the cheapest option as a trial.   Easy user interface.

I ended up picking Squarespace.  I really warmed up to the interface.  I did sign up for the Developer’s site, where templates can be altered and all that jazz – it makes the geek in me happy.  I do think that, eventually, I will pick up a copy of Dreamweaver – it satisfies my need to be in complete control.

Step two: keep taking photographs

A few weeks ago when I started this project – I wasn’t sure what direction it was going to go.  My first shooting session I was fumbling around, trying to figure out how the wireless remote worked, and trying to work out how to get what was in my head into my camera.

My second attempt was much better.  I had figured out my lighting and mastered the remote.  The third attempt started out great until I remembered a comment I actually made about a friend of mine shooting a time lapse  movie on their camera.  I had this feature on my camera.  I set it up and went about shooting a great number of images in a short period of time.

I knew, as long as I stayed within a certain distance from the camera after I focused,  I could simply move myself within the frame and get the images I wanted.  I became much more comfortable moving and not having to fumble around with the remote for every shot.  If you have this option on your camera – use it!  It’s a lot of fun

IMG_2460 IMG_2450 IMG_2442

All Images copyright 2012 Amanda Dussault

Step One; start taking photographs

© 2012 Amanda Dussault All Rights Reserved

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step….nothing, in my mind, is harder than that first step.  I can mull an idea over and over in my mind for weeks or months without doing anything before the idea fizzles out.

This project seemed different.

This project, I talked to people about.  People who helped me overcome my perceived problem of having no lighting equipment.  People who helped me with ideas of where to get props.  People who volunteered to be models!

I started shooting this project last weekend with my model wearing black.  This weekend she wore white.  A red leather chair may make an appearance.   I think I will succeed in this project because I am shooting and still excited about it.

Simple, elegant, and sensual

“Both are simple, elegant, and sensual”.   A great friend of mine said this about two photographers I have been spending a lot of time with – and by ‘spending time with’ I mean looking at their photos, reading transcripts of interviews, going thru books, etc.    It’s interesting, as I research these two photographers, I am finding a number of instances where both of them are mentioned in the same article or posting.

Ralph Gibson

I was recently ‘introduced’ to Mr. Gibson thru Jeff Curto’s History of Photography podcasts.  Seeing his images made me so happy.  I am especially intrigued by his Infanta series (This links to images containing nudity.  Don’t click if you don’t like this sort of thing).  Simple images that fill the frame and lovely use of light and shadow.

Lillian Bassman

I really don’t remember how I found this fabulous photographer – I do know it was 2005, but I am not sure what prompted me to look her up.  While I am generally not a fan of fashion photography, I am a big fan of her post processing.  The movement, the apparent use of natural light, and, well, OK, the fashion is pretty cool too.

So, my thinking is to take the beauty of each of these photographers and come up with my own style of photographing women.   I want to keep my images ‘simple, elegant, and sensual’ without nudity.   I don’t think this will fall into the category of boudoir-type images and if it goes that way I will immediately stop.  I want to use hats, gloves, stockings.  Maybe some really nice lingerie.  Sensual without crossing over to pornography – which, in my opinion, is a super-duper fine line.  And really, if they won’t pass the mom-test they will not see the light of day!

I am in the beginning stages of this – I need to figure out where to do this.  Do I need to get some lighting or can my ‘where’ have enough natural light.   Do I just use myself as a subject or try to convince my friends to trust me enough to make simple, elegant, and sensual images of them.