A number of years ago I wrote some articles for the publication Bound & Lettered. They published my articles and photographs but it was clear that they wanted higher resolution photos  as well as photos shot in the RAW format.I was not in a position to upgrade. I stopped submitting articles.

I formally studied photography in college for four semesters. Equipment has changed so much since then that I have to keep figuring things out.  Lighting has always been an issue. Today I went to Home Depot and spent $40.00 on lights and I’m pretty happy.  Here’s what I have found that works.

LED light bulb facts, 5000k

LED light bulb facts, 5000k

I’m convinced that LED lights are the way to go. The greatest thing about them is that they don’t get hot. The most important consideration is the LIGHT APPEARANCE number. Warm light is yellowish, and it’s what feels good for lighting our living rooms. Cool light tends towards blue, and is more like daylight but it feels harsh as indoor lighting. The cool light, though, is better for photos. You can see that I picked out the light bulbs with  a 5000 k rating. This is why I went to Home Depot. The grocery store and the hardware store just don’t carry these. I wouldn’t have found them at Home Depot if I hadn’t been helped.

Daylight, 5000K bulbs

Daylight, 5000K bulbs

I didn’t know which wattage equivalent would be good for me, so I bought both 100 W and a 60 W.  I tried them both out and it’s clear that the 100W  is what I need. I bought two different brands, just to see if they were any different. They both seem completely fine. The Ecosmart cost significantly less than the Cree ($15. 12 vs $20.97 for a four pack).

Clip-on Work Light

Clip-on Work Light

I’ve always liked using clip-on work lights for my lighting needs. Hardware stores carry them. They cost between $7 and $14. They last forever. I always use at least two of these. I rarely use more than two.

I’m not going to go into much more detail about photography. Just a couple more thoughts.  First, whenever I want really good photos I use a tripod. It’s such an annoyance to deal with a tripod, but the results are so much better than hand held.

My books with a 3D piece by Dan Anderson

My books with a 3D piece by Dan Anderson

Last tip:

I prefer, when I can, to avoid using Photoshop to do my photo editing,  It just takes too long, and generally I don’t need to use such powerful editing tools. Oh, and it is expensive and tough to learn. Fortunately there are many alternatives to Photoshop. I have a favorite, and you probably have it on your computer already.  Many people don’t know that Microsoft Office Suite comes with a great photo editing program. If you have Word, you probably have Microsoft Office Picture Manager. Go ahead, type this into your program search bar. It’s a really excellent program. Not hard to learn. I recommend it heartily.

Accordion Book with Fancy Spine

Accordion Book with Fancy Spine

I am so happy with my new lighting set up.

Am all set to start submitting articles to Bound & Lettered again!

 

 

I have way too many photographs for a single post.  Although only about a dozen 4-and 5-year-olds were with me yesterday playing with symmetry, they were so engaged and made so many beautiful images, both simple and complex, that I got carried away with taking pictures.

Here’s how it went: first I talked with the kids about symmetry, how their own two eyes, two arms, two legs, and two ears are expressions of symmetry in nature.

Building with Symmetry

Building with Symmetry

We also looked at how using symmetry makes things that are built stronger. Then I talked about the visual beauty of symmetry, about reflections, and then about other kinds of symmetry, where something is reflected not just once, but multiple times. I had cut up some reflective mat board and adjusted them to be able to fit around a point of a hexagon.

Reflective mat board, my symmetry makers

Reflective mat board, my symmetry makers

The children used colored tiles to make designs that could be reflected.

Symmetry star

Symmetry star

They started simple.

Symmetry star

Symmetry star

But soon their designs became more complex.

Ready to be reflected as three -fold symmetry

Ready to be reflected as three-fold symmetry

No matter how their explorations went, they were wowed by the reflections.

complex design

After awhile we realized that the designs could be reflected from multiple points, which created different results.

 a design that has a couple of points that suggest rotations

a design that has a couple of points that suggest rotations

 

Reflections around the red hexagon

Reflections around the red hexagon

Reflecting from a different edge

Reflecting from a different edge

We also looked at different images made by adjusting the angle of the reflective boards.

Triangle waiting for reflective boards

Triangle waiting for reflective boards

Now prepared to be amazed by the different looks this triangle makes.

Three fold reflection

Three fold reflection

and next…

Six fold reflection

Six fold reflection

Even as we created more and more complex designs, the thrill of the simple designs didn’t fade.

Simple Symmetry

Simple Symmetry

This sweet little designs becomes…

Simple Symmetry reflected

Simple Symmetry reflected

…a sweet little reflection.

 

When we had exhausted ourselves with building, it was time to make beaded necklaces. This is the fourth time I’ve worked with these children, and each time I make a different necklace with them. This gives the kids an opportunity to practice counting, to use fine finger control, and to practice making knots. This day, though, we included talk about making a symmetrical design.

symmetry necklace

symmetry necklace

I offered these children a choice of three kinds of symmetrical patterns to do.  The design that I didn’t photograph was pattern of two alternating colors with a large wooden bead in the middle.

Necklace with symmetry

Necklace with symmetry

I’m pretty sure that the ideas I was presenting to these kids was mostly beyond their ability to fully grasp, but they had such a good time playing around with these ideas, and seemed so engaged and excited by them that I have hopes that something about all of this stays with them in some way.

 

Wonky Quadrilaterals

July 17, 2017

 

Last summer I got caught up with a shape that Martin Holtham started looking at after seeing this vase in a furniture store.

Martin made some paper models of the vase, and I tried it out, too, then explored other ways of decorating, folding and cutting this shape.

Quadrilaterals, decorated

Quadrilaterals, decorated

With Martin’s help I made this template for folding:

I kept getting stuck . I liked much of what was happening but was never quite satisfied with what I came up with.

Recently I decided to revisit this shape again. I questioned the materials I was using,  decided to work in a 11″ x 17″ format, started looking more at what the shapes wanted to do than trying to impose my own thoughts on to them.

What’s notable about this shape is that it has an irregularity to it that does not let it fill up a piece of paper in a typically symmetrical way.  It moves somewhat diagonally across the surface. So I went with that and came up with a different template.

Wonky Quadrilateral net

Wonky Quadrilateral net

 

Going along with the flow of the shape made all the difference!

 

It folded down into adorable little structure that does a twist-fold , collapsing all the quadrilaterals into this unruly many-sided shape…

 …which untwists in a truly lovely way.

 

I’m still working on this. There are still some thing that I need to work out, not the least of which is to figure out how to make a little video of this structure expanding and contracting again. I have to do it in the right light with a tripod, and I haven’t been able to get it right.

Even though this is still a thought-in-progress, I am so enamored with how it’s progressing that I wanted to share it now.

Idea in motion

Idea in motion

Western Expansion, Bookmaking project for Second Graders

Western Expansion, Bookmaking project for Second Graders

Yes, it seems late in the school year to be writing about new classroom projects with students, but some schools actually do go full tilt right up until the very last moment. Currently, I am in the middle of a project with one such school. Our subject is their Western Expansion unit.  I will put up photos of student work as their books develop, but for now, my here’s sample to supplement my ramblings about what I thought about when designing this book.

Because it’s Western Expansion, I knew that I would want to incorporate maps and a compass rose.

Because it’s second graders, I wanted them to have a book that is dynamic in unexpected ways.

Because it’s me, I wanted to figure out ways to address their math curriculum, which, right now (lucky for me) is all about geometric shapes.

The image above shows the cover on the book, featuring a compass rose, which students color. They label the four main axes themselves.

(unrelated note: from Merle Tenney, Language Technology Consultant, “axes is the only word in English that can be the plural of three different singular noun forms–ax, axe, and axis.”)

aerial view of the book

Aerial view of the book

The aerial view of the book shows that it’s a variation of an open gate fold. There are many folds that need to be done accurately, but with just one small mark on the paper that’s one-third away from the edge of this paper -which is 23″ long (and 8″ high),- students were able to reference their last fold to make their next fold. I have to brag, every one of these students grasped the concept of letting the previous fold guide the position of the next fold. I tried to emphasize that paper-folding is all about seeing relationships.

First unfolding

First unfolding

The first unfolding reveals a page for writing on the left, a place for a rubber-band bound journal on the right, and a little accordion that holds four maps. As the structure expands you can see an interesting graphic peeking  through.

Western Expansion book, expanded

Western Expansion book, expanded

Finally. two more writing sections are revealed and the pages of the accordion lengthen out. The inner pages will have a list of some essential items that need to be packed by the travelers who are going West in a covered wagon  (such as containers for water). On the right there a page to list the intangible values that should come along on the trip, such as cooperation, communication and compassion.

Expanding West

Expanding West

Here’s a close up of the maps. Students colored in  four images of the US, starting with the thirteen original colonies, then the addition of lands by 1783, followed by lands that were acquired in the early 1800’s, then the mid 1800’s.

Quilting Square

Quilting Square

Of course families moving West will be using their fabric bits to make quilts. I’ve been scheming on how facilitate making quilting pieces using paper templates. I will be devoting a whole post ( an a whole classroom session) to the “quilting squares” that the students make.

My plan to print plenty of copies of the guide-pieces above, and talk to the students about the shapes and ways that they can go together.

Here’s a PDF of pages I created to use for this book:Western Expansion full set for web

Now, back to prepping for tomorrow.

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