Thursday, May 28, 2009

64 Words


White Horse in the Mist, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

What does democracy mean? How would you describe freedom? Peace? What about human rights? These are complex abstract subjects, some of which, I'm sure, people have written entire thesis papers describing in detail. (I bet scholars somewhere pontificate these ideals for years without coming to any particular conclusion.)

Did you wake up this morning? Maybe have some coffee, drive to work, go about your usual daily routine? San Suu Kyi did not do any of these things. Even though she lives in Burma, many miles away, how do I know this?

She's in prison.

From the 64 words website "Aung San Suu Kyi is Burma's imprisoned Democracy leader. The brutal dictatorship that rules Burma has detained her for over 13 years for campaigning for human rights and democracy. She is the world's only imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner."

In response to her recent arrest, and with her upcoming 64th birthday on June 19th, her supporters have asked that like-minded people from around the world go to that website and leave "64 for Suu." They would like people to leave 64 words of support, of hope, of message for Suu.

64 might seem like a lot. It might seem like a million little tweets to those who Twitter out there. It might seem like you could say, "go!" in a lot less than that, but, for me, 64 words of support is going to be quite difficult.

You see, I am going to have a hard time picking the *exact* 64 words. The right words. The strong words. The most meaningful poignant words of support I could possibly write. Yes, 64 words is going to be tough for me. I consider it a challenge. I mean, it's the least I can do, right? But, I want my words to mean something, to really mean something. This is world peace, hope, human rights we're talking about here, not Twitter or some blog post. These have to be words that really count.

Now, I do have some ideas. I could remind her that, though imprisoned, she's not alone. She sits there with many great people, people like Martin Luther King Jr., who once said, "Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly" or even Thoreau who said, "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison." Then there's one of my favorite quotes, from Margaret Mead, ""Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, concerned citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

But, somehow, the quotations seem a bit empty at this point. They aren't doing it for me. I mean, if you have only 64 words, don't you want them all to be your own? Shouldn't I be able to come up with 64 of my own words?

So, now I'm up for this challenge. I'm going to challenge myself to leave my 64 words, but to make them count. Each and every one of them. I want 64 perfect words, 64 right words, 64 just words.

It's the least I can do.

Could you describe freedom in 64 words or less? What about justice? Democracy? Human rights? I don't know if you can, but I do know this. The world would be a much better place if we all tried.

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Textural Experiments


BlueHouseRedPoppies, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, I've recently been playing with textures a bit and have decided that I really like this stuff.

At first, I could not make the textures work for me. I was getting textures that were too dark and resulting images that were too, well, I guess you'd have to say they were "confused" a bit. Really, they were not a nice blend of two images coming together, just more like a train wreck of two disparate pictures. Ick. I mean, not just "ick" but "ick" on so many levels.

Then something happened.

I started to "see" the textural images in my head. I had this idea. I was going to to go Georgetown and shoot, sort of "undershoot" some houses, so that I could apply textures to them. I wanted to apply textures to those old Victorian homes. I wanted a certain "look" to my textures. I was going to shoot some homes with a lot of negative space around them, to sort of "leave room" for the textures.

In a way, I guess you could say this gave them new life. The textures really started to come together, not as "textures" but just sort of small bit parts of a greater whole. I am starting to "see" in textures now and I think that, with this newfound vision comes inspiration. Now, I don't want to start applying textures to everything, no, I think that would be overkill. I just really want to go back to Georgetown and shoot some more houses, to apply some additional textures to those. And, I want to shoot them with a lot of negative space around them, to give the textures some breathing room. It's a bit tricky working with textures, but I think, when you can get them to work, they work really well with certain subjects.

I'd be curious to hear about your experience with textural experiments, either good or bad.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

What is it about Talent?


Steeple Top, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I was reading the myth of talent by Craig Tanner the other day and it got me thinking about how the idea of talent relates to the photographer.

Many people say that photography is, much like music, a forum for the talented. You either have it or you don't, as the popular saying goes. If you have it, if you are one of the "lucky few," nothing can stop you, and, sadly, if you don't, there's nothing you can do to get it. You can't go out and buy photography "chops" in a jar, for example, anymore than you can go out and purchase a bag of "rock star" or, you know, bring home a bundle of "jazz singer."

My impression is that you have to have some kind of talent, some kind of "eye" if you will-that you can't will yourself into it, nor can you mold yourself into something you are not. (I can't suddenly will myself into being a world class gymnast, for example, I'm just not built that way and, I suppose, if you just don't have any kind of eye at all for photography, you can't will yourself into suddenly seeing the way the camera does.)

But talent is far from enough.

Like a diamond in the rough or a building under construction, talent is but a starting point, a foundation for photographers. You have to start with a good eye, but this is only the mere beginning. It's your launch pad, if you will. It's no coincidence that so many great things happen at the intersection of talent and hard work. You have to start with talent and work hard to cultivate it. Talent alone is not enough, you need hard work, determination, passion and a little bit of luck never hurt anybody either. You need all of these things, plus certain intangibles like creativity and artistry. You need to apply yourself, you need problem-solving skills and you need people skills. You need marketing, lots and lots of marketing. (Oh, God, show me one photographer who could not use more marketing.)

Missing any one of these elements? Sure, you'll have some success, and maybe even enjoy yourself along the way, but you'll always come up a bit short in one way or another. (All of the pieces of the puzzle have to come together to make things happen.)

I think it was my mentor's mentor, a fellow by the name of Roy Flukinger who said it best, "In my career, I've encountered one or two people who could be the next Ansel Adams and one or two people who inspired me to take them aside and encourage them to reconsider a career in fast food. Everybody else falls somewhere in the middle."

So, does talent play a part? Yes, absolutely. You have to have some talent. But, it's not the only game in town.

Until next time...

Monday, May 25, 2009

Photo Tips for a "Staycation"


Adobe Cactus, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Since today is a holiday and it seems like, this year anyway, a lot of people are staying closer to home, I thought it might be a good idea to bring up the subject of the "staycation." What's a "staycation?" You might be wondering, and I'm here to tell you.

The latest trend in travel appears to be catering to those folks who have vacation time but choose, either for economic reasons or otherwise, to stay at home. A "staycation" is when you take time off from work but you don't actually go anywhere-you stay at home instead. It's happening a lot this year, and there are a lot of folks looking for ideas and suggestions of how to make the most out of a "staycation."

My suggestion is: Don't forget the camera!

Now, this might seem a bit odd, I mean, if you're going to stay at home, why break out the camera at all? I mean, why not just leave it tucked away until next year when you can afford that oh-so-special trip to the islands or exotic jaunt to Europe?

Good photos, and great opportunities, never take a vacation. Often, you don't have to stray too far from home to take great pictures either. There's this popular misconception that you have to go someplace exotic to take great pictures. It's nice to go to exotic places, and you can get great pictures when you do, but an exotic location is not a requirement for a great photo. Many of the world's best image makers work in their home studios and it's never a bad idea to "shoot what you know." Sticking closer to home allows you to do just that. With a little luck and some patience, you too might find some great pictures right in your own backyard.

So, I thought it might be a good idea to offer up some tips for those opting to spend a "staycation" or spend their vacation this year a bit closer to home. Here are my suggestions:

  • Throw a party-invite friends, family, neighbors, and lots of folks over for a nice dinner, a movie night, whatever, and don't forget the camera. Candid portraits are some of the most fun things you can do and you just might find those wild snapshots of Uncle Jerry hurling popcorn at movie night are way more fun then the typical "posed" portraits with the same old scenery in the background.
  • Take a walk-but don't forget your camera. Nature is all around us all of the time. Celebrate you local environment by taking some wonderful natural shots in the garden, by the pond, or in the woods near your house. There's magic in nature, no matter where you live, so celebrate what you have instead of what you think you might be missing. If you're so inclined, maybe even take some time to read up about your local environment, so you can more fully enjoy your surroundings even after you go back to work.
  • Take portraits of family and friends-staying home for a week or two might give you just the opportunity to clean up the kids, get the camera out and do your own family portraits. Sure it's great if you can hire a professional or sit for an annual family portrait, but think of how much money and time you'll be saving, not to mention how much fun you could have, if you were to stop and take your holiday portraits now instead of waiting until the busy holiday season.
  • Scrapbook old (existing) photos-have a shoebox full of old memories and wonder when you'll ever find the time to go through them all? A "staycation" might just give you a great opportunity to do some scrapbooking and much needed organization of your existing backlog.
  • Go digital-try out one of the new "make your own photo book" sites such a Blurb or Lulu. Using a site like this, you can make your very own "coffee table" type book, using your own photos, which will make a great gift come holiday time or even a great keepsake in years to come.
  • Visit a state or local park-Camping at a state part nearby offers some unspoiled scenic views and a great opportunity for some summer pictures. You don't have to go very far, or spend a lot of cash, to enjoy the view here and you'll still come home with wonderful pictures you can enjoy for years to come.
  • Try out an old camera-found an antique camera that was Great Grandpas up in the attic but don't know how to use it? Spending some time at home might offer you ample time to dust it off, take it down to your local camera shop, and try to find some film for it. Antique cameras are all the rage with professionals, often because of the charm and character you can get from those dusty old cameras. Don't be afraid to try out an old Brownie or an antique for an entirely different take on your summer photography. Don't fret if you don't have an inherited old camera, you can start your own hunt for an old camera at your local Goodwill or charity shop. These types of places often sell old cameras on the cheap and think of how much fun you could have not only shopping for one but maybe finding some old/undeveloped film for an added surprise.

Remember that, no matter where you live, it's going to look "exotic" to somebody somewhere and you don't have to spend a small fortune to enjoy wonderful, lasting photographic memories. Staying at home doesn't have to mean putting the camera away-with a little creativity and a good eye, you can take great pictures anywhere.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Welcome to the Bomb Factory


BuildingCorner, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Welcome to the bomb factory. They used to make bombs in this building. If you look really hard, you can see the reflection of the desert landscape in the glass windows, high above the ground, near where the top of the building meets the sky. The people who make bombs think that, if they bury their bomb-making buildings, if they hide them in the desert, in the great American deserted southwest, nobody will find them. Nobody will go and hunt them down, come back with pictures and show the world, "look, see! This is where they make bombs."

It's quiet in the desert. Except for a few, lone coyotes howling at the moon and maybe a roadrunner or two, hurling down the dusty deserted side roads, nobody ever wanders out into the desert to look for bomb factories. Nobody thinks they are there. But, they are. They are there, and they are hiding, and, today I'm here to tell you, this is what they look like.

High above the desert sits this bomb factory. It looks like any other office building. It has ample parking and vending machines, just like your office. The only difference, perhaps, between this bomb factory and any other typical office building would be the highly trained nuclear scientists-routinely shuffling in and scurrying about-there are many nuclear scientists who work here, in this particular bomb factory. They split atoms, they ponder periodic charts, they flip through physics books, all the while trying, not to become titans of industry or make great products, produce widgets at a breakneck pace, no, they actually try to blow up the world. I guess, that's what people who work in bomb factories do-such is the way of the bomb maker.

This is the bomb factory. They used to make bombs in this building. If you look really hard, you can almost picture the bombs, shooting off the top of this building, but I hope you don't. I hope you don't see the bombs that were made here-I hope that nobody ever sees another bomb. Instead, I hope this bomb factory turns back into dust, in the otherwise deserted, dusty barren landscape that is the great American southwest. Though it is now a shiny, pretty building, modern and sleek, resting atop that desert landscape, I hope this building crumbles and fades back into the earth from which it rises. I hope those scientists, those well-trained, highly skilled scientists go work someplace more productive, someplace that contributes to the betterment of society, note the end of it. I hope nobody ever christens another bomb factory every again.

The world has enough bomb factories, don't you think?

Until next time...

Riddle Me This


LaundryDrying, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I've been toying around with some of the new "social media" type sites lately. In case you have not noticed, I'm now on Twitter (actually, I've been there for a while) and I recently joined Facebook.

Facebook really surprised me. For starters, as soon as I signed up, it was like 24 people that I knew requested to be my "friend." What's up with that? Were all of these people just waiting there for me to sign up or something? I don't even know how to use the site yet, and already I've got "friends?" Great. What's next? Is some Nigerian diplomat going to contact me and tell me I've already won some stupid lottery?

Then, I found that everybody is on Facebook. Everybody who's anybody is on Facebook. People from college, people I hardly know, people from work, even The Stig is on Facebook. (And, get this, he can "talk" there. The Stig talks?!?! Who knew?!?!)

So, now what I really want to know is, how can The Stig be on Facebook if he doesn't really have a "face?" (Shouldn't he be on HelmetBook instead?)

Yours in "new media...."/Until next time...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Catching Up and Taking Off


SideViewBridge, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It's Friday here in central Texas-and a great Friday it is. You see, come Monday, in the 'States, we have a holiday (it's Memorial Day) so this particular Friday marks the start of a long weekend for those of us in the US. Woot woot!

To catch you up on what's been happening, I did some shooting over at Concordia this week, as part of the "New Beginnings" project-this is one of the walking trails from the new location. It's a great place to shoot and a great location, so I'm happy to be a part of it. I was supposed to hook up with Scriber's Web over there, but it's a big joint and we got lost and separated. No matter, we'll shoot together next time, as there promises to be more trips planned for the project, with lots more shooting to do.

In other news, I hope to get up to Georgetown this weekend, to do some additional shooting I've been meaning to do, but was unable to tackle thanks to the weather not cooperating. Hopefully, I'll be able to get those images down on compact flash this weekend, though I don't know when I'll be able to post the results. At least the weather promises to cooperate (this time) and hold long enough for me to (hopefully) make it up that way and squeeze in a shoot.

I'll try to post some this weekend, but it promises to be a busy one as I've got a lot of stuff around the house to do, plus a few things I must get out and enjoy. If you have a long weekend where you live (or, even if you don't) I hope you get some time off for good behavior (or, you know, not, as the case may be.)

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Music Room


MusicRoom, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

It was very quiet when I first walked into the music room. Nobody was sitting at that piano, resting on that bench, taking a deep pause, before gracing their fingers along that keyboard. Nobody was waiting on the nearby stool, or in many of the simple black chairs that line the room either. The obligatory black music stand, though standing proud and tall center stage, did not corral any sheet music on this particular day. The music had all been packed away, categorically stored, in green labeled cabinets along one side of the room. It looked like nobody had been here for years. Yes, it was very quiet when I first walked into that music room.

The thing about music rooms like this one is that it doesn't take much of an imagination to appreciate what it sounds like when people are there. You could almost close your eyes and picture it clearly-somebody sits down at the keyboard, lifts the cover of the piano, shuffles the sheets of paper in front of them a bit, maybe looks up and gives one final knowing nod of their head before gracing those keys. Then, almost without ceremony, the music starts.

It might be classical music. It's not hard to imagine Chopin being played in that room. It might be Thelonious Monk, Billy Joel, or something from the charts today. Then again, it might be something as simple as Chopsticks. No matter what gets played, the room is filled. Filled with the keys, the notes, the chords, the runs, the riffs that make up our favorite songs. It's not just the piano that comes alive, no, all of the memories and emotions come rushing back. Do you remember that song? When did you first hear it? Is it one of your favorites? A jazz standard? A soothing lullaby? A favorite classical melody played with passion and heart?

It was very quiet when I first walked into the music room. Nobody played the piano while I was there but, somehow, even though the picture makes it look empty too, that's not the way I'll remember it.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Top 10 Ways Top Gear Would be Different If Women Ran It


MaleInfluence, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Recently, there have been some controversial laws being implemented in the UK, forcing state-run organizations to include more female presenters on popular TV shows. Even the producers of the Top Gear have commented on this in their recent blog posts.

Since we all knew it was only a matter of time before the "politically correct police" came and arrested the entire Top Gear crew (including, of course, my love, Stiggy) I thought it would be a nice idea to make some suggestions about females on the show, before, well, let's just say before they all wind up as cell mates in ye old Gravel Bay Maximum Security Penn (with none other than Ram himself.)

Here are the top 10 ways I think Top Gear would be different if woman ran the show:

Number 10: It'd be curtains for the Cool Wall. No, I'm not suggesting the women would actually get rid of the Cool Wall, rather they'd actually put curtains on it. Think a lovely mauve stripe with maybe a swag valance, and you're pretty much there. The cars on the cool wall, luckily, would not budge (women, it would appear, don't know enough about those pesky "engine thingies" to make informed decisions about a particular car's coolness.)

Number 9: All bickering replaced with "time outs" at the track. Now, we all know how this one would end, and you must admit, it doesn't bode well for the blokes ("No juice box for you, Jezza!")

Number 8: James May would be allowed on set (thanks to his hair) but only if he wore a dress (and maybe promised to shave.)

Number 7: Using rear view mirror to apply lipstick would become socially acceptable. (All presenters would be allowed to expense an infinite number of black racing boots as well)

Number 6: All references to Angelina Jolie replaced with Brad Pitt.

Number 5: All car reviews would feature a shopping bag tally. No more, "can we fit golf clubs in the boot?" style reviews, no, these would all be replaced with "how man bags in the boot?" reviews.

Number 4: All races would allow for additional time at the starting line to allow for applying make-up and fluffing hair.

Number 3: Cheap car challenge budgets could be expanded but only if you got the car "on sale," because, well, everybody knows you must have saved money if you got it "on sale," right?

Number 2: The car with the most number of cup holders would now be on top of the power lap board, regardless of how fast it goes round the track.

and, the number 1 way Top Gear would be different if girls ran the show:

Number 1: "Some say her wonderbra is made from pure titanium and that she once survived an entire week in Spain wearing only a string bikini and a matching white regulation crash helmet, all we know is...she's called....The Stigess."

Ah yes, imagine a pink Stig. I can see how the world would be a better place already. (In case your sarcasm detector is broken, pink Stig my ass. Please, please please, I beg of you, whatever powers that be out there-for the love of God, money, and great American muscle cars built before 1973, do not allow any female presenters on Top Gear. Ever.)

Until next "well, crap, what are they going to destroy next..."

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Hold the Anchovies Hold the Road


GetFoodHere, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

In the "I hate it when two worlds collide and I get my nose stuck in the middle" department, I noticed the other day that the Wikipedia entry for one of the British racing drives purported to be The Stig mentions that, apart from doing stunt work for the latest James Bond movie, Mr. "I just might be The Stig's other white helmet" did some precision driving for the movie National Treasure 2 when it lensed in London.

Now, since National Treasure is a movie franchise featuring none other than that famed Tivo-abusing Nicolas Cage himself, and the good Wikipedia informs me that Mr. "I am The Stig even without a helmet" actually doubled for him in the movie, I feel, at this point in time, I'm uniquely qualified to point out the following:

  • Nicolas Cage may very well have met The Stig. (Perhaps even seen him without his helmet on.)
  • The real helmet behind The Stig best not make any TV-viewing plans-he'd better not have his titanium heart set on watching any odd free roaming Law and Order episodes (if he knows what's good for him.)
  • Since Nicolas Cage is a bit of an auto aficionado and he does film in London from time to time, it would not be too far a stretch to imagine him making a guest appearance as a "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" at some point in the near future. I could actually see this coming to pass, I mean, he might be really interesting in that role.
  • I shall now go hide under a rock.

After the shock has worn off a bit, when you stop to think about this collusion (though I should mention that, at this point, I do my best to try not to) The Stig is proving to be even more brave and fearless in real life than his alter ego, the great white helmeted hope of the show Top Gear.

I mean, just think about it. First, they reveal he's a "normal" bloke who drives a family sedan to the set of Top Gear (a set otherwise filled with supercars of all shapes and sizes, not to mention 3 crazy ass drivers to power slide them while complaining about it and bickering nonstop) and now we know he's met Nicolas Cage in person and has the TiVo to prove it. What's next? Are they going to reveal that, in his spare time, he likes to fight off Chuck Norris with his bare hands and that all of his bottled water comes from Tijuana too? (I can almost hear the Clarkson grumble from here, "Some say....")

Finally, in unrelated news (or perhaps not!) I should also like to point out that, recently, a Ferrari on the set of the latest Nicolas Cage movie (filming in New York City-my hometown! He's getting closer! Quick, hide the remote!) driven by an "anonymous stunt driver" (Guess who? Maybe?!?) veered off the road and crashed into a Sbarro's pizza joint.

Um, let me guess, hold the anchovies, right, Stiggy? And I take it by the fact that you made your very own "drive through" that you want this order "to go," yes?

Until next "Never mind the TV, it's not even safe on the sidewalk anymore..."

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Along the Interstate Today


ApproachingInterstate, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Had to go up to Georgetown today, to do some stuff. This morning it was almost nice out, it looked like it was going to be just another typically hot, sunny, Texas kind of a day, so I packed the camera gear and headed for the car, hoping to be able to shoot the square a bit up in Georgetown, while I was up there. Just as I reached the car, however, it started to rain.

It didn't just rain. It was one of those driving rains, one of those heavy downpours that makes you wonder why you even bothered to get up in the morning. Why am I out in this? I kept thinking to myself. Shouldn't I be curled up somewhere with a good book or watching some old black and white movie on TV?

Stuck out in the driving rain, what else was there to do but take pictures? I thought they were going to come out pretty good, but most of them came out a bit too whacked, even for me. Still got one or two, here and there. That's how it is with drive-by shooting-you never know what you're going to get until you get it. Always a bit of guesswork goes into that-I guess that's part of the fun of it. Anyway, uploaded a few today, but might be off soon. The weather (once again) looks like it's starting to clear. Like the sun is trying to force its way through the clouds and make a late afternoon showing.

Then again, it could just be luring me outside so it can soak me once again. Who knows what evil lurks in those dark clouds, right?

Until next time...

Friday, May 15, 2009

Self Portrait


TheEmptiness, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

Today's photo Friday entry for self portrait.

Have a great Friday, everybody!

Until next time...

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Five By Seven


LinedUpAndReady, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

So, I guess it's finally time for me to start blabbing about some of the upcoming projects I've got, especially since one of them is being unveiled tonight.

The annual five by seven show, or 5x7 as it's sometimes called, is a fundraiser, art splurge, and exhibit to benefit educational programs in Austin. The way the show works is that hundreds of artists (this year there were 706 participating artists) create unique works of art on identical 5x7 inch boards. Every board sells for $100 and each is displayed anonymously. Only when you purchase a work do you get to discover the artist's name.

I've donated two boards to the cause, though I don't want to post them here to destroy the surprise. (Let's just say, you might recognize my model, and leave it at that, ok?)

Tonight marks the preview party and artists' reception downtown at the Jones Center, 7th and Congress. I hope that if you're reading this, and you're in the Austin area, you might stop by and take a peek. I'd say come and talk to me, introduce yourself, and we can shoot the breeze, but, I'm guessing, since this show has already had considerable press (there was a big article in the paper today, complete with pictures) it's going to be packed and you won't get to meet me unless you bring your own cattle prod (seeing as this is a more sophisticated "artsy" crowd, a bottle of Chardonnay or two might work just as well in that regard, but I'll leave that to your discretion.)

Kidding aside, I'm actually very happy to be participating in such a good cause and what promises to be a fun show. I think the whole idea of creating a small work on board is very interesting and this show has me wanting to do more of that. I've always been a big fan of small works (for various reasons) and it's a great excuse to create something for a worthy cause.

If you're so inclined, tomorrow evening marks the gala opening dinner and start of purchase for the artwork. With over 700 artists represented in the show, you know, you just know, there's got to be some good stuff in there. And, just imagine how many people with blue hair and wild outfits will show up this evening and make it even more interesting. (And to think, all this time, you thought funding for the arts was dead.)

Tonight especially, a house made of art is a fun place indeed. I hope to see you there.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Plasticine Dreams


LadyBugAndRose, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

James May (of Top Gear fame) is trying to build an entire plasticine garden at Britain's annual Chelsea Flower Show.

This is so odd to me, I hardly know what to think about it. I mean, on the one hand, I can't keep but asking, "IS HE FOR REAL?" (Ha! Actually, he's not, he's for plasticine if you think about it.) But, part of me secretly wishes he'd make a plasticine bird of paradise. I mean, I can't help but wonder what that would look like, and there's no way I'd ever make one myself, so that just has me thinking, "Come on, James, you can do it! Go, Captain Slow!"

Maybe while doing all that "high speed" driving he does for Top Gear, he bumped his head? (Then again, a lily of the valley might be nice.)

James, you're such a freak, we love you. (A plasticine hydrangea might be kind of sweet this time of year, don't you think?)

Oh, ok. Here's my final say on the matter. James, if you're out there buddy. methinks that, right about now, the oh-so-photogenic calla lily is going to be your new best friend. I mean, come on, just think of how easy those'd be to make out of plasticine. (And now, if you'll excuse me, it's time for me to go and pay the plasticine pizza dude so I can go and have some plasticine dinner.)

[Don't even get me started on the marmalade skies.]

Until next time...

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Welcome to the Library


NiceStacks, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

If it's true that a camera is like a magic box-that we can use a camera to end a war or paint a masterpiece-than it's also true that books are our wings. Books are the great escape; they can take us to the heavens, to the depths of hell, or anyplace in between.

Between the time a man is born and the time that same man dies, he can do many things. He can travel to foreign lands, eat exotic foods, drive fancy cars, enjoy the company of many women, become a titan of industry or live as a pauper and die penniless. You could say that every man is the sum of every book he's ever read and this would not be far from the truth, and maybe it would also be true that the same man could do each and every one of these things within the confines of a single good book.

From a visual perspective, books are very colorful, and they have a natural order about them. Maybe thanks to the Dewey Decimal system or maybe it's just the way they stack up in row after row at the library, but it seems like the library and the world of books offer infinite possibilities for the photographer. There's an endless supply of books and each book could make part of an endless stream of images. The colors, shapes, textures, squareness about them, that all contributes to their visual representation sure, but I suspect there's something more-I suspect books are so easy to photograph because of what they represent. Freedom, ideas, imagination, wild stories yet untold, history, creativity-it's all there, bound within the spins of those paper and board. To one who reads, there's not a more lovely sight than the sight of a good book and a comfortable chair.

Maybe it's because we all know, deep down inside, there are few things as powerful as putting pen to paper, and that, why that's what makes a book so interesting to photograph.

What kind of books do you like to read? Do you think that some of them are here, lost in those stacks? Maybe your favorite book is here, just hiding for a bit, lurking, waiting for you to come back again?

Until next time...

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Specimen


TwoBirdsStuckOnTheWall, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

This is one from the "New Beginnings" project that I've just started to work on. I really love shooting inside of the science labs, so much so that I have decided I'm going to call this work "specimen" and prepare a small sampling for the blog.

I studied science in school. It was always one of my favorite subjects. I like to see how things work, what things look like, I like to take things apart and piece them back together again. I love riddles and puzzles and games. When I get inside of a lab, I like to play, to touch things, to explore, to see how things work.

I think my brain was just formed that way. I've always been curious, liked to explore, and had a hankering for the abstract. I was delighted to shoot inside of a science lab because, as I was taking pictures, all of this and more came back to me. I wanted to touch, I wanted to play, I wanted to study, I wanted to learn again.

For a long time, after I got my master's degree, I vowed that I would never go back to school. But, you know what they say, never say never. I may go back again someday. Actually, I think it would be a luxury to go back to school again.

Sure, I'd love to study music or art or screenwriting, maybe read more about philosophy, but science, that's not material best left for a book. You need a lab coat, a microscope, and a sink to really do that. And, that's just for starters.

Do you want to know how the world works? I mean really works, not just how it's described in a dusty book somewhere, but how things actually move, and fly and function? How electricity works, how to split the atom, or why it is that the elephant is harmless but the scorpion is deadly? If you want to lean about that kind of stuff, you need to study science. I can't believe I'd forgotten how cool it is to do that, or to be in that kind of environment, but there you have it.

Science. It always just works, it's always there, even when you don't think about it so much.

Until next time...

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Chartreuse Stop Kissing Orange Already

Maybe I'm biased but I think that this is my best title for a photo ever. Ok, maybe not absolute best, given the probably tens of thousands of images I've snapped over the years, but I like it. I must admit, I like it.

On the bright side, Ram is back and he's found his lost set of car keys. It's good to see that, even while detained in prison on those pesky felony kidnapping charges he's retained his sense of humor. I really missed him while he was gone, though I was quick to notice a correlation between his travels to Mexico and the recent swine flu outbreak. I am more than willing to chalk it up to coincidence, however, especially in light of the fact that he did not get very far south of the border, thanks to his sliding fake mustache and his dry humor. (Maybe those felony convictions had something to do with it as well.)

I was very saddened to hear of his impending imprisonment, because, while harboring strong feelings of romance for him, plotting how to take out the dreaded Snapple lady and all, I was secretly hoping he could one day provide me with a life-size promotional cut-out of The Stig. (From his blog, he once informed us, as his "refrigeration unit" was on the fritz, that, "As you can appreciate, proper refrigeration is a critical business requirement. In fact, after life-size promotional cut-outs of NASCAR drivers holding cans of beer and video surveillance cameras, it ranks as one of the most important features of modern-day convenience shopping.)

Sadly, his reign at the Food Here has come to an end and he now faces many years behind bars, enjoying cable television, a free gym membership, and all you can eat fried opossum buffets. But, on the down side, he might find himself doing some laundry for a change. Don't worry, Ram, they won't make you use your own quarters in the machines, at least I believe the prison budgets have not been cut that much (quite yet.) [Be glad you don't work for Top Gear, as not only have their budgets been cut but they might actually have to work with girls (Oh the humanity!)]

Speaking of "refrigeration units" have you noticed how Twitter has become full of tweets from those evil people trying to sell things lately? It's only a matter of days, or perhaps "a few cavity searches away" (in Ram-speak) until we all get collectively tweeted about that uber-annoying "little blue pill." I can almost smell the tweetdeck from where I sit, "order now! Free Viagra!" coming soon to a twitter near me. (Oh the horror!)

Free pharmaceuticals, Ram, swine flu, it all hails from Mexico, man. Makes a girl wonder, what am I doing stuck up this way, typing to you at midnight when I should really be sleeping and dreaming about a better way. (Well, you know, better until your cell mate becomes one with your inner prison bitch and whizzes on your pillow down at your local gray bar Hilton.)

Best advice for today? Don't bend over, pick up any soap, or stare too long at any "little blue" tweets. Oh, and, separate the whites from those brightly colored jumpsuits, least you find yourself wearing some pink underpants.

Until next time...

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Top 10 Moonlighting Gigs for The Stig


RollsHoodie, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I happened upon this spoiler about how Jeremy Clarkson and the Top Gear crew were spotted out filming on the grounds of a school the other day, and noticed that one of the cars in question was an old Volvo.

Now, I have nothing against old Volvo's, Lord knows, I typically drive an older car myself and I know that Volvo's are not very cheap (at least they aren't in the 'States, where I live) but I kind of expect the crew from Top Gear to pull out all of the stops. You know, when I tune into Top Gear I expect to see them twirling around in all of those fancy Italian supercars that nobody can afford, not driving the humble everyday man's Volvo around that famed racing circuit like this.

This got me thinking. Must be budget cuts or they wouldn't be doing this, right? And, if money's tight, the least I can do is sort of offer to help out, as best I can, my favorite show. I mean, wouldn't it be nice of me to offer up some advice to help a fellow out in these tough economic times?

So, in an attempt at helping the folks at Top Gear raise some money, I thought I'd suggest some second jobs for the presenters. Now, Jeremy is too tall to work at a burger joint, Richard already moonlights all over British TV (not to mention he has a bad habit of crashing expensive vehicles, which could prove too costly) and James can never seem to follow directions ("Was it left and then right?") not to mention he's not all that employable, not with a nickname of "Captain Slow" going for him. So, given all of that, what's a girl to do?

That's when it came to me. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, the

Top 10 Moonlighting Gigs for The Stig:

Number 10: Lord Stig's All Night Laundromat and Midday Motoring Service (Sale today, one day only, spin cycles, 4 for a buck.)

Number 9: Mama Chin's Chinese Takeaway-special of the day Kung Pao Stiggy (if you're calling from the Board of Health we need to inform you: contains NO chicken.)

Number 8: Lord Stig's African Adventures (Outmaneuvering charging Rhino's across multiple continents!) Sign-up today, hurry, tours booking FAST.

Number 7: "You've reached the law firm of Tallie, Smallie, Shaggy, and Stig. Please leave your name and number after the beep and we'll return your call as soon as possible."

Number 6: Captain Stig's Amphibious Vehicles that almost made it-Coming soon to the bottom of a lake near you. Please pay extra surcharge and rental fees for all snorkel and SCUBA equipment upfront (and in cash only. Sorry, we cannot accept credit cards from the soon to be deceased.)

Number 5: Captain Stiggy's Indoor Plumbing and Auto Racing-He's your Rotor Rooter Man! Guaranteed to be faster than that pesky clogged drain.

Number 4: Lord Stig's Custom Window Treatments and Motoring Service-Specializing in custom finials made from genuine Top Gear leftover parts! (Worn tire drapery tie-backs extra.)

Number 3: Captain Stig's Lawn and Driving Service-Please refrain from asking us that riding mower's best lap time.

Number 2: Stiggy's Pest Control and Motoring Service-Flattening unwanted mice since 2009.

And, perhaps the most profitable, the number 1 recommended moonlighting gig for Top Gear's The Stig is:

Number 1: Lord Stig's House of Ill Repute and Midday Motoring Service-You ride 'em, we drive 'em.

The only downside I see to that one is that you'd have to be very specific when asking for a "lap dance."

Until next time...

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Art Project - A Piece of My Soul


WhatColorIsYourRainbow, originally uploaded by carolsLittleWorld.

I'm supposed to be doing an art project. Right now, instead of sitting here typing this to you, I'm supposed to be actually using these pencils, brushes, and maybe some actual gobs of paint, to make something.

Hobbies are an evil thing. When you first start, you wish that someday you'll get "good" at it, whatever that means. In your own little way, in your own time, maybe somehow, someday, you'll master it and then, *Shazam* you'll be able to do it for a living. Everybody will love you, flowers will start to bloom, and the world will suddenly become a beautiful place because you, yes you, mastered something and made "something" out of your hobby. You've made it. Go you!

Then reality sets in.

You start to get good at it, yes, but you start to learn all that's involved. Did you know, for example, that photographers spend a disproportionate amount of time filling in paperwork and doing things like press kits? (Do you really want to spend your time coming up with press kits or wouldn't you rather be out taking pictures?) Do you know what a hassle customs officials can be at 2 am when you've got a mountain of camera gear and can't find your boarding pass because you've been trying to sleep for the last eight hours but some twelve year old punk has been kicking the back of your chair? (Oh, yes, of course, Mr. Rude Customs Official, I can see that now, yes, indeed, it's in *that* pocket.) Do you know what it's like to be stuck inside when the light's good but you've got to prepare twenty exhibition quality prints and have them done tomorrow all the while not running out of ink, paper, or supplies?

Everybody wants a piece of you.

You have to do press kits, interviews, send things out, get things back, write all kind of statements and crap about your work, print stuff, frame stuff, mess up people's hair so they look good, find the right models, hope you have the right batteries, mingle with all of the right people and then, even after all of that, somebody will come up to you and says, "All you do is push a button. I could do that. In fact, my uncles cousins best friends third ex-wife's cat is a photographer. He has a nice camera too. I think his name is...Ben, what's his name again?"

Painting, drawing, photography, and art in general are wonderful things when you get to do them as a hobby. When you can pick up that camera, at your leisure, and take the pictures you want to take, photography is the best thing in the world. But then, as you enjoy it, you find something happens. You get good at it. And, when you get good at it, everybody wants you. People nag you for portraits. Bridezillas-to-be swarm around your head. Women with small dogs and lots of Botox chase you. You get hunted to extinction and you don't even have any photos you like to show for it.

I really hate when it gets to the point where I've committed work that I haven't even made yet. When there are galleries and places and people looking for things I have yet to prepare-pictures not yet taken, paintings not yet painted. Sure, this might sound like a good problem to have and, don't get me wrong, I'm not really complaining, but it's a lot of pressure, and it's not what makes up the fun part of that "hobby" you once took up so many years ago.

Sometimes, I really hate it when everybody wants a piece of me. When everybody wants this or that or needs this work or wants me to send them that. It's hard. It starts to feel like they're robbing a bit of my soul.

Then I remember what it feels like when that phone doesn't ring, when nobody wants anything from you, and you're all alone, just you, your crayons, and your big dreams. It's a very quiet place, that is, though I'm not sure the view is all that much better than where I sit today.

Life's a balance and it seems like it takes a balancing act sometimes, just to keep it in check.

Until next time...