Sunday, June 18, 2017

The Gift of Curiosity

Today is Father's Day in the US. Earlier, I enjoyed a nice quiet dinner with Dad and the family; the folks are doing well although getting on in years. An interesting thing about my Dad is that, though he's now retired and he was a lawyer and accountant once, he could have been an artist or a writer in his day. He draws better than I do and he writes better too, although I'm a bit more "funky" in my practice of the craft. Dad did give me one gift though, and that's the gift of curiosity. I believe I inherited my sense of curiosity a bit from my Dad, as he shares that trait.

Curiosity, while it might have killed the cat, is good for the photographer. There's a native sense of curiosity the drives what we do. I always felt that people became more observant when they are more curious-like they want to see what's going on so they pay more attention to what's happening right around them. It's also the first step in becoming an explorer type. You have to want to see the world, want to see what's there, want to connect with people, see the sights, share the stories, in order to be an explorer. Let's face it, if you are a photographer today, you're basically a digital explorer, even if the only exploring you get to do is locked away in your own studio. We delve. It's just the nature of the job.

So, I hope all of the Dads out there had a wonderful father's day. I hope you share gifts with your children, like curiosity, that help forge who they are and who they might become over time. And, I hope you had some great cake or BBQ or whatever else it is you eat on father's day. Don't forget to take pictures either because, you know, another little rule of life is that nobody stays young for long. Enjoy it while you can, eh?

Until next time...

PS This one from Iceland. Conversations about clouds.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - Driftwood - June 17

Some dreams are forged in iron and steel, hardened for the ages, while others float together like driftwood washing up on the shore, arranging themselves in random bundles, odd heaps, only to gather and float out to sea yet again. Life is like that, opportunities are like that. Not all the same, some hard, some easy, somewhat random yet they find a way to make themselves yours.

Here are some opportunities for you this weekend. I hope you make the most of them.
I hope you have a wonderful opportunity filled weekend.

Until next time...

PS This one taken in Washington State, on the beach. I love the driftwood there. 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

The Nature of Things

Today is Nature Photography Day which is a day we're supposed to celebrate all things nature and photographic. This is my take on nature: a cloudy sky with an otherwise blue sky day. When I think of nature a lot of times I think of clouds. When you get outside, when you really get out into the air and breathe and feel that cool wind on your face, there's really nothing more natural to me than looking up admiring a cool sky full of clouds. There's something quite fun about clouds too. People spot bunnies in clouds, At times, I'd guess, they spark our imagination.

I've been following a group of storm chasers over the past couple of weeks. Not actually following them, no, but virtually, sort of online. While the storm chase season is coming to a close, I was really in awe of some of the cloud photographs they captured this year. One shot in particular, somebody had gotten a great shot of a rotation near the town of Rugby, North Dakota. In case you don't recall, that was the town we used as the basis for our trip last year to Dakota. It was pretty amazing to see the power of the clouds in a rotation like that. A tornado is quite a scary thing but it's shocking to me how it can also be so very beautiful. That something so destructive could be so lovely when looked at that way. It's just shocking to me. Shocking, a little bit mesmerizing, and kind of leaving me in awe of the beauty and power nature can bring.

Nature is like that. It can surprise us, shock us, leave us in awe, and sometimes just comfort us. Not to mention bunnies. Did I mention we see bunnies? Yeah, there were a lot of bunnies in Washington where I took this particular cloudy sky shot. Lots and lots and lots of bunnies. And, you know, a couple of real clouds too.

I hope you get to get outside and enjoy some of nature photography today, even if it's just for a few moments.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon and the walkabout lens. Washington State has some fine looking clouds.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Photography Powerball

This weekend's Powerball frenzy got me to thinking. What if there were a Powerball of sorts for photography? What if, BOOM! you could shoot whatever, wherever you wanted? What would you shoot? Why would you shoot it? Where would you go? Would you stay home and build the most wild studio? Would you travel the world? A little of both? Hire the best super models or hide in outer Mongolia completely void of people to get the most interesting landscape you could find?

Now, you might be thinking, "she crazy. Poor Carol's gone barking mad. Again." And, why maybe you'd be right about that. I'm always a little bit headed down that path of barking mad. I can accept that, but what if there's a reason for me asking these type of questions too? My reasoning is that, if you can think about that lottery as a sort of photography lottery, if you can think about your existence after you would win such a lottery prize, it just might give you some insight into how you shoot without finding yourself a big prize winner. Dreaming about what you might shoot if you could shoot anything and everything tells you a little bit about how you see yourself. That fantasy gives you some insight into who you are as a shooter. Would you end the war in the middle east? Would you find the most beautiful, awesome flower and shoot it instead? Would you travel to the far reaches of the globe or stay at home opting to work instead in studio? Would you buy the most dope lighting rig anybody has ever seen or would you quit your job and shoot at the golden hour each and every day? These are all insights into how we work as photographers, even if they never come to pass.

You might never get to shoot that sweeping landscape of outer Mongolia but if you like landscapes that says a lot about how you shoot and what you might want to shoot next. Don't box yourself in. Get outside and find the sweep. Now, because you didn't win that fabulous prize, you might have to settle for a sweeping landscape a bit closer to home but go ahead and hunt it down. You may never be able to afford that dope lighting rig but you can make something work. Consider it a challenge but go ahead and try. You might find you can build a dope lighting rig for a lot cheaper than you think, especially if you are willing to do a little bit of DIY type work and build out things yourself.

Most of us will never know the joy of winning a lot of money in a lottery prize. That's OK though because we have already won another prize. We're photographers. That's a prize, a big prize. We get to see the world, shoot what we see, share our stories, our joys, our sorrows and yes, sometimes, our pain too. It's what we do and who we are in our very core. While it might be nice to have some big bucks, I don't think winning a big prize like that would change anything about that really. We've already got this, man, we're photographers. It's who we are not just what we do, right?

Congratulations, you have already won the big "photography powerball." Now, what are you going to do with all that prize "money?"

Until next time...

PS This one taken in Langley. An abstract for you tonight. On the zoom with the baby Mark.



Friday, June 09, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - June 9

Time for Opportunity Weekend. This is my weekly feature where I offer up some opportunities. These are gallery, shows, competitions, etc. looking for work-looking for your work-to showcase. It's a new weekend, I hope you make the most of it.

Opportunities this week include:
I hope you have a wonderful weekend.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS in Whidbey Island, Washington. I was in the mood for some water so here it is.

Sunday, June 04, 2017

It's a Cookbook

I'm going to be starting a new series on the blog. If you're a regular reader, you are probably already familiar with my currently running series "Opportunity Weekend" where I present a couple of opportunities for photographers and artists. Basically, this usually takes the form of about three places looking for work. I'm trying to do this every weekend, to encourage you all to enter your work and get your work out there more often. I know I need some encouragement sometimes and so I thought it would be a good way to do just that, both encourage myself and share it with others in a way. I plan to keep "Opportunity Weekend" going at least for a while but the idea of running a series got me to thinking. Since it's easier for me to do a series and it seems a bit welcome from my readers, I thought it might be a good idea to add another series into the mix. 

I had an idea a while back to do something called "Carol's Camera Cookbook." It would basically be a cookbook of experimental photography. Things you could try pretty easily in order to maybe jump start your photography or just fresh ideas maybe you had not thought of or heard about before. The idea is to make a cookbook of experimental ideas, or ideas you can try when you want to try something new, try something different, or you just want to shake things up a bit. Originally, I had planned to craft an entire book of these. While I don't think I'll make a book, I thought it might be a good idea to revive this topic and craft it instead as a running series on the blog.

So, my next series is going to be called "Camera Cookbook" and it's going to present an idea that you can try to sort of spice up your photography or maybe something new, some new technique you can try out and experiment with to see if it works for you. Now, I'm going to try and shy away from ideas that require a lot of money, instead focus on things that you can more easily try out with a minimum of gear and gadgets but maybe just a little creativity and some DIY here and there.

I hope to start sharing my Camera Cookbook ideas soon on the blog. In the meantime, if you've got any topics you would like to see me cover, please feel free to drop me a note and let me know. Keep in touch as I welcome your suggestions. If you are enjoying the currently running "Opportunity Weekend" why I'd love to hear about that from you as well.

Until next time...

PS This one an abstract taken with the 5DS and the walkabout lens. I liked the swirls of color in it.

Friday, June 02, 2017

Opportunity Weekend - June 2

Hard to believe it's June already but it is and it's also Friday which means it's time for another Opportunity Weekend. These are a series of posts designed to highlight some upcoming opportunities, places like galleries, contests, publications, and the like looking for work. Good luck!

This week's opportunities:
 Embrace the new month and send some work out. Get after it!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the 5DS and the walkabout lens. From the walk I took in the park recently. 

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Art or Artifacts - What do you Drop?

Having fun yet? Isn't photography fun? I mean, what other pursuit allows you to travel all over the world, get to see lots of glorious places, and come back with visual treasures, right? Am I right? You know I'm right.

The trouble is, sometimes, in pursuit of these far away "treasures" we often neglect the process of making art itself. What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain. The other day I was asked about it in this manner. "Do you make art or artifacts?" The difference being artifacts are often the result of traveling to some faraway land and coming back with a treasure of some kind. Yes, it's a visual treasure and, yes, you may love it with every fiber of your very being but, and you really have to ask yourself this question, is it really art you're making or is it something else?

Art comes from the heart, the soul, that deep well inside of us. It isn't a "treasure" in the traditional sense. It's the realization even the embodiment of a vision, an artistic vision. It's what you realize after you "see it" in your head. It's a spiritual thing really, even if you don't believe in that sort of a thing. It comes from a higher, maybe even a deeper place. It's not a breadcrumb you drop along a trail.

I guess these days, with the Internet being what it is, with the world being the way it is, many people want to go to certain places. Bucket lists, we all have bucket lists. I want to go here, I want to go there, to photograph this place or that thing or...that's great, I'm not suggesting it isn't wonderful and that we shouldn't go ahead and do all of that, but is that really making art? Art in its true form? I suspect you know what I'm going to say here. You don't have to travel to make art. You don't need a "bucket list" or, heck, even worse, you don't have to stack up against somebody else's random bucket list. You don't have to go to Iceland because it's cool or see Paris because it's there. Really, you don't. You can make art quietly, without Facebook or Twitter, by the light of the moon, in your own little, private studio. Without anyone knowing even that you made it really. And, that sort of art, why, it doesn't have to be like moose droppings-something we've left along a trail. No, it can be a quiet celebration that pulls from a well deep inside our own little bubble. Sometimes, maybe lately anyway, it seems like we don't get enough of this kind of art. Like we're collectively all so busy dropping artifacts, we've forgotten to breathe. I've talked a bit about this before too. Like how in Texas in the springtime anyway, everybody wants to get bee on a bluebonnet picture. It's like we all have this mental checklist of shots we want to, maybe we feel we even need to get, and our lives must not go only until we nail them. It's great to do that. I honestly hope everybody gets to realize some of the shots they've always wanted to take, but it's not the same as making art.

Art brings forth something from nothing. Art is the manifestation of creativity. Art represents the handmade, the one of a kind, the voice, the vision, the soul of the maker. It's personal. It's that quiet voice in the woods that calmly whispers to you, while all the other moose are rampaging, to sit down and watch the water in the stream flow over the rocks. We don't have enough art in the world. Perhaps we have made far too many artifacts to notice. But, it does beg the questions. Are you having fun? Are you busy? Are you busy making art or artifacts?

Something to think about maybe for today.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon baby Mark at the carnival. I stuck my camera inside the Tilt-A-Whirl. I guess that's one way to make art, eh?


Friday, May 26, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

Once again, it's time for Opportunity Weekend. Here are some opportunities for photographers who want to get their work out more often. I hope you make the most of them.
  • The Photographic Center Northwest is once again hosting an annual fundraiser, called the LONG SHOT. I've participated in this before, it's really quite a lot of fun. The way it works is that you shoot the images on the specified date and then submit the work to be juried. You are guaranteed to get an image accepted and, for a flat fee, they print the image and display it for you. The images are then sold to raise funds for educational program at the Center. It's a great cause, it's a lot of fun, and I highly recommend you try it out if you're so-inclined. Like I said, you are guaranteed to get one image included so it's an opportunity to help raise money for photography education and have one of your pieces displayed in Seattle. Who does not want to do that, right? Details at the following link: http://pcnw.org/support/longshot/
  • Aesthetica Magazine is now accepting entries for their next Art Prize. Details at the following link: http://www.aestheticamagazine.com/art-prize/
  • National Geographic Magazine is running a contest, looking for the Travel Photographer of the Year for 2017. Details as the following link: http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/photographer-of-the-year-2017/
  • The New York Center for Photographic Art has a current call for entries exploring the theme Glass. Find more details at this link: https://www.nyc4pa.com/primary-colors
It's a special 3 day weekend in the 'States this weekend, as we're recognizing Memorial Day, a day to honor those who gave us our freedom. A special shout out to our military this weekend and I hope you make the most of your extended time off by sending some work out for consideration.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. Miraflores, Lima, Peru.


Friday, May 19, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

Once again it's time for my running series, "Opportunity Weekend" where I present you with several ideas to promote your art and photography. If you've been following along, this is the third installment of what I hope to be an ongoing series. I am really enjoying doing these for you and I now am fortunate enough to report back in that, yes, they have been paying off for me as well. The image featured here was selected as one of 35 or so images to be included in the Southeast Center for Photography's upcoming exhibition, "Forsaken." You read that correctly. I submitted my work for consideration in one of my own opportunities and actually made the grade. So happy to get this wonderful news and so looking forward to the show, which is shaping up to be absolutely great  based upon the initial cut I've been lucky enough to see.

But, enough about opportunities past. This is all about onward, to the future. Let's look ahead and check out some opportunities for you, some stuff that you may very well be lucky enough to get in on as well. How does that old southern expression go, "better get while the gettin's good!" Yup. That. Get after it already!

Without further ado, here are some opportunities for you to consider this weekend:
  • Edition ONE Gallery has a call for entries exploring the theme "Disappearing World." For those of you who missed out on the Forsaken opportunity, some of your work might just fit this theme. Details at the following link: http://www.editionone.gallery/callforentries.html. The gallery is in Santa Fe, New Mexico so jackalope to it. 
  • Aint-Bad Magazine has a call for entries to be included in their Issue No. 12 which is a curatorial issue. This is an opportunity for you to get your work put in front of some major curators and potentially be interviewed and published in print. Details at their link here: https://www.aint-bad.com/call-for-entry/. The deadline is July 1st.
  • PhotoPlace Gallery in Middlebury, Vermont has a call for entries with the theme "Black and White." They are looking for black and white work for this upcoming show juried by Jennifer Schlesinger. The deadline is fast approaching so don't wait on this one with details here: http://photoplacegallery.com/black-and-white-2017/.
  • The Bauhaus Prairie Art Gallery has a call for entries exploring the theme, "the portrait and self-portrait." This is all media and looks like a fun opportunity. You can find more details at the following link: http://bauhausprairieartgallery.com/upcoming-show/.
I seriously hope you are getting after it, as they say. These are some great opportunities and could really give your work a chance to shine. And, now I can honestly report back to you that yes, hey, it worked for me!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon EOS 5DS and the walkabout lens. Dakota. Talk about forsaken, this once styling blue room was indeed very much forsaken when I happened upon it.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Heavy Lifting of Sorts

So, I don't like to get into the usual blah, blah, blah, yada, yada, yada about website design and the like. I figure most of that just bores people and I'm no exception. Frankly, I get bored pretty easily with that kind of stuff, because it just makes my eyes glaze over and, why, you know I'd much rather spend my time looking at photography. Recent events, however, have lead me to post a little bit about my website design, just for those who follow along and for yours truly as well. I want to try to keep tabs on these things, so I hope you will forgive the intrusion.

Recently, I've been thinking I wanted to give the blog a little bit of a revamp, to kind of move things around a little bit. Focus more on the photography and less on some of the backstories and funny things. (Don't worry, there will still be funny things. I just want it to look a little less cluttered in here really. That's all.) So, I had an idea to add some tabs to the top of the page. You know the stuff one might usually find up there, items like "About Me" and "My Portfolio" and the like. I started down that path a while ago and never could get the dang thing to work. My blog is very old, you see, and so it just sort of breaks some templates. Anyway, I finally figured out the magic pill to swallow, the farm animal I needed to sacrifice or whatever, as that started working. Now, you can see the spiffy new tabs up at the top. Most have some text in there, but I'll probably be adding to them as I go along. You can see the makings of my new format, starting to take shape up at the top.

As part of this spiffy new top bar introduction, I've decided that I also wanted to clean up the right edge of my blog. It's a bit cluttered and distracts from the reading, not to mention I think it makes my site look a bit less friendly. It's not as clean as I would like so I decided to tidy up over there a bit. I also wanted to add some spiffy new contact buttons so that I have buttons for Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and the like. Yes, I know, my old design made me look a bit Amish or perhaps stuck in 1997. Damn the torpedoes, social media here I come, as I've decided to add buttons for connection type information. All well and good.

It was a bit tricky adding the buttons but I managed it. I had to first find the buttons which is no small feat in and of itself. You trying making up your mind which buttons you like. Oh the horror! If making up my mind were not enough, I had to then download and resize. Being a photographer, I'm a bit used to that, still it was a bit of a chore. For a while there, I had a 500 pixel sized Twitter tweety bird on the edge of my website. In case you did not catch it, let me be the first to admit, that's one scary looking bird at 500 pixels, OK?

I wound up using a very friendly site called iconfinder.com along with help from a website called Instructables. The Instructables people told me to basically create a "dummy" blog post and cut and paste images into it. Then, edit to add my links. Then, use this code and dump it into a template widget which could them be displayed along the edges. It worked like magic after I fought with it for about ten minutes (and made up my mind. There's still that pesky making up your mind business, which I really can't help anybody with much. Good luck to you on that front.)

Anyway, enough of the almost techno mumble bumble. This is the new template. I think it's a bit cleaner, it has tabs now, it's got spiffy new social media buttons and I think it just looks a whole buncha nicer. Now, I'm still tidying up around the edges and there are some areas with missing links, text, and the like, but I really would welcome your feedback.

Does it look like we've weathered the spring dust up OK or should I go back to the drawing board on this one?

Until next time and maybe template this time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens. One of the historic school tour buildings in splendor of decay.


Monday, May 15, 2017

Abstraction aka Attack of the Meh

Is it really so difficult to do abstract photography? I mean, on the one hand, it seems like it should be really easy but then...go ahead and try it, I dare you. For some reason, it never seems like I like my abstracts. Now, don't get me wrong. I look at a lot of abstract art and some of mine are not all bad but...I can't help but think they just don't stack up. I think part of the difficulty in doing abstracts are that, since there is nothing "real" in there, you have a hard time knowing if you got what you want. At least for me anyway, they seem harder for people who can't make up their minds to do. Well, that's a good theory and I'm sticking with it even if it's not totally accurate.

I think it's also harder, much harder, to get better at doing abstracts. At least to me anyway, it seems like it's a lot harder to learn how to get better, to improve at them. They make you feel like you are stuck in neutral somehow. Like you aren't all that stranded but you would just really love a hill or maybe a good tail wind to give you that one more little push....Ah, who am I kidding? Working in abstract it can fell a whole lot like "attack of the meh" if you know what I mean. It's hard to get spectacular but all too easy to get sort of mediocre and mediocre just keeps coming.

Meh...Meh....MEH.....FREAKING MEH. I hate you MEH. There I said it. Abstracts, if I didn't love you so much, damn, I'd hate you.

Until next time...

PS This from the iPhone weather series. There was a cold front moving in and I used my fingers. I hope you like it.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

In keeping with my new theme for end of the week, today I present you with a couple of opportunities. These are places that are looking for some work. Good luck!

  1. The Darkroom Gallery has a current call for entries with the theme of "Abstraction." You can read more about them at the link. 
  2. Rogue Community College has a call for entry. They are looking for all media for one person shows. Details at the following link. 
  3. The Royal Photographic Society International Photography Exhibit has a call for entries. The show will be held in October in London. You can find details on how to enter at the following link.
In keeping with the nature of "Opportunity Weekend" most of these calls have deadlines coming up pretty quickly. I hope you get after it and get your work submitted to some great calls this weekend, even if it's not the few I have selected to share with you here.

Go on, go out there and get after it! You know you want to.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS. Adobe CreativeCloud is not opening for me right now so I had to pull a file down our of the archives. 



Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Devolving Abstractly

I was asked recently, "where do you see your work going? Where do you want to move your photography?" This is an interesting question. For starters, I'm not really sure, I'm never sure how to answer such a broad open-ended question like this. There are a lot of ways it can go and a lot of things that pull me in. I'm easily fascinated, I guess you could say. But, the real issue is that I don't have a giant game plan. I don't have something akin to a scorecard that I keep which tells me, "Yup. I shot a bluebonnet today. Okay. Now, onto the next big thing." I don't work with a plan like that. I've always preferred to be the type of shooter who lets my work sort of be my guide and I follow along as a willing participant, almost a passenger on this wild ride. That's how I like to think of myself anyway. Certainly, I'm not afraid to branch off in one direction and see where it leads me.

In the moment though, when pressed, I came up with this answer. "I'm devolving into an abstract version of myself." While, on some level, this really doesn't make much sense, I'd have to admit that it's probably the closest to the truth I could come up with, especially when put on the spot like that. I really am devolving into an abstract version of myself.

When I started out as an artist, earlier in my career, my work was more concrete. I was taken in by the tyranny of the real. It was all I did. Frankly, I would not change a thing about that work either, as photography possibly at it's best combines the real and the abstract. It's what the medium is good at so why not celebrate it, right?

Lately though it seems like I'm drawn more and more into the abstract. I just don't want anything real anymore. I'm drawn to the expressive nature of the abstract, the mystery, the intrigue. I have no use for the real. You could go into a search engine, type in a name, say "mountain" and come up with a really great shot of a mountain. Why would I want to be bound by that? Why can't I just make a mountain the way I want to make it, the way I want to see it? For all you know, this image here could be a purple mountain, right? Lately anyway, it seems like I have a strong preference for the unbound. It's what I've been seeing and it's what I want to do. Guess we'll see where this one leads me, right? Here's hoping it's someplace good!

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS. No, it's not a mountain, just a purple thing. Up close and personal, as I like it.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Seven, Maybe Eight Actually, Ideas for Better Photography

Today, I present the seven, maybe eight actually, ideas for becoming a better photographer. These are not exclusively mine, although I have added my thoughts to them and punctuated them with a bit of myself. They maybe don't work for everybody and some might be hard to master. I never said it was easy, but I do think it's worth doing in the long run. These are my take on perfecting, actually maybe even honing the craft of photography. Here goes:
  1. Spend time seeing what you care about without a camera. If you want to be a better photographer, be a better person, be more involved, check out what you actually love, without the filter of a lens. 
  2. Nail technical skills. Simplify and learn the crap you really need to know, but just the crap you really need to know. Don't use program mode but don't bury yourself in technical details either. Don't be a technician, be an artist, but be able to do the work. Cut through the fluff to get to the stuff you need but only master the stuff you need. Get onto the business of actually making the work and don't get bogged down in the weeds of technical despair.
  3. Surround yourself with art. Doesn't have to be photography. Some of the best photographers I know draw inspiration from things like theater, poetry, painting, music, etc. The one thing these all have in common is that they are art. Put more art in your life to help put more life into your art. 
  4. Find a buddy. Photography can be a solitary act. We're alone a lot of the times. It's good to have a buddy that you can trust, especially one who gets your aesthetic and can tell you honestly if something is working or not. Also, just so that if you happen to fall through the floor of some old, abandoned house, you have somebody to help you call for help. Buddies are good, even if you are not the most social of people on a good day. 
  5. Find your own voice. Many people struggle with this but the real solution behind the dilemma is to actually do a lot of work. If you keep shooting, keep working, keep producing, a voice will emerge even if you didn't start out with one. Do the work, keep shooting. Be regular. Be thoughtful in your shooting, be mindful. Don't fret about finding a voice just this moment, just be mindful and work diligently. The most successful artists are able to dance between the playful and the thoughtful. 
  6. It's not for everybody...some don't but...when the time is right, find a project. Or, rather, let a project find you. Projects should be doable and make you want to wake up excited. Photography when crafted as part of a larger, overall project really soars so don't knock out the idea of a personal project. Dig deep, commit, and follow through on your project but above all be excited about it. It should be your opportunity to soar and really dive into the meat that is photography. 
  7. Enjoy the journey. Connect to the thing itself. Don't be the guy who goes to the rock concert and spends the entire time staring at the back of his phone. Live a little, connect, make connections, enjoy the process. Don't look for quick results or even a quick buck. It's a path so follow it and see where it leads. 
  8. Do something with your work. Get your work out there. You don't have to go far, just push yourself to take a few little steps. Print your images. Hang them up on your own walls. Live with them, look at them, share them when possible, but don't inflict your art onto people. Welcome feedback when it comes and continue on your path, your journey, towards better image-making and perfecting the craft. 
 I hope these help you as much as they have helped me over the years. We're all on this wonderful journey into image-making and art together so I hope this is as useful to you as it was for me. 

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon5DS and the walkabout lens. Just a blooming tree for springtime.

Friday, May 05, 2017

Opportunity Weekend

I'm starting a new feature on my site called "Opportunity Weekend" where I kick the weekend off by sharing a few opportunities for artists and photographers. These are essentially places that are looking for your work.

The thinking behind this is that a lot of folks work a desk job and so the prime opportunity they have to send out their work lies on the weekend. This got me to thinking that, if I could share a couple of opportunities with you maybe each weekend, it might help you along on your journey of getting your artwork out there more and participating in more shows and the like. It's my way of encouraging folks who work full time and do art on the side to go on and get after it, getting work out into the world more. I hope it flies.

So, to start things off, here are a few opportunities for you this weekend:
Please let me know if you find this a useful feature and I will try to make it a regular habit to share calls for entries, especially ones with upcoming deadlines so that you can get your work out there more.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS over at the Brushy Creek Park.

Tuesday, May 02, 2017

Why I Create Mobile Photography/Art

Recently, I did an interview with Joanne Carter from TheAppWhisperer.com. You can view the finished product here if you're curious. Since the interview process was kind of fun, I thought I would post here in case you want to read along. Here is my interview, essentially my response to the question, "Why do you create mobile photography and art?"

So today I was asked the question, why do I create mobile photography and art. To really answer this question, I would have to first examine why I create photography and then specifically, why I use the iPhone. My training, my education is not in photography itself, rather I attended engineering school with the dream of becoming an architect. Dreams change and I found myself a computer programmer stuck behind a desk, wanting to get outside more, so I picked up a camera as an excuse to explore. I am still drawn to architecture, in fact, you will find common themes in my work. Themes that include architecture, natural structure, abandoned places, and quirky, sometimes funky man-made objects I find in my travels. Although my most recent work is abstract, I often find myself returning to these common themes. In my nature, I am an architect and an explorer. In my heart, I like to make things with my hands. In my mind, in my dreams, my eyes see many things and I try to bring them to life using the best means possible.

I’m a fine art photographer, not a journalist, I don’t want to capture the world as it is, instead I prefer showing you the world as I see it or maybe even how I would like it to be. 

After years of experimenting with photography in ways such as using creative darkroom techniques and even mixed media like encaustics, I was originally drawn to the iPhone as a means of digital sketching. The simplicity of the iPhone allows me to craft compositions quickly which, to me, is really at the core of photography. Once I got hooked on being able to quickly sketch, it was only a matter of time before I started incorporating the iPhone more into my workflow as a photographer.

I’ve always been surprised when people dismiss the iPhone as being too simple because, for me, that is one of its greatest strengths. Coming from architecture, nobody dismisses a brick as being simple, yet an iPhone is far more complex than brick. In fact, nobody questions when you make something of brick, asking, “you made that out of brick?” rather they just ask the question, “you made that?” Just as the brick becomes a simple building block to the vision of the architect, so too has my iPhone become a building block for my creative vision as a photographer.

I have even started incorporating drawing with my iPhone to work with the opacity of layers in images to give my work more depth. In my latest series, I'm manipulating images of weather maps with my hands, my fingers actually, creating abstracts based on weather patterns. This is both fun and unique, showcasing a technique the iPhone allows me to easily use.

Now, I don’t have a crystal ball to see into the future so I don’t know what the future of photography holds but I recognize that, if you want to see where photography and art in general is going, follow the energy. Right now anyway, iPhone photography has all the energy, all the excitement, all the fun, all the joy that image making can hold. The communities that exist, such as TheAppWhisperer help foster that community and it’s great fun being a part of that. It feels fresh and new and frankly, being an explorer type, I can’t wait to find out where this road leads me next.

Until next time...

PS In keeping with the theme, this image crafted with the iPhone. From a recent shot taken at Zilker Park, in the botanical garden this was layered with a painted background and given a bit of selective focus to highlight the garden structure.  The movie itself was crafted in Apple's iMove, an application I'm finding to be most useful for these sorts of tasks. I was able to make the movie entire using iMove on my iPhone. I hope you enjoy the finished product and a special thanks and shout out to the good folks over at TheAppWhisperer.com for thinking of me and for putting together such a wonderfully good website for mobile photographers and artists.




Saturday, April 29, 2017

Nature - A Small Folio Part II

Went out to Zilker Botanical Gardens in Austin today and did a bit of shooting. I thought I would share. It was hot, like soupy kind of hot, actually more like humid rather than hot. The kind of weather where everything sticks to you. I hate that kind of shooting but I managed OK. I think I got a couple of shots that aren't too bad. Most recent work definitely reflects the way I've been moving recently. Bit of a new direction, more abstract, a bit more expressive I think. Well, you can be the judge. Here are a couple of shots from the field work today.










Until next time...

PS All images shot today with the Canon 5DS and a 100mm macro lens. Most of the time the leaves were moving and I wasn't.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Nature - A Small Folio

In prepping for the upcoming workshop, seeing as I had to pull together a folio anyway, I thought I might share it with you. It's small enough. Six images in the tank. This is some of my nature work that I've managed to accumulate over the years.

I don't usually shoot a lot of nature work although I am very inspired by nature and the natural world. Still, I thought I would share as it's just a small taste from the archives and suitable for the blog so here goes:



Until next time...

Thursday, April 27, 2017

Something Blowing In This Weekend

This was one of the bluebonnet images I told you about from the walk I took in the park last week (or so.) This is the top view of a Texas bluebonnet. Speaking of Texas and, heck, maybe even bluebonnets, although most of those have left us now, this weekend a favorite photographer, Eddie Soloway is coming to town. Yes, you read this correctly. This weekend, instead of me jaunting off to some exotic location, why, this time the location is coming to me. Eddie Soloway is kicking things off with a presentation tomorrow evening, showing some of his work from his moons series, plus some other work and then it's off to the races (well, the photographic races) after that. We'll be going out shooting on Saturday, weather permitting and the like. What's that they say 'round these parts? "God willing and the creek don't rise." Yes, that indeed.

Speaking of creeks and, well, God himself perhaps, this weekend has a bit of a Texas twist in store for us. You see, Texas is home to several large scale tornadoes. Welcome to the heart of tornado alley, my photographer friends. A group of storm chasers I sometimes follow (these guys are crazy, but I digress) has been monitoring the situation. So far, they've informed me that this weekend the conditions are right for some severe storms including, yes, our very own version of the Texas twister. All of this "goodness" is supposed to hit on Saturday when, you guessed it, we're supposed to be out shooting with Eddie Soloway. Oh, this is going to be fun now, indeed. All I can do at this point is hope the storms hold off, hope the storms give us some good clouds and nice light to work with, and hope I don't blow away. Wish me luck on this, especially that last little bit. Phew! Hang onto your Stetson hats for this ponies about to ride 'em little cowboys! (So sorry. I sometimes break into Texan when I get excited like this. It won't happen again, I promise.)

In the, excuse the pun but, "when it rains, it pours" department, if this weekend were not crazy enough, I got word today that my own personal interview over at TheAppWhisperer.com has been put up today. Yes, this is good news as it means I completed my interview video and you can now listen to me babble on about my photography for an entire 3 minutes and 19 seconds while pretty iPhone images scroll across your screen. I'll try to do a more detailed post about this at some point but, for now, if you happen across a video that looks like it came from me over at TheAppWhisperer.com, I must confess, it is in fact yours truly. Little ole' me has made a talkie. Who knew I had it in me?

Now it's time for that dreaded task, you know the one I always hate. I must make a portfolio of six images suitable for the slide show on Saturday. You know the one I'm talking about, the one just *before* the big bad Texas twister blows us all away. No, where oh where did I hide my jump drive? And, oh crap, I just thought of something. I'm going to have to find my kick plate between now and the weekend too. Oh, that's so just not going to happen.

Enjoy the bluebonnet while you can and let's hope the weekend stacks up to be a fun one. Minus the hunt for the kickplate which, as you know, is always less than fun for me.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5dS and the 100 macro lens over at the Brushy Creek Park area. It was blue and this is its bonnet.

Monday, April 10, 2017

I Took a Walk Down by the Lake

Yesterday, I went out hunting bluebonnets. Now, for those of you not from Texas, allow me to explain. Each year, if we're lucky, and by luck here I actually mean if the Gods, nature, the stars, the drought conditions and the cold fronts that move along the northern hemisphere actually all cooperate, Texas gets blanketed in a bouquet of wildflowers in the springtime. These wildflowers are blossoms you might have heard about, things like primrose, black-eyed Susies and the like but, in this neck of the woods, the king, the absolute heavyweight champion of the wildflower season, the Muhammad Ali of dandelions and the like is a beast we call the "Texas bluebonnet." Yes, you read that correctly. There is actually a species of plant named the "Texas bluebonnet." Note: they put the word Texas right in the name! Yes, it really is that popular around these parts. Bluebonnets are all but a religion around here I can assure you.

So, these wildly popular bluebonnets usually grow in places along the highways and sometimes in fields, in different settings you might expect to see them; places like by the post office or growing in the fields near the elementary school. Parks are a popular place for these guys too, in part because, come every April our official outdoor pastime becomes photographing things sitting in fields of bluebonnets. Nary a Texas toddler has gone a spring season without getting plunked down and photographed sitting in a field of bluebonnets, I tell you. Most dogs have sat in there as well. It's just what we do come April. I should also point out that bluebonnet season also marks the height of rattlesnake mating season. Yeah, we Texans are tough like that but, come every spring, we venture out into the great unknown, plunk our kids and our dogs down, rattlers be damned, and take some snaps. Woo hoo!

A couple of years ago, it was an amazing year for the bluebonnets. When I say amazing I mean there were actually a million bluebonnets blooming in Bastrop State Park. I am not making up that number. A million freaking bluebonnets! It was more than a field, it was like a way of life. Once in a lifetime showcase of springtime color, that was, I swear I will never forget it. Trouble is, now I've gotten a bit, shall we say, spoiled, and so now anything less than this spectacle leaves me wanting more. It's a curse, I tell you, a curse. So, this year, not to miss the season entirely, I decided to venture out and do a wee bit of late season hunting, just so I don't miss the bluebonnets entirely. Now, I know it isn't as good a year as what we've recently had, no, but I thought, it was a nice day and, heck, I'd much rather hunt bluebonnets than do my taxes, so out I went into the wild blue (excuse the pun) yonder on the hunt.

I researched some rumored bluebonnet locations on my local Internet (I did say this was "just like a religion" yes?) and found Brushy Creek Park was rumored to have a field or two of flowers. Since this park also has a lake and a bocce court (I swear I'm not making this up) I thought, why not? So, I packed the camera and headed over to the park on the lake to try and find some bluebonnets.

Now, what I did find might surprise you. At first, there were a few bluebonnets. I found a rather small-ish clump growing beneath a tree, which I actually rather liked, since it cut the sunlight and allowed me to photograph in the shade, freeing me from the ugly shadows that I don't like in my flower photos. All well and good but this was about 10 bluebonnets in total, a far cry from the million in years past. I shot a little bit and then made my way down towards the lake, where they have the little boat dock like landing space. Here I found what amounted to be a small-ish field of bluebonnets. It was well past peak season, mind you, but I did, in fact, plunk my butt down in a field of bluebonnets. Bucket list item for 2017, check! I'm also alerting you to this fact so you realize I did in fact photograph a bluebonnet this year. Of course, you'd never know that from the images I wound up processing but, hey, I did shoot a bluebonnet, so help me, I really did.

After my butt had been firmly planted in the bluebonnet field, I started making my way back to the car. I spotted a rock, which had some nice colors in it, so I did a close up abstract. Then I noticed the path was rather cool, but a bit boring, so I decided to play a bit and try to jazz up the paths through the trees. These are the paths that snake back to the parking lot. I started playing with some motion blue and movement. It was a windy day and so perhaps this was my inspiration here but I felt I had to try and do something. Then, I got distracted by this red leaf sticking out from a tree, it was a young leaf and the light was hitting it quite right. I did manage to go out near sunset so the light was starting to get a bit interesting, although it was still a bit bright for the bluebonnets to my taste. As I followed the winding path back to my car, I got more and more experimental, playing with the camera, playing with abstraction, looking for light poking through the trees and making the trees dance in the wind. That's what you see here. This image was taken on the walk back to the car, with a shaft of late afternoon light shining through the trees.

Now, I got a bluebonnet photo. I also took a few shots of the path and you can sort of follow along visually, if you were to check out my lightbox. You could actually trace my descent into madness, as I like to call it or perhaps a more polite way of putting that would be my foray into abstraction. I got more and more abstract as I went along my path back to the car. At the risk of being kicked out of Texas over the entire religion business, honestly, I must confess. I feel the more abstract work is far more interesting than any bluebonnet images I might have taken. Even if that field had a million flowers in it, why, heck, I'll admit it. I actually prefer this kind of stuff. Maybe I had to go hunting for the bluebonnets to find what it is I really want, but there you have it. Abstraction was the end result.

But, technically speaking, I did photograph a bluebonnet this spring. I won't tell if you won't.

Until next time...

PS This image taken with the Canon 5dS and the 100 macro lens in Brushy Creek Park, Texas.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

The Art of Impermanence

Maybe because I've come down with a case of spring fever or perhaps because I have several friends venturing to Japan for spring photographic jaunts, either way recent thoughts have turned to cherry blossoms. Yes, my friends, it's that time of year again. I do believe the cherry blossoms are just about going to start blooming in Japan (if they have not already) and, sadly, the experts advise us that the Washington DC blossoms are quite frail this year, possibly creating a shorter season but making an appearance now as well. This late winter snap has been especially cruel in Washington DC, taking its toll on the stateside blossoms. Perhaps even nature itself cannot stomach the ugliness of politics in my nation's capital. Nevertheless, spring is dawning and it's time for the blossoms to come forth yet again even if only for an abbreviated season.

Cherry blossoms are not restricted to Japan and Washington DC, of course. Actually, I have fond memories of a cherry tree in my backyard. As a child growing up, I took for granted, even disregarded the bright pink blossoms selectively appearing each springtime. Our cherry tree was actually a variety akin to a sort of a crab apple-the fruit was all but inedible, but this did not stop the array of pink blossoms dusting the yard each spring, as if to remind us cherry trees do more than just produce fruit. I believe too that I had on more than one occasion scraped my knee climbing said tree. Like I said, I was a foolish child and thought the tree more a nuisance than a blessing. Oh what wisdom I have gained over the years, right?

While cherry blossoms are quite usual and yes, I have been obsessing over them recently, the metaphoric significance has not been lost on me as well. Cherry blossoms represent impermanence. The Japanese poetry and haiku is an endless source of inspiration too, heck you don't even need the pretty visuals to get inspired by this natural display. Some of the words and thoughts, writings and philosophizing make for beautiful inspiration for artists.

"Break open a cherry tree and there are no flowers; but the spring breeze brings forth myriad blossoms." --Ikkyu

"The notion is called wabi-sabi life, like a cherry blossom, it is beautiful because of its impermanence, not in spite of it, more exquisite for the inevitability of loss." Peggy Orenstein

I hope you can enjoy the cherry blossoms this year in your own little way. Even if you don't live near the flowers, even if you never get to see the flowers, I sincerely hope you get out and photograph or maybe at least enjoy something as impermanent as a cherry blossoms. Life is short, flowers don't happen all of the time, the world can be a very ugly place. We should all collectively enjoy it while it splendid, no?

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5DS on my kitchen table. It's a cherry blossom tea cup with some white tea steeping so that I can clear my throat of my blasted allergies. Hey, I never said the blossoms were perfect now, did I? Achoo!


Wednesday, March 15, 2017

More Than Just a Tone Poet

Being a tone poet is wonderful but, as a photographer, you can also be a "poet poet." Using photography, we can listen to a song, bring words to life, include metaphors in our work. We can engage in a sort of "visual haiku" that plays with the viewer's sense of reality all the while presenting our unique perspective on a scene. Now, mind you, I'm not above being a tone poet. Heck, if I could manage it, I would be a tone poet each and every day. Tone poets make things look easy but, in some ways, it's easy to be a tone poet as well. I mean, all you have to do is present us the most perfect composition with the most perfect, subtle, shaded, contrasted, lighting and BAM! you've got it. (OK, so I did actually admit it wasn't *really* all that easy now, didn't I?)

Seriously though today I pose this question. Is it easier to be more of a pristine photographer, to be more "classical" in the true sense of the word? Is it easier to craft the most absolutely perfect shots down to the minutest nitpicking detail? Or would it actually be more difficult to forgo that and instead focus on the challenge of seeing something differently? Are the two really mutually exclusive? I wonder about that sometimes, but not too much, as I have never actually been blessed with the luck (or acquired the skill) to master the notion of tone poetry. If I'm being honest here, I must confess, the entire concept of the tone poet somewhat escapes me. It's just not my wheelhouse, no, rather I'm more aligned in the slightly off kilter, crazy, wacky, did you really just take a picture of THAT kind of camp. And, frankly, I'm not sure I would change that even if I could. I mean, I do admire the work of the tone poets but, if I'm being honest here, not sure I would really want to burden myself with being among that group even if presented the opportunity.

For those who formally study art, there are generally accepted elements in art and design. Roughly speaking they are things like: line, form or shape, tone, texture, perspective, and scale. Many people believe they are just not good at art and that's possibly true but probably more likely is the theory that most people excel at one or two of these elements but not all. There is a bell curve at work here which dictates we mostly fall into the big lump in the middle, as it were. That is to say, most of us are maybe good at line but, perspective and scale? Not so much. I've been convinced, either through study or just to lean on as an excuse, that my "tone" foo is a lot less than my "perspective and scale" foo. What can I say? I've grown to accept (be it true or not) that I just don't have all that much going on in the tone department. As an artist, I've grown to accept this and quietly move on. Sure, I'd love to be able to work with tone more and it is, in fact, a big part of what we do, but I also recognize my limitations. Creativity and perspective are my sweet spots, at least that's how I've always viewed myself as an artist.

No, I think it's safe to say I'll never be a tone poet along the line of a Michael Kenna or a Joyce Tenneson but that's alright. I can still be a "poet poet." I can still have fun with visual metaphors and haiku. I can still bring song lyrics to life visually. There is enough in my playground to keep me occupied and I've grown to accept that. My joy is quirk and I've grown to enjoy playing in that particular sandbox.

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon 5dMarkII and the walkabout lens in Santorini, a dreamy city view indeed. 


Tuesday, March 07, 2017

From Small Things

You've probably heard the adage, "from small things big things one day come..." It's as true in the art work as it is for this leaf. Not many out there start out with the intention of becoming a great artist, of making a masterpiece, of traveling the world, crafting images, becoming a visual storyteller. No, it usually starts small. You can hear echos of it if you read interviews with photographers, "I got my first camera when I was..." fill in the blank. "At first, I just started taking snapshots and over time I..." And so the story goes. Repeated more often than not, it's a tale told by countless men and women of the photographic genre and even in the broader sense the artistic world. To put it bluntly, many a great artist or photographer started out making mud pies and refrigerator art just like you and me.

If it's true that the giants who came before us started out small, then it also follows that they became giants somewhere along the way. Somewhere, in between the mud pies plus making art Mom might find suitable for the refrigerator door and the esteemed museum circuit or the hordes of Internet followers complete with piles of sales, why somewhere in-between this humble beginning and glorious triumph of artistic merit, something must have happened, no? I mean, you have to connect those dots somehow, right? Just think about what that connection might be for a moment.

Sure, there are many who have talent, yes, I'm not going to deny that. Talent plays a big role in what we do. But, for so many out there, talent is a mere starting point. It's a foundation upon which to build, not a finished end game. There are many talented artists who never get discovered, who give up, who run away and join the circus, who...well, you get the idea. If talent is only a jumping off point then what might be the real thing going on here? I think a large part of what we do and who we are, in many ways our core success boils down to tenacity. The ability to try and to fail and to try again and to fail again and to try harder and to fail harder and to try and finally succeed is also echoed in many of those artist interviews. It happens over and over and I've seen it time and time again. The people who just don't quit wind up getting the prize. Tenacity is one of the most underrated qualities in the art world. Everybody always thinks they can wake up tomorrow, paint some great masterpiece, finally be discovered, and that this formula for success is repeated over and over again. More often than not, it's not the case. The harder you work, the more you do, the more you create, the more you devote to your craft, the better you get. As you get better, so too it follows, success seems to come out of hiding. It's a path, a journey not a destination and one only you can tread to your own personal finish line.

In some ways, we're all starting out. We're all, each and every one of us, are getting better, carving out our artistic vision as we work. We are continually improving, even if it doesn't feel that way. Sometimes, you have to step back to move forward. It's all a journey. Art is a path. No, I would reckon there are no small things in art. There are simply buds that have yet to blossom. The little boy or girl making art for Mom to put on the 'fridge door? Why, it's just he or she is a bit closer to the beginning of his journey, that's all. "From small things big things [indeed do] one day come."

Until next time...

PS This one taken with the Canon over at the water gardens with a 100mm macro lens. Spring is on the way, as it's starting to bud in my neck of the woods. I hope you're seeing it too. Saw my first bluebonnet today. Woo hoo! 

Monday, March 06, 2017

A Personal Note/Barking up the Minimalist Tree

On a personal note, I have to report that I've gone barking mad. What do I mean by that? Allow me to explain.

For starters, on Friday I had to get my car serviced. OK, this is nothing out of the ordinary, nothing unusual here, right? So far, so good. I had an appointment at 7 am, the way I always like to do, get it done early in the morning and all, so I packed up my belongings, insurance cards, and the like, and headed over to my local car dealer, due for my next round of state inspections. With my car being 15 years old, this is always a gamble so I was sitting there watching the morning news, waiting, wishing, hoping, and praying I was going to pass the great state inspection lottery once again this year. Come on, street legal! As luck would have it, I was far from a winner this time. The serviceman happily notified me that I needed new brakes, a new front end alignment and there was an issue with my battery, actually the electrical system in my car. Now, I probably could have guessed that last bit because I had been having lots of issues with odd things in the car, things like the door locks would suddenly stop working and the like. At one point, I went to change the radio dial and I noticed that the radio had in fact gotten hot. When I say, "hot," here I mean like actually hot to the touch. OK, so we have electrical issues going on, new brakes, new alignment and a bunch of other car repair woes. Oh joy! They told me it would take about two to three hours so I decided to chalk it up to my cheapness and wait.

As I was sitting there in the repair room, aka the lonely hearts club location for all things automotive, I decided I would pop on over to the dealership and check out the new cars. I had been thinking about starting to look for a new one because, yeah, the current beast was in fact fifteen years old, more than 100000 miles on it, new brakes, electrical system issues, and probably more hidden than I cared to find at this point. I would up test driving an Acura RDX, which is a small-ish SUV. It's a five passenger SUV that actually has some cargo space and is quite comfortable. I wound up going for a test drive and liking the thing enough to actually pull the trigger. Yes, you read that right. On Friday, unexpectedly, I managed to purchase a new car. It's the one you see pictured here in case you were wondering. This is the front of it anyway.

But this is not all of the craziness, no. I took the car home and decided that I needed more room in the garage so I started cleaning that out. This weekend, I actually spent a bit of time tidying up out there, so that I would have room for the new car. Also, instead of transferring all of the "junk in the trunk" from the old car to the new, I stuffed it all into one bag and brought it into the house. Today, just now in fact, I went through it and tossed out anything I absolutely don't need. You read this right. I'm getting rid of crap that I don't need. It's not just getting rid of stuff, no, I've gone barking mad and have become somewhat overwhelmed with the notion that I want to lead a more minimal lifestyle. I seriously want to just shed everything. Well, maybe not *everything* I mean, I still can make a case for socks and clean underpants but like almost everything else needs to go. Seriously, be gone you pesky STUFF! Out of my life! I can't help myself, I do believe I've started a purge of sorts.

A few days ago, maybe it was last week, a friend of mine told me about something called "40 bags in 40 days." This is a de-cluttering challenge corresponding with lent. It started on March 1 of this year and runs until April 15th. The idea behind it is pretty simple, you just pick an area to remove clutter and remove one bag a day of items until your 40 days is up. You can read more about it here: http://www.whitehouseblackshutters.com/40-bags-in-40-days/

I did say I was barking mad, yes? Lately though, I can't help but feel like if I were to truly do this, to sincerely downsize, declutter, rid myself of a lot of the crap I keep around, it would really help my photography. Now, I know you think I'm probably crazy, but I just want to not only work as a minimalist photographer but lately it seems like I sincerely want to lead a more minimalist lifestyle. I just don't want to accumulate stuff anymore. I want things simple and sparse and I want open room and just the bare minimal items that I actually need. I have started to seriously look around and question why I have so much junk and how can I rid myself of most of it.  

If you're trying to figure how this relates to photography, I've been thinking that, if I had fewer items, if things were easier to find, easier to care for, less cluttered, why it would free my brain up for the "heavier lifting" of my art and photography. I am honestly starting to think I would be more creative and I would be able to shoot with more passion if my brain were a bit tidied up and free from all of this crap, so I've gone a bit crazy trying to rid myself of it. Now, I don't know how this is going to end. I've got a few guesses. I might just stop when things get a bit tidier and go on with my life or I might just have some kind of success and seriously rid myself of the junk I feel I have been keeping. I am also starting to feel I really want to drop some pounds as well. I may even start exercising again. I am seriously looking around at anything and everything and questioning why it is in my life, do I really need it, and how can I best get rid of it so I can move on. Interesting times, I tell you, I live in interesting times.

Please wish me luck with this latest project, for I have no earthly clue how this is going to end. The car has been wonderful so far. A bit larger than I wanted but I'm determined to keep the junk out and let it live a newfangled clutter free existence. Wish me luck with that, no?

Until next time...


Friday, February 17, 2017

Llama Drama Ding Dong

Happy Llama Friday! No, this is not an official holiday, rather one I have just declared, for today the lonely life of the llama played an integral role in shaping my humor for the afternoon. Allow me to explain.

As you might recall, this past summer I had some work done on the house-renovations as it were. Part of that work was having the house painted. In an effort to spruce things up, one of the things I noticed was that my doormat was getting kind of, shall we say, ragged looking. After the painters were in I also noticed that they had splattered some white paint over my once dark doormat. It was kind of, shall we say, ruined. Shortly afterwards, once the renovations were done, Mom got a bit sick and so I have not been doing my usual shopping at the home stores and places like this. Not to worry as a doormat was not an imperative purchase, I just brushed it off and moved on, onward and upward to bigger and better things. As luck would have it, while I was browsing the Internets this past week, I happened upon a site that was selling, you guessed it, doormats. Now, they had one in particular that I liked so I thought, heck, why not right? I mean, after all, I do need a new one now, don't I? Yes, so I purchased a doormat online.

Now, the place I purchased said doormat from is actually somewhat reputable. They even have a brick and mortar store relatively close by, I just couldn't stand the traffic, crowds, and the like, so the online thing seemed like a really good idea at the time. It was a cute doormat too, kind of a turquoise-y/teal type color with a design of a llama on it. (You knew llamas had to factor into this somehow, didn't you?) All well and good. Said llama is now racing towards me at the speed of Internet delivery which, on the whole, really isn't all that fast but like bear with me here. It gets funny after this, I promise.

Seeing as the place is a reputable outfit and all, I got an email notification that my dear llama was on his way to me. Oh joy! Here comes my doormat. They shipped the package UPS and indicated that I might have to sign for it. I pondered this for a minute when it dawned on me that, yes, I was actually going to have to sign for a package which came in a box that I would subsequently unwrap and leave on the front porch unattended permanently. Isn't irony grand? If that were not bad enough, I got a notice today too that there are a band of package thieves in my area, going around ripping packages off people's front porches and the like. Package thieves? In my neighborhood? Why, my poor utterly helpless llama. What's a girl to do?

So now I sit in waiting, hoping the package makes it through, wondering what I would do should I encounter the dreaded package kidnappers. I mean, imagine that surprise? They would stalk and steak out their prey, do the dastardly deed, run off with my treasured doormat, jaunting off thinking they got some high quality package, you know, something like a stereo component or maybe some computer gear or the like, only to go home and discover they successfully stole a doormat. Imagine the frustration on their part after that. Ha! Not to mention I started having visions of catching them in the act. I mean, what would I do? Run out of the house in my pink fluffy slippers yelling at the top of my lungs, "Stop! Put my llama down! You are not welcome here! You bastards!" I imagine that would go over oh so well with the neighbors who as it is now can barely stomach the odd artist on the block, let alone witness her turn completely bat poop crazy chasing an imaginary llama in her pajamas down the street into the cul-de-sac. Thin mint, anyone?

Now, I realize I'm probably being overly dramatic and that the llama is probably going to arrive just fine, heck, I possibly won't even have to sign for it and all will be well in the universe again. I mean, that could happen too, couldn't it? A girl can hope, yes? Here's hoping I wind up with more llama and less drama in my life because, frankly, we could all use a little more of that, couldn't we? Unless, of course, you're a llama in which case I apologize profoundly and offer up a welcoming spot comfy and tidy on my front porch.

I guess if there were to be a morale to this story, I'd have to confess to offering up the following advice. Don't buy a doormat online. It will make your head explode.

Until next time...

PS This one from the archives. Taken with the Canon Rebel XT and a 100mm lens I believe. Not really sure about the American dromedary either, as this could be a llama, an alpaca, or perhaps what is behind door number three (AKA your guess is as good as mine, probably better in fact.) I do recall a story behind this image though. I was on a trek down to Texas wine making country, traveling with a friend, Marlene. We had stopped along the way to checkout what we thought were horses. Turned out to be our little friend you see pictured here. As I kept inching closer and closer, Marlene hesitated saying, "You are so going to get spit on!" Turns out we never did find out if horses were nearby and I did manage to avoid the llama loogie so luck was on our side that day. Let's hope my luck with llamas holds at least until the doormat shows, right?

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Deserving of Disdain?

This week, the World Press Photo organization announced their selection for photo of the year. The photo in question captured the assassination of Andrey Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey, at an art gallery in Ankara, Turkey by Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş, a 22-year-old off-duty police officer. The image was taken by photographer Burhan Ozbilici from Turkey using a Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera. Relevant EXIF data shared includes information about the focal length used to take the shot and other technical details. It was shot using a 58 mm lens at f 5.0, ISO 1600 with an exposure time of 1/256 a second. The image itself depicts Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş holding a gun in a somewhat animated gesture while the body of the ambassador lay at his feet. You can see the image at this link if you would like to view it on their website.

The selection of the image for Photo of the Year has stirred a bit of controversy. NPR labeled the image "explosive" while Stuart Franklin of The Guardian UK proclaimed, "This image of terror should not be photo of the year - I voted against it." (In the interest of full disclosure, The Guardian UK has previously published some of my work. Ancient history and all but I did think I should mention it if I'm trying to be honest and fair in my assessment of the award.) There have been several people in the photographic community discussing both the image and the award. Franklin brings up several valid points. The assassination was a planned terrorist attack and, by awarding the image such a prestigious honor, does this amplify the terrorist message? Is publishing such an image akin to publishing a terrorist beheading and can it help promote terrorism by rewarding such acts on an international stage?

My initial reaction to the image (I had seen it prior to the award recognition) was a sentiment echoed in Franklin's remarks as well. Franklin states that, "It’s the third time that coverage of an assassination has won this prize, the most famous being the killing of a Vietcong suspect, photographed by Eddie Adams in 1968. " Referring to the now iconic image "Saigon Execution" which depicts a Vietcong suspect being shot. My reaction to the Ozbilici image was initially, "sadly, every generation appears doomed to have its own Saigon Execution. Eddie Adams lives on in the spirit of these awards." Upon further reflection however, there are some notable differences between the images.

For starters, the Adams image was taken in Saigon in 1968. This was a long time ago and mores change over time. The Vietnam era in particular ushered in a gruesome experience for photographers as the war itself was quite brutal. An image considered socially acceptable during a long running brutal war might not be embraced with the same level of acceptance during peace time.

Apart from the time and place, another difference I noted was the emotional tone for each of the images in question. In the Adams image, nobody is celebrating. There are no smiles. The execution is carried out as a soldier would perform an execution (one might imagine.) The Ozbilici image depicts Mevlüt Mert Altıntaş in a somewhat celebratory pose, finger pointing in the air assuming a gesture of defiance. He is far from an anonymous soldier carrying out orders. He is the face of terror for a new generation. There are other notable differences between the images but these are several that jumped out at me.

Now, I'm not really qualified to say if Ozbilici deserves the award or not, as I am not a judge for such competitions. I can say that, from looking at the EXIF data, the image in question was shot at 1/256 of a second. In that moment, in that instant, in that brief flash of time, one life was ended as a terrorist celebrated his victory. If anything, this should give us all pause for consideration. The world can and indeed does change in 1/256 of a second. Ozbilici was there to capture it. It's neither his fault nor his celebration, merely his job to convey that change. Frankly, I think he did this brilliantly, although that was never in question. The larger question posed here is one that we as a society face. Do we want the moments that define us, that define our generation, our life and times, to be the Eddie Adams "Saigon Execution" or even the Ozbilici moments or should we all collectively look for something more? This is a question I hope the Ozbilici image will bring to light. Awards are awards, and we give them out sometimes to the most brutal of images but, honestly, is that who we have become? Is that really genuinely what we want to celebrate?

Until next time...

PS This image is a reflection captured with the Canon 5DS of sky in water. Taken with the walkabout lens, more from Washington.