Wednesday, March 21, 2018

The Delicate Nature of Being

Soft, delicate green leaves of nature at the beautiful Hill Country Water Gardens in Cedar Park, Texas
This week, thoughts turn to the delicate nature of being. In case you have not been following the news, there was quite an incident, actually, a series of incidents, in Austin. To put it bluntly, there was a mad bomber on the loose. From what we can gather, a man had left a series of package bombs at various homes around the Austin area. At first, the first bomb that went of, killed somebody but the police were not sure if it was a personal attack or what had happened. Then, as more bombs went off, it became clear that we had a bomber on our hands and he (or she) was randomly targeting individuals. Events culminated with a series of bombs going off including one at a Fed-Ex facility south of Austin, down near San Antonio, and then the man getting caught up in Round Rock, Texas and blowing himself up inside of his pick-up truck.

Needless to say, as the events unfolded over the course of the past few days, a lot of folks in Austin have been on edge. There has been a lot of checking the news, checking the phones for news, calling home to make sure everybody was OK. Heck, they even shut some of the schools down for a few hours after one of the bombs went off. To speak to how crazy it was, our morning traffic report started including items such as, "since the police have closed off part of the road over by [insert latest bomb blast location here] expect traffic delays in that area." Water cooler conversations at work included references to bombers and the latest news and, as the situation escalated, it got even worse. For a while, Whole Foods was shutdown because they had found a suspicious package. It turned out to be somebody forgetting a pack or some such thing but, with everybody on edge, it was difficult to ignore. Everybody's thoughts turned to the bombing and everybody has been in a weird sort of hyper vigilant type of mode where even the slightest mention of something related to the bomber puts us on edge. Nobody wanted to go and pickup the mail, that's for sure. I'm guessing here, and it is but a guess, Amazon lost some business from the Austin area this week, as nobody wanted to deal with packages at the doorstep if they could avoid it. Speaking for myself, I had just signed up for Amazon prime and was about to order some Jocko Tea (since I love the stuff) when the mad bomber struck and so I was left wondering if I would have to resort to Lipton in a bag. Yes, it was that kind of stressful (I kid but only really half so.) Today, bomber be damned, I put in my latest Amazon Prime order.

Just a final note about all of this. Family and friends from what I can gather are all just fine. I did realize that, after they caught him, the bomber is in fact a friend of a friend of a friend. He shows up in my Facebook friends of friends list anyway, so there's that. I can't say I know him personally but we are all but a few degrees of separation apart anyhow. What is that about Kevin Bacon or, for the photographers out there, Minor White? Yeah, six degrees and the back of a napkin ought to do it.

Meanwhile, as all of this has been unfolding, spring is quietly moving her way closer and closer. I had opportunity to park myself outside a bit today and, I hate to admit it, the weather is all but perfect. Not only have I spotted my first bluebonnets, but the display off of Mopac is turning brilliant. I'd say it's almost peak-like in its splendor. Yeah, we're almost officially in bluebonnet season, y'all. Thank goodness the crazy mad bomber has been caught so we can go outside and play.

The delicate nature of being. Being spring, being blue, being sunny, being delicate, being alive; I'm loving it all tonight and I hope you are too. 

Until next time...

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - March 17, 2017

Bright yellow petals from a close-up detail of a flower in full bloom
It's St. Patrick's Day! It's almost spring! Although it might not feel like it, there's not only pollen, but some opportunities in the air for you:
That's a lot of opportunities, so I'd recommend you get out there and get some before spring gets sprung.

Until next time...

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Snow on the Cactus

Snow on a cactus plant, actually a white cacuts in the Texas Hill Country
It's snow on the cactus weather. This morning, I listened to our local weatherman who told us, "the morning would start out chilly and then heat up." Fat chance! It started out COLD and didn't really "heat up" until late into the afternoon. Thinking it would warm up by about ten o'clock, I put on my shorts. Big mistake! I was so cold, I had to ride my exercise bike just to keep warm. I kid you not, I was sitting in my shorts at my computer when the heat came on. Ugh! March, man, you are killing me. Go home already, March, you're drunk! In other, more positive news, I saw my first bluebonnet yesterday. Yeah man, the wildflowers are coming, the wildflowers are coming. Kind of like Paul Revere only a bit more blue.

That's what I mean by snow on the cactus. Cold one minute, roasting the next. Our day ended up above 70 degrees. How in the heck did that happen? Sure, I'm going to complain come July but, for now anyway, this yo-yo of a weather front is killing me.

In other news, I shot a ton of shots this weekend. I mean like a ton. OK, they don't actually weight anything but probably something approaching two thousand. Dang, I was a busy girl. Too busy, in fact, to notice there was a cactus with snow on it. Or, maybe not, seeing as I landed a shot of that too. Say, "cheese," Mr. Cactus man, I got you too. Snow on the cactus and it's shooting season again. Who would have thunk it, right? I hope you get out and shoot come springtime. Get some man.

Until next time...

Monday, March 12, 2018


Reflections of bare tree branches in a pond in Texas
Reverberations. It's the time of year when winter gives way to spring. It doesn't happen all at once, no, it's a quiet transformation. Little by little, bit by bit, slowly the buds form, then the leaves on the trees, giving way to the wildflowers, and then, before you know it, it's summertime again.

I have yet to see my first bluebonnet of the season. I hear they are out there. I can almost smell them. This weekend, I went over to the water gardens. They had daisies and red bud trees, koi, and lots of bushes. It's almost flower season, in fact, the pansies are almost past peak season. The succulents were there as they always are. The ponds are drained, the trees bare, but you can tell the change in season is sneaking up on us. In lots of little ways, little tells, that spring has, it's making its way onto center stage. This will probably be my last bare tree image of the year. The next tree image? Why, they'll have buds, leaves, maybe flowers, perhaps lots of sunshine and sunny skies. I might even be complaining about the heat. Yeah, it gets like that around here.

Seasons get you every time. Just when you get used to it, BAM! It's changes out from underneath you.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - March 10th 2018

Beautiful soft detail of a Bradford pear blossom, a white flower native to Texas
It's almost time for spring, at least our trees have started blooming here in Texas. Now, I know some of you are still experiencing what feels like the depths of winter but, trust Mother Nature on this one, the seasons are about to change yet again. In case spring is not abloom where you are, you can have some opportunities to get after and maybe see if your artwork can be all abloom instead. Here you go:
Some great opportunities for you and it would appear it's also photo festival season out there so enjoy the weather.

Until next time...

Saturday, March 03, 2018

Top 10 List - Guilin, Guangxi, China

A serene look at the Karst formation/mountains and the Li River near Guilin, China
I still can't really believe I went to China, but I'm back and thought it high time to post my top ten list from Guilin. So, here it is, I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed my travels.

Here are the top 10 things I've learned about Guilin, Guangxi, China:
10. The village inside the park - there are many parks in Guilin, really beautiful parks, including one that had an entire village contained inside of it. We got to visit the park and speak with some of the locals. Extra special thanks to my guides form the CLI school who were able to translate so well for me and really helped me converse with the locals here as it was quite a treat. The parks in Guilin are a treasure not to be missed should you happen to visit the city or surrounding areas, definitely check them out, as they are a must see.

9. The whiskey is fermented in bottles and called baijiu. In China, they ferment baijiu in caves, storing it in jugs (sometimes hand painted jugs.) I actually celebrated my birthday in one of these caves, we had birthday cake, longevity noodles, and baijiu to celebrate. This was a remarkable experience and I highly recommend you try eating and drinking in a cave restaurant if you are lucky enough to visit Guilin. The process of making the baijiu was fascinating as well. We got to tour the area where the jugs are stored and go far back into the cave as part of our visit. It's quite the underground treat and I mean that literally, as it's all underground once you go inside the caves.

8. The rice terraces - just outside the city of Guilin is a rice terrace landscape which we were lucky enough to visit. The terraces themselves are 650 years old. That's a lot of rice over the years! They receive their name, Longji (Longsheng) or "dragon's backbone" because they resemble a dragon's spine when you reach the top and look down upon them. The top is many flights of stairs up (more than 50) so bring your walking shoes but the village up there is so wonderful you'll soon forget the hike and enjoy the views and the fresh mountain air. We also had some great food up in the little village by the rice terraces. If you go, opt for getting some rice in bamboo poles. They stuff the bamboo long poles with rice and beat them over an open fire to cook the rice. Sounds a bit odd but it was delicious-some of the best rice we had in China and that's really saying a lot as our food was exceptionally good across the board. The village up near the rice terraces is a wonderful visit as well, it's charming and I recommend spending some time enjoying the little shops and artisan markets if you can.

7. The landscape - Guilin is a tourist city and not just for folks visiting from the United States and Europe. Children in China learn in school studies that "Guilin's landscape is the best under Heaven," so a lot of people travel from across China to visit Guilin. The karst limestone formations are dramatic and the river cuts through the city to make for some wonderfully dramatic landscapes. If you do decide to visit Guilin, don't forget to enjoy the view.

6. Buddhist temples - the temples, the temples, the temples, what can I say about the temples? Whether large and public like the temple situated inside Seven Star Park or small and hidden, like the temple tucked away in the medicine market, the Buddhist temples left an impression on me. From visiting temples with offerings hidden inside caves to the grand ornate style of the public temples, complete with monks preparing for evening services, the Buddhist temples are glorious houses of worship that should be visited as part of any trip to Guilin. Do check them out if you go, you won't be sorry.

5. Seven Star Park - the big park in Guilin houses a giant temple, a zoo, lots of stuff inside, including a large lake where President Clinton once gave a talk on the environment. It's like a city in there. There were lots of people playing mahjong and cards and lots of visitors but the park is so large it's also possible to enjoy a quiet moment to yourself, just to take it all in. If you go into almost any park in Guilin, you will find people playing cards, talking, playing mahjong, and enjoying the park like a local. The parks really are treasures and the people really do use them which is a wonderful experience to enjoy. Seven Star Park is one of the largest of these parks and a great place to visit.

4. The tea - I learned a lot from Kevin, our botanist, actually tea expert extraordinaire from the Guilin Tea Research Institute, including attending an authentic tea ceremony and learning loads about tea. I actually got to stand in a field of tea plants and pick a tea leaf from one. I learned how they make tea how they grow tea, how they produce tea, how they celebrate tea, basically all things tea which was a remarkable experience to enjoy. I'm a real tea drinker and it was wonderful to get so up close and personal with the tea experience. This was a bucket list item for me for sure and I'd highly recommend you enjoy a visit if you are so inclined when visiting Guilin.

3. The food - this was a bit of a surprise for me, as, for some reason, I thought the food in China would not be that enjoyable. The food was so good. Lots of vegetarian and rice, yes, but also tons of flavor, spices, wonderfully different types of local dishes and so enjoyable. Each meal was like a new and surprising treat to savor. Lots of passion fruit and pomelos (large grapefruit like fruit), wonderful lotus dishes, fantastic fish, every meal seemed better than the last. The people of Guilin typically do not have sweets with one notable exception-they tend to eat something sweet, almost always a fruit, at the end of a meal as a dessert like finish. I have started practicing this at home now as it's healthy and quite the treat as well. I managed fine with the chopsticks, actually enjoyed working with them, and really loved the food in Guilin. I really can't rave enough about the food. It was fantastic! Now, I have to admit, I'd go back just for the food it really was that good. Healthy, tasty, and good food on this trip, that's for sure.

2. The medicine market - Guilin has a "hidden city" as I dubbed it, or a medicine market inside the city center. This was a fabulous place with lots of merchants selling everything you can imagine and even some things you probably never could imagine, not even in your wildest dreams. Some booths had me guessing, animal, vegetable, or mineral? This hidden city was like a different world and it was so fantastic to be able to just walk around, enjoying all the market had to offer. It's these type of off the beaten path places I really enjoy the most, as they are frequented by locals and really help give you a sense of what a place is actually like, rather than what you might find in a guide book.

1. The people - from the hotel owners to the shop owners to the people working in the airports, restaurants, and tourist sites, the Chinese people really are very welcoming and gracious people. The people really do make a place and the people of Guilin are the salt of the earth. I can't speak highly enough about the folks from CLI, they were wonderful hosts, helping us make the most of our travels and really showing us the heart of the city. The local people are engaging, friendly, and charming. If you get a chance to visit Guilin, I hope you get to spend some time with some of the locals, as they really help make the city the gem it has become.

Some runners up:
  • The restaurant scene and nightlife is really great in Guilin. Lots of different restaurants to enjoy and lots of shopping and events into the evening hours. You will never get bored in Guilin and you will enjoy the food more than you think possible. 
  • The glass bridge and two pagodas area was a wonderful visit. It's part of the more tourist area in the city but it's still worthy of a visit. The pagodas at night are stunningly beautiful and the glass bridge is lovely. 
  • Chinese visas can be difficult to obtain so you will want to get one as soon as you book your trip. Once obtained, they are good for ten years, so you might want to plan for multiple trips to China.
  • I really learned on this trip how much we rely upon nonverbal communication. I did try to learn a few phrases in Mandarin-I can still say "hello" and "thank you" for example, but I found I was able to communicate with some of the locals even with my severely limited vocabulary. The people in Guilin are open and engaging which makes this a bit easier. 
  • Pinyin is your friend. The Romanization of the Chinese language has made it easier (much easier) to travel, talk, and converse in Guilin. Not having the hurdle of the alphabet really helps if you don't speak the language like a local. While I was fortunate to have the good folks at CLI helping me learn the language a bit and providing guides, I would not let a lack of understanding of Mandarin stop you from visiting Guilin. It really is a fabulous city, I highly enjoyed my visit, and recommend you go and enjoy it for yourself if you ever have the opportunity. 
Bottom line...would I go back? You would not even have to ask me twice, in fact, I'd be packing my suitcase at the mere mention of another trip to Guilin. Ni hao, baby, ni hao (hello! And, congrats, as you now speak about half as much Mandarin as I do.)

Until next time...

Friday, March 02, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - March 2nd 2018

An abstract creation featuring lines and swirls of color.
A couple of notes before I list our current opportunities. This week I had some feedback requesting information about shows without entry fees. I do try to pass along opportunities without fees as often as possible but I realize I might not always label them as such, so I'm going to try to do a better job of marking opportunities without entry fees to make it easier for folks wanting to go that route. Also, a friendly reminder, if you are looking to submit your work without a fee, often it's places that hold juried shows where you can submit work for a one person show without a fee. A lot of times you can submit a body of work to these galleries with a little bit of research on your end (and a little legwork) so don't let the fee situation scare you away. I suggest researching galleries with listings like the ones I share here and submitting a portfolio for review if you want to avoid the fees and maybe get yourself a one person show. Of course, that's just a suggestion on my part, you will have to make that decision about your work yourself and I recognize that the same work which is suitable for a juried show might not work as a one person curated body of work. I offer my suggestions in the spirit of trying to be helpful. As a reminder, I do not get paid for this listing and I get no special consideration from any of these galleries or shows, I'm just passing along information trying to help out the art community with this feature.

I do try to label all media shows as well because, while I am predominately a photographer, I realize there are a lot of painters, sculptors, and video folks out there, so I've been trying to label the all media shows as best I can, in order to help you folks out in your journey of finding opportunities. One last point, I always welcome feedback so please feel free to contact me with suggestions or requests. I'm available on most social media platforms as well as here at the blog site and on email if you want to touch base. I'm especially fond of hearing from artists who found opportunities through Carol's Little World, as it makes me feel what I'm doing is worthwhile and helping out the art community as a whole.

Moving right along, let's get to some opportunities for this week, shall we? Here we go:
Lots of photography and a few all media calls for you this week, now it's time to go and get after it.

Until next time...

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

My Posted Portfolios

I've updated the "My Portfolios" section at the top of the blog for those who want to check it out. I wanted to do this for a while but wasn't sure if the Internets could handle having a page load so slowly thanks to the large images. Seems like now is a good time since there are really a lot of bloggers and websites that do load larger images and, frankly speaking, if a portfolio page loads a bit more slowly than the rest of the site I think most people would be willing to wait for it. So, update it I did and it's there now in case you want to have a look. Go on, you know you want to check it out.

I'm prepping a course and possible e-Book on blogging. Look for that juicy goodness to come. Until then, why, you will just have to settle for my new portfolio upload and a promise that I'll post here as soon as everything else is available.

Until next time...

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - February 17, 2018

Abstract view of a golden pagoda in downtown Guilin, China
Don't let opportunity pass you by. This week I present some new opportunities for you:
Lots of calls to get you moving this week, so go on and get after it.

Until next time...

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - February 11, 2018

Beautiful flowers adore a shop window in an ancient village outside of Guilin, China
I know it's the dead of winter, but spring is just around the corner and there are some wonderful opportunities blooming this time of year. Yes, that's right. It's time for opportunity weekend. Get some! Here are some opportunities for you this week:
That's a bunch of calls that should get your flowers all abloom for the approaching springtime. Good luck and get after it.

Until next time...

Monday, February 05, 2018

A Box of Ephemera

Three dress forms in a window in downtown Georgetown, Texas, on the square.
It dawned on me the other day that I have not updated the status of my home studio in quite a while. As it stands now, most of the artwork has been boxed up, and I've moved a lot of stuff around so that I might actually be able to work in there someday. I have a lighting kit and I had planned, at one point, to maybe do some home setup type of shots. I want to start shooting little things around the house, you know things like apples, games and puzzles, cool looking electronic devices, and other odd bits of ephemera that I've managed to collect over the years. Yes, I know, you're not supposed to save ephemera but, heck, sometimes I just can't help myself. The other day, while cleaning out the studio, I happened upon a ticket stub for Eric Clapton at Royal Albert Hall. You don't really expect me to throw that away now, do you?

So, all of this talk of ephemera and studio cleaning has me thinking. I'm going to get a nice box (or two) and stash away all of my ephemera, to sort of collect it in one spot. I'm doing this so that I can maybe shoot it someday or perhaps just to tidy up things a bit around here. I've talked before about how I'm on a new almost minimalist Japanese style organizational kick. Basically, I want to rid myself of everything that doesn't have true meaning, that doesn't give me some kind of joy, that isn't special to me anymore. To put it bluntly, I just want less crap around the house. Even given this strong desire for less crap, I still want to maintain a few items. You know the type of things I'm talking about here. Things with which I just cannot bear to part. It's the usual struggle made worse by the notion that, hey, I might photograph that someday. Ugh!

The newfangled studio space has me wanting to setup a pochade box and start dabbling in cold wax painting. The one big issue with this is that I don't know if a pochade box type setup is really best for cold wax work. My understanding is that, much like encaustics, you want to work on a flat table. Frankly, I'm not in the mood to try to fit a big flat table back into the studio, not after all the work I've done recently to clear things out in there. Perhaps time will tell if my pochade box or my hankering for cold wax work will win this battle. Wish me luck, right?

I've also made plans to work on a book featuring some of my travel images but, at this point I must confess it's not going too well. I started out strong, got myself setup, and started working on it, but the monumental task of gathering all of the images has proven too much for me. Lately anyway, I've been obsessed with all things FitBit, trying to get into shape, cleaning out the studio, and the like. As things wind down with this maybe, just maybe, I'll be able to get back into the book making project.

So, this is where things stand. Everything started, nothing completed. I've got some great ideas, I just can't seem to execute. These are some of the reasons I keep tossing around the idea of hiring an art coach but I don't want to go there. I'm not quite ready to go there. I've even thought about a life coach but, same deal, not quite what I need or had in mind. What's a girl to do? Yes, I know the struggle is real, right? And, yes, I know, I'm sitting here complaining about what the kids now call first world problems. Cry me a river that drowns me in a sea of tears, right?

I am honestly curious as to what somebody might do with a box of ephemera if they were not a photographer. Drop me a line if your so inclined to share you thoughts about that one, will you?

Until next time...

PS This one from Texas. Shopping on the town square in Georgetown, Texas, voted one of the prettiest town squares in the country. Taken with the Canon 5DS and the walkabout lens.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - January 26, 2018

Traditional Chinese building, showcasing an ornately carved facade with lanterns in the windows.
It's time to open a window and let some opportunities in. OK, that was a bad metaphor but I'm running out of the clever ones. Besides, it's time for opportunity weekend again and that's way more important. So, here you go:
There's some windows of opportunity for you this week. Good luck!

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

A Bear Crawl with the Most Formidable Twister Opponent Ever

Beautiful swirls of tall grass with golden highlights and a lush green base, taken outside of Rugby, North Dakota
In the "everything seemingly is spinning out of control" department (you knew it had to relate to the picture, right?) I have started exercising. Not just exercising, mind you. I've done that before but with, shall we say, mixed results. This time though, I mean it. I'm doing it with a bit of gusto and it's all but frightening if I'm being honest (and you know I'm being honest. After all, what else would I be?)

You see, it all started back when I booked my trip to China. I thought I would get more out of the trip if I could walk more (turns out I was right about that, but I still should have done even more to prepare myself for it.) So I started riding my dreaded exercise bike. Now, I've secretly always been a fan of exercise bikes. Yes, I know, that's not a popular thing to say, apologies if it gets me kicked out of whatever "in" crowd I might have been in before, but there I said it. I actually do not mind riding an exercise bike. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, I can reveal that I started riding my bike back in what was probably last May. It was an old bike with a broken pedal but I managed to somehow ride it anyway. Unfortunately for me, it also started getting worse for wear. It was literally starting to fall apart so, sometime around July maybe, I got a new bike. It's actually quite a nice little bike, I recommend it if you are so inclined. (Here's a link on Amazon if you really want to go there. And, frankly, I know you don't really want to go there but I'm giving you the link anyway. It's for your own good. While I have your attention, "eat your peas. They're good for you!") So, new bike and me have been simpatico since about that time. I've been riding four times a week or so, actually now it's more like 6 or 7 times a week. Yes, I realize that's almost every day, but there you have it.

Last August I also got a Fitbit device, because I thought it could help me get into shape. I got one that has nice little reminders to help you get up and move, and also monitors your sleep since I know I have a problem with the sleeping business (I'm a chronic insomniac. Trust me. I've been diagnosed. And, yes, I do know exercise helps.) So I started doing Fitbit and also riding the bike. In case you haven't been following along, all of this exercise is now just about killing me. In the span of a short time, I've gone from complete couch potato to a Fitbit crazy exercise bike riding maniac. Don't say I didn't warn you (well, I didn't, but now I am.)

Fitbit, it would appear, also has these "community" features, where you can hook up with (no, not that kind of hook up. Geesh!) other Fitbit users, take challenges, compare notes, and the like. There's even a vegetarian/vegan cooking group in there. It's quite a, shall we say, "deep" little app. So, I joined one of these groups called 50+ pounds which, as the name might imply, is for people who have lost or want to lose 50+ pounds. (No, I haven't lost that much weight but I thought I might find inspiration in the group.) As it turns out, one of the other users in the 50+ group posted a challenge. It was based upon your name. You were supposed to take all of the letters in your name and use it in conjunction with this little chart. For example, my first name starts with the letter "C" so, if you look up the letter "C" it might say something like "Do 10 push ups." That sort of a thing. As I was reading the chart, I noticed there were some exercises I had not heard about before-some unfamiliar exercises. There was something called a "bear crawl." (I swear I am not making this up.)

As part of this entire new health conscious Carol business, I had also started following some of the Navy SEALs. It turns out (who knew?) you have to be in very good shape to become a Navy SEAL. Like they can all probably do more than ten minutes on a rickety exercise bike type of good shape. Seriously. So, one of the Navy SEAL guys started talking about doing something called a "burpee." No, this is not a new form of, ahem, "passing gas." It's actually a type of exercise. I had tried doing one once, after reading his Twitter about "burpees," but I managed to start laughing so hard, instead of doing a burpee, why, I just sort of fell over onto my carpet from laughing so hard. A form of exercise, yes, but, going out on a limb and guessing here, not quite what the Navy SEALs had in mind in order to stay in such good shape.

There you have it. This is my new world. Bear crawls and burpees. Only I still didn't know what exactly a "bear crawl" was so I decided to take to the Internets to try to figure out this one. I'm half sorry but completely entertained now that I've done so. You see, I've happened upon this video that I can only describe as...well, frankly, I don't even know how to describe it. It features this man with sort of rubber legs doing 10 different animal walks. When I say animal "walks" I'm being very generous here. Some of these "walks" you see....well, let's just say, never (and I do mean never!) play Twister with this man. It just won't end well, OK. You can follow the link here if you really want to find the most formidable Twister opponent in the world. At least now I can say I know what a "bear crawl" is, right? Not to mention I've learned not to mess with Mr. Badass Twister Dude.

This entire "bear crawl" thing has me thinking though. I mean, who would want to work out like a bear? Aren't bears fat? They are not known the world over as small dainty animals, are they? Who wants to walk around like a fat blubbery animal and how is this exercise really? Wouldn't a bear crawl just amount to waddling through the woods frequently stopping to plunk one's fat bottom down on a log somewhere, resting so one could suck up some honey and a salmon? Does that sound like fitness to you? Because it sure doesn't to me. Why aren't we doing "gazelle crawls" or some other such thing? Pick a skinny animal already! Then again, I'd hate to bear witness (excuse the pun!) to the Badass Twister Dude walking around like a gazelle. That might dislocate something. I can only begin to imagine what that might look like and, frankly, it hurts my back just thinking about it.

Bear crawls and burpees. Carol's Little World is now such an odd place. Have some twisted grass while we're at it. I hope you find your fitness routines to be as fun as this or, at least, you know, you've thought about playing some Twister once again. (Just don't play with that animal walking dude from the video and you should be all set.)

Until next time...

PS This one from Dakota. Tall grass spinning, from the Canon 5DS with the walkabout lens and a bit of motion blur. Bet you didn't know it was snowing when I took this but it was.

Monday, January 22, 2018

Notes From the Road - Guilin, China: The Village Hidden inside the Park

A dog sits in a doorway inside a hidden village of Guilin, China
Continuing my "Notes from the Road" for Guilin, last time I left off at the tea ceremony and we were just about to head into a new park. On this day, we went to a park which was a bit unusual. For starters, we crossed over a rather steep, traditional Chinese bridge to get to this area that had a restaurant. We were told there was a "hidden" area back behind the restaurant but, at first, we could not find it. I ended up going inside of the restaurant with my guide to check out the inside of the place, since it was kind of pretty from the outside, and I thought I might like to do some portraits for a change. When I went inside to ask if I could photograph, my guide and I stumbled upon a gathering, a celebration of sorts. At first, we did not know what it was. Turns out that the people there used to sew handkerchiefs in a factory of some kind. Every year they get together to catch up with one another. The factory had since shut down and they are all retired now from these jobs, but they still meet one time per year to remember the factory and their co-workers. In the restaurant they had food and music, so we got to enjoy some of that while we were trying to figure out what what going on, what exactly we had stumbled upon in our travels that day. It was a very interesting stop along our trail.

Eventually, we went behind the restaurant, finding the hidden path, and made our way to the village there. It was a very small village, it was kind of falling down in some ways, almost more like the architecture of decay that we tend to shoot here at home. That kind of stuff is fascinating to me so I'm glad we found our way into the "hidden" village. It's kind of strange for me to see this type of place-a village hidden inside of a park. It would be as if Austin's own Zilker Park had a bunch of people living inside there. Actually, come to think of it, there used to be a trailer park over on Barton Springs Road that sort of, kind of was like a village hidden inside of Zilker Park. That's about the closest thing I can relate it to, but I enjoyed wandering around the little hidden village nevertheless.

As we made our way back into the village, I shot a white dog sitting in a doorway. He wasn't a wild dog, rather he was somebody's pet but he made for a nice doorway "filler" if you will, so I photographed him sitting there in the otherwise dark and empty doorway. It was a lovely day, with excellent weather and I got some interesting shooting inside of the little village. A bit different but fun to play with visually so I enjoyed it.

We had dinner at a place with a lot of lamb and meat but some vegetarian food also. They had one dish that was chicken with chicken feet but it had gravy that was so good and some potatoes. Also, green beans and this stuff that looked like carrots but was a rice noodle. It was tasty.

The nights in Guilin are crazy but I mean that in a good way. Everything is lit up. None of the stores have English signs but that makes it more fascinating, as the Chinese characters are all aglow in the neon signs. There are a ton of little markets and shops all around the city, it's a great place for shopping as well as photography, and it's fun to just walk around to enjoy the city at night. I wish I could come back and just do night photography here for a while. I would so love that. It's a common theme for me actually. I need to come back and spend about a month in this magical place. You will hear me say this over and over again. I must go back someday.

The next day we headed up to the rice terraces. I was a bit afraid if I could do it or not. It's about 26 stories of steps up to the hotel and something like 50 up to the top of the terraces. It's quite a hike! As we made it into the terrace area, they have these bamboo chaise lounge like carts, which they can use to carry you up to the top of the hill. I had said I was going to try to make it on my own, walking, without any help, and I managed to do just this in the end, but not without aggravating the locals first. What happened was that one of the locals saw me and must have thought I could not make it to the top, so he started following me. My guide and myself, we both kept telling him, "No thanks! I don't want a ride! I can make it, thank you very much." I mean, we were both trying to be polite but the cart carrying people were insistent. I finally made it up to the hotel level and actually caught up to my group a little bit tired but I managed to make it. The cart carrying folks were visibly upset that I had not collapsed, caved in, and rented their cart. Sorry fellas, I tried to warn you. It was kind of funny too because other people in my group, like Beth and a few others, had said they did not think I would give in and get a cart. They could see the determination on my face. I was going to hike up that mountain no matter what and I was not going to cave in and rent a cart half way up. Somehow, the locals didn't have as much faith in my fifty year old knees. Hey, I may be overweight and wobbly on these knees but this lady is pasta fueled, OK? Out of my way, I'm getting up that mountain already! And, yes, get up that mountain I did. At some point, I might share a picture of me at the top, taken by Jean Marc, one of the great portrait photographers along the journey. Suffice it to say, I made it up the mountain and, yes, I really enjoyed the view (and everything else up there. It was a cute little mountain village!)

More notes from the road to come. For now, this is the dog in the doorway, inside the "hidden" village in the park in Guilin.

Until next time...

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - January 21, 2018

The writing is on the wall and it's time for another Opportunity Weekend. This week I'm a bit late (sorry about that.) I've been fighting with my exercise bike and it's been winning. Oh the humanity! At least there's still some time to get after it, as they say. Here are some opportunities for you:
I hope the signs on the wall point to more exhibition opportunities for you in 2018. Good luck!

Until next time...

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - January 13th, 2018

Beautiful landscape depicting Longsheng rice terrace fields outside of Guilin, China
For many in the US this weekend is a long weekend, as we celebrate the life and legacy of Doctor Martin Luther King. Yes, it's a holiday weekend celebrating the beautiful dreamer in all of us. In the spirit of helping along beautiful dreams, I present this week's opportunities:
Lots of dreams out there, I hope you get after them.

Until next time...

Saturday, January 06, 2018

Opportunity Weekend - January 6th 2018

Happy New Year! It's a new year, did you celebrate? Maybe have some cool beverages, like the ones here? I hope you did. And, I hope you get after some new opportunities to show your work in 2018. If you made a reservation to do more with your art or photography in 2018, well, you have come to the right place. Here are some opportunities for you:
There's a lot going on in the new year and a lot of places looking for work. This is just a small sample. I hope you have a great art filled 2018 and you get your work out there for all to see.

Until next time...

Wednesday, January 03, 2018

Welcome to 2018 - Happy New Year

A colorful doorway in the milliflores district of Lima, Peru
Welcome to 2018! Happy New Year!

I thought I would talk about plans for 2018 a little bit...what I have in store, what I'm thinking, where I'm going. Now I know 2018 has just started, and frankly I'm not one to be totally strict about plans, but I've been thinking about some new directions. Been thinking about some things I want to do, where I want to go with my work and the like, so I thought I would share some of these sort of "rough musings" if you will.

For starters, you might be wondering why I am posting an image of a doorway for the new year. This is actually a doorway in Peru. Yes, now it's an older shot, I realize that, but I have some plans in 2018 to collect some of my work from some of my travels. I'm thinking about doing a book, tentatively called "Wanderings," showcasing work from some of my travels. Places like Iceland and Italy, Santorini, Big Island and, yes, even Peru all coming together in one place, a travelogue of sorts. Well, a travelogue as I would do one anyway.

Speaking of travel, I have no fixed plans this year. There are a few states I would love to visit (Hello, Colorado! Are you there Oregon?) There are many countries I would love to visit (New Zealand, I'm looking you square in the eyes. Tanzania, you are calling my name!) and who would not want to visit China, right? On this front, all I can tell you is, who knows? Don't be surprised if I end up in Tokyo for I have been to stranger places, even some with many cold drinks.

Creatively, I've got some ideas, some new directions too. I want to do more with mixed media. Hate to admit this in public but I've been getting the hankering to do more with paint so I might be talking myself into that. Then there's the new movement in photography with compositing. Everybody always says this is something I should pursue and I have done a bit of it in the past (Hello, Diana iPhone crack app!) but I might look to do more with it over the course of the year. Don't be surprised if you find me messing with some of this.

Really, if I had to take stock, 2017 was not a bad year. I could have shot more but I did ok. I had some fun, made some journeys, met some new folks, and I'm looking forward to seeing what 2018 has in store for me. I know I need to shoot more and do more with my work, here's hoping 2018 finds me able to do just that. I have a lot of ideas, let's see if I can pull any of them off, right? Here's hoping.

What do you have planned for 2018? Anything major? Anything fun? Anybody want to go to Oregon with me? Drop me a note if you are so-inclined.

Until next time...

Monday, January 01, 2018

Best of 2017 - My Top Images

I've been asked to compile some of my top images for 2017 so I thought I would post them to the blog today. These are my selections for my best images from 2017, I hope you like them too.

 And the details for these images are:
Image #1 from a trip to Zilker Park. It was an especially hot day and I found myself playing with camera motion while trying to rest from the heat. This is a shaded, quiet corner of the park with camera movement as the image exposed. I have shot Zilker a lot, since it's very nearby, so I wanted to challenge myself to do some different with it. This shot seemed to fit that bill and I'm not including it here among my tops for the year.

Image #2 reflections in the Li River, outside of Guilin, China. China dominated images from the later part of the year, mostly because it is such a beautiful place and I was lucky enough to get to visit. This particular shot is a straight up reflection in the water, showcasing the limestone formations that mark the Guilin area and help make it so popular for photography. 

Image #3 corn and barley drying in a small mountain village. I loved the repeated patterns and texture of this so I played around shooting it with this image being my favorite of the compositions I tried.

Image #4 from a model shoot at the ghost ranch outside of Austin, Texas. Another hot day with early morning light giving it that warm glow. I wanted something that didn't look overly posed but also was not a my typical straight looking into the camera type of setup. This fit the bill.

Image #5 same location, different model. This time it's Libby in a beat-up, busted area of the location. I liked the expression on her face as well as the contrast of the beat up boards so I'm including it here.

Image #6 city scene at night, also from Guilin. I like the cinematic feel to this one and the softness is right up my alley so I'm including it.

Image #7 a tuk tuk type truck making deliveries to a restaurant inside a park in Guilin, China. I love the colors, the lanterns, and the delivery truck just filled the frame for me.

Image #8 the quiet out of the way "medicine" market. I liked the depth in this one, not to mention it's such an interesting place, so I wanted to include it.

Image #9 more from the market, this time a more close-up view of a storefront. I'm not quite sure what they sell in these type of markets but the colors make it so interesting for me. I really loved shooting there, it was a great place to visit and I hope I get to go back someday.

Image #10 a dog in the doorway. This is a pet so I almost didn't include it, but I thought it had a kind of nice little hidden sense of mystery about the image so I'm including it in my list.

I hope 2017 found you out shooting a lot as well and left you with a great pile of images. I can't say I know what 2018 has in store but, if it's anything like 2017, I'm looking forward to new challenges, new places, new shooting, great experiments, and lots of fun along the way. I hope you have a great 2018 and look forward to seeing and sharing more photography in this new year.

Until next time...