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...