Friday, June 20, 2008

Mucking Stalls

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I am fully aware that inside jokes in a public forum are bad taste, but this isn't that inside—all it takes to become an insider is to read the previous post along with the comments.

Now, with that out of the way, Paul, here is our muck rake. Let's get to work on those stalls. I don't know about you, but I have a lot of work to do.

Technical Note: I don't know what is going on with Blogger the last few days, but it's cantankerous as all get out. Almost nothing about formatting works. Beside that, my jpegs here lose quite a lot in terms of saturation, hue, and vibrancy. That's new and I don't like it one bit. (I just remind myself, the program and service is free.) I hope you will click the thumbnail for the real version of my pictures.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Still Life and Expensive Passions

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For this pursuit of indoor photography I mentioned, I will have plenty of subjects for still life studies similar to the one above. Like any other self-respecting horseman, The Husband has quite a collection of tack. If I could still ride, I would have two expensive interests—both involving a great deal of gear.

That is a distinct similarity between the horse and photography worlds. For photographers, the temptation to add cameras, lenses, and bags seems never to end. Similarly, for the horse owner, there is always another bit you need, a better fitting and/or lighter saddle, a new set of reins, girth, or blanket to replace the old worn equipment, as well as new boots and shoes for yourself and the horse. Then there are the smaller items that get lost or simply wear out such as halters, lead robes, brushes, hoof picks, leg wraps, curry combs, buckets, and well you get the idea. Besides all this, you have to buy land or pay for a stable to keep the horse. (There is a reason so many horse people drive old beat up cars).

Oh well, at least cameras don’t eat—or do they? CF or SD cards? Still, there is perhaps an even more critical difference in the price to be paid for these two passions: cameras don’t leave piles of poop to be cleaned up.

Hmm. Come to think of it, maybe thanks to some operators, even that isn’t true.

Addendum: This one is a found still. I didn't look around for a clean bit. If you check the larger size, you'll see that the bit didn't get cleaned and I didn't set up any lighting. Just playing, so far.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Canadian-Style Inspiration

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A couple of days ago, I posted a link to some inspiring words. Today, I am offering a link to some inspiring images. If you could use a break from other things—or just need to reconnect with examples of the beauty that abounds on our amazing planet, take a moment to soak up the gorgeous sights Sean McCormick sees in the Neutral Hills of Alberta, Canada.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

To Blog or Not to Blog

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After reading Niels Henriksen's thought-provoking post this week about reasons for blogging among other things, I realized that I am approaching an anniversary of sorts here at my blog thinking about some of the same issues Niels discusses. Just a few weeks short of a year ago, I chose the name for my blog on the spur of the moment and started this venture with some rather vague notions as to its purpose. Like Niels and many others, I am still trying to clarify exactly why I am doing this. Paul Butzi had a short, but fascinating series of posts on this topic of why we put ourselves and our work out there and his comments had been, in turn, partly motivated by a post from Joe Reifer (Paul includes a link to that post).

For me, blogging is partly about getting permission to sit in on a remarkable round-table discussion peopled by photographers who could well teach workshops that I couldn't afford to take. Alone, I don't have the expertise to carry on an intelligent technical discussion with probably a single one of the people whose blogs I read regularly. Yet, because the talent and skills of these people are matched by graciousness and generosity, I have been welcomed to sit at the table picking the brains of individuals who have decades of experience to go with their talent. My persistence and my effort has allowed me to feel part of this community. Since I don't have a local community of photographers, I have come to depend on this web-based community and it has now plays a vital role for me.

For quite some time I was a lurker on the web. While I read avidly, I rarely left anything behind. Finally, I got brave enough to post comments (often questions) and that became a little easier when I learned how kind so many photographers are. I still have far more impulses to post comments than the number of comments posted. Often, I am intrigued or inspired by the articles written on a blog that I frequent, yet I can't seem to put into words thoughts that are worthy of the original post.

When I began to get comments on my own blog, I was, for a time, a bit intimidated. Because I was keenly aware that these people had forgotten more about photography than I will ever know, the notice of my existence rendered me virtually mute. When I did get my bearings, I looked back at another reason for starting the blog. I wanted to thwart that part of my being that gets stuck on perfect. (Like the typical perfectionist, I am a million miles from perfect in any thing I do, yet I have long struggled with the need to get an “A”.) Any virtue can be carried to a vice and my work ethic and determination to do the best I can frequently veers into paralysis brought on by that nasty thinking circle: I can’t do it as well as others, so why do it at all. And this in spite of understanding full well that if you don’t do it, you will never get better at it. It is a struggle to stay on top of that—old habits don’t just expire and can’t be wished away—new habits must be cultivated to replace the old ones. The discipline—erratic though it is—to post frequently, urges me to let go of the need to put up worthy work (thoughts and images), and helps to keep me focused on doing the work. Meanwhile, the ongoing conversation helps considerably to keep me grounded , even when I am deeply discouraged.

Occasionally, a conversation with a friend or acquaintance in my non-web world leads me to mention my web-based community, and often that individual concludes that I am referring to a group where one posts photos for critiques by other photographers. Invariably, I find that once the person makes that assumption, I have almost no hope of explaining to them the real nature of a community that is based upon the exchange of ideas, support, and sharing of knowledge and/or experience, rather than ratings. Like anyone else, I'm sure, I welcome an occasional “well-done” or (with equal enthusiasm) the periodic “I wonder what would have happened if you …” Still, comments on the individual shots are almost incidental to the stimulating exchange of thoughts about the struggle to create. Being a part of this web community certainly does provide a form of validation and a critical one for me—just not the sort many people assume.

I have come to depend upon this exchange so much that when we make our trips to Bear Valley and I am without Internet, I feel a bit lost. It’s more than a trifle strange to feel so connected to a group of people I have never even laid eyes on.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Indoor Poppies in Bear Valley

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The poppies are still blooming in the Tehachapi Mountains and Bear Valley Springs has a healthy share. They add cheer to our un-landscaped property and remind me that, eventually, we will be able to put this difficult period behind us.

We drove up on Saturday and came back to LA Sunday evening and had a nice weekend. Since I am still very much in school mode, as I mentioned, I stayed busy while The Husband cleaned brush in the bright sun. Fire season in California is something we take seriously. I know that makes me sound lazy as all get out—and perhaps I should just plead guilty. However, the real story is that no matter how much I would love to be outside soaking up the sunshine, I am seriously prone to heat stroke (probably as a result of the medications I take, and mostly the ones for high blood pressure). Since I don't get hot, I will think I'm fine—I prefer hot to cold—then bam! after no time at all in the sun, my body simply shuts down to a bare survival mode. No fun. Being determined to make lemonade from the great big bowl of lemons I have been given, I am determined to explore indoor photography. Not my first choice, but I will find a way to fall in love with it.

The photo above is an example of my work in the little indoor studio I have snagged. After all, garages are guy-territory, right? Still there is a window with northern light and it's just too perfect to pass up. Consequently, The Husband, poor fellow, finds me encroaching on his space. Hey, it's a big garage. There's room for both of us. At any rate, a red paint bucket with water, a poppy plant that had to go anyway, since it was intruding on some lavender thoughtfully nurtrured by the former owner, and I had a subject.