11 December 2011

A walk in the neighborhood

It's been a long time since I've walked to church and had the luxury of time to be attentive to what I was seeing along my path. I had my camera with me too, and was inspired to pull it out and take some photos. It felt good. It's been way too long.

This neighbor's front yard always draws my attention. But this time I saw that the owner, an avid gardener named Jim, had added another whimsical element to it: this structure which seems to be part fish, part bird. You must click and zoom in to see it more clearly! I later found out that my housemate Jo had helped him place it in its location. He wanted it oriented in the best possible way to catch the eye of passers-by. It worked. As I was admiring it, Jim came out to chat with me. He proudly told me he had just celebrated his 90th birthday yesterday. He is one of the bright sparks in the neighborhood. His garden brings joy. I'm glad to see he's going strong at 90!

22 October 2011

Wildlife Photographer of the Year Winners

The winners of Wildlife Photographer of the Year have just been announced. This is my favorite photo competition in the world. The photos are stunning. I got to see the 2004 winners in person in the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. Wow! Here's this year's Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award Winner: Still Life in Oil by Daniel Beltrá, Spain:

Wildlife Photojournalist of the Year Award Winner: Still Life in Oil by Daniel Beltrá, Spain.

20 October 2011

Contemplative photography

Sorry this blog has been dormant for so long. I've been posting lots over at Faith and Technology.

I've come into contact with Alex Soojung-Kim Pang who is working on a book called Contemplative Computing, which is also the name of his blog. He's got quite an interesting post on photography as a technology that invites skill, essentially a contemplative practice. Made me realize I've let that practice lapse in my life, and I want to get back to it.

05 April 2011

Edge Effects

I recently discovered a cool cache of useful Photoshop actions (free to download; donation requested; do give; I did) at The Light's Right Studio. I’ve been playing around with the TLR Edge Effects set and liking them.

You have to run one of the Create Unframed Edge actions first before you can run one of the edge effect actions, with the exception of Gaussian Blur Frame which requires one of the Create Framed Edge actions to be run first. Took me a while to figure that out, but now it’s awesome. My favorites are Gaussian Blur Edge, Frosted Glass Edge, Spatter Edge, and Sprayed Strokes Edge.

Here's what the image looked like:

And here's what it looked like after applying Create Unframed Edge and Gaussian Blur Edge actions (4 clicks):

You'll have to try it out yourself to see some of the others. There are a couple dozen different sets of actions, and I've only had time to play with one of them so far. Go to http://www.thelightsrightstudio.com/photoshop-tools.htm. And if you like them, do give a donation to support Glenn Mitchell's creative work.

14 February 2011

Catching up

Finally got my new PC after more than six months limping along on my old slow laptop which kept me from getting much photography work done. So I'm back!

Just a pretty sunset image from a recent trip to Galiano Island for now.

I recently finished reading Enter Mourning: A Memoir on Death, Dementia & Coming Home, by Heather Menzies. Very profound and well written. She's a photographer, so she used her camera as a way of processing the whole experience of gradually losing her mother to Alzheimer's Disease and finding healing from old wounds that it was too late to work out with her mother verbally. She intersperses her reflective memoir with some shots she took while on a visit to her mother's old cottage after moving her into an assisted living facility. Here's a beautiful excerpt that grabbed me:

"I reached for my manual Minolta slung over my shoulder, and took off the lens cap The camera and all the actions involved in taking photos bought me some time, helped prop open the door to what I was doing. As an old friend Moira once observed, we ritualize the unknown as a way to face up to it, to wrestle it into revelation; my camera became my medium for doing this. Repeating the ritual motions--adjusting the shutter speed and focal length—-slowed me down and allowed me to dwell in my hands and eyes, opening my senses to the body of this remembered space. It brought me closer, helped me to be present to what I'd spent so much time absenting myself from over the years. I also used the camera to hone in, to find and focus in on what I had particularly avoided. I'd learned to divine for water when I was a kid at the farm, using a forked apple branch, and I felt I was doing something similar here in this quest. The camera was the stick while Mum's place and the tangle of the time we'd spent here together was the ground, the currents of water were my feelings running hidden beneath its surface."

I've done a bit of using my camera to understand my mother's journey into the ravages of the disease, and to study the bits of herself that she's left behind all over the house. It's too personal to share any images here, but I definitely find it a method that helps me process stuff.


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