Winter weather…

Now that I’ve got the last post off my chest, I figured that I would get back to really focusing on photography, and watching a few Dude Perfect videos online; those guys are hilarious…and talented. With winter still hanging around for a little while longer, I was aching a bit to get out there yet again and work on my photography; I usually get some photography done every two weeks, with short excursions (<1 hour) in between then. Snow doesn’t come often enough to the northwest, but when it does, the roads aren’t exactly the easiest to get along because of the slick roads, but they’re simple enough for most of us to get around in. Sometimes you just have to marvel at how much people get caught off-guard by snow and with photography it’s the same because we don’t always remember exactly the right settings for snow exposure (+1-2 stops to keep the snow white)…Something I’ve done too many times to keep track of.

- Snow &amp; Green -
– Snow & Green –

Snow is never really the easiest thing to remember what to do with when it comes to exposure and, sometimes, that’s what exposure bracketing is good for because it can show us, especially in this digital age, what the settings will do while translating the scene into the image. The above photograph, while it’s nothing special, shows what is possible when the snow is exposed for at +1 or 2 stops and used to focus on; with the snow being sugar-like in appearance, the focus needs to be in the right spot so that when it brings edges into focus, it doesn’t fade or blur at the wrong point, leaving the edges too fuzzy with any lack of contrast to their surroundings. In this shot, the snow itself, while having its sugar-like composition, makes focusing a little harder because the depth of field is much more important, especially because this is a close-up shot. What worried me the most about this shot was indeed the focus because I wasn’t shooting with a high depth of field in order to get a good background blur, so I think it actually turned out quite decent.
Now, what matters is not that it turned out quite decent, but that it turned out the way the photographer (in this case it was myself) had envisioned it; it would’ve most likely needed tweaks, being a RAW file, but it came out the way I had roughly envisioned it. Brightness & exposure were barely touched in the refining stage (+0.2 for Exposure in Lightroom), so it came out pretty darn close to the way I had hoped it would; this seldom really happens with most of what I photograph, but it worked. I, personally, think that we stress a little too much on technical perfection and not enough on vision & what the image says. What else can we do when society is so focused on the material side of things? We can start by listening a little less to the noise of material perfection and more on message & meaning.


At the intersection of faith & art (Part 2)…

Going over the last post on this subject, I’ve come to notice, and realize, that there’s something to bringing art to the point that are beliefs are evident in art; just think of how the medieval murals in cathedrals displayed immense talent in how their subject in their art. The sheer talent in those works of art are so immense that they make me want to curl up & shiver at just how gifted the artists were and, unless there was something behind that talent, each of those murals would be meaningless. This doesn’t just apply to the murals, but music as well; Beethoven, Bach, Mozart & others were amazingly gifted and, in my opinion, blessed. And literature has even more examples to offer us as well, we sometimes just have to open our eyes & ears a little wider.
Think about how many John Newton’s Amazing Grace hymn has inspired over the years: it’s known to change the course of some in the slave trade, not just the author himself, and it’s been used at funerals for people that have made a difference in the world at large. Be Thou My Vision, the Irish hymn, has had an impact that I would have to say is immense because of how widely known it is and how deep & inspirational it is, and not just in the English language. John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields has a great impact when it comes to how we think of the effects of war; Winston Churchill’s rousing speeches about not surrendering to Nazi Germany bring out the sacrifices that those men & women much more than we ever could in our overwhelmingly ‘me-centered’ society. The point I’m trying to get at here is that sometimes a song, or even just a little lyric, saying, speech or artwork, can have a massive impact that we don’t necessarily see; I’m not saying we all have to be like the examples listed above, but I’m trying to say that if there was no meaning behind them, those examples wouldn’t have any impact or at least not anywhere near as much as they did.
We get so self-involved because of how media around us tells us that we’re important and that the superficial is the only thing that really counts, that we think that if our team doesn’t win the championship, we’re completely & utterly messed up. Look at how the awards ceremonies are; they are all about the achievement, not necessarily the why of the performance itself & what it means. It’s become so trivial nowadays that real movies that really say something usually don’t make the headlines anymore; just think of the last book that really inspired you to do something of worth that wasn’t all about yourself and ask if it would make the headlines today…The answer to that question is what gets me every time and it’s one of the reasons why I try to read something of meaning (outside of direct religious writings) at least once a year, like War & Peace or some other great classic.

That ol’ list…

Pondering what makes me do the things I do, and the way I do them, not to mention why I do them, often gets me either annoyed, or gives me a bit of a headache. I guess that’s a part of not really being an A to B kind of person and not always following a straight line in how I do things, but sometimes I think that I’d have it no other way. Nowadays, we’ve got students coming out of university without the ability to have any critical thinking or allow for anything with even the slightest difference in point of view, so I think that being able to go from A to C in some instances might be a good thing, but we need to be careful that it doesn’t become something we do in every instance.

With that said, I usually make lists for what I going to do before I go out photographing some thing or place, but I end up tossing out most of it…For me, it’s really only a suggestion list after all. Sometimes it helps to have a plan, but sometimes it can also restrict us from getting what we’re planning to get. In life, we want structure and normality, but when it all falls apart, we tend to blame it all on something or someone else, instead of looking up for help. It’s like that when we follow rules to the dot, becoming legalistic in how we approach life; it however can leave us drained when what we’re trying to achieve takes long or seems way out of reach. For me, when I going to a place for the express purpose of photographing it, I’m definitely going to make a mental checklist, not just of what to photograph, but what settings at which to photograph it; it all in what I choose to keep and how I adapt to changing circumstances because going with the flow sometimes brings out a photograph or more that says something and means something.

- Hibiscus Three -
– Hibiscus Three –

In the end, it basically comes down to meaning something with what we do, and what we photograph, because if there’s no meaning, then it sometimes doesn’t really carry any weight in the long run. With all this international rhetoric being passed around, we need to be the people that carry some semblance of decency and do something that means something. I may not always be able to do just that, but I’m at least going to try to raise awareness by doing something that means something to someone.

When all else fails…

Thinking about it, I can’t help but wonder why the last thing I do when I’m struggling with something is to look up (aka pray). Why can’t it be the first thing? I mean, c’mon, I know I can’t do anything decent on my own because of just how much I’ve mucked things up, so I should be thinking three steps ahead, not three steps behind. This goes for everything I do, not just in life, but in my hobbies as well; I guess it’s just the fallen nature in me that doesn’t think things quite through. It’s sad when I see that others are suffering and I’m the one thinking that woe is me; I’m NOT judging anyone but myself in this (it’s happened a few times to me and a certain instance has brought this topic to mind).

- Lynn Canyon Rapids -
– Lynn Canyon Rapids –

The things that I’ve seen around me makes me wonder what on earth I’m doing to deserve even another chance, let alone a second chance, but that’s just the depressing voice in my mind. I’m not going to dwell on it, just take it for what it is and then try to make something of it that might just turn into something of worth to someone…It comes down to inspiration with me. Do I think I’m there yet? Maybe, but I’m going to keep trying. It’s kind of like what Winston Churchill said about success: Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. I’ve just got to say that we’ve got to rethink what success really means because I sure don’t think it’s about things or how we’re feeling at the moment, but it’s about reaching out to others and walking with them, inspiring them, and confiding in them. I just have to say this: If you ever feel like nothing’s worth it, seek out help, especially that of a good, solid counselor that can show you that life is worth it. That’s what I love about the Good Charlotte song, Hold On: it’s about not giving up, because it will get better.

We’re going to fail & fall flat on our faces, wondering what’s going on with us, but the key is to NOT give up; it’s a message I’ve got to keep reminding myself of daily…And yes, it is worth it, even if we don’t see it at first. We’re at the point that we need to learn from our failures and move forward, not dwell on them or get more things to fill our time up with the shallowness of materialism. This all is just my take on things and my way of ranting out my thoughts on the matter.

Yeah = Utah?

Ever experience autocorrect making mistakes (i.e. like the one above)? And yes, this is a rhetorical question. I’ve had it happen that autocorrect corrects itself to auto-coconut, but don’t ask me on what planet that makes sense because I’m starting to really think that common sense has all but disappeared these days. Just like all this talk about which brand name is better than the other (apart from Porsche being leagues better than BMW), it’s ridiculous, and just another way for people to sell us more things…As if we don’t have enough stuff already. Sometimes we just need to get ourselves off auto and onto something akin to manual, especially when it comes to photography.

- Cascade Falls -
– Cascade Falls –

I’ve gone through some of my photographs over & over, trying to figure myself out and where I’m going with this thing called photography that I enjoy, but it seems as about as elusive as politicians making any sense at all. The above photograph is one that I’ll most likely keep going over for months, mostly because I can’t seem to make up my mind about exactly how I want to finish it; I’ve already gone through two revisions, after the first refinement session, and I’m most likely going to keep tweaking it. I might even try a sepia, duotone, or B&W treatment on it, but the most important thing in all of this, to me, is that it wasn’t taken on auto, but on full manual; to each his own, I guess, but I’m going to keep going this way because it helps me think a little more when I’m doing things, and really muck up along the way while I’m at it which helps me learn as well.

In these days of everything going so fast, I’m thinking that we need to slow down and really think about what’s going on, but that’s not what the mainstream wants because then we’re not as gullible as they want us to be. We need to get some common sense back before the mainstream with its lack of any ethics runs roughshod over all of us. Just look at our Facebook feeds; they’re mostly about the latest stuff we’ve bought or how great we look, and little about uplifting, helping & inspiring others (I’m totally guilty of this as well). We’re at the point that we need to get past this whole gear & tech stuff and I’m at least going to try to get past it.

A place for review…

Now I haven’t done one of these for quite some time, and I’d like to take the time to say that a must read, for me, among current books just released is The Soul of the Camera: The Photographer’s Place in Picture-Making by David duChemin. I’ve only finished the first few chapters and it’s something that’s quite amazing because it talks, and discusses, about the role we play when we take photographs because we comprise the proverbial soul of the camera in that it’s our emotions that go into making the image. Getting this book a few days before July 1st, Canada Day 2017, I pretty much know what’s dominating my non-theological readings during the long weekend and it’s this book (as well as finishing up War & Peace by Leo Tolstoy for the umpteenth time).

This long weekend, I’ll probably be out taking photographs, while not taking in the Canada Day celebrations because of how busy they get, and I’m going to at least try to take photographs that mean something. For me, life’s a little too short not to care about what the Creator’s let me be able to do, so I’m going to do something with what I’ve been given. The first book above has made me wonder if I’m really putting my heart & soul into what I’m doing, photographically or otherwise; many things have made me wonder this before and here this book is, reminding me yet again. Yet I am always reminded by how easy I end up lashing out when I’m frustrated and end up messing up my chances to be real in life & how I take photographs. Still working on this idea of putting more soul into my photographs, I’m far from getting it right with any consistency, but I’ll try each time.

When it comes to photographs already taken, reviewing them can be a good thing, especially if you’re going about it looking for vision & soul in the shot itself. Maybe it’s me, but I’ve come to realize just how far short I’ve fallen when it comes to doing the right thing and now, little by little, I’m trying to recover from that fault. When it comes to life, I’m slowly, and painfully trying to slow myself down & examine why I am the way I am, and when it comes to photography, I’m learning to slow it down & really examine a scene before I take a shot; either way, I’m slowly learning to really put my heart & soul into it.


It comes down to worth, for me at least…Is it really worth getting out there and using my camera, old by today’s technology standards, to capture a shot that might not be that significant? YES. Sure, I may not be anywhere near famous, talented or even anywhere near more than decent, but it gets me thinking and gets me to the point where I can unwind from all of life’s issues that the world seems to throw at me. I might not be the sharpest tool in the shed, but I’ve come to realize that I need to get to point that I’m able to not give a crap about how toxic the critics can be and try to do something that’s of worth. Personally, I believe we’re created to do something of meaning, something of worth, that might just inspire others to do better; the Creator’s calling us to really believe in him and he’s given us means of expression, whether that’s in the sciences, or in the arts.

- Tiny Blues -
– Tiny Blues –

It’s shots like the one above that really seem to get to me in a good way, especially after minor tweaking (after shooting it in RAW instead of the compressed JPEG format), because they show the beauty in the small things that can be so much greater than all the rest of the flashy crap out there in the world at large. The cool thing is that the center of the photograph isn’t the sharpest thing in the photograph, the spot on the right of it is; we’re drawn to the center and then left to explore the rest of the scene that the photograph presents. It’s about the exploration that just might make it worth it for the viewers and even if it doesn’t, it just might do that for me for even just one more time.

It’s not always about doing something of worth every single time, but about doing something that might just be of worth at one point or other. We stumble & fall all the time, but are we trying to at least get up and have another go of it, trying to do something of worth, not for ourselves, but for others? I’m going to make a go of it, or at least try to do just that, and maybe, just maybe, I might be able to brighten someone else’s day.

Thought & Taking a Stand…

It says something when we’re about to go into a time where two people, both as mucked up & corrupt as could possibly be, are running for US president; now I’m nowhere near perfect, but that just had to be said. Where’s our thinking when stuff like this happens? I’m inclined to say we’ve all mucked up, because we all let stuff like this happen without much thought, let alone taking a stand and saying that enough is enough. We’ve let our lax attitudes spill over into politics…I’m as much to blames as the next person…but let’s start by at least beginning to take a stand & not taking just any old thing as okay.

We’re just as mucked up when it comes to photography because we’ve let just anything be called photography, including explicit imagery. After all, it’s all just art, right? WRONG!! I’m going out on limb here, but I’m going to say that we’ve nearly lost sight of what photography’s for…showing & saying something of value with the camera. So many times, I’ve fallen short of this, I’m beginning to think that I’ve lost it altogether, but then, every now & then, I actually get it right (or at least close) that it brings me back in.

What seems to get me every time, is that I end up forgetting to really take that stand, thinking that I can’t do it…But I have to dig deeper than just thinking that I can’t do it & acting on it; if we just all stop there, then we’ve lost it already. With a little help, we know we can’t do it on our own, but that help makes us get past it all; with my beliefs, if comes from above, so why do I forget it so many times? I get cowardly and forget it so many times, letting the world get to me, brining me down. So the answer’s right in front of us…We’ve just got to give it some thought and take a stand against all this crap.

What I’m working on…

I figure that’s it’s time I show what it is I’m working on at the moment and stuff that’s come out of the works so far. The thing is…I’m always working on some images, constantly tweaking them in one way or other. Sometimes, like in the photograph below, I’m revising the edits I’ve done; this one’s had the tone curve changed more times than I care to admit…And I’ve posted it with a much darker background already.

- Tiny Strands -
– Tiny Strands –

Most of the time, I just decide to revisit an edit on a whim and see what can be worked on & what can be improved or changed. Call it paranoia, which I sometimes think it truly is, but I’d rather be sure or work at it than ignore it…One & done just isn’t me most of the time. For me, going back to it a few times or more opens me up, usually, to trying other things with the photograph, not to necessarily change my vision for it, but to allow the photograph to speak to me from a distance that time away has provided. Now, will I go back & revise the above shot? I probably will, not just because I can’t seem to make up my mind, but because I’m constantly trying to refine my vision & work on my technique.

- Tiny Strands II -
– Tiny Strands II-

However, the one above, taken at roughly the same time as the first shot, will most likely be the final edit, mostly because it had a stronger negative (RAW) file and was much easier to work with. I also went to refine it after working on the first shot multiple time, so, by then, my vision has become much more firm for the photographs I took in that area. All things considered, sometimes I go back with multiple edits & revisions, and sometimes I don’t. It really depends on the shot…The first one seemed to warrant multiple revisions because of the way the first revision turned out & how I felt about it when looking at it with new eyes, while the second doesn’t really have that because the first revision summed the feel of it up just right.

Stuck in the depths…

It’s probably one of the worst feelings, being surrounded and wanting to say something, but you can’t, or you feel like you just can’t seem to find the right words…Not just with our photographs, but with our lives. We’re all looking for something important, something that will make us feel something other than stranded without hope. I’m not talking about the greater picture here, but the smaller one; why not do something that positively lights up the moment?

The hardest thing is really doing something that matters, especially for someone else. I mean, why worry about the world when you’ve got so many things going on yourself? Sometimes, spreading a little cheer is all it takes, letting someone know you’re there for them, giving a shoulder to lean on. In photography, the closest thing I can think of off of the top of my head would be sharing a photograph (without bragging about how it was taken) that would make a person smile who hasn’t smiled in a long time because it could just take that one image to brighten them up. After all, isn’t it doing something that matters to someone that really matters in the end?

- Lily Pad Flower -
– Lily Pad Flower –

The last verse of the song Words In The Water (by Thrice) ring true because when we decide to shine a little light in someone’s direction, it brightens their day and can help them get out of the funk they’re in. The song may mean something greater, but even just applying it to the little acts of kindness or brightening up some’s day, it still works. When we, or they, are stuck in the depths, shining a little light helps, no matter how big or how small when it comes from the heart. The problem we all have (myself included) is that we sometimes have a difficulties doing just that because, in this day & age we’re so focused inwards on ourselves.