Now I’m not one to really be out there when it comes to talking about everyday life, but I’ve come to think that we forget, all to easily, how our daily life is more than just a routine we follow. Every decision we make affects us, obviously, but we tend to get so serious that we go about it like steps on some kind of ladder; to a certain extent, it’s like the Good Charlotte song, Cars Full Of People, where there’s all these cars full of people going somewhere but they end up going nowhere fast by just following the clock. Life’s more than just steps to nowhere and I’ve come to believe that we’re called to a higher purpose than just to live to better ourselves; I often struggle just thinking about how to live to make something better for others…In the end, inspiration is really what matters because we’re saved for a reason and it’s not anything we’ve done on our own.

- Rocks & Green -
– Rocks & Green –

Personally, I think that life sometimes gives us little hints about what it’s all about; as I am looking at the above scene, I think about there being a chance for life to come out among the rocks. Now my original intent for this image wasn’t about this, but to show nature in an among the rocks of this miniature scene and the fact of it stands that it also has this message to it; life just has a way of coming out of the rocky parts if we let it. Personally, I think we’re so consumed by on-demand media that gets easily twisted around by political aims, that we don’t take any real time to really weigh out the views that are thrown at us by the media. Here in Canada, our last elections were so taken over by foreign media groups, that I’m seeing foreign intervention by foreign interest groups, including American groups, just like there was south of the border, in the US; political parties of every stripe nowadays just let themselves be hijacked by interest groups to the point that it’s not funny at all.
We get stuck in ruts we let get created out of either arrogance, ignorance or laziness to the point that we believe whatever the media tells us; for me, photography is a way for me to disconnect myself from all that and my personal beliefs & faith are the others. I think that we all have ways of disconnecting ourselves from the ruts, being those that are created by the same thing being repeatedly thrown at us (like on CNN or FOX); for some people, it may be family. Whatever it may be, we can’t let politics decide our lives like this much longer or we’ll end up like it is in Orwell’s book 1984, or like it almost ends up being in C.S. Lewis’ That Hideous Strength (losing the ability to really think critically for ourselves), because then we just end up really loosing ourselves and what we were created & meant for. These are just my thoughts…Take them as you may.


Gesture & meaning…

I’ve been thinking about what it really means to have meaning & gesture in my photography. How do I relate to the scene? What does the scene say to me? What does the entire scene mean? Gesture, I think, is more than just how a living subject looks at the camera because it’s about expression in the end; it’s about how the gesture of the subject looks in the scene. Meaning comes out of how we compose using colour  (or not) and what the scene ‘says’ to me and what it possibly ‘says’ to others; like when I was out photographing birds at a local conservatory, it’s how the animals stare into the camera AND what they are doing as they look into the camera & scene. It doesn’t take a professional to do this…It takes a love for photography & the scene in front of us to get this done, and we don’t always get it right the first time.

- Questioning Bird -
– Questioning Bird –

The scene above obviously includes gesture because of how the bird is looking at the camera with some food in its mouth; it’s as if the bird is asking me why on earth would I want to bother it while it’s eating just to get a shot. The background behind the shot is pretty simple: I was trying out a different way of approaching something with different gear and I wanted to see how I could handle the small, fist-sized birds on the first go. I wanted to see what I learned over the years to see if indeed I had really improved at all; for me, it was about analyzing my approach and seeing if I could really get something decent in it. While it was gently refined in Lightroom (which I hope gets a post-Christmas update soon), it was about the story of a bird feeding and a photographer disturbing it; that’s the meaning behind it.
To an extent, photography really isn’t about what level we’re at (professional, amateur, or hobbyist), but it’s about how we pursue it; it’s about how much we care for what we’re photographing. Inspiration comes with caring, or at least that’s how I understand it; we’re called to take care of the world around us and we’ve all mucked it up badly, but through photography we can give a shot of a specific moment in time to someone else and inspire them. A photographer, by a decent definition, is someone who takes photographs for the love of it & to inspire, not just someone who does it as a paying job or career with expensive gear & possibly massive debt.
Gesture & meaning come through in a photograph when we put them there, choosing to include what makes the shot, when we make the photograph. How do we put them there? We put them there by watching the scene and being ready to capture what we believe the scene is saying to us. The photograph above may seem like nothing more than chance to me, but it was a result of waiting for it to unfold, moving around & watching the birds in the conservatory go about their lives (and me ducking when they left droppings while flying around). In the end, gesture & meaning help to inspire, and that’s what I’m at least trying to strive for.

Another break…

Thinking about how many times I’ve missed what seemed at times to be the right shot, I’ve begun to wonder if what I’m thinking is the right shot was completely wrong to begin with; what I mean by this is that we’re often told the perfect shot is completely sharp from front to back, has little to no noise, and has perfect colour. I don’t know about anyone else, but this list can be pretty difficult to achieve within a single shot. Nothing’s perfect when you chase complete perfection in photography, in my opinion, because it comes close to being either technically perfect or creatively perfect; in the end, photography that’s perfect is either a pipe dream or something that’s out of reach for the majority of people.
Sometimes, we chase perfection believing that we can easily achieve it; not that the chase is wrong, but when we chase it, we forget all the good opportunities around us and miss good shots that surround us. Sometimes, it takes a break from editing & refining our photos to recognize a good shot after the fact; I get guilty of this nearly every time I go out to take photographs and it makes me laugh nearly every time it happens now. Sometimes we think something is so out of focus when it’s just that we’ve stretched it when we’ve either printed it, or magnified it too much. Frost photography gets really difficult for me because I can easily miss the right focus point for me; using manual focus (to slow me down) or single-shot autofocus (to make it simpler) are the two focus modes I resort to because continual focus can easily miss the spot we think is just right for the shot…Personally I’m more for single-shot autofocus and manual focus refinement when needed because it means at least a shot of getting something right, or decent.

- Trout Lake Frost -
– Trout Lake Frost –

The above shot was one of those scenes that I missed on the first rounds of refining…I think I passed over it at least TWICE. I had taken a break from looking at the photographs from that New Year’s Day shoot in the morning fog and, having already done more than one round of editing & refining, I was looking through the new sales of gear available at the local BestBuy in the city (a bad habit, I know); it was three days after I had originally taken the shot. Thinking that I couldn’t have missed getting at least on close-up frost shot of the bushes, or believing that I hadn’t really messed one up, I decided to look through the photographs again and this one popped up and it was IN FOCUS (left side), something that I had completely lost in my first round because I thought that while it worked out the beauty of the scene right, the colours were off and it wasn’t focused right. With a little tweaking, it came out just the way I saw it that day in my mind and how it felt…Darn it, I really feel like smacking myself multiple times (metaphorically, of course) for missing this one on the first-time round. Taking those breaks helped me really find this one better than I could have before…Sometimes, time can heal wounds, and sometimes it makes you realize what a dummy you were for missing something (it sure has for me).
We all miss things and we wonder what we were thinking in order to miss whatever it is, forgetting that maybe, just maybe, we really didn’t miss it all along and we were looking in the wrong place. Photography’s like that and so is life…We’ve got to give ourselves a leg up by really looking up for help, not on ourselves. Inspiration is more than just you or me, it’s us working together to really give each other a helping hand.

Another year started…

Now that another year has started, it’s something to behold the things that we’ve gone through over the last year and trying something new, or different. I’m not one to cope with change all that well thanks to having a personality that doesn’t quite accept it always. With photography, we’ve seen technology take off in a completely different direction with mirrorless cameras becoming more popular & affordable. With life, we’ve seen the first year of a rather unpredictable US presidency and change that isn’t always welcome by many. I’m not saying that all this change is good, but what I am saying is that we need to try to see it for what it really is.

- Ice & Rocks -
– Ice & Rocks –

I figured that I would start off the new year by getting back to the kind of post that was akin to the very first one that I’ve done…A kind of analysis of a photograph I’ve taken. Knowing that it’s difficult at times to be subjective, I’m going to at least try to explain this photograph the best I can. First off, it’s no award-winning shot, but a detail shot of ice over some smooth, rounded rocks, or at least that’s what it looks like. It’s actually a part of a short study on the first snow of December 2017 in the Pacific Northwest where it was taken; the ice isn’t actually ice at all, but thin snow that’s transparent. It wasn’t shot on a mirrorless camera, but an old, and trusty, DSLR, that was exposed to bring the snow out as white, exposing to the right as the terminology goes; gear isn’t the be-all-end-all, but vision, impact & inspiration are. The contrast, clarity, saturation & noise levels were tweaked to bring out the colour, tones & light in the scene. The refining was part of some kind of process that I’ve been working on over the past year at least, trying to hone it down to the point that it becomes second nature in how I work the photograph to bring out something deeper within it…Has it worked? I don’t know enough to say that is has worked 100%, but I hope it has at least come close.
It’s been a while since I last posted something, taking just over a week to write this post, but I wanted to let the holidays soak in and not get all too distracted, making this post a kind of renewal of the blog, back to its roots a little. There’s been so much that’s happened in 2017 that I’m not even going to begin to try to sum it all up…I just want to start off 2018 by getting this blog back to its roots and by trying to inspire at least one person to get out there and explore the natural world without the mainstream bias that’s dragged us down over the past year or so.

So here are my inspirations for 2018:
-Lee Strobel’s Case For… series of books
-C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia and Space Trilogy
-David duChemin’s videos on the Craft & Vision channel (specifically Vision Is Better)
-Photography books by Chris Orwig & David duChemin to name a few
-For music, it’s Darius Rucker, High Valley, Petra, Red, Thrice, TFK, & Twenty-One Pilots

Have a happy New Year!

Icy roads & packed malls…

Okay, so this one’s going to need some explaining; I figured that with all the icy roads out here in Canada, as well as all the last-minute shoppers, I’d have some fun with this one. Sometimes watching people freak out over something they should have done a month ago is actually quite fun. Yes, the prices are cheaper the closer you get to Christmas Eve, but then you have to brave icy roads, packed malls, and the chance that your item might not be in stock. Watching someone else panic can actually be entertaining, especially when you’re already done; maybe that’s at least a little mean, but you have to admit that it’s a little funny too.

I’m posting this one after the fact, just so it doesn’t sting so much for anyone reading this who hasn’t got all the shopping done. Save a few bucks just to possibly lose your cool in a packed mall…I don’t know, but it doesn’t sound worth it to me, but that’s just me. Three words: CREDIT CARD DEBT…The more we think we’re saving can sometimes lead us to spend more than we want by getting other things, thinking that the savings will cover the cost. Having gone to the mall just to take a stroll in the hallways just to watch the shoppers here in BC’s greater Vancouver, I can honestly say that I think most of the shopping most likely happens in the afternoon because there sure weren’t all that many around Noon actually carrying purchases with them; the mall in question wasn’t too packed either…Apart from the Starbucks.

Having a merry Christmas & a happy New Year isn’t about how fast or slow we are at shopping, or how bad we are at driving on icy roads, but how much we remember the real reason for the holidays and how much time we spend with friends & family. Sometimes, when we’re in search of the best deal, or barely managing it on icy roads to get those presents, we lose sight of friends & family, not just the real reason for the season.


I’m going to get flak on how I go about this, but I figure I’ll try it anyhow…When it comes to the holidays, we think that we’ll make peace on earth possible, but as long as we hold on to racial pride as the be-all-end-all, we’re going to be screwed. How so? It’s peace on earth for all, not just a select few races; we need to put aside racial hatred and come together for a Christmas that, for once, isn’t plagued by arguments over race. Think about it: if we forget about the colour of our skin for just one night or two, we might get past this stupidity that’s plagued us. I’m not saying that we should forget the racial injustices, but I’m saying that we stop fighting over it for once and learn to listen to what the holiday truly means. True peace on earth came through the boy child in the manger, and it wasn’t race-dependent…It was for all men & women.

Now to stop being so insistent for once, I’ve come to think of winter & Christmas as a time of warmth, even in colder climates. Why? Because we have friends to be with and many different people that make up our circle of friends & family that make it a warm time of year…Or at least we should have. For those in broken places, don’t forget to hold on to the fact that there’s people out there that care about us; we have groups like UGM, Salvation Army & others that feed the homeless and, I’ve got to say, they come in where & when others won’t. Nowadays, we like to define everything, labeling nearly just about every little thing, but once, just once, this Christmas, let’s stop labeling every little thing and focus on what’s really important.

There’s times when we want to just forget about the holidays and I’m personally thinking it’s because of all the rampant commercialism out there that’s being thrown at us; it’s tiring and a little too much. What really warms the heart at Christmas is being with friends & family, not fighting it out for the last item in stock at the stores. When it comes to how we celebrate Christmas, the best stories aren’t dependent on one culture or one really specific way of doing something, but the ways in which different cultures (European, North American, African, Asian, etc.) go about celebrating it together as well as in their own groups. So, have yourselves a Merry Christmas!

Storm the stronghold…

Now this one’s going to sound a little off, thanks to the title, but let me put it this way: the stronghold I’m referring to are the rampant ads & the push/desire for various things that we supposedly need to have. Christmas sales are there for one real, and sometimes disturbing purpose…make us buy more stuff. I’m not saying we should rush to the stores and buy everything that we can get our hands on, but rather storm the stronghold by refusing to let it get to us and drive credit card debt ever upwards.

I haven’t been exactly active photographically, or otherwise, in November and I really aim to change that this Christmas & winter season by getting out there and doing something that just might inspire someone. There’s plenty to do & see out there and I’d rather be one to really contribute to something, than just do nothing or add to the noise. Christmas is right around the corner and there’s just something about giving compared to receiving something; there’s a bit of a challenge when it comes to avoiding the stores because we’re so tempted to dive right on in to the sales. I’ve done this time & again to the point that I’m thinking that just the fact that the word sale might just hook me right in.

This Christmas, it’s a great time to get out once we’re all bundled up for the cold weather, or out in summer weather for warmer climates. We might as well storm the stronghold of the daily consumerism that seems to permeate everything around us; we can really do this much better if we get outside of the shopping malls and spend time with friends & family. After all, isn’t that what the holidays are truly about for most of us? I’m going to at least try to get outside and I hope that I can do something that might just inspire someone in the process.

Without the tree?

There’s something to be said by celebrating the holidays without the tree decorated in the living room, or even outside. What gets me about having a tree is the advertising from all the stores; if the tree we have means something to us, why do we need to go all out for some tree that we might just throw away at the end of the holidays. Having a tree in the living room, at least for me, is about having something for the family, or friends, to gather around, not to show off. I’d rather having something that means something than something that’s superficial. I get just as guilty as others do when it comes to being materialistic, especially when the latest sales are one or the holidays are approaching, so I’m not trying to blame anyone, just trying to point something out.

- Snow & Branches -
– Snow & Branches –

It says something when the weather outside isn’t too great and there’s snow on the trees, but it says something more when the tree inside is all shiny, but never really used or gathered around at all. Things like that tend to suck the meaning out of the holidays & out of Christmas altogether if we’re not careful. Sometimes, it helps to not have a tree because having one becomes a distraction from what Christmas is all about, making us think about the latest things we can get instead of the boy child in the manger. Christmas for me has become more so about the manger and recovering from any soreness from work (he last three months of the year are the busiest for me). The music playing around this time of year is just a welcome bonus, especially when it points me upwards instead of downwards.

It’s great having the days off, but for those that don’t, try not to make things difficult for them, because they’re working so that you don’t have to, or they’re there so that you can shop. We could all use a little more peace in the world, especially right now with all the crap that’s happening all around us. So, let’s just slow down, stop what we’re rushing to get before it sells out, and think about what’s really important this Christmas; let’s get past the abuses in Hollywood (by not letting them ruin Christmas for us) and try to salvage the holidays before we ruin their start.

Do I really want this?

There’s stuff that really bugs me from time to time and it comes down to the question of me wanting something and changing my mind. Do I really want this thing to happen? Do I really want this piece of tech or gear? It’s coming up on Christmas and the stores are going on with advertising about new stuff for sale; it draws me in and then I begin to wonder if I really need it or even want it. It’s like that with virtually everything, especially around this festive time of year…Materialism run amok, I guess.

I’m not going to vent against materialism again, but try to explain out the processes that I go through. I mean, I can get really good at things with what I have…I don’t really need the latest piece of tech to get what I want out of a photograph, or design. When the deals come for new tech, don’t get me wrong, I am intrigued, but I tend to either get too far into the sales, or just forget about them in the end. I’ve been trying to really think about how much the holidays are more for family and the real meaning for the season, the boy child in the manger, not so much about what the stores are selling at a somewhat decent price. The season is meant to inspire us, not make us want more stuff to fill our homes and deplete our wallets.

There’s just something about finding inspiration and what it can do to the person who finds it; it can’t really be bought, but it can be given. Just think, if we’d all just learnt to stop & think, myself included, then we’d really get to the point that we can start to make a change in someone’s life and maybe in our own as well. I personally think this world would be a better place if we’d just learn to think of others over ourselves at least once in a while. Do I really want this to happen? Yes…The answer really is a resounding, heart-pounding YES!

Lest we remember…

Sometimes I think we forget the sacrifices that the veterans made for us in the world wars; take for example the recent posting of pro-Nazi posters on the UBC (University of British Columbia) campus that hailed Nazi Soldiers as the ‘real’ heroes. As a graduate of SFU (Simon Fraser University), I can’t help but feel like the ‘rival’ university of UBC has dumber students, but they’re everywhere and it’s because we have the unnerving ability to forget things and disrespect people who make sacrifices…Just look at who’s the Canadian Prime Minister: he’s thought about taxing the military servicemen who protect this country!

If it wasn’t so sad, it might be a tiny bit funny, but this is the 21st Century and goodness knows we’ve lost almost all decency & respect for the generations that came before us; we want to do it all on our own. I hate to say this, but we cannot do this on our own…The past decade has shown us that we keep screwing it up. I’m just as guilty as the next person, but I think it’s time we forget about how important we think we are and really get in touch with those that came before us. Look at our news outlets like CNN: their front pages are all about the latest news that screams ME ME ME and nothing much about how others are being affected by our bad decisions. Both sides have got it wrong in one way or other and it’s becoming a daily contest of one-upmanship just to see who cane scream the loudest to get more views or website visits.

I’m tired of trying to have a kind of frosty view about the world around me when everything seems to be getting way out of whack. No wonder there are so many alternative news sites that barely research stories and then are counted as reliable by the public…In our rush to say anything, we’ve created the alt-right & alt-left just because we want to do whatever we think we should be able to do. In this day & age, I’m beginning to think we need a little more emphasis on inspiration & respect instead of all the emphasis of doing whatever we want. I want this to be more than just a morbid outlook on life because I don’t want to just accept things as they are, but do something that just might inspire someone…Maybe, just maybe, I might just inspire someone.

- Those Beams -
– Those Beams –