Wearing the past…

When I look back, I’ve come to think that we tend to wear our past mistakes like they’re what define us and, in a way, it’s kind of true, but in doing this, we put ourselves down so far that it’s hard at times to get up. We all make mistakes and we all have things that we regret, but I’ve come to realize that the Creator’s given us one way out. I’ve made so many bad decisions that I’ve come to think that I can’t do it on my own and I’m totally right in thinking that; I can work at something so hard that I lose sight of the bigger picture. When it comes to who we trust and who we think have our backs, we need to look to those that will walk alongside us, not whispering things in our ears that beef up our pride because we need to stay humble, something I’m so often forgetting.
For myself, reading & photography have been ways that often seem to get me realizing just how small I am, yet just how much the Creator cares for each one of us…Why else would such a messed up creation look so good if it wasn’t for something bigger behind it all? There’s always a flip side to the good and we need to tread that line carefully so that our pride doesn’t get the better of us, making us think that we can’t do it on our own; we need to wear our past to the point that we don’t treasure it as the only thing, but so that it reminds us to stay humble, something we all can easily forget, myself included. I want to remember the past so that I don’t repeat it, but I don’t really want to let it define who I am. When it comes to what I think photography does, for me in particular, I think it’s a bit of escapism in that it helps me focus on something else besides what mistakes are in the past; it’s almost as if it’s one way of me wearing the past quite loosely and not letting it get to me too much.

- Pink Lily -
– Pink Lily –

When I think back on what I’ve done, with my photography, in the 3.5 years since this blog was started, I wonder if how I started was a little stronger and I’ve been taking it a little too laidback when it comes to refining, or even taking, a shot of a scene; sure, I’ve changed a bit in how I go about things and why I do them, but have I lost sight of purpose & inspiration? If I’m being honest with myself, I think I have, at least to some extent, but I hope I’m also learning as I go because, if I’m not, I’m going to lose sight of why I’m doing it in the first place. I don’t think I would’ve gotten the above photograph the way I did if I had done it back then, but I’ve learned a few things since; my inspirations have changed and my tastes have morphed a bit over the years, so it’s no wonder that I’ve grown at least a little in photography. I’m nowhere near perfection, but that’s okay because it’s a journey that I’m glad I’m on.

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Amazed by the lights…

Taking some time on Sunday after the morning’s church service to photograph some smaller flowers under an overcast sky after overnight rains, I was tinkering with how the light played up against the tiny flowers, called forget-me-nots (Myosotis for the gardening geeks out there), with the idea of purpose and living with meaning in mind. What this did is make me think about how I was portraying the small flowers because I had just passed them by so many times, ignoring them because they are so incredibly common around where I am. The light was dull & spread out evenly and the weather cool enough that it still meant I needed to wear at least a light coat or hoodie and it kept things on the cooler side.

- Raindrops on Myosotis -
– Raindrops on Myosotis –

What the above photograph did is make it look like there was artificial light; after all, when does natural light really look like that? I can assure you that there really was no artificial light at all…It’s all organic, natural light. While I try not to get amazed by the lights of the city at night, I need them to drive during those times, but this time, during mid-day, I didn’t need city light at all, or at least not the artificial, buzzing lights that are so common. Around here, in the Pacific Northwest, bees don’t pass these flowers by and, I guess, it’s a sign that we shouldn’t either when we’re out looking for subjects for close-up & macro photography. Life’s a bit too short to be passing things by, but, at the same time, we shouldn’t be jumping over the big things just to pick at the little things around us.
When it comes to photographing after the rain, there’s a few things to take into consideration: the wetness/softness of the ground, reflections from drying surfaces, surfaces that are still wet, and the effects of light bouncing off wet/slick surfaces. Now, I’m no genius at this, and I still make more mistakes than I’d care to admit, but it’s a challenge that we might as well accept, because it brings out scenes like in the photograph above and we just might learn as we go. In this day & age, when the mainstream media continually just throws stuff our way, we (myself included) would do well to watch out for the crap and really think about what’s really important. I’m still struggling with this, but I hope that, by being completely honest here, I’m just showing that perfection in this art thing called photography doesn’t come within a lifetime, especially if honesty & humility are really at the center of it all.

 

Looking in the mirror…

We, myself included, often trust the media so much that we’ve let it affect how we live our lives; we let mainstream media use their own employees in interviews to get their own point across or cutting out on interviews intentionally (CNN, I’m calling you out on this tactic), but we cut corners ourselves as well. Personally, it’s come to the point that I’m still getting mad at it, but I’ve fumbled so many times that looking in the mirror isn’t any better. Humility isn’t overrated and I’ve got to realize that on a daily basis; the thing is, I’ve got to stop letting that need slip while I’m getting angry at the media…While not letting them off the hook.

It sucks for me, but only because I’ve made it suck. I’ve been working on a personal photography project lately, choosing a subject/theme that is based on a certain color that I don’t necessarily photograph a lot of, or necessarily enjoy, but, although it might suck for me for now, it challenges me…And that’s what I’m after (challenging myself, not making it suck). It’s the same, or at least it should be, with how we work: if we’re stuck in what we think is a dead-end job, it’s probably at least a bit our fault because we let it get us down (especially when we complain about it) and want to get out so fast that we forget to think that we might be there for a reason. On a personal note, I may actually love my job, but for now I’ll admit I really like it. In other words, we forget to face the mirror and really ask what’s really going on; I’m so guilty of this that it can really suck.

Sometimes, we need to challenge ourselves by looking in the mirror and asking ourselves in what way we need to grow…And not just in our hobbies, but in life as well. While I’m not one to prescribe anything, knowing full-well I’ll most likely fail at it, I’m going to at least make challenging myself a strong priority.

What gets me…

…Is the complete over-insistence on what society wants from us instead of the desire & need to inspire others. I mean, c’mon, when did we get so hung up on methodology & certain lists that we forget about the others around us that ARE hurting that we CAN help? I’ve certainly screwed this up so many times that, when I see others do it, it reminds me of my own shortcomings and literally gets me frustrated, to say the least. Shouldn’t we just learn to slow it down & listen, let alone trying to do it all on our own? I’ve failed on this so many times that I’m quite literally talking to myself here as well.

In photography (yes, it’s that rant again), it’s become all about that latest piece of tech or how famous we’ve become through how many shots we’ve sold. In life, it’s become about that latest thing we’ve got & what shiny new toy we’ve got, but have we really thought about how shallow it’s making us? I’m just venting here, but I’m beginning to think that we need to forget about the megapixels and focus on the meaning & the inspiration behind the shot or the person. Like the mainstream media, we’re so hung up getting the most clicks that we’re just doing things that don’t really go very deep at all…And before I’m labeled an alt-right nut, I’d like to point out that the alt-right stuff disgusts me just as much as the regular person. I’m just as tired, as the next person, of being flooded with all the sensationalist crap coming from the CNN & Fox outlets out there, so I’m beginning to really look at this with a grain of salt…It’s just that the proverbial grain of salt is getting much bigger these days.

So, while this might seem a bit winded coming from me, I’m beginning to see that venting, in a decent way, is slowly becoming a way to relieve all the pent-up frustrations I’ve got. Who cares if we’ve got the latest stuff or if we’re rooting for the most likely person to succeed? I’d rather root for the underdog who’s trying to make it through with a bit of humility because, to me, that’s being a bit more real than the favorite.

Left behind…

We tend to worry that we’ll get left behind and forgotten because it shows that we’ve not done enough or well enough, but we couldn’t be more wrong. Why? I guess it’s because we always want to be the center of attention in our own ways sometimes. Now I’m not saying we’re all like this every time, but we usually go this route every now & then…We all have our moments I guess, myself included. Sometimes, we need to just get out & try to be ourselves so we don’t get lost in the feeling of being left behind.

- Holding Snow -
– Holding Snow –

While the above photograph isn’t directly about being left behind, it shows the snow left behind when the rest of it falls off the branch…Ok, so that was a bit of a stretch linking it in with the theme of being left behind, but it works, barely. I went out on a snowy, and icy, day to get into a floral conservatory that was indoors, but I got a bit lazy seeing all the snow on the ground on the way up to the spot, so I changed gears and decided to shoot photographs of the nearby pond that was frozen over; this shot was of a small section of the shore of the pond (it’s not at all visible, but it was off to the upper right of the frame). It was refined with the usual adjustments (Clarity, Tone Curve, & Noise adjustments) to really bring out what the scene felt like to me; it was a kind of vision refinement in post-processing I guess.

It gets annoying when we seem to get left behind, but what I find often gets me back up is just getting a shot or two that really shines (for me at least). Not bragging that we got that one shot also works really well because it keeps us on the good side of humble, not the wrong side. For me at least, staying on the right side of humble is a challenge and not worrying about being left behind in various ways is even a greater challenge, but sometimes we just have to let all the worries go, trusting that, in the end, everything will work out.

Getting a break…

It’s something that sometimes you/I have to work for and sometimes it just comes out of the blue. While I’m not going to debate which is better or which is more deserved…It’s not my cup of tea (or ice cold root beer) to take a firm side on it…I would like to take a deeper look at it. It should be something that we could be looking for, but not as our sole purpose, because then it just distracts us from getting the shot we’re trying to get and puts our focus elsewhere as well as frustrating us.

Come to think of it, it’s not the most important thing, getting a big break, unless you’re trying to make a living at it, but it also has the effect of keeping you from being humble as you go about it; mostly because it tends to make you/I focus on ourselves instead of trying to work at it and eventually it can make us push aside others for our own personal gain. It basically comes down to the question of pride: would you want to be know as the one who’s in it for himself or rather the one who would work with others?

What I can add to this is that there is nothing like going out and shooting with a friend, especially because it creates an atmosphere where you can bounce ideas off of one another. At the same time, doing this just so you can get your big break is practically useless; useless, because you’re just using the other person. Now I’ve never done this, but, following this & working it out logically, this is pretty much what could happen. Sometimes, we need to work out, logically, what we’re doing and our reasons for doing so, especially when it comes to you/me wanting a big break. Is it just for ourselves, or something greater??