Enough of the politics…

Ever think that maybe, just maybe, we’ve seen so much of this political crap that even the sky’s beginning to cry at just how crazy stupid it’s gotten? We’ve got football players kneeling for the anthem instead of taking the flag seriously & engaging with the world at large and politicians that are gambling with the fortunes of the citizens they serve. If you’ve got an issue, speak out, not just sit out the anthem and the same thing goes for those who were shocked that one of Hollywood’s own could be so messed up…You didn’t at all expect this to happen when the focus was on materialism & material gain?!?! Come on now…This had to come out sooner or later because it was just a matter of time before something came to light.

- Raindrops on Purple -
– Raindrops on Purple –

Now before I go on riffing on Hollywood some more, I’ve got to stop and think that I’ve gotten nothing shining to put myself against Hollywood because, most likely, if fame had gotten to me the way it did to them, I’d be the same way. Given the chance to choose between fame or just being myself without material wealth, I’d have to admit that I might just take fame, but then I’d hope that my conscious, with guidance from the Creator first & foremost would keep me from making that choice. Sometimes we’ve got to wonder if the temporal is really worth it in the end when it causes so much pain & crap to happen. It’s got to be about inspiration, not we can get out of it for ourselves, that makes something really worth it.

It really stinks when we get stuck in a rut and then we keep hearing about all the crap that happens around us which doesn’t make things any better. It’s at the point where we just have to tune out the crap and try to get better at where we are, finding a way out through others helping us because we should know by now that we have a hard time getting anywhere lately. What makes this worse is the rampant politicization from both sides and even more so from the left (in my opinion); so, enough of the politics and get down to the humanity of it all.

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Stereotypes…

What really gets me ticked off these days are the many comparisons that so-called normal society makes about specific people and certain things; a big part of this is the stereotypes that are often implied when this happens. When we compare one person to the next person, we just might be saying that the one is a better person because of who they seem to be and what they say they stand for: a guy from the countryside isn’t as smart as the guy from the city because he doesn’t have the same education that the city slicker has.

- Raindrops on Purple -
– Raindrops on Purple –

This integrates itself into the various aspects of our lives in what we eat to what music we listen to, what we do for a hobby, who we vote for, and where we live; for instance, there are certain neighbourhoods where only certain people should go, according to so-called rules. Who says that the average joe with nothing more than a high school degree can’t live in a decent area of the city and vote more conservatively than the next guy? Stereotypes suck us in, thanks to certain changing rules & labels that mainstream society puts on us. The same goes for the arts: who says the average artist from the West can’t be drawn in by art from East & actively pursue that style in his art? I’ve got to make a disclaimer here: I’m really inspired more so by Asian painting than European sometimes because of the way landscapes are treated (just take a look at how ancient Chinese artists painted landscapes like the Huangshan mountain range).

- Raindrops on a Rose -
– Raindrops on a Rose –

The above photographs are a result of me tinkering with blur & distance, nowhere near the level of those ancient painters, but they are a direct result of seeing the ancient paintings of the artistic greats and wanting to do better, using blur to portray beauty & emotion while they, the ancient painters, used colour, or lack of,  & technique/style to get across the beauty & emotion of the landscapes they painted; I wanted to make the first about distance, on a small scale, while the ancient paintings were about using objects & weather (like fog) to convey scale, distance or size. The last photograph is more of me reverting to type and taking a photograph that doesn’t deviate from what I’m used to. What I’m ranting on about, and trying to get across, in my own nonsensical way, is that we sometimes need to take a peek outside our little world and see what others are doing, for inspiration, no matter who or what we are; please note that I’m not talking about matters of faith here, just matters of art & society outside of it.

Time…

Thinking aloud about what time really means, I’ve come to think of it as more than just the passage of events & moments. Photographers deal with scenes, photographing in on a set time like 1/500 of a second or even compressing 4 minutes into a single photograph. When certain events that divide or unite us, like the assaults in Edmonton or the shooting in Las Vegas, we either take time to slow down & ask why, or lash out, like the mainstream media has, at the politicians & those in charge. This post has taken some time for me to get to, not only because of a lack of time or my own laziness, but trying to find the right, or decent, words to say.

For me, personally, I do care about gun control, wondering why we’re so fascinated by weaponry, but I’ve come to realize that it’s the person who pulls the trigger; the paintbrush isn’t to blame when the painter has a painting that turns out bad, nor the camera when the photographer’s shot turns out crappy. For me, it’s about how much we’ve messed up that we want to blame others for our mistakes, something I do all too often. From the outside looking in, the mainstream media is always looking to blame and seldom looks to examine; I’m looking right at you CNN & company. I’m not going to walk further into the gun control debate, because, for me, it’s about the mentality behind the weapons, not just the weapons themselves.

Change begins with us taking a stand & doing what we’re called to do, which means not giving in to the ones who focus on the spur of the moment reaction. It’s not about popularity, it’s about doing, or at least trying to do, what should be done to lift each other up past the labels that mainstream society puts on us. It can really stink when we get caught up in the mainstream and feel like there’s no other alternative…And by mainstream, I mean both the left & right political ends of society. When we get stuck in that rut, we forget to inspire others most of the time and end up caring much more about personal standing than really caring for others.

Layers of sharpness…

What I’ve begun to start tinkering more with in my photography, at least when it comes to shots that are close-ups, is layers of sharpness using depth of field. With close-ups, I need to be wary of my aperture, especially because of the closeness of the subject to the lens itself. What this means is that f8 will most likely not have half the scene in focus, but a bit less than that; for full focus, I’d have to go down to something like f20 or f22. It’s tricky, but I’m still working on it; with so much out there to use as potential subjects, finding one, or more, is not the hardest thing to do.

- Purple & Shade -
– Purple & Shade –

The above shot is one such example because of the aperture which was at f8 and the shutter speed 1/200 with a low ISO. What I was trying to get at with this was to set the flowers against the wooden fence and I figured that by blurring the background, it would really set off at least most of the flowers against the fence and it worked. Looking back at this shot, taken midday & a little darker than normal to bring down the highlights, I did the usual refinements of clarity, localized saturation (vibrance in Lightroom), some contrast & noise, to really set out the colours of the flowers against the fence. It surprised me that it came out as good as it did, especially because I wasn’t working a polarizer; that was mostly due to laziness on my part, but it still worked out, thanks to some decent thinking.

We’ve been given so much by the Creator, so much that I can’t really see why I don’t try to get the most out of a scene and really work at presenting the beauty of the scene in front of me; even with this, I don’t always get it right. In life, we’re given things to work with them for the greater good and, even though I often fail at it, I hope that I can at least get it right more than a few times and inspire others to do the same. I don’t want to compete with others out there, nor do I want others to do that, but I want to bring something to the table that will cause us to look up once in a while or even just lend a hand & be there for others.

The beat vs. the meaning…

Thinking about it, we often tend to focus on the beat compared to what the meaning of the lyrics are; I’m so guilty of this as well. We’re so taken back by how much a beat moves us that we don’t really think about the lyrics themselves. In this day & age, we’re focused on the beat & melody that we forget to dig a little deeper and find out what the song really means; I guess it comes with the territory when we fully adopt the materialism that mainstream media pushes our way, along with the shallow, biased news stories.

When was that last time we really stopped to tell someone we care about them and when was the last time we tried to inspire them? We’re so focused on our daily rhythm that we easily forget about those around us who just might be needing a simple word of encouragement or a helping hand. I’m not talking about the street hustlers here, but those people that come into our daily lives and seem to just be looking for a little help, but don’t really ask for it at all. If our lives are always go-go-go, then we just might be in need of a little breather from it all now & then to help us get a refresh.

Thinking about it, there’s so many wondering what’s happening that we might just need to stop awhile and lend a helping hand. Most of the time, it’s not our place to really ask why, but it might just be our place to really help out a person in time of need. There’s so much out there that goes wrong every now & then, especially in politics & money, that taking a time out with a friend might just be what we, and they, need right now.

That one photograph…

Thinking about the one photograph that has always come back to either haunt me or inspire me, I’m in wonder at how much that one shot can inspire me. It’s not much, in reality, but it gets me stopping & thinking about just how much I admire the spot where it was taken and what it really means to me. Personally, it has changed over the years and has varied in its effect on me over the days & months; lately, it’s a photograph of a mossy rock with overgrown grass surrounding it.

- Rock & Grass -
– Rock & Grass –

Why does this photograph inspire me? This shot, taken at another angle of the spot in the botanical gardens that is so overlooked, makes me want to pause for a while and wonder just about where I am, who I am, and where I’m going. Other angles on this scene show only the rock, moss & grass, and yet they still have the same effect; they make me stop, think & want to do better just because it seems so peaceful, especially because the sun rarely hits it when the surrounding plants have come out of their winter slumber. The cool-hued shade, coupled with the sunlight that does break through on the scene, has a somewhat calming effect, especially when I actually stop to see it. Letting myself soak up a scene works much better with a scene like this and I’m thinking it’s because of the simple colour scheme.

Sometimes it’s a struggle to feel inspired, to feel something more than just okay, but that’s alright because it gets us moving & thinking; an elderly neighbour once said, without a little trouble, we don’t really grow. Of course, she said it in more of a metaphorical way, but it holds so true because without some struggle, we don’t really get a feel that we’re growing at all and we tend to become complacent…myself included. Sometimes, there’s a struggle to just get past that one photograph to make others and, for me, that’s as good a reason as any to keep trying; especially when I’m trying to learn off of what I’ve already done.

Stop & learn…

It’s not exactly something that I’m good at, stopping & learning, but it’s something that I know that I’ve got to work on. I see all the crap that’s happening out there in the wider world and I can’t help but wonder how I’m avoiding adding to the noise and how I’m actually doing something that’s of worth. I want to be able to portray the beauty in nature with my photography, so I need to constantly be learning how to do that better; personally, I want to be able to do this to inspire at least one person to get out there and see that there’s more to it than just himself/herself. It’s not necessarily stopping to learn, but taking some time to stop for a bit and use that time to improve & learn how to do what I feel I want to do, and what I feel that I’m meant to do, at least a bit better than I did before I took a breather & stopped to learn.

When it comes to looking through my old photographs, I’ve come to see just how I’ve grown & moved on from thinking of either muted or saturated colour and begun thinking more of just how each has its place in saying something through the image. Personally, I think we’ve got to start taking a look at the consequences of either side in an argument & choices before the time actually comes to make that choice or take on that argument. I’m not one to have any special privilege that lets me judge, so I think I’m just going to say that this is our best chance to stop & learn from our mistakes because we can then learn & move on from what we’ve done wrong and what we’re doing wrong.

I’m still learning more about my vision & style, especially my tastes when it comes to colour & combinations of colour; it goes the same way for how I treat colour when I photograph or how I deal with certain situations in my everyday life. I’m finding new appreciation for bands I still enjoy (Flyleaf, Red & Thrice to name a few) and new approaches to how I look at situations that I come across, not just how I photograph scenes. It’s about time that I look at the man in the mirror (to borrow a phrase & song from Michael Jackson) and do something that can at least try to make it right.

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.

Honestly (Part 2)…

In reality, all we seek from the artist, be it musically or photographically, is honesty & reality in how their music, or photographs, are done/presented. The issue is that we need to define whether it means emotionally or visually and if it’s making something exactly how we felt, or something exactly how it looks. I’d show another one of my many photographs to help me argue this point, but I’ve done that so many times before that I don’t really want a single photograph to speak out for the entire discourse (it’s more of an argument, but discourse sounds fancier), but I’d rather just use it without really including it in the discourse itself.

To a certain extent, it’s like the song from The Fray, Heartbeat, because we’ve got to go after the heartbeat, feel that heartbeat. I know I’m stretching the lyrics to something that they’re not originally meant to be about, but the song is about a person being able to really feel another’s heartbeat and that’s what we should be after…We should be after some kind of heartbeat in the work(s) of art. It won’t always come so easily to us, me especially, but that’s the challenge and what, in the end, makes it worthwhile…to me at least. My take on it is this: what does it make me think & feel when I look at this photograph that I took? With all the superficiality out there, on both ends of the political spectrum, I think we need a little more honesty, heart & soul in what we’re doing in our daily lives. It’s supposed to start with us and maybe, just maybe, it might not end with us; in doing so, we’re not just inspiring others around us, but it’ll eventually grow to those outside our little circle of friends.

With all we have at our fingertips, we don’t need a little electronic chip in our bodies to improve things, we just need to get out there and do something, make something, that might just inspire someone, or even help them along the way. Looking at all the news & ads about how the latest piece of tech is supposed to solve all our problems, I realize that it’s not going to do that, because it’s either one little tool or one piece of the distraction that keeps us from moving on in life, as well as our hobbies. There’s got to be some balance after all, or we’ll end up going off the deep end & spending way more than we can afford or should be spending to begin with, but that’s just my opinion…And I’m sticking to it.

- Burnt Red -
– Burnt Red –

Honestly…

Truthfully, I set out to write this post without a clear subject in mind, promising myself that it wouldn’t be another rant, or even something superficial…We all know that we’re bombarded with too much of that nowadays. Looking back at my old posts & photographs, listening to some of my pop-punk, country, indie & new wave music (the newest Paramore album is basically new wave), I’ve begun to wonder how on earth I was going to make sense of all this. Sometimes I wonder if I’ve gone completely off my rocker…And it’s not exactly like being normal works for me; I don’t think that it can even apply to me most of the time.

- Cascade Falls -
– Cascade Falls –

Honestly, I’ve begun to use sites & things like Behance more to help me showcase my photographic work; I get my stuff out there and it helps me feel at least some sense of relief that at least I’ve gotten that far. For me, I’ve got to get off my butt and really try harder to get somewhere with this thing I call photography, mostly because it’s a bit like therapy for me when I’m wondering what to do or when I’m feeling down. I don’t have to spend money on it like some maniac, but I do have to use what I’ve got to say something and hopefully inspire someone in the process. I don’t want to be superficial, I want to be the kind of person that looks at a waterfall like the one in the photograph above and says, Wow, I can’t believe I’m actually to see something like this, and set out to inspire others to get outside and see more than just the yard or the city.

I’m far from perfect and I’ve made more than my fair share of mistakes; it doesn’t necessarily help to dwell on the past, but to move on. The thing is, if we go into something moaning, groaning & complaining, aren’t we just setting ourselves up for failure to begin with? This, in my opinion, is something we all need to struggle to get past daily because, in this day & age, everything is so superficial, that it’s easy only to see the metaphorical surface of what’s happening around us. I struggle with this so many times that it’s almost comical and I’ve come to expect the struggle so that I can learn to improve along the way.