Just another day…

Sometimes, we get caught in a rut, thinking that it’s just another day gone, especially when it comes to working routine; I’ve been there and I’m practically there every so often so much it hurts. After all, we were created to stand out, not just mix in and let the current mess with us, weren’t we? It feels like it more & more, where it’s just another day and then something happens that shakes us out of the funk we’re in; this week it was the end of the regular season in hockey and, for the first time in years, my team made the playoffs…And then came the usual depressing news of crashes across the country, attacks in Europe & the Middle East. So, yeah, while it seems like just another day in a time when the media wants to peddle bad news, there was at least one positive that came out of it.

Then there’s this song from the band Ten Shekel Shirt, a song called Ocean, that seemed to pull me out of the saddened mood this time and there’s one line in in the chorus that brings me out of it: Something about the heavens makes me stand in awe again. Not to say that the rest of the song doesn’t do it as well, but this line stands out, reminding me that life is bigger than just me; the Creator made this world for a reason and there’s more than just our little circles that we should be so intensely focused on. If a single song can inspire us, why shouldn’t we be trying to do the same for others? We might fall short & fail, something I’m all too familiar with, but there’s something to be said for getting up and trying again. We need to take the media with a grain of salt and try to get past the crap that we’re being told; maybe, in the process, we just might help someone else, lifting their spirits & giving them a little hope along the way.

- Perch -
– Perch –

I was feeling pretty upset & down when it came to the tragic accident in the Prairies & a rained out weekend and decided to shake off the funk after watching the memorial service on the TV by going out for a bit when I was asked if I wanted to check out the bird sanctuary a decent half-hour drive south. I figured that it couldn’t hurt, so I went and ended up capturing this little bird (in the upper left if it’s not immediately visible) flying around; it stayed still long enough for me to get it in a few frames and this one ended up being one of my favourites. While the time at the bird sanctuary helped, it also reminded me of the importance of having a breather once in a while. Did it completely get me out of the funk? Almost, but it did set me on the road to getting out of it…It inspired me, especially in the refining stage of working on the photographs, to do better with what I’ve got and work to inspire. So, sometimes all it takes is a good breather to get past the funk…Sometimes it can take more, but that’s what friends & family are for.

Advertisements

When the media lies to us…

This one was a hard one for me to write, hard because I couldn’t seem to get it done without getting really angry, especially because we’ve seen some really bad reporting here, north of the border, in Canada, especially when it comes to politics, most of it being outright lies; everyone’s in it for the five seconds of fame or the race to be the first with news, even if it’s completely wrong. When the politicians lie through their teeth and the media, who says they’re just stating the facts, are so off-base that it’s just plain crap, what are we to do? We’re all just as messed up as they are, but we’ve got a choice to fall for it and buy in to the lies, or really try to make a go of it by seeking to inspire others, spreading the truth and walking alongside others when they need it.
In my opinion, I think that photography & the arts hold a decent chance of breaking the media’s lock on reporting, whether the media’s mainstream or not. Why? Because we can show life in ways that can really speak to others through use of meaning & emotion; we can do more to inspire others than just let things come and slap us across the face. I mean, think about it for a second, if we just stop and turn off the crap that the news spews at us, we have a chance to get away from it and really get out there to create something in this fallen world that might change people’s minds about how crappy things are and they might just give up taking the crap at face value to realize that there’s something, someone, greater out there. When we fail to at least try, it’s almost as if we’re giving up and quitting on trying to make things at least a little more bearable for others; I mean, in simpler terms, if we give up, we’re letting the things that we don’t want to win do just what they want to.

- By the Waterfall -
– By the Waterfall –

There’s something to be said for doing something that’s meant to inspire instead of just going with the downward flow of society nowadays. The above shot was one that I didn’t think I could ever get, but getting it inspired me to try more often to do better with photography; sure, the bird’s a bit small, but it shows up in such a way that it makes the viewer look closer at the scene and it serves as more of a landscape type of scene (as opposed to a portrait or close-up). What I’m getting at, with this rant, is that we need to watch the negative crap society is throwing our way and, while not quietly standing by, seek to make this world a better place, shrugging off the labels, and the crap news, that the mainstream is trying to throw our way. So, let’s sit atop the waterfall and not let it drag us down.

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.

At the intersection of faith & art…

…There lies something of real worth. Let me put it this way: if we make art devoid of anything that really means something to us or contradicts what we believe in, it has a greater tendency to fail when it comes to inspiration. Art, at its core, should say something, even if it’s just to point out the beauty in a scene; personally, I believe that we’re called to make a difference, even if we have the habit of failing miserably (I do this more than I care to admit). How many times do we see things that are just meaningless? It’s like the repetitive shallow news we see in the mainstream media outlets like CNN or FOX with their heavy bias; getting the same line repeatedly given to us, coming across as senseless, can really dull the senses.
There’s more out there than just shallow noise and, I think, that we’ve got to start shoving the noise aside to really get art out there that doesn’t go by mainstream labels and cuts to the heart of really matters to us. This is one of the reasons why I have a hard time watching the SAGs, Oscars, & others; they just repeat the same old noise every time and focus on the shallow crap coming out of Hollywood (or as one artist has put the sign, Hollyweed). Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not bashing the artists themselves, but I think it’s time we get away from acting & onto really doing something that really means something, devoid of labels from the mainstream media (Facebook included) and not going extremist either; some do this, but some just don’t. I don’t know about anyone else, but I think it’s time that we make art that gets to the heart of what we believe and inspires others.

- Toothpick for a Bird -
– Toothpick for a Bird –

We’re at the point that we’ve got to get past the labels and, in photography, getting all nerdy on tech; we’ve got to find something to pick our teeth, metaphorically of course, so we can get that frustrating crumb out of our teeth and speak clearly. There is more than one way to stand up & speak out and it’s not just verbal like the celebrities in Hollywood with their speeches (some of which we need to hear, but most of them being just noise); it can come just as clearly through our art when it aligns with our beliefs. I’m not anywhere near perfect at this, or even close to being consistent in this, but I’ve begun thinking that there’s more than going with the mainstream crowd; let’s not be actors who cheer when a cohort joins in and then take the cheer back when it comes back at a disadvantage…Let’s be measured in our approach and seek to inspire others first.

Thoughts…

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.

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 –

Time…

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are fading, snow’s going to arrive sometime soon, and Christmas is like 8 weeks away. The commercialized holidays are coming and some stores have already started putting out Christmas stuff on display; we get so caught up in all of it that we forget to take a look around, causing us to forget what’s really happening. Just think, for every dollar spent, there’s someone being pushed really hard, getting told by their boss that they don’t think enough about the company and the bottom line…I truly believe that it’s that bad and we just gloss over Remembrance Day like it’s nothing.

- Those Beams -
– Those Beams –

It’s really ridiculous that this happens and I’m just as guilty of it as the next person…We pass by scenes like the one in the above photograph and don’t stop & think about what this means for us. I came to the park wanting to photograph something else and I wasn’t paying too much attention to this scene at all; if it wasn’t for others photographing the scene of the sun shining through the fog, then I’d never give it a second thought. We miss things all to easily because of mainstream society’s commercialization and the stupid politicization of every little thing around us. I totally forget to really stop & think so that I can inspire those around me and/or those that really need help.

I didn’t do much more than the normal clarity, tone, noise & mild colour adjustments to this photograph to really bring out what I saw & felt when I first saw it. And while it may not be the best of the batch I took that morning, it’s a good example of what we just might see if we stop falling for the commercialization of the upcoming holidays and start focusing in on the family & friends around us. It’s getting to the point that we’re getting on in life just to fall for whatever the media says to us and I’m going to try to shut them out and focus on the important things, for me at least, of faith & family. Remember what the veterans went through, their sacrifices, and focus in on the real meaning of Christmas, not just on what the latest tech & gear is or what the media says it is.

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.

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.

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.