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.

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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.

In odd places & spaces…

Over the last few weeks, working on a personal photography project, I’ve often wondered just how much we miss by not stopping for a while to explore small things in tiny spaces when we’re out in nature. I mean, thinking about it as I was out this weekend, photographing the local botanical gardens, I began to look around at spots I wouldn’t naturally stop to take the odd photograph, let alone somewhere between 10-20 shots of a small scene no bigger than the size of a car tire. For me, I guess, stopping to examine a tiny scene makes me think that much harder when trying to photograph it, especially without a macro lens, but life doesn’t always give us a chance for a redo, or the granting of wishes to have more gear right away, so I worked with what I had.

- Greens -
– Greens –

Does the above photograph achieve that? It did at the point of capture and, after some minor refinements (Clarity & Noise among them), it comes out as a scene that at least inspires me to look a bit closer at scenes I normally would usually, and normally pass up. In a way, it inspires me to stop, look & listen (metaphorically of course) to see what how my vision is doing when it comes to photography. Will it inspire others to get out there? Maybe…I sure hope so. Will it inspire like a good song? Probably not even close, but that’s okay because I’m not trying to beat someone else to it…I’m just trying my best to inspire. The way I figure it, the Creator’s given us a beautiful planet to live on and we’ve mucked it up, but there’s still a few good spots to get out & explore.

- White Trumpet Call -
– White Trumpet Call –

Perhaps that’s why I tend to gravitate towards peaceful scenes: there’s less noise & chaos surrounding me when I’m there. Maybe because it’s such a crazy world that a little peace & quiet goes a long way, maybe it’s because there’s so much shallowness out there in the media, but, either way, a little peace & quiet goes a long way in today’s world of shallow never-ending glitz & glamor. There’s so much out there that really has not much of any meaning to it, so why add to it? I’ll end this post with a song suggestion, a song that is quite inspiring, at least to me, and one to sing to: Grace Alone written by Thrice’s Dustin Kensrue (Kings Kaleidoscope performs this one just right on their album, Becoming Who We Are).

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.

Anyone else but me…

One of the best songs, that I’ve heard in a long time, about modern society, is Hokus Pick’s Anybody Else But Me and it’s pure genius. It’s a satirical look at people wanting to be anyone else but themselves and it’s awesome, not just because they’re Canadian; sorry America, we got this one because you’ve got your teams on the Stanley Cup way too many times. We’re so focused on being famous or at least someone of noteworthiness, that we lose our uniqueness in the process. In photography, as in life, that means copying someone else’s vision, techniques, methods & beliefs blindly.

While I’ve read a lot & learnt how some really gifted professionals work through their craft, their photographs, and the way they make them, are uniquely theirs…Or at least they really should be. Forever a tinkerer, I’m going to be tinkering with the methods & ways I tweak my photographs and I’ll learn along the way, not just through my mistakes, but I’ll learn from the professionals as well; they’ve written many a book about their craft, so it’s a no-brainer using the knowledge they have to impart to help myself to grow as well. When it comes to life, we’re not out to imitate, but to grow as the Creator’s meant us to grow; we’re meant to look upwards, not downwards or horizontally…We’re not called to copy one another, but to imitate the perfect example the Creator was for us. Sometimes we’re given a feeling/impulse of what we’re supposed to do, sometimes it’s in our daily readings, and sometimes it’s in how we’re working that we’re given guidance.

Photography, compared to every other art, is so much younger than the others, but why is it that imitation is seen as flattery & striving for meaning not as important? I mean, come on, we’re not all drones or Borg here. There’s just so much out there to photograph, so that doesn’t mean we’ve got to copy others’ photographs or even their methods, but just learn from them…The same goes for life itself. It’s all in how we try not to be anybody else but ourselves…In the way we’re supposed to be.

Hollywood…

Modern society & culture nowadays is oversaturated by mostly superficial things that it’s not really any better than high fructose corn syrup. I say this because, looking at what’s out there, it’s mostly completely superficial & focused on the idea of the individual & self-improvement, or self-actualization. Initially, that’s not entirely wrong, but when it becomes the center of all that we are, then it’s a big problem because we put ourselves at the center instead of a higher purpose; the one that was given to us by the Creator that’s about not glorifying ourselves, or creation, but the fact that He’s put us here to glorify something greater, Himself, because we’re not the ones that are perfect here due to the reality that we messed it up on account of our own free will. I’m far from perfect, so I’m going to stop myself before I go too much deeper and getting myself all mucked up…And in trouble.

What’s this all got to do with Hollywood or society in general? Look at the predominant message that it produces and what it centers on…the self. When have we ever stopped to smell the roses or anything other than ourselves? It’s been awhile, to be honest, at least for myself. Sometimes, all it takes is one good day to get out there and do something better than just sit in front of the TV, or just rant online about the depressing state of the media. I’ve been listening to the John Rich song, Shuttin’ Detroit Down, and it got to me, not just because of how hard the 2008 crisis hit the average American, but how modern society has created this illusion of a sugar-coated life when reality’s something different…They’re selling make believe and we don’t buy that here. Those lyrics ring so true in that we’ve got to really look at reality, see that we’ve got to see what’s going on around us, and not buy the sugar-coated version.

When we’ve got bombings after concerts, gang violence in our cities, and people just struggling to figure out what on earth’s happening, it makes you wonder (it makes me wonder) at just how far this whole thing has gotten where we buy the sugar-coated reality that we’re being told is good for us. I mean, wake up (myself included), it’s not about us; it takes people like those that helped guide people caught up in the concert bombing in Manchester to safety at a nearby hotel & notify family members to make a difference. I’m still working on this, making a difference thing that is, and it’s going to take a while, but I’m going to go out on the limb and start ignoring the sugar-coating, see the humor in life, and try to reach out & inspire.

Reality…

Usually, when we see a photograph, we think that the camera doesn’t lie or if it seems too good to be true, then it’s edited & becomes a so-called fake. Personally, especially after reading many a resource on this, I think that we have to get past the belief that the camera can’t lie, because it easily can lie with the use of colored filters, black & white, and/or specialty filters (polarizers, neutral gradient filters, etc.). We want so badly to see the truth in a scene that photography no longer becomes a kind of art and al the creativity gets drained out of it in the process.

- Yellow Trumpets -
– Yellow Trumpets –

We want reality in photography, but in life we strive mostly for wants over needs (myself definitely included) so it’s almost like being double-sided. Why? I think it’s because we focus more on wishes in life and hard reality in photography without actually, or actively, realizing it ourselves. The crazy thing is that we get so caught up in gear, belongings & non-essentials that we think that they’re a reality when in fact it’s all about what we believe & what we do that really matters & has meaning; when we tend to focus on stuff along, we kind of lose touch with reality. We lose touch with reality because we focus in on more of what we need instead of what others around us need in terms of a shoulder to cry on, someone to talk to without feeling judged or envious, or just a listening ear…All because we’re too focused on stuff instead of people.

Personally, I think we, as a society, need to back to the point that we can look after more than just ourselves, regardless of racial background & social standing. For some bands & groups, it’s about shaking off faith, but that’s where I think we go wrong, because we tend to have nothing to hold on to and then we get lost in the process. We all have a longing to hold onto something and we need to go after the reality in that, not in what we think is the so-called bad in it. It’s like the lyrics from the High Valley song, Don’t Stop, say: When holding on to heaven/Is all you got/Whatever you do, don’t stop. We all need something, or someone to, hold on to because, I believe, we’re not meant to be antisocial, but social people; in my opinion, this needs to become a part of our reality.

Thoughts…

Thinking about what’s all going on out there in the world makes me feel small & insignificant, but, in the greater scheme of things, it’s NOT about me at all; life is way too short to be giving myself preference over anyone else. Maybe that’s why I’m drawn to photography (it helps me focus on something else beside myself) and maybe not. The thing is, when I think about other stuff than just myself, I seem to get better, feel better about things. I’m not one to wax poetic about life & all its trappings and there’s something there that the Creator’s endowed us with that we keep missing because we’ve all fallen short; please note that I’m not talking about stuff that the liberal-types, and those on the far-right, would be talking about because it’s not all about us.

It’s a weird thing when something comes up that makes us think of someone else, other than ourselves; I’ve just finished reading All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, for the second time, and it’s one amazing book. Being about two people from vastly different cultures during the 1940s (a blind French teen & a German teenage soldier) and their struggles as well as the mutual interest in radios. It’s a novel that makes me realize that there is indeed something greater than just my personal hobbies, interests & life…Life really means more than just that. Sometimes we get caught up in the way society wants us to think that we literally forget that the best things in life are really, and truly, free; we just have to realize that and then things might just be better, and not necessarily in the physical sense of the word.

It’s amazing that of all the things that can distract us, the easiest thing/person is ourselves because we literally can’t stop getting in our own way with doubts, bad criticism received badly, or our own pride. I’m just as guilty as the next person and, believe me, it’s not an easy thing to stop doing, but it’s something I’ve got to keep at it. It’s something that we all kinda have to keep working at because if we cease to, then we end up only really working for ourselves.

Christmas (Pt. 2)…

Now it’s Christmas Day and I figured that I’d put out another post, just wishing you all a Merry Christmas. We all know the reason for the season (pardon the rhyming) and it’s a manger, not some cheerful old chubby dude in a red & white suit. We all get caught up in the materialism of the season, thanks to all the sales, TV ads, and the need for the latest gear, myself included, but family & belief are more important than just buying thing after thing. It’s one of the hardest things to do because we’ve got such easy access to credit & loans for the latest gadgets; there’s nothing wrong with an upgrade, especially if you need it.

Winter’s got the snow for those in the north and warm tropical weather for those in the south (hopefully). What it’s also got is challenging issues when it comes to exposure settings for photography; what helps is exposing the snow (and white sand) at +1 to +2 stops and checking the greens (if any) at about -.3 to 0. It’s not a full-proof solution, but it helps and works for most scenes because the camera’s light meter wants to read it as medium (gray). Sometimes, bracketing exposures helps with the scene, especially if we decide to turn to an HDR (High Dynamic Range) solution afterwards.

- Winter Grass -
Winter Grass

Now the above photograph, taken recently, potentially had two issues with the scene: bright white snow & overcast skies. HDR wasn’t quite necessary because the snow served as a reflector for the underside of the large leaves/grass and the overcast skies had spots of clear blue skies spread the light around. The snow was exposed at +2 stops and the lighting was helped out by the reflectiveness of the snow itself; it was a matter of working with what there was in front of me and this time I actually got it to work. Part of me thinks that it was an early Christmas present, because this just doesn’t happen this way in my photography all that often, but I’m not going to dwell on that too much because it’s way too trivial when it comes to other issues that are facing the world at large.

So, go and have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!