Tag Archives: photography

Being a photographer …

these days means little more to most people than having a phone or buying an expensive camera and setting it to full auto.

Taking what they get because an image is just an image, right?

I feel sick when I look at photographs that have been photoshopped into submission.

Jpeg files that leave little room for development because so much is lost.

I still shoot film quite often and develop my prints in a borrowed darkroom.

The possibilities of what an image can be are endless.

When I shoot digital, I shoot RAW.

I’m amazed how many digital “photographers” I come across who have no idea what RAW means.

Maybe it’s wrong, but I dismiss them immediately.

Getting lucky now and then doesn’t make one a photographer.

It makes them lucky and cowardly.

A true photographer realizes that yeah, once in a while, we get lucky, but knowing when and where to shoot is an art.

Up hours before sunrise.

Hiking miles in the dark.

Sunburned and thirsty, dirty, scraped, wet, exhausted and sometimes bleeding.

I will likely never be a “discovered photographer”, but being real is more important to me than faking it.

I feel the light, hear the wind, understand the rain.

As do my fellow photographers.

We see beyond the end of our lenses.

We are what we shoot.

And proudly, we work for our shots.

We are a dying breed, but at the end of the day, understand what it really means to be a photographer.

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Light, to me …

is much more than simply the absence of darkness.

I watch it.

I chase it.

I adore it.

The golden hour, and there are two, are my favorite times to be alive.

I didn’t take courses in photography, though I wanted to.

I learned through trial and error.

Light is unforgiving.

If I miss the perfect moment, it doesn’t offer a do-over.

It is Edwardian in its boundaries and doesn’t allow room for foolishness.

I love that about it.

It is constantly changing.

Sometimes, it is indescribable and others completely intolerable.

It gives what it gives; therefore putting the burden of catching it on my shoulders.

It keeps me centered.

It makes me yearn for something that, to a layman, is intangible.

As a photographer, however, I understand the language of the light and revel in it.

It is what fuels me, sustains me, makes me who I aspire to be.

I work as a nurse so I can be a photographer.

It is all I ever wanted to be and the light, inexplicably, seems to understand that.

I’m a child of the Creator and He has given me an eye for His magnificence.

I am, beyond description, blessed.

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Light, in every season, in several circumstances and with unimaginable awe makes me fall, literally, to my knees in thanksgiving.

I adore and will, as long as I have breath in my body, seek the light.

It is HIS gift to me and I praise HIM, through photography, for it.

Amen.

If I had a song to play …

I would play it now.

But I don’t.

Not because I don’t love music, the sound of it, the melody, the thought-provoking, beauteous sound that it makes.

No, none of those.

I don’t because I can’t play a note.

Not one.

I haven’t even mastered Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, which most kindergartners can play on their I-Pads.

It is pathetic, in a profoundly sad kind of way, that I depend of others to give me my music fix.

Ok, let’s be specific.

My piano fix.

I love many kinds of music, but there is something about the piano that takes me to that other place.

I love hands, and that may be part of the obsession.

Hands can tell so much about a person.

Being a photographer, I spend a good deal of time photographing hands as each one has a story to tell.

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Some are gnarled and twisted with arthritis and yet still maintain the ability to button a jacket.

Some are destined to labor and become calloused and sore as they work, year after year after year.

Some are chosen to be used to create music, others, prose.

Some are used to touch the afflicted, without fear of contamination, and to comfort the comfortless.

Some are of no use at all, hanging silently and without guilt or guile at what they, were they so inclined, could accomplish.

Some are at the ready, pressing the shutter button to capture images that will take the present well into the future in images.

Some are folded, reverently, in prayer as they pray and give thanks for all manner of things.

Hands, more than any other feature, have a story to tell but, as hands, they are too humble to say so.

Look.  See.  Experience.

And know that simply by looking at someone’s hands, you have had a small glimpse into their soul.

handsPapaw’s hands

rideforjuvenilediabetes-22A Cyclist’s Hands

fishermanhandsA Fisherman’s Hands

littlehandsA baby’s hands

violinhandsA Cellist’s hands

clarinethandsA Clarinetist’s hands

bassoonhandA musician’s hands

 

And like a mist …

spring came to Southwest Virginia.

More specifically, to Clinch Mountain and even more specifically, to Big Moccasin.

The temperatures and weather over the past couple of weeks has been like riding the world’s most vertigo-inducing roller-coaster immediately after eating corn dogs, grilled sausages with onions and funnel cakes.

Better than Ipecac syrup, that.

But this past Sunday … wow.  Just wow.

A perfect day filled with fog, clouds, blue sky, sunshine, a spring breeze, and a trip into my mountain.

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Like my orchard, the mountain isn’t really mine.

It isn’t really anyone’s.

Even though someone may hold the deed to a particular part of the earth, that part thrives and takes what it wants and has little regard for that little piece of paper that claims ownership.

The trees grow, the flowers bloom, the grass thrives, the leaves bud, the creek flows and human existence is of little relevance.

I found this to be true when I went into “my” mountain on Sunday.

If it was glad to see me, it didn’t say so, not with words, but I think, at least I like to think, that it missed me a little bit, anyway.

I went to the Orchard first.  It was just beginning to bud.  I kissed the tender buds, the gnarled branches and the crooked trunks.

Was I worshiping the trees or the orchard or the sun or the sky?

Of course not.

I was worshiping the Creator of those lovely things.

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I laid on the newly-greening grass beneath the apple trees and thought deep thoughts about everything and nothing.  I thought forbidden thoughts, dreamed lovely dreams, and reveled in the sense of contented aloneness that I feel while immersed in nature.

I can be myself beneath the trees that I love, without pretending or hoping or wishing.  They have an understanding of who I am and what I aspire to be.  That is the nature of trees.  They are unassuming and accept me, along with my dreams and fantasies, without condemnation.

Just me.

Just as I am, without filters or regrets.

Thank you, Jesus, for the Orchard.

I find peace in no place like I find it behind the lens of a camera watching the world that God created play before my very eyes.  I feel, sometimes, like an intruder into the perfect world of nature but I cannot look away from the magnificence.

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Of course, as on any successful excursion, hike or trail shoot, I became unbelievably filthy and muddy by crawling beneath branches and vines on the edge of the creek in order to preserve, through images, the delicacy of fragile blooms that help to define spring.

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I didn’t, on this journey, find any fiddle-heads, but it is a bit early yet.  I am already looking forward to my next trek into the spring mountain, for with every trip, every journey, there will be more to see, to experience.  More to overload my already overloaded senses and send me to a place that one can only get to by being in the mountains in springtime.

I am, without doubt, blessed beyond measure and I am thankful.

Isaiah 55:12 ~ For ye shall go out with joy, and be led forth with peace: the mountains and the hills shall break forth before you into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.

 

Life is precious …

although sometimes, until it is compromised, we can forget that simple fact and take for granted that we will just wake up every morning.

We forget that no-one is promised another day, another hour, another minute.

I did.

Took it for granted, that is.

I set my alarm each night in a way that is likely odd to most.  I set it for 1:00 am, then hit the three hour snooze which takes me to 4:00 am, then hit the preset alarm for 5:15.  And when it goes off that last time, I spring up and begin my routine which is exactly the same every morning.

No deviation.

Ever.

This past Friday, I followed the same pattern.  I woke up, started the coffee, brushed my teeth, drank half my coffee and took the rest into a scalding hot shower for 20 minutes, started my car (it’s pitch dark here at that hour, so clothes are optional), fed the cat, dressed and went to work.

I arrived without incident, but while walking into the building, I passed out.

A friend I walk into work with most mornings was with me and kept me from busting my head on the concrete, for which I am grateful, and got me to the ER.

I was found to be profoundly anemic and the plans to administer a transfusion were quickly underway.

But in the meantime, life interfered.

My heart stopped.

I don’t recollect that as it was for less than two minutes before the adept ER staff had me back up and running, but it doesn’t change the fact that, for a period of 96 seconds, my heart did not beat.

I left that part out when I told my family about my transfusion because, well, I suppose I don’t have a good reason except that they would have made a big deal about it and worried unnecessarily about the whole thing.

I didn’t see any lights or hear voices nor did I venture into the afterlife.

I have no stories to tell or visions to embellish.

What I do know is that each moment, even the boring and insubstantial ones, carry some importance.

I could have simply slipped away.  That would have been ok as I know who I am, to whom I belong and where I well be when my time is up.

I’m thankful, however, that I have more time to love those who touch my heart, to offer encouragement and to continue to walk the path I have been given.

I am, yet again, blessed … and I am thankful.

Each moment unfolds when it is meant ...

Each moment unfolds when it is meant …

There is nothing like a meltdown …

to put things in perspective.

And I had one.

A good, old-fashioned meltdown complete with crying, sobbing, pacing, stomping, ranting, raving and, to make it an official meltdown not just just a casual break in stride, ended with the impressive sound of breaking glass.

What is it about breaking things that culminates  the entire process to tie it all nicely into a neat little package that leads, oddly enough, to the return of sanity.

I didn’t actually intend, when the meltdown started, to break anything, but throwing that heavy candle-holder dead on into my bathroom mirror and watching the shatter … well, that pretty much made my day.

That sounds nutty, right?

Of course it does.

At this point, you are doing one of two things:  nodding your head in agreement or shaking it in disbelief.

Those are the two choices.

There are no gray areas when it comes to the breaking point.  You either do, you don’t; you are glad you did or you wish you hadn ‘t.

I’m glad I did.

My mind is as clear as a bell.

The photographic celibacy I’ve been in for the past few weeks has passed, the writer’s block has been shattered just like that bathroom mirror.

I don’t use the mirror anyway.

My hair is too short to do anything but mousse it to stand up and I haven ‘t worn make-up in years.

I did have to buy a new toothbrush, however, as I wasn’t certain I got all of the glass shards out of it and dentists and coroners alike frown on putting glass in your mouth.

People who don’t know me personally are thinking right now that they are better off, people who do know me are singing the hallelujah chorus.

There is nothing wrong with going, once in a while, off the deep end … as long as nobody gets hurt.

This is a big reason why I don’t date.  Can you imagine it?  I’d  have a restraining order against me after the first week … unless, of course, I could find a nice Irishman who liked a donnybrook now and then as much as I did.

But that is neither here nor there.

Be who you are, even when you are throwing things.  That’s my motto.

Even Jesus threw things … remember the tantrum in the temple?    He is as much a part of me when I’m throwing things as when I’m in His woods or writing His words.

I’m His either way and there is magnificent peace in simply knowing that single fact.  I, like the sun, the stars, the moon, the earth, the grass the trees … have a purpose.

And He helps me find it, sometimes by throwing things.

How very cool is that?

Like a moth to a flame, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

Like a moth to a flames, so the fireflies are drawn to the moon of summer.

What is it about music …

that has the ability to soothe the soul while it simultaneously sends it reeling in turmoil and heartache, joy and sadness; reminiscing and rebelling even as it brings us back, unto ourselves, full circle?

That is is the beauty of it, is it not, to touch the untouchable space in the soul and spark the imagination? To make us think beyond what we know so that we try to touch on that which we weren’t even aware we wanted to know?

Part of the mystery?  The enigma?  The fascination?

I listen to music for hours every day, various genres ranging from hard, head-banging rock, to soothing  yet heartbreaking cello, to piano concertos. There are soaring arias, operatic manifestations that vary widely from my beloved Bryn to local, struggling, yet resilient talent, all of which move me on one one level or another.

Move me to seek, to find, to think, to imagine, to embrace and learn what I’ve always wanted to know.  It, music, is a kind of courage that makes one feel worthy to not only want to know, but to feel that they have right to discover.

It is empowering, this music of which I speak and it belongs to all of us.

Listening to music and interpreting it is no different really, than developing the photographs I take and finding in each one something magnificent or a flaw that makes it unintelligible and useless on every level.

Music is the same.

There are pieces that I listen to daily because I cannot help myself.  I love them, the sound of them, the places they take my mind whether I want to go or not and that is part of its power.

The power to take one on a journey, maybe pleasurable, possibly painful, but a journey that will leave the listener feeling more than they felt before and less because now, they realize that they were, prior to this moment, incomplete.

It is a humbling experience, understanding music and feeling a connection.

Anyone can hear music, but only some can comprehend it understand it and seek it because the choice, once they have experienced it, is no longer their own.

They are a slave to the sound, the vibrations, the magic that music has to offer.

There are composers who enamor me more than others, some very well known, some known not at all.

It makes little difference, at the end of the day.

There are composers I love to hear and conductors I love to watch. Some, at their very core, are nothing less than brilliant.

There are songs that are sappy and sentimental that pull at me just as there are instrumentals that draw from the depths of my inner being and make me feel things that I had either forgotten or purposely hidden away.

I’m still not sure how I feel about those except they evoke emotions that I’m not fully prepared to embrace.

It is during these indecisive moments that I throw things at mirrors, shattering them and feeling perfectly fine about it.

Whether it soothes my spirit, fries my brain or breaks my heart, I need music; it is the language, fourth to words, shadow and light, of my blood.

I can’t play a note of it, but I have an innate understanding of it.

It moves me like the river flowing over the rocks that I so dearly love.

Without music, everything else in my life would go on as it always has, but all of the emotions would be diluted. That, to me, is a sobering thought.

ClevelandOH-34Severance Hall … Cleveland Orchestra … Mahler’s First.

tay_musicMy favorite trumpeter …

Lightning over Big MoccasinProof that nature is full of music and miraculous things…

powelvalley_windsofmtnempire-301The joy of simply knowing what music is about …

clarinethandsA clarinetists’ hands … music and beauty and awesomeness lives therein …