Random Saturday Thoughts

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It’s very very cold out. Okay, in terms relative to Canadian winters, it only merits a very cold. Cold enough, however, to hear the deck boards contracting like man parts hitting the water during the firs “swim” of the season on the May Long. To my international brethren , please forgive the vague Canadian references.

Weather

We got 40cm (1.5 feet) two days before and then the high pressure bringing with it the cold temperatures. I don’t know why I feel the need to share this. I just do and it IS Random Saturday.

Mostly I’m trying to kick start my creative ass in as many ways as I can.

I’m blocked. No I don’t mean hand me the prunes kind of blocked. I mean in the creative sense. So maybe, yea, I need mental prunes. Like Ex-Lax for my brain.

Some thoughts are just too messed up to share, will get me banned from the interweb, land me in jail or have me stalked by CSIS (Canadian spooks) Canadian Security and Intelligence Service. When any government agency has intelligent or intelligence in the name, you are in for a treat. It screams OXYMORON!!!! Or just plain moron.

I’m done. Peace. Stay happy and stay warm.

I just tried new WP thingamajiggy….is ok

Sorry for telling you what to do

The Urban Animal

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It wasn’t so long ago that we were all hunter gatherers, living hand to mouth. Nowhere is this more evident than when we are confronted by wild animals. Although I live in an urban centre, it is an urban center in the north of a wild province in Canada and yes, despite the oft times comical escapades of these animals, they are wild. Back to the confrontation, well, not so much confrontation as brief encounter with these beasts of the north.

Last night while soaking in my hot tub under a starry sky, the pump cut out and I could hear sounds that were not of an urban nature. Immediately, my primal instincts kick in, dilated pupils, sense of hearing heightened and a major increase in heart rate. Blood flowing to all those parts of the body (mind out of the gutter, people) that will trigger the fight or flight response. Bear? Flight, I’d say. I may be primal but I ain’t stupid. Thus, the continuation of our species. Although I sometimes wonder how we really made it this far considering some of the idiotic decisions we have made in the past and present.

I marvel that, even after generations of grocery store foraging, we still maintain that primal human deep inside. No matter how much gentrification or whatever you wish to call it docificaftion (new word alert), we will still be genetically wired to revert back to our primal self in situations that require it. Even the sight of prey, yes, prey. Not only do we have bear in the neighborhood, we have deer and moose. That triggers the other hunter gatherer response. The predator prey drive or prey drive. I saw three deer driving home that same night and although I am now a non hunter, I immediately thought of how to take them down, I saw the archery kill domme and again, pupils dilated, heart rate up and all other senses heightened. While driving, this keeps me aware of any other wild animals in the neighbourhood. Useful to protect them and myself from a fatal collision. Usually fatal for them.

Embrace your primal self. Enjoy, from time to time, that hyper vigilant human inside. Be one with your feral human but don’t forget to pick up dinner on the way home from the office. And hey, you ever want your inner beast captured? I’ll do that with a camera in a heartbeat.

You know how to reach me!

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To Flash Or Not To Flash…

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I was recently asked about editing images that were shot in the bright sun and there are many shadows. It’s a live and learn situation for the young photography student. I mentioned that, to me, lenses and a good flash are more important than a new body. I almost dropped my phone when I read that this students teacher does not believe in using a flash. I’m still stunned.

I desperately want to discuss this with said “teacher”. Firstly because his/her students are being set up to fail or believe that they have god like abilities to control the sun and clouds. I have believed that I could control the sun, especially after consuming extremely large quantities of Jack Daniels or ingesting inordinate amounts (assuming there is such a thing) of LSD.

Perhaps this “teacher” has at their beck and call an army of minions whose sole reason for being is to hold reflectors OR has access to some alien technology thus far unavailable to the unwashed masses like myself.

After calming down, I tried to think of why this “teacher” would not believe in a flash. I’m stuck. I can’t think of why? Maybe forcing the students to rethink location? Use reflectors? Alternate light sources? Location shooting is NOT an easy gig and we are often at the mercy of available light, I would assume that any teacher worth their salt would teach their student about fill flash. I have included two different images in this post; one with a fill flash and one without. This was not a particularly bright day but there was enough light to cause shadows on the young man’s face. Now, they are very different in skin tone so I did need to adjust the woman’s exposure but that was ok because the light was even. Not only did it make for better lighting but there are “catch lights” in the eyes.

Fill Flash

With fill flash

untitled-9

No Fill Flash

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You tell me which is better.

No wonder it’s hard to make a living as a photographer. There are “teachers” out there that are teaching young photographers how to produce an inferior quality product which gives rise to the believe among our potential clients that all they need is an iPhone and a good app in order to be a top notch photographer.

Some days I wonder why I got back into this gig.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years #45

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Temper your expectations.

I didn’t say not to have any expectations. For instance, when I enter into a contract with an employer, I expect, at the end of that time that I shall receive the agreed upon remuneration. THAT is a reasonable expectation which is, more often than not, met.

On the other hand if I expect a politician to keep his or her promise, well, I set myself up to be constantly disappointed and disappointed and…ad nauseum.

I’ve learned this the hard way (most of of my life lessons are). I spent countless wasted hours trying to bend events to my will. With little or no success. Mostly with no success. I wasted my spiritual strength believing that if only people would behave the way I thought they should, life would be grand. Truth is; I only needed to behave the way I thought others should. It wasn’t until I reached that point that I found a modicum of peace.

I am open to the guidance of synchronicity, and do not let expectations hinder my path.

Dalai Lama

I am, therefore, at ease with almost every event that occurs in my life. Almost. I am still human and can be susceptible to the same foibles and follies as the rest of humankind. But, when I look back at some momentous events (like the one I am currently experiencing) I can see with utmost clarity that cosmic synchronicity is playing a grand roll. Because, I do not narrow my choices down with expectation, I am open to all possibilities. A veritable cornucopia  of opportunity.

 

Fifty Things I’ve Learned #44 – Morbid Reflection.

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Morbid reflection serves no useful purpose whatsoever.

None.

I could look back at the wasted years and cry foul to whomever would be prepared to agree and/or take up my cause! Woe is me! The downtrodden loser, the poor soul that was beaten by a step father, abused by others, never had enough to eat, bullied for being poor, helped his drunk mother get into the car that killed her, the once hopeless drunk/addict that lost everything…etc etc etc.

That was me. No, really. That was me and it could still be me if I choose to stay in that morbid cesspool of self pity.

That isn’t to say that our experiences can’t help others as well as help us to avoid doing the same thing over and over again.

The definition of insanity is; doing the same thing over and over again, expecting a different result

Einstein

Smart guy that Einstein fellow. He had his shit together.  think I’d like to have had coffee with the man.

Once I realized that there is no useful purpose staying in that state of useless self pity, I began to grow. My eyes opened to an entirely different world. I learned what humility was. I began to think less of myself and more of others. Not only that but I began to rejoice in others successes!

Morbid reflection kept me away from that. Kept me away from seeing the beauty in others. It kept me in a prison whose barred windows afford me only a dark view of a terrible terrible world. I was trapped in a self imposed exile that I never really needed.

Today. I am free.

Fifty Things I’ve Leaned In My First 50 Years #46

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Resentment kills.

There is a saying attributed to the Buddha and it goes something like this;164155586 [Converted]

harboring a resentment is like drinking poison and hoping the other person dies .

Did the Buddha really say this? I dunno but it sure is true. I know this intimately as I sipped from the poison chalice of resentment, enjoying each drop, planning and scheming, hating. Nurturing that resentment as it were my own child. All the while, my heart shriveled just a little more and my spirit became closed to the goodness of the universe, the people I resented, went about their lives blissfully unaware that I was being consumed by the poison of resentment.Viking-chalice-from-Vale--001

I remember the first resentment I let go of. It was against a brutal man that did brutal things to my mother, sisters and myself. I held him directly responsible for her death. That is a heavy resentment to bear, especially for a 12 year old. It took twenty four years or so for me to let it go, but when I did, I felt at peace. Immediately.  The poison seeps from my soul and I was relieved that I did not have to carry that heavy heavy burden any longer.

And so it is today. I may become upset, disappointed or even angry but I don’t harbour resentment. I have much better things to do with the energy I would be expending. Truth is, I have created some of my best works only AFTER learning how to become resentment free.

 

Don’t partake of the poison chalice. So give up whatever perceived injustice or slight may have occurred and let it all go. I’m not saying to become best friends or even acquaintances I’m just saying that their paltry existence is nothing when you or I don’t give them the power to hurt us. Having said that, if the MoFo steps off the curb in front of me…

 

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years #47

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I have learned that I am a procrastinator. A damn good one too, if only I wouldn’t put off trying to be better at it. I put everything off, if I can. Ask Sarah at The Amusing Muse, she is still waiting for her birthday gift. I have it here, in fact I can see it but I just never quite get around to sending it. I could analyze why I am a procrastinator, but that would mean I would have to do something about it and quite frankly I don’t know that I would have the time to get at that right away.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not lazy per se, I just seem to put things off…and off…and off. One would think that after years of putting things off and scrambling at the last minute to complete a given project, I would have learned that getting things done in a timely manner is far less stressful.

No. I have not learned that lesson. Probably because I put it off in favour of doing something else, something else that I should have done before. Imagine, the first time I procrastinated, it set into motion a self perpetuating set of circumstance that forces me to keep procrastinating. Like I am stuck in some sort of “I’ll get around to it, loop”. Constantly putting off something in order to catch up on something else.

There is only one thing I don’t put off. My muse. When I say I will get something done, I tend to get it done. Mostly, sort of, all the time. Except for maybe that shelf in the closet. I am, therefore, quite careful about what I say I am going to do. Hell, sometimes I even act preemptively by doing shit I didn’t realize I could have put off.

Here’s how much of a procrastinator I am:

I started this post 2 weeks ago.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years #48

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No amount of Photoshop magic can help a shitty photograph.

Seriously, if I take a poorly lit image, it is till going to suck. Yes, advances have been that allow marginal photographers that think an f-stop is a place to pull over and participate in some sort of kinky f**kery , that depth of field is how deep the well in the back 40 might be, white balance is some Caucasian with a chip on both shoulders and proper exposure is the amount of acceptable nudity one can get away with before the authorities are called, to have the false belief that they are somehow iPhone pros and can shoot cousin so and so’s wedding with the magic iPhone 5 or whatever number they are currently on.

There is, (cliche alert) still no way to “make a silk purse from a sow’s ear.” Trust me, I have tried. I have taken some images that I really needed to have but I totally screwed up, and I am here to tell you, there is no amount of image software wizardry that could help. I have to swallow my pride and go to the client, to let them know I messed up. Try telling this to an irate newlywed that paid to have that special day captured for posterity. Telling them to think of it as a warm up for the next one, not such a good idea. No amount of humour can cover up that no amount Photoshop can fix my total f*** up. This was at a time when I still shot film. Imagine the horror of opening a package to find that many of the negs are underexposed! A trauma that many of you younger folks will never be exposed to (pardon the pun). Back then, nets scanned to CD and I would be opening PS4 to see how I could undo the unimaginable.

There was nothing I could do. Nothing. And today, there is still, still nothing I can do. Sure, I have histograms, previews, fancy settings and all kinds of techno bullshit to “make me a better photographer”, fact is, if I don’t know the basics and take the time to make sure that my gear is set properly, that my lights are positioned well and that there aren’t unsightly items in the fore or background, I may take a shitty image. I do, however, have the second chance that previews offer. Assuming that this wasn’t a one off shot that won’t be recreated.

Learn the basics, take courses, practice and learn from mistakes. I still do all of those and I like to think I have honed my craft rather well. It is only when I become to cocky that the gods of the lens teach me some humility.

Usually in a way that know amount of Photoshoppery can fix.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years – #49

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As I mentioned in the first installment, these are in no particular order.  Some of these are hings I have learned about myself and some are kernels of wisdom that I wish to share.

I have learned that I am selfish and self centred. Oft times, to the extreme. Okay, not in the extreme any longer. There was a time, however when I felt the universe revolved around me, waited with anticipation on what I had to say and once said, took Greed Road Sign - 7 Deadly Sins Seriesit as gospel. Why wouldn’t it. I was, after all, me. I wanted what I wanted and other people that had the misfortune to get in my way were cajoled, pushed or forced to acquiesce to my demands. Never once did I think that my demands were unreasonable. It was, after, me. The very fact that it was me should be enough for you to understand.

Ruined friendships, marriages, families….

Excuse me a moment, I’m getting a text.

My lovely muse says it would have been nice to have someone with her while she shopped.

I agreed

She laughed

I told her the topic of the blog I am writing.

She, gets me. I’m blessed.

ratWhere was I? Oh right, all the ruined things. Sure, my selfishness meruined many things. Me…me me me…meeeeee. I wanted more of everything. My motto during those years was; Looks like more, feels like more, tastes like more and sounds like more. More!

What happened you ask? I have to say a profound spiritual experience. I found god. Egads man. Not THAT God. I found a power greater than myself. There is a God, and I’m not it. As I was saying, not THAT god. My God is mine and mine alone. I don’t push it on people and I’m still just selfish enough that I don’t want to share my god either. Get your own, there are plenty around.

Suffice it to say that I ‘m still selfish enough that I won’t be running around bombing shit in the name of my thus far nebular, undefinable God. Plus, I’m allergic to pain and dying and shit like that.

I’m still selfish but I am striving for humility. A work in progress, you might say.

Fifty Things I’ve Learned In My First Fifty Years – #50

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Fifty years is a long time. OK, maybe not as long as seventy or eighty. It, is, however, still a long time. A sort of milestone in life. I never thought I’d make it to fifty. As melodramatic and cliche as that sounds, it is the truth. My lifestyle had much to do with that misguided thought on my mortality.

This series will be a weekly look at some of the things I have learned about myself, the people around me (in general terms) and life.  They are in no particular order, so if you are the subject of one of my lessons and you feel that it should be more important that something else, too fucking bad. Get over yourself. Fact is, I really should have made notes prior to starting this series because I am now doubting that I have may have learned fifty things. Bah, who cares?

Courtesy  Robbert van der Steeg - Wikimedia Creative Commons

Courtesy Robbert van der Steeg – Wikimedia Creative Commons

Here we go: I am a morning person. As much as I hate to admit it, I am. I love the early morning, the sunrise, the quiet hour, the golden hour. I can sit back and listen to my world awake. I am not one of those perky morning people, NO. Even I, a self confessed, morning person, would love to punch them in their smiling cake hole and yell; “would you please, please shut the fuck up for five minutes? I do not wish to hear how your cat licked your toes (or some other nonsense).”

I get my best, in most cases, work done prior to ten or eleven in the morning. I write better. I think better. I visualize better and, my mind is at it’s creative peak. I seem to formulate creative ideas better in the morning. Why? I don’t know. I just go with it. In fact, after lunch, I am a wreck. I am drawn, drained and drowsy. I think I even fall asleep at my desk. I mean, my eyes are open but my brain falls asleep. Or, maybe my eyes are closed. I’m not quite sure, I just seem to lose gaps of time. Well, at the very least, it makes the day go faster.

I was a morning person even when I pulled all nighters. Of course, ingesting copious amounts of LSD or Amphetamine didn’t hurt my early morning crusades, at least, I don’t think they did.

I loved listening to jazz at three, four or five. Not the digital jazz we have, but vinyl. The hiss and pop of that LP as the stylus hit the vinyl. Awww yea.

If I was concerned about whether I had learned fifty things in the first paragraph, the last few has triggered more. And more will be revealed.

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