Tuesday, July 30, 2019

To The Market We Shall Go

We all start with an understory to our day long before we ever walk out the door. It could be something as simple as the fact that we ran out of time to make coffee, or that our new underwear doesn't fit like our old, favorite underwear. Or it could be more complex: we are tired of waking up alone every morning, or our old dog stumbled down the steps to go outside...again.

Maybe that is why the series I use to write - The Coffee Shop Chronicles - did so well. There was always was an undercurrent to my day long before I reached the coffee shop to peer into other peoples' lives. I think in the busyness of my life this year with a puppy I haven't taken the time to acknowledge that understory. At least that is until last week when I set out to do Exercise 31 - Markets and Stalls in the photography exercise book Shooting with Soul.

Before I leave the house at any given time, I always take the puppy out to go to the bathroom before he goes in his crate. As we pitter puttered down the bike path, I noticed the neighbor across the street's dog coming down his driveway. Odd, I had heard his car that morning when he left for work, and his dog is always in the house when he is at work. Maybe his teenage daughter was home and let the dog out. I quickly sped Atticus back to the house. These two dogs had met the night before, Atticus loves everybody, the other dog didn't feel the same.

Atticus zipped into his crate, I wrestled with the thought of trying to catch the neighbor's dog and knock on his door, but when I went back outside she had disappeared. Maybe the daughter was home.

I left for the Farmers Market, but my mind kept going back to that dog and our busy summer traffic road.

Once at the Farmers Market I forgot about the dog. I grabbed my camera and my 35mm lens for some wide/establishing shots of the market. I was at the market just after 8 a.m., it wasn't busy yet. I wanted photos of the stalls, not photos of crowds. I turned my camera on to check the settings needed for the light and noticed the blinking battery light. You have got to be kidding me. I just used this camera two weeks before, and I had plenty of battery. Knowing I always keep an extra charged battery in my camera bag, I went back to the car to get it. After a thorough search of my camera bag, I found no extra battery. Seriously!

I decided I was just going to see how long I could go with this blinking battery. I wasn't going to go home and come back. It would take too long, the light would be too bright and I was afraid I would find the neighbor's dog lying on the road.

This exercise made me very uncomfortable. It was great that it wasn't busy with a lot of people, but I felt so exposed, wandering with my big camera. Now, if I had been wandering around with my iPhone snapping photos, I would have blended right in. The funny thing is when I see other people with their DSLR at the market I only wonder what they are going to shoot.

This feeling of being uncomfortable inhibited my ability to set up shots with thoughtful composition and I gave no consideration to the story I wanted to tell. Still, I pushed on. Determined to keep trying until the battery quit, which it was surely going to do at any moment.

After about a half hour, the light was getting too high and market too crowded for any more shots. It was time to go home. The battery never did die.

As I crested the rise of the hill near my house, I saw the neighbor dog wander across the road from our house to her house. I parked the car in the garage, grabbed Atticus' leash and went across the road. She was sitting, shaking on her front porch. She came to me readily and let me put the leash on her. I called the neighbor's work and asked that a message be given to him. We sat on the porch, she resting in my lap, until his car pulled into the driveway about ten minutes later.

Friday, July 19, 2019

One Hundred Days

Mobile Photography

One hundred days in the Hundred Acre Wood, or at least it felt like it. Because...

The rain, rain, rain
Came down, down, down
In rushing, rising riv'lets
'Til the river crept out of its bed...

The rain came down often in those one hundred days.

On April 2, I began #the100dayproject for the fourth time, determined to finish it for only the second time. Two other years where aborted attempts. What is the #the100dayproject? It is committing to 100 days of daily creating. You get to choose what you want to create. 

Collage, watercolor, and acrylic paint

I set one and only one constraint for myself I was going to do all my creating on 5" X 7" pieces of art paper that I would binder together into a journal at the end of the 100 days. This lasted until Day 22. We were on vacation for the week. I was fully prepared with plenty of blank 5" X 7" pages to create on. But once surrounded by the beauty of the north country, I was inspired to reconnect with my love of mobile photography and the amazing editing/creating apps that I had at my fingertips. 

Mobile Photography

At first I thought; "Oh, I will just print those out in 5 X 7  size and I can still add them into the journal." This lasted until Day 50, when I much preferred the square crop of my photograph to the vertical 5 X 7 shape, and that was the end of the #5X7artjournalpage 100 day project. 

Mobile Photography

I could have quit there. I had made it half way, which is further than I have gone the last three years. But I was also half way through, I couldn't give up, it would feel like I was abandoning all the work I had done already. Plus, it was about darn time that I finished something! So, I readjusted my focus and renamed my project - #100daysoffreedomtolearn. This renaming opened up a whole new world of possibilities for me, I was excited about the project again. 

Mobile Photography - iColorama

It was around this time that I was also reading the book Refuse to Choose. This book opened my eyes to the fact that I am probably a Cyclical Scanner. What is a Cyclical Scanner you ask. Here is the book's definition:

"If I ask you what your interests are and you have no trouble doing it, you're probably a Cyclical Scanner. You know all the things you love to do most. Your list may have only a few items on it, or it may have 20, but it isn't endless. You know what you love, and you usually return to each activity over and over again."

There are three subcategories of Cyclical Scanners - the Double Agent, the Sybil, and the Plate Spinner. 

I am a Sybil. "If you're a typical Sybil, you're usually surrounded by lots of "creative clutter." Sybil types can't always find their materials, because they have so many projects going on at the same time they can't keep track of them. All the same, most Sybil Scanner have very little tolerance for chaos and have bursts of organizing energy they find very satisfying. But order never lasts for long because when the creative urge comes, there is no patience for putting things away."

That's me in a nutshell. 


My list of things I love:
  • Photography
  • Film making
  • Being outside
  • Writing
  • Hands-on art
  • Reading


The hands-on art is still all over the place. I love art supplies, and trying new things, but haven't quite settled on what "the" thing is yet. My other subjects are more clear yet there are still a million different paths to explore within them.

Pastel Painting

The big takeaway that I got from the book is that no matter what type of Scanner you are, you need to occasionally finish projects to feel productive, and joy-filled. So I set about finishing the 100 day project, to have that feeling of accomplishment and not failure. Also, since the beginning of June, I have been giving myself the freedom to explore whatever I want each week, but the goal is at the end of the week I have one finished project. A sense of accomplishment and something tangible from the week of exploration. It feels good to finish.

Mobile Photography

So I made it through the one hundred days, explored many paths within the hundred acre wood, and I have to say I came out into the daylight stronger because of it. 

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Window Reflecting

The joy is coming back. Each time I load my backpack with a camera and a couple lens. Each time I arrive at a destination and haul my tripod out of the car. Each time I cross another item off the Summer Photography Scavenger List. Each time I complete another lesson in the book Shooting with Soul. Each time I come home with at least a couple photographs I want to print, frame and hang. I feel happy.

The dry spell lasted way too long. September until May only a handful of photos taken with my dslr. Hopefully that never happens again.

The latest lesson I completed in Shooting with Soul was: Exercise 27: Window Shopping

My husband had to go up north for a couple days for a conference and it worked for me to go along. I made arrangements with our daughter to stay at our house to take care of Atticus. She told me long before I got Atticus that she would be happy to watch him when we went away. I was cashing in on that promise.

I had one full day of wandering and shooting to myself. I prayed for no rain, but packed the umbrella just in case. The town we were staying near had the cutest shops, so it was the perfect place to complete the Window Shopping lesson.

I am not much of a shopper, but I do love windows, reflections, and wandering

I arrived in town a good hour before the shops opened. I wanted shots of the windows, not a bunch of summertime people. The objective was to find windows with interesting stories about their products, their audience, their location, or the season. Notice how the elements inside the windows, as well as those reflected on them, can be incorporated into your photos to create compelling images.

You could choose to include your reflection into the composition or not. Needless to say, I LOVE self-portrait window reflections.