Thursday, October 23, 2014

Seven Year Anniversary

Seven years ago yesterday I started this blog. If you want to read that first post, here it is:

Since then, this blog has evolved. Although it started as a chronicle of my simplification, it has become more broad. It's become about my thoughts, my philosophy of life, my photography. And yes, I still sometimes talk about simplifying.

I haven't done a firm count of my possessions recently; the number has become less important than the idea. I think the more interesting information would be how I've changed over the last seven years. I probably should have been preparing a blog on that, summarizing all the changes I've recognized, and asking other people for changes they've seen in my over the last seven years. Now that would be interesting.

(On that note, I'd be truly interested in hearing your thoughts on that topic. How have you seen me change over time? How am I different now than when you first met me, or first read this blog? Feel free to comment here, or through email, or in person.)

I'll start working on examining the changes I've seen in myself. If you've read this blog for very long, you'll know I don't have a regular posting schedule. I write and post when something strikes me as post-worthy. So I can't promise a date for my personal-changes-post, but I'll work on it.


This month is also the four year anniversary of leaving Wendell. I think my last day was actually October 29, 2010. Whenever this time of year comes around I experience that loss again. I know it was the right thing to do. My body couldn't survive staying there and my job performance would have suffered. Even so, leaving that community continues to weigh on my mind.

Grief and loss comes in many forms: loss of family member through death, divorce or something else, loss of job, loss of friends - the list could go on.

I lost my job, obviously, but I also lost a group of friends. Not that they aren't still my friends, but the friendship of daily interaction is necessarily different than the friendship of once or twice a year. The friendship of daily personal interaction is different than daily social-media interaction. I also lost a sense of purpose when I left Wendell. I went from being a productive, effective school counselor to being an out-of-work blog, relying on my family to support me.

Much of that has changed.
I'm on disability, which allows me to support myself (mostly).
I teach part time at NNU, which helps me feel productive, needed, necessary, valuable. And it keeps me in the counseling field. I may not be influencing a school directly, but I'm indirectly influencing a number of schools by training the next generation of school counselors. I may not be impacting the lives of students directly, but I'm indirectly impacting tens of thousands of students through the counselors I'm helping to train. That seems important - feels important to me.

I continue to learn how to live with my rheumatoid arthritis. Some days it's a struggle, some days less of a struggle. But I get up every morning, do what I can, try to grow as a person, love and help those around me, and find significance in life. Every night I go to bed, usually exhausted, but content that I did what I could today.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Dirty Dash Redux

Last night, at the camera club projection night meeting, I submitted an image that was very well received. It was included in a gallery I linked to in an earlier post, but I did some extra processing that really brought out the impact. I think this is one of the best images I've created. I love the energy, the tone, the expression on her face. It's a great moment in time, frozen by my mind's eye (and my camera).

Monday, September 22, 2014

MHAFB Air Show: The Skies

How does one maximize the success of shooting jets that are flying hundreds of miles per hour? I'm not exactly sure. I do know that after seeing images from the other photographers in the group, there are some shots that everyone seemed to get. It's a difficult task to find a new perspective on something (the Thunderbirds air show) that's been shot millions of times.

Like this first one: almost everyone who attended got this shot, and even though mine looks like theirs, I still like it.

I like this one because of the combination of blur and sharp; the plane on the left is blurry while the plane on the right is sharp. I was panning with the right plane, coming in at about 500 mph, and was able to time the image just right to catch them crossing.

Most contrails I see are perfectly straight, created by commercial jets flying overhead. The artistry of smoke trails created during maneuvers are so fun to me.

If you notice, in the lower right, there is a 6th member of the squad. He doesn't fly as fast, but he has excellent form.

Everything can't be blue!
The 6th member of this group was flying significantly higher than the rest.

I was able to snap a frame as they were flying overhead, between me and the sun.

This aerobatic pilot flew amazing maneuvers, creating dynamic shapes.

I think these last two are my favorites from the day, taken just seconds apart.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

MHAFB Air Show: The Personnel

I had a great time on the Mountain Home Air Force Base. A group of us photographers were granted special access during the practice day. Although we didn't get as close to the jets as I would have liked, we did get pretty close. And was a lot easier trying to photograph than it would have been over the weekend, when they expected 100,000 or more people.

Of course I was there to shoot the planes, but there are always interesting subjects around. This first post is all about the personnel. There is a crew that travels with the Thunderbirds, including the pilots, the ground crew and their official photographers. Watching them work was an experience. Everything is so precise, the steps they followed seemed like choreography.

This next one is my mom's favorite.

After practice was done, while sitting around in some small shade, I noticed this scene.
Boots on the ground ...

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

NFC Car Show, Part 6 (and last): All the rest (well, some of the rest)

This first image is my favorite of the event, maybe the best car image I've ever taken. I also put more post-processing work into this one than I do to most of my images. Once I started working with it, I realized how dramatic the shadows were, so I made sure the shadows faded to complete black. I like the way the shadows become negative space to balance the detail of the car. And I really like the way the front end is emerging from darkness.

When I'm out photographing, almost any subject, I look for details. I prefer the intricacies of a scene rather than the broad expanse. Life is made up of the small moments, and big pictures are made up of the small elements.

In this image, I like play of the textured tire and the blankness of shadow. And the tail light adds an interesting shape.

These next two images are obviously the same car, the same detail. I can't decide which composition I like better. I think the arc in the lower right corner of the first image is an unexpected element that adds balance to the downward arc.

But, the bottom image works also because there's only one curved line; the rest of the image is straight lines, consistent patterns. The color in both images really appeals to me. I think it's hard to find a good green for a car, but this car certainly has found that color.

It's obviously a blue car, but because of all the random elements, it becomes quite abstract, and abstract images are so beautiful to me.

How many cars have you seen with wood on them? And how many have you seen with wood this beautiful? It's so beautiful and warm and rich.

NFC Car Show, Part 5: The Grills

I like car grills because of the repetition and patterns. They have interesting lines - some horizontal, some vertical, some wide, some narrow, some shiny, some not. The grill is the shiny smile of the car.