Sunday, June 7, 2015

Golf is Hard

You may know that I used to be a golf professional (not a professional golfer - there is a difference). I worked at a local course, teaching lessons, taking green fees, rerounding carts, etc. I left the golf business to return to graduate school, and when I did my time spent playing golf decreased.

When I was diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, the golf became even more scarce. I'm sure at one point I went more than 2 years without touching my clubs. Now, I'm back to playing again. I play 3 or 4 times per year now. And my game is a LOT different than it used to be. I no longer know how far I can hit a club. I have to swing more slowly, and more weakly, because my hand strength is so restricted by the RA. My stiff joints also affect my range of motion.

And yet, I'm back to enjoying the game. I have fun now. I lost that feeling for a long time. It's not about the score anymore; it's about being with people I enjoy, smelling the newly cut grass, feeling the solid contact of ball and club, listening to the sound of the ball in the hole.

Friday I played (for the second time this year) in the NNU Legends of Golf tournament. Since we were playing a scramble format I knew there wouldn't be much pressure on me. I could play easy and let the other guys hit the aggressive shots. However, I ended up hitting the ball harder than I should have. Somewhere in the first few holes, I hurt my left arm. Thinking back, I can't identify the particular shot that caused the injury. I probably should have stopped after the first 5 or 6 holes, definitely should have stopped after the first 9, and did stop with three holes left, just putting on those holes. Those last three holes, I couldn't even hold the club. I had to putt one handed on the last hole because the pain in my left arm was so great.

At the end of the round I could see the swelling in my arm. It wasn't until Saturday night that I realized how significant the injury was/is.

That is an arm-size bruise - all the way from my wrist to my elbow. Pretty isn't it?

I can't turn my hand to the outside, I have no grip strength, and I can't rest that arm on anything.

I will definitely play golf again this year, although it might be a few months before I try again. And next time, I'm going to remind myself to swing easier, grip more lightly, and protect my body. If you're my playing partner next time, please remind me of these instructions.

As for the tournament - we won a dozen golf balls for finishing in 3rd Net. Of course they're yellow golf balls and I don't know if I can play with yellow golf balls - but still, we won something.

On a completely different note, I was also teaching a graduate counseling course this weekend. As a former school counselor, I enjoy being able to interact with the next generation of school counselors. I'm confident that these future school counselors are going to impact students, families, schools and communities in an amazingly positive way. They are a great group of capable, insightful, passionate students. I'm so proud to have played a small part in their education and growth as counselors.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What is it about being judged?

I can't figure out judging, and by judging I'm talking first about judging in photography, specifically having my images judged. Herein lies a dilemma. I have people tell me that my photos are good, that I'm a talented photographer. And these compliments and encouragements are not just from my family. Not that I don't appreciate their compliments, but they're my family. They love me so their opinion of my art (or anything else I do), is affected by their feelings for me.

And these compliments are not just from fans of my photography. There are people out there, friends and acquaintances, who like my images. They don't have training in photographic technique, and they're not qualified to assess the technical aspects of my photography.

I'm getting compliments from more than these two groups of people. There are really talented photographers (much more talented than I), who think highly of what I do. I trust that their opinion is not based on their feelings for me, neither is it an untrained opinion.

And yet (the other side of the dilemma), when I submit images for judging, or enter a contest - my images are judged as mediocre, average, ordinary. Sometimes the images are determined to be slightly above average, but they are never exceptional. The images never live up to the compliments that I get. I submit what I consider some of the best work I've ever done, and the judges tell me that I've submitted an unexceptional, boring picture.

So who do I listen to? The judges? Or the people?

I much prefer listening to the people. My friends and family may be untrained, and unable to assess the technical aspects of an image, but I find much more satisfaction in their opinion than the opinion of a judge.

For a time, I quit submitting altogether. I told myself it was because I didn't need the feedback. Then I submitted for a time, but submitted without a score, telling myself that the score didn't matter. Then, after encouragement from some talented photographers, I started submitting (for score) and entering some contests.

Once again, I'm tired of being judged. I don't care about the score and don't care about the accolades. Or do I? I'm finding it difficult to answer that issue. Do I care or don't I? It's a good issue for self-reflection, and I think until I determine the answer, I won't be submitting images. I will be showing my work, to friends and family. Maybe I'll just be deceiving myself by not accepting critique from "expert" photographers/judges, but I don't mind living with a little self-delusion.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Downtown Nampa Photowalk

I'm teaching a photography class for the Nampa Rec Center. Saturday I took the students downtown for a field trip. We made sure to explore the alley ways. I find them more fun to explore than the store fronts. Even so, downtown Nampa has some beautiful buildings.

I started out the day, alone before sunrise, photographing the new Nampa Public Library. I think it's a gorgeous building. This first image is a stitch of about 30 images, and I like the result. I think I still need to work on the yellow interior colors - it's just not the right color. But the stitching worked really well.

I don't very often create images like this, but when I was playing with one of my plug-ins, this double exposure treatment jumped out at me.

The students were shocked that I would touch this chair. But it wasn't in the right spot so I had to move it.

Light painting, shadows, tree, light pole, blank wall - it wall works together.

My favorite bike shop.


Black Magic Canyon - Return Trip

I think Black Magic Canyon is one of those places I could photograph every day, for years and years, and never run out of new things to find. Dan Mottaz and I went down shortly after my solo trip. It was a good day shooting. Even though I'd been in these sections of canyon before, the light this time was different, the shadows and highlights different, the textures different and the results different. And I think this set of images is better than the previous ones I've taken there.

Clearly I prefer monochrome images for the BMC textures and shapes. However, sometimes the colors are so intriguing, the result just has to be in color. I like this first one for the contrast between the cool blue background and the warm coppery foreground. There are some forms in the canyon that are sharp, pointed, almost knife-edge like. But there are also these smooth, curved forms that are so organic.

I'm not sure how this image came out so golden, but I love the result. It must have been a combination of the light we had and the reflecting light off the canyon floor. This one took very little post processing.

There are several things I like about this one.
1. It's a small detail. Even I, who spends too much time looking for small details, almost overlooked it.
2. The color/warmth contrast between the blue and gold.
3. The diagonal line that creates energy from a subject that is decidedly not energetic.

Back to the monochrome. The lines and shapes are what always draw my attention.

Yes, I placed (and balanced) that rock there.

And this one too

 Two views of the same formation, each with slightly different perspective, and different feel.

These last two I had printed and are now hanging on my walls. The final image might be my favorite of the day. Of course that could change tomorrow - such are the tastes of an artist.

Nampa Tractor Salvage

Obviously I'm not a consistent blogger. Of course that mirrors my real life: I don't have much to say most days, and I don't have much to blog most days. But I have taken some photos lately that turned out really nice, so I'm going to catch up.

Back on March 7, Don Johnson arranged for a small group of us to visit Nampa Tractor Salvage. They've been in business for decades, but the need for tractor salvage is disappearing. Mike, the owner, is trying to figure out how to get out of the business, but the price for scrap metal is so low, he can't sell. We photographers were tasked with documenting all the great equipment before it disappears completely. It was a fun day, full of shapes, textures, lines - all the details that get me photographically excited.

In no particular order, here are some of my favorites from the day. While I normally try to do some commentary on the images, I'm not feeling particularly commentary-ish today. Feel free to critique each image yourself.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Black Magic Canyon 2015, Part 6

This the final part of this series, but it's not the last you'll see of Black Magic Canyon. Dan Mottaz and I went down again and I got some more great images. In fact, looking back at this series, I think the next series will be better.

Of course that happens often to me. I look back on something I photographed last year, or last month and think, "What was I thinking? I could have done a much better job.

These images focus on edges. The lighting I had this particular day lent itself well to strong contrast: bright highlights and dark shadows.

These last two images are my favorites (and I think the best) from the whole day. I love the mystery of them. They're abstract, and yet still have a rock-like quality to them.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Black Magic Canyon 2015, Part 5

Although most of the images in this series have been monochrome, let me throw in a color one (and the matching B&W). For me, the shapes, lines and textures of Black Magic Canyon are best revealed in monochrome. I have quite a few color pictures, but even as I look through the catalog of images, it's the monochrome ones that most stand out to me.

Which of these do you prefer? Color or black and white?

I like the highlights and dark shadows of the canyon.

There are two diversion dams (that I know of) on the Big Wood River. This is the northern dam. Industrial architecture can be so beautiful, despite its seeming lack of beauty.