After blogging here at Squarespace for the last two-and-a-half years, I’ve found a platform that finally feels like home called “Exposure “. I’ve used it once before a long, long time ago, but moved away from it because it didn’t have the features that I wanted at the time. I’ve been wanting to write stories more and more, and yes, I can do that right here on Squarespace, but Squarespace seems more of a dedicated blogging platform with too many features to use, too many tabs to make, too many choices, just too. . . . too, you know what I mean? I want a simpler place to share my words and my pictures and Exposure seems to be the place for where I finally am now.
It’s a minimal site, just stories and pictures. There’s a strong sense of community there, with all kinds of people from all kinds of places around the world sharing their experiences and images, and the stories make me want to get out there and see everything this beautiful world has to offer. After all, Life is meant to be lived as a story, not something that’s copy and pasted into a blog post.
As for my daily pictures if you’re keeping up with those, I’ve resurrected my old Blogger site and will be posting those over there.
My new home for stories about my life, mountain bike races and any other adventures can be found here from now on:
Please let me thank you all for all your support, encouraging words and comments over the last couple years here. And I’d be delighted beyond belief if you followed me over to my new home on the Internet. I’m really excited about this and look forward to seeing you on the Interwebs!
Last week, I took my parents out to a bird watching place I like to go to every now and then to get away from it all and to get back to myself. I knew that January 10 was going to be a terrifically sad day for all of us and I wanted to take my parents, both avid bird watchers and nature lovers, to the place that takes me away from the distresses of life.
Thursday was overcast and cold, but we bundled up and drove the 45 minutes it takes to get to Eagle Watch, my mom and I chatting in the front while my dad daydreamed in the backseat of my car. When we arrived, the lake was quiet and we had the place to ourselves. We didn’t see any eagles, just a few great grey herons and little birds. We moved from the first bird watching pavilion over to a second one that had a picnic table so we could eat our sandwiches and for Mom to sit and rest her knee, a knee that she had replacement surgery on just a few weeks ago. As we were eating our food, we at last saw our bald eagle that we were so hoping to see that day. He swooped in on giant silent wings, perching on a tree on the far side of the lake. As we watched, something spooked him (perhaps the fishermen quietly fishing in their John boat off in the distance) and he took off, flying over the water with his talons outstretched like he accidentally dropped his own lunch. He made a circle over the lake and then glided back over the tree line away from us and sailed off into the overcast skies.
We finished up our food quietly, each of us lost in our thoughts, cleaned up our trash and drove back home, sure that it was my sister that sent that magnificent bald eagle to let us know she was there with us, too.
Last Thursday, as I was putting away yet another half-read self-help book and vowing to never read another one, I had an idea for a photo. I was eager to go ahead and make it that morning, but I was taking my parents out to a bird watching place later that day, so I decided to attempt it the next day as a birthday present to myself.
My birthday dawned a rainy, rainy day, as in it rained from the time I got up at 5:30 Friday morning till noon Saturday. The idea behind this photo I had in my head was based on a goal I have for this year, which is to relax and read more, and not just books on photography. I drove to the library after lunch, checked out a ton of books (yay!) and then came on home to get to work on the self-portrait.
I knew I wanted an “early-morning-sun-streaming-in-the-window” feel to the photograph, so I set up a bare flash and set it to half power, angling it to point in towards the book case (and thank goodness that we have a covered porch to protect the light from the rain!). I then ran back inside and set to work on the rest of the picture. I was using my Nikon D750 with my 35mm f/1.8 lens and my tripod; then, at about 3:00 (I like to position my lights as on a clock face), I had the second light pointing back towards my chair modified with a small octabox without the diffuser since I wanted a harder light rather than a softer light. I set that power to 1/32 power because I was also using it as more of a fill light. My camera settings were ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/250 sec. I then grabbed my phone to use as a remote, curled up with my book and took the picture.
And lo and behold! My idea worked the first time!
That never happens!
And then it was time to open birthday presents and eat birthday cupcakes.
But it was fun making the sun shine on a rainy day. That’s the joy of photography for me, thinking of an idea, trying it out to see if it works and getting excited when it does. I only hope that this year more ideas will come to me and that they will work just as well as this one did.
To celebrate my upcoming birthday Friday, I decided to cut my hair short. I’d been growing it out, thinking it’d be fun to have a pony tail again, but I’d forgotten just how irritating it is to constantly brush my bangs out of my eyes, not to mention the 20 minutes it took to dry my insanely thick hair everyday (thanks, Mom!).
My hairdresser is a saint, laughing when I told her to cut it all off.
And she did.
Happy birthday to me (and it only took me a whopping five minutes this morning to get ready!).
(And I never know what to do in front of the camera! ACK!)
I wasn’t born a photographer.
Let’s clarify that statement: I was born a latent photographer.
One of my earliest memories is sitting on our living room floor one early morning, the sunshine streaming in through our window and casting light on the dancing dust motes in the air. I am sitting crosslegged in front of our bookcase with my parents copy of “The Family of Man” by Edward Steichen opened on my lap, carefully turning the pages and looking intently at the black and white photographs on the page. I remember wondering who these people were, what they did, where they got their groceries, what languages they spoke and how lucky they were not to have to wear shoes (in my three-year-old mind getting to go barefoot every day and ride a donkey was akin to Christmas morning. I was not, and still not, a big fan of shoes.). I didn’t look at the book as a photographer, but instead as a child who loved stories.
Another memory I have is going through the art museums in Europe and Great Britain as a five-year-old when my dad took his first sabbatical. Again, when I looked up at the great portraits and still lives and Great Historical Events painted by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Caravaggio and their peers I wasn’t looking at the technical aspects, the “artisticness” of the works, I was wondering about the lives and the stories those painted faces could tell me.
I bet they were really good stories, too.
These images of Meg that I made yesterday makes me think of that old copy of Steichen’s work. There’s a certain timelessness to them that makes me wonder, if I was a stranger and didn’t know the girl in in the pictures so intimately as I do, who she was, what she’s thinking, how old she was, even what year it was.
What’s her story?
That’s the beauty of black and white, I think.
The image is stripped bare of all color, leaving only the girl in the image to tell you her story. You can imagine what she’s saying through her facial expressions, but are your imaginings true? Maybe she’s enjoying playing at the park and swinging like a child, even though she’s an adult; maybe her eyes are twinkling because of something her boyfriend said, even though he’s not in the frame, or maybe she’s twinkling and laughing at the way the wind is playing with her hair. In the second image, her eyes bore into you, the viewer, asking you questions, a look that I’m familiar with as her mother but not you, so her eyes are asking you differnt questions.
What is it that she’s asking you?
What stories are you coming up with?
What’s your interpretation?
I’ve undertaken a month long project to dive further into black and white photography (you can view what I’ve done so far here. I didn’t begin the project until the second day of January, thus the lone color photo at the end). As I alluded to in this post, I want to push myself forward this year, so I’ve come up with sevearal month long projects to spice up my daily picture taking, ranging from this month’s current project of black and white to self-portraits to a month of color to . . . and that’s as far as I’ve gotten. I think having months of little projects will help me grow creatively in ways that I could never have imagined as that little girl sitting crosslegged in a pool of sunlight looking at art books so long ago.
We have two squirrels that we think must be siblings. They chase each other around our backyard manically, coming close every time to nipping the other’s tail. David has taken to zip tying our bird feeders together in an effort to stop them from dumping all the seed to the ground, which is their other favorite past time.
I have a holly tree directly outside my office window . . . and a bird feeder underneath. This little guy spent the better part of the morning the other day leaping from the branches of the tree, balancing perilously on top of the shepherd’s crook holding the feeder and then, once balanced, peering into my window at me.
I took up my camera and peered right back.
Taken with my Nikon D5 & my 50mm f/1.4 lens, which lives more or less on my camera. 😉