Wrestling With Pigs

Wrestling with pigs, Emerging from Hell

I’m about to emerge from nine months in hell. I’m not out yet – there’s still work to be done – but I’m at least back in control of this aspect of my destiny.

It was a simple thing, really; all I wanted to do was fix some issues with this blog site design. The original designer tinkered with some code, which made updates impossible and crashes common.

So I was recommended to another fired-up firm who would definitely be able to help me. (I won’t blast them publicly here – that’s not my style. I will gladly steer you clear of disaster upon request. My good friend who recommended me to this firm has also pulled all of his work from this firm for similar – and worse – problems. ‘Nuff said.) (more…)

Ten years on

Ten years ago this week I walked off a plane from the US into a new era in my life. What started out as a chapter unexpectedly turned into a volume. Life is like that sometimes.

I could not have anticipated, even dreamed of, all the changes in my life that were coming – good and bad, happy and sad, adventurous and boring. But that’s why it’s called a life journey, no?
I’ve learned and grown so much in this time that it’s nearly impossible to put the lessons to words. It’s also hard to comprehend how much more there must be to learn in life if this era is any indication of what’s yet to come.

I won’t list out the world changes that have happened over the decade (a DECADE already!), as even I would be bored with such a list and I’d start sounding like my grandmother… To give you a rough feel, when I embarked on this adventure 9/11 hadn’t occurred and the iPod – much less the iPhone – hadn’t been invented yet. So many changes in such a short time.

These few years have seen the end of one and, through a maze of others, the birth of a new, loving relationship. My first grandchild made his entrance a short two years ago! I’ve gone through another career transition, moving onward and upward. I have again learned the difference between friend and acquaintance – always a tough lesson for me. And that’s just a taste of what’s transpired in my little corner of the world.

My photography has been published a number of times (plus a show) and has taken its right position, moving from serious hobby to the core of my soul – where it was all the time actually, I just had to recognize and embrace it. I’ve finally found how to balance work and creativity, get them to work together and feed each other – and pay the bills, all at the same time. No small feat but oh, so worth it.

It’s been a fascinating decade. We’ve all experienced the past 10 years, each in our own way, full of our unique experiences; the good, the bad, the lovely, the ugly – it’s all ours. I, for one, can’t begin to imagine what the next ten will bring, but I am curious…

 

Life, in a photograph

Taking a photograph is a lot like life: the key considerations
we make in creating a photo are the same decisions we make in our lives in
general: 

Composition – It’s
a conscious decision as to what’s in the photo and what’s not; what have we
chosen to have in the image and what have we chosen to exclude.  Which elements in the photo are dominant and which ones are not? Is there
balance in the image? 

Zoom in or zoom out
– While it's part of composing an image, zoom needs separate consideration. Some images demand a closer, intimate look while others need the bigger
picture emphasized; sometimes we need the details while other times we need to
pull back and see more in the image.

Focus – Too sharp
or not sharp enough? Sometimes we need a sharp image – really crisp and clear
and in other situations we need a little less focus – soft focus if you will –
or even let the image be out of focus. 

Exposure – How
much exposure we need depends on the situation. Generally, there’s a desire for
just the right exposure – a good balance of lights and darks with rich middle
tones. Sometimes we need less exposure, with darker tones being dominant,
obscuring some of the details. Other times, overexposure is called for to
emphasize the highlights and clean up the darker tones. 

Contrast – Too
much, too little or just right? We definitely need contrast in our pictures to
keep things interesting. Too much contrast can be impactful (and sometimes
distracting) while too little is boring. 

Color or black and
white
– Neither one is better than the other; they’re just different and most images dictate what's needed. Color
taps many senses and adds variety and impact to an image while black and white
brings gives clarity to an image and brings out the richness in textures. 

Finally, Selection
– Not all pictures are perfect and one never keeps or shows all of their images.
Do you only keep the flattering and pretty ones or do you keep some of the ugly
ones as well that tell a different story? Are they all in focus or are some of
the fuzzy ones important as well? 

Making photos is all about making decisions – there are
always multiple options available when we create an image and our decisions on
the critical elements ultimately determine the final product. Just like life.

 

 

Standing on your desk

Work with me on this one.

Right now, after you have read this paragraph, I want you to stand on your desk. Not on the chair, not on the floor beside your desk, but on top of the desk itself. While you are up there, take a good look around. Look especially at the surface layout of your workspace, the computer, chair, trashcan, phone, projects, papers, “in” box, whatever. Then review the layout of your office (or whatever your space or “day home” is comprised of), the position of your desk, chairs, other furniture and their relationship to the rest of the visible workspace near you, the door, a window. Do it now and take your time. Yes, you will feel silly, but it will be worth it.

(I’m humming theme music while you’re up there.)

What did you see? Just a bunch of papers and office equipment? (If so, read on and then try the experiment again.) Or did you gain a high-level perspective on your work life? I do this about once a year and find that there are always improvements I can make to my work environment – piles that should not be there (either at all or could be moved out of the way/closer to me), a better layout to my desk which would be more comfortable – the phone here instead of there, the monitor in a different location which improves visibility and maybe increases the work surface of my desk. A layout that facilitates ingress/egress to my desk, improves the view from my chair, invites guests into my space. It even provides a new view of my work by itself – just exactly what it is I am working on at that moment.

We all need a new or different perspective from time to time to help us see things in literally a new light. Andre Kertesz, as I’ve mentioned before, regularly captured unique perspectives in his photographs. Views from a second story window of the street below and the patterns created by people and objects. A camera angle from underneath a structure looking up into it changed the structure from its functional role to one of beauty. He continually challenged the normal perspective when approaching his work.

Try this experiment and see if you gain a different perspective on your work or life.  Is there something in your life – personally or professionally that needs to be looked at from an entirely different viewpoint? How did standing on your desk alter your view, in a practical and theoretical sense?

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