A mental hump…

For some time my parents, my mother in particular, have been encouraging… perhaps pushing… me to look into selling some of my pictures as prints. Personally I think this is rather deranged even though I do think I get some good shots on occasion…

An occasional good shot

While I do love the encouraging words and thoughts it’s the sort of thing I imagine many children take with a grain of salt. You know… of course mom and dad are going to be supportive and such. It’s all part of the job, right?

Please don’t misunderstand. I do not mean to impugne their encouragement in any way. It’s mostly a matter of it being easier to dismiss such support than it is to embrace it. It’s part of the way I work, for better or worse. (worse I’m certain)

But also of late I have been receiving no small amount of prodding, encouragement and definite pushing from my neighbors and friends, the Edwards. They are a couple who live across the street and whose lawn I mow. We have long had this lawn-mowing relationship, but over the past five or so months it has bloomed into a friendship as well.

Part of this friendship has included a lot of pushing me to seriously consider selling my images as prints. Lynda, herself an artist and lover of art, has been particularly encouraging, helping me to think about various ways I might get my feet wet in the world of selling one’s own works.

And truth be told I wouldn’t mind giving it a whirl…

Albino squirrel

Our albino squirrel: Abbie

We have discussed obtaining a booth in a local art festival, but that one was already closed to new entries. But there remains other opportunities coming up as we move from the dog days of summer into the more pleasant months of Autumn.

But there remains one single hurdle… hump, if you will… which I need to overcome and that is the one of self-deprecation.

Simply put: I like, even love, some of my work, but it’s one thing to think well of your own work and another to think highly enough such that others would be willing to part with their hard-earned cash for it.

It is an obstacle with which I have been fighting for pretty much all my life. Not about photography specifically, but about most anything at which I showed any genuine talent. It’s part of who I am to doubt myself. To be insecure. To see no worth in whatever it is I can do, whether I do it well or not.

However, I do not image this isn’t an uncommon problem amongst artists. Not that I wish to place myself into the same category as real artists (see? there! I’m doing it already), but aren’t we usually our own worst critics?

I know plenty of folks on Flickr whose work I think is vastly superior to my own, yet there is nothing wrong with my work. More to the point, there is nothing saying that others, the public, wouldn’t enjoy my prints as much as I enjoy the pictures of others on Flickr.

Fortunately a very strange thing occurred on Friday while I was in attendance at a First Friday event in a small town south of where I live. I have attended a handful of the First Friday events at this place and learned the other day the event is doing well enough that they are in the process of converting the basement space into studios. And while I don’t need studio space it is a space from which to sell my wares.

Oddly enough, when I heard about this instead of thinking the usual thoughts (“No one would buy my pictures,” etc.) and putting up obstacles to success I was almost giddy with the idea that I might give it a try. That I could make it work.

Unheard of.

Woodland flower

Woodland flower

Now that the weekend has passed I wonder if I might be better served by trying to work some fairs and festivals for a year or two if for no other reason than to gauge the market potential for selling my work. After all, the rental of a booth at a weekend art festival is far less than that of rent for a space in a building.

Please don’t construe this to mean I’m back-tracking upon myself. No. Instead I prefer to think it is being more realistic and reasonable about the appropriate way to commence such a bold adventure. So let’s see if we can get this whole thing rolling…

Things in life…

They say there are two things in life of which one may be certain: death and taxes. I’d like to add a third: not working on your blog.

Clearly I’m guilty of such.

As this is a blog dedicated to my adventures in photography one may be forgiven for thinking I had given up photography. And some would further suggest this isn’t such a bad idea! However, they would be wrong. Wrong about my having given up photography, but not about it being a good idea.

I have, actually, been snapping pictures and such ever since my last post regarding the birds in the snow. That was, I might add, a glorious day. One for the record books. And as is my wont I have been all over the place photography-wise. I’ve snapped more pics of the feral and homeless cats I feed and watch over. I’ve snapped some using the daughter and her friend as models. And, of course, there have been birds, flowers, landscapes, etc. I’ve pretty much covered all my usual bases.

Hell.. I even attended a Scott Kelby seminar in Indianapolis, Indiana with my camera store guru and new friend Alex. It was titled “Light It, Shoot It, Re-Touch It”. It was fun and cool and very exciting. Also a bit baffling as I don’t use Photoshop, which is the software he was using for the seminar. Even more bizarre was that I was the grand prize winner of an all-access pass to Photoshop World being held in Las Vegas this coming September. Absolutely wild it was. A room filled with over 500 professional photographers and I, the non-Photoshop using hobbiest, walk away with the grand prize.

Who would have thunk it?

Though all this background information does nothing to explain why I haven’t been posting. I wish I could offer a reasonable or useful explanation, but I have none. Unmotivated? Surely. Lazy? Without doubt. Lacking guidance? Of course.

But if pressed to offer a real reason… if pressed to truly weigh and consider why it is I haven’t been posting for a while I think I would point to two reasons:

1) The situation at home. Meaning, the continued lack of gainful employment coming my way (regardless of the number of resumes I’ve been sending out) and the low-level tension which exists between myself and my ex-wife-to-be. Mind you, we get along just fine. Our problem was never one of fighting or anything like that. The tension comes from simply having to continue living together while anxiously waiting for something good to happen to/for me in the job market so we can get the ball of divorce rolling, so to speak.

2) A lack of direction related to photography.

Point 1 is simply no within the purview of this blog so I shall not venture forth and illuminate you to the particulars in that matter, but I can speak here to point 2.

I enjoy snapping pictures. I really do. I do it almost daily. If not with my dSLR I’m certain to play shutterbug with my cell phone. Hey… a photograph is a photograph regardless of the device used to take it. And while I have no problem with being a basic and generic shutterbug I had hoped… maybe expected… that by now something in particular would have shown itself to be the sort of photography I wished to focus upon.

I don’t know why. I mean, I don’t know why I felt that need at all. Maybe it’s a normal and logical conclusion to which to arrive when one undertakes a new hobby. That at some point in the future the hobby will become more sharply focused. More specific. That it will cease to be something simple and become something more complex. Something which requires more time and dedication and in which one feels as if they are growing within the confines and context of said hobby.

But why does it have to be that way? I suppose it doesn’t. Regardless it is the way I feel and since it’s my hobby and my blog and my life, why shouldn’t I live it the way I feel regardless of how it appears to only add anxiety and complexity where none is necessary?

So where does this leave me exactly? Where am I and what are my plans? My intentions? My concerns and needs?

Fuck all if I know.

I almost wonder if I’m holding back, intentionally or otherwise, simply because I feel as if the rest of my life is on hold. Waiting for a job. Waiting for a divorce. Waiting for finding a new place to live and starting over on my own. Perhaps these up-in-the-air issues are thwarting my attempts to move forward with photography? Or maybe it’s simpler than that. Maybe I’m just not certain where to go. What to do.

Hell… I still have a terrible record at figuring out which of my own pictures is better than the rest. I’m still regularly amazed at the reaction I will get to one photograph on flickr, while another, one I think is great, garners little to no attention. For example, I posted the following two pictures a few weeks ago:

The first picture, of my cat Pumpkin sunning himself at the front door, generated 43-views and 6-separate comments. The second picture, of a mallard at a local park, generated 26-views and 1-comment.

The picture of Pumpkin was just a whim. Just me enjoying snapping a photo of one of my cats doing what they do best: getting some sun. The one of the mallard was me doing what I love best: snapping pics of nature. Especially of animals and birds in particular. I worked hard that particular afternoon to grab a handful of good shots of the male and female mallards enjoying the early spring/late winter day at the pond. And I worked hard to narrow down the field of photos until I had what I thought were the best of the best. And this one… this one in particular really stood out for me.

Tack-sharp. Gorgeous colours. A perfect profile.

In my mind the mallard was a winner. Hands down. Should have been favourited and commented upon and loved by all. Instead it was the everyday shot of a cat in the sun which generated the far greater response. What the hell is wrong with me that I don’t see this? Am I too close to my own work to recognize what’s better? I’m I prejudiced to think less of the casual snap of the cat because I didn’t ‘work’ for it? Am I simply incapable of recognizing something basic and fundamental about the images that would have told me the picture of Pumpkin would be the more popular?

For someone who sometimes entertains the notion of trying to sell one’s work it’s very disconcerting to find oneself incapable of recognizing what may be the better work (at least when based upon viewers preferences).

So… where does this leave me at this time? Am I going to continue with this blog? I’d like to think so. I confess to having an idea for another blog, one which I believe is much closer to my heart, but I am concerned that if I cannot remain dedicated to this one why would I be dedicated to another even if it is something more important to me (the subject, not blogging itself)? It’s a dilemma and is, in part, the reason I have yet to commit to starting it.

As if life isn’t messy enough without me trying to make it more so. What a putz.

Tie me off lover…

I know I’m guilty of it.

A longing stare. A feeling of lust. A sideways glance followed by a knowing smile and nod of the head. Yeah… that’s it. Work it… WORK IT… WORK IT!!

I confess it doesn’t happen every time. It’s not like I’m some sort of perv after all. Yet it happens often enough, but can you really blame me? I mean, it’s the one thing I know pretty well even though it has little bearing on anything. But some days I just can’t help it.

Camera envy.

I’m out some place, snapping pics with my trusty Canon 40D, when along comes some stranger. A stranger with a bigger & badder camera. Maybe it’s a Nikon D300s. Mabye a Canon 7D. On occasion it’s a Canon 5D Mark II. And often, but not always, they have some hot-ass piece of glass attached to their luscious camera. Some sort of crazy fixed f/2.8 or a monster 400mm prime.


I just want to touch it. I want to stop them and say “Hey… do you mind if I take a hit off that 7D?” or “Can I lick that lens?” But it’s embarrassing. Embarrassing to look and feel so needy. Embarrassing because I know the quality of a photographer’s work has far less to do with the equipment than it does anything else.

Granted, quality equipment can help take & make better pictures. That f/2.8 lens allows for options one doesn’t readily have when shooting at f/5.6. A better & faster auto-focus system can mean the difference between getting the shot and not getting it. But that pricey and delicious equipment doesn’t make one a better photographer, just one able to more readily capture a given situation.

But all that knowledge and understanding means little when I’m out in the field and I come across some photographer strutting about with their D300s in hand or their 7D attached to a monopod. Nope. All my careful thinking and understanding goes right out the proverbial window and I find myself smitten. Wanting to touch. To caress. To ask things like “Does it increase your sexual potency? Do you have to fight off the women with a stick? Did it cure your arthritis?”

I feel like a fucking junkie…

Perchance to dream…

It happened again. I experienced a photography-related dream.

And no doubt the overall weirdness of the dream could be directly related to the rather powerful drug I took yesterday, which is for migraine headaches. Not that I get migraines any longer… I used to… but not in some time.


Instead I take it for when I am struck down by a particularly horrible sinus headache. The sort so intense I feel nauseous, like I’m going to hurl, cannot eat and every movement of my head sends waves of pain through my body. The surgery I had two years ago has gone far to greatly diminish the number of attacks each year, but now they simply appear to be more intense each time. Joy. But somehow I have gotten off track here…. must have something to do with reading this guy’s blog.


So…. dreaming. I don’t recall any dreams from the past 24-hours, but this one. I’m driving along some roadway when I’m struck by the awesome grandeur of the sun setting between these two buildings. The buildings, which are close together, create a wonderful frame for the intense orange orb hanging quite low in the sky. There were some power lines criss-crossing the sun, but they only seemed to add to the photographic quality of the moment.

I remember ‘thinking’ in the dream “I don’t have time to get out the dSLR. The sun is setting too fast and I need to get this image NOW!” As such, I pull off the road and rush to get out of my car with camera phone in hand. Moving into position so that the gap between the buildings is nicely centered in my cell phone’s screen I press the shutter release button.

“Click” goes the phone.

And I get something not unlike this…

“Ummmm,” I think to myself inside the dream. “That’s not what I was photographing.” Confused, but determined, I re-shoot the setting sun and wind up with a picture of, and I’m not kidding, a parrot sitting on a branch in what appears to be a lush and tropical rain forest.

“What the fuck?” races through my dream mind and with ever greater determination I re-compose the shot, press the shutter release and wind up with a picture of a boat. And not just any boat, but a canal boat of which I have seen plenty of late via a fellow Flickr-ites photostream.

Now, in this dream, I’m stomping my feet and cursing Bog and all the heavens for the injustice being done unto me, while the gorgeous, bright orange orb of the sun sinks below the horizon leaving just the two buildings and power lines glowing in the light of dusk.

A Roller Coaster of Indecision

A review of my posts to this oft-neglected blog would reveal a picture of a character who appears completely uncertain of their abilities and/or talents. This, to be frank, describes me perfectly. Lacking confidence… the world is the proverbial ‘glass half empty’… That’s just the way I roll. But I’m trying to do something about that. Taking charge…. trying to see the glass half full instead of the preferred route of half empty…. imagining better outcomes. It is very much an uphill battle.

But lately I have adopted something more of a can-do; take-charge; damn the torpedoes, full speed ahead mentality. And this is a major turn around mentally as it was only a few months back (during the holidays) that I had become very certain it was time to give up on this photography caper…. this photography “lark” as a certain friend is fond of saying.
The reasons were numerous. And almost exclusively shit.

Self-defeating. Self-deprecating. Woe is me. Just pure, 100% fucking bullshit. I tell you I was this close (thumb and fore-finger spread a centimeter apart) to packing up my camera equipment and shipping it off to another friend, who undoubtedly would have put it to far better use than I. However, as the holidays passed I had to make a day-trip to Chicago as part of bringing another portion of my life to a close. And it was during the 12-hour round-trip drive I had loads of time to think. And to ponder. And to re-think and re-ponder. And maybe even wonder a little bit. It was during this trip I decided to stop being such a giant ass and do something about this unbearable situation.

I would get motivated. I would get back into doing photography related things. I would stop looking for excuses as to why I wasn’t doing something and just fucking do it.

And so here I am…. in front of the computer…. adding an entry to my long-neglected photography-related blog. But that’s not all! No!! I’ve already done some other things as well and I’m gonna spill the beans here and now and WOW! you with my steely resolve and dedication. Well…. that is….. if you’re still bothering to read this shit.

First: I bought some books. Not just any ‘ol books either: photography books. For the moment I’ll pass on revealing the author and titles, but suffice it to say I spent no small amount of time researching. I was looking for someone who wasn’t just going to give me a dry dissertation on photography, but someone who would make it feel fun again. I’ll let you know how that goes once I get into them, which will be soon after…

Second: I’m in a photography class. My local camera store, Click! Camera, offers two five-week series of courses designed to help aspiring photographers (hobbyists, not pros) come to grips with this lark. The first course, which started last week, covers the more basic aspects of photography of which I already feel rather certain of. That said, I view this as an opportunity to hopefully expand upon what I already know (or think I know) and to change in wrong information/ideas I might have. And in the meantime…

Third: I caught up with my contacts on Flickr. I regularly follow my contacts uploads and I’m not one who gives them a quick glance in thumbnail sizes. No sir. I open up an extra tab and look at them in slideshow and when I come across one where I wish to leave a comment I return to the previous tab, find the image and leave a comment. I am, if nothing else, a dedicated contact. Except that I wasn’t very dedicated for some months and it took almost an entire week of spending many hours each day in front of the computer to catch up. But I’m glad I did. I enjoy my contact’s pictures and I very much like many of my contacts (the ones with whom I have established a more personal relationship). It felt really good to be caught up.

Fourth: I have revamped my iMac, which is the computer I use for this photography caper. This doesn’t sound like much of anything, but trust me: it’s major. Back when I was working on my old desktop PC and using CaptureOne 4 for editing, etc. I was simply saving my pictures in folders based upon the date I transfered them to the computer from my memory cards. The system was simple, but not particularly helpful at keeping track of my pictures in any meaningful manner. When I purchased the iMac I also purchased Adobe’s Lightroom (v.2), which offered all sorts of options in regards to cataloguing, keywording, etc. To be fair, so did CaptureOne 4, but I had never taken advantage of such options. So not only have I revamped my entire library of photos (not completely true: I haven’t imported the older images edited in CaptureOne to Lr, but I will once I have decided how I want to do this), but I’m going through the slow and laborious process of adding keywords to every single freaking picture I have taken since about May of 2009. No joy, but it should be well worth the effort in the long-term.

Fifth: I entered some pictures into a photography contest! Okay….. this isn’t exactly something new for me as I did enter a picture into a local photography competition last year (taking 2nd place in my category I might add!) and I have entered a handful of pictures into the “Picture of the Week” competition that occurs at my local grocer, but this latest incident is different. Bigger. International. My wife and I regularly donate to an organization called Defenders of Wildlife and this year they are running a photo competition whereby you can enter up to five pics in each of two categories: wildlife and wild lands. As I don’t take much in the way of wild lands photographs I elected to enter the wildlife category, which fortunately for me includes insects! Below are the images I forwarded to the competition:

The important thing about the competition (besides the grand prize, which is a trip to Yellowstone National Park!) is that I entered. That I believed in the power of these particular images. That not entering means there was zero chance I could win, but that entering meant I could win. Sure… the likelihood is quite remote, but that’s not the point. There is some chance…. regardless of how small.

And it is this sort of reaching for what could happen that I need to latch on to. And run with it.

[Update: I just completed the second major process in the way I handle my pictures in Adobe Lightroom by adding keywords to over 1,300 images. What a load off my mind!]

Dreaming About Photography

Sound asleep last night while the brain went on its usual tour of the weird and wild via dreaming. I’m walking through what may be described as a long hanger with glass on either side. Apparently I was preparing to board a plane and this hanger-like structure was like a terminal.

While walking along with the other prospective passengers I noticed how interesting the building next door looked. There were openings that had been covered in some sort of yellow coverings, which contrasted nicely with the falling rain, grey skies and general mood of matters.

Thinking this would make a great photo opportunity I put down my bags and started rummaging around for my camera. The large bay door at the end of this hanger began to open and I knew my chance had arrived. I finally find my camera only to discover that it’s not my camera. It’s my bag, but not my camera. As a matter of fact it doesn’t look like any camera I’ve ever seen before and I have no idea how to operate it (not unlike real life with my Canon 40D!).

I start walking out onto the tarmac in the rain while trying to figure out any of the controls on the camera so that I might fire off at least one shot. As my attention is upon the camera I haven’t noticed that my brain has changed she scene until I look up after being frustrated by the camera. Now the scene is of a mountainous park, like a state or national park, with tourists buzzing around snapping pictures and looking at the flora and fauna.

Of course, being a dream, I think nothing of this complete change in scenery and location and return my attention to the overly frustrating camera of death.

I don’t know if I ever figured it out. And I still don’t know if or what it all means. Typical.

Really….I’m trying my best. No. Really.

Having been on something akin to a sabbatical for many, many weeks, I have been, of late, attempting to get back into the full swing of life that is related to photography.

This means not only taking pictures, which I have done a bit of, but catching up on sites such as WordPress and Flickr. It also entails the knowledge that I have loads of pictures sitting upon my hard drive, anxiously awaiting my deft touch at processing.


Besides feeling the simple urge to get away from photography a bit, I have also delved into other matters, which have been keeping me both busy and occupied. Part of the current problem of catching up with photography-stuff is that I’m not letting go of the new things to which I have been engaged. Thus time becomes even more fleeting and is a rather large impediment to any sense of accomplishing tasks both necessary and desired each day.

But I promise, like a holy oath, that I’m working on catching up with everyone’s WordPress and Flickr site as well as moving forward to working on my own photographs and photography blogs. Thus far I’ve found it easier to play catch up with everyone else’s work than on my own. I’m still feeling something of a sensation to push away from the computer whenever I contemplate opening up my folders and going through my own work.

I cannot tell if this is just me reacting to a perceived lack of accomplishment in my photography or if it is something more sinister. No. That isn’t right. There isn’t anything more sinister afoot. You know…..upon reflection (and I’ve spent a fair amount of time reflecting on my photography while not actually doing any photography) I might be willing to concede that there is something of a crisis in faith going on here, which is really quite pathetic.

A number of folks I follow around WordPress and Flickr create fantastic images. Images I very much enjoy and hope that perhaps one day I’ll be able to create on my own. But the impediment to this creativity is myself. As I’ve lamented previously, I’m not a particularly creative person. So, if I know this fact about myself in advance, why should I feel anxious that I’m not creating pictures that are as interesting, etc. as those done by others, who are clearly gifted with creativity?

It would be like me envying Michael Jordan his basketball skills or Thierry Henry his football skills when I’m completely rubbish at sport because I’m hopelessly uncoordinated. And I don’t envy them their skills. But maybe that is because I haven’t ever had an interest in being a sports star, where I have thought it would be nice to be a player in the world of photography. Not a big player, but a player.

But you know something (yes, I imagine you must know something)…..now that I type this thought here, into WordPress, I realize how completely stupid it sounds. Not that my assessment is stupid, as it’s likely correctly. No, what’s stupid is that I feel this way at all.

Maybe I have to look at creativity from the context of who I am. Am I being creative for my own purposes instead of judging such against those whose work I admire and think of as being creative. I guess it is, in part, that we all aspire to believe or feel that we are really good/great at something and photography is one of those things for me. But I can live without being good or great at it. As long as I can derive pleasure from the act of photography then I should be happy enough and this is where I should be focusing my energies.

There….all better.

I hope this was a dream….

(while it wasn’t my intent to post for a bit due to certain issues and matters, this was too weird to not post)

It is not unusual for reality to slip into my dreams and create some unusual circumstances and last night’s dream is no exception. I really like the way my dream pulled points of reality into the chaotic world that is so often our dreams, but also pulled something from its bag of tried and true points, which will become clearer soon.

In this dream I was attending some sort of extended family get-together, which included a dinner and such. While making my way into the house I noticed the rising moon and thought to myself, within the dream of course, “I need to get a picture of that,” which I blame on this friend’s lovely photo. I worked my way around the back yard of this family members home, but couldn’t find the right place by which to snap my picture.

The dream jumps such that I’m now standing in some sort of narrow road in a small town’s downtown area (High Street for those readers across the pond) not unlike this friend’s image, but I’m again having issues with finding a good vantage point from which to snap a picture. I decide that I should use my telephoto lens so I pull it out of the camera bag and begin putting it together.

Now, I’m having a hard time trying to figure out how to describe this ‘lens’ as it looks nothing like a lens. The base of the lens, the part which attaches to the camera, is shaped not unlike an open umbrella if you pressed it together from two opposing sides. Attached to the top of this section was what can best be described as a lens tube that was more like a tripod leg in that each section fit inside a slightly larger one and there were locking clamps for each section. I busied myself with extending and locking the tubes and thinking to myself “This is going to be really big. I wonder if I need a tripod?”

I know. Weird doesn’t even begin to cover it.

As I finish setting up this crazy contraption called a ‘lens’ I notice an Air Force B-52 fly overhead from right to left. It is low, wheels extended and obviously coming in for a landing or practicing touch-and-goes at some airfield. Right after the B-52 passes from sight an Air Force B-1 flies by, but makes this impossible turn and dashes in another direction. And right after this occurs a plane of some sort (one I don’t recognize as I’m reasonably certain it’s made up, but possibly based upon the 1950’s F-104 Starfighter (here)) appears in the sky, also makes an impossible turn and then tumbles from the sky heading straight for me.

I dream about airplanes quite a bit. And I always dream about them in one of two ways: (1) They are falling from the sky onto or quite near me, and (2) I’m in one that is always taxiing (yes, it is a real word), but never taking off.

Needless to say I never manage to snap a picture of the moon as I’m fleeing the falling plane, which narrowly misses me and by ‘narrowly’ I mean by inches.

I only wish I WERE on drugs as this would go far as to explaining these sorts of dreams.