Week 41 & 42: Tiny World/From Afar

Just as I thought I was getting caught up again, I’m weeks behind.  So sorry!  Things were insane last week — projects and papers and homework, oh my.  It seriously was an overloaded week, and I was consumed for a while leading up to it.

Back to business now — let’s try to get back in the swing of things.

So I still had a few photos tucked away in my “52 week arsenal” for these subjects, which I took on my last trip to the beach.  I know, I’m milking it, but really, it’s some of my favorite type of photography, and when I can get a couple different views from a place which I photograph so often, I’ll happily share them with you.

What I’m also happy about is that the themes for these two weeks, “from afar” and “tiny world” work very nicely together.  While at the beach, along with the other themes of muted tones and perfect pairs which I tried to keep in mind, I thought of these as well.

I always enjoy the sunrise and sunset photos, but I’m also always looking for something different.  It could be anything from a little seaweed or drift wood which has washed up, some interesting shells and rocks, piers and structures on the bay side, or any type of wildlife, if I’m lucky to see something.  You get to see the occasional sand piper and the frequently visiting seagulls, which I always appreciate, but I love when I get more variety.  Luckily for me and my family, there were some rare sightings this trip!

To begin, the sunrises are always beautiful, and often attract the aforementioned birds.  While I was snapping away, however, I was thoroughly annoyed by the people who were standing right in the middle of the sunrise, blocking the usual unobstructed view I try to get.  Then I started noticing how tiny they were in comparison to the whole scene, and decided if they weren’t going to move, that I’ll work with it.

Along with their silhouettes in the photos, we were also happy to see that some dolphins decided to stop by for a visit.  You’re more likely to see them right at dawn than at any other time of the day, but even so, they don’t show up all the time.  They were also very active; jumping completely out of the water, and full of energy.  Try as I might, I wasn’t able to capture the true “action shot of their jumping, but I did catch a few shots of them popping up on the surface a little more than usual.

The next day while we were in the middle of our fishing craziness, we got another surprise, and this was a big one.  My mother, the usual spectator when we’re doing things like fishing, was walking around the beach, checking out the view, and looking around for shells and things.  All of a sudden she yells “Hey!  I think I see something out there!”  Of course, we stop what we’re doing, fishing lines cast and all, and start searching the waves for something.  “No, it’s waaaaaaayyyyy out there!”  On the search again.  Then right at the horizon line, I see this large flash of while.  I was completely at a loss for what it was.  A boat?  Some strange reflection?  It was just this long while object jetting out of the water occasionally.  Very strange.  We stare at it for a few more minutes before I finally say that I think it’s a whale.  A few people start gathering around, and when they don’t see it right away, they wander off.  Then he breached, and it was an amazingly huge breach.  Of course, I scream at the top of my lungs “it’s a whaaaaleeeeeeee!!!!!!!!”, and everyone comes running back.  I’ve only had one other whale sighting in Ocean City, and that was a pretty crazy story, too, so it was exciting to see this.  We watched in awe for the next few minutes before I finally ran to get my camera.  Even with obsessively trying to photography all things interesting, at least I can say that I still know how to sit back and enjoy a moment once in a while.  So with my lens all the way zoomed, I tried my best to get a picture, but he was just too far.  I mean, you can still tell that it’s a whale, clearly, but it’s blurry.  And the frustrating thing about that?  I just swapped lenses that morning and left the big one in the room, because, what in the world am I going to need that for on the beach, fishing?  Well, apparently, a whale.  I’m not complaining though.  I’m happy to have seen him, and won’t stress over the picture quality.  Either way, he was beautiful, and this clearly works as something “from a far”, much more so than the dolphins during sunrise.

So needless to say, it was a wonderful little get away, as brief as it was.  I’m always a little sad when I’m going to the beach for only a couple of days.  I know, I sound so unappreciative — but leaving makes my heartbreak, so I can’t help  but be consumed by the fact that I’m leaving soon the whole time I’m there.  What makes it better are when the short trips work out like this; lots of fun times and memorable experiences, as well as the “favorites” that we have to do any time we visit.  So with that, I’ll leave you with the sunset, and one more photo from afar.

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Week 40: Perfect Pairs

Sand & Sea.  Surf ‘n Turf.  Land & Sea.  Fun ‘n Sun.  Surf & Sun.  Sand & Sun

Flip and Flop?

I think you guys get the idea.  The Beach!  Because I’ll take any reason I can get to go there and to share some pics of the beach with you.  And when you’re talking about perfect pairs, like the theme is for this (late) week, then what else is more perfect than all those little things I mentioned?  Not much that I can think of 🙂

So as you know, I took a little fall trip to the beach the other weekend with the family.  Though it’s always a little sad to go there when it’s cold, because you can’t enjoy lounging on the beach all day and swimming, it’s not sad enough to make me not go.  I really could go any time of year.  I’m always craving those hot summer days, though.  Going in the fall does have its perks, however.  Mostly everything is still open, it’s not freezing cold so you can still be outside and enjoy it, and it’s much less crowded — more beach for me!  Plus, there is this beautiful things called off-season pricing — you get the nice beachfront rooms, which are insanely expensive during the summer, at a pretty good discount.

So with that, we were lucky enough to get one of those rooms, and had the luxury of being able to just wander out to the beach at sunrise every morning.  Yeah, I said I was going to sleep in a recoup on my fall break, but that didn’t happen, and I ended up waking up a little earlier than I normally do.  All for a good cause, so I didn’t mind it.  Especially since my favorite little part of the beach made a reappearance.

Over the years, the scenery at the beach of Ocean City and Bethany Beach has changed quite a bit.  Because it’s just this tiny little peninsula of a town, realistically, it shouldn’t be there anymore.  Since people have built it up to be this huge tourist attraction, however, they have also put a considerable amount of effort into beach preservation and restoration.  They’ve built up dunes, planted plants, and even pump sand from far off shore to build the beach every winter.  It’s been a little sad seeing things change from when I was little; if you couldn’t tell already, I’m sentimental, and I like things to stay the same.  I used to love the boardwalk at Bethany — you used to be able to sit there, feet dangling over the edge, and just stare out at the ocean. Now, they’ve built a dune up so high you can’t even see the ocean from the boards.  The other thing I missed was the rocks.  I don’t know why I loved them so much when I was little, but I did.  My brother and I would climb on them and explore them, even though you weren’t really allowed to.  It was the best spot to find shells if you did a little digging around them.  And I just thought they were pretty.  While they were some of the earlier efforts to preserve the beach, I was sad when they were covered up by other methods.

So just about a week or so before we went to the beach, hurricane Joaquin hit the east coast, and that always makes things interesting.  My parents, who got there a few days before my brother and I did, kept telling me that there was this “huge drop” by the dunes, but I didn’t really think much of it.  Storms, particularly large ones like this, commonly move quite a bit of sand around, but nothing drastic.  Well, I was wrong.  When I got to the beach, I was surprised to see that the dunes looked like they were cut in half.  When approaching it from the boardwalk, they looked the same, but once you got near the top, you could see that there was a drop about 15 feet down — they really took a beating with this storm.  Not that I mind, I want them gone!  But along with all this sand movement, my rocks reappeared!  I was so happy to see them, as silly as that may be.  It made me think of all the fun summers spent at the beach while I was younger, and gave me something new to photograph during my sunrise sessions!  So while I’m sure they’ll be gone by summer, I was happy to see them for the weekend.  Enjoy the rock pictures, as well as a few from my favorite bay side sunset spot 🙂

Hot Summer Days

While there were many ideas buzzing around my head, I decided to go with what I know most, and what I love.  What better thing could I photograph for the “heat wave” theme than a place that is always best served hot?  Nothing is better than the beach!

Everything about the beach comes alive in the summer. In being as much of a beach fanatic as I am, I’ve been there in every possible weather imaginable.  Yes, I’ve seen snow on the beach — it’s pretty, but not the same as a hot day!  In the summertime, people and families are buzzing around, the city is packed, the places are busy, it’s just swarming with excitement and happiness.  Not to mention the more natural beauties you get to see.  There are dolphins, fish, and even the occasional whale sighting if you’re lucky (and this year, a lot of shark sightings, yikes).  The plants are lush, and the marshy lands surrounding the bay side are full and green.  There are countless sea birds of all different types, and plenty of different little crab critters.  It just makes me happy to be there, seeing the environment so full of life, and the happiness of the people who are there, including my family.

And it’s hot!  Like, sand burning your feet, can’t sit in the sun long hot!  My family consists of a bunch of sunbathers, with the exceptions of my dad, who will burn to an immediate crisp.  While he’s busy avoiding the sun, we’re out there roasting in it, practically running to the water when we can no longer take the heat.  We stay out at the beach all day, also, which is probably my favorite part.  While the sun may be nearly intolerable during the day at times, once you get to the 5 o’clock hour it’s like a warm, snuggly hug from nature.  I sound like a dork, I know, but if you ever catch me lounging on the beach at this time I’m definitely facing the sun, and probably have a smile on my face.  Love it.

So with the summer winding down, I’ll take a few moments to reminisce of all the hot days before the snow rears its ugly head. Enjoy!

Like the Sands Through the Hourglass…

…so are the days of our lives.

Teehee — couldn’t help myself! 🙂  It is, after all, the perfect quote for this post, regardless of its cheesy reference!

Yes! I finally got my hourglass, which was the mystery prop I mentioned for the week 28 theme of “sunrise/sunset”.  Thanks to that, I’ve also finally caught up on one of my missed weeks!  I was so excited to take the hourglass along with me on our family vacation to the beach, even if everyone thought I was nuts for it.  I’m used to the joking and teasing, it’s all in fun.  Do you want to know a great benefit of tolerating the crazy looks and having my family along while I’m taking photos?  Available models, regardless of willingness!  Yep — they might poke fun, but I lure them into my ideas.  They’re always such good sports about it, particularly my grandmother.  It’s always a good time taking photos of her; she doesn’t get the point of anything that I’m doing, and is constantly giggling and rolling her eyes.  Even so, she’s a great listener, and very patient with my constant repositioning of her poses.

While considering different approaches for the sunrise/sunset theme, she definitely came to mind.  Though I wanted to capture and actual sunrise and sunset in my images, I wanted them to be more representational of a greater beginning and end than that of a day.  Thinking of a new day brings to mind clichés such as “ever day is a new start!”, and things of that nature, with the night echoing similar ideas of endings and letting things go.  On a greater scale, I think of the dawn rising representing a great new beginning, like that of a new life, a birth.  The sun setting is representative of the sun setting on a life, a final day.

So while it makes me somber to thing of my grandmother in this context, I’m grateful that she was willing to help with this concept.  Doesn’t help that this time my family caught on to what I was doing, and teased us about how I had to get my poor old grandmother to hold the hourglass because she’s “running out of time”.  Again, all in jest, but they were kind of right.

My original idea was to creat a diptych of a sunrise and sunset, with the hourglass in both images, and different models holding it.  A set of younger hands holding the hourglass with the sand at the top, representing a new life with an abundance of time, and a set of older hand holding the hourglass with the sand at the bottom, representing a life which is nearing its end.  However, since there are no little ones in the family, and the idea of me approaching a family with a small child on the beach at sunrise is more than creepy, my plan was slightly foiled.  Instead, I took multiple photographs; some of just the hourglass in both situations, and others with my grandmother at sunset.

I have to say, I’m happy with both types of images.  While I previously thought that the images with just the hourglass would be lacking in substance, I think they’re able to hold their own.  Another part of the original concept was to photograph the sun through the hourglass at both times of day, and I’m loving that effect.  Not only does it bring more interest to the glass itself, but it’s almost as if the sun is the sand pouring through the hourglass in some of the images; as if the days truly are the grains of sand in our lives.

It’s always fun spending time with my grandmother, and it was nice to hear her say that she enjoyed the sunset.  Surprisingly, she also said she had never seen the sunset on the bay before, or at least at my secret little bay beach spot, so I’m glad she had fun as well.  So, thank you, Lela, for always helping me with my crazy little projects, and being patient with me.  I pray that you have many more grains of sand in your hourglass.

Week 27: Independence

It’s hard to believe that we’ve already made it this far through the year, and that I’m already past the half way point of this 52 week challenge.  I still have a couple to do from past weeks which I haven’t forgotten about, but for now, I’m just happy to be catching up on the few weeks I’ve recently messed up on!

Independence is the topic for this week.  It’s an interesting topic, and can have different meanings to different people.  With the 4th of July just this past weekend, I’m sure the idea of independence comes to mind with a much more patriotic meaning for a large amount of people.  For me, however, independence has always brought a different feeling to mind.

I’ve always liked being on my own, being able to be myself, and not having to answer to anyone.  I moved out when I was just 18, and haven’t really looked back.  Though over the years this has been limited, I’ve tried to express myself the best I could while still abiding to the confines of the corporate world, and trying to be what many perceive as “a responsible adult”.    I know you all have heard me talk about how crazy things have been lately, and I suppose I should break it down to you, as it really all comes down to one thing; my independence has been cut off.  Yes, it’s true, I suppose the pay check of my (terrible) job was one, if not it’s only, perk, because now I’m out of resources and options.  I’ve moved back in with family, and don’t really see the option to pursue my educational and artistic dreams.  I’ve been accepted to MICA, a school I’ve always dreamed of going to, and have received 90% of the tuition in scholarships, grants, and loans, but am being suffocated by the fact that I cannot come up with the other 10%.  And the icing on the cake — I can’t find a job to save my life!  Everyone looks at me like I have three heads when I tell them I left my tenured management position in banking to pursue an art degree, and am willing to take a considerable pay cut to work at their company.  I know, stay positive.  I know, everything will happen the way it’s supposed to.  But it’s been pretty difficult to stay positive when I start thinking that the “way things are supposed to be” may end up being the exact opposite of how I’ve always wished they would be.

Yes, I know I’m lucky, as many have told me, to have family that will help me while I’m in need, but at the same time, this help comes with a lot of hurt.  I know my family loves me, I love them too, but we have an interesting relationship, much of which revolves around them not understanding me and wanting me to change.  Ah, yes, the sounds of teenage angst coming back — “parents just don’t understand!”.  It sounds silly, I know, but that’s always been our relationship (and you can throw my brother, aunt and grandmother in there, too), and it saddens me to see just how unwilling they are to see things from a different perspective.  Over the years I’ve been through quite a bit, professionally and personally, but one thing that I’m glad I’ve learned is how to see things from another perspective, and to gain information about situations before making a judgement.  They’re quite the opposite.  How I should be, feel, think, and grow in this world is made up in their minds, and that is where we will always clash.  My deviation from what they expect is what angers them, and my desires to do things which seem illogical to them, because it is the only way for me, is where they find me irresponsible and immature.  Independence.  It’s really an interesting word.  In a world, like mine, where family so strongly influences what you do, it can be a difficult thing to achieve, particularly when you need their support for things they find foolish.  They’re practically begging me to give up going to MICA, find a regular job, and just be happy doing art as a hobby.  I’m out of ways to tell them that going back to that life would most likely kill me…  Gasping for air to get out of the dark waters which were that life took so much energy, effort, and bravery that I didn’t think I had, I don’t know if I could do it again.

When I was in my very first class, on the very first night, of my very first semester in returning to school, we were instructed by my photography teacher to fill out a little card with our information on it.  Half information about who we were, and half one of those typical introduce yourself to the group type exercises.  One of the questions was to select which animal best describes you, and why.  Most people have something fierce, like a lion, or a hawk, showing their bravery, strength, and confidence.  Questions like this always throw me for a loop, so I had to spend most of my time thinking of how to select an appropriate animal.  I know, it’s a silly introduction, who cares?  But I always put too much thought in to these things…maybe because I remember situations like this three years later.  Anyways, after much deliberation, I came up with what I still think is the most accurate animal to describe me, and why.  A bird.  At that time, I was nearing the worst part of my professional career, and my head was filled with ideas of a great escape, and how grand life would be in just a few short years.  So when I selected the bird as my “spirit animal” so to say, there was really only one reason that I could think of as to why it was so fitting for my personality.  I could fly.  I would have the ability to be free, and escape to a new place any time I wanted to.  Independence.  No more confinement, no more restriction.  I was trapped in a world where I dreaded waking up in the morning, and I wanted nothing more than to escape.  I didn’t know it then, but going to school and incorporating that artistic outlet in my life at that time would be what really saved me, and helped me keep what little sanity I had at the end of it all.

Waking up nearly three years later and seeing how things have changed, I’m glad that I took the chances that I did, and have started down the path I have.  I’m also terrified that it was all in vain and that it’s steadily coming to an end.  I have people watching my every move and judging my every decision in ways that I haven’t experienced in over a decade, and to be honest, it’s a little terrifying.

This past weekend, though it may have been Independence day, was more like anti-independence day to me.  I had my move on Friday of last week, and had to say goodbye to my life of freedom.  I suppose the only small glimmer in that was that it was the holiday weekend, and I got to have a mini escape to the beach.  There truly is nothing better than being there, to me.  I could go there penniless, and would still have an immeasurable amount of happiness, serenity, and relaxation.  It really couldn’t have come at a better time.  So while I was there, I stopped to take a few pictures of my favorite places, as well as made time to visit places that I’ve always wanted to shoot, but never made the time for.  Of course, there were my birds, flying free in the ocean air.  Admiring them over a landscape which seems endless it really something I find hard to describe.  It’s cathartic — I could just stay out there forever, watching them, and whatever else may come by.  Even though I may not be “free” anymore, being in an environment like that really sets my mind free.  When it’s normally racing with thoughts of what I could have done differently, what people are going to think about me, what I should and should not be doing, there’s quiet.  When I look out in to the vast openness of the ocean, it’s like anything is possible, and anything could be just around the horizon.  It’s the only place where there is freedom from the confines of my mind, while watching nature, feeling the sand between my toes, and admiring my spirit animal, in its many different forms.

Week 19: Blending In

In frequently going bird watching with my parents, and wandering around the beach over the years, I’ve learned one thing — you have to keep your eyes open and searching for the hidden things.  Just like the theme for this week, blending in, there are so many things, particularly in nature, that you can walk or drive right by and never even notice it.  I’d like to think that I have a keen eye, but I’ve got to admit, I’ve missed plenty of things!  And that’s not always a bad thing.  For instance, I would rather not know about ever single solitary spider which has snuck in to my apartment(s) over the years, and would much rather them blend in, and stay out of my line of sight.

So for this week, I’m looking to get away from nature, once again, since that seems to be the easiest thing for me to do.  Though I do enjoy nature photography, I need to get more in the habit of taking photographs that display what my thought process is, my point of view, and the emotions that I’m trying to express.  So while I’m working on things to prepare for this week’s shoot, I’ll also be working on the two previous shoots that I wasn’t able to do, “Red” and “Common Clichés“, and will hopefully have them finished up in the near future as well!

Until then, I’ll leave you with a couple of pictures from last summer!  The birds are from this great little spot on the bay side of Ocean City, Maryland, at around 60th street, while the jellyfish are from a little park just north of Ocean City, also on the bay side.  This bird spot is my parent’s favorite at the beach, though there are many other place to check out both within and right outside the city.  It’s a small spot, but you can almost always find something interesting there, particularly if you arrive just after sunrise.  You have to be patient, and quiet, but you’ll be sure to see some birds lurking in the tall grass growing on the shore of the bay.  It seems like the longer you stare, the more you’ll notice.  The jellyfish, however, were quite a surprise.  if you’re not up for sunrise pictures (I feel you on that one — I’m really not a morning person), you can always stop by this little park for some nice sunset viewing and pictures.  Again, a family favorite spot, we go there often, but I don’t remember ever seeing jellyfish like this.  It was just after sunset at this point, and I was on my way back to the car after walking around the mushy parts of this little bay park that I’m never quite sure if you’re allowed to walk around, and there they were.  Tons of these palm-sized white jellyfish, just barely viewable in the shallows of the surf.  These were some of my favorite pictures from the trip, and I’m glad that with them being to difficult to see, that some of these pictures turned out.  Enjoy!