Artist’s Pick

Welp, even if I’m not doing so great at getting out there and taking photos right now, at least I’m still submitting things to shows here and there.  I’m happy to say that two more of my photos have been selected for another show at the Bowie City Hall!

This one was a fun one — artist’s choice!  So I went through a couple of my favorite photos from this year, and two out of three were chosen.  The other one was too large, unfortunately, but at least it was too large because they had such a huge response this time.  I’m glad that more people were participating in this show, because that always makes things fun!

So enjoy, and if you’re in the area on the 29th, stop by and check out my stuff!

Week 16: Portrait – Movement

Ah, finally, I can breathe.  Did you miss me?  Just as I thought I was going to be able to stay on top of things, finals struck with an iron fist, and things got crazy.  I’m happy to say, however, that I survived, and I’m happy with all of the finals I completed.  Now, I’m just anxiously awaiting my grades…for what seems like an eternity.  But I’m free!

Even with falling behind, I’m happy to say that again, I’ve wound up making something for class that completely fits in with this challenge.  Is that cheating?  I’m gonna go with no 🙂

So for my Alternative Photography class, I’ve been making work that’s about nature the whole semester (don’t worry, I’ll share it with you soon).  As a final project, I really wanted to print larger than the typical 8 1/2″ x 11″ negatives that we’ve been printing, but I knew I had to do something great to make a single print final worthy.  So instead of just taking some photos of flowers or birds, or whatever I’ve been working with, I decided to photograph “mother nature”.  I like how inspired I’ve been feeling these last few weeks.  Cheesy sounding, I know, but it’s been great letting the ideas flow.  So I had this picture in my mind of how I wanted to photograph “her”, and off I went.

Another perk experienced for these finals — I had tons of models!  It was amazing.  Between the three classes, I had eight, one of which, Brittany, I used for this project.  We went to my favorite little stream that I’ve used on a few other occasions, and dressed in white, with curly hair, and the sun setting, it was everything I wanted….almost.

We started shooting, and something just wasn’t quite right.  We tried different angles, and played with the light, but it just wasn’t what I was thinking.  The rocks were killing our feet this time, so we decided that we should just pack up — I had enough to work with, although it wasn’t perfect.  For some reason, she stayed in the water while I got out, and when I turned around to see why she was still standing in the same place, it was perfect – -the sun was setting nearly directly behind her, the air was glowing in that yellow light, and I knew that was it!  So she splashed in the water, again, as she had been before, and after a few composites of splashes, I had this: exactly what I was thinking.

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I would have loved to be finished at this point, to be honest, but I had a lot more work to do.  At least I’m excited about this process, regardless of how busy and crazy finals are.  Originally, I wanted to do a duo-tone, combining cyanotype with Van Dyke, but, nothing is ever easy with me! After a couple of test prints at school, I couldn’t get the first step, cyanotype, to work, so I decided to take everything home, and do it the old fashioned way; with sunlight.

Did I mention the other struggle of printing this image?  Large.  When dealing with 8 1/2″ x 11″ sheets of transparencies, that means you’re going to have to piece a bunch together to get a big image.  In this case, I ended up working with 9 negatives to create this one image, lined up, side by side, over and over again, trying to make this as seamless as possible. Luckily, with the help of my boss at the framing shop, I was able to get a large piece of glass and foam core to make things a little easier, but it was still a difficult task.  So on the one sunny day we had last week, outside I ran, trying as quickly as I could to get this complicated negative all lined up.

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baking in the sunshine 🙂

A successful batch of three prints done and on to the next phase.  Since my original idea of duo-tone wasn’t possible at home, I decided to go with another method; toning.  After seeing the prints, I really didn’t want to tone them, because some of the blues and highlights turned out so great, but I thought I should since that’s what I told my professor I was doing.   I’ve done some work with tea toning in the past, but he suggested trying coffee, so I thought what better time to try something new.  After having tried both now, I have to say, I should have stuck with something I tried before, because this coffee method took forever.  However, it did give me the look that I was going for, well, for the most part.  In case you’re wondering how it all works, honestly, there’s a million different methods and toners you can use.  In this case, I went with instant coffee in warm/hot-ish water.  After a pre-soak, I left the print in the coffee bath for about an hour.  After it wasn’t reaching the tone I wanted, I decided to bleach the print, using actual bleach diluted in water.  This isn’t the preferred method of bleaching, because it eats through the paper if you leave it for too long, but it’s what I had, and it works if you keep an eye on it.  So after that was lightened,  I put the print in another coffee bath for about an hour, and there you have it.

I love the strange color that I got from this whole coffee/bleaching process, but I’m also glad that I left a few of the prints alone.  Here’s both of them, so you can tell me, which do you prefer?  I’m still undecided.  Enjoy 🙂

 

Week 4: Headshot (kind of)

So I decided to go in a little bit of a different direction for this week’s theme.  Never mind that I’m a little late — I’m working on that.  I think I’m going to be perpetually busy for the next few months, but I digress.  While thinking about what to do, I started Googling “headshots” for inspiration.  Low and behold!  Did you know that people aren’t the only subjects of heatshot photos?  I’ve stumbled across a whole section of animal headshot, and decided that’s just what I’ll do, especially since I had a ton of photos from Florida of animals (well, birds mostly) that I haven’t had a chance to work on.

In going to the usual places, there were the usual subjects; ducks (baby ducks!  So cute!), seagulls, squirrels and so on.  But during this visit, I was out and about with the mentality of “photographer” in mind!  So as I was walking around throughout my trip, I was lucky to snap a couple good shots of those usual suspects, and pretty close up as well.

There were a few odd balls in the bunch, however, as well as a crazy feeding frenzy that I found myself in the middle of!  As for the odd balls, the birds much have been hungry, because I’ve never seen so many fishing birds over such a short amount of time.  Maybe that’s because I’m never looking as frequently as I was during the trip, but I’m sticking with them being hungry this time.  I saw this awesome little Snowy Egret who was fishing like a pro – fish after tiny fish — he was having a feast!  While at the beach that day, I also saw one of my little favorites, a Least Sandpiper, and something I always like to find, a crab!  He was a spider crab, which is different than what I usually see in Ocean City, so it was neat to find something new.

We also made a stop by the aquarium, which is place where I’ve never taken photos before.  I’ve always had reservations about photographing animals in contained habitats.  It just seems too easy, you know?  There’s no excitement in catching them out in the wild, and hoping to get the perfect shot.  However, a girl in one of my classes last semester when to the aquarium to get photos of jelly fish, and I have to admit, I was jealous. So, off we went, and along with the jelly fish photos, I snapped a couple shark photos as well, because let’s be real, I’ll probably never swim with them in the wild.  Well, never say never I suppose.  It may be crazy, but it’s definitely on my bucket list.

As for the feeding frenzy, we went to the beach on my last day there, and my friend was wise enough (and sneaky, because I had no idea) to bring some bread to feed the seagulls. I know, I know, you’re never supposed to feed them, because they go crazy, but in this case, it was pretty amazing.  They started off pretty cautious, not getting to close to us as she threw bread in their directions.  It was only a few minutes, if even that long, before they were swarming around us, and even taking bread directly out of my friend’s hand.  So, half scared that I was going to get pooped on (because if you didn’t know, they’re notorious for that), and have really amazed at how crazy they were acting, I started snapping away.  I have to say, out of all the unusual birds that I saw, these seagulls were my favorite.  What are normally nuisances around the beach turned out to be some pretty majestic models, if you ask me!

Hopefully this counts, but either way, the point is I worked on some photos for this week. I mean, technically, there are faces, just not human faces?  So, animal headshots it is…..even though that sounds weird, like hunting weird.  Ok, so we’ll just say animal close ups, with a focus on their face?  Enjoy!

 

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 🙂

Week 37: Leading Lines

Oh, what terrible neglect I’ve been showing you!  So sorry!  When people said that I was going to be busy with school I thought, “well, it can’t be worse than what I was doing before”.  When my advisor told me that taking six classes and working on top of that was going to be a lot to manage, I thought, “I’ve done it before, how hard can it be?”  Hard.  Real hard.  I’ve had only blinks of sleep over the past few weeks and have been constantly working on things —  papers, photos, sculptures, videos, readings, discussion posts, essays.  You name it, I’ve done a million things over the last month, and it’s been crazy!

Still, even with all the craziness, I’m happy.  When things start to get a little hectic and overwhelming, I just have to remind myself of all the things I would have been doing had I not left my previous job.  My friend, and fellow escapee, have a saying when we’re complaining over something that’s not worth complaining over:  “at least it’s not (enter former employer name here)!”  And with that thought, I’m not only back on track, but I’m snickering to myself as if I’m getting away with something.

I am

…and it’s great.

So with that, let’s get on topic, shall we?

“Leading Lines” is the theme for….well, was the theme for a few weeks ago.  Thankfully, I had the foresight to check the outline of what all the weekly topics were.  Though I didn’t get a chance to think of or work with any conceptual ideas, I did do something that’s a little out of the ordinary for me.  I tried to just snap some photos of “everyday lines” as I saw them throughout my daily routines.  Even though I’m in an art school, and am surrounded by artists every day, it’s still a little weird just pulling out my camera and taking pictures of whatever random person or thing I see that’s interesting.  I need to get over it, I know, I’m trying.  I also need to have my camera on me pretty much at all times; some of these were taken with my phone, simply because of that.  So as I went though my days over the past few weeks, I tried to keep my eyes peeled for interesting lines.

I think I did a fair job of seeking out lines, considering the fact that I barely had a chance to breathe.  I’m happy with the fact that I was able to have this thought in mind (for much longer than I should have), and just saw things that would apply without directly searching for them.  I suppose walking around in new places and doing new things certainly helped in this — I’m much more analytical of new places than of familiar ones when I’m thinking of photographic ideas.  On the other hand, I did snap a shot or two at home that applied to this theme, so that’s another positive.  Trying new things, and evaluating old ones to see them from a different perspective.  So enjoy the photos!

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 28: Sunrise/Sunset

Now if this isn’t a subject that is right up my alley, then I don’t know what is!  Sunrises and sunsets; some of my favorite pictures are of these two things.  Having just been to the beach for a weekend, I’m feeling a little remorse that I didn’t save a few pictures to show you for this post, but oh well.  All the more reason to get out there and shoot some more!

I would say that the trick to this week’s theme is to think of an idea that takes the very conventional landscape photographs and turns them in to something a little unconventional.  I often find my self wondering just how many more of the same sunrise/sunset pictures I am going to take as I click away.  Part of me hates the redundancy, you know that by now I’m sure.  The other part of me just can’t get enough of it, and that’s the part of me that always wins.  No matter how many pictures I have of the same beach, park or pier, I’m always pleased with the differences of each individual day, and am happy to capture a moment that I will never see again.  And besides that, they’re beautiful, so why not get as many shots of that beauty while you can?  It’s good to appreciate the sunny days while you have them.

As far as the tricky part…Don’t you just love it when an idea immediately pops into your head, and it’s a good one?  I do!  And as rare as that is with my picky self, I’m quite grateful.  Now, just to go out and find the prop that I have in mind (side note: yes!  email just popped up with a coupon so I can order AND get a discount!), and to recruit a couple of volunteers, the true tricky part, as usual.  I suppose even if the volunteers don’t work out, my idea still will, but it’s just one of those things.  I have the perfect vision of what I want in my mind, and I’m really hoping that I can capture it just as I see it.  I suppose the other tricky part to this week’s theme will be getting that “sunrise, sunset” song out of my head….especially since I’ve had it stuck in there the whole time I’ve been writing this.

Yes, I suppose you can tell I’m also feeling a little better since my last post.  I know, I know, I kinda poured on the dramatics a little heavy with that one, but I was going through it, so give a girl a break.  I’m trying to be a little more optimistic about things, which is hard, and contrary to how I usually am (I mean, I’ve gotta be realistic here).  I’m also trying to keep myself motivated to work towards the things I want, like going to school, and finding a decent job.  Taking pictures of my favorite things this week should be a great aid in keeping my spirits up.  Fingers crossed that my prop doesn’t take too long to get here.  I would do express shipping, but if you couldn’t tell over my coupon excitement earlier, I’m a free shipping kinda gal.

On a final note, if you can believe it, I have some sunrise and sunset photos you haven’t seen yet.  But Rachel, you post these kinds of pictures all the time!  I know.  Like I said, they really are my favorites.  So here are a few unusual ones.  First, a set of black and white photos of a sunrise on a vacation in Mexico with a few friends.  This is actually the only time I’ve done sunrise photos in black in white, or with my film camera for that matter, because I’m always so focused on featuring the colorful sky.  I love the somewhat aged feel these photos have; it doesn’t hurt that my negatives dried a little spotty, and that my camera just puts little spots on things anyways.  It used to drive me crazy when working with film, but to some extent, I think I’m just going to go with the flow now.  I mean, of course I’ll be scrubbing some of those negatives to get a clearer print on about 95% of my pics, but the dots and dust, I can deal with.  As for the sunset, we’re traveling to Argentina.  While flying from Iguazu back to Buenos Aires, just at the end of our trip, we passed right over downtown, as well as part of 9 de Julio, wich is the largest avenue in the world.  The view that we have is one of the smaller areas, closer to the airport, so check out the link to see the true monstrosity.  When you’re walking across this “avenue”, it feels like it’s the everlasting gobstopper of streets!  It’s really huge!  Anyways, I’m always a little hesitant to use my camera while on planes (you know, they always say how it can mess stuff up.  It freaks me out a little!), but as you can see, I got over it this time.  Enjoy, and wish me a speedy delivery!

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.