Challenge Denied

There’s this ridiculous “challenge” going around on Facebook right now. It requires you to post one black and white photo a day for seven days with no people depicted and no explanation. Oh, and every day you have to challenge someone new to join in the insanity.

I don’t know how to begin quantifying all of the issues I have with this so-called challenge. Setting aside the obvious lack of actual challenge to the challenge, I have a host of personal objections.

Number one is I don’t like being manipulated, especially via social media. I don’t share or re-post things on demand, even if it’s for a cause I strongly support. I use Facebook to share photos and tiny glimpses of my life and to keep up with my friends, that’s it, period. I don’t post anything political or controversial and I ignore or unfollow people who insist on doing so. To do otherwise is a sure path to insanity.

Number two is I’m a photographer and I’ll share the photos I want, when I want. I already post a random photo of the day, every day on Facebook. Now you want me to post an additional photo based on some stupid criteria? Homie don’t play that.

Finally, there’s the whole aspect of badgering someone else to join the stupid challenge. It’s not enough to just manipulate me, you want me to pass it along. My response to my friend’s “challenge” was one word – DENIED. No one’s going to make me post random black and whites with no explanation. I can do that all by myself.

Blurry Glaciers

My bestie Jane is taking a photographic printing workshop this weekend. She’s been messaging me amusing comments from the classroom. Most of them have to do with the overly opinionated instructor. She’s known this guy for 20 years and learned a tremendous amount from him, but he can be an arrogant blowhard (her words).

Of course he’s a PROFESSIONAL photographer, who does a lot of stunning but cliche landscape images of the North Shore. They are technically perfect and would make really nice postcards or calendar images. If you know me, you know that’s not much of a compliment. I commented to Jane that, while he may be a PRO, we are artists and that’s a a much more exalted level of photographer.

Jane’s using the class to work on some ice bottle images she made at the Arboretum during one of our winter trips. Lots of amazing lines and bubbles, creating very abstract compositions. Images that absolutely gives me goosebumps. She and I keep making cracks about how all the landscape photographers in the class will have their heads explode when they see her stuff.

So in honor of being an artist, abstract compositions and photographing ice, I’m featuring some glacier images from our Alaska trip. Nothing exceptionally brilliant, but still head and shoulders above straight landscapes. At least I think so, and that’s all that really matters.

Paranoia Will Destroy Me

One of the biggest problems with building a custom home is the constant feeling that you are going to make some incredibly stupid mistake that will be haunting you for years to come. We are making a thousand decisions, often with incomplete information. The odds of knocking everything out of the park are infinitesimal.

A year ago we made the last minute decision to add water/plumbing to my husband’s detached workshop. I say last minute because they were literally days away from pouring the foundation and it caused a delay while we had the plans redrawn. I’m so glad we made that decision, because it would have been impossible to do once the foundation had been poured and I think we would have regretted not having water there at some point in the future.

That was a big one, but there are tons of small things that lead to sleepless nights. Are the outlets and switches all in the right places? Do we have enough drawers in the kitchen cabinets? It becomes paralyzing at points. I was awake at 3:00 am this morning with a pounding headache and the realization that we needed to add another water source to our conservatory. The architect has specified three on the plans, but when we met with the plumber on Monday, I decided that one would be sufficient.

When we visited the site Friday afternoon to see the “finished” plumbing rough-in, my husband pointed out that having only one would limit irrigation options. My early morning panic attack was caused by my brain finally coughing up the real problem with a single source – I can’t cross the door threshold with any irrigation system, even a temporary one. It’s the reason the architect specified multiple ones in the first place. I emailed the builder with the request this morning. The plumber won’t be happy, but I will sleep better.

Not Getting Clipped

I take our furry little terrorist to have his nails clipped every two weeks or so. When we board him, I have it done there, out of convenience. Otherwise I take him to a pet gear store, which is less expensive and closer to our home. I took him to an appointment there last Saturday morning. I book the appointments early in the day, because it leaves the rest of the day free and the parking lot is pretty empty.

I walked up to the back door and noticed on sign on it, stating they would be closed November 1st. Since it was the 4th, I didn’t think too much of it, until I realized the door was locked and the place was dark. And completely empty. I’m standing there, stunned, holding the carrier, when a cowboy in an SUV pulled up right next to me and asked if I had an appointment with the groomer.

Okay, he wasn’t really a cowboy, but he was wearing a cowboy hat and smoking a cigarette. If he had been driving a Mustang, the analogy would have been complete. He turned out to be the owner of the building. He told me the store was closed and that the customers with grooming appointments should have been contacted. He was apologetic, but said he couldn’t disclose anything else, so I assumed it was an issue with not paying rent. I trudged back to the car.

Someone had parked next to me and was still sitting in his car when I loaded the carrier into my passenger seat. When he exited, I felt the need to vent about the pet gear store shutting down. Turns out, he worked a few doors down and was more forthcoming than the building owner. The business had been raided by the IRS for not paying taxes. They came in and confiscated everything. The groomers were lucky to get out with their personal equipment. I was stunned. This was a well established local business with three locations. I’m assuming the other two have been shut down as well. I’m not sure why anyone thinks they can get away with not paying the tax man.

A Little Rain Must Fall

It’s sunny out again today, for the third day in a row. It’s also the coldest day we’ve had since returning from Phoenix. The high temperature won’t even hit thirty today. Tomorrow won’t be much better.

We’ll get a small reprieve next week, with weather in the mid-forties. Then it will start plummeting again. I really hate this time of year. Everything is dead, the trees are bare and the air is cold, but there’s no snow. I am in the photographic doldrums.

In honor of my gloomy mood, I’m featuring some rainy images. These were taken on the train ride from Vancouver to Banff. It was raining when we left Banff and there wasn’t a whole lot in the way of interesting scenery as we slowly made our way out of the city.

Out of boredom, more than anything, I started photographing the raindrops on the windows. It kept me entertained and I ended up with a few interesting images to boot. Win, win.

Teleporting Trees

The vast majority of my images from our Alaska/Canada trip were “straight” photos. By that I mean normal subject matter, properly exposed and in focus. The type of photos most people wish they could take while on vacation. (Did you like the humble brag I snuck in there?) Occasionally, I did try to sneak in a few of my weird, experimental, somewhat abstract compositions. I’ll be featuring some of them over the next few days.

First up, some teleporting trees. They’re not actually teleporting of course, but these images make me think of that cheesy special effect from bad 60’s science fiction movies. There’s no big trick here, just moving a zoom lens at a relatively slow shutter speed. I’ve tried this on and off for years, mostly with pretty lackluster results. I think the best subject matter I’ve found was the riot of colored glass at the Chihuly museum.

These are pretty monochromatic, of course, but there’s something about the pattern of the lines and the balance of the blue sky with the dark green trees that appeals to me. These images happen to be from the Butchart Gardens, although they could be from any patch of woods anywhere in the world. I joked about taking lots of photos of blurry trees on this trip. Sometimes that was actually on purpose.

The Dahlias Get Closer

I’m probably pushing it by featuring dahlias four days in a row. On second thought, nah. Who could ever get tired of these beauties?

Besides, I need this constant reminder that there is great beauty and great possibility in this world. Especially when we hit another setback with the house. Yesterday we met to have a final plumbing walkthru. At least, that’s what we were told was the reason for the meeting.

The plumbing discussion occupied maybe twenty minutes of what would turn out to be a two hour meeting. We also covered a couple of HVAC things, some details on the front entry, and, most importantly, figured out our drywall and trim details.

That doesn’t sound like it’s a big deal, but first they presented us with an estimate that was more than double the original drywall cost, in order to give us the minimal look we requested with flush trim. Fortunately, my husband came up with a brilliant solution just before I dropped dead from a heart attack. Another bullet dodged.


The Dahlias Go Black & White

Yesterday I combined my love of dahlias with my love of soft focus. Today I combine my love of dahlias with my love of black and white.

These three images are all from the same flower, which is unusual for me. I call them Close, Closer, Closest. Shockingly original, I know.

This isn’t the first time I’ve tried dahlias in black and white. It’s always interesting to me how some images will work as well or better when converted and others will lose all their impact.

I’m thinking about one more dahlia post before moving on to something else. Is four in a row pushing it? We’ll see.

The Dahlias Get Soft

In yesterday’s post of budding dahlias, I mentioned how increased familiarity with a subject can help you see it in new ways. I’ve photographed hundreds of dahlias and consequently I’m now trying to find new ways to capture their alien essence.

So when I was out at the Arboretum in October, during my annual dahlia pilgrimage, I experimented with some soft focus.

The results were pretty stunning. Once again, I am kicking myself for not spending more time making images like these. I have lots of very nice, well focused dahlia photos. They don’t speak to me like these do.

Now dahlia season is over, the fall color is pretty much gone and I’m just waiting for some decent snow for winter images. We had a dusting on Friday afternoon and I stupidly didn’t go out, thinking it would still be there in the morning. Nope. It was gone. Still kicking myself.

Budding Beauties

It’s been over a week, so I guess it’s time for more dahlia images.

Today’s trio features nascent flowers, in various stages of emergence.

In reviewing my dahlia images, I noticed a few more distinct themes.

I think the more you photograph a subject, the more you start seeing it in new ways. That’s the way I’m starting feel about dahlias.