The photographic explorations of a former film student.

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Twilight of Summer

In mid August, I went for my first hike since foot surgery. Hot weather and time constraints kept me from venturing out sooner. Returning to my favorite woods after a couple months felt like a long awaited breath of fresh air. As I walked along the familiar trails late that afternoon, I felt summer fading away.

The sun was low and the late summer flowers were moving gently in a light breeze.

I continued on to my favorite spring wildflower site. It was now overgrown with nothing but green. Fall will change it, and winter will change it again. Summer is certainly the least photogenic season for that area of the park. It makes me want fall.

However, as I continued out of the park, the fading sun and fading milkweed made me realize I should enjoy the season presently slipping through my fingers.

I stayed late and photographed the moon at dusk. Remind me not to rush ahead thinking the next season of life will make all things better. Remind me to stop and enjoy the good in what I have now. If I rush through life, I will miss so much texture, so much joy, and so much beauty.

Uncle A.

Back in June, my Mom’s side of the family had a belated memorial service and a small reunion on the same day. We were just out of some COVID-19 restrictions in our area, relatives traveled from out of state to be there, and I was just able to drive again after foot surgery. The whole thing was oddly normal.

Our reunion was at the home of one of my Mom’s uncles. For the sake of privacy, let’s call him Uncle A. I don’t know him well, but this was an opportunity to know him more. Uncle A. was in Japan after WWII. He showed us his collection of Japanese objects from his time there. He has a much larger collection: canes. He has canes he purchased and also canes he made. Many of those he made play off the natural shapes and textures of various pieces of wood he’s found. I thought this was the coolest of them all.

Uncle A. may be up there in age, but he sure is an interesting guy. He grew up on a farm and acquired a large bull whip at one point. He can still crack it. He tried to teach to teach some of us how to crack the whip. It isn’t easy. The man has skills. Don’t underestimate your elders.

Return to Fireworks!

Yes, I shot these on July 3rd, and I’m just getting around to posting them. July has been one crazy month for me. Family reunion, physical therapy, dentist for the first time in more than a year, etc. I had 5 appointments in one week! What was I thinking? I suppose I was trying to make up for all the stuff I didn’t do last year. Maybe I still am.

It naturally follows then, that after spending the afternoon with my sister, I would try to catch the fireworks on the way home. Mind you I was recovering from foot surgery and having some trouble walking. It also follows that after getting to the point of recovery where I was again permitted to walk and drive, I wasn’t letting a little hobbling hold me back. Well, not too much anyway. I accidentally parked farther away from the fireworks than I wanted to. Walking took longer, as I mentioned, so when the show started, I stopped walking and started shooting. Perhaps I was a bit too far away. Maybe there were some trees in the way, but I could use them for artistic purposes in some shots.

In a way, shooting fireworks is like life. You try to be prepared. You check and adjust. But it just keeps coming at you, and you don’t know what’s next. You have to learn to use what you have and make the most of the time you have to enjoy and capture the show.

It’s Dairy Month – Have a Cookie

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I grew up in 4-H (suburban 4-H, we didn’t even have a cat back then) and spent the month of June promoting dairy like crazy. Cow spots everywhere (I had a scrunchie). So in honor of good old Dairy Month, here’s a picture of milk and cookies. I ate them while editing.

Three chocolate chip cookies on a plate with a glass of milk.

Woodland Spring

I’ve been preoccupied by work and some personal issues. (I’m fine, just temporarily physically limited). I knew I’d have to be off my feet for awhile, so there were many things I wanted to accomplish first. One was a spring photo shoot in the woods. It wasn’t the best of conditions, but I there were still some flowers blooming. Yes, yellow violets are a thing (https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/viola-pubescens/).

Yellow violet because I was intrigued.

Cat and Books

My parents wanted three photos of their cats and mine to hang in their home. For their two cats, they used photos I took of their cats with books some years back. However, I could not find a picture of my Maggie they found suitable for their project. As I thought about it, I realized I hadn’t taken any serious photos of Maggie for several years. Yes, I have numerous phone photos of my darling, but nothing of better quality.

Therefore, I decided to put my prop books on the floor and sprinkle them with a little catnip to attract Maggie. Perhaps I should have used something else. Maggie got a little high on the nip.

Maggie settled down a bit and decided to “own” the books.

She continued to move around and I continued to take photos of her. I think this is the one my parents settled on. Dad probably edited it a little bit differently, but this is my girl.

So, I am a little behind on my posts for this year. I did two shoots in March, but I didn’t think snow photos were the best for right now. Hopefully, I will be able to photographs some wildflowers soon.

Love is . . . ?

Love is a word people throw around a lot, especially this weekend. If you’re anything like me, you’ve found yourself asking what love really is. It seems pretty clear to me there is more than one kind of love. After all, I don’t love chocolate, my cat, and my parents in quite the same way. Nor do I love them in the way I would love a significant other. According to an article from psychology today, there are seven basic kinds of love. (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/hide-and-seek/201606/these-are-the-7-types-love)

Some of these seven types remind me a bit of the Agape – Philia – Eros I was introduced to as a student at a strict Christian college. Agape was prized there, Eros was shunned, and Philia was undervalued. However, the word “love” got thrown around a lot, especially in a disciplinary context. I developed a disdain for it. “How can you love me?” I asked in my mind. “You don’t even know me. To you, I’m just a collection of stereotypes, an underling who doesn’t fit the mold of what you wish I was.” You can’t throw the word “love” around in the context of punishment and not confuse some people.

Since college, I’ve started to slowly unpack the baggage this word carries. I rejected the institution’s idea of love. I don’t find it biblical.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love

https://www.biblica.com/bible/?osis=niv:1jn.4.18

So what is Christian love? Can we love those we don’t know? Aren’t Christians told to love their enemies? How does this all work? Yes, I’m still a bit confused. I believe that deep, true love requires really knowing someone and accepting them in spite of or sometimes even because of their flaws. But there are many kinds of love. So what do I know for sure?

4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

8 Love never fails . . .

https://www.biblica.com/bible/niv/1-corinthians/13/

Maybe I can’t always deeply love some people. Maybe throwing the word around, saying things like “we love everybody” does cheapen love. However, I can always show people a facet of love. I can be kind, I can have hope for them, I can watch my actions so I don’t dishonor them, I can forgive them, or even just keep my cool and trust. May we all find ways to love today, tomorrow, and in the weeks to come.

Even this season . . .

I don’t particularly like winter, but every season has it’s own beauty, even this season.

Best of 2020: Not All Bad

I apologize for not doing a Christmas post this year. Most of my time and energy went into figuring out how to celebrate the holiday during a pandemic while still bringing some joy to my older, more at risk relatives and spending some time with my immediate family. (Not to mention, COVID precautions can be time consuming.) I hope we will be able to celebrate together in 2021.

Outdoors was the place to be for most of 2020. Nature is good for us. Some of my most fulfilling hours last year were spent out shooting. I hope to spend more time out photographing in parks this year. But, as someone who wants to do more things than I have time for, I also want to practice and improve my still life skills. And, I have some photos from the fall I haven’t edited yet. Never enough time. Whatever 2021 brings us, may we all make the best of it.

One Last Nice Day

We had an unusually warm day in November. Most of the leaves were down, but it was such a nice day, so I decided to go out anyway. Who would want to waste the one last nice day of the year?

Christmas is coming soon. I do plan to do one last post for the year with a Christmas theme, but there is something that has been on my mind lately. I know the holidays will be different for many people this year. They will certainly be different for me from this year on. So take the pictures. Everything ends. Everyone dies. You never know when it will be the last day or the last Christmas for a loved one, a home, a relationship, a tradition, or a pet. I made the decision to haul my DSLR and speedlight to a crowded family gathering last Christmas. It was the last Christmas for someone there. My sister recently asked for the picture of us. We would not have a good one if I hadn’t brought the camera. Take the pictures. No regrets.

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