Monthly Archives: March 2012

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***lots of work***

I have been making lots of transfers

today and yesterday

love them.

next stop –

etsy shop

makes perfect sense.

i have been selling more and more

prints lately.

:)

***

decoded

when?  the day it was posted

where?  the futon in my kitchen/library

how? Nikon D3, ISO 1250, 27mm, f/2.8, 1/100 sec

why?  I wanted to share some of the image transfer prints I have been creating.  Making these little things creates much joy in my heart and I am excited to start sharing them with the world.  I just had to brag.

***silence is alright***

i was annoyed when i took this

it is ok to

not be in the mood to chat.

not every moment is perfect.

silence is alright

***

decoded

Where? Athens, Greece

When?  about a year ago

How?  Nikon D3, 14mm, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/800 sec

What was going on?

We were walking down the street in Athens.  It was the last full day of our spring break before heading back to Germany.  I was actually getting a little agitated because I was tired and out of photo-steam by the end of our week-long trip away from home.  The light and architecture wasn’t just ‘coming to me’ and I started to feel a little distraught that I wasn’t getting anything worth taking.  Ian seemed to be on a mission to get somewhere and we were just flying passed the few places that looked interesting to me.  I finally got tired and whined that I needed these two to stop so I could take at least one decent photo.  (I know, I am so silly and dramatic.)   No matter where I am, I am always looking for the ‘perfect’ place to take a portrait.  Once a portrait photographer, always a portrait photographer.

Why do I love it??

I love the deadpan look in portraits.  Totally inspired by Shelby Lee Adams.  I love his crazy portraits in the country.  The faces are so real – so true.  Whenever I set up a shot like this with my boys, I always have his Appalacian Portraits in the back of my head.  Graffiti always catches my eye, especially in new places.  I find this sort of setting to be perfect for this type of picture.  Ian says he looked ‘retarded’ in this photo.  And, I guess that is exactly why it is perfect – it is so NOT typical.  Evan’s expression in the first one is also perfect.  I included the second one because the series added to the dimension and feel of the scene.

***insert spring break here***

dreams

Today starts spring break.

This year I am not jetting off to a remote Greek island

or traveling to the beach south of Barcelona as I have in the past…..

I am hanging out in Lemoore.

Sigh……..

I will have to lie in the sun

(thankfully, we do have that here)

and pretend i am in Pisa

and dream up some fun.

 

***reevaluating***

reevaluating

i love editing my photos

almost as much as i love taking my photos

actually, i like to edit them more than i like to take them.

when i am taking pictures, i often feel a little anxiety.

i am not sure if what i am getting is really saying what i want it to say.

sometimes i know immediately.

sometimes i don’t.

i am not willing to say just *anything* at this point.

i am pretty picky.

i want things to look the way i want them to look.

it can be very frustrating.

but when i sit at my computer

and use photoshop as a digital darkroom,

images emerge that i had never discovered before.

i see details for the first time.

i think it must feel similar to the way a wet film photographer feels

as the image appears, as if by magic, onto the paper.

the shift in color can feel euphoric.

the pronounced details make me giddy.

i don’t lie.

i don’t add fake elements.

i don’t add clouds or smiles or puffy rainbows.

i merely shift the way my computer interprets what color is coded in the DNA of my data image.

i feel the location again, but in deep observation mode.

and sometimes i am stunned by what i can create when i manipulate the dials,

so to speak.

the return visit can be far more leisurely

than the initial experience.

this photo perfectly demonstrates that.

i took a photo of a cafe and a storefront while on vacation

in Santorini, Greece.

it was a bright day and we were wandering the narrow walking path in Fira.

yesterday, nearly a year later, i discovered a comforting, private alcove.

i never even knew it was there,

all this time.

*

interpretation is an act of the mind

to overcome the senses.

sometimes what seems clear as day

can be seen from a different angle

and the scene can take a 180 degree turn.

this is why i love photography.

i get to create the world in which i dream to live.

*

here is the ‘original’ with a basic recipe for black and white conversion:

****

I am glad I took the time to look again.

***

decoded

where?  the caldera island of Santorini in Greece

when?  about a year ago

how?  Nikon D3, ISO 160, 14mm, f/2.8, 1/800 sec

why?  I snapped this photo while wandering around.  I wanted to capture the feel of the greek storefronts and the little shopping area in Fira.

why do i love it?

I like the original of this image.  It is fine.  Nothing great.  But fine.  However, it wasn’t until I was playing with different methods of black and white conversion that I stumbled upon this very dramatic interpretation of the scene.  Clearly this conversion was extreme.  Suddenly the entire mood of the photo is different and dramatic.  I never would have engineered this look.  It never even occurred to me that it could exist!  But sometimes there are happy mistakes and this is one of them.  I don’t think of it as a happy mistake, but a new discovery and a reminder to always keep experimenting.  That is the best way to learn.  Of course, in the ‘new’ version, the feel of the photo is completely different.  It became a cozy little private getaway nestled into a dark setting.  It is the perfect little table for two.

***contemplate***

contemplate

sit back

when you think about your day

are you bored

wondering what to do next

waiting for something to engage your interest

wondering why they did all those terrible things to you

today

way back when

wishing someone would give you attention

what have you done to make the world a better place

today?

if you can’t answer this question

with a solid statement

consider that

a place to start.

if your answer

about how to handle your problems

does not fall in line with this concept

that ‘everyone must make the world a better place’

perhaps

you should find a different way to handle

whatever it is

that seems so important

today

 

***looking the other way***

caught

looking the other way

i can refocus

myself

back to the direction

that will remind me

why i am doing this

but….

 

***mixed definitions***

unconditional love

forgotten

perhaps it is the definition

that has been forgotten

it floated away

into the fog

of unfulfilled dreams

and could have beens

***it comes back around***

today is better

the sun is out, after all.

That which goes around

also comes back around

this too shall leave as quickly as it came

once it passes

i must remember that it is ok

some days really are just like that

and there is some beauty in the breakdown,

as my lovely friend, Ms Heap,

sang so eloquently.

***today i hate photography***

today i hate photography

I might just hate everything today

but i especially hate photography

i hate loving something so much

that has already been done a million times before.

i hate competing with that ‘burning passion’

that began when you were three.

those who were entitled, that is.

a dime a dozen, i am.

please ignore my petty snark.

i hate needing something that i never get.

i hate the endless want.

if i was smart i would just walk away

from this thing

shake my hands off and be clean

from this thing

that has the power to shroud my entire life.

it can make me a bad mom

a bad friend

a bad wife.

a psycho push and pull

of i have to have

i have had

and i want again

but today i failed

in my own head.

***stop selling it to me***

distracting

i guess i am getting jaded.

but as i mentioned last week that there is nothing authentic anymore

even that which is sheltered from modern trade

is still touched by modern trade.

the same goes with anything being free

or new

or original.

I can live with that.

But everything has a sales pitch that coincides.

ulterior motive.

the billboard is always there.

i am trying to put it out of focus.

and remember what really matters.

it is very distracting.

 

 

 

***neighborhood bullies: this is for you****

…and other kids who use ugliness to mask insecurity.

or hide behind the kid with the big voice, better game system

out of fear.

To the teacher who doesn’t want to take the time to get to know or appreciate.

cool can’t get in cool’s way

you have met your match.

I know who will endure.

A box is a pretty boring place to live, don’t you think?

You might not see it today.

I do.

Just give it a few years.

*

fine, I am a vulture.

Not a helicopter parent.

To quote my mentor

I forgive.

But I don’t forget.

Ever.

*

Intolerance is a very, very ugly trait.

***life is not hard***

biking down endless road with kindling

Sometimes I start to think my life is hard

And, I can complain.

Or I can feel sorry for myself.

I can get angry when others overlook my sacrifices.

I can pout when I think they refuse to see my point of view.

*

I live a good life.

It has its ups and downs.

I have unique challenges.

But my life is not hard.

This is hard.

***Maasai Boma***

Maasai Boma

This is the first Maasai village, or ‘boma’, we visited.

It was not located in the Serengeti.

It is located in Tanzania, west of Kilimanjaro in an area called Sinya.

Literally on the border, we could see Kenya’s Mount Meru while sipping a cocktail upon the open dining area of our camp.

It is far more desolate than the big game reserve parks for which the country is famous.

There are many bomas in the area.

All told, approximately 2000 Maasai live in bomas across a large expanse of land with only our camp, Kambi Ya Tembo, that host tourists nearby.

Our camp had two groups on this particular day.

The three of us visited this boma while the other group visited another.

The camp attempts to spread the tourists among the groups so that one boma does not benefit more often than the others.

Tourism has been hurt badly in Tanzania due to recessions around the world.

Therefore, it was clear that this boma did not receive many tourists.

It is as authentic as it gets.

*

The Maasai is a tribe that is supposed to be untouched by modern life.

They live in huts.

They use no mechanical vehicles.

They do not have running water.

They do not use electricity.

Supposedly.

We saw many younger warrior Maasai boys using cell phones.

I don’t know who they were calling.

*

They are a polygamist society.

The women live their lives at the village.

The boys tend the herd.

The men – we don’t know what the men do.

We saw men wandering with other men.

They called them ‘warriors’.

I suppose they socialize, buy, and trade.

A man might have to walk for three hours,  one way, to arrive at the market.

*

Apparently, a man’s wealth is judged by how many wives he has.

This particular village had approximately 6-9 wives for three men.

We do not know for certain.

It is considered inappropriate to ask, as it would be to ask a man’s annual income in the United States.

I guessed that this was about as poor as it gets.

*

Untouched by modern conveniences.

Living off the land and the domestic animals they raise.

Sounds somewhat idyllic.

What my eyes observed was anything but idyllic.

I was surprised to look into their eyes.

They seemed dead to me.

The children were the same.

Empty.  Unhealthy.  Filthy.

Many of the Maasai we encountered seemed as though they suffered genetic issues from generations of inbreeding.

Often it showed in their eyes.

Look how several of the little ones are just staring at Evan.

They were fascinated yet unsure.

At first, we could feel that they did not trust us.

I don’t blame them.

We could hardly communicate with them.

We had to work thru two translators.

English to Swahili.  Swahili to Maasai.

And, then back again.

I couldn’t help but ask myself what I was doing there?

I felt horribly uncomfortable.

We were the only tourists visiting.

There was no one to share and diffuse the heat – just me, Evan, Ian.

Curato, our safari guide, seemed as uncomfortable as we were.

Perhaps they were asking the same question of us.

We were told before arriving that the boma had already received money for hosting us.

We were allowed to stay as long as we liked, ask questions, and take as many photos as we preferred.

Later, I learned that we were there to buy their jewelry.

They wanted our money.

Why would a tribe untouched by modern conveniences need the very tool of trade that represents modern conveniences?

I never learned the answer to that.

I knew that we needed to have US dollars printed 2002 or later, otherwise they could not use them for counterfeiting reasons.

Yes.  They preferred US dollars.  We were traveling from Germany, mind you.

They did not want Euros.  They wanted dollars.

They sang and danced for us.

That was how the ice was broken.

Evan joined their dance.

Thank god for our extroverted little boy!

We asked questions.

How do the children play?

They create pretend villages in the dirt.

They showed us.

What do they eat?

Domesticated animals and, essentially, oat meal.

This group did not grow vegetables.

Perhaps that is why they seemed unhealthy to me.

*

The little ones were mesmerized by my camera.

I would take their picture and show it to them.

They could not believe it.

They nearly swamped me, fighting to see the image.

They pointed to their siblings or cousins.

They did not recognize themselves.

They had never seen in a mirror!

They were amazed by the reflection in my super-wide angle lens

We stooped into the hut of the grandmother – the mother of the three men whose wives and children lived at this village.

It was tiny.

She had lived there for 40 years.  In the same hut.

There was barely enough room to stand.

She had a tiny bed, not large enough to stretch out.

Three of us – me, Evan, and the older woman, could hunch over and sit on the bed and take up nearly all its space.

And, in the center was a fire with a vent hole to the bottom right.

There was not a vent hole in the top.

The space reeked of overwhelming campfire toxicity.

We could not fathom how she had not died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

I took this photo in the blackness of night.

My camera can make it look light in the dark, without a flash.

For those who speak camera, I took this image at ISO 26500, f/2.8, 1/80 sec, and 14mm.

And, yet it is STILL so dark that you can barely make out any images.

Our eyes never adjusted.

I used this photo to see what I was looking at later.

And, regarding the size of the hut,

14mm makes things appear bigger than they are, like the passenger side mirror of a car.

You can see Evan’s feet on the bottom left.  Mine next to his, and then the resident was next to me.

The rocks represent the location of the campfire.

And, the light hole represents the location of the ventilation.

Across the fire pit you can see the legs of Ian and our tour guide, Curato.

Neither could stand up straight.

That was it.

That is her home.

The wives live in homes around the same size with all of their kids.

Their husbands rotate between the homes of their wives.

When we left the hut, we had discovered that the wives had set out  jewelry to purchase.

As I browsed the items, I noticed that they were caked in dirt.

I picked out two necklaces out of obligation.

Evan picked out a gourd.

We felt foolish bargaining amongst such poverty.

We recognized that they opened their village to us, not for our education, but for our dollars.

As we left the camp, the children waved and ran after us.

I couldn’t help but wonder if that was the most exciting thing they would experience for a year.

The only form of outside stimulation.

Boys begin to tend their herd at age four(!?!)

But what do the girls do?

I left sad.

And, immediately the sadness switched to relief.

As a woman who thrives in experience,

I cannot imagine living in that world.

*

As I have reflected on the experience, it did not take long for me to realize

That the jewelry they were selling

Had literally been removed from their bodies as we toured the hut and displayed on a cloth.

That was why it was caked in mud.

The gourd that Evan selected reeked for months.

I shudder to think of what concoction was created in this item.

I am shocked that it made it through the EU customs in our bag.

And, then again, the US customs via the postal service.

We had to air it out in our garage for nearly a month before we could even place it on our book case.

Our gourd has become a running family joke.

Curato (our safari guide), Evan, Ian, and Denai (our Maasai tracker)

(Notice that Evan is holding ‘the gourd’.  He almost has it touching his mouth.  ew.)

*

With the passage of time, my relief has led to horror as I imagine this village, this life, this experience.

*

****

please continue to the next blog to see a direct comparison to a ‘wealthy’ boma.

***tribal dance***

maasai tribal dance

These images were taken at a Maasai village within the Serengeti Reserve.

The Masai are the only people allowed to live within the reserve.

They do not hunt wild animals.

They only consume domesticated animals that they have raised and slaughtered themselves.

Because of the proximity of their village, they receive many tourists.

They earn many tourist dollars.

Their village is very wealthy.

Imagine large tour groups showing up.

Several per day.

Several days per week.

 *

The difference between this village, the one that most tourists visit,

and the ‘authentic’ village, was stark.

Stark.

Inside the hut

One young man raised at the village showed us the hut where he said he grew up.

He spoke perfect English and had been educated at a university.

He said his father had 92 children.

He did not share how many wives his father has.

If you compare this hut to that of the other village, you will want to notice that I took these images at essentially the same exposure.

It is brighter, larger, and had proper ventilation so we did not gag on the toxicity of campfire in the same way.

*

Children in the school house

When we entered the school house,

the children began to recited the English alphabet.

One child led the group, and the rest repeated.

“A” “A!” “B” “B!” “C” “C!” etc.

We were informed that the children learned English as part of their daily curriculum.

Ironically, when we said something to the teacher, she did not recognize that we were trying to communicate with her.

I suspect that ‘learning English’ merely means ‘learning the alphabet’

To entertain the tourists.

We were once again shown to the jewelry selection as we left the schoolhouse.

The jewelry was similar but had never been worn.

We opted against purchasing an item.  We decided, instead, to merely give cash.

*

 I left the ‘authentic’ Masai village with sadness, relief, which both led to horror.

I left this village feeling shammed.

I enjoyed viewing their tribal dance.

But this was merely a show.

A form of entertainment.

That sense has endured.

I see the Masai as people who beg.

To me, they have much in common with the people who dress in costumes and pretend to be natives of Colonial Williamsburg.

*

Along the road, you will pass Maasai children jumping and waving.

At first, they seem friendly.

But after a while, they merely seem desperate.

A photo for cash…..

*

The mighty dollar is a powerful thing.

I am not certain there is anything authentic left in this world.

***

The black and white images a few posts down in ‘Maasai Village infra-red‘ are also from this particular spot.

***zebra crossing***

zebra crossing