NOT JUST talking garden to plate. That and so much more! Going from feeling like dirt to feeling delicious. And then there is the creative process, going from the seed of an idea, to connecting my thoughts with my visuals. Sometimes a bit random but always getting back to deliciousness.
Today I had what was to me a unique and intimate experience with a lizard
I went out to water my seeds, seedlings, and plants… yes bizarre as it sounds I water by hand.
I had in my own sloppy way attempted to temporarily barricade one specific plot against the javelina, neighbors’ cats, birds, squirrels, etc. with 1” fencing and bird netting. This morning when I came outside I found yet another beautiful lizard that I am used to seeing wandering through my garden, but today he was caught up in bird netting.
I could tell he was still alive by trying to rearrange the netting, and watch him squirm. I delicately moved the bird netting around, to slowly trim away the netting from this precious creature. Ironically with each move I made, he in turn kept working at moving himself more into the bird netting! It appeared to me as if he was being strangled by the netting. As I moved the netting around slowly add snipped closer and closer to his head he was either gasping for air or trying to talk to me, but no sound came out. I talked to him through the entire experience, trying to comfort him and let him know I was trying to help him, and wanting to save him. After I was able to finally cut him free, he immediately scampered off and disappeared.
Sadly but he is a marked lizard with that bird netting necklace he is still wearing. I did not have the nerve to try and hold him to “operate”.
Now when I see him around ( which I sure hope I will) I will know him by his ” necklace”. I will know who he and I have a special relationship from all the other lizards that I see here daily. I need to come up with a good name for him. Not just buddy. But I am afraid that the netting that is still wrapped around his neck may likely hook on to the many obstacles that wait for him in the course of his life in our garden.
Nice to think that we all have someone looking out for us so when we get caught up in the bird netting of life .
And just for the record….this is the 2nd time I came across the very nasty reality of bird netting. If it does what it is intended to do then a small creature, be it bird or bunny or lizard or fish or whatever … can get trapped in it, not having the strength to break free from the powerful plastic….and can die stuck in it. GRRR, how did I not think of that when I bought lots of it to “protect” our garden.
I am done with bird netting! With that said I am repurposing the bird netting to my art materials.
FYI – several weeks later I have seen a lizard several times in the same plot where I operated on him/her. I still do not know if it was only one lizard caught up in netting twice or two lizards. Either way they would be happy to know that the organic gardening facebook groups I am a member of suggested using Tulle instead! So I am now experimenting with bird netting being worked into a mixed media piece for THECHEERPROJECT.COM , which to be honest is as difficult to work with as trying to maneuver it around a peach tree!
Of course we know doing what we love to do always makes us feel better about ourselves and our life. Yadayadayada. But sometimes it is overwhelming for me that there are so many things I love to do, want to do, need to do, have to do, and that make me feel better when I do them .
Example at hand. I love to hike around sunrise and sunset. Sunrises can always be more problematic,especially depending upon time of year, day of week etc. Even more so with photographing sunrises.
The iphone has become a good hiking companion for me: Podcasts, music, writing down notes to myself , photos and videos ( even though I still am having hard time taking them too seriously ). There has been many a time I have been so glad to have the opportunity to NOT have a REAL camera. ( will not get into here the good and bad aspects of hiking with access to text, email or phone calls) .
So when a friend of mine asked me to help him locate an ideal sunrise shot of a saguaro for his composite photographic art it got me to do something that I know makes me feel delicious. The iphone scouting photos I sent him were a fun distraction from my “real” hike . More than that though it was “fun” getting back into carrying the camera and tripod out at sunset with a real goal in mind, and with a partner in crime ….. honestly, it is a totally different kind of feeling delicious than my morning walking meditations… but both are so good for the essence of what makes me feel delicious.
Yesterday was veteran’s day. I took this photo this past Sunday. When processing it yesterday I could not help but sense I had a Saguaro saluting to all those veterans past, present and future who give so much .
What have you done today that makes you feel delicious?
What do you try to do everyday that gives you that buzz?
First, the photo above is ironically one of the last photos of the day. But what is important about it is my first time with a GoPro Hero 3 ( yep I confess I am a late adopter on too many things that involve new tools.) My friend Neil graciously let me borrow it for the day to test it. HMMM without a view finder,or anything to attach it to me while hiking the test changed focus ( sorry can not help myself ) . I wondered what quality still photo I could expect. Well I still have not gotten through the manual to see if I could have gotten a larger file but the jpegs that came out of the camera were only 2.4 MB… so these are smaller than my iphone 5s which are running around 3.6 and being they are not Raw files that I prefer I do not have big expectations on how I can tweak them. BUT /AND they both satisfy the the purpose of getting a small image into LR to make nice for you to see here 🙂 With that said I would be happy to have anyone who is really well versed in shooting still and video on both formats chirp in and comment . And that most likely would be my friend Frank who is the GoPro master.
Some background story to this post: I am very grateful that after more than 2 years of being out of an activity I love so much I have slowly built up the capability to hike again and testing the waters of carrying some camera gear again. It has not come easy . I must say it was quite depressing to go for a 15 minute walk in my hood to find my back was in too much pain to walk more.My treasured hikes with or without camera gear were, needless to say too painful to do and in another way and bluntly probably as painful,my fragile ego was having little identity crisis. Ok, that may be more information than maybe I should be sharing but for any of you who know what it is like to loose any kind of your mojo… it is tough stuff.
So I have already digressed from the purpose of this blog entry.
This past Sunday I was hiking with a small group of my hiking buddies . We drove down to Tucson to the Sabino Canyon Recreation Area where we set out for Seven Falls. This is approximately a 7.5 mile round trip hike, and by the time we got started on our hike on Sunday April 19…. it was already very sunny ( no kidding it is Arizona) and kinda hot ( all relative really it is not summer!) Seems like my body does not deal with hiking in heat as well as it used to. If if ever did.
When I finally arrived to the “destination” of the Falls I was very hot, tired, shaky, and honestly worn down . Of course it would have helped if I had a good night sleep the night before . Oh well. After trying to relax a few minutes , snack on some salty nuts and dried fruit and inhale yet more water I was reminded how unfortunately pressured on time we were to get back to Phoenix. Hmmm, thus I internalized tension with little shooting time… I barely had time to review the entire scene when I found a little shady nook I wanted to explore trying to focus mentally and physically on for a photo . I was way too shaky and short of time to explore the upper level of the “Falls” . I write “Falls” that way and not Falls because I do not call dribbles real falls! ( again I digress)
So there was a sweet young college age looking Asian couple sitting where I wanted to be and they invited me to join them in their quiet space on a very well worn by the water, slippery rock . We all sat silently as if in partnership with the calming of the space. I used the rock wall behind me to help my arm brace my monopod as I kept searching for a photo that best represented the meditative feeling that I truly wanted internally and in my image. I have been shooting these zen like water photos whenever and where ever I have found them for many decades… but with a tripod. I like to shoot them at 1/8 to 1/15 of a second. But here I was without tripod . Hey remember taking this hike was huge accomplishment for me and I had chosen not to bring my little Canon G9 ( which had depressingly become my go to hiking surrogate camera for a while ), nor did I want to use the iphone I had with me ( honestly had forgotten about it ) , or the Go Pro that I had borrowed that day from one of my hiking buddies that was there . I wanted to shoot a “real ” photo. I had shlepped my Nikon D700 and resolved I would only bring my 60 macro with polarizer filter and a monopod that could multi task as a walking stick. I resolved to do whatever I could. Of course I knew that camera and lens was an issue for my neck and back depending upon how I was wearing it or carrying it and all day long I was CONSTANTLY readjusting my body and holding patterns.
I could hear my Physical Therapist Elizabeth as if she were standing next to me. “You keep doing things that work against all the progress we are trying to make ! You have a lifetime of muscle imbalances that have taken their toll on top of everything else that your back and neck has gone through. ” ( ok so I digressed again )
So more back story (pun intended) WOW, it was in the 90’s that I had done this same 7.5 mile hike alone. I am not talking about long extended back packing like in the story WILD. It was a day hike but…. carrying my own water, along with rented 4×5 view camera with multiple lenses , heavy 4×5 tripod and a pack of negatives in their glass holders . I wanted so much to create beautiful 4×5 landscape imagery. FYI I do not now , nor did then have a good back packing size body . There are specific recommendations made by the back packing gurus as to how much weight a person should carry in relation to their body mass. ( HMM, another time for that topic!)
But this Sunday I was actually humbled by the memory of myown past! Amazed at how strong I HAD built myself up to be back then. I had created the HABIT and COMMITMENT to deliberately workout regularly for this purpose specifically. I also had younger hormones. I was consistent in my training physically probably more than photographically ! But honestly the hike was no fun back then. I had looked around me and watched as people were frolicking in the water and enjoying each other’s company. I was lonely, tired but determined. When I reviewed the film after the shoot I came to an epiphany. That was not what I belonged doing nor wanted to be doing. I did nothing with the photos. So what if I got there . I did not feel the love in the images. I doubt I threw them out. They are there in my filing cabinets of film that have not been touched for years,decades. Dare I spend the time trying to figure out where they are ? I would love to see them now for one particular reason. Climate change. I am pretty sure the “Falls”” looked different then.
So here I was in 2015 and I was trying to get a digital image to create something in my digital world. Early afternoon sucks for shooting landscapes. Nothing has changed that in relationship to photography. Basic photo concept. But rules are made to be broken, and I honestly have lots of history of not following rules. And digital processing has made cheating too easy. Do we really have to be on location at the crack of dawn anymore? Hey there are filters , right ? Ugh.
Trying to focus. Tired. Shaky. I wanted a nap. I wanted to create a zen like photo but was not feeling very zen like. I needed to meditate. I needed to check out. I needed my nappy. I was shooting variations of the scene with varied exposures with the complete digital mindless approach to photography…. take lots of shots and work it later in processing. And hope I got something worthwhile.
Honestly. What has happened to me ?
SO there I was finally starting to really see beauty and flow and composition, getting my compositional groove on , but I am still feeling shaky. Trying to brace my arm against the rock wall to make my monopod and me more of a tripod, when I hear
” Linda , what exposure are you using with all that harsh light and shadow .”
I ignored my hiking companion’s question. But the second time it was asked, I LET my train of thought shift. Why ? Well I was not alone. I had CHOSEN to hike with others. To be social. SO….I move away from my spot and go into teaching mode, helping mode. Ugh. I was trying to be nice! Monopods do not stand on their own 🙂 I was on a mono pod. I lost my train of thought. I had not completed my image. I lost my focus.
When I reviewed my images the next day in Lightroom my shooting process was obvious to me. The image with the composition I liked the most was the one I was interrupted on . But I had not given it the time it needed to shoot several times in hopes one would not show the rocks moving from camera / operator shake. I allowed this person’s desire to make their images better more important than my being in my own zone.
What I needed was a better way of not loosing my focus ( literally and figuratively) before I offered to give a little mini class. Rocket science . No. Just reality check for myself.
SO the take away…
1) When you know you need to not be disturbed because you do not have the mental bandwidth to recoop after an interruption … find a way of politely saying.” I will talk to you after I finish” and hope you are not too flit brained to have that interaction derail you ( or them) and then be sure to get back to the person if it matters to you to do that.
2) When you are seeing someone photographing (or fill in the blank as to doing anything else quietly on their own) . PLEASE be considerate and wait till they are obviously done to request advice or distract them with questions about anything or if you know them well find a way of disturbing them without disturbing them. Good luck with that. Ha, I am sounding like Miss Manners here.
2 days after hike:
1) My neck hurts from carrying the camera too much of the day around my neck either cross my chest or hanging from either shoulder. … so when will I stop? I hear my PT’s voice. FYI , looking at the images,was worth it?
2) So I tried using photoshop’s filter > shake reduction on the image that had the composition I really liked and that I ended my shooting with .
I have always gone by the “old ” digital adage “garbage in garbage out ” when people think software like Photoshop, can fix everything. Matters . What do you want? How bad you want it? What is your idea of awesome? How good is your skill set with post processing and how much time do you want to give to make the image sing. Kind of like lots of things in life!
So to complete this blog about patience, and pixels and photography I have included 3 versions of the photo that had the composition I like with the horrid lighting and the moving rocks. By no means am I saying these are art. I would not choose to blow these up . I am only sharing them in light ( pun intended ) of sharing as a teacher. There is just so far the photoshop filter will go with their deshake filter and HDR filters are not the be all end all. And this was not the kind of shot you could take 3 exposures and really work them with merging in HDR either. Not exactly garbage in garbage out but … well pixels are in the eye of the beholder.
You know all those “awesome” photos you see on facebook etc. by anyone and everyone with a phone/ point and shoot/ any camera. Have you ever wondered what they would look like as print larger than 4×6? Yep, I am so old school.
Photo with PS deshake filter then HDR filter … just wondering . There ended up being some very weird pixally jagged dewatanabees. (technical term for caca).
So much to say and show from the past week. But this for now …
I am so grateful that yesterday I was able to up my hiking distance and carrying load . I am NO where near where I was several years ago. When we look at our lives I feel at times how tricky it is for the mind to know when to say GO FOR IT, and when to say…. REALLY ARE YOU NUTS? I am reading WILD and humbled by how insane the author was to push herself the way she did. Today I am grateful I was able to be on a 10 mile day hike with temps ONLY getting into mid 80s are spring flowers galore. No it was not flat and yes my back and neck was able to once again allow me shooting with a “real ” camera. More photos and posts to come.
How can we not take anything for granted? It is so hard to remember to be mindful of that when our bodies and minds and lives are able to do what we ask of them. And when we are not able to do what we want when do choose to resolve to move on and say … that was then. And when do we strive to push towards goals that we had. Just pondering and open for conversation.