Friday, August 29, 2008

Playing Dressup

It’s pretty unusual for me to post my wedding work on this blog site. More often than not I want this online journal to be about my personal, not my professional photographs.

Today I can’t help myself though--I just have to share these “work” pictures. The past few days I’ve been assembling an album of photographs shot at a recent wedding where my bride and groom clients asked the children of their adult friends to be the “wedding party.” Rather than the pre-wedding moments I normally photograph where grown-up groomsmen are fussing with ties and cummerbunds and bridesmaids are making sure their make-up is just perfect, this wedding was, well, sweetly childlike.

I suppose that one day these children will grow up and learn to fuss and stress just like adults, but for now they are happy and peaceful, and being part of a wedding was simply a time to play dress-up.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Morning Walk

During walk-the-dog time just before dawn this morning, I noticed that were some cool clouds developing in the eastern sky. I was only half-awake, but it seemed that maybe there was the possibility of a nice sunrise.

Then a bit of fog began to gather in the trees, and a light rain fell.

The sun rose over Puget Sound and the Cascade Mountains to the East. The fog and the raindrops and my whole world (or at least the part the dog and I could see) caught fire with the most amazing light. The dog stood still. I think the light scared him...

...But, now that I think about it, the dog’s name is Buddha, so maybe he knows a moment of enlightenment when he sees it.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Dinner With Edward

In 1930 when Edward Weston was doing his now-iconic photographs of peppers, he wrote in his journals that he felt guilty, photographing peppers by day and eating them by night.

I’m no Edward Weston, but this week I can relate (with tongue in cheek) to Weston’s conflicted circumstances as he put his models on a plate and took to them with knife and fork.

Because Leah’s garden this year is now at the point where it’s giving us so much bounty, she’s got our kitchen running like a well-oiled machine. She’s canning or freezing or drying a b’zillion kinds of fruit and vegetables, and, though my area of expertise is the consumption rather than the production of good eats, I do know a good thing when I taste (and see) it. The for-fun pictures I’ve shot this week have been a celebration of Leah’s culinary artistry...though I must add that it'd be cool if the images you see here came with some kind of scratch-and-sniff technology, because our house smells SO good.

Leah and our friend Karen often brainstorm on cooking and baking projects. Not long ago Karen turned us onto a way of baking fresh artisan breads, a method that I guess is much “easier” than traditional bread-baking. Nearly every day now we have fresh bread in our house. If you’d like to know more about the bread, here’s a link:

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Seeing Rain

There are some months of the year here in the Pacific Northwest when it feels like it’s just raining all the time, where it’s not a huge exaggeration to say that 30 minutes without rain qualifies as a dry-spell, a drought.

On the other hand, come summertime, we can easily go thirty days without rain. Two or three summer months can pass with very little rain, and when rain finally does come, it feels SO good.

Today we’re getting one of those welcome summer rains, a soft, gentle rain that the Navajos call a “Woman Rain.” I put a macro lens on my camera and went out into the land of raindrops to see what I could see.

In Pilgrim at Tinker Creek, Annie Dillard wrote of the natural world: “There are a lot of things to see, unwrapped gifts and free surprises. The world is fairly studded and strewn with pennies cast broadside from a generous hand....

”...if you cultivate a healthy poverty and simplicity, so that finding a penny will literally make your have with your poverty bought a lifetime of days. It is that simple. What you see is what you get.”

Thursday, August 14, 2008

No Soup For You

There’s a bench on our front porch and sometimes Leah and I sit there....but often our spots are taken.

This week onions and shallots from Leah’s garden are drying on the bench, and since there was no room left where a fella could sit, I got out my camera and photographed the produce glowing in the sweet evening light.

Another day I looked out our front window and saw that our cat Basil had staked out some bench turf. I thought there was photographic potential in the scene, but Basil is getting old and cranky and will actually sometimes bite if you incur his how-dare-you-get-near-me? feline wrath, so I stayed indoors and made my photograph from a safe distance. I said...sometimes we sit on that bench, but usually we don’t.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Not Watching

NPR reported yesterday that 34 million viewers tuned in to the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics. It was the largest opening night viewing audience ever.

Leah and I did not watch. We’ve decided to just say no to viewing any of these Olympic Games, an inconsequential, spit-into-the-wind gesture on our part, a two-person boycott--actually three, in that our son Abell is also taking part--against Big Media, Big Money, Big-China, Big Whatever.

When Leah and I traveled in Nepal last fall, our route at one point took us within just a few miles of the border with Tibet. We visited a number of villages where Tibetan traders and refugees had come into Nepal and were living in makeshift tents that were really just flimsy pieces of cloth held up by a few sticks and some rope. We entered monasteries where there was a palpable sense of peace, perhaps at least in part because refugee Tibetan Buddhists could openly practice their traditions in a way they’re afraid to do in their Chinese government-occupied homeland.

The Tibetans are a beautiful people and their culture is rich. The Chinese government is erasing Tibet from the world map, bringing the Tibetan people into the smog-choked fold that is modern China.

If you are watching the games (and statistics say you probably are) I want to make it clear that, honestly, I don’t fault your viewing choice. Even the Dalai Lama, the spiritual and cultural leader of Tibet, is not in favor of Olympics protests and boycotts.

NBC paid nearly $ 900-million for rights to broadcast the games. I suspect the network will spend most of its expensive airtime telling the world about wins and losses in the swimming pool or on the running track, with relatively minor mention of the loss of a culture.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Barn Bling

I don’t know what happened back in the days when American settlers moved from east to west across our country, but I get a sense that once our nation’s human migration hit St. Louis, rural folks seemed to lose their need for “bling” in the buildings they put up.

I mean, just look at the old barns still standing in the East and the Midwest. Many of them have over-the-top touches of decorative fancy-pants-ness (see the photo above I shot on a recent trip “home” to Ohio.) On the other hand, where I live now in the Pacific Northwest you just don’t see a lot of hex signs on barns. Come to think of it, you don’t see many barns with fresh coats of bright, red paint either.

Take my own Seattle-area barn, for example. The structure was here when we moved to our place 13 years ago. It’s a ragtag, discordant symphony of white corrugated metal, old beams, and other pieces of this and that, probably rescued from a scrap heap someplace. Still, our barn is functional, reasonably weathertight, and gives our critters a place to get out of the winter rains.

Several days ago we were working in the barn and Leah found a barn swallow’s nest that had fallen out of the rafters and onto the barn floor--a carefully pieced-together birdhome of no-nonsense twigs and mud, but lined with soft, white feathers. Those feathers surprised us and seemed like a bit of bird self-indulgence.

Maybe our barn swallow moved here from one of those fancy-pants barns in Ohio.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Seeing Faces

The circus was in town last weekend and now I’m resisting the temptation to run away with it.

There were jugglers and hoola-hoopers and pie-in-the-face comedy acts--I guess what I saw was probably more of a Vaudeville Troupe than a circus. But the show was great fun, and I hung out near the edge of the stage with my camera, because...well, because I’m a photographer and taking pictures is what I do. I do it for a living, and I do it for fun.

My favorite pictures from the day are of the faces of kids in the crowd. Watching those faces, I think I understood why performers take to the stage, why they deal with the hassles of travel, why they wake up every day in a new town, put on make-up and a goofy costume and take yet another pie in the face.

I don’t really want to run away with the circus...

but if it just happens that they need a photographer...

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dumb and Dumber

You are looking at visual documentation of how it is that my pocket snapshot camera buddy came to have a dent in the front of his lens barrel.

Stupidity on my part is what we’re talking about...stupidity that brought on get-out-of-my-face wrath and vicious pecking on the part of a chicken.

A couple of days ago I got the bright idea that it’d be fun to lower my camera friend down into the nest while one of our hens was laying an egg. “Bright colors, cool shapes,” thought I.

“I’m not sure this is a good idea,” said the camera.

“A freaking invasion of my personal space,” the chicken complained later.

Oh my, that chicken got pissed! A moment after my camera's arrival in her nest, the hen cackled her obvious displeasure (see image below) and reared back and gave Mr. Canon a sharp beak-jab to the eye. Momentarily stunned, the camera --and his dumbass male sidekick (that would be me)-- retreated away from the nest.

Mulling over the beating we’d just taken, my camera buddy and I came up with new plan:

Leave the grumpy old dames alone during childbirth.