Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Creative SLR Selfie

Me and the Land that I love
 The selfie craze has been at times annoying. And maybe that is because it is really hard to do unless you own a smart phone. I have tried a few with my tablet but I am a DSLR owner and with the long lens on do not have long enough arms to photograph myself. Besides I am not that great of a subject. Why do you think I own the camera? If I am taking the pictures I am not in them.

There is something lacking about the basic smart phone selfie like context or content or just why. Here I am at the Arc de Triumph and none of it shows. So I set about to improve selfies and challenge the DSLR limitations. I wanted my selfies to say something about me and my life. Ergo the one of my shadow in a map of Colfax and Mora counties with mountains outside the windows also reflected really says it.

Me and my "Shadow"

I love playing with reflections so the obvious solution to the SLR issue was a good reflective surface. But I also wanted a surround or background which defined who I was. I like the rustic building in the one above. And I am not sure who the reflected spirit is in the other pane of glass but seems friendly. It also says I am not afraid to be out in snow.

I am rather afraid of all my wrinkles, however. My reflection in the bathroom mirror looks like my mother. I feel far younger and more vital than her and I am more active and older.

Me and  My Dreams

The one above is with a Victorian lamp. Boy, I would love to have that figure. Because I am short I never had it even in my slim youth. I love the colors in this selfie and the reflection of a painting in the background.

One of my first selfies

If you are not looking through the view finder of your slr it is hard to make sure what is in the frame. This was one of the first where the beloved camera was not in front of my face. You  take a lot of pictures and in post processing have to straighten and crop a lot. Practice has not yet made perfect but I am getting better. This was in September 2014.

Self Selfie

I took this one for me. It is me and the snow and camera and truck and a blooming flower. I was trying for the cat on the bench but she is camera shy and quit posing. Selfies are not just about a pretty picture to post on FB. For me it has become a bit like family photos. The you are here sort of shot. I am usually out on photography trips by myself and so nobody else is going to record what is important to me.

Self de Toilet

My tiny downstairs half bath is a home for many mirrors. In this Selfie there are four mirrors reflecting me and the bath and my keepsakes. The silver candlestick was given to me by a dear friend maybe forty Christmases ago. And I still know the beaches where the shells came from. Two of the mirrors are antiques I found at auctions and refinished. I no longer wear perfume but for a long time Charlie was my signature scent.

The Artist

This is a still life selfie. It includes a publicity photograph and part of the professional statement, a mask I used to make, an experimental acrylic piece and paint brushes. The silk orchid is standing in for the other flowers in my studio. It is sort of a photographic artists card. I never did those. I thought they were silly. Maybe you can say that about the creative selfie too. But I find them an interesting marker on my path.

At the AGNNM Exhibit

Monday, January 19, 2015

January Thaw

Rio Grande at Embudo

It is January. We are in the midst of January Thaw officially. But even before NOAA recognized it we where have gorgeous weather. Perfect to get out with the camera and search for pictures of ice. Of course. You do not want too much ice. You do not want it so cold it is frozen over and white. That is unattractive ice. The prettiest ice is like the photograph below. It is clear and transparent. This particular piece of ice, however, was only 4" across.

Melting Ice sheet?

Mind you the opening photo has some snow in it. Snow in the shady spots at least.  The the mid stream boulder in the picture below should be coated with ice and have an ice flow above it. But it was a high 40's kind of day without a cloud in the sky. I was clearly asking for too much.

I wanted ice and what I got was beautiful, clear, cold water. I frankly could not believe the colors. The Rio Grande can be rather muddy from time to time. The colors are a reflection of the rocks on the bottom and the depth of the water above them. The water was running high for January. Evidently upstream was getting the January thaw too.

Skiers and ski areas panic during January thaw. But for most of us this is a welcome respite from the doldrums of winter. The dogs are thrilled because I am willing to walk them longer, and they can escape from under foot and bask in the sun outside the studio door.

I confess. I was a bit depressed in December. I do not like short days and long nights. A few years ago I got on a real energy saving trip (fear of winter bills) and would sit in the dark with only one light on and the fire in the wood stove. The thermostat never went above 55. Hell, I was running around with my jacket unzipped trying to find ice just this last week. And I figured I could always put on more clothes; snuggle under another afghan and an extra cat.  That is even rather comfortable, but I finally figured out I needed more light. I find a dark house depressing. It isn't even necessary they are broad spectrum, but I need a light on in the room I am in and the two nearest rooms or I feel caved. Claustrophobia gobbles me up.

I do not do those fluorescent lights. I find their coolness even more depressing. Gradually adding more LED's. But I figured I am pretty energy conscious because in the day time, when the sun is out it is also in my house. The studio with all its windows makes me and my plants happy. And the fur kids.

Once we get past those long dark nights.

I visited Alaska one August and the length of the night was just two hours. And frankly it was not that dark. Flying from Anchorage to Nome the sun rose and set on the same side of the plane during the short flight. I quickly imagined the days around winter solstice and figured I could never live there. Besides the ice is white. Not the beautiful crystal clear stuff I like to photograph.

Maybe if we get another cold snap I can go down to the river and see if ice has happened. Until then I am just thrilled with more light and more warmth. Sorry, skiers.

Monday, January 12, 2015


Never have been overly fond of the end of the year. Or for that matter the beginning of the new one. There seem to be so many unmet expectations from the "Joy of the Season" to all those new resolutions to be a better self. To which is added looming taxes, the flu season, awful weather, and removal of all coping mechanisms like our favorite shows so they can rerun Charlie Brown's Christmas, schedule all the bowl games, and make space for poorly scripted award shows.

Feeling weepy yesterday I threw the camera in the truck and went in search of ice to photograph. There was none. I had unconsciously noticed it just did not seem to be as cold this December to January, but that was a judgement made on what winter coats are hanging on the entry hooks. The Coretex coat for the Arctic which I wore constantly last winter is still in the upstairs closet. And any hopes, that while my yard was not covered with snow, certainly the mountains were getting it was dashed by this photo of rising valley fog. The peaks are snowless. Yes, it is the south face of the Sangre de Cristos, but this is mid January.

A local rancher had just bought some new yearlings sold off from colder areas. They clustered by the gates where the cattle trucks off loaded them. He usually waits until March to take this risk. I am waiting till March to send holiday cards. I was waiting for Epiphany to come up with resolutions. Maybe Ground hog day. Meanwhile I do that Kansas drought settler thing written about in the Little House on the Prairie books. I stand on my studio stoop and stare at the blue skies and exposed grass and wonder if the air smells different or the wind is from another direction.

I could not find my digital camera battery charger this morning. I have two. Both Nikon's have different batteries, ergo different chargers. So I started looking everywhere on my desk then remembered I had decided to store it someplace safer. I am not sure of the wisdom of black camera accessories stored in black camera bags. Between the first cruise of the camera bag and the second I found the external hard drive I got for my birthday but have yet to install. And a light bulb protective square of cardboard I had put a todo list on. Yes, the external hard drive was there. So was paint three times and at the bottom exercise.

I was going along swimmingly on exercise last year at this time and then came two cataract surgeries with the requirement of no exercise a month apart. I suppose it is safe to get back to it now. Heck I can even see my feet. And the barren top of Old Mike's and Wheeler. The old homestead in Black Lake has not fallen down yet but it is getting closer. Next heavy snow?

Farmer's Almanac says fog in January means a wet spring. We can only hope. We have a 10% chance of a half inch of snow today. That forecast is like a decaf latte with skim milk - Why bother.

Epiphany moment for today: I miss my cat far more than I miss the friendship which was ruined. Which is my excuse for not having sent holiday cards. Mother said do not say anything if you cannot say something good. Thankfully that does not seem to apply to blogs.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Epiphany is the end of the twelve days of Christmas. The Mayans had a 10 to 12 day period at the end of their year. Days which did not fit into another division of the year. Other cultures in prehistory have had this pause, as it were, in the regular course of the year. A vacation from time? A period of meditation and reflection?

Epiphany on the Christian Calendar is when the wise men finally met the baby Jesus. It is also when God appears to someone as in Allah appeared to Mohammad. Or it is the profound and sudden understanding of something. The example used in one dictionary was when you suddenly know where your missing car keys are. Really? I always see epiphany more like satori - sudden enlightenment and a state of consciousness attained by intuitive illumination representing the spiritual goal of Zen Buddhism.

I took just enough catechism to be entranced with the minor days of the Catholic Calendar. I loved Epiphany from day one. It was such a non-holiday. I also about the same time adopted the Ides of March into my calendar. There may have been a certain rebellious base in both of these, but as I have grown older I have embraced Epiphany and the days proceeding it (once we get by Christmas) as a chance to go inside and reflect.

Yes, life continues. I may live on a mountain top but believers do not deliver food and water at my feet. I try, however, to do all purposefully and consciously. Be in the here and now. Chop wood and carry water. And where ever possible in the day dial in a higher consciousness.

Interestingly the intrusions into life seem heightened the more I want to tune out. Someone I do not know has called me on both my land line and texted me on my cell phone about Charlotte's dog Pearl. She has called from two different numbers and never left her name or what number to return her call. It is not a close friend of Charlotte because she would know Pearl is dead. That is the Satori she has not reached. My epiphany is if it is truly important communication will ultimately be achieved. Until then it is noise. And there is too much noise.

Meanwhile my mind is processing three new artistic compositions, any resolutions I might make and keep, and tuning into my body which I have been ignoring because of the too busy holidays.