Around 1 am, the moon had moved over the trees so I started to play with it. A 30 sec exposure coupled by a very small aperture and I was able to create these gorgeous star bursts around the moon. It was then though that i made the realization that I am no longer a photo editor, but a photographer in the true sense of the word.
30 seconds doesn’t seem like a long time. But for someone like me, who is always busy, always thinking…30 seconds can feel like an eternity. In the past, when I had to wait for a long exposure, it was all I could do to keep still, to keep from pushing buttons to make the process faster. I wanted it done so I could take my photos and start editing. It was that part of the creative process that I loved (and still do) and was familiar. I have always know how to edit.
But this night, this magical evening with the moon so bright and the expanse of the skies stretching before me, I realized the transformation. I set my exposure and sat down next to my tripod and just “was”. I was in that moment, and I realized it was this part, the actual creation of the photo, the experimenting with the settings, the sitting quiet with an inner stillness during the exposure….. that is what I love more than anything. I hope it shows..
I didn’t realize how easily i sailed through undergraduate school until I started on my graduate studies. But its more than that. I am truly having a deep appreciation for the things we are being taught. Everyone has those moments when they feel like their work is fine as it is, and doesn’t need improvement. Or maybe we just get lazy, or complacent, or any other number of excuses. I know I have had many thoughts to the effect of “my works good enough, I’m not going to study this stuff”….Until I find a photograph that I truly admire. Such as tonight, I was admiring a gorgeous photo of some azalea flowers. I just kind of let go and let myself fall into the photo. Pretty soon my appreciation deepened as I began to notice many of this things I have been learning, as well as a good deal of things I already knew from 3D modeling. How cool is that? I at times feared my game design degree would be worthless….
Having this realization that just knowing the rules of design sub-consciously will only increase the effectiveness of my own photos. I can still shoot the same way I always have; meaning the style and subject matter that I have tended to employ through minimalism and use of equivocal spaces. What a great relief this realization is. I still have no idea what I am going to do for my finals, but at least I can go in knowing that it will be true to who I am. And I have got to get my astrology project off the ground. I feel like that is going to be a vital step in moving forward from where I am now.
So many things happening lately that its hard to keep up with it all, or write about it! I have lots to tell, but it will have to come gradually as I sort through other things. I did want to talk about something really exciting though. Those that know me, know I love tattoos and I have a few of my own. My first tat was when I was 16, and unfortunately back then I was just a guinea pig for my ex to practice on. Slowly over the years I’ve had most of these rather horrid and meaningless tattoos replaced by those that have a deeper meaning for me.
Two years ago I had this dragonfly done on my lower back. I had had the design for Gods only know how long, and I really felt transformed after it was done. The dragonfly goes through an incredible and painful transformation from nymph to adult, and at that point in my life thats how I felt. I was emerging from my old skin and stepping out into the world in my new one. And since then, I continue to grow and evolve in all areas of my life.
This is the drawing for my new tattoo which i will be going in to have done next week. I am so excited, as this is another one of those deeply symbolic tattoos. It will go between my shoulder blades, from neck base to mid back. I had wanted something with a peacock forever, but couldn’t seem to come up with anything, or find anything that felt right. I ran across a bronze venetian mask that struck me, and this was it. The peacock is a symbol of pride, beauty and strength. The mask reminds me that I need to stop hiding and come forth and embrace my true self and the beauty both within and without (the peacock). The rose will be replaced with an azalea, which symbolizes womanhood, passion and temperance; all traits I seek to embrace on the next part of my journey. The Ohm on the forehead of the mask symbolizes the spiritual whole that I must keep in balance. The butterfly over the eyes of the mask represent my souls transformation and growth as I look out in the world. I’ve selected Josh from Cin City in Billings to do this piece. His work is amazing and I know he will be able to capture exactly what I envision.
Graduate school I am finding is very difficult. As it should be. But I really am taking a beating creatively when I feel unable to consistently produce the kind of images that I both want and my instructors expect. This feeling of inadequacy is compounded by my lack of technical skill with the camera, since I am SO very new to the medium. But like any tool, the more I use it, the easier it will become to instinctively do things. I stopped shooting on automatic last summer. Since then I purchased the D7000, which I Love, but is much more advanced that my previous D3000. I am only now able to make good technical decisions in a short period of time. I used to sit for an hour almost trying to remember where everything was. Where is the ISO button again? Oops, that was the white balance. Now how did I do that? The lesson I learned that I wish I had learned first? Shoot RAW. I really regret NOT shooting in RAW format.
But despite all those hang ups, I go back and look at my photos on a regular basis. Not in vain, but because I am analyzing, How could this have been better, with the knowledge I know have?
And that’s when I see images like this. That maybe aren’t compositional perfect, but it is definitely my view. This is how I experienced this moment with my horses. And I was able to capture that, instantly. And share it with the world. I can only pray that others will feel the love and wonder that I do when I look at this images. This is how I want all my work to be, something personal. Something I am sharing with the world. My personal view on the world around me. I don’t think its any better or worse than anyone else s. It is valid only because it is different, just as everyone is. Not two people on this earth see the same thing, the same way. No one has the exact same experience. And to me, that is beautiful.
Perhaps I am simply on another evolving artistic journey. My last one lasted 20 years. And even though I will at times feel guilt for not using all of my skills the way I probably should, that guilt reminds me to be honest with myself. By doing so, I can recognize both the good and the not so good and either eliminate what isn’t useful and help to grow what is. Isn’t that what growth is all about anyways? Breaking down the old so you can make room for the new.
I watched a documentary on Sally Man tonight, as we have a discussion question revolving around some of her work and our response to it. While personally I wasn’t a fan of her photos, I realized many things. I have a huge amount of respect for this woman. And what she does, she does from the heart. It is an incredibly personal journey for her. I admired and understood the way she looked at the world. I admired that open fascination with everything around her. I understood that need to create.
I have never felt the creative freedom that I have with photography. I am opening doors and doing things that I NEVER would have done before. I consider what I do my “work”. It is not a hobby. It is NOT something that I want to do on the side to make some money. If I wanted that, I would have become a wedding photographer (and please know I mean NO disrespect what so ever, some peoples passion is that type of photography and I applaud it!), It is becoming a way of life. I am learning a new and wonderful language.
What I needed is a way to speak. Photography has given me a voice.
Regardless of species or age, best friends spring up in the mostly unlikely of places.
I brought home my Irish Wolfhound, Rhiannon, in Feb of 2010. Its hard to believe its been two years already. My whole life I have wished for one, and I cried when I went to pick her up from the breeder, and I cried all the way home with her too. They were tears of joys and she has been my best friend. Timid and quiet, Rhia was the best behaved puppy I have EVER known. Never destructive (OK, the holes in the yard tell another story..), never aggressive, always constant and true.
It wasn’t much later that I started to bring her to work with me, at the Circle B Bar T. There, they had two great danes, Barlo and Kenya. Barlo was getting much older, and couldn’t get around too much, and Kenya needed a playmate. People might laugh when I say my dog goes for play dates on the weekends, but its a bright spot in her life, and I like to think she has touched the lives of the other dogs, and people, just as she has mine. Barlo sadly passed away, which left Kenya on her own. Two more great dane’s were brought home to join the family. Emma and Baxter. In what would seem like endless sadness, Kenya was diagnosed with cancer, had her leg amputated and little Baxter passed from a heart defect. Baxter II joined the brood not too much later, and soon Kenya, Rhia, Emma and Baxter became fast friends.
At a time when Kenya needed a playmate, Rhia was there on the weekends. I am sure that after Kenya passed some months later, Rhia was probably confused about where she was. But it is amazing the resilience and joy in which these animals live their lives, one moment to the next. Never dwelling on the past, but enjoying the sheer bliss of the moment. That is what I have learned through the ups and downs of my dog’s relationship with her canine friends.
That we should be like them, living for the moment, looking forward to the good times and never judging because of breed, age or handicap. Here’s to best friends! I hope you enjoy this selection of images from the last two years.