Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The beauty and resiliance of the human soul....




I am moved by the beauty and resiliance of the human soul. Whether it be the ending of "It's a Wonderful Life", when all George Bailey's friends stream into his humble home to help him, or hearing of someone who goes out of their way to help another human being - I get teary-eyed. I will unabashedly admit it.

And when I read this morning of Joannie Rochette, the Canadian ice-skater whose mother passed on Sunday, and how she decided to skate, and took to the ice last night in a program that was technically sound and beautiful - well, I choked up. To see the strength of her heart, to go on, and then to skate as good as she did (I did not see her skate, thanks to NBC's moronic idea to put the important events late at night), and to achieve 3rd place after the short program - it was overwhelming. Granted, she may not get more than silver. But she has proved she's a champion to the world, and to those of us who appreciate the beauty of the human soul.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

The early mornings....


I really love being up early in the mornings. I don't lament the fact that I don't sleep in on a Saturday or Sunday. Waking up as the sun begins to shine, getting up to get a cup of coffee, sitting at my desk, which gives me a view of our backyard - all of these things are pleasant to me. To hear the mockingbird singing, using a different song than I've heard before. To hear the mourning dove dole out its song. To hear the sparrows chirp and flit about, and the hummingbird sit in the fountain, bathing - an act which adjusts the sound of the water, so you know that a hummingbird is in there. And the quiet of the house...still, serene. No kids up yet, no TV on, just me, my coffee, and my quiet reading...

Monday, February 15, 2010

A beautiful morning...



Yesterday was a glorious day here in Orange County. I had decided Saturday night that I was going to arise early and take advantage of the early morning light and do some photography. On my regular morning drive I take the scenic Santiago Canyon Road, the 2-lane road that goes from Orange, by Irvine Lake, past the Silverado and Modjeska Canyon roads, and finally ends at Cook's Corner. With all the rain we've had, the hills that cradle the road along its course are verdant green, with majestic oaks and sycamores spotted all along. As I have driven this road on my daily commute, I have seen areas that, in the early morning light, possess beauty and subtlety. So, it was to these areas that I brought my camera to yesterday morning.

It was not too cold, but chilly. I stopped just past Cook's Corner, at one of the spots I'd driven by and thought would be good. But as always, when seeing potential photographs at 50 mph, they look quite different when you are walking, or standing still, and the magic you feel at 50 mph is not the same as what you actually see. Part of doing fine-art landscape photography, particularly if you're using a large-format camera as I do (one that shoots a single sheet of film at a time), is that you are very selective about what and how you shoot. And you adopt a mind-set that requires you to be very selective, and you isolate only a part of the overall view that emotionally attracted you to the image in the first place. What it becomes, then, is a small area that captures the entire emotional aspect of the scene. This takes practice and self-discipline. I've been with photographers that would set up their cameras, and 45 minutes later walk away without having taken a photograph.

So, I set up my camera, saw the shot, calculated my exposure, focused and refocused and checked and double-checked, and then snapped the shutter for the 4-second exposure. All of that in 45 minutes. And I left, having only shot 2 sheets of film of this spot (one in landscape format, one in portrait format), satisfied and fulfilled.