Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Secular Music as Worship, Part III

"I've never been a swimmer,
but I know that I'll never drown."

Monday, August 19, 2013

Digital Evils

I've often said that I don't think I'd be nearly as good a photographer as I am, were I working only in film. Either that or I would be just as good, but completely broke with how frequently I would be developing. The immediate play-back of images on my LCD screen after I've taken them has probably played the greatest role in getting beautiful images.

You would think that, since I look through the viewfinder, I can see exactly what I'm about to get, so what's the difference? But this is only partially true. Sometimes I'm concentrating so hard on where I'm placing the subject that I forget to run my eye around the rest of the image before snapping. Sometimes I am not holding the camera as steady as I should be, and the image is composed properly, but is entirely blurry. Sometimes my camera is numerically set to all the "right" values, but artistically, the image just doesn't work.* Especially when traveling far from home, it is great to see any of these errors in the moment, while I am still there to take another shot.

Still, I have found that there are two instances where I am pretty much powerless to tweak the image in anything but post-processing software. I almost want to create a sub-category of images called VSOTC, as in, Virtually Straight Off The Camera. I'll show you what I mean.

Look at this image.

There is a small, unnatural spot in each of the red circles, the left more obvious than the right. Often, these spots are not immediately obvious, and they're not always invasive, but trust me, once you see them, you can't unsee them. It's dust on my sensor. I know what you're thinking, "well, just clean the sensor then, Gina." Oh, believe me, I do. I am good friends with canned air.** I also have a sensor-cleaning kit for extra-stubborn dust. I've even had the camera cleaned professionally once. But I've learned over time that keeping the sensor clean is kind of like raking the lawn. You can get every single leaf, but eventually, another one is going to fall. ...You can get every speck of dust, but change the lens again, and eventually more is going to sneak in there. Sensor spots are the bane of my photographic existence.

Second thing. And this is one of the major reasons why I am not a photo purist, and am okay performing minor touch-ups in Photoshop.

Because this:

Rolling Canola Hills by gina.blank

is just that much more visually appealing than this:

...I would love to know how much money Adobe makes off of people who buy Photoshop just to be able to get rid of cell phone towers.

Often times, people will look at a photo of mine, and ask if I Photoshop my images. I hate this question. Partly because I'm a horrible liar. My brain screams, "of course it's Photoshopped! Half my images are Photoshopped!" but what is harder to explain to the viewer is that by "Photoshopped," I mean I've altered maybe 1000 pixels out of the 10 million that make up the image. I prefer to think of it less as "Photoshopping", and more as "taking artistic license" to clean up a little bit of digital mess.

I am not a digital artist. I like to keep my images as true-to-the-moment as possible. Which is why any image I can get SOTC is that much more satisfying.

It's like raking up that last leaf.

* i.e. Correct exposure vs creatively correct exposure.
** If you are canned-air-phobic, settle down. I know what I'm doing.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Floral Choices (SOTC 62/365)

Tall, Petite (SOTC 62/365) by gina.blank
I spent some time at the Muttart this afternoon; I hadn't yet seen the current feature pyramid display, and was extra motivated to spend some time among flowers after helping a friend move onto her gorgeous new acreage this past weekend. 

Of the eight photos I ended up loading onto Flickr, all were SOTC; exceptional! It was hard to choose. I was absolutely floored by the gorgeousness of a hibiscus flower in the tropical pyramid. The photo will be stunning to look at on canvas, which is why I think the image at right is getting the SOTC spotlight today.

There is something in the petite-ness of the flowers, and the floral echo in the background...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

The Experiment Continues

Earlier this summer, I mentioned that I was engaging myself in a gardening experiment, after learning about and being inspired by the concept of edible landscapes.

I can say with confidence that the snap peas loved growing up the chain link fence this summer. Despite their curling tendrils that self-wrap around the chain link wire, they still grew so tall and heavy that I had to support many of the plants with twist ties. And anytime I took some to share with friends, the comment (aside from "yum!") was, "they're so big!"

The snap peas were pretty much done this week, so I took the warm summer evening yesterday to pull the yellowing plants off the fence and out of the dirt. I filled half an ice cream pail with snap peas in the process--the last harvest.

And then I got a crazy idea.

Well, really, it's the next step in edible landscaping, but while it may seem unsurprising for a small community on Vancouver Island, BC, somewhere, it's a little bit more 'out there' in terms of Edmonton, Alberta.

But I decided to share my snap peas. With strangers.

Because while part of edible landscapes is about viewing my own space differently when it comes to growing, part of it is also about interacting differently with the people in my community, so they might view gardening differently, too.

"This is about sharing, and investing in kindness." -- Pam Warhurst
It was about 7pm when I put out my plate of snap peas. When I brought the plate back in before bed at about 10:30, there were only three peas left.


This may have been several evening dog-walkers or cyclists, or perhaps just a single group of teenagers enjoying one of their few remaining summer evenings before school starts again. Nevertheless, the peas were clearly enjoyed.

This whole thing gives me much anticipation and hope for next year, both in the growing and the sharing. I have already decided to try growing cucumbers again, now that I think I might be successful growing them vertically on the chain link fence. I tried several new plants this year, and have gotten to know how they grow, so I know if/how I want to plant them next year. And I want to look at re-landscaping my front yard to turn a good portion of the grass into garden, so I can continue to share a larger variety of plants with my community.

Maybe it's crazy, but a plate of snap peas can't be wrong, can they?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

SOTC 61/365

Mountainside Meadow (SOTC 61/365) by gina.blank 
"Somewhere between the bottom of the climb and the summit is the answer to the mystery why we climb."

-- Greg Child