photographer. artist. author. singer. songwriter. musician. teacher. student. humanitarian. visionary.

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Kissed by the Light

Bernheim Arboretum and Research Center. Clermont, KY- last day of winter 2019. [Helios 44-2. film]

13 x 18 = Large = $53
8 x 10 = Medium = 33
5 x 7 = Small = $18

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Bernheim Helios2


Nature’s Jewels

 

Click on pic to purchase. (Free shipping on all U. S. orders.)

13 x 19 = Large = $53
8 x 10 = Medium = $33
4 x 6 = Small = $18

NaturesJewels


Monochromejunkie

There’s a reason I chose the username Monochromejunkie: It’s because I’m obsessed with black and white photography. To me, nothing is more beautiful than a bold black and white image with heavy, dark blacks and stark whites. These days, people are so used to simply slapping a filter on something or doing a quick and easy B&W conversion.

it takes a well-trained eye to look out upon a landscape or street scene and be able to convert that over to a B&W in your mind and truly “see” a black and white. Because reds, greens, and blues all convert into various shades of black, white, and grey, you need to know what would truly make a good black and white, because not every scene does.

This past year, I’ve been in a photographic funk and sorely uninspired. 2018 was one of the hardest years of my life. So many troubles with some of my children and their private struggles, along with the death of close friends and loved ones. It really kicked me in the teeth and that alone can kill your passion for your art.

After coming back to my blog and writing again, I rediscovered my friend Gav’s black and white photography. He’s an excellent street photographer, but what he’s really good at, more so than anyone else I’ve ever known, is staying in black and white mode. Nevertheless, year after year, he continues shooting in black and white and never seems to grow bored with it.

Seeing his beautiful black and whites have woken up my first love: black and white photography. I’ve wanted to shoot in B&W mode (only) for a year straight- for a long time, but never had the courage to take that plunge. I know though, that if I don’t do that, then I’ll never commit. And if I don’t commit to truly knowing the ins and outs of black and white and really learning it, then I never will grow as a photographer and artist to the degree that I want to.

I’ve decided to finally take the plunge! I’m putting my camera in monochrome mode and leaving it there for an entire year. It actually began yesterday, so until March 8th of 2020, I’ll be shooting in nothing but black and white. This way, rather than focusing on various colours, I can keep my focus on lighting and exposure. So Gav, if you’re reading this, thank you! You’ve been a major inspiration and have woken up my love of black and white again. It’s not for everybody. But for people like us, it’s what drives us.

I took these yesterday, at Sellersburg park (Indiana) while taking Chance and Diamond on our mile walk. Just as we were getting ready to leave, it started snowing. That was a nice touch. 🙂 (These are basically SOOTC/straight out of the camera.)

A new bud gets its first taste of the snow. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35-2.8
1Flektogon35_2.8SellersburgPark
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3DogsFlektogon35_2.8Sellersburg
6ZeissFlektogon35_2.8SellersburgPark.jpg.

 


Call me Gam Gam

For the first time in many months, I’m behind in my work.  My large-ish assignment was due yesterday evening, but when I awoke from my deep slumber, it was 41 degrees in my house. I could almost see my breath. I huddled under my (Egyptian cotton) flannel sheets, like I was in a tee-pee, and texted my professor on my cell phone. There’s no way I can work in those conditions. She’s amazingly supportive, so she afforded me as much time as I’d like.

I had a good run for a while without my 3 day migraines. There were times when I didn’t get one for months in a row. But recently, they’ve been visiting me more often. And when I say visiting, I mean like a drunken husband that grabs you by the throat and slings you around mercilessly for 72 hours, incessantly. Now try to imagine that, truly, and now try to imagine eating a sandwich while that’s going on…or sleeping at all. Right.

Last week, I could feel some very unusual hairline fracture pain, coursing through my cranium. It feels like it’s the diameter of a hair. So tiny and thin, but so brutal in nature. It’s savage. One minute, all is well, calm, and peaceful. The next moment, I’m gripped in electrifying pain that quite literally takes my breath immediately. All I can do is squeeze my eyes tightly together, and cringe, as I wait for the moment to pass. This is nothing like my usual migraines. I’m used to a specific course of actions. This is all new territory.

Luke Perry just died from a massive stroke. No warning of any kind. That’s terrifying! He complained of head pain, and was taken in to the E.R. He was heavily sedated so the physicians could try and get the attack under control. For several days he lay there, sedated, surrounded by his loved ones. And then he slipped away- never to return again.

When I think about that, and then I think about just how many 3 day migraines I’ve endured, which is accompanied by blurred vision and slurred speech, and tingling in my left hand and arm, I wonder just how much time is left on my clock. I can’t help but think about death. When you feel like you’re living on borrowed breath, believe me, you think about death just as much, if not more, than you think about life.

People are ridiculous. They think they have all the time in the world, and they carry grudges and choose to not forgive others. All of that anger means absolutely nothing in the end! It’s all wasted energy. Useless. It serves the ego only. There’s no reward there. And it’s a fool’s meal and they eat it up with every angry chomp!

It’s sad, really. And it’s funny how, some people would rather stop talking to you altogether than simply say, “I’m sorry. I was wrong.” And that’s a tragedy.

As for me, there’s no one person in the world who I wouldn’t feed or clothe or hug tightly if they showed up on my doorstep. I’ve been tried already in the fires of hell itself. It wasn’t always easy, but I chose to forgive. I forgave every single person who ever wronged, hurt, or abused me. Not only did I forgive them, I chose to love them too. I CAN back up my words with a long history of action. Unfortunately, the ones who’ve turned their backs on me cannot say the same. They have no idea how to swallow their pride and choose love over anger. I pray that God will find them in the Way before it’s too late. because we all are only given so much time, and then we don’t get any more time to try and make things better.

Today one of the greatest things happened to me. I was called to my son and daughter-in-law’s house as they had some news they wanted to share with me. When Josh and I got there, my son’s sweet little gal showed me her pregnancy test, and it was positive! I’m going to finally be a grandmother! Oh happy day! I’ve had to sit silently in the shadows of all of my friends, as they post pics of  themselves with their grandkids. I’ve always felt like Queen Elizabeth, but not in a royal way.  She was known as the “Virgin Queen” (and that’s a total farce, because she was a trifling ho, actually, who even had her lover’s wife murdered so she could have him- Robert Dudley- all to herself. That’s how big her ego was.)  But no, I always felt like the “Virgin Grandma”. But no longer! 🙂

And so after some thought, Josh had a good laugh and suggested “Gam Gam” for my royal title, and then Gabbie chuckled too and sanctioned it, officially. So, yes, I will soon be known as Gam Gam. I love it. 🙂

It feels good to be editing again. I edited a pic of my son, brian, and his gal, Gabbie, from our trip to the Smoky Mountains, in Gatlinburg, Tennessee on Thanksgiving of last year. It was shot in colour, but I did some work on it- cleaned it up in Photoshop- as well as did some contrast and gamma adjustments and mixed the exposure- midtones/shadows/and highlights. I added some grain (which I adore) and hit it with a gaussian blur + selective unsharp mask and mastered the overall RGB curves, then each channel individually, aaaaaand mixed the colour balance channels, individually- shadows, midtones, and highlights there as well.

You may think when you see a pic of mine that I hit one or two tabs to edit it in post processing- like most everybody does these days on their phones- ha. If you only knew. Many of my photos are usually a combination of 15+ channels, mixed, blended, erased, flattened (wash, rinse, repeat 5 or 10 more times) so by the end, it’s entirely mastered in practically every area. I make it look easy, but I’ve had a good 15 years at this now.

Brian & Gabbie- Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 vintage film lens/Canon Rebel t3i
BobandGab


Protected: True Colours

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Cats and Dogs

5:30 a.m.

The most beautiful rain is falling outside right now. I awoke an hour or so ago to the rain falling on my tin roof in a most beautiful enveloping wall of sound. The rain is my favourite thing ever because I feel like God is corralling me off. It satisfies the intense hermit in me that wants to shut my door and windows and seal off the world. The rain says it’s ok to slow it all down to a crawl and not have to be bothered with the things outside my door. The rain sings a most beautiful song. 🙂

I suppose as I grow older (am I really going to be 50 this fall?!), I’m giving in more to my hidden persona; the Jane Goodall-like hippie that wants nothing more than to spend the entire day in the forest, taking macros of little things in their little worlds- up close. I can’t believe I’ve been in school for an entire decade now! I’m so ready to be finished with it all so I can finally- finally- focus on my art, photography, and music. I’m looking forward to closing the books once and for all (along with my many, MANY research papers) and buy an Epson professional printer and set up a small area of our new home (to be, soon); a proper print shop.

It’s going to take a lot of dedication and time, but I’m so looking forward to it. I’ll be afforded the luxury- after school- of not having to work. Even for several years, or never at all, if I want. I can stay home and go out and about and take all the pics I want- go where I like, and do virtually anything I want. When I’m ready, I can put on that periwinkle suit and Addiction Counselor hat (if I so choose) and make my mark on the world as a counselor. But first, I’ll explore my art. It’s an exciting thing to be able to wake up early in the morning and head out with my camera and collection of vintage film lenses in my Nat. Geo. bag. People who aren’t photographers probably don’t get it.

It’s such a rush to be able to go out into the world and see what only I can see. I can shape my perspective in a unique way and be a storyteller without words. To lay in the plush green mossy ground on the forest floor in the warm, afternoon sunshine and spend hours focusing my lens on tiny little things on leaves. I’m a visitor in their world. It’s an incredible thing to be able to make the tiniest corner of a leaf come into focus, making the rest of the leaf the size of a house, by comparison. Ants become giants and mushrooms- stadiums. It’s exhilarating!

But the real rush is taking the loot home and going through all of the images: Sizing up what stays or what gets tossed out. Whittling the pile down until only a few remaining “money shots” remain and those are the ones which will be edited and post processed. A full day’s shoot- and many hours- for 3 or 4 shots in the end. It’s the experience of it all, from loading up the bag to editing the chosen few to submitting or uploading the shots. And it’s all free! You really can’t beat that. It’s therapy. Photo-therapy at its finest.

Although my latest course Addiction Counseling and Families essentially began yesterday, my Discussion Board posts aren’t due until Thursday. Ever the procrastinator, I think I’ll spend the day lounging in my insanely plush (new) pillow top queen bed (that I um…bought Josh for Christmas. That’s right…it’s all for him! 🙂 ) and edit a new batch of pics from our Thanksgiving trip in the Smokey Mountains. Yes, my life ha been so busy and crazy that I’m only now getting around to editing my Thanksgiving shots from 2018!

Despite having 6 vintage (imported) Bulgarian and Romanian film lenses, only the Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 (my favourite lens ever) was used- throughout the entire trip. It never left my camera. These are two of many I’ll be editing over the next few days:

Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8 film lens (Canon Rebel t3i) – An interesting tree I found on the way up to Clingmans Dome, in Smoky Mountain National Park, in southeastern Tennessee and North Carolina, U.S.
treepicClingmansDome
This one is Josh’s. (His capture, my edit.) The Appalachian Trail sign at the base of Clingmans Dome in the Smokies. Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon film lens 35/2.8- Canon Rebel t3i
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TRUTH BOMB

Newsflash: When you have an original thought and feel some way about something, it actually IS alright to express those feelings. Contrary to public opinion, it’s actually totally acceptable to express those said opinions in your own space, such as your FB account or blog. If somebody disagrees and doesn’t like what you say, they have the liberty to GTFO. There’s the door….don’t let it hit ya where the good Lord split ya and all.

I want to add, if your opinion is in stark opposition of anyone in your family, and you STILL want to express it, you’re absolutely entitled to. It doesn’t mean you “hate your family”, or are trying to “split your family apart”, etc. Good God Almighty, PLEASE go get educated and learn that we all have opinions and the right to express them.

If I say something you don’t like, GROW the &^%$ UP ALREADY. I will NOT be your whipping girl any longer.

Furthermore, I’m going to drop a truth bomb on you right now. When I was nine years old and MOLESTED BY A FAMILY MEMBER- I was told by that person that if I ever told anyone, I would be the reason that my family would be split up. That we would all be split up and put in a foster home and never see each other again. Do you know what kind of pressure that is to put on a 9 year old’s shoulder?! It’s insane pressure.

What did I do? I forgave my offender- sucked it up- took every lash upon my back and KEPT MY FAMILY TOGETHER- and kept my mouth shut- always.

Don’t you DARE accuse me of “trying to rip my family apart” because I have an opinion that differs from a sister, or cousin, or brother or someone else and choose to express it.

I try to forgive others- people know this about me. But if you want to continue walking in your ignorance and want to throw stones at my glass house?

I WILL call you out and treat you accordingly. I make no apologies here. Go learn a thing or two about temperance, patience, tolerance, and forgiveness.

God knows I already have. A loooooong time ago.

We’re done here.


When Praying Isn’t Enough

Yep. I said it.

So recently, there’s been a family-type situation in which a new mom has been keeping the kid away from the new dad and it absolutely sucks. Really badly. She’s playing dirty and not even trying to hide it. She basically tossed the dad out of her life (in record time, I might add) and replaced him with a new guy. She won’t let her x have any visitation whatsoever (even axe murderers in prison get to see their kids, do they not?) and so she’s just really doing some dumb stuff right now to make him suffer. Unfortunately, this isn’t uncommon, as a certain female I was raised with did the same thing to her kid. She was pretty hell-bent on destroying her x so she poisoned her kid against him. It was so evil. Accused him of molesting their kid…the whole shebang. Unfortunately, that’s not uncommon either and it really is the first thing evil moms do when they want to punish their exes so they can keep the kid all to themselves. It’s a form of Munchausen Syndrome, actually. Moms who abuse their kids so they can swoop in to save them later. It’s sick.

Anywho, back to my original rant. So this new mom is doing her (very bad) thing, and another person came in and commented on a FB post: “Really, we just need to pray for them both and show them both the love of God.”

Um….NO. Just NO.

First of all, if somebody is being an evil bastard, where does it say that we need to toss flowers at their feet and hold hands and sing Kumbayah with ’em and all of that? I don’t think so. My Bible is full of Scriptures that talk about “the evildoer” (in Proverbs) and “the wicked” and all sorts of other references for people who do evil *&^% and none of it says that we’re supposed to encourage their evil deeds by “showing them the love of God”. Nah, man.

There ARE Scriptures, however, that says something about “The Lord will show himself merciful to those who are merciful and He’ll show Himself froward to the froward” and so on.  (II Sam. 22:27 and Psalm 18:26)

When I was younger and much more naive, I used to think the best course of action for virtually everything was to pray. Pray pray pray! Pray if you’re happy, pray if you’re sad. And pray especially when you have problems. But now that I’m maturing a bit, I see how that can sometimes be a copout. Don’t get me wrong, praying is wonderful. It’s lovely and necessary. But too many people will use prayer as a hopeful remedy rather than a supplemental act.

I think it’s absolutely irresponsible to tell somebody that what they need is “to pray” (only), rather than rolling up their sleeves and getting to work! It’s lazy. if we simply prayed (again, only) for every problem we have, we’ll have so many more problems as a result, because we’ll inadvertently be shoving our own responsibilities over onto God, expecting Him to do it all.

Yes, God is a big God and He can and will fulfill our needs, but He gave us hands to work with, a brain to think with, feet to run with, and mouths to speak with! He also gave us common sense to know when we need to get off of our butts and DO SOMETHING rather than telling everybody to simply “pray”.

/rant

My two week break is almost over and I’ll be hitting the books again soon. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of my little vacation. There’s almost nothing I love more than to kick back with a new adventure game and lose myself in another world. Escapism at its finest! Sheer bliss. 🙂

Until we meet again, WP. x

Lensbaby Composer/Canon Rebel/winterscape- in black and white
cold


Life Sneaks in Again

I feel like I’ve finally turned a corner. Tomorrow makes a whole month that my little brother has been gone. I’m so comforted by the fact that he’s in Heaven with my Dad, my Pastor (Rev. Hicks), and my grandparents. The first few weeks were absolutely brutal, but I’m feeling life again. I’m allowing myself to laugh again. Death is part of life, after all.

Soon, it’ll be a new season. Josh and I will be moving into a new house, leaving this place behind. I’m so ready for a new start; a new beginning. My kids are all grown and have flown the coop. I’m still studying, and as I mentioned not long ago, I have a year or so left and I’ll have my Master’s in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. This degree has not been easy! I’ve had to do continual research and writing 7-10 long page research papers weekly. It’s hard to stay motivated sometimes, but I push on. I’ve been in college for ten straight years! It’s so hard to believe. After I graduate, I’ll take a couple of years off. Maybe do a bit of traveling. Maybe write that memoir, finally.

For now, I’ll continue playing my adventure games during my 2 week break from school. Josh and I recently bought our HTC VIVE/virtual reality headset. My laptop is an HP Omen- it’s already VR-ready. I just finished the game Lone Echo- made for Oculus (Rift) but I “revived” it so I could play it on my Vive. It was an awesome game. 🙂 “Red Matter” is next on my list. (Currently playing “Before the Storm” again, after replaying “Life is Strange” again.) Nothing new to report. Perhaps I’ll go on a photoshoot in the next few days and throw some new pics up. “Photo Therapy”. ❤

Carl Zeiss Jena Flekton 35/2.8  Clingman’s Dome- Smokey Mountain State Park- Tennessee- Thanksgiving 2018
roots


Today is Cancelled

I have nothing I want to share with the world today; no mounting proclamations- not a whisper or thought. There are no pressing deadlines, no stressors upon me. Only the familiar urge to write, simply because I’m a writer. Not a paid one, mind you- nor professional. (As proof of my misused hyphen will attest.) Alas, I abuse hyphens liberally, and probably always will-

…I want to write a memoir. (Doesn’t everybody though?) I’m sure we all feel like we’ve lived through unspeakable atrocities that nobody would or could believe. We’ve all gleaned the golden nuggets of wisdom from the trenches of life that we’re compelled to share.  (There’s old Charlie, hacking and wheezing across the street. He lives with his father and smokes pot incessantly. He doesn’t let old age stop him from having a good spliff now and again. I call him old Charlie because he’s in his late 60’s or so, and his Dad is even older- maybe late 80’s or early 90’s. At all hours of the day and night, we can hear old Charlie out there, a mumble here or there followed by a short pause of silence- and then the hacking begins again.)

Please do feel free to go meander off and watch Spongebob while I ramble on about a memoir that I’ll probably never write. But do want to. There’s just so much work involved. I have the goods- I’ve already lived the story, and am still, but I think the hardest part is actually starting. Writing that first word and knowing how you want to tell the tale. So many times I’ve written blog posts- completely- whole blog posts written out and then deleted them, simply because I felt as if I had nothing worthwhile to say. But that’s the blogger’s curse. But there’s a difference between me and  the stereotypical modern day blogger. Most bloggers collectively know that content is king. For me though, this isn’t a typical “blog”- it’s my diary. My very public, online diary. As I’ve stated before, I want to leave more than a few pictures of me behind. More than a fingerprint. I want to leave an archive. A life in pictures and posts. I never thought I’d still be writing in this thing almost 10 year later! I can look back and read about small walks I took with my kids, or cooking in the kitchen on certain days- what we ate, what we said. LIFE.

And so, back to the memoir. I have an incredible story to tell. How I went from living in an uninhabitable, dilapidated house- wetting the bed and living quite literally like a wild animal. I really don’t care what member of the family reads this stuff and might get offended. Where was anyone at all when I needed help? Where was anyone when I cried at night, alone and afraid, (and very wet and smelly)? Where was anyone when I was molested as a young girl, at age of 9- right in my own house? So no. I don’t want to hear how my life story “offends” anyone. It’s what I had to live through. Everybody else was safe, except me.

From that hell, to growing up seriously disadvantaged. All the cards stacked against me. I should have been a statistic, I really should’ve. Women who’ve suffered less have been. God spared me though. I came through so much hell and hurt and trauma and shame and rage. I was shown grace, and given another chance. God pulled me from the pit and set me on solid ground again.

I look back at it all in amazement that I was able to trudge through the trenches and reach the other side of the river. I stand now in the green, fertile soil; life has come to me again.

I have only one more year to go and I’ll be graduating with my Master’s degree in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. And still, I have no idea what I want to do with my life. For now, Im taking the necessary time off to try and absorb the fact the I no longer have my baby brother with me. For now, I’ll simply exist, and try to make it through each day. I’m giving myself the liberty to not have to do, think, feel, process, or anything else that takes emotional work. For now, I’m in a state of emotional cryogenics. Frozen inside- too numb to feel.

Until another crashing wave comes and drags me under. But then it’s quiet again, and I’ll know that I’ve made it through another rogue wave. There are no smiles within me. No solace. Today hurts. Tomorrow may too, but for now, I’ll distract myself with another adventure game. It hurts too much to think. I know that all of my training is going down the drain in these moments, but it’s o.k. I told myself that I could be in total denial for now and I’m taking my advice!

There will be warmer, better days ahead. As for now though, today is cancelled.

springmill2