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
…who are just finishing up your semesters- students and teachers alike- congratz to you!
And although I’m bowing out of the academic race to pursue my photography/art, I do hope that each of you continues to do well in your studies and teachings. All of my final grades are in and it’s going to be a close call, but I think I might’ve made the Dean’s List. More on that later.
Maggie, congratzs to you, and Y, you too. WE DID IT. 🙂
Helios film lens 44-2/Flooded field/manual/natural lighting
Upside down reflection-taken yesterday
So I’ve been sitting here doing homework for the past (30 hours with a sleep break) few hours, and have decided to do the self-challenge that I’ve wanted to do for years: I’m going to leave my camera in monochrome for a whole year. After my next birthday, I’ll take my first coloured photograph. The majority of everything looks better to me in black and white anyway, and when I compose a shot in monochrome- as opposed to colour- it always tells a story.
I can twist the lighting any way I want and distort and change my image: pancakes become mountains- the syrrup the sea- and the edge of the syrup-filled pancake looks like a gashed-open knee. I love the way the light fades off into the syrrupy-darkness.
Clearly, I’ve done too much schoolwork and am creating little worlds now in my plate of food.
Back to the schoolwork.
“You’re seriously not going to go out there like that, right?” I asked my daughter, Brianna.
“Of course,” she said.
“Um…with that…Illuminati symbol? Seriously?”
She smiled. I laughed. And then I left her alone.
This is Southern Indiana; it may as well be the deep South. Rednecks and hillbillies are thick around here. I quickly put things into proper perspective: she has every right to wear whatever she wants on her face, head, or any other body part. The fact that I disagree is really not the point: I need to respect her choices.
So we headed out to the Home Depot, and short of being lynched, publicly, it went well! There are lots of pot-bellied guys in suspenders there- “good ole boys” who like traditional things and people that just don’t push envelopes or stretch boundaries. Ha. My little family is exceptionally good at that and I’m so proud of my kids.
The looks she got by “the good ole boys” at the Home Depot were shocking (and, hilarious). Brianna walked straight forward with a dedicated gait and didn’t flinch. She didn’t look to see what others thought or if they even looked at her. I gained a new respect for her that day. I still don’t like the Illumnati symbol (at all) but certainly appreciate a person who stands his or her ground and challenges others to bend their perspectives- to break out of their stagnant mindsets and breathe new air- even if that air is foreign and seemingly “threatening”.
I remember well what one of my best friends (of 8 or so years) said to me once over the IM. I’m a Christian- he’s an Athiest- and we were alright to “go there” with each other. Not always- but we didn’t shy away from the subject ever. We liked to know what made the other tick and why we chose to believe what we did, so we often prodded and poked, respectfully.
“Well, you, being an unbeliever…da da da…” I said, foolishly.
“I’m not an unbeliever,” he said. “I just don’t believe the same things you do.”
To this day, that’s one of the most riveting things anybody has ever said to me. Profound even. For six years or so, he and I were so very close. I think of him often and love him dearly. He remains an Athiest and I remain a Christian- but we had a unique understanding and respect for one another. He remains one of my favourite people ever.
It’s too late to be rambling on about the Illuminati and Home Depot and rednecks and stuff. I have to be up early in the morning. I need to go
do loads of schoolwork watch Dual Survivor while I eat roasted chicken.
Love breaks through…
I can hardly believe the dramatic changes that have happened to me since I last posted.
Doggy Daddy Josh made good on his repayment, and I’ve been able to pay (almost) everything off so that we’re at least back up to “barely struggling”. The stress is rolling away.
My oldest daughter returned to Bloomington- her visit was literally life-changing for me. She taught me how to meditate! I have no idea why it’s taken me so long to put such an easy practice into practice, but we had some down time at the Ohio River among the driftwood and sandy beach area. I took my school books with me (and actually read that day) but I decided to try the meditation then. I sat down in a sandy area- munchies, purse, and all of my necessities surrounding me- and sat straight up in Indian style, closed my eyes, purposefully oxidizing and forcing the air in and out through methodical, slow breathing, and pushed everything out of my mind. It’s not the same thing as burying it. I know that we (as people) have the power and ability to accept messages, both positive and negative (also known as encoding); therefore I know that we have the same ability to release them. So that is what I did.
J and I have made peace with each other completely and really fought for our friendship. Over the years, our relationships with each other have swelled and shrunk and swelled (and shrunk) again from new acquaintances, to very good friends, to fiancés, back to very good friends, distant friends, best friends, “life partners” sharing an existence and cohabitating, distant friends again, best friends again- we have learned to transmutate in and out of each other and morph into and apart from each other quickly, like water. Through it all, we’ve remained friends. I will never have eyes for anybody else, and if it were to happen, a house would have to fall on me.
That said, I’m very much enjoying my newly liberated status, and my space! I’m fiercely private (and have never even been on Skype, although several of my friends are putting serious heat on me in that area from across the pond) but I don’t get much down time these days, and when I do- I write and sing songs.
God has poured no less than 12 new songs into me over the past two months. It’s always been that way with me: the darker my days, the better and more frequent my songs. And, it’s not uncommon for us artists to bleed out our pain and sorrows. It makes for bubblier personalities! But it’s my way.
I want so much to just work on a CD; all original material- my songs in Drop D (acoustic/electric guitar and the piano) but I absolutely must power through and finish up my degree in Behavioral Sciences first. I remember what Sharon Osbourne said on TV once. She was advising a group of women to harness their attention, energy, and focus on one thing, and to devote their drive toward that one thing. Otherwise, she would be all over the place and perhaps spread herself out too thin. I think on that always.
But still, I have a scream in me- my new songs are coming out of my ears! I’ve recorded small bursts of HD video when a new song hits me and file it away. I have about 15, although I’ve written around 50 over the past 7 years or so. I’ll pull them up after the semester’s over and select only one to lay down on a 4 track and then polish it up. (And so on and so forth.)
Josh asked me if I’d like to work on a CD together: I’m down with that. 🙂
I love that man and I can’t deny it. Still, I’m learning to approach my environment and stressful situations from a scientific perspective, rather than an emotional one. This is something I’m learning to do through my studies. It’s alright to shut everything down emotionally- temporarily– and navigate through those ferocious waters, as long as they’re dissected and processed afterwards when it’s “safe” to do so. Even if it’s days later, that’s ok, as long as it gets done.
My daughter, Heidi, shared something with me several years ago that was again life-changing for me. She told me that we don’t always have the necessary tools to go back through our pasts and dig up “old bones” as it were. We might dig up years worth of buried things and not be able to reassemble them, she said. I never forgot that. She has helped me so very much, and I do have to give Brian and Brianna much credit too.
Brian Bob has come to me over the years with wisdom beyond his own years, and poured his healing balm over my heart. Brianna has shot me between the eyes with a poker face with hard truths that I’ve needed to hear- that girl can really let you have it! But still respectfully. Heidi is the “light bringer” of sorts. I’m so grateful and humbled by her endless search for truth and love and for sharing with me what she gathers along the way.
I’m convinced that I have the best kids in the world. But doesn’t every mom think that?
More good news!
I found out that all of my classes are actually open enrollment and I “accidentally” started school one month earlier than my classmates. Hence, my posting now to my blog. :0)
After paying $1,800 worth of very pregnant bills, I’ll have only $500 or so left. I have waited 27 years to buy a professional microphone so that I can record high quality songs. The same can be said for an electric stage piano, and Washburn acoustic electric guitar- I’m waiting no longer. I’ve placed an order for all of them and I am crazy with excitement! The microphone I bought (and has already shipped) is a Yeti (Blue Microphones) USB mic- silver edition. [You can click on the link to view it.] It’s a gorgeous mic! I also put an order in for this: Nady pop filter. Things are slowly coming together in the music department.
Josh is an amazing musician: his talent shines in rhythm (D&B) but especially rhythm guitar. He has a soulful, bluesy wail that hits you right in the heart when he sings. I’ll be working with him in vocal training- I’ve been a singer since I was 6 perhaps? “Perfect pitch” they call it, but these days I am so very rusty. Singing comes naturally for Heidi and me- we don’t have to try hard- it just flows out of us, but she truly takes it to a whole ‘nother level. The girl is phenomenal.
I’ll be broke again before I know it, but heck- the bills are paid (mostly) and my car has gas in it. I can’t complain.
There’s a dove serenading me outside of my window. It sings for me every morning. I think maybe I’m just eavesdropping. I received this email this morning; it put a big smile on my face:
I love your Hallelujah song on Divine Office…What beautiful melody, voice, lyrics!
Please send me the mp3 so I may share with my women’s bible study.
Thank you and God bless,
[Name omitted for confidentiality]
Oh- oh…and more good news!
I donated a copy of my children’s book Peanut Butter Soup to my local library. My friend who works there is putting it into circulation. But also, upon donating it, she invited me to join her book club in which she features local authors. I was delighted and happy to accept.
I cherish my dark hours because they bring me closer to God. But I absolutely love bathing in the Light. Today I am deeply grateful and deeply happy.
I remember last year, having to sell my whole rig to pay the rent and buy groceries.
Canon Rebel XSI
Lensbaby Composer Pro w/ Double Glass OpticsZ
Lensbaby + Sweet optic 35
(kit) 18-55 MM/75-300
50 MM 1.8 II (prime)
Lens reversal adapter/coupling ring
Extra batteries + charger/neck strap etc. etc.
It broke my heart to have to do that, but considering it allowed me to take care of my family through some very difficult times, I don’t regret the decision and would do it again if I had to. During all of 2012 I’ve shot with a 4 MP Canon Power shot, and for a serious “artographer” as myself, that has been difficult.
I’ve recently received the remains of my Financial Aid for school, and after paying (the school) back $1,380, my mom $500- brother $500- along with a few more chunks of hundreds here and there (bills, etc.) I had just enough left over to order another DSLR: Canon EOS 60D 18 MP. After shooting all year with a 4 MP- I cannot wait to have an actual DSLR in my hands again!
I ordered one that came with the kit (18-55 standard lens) which pretty much sucks as a lens- but, with a bit of experience and know-how (of which both I possess) you can pull off some pretty good shots with one. I’d be a fool to not order a 50 MM 1.8 II prime lens- it’s $100 brand new, which is pennies compared to other lenses, but the 50 MM makes an excellent portrait lens with considerably good bokeh. For those that may be reading this that have no idea what bokeh means, it’s a Japanese word that actually means “senile” or mentally foggy. Photographically, it translates as the super blurry parts of an image, apart from the focal point or subject, and it’s usually in the BG/background, but there is also what I call “reverse bokeh”, and that’s when you have a sharp focal point with a super-blurred FG/foreground.
Another attractive feature the 50 MM offers is that it’s a fixed focal length- there’s no zooming to be had. That means, if you want to get a close-up shot of your subject or subjects, you have to actually walk up to them. The 50 MM captures a field that equate to a 35 MM and it’s the closest thing to capturing a scene that your eye actually sees. You can’t go wrong with a 50 MM- ever- and it’s a great lens to take on trips, etc. because although it captures a subject beautifully regarding macros, it also makes an excellent landscape lens- many people don’t know that.
Here are two examples below, both taken with a 50 MM 1.8 II:
Sketch, one of the many cats we’ve owned over the years:
The Longest Dream (Perrin Park/Indiana)
Not too shabby for a $100 lens. Some of my favourite lenses are the Lensbaby Composer Pro (double glass ops), Sigma 17-70 (great walk around lens- it’s a wide angle on one end and a macro on the other- excellent lens), Sigma 10-20 (super wide) , and there are others, but the 50 MM prime remains at the top of any lens I’ve ever used. This lens is an absolute must have for any advanced amateur and pro, for that matter.
I should be receiving my goodies in the mail within the next week. I’ve spent the last 8 years developing my own unique style, a style that’s recognizable to most of the people who know my work, and I’m considering posting a few tutorials in the areas of layering, mastering your lighting (in camera- and in post processing) and developing a trademark style that is unique to your personal preferences. I’ve had many requests over the years but have just been so busy- hopefully I can do that sometime soon. (We’ll see.)
It’s another busy day and I’ll be filling mine with housecleaning, lots of school work and supper to cook.
Today has been one of the most wretched days of my life. I’ve had the worst migraine that I’ve ever had, and it has been a doosy. I started my day with a strong dose of cayenne and ginger (as usual) , followed by a small cup of medicinal tea. I was grossly nauseous, and so went back to bed. I tried to read some of my Bette Davis/Joan Crawford dual biography, but was too sick. The pain was mostly in the back of my head, exactly where my cyst is, and it was swelling- massive pressure was building up and as usual, it felt as if I’d been shot in the back of the head- but this is actually worse. When a person is shot in the head, more times than not, they die. If they don’t die, they’re rushed to the hospital and given large doses of morphine, stadol, demerol, or something of that nature so they’re not suffering. In my case, I have to sit it out. Minutes feel like hours. Words are too simple to describe this kind of ongoing pain.
I haven’t taken a phenergan in over a month, but I tried to take one half and be very still. Eventually though, my stomach revolted. My son asked, “Do you want me to bring you the trash can, mom?”
“No, I don’t want to throw up in front of everybody,” I said.
Two minutes later I ran to the bathroom and “worshipped the porcelain god” as the saying goes. Now if you’ve never thrown up a fairly large amount of cayenne pepper, you haven’t really lived yet. My whole head was on fire! My nasal passages felt as if somebody’d sprayed acid into them and I was crying tears that actually burned. (Not boo-hoo crying, but phsyiologically.) Also, the pain was exacerbated by the fact that I had a new surge of fiery adrenaline coursing through my body, particularly in my head.
I made it back to my bed and by God’s good mercy, was able to sleep. I woke up feeling like raw heck, drank a bit more of my medicinal tea (poppy seed tea, which actually works to kill the pain, if you can keep it down), and after five more hours of intense agony- ordered Chinese. (Might I recommend the moo shu beef? General Tso’s chicken is also a tasty dish, and crab rangoons make a great appeteizer. This is what I ordered, along with a coke and a few Pepsi’s.)
It is now 12:45 a.m. and the pain is still pretty intense (it’s moved around to my front right eye socket). Ibuprofin is a joke, but I took two anyway. It’s been three weeks since I’ve stopped taking my Lortab and Ambien. My liver was beginning to tell me that I couldn’t keep taking pills and remain “healthy”. Granted, I never exceeded 10 mg. at one time, which is the equivalent of 1 blue Lortab, (but seldom took even that much). This is part of the reason why I decided to become certified in Substance Abuse- I know far too many people who have been reduced to a mere statistic, having lost everything (including themselves) to drugs.
I’ve become passionate in my search for a homeopathic solution: pain management without having to take pharmaceutical chemicals. Poppy seed tea can be taken at small doses to combat severe pain, such as the pain from my arachnoid cyst, while still allowing me to function. Naturally, if you take a larger amount, you can get higher than a kite, but if I wanted to get high, I’d just smoke a joint. I like to be in control of my faculties though. This is part of the reason why I quit drinking liquor over five years ago. If I chose to not take anything at all, I’d be limited to “getting out of bed to pee” and that’s about it. I can’t live that way. So after much consideration and trial and error, I’m sticking with my cayenne, ginger, and med. tea, when necessary.
I do get more migraines this way (not taking pharmaceutical drugs) and some days it’s sheer agony, like today, but my liver feels 80% better.
Through it all, I’m able to say, “Thank you God for this pain. I still choose to praise you, and lift up Your Name.”
When I compare my pain, to the pain that Jesus had to endure, I shudder to think that I could even complain. I still have two eyes that see, and a heart that loves- two working hands, a family that I love and that loves me. I have much to be thankful for.
Much to be thankful for. 🙂
Well my head has been splitting open for going on two days straight.
Even so, I had a little melody playing today in my heart when I woke up.
I layed out the skeleton this morning, and pretty much made up the last bits as I went along. It’s still in its concept form.
(I used an alias at YouTube. I’m enjoying my little bloggy hiding place here. Very, very quiet. Nice. 🙂
I’m realizing only today why I’m so creative. Because I’ve had to improvize my whole life. Having next to nothing to work with, forces you to try harder. You have no choice but to experiment because you really don’t know what else to do. Over time, your style becomes defined, refined, and unmistakable.
Having to sell my rig, more than once, I was left with only my Canon G3. It’s a 4 MP dinosaur. Because I had nothing else, I decided to not only learn how to shoot in B&W + manual, but revel in it.
That was about two years ago. I’ve been shooting for about 7, but B&W rules me. I’m completely infatuated with the marriage between light and shadows. To me, black and white is already a story. The images within an image become the actors on the stage, or props, I suppose, but even if you have only one blank wall, and a cheap camera set up to photograph that wall, with a bit of natural window lighting hitting it (through parted curtains, say), then the clouds passing over the sun become the filters. The passing clouds increase and decrease the gamma and contrast naturally.
The story of B&W is one of masculinity and femininity. Life and death. Hot and cold. Love and hate. When stripped down to their very elements, they are in their most powerful state. I have little interest at the moment in HDR, filters of this or that kind- and while they’re great (and I have experience in those as well) I can’t escape the beauty of being stripped down to almost nothing, and simply working with what ya got.
That’s not to say I photograph things in the nude.
I’m experimenting with a new webcam I got. It’s a cheapie $18.00 Logitech. But it’s capable of shooting in B&W (Heaven……….!) and so I’ve been sitting here in my computer chair, painting shadow swans on my wall with my hands. When I move my hands back and forth to and away from my chest, the shadows become elongated horizontally. Such a simple action. But it changes the dynamics of everything.
And here are some snappies:
This is generally how I feel several times a week.
“Ahhh…..close the curtains!”
(Migraines make the light absolutely unbearable.) Oh, and I wasn’t faking it. I did indeed wake up with a migraine.
I intentionally bleached the lighting, and jacked up the gamma so the blacks would be double heavy.
Choppy, grainy, bleeding contrast, toasted exposure- what’s not to love?
(Yes, yes, I’m kidding.) But the shadows on my neck from my fingers are intentional.
It’s a fair statement to say that I am obsessed with shadows.
Perhaps I’ll post a video today.