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

Posts tagged “fine art photography

Phoenix Rising

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When I was a little girl, I used to stand in front of my bathroom mirror. We were abjectly poor and our house dilapidated. Melting snow on our wood-burning stove in the living room to make hot water was not an unusual occurrence, but unfortunately, by the time we got to the top floor- all the way in the back section where the bathroom was- our collected water in the tub had already grown lukewarm, if not altogether cold.

My entire childhood was a master class in survival. Holes in our walls allowed the opossums (and other rodents) to crawl in at will and it wasn’t unusual to find a fat one sitting atop the kitchen table, helping itself to whatever scraps it might find.

I wore my older brother’s outgrown hand-me-down blue jeans; they were known as “high waters” because they were far above the ankle. They almost always had well-worn holes in the knees, from years of my brothers’ running and playing and rolling and chasing. I was the lucky recipient who got their unwanted gems.

My bed was a bare mattress- the jail kind- that was blue and white pin-striped, stuffed with feathers. It had long ridden itself of its skin- the dirty, urine-soaked sheets that stayed saturated with cold pee. Even when I was given fresh, clean sheets for my bed, which didn’t happen often, they didn’t stay clean for long. Within 24 hours, they were guaranteed to be soaked again.

I was told by one of my caretakers that I would be hooked up to electrodes and shocked if I continued wetting the bed. The thought of being electrocuted as I slept terrified me and created a lifelong fear of going to sleep. Thankfully, they never followed through with that awful plan but there was always a fear that I would be hurt or punished if I continued wetting the bed. There was nothing I could do to stop it! How do you wake yourself up to go pee as a child with no alarm clock? I don’t think anybody in the world is that talented.

Regardless, nobody stepped in and tried to proactively help me. There were no responsible adults who set a schedule to wake me through the night, guaranteeing that I wouldn’t continue wetting the bed. It was a brutal childhood. And, of course, there was the sexual abuse. As if wetting the bed wasn’t enough, I had a dual fear of being molested. I never knew when he would come for me- calling me downstairs after everybody else had left. I was forced to do unspeakable and shameful acts that no 9 year old child should ever have to do.

I’ve done my research: Adults who were sexually abused as children usually don’t end up faring well in life. They more than likely end up with a boatload of psychological and emotional problems, and they usually end up statistics.

I’ve always felt God’s hand on me. Even during the worst of days as a child on Cherry street. I used to go into my Mom and Dad’s prayer closet and pull the old string that hung down from the low-hanging ceiling. I felt as if I was in the presence of something so Great and Holy! (And I was.) I could smell the anointed oil placed there on the shelf, reverently. I could smell The LORD.

I would open the King James Bible and seek out the red letters. I knew that those were Jesus’ words and I only wanted to say what He’d said.  So I sat there, trembling excitedly as I read out loud all of Jesus’ words from the New Testament. I felt so close to God during those precious times, alone in there with Jesus. I felt so special and loved because I knew that He could hear me.

At night I would pull the sheets (if I had them) or clothing up to my nose and slowly cover my eyes with a clever smile. I knew that I was surrounded by angels. I couldn’t see them but I knew they were there. I thought that if I hid under the blankets, I could pop out quickly and surprise-catch them! I never did, of course, but I always knew that they were there with me. Before I fell into fitful sleep, I would say goodnight to all of my friends, “Good night Noah. Good night Jonah. Good night Jesus. Good night Moses.’ And on and on. I knew that they could hear me too and had the comprehension at that young age to understand that I wasn’t alone as it seemed.

I looked into the bathroom mirror there, on a regular basis, peering deeply into the timid eyes I saw staring back at me. Skinny, sheepish, scared, curious. I was obsessed with my future. It created a world of curiosity within me, not knowing who I would be when I grew up. I wanted to be a good person so badly and do good or important things for others. Even at that age, I was fiercely driven. I was compelled to look down the road and see something worthy and good. I only saw a blank canvas and that frightened me.

I didn’t have the answers that I desperately needed to satisfy my soul. It was almost unbearable not knowing what kind of woman or person I would become as an adult. How could I be certain that I would “end up good”? It was my daily companion- the constant fear of who I wanted to be but afraid I wouldn’t be or able to be. Ten year old girls are often curious and self-doubting about what they’ll be like as adults, but I was having a full-blown existential crisis.

Over the years, I’ve derailed myself multiple times from achieving the personal goals I set for myself. My life has been monumentally challenging, to say the least. As I sit here now, typing into the wee morning hours, I think of that scared little girl in the mirror.

It’s only natural that I would be self-reflecting and doing a life review at 5:00 a.m. on this early Saturday morning. I only have four weeks to go and then I’ll be graduating with my Master’s in Psychology in Addiction Counseling. It’s been a long haul! I’m ridiculously giddy. 🙂 I really did it. It wasn’t always easy but I did it.

Only over these past few days have I begun to see a clearer picture of my life. For the past few years I’ve been privately fretting about becoming an addiction counselor. I have no doubt, especially given my personal experience and history, that I’d be able to help many people in their lives. I have no doubt that I’d break new ground in that industry and blaze my own trail. But would it satisfy my soul, truly? I don’t have that answer but I’m leaning toward, “No, it wouldn’t.”

I’m an artist. And a musician. And a photographer. And a singer. And a teacher. And a counselor. (I never said that I was a “practicing counselor” but I’m most certainly a trained one.) And I’m an author- a published author. A children’s book author. At some point, I may want to finally promote my book or use it as a tool to work with kids. I’ve always seen me doing that somewhere. All I’ve ever had was a murky outline, with no distinguishing features. But now, God is showing me the direction He wants me to go in.

When I had written my Pastor, Rev. Berneice Hicks a decade ago, I had shared with her that I had enrolled as a freshman to go into Business Administration. She wrote me back and encouraged me to get out of that department and apply myself to an area in which I could “better utilize my talents”. I loved that she said that but it brought with it a measure of fear and uncertainty. How would I know what I wanted to do? How would I know where to go?

It was like walking blindly into the fire but trying to believe that you won’t be burned if you just believe it hard enough. Even so, I withdrew from Business Administration (immediately) and signed up for Behavioral Sciences. I knew that I could at least segue into something ‘people-y” later, sticking closely to her recommendation.

So for the past decade as I’ve worked on my Associates, Bachelor’s, and Master’s degrees (and Substance Abuse certification), I’ve been tossing myself into the waves of uncertainty, rolling through every year with an ever-increasing amount of fear that I was moving in a direction of total blackness. Despite having a Master’s degree in Psychology )and Addiction Counseling), I still wouldn’t be able to be an addiction counselor (not a good one, anyway) without two subsequent years of supervised internship/practicum in counseling! Two full years of that!

I’ve been praying lately, asking God to show me where He wants me to be in this world. I’m willing! I just didn’t know what to do or where to go to truly make a difference in other people’s lives. This past week, He answered me.

I’ve always had an interest in TEFL (Teaching English as a Foreign Language), also known as TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Language). Most programs offer 120 (study) hours, minimally, but there are a few other organizations that offer 160 hours, 180 hours, 230 hours and even up to 290 hours. The 290 hours courses are known as “master TEFL classes” and you’re a legitimate expert in the field if you receive this type of certification. For the record, people typically don’t choose something as challenging as 290 hours of TEFL certification.

I’ve eyeballed this career path for the past few decades and have always had an unhealthy interest in this industry. Who wouldn’t want to travel abroad to Thailand or Vietnam and live in a rent-free dwelling on a beautiful exotic island- and be paid to work there?! Most TEFL organizations pay their teachers $1,500 -$1,650 per month. That’s pretty good already, but when you consider that they’re paying your rent on top of your salary- it goes from pretty good to phenomenal. TEFL teachers also receive side perks, such as monetary incentives to maintain standards, as well as other personal and financial bonuses. Some TEFL organizations even offer “exit compensation” of anywhere from $500- $3,000.

When you add up all of the monies and rewards, it becomes an incredibly good deal. As I move closer to graduation, I know that I’m leaving college for good. I’ll never return. (Not to a traditional “college”, anyway.) The only education I’m willing to take after receiving my Master’s degree is to study for and receive my TEFL certification. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do. 🙂

A decade ago, the industry looked very different. There have been many technological advancements over the past ten years! Whereas, years ago it was necessary to actually travel to China, or England, or the TEFL country of choice. Nowadays, those same lessons are taught online, in an online classroom. Of course, many people are in it specifically for the cultural experiences too, but if traveling to another country isn’t exactly ideal, it’s good to know the same job can be done via distance education, virtually– 100%.

I believe at some point I will want to travel abroad. I do see myself doing that at some point down the road. But for now, I’ll be teaching English to foreign language speakers (FLS) here in America. I cannot tell you how absolutely stoked I am to finally see the big picture in my life! It’s no longer a hazy outline, but a wildly vivid, technicolour explosion of hope, chance, possibility, and change. I have surely risen from the ashes and am taking flight. 🙂

Being the exceedingly driven, type A, overachiever that I am, naturally, the 120 hour fast track TEFL certification is simply not enough, so I signed on straightaway for the 290 hour “TEFL master class”. If I’m going to do this thing, I really want to DO THIS THING.

I want to be the absolute best that I can be and want to learn as much as I possibly can. I’ve learned by now that if you put in the hard work, in the beginning, you can reap the rewards later. You must first sew the seeds of patience, determination, dedication, focus, energy, and passion into the academic soil and water them with your hard-earned sweat. Only then will anything worthwhile come from that soil. There are no shortcuts! Ever.

I’ve just installed the Duolingo App on my Android, which I’ll use to learn Chinese. I’m also studying Swahili, and will continue my studies in Spanish. I plan on being at least quadrilingual when all is said and done. My target countries of interest are China, Africa, and South America, so if/when I do ever want to transition from online TEFL teaching, I’ll have learned several correlating languages to the countries of my interest.

(My intentions are not to become entirely fluent in Swahili and Chinese. I do however want to be able to comfortably culturally assimilate while in those regions. I’ve just begun studying Chinese and Swahili a few days ago. I will continue studying Spanish, however, unit I’m completely fluent. I have plans for South America- particularly Peru- down the road, and although Peruvians don’t speak 100% Spanish, I’ll be more than prepared by being fluent in Spanish.)

My core foundational TEFL course is 168 hours and its official title is the “Ofqual-Regulated Level 5 Course”. Along with that course, I also signed on for 4 specialization courses which are all 30 hours apiece. (Together, they culminate into the 290 hour “expert certification”.)

My TEFL certification course is officially called the “290 Hour TEFL MASTER Training Course” and the 4 specialization TEFL courses are:

* 30 Hour Teaching IELTS Module (International English Language Testing System)
* 30 Hour Teaching TOEIC Module (Test of English for International Communication)
*30 Hour Teaching Business English Module
*30 Hour Teaching Young Learners Module

There’s no such thing as “pie in the sky” and there are no lucky breaks in life. There’s a purpose for everything and everyone- accidents do not exist. I’m so grateful for my incredibly wise Dad who taught me so much about the world and God and human nature. He used to say to me often, “It says in Ecclesiastes 9:11,  ‘Time and chance happeneth to them all'”. He also shared with me Jesus’ words about the rain falling on the just and the unjust equally, and the sun shining on them both too. He taught me that God gives everybody the same chances in life, and He’s indeed no respecter of persons. With that in mind. there are no excuses for not being able to accomplish one’s dreams in life! Look at my start in life. Every card in that stack was stacked against me. I was told by strangers, family, and anybody and everybody that I was “broken”- damaged goods. I almost believed them.

I chose to believe that I can do anything that I want to do in this world and I’m only as weak as I believe I am. Nobody can hold me back from accomplishing my goals and dreams but me. Some people are so bitter and angry and stay that way throughout their entire lives. They blame others for their misfortunes despite that it was them who made those choices. They choke on their own hatred and drown in their envy. I’m so glad God snatched me up from certain doom and carved a compassionate heart into me. He saved me from an unholy fire, truly.

I want to teach others english as my job, but my real reward will be inspiring other disadvantaged individuals in life and helping them to overcome their seemingly insurmountable obstacles. I’m a living, breathing miracle and I know that if I can walk through the fires that I’ve walked through without being consumed, then I can help others do that too. ❤

I see the little girl standing on the toilet, trying to reach the mirror’s height. I see the worry and fear etched into her young face, and I think, “It’s alright, sweetheart. You’re gonna make it.” ❤

“One Fine Day”

Click Here to Purchase

Perrin Park, Jeffersonville, IN- Oct. 26th, 2019- Rebel t3i + Carl Zeiss Jena Flektogon 35/2.8OneFineDay

 


New Work

Set of 4, vegetable fine art prints. Click here to purchase, or click on print:

8 x 10 (set of 4)- $85
13 x 19 (set of 4) -$135

VEGGIESET

Bird’s nest fine art print, in colour and black and white. Click here or click on print to purchase:

8 x 10 -$30
13 x 19- $55

BnWNest
Nest1

 


Ghostly

Title: “Ghostly”

Click HERE to purchase in Monochromejunkie Ebay store.
(Brand new and under construction. 🙂 )

8 x 10 – $25, Set of 2 – $45
13 x 19 – $55, Set of 2 – $85
*Free Shipping

Ghostly1
Ghostly2

This is for you, Sean.
I’m so sorry you couldn’t find the comfort you so desperately needed in this world.
I’m sorry that the system failed you. (It failed me too, in many ways.)
I’m sorry that the only solution they offered was to shove fistfulls of pills into you.
I’m sorry they convinced you to undergo Electric Shock Therapy.
I’m sorry that you were hurting so badly inside. More than anyone knew.
I’m sorry that you spent your entire life doubting that anyone cared for you.

I can’t accept the fact that you’re really gone.
I found your book on Amazon: Stories of How I End. Which is like your entire blog, pressed into a book. I’ll buy a copy soon, and I’ll do what I can to promote your work.

I will make that promise to you. And I will keep it, friend. I miss you.

I’m sorry. x

#suicideisnevertheanswer

 


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

Click image to purchase.

Bernheim Helios2


Triptych: Waterscape

Super Takumar 135/3.5 -vintage film lens- Set of 3  8×10’s panoramic triptych
-click on print to purchase-
RAINTRYPTICH


Fire in the Hole

Fire in the pie hole, that is. Initially, I stopped blogging for a while because I have a crazy sibling who stalks my every move here at my blog, and after discovering her footprints all over the place here (such as, seeing her key word searches that she used- which were disturbing, to say the least) – I just really grew disgusted at the notion that she poured over my every word, and it really just creeped me out, altogether. I began feeling like my posts were going directly to her, rather than feeling liberated and being able to express myself freely. (She has a long history as a stalker, and I’m betting she’s changed very little in the past 5 years.)

Alas, I can’t live my life based on other people.- especially her. So I’ll pick up where I left off and simply do what I’ve always done: document my life in words and pictures so that my children and others will have a digital “life album” that they can access, both now and in the future. Apart from that, blogging is really healthy, and sometimes, getting those feelings out through writing is the only way to move past them. So, I’m going to try and blog every day again, and the purpose is not to entertain others; if I wanted to do that I’d just be a You Tuber instead. I don’t really care if I’m blogging about peas, just as long as I keep writing. I’ll only be able to free up emotional space if I’ve made room for new things. So, if you’re here and reading this, be warned- you may eventually be reading about peas.

Since switching to a plant-based diet, Josh and I have considered our options where “meat” is concerned. We’ve been researching meat alternatives, and came across a protein-rich, wheat-based, gluten-heavy protein called tempeh. Basically, tempeh is fermented soy beans that have been fried into small “cakes”. It’s packed with gluten, because gluten is the part of wheat that’s thick and sticky and keeps the bread together. Tempeh is a concentration of the sticky parts, so if you’re eating Tofurkey– which is a vegan meat substitute- you’re eating a gluten-bomb.

I thought I’d be o.k. eating it, because I’ve never had signs of being gluten-sensitive before and have eaten wheat all of my life. But almost immediately after making spaghetti with Tofurkey, my tongue began to burn on its underside. At first, it felt like I’d been burned, and then it progressed into a full-scale attack in which the top of the bottom (of my tongue) felt and looked like it was split open. It clearly had swollen and split apart and appeared to be growing in both size and intensity. Before long, my right ear felt pressurized and my right eye began to burn as well. Within 12 hours, I couldn’t talk and it hurt so badly it took my breath away. When I woke up this morning, I was in excruciating pain and could barely chew my food.

It’s been almost 24 hours now and the pain hasn’t let up at all. I’m guessing I’m gluten-sensitive! Josh got some Orajel for me and it’s helped relieve some of the pain. So, I’ll be adding that to the list as well:

meat
eggs
dairy
gluten

Thank God for Almond milk ice cream! Adopting a (mostly) vegan diet doesn’t mean food has to be boring. I’ve been making my own cashew milk too. It’s amazing! Josh discovered that almond milk has the nutrition of only 28 almonds, so we found a great cashew milk recipe that’s simple as well as wholesome and delicious. None of the pulp is thrown out, so nothing goes to waste. It’s actually tastier than cow’s milk. Lately, cow’s milk had begun to taste like water, so it’s nice to have a creamy milk that is rich in flavour and nutrients.

I’m taking the day off and resting in bed. I can’t believe January is almost gone! One month left of the cold and then the spring will be here again. ❤

Lewis and Clark’s cabin- overlooking the Ohio River
-Click on print to purchase-

lewisandclarkmatte

 


Five Months Later…

I can hardly believe it’s been five months since I’ve been away. Where has the time gone?!

I’d like to say that I’ve been off doing great and honourable things since graduating from college back in May, alas; I’ve merely caught up on 300 crime shows and have picked up a nasty sugar addiction. I’m talking- waxing 3 bags of bubble gum in 4 hours- no kidding. SHAMEFUL.

But let’s not focus on that. 😉

Today is Christmas, and Josh and I are pulling another all-nighter. He’s at his computer station, and I at mine. He’s gaming, and I’m working on editing some pics for my new Etsy shop. I’ve wanted to open an Etsy shop for almost ten years now. At first, I didn’t have enough inventory, and quite frankly, I wasn’t up to the standard of photography that I was utterly pleased with- not enough to sell my work. (But that was 10 years ago.) And then “school happened”. Now, more than 20,000 pics are held hostage on more than 5 disk drives. I could dig through the heap and salvage years of work, or, I could start all over and create a whole new body of work: I’ve chosen to do the latter.

It might seem crazy to want to start all over- especially having spent the last decade developing my  personal style and techniques, but for me, my art does more than mark a time in my life. My pics/images tell stories. (You artists and photogs out there know what I mean.) I want the stories to reflect who I am at that time. I’m not the same person I was even five years ago. So, I want to start over. I feel like I’ve grown as a person and an artist, and so I want my pics to reflect that.

I’ve added a new TAB at the top of my page ^up there^- it’s my ETSY tab. Clicking on the pic there will go directly to my ETSY site where I’m offering my prints for sale. In the past, I wanted to sell prints for the generalized reason of “simply wanting to”. Now it’s a matter of being able to return to school or not. My school is withholding my transcript until I pay down the current balance, which is just under $1,300. I don’t have many options, and so I’ve decided to finally open my ETSY shop so that I can sell my work and pay down my school balance. I’m hoping to be able to do this by May of 2017 (4 months from now). That’s a pretty tall order, and once again, I’m racing against the clock. If I don’t do this now, I’ll have to take another 6 months to do it (which means I’d have to wait until January 2018 to return to school), but I really can’t afford to do that.

Once my transcript is released, I’ll be able to apply to Fort Hays University, where I’ll be working on my Master’s degree in Educational Psychology. A lot is riding on this! So, I have a heck of a motivator to get out and get some fresh shots 3 times per week. I’m aiming to add 300 pics or so to my ETSY collection over the next few months. In short, I’m going to be pretty busy. 😉

I’m looking forward to popping in to everyone’s place and seeing what you all have been up to. Sure have missed everyone and I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL CHRISTMAS! ♥

Etsy Shop: Monochromejunkie

etsy-collage

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Second Etsy shop: Early Perfection

etsy-store


(Almost) Home Free

PurpleSkyHelios film lens 44-2/back porch

Josh is really sick. I’m feeding him garlic capsules, multivitamins, a nip of a Phenergan, acidophilus, milk thistle and lemon & ginger tea with fresh squeezed lemon. He woke up this morning feeling like crap, burning up with a fever. This is his second bout of sickness in less than a month. Luckily, I haven’t been sick in years; I attribute that to the many herbal supplements I take regularly.

I’m ecstatic because I have all next week off for fall break. Doesn’t make much sense that we get an entire week off for “fall break” with only three weeks left to go. And while I’m at it, it really sucks that most professors decide to make students do twice the work the week before fall break! Yes, double the workload in every class. This is really quite unfair to the student because it renders fall break utterly meaningless as a result. Still, I’m pretty happy that I’m only two assignments away from having an entire week off from school. I can finally clean my house! I pretty much bombed my 15 page research project (final paper) in Research Methods for Experimental Psychology, but by no small miracle, I’m at 92% still (after bombing the paper) which is still an A. (How I pulled that off, I haven’t a clue.) So, if I do well on my PowerPoint presentation, conference poster, research exam and then my final- I can come out of this thing with an A still. I don’t even care about making the Dean’s List any more. I would love to, sure, but things are in their proper places now and my priorities have shifted dramatically. My identity as a student is being squeezed out by the artist in me who is not taking all of this lying down for another minute! I feel alive again. And I’m happy again. 🙂 I’m going to get to do what I want. Take pictures.

I’ve just finished up a 10 part PowerPoint assignment and so I’ve only got my multimedia conference poster to finish along with a research exam and then I’m home free! After fall break, I’ll have my finals and a few odd assignments and I’ll be finished. I really can’t wait to start building an entirely new body of work (photography/art) after the semester’s out! it’s all I think about anymore and it’s most definitely where my heart is. Off to make more tea and get to cracking on my PP conference poster. Ta-ra!

Helios 44-2 film lens/ISO 100/f/2.0

EverWinterMJ


First Snow

Josh is sleeping beside me. Brianna would kill him if she knew he was using her Care Bear shirt to cover his eyes. It’s 5:00 a.m. and I’m not up early- I’m up late. The snow is gently falling and I have an over-sized mug of hot chocolate next to me. Heaven!  I can finally relax after a hectic evening with “the paper”. Instead of my experimental psychology research report being 10 pages long, it was 15. Just as I was tying up some loose ends around 9 (again, it was due by midnight), a transformer blew and half the city lost its electricity.

We scampered out into the truck and hightailed it over to Mickey Dees to scarf up some of their Wifi. After settling down with a couple of hot chocolates, we were unable to connect. An employer clued us in that they hadn’t had internet in a week. Oh boy…

So then, we decided to finish what we could there and pray like mad that by the time we got home, our services would be restored and I could possibly make my deadline. I inducted Josh into my writing club and we got to work. Almost 3 hours later, we finished up the last of it and raced home. I missed my deadline by 6 minutes. My professor had already disabled the link (they don’t play around at IU East!) and so I was able to attach it in a message so that I could at least show her that I had indeed finished on time.

I’m feeling deliriously giddy knowing that the worst is over! I know my overall efforts weren’t my best, but considering I was prepared to drop out entirely (before Josh saved me from the fire), only a few weeks ago, I’m content. I had a strong A/97% going in, so even if I wrote the worst paper in the history of the class, I would still come out with a low B, or, worst case scenario, a high C. But I don’t think that’ll happen.

I’m a winter person and can’t wait to get out and about with my camera and play in the snow. I hopped out a few minutes ago to grab a few of my first snow shots for the season. I had to slow shutter it due to the lack of lighting, but that makes for better contrast in the long run, so I didn’t mind terribly. I love that it was pitch dark outside, but because it was a long exposure, I was able to make it appear to be daytime in the first two pics.

Snow on Tiki Torch-Back deck/natural film grain- Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI- 4:00 a.m.
Snow3MJ
Snow2MJ
Snow1MJ


Early Morning Rain

It’s 7:39 a.m. and I’ve been up all night again. I usually am these days. I noticed that I prefer working through the night- in dark, quiet solitude, rather than during the day. I’m making tea and getting ready to start on my literature review: I’ve completed my Methods and Results Drafts. The literature review is usually the part of the scientific paper that introduces the hypothesis; which is why it’s also called the Introduction (section). All in all, it’ll be 10 pages or so, and so I’ve been working for weeks on drafts. I’ve never been more tempted to quit! There’s roughly 5 weeks to go still before the semester ends. I messed up by going out and getting a batch of fresh shots. I forgot how fun it was!

This is a collage I made from fresh leaves found in my back yard two days ago.

Helios 44-2 film lens/Canon Rebel XSI/natural sunlight

Available for purchase here

LeavesSetMJ.

Time to get cracking!


Pancake Geography

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.

Image

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.

[groan]


Prelude to a Photo Walk

I’m supposed to be house cleaning. I cut a deal with Josh- he would clean the back part of the house and I’ll clean the kitchen, etc. He’s living up to his half- no wait- I hear metal clinking outside around his moped area. Hmm…I may have been outfoxed.

We’re going to go on a photo walk today in downtown Old Louisville (Kentucky), home of the Kentucky Derby. It’s an interesting place- a mixing pot. Old, young, poor, wealthy, strange artists (my favourite kinds of people ever), and an array of collective and colourful personalities. We’re going to park in Indiana and walk over the bridge, into Kentucky, have a beer, grab a bite- shoot some people.

With the camera, of course. 🙂

Damn. I’m really going to have to stop with the smilies. It’s ruining my tougher than nails image.

Anywho, we’re lounging about cleaning the house at the moment. Josh starts school soon too. Back when he was here before and we were having major problems, I sort of…smashed his computer. It’s shameful, I know. I was raging at the time and livid about what he was doing online. (As if smashing the computer would help.)

Now, he’s starting school and desperately needs a computer. Although we’ve settled our financial differences and have squared things up, he’s still without a computer so, I did what I had to do and sold my Lensbaby. Ouch. That hurts just typing that. I also sold my swap kit- which was an additional 4 lens set. There’s just no way I could feel good about having my luxurious toys while he suffered. So, I don’t regret it at all- it was the right thing to do. I still have my 18 MP. DSLR and my 50 MM 1.8 (my personal fave). It’s enough.

I feel good knowing that I’ve made retribution and have given Josh enough money to be able to get his computer and book access code. I think I’ve learned a pretty good lesson in all of this. Leave the man alone! Let him breathe and be a person apart from me, even if that means doing something that I deem “bad”. For me, that’s huge.

We went out for drive yesterday to Lexington, Indiana and had a really good time. We took a turn down a long country road and followed a sign that announced “fresh strawberries”. It was like a wild Utopia. The clouds were semi-overcast and casting a cool, grey glow over everything. Almost like golden hour lighting- that pre-storm lighting, which to me is the best ever, and the best for HDRs.

Large thistles grew out of thick stalks in the ground on either side of the road. Although they were deep purple and quite beautiful, I found them even lovelier in black and white:

Image50 MM/shot in monochrome/manual/RAW

I have an abundance of shots taken from yesterday but haven’t had time to get to them. I’ve discovered the beauty of shooting in RAW again. Makes a big difference with image quality.

Josh just pulled up on his sugar-cycle. (I’ve renamed his moped- he does store runs late at night because we’re sugar freaks and consume large amounts of candy while watching Locked Up Abroad late into the night like we did last night.)

And now I have to get back to cleaning. We’re off on a photo walk soon and my regret is that I don’t have a super-wide to shoot with. All of those old architectural jewels in downtown Louisville and I only have my 50 MM. UGH. (Must get a 10-20 soon.)

thistle copy

50 MM/shot in monochrome/manual

(The strawberries were delicious, by the way.)


S P L A S H

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Lensbaby Composer/Double Glass
f/2.8 -natural lighting/ISO 100
sh. sp. – 1/4000/Falls of the Ohio
5.15.13

I may or may not be showing several of my water pieces in a “water exhibit” soon. (More on that later.) For now, it’s hush-hush.

I went out today down to the Falls of the Ohio (which I actually named “Fossil Rock” when I was a child, 30+ years ago) and grabbed some water shots with the Lensbaby. Although I’m not exactly a novice with this particular lens, I’d be a fool to be so comfortable to think that I don’t have much room to improve. And, truth be told, the more I learn in photography, the more I feel that I need to learn. I’m always restless and, artistically, never satisfied- always pushing to grow and learn new things. Years ago, I had considered going to art school. I’m glad I chose to study Behavioral Sciences instead. With art (and photography in particular), the world is my teacher,  the camera is my canvas, and lighting is my brush.

Josh and I are headed back out to the dam area. The (possible) exhibit allows only 3 pieces to show. It’s a juried exhibition- I’m excited. (But again, more on that later. It’s not quite “in the bag”.) I can rap off 500 shots in under an hour, and I do that frequently. Selecting only three pieces from a day’s shoot of thousands of pics is like trying to find a flea on a mountain.

I’ve also been invited to show several pieces in a Berlin exhibition. (Yeah- that Berlin!)
Again, it’s a juried exhibition and I want to do it, but I have to be selected first: it’s a bit if a waiting game. I’m still pretty behind in some of my classes and I’ll really need to put my nose to the grind because the exhibition deadlines are within the next week. Time to set my alarm to 6:00 a.m. every morning!

Off and running…


Home Depot and the Illuminati

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Brianna/50 MM 1.8 II/natural lighting/manual

“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?”

Oh boy.

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.

Ta ra.


Affinity: It’s Alright to Shine

 

A  F  F  I  N  I  T  Y 

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Limited edition print. Signed. Available in dye-infused magnachrome metallic print only with wire hanger/white gloss finish. 20×52 $2,000 [contact for more info.] Serious inquiries only.


Drug Prevention- Executive Summary

If somebody were to have told me (twenty years ago) that I would be writing reports on drug prevention on a hot Friday night, I would have belted out a hearty laugh, followed by a shot of straight Tequila.

My typical Friday nights were spent in one of two ways:

a.) I was in church with my friends and family
b.) I was out running the streets, higher than a kite and no doubt on my way to becoming quite smashed.

Sometimes in that order.

If I didn’t puke, I generally wasn’t having a good time. This went on for a good twenty years. I suppose that my extensive experience on the subject fuels my passion for it. I know many people who think you can’t touch a drop to drink (or you’re a raging alkie) or that if you smoke a joint, you’re on your way to harder drugs, such as cocaine or heroin, seeing how pot is considered a “gateway drug”.

But I don’t think this is so. Many things change the brain’s chemistry and can cause addiction- not just drugs. I’ve had many Twinkie battles (when I had a chronic case of the munchies) and I was certain the Twinkie would win, but again, not so. Will power and a solid education go a long way. “Just Say No” simply doesn’t work, and the DARE program was an epic failure.

So what’s the answer?

I ponder these things. Drugs and alcohol littered my youth- they were my second skin.

Now, I haven’t smoked a joint in six years, and haven’t had hard liquor in six as well. I don’t care much for the taste of alcohol these days- that’s not to say I can’t have a beer or two, or a glass of wine with a salad. I just fell out of love with it, that’s all.

Photography has taken the place of drugs I believe. My art is satisfying enough for me.

When I’m excited- I take pics.
When I’m sad- I take pics.
When I’m stressed- I take pics.
When I’m angry- I take pics.

By doing so, I alleviate much of the stress associated with these intense emotions. I can add descriptions to my work so that the viewer can perhaps step into my shoes. It’s absolutely therapeutic. I remember the day I quit smoking cigarettes (six years ago also). I was wondering what in the world I would do when I was stressed. No weed- no whiskey- no smokes! Where’s the fun?!

Then I picked up a camera. 🙂

Maybe someday I’ll design a program for kids and teens, that incorporates “phototherapy” into their lives. It’s not too expensive- everybody has a camera these days, and they can express their pent up emotions through their art.

Good grief, am I really rambling on about drug prevention on a Friday night?!

Yes. I’m afraid I am…

And here’s the Executive Summary I turned in today:

 

*****************************************************************************************************************************************************
(Copying, “borrowing”, or outright stealing this work for the use of plagiarism is absolutely prohibited and any breach of this written warning could result in prosecution.)

Executive Summary

In 1983, Daryl F. Gates founded the Drug Abuse Resistance Program, or DARE. The program offered a ten week, in-school, interactive learning module taught by local law enforcement officers and others. Authorized workers and guest speakers were to undergo 80 hours of training in the areas of childhood development, communication skills, and other interpersonal tools. Funding for the organization was based on certain criteria being met: The information was to be research-based, and effective. In 1998, funding for the program was cut as a result of failing to meet the required regulations. The Department of Education (DOE) has withdrawn from the program completely and refuses to give DARE any future funding. Recent scientific studies have proven DARE to not only be ineffective, but counterproductive as well. It is difficult to say whether the law enforcement officers’ lack of therapeutic qualifications played a part in the failure of DARE’s program. Perhaps it was a combination of factors that simply weren’t cohesive. Some of the teenagers in the program may have viewed the police officers as a threat. It is a fair assessment to say that minorities and inner-city kids may have been preconditioned to fear police officers, especially if they might have been told the same division put a parent or family member behind bars. Perhaps too, the overexposure to a variety of drugs gave the young DARE members more temptations than they might have had without the program.

Attempts at primary prevention education have been challenging over the years as well. Targeting grade-schoolers, many programs have used catchy slogans, such as, “Just Say No,” without reaping necessary and expected benefits. A major problem with this technique that must be taken into consideration is the exposure to a host of new drugs that many children are not aware of beforehand. By announcing the dangers of these items, children are being tantalized and seduced by an idea, “the forbidden fruit”.

Scare tactics is another method that has been ineffective. When presenting exaggerated effects of drugs to children and teens, but especially teens, they will often discredit the material altogether. When teenagers are shown dramatic images of horrific drug-related events, the emotional connection and fear are more temporal than long lasting. Children lack the foresight to understand what 20 years of hard drinking may do to the body, even knowing, he or she may not care. Connecting with these kids on his or her level is crucial. Targeting a demographic is necessary, but so is having the precision and ability to actually reach these children.

Another aspect to consider when using scare tactics is the often romantic appeal of a thing when it is presented as “off limits”. That is not to say legalization of drugs or underage drinking should be an option, but perhaps emphasizing nausea as an effect, rather than euphoria, may tarnish its overall attraction. The effects of drug and alcohol use are tempting to children and teens because they like to feel good. Toddlers spin in circles to mimic euphoria, even before they are old enough to form sentences, much less understand the concept of drugs and alcohol and their effects on the body. No matter how well packaged or distributed antidrug campaigns may be, unless the parents or caregivers of the child are reinforcing, in the home, what he or she is learning in school, the whole of it will be counterproductive.

Programs like the Child Development Project (CDP) have been shown to significantly reduce drinking and drug use among adolescents and teens between the ages of 5-12. The CDP strives to promote closer bonds between students and their peers, teachers and students, and students and parents. Another useful prevention program is Class Action, which is a universal school-based alcohol-related learning module. Class Action targets children between the ages of 9-12. This program in particular has proven to reduce the onset of drinking among school kids, and has reduced binge drinking among high school students.

One reason for the success of Class Action is the interactive peer-led relationships between the students and their mentors, or speakers. The representatives focus on turning negative peer pressure into positive peer pressure; thereby changing the messages of alcohol uses and abuse altogether. Students who heed the warnings will perceive drinking as something that might be shunned by their peers, in turn, molding their choices into healthier actions. Unlike DARE, which is a tertiary prevention program, the CPD and Class Action are primary and secondary prevention programs.

Recommended Changes:

Avoid using scare tactics in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. The fear-related material can be effective in creating a necessary protective boundary in grade-schoolers. The same fear may compound stress in teenagers, causing them to actually want to try drugs or alcohol, and the same could be said in tertiary programs. Scare tactics are best used during primary prevention, when children are most impressionable.

Avoid using law enforcement officers in secondary and tertiary prevention programs. They may induce rebellion in teens, and resentment among addicts. Again, law enforcement officers are presented and often perceived as “the good guys” to grade-schoolers. A two step interactive transitional program is recommended that would bridge the gap from grade-school over to middle school, and then middle school to high school, promoting the positive images of law enforcement officers. Telling children to “stay away from bad things” simply does not work. Law enforcement officers would be encouraged to engage in activities that children and teens participate in most: gaming, texting, and hanging out at their favorite hot spots.

Abstinence rewards in school is another recommendation.
Reward middle and high school students who abstain from alcohol and drugs.

Implementation:

Develop a program specifically for middle and high school students offering monthly voluntary drug testing. Rather than spend money on building more incarceration facilities, increase funding for voluntary drug testing in schools. Rewards include: Ipods, clothing cards from their local malls, and ITunes cards that allow unlimited downloading of songs. By associating positive material gain (rewards) with abstinence, the fear and anxiety associated with drug testing would be diminished, if not altogether diffused, and kids and teens would develop an appreciation for drug testing that could possibly carry over into adulthood. Just as word-of-mouth among peer groups is drugs and alcohol’s number one promoter, so too, the Abstinence Reward Program (ARP) could be widely spread and promoted by peers among peers.

Image

Catwalk/My daughter, Heidi./Lensbaby Composer pro-Double Glass Ops./Manual ex./RAW/GIMP

Image


Another Sale

 

Sales have been good to me lately.

I just received this email this morning:

Hi Ḃḭṙḡḭṫṫä,

You’ve just made a sale on Redbubble! Your work was so brilliant that someone showed their appreciation with their wallet. Unfortunately we have to mark this event with a very boring email but it is full of Useful Facts (TM) about the sale.

‘But when will I get this money?’ we hear you cry, and rightfully so. Well you can find out here: http://support.redbubble.com/faqs/top20/when-do-i-get-paid

Thanks for being who you are and doing what you do, we love having you around Redbubble.

Mr Baxter – Chief Officer of Sending You Good News

———————————————————————
1x Photographic Print of “”The Longest Dream”
Print Size: Large (610mm x 117mm)
Finish: Lustre

Your Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)
———————————————————————

The sale details:

Retail Price: AU$39.17
Manufacturing fee: AU$24.95

Total Margin: AU$14.22 (US$14.95)

You’ll receive: US$14.95
———————————————————————

While $14.95 won’t buy me a new car, or even a full meal at a buffet, (ok, I think it would cover the buffet), I’m not complaining because when you’re as busted as I am, every penny counts.

Fine Art America is now telling me that they’re having “technical difficulties” with my print order. Here’s our problem: they want a crystal clear image (seeing how it’s a B&W landscape of trees in the rain) and fail to comprehend that the ADDED blur and grain they’re seeing on the image is very much intentional, as it is with many of my photos. I create mood with added film grain and gaussian blur- it’s present throughout many of my images. I create depth and mood with my textures. (This is why I’m fond of film cameras.) When shooting with a DSLR, I will purposefully jack up my ISO so that there is present grain in my photo- I also shoot only in monochrome, and RAW. (All manual.) Trying to explain this to somebody who is a “straight photographer/staff member” is beyond frustrating, because now I feel like she’s (“Dawn”) challenging my artistic merit.

The site is called “Fine ART America”, not Fine PHOTOGRAPHY America, and it pisses me off to no end that now, the staff can officially “interpret” what is and what is not- your art!

Would they tell a painter that he or she needs to resubmit a painting using “this or that” acrylic brand paint? Then why do so with a photographer? I intentionally muck up many of my images with blur and grain- that is my trademark style, and I’m known for that.

I wrote Dawn/Fine Art America back and told them all of this, to no avail, and she proceeded to tell me that I needed to reshoot the image (?!! “Are you for real, Dawn?!”) so that they can produce a higher quality photo without blurring or grain. GEH!!!

They. Just. Don’t. Get. It.

How unfair is it to the buyer, who’s paying $731 for that print- to assume that they’ll be getting what they ordered, all the while, behind the scenes, the staff is telling the artist to RESHOOT THE FRIKKING PHOTO and then- they’ll ship the buyer a completely different image than what the buyer ordered- without letting the buyer know!

I immediately lost respect for Fine Art America. Completely.

I told Dawn that I would not be reshooting or resubmitting a “new photo”, and challenging my artistic interpretation would not be tolerated, and that she had only two options:

1.) Print and ship the original, as the buyer intended, yes, I’m aware that it is 9 feet long. It IS supposed to be somewhat blurry if you’re looking at a 9 feet photo on your farging monitor, Dawn. You have to back up about 3 or 4 feet, Dawn!

2.) Release the buyer’s name and address so that I can deal with him or her directly.

I then gave Dawn my Redbubble link, that links her up with their # 1 competitor’s site, and showed her the 160 comments on that image, and how I’ve already been selling the same image there- with no complaints.

(And, again, have made another sale this morning in fact.)

Dawn considers this a “high risk print” because it’s 9 feet long.

I reminded Dawn that while they consider it “high risk” to print, if they didn’t go through with the order, it would be an even greater risk to them, because I will post a journal entry at Redbubble- and within one day- at least 5 countries would know about it by the end of the day.

All of my friends, buddies, pals, and acquaintances are all artists, all over the world. I don’t know many who’re not.

Dawn decided that she would contact the buyer and “inform him” of their troubles. I am livid.

They’re used to seeing landscapes that are crystal clear (etc. etc.) but I inject my own mood and presence into my work with my lighting, exposure, film grain and blur. It adds a retro-vintage feeling to the image that isn’t done in one little mouseclick. It’s not a simple filter that’s applied. It’s various layers (sometimes 20-25) and very much like a patchwork quilt, I will errase bits and pieces from each layer, blending and merging and blending and merging- much like painting- until the final piece has a certain depth and mood.

I’m waiting to hear back from Dawn/Fine Art America.

Will update soon.                                                       

                                                                                                                                                                     Land and Sea

 

…