Nothing to say? Nope.

When all is going well, what is there to say about that?  Life – what a concept!

There’s survival, and there’s thriving.  Self-actualization is in there somewhere.

Basic needs for survival:

Some warmth.  A human will die within seconds at absolute zero.  Earth gives this, and we humans regulate it with our technologies.

Some pressure.  A human will die within seconds, eyeballs popped out, at zero atmospheres.  Earth gives this, too.

Protection from radiation.  Death can come within minutes from exposure to high concentration of certain types of radiation which exist throughout the universe.  Earth also gives this, as does distance to a lesser extent.

Water.  A human will die within days without it, in less than a day under duress.  It’s up to each person to secure and ingest his or her own water.

Food.  A human will die within weeks without it; fasting can prolong life without food, but not indefinitely.  It’s up to each person to secure and ingest his or her own food.

Absence of pain.  Extreme pain can incapacitate and then kill within hours, or make a life so miserable it doesn’t matter.  (Only those who’ve experienced extreme physical pain understand this.)  A normal, healthy situation provides this.

Survival is dependent on all of the above.  (There are other categoric factors, such as lack of parasitic or other type of disease, lack of forceful impact, other biological functions, etc.  But those above are the main ones without contriving dozens of others.)

All other needs (I think … I welcome input on this) blend quickly into the category of wants, and after that desires. To thrive, for a human, requires satisfaction, which comes from within when at least some wants are being fulfilled.  And, fulfillment of wants and desires is as dependent on what’s going on inside a person’s mind as it is to what’s coming to him or her from the world they live in.

Needs are objective.  Wants and desires, the fulfillment of them, are subjective.

Now back to me.

My needs continue to be met.  Obviously.

My wants, my desires, and the fulfillment of them – my ability to thrive – these fluctuate.  And, they are on the rise.

Right now, I’m at a high point in my fluctuating thrive-ness.  Thrivie-ness?  Thrive-ment?  Thriving?  … Satisfaction.

Retirement has been great these past 13 months.  Finally, I have money, time, and health altogether.  Not just two out of three, as has been the case all my life.  More money than ever before, enough for the rest of my life.  More time now, 24 hours per day mostly for me.  Health – not bad; excellent in most ways, although I seem to have misplaced a portion of certain abilities and strengths linked to youthfulness.

Shorter term – I enjoy a solitary life, and I’ve been leading it for most of this year.  Interactions with others are important, but they’re not ‘needs’.  So, they’re subjective wants, and desires.  My want and desire for interpersonal interaction is less than most people’s, I know that.  And, I’ve been satisfied.

I’m staying connected to friends, sort of.  Making a few new ones, sort of.  Back in contact with old ones, sort of.  Good for me.  And by that I mean:  This way, for me, is good.

The rest of this year will be less solitary.  Will that be bad?  I don’t know, it’s subjective.  I can affect whether it’s good or bad.  It’s something for me to meditate on.  We’ll see.

My photography is going very well.  I’m satisfied with the event photography assignments; love those Town Hall gigs.  And, I’m putting myself more often into other photographable situations; mini-vacations in the Pacific Northwest.  I continue to acquire more Photoshop skills, the more nuanced (valuable) techniques rather than just refining tried and true approaches.  From all this together, I’m getting better at “making photographs” in time and space, as opposed to just reacting to interesting scenes.  Does that mean I’m actually becoming more creative?  Hey, yes, I believe it does.  Ha!  Yes, I am.  I’m more creative now than when I started this blog.

Now, what’s to become of that?  Again, we’ll see.

And so, where are the prints?  They’ve always been my measure of creativity.  (Productive creativity is the only worthwhile kind of creativity.)  They’re coming.  Yes, they’ve really begun coming.  Better prints this year than the previous two years.  Quality of output:  Improving.  Enjoyment from it:  Quite high.

(Two eyes and a brain.  And energy.  From an earlier blog post, October 16, 2017, “Color Today”.  For me, this is where creativity comes from.  And, it’s happening.)

Back to the topic:

Needs – met.

Wants – mostly met, via my relatively solitary living.  All else is detail, and the details, when couched within my mostly solitary living, are good.

Desires – we’ll have to see about that.  Nothing worthy is easy.  Nothing is done yet.  Not really.  Hmm. … I … keep … saying … “we’ll see.”

I’m thinking of stopping this blog.  But then, the above.  So, I’ll keep it going for a bit longer.

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Good May, too

From connecting with an old friend, to bicycling up and down Yakima Canyon, May has been a full month. It’s winding down, though. Not much happening for the rest of it as I write this. No worry, lots to catch up on at home, certain tasks must be done and that’s just the way it is.

It’s hard to make old friends. An old friend of mine said that. It’s true. Re-connecting with “new” old friends is almost as good as not drifting apart to begin with. But, everyone drifts. So, re-connecting is good.  And it’s happening.

Good times too at the yurt, mending fence lines (the real, physical ones, not speaking figuratively here) and opening the place up for the summer. Lots to do, too much in fact. But, it’s all good because what needs to be done will certainly get done, and what merely ought to be done … will get the right priority in a good blend with all kinds of other things this summer and fall.

An excellent bike ride on the east side, Yakima Canyon. A shout-out to Crime Stoppers of Yakima for putting on the annual event, “Your Canyon for a Day”. The road through the canyon closed to car traffic, open only to bicyclists. It was an excellent ride and a fine long weekend for me.

And throughout the month, being a volunteer photographer for Town Hall has been fun. It’s possibly pushing me less now, because I see how I can be good at it.  And I think I am good at it. Does that mean I’ve conquered the existential challenge of it all? Leaving just the craft? No matter. Applying time and energy to the craft is fun. Some darned good lectures and musical events are also real benefits.

I totally re-vamped my website a month or two ago, http://www.roundezvous.com, using Adobe Portfolio. It’ll serve until a replacement for their sunsetting product Muse comes out. Most of what I mention above is documented photographically on the website, so I’m not using this blog to get my images out anymore.

My thought from last month that I “figure out” social media came to this: I figured out that I just don’t want to right now. This is not avoidance, it’s an intentional decision to push my social media involvement out a bit.

Already wondering what June will bring. Lots of possibilities are in play. Most involve travel. Just the way I like it.

April was a Fine Month

Cape Flattery and Shi Shi Beach, Town Hall event photography, Detroit, the Palouse, the yurt, bicycling in warm weather, working out every day home.  (I only slept at home for 15 nights out of 30.)

It is good to be caught up with life enough to fill all my free time at home printing fine art images.  It’s even better when my printing can’t keep up with my capturing.

Yes, April was a good month for me.

Also in April, a new website.  Same URL, I just re-vamped its contents.  Using Adobe Portfolio now instead of Muse; I traded flexibility for convenience and efficiency.  I wasn’t using Muse to its full potential anyway, and now Adobe is discontinuing it as a supported product.  So, done.  My live website is still at http://www.roundezvous.com .

I also re-activated my first URL, http://www.buckario.com.  All it does is point to the old, original files I built for roundezvous.com with Muse.  And, with a prominent link to roundezvous.com.  I figure by the end of this year Adobe will have replaced Muse, and then I’ll make a fresh decision:  Portfolio or whatever Muse is replaced by.

What’s my challenge for May?  One is figuring out social media.  All I ever do on Facebook is follow others, I rarely post.  I have accounts with Twitter, Instagram, and Flikr, but I never use them.  Now this blog thing is going, but not the way I thought.  Lesser than I thought.  And I think that’s the way my presence on the other social media would go: lesser.  So, we’ll see.

I Crave Input

It’s been a great whirlwind of a few weeks. I’d love to be producing some output, but I’m too busy sucking in wonderful input.

Shi Shi Beach at Cape Flattery – still half a dozen images to print. No, eight, I just counted.

Then, Detroit for a week. Phew.

Through it all, I’m photographer for Town Hall’s lecture events. About once or twice per week. I’m really enjoying this. Last night was at the Triple Door in Seattle – cool venue, and the music and audience were great. Kiran Ahluwalia was the headliner, backed by a 5-piece band. Souad Massi opened, and had 2 other musicians behind her. Pakistani music. I got the feeling they’re rock stars of the feminine mid-eastern music scene. For both acts, the percussionists were the stars. Excellent. Some images are below. (Note: All rights to these images belong to Town Hall.)

Tomorrow morning I leave for the Palouse, just me and my camera. After that several days at the yurt, wonderful Methow Valley. Town Hall events in between trips.

Input, I crave input. Output can come later, right now input is everything.

Shi Shi Beach

I can say I still got it.  Hiked into Shi Shi Beach and Point-of-Arches, 8 miles round trip with a 25 pound camera bag + tripod on my back.  A lollipop walk by the standards of my youth.  But, at my advanced age, and since I don’t get out much like this anymore, it’s worthy.

Worthy, because in addition to out-and-back, I did 3 hours of photography once there.  That meant hopping around rocks, exploring tide pools, and walking on sand both wet and dry.

Yes, I still got it and it’s good to be using it.  Need to do more, more, more.  Seriously.

1st image processed, below.  Not to say it’s the best, because I’m glad to say I took so many excellent shots (my opinion) that I just chose this one at random from at least a dozen ‘keepers’ from the day.  Most of the good shots had 2-10 second exposures.

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Event Photography

I got hold of a cool thing – I’m a volunteer photographer for Town Hall Seattle. Event photographer. There are others. From the schedule of events (lectures, symposiums, recitals, performances) that Town Hall hosts, we each select those we want to cover. The images are owned by Town Hall, we merely get the pleasure of the experience and knowing we’re contributing something useful to a worthy community member. There are three or four events per week.

This year the Town Hall venue itself is undergoing major renovations. But, not to pause a good thing in the middle of a great ride, they’re still hosting events, in venues all around Seattle.

It’s neat to practice my photography skills, from capture to post-processing, and see the results as something useful.

I’ll see how this goes. In a few months I can call it quits or keep going. But, so far, so good.

Town Hall owns the images I take, and so I attribute this image, below, to them. Leonard Mlodinow lectured last night, on Flexible Thinking in a Time of Change.

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Class Ends

Getting behind on blog entries. Less important to me right now.

But, a good ending for my creative photo class at PCNW this past winter term. It was good taking a class that emphasized creativity and expression, instead of technical expertise. The tech classes were great, they appealed to me and fit my needs. Now it’s all about exposure to art, and being pushed. Got some of both, yes. From the class, but also from volunteering in PCNW’s Digital Lab – mixing it up with artists, photographers both commercial and fine art, and lots of aspiring students. Good.

Turned in a final class project. I’ll skip the project proposal and artist’s statement – I think I “got it” and did well. The images I showed were also good, when paired with my statement.

Aw heck, here’s the statement and here are the photos. You had to be there, I think: the prints were arrayed in an ascending slope to the middle image, and then descending back to the first image, inverted.

 

Pulse

 

These images are intended to do three things:

  •  Display the rhythm that exists within wood, even seemingly dead wood
  •  Link dead and dormant wood to life itself
  •  Show the rhythm of “the woods” that is there for any wandering soul to notice

 

Seven images are displayed in the form of a “pulse”:

  •  In death there is life (fungus)
  •  Dormancy is proof that life is present
  •  Life is everything, and the observer, rising above, moves in a way that makes life itself appear to move
  •  And then, the inevitable:  If there is to be life, there must be dormancy, and death.  And the death allows the next pulse of life.

 

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Dread

Dreading it, because what if she hates it?
Then, after I leave, yes, she hates it.
Nice visiting beforehand, except for the dread. Losing independence happened a couple years ago, but now it’s time to stop pretending. Soon there will be no avoiding the pain and likely depression.
My own head cold right after the move kept me from finally getting my swims in.  Too busy for it before the move. Bad cough, pulled two muscles from it, one a hexenschuss in the lower back (German, look it up.)  Lousy.
Can’t even explain it to anyone. Dave knows most of it; as a dad, he probably knows more than I do.
Not giving up, though. She can’t go back, no other place is as good (is that really true?), and it’s for her health and safety. … The medicine that’s needed is bad and has a side effect. So, take the medicine and treat the side effect.
It’s not over yet. Dreading the conclusion; I don’t think it’ll be pretty.

Winter Groove

Lots happening, and not much happening.

I seem to be living a life of decent balance among daily ‘stuff and chores’, relaxed enjoyment, truly creative effort (with progress!), and a bit of hard work. Forming a winter ‘groove’ for myself while avoiding any ‘ruts’. The only thing missing is actual excitement … hmm, I need to work on that.

A creative photo class I’m taking at PCNW seems good. For it, I’m now doing street photography and portrait photography, both of which I have always avoided and not liked. I still don’t like either, but I do think I’m doing well with both. So, it’s nothing but a good thing.

Also, my volunteering in PCNW’s Digital Lab on Tuesdays is fun. Being close to creativity is always a good thing.

Clearing the snow at the yurt this winter continues to be a 3 times-per-month very good thing. We’re a bit ahead of average snowfall for this time of the winter. My two night stays are much better than one night stays from the past, in every way. Internet connectivity inside the yurt from a slow and spotty cellular signal sure beats the ‘nothing’ I’ve had in the past.

And, my photography in general is going well. I’m getting better at printing from my home efforts, I’m getting better at composition from just putting more conscious effort into it, and I’m finding opportunities for camera-time, processing-time, and print-time here and there in good amounts.

So, since that’s all going well, I’m naturally turning to tactical and strategic planning for the future, for the seasons coming up. I’ll go to Michigan in a week and be there for just under two weeks. When back, there’ll still be a month of snow-clearing at the yurt. But, after that, springtime in the soggy Pacific Northwest beckons. My plans include a line-up of 2-3 night outings while Michele works. Washington, Idaho, Oregon, British Columbia – stay tuned!

 

Stuff

Briefly:  Still going to yurt to clear the snow off the roof.  Last time up was the night of 1/1/2018 – the Super Moon.  Wonderful clear skies.  Took this shot of our Ponderosa Pine sentry, at about 10pm.

Applied for a volunteer position of Event Photographer for Town Hall Seattle.  We’ll see about that one.  But, did get in as Digital Lab Monitor at PCNW, also a volunteer position.  I’ll start that weekly gig tomorrow, before my Tuesday evening classes in Creative Photography, at PCNW (Photo Center Northwest).

The winter is setting up nicely.

Andrew Wyeth Lessons (II)

What I learned from Andrew Wyeth, the boring version. (Ref: My post of 11/13/2017, Andrew Wyeth as Teacher)

Choose any great painting by him. If it were a photograph, it would be crap technically.

(Of course, since it’s not a photograph, it’s not crap at all. But, if it were a photograph, the technical aspects of it would be crap: Hundreds of curved tan lines on a smooth brown background (Wyeth’s painting technique) would indicate that a photographer failed to capture the true details of what brown grass stubble on muddy ground actually looks like.)

But, as a painting, it’s amazing! The composition, the emotion, the subject, the object, the feelings, the juxtapositions, the content, the protagonist, the antagonist, the conflict, the story, the colors, the geometry. Etc. And yes, the brush techniques.  All excellent.

Here’s some of what’s going on, I think: As a painter, while he’s constructing his scene, he gets to eliminate as well as add. And, what he eliminates from the scene is every bit as important as what he includes. In fact, in any of his great paintings, 90% of (what is plausibly) the reality of the scene has been eliminated! Leaving the greatness behind as the painting.

As a photographer, it’s sometimes hard to eliminate even as much as 10% of the scene. Even a basic thing as perspective is problematic for a photographer; to position the camera to capture the right perspective in one part of the scene will often create awkward problems in other parts of the scene. The painter is free from this problem.

Also, the photographer usually has to capture unwanted clutter in his image. The painter usually decides to not include the clutter.

So, in this way a photographer is burdened by reality, and a painter is not. Even a painter criticized for staying too much within the confines of realism, as Andrew Wyeth was late in his career, is free from having to show reality as it actually is. A photographer’s chief efforts, once his vision for an image is set, lie in contorting his position and manipulating his camera, so that he can partly escape those confines of reality, or at least stretch away from them like stretching a rubber band away from its rest state.

I’m sure this is a naive realization, but I’m a naive person (artistically) so it’s ok. If this is something other creatives know in their teens or by the end of their first year of making art, and if I’m just now realizing it at my age, well I would say that just fits the pattern of my life. As a late bloomer in almost all of life’s ways, it’s something I’ve made my peace with. (Hey, being this kind of consistent late bloomer should at least keep me from being bored in my 90’s and 100’s.)

With the above in mind, I decided it’s not a bad thing to process the hell out of my photographs in post. Example is below, a grab shot off the pedestrian bridge in Winthrop, WA. Notice its deconstruction of reality, which is intentional.

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Printing

Printing nicely, thank you very much.

First, several images, just for fun and just because. And with a bit of learning sprinkled in.

And then, today, an excellent piece of work. By that I mean the print is technically very good. The composition is another matter, but hey, taking it made me feel good because I had this print in mind, and then getting the print the way I want using a solid workflow also made me feel good.

It’s a fine 17×22 print (my printer’s maximum size).

Yes, this is the way it’s supposed to be. Fun stuff that works sometimes. And then, also, good stuff. Like this one today.

Taken from the Spanish Steps, Rome, Italy:

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Clutter is Cleared

It’s been a while, blog-wise.

Since my last post or two, I created this year’s Christmas card and helped a friend with color management issues (printer vs computer vs camera vs printing service). Printed two cool close-up winter snow scenes. Bought an iPhone-X, a TV, and a winter jacket. Tuned the car and perked up the front and back yards at our home. Helped my sister from afar, looking for her next home to live in.  Spent one 2-night trip clearing snow at the yurt, and one excellent weekend with friends in Vancouver, B.C. And, just now, cleared the decks for December’s fresh projects, the ‘decks’ having become cluttered with loose ends.

Now I’m ready for more. The obligatory preparations for winter are behind me. Time to produce creative output, yes. A vast gallery of images taken this year await processing and printing. To say nothing of archives of film going back decades. And, there are images out there to grab with a camera: Winter atmospherics in the Pacific Northwest are sometimes the best of the year.

Two eyes and a brain.  And energy.  Get crackin’, Sood.

OK.

 

Blurbing

For Christmas, from me it’s always with my custom-made cards, using my photographs. I’m starting again for this year.

But, this year I also took the plunge on a Blurb book of some shots from our Italy trip in September. I’ll give one to Michele and one to Jackie as Christmas presents. A little spendy for 84 photographs (84+ leaves, 160+ pages). But, I took delivery of them today. Very good, worth the expense.

I’m impressed: Layout, dimensions, look and feel are all just as I expected. The quality of the paper and image reproduction are better than I expected. A book like this gives cred and gravitas to my shots, almost enough to make even me believe maybe I’m sorta hot shit at photography.  (This is a plug for Blurb, not for me.)

Excellent! Creative! I’ll put more effort into my next book, and I’ll choose better, non-travelog photos. Yes.

Below:  Front cover is Church of San Giorgio Maggiore in the evening, Venice. Back cover is Boboli Gardens, Florence.

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Andrew Wyeth as Teacher

Good days since my last post, even though no images taken nor processed.

Saw the Andrew Wyeth exhibit at Seattle Art Museum. Excellent. For me, there were two real take-aways, and they’re related to each other:

The painter constructs his subject content, perspective, object relationships, colors, timing, etc. on a clean sheet of paper. From his mind. But, the photographer must maneuver his camera to get his desired perspective, object relationships, timing, etc. From existing reality. (That said, of course painting skills are much harder to acquire than photography skills, no question.)

From this, a conclusion: Since the painter focuses on only one or two aspects in his image (theme, object, movement, relationship, person, feeling, etc) and relegates the rest to mere supportive background information, I see this is a necessary thing for a photographer to do, too. Whether in-camera or in post. To create a strong composition, I should strip away all extraneous junk and hone in only on what it is about an image that is good. De-focus, eliminate, crop out, de-emphasize everything else. Like a painter can.

I’m going to do this. I guess I already do, but now I see it needs to be applied vigorously, it should not be just an instinctive thing that happens sometimes.  Henri Cartier-Bresson was great at this, so it is possible.

6 Months In

I’ve been retired for six months now. Accomplishments? Well, …

It’s time to stop this starting to retire business. Since age 30 I’ve had a great time while working, saving, and balancing daily enjoyment with strategic actions. Lots of compromises had my future “next life” in mind, my retirement. And, it worked, success, I made it! Had a great time getting here, too.

But the life plan that got me here shouldn’t be blindly followed from this point on. Just because that life plan got me to this transition point successfully doesn’t mean it’s the plan to take forward. So many of those compromises aren’t needed anymore. And that big goal is gone, behind me now. I need to re-balance everything. Daily enjoyment, projects, and yes some compromises still. But, everything needs to be put into a new balance now.

There’s still a future, but not one with a major, looming transition like retirement, where I’m not sure what’s on the other side. I’m on the other side now. And, it’s great. The time for planning is over, it’s time to execute.

For 35 years I sacrificed freedom for the security of my future, a future that was some vague thing down the road and around the corner. I knew only that it would be different than my working life. I see it now, my future. My future is a sequence of daily steps down the road I’m on right now! No more corners to turn. This is the road, right here. The future is today. Tomorrow is the same as next year. Next year is the same as tomorrow.

10 years from now – hmm. Health issues will insert themselves yes. But that’s financially planned for and I’m living a healthy life so I’ll just react to that when it happens. I’ll slow down when I need to, sure, and real estate will have to be sold, etc. Lots of etc’s. But, until it happens, that health transition does not require today the kind of anticipatory compromises I’ve been making these past 35 years.

So, the watch-words here are: Question, and replace, the compromise mentality of my past 35 years. The only money (and time and energy and personal capital) I waste today is the money I do not spend today! (Within budget, of course.) Saving extra money is now a completely immoral waste of resources. Ditto for preserving time, energy, etc. Spend it!

Spend money on what? On toys and tools (camera gear, car, real things that can be used.) On travel. Not mentioned: The house, the properties. Those are for folks with kids, who have the thought of building a legacy for passing down. I’m free of that.

Spend energy, time, personal capital – on what? On creating. On learning. On helping others.

Yes.

I’ve begun doing just that.  And, beginning is good.  But full-bore execution is better.  Rats for the compromises still needed, but my job now is to eliminate as many of them as possible.

Friendship

There is friendship between two people when, on each side:  There’s a willingness to put out effort, and there’s an expectation to get a benefit.  Both, without regard for convenience. And both understood without having to speak.

I’ve had three brushes with friendship this year.  Five, counting family.

What I didn’t mention:  Permanence.  Mutual acknowledgement.  Joy.

Creativity Wins Today

I trained today at Photographic Center Northwest (PCNW) to be a volunteer wet darkroom monitor. More on that in a future post.

While there, I learned about a contest of sorts, a “Public Art Call” by King County Metro and PCNW. They’ll choose 100 images from submittals, and print them at 2’x8′. They’ll install the prints on bus shelter walls for up to 10 years, as Public Art. The theme is open and the only requirement is a 4:1 width format.

Well, I’ve got some of those. I sent in these 7 images. Who cares about winning, it’s just cool.

RickSood Isabellas DSC0415SONY DSCRickSood PonteVecchio 2RS5361RickSood RestArea DSC3053RickSood RuralMichigan DSC3628RickSood TreesInClouds DSC0007SONY DSC

Lab Color

Finished two foliage images today, while experimenting with Lab color in Photoshop.  It’s an excellent process to learn.  The images, however, are missing something:  a focal point to really apprehend the viewer.  That’s ok for now, it’s good diving in, rolling up the sleeves, and playing without a time crunch.  Still, need to work on that creative eye.  Two eyes and a brain need to get to work on results, not just on experiments.

Both images are of a single pair of trees in Mill Creek.  They’re the most multi-colored trees I’ve ever seen.  Each year this maple tree pair shows yellows, reds, blue-reds, greens, and blue-greens – simultaneously!  This fall is especially good for maples in Puget Sound, and these two are the stars of the show as always.

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