Sunday, December 28, 2014

Last 2014 post

Traditionally, this is a time of year to look back and then cast an eye forward to the next 12 months.

I originally wrote this long diatribe about how I'm aging and how I have to learn to accept my limitations but I decided to erase all of that and put on my "glass half full" hat.

2014 was a pretty good year.  I've finally reached a point where I'm producing images that I like and I can see my art becoming slowly consistent. Others have recognized that, which is very satisfying. My opinions and perspective is more valued. I got to shoot assignments for the local newspaper, sold some prints, mentored some people, learned to focus my vision.

I'm basically retired and don't have the desire or energy to pursue my business any more, financial issues notwithstanding, so I want to concentrate on my photography, my art, my writing. I write a lot – you're reading some of it, this will be my 49th blog post this year (including the tech blog) – and I write for the paper and eBooks and tutorials and... but there IS a novel somewhere inside me. I need to devote a little time to it every day.

I have lots of friends and acquaintances, although none of the intimate kind. A bunch of new ones in the camera club. I'm enjoying country living, but I miss having a connection with my family and my past. I'm frequently told I should pack it up and move back but I don't want to. It's inevitable, I know, but I'm holding out as long as I can.

I share too much. This is my outlet, though, so forgive me. As each year dawns, I wonder if this will be when my medical issues will jump up and bite me. Two cancers, both still there... It's hard to accept limitations. When you're younger, you can resolve to fix things but at this age (I'm 68, if you didn't know) it's more about learning to live with things. My weight. My legs and knees limit my mobility. Creeping arthritis. My hand's not the same since my broken wrist a year ago. Other stuff too...

So what am I looking forward to in 2015?
  • No new medical issues. No pre-existing ones jumping up and biting me. Wishful thinking? I sure hope not!
  • Growing my connection with family and friends.
  • In 2015 I vow to pick up a paint brush. Traditionally I'm self-taught in most things but I want to find a way to kick start my painting. At least I need to learn the basics.
  • I want to teach more. There's a network of people up here who value my knowledge and opinion, mostly from the camera club, and I enjoy sharing my experience. I will set aside time for that.
  • In my photography:
  • Continue on the path to finding my style
  • Print and sell more pictures
  • Continue acting as a judge in competitions
  • Ongoing assignments from the newspapers
  • The PanAm Games are here this summer. I'm hoping for press accreditation so I can photograph the whitewater events
  • I hope I can travel at least once. Finances are limited, there are a number of places on my 'bucket list' (New Orleans. Iceland. New Zealand. The British Isles...), I want to see at least one of them.
  • My "Great Canadian Novel". A good start. Dare I hope to finish it?

That's a lot of stuff for one year! Good thing I'm 'retired'. Maybe I'll have to move some of it to 2016! Not the travel thing, I hope.

Stick around to see what I write at the same time next year! And to all of you, look at the picture at the head of this article:

May 2015 Exceed your Expectations!

From the "Sporadic Musings" department

Do I have A.D.D.? No I don't, and I apologize to those who might or know someone who does, I don't intend to trivialize it. But I think it's in all of us, to some extent.
I get distracted easily. Is that the definition? Put on some music. "Wish I could play keyboard like that". New song. "I really should have stuck with the guitar". "Think I'll go find my harmonica and play along". No, back to the keyboard. Why is that blue jay pecking for seeds on the ground when I have a perfectly good bird feeder up 2m away? I haven't heard back from the computer guy yet. 
I was reflecting on why I haven't settled on an art style. I know it's because I'm constantly exploring new directions. Every time a new program comes up, I imagine the possibilities and try it and go off seeking a pot of gold at the end of that rainbow. Then along comes another one and I go that way. I'm wandering around instead of focusing on "True North", despite the lip service I've paid to the concept over the years.
My mind wanders. I hesitate to start anything that would require continuous attention for more than a couple of hours. Is it just me? Oh look, a squirrel!
Parting Shots

It was a rainy day in Pizzaville...

What does one do when it's a rainy, cold, damp, miserable day? The obvious choice is to throw another log on the fire, pour a fresh cuppa, find a good book to read and put your feet up. I did that. Then I got bored. And I thought, "I bet the streets are shiny wet" so I did what any real photographer would do: I went out in the damp rain.

I drove into Minden, filled up with gas (amazing, 85.9¢/L after my discount!) bought some groceries (prime rib roasts on sale! Yay!) and meandered down to Bobcaygeon Road in Minden. Downtown. The main street. OK, it's really the ONLY street... I parked, looked for a likely spot, took a few test shots for exposure, then waited for someone interesting to come along.

There were only a few people out but I wasn't ready to give up. A soggy half hour later, I was rewarded. Along came this red and white umbrella person!

Definitely being added to my "Best of 2014" set!  

I've had this shot in mind for some time. I knew that what I wanted to do was to mask out the subject, then apply a motion blur to the background. Others have used this technique in posted pictures of wanderers in the rain-soaked narrow cobblestoned streets of exotic locations, but here I was in 'picturesque' downtown Minden! I wiped the raindrops off the front of my lens and took a few shots.

My composition wasn't great. In fact I shot it as a landscape shot (horizontal), trying to include the lamp on the light pole at right. But when I loaded it into the computer, this crop called out to me immediately.

At the risk of being exceedingly technical, I fixed up the wall on the left, pasted her on a fresh layer, removed the top half of the umbrella on the background layer and did the motion blur thing. And some other Photoshop stuff. Good, but not quite my vision. So I added some brushstrokes in the style of Cezanne, a soft glow with, well, Topaz Glow, and texture with Flypaper Textures.

On the way home, I stopped in the Canadian Tire parking lot, figuring the lights from inside the store would add an interesting element to a similar shot. I didn't like any of those, but then behind me, these two girls appeared. Got it! I debated removing the stop sign but I think it adds to the story.

At the risk of eclipsing the other picture, here's another one. An oil painting filter in Topaz Impression, plus a flypaper texture.. 

See you all when the clock strikes 2015! Stick around and enjoy wrapping your mind around some new ideas. And let's enjoy the upcoming year together.

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