Wednesday, July 31, 2013

City by the Sea

They said I'd miss the trees. They said I'd hate the heat... "it's a different hot - dry heat! like putting your head in the oven!"

They said.

They said a lot of things, but in the end I knew I'd love it all. Because I try not to pay much attention to what "they said" - why bother? Life is what you make it - joy is where you find it - the grass is green where you water it (when you have grass, anyway.) And I have, so far, stuck to that philosophy.

But every now and then I do give in to that one thing I miss. It's usually the one thing no one mentions, but the thing I know will pull at me.

So there it is.

I miss the sea.

The sound and scents of high tide, the balmy breezes and gently swaying palms, the feel of needing an extra layer, even in the summer.
The water culture - because there is one - of flip flops and sandy days and drinks by a full moon with the taste of salt in the air.

Let's be honest - I didn't live on the beach. But, knowing I would be deprived of it for the next few years, the last 6 months in Georgia I did seek water frequently - Jacksonville, Beaufort... but even when I wasn't jaunting, I knew it was there. And on the balmiest of days I could smell it.
I swear I could.

So, I went. And no, it's not nearby - not by a long shot - but it's near enough to be worth it.

Because every junkie needs her fix : )

So, Hello San Diego.
Hello water views and terrace dining and glimpses of bright blue darting between buildings and gulls wheeling overhead.
Hello jackets and cool gusts of ocean wind.
Hello kitschy touristy things and really overpriced but really wonderful seafood.


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Regret Nothing

Have you ever done something you regret?

Interestingly enough, for me the answer is mostly no. I find that even decisions that maybe weren't the best at the time are ones I can look back at and turn into life lessons, pointing me towards better practices later. I'm forever learning something. Or so I tell myself! : )

But I do regret a few things. And most of those things are tied to nostalgia - regretting that I didn't ask my grandmother more questions about our history, regretting that I didn't spend more time with loved ones before they passed away - things of those nature. And along those lines, one of my tangible regrets is that, 11 years ago, I traded in a piece of that nostalgia, a minor piece of family history, for a bigger better version.

Before I ever knew that I would become a photographer, before I ever understood that photography would become such a part of my life as to virtually be indistinguishable and untangle-able from who I am as a person (because let's face it, this isn't a job, it's a creative mindset, a way of seeing the world that simply can't be turned off. Whether I am making money at it or simply walking down the street, I can truly appreciate the beauty of things on a different level now), and before I ever thought that this would be the thing I'd spend the rest of my working career building, I was a child who had a mother who had a camera.

This is my mom. And this is my favorite photo of her, proudly displayed on my office cork board. This photo is one of those things that would be in my list of "must grabs in case of a fire".
And though I was too young to understand, when I look back I realize that, as evidenced in this photograph, my mom always had her camera with her. And when I dive into the jumbled box of photos that is really all my siblings and I have left of her, and of our early life, I can pull out quite a few that were, now in my professional opinion, well-executed, well-lit, well-composed and really show glimpses of us, as children, as we grew.

My mother passed away when I was 25, and she didn't leave much behind except memories and the photos she took of us. And a camera. Not the one in the photo, but another....a Pentax K1000. If you know anything about cameras, you'll maybe know that the K1000 is still considered today to be a reliable, dependable, consistently-quality-image producing beast. I had it. I used it. And I traded it in.


But yes, I traded it in for a fancy Kodak film camera that I eventually traded in for a fancier brand camera (I can't remember which one) that broke on our first year anniversary trip to San Francisco (one month after purchase) forcing me to buy one of those terrible panoramic disposable cameras (yuck!) that I eventually replaced with a Nikon N80 film camera - the camera that truly started my photographic journey. And so it goes.

But never fear, friends and readers, this story has a happy ending.

For the occasion of my 35th birthday ( my husband and I were visiting a Tucson antique store, and there it was. A Pentax K1000 for sale. And for the very small price of $55 (with lens) it was mine. (As an aside, per Wiki, The introductory US list price for the K1000 body with Pentax 55 mm f/2 lens was $299.50. In 1993, the body only was $263. The body was priced at $315 in 1994 and remained there until discontinued.) And for the whopping additional price of $80 at a used camera store here in Tucson, I had myself a 50mm f2 lens, four rolls of Ilford Black and White film (3 rolls of 125 and one roll of 3200) and I was off and running. And shooting. And one roll of film later, I have remembered soooo very much.

I remembered to slow down. To think about what I knew. To think about the composition and what I was  shooting, to be very sure I wanted to press the shutter before I did (because film is expensive!). And I remembered the anticipation that comes with waiting to see what you got, and hoping your knowledge and skill was enough to get that one fabulous image.

So today, on my birthday, I do not really regret anything I've done in 35 years, but I do regret some things I haven't done - like not taking enough time to appreciate what I had when I had it, not always taking the time to recognize how easy I have it now (instant results! what?!?) and not spending nearly enough time learning from the past.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Hummingbird Effect

If you've spent any time in the urban desert, you'll maybe have noticed the proliferation of hummingbirds buzzing 'round your head like so many bees. Here, in the Southwest, these birds have no fear. Put out a feeder and they will come. And fight. And drink of your fine nectar.
Again and again and again.

This morning, with warm patches of sunshine filtering through Monsoon clouds, I was re-potting a house plant when I just about had my head taken off by a dive bombing fearless flyer. He (and I am pretty sure he was a he because he was pretty. Ah, nature) literally had no problem landing 10 feet from where I was puttering. So, I did what any good photographer would do. I put down my dirt and went inside, got my camera, and set up shop in the same spot, under the sparse cover of my potted plant.

There I sat for all of 3 minutes before the same bird came back. He was a bit shy at first, when he saw me move, but with the stillness and stealth of a tigress stalking her prey, I waited, breathed, and he relaxed. I took maybe seven shots with my 70-200. Aannnnd done.

I've cropped them closer, but thanks to that beautiful sun and a lovely neutral desert brown backdrop, I have to say these are a fine reward for 10 minutes total of my time. : )

Thursday, July 11, 2013

A Change in the Wind

We move. A lot.

Every three years we pull up roots and haul our worldly goods to the setting for our next adventure with no choice and no idea where that will be, ever at the will of the wind and its many changing moods.

And adventure is always what we get.

In June it was that time again. And from the muggy, tropical environs of South Georgia we packed up and drove across the country, preparing for a deep breath of hot, dry Arizona desert air. And in so doing, we also got rolling violent monsoon thunderstorms, tall stately Saguaro - guardians of wide open spaces, whirling swirling dust devils and a whole slew of interesting creatures and mountain top views that took that hot dry desert breath away and replaced it with clean, cool crisp air 8000 feet up.

In short - we got amazing. And we're enjoying every second.

So here's a first glimpse at the scenery, just taken here and there when my camera was handy. If you want to see more, definitely check out my Instagram feed where I post almost daily from my always-on-hand iPhone :