As exhausted as I might be from our move back to the east coast, my mind can’t help but think of photographing and documenting my new surroundings. A new town or city will do that, and both Washington DC and Virginia offer many visual opportunities. And as we move from two nights of hotels in both Seattle and DC to our temporary Amazon apartments, I couldn’t help but grab my camera and 50mm lens to experiment with some of the light and shadows in our apartment and spooky hallway.
No matter where I travel. No matter where I live. Nothing comes close or compares to watching to sun come up or go down over the horizon, as one that often fantasizes but rarely gets out of bed early enough to enjoy the sunrise. I am more than willing to chase a sunset as it disappears over the horizon., often doing a google search to find the exact time the sun is scheduled to set in my area. Since moving to Belltown in Seattle, I’ve been spoiled with a view of Puget Sound to the west and South Lake Union to the east. In the months that have past I’ve seen myself taking the picture I first stumbled over my thoughts to describe. I still find myself racing to the balcony to admire. The one and probably most admirable factor are that no sunset looks precisely the same. Whether the sun is peeking through the clouds or shining bright, it continuously proves to be one of nature’s most beautiful aspects.
As a teen and even through my early thirties, I always looked very young for my age. I questioned police throughout my twenties, thinking I was skipping school or being carded at bars well into my thirties. That baby face and look of innocence has been a curse as much as it’s been anything.
As my dad began sprouting gray hairs and even thinning at the top in his thirties, I’ve entered my fifties with no greys of bald spots to cover. And while I took on some weight during my drinking phase and a strict diet of fast food and red meat, I’d say the subtle changes I may have made more than a difference in preserving my fountain of youth. Yet, here I am celebrating another birthday, wondering if I’ll ever sprout greys in anything besides my beard or learn the art of the comb-over. Lucky for me, I have my sarcasm, smirk, and cynicism to guide me through my journey. Allowing me to look good while shaking my fist at the clouds and screaming, “Get off my imaginary lawn.” to anyone who chooses to trespass upon it.
As time goes by, I find myself trying to wane off all automatic features offered on my camera. Shooting on Manual, AV, or TV has been the most rewarding educational experience I’ve had as a photographer. It’s helped me improve my composition skills while giving me complete control of my creativity. Manual focus, however, seems to have become my Achilles heel, especially, and almost exclusively, when it comes to night and low light settings. My focus here was the far-off Queen Anne Cell Towers, which have been an image I’ve attempted to take for some time now. At the same time, my attempts have rendered results both good and bad. It’s the sharpness of my manual focus that always seems to be the judge.
Looking at the shot below and being reminded that it was taken without the balance of my tripod makes me appreciate my growing sense of patience. I wholeheartedly recommend learning all the options your camera offers. Using those tools and getting off manual modes with not only help you grow as a photographer. It will also help you create your unique vision.
While our original plans to ferry to one of the many Washington state islands in search of oysters was sabotaged by the threat of two and half hour traffic and the long lines that usually manifests in the search of good food. We altered our plans in order to add a chilled out vibe to our holiday. So, after a home made breakfast and a stop at Third Place Books, we headed to Warren G. Magnuson Park to get some sun and warm beach vibes. Despite the holiday, the park wasn’t overpopulated. Which made for a relaxing day that featured the smell of nearby cookouts and the sound of children enjoying their time together on the beach. Aside from taking a few images, I read a few chapters from the Johnny Cash autobiography I picked up. As I get older, I find myself adjusting to a more laid back, relaxed lifestyle. While I’d say it hasn’t been easy. I like where it’s taking me.
Earlier this Monday, we embarked on a trip to find Seattle’s Luna Park. While the park is noted as a great spot to catch the sunrise. I know better than to expect my wife to get out of bed early enough on the weekends, or any designated holiday, to accompany me to a spot that doesn’t provide coffee and a hearty breakfast. Knowing that our usual way to the area was constricted by long over due repairs and construction, we took the long, local route. Talk about a headache. The alternate route took us three times longer than usual. While allowing us to pick up a couple of bagels and coffee. I was promised that there would be no more trips to the area until the bridge was reopened. All things said, we both really enjoyed the beautiful weather and breath taking view of the city we’ve called home since June, 2017.
Though my legs and the rest of me remain strong. My balance, or lack there of have made many things I once took for granted, difficult, nearly impossible and downright dangerous. Though just a few blocks from me. There comes a point where the steep incline is so extreme that, know that attempting to navigate it would risk irreversible damage, or even death. Risks my wife, keeps me from attempting. Whereas my first days and weeks living in Seattle had me walking and learning the local bus lines. It’s not as if I haven’t already explored the pier and whatever else the downtown area offers. There is still a desire to revisit and photographs aspects of the area. As Rudolph Steiner once said, “One can ascend to a higher development only by bringing rhythm and repetition into ones life. Rhythm holds sway in all nature.” Thanks again to my wife for granting my wishes while keeping me off the steep incline.
Like many, I enjoy the solitary feeling that photography lends me. Adding people to the equation, no matter the relation or lack of, can bring on unwanted stress and, in some cases, anxiety as someone who worked in and ran a studio years ago. I often felt overwhelmed by the stress and anxiety. Feelings that went with booking sessions and trying to get people to arrive on time, allowing for the rhythm it usually takes to complete the cycle of a photoshoot. I learned a lot during those days. A lot more about myself, patience, and making others feel as unaware of the camera and the hot lights. More about relationships than I ever did about technique or studio lighting. There are times when I miss those days. Many of which where I’d approach things differently. However, to be honest, it’s not often.
And while taking pictures from my balcony or from the roof might get redundant. The fresh air, the colors, and the feeling of being on top of the world have lasting qualities and rewards. Here’s hoping we can all find our peace and refuge.
Aside from music, photography has been the longest and most constant passion in my life. Over more than thirty years, countless rolls of film, and thousand and thousands of digital images, I’ve learned and decided that in the end, less is more. Instead of taking and keeping a million images I might like or look back on with lessened enthusiasm. I’d instead take, save and share the ones I carefully composed and maybe planned. Learning to shoot on manual and TV modes while arranging and carefully composing my shots has given me the knowledge and the ability to take the kind of pictures I want. Proving that you’re never too old to learn new things, and there’s always plenty of room for improvement. Therefore, keep shooting, keep learning, and aspire to shoot the pictures you always wanted to.
I’ll fully admit to having some sort of learning disability. Being that i’ve never been able to read directions or follow through with the many projects I become involved with. That sai, the decades I’ve spent taking pictures and picking up knowledge wherever and whenever I can have been quite rewarding. Figuring things out as I gc and learning many lessons from try and do, or through trial and error can be difficult and even maddening at times. However, when I finally do get it right, it feels like a major breakthrough.