November 27, 2012

My Manta Ray Is Alright

It snowed more yesterday and now we have at least a foot of the stuff and it’s packing snow so it’s all stuck to the trees and I really wanted to take pictures of them yesterday but time just didn’t allow. Now I’m kicking myself for that decision because the snow’s going to have melted by Sunday when I can take pictures (in Midland, where there are actual “woods”) and our assignment for photography class is “scenes and/of architecture”.

Yesterday I had an appointment with Rick in Midland at the new mental health centre and it went okay but he’s back to staring at me and that’s really awkward. I didn’t drive there because the roads were bad. I honestly have no idea what Rick’s job is or what I’m supposed to be getting out of these sessions. The stuff under his name in his e-mails say “Brief Intervention Counselor” and that he’s an RN but I don’t really know what that means. I go there and tell him what I’ve been doing since the last time I saw him and he says “keep up the good work” and then I go home.

He said that I have a hard time giving myself credit, which Blake agreed with. I just don’t think I should get credit for doing the things other people do every single day, usually because for them, not doing it isn’t optional. But for me, for a long time, it has all been optional and that’s what has put me where I am today. But if I was like “I need Combos” and Blake was like “fuck you, go do it yourself”, there would be a definite problem. At this point anyway.

I don’t see Rick again until Xmas Eve so there is lots of driving and stuff to do in the meantime, I guess. He didn’t really give me any direction.

After Rick’s we went to Dino’s so I could get pasta salad for dinner and Blake ordered it but I paid. I’m getting more comfortable with paying but I still have a pretty hard time ordering at most places, even when I know what I want. I remember being maybe 8 or 9 years old and being with my step-dad and brother (I don’t think my mom was there) in the food court of a mall and my step-dad gave me money and told me to go get the fries and gravy that I wanted for dinner from the NY Fries that was literally right in front of our table, maybe 10 feet away. But I couldn’t do it. I was too shy to order it myself because that would mean talking to a strange grown up. And he made fun of me for it and got mad at me and said I couldn’t have dinner then and took his money back. He told me to watch my brother, who would have been 2 or 3, and he got pizza for the two of them but nothing for me and I just didn’t have dinner that night. This fear of ordering food has pretty much been a lifelong thing, exacerbated by the memory of that experience.

Obviously I need to get over it and I’m working on it, but it’s going to take some time and I’m going to feel really stupid in the process because I’m an adult and this shouldn’t be an issue. I should have more self-esteem than this. I should know, and believe, that I’m equal to everyone else in this world.

So I’m working on it. I’ve kinda backed off the last couple of weeks, especially with all the construction around our house, but I really need to get back on the horse, so to speak.

After getting pasta salad, we came home and I ate while we watched an old episode of Saturday Night Live with Madison because we have Netflix now and Madison wanted to watch one of the ones with Sarah Michelle Gellar. Also noteworthy is that all of Angel is on Netflix, which I never watched, so I think we’re going to start tackling that soon. Right now we’re watching The X-Files with Madison, who is loving it, but we’re only on season 2 so far. Hopefully Angel will still be available after we finish that.

Ronny is sick right now so we picked Alex up for class and class was pretty uneventful, really. Our assignment is “scenes and/or architecture”, the latter of which I have little to no interest in whatsoever. “Scenes” is to be interpreted as something that gives a sense of place, time, weather, habitat and/or light and the only idea I had was to take pictures of the snow-covered trees in the woods of Midland but I just looked outside and already the snow has mostly fallen off the trees here so it probably doesn’t look as cool up there today as it did yesterday. Other than that, I have no ideas…however…

On Friday I guess it was (?), I spent the entire day reading about famous photographers on Wikipedia and when I woke up on Saturday morning, I posted a status update on Facebook asking if anyone knew of any quasi-famous photographers who only shot digital and who made their living selling prints and doing art shows so I could look them up. I only got 3 answers (Annie Leibovitz Andreas Gursky and Melissa Maples, the latter two I still have to look up).

However, my friend Ditsy said “Have you looked into HDR yet? I could see you creating with that!” AND THAT’S WHEN ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE.

“HDR” stands for “high dynamic range” and it’s a post-process that…well, look at it yourself. This guy, Trey Ratcliff, has the #1 travel blog on the internet and pretty much does HRD exclusively. Look at his archive. He even has a tutorial on how to do it! I’m obsessed.

When I brought up HDR to Andre last night only one other person in the class, an older lady named Pat, knew what it was and both of them kinda poo pooed it, which I thought was sort of funny. Andre knows how to remove zits in Photoshop but I think that’s pretty much the extent of his skills. He’s even admitted to not doing very much post-processing. You have to remember, he’s been shooting for 40 years and he said he doesn’t print his own work (and gave the impression that he never has) so post-processing – either oldschool or newschool – is probably not his forte and HDR is almost entirely post-processing. Pat said that she didn’t like HDR pictures because they look too fake, like not reality, and I can get where she’s coming from but honestly, they both sounded like old fogies being so anti-post-process mostly because they didn’t know how to do it. (Which is rich, coming from me, who only a few months ago thought Photoshop was “cheating”…)

Look at Trey’s gallery and let me know what you think. I think they’re absolutely gorgeous. Almost all his shots are landscapes or architecture and he travels all around the world but I think his pics of people done in HDR still look pretty nice or at least more interesting (to me) than non-HDR images. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what would make a good HDR photo, but it’s something I definitely want to play around with.

Also yesterday I got a call from an electronics company that sells on Amazon that the flash Charlie bought me for Xmas is out of stock, but that they were going to upgrade me to the next highest model absolutely free of charge. Charlie fwded me the e-mail that it was sent out today and I’m very excited to receive it! Score!

Something Andre taught us about flashes is that they’re designed to be like daylight so if you use them in a room full of incandescent lights, your picture isn’t going to have even light. Your flash light is going to show up as in the blue range and your tungsten light is going to be yellow/orange. How he counteracts this is to use a brown piece of clear plastic over his flash, which mimics tungsten light and that’ll ensure you have even lighting. Apparently you can get filters for your flash that do the same thing, so I’m going to try and find something like that for my flash eventually. We use compact florescents in our house and I’m not sure what you do with those. I’ll have to ask him.

I’m so overwhelmed by life right now. Photography is a big subject and there’s so much to learn and so much equipment I still need. The stuff Andre’s amassed in his 40 years of shooting is amazing. He is very much a technical guy, which I think I’ve said before. He used to do a lot of commercial work and he said that say someone wanted a picture of their office, he and his team would take out all of the office’s florescent lights and replace them with tungsten or whatever would make the shot better. I am not a patient person, that kind of fussing to set up a shot would probably drive me pretty crazy.

I don’t know what kind of photographer I am or what kind I want to be yet and I suppose I don’t really have to decide at this very moment, but I feel like I should be focusing on one specific thing, I just don’t know what that thing is yet. I have one really really good idea for a series that I want to do eventually, that I plan on applying for a grant to do (so I can hire an assistant, my idea involves asking women to do something in public that’s pretty intimate and I just do not have the cajones to do it myself; even if I had years of immersion and cognitive behavioural therapy)  and I’m scared because that’s my only idea. What if I only HAVE one! What if I’m just not creative enough to do anything with all this training? Is this one idea worth all the bullshit hoops I’m jumping through to get there? I don’t know yet. I think so though?

And by “bullshit hoops”, I mean learning as much as I can about photography, even the stuff that’s completely irrelevant to my idea, so I can execute it the best way possible. And learning as much as I can about photography means going to school and going to school means re-learning how to drive, lots of immersion and cognitive behavioural therapy and being constantly tired for like, 2 & a half years.

Blake and Rick tell me that I need to focus on the smaller tasks that lead up to all of that but I can’t stop looking the bigger picture right in the face. Like, there needs to be an end to the means or it’s not going to happen. I have to be doing all of this for a reason. My one idea is the reason. I can’t see beyond that. I don’t know what to do with the photos after I take them. I can envision myself driving again, all by myself. Barely, but I can. (Although the idea of driving alone at night really really scares the shit out of me.) I can picture myself in a classroom again. Honestly, a classroom setting doesn’t scare me all that much because I’ve always excelled there so I’m more confident. I’m good at learning. I have a terrible memory though, so keeping meticulous notes is key for me. I worry about getting home at 10pm twice a week and being tired for work the next day, but I’ve been doing okay with that schedule with Andre’s class, I just have to sleep after my shift is over to compensate.

I dunno man. It feels like my world is cracking open and I’m scared of, and excited for, what’s going to come out. It’s really difficult to articulate.

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