education, gardening, marriage, nature, photography

Smithsonian Sunday

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Yeah, it will be ok
Do nothing today
Give yourself a break
Let your imagination run away

~Sunday by Sia

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Cinnamon rolls are baking somewhere downstairs and the smell has roused me from sleep. the windows in my room are open, it’s 67 degrees, the birds are singing, Odin is sitting on my desk watching them flit by as i type this, and the sun pierces everything in my room, lighting up the coronas around the sunflowers in a vase nodding behind me. Anemone ‘De Caen’ are beginning to bloom as the purple crocus fade down and the yellow daffodils stand up. My Apeldoorn Elite Tulips are starting to shoot buds our from their curled, green rabbit ear leaves. i know all of this because i just wandered out in my cat pajamas, barefooted to see what is coming up out there in my garden. now i’m just waiting for that last frost to seriously be done and i’ll put the seeds in. sometimes it snows in April you know . . .

i move slow on Sundays, meditatively so. i am just now contemplating a shower after daylight savings time forced me to look like i woke up uber-late this morning at 11. there are so many silly little tasks to do . . . but first, i think i will go eat some breakfast and drink some tea and then come back to work on a few things. ALL of them involve my computer and various applications for managing money and photography, which is an interesting theme lately.

my forest is painted RED

i am thrilled to announce, (if i haven’t already told some of you) that i placed in Smithsonian Magazine’s 3rd Annual photo contest with my forest is painted RED. 7,500 photographs were submitted from around the world and 10 Finalists in each of the five categories were chosen: Americana, The Natural World, People, Altered Images, Travel and you can now view those photographs HERE. i am prominently featured in the Altered Images Category.

The Grand Prize Winner and the five Category Winners will be revealed in the August 2006 issue of Smithsonian so if i win in my category, i will go to print in the magazine and win $500 plus some other non-cash prizes. i don’t think i’ll win it, but check out what The Grand Prize is . . . no matter what happens, it’s good press as well as a great opportunity for me to be seen and all under the guise of an institution i truly respect. The Smithsonian Institution is “America’s national educational facility with 18 museums, 9 research centers and 120 affiliates around the world.” It was a gift from James Smithson, a British scientist who willed his estate “to the United States of America, to found at Washington, under the name of the Smithsonian Institution, an establishment for the increase and diffusion of knowledge . . .” i encourage you to read the history.

These last few weeks have been crazy busy with work and little bits of photography. i went to a seminar hosted by Blue Pixel and Nature’s Best Photography which featured Daniel J. Cox, a well-renowned nature photographer featured in National Geographic.

He covered:

  • the issues involved in nature photography, from trip planning to capture to workflow, travel to distribution
  • tips for entering and winning nature photo contests
  • the importance of conservation and photojournalism
  • the differences between JPEG and Raw workflows and how to manage color and exposure in each one
  • how to make effective and accessible archives of your valuable digital negatives

His discussion began pretty pedantically really covering some of the more pedestrian aspects of photography (depth of field, focus, shutter speeds, light metering) that i assumed most would know there. But, his talk on natural conservation and his own photography, lifestyle and travel experiences were wonderful. Some of his knowledge of media types, storage, software, color management and technology were a little behind the curve, but he produces incredible work.

Saturday morning, i shot a very last minute wedding on The Black-Eyed Susan, a paddlewheel riverboat “custom designed for social, corporate, and private entertainment” docked in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. i was only available for the ceremony and a few formal shots. having NEVER met the bride or groom or wedding party, it made for quite a challenge. i don’t typically do these thrown together things . . .  i have a contract and a must-have photo checklist. i typically meet with the couple and the person paying for the photography to get a feel for what they want and what kind of people they are. i like to be prepared and comfortable in my surroundings. this was NOT the case for this event. in fact i found myself crawling over life preserver boxes and behind people, playing “crouching tiger hidden photographer” to get some decent shots.

it’s a real trick to NOT be obnoxious and all over the wedding party when the “stage” for the ceremony is as small as it was, and forget about room to take pictures of the processional and recessional people always forget they are being photographed and walk WAY TOO FAST! i haven’t had the time or the desire to go through the photos yet, but i am hoping i produced something of merit and charm, all things considered. All i know is the whole wedding party lined up on the back of the boat and waved to me on shore as i shot some final photos of them floating off into the harbor. But i wasn’t done . . . then i drove 45 minutes back to Annapolis and went to work at the restaurant and waited tables; a private party of 17 plus a few extra seatings and all in a second floor dining room. So up and down the damn stairs all nite with heavy trays of food and dishes. By the time Sunday arrived, you can now understand why i take them so slowly.

As for the rest of this Sunday . . . i took myself out to breakfast, did some shopping, bought a pair of gauchos and a skirt, took myself out for thai flavored dinner plus a beer. i got a fair amount of reading done at both meals with excerpts from Girl With Curious Hair by David Foster Wallace and Kafka on the Shore by Haruki Murakami. All the while amazed at how friendly and warm people are when the weather is pleasant, even the animals are in a good mood. i walked along past a group of men outside a local pub having some beers and hot wings and i turned to smile and wiggle my fingers, waving down at one of their dogs, a gorgeous white-faced Staffordshire Bull Terrier who in turn sat up, nudged me and licked my fingers gingerly as i walked past.

People seem to lose their damn minds when it’s sunny. on Main Street, a young man was sitting on the sill, legs dangling out his second story window singing to no one in particular and in fact, was making up songs for the passerby. later on West St., i was talking casually to my friend Paul when a truck drove past and a blonde-haired girl squawked into a CB radio as if campaigning, somehow broadcasting “HEY PAUL!” from the passenger seat. Paul responded by stopping mid-sentence, skipping out to the middle of the street, throwing his arms into the air with ROCK ON horns poised on each hand, yelling “WOOOO-HOOO!”

something about a sunny day, a Sunday and all its simple pleasures; sleeping in, familiar faces on walkabout, good food, good news, a good read, pretty things purchased, a nice stroll down streets lined with gardens newly in bloom, phonecalls and messages from dear friends, freshly washed bed linen to lay your head down later.

i understand why people go to church, why they don’t want to work, why they choose forced respite on Saturday or Sunday. as midnight approaches, bringing to close a full day lived and loved, greeted and embraced, photographed and written about, documented, cherished and learned from, i see the world as my church and the amazing places, people and things in it, all beautiful, meaningful and deserving of reverence in their own godlike ways.

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