Sunday, November 24, 2013


I don't have much to report on the horses other than that they've been standing in mud puddles because it has been raining off and on since Thursday night.

I went to more photography classes and found that I am still struggling to adapt to my new home.  I live in an area that is primarily inhabited by retired snowbirds, so when I do discard my usual hermit status and get out to be around people this time of year, I feel a bit overwhelmed by all the different accents and personalities.  We have people from all over the world coming here for the winter.

A lady sitting next to me in class leaned toward me and said, "Ah giss dis is da nagan tubble."


"Ah said ah giss we are da only ones wid nagan."

I looked at her perplexed.  She pointed at her camera, then my camera, and then the rest of the room.  "Dey got kinons.  Dis is da nagan tubble."

"Ooooooh!" I exclaimed.  "Yes, we are the only ones with Nikon cameras.  Everyone else has Canons."

She said, "Interesting.  Der seems ta be a shift."

That time I understood her.  Years ago, Nikon was the camera to get.  Now Canon cameras are very popular.  I like both.  I have both.  Pretty much all digital cameras nowadays are awesome.  After class I saw this lady drive off in a car with New York plates.  Between that and her stuffy nose, the accent made total sense.

A couple of ladies in this class noticed my equipment and asked if I am a professional photographer.  I never know how to answer that question, because I do have a photography business, but I don't make a living with it.  It's more like a hobby, and I will need a lot more education before I would consider myself an expert in the area.  My brain in not inclined to memorize all the rules regarding manual camera settings, and knowing how to customize your settings to get special effects, or at least intentional effects, has a lot to do with being a professional photographer.

One of the ladies has a voice that was at a tonal level I cannot hear.  I mean, I see her mouth moving, and I hear her voice, but I can't differentiate words within her voice.  I've run across a few people in my day who I cannot hear.  It's always women.  It's not a matter of them needing to speak up or enunciate; it's simply that they need to speak on a different register.  It's like dogs can hear dog whistles, but humans can't.  That kind of thing.

I definitely do have a hearing problem in general though.  I believe I have trained most people who know me well to say my name first to get my attention, and then get up close.  Yelling to me from across the yard or from a different room is totally ineffective.  I won't hear a thing.

Anyway, I can't stand having to constantly repeat the word, "What?", so when I come across these people who I cannot hear, I just smile and nod.

Bad choice, because I'm pretty sure I'm coming across like an idiot.  It turned out that this lady was asking me questions the whole time I was smiling and nodding.  For all I know, I could have been telling her that I ride my horses naked while standing on my head singing Jingle Bells.

The instructor liked my photos for the Creative Photography better than the ones I brought in for the Pet Photography class.  I tend to do better with close up abstract photography.  She said that one sample I brought in that day reminded her of Edward Weston and Georgia O'Keeffe's work.  Of course, both artists created some fairly risque stuff in their time, but I think the instructor was just referring to the botanical nature of their work, not so much the (ahem) human nature.

The class I struggle with the most is Portrait Photography.  I got really good at photographing dogs back when I had an assistant, but people are a different story.  I just don't see problems with the poses, the backgrounds, and the lighting until I look at the pictures on screen.  I blame my eyesight.  I have good distance vision, so-so mid-range vision, and definitely need correctional lenses to see things close up or read.  I can't see what I'm eating unless I wear glasses.

When I'm driving or looking at a whiteboard in a classroom, I have to take my glasses off in order to see.  When I am adjusting the settings on my camera, I have to put my glasses on.  When I look at my model, neither helps.  I see poorly with and without my glasses at that mid-range distance.  So, things like runny noses, egg on the face, wayward eyebrows, wonky shirt collars, and closed eyes escape me.  I'm literally shooting blind.  I just get my settings organized with my glasses on, then I shoot, but don't know what I have until I have uploaded the photos to my computer and viewed them on screen with glasses.

Anyway, after having students' portrait photos critiqued in great detail, and experiencing a professional portrait photographer directing poses for us to shoot, I realized that I don't think I would be happy being a portrait photographer anyway.  I'm more of an art photographer, an abstract photographer, and a photojournalist.  I don't want to have to pose people to optimize their beauty.  I just want to photograph life as it is.  For instance, I love studying the expressions of athletes when they are in the midst of competition.  I don't have to tell them to tilt their head this way and drape their arms that way.  I just catch them doing their thing, and the results are often amazing, especially when their sport involves moving at fast speeds.  So much escapes our eye when watching sports in full motion.  Freeze framing tells a story.  It reveals ambition and a wide range of emotions.

But I am learning a lot about how to deal with people when photographing them.  I modeled for some photos once, and despite me being a paying client and wanting a nice, joyful picture of myself for my husband to put on his desk at the office, the photographer decided that he wanted to make a seductive glamour photo of me.  I wasn't interested in looking seductive on my husband's office desk.  So, every time the guy told me to give him bedroom eyes and pout, in the instant before he pressed the shutter release I smiled.  The photographer got upset and snapped at me for smiling.  When he gave me the proofs, I asked where the ones where of me smiling, and he said he didn't include them.  I said I wanted to see them, so he showed them to me, and those were the ones I ordered.  I hope he learned a lesson in working with me.  It's okay to shoot his vision, but he should also keep in mind the purpose of the photo shoot and the client's needs.  It's a give and take.

I have also learned to never tell a model how to position himself in great detail.  He has to do what is natural, and then I can tweak in small increments.  I can say something in general like, "Sit on the edge of the chair," or "Stand up and put one foot on the chair," but as soon as I get into specifics, I risk making the model uncomfortable.  If I set them up from the start, the photograph will come out looking and feeling unnatural.

I remember that photographer twisting my body into all kinds of unnatural positions.  I think my photo shoot was at least 4 hours long, and I was cramped up and in pain by the time we were done.  I was also dripping with sweat from the heat from all the studio lamps, and his assistant had to keep re-applying my make-up.  I remember being grossed out as she applied lipstick to my lips, me asking her where she got all the make-up, and her telling me its her personal supply that she uses with all the photography clients.  Very unsanitary.  I had worn my own make-up, but she applied hers over mine, and I ended up looking like a harlot clown.  The photographer's explanation was that the make-up had to be heavy for the camera to pick it up.  This was back in the day of film photography.

This is a picture of a creepy tree down in the arroyo.  A neighbor posted a private property sign on one of the branches.  Because the tree is so large, it blocks the path of horseback riders, so they often turn there and wind up in his back yard.  That was the same neighbor who piled up dead branches like a beaver dam on our property to try to keep the horseback riders out.  Every time someone alters the topography of the arroyo, they redirect the waters, so we are in a constant battle to keep flood waters away from our home.

Speaking of water, before the rainstorms, I found that a spring had sprung up out of our underground water tank and we had water running downhill toward our round pen.  Our well pump company had to come out and replace the upfloat and mechanical float switch.  The pump is supposed to turn off when the float flips over, but it was broken, so precious water was being pumped to the surface and seeping out an underground tank cover.  Had I not found that on a sunny day last week, we wouldn't have known about the problem for at least a week because the ground is so saturated now anyway.


Dreaming said...

I laughed at your great translation into dialect.... it takes me a while to get my ear acclimated to the different ways that people speak.
Hey... I'm going to be a snowbird, too! I'll be head to your area in February and March! First I'll be in Casa Grande, then in Gold Canyon. We will probably hit some other areas as well, but at this point we don't have plans set in concrete.

achieve1dream said...

Oooh I would have been so pissed by that guy that took your photos. Good grief! I'm glad you got some smiling ones that you liked in the end. :)

I have the exact same problem with memory that you do. That's the one thing that keeps me from shooting in manual mode all of the time because it takes me forever to remember what does what or I have to look it up to refresh my memory every time. So I usually just take them in auto mode especially if shooting pictures of the animals moving around. I don't like missing adorable photo ops because I'm messing with settings and trying to remember what to change to do what I'm wanting lol. I like to shoot in manual for flowers though. :)

I also have hearing problems like you do. If someone is behind me I can't hear what they are saying. It's so annoying. One of my friends also mentioned that I tilt or turn my head when people are talking to me because I hear out of one ear better than the other. So weird the similarities we have. :D

I don't enjoy doing portrait photos either. I've done a little bit of it for friends and at weddings, etc. but it just makes me uncomfortable which I'm sure makes them uncomfortable. I'd prefer sticking with the animals hehe. I want to learn to shoot landscapes too. I just don't have the money to waste gas driving around all over the place right now. After shooting two weddings I've decided I definitely do NOT like doing them! It's too important of an occasion. I'm terrified I will miss something or my photos won't turn out and then their special day is not recorded and it would be all my fault. It's too much pressure. I think studio shoots of pets like you were doing might be fun because then I would have as long as I need to get cute photos. I'll find my niche someday I guess.

I'm glad you found the leak! We had a leak at our old house and our neighbor saw it in the morning and did not tell us until that night. It was gushing down the ditch! Luckily it was one of the water company's parts so they took it off our bill.

Good luck with the rain . . . we might be getting ice pellets or snow soon . . . not looking forward to it!!!