Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Creative November Challenge Day #21: Struggling

Halifax Seaport Market just after sunset

I'm having a hard time with this challenge. It seems that most days I can find time for photography or writing, but not both. 

Today, I'd hoped to head out for a photowalk well before sunset but got stuck at work later than planned and missed the best light. As a result, most of the photos I took were grainy and far too dark. I like the composition of this one but not much else.

My objective when I headed to the waterfront was to photograph this recently installed monument celebrating women who volunteered during World War II. I'd hoped to capture it with the colours of the setting sun behind it but had to make do with the illumination provided by floodlights. The monument consists of three sculptures. Much as I like the sentiment behind them, I can't say I like them much.  

Directly behind it is another monument celebrating immigrants who came to Canada via Pier 21. I've always loved the energy of this one and the floodlights do a better job of highlighting the central figure.

Here's hoping my efforts bear more interesting fruit tomorrow.   

Monday, November 20, 2017

Creative November Challenge Day #20: Making the best of things

The new Shannon Park Lookoff in the rain
I've been struggling with this challenge - partly because I'm so damned busy these days but mostly because it's November, which almost by definition means that it's grey and rainy in this part of the world. There have been a few breaks here and there but mostly the weather's been grim.

Despite a dreary forecast this morning, I threw my camera in my bag as I headed out the door, as I have every day this month, and stopped en route to the ferry long enough to take a few photos, though I knew without looking at them that they weren't worth keeping. Everything looked flat and uninteresting in the drab light seeping through the clouds.

Frustrated, I reminded myself to keep trying to find something to shoot. However bad the light, I wanted to make the best of the limited opportunity I had for photography this morning.

As I approached the ferry terminal, a few rays of watery sunlight broke through the clouds low on the horizon. I tried a couple of shots looking out towards the mouth of the harbour but there was too little light to make an interesting image. However, when I turned to head into the terminal, I noticed the windows reflecting an enhanced version of the view, and quickly grabbed a few photos on my way inside. I didn't get anything I really liked but this is my favourite of the bunch.

On the ferry, the options were equally limited. It was too cold to ride on the upper deck and the windows were spattered with rain and sea water so it was impossible to get a clear shot outside. The views were even less promising inside so I finally decided to try creating something a little more abstract.

From a distance, it seems to me it's easy to make out the subject of the image, but maybe it's less obvious close up. In any case, I liked the result when I tweaked the image on my iMac tonight.

I suppose there are a couple of nice life lessons there - that, even when life is most grim, unexpected slivers of light and opportunity can present themselves, and that sometimes even mundane objects have unexpected beauty when we take time to look at them in new ways. In any case, trying to make the best of things is nearly always a good idea. 

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Creative November Challenge Day #19: Dog people versus cat people

I've always thought of myself as a cat person. Until the Sausage (aka Jackie) arrived, we'd only ever had one dog - years ago when we lived in Papua New Guinea. His name was Canuck and he was an awesome mixed breed boy who smiled constantly. We inherited him from fellow volunteers returning  to Canada, and passed him on to other good-hearted folks when it came time for us to do the same. Honestly, as much as we loved him, I never thought we'd invite another dog to live with us given that, before and after Canuck, we only ever had cats.

If you'd asked me why I was a cat person, I would have said it was because cats are smarter, more interesting, cleaner, and easier to care for. I might also have mentioned that I feel more comfortable around cat people, who I generally think of as more intelligent, sensitive, introverted, creative, independent and - yes - more neurotic than dog people.

Many of my cat-loving friends express the firm view that they'd never have a dog. Take my friend, R., for instance. He's a cat person all the way, as you can tell in this photo.

Wait. What? Isn't that a dog into whose eyes he's gazing  so lovingly? Why, yes. Yes, it is. How strange. Because I assure you R. would never want a dog. He's said so dozens of time so it must be true. He prefers cats because they're independent and "stay out of his face"- a sentiment I've heard other cat people express often.

Now, some might characterize R's attitude as essentially selfish because he makes it sound like he doesn't want to commit the time and energy needed to care for a dog properly. But I know better.  The real reason R. and most of the other cat people I know can't bear the thought of having a dog is that they're so caring and sensitive that they can't imagine coping with the anxiety and guilt that come with having a dog.

Almost without exception, cats are independent and self-reliant enough to get along on their own for lengthy periods of time. Sure, they're happy to see their caregivers when they arrive home, but they don't go out of their way to make them feel guilty because they had to be gone all day working to pay for food and litter. Cats understand that their people have responsibilities, and do what they can to reduce their stress at the end of a long hard day.

Dogs are entirely different. When their caregivers arrive home - whether it's been 15 minutes or 6 hours since they left - they go out of their minds with happiness, whining with relief at their people's long-awaited return, insisting they must never ever leave them again, and so on and so on. Though such intense doggy affection can be endearing, it's positively disabling for cat people, who are simply too kind, sensitive and caring to cope with the emotional responsibility of a dog.

So the next time you assume that dog people as a group are more caring and loving than cat people, think again. Some dog people are every bit as caring and sensitive as cat people, but it ain't necessarily so. In fact, it's quite possible for a dog person to be a cold-hearted narcissistic jerk who doesn't give a damn about the health and well-being of his canine companions so long as they shower them with love and affection. Sad but true.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Creative November Challenge Day #18: Selfie reflections

Selfies are ubiquitous on social media and I have to admit I've shared more than a few over the years.

For me, selfies aren't about showing off - or not usually anyway. Rather, they're a means of expressing my existential angst by communicating who I am and what I'm experiencing at a particular moment in time. It's only looking at the photos later that I realize, more often than not, that the woman peering into the camera isn't anyone I recognize.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Creative November Challenge Day #16: Stealing peaceful moments

I had one of those days where I went from one meeting to another, reading emails on the run, my mind going in a dozen  directions at once. Suddenly, it was 1:00, I hadn't had lunch, my next meeting was at 1:30, after which I'd be tied up until suppertime. In flash of sanity, I threw on my coat, grabbed my purse and hurried up the hill to my favourite coffee shop, Le French Fix.

Upon arrival, I was disappointed to discover they'd sold the last of their ham and cheese croissants for the day but, fortunately, there was still plain croissant on offer so I ordered a latte to go with it and stole upstairs to sit by a window and enjoy my snack. I'd deliberately left my smart phone on my desk so, aside from snapping this photo, there was nothing to distract me from savouring a few minutes of peace and quiet in the midst of The busy-ness.

It doesn't often occur to me to slip away as I did today. More often, lunch is a sandwich and fruit eaten at my desk while I read an online newspaper, and I rarely take myself out for coffee or a short walk though I know how helpful it can be. Stealing such peaceful moments lets me to breathe deeply, clear away emotional and psychological clutter, and return to my desk more relaxed and better able to work.

With winter looming, I suppose I should make a point of visiting Le Fix more often. Hope to see you there!