An Hourly Photo Project

8:15am Light through the blind, first photo of the day

I’ve recently become a keen listener of the Photography Daily podcast https://www.photographydaily.show Hosted by Neale James, it’s a twice weekly podcast that I find inspiring and informative. The Friday episode is a long form photo walk episode featuring listener letters, photographer interviews and snippets of advice or ah ha moments from Neale and past guests. Neale has an incredible hosting style, making the listening experience an intimate one, as though it’s Neale and I taking a photo walk together.

9:15am Cadel snuggled on the couch

The Monday episode is a short photo assignment episode where a different guest each week shares an assignment designed to get listeners taking out their camera and making images. I’ve given a couple of the assignments a go; the photos here are a result of listening to episode 317. The assignment, from photographer Kevin Mullins, is a photo an hour challenge. The idea being to take a photo as soon as you wake up, and then take one every hour following that you’re awake.

10:15am Relaxed as I drink a coffee
11:15am Steering wheel

I decided to use the same lens all day, my Fuji 35mm f1.4. It was not always the best choice to have made, but I stuck to it. Yes, I have photos that aren’t as sharp as they could be, because the lighting at the time wasn’t great, but not needing to change lenses as well as having a light weight camera and lens combination was exactly what I needed. My camera didn’t get in the way. Rather it was simply a tool that allowed me to capture what was in front of me.

12:15pm My feet, again

I allowed myself to take more than one photo of needed, although I never took more than a few each hour. I wasn’t concerned about taking the perfect image, instead I looked at what was there, thought about how I could make it interesting in some way and then took the photo. I liked how the challenge made me feel throughout the day. I noticed I was looking at the light in my surroundings, slowing down my thoughts and being more present in the moment than usual.

1:15pm Jensen
2:15pm Eli

Looking at the photos I realise that they’re more than a snapshot of my day; they’re a window into my life as it is right now. Photos of Cadel. Photos of plants. Photos of my nephews. Three loves of my life.

3:15pm Cadel

There’s also random things; my cars steering wheel and the top of my bread machine, taken as it made pizza dough. And my feet. They were in front of me at the time, so the parameters of the challenge were being met.

4:15pm Bread machine

I enjoyed the project a lot and I think I might repeat it, perhaps every few months. I imagine it will create a kind of record of my life, but I also think it’s the kind of project that will easily to fit into my life, which is the best kind of project for me. I don’t like over complicating things, I’d rather grab my camera and take photos and be happy with the process.

5:15pm Peperomia – I think? A plant I own that I’ve yet to check the species of
6:15pm Philodendron Florida
7:15pm Cadel snuggling against David
8:15pm Philodendron Silver Sword
9:15pm The end of my day, in bed with a book and Cadel

Taking Each Day As It Comes

Knowing that the time we have left with Cadel is limited is both a blessing and a curse. It has reminded us that life is short, even more so when it comes to dogs.

Cadel, happy after a walk

We are trying to do things with Cadel as often as we can, things we know he loves. Walks in the bush, where he can be off lead, have become our favourite. On three legs he runs from bush to tree to patch of scrub, inhaling the smells and urinating on anything he considers worthy!

We’ve dragged the spare bed into our room, pushing it against our bed, allowing both Cadel and Zena to sleep close by. Cadel loves to cuddle and all to often he spends the night lying alongside me. Waking up to his nose on mine is a pretty good thing. And a lot more food treats are given out each day. I cannot see a reason not to.

Yet knowing each day could be his last is difficult. Living with anxiety has given me an outstanding ability to catastrophise. What if he’s broken his leg and is in pain, I think as I’m at work. What if we wake up and find the cancer in his right front leg? Or somewhere else? It’s highly likely, because the cancer has moved from his bones into his blood stream. So many what if’s to take me out of the moment of enjoying the time we have.

Along with all of this is an increased desire to remember Cadel through the use of a camera. I’m finding myself trying to capture his personality, so in future I can look at a photo and immediately be transported to that moment, to remember him as he was. Setting aside the technology aspects of photography, capturing the personality of a dog who is incredibly important in my life is difficult. Moments are fleeting, and although Cadel is very good at posing on request that doesn’t always guarantee the type of photo I’m after. I’m grateful for the digital age for its ability to allow me to take hundreds of photos if needed, in order to get one decent one. But I’d like my success rate to be higher, so I’ve enrolled in an online dog photography course. It’s a multi month course that begins with photographic foundations, building on that each month with more technical skills. I’m excited by the challenge and the skills I’ll gain, but a little disappointed i won’t have long to use these skills when photographing Cadel. But I can’t dwell on it. All I can do is take each day as it comes. Continue to show Cadel love, continue to take photos to capture his likeness, and always always remember him.

Life Really Is Hard Sometimes…

Cadel enjoying a ute ride

On the 17th May we received news that one of our dogs – Cadel – has bone cancer. He’d had leg pain in his lower left leg for a couple of weeks. The first vet I took him to thought it was a soft tissue injury, based solely on observing him walk. Hindsight has left me disappointed in myself for not pushing the vet to actually feel his leg or X-ray it. I suppose that’s what happens the day before Easter holidays when vets are busy and like everyone else wanting to have a break.

Once the pain medication Cadel was prescribed wore off it was apparent that there was more going on. A visit to our preferred vet determined that something more than a soft tissue injury was going on. Cadel cried out in pain when his leg was manipulated slightly – he tolerates uncomfortable and even painful situations well so we knew there was something seriously wrong. As I was having surgery a week later, which would see both Cadel and Zena stay at our vets kennels, we decided he could wait another week, with more pain killers in the mean time.

So it was, that on the day I was discharged from hospital, we received the horrifying news that Cadel has bone cancer. David and I are devastated. The youngest of our two dogs, Cadel is only 7.5 years old. Granted, for a large breed dog he is considered to be in his old age, but his personality belies this. His personality is almost puppy like. He is happy and cheerful and the most comfortable when all four of us are together. There is no sign of old age in him, aside from the cancer that has caused his lower left leg to bulge and be slightly twisted.

There is no cure. Removal of the leg would require follow up chemotherapy but still leaves a low rate of curing him. All we can do is ensure his pain is minimal, that he is happy and comfortable and mentally stimulated. So far this is successful.

It is incredibly difficult knowing every day may be the last day we have with Cadel. There have been many tears and there will be many more. I strive every day to be a better person because I see in Cadel a belief in me that I don’t hold. I believe that dogs are a better judge of personalities than humans are, so maybe he is right?

I don’t know how I will survive without him, but for now I’m concentrating on enjoying every moment I can with him. That’s pretty much all I can do.

An Observation Project

A double exposure, playing with expectations of a sunset

It has been a while since I’ve stopped to photograph the setting sun in my backyard. More often than not I’ll stop what I’m doing & notice it, observe the beautiful colours – even the skies that are appear to be a single shade of blue, making them a lot less interesting than the skies full of yellow, orange & pink hues – have a small amount of beauty to them – and then continue on with what i was doing. But actually picking up my camera & photographing it, well i just hadn’t bothered. I’d sort of thought, what’s the point? There’s only so many times something can be photographed before it’s boring, right?

Over the past couple of days I’ve read about photographers repeatedly photographing something, whether it be something around their home such as a magnificent tree or something further afield such as a lake or river. As i read about these projects i found myself wishing i to had something to photograph. Not daily, i find a daily commitment to one thing difficult to work with. But once a week, or every fortnight, that works for me. Then i realised, i’ve kind of been doing that already, with my backyard sunset photos.

Ok, so i haven’t been photographing them a lot lately, but I’ve been intermittently photographing them for years. Why not return to it? Why are backyard sunsets any less significant than anyone else’s projects? They’re not, of course. I just hadn’t afforded them any real significance. They were simply a thing I’d randomly capture, a small moment of beauty to admire. I’m going to change this a little. Formalise it if you will. My aim is to photograph one backyard sunset every fortnight. Sometimes it may even be more often than that. I’ll share my results here, with you.

Is there something you’ve been thinking about doing? Undertaking a new art project perhaps, or learning a new skill? Maybe you too have a project sitting in the back of your mind, not yet expressed. Why not give it a go? Yo never know what may come of it.

An Update

Stars in my eyes

It has again been too long between posts. I want to write here, I really do. What stops me is the hang up I have around writing. I was told for a long time my love of writing was a waste of time. When you hear something enough you believe it. It’s sad but true. The mind is an amazing thing but it can often work against you. As someone with anxiety I know the truths of that.

But I’m here writing to you (assuming anyone is still reading this blog) & want to update you with where I’m at. I’ve spent a lot of this year concentrating on improving my art. I always feel good making art, so why not get better at it, right?
I’ve found a bunch of talented people on YouTube & SkillShare who share their knowledge in a fun easy way. Would you like me to share them with you? Perhaps that could be the topic of another post. Let me know.
Their enthusiasm for their art inspires me to improve mine but best of all I’m enjoying myself whilst learning. Practicing art is like meditation for me, I’m focussed solely on the task which means my anxiety is no longer with me.
Because photography has always been a love of mine I’ve wanted to step up a level, get better at the types of styles I love. For a long time I was scared of portrait photography. Scared the photos I’d make would be hated by the subjects. Over time I’ve come to realise that what matters is me liking it, not anyone else. I’m not a professional photographer. Whilst it’s ideal if the subject likes a photo I take of them, they don’t have to because I’m not relying on them buying my work. But restrictions around covid has made it difficult to got out & about whenever I want to. So I decided to turn the camera on myself. I don’t like being in photos, but if I’m the only subject available then I’ve got little choice. Thankfully a lot of creative photos can be taken in an untraditional way. I’ve been having a blast learning how to take them & continue enjoying them. Best of all I’m gaining photographic skills that translate outside of self portraiture. A win win if you like.

These photos are a couple taken during the past few months, that I can actually say I’m happy with. That I’m proud to share online. They represent a new confidence in myself which I hope continues.
So, if I may suggest something, take a moment to think about what you’d like to do more of. Or get better at. And then do it. You might just find you’ll love it more. Or you might find it’s no longer for you, which is totally ok. If that’s the case then think of all the exciting things you’ve yet to explore, and pick one. You just never know 🙂

When Words Don’t Come

This post was meant to be about something other than what I’m writing here. I’ve been trying to write it for a couple of days; words are failing me right now. I can’t quantify my thoughts. Each time I write something it feels wrong, like the words I’m using aren’t good enough. I don’t know why this is. It may be because my anxiety has been high during the last week. Maybe I’m overthinking it. Maybe I really don’t have anything to say.

So instead of fighting myself in my mind about my inadequacies as a writer, I’m giving up on that post. I’ve saved it in drafts, in case I feel one day like I can find the right words.

Instead, here’s a photo from my recent holiday in St Kilda. I hope you like it because I do.

St Kilda pier

Accepting My Multi-creativity

This spot is pretty much my favourite local location to take photos, especially at sunset.

For the majority of my adult life I’ve struggled with the reality of my creative output. All around me are stories of people who specialise in something. From photographers that make their name from a genre they excel in, to water colourists whose exquisite work is world renown to writers whose books bring accolades from readers & critics alike, all I could see were people who found a particular type of art that compelled them to focus on it exclusively.

I am not that sort of person but boy have I tried to become one. As a child I fell in love with writing. I wanted to be an author & would write constantly. Not to long after that I discovered photography & felt compelled to photograph everything the caught my eye. For a while I thought perhaps I could be a photographic journalist, writing about important world changing things whilst also photographing them (given the awful trajectory journalism has taken I’m glad I didn’t pursue that avenue). I enjoyed drawing so in high school I took art elective classes with the thought they might help me find an artistic style I could be exclusively drawn to.

As I entered adulthood I became aware that to become ‘successful’ as an artist (a topic that I should bookmark for a future post) I needed to focus on one thing. No matter how hard I tried I just couldn’t. Taking photos only was enjoyable but didn’t sustain me. By this time shame about my desire to be a writer had taken hold in my mind so I had abandoned the idea to be an author (again something else I should return to in a future post). For a number of years I almost exclusively hand made teddy bears, with the vague idea of becoming a bear artist. Eventually I gave that up, which was around the time that I pretty much gave up on creativity. If I couldn’t narrow my focus to one thing then giving up on the creative life seemed the right way to live.

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Fast forward a few years when a couple of traumatic events in my life found me returning to photography. I don’t remember my initial outlay but it was the most id ever spent on photography (until last week when I ordered a new camera!), buying a Fujifilm X-Pro1 & 18mm lens. As soon as I held the camera I knew outlaying the money was the best decision I’d made in a long time. I began photographing things that caught my eye, but this time with the purpose of growing my skills. I read & watched & listened to anything I felt would help me get better as a photographer.

I may have ordered a new X-Pro3 but my X-Pro1 will always have a place in my heart. It rekindled my love affair with photography so will become my spare camera body.

Yet this wasn’t enough to sustain me creativity. I needed other outlets. I began writing, first stream of conscious journalling then tentatively playing with the idea of writing children’s stories. 2019 saw me step that desire up a notch or two, engaging a mentor, having a private session with a well known children’s author & beginning to submit to publishers. As yet I’m still working on that goal, I hope one day I’ll be able to call myself a children’s author.

I also began drawing again, inspired by the artists I was interviewing for the Art Supply Posse podcast. I’ve enrolled in & completed a couple of online art courses to get better at drawing.

Yet despite all this, I felt like I should be narrowing my focus to one thing. I still thought that it would be the best thing for me to do. Yet deep down I knew I couldn’t do it, I’d never be happy focussing on one thing. Eventually I started to think that it’s ok to spread my creativity over a number of areas. I came across people who are successful in more than one field, such as Austin Kleon. I’m sure you don’t need me to tell you who he is, but when I read his byline ‘a writer who draws’ I finally accepted that being a multi-creative is ok. That for some of us being multi-creative is the best expression of ourselves. Conforming to one creative outlet doesn’t work for us. And that’s ok.

Now that I’ve accepted my reality I feel a lot more comfortable working on my art. Sure, there are days when I hate everything I create -show me an artist who doesn’t feel that & I’ll call out their lies- but knowing that what I’m creating makes me happy is the most important thing to me. Theres no point making something if it doesn’t bring you some level of joy.

How do you feel about being a multi-creative? Does it align with your creative life or are you focussed on one type of art? Comment below, I’d love to hear from you.

Following Those Who Chased The Steam

Early this past Sunday morning I stumbled out of bed at a time of day I rarely see & did my best to wake up. When my sister-in-law Ashton asked me to be her photographer for an inaugural charity event that saw runners on land race her family paddle steamer the PS Melbourne I was quick to agree. I like to help her whenever I can & I thought this would be a relatively easy way to help out. If I’d have known that I’d be setting an alarm for 6:30am I might well have reconsidered! Anyway as I ate my breakfast I hoped that the early start would be worth it.

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Pulling my car in to find a park I felt a jolt of excitement when I saw lots of participants milling about the starting area. I was sure this would surely mean the event would be a success. Making my way onto the boat I kept an eye on the runners trying to determine how many of them were serious about arriving at the end point before we on the boat docked. To my untrained eye most of them looked keen to give it their best shot.

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From the water I knew there wouldn’t be many points where I’d be able to see the runners once the event was underway. It occurred to me that the best place to photograph the runners & somehow tie that back to the boat itself would be when they crossed over the Murray Bridge. Making my way to the front of the boat (excuse my ignorance of the correct boat terms. I don’t claim to know anything about boats & don’t see the need to go looking for the right terms because this website is not about the boating life!) I looked for something that I could potentially frame the runners with. I took a photo with the backs of people who were relaxing on the boat but knew immediately that it wasn’t the right way to go about framing. As we got closer to the bridge I realised sections of wood on the boat would frame a photo in an interesting way. I crouched down & took a couple of photos. The one above worked out exactly how I hoped. The lines from the boat intersect nicely with the lines from the bridge. The woman running may only just be visible but I think that she provides enough impact. There are more photos from the morning that I’m happy with but none in the same way as I am with this one. To me it feels like a representation of what I’ve been trying to do with my photography this year. That is to capture the everyday beauty that surrounds me, if I look close enough for it. This particular photo – or any of the others that I make on this personal quest of mine – might not represent ‘typical’ beauty but I don’t give a damn about that. I’m trying to photograph beauty as I see it. Hopefully others will recognise that beauty too but it’s ok with me if they don’t.

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The event was a success. There were some pretty serious & fast runners, who arrived at the finish line before the boat arrived. We arrived somewhere in the middle of the pack although it feels kinda weird viewing it that way considering we travelled on water! Prizes were given out, breakfast rolls & coffee were consumed & kids ran around enjoying the sun. The trip back to the wharf was a lively affair with many participants celebrating with an alcoholic beverage or two & several more dancing to the tunes pumped out by a live radio broadcast taking place onboard. I suspect the dollar value raised during the event was high enough that it will go ahead again next year. Hopefully I’ll have the chance to observe & photograph the goings on second time round.

Those Small Moments Of Beauty

Svenja looking through her makeup

Photographing small moments of beauty has – over the past few months – become incredibly important to me. When I am anxious I find myself unable to see the world properly. Effort is needed, either medical or physical – often both – to pull my mind out of anxiety. For some time afterwards I feel as though I’m teetering between two realities: the anxious & the non-anxious me. It’s a weird feeling but I have become accustomed to it. During the time of afterwards it helps me if I can distract my mind to help ensure it doesn’t become anxious again.

The easiest distraction can be found by cuddling my dogs. I swear that they are therapeutic! They sit with me, lick away any tears that may be lingering & do their damnedest to keep me calm.

Irina talking about false eyelashes

My habit of taking my camera along to my pole fitness classes has provided me with countless opportunities to capture small moments of beauty. These photos are my favourite to take although I’m finding it difficult to articulate why. This is my fourth attempt at this post; I can’t find the right words to express how I feel when I take the photos of these women moving in beautiful & athletic ways, nor afterwards when I look back at them. The closest word I have to describe taking the photos is joy because as I look at the movements through my camera thats often what I see, but that’s not really right. Delight probably best describes my feelings when I look back at my photos but it isn’t really that either. Why is it so damn hard to describe these feelings? I suppose for you, the reader, my feelings don’t make much difference to my photographic results. Except I think actually they do. If I wasn’t enjoying myself when I was taking photos then I don’t think I would push myself out of my creative comfort zone. I wouldn’t be looking to improve my technique or try different things; I’d simply be happy phoning it in. Or not even bothering to try in the first place. Yet because I love what I am doing I keep striving to improve, to notice even smaller moments of beauty & try to capture them.

Vee applying makeup to Becky

The photos that accompany this post were taken as we were getting ready for Aerial Showcase 2019. Yes, I took part & yes I had my camera. I couldn’t resist bringing it because I knew there would be moments to cherish later on. I found myself having to put my camera away, lest I be late getting myself ready but I’m glad I had it with me. The photos (I’ll be sharing more in a portfolio here) make me smile. What I’d like to do with them next is to have them printed. I think it will be nice to be able see the photos hanging on a wall, reminding me that yes indeed there is beauty everywhere if you look for it.