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.
Of all the cliches that exist about Australia the one about kangaroos hopping down our streets infuriates me the most. The idea that the entire country is populated by so many kangaroos that they share city life with us is to me absurd. During our honeymoon in America we were asked numerous times about roos hopping down our streets. We were even asked if we could ride them!
I’m not sure where the cliche comes from. A quick internet search suggests that it may be born out of people’s confusion over the size of kangaroos: some people think they are small like squirrels so at that size it stands to reason they would coexist with humans, just like squirrels do. Another idea about the cliche offered up is that wild bears are commonly found scrounging for food in some parts of the US, so why wouldn’t roos be commonly seen in Australia? Getting to the heart of where the cliche comes from would probably take more time than its worth finding out about.
During summer when the weather is oppressively hot I walk my dogs as early as I can in order to beat the heat. I’m not an early bird so I tend to be walking on autopilot barely aware of the beauty unfolding around me. The sun continues to rise, parrots are chirping as they begin going about their day & the sounds of traffic in the distance aren’t yet overwhelming. Occasionally we will be greeted with the sight of a single kangaroo or more typically a pair of roos. They have been drinking water used to irrigate fig trees or table grapes. The watering holes they usually drink from are dry. Mostly they see us before we see them & are bounding away when they are noticed. Once or twice however I’ve been lucky enough to see them first. My strongest memory is of a small pair of roos, standing close to a grove of fig trees. Water is spraying from sprinklers across the tops of the trees; next to the roos is small pool of water. I anthropomorphise them & decide they look content. Happy to have enjoyed a drink. They notice me & for a brief moment we are looking at each other, them no doubt determining if my dogs & I are a threat, me aching because I don’t have my camera with me so have missed an opportunity to take a beautiful photo. They are on the opposite side of the road to us however we are walking towards them. In unison they make a slight turn & bound across the road in front of us, continuing into the vineyard that we’re walking past. My dogs would really like to take off after them vocalising to me that we should take chase. Of course we don’t, instead continuing our walk home.
Walking my dogs this past Friday morning we come across a large dead kangaroo by the side of the road, taking up part of the walking track that we are on. We have no choice but to walk past it. My dogs glance at it but they aren’t interested. There is no blood in sight & there is no smell of death so I assume that it was killed recently, probably earlier that morning by a car or more likely a truck. Despite the location being on the outskirts of town it had found itself on a major highway when it met its end. I feel sad for it & hope that death came quickly. I don’t see a pouch so console myself a little knowing that there is no possibility of a joey losing it’s life too. When I drive past that spot the next day the roo is gone. I wonder whose job it is to take it away & where does the body go?
For the past couple of months I have been making art every morning as I eat breakfast. I began simply because breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. When I’m travelling I always take the time to relax & eat a yummy breakfast whilst either sketching, people watching or both. I decided to implement this practice at home so I could always take the time to enjoy my first meal of the day. And to linger over a cup of coffee too 🙂
I’ve deliberately left the door wide open in terms of what art I will make. Often I’ll wake up with no idea what to create but whilst I’m walking the dogs (which is done pre-breakfast) an idea usually will form. If it doesn’t then I’m not above creating random colourful shapes on the page.
Initially I was making art that meant nothing to me; I realise now however that it has come to mean a lot. It’s helping ease my anxiety around being a creative person. I’m more accepting that that is the sort of person I am. We can’t all be mathematicians or neurosurgeons or other high functioning sorts. It’s ok that I’m creative.
Someone please remind me of this statement when I’m an anxious mess because I’m offering nothing to the world because all I can do is create 😉
This weekend past saw me in Melbourne holidaying with a newer friend. When packing I decided not to pack my camera. My thought process being that I wanted to focus on relaxing, instead of feeling like I “had” to use my camera. Of course as we pounded the pavement of Melbourne’s CBD on Saturday the urge to capture the scenes that caught my eye was strong. I took out my iPhone with the intent of using it as my camera.
Weirdly enough I found myself stuck. I couldn’t use it. I felt ridiculous, wanting to use my iPhone in lieu of the camera I didn’t have. So I put it away. I replayed this in my mind that evening as I was trying to fall asleep. Without a camera in hand I felt exposed. Yet I have read probably hundreds of articles over the years about photographers who exclusively use their camera phones. Surely if they can then I can too? Everywhere we went people were using their phones for one thing or another.
So on Sunday I vowed to try again. This time it felt a little easier, I guess because I’d talked myself into letting go of the unease. I took photos that I’m happy with. Which is really all I want from my photography. I want to makes images I’m happy with, that I can hang on my walls to admire. Preferably with my camera as it seems I’m more comfortable using it as a device to capture things than I am with my iPhone.
Pouring oil into a pan, out of the corner of my eye I notice the colour of the sky changing. A pale blue that is becoming something else although I can’t yet tell what it will become.
Looking up I notice wisps of white cloud stretched long across my view.
The pan is warmed so I begin adding ingredients for tonights dinner; chicken pieces go in first. Letting the chicken brown I look out the window properly this time. Yellow is becoming the prominent colour. The wispy clouds are no longer white. They take on hues of yellow with the promise of another colour.
I quickly stir the chicken and dash outside grabbing my iPhone on the way. A couple of snaps and I head back inside to continue with dinner. Adding carrots, mushrooms and cooking sake I glance up and marvel at the deepening colours in the sky. There are hints of something coming, something spectacular but I pretend to ignore the possibility. Dinner must be made.
However I cannot resist and dash outside again. Quickly taking three or four photos, not daring to take more in case I ruin our meal.
Inside again I add noodles, honey and soy sauce. Stirring for a minute all the while watching the sky. Could it be? Will I get the colours I love?
Dishing the finished stir fry into bowls, I give David his bowl and put mine down. One last photo I say.
Outside the sky has deepened to rich tones of golden red. It’s fleeting beauty but one I revel in every time I witness it. I take another few photos then simply admire the view.
Satisfied I head back inside to eat my evening meal and remain grateful for sunsets.
Having only spent the past four years or so falling back in love with photography there has been a lot of catching up to do. Most of it has centred around post processing. I grew up with film photography. When digital photography became an option it was, for me, prohibitively expensive. I couldn’t justify the expense of moving to digital when my film cameras were continuing to service my needs.
Once I felt the need to take photographs again my cheap, dated pocket digital camera would not cut it. Eventually settling on a Fujifilm X-Pro1 I rapidly fell in love again with photography. However I was unsure how to go about processing my images. Following a recommendation from a long admired professional photographer as well as researching the options I finally settled on CaptureOne Pro and Aurora HDR.
It has taken a lot of time for me to feel like I am finally ‘getting’ digital post processing. I’ve watched a lot of CaptureOne & Aurora tutorials, reading and re-reading their user guides upteem times. It took me a long time to get over the fear of ruining a photo by editing it ‘wrong.’ I’ve embraced the fact that if I get any element of an edit wrong it can be undone. That’s certainly more freeing than dodging and burning in the dark room which could also be done wrong.
Buying a new iMac last year has also gone a long way towards being able to see my photos properly. I’m now going through old photos – like the one above taken in 2015 – and seeing there is a lot of photos that are actually ok.