Thursday, October 22, 2009

Why I photograph

I've been rereading Galen Rowell's book Inner Game of Outdoor Photography.

His first words: "If photography was limited to what Daguerre described when he introduced it to the world in 1839–'a process that gives Nature the ability to reproduce herself that enables anyone to take the most detailed views in a few minutes'–this book would never have been written. A technical instruction manual for your camera would be all you'd need to replicate the world before your eyes. But photographic images don't do that. They are visual illusions that trick our senses into believing that the images represent the way the eye would see a real scene."

Visual illusions for the eye.

That's been my guide post in creating photography, including commercial, stock and fine art images. Mixed in there somewhere is a requirement to make beautiful images.

Last night at a Bible study group, one person–a left-brained accountant–mentioned that in her recent graduate class each person was given a chunk of clay. From that lump they were to create an image of their spiritual life at that moment. The assignment shook her orderly line-up-the-columns being to the core.

That assignment also shook me, supposedly a creative type.

Driving home, the account's story was like cold water on my sleeping face. It awakened some
hibernating part of my being. Like a windy storm, it shook the very guideposts I use every day to create my visual-illusions-for-the-eye photographs.

But what was this upsetting storm?

"Why create
illusions/images just for the eye?" I thought out loud. Perhaps I'm not spending enough time creating visual illusions for my inner life, my own spiritual life. What would that look like? What a refreshing path. But where are the guide posts?

The only time I really tried that path was with the Africa Undiscovered Myths Project– a look at the spiritual lives of remote African tribes. What about my own inner life?

Dugh! I need to be working on my own Inner Game of Vineyard Photography. Is there a book there?

Friday, October 9, 2009

Does size matter in CF and SD cards

Charlie Borland was desperate. He e-blasted all of his photo friends for help. During an important assignment, he dropped a filled CF card on to the ground. In that common-finger-fumbling-careless nano second, the card became unreadable.

What to do? Charlie eventually paid a recovery company big bucks to pry open the card to recover the data.

Not to sound pompous, but card fallibility motivates me to use minimum sized cards. I use 2 and 4 GB cards for 12 megapixel cameras (D3 and D300s) and 4 GB cards for 24 megapixel (D3X) equipment.

My thinking: if for some reason one of the cards becomes unreadable, 2GB of information (for a 12megapixel camera) causes me to cuss less than say losing 16GB of files. Plus, the cataloguing system I use works perfectly with the number of images I can pile onto a 2GB card (with a 12 megapixel camera).

Ah, but can't the additional times you mechanically replace filled smaller cards with a new one cause wear and tear or even bend a pin. Yes. But the Nikon cameras I use (D3, D3X, D300s) have two slots (which i can configure in a number of ways). In the very unlikely event that one slot becomes unusable, there is the other. Thank you Nikon.

So for me, size matters. Smaller is beautiful.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

What motivates this Chinese woman

So what motivates Chinese?

That's the coffee-conversation topic I had with an American-in-China friend. He has worked and traveled in the Land of the Awakening Dragon for quite some time (I forgot exactly, maybe 12 years.) I mentioned the Vineyard Worker who was so friendly and helpful at the Disneyland of Chinese Wineries. That's the lady mentioned in two earlier blogs.

"Be careful of her motivation," he warned.

He went on to explain that the Chinese have a motive for everything that they do. Who knows what it is for my kind Vineyard Worker. She might be looking for some reward in the future from a foreigner.

Being a newbie to the Chinese culture–two trips totaling 6 weeks on the ground–I don't claim to know what motivates a person in China.

But my friend's perspective made me think about what motivates anyone to act in a friendly or kind way? Me, it makes me feel better. I then thought about all of the warm experiences I've had not only in the USA, but traveling around the world: all the people in our church who brought meals when my wife Eddi was sick for years, Mrs. Langly in England, the Tuscany farmer's wife who let my wife and I stay in her best room and the list is long.

Somehow, I just assumed that the Chinese were like the rest of us, motivated by a wide array of reasons.