Thursday, January 25, 2018

What I See

My pictures came back from the lab the other day. I've been studying them, and selected two scenes that I think best illustrate why I am fascinated with the art of photography, especially film photography, and what specifically gives me the most enjoyment from making photographs. Simply put, it's how the same or similar scenes can look very different depending on the camera, film, even time of day.  I love how I can take a picture of something and the result is unique to the exact moment in time in which it was taken. And, in the case of portraits or candids of people, the emotions and personality of the subject at that exact moment. 

These two particular rolls of film were actually an experiment. I wanted to compare films and cameras that I really want to get back to using regularly again after lately finding myself turning to digital more often. The black and whites were taken with a vintage Pentax K1000 using Ilford Delta 100 B & W film. The color photos were taken with my plastic Color Splash camera using expired Lomography 100 color film. Yes, using the expired film was intentional. I've always been intrigued and a little excited to see the results from using older outdated film. I never know what to expect. The colors are sometimes a little off and less saturated. Or more saturated. It makes each photo truly unique. Nobody else will ever be able to duplicate it no matter how hard they try. One click of the shutter, one exposure, one chance to get the shot. You either get it or you don't. And you don't know until you go into the darkroom or open that envelope from the lab.

Now back to the subject of this particular exercise. Below you will see what I chose as subjects of this study. They are not pretty or perfect. I don't really do pretty and perfect. They were chosen because there is so much "going on." In the art garden scene look for the individual steps and spaces between them on the stairs, the shapes of the windows, the wrapped up hose, the shadow people in one of the paintings, the abstract shapes and lines in another...and so much more. In the alley scene with the power lines look at the straight, curved and tangled wires, the grainy sky, the symmetry of the transformers, the mural in the background of a child's face and much more. I like both versions of each scene.   (Click on photo to enlarge and open in a new window)

If you look closely, the light and shadows bring out so much detail in the black and white pictures. The slightly odd hues of the color versions bring out a personality and feeling exclusive to those particular photographs. 
I hope you see what I'm talking about. Or, it could be you will have an entirely different interpretation. That might even be better. I think Degas said it best, "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see.” 
So. What do you see?

Roger O'Dea     1/25/2018

Sunday, December 31, 2017

From the Photo Archives

Too cold to go exploring today. So I took the occasion to search my old photos and see what I could find that has been forgotten, overlooked or ignored over the past few years.  Here are a few I picked out. Not sure why these particular photos. They are just the ones that caught my immediate attention. I'm sure there's a reason. It might come to me, but in the meantime go ahead and take a look if you're so inclined. I hope you see something you like, or that conjures up a fond memory, or in some way makes you happy. That would make me happy, too.

 A Zen garden right in the heart of the city. Denver.

I don't remember where this was. I wonder what it was.

Red Rock Park near Las Vegas. Before the rain came.

Sedona, AZ. A study in shapes, lines and colors. 

Sunrise in the Black Hills. Or sunset. Could be either.

Black Hills greenery. 

We all hit one every so often. That's okay as long as something doesn't break. 

Happy New Year. I hope in 2018 we see more kindness, less madness, and better days for all of us. 

Roger O'Dea     12/31/2017




Monday, December 25, 2017

Straight on Spirit

I went to church yesterday.  The Agape Spiritual Center. I guess you could call it church, but it is not really one in the traditional sense of the word. This is what is printed on their information sheet... "We honor people of every age, color, creed, culture & lifestyle. Many Paths - One God!"

It is non-denominational. They prefer the term "Beyond Denominational." And so do I. It was a denominational church that led to my fall from grace many years ago. I was told by an elder of that church that I couldn't truly be close to God unless I could speak in tongues. I couldn't do that, and didn't understand why it mattered, so I left and never went back. And, other than a wedding or funeral and an occasional Christmas or Easter service, my church-going days were pretty much over. I didn't lose my faith. I just stopped going to any church professing a particular religion or affiliation. My church became nature. Still is.
But I missed the fellowship and community that I was once a part of. Some friends and acquaintances spoke very highly of ASC, so I had been thinking about a visit. Yesterday seemed like the right time.  It was the perfect time. The message by Rev. Vikki French was a very personal one. Several times it felt like she was speaking directly to me. And her comments really rang true about how we rarely remember the presents we received for Christmas in the past but do remember how we felt and who we were with.
I don't sing but I love music, and the music was so good! Very talented and inspired singers and players. There is also a part of the ceremony called "count your blessings" where during a song the music stops and people say out loud a blessing or something they are thankful for. Pretty cool idea. I didn't participate, but it was an excellent reminder of how we all are blessed in so many ways every day. Even when times are hard and nothing seems to be going right we should still stop once in a while and count our blessings.
I enjoyed my time there and felt welcome. I appreciate those who greeted me and helped me feel comfortable in an unfamiliar situation. I wish I would have had some personal contact with a few whom I recognized for one reason or another and with others who just seemed ...well...interesting. The type of people I love to have conversations with. But I plan on going back as time and Sunday activities allow, so I hope that will happen in my future visits. If you are in the Black Hills area and searching for some spiritual uplifting or fellowship, this might be a good place for you. Maybe I will see you there. We can count our blessings together. Even right out loud if the spirit moves you.

Roger O'Dea     Christmas Day / 2017

Saturday, November 25, 2017

Life in Black and White (An Interactive Activity)

I've always enjoyed making black and white photographs. There's something in the light and shadows that makes them more real and timeless. Color certainly has it's place, but can also be distracting. There is a quote credited to Kim Hunter that describes my feelings about black and white photography as well as I ever could. She said, "...emotions come through much stronger in black and white. Color is distracting in a way, it pleases the eye but it doesn't necessarily reach the heart."

The following pictures were taken on my recent trip to Northern California. I have many in color, but these are the ones I saw as black and white. It's the only way they would work, in my opinion.
So take a look. Consider my comments. Do you agree? Do you see what I see? What do you feel? Most importantly - what is your own personal interpretation of each? What story do they tell you? I do hope you'll feel something. It could be anything. That's the fun of it. And that's what art is really all about.          

 (click on photos to enlarge and open in a separate view)

Montaro Beach, late afternoon on Highway 1 between Pacifica and Half Moon Bay. I took several color photos of this area, but only this one has the lone figure in the lower center left. Shows how insignificant we are compared to the majesty of nature.

Person sleeping in the plaza near Fisherman's Wharf, San Francisco. I won't describe him as "homeless" because I don't know that for sure. Maybe there were other reasons he was there.

Two people huddled together sleeping on the street in the middle of the day. Quality gear, nice boots and sneakers. I am puzzled by this scene.

Riding a cable car through the streets of San Francisco at dusk. Urban scenes always look more real and raw in black and white. To me, anyway. In color you could easily miss the details in the architecture, and not notice the illuminations dimmed by the natural soft light of early evening.

A good example of how shadows and natural lighting can add an unexpected element. Enhanced by another lone figure sitting at the bus stop.

A study in perspective. And, doesn't the water actually look cold? Can you feel it?

Another one taken late afternoon as the fog was rolling in. Bodega Bay.

This is actually a record store in the Haight-Ashbury area. A little rundown with a storefront that needs a refresh. My eye was first drawn to the sign referencing Stanyan Street, familiar to me because of a poem by Rod McKuen.

This one makes me sad. She is rather well dressed and was obviously able to pay for a large meal at this fast food restaurant. I tried to make sure she wasn't in serious trouble. She raised her head, brushed me off and once again slumped face down into the plate. It was 8 a.m.  I didn't take any more photos that day. And that's where I'll end this photo essay. Thanks for watching. I hope you enjoyed the show. Be sure to tune in again soon for our next episode.

Roger O'Dea     11/25/2017

Sunday, October 22, 2017

200 Miles and 500,000 Years

I almost didn't go. It would have been more responsible to stay home and pick up leaves. But it was a pretty nice day and I had been wanting to take a trip into the South Dakota Badlands all summer. There wouldn't be many more nice days before winter comes so I chose not be responsible and head south and a little east through Rapid City and the small town of Hermosa to the Red Shirt Table area. It was a long time ago when I last visited that part of the Badlands which I remembered as providing some rather spectacular views. I remembered correctly.

Geologists tell us that erosion formed these badlands around a half-million years ago, and that erosion will erase them over the next half-million years. I never get tired of the views, and continually wonder what's down there. I mean way down there, where there are no roads or trails and where it is very likely no human has ever walked. Probably dinosaur bones. Fossils of prehistoric sea creatures. Maybe even bits of meteorites. I would love to take a magnet into the depths of this landscape and drag it around for a while. I've done that around the Black Hills and even on well traveled trails have found old rusty square nails and magnetic pebbles and dirt. Who knows what lies in other-worldly landscapes like this? 
I know something that can be found around these parts if you take the time to find and sift through ant piles. Beads. Very old stone beads, newer glass beads, and modern day plastic beads. Ants seem to love them and apparently will carry them a long way back to their homes.

I found these searching in a pile just off the road. They are glass, and there were more. But the ants were getting mad at me for disturbing them, so I didn't dig deep or look for very long. Besides, I had more sites to see and discoveries to make. 
I backtracked to the town of Hermosa where I stopped long enough to take a picture of a sign for a drive-in theatre. It's nice to know there's still one around.

From there it was a short drive into the Black Hills toward the town of Keystone. On the way I spied an unfamiliar and unmarked trail off the main highway that looked like it had not seen much use, which was a good reason for me to pull over and do a little exploring. Turns out it was a good decision. Not far up the trail I came upon an old abandoned structure which may have been a mica mine years ago. I suspected mica because there was an abundance of the mineral all around the area. 

This was not my best discovery of the day, however. That came a short time later farther up the trail. Pink quartz! I can find white or clear quartz in many of my favorite places, but have had very little success in finding the more desirable pink version of the crystal. But here it was in various sizes just scattered on the ground and sticking out of the side of the hill. I gathered up a few pieces, marked the location, and now can't wait to go back and collect more. I don't do anything with it, just like to have it around the house and yard. It's a good source of positive and healing energy.

The entire round trip totaled about 200 miles. Not a lot when considering how much I enjoyed the day. It's a trip I'll make again. Most likely not until next spring. But it will give me something to think about and look forward to during these long winter days and nights which will be closing in on us soon. Too soon. 

Roger O'Dea     10/22/2017

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Aliens Out West...and More Saturday Adventures

It was something I had been looking forward to since I first heard about it a couple of months ago. The First Annual Devils Tower UFO Rendezvous. Speakers, workshops, even a barbeque cookoff. None of those things held much interest to me. It was the parade I was excited about. The day finally came, so I packed up my cameras and headed out. It was not a very nice day. Rainy and cool. But the parade went on as scheduled, although I believe the turnout was smaller because of the weather conditions. But it was fun. The entries that showed up seemed to be into it. And the scattered spectators along the parade route appeared to be enjoying themselves.

However, after careful consideration, I'm convinced the "aliens" were just humans in costume. Most of them anyway, although I'm still not quite sure about this guy -

After visiting with some members of Star Fleet Command, a man in black, and a girl in a giraffe costume, I packed up my gear and took to the road looking for other things that might catch my eye.
I didn't have to go far before enjoying the visual treat that was this scene - 
It really is beautiful country around that part of Wyoming...during all seasons and any time of year. A little farther on down the road I noticed a turnout that I thought could lead to some photo opps, so I parked and hiked a short distance in to this perfect place to be on an early autumn day -

And then there was this -

I'm surprised there is so much color this early. But it has been a strange year. My pepper plants have new growth on them. It's mid-September! My giant pumpkin is big, but not giant. And the butterflies!

Early fall also brings out the small town harvest festivals and farmers markets. I accidentally wandered into such an event in Belle Fourche. (Spearfish is next weekend.) Basically, I was lured in by the food truck parked on the street. I do like food served out of a truck. And they had walking tacos! My newest favorite thing. So I ordered one. It was okay, but it cost $5.00 and was not even close to being as good as the one I had recently at the Unity Concert for only $3.00. I also bought some delicious locally grown and canned pickles, and enjoyed some wonderful music in the park - 

All in all, another pretty good day. And I'm looking forward to a few more adventures before winter sets in. Not a fan of winter. I know we need a certain amount of snowfall, and for that to happen it must get cold. That's how things work around here...whether I like it or not. I might make more of an effort to get out and find some things to do this winter. It could help the time pass more quickly until spring comes. Otherwise, it's going to be a long six months. 

Roger O'Dea     9/19/2017