Tuesday, April 29, 2008

In the Name of Art

Sometimes photographers go to dangerous lengths to capture a photograph, perhaps even putting personal safety at risk to bring to light scenes that might otherwise go undocumented. Today was my first foray into such "danger zone" photography.

Okay, so I wasn't embedded with the U.S. forces in Iraq or tracking Maoist rebels in the mountains of Nepal like a certain friend of mine who is a for-real photographer, but today was as close as I have come to risking life and limb for a photo.

I was shooting on the fire escape.

On the fourth floor.

Only three levels of these rusty metal bars between me and a very unpleasant landing.

Why brave such dangers in the name of photography? Well, The Noticing Project has invited their readers to share photographs of things they notice this week, and as a New Yorker in a comparatively small apartment sometimes I just feel I have "noticed" (and photographed) every little thing there is to notice. I wanted a different angle.

I thought to shoot a photo of something on the windowsill, but by the time I got home from work the sunlight had already left the sill and migrated onto the fire escape. I just followed the light. It wasn't until I had two feet out the window and was shifting my weight onto the suddenly quite shifty fire escape that I thought perhaps I'd better make this a quick shoot.

All right, in reality a heart-stopping second or two does not equate to any real risk to life and limb, but I know now that if there is a fire in the building I am going to start making a rope out of my sheets. 40 neighbors fleeing the building down that rickety structure is definitely not a good idea.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Different Kind of Meet-Up

Every once in a while you come across a scene or event that is just begging to be photographed. Usually in those circumstances I curse myself for lacking the foresight to bring my camera along. But every once in a while, I'm prepared.

Perhaps you were unaware, as I was, that yesterday was the biannual New York City Dachshund Meet-Up in Washington Square Park. Folks, this was no little meet up. This was an event.

Everyone was sporting their very best outfits:

Often with a thematically appropriate touch:

and thematically appropriate accessories too!

New friends were made:

Yes, the Yankee fan was getting friendly with the military dachshund, and the well dressed little lady dachshund tried to make the out-of-place pug feel at home.

Everyone was eager to pose for the camera:

There was even musical accompaniment--an organ grinder churning out "The Dach's Song," which was sung with gusto by the many dachshund parents attending.

Have a look at the lyrics.

Dachsie, meine dachsie, best canine under the sun. Call you "wiener" or "sausage" or "hot dog," we know that you're number one.

Surely enough to melt the heart of any dachshund owner.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

I Have to Confess

I have been feeling utterly lethargic lately. I have plenty of blog post plans swirling around in my head, but have been unable to actually sit down at the computer to write anything out. Worse yet, I have barely pulled out my camera for the last two weeks. Considering the incredible sunshine we have had lately, and the trees and flowers blooming all around, (and the fact that just the other day on Shutter Sisters I posted a comment committing myself to taking at least a photo a day) that's practically criminal.

Spring fever? Or perhaps general physical exhaustion from trying to swim many (well, a few) laps at the gym last week? Who knows. In an effort to ease back into things, I took my camera out during lunchtime today and wandered the neighborhood a bit.

Turns out, all of Brooklyn was out and about enjoying the sun.

Fortunately the offerings at the farmers' market never fail to inspire a shot or two...

And by the end of the afternoon I was whipping out my camera to shoot everything in sight. It's funny how you fall out of the groove once in a while. It's nice to be back in it again.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Fun With Textures

Ever since reading a discussion on applying textures to photographs on one of the Digital Photography School forums about six months ago, I have been trying to figure out how to do it myself.

Initially the problem was finding textures to apply (ones that didn't create endless computer crises when I tried to download them). BeeBeeMod resolved that issue when she led me to NinianLif, whose free textures on Flickr offer innumerable possibilities. (All textures used here are hers.)

A few Google searches then turned up this tutorial, and I was on my way. And as I suspected, textures are extremely cool. And so easy to work with! I wonder if some of my favorite photographers and bloggers out there would be into this...

These are a few of my recent experiments.

Hopefully the next step will be creating some textures on my own.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

A Perfect Weekend

It is a truth universally acknowledged (or pretty much so) that the best weekends begin with a leisurely cup of coffee while sitting in the sunshine, perhaps with a freshly baked banana-coconut muffin. If you can share those morning moments with an awesome cousin and her husband visiting from Chicago, your weekend is already well on its way to perfect.

Following coffee, the perfect weekend might include a walk through the neighborhood to enjoy some lovely spring weather (on perfect weekends the temperature is 60 degrees at least) and to admire the trees and flowers that suddenly seem to be blooming everywhere.

After that a visit to the neighborhood farmers' market might be in order. And if you enjoy photography, and you happen to have just replaced your polarizing filter recently, that might be just the place to test it out on a crate of apples.

Any truly perfect weekend is not complete without some activity. And if one is not inclined to be particularly active oneself (for example, if you have pretty much avoided the gym since running the marathon last November), being a spectator is a very satisfying alternative.

After a couple of hours sitting under the trees watching the soccer game and the children zooming by on their scooters, you might enjoy some lunch and then head into Manhattan to walk the city streets, see a few sights, and catch up with your out-of-town guests.

Now if you're really going for a 10 out of 10 weekend (and this basically hardly ever happens) you will get to enjoy some of your very favorite foods for dinner, and will top that off with a hot fudge sundae from the Shake Shack for dessert. That would be followed by an enjoyable movie (or episode of BBC's Planet Earth) and yet more excellent conversation.

And that's only Day 1 of the perfect weekend!

Day 2 might be a trip to Brooklyn Flea--especially exciting if it's something you have been anticipating for a while. After browsing the work of local designers and craftsmen and looking for diamonds in the flea market rough (and finding some) , you might enjoy a cappuccino at a local cafe with some friends, both old and new.

Now, people in the know may differ on this point, but I firmly feel no weekend is really perfect without getting at least something constructive accomplished. But if it is a perfect weekend, that constructive thing will not be doing the laundry or vacuuming, because those things are not enjoyable at all. Enjoyable constructive accomplishments suited to a perfect weekend are things like organizing your spice cabinet or, even better, clearing out and reorganizing your closet (perhaps putting the lovely hat boxes you found at Brooklyn Flea to good use by using them to store purses, belts, scarves and the like).

The only imperfect thing is that weekends that perfect come around so rarely. That is why it is important to finish off such a weekend with a blog post to remind yourself to enjoy weekends like those more often.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Happy Birthday Blog

Today my blog is a year old.

A little over a year ago I remember telling my husband that I felt like any creative side I may have once had was long buried and not likely to resurface any time soon, and it made me sad not to have that as part of my life. Not long after that he gave me a digital SLR camera, "to help you rediscover your creative side," he said. I think that may have been the best gift ever.

When I started this blog (at a friend's urging) my intention was to post a photo every day, which would encourage me to take photos every day with my new camera. I plunged in without much thought, chose the title "Under Consideration" because I couldn't be bothered to think of a proper title at the time and figured I had better consider it for a bit, and started uploading the photos.

Life gets in the way, as always, and my 'photo a day' plan did not last very long. Instead the blog somehow morphed into a chronicle of my efforts to add a little bit of creativity to my life, not just through photography, but also through cooking, writing, reflection, and maybe even a bit of arts and crafts.

Along the way I have been amazed by my discovery of "the blogging community"--a community I did not even know existed. Unknown strangers giving me photography tips? Suggesting recipes? Becoming friends via the Internet? People around the world inspiring one another to thought, art, spiritual development, and positive change? Incredible.

What a nice year it has been. Happy Birthday blog.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Vegas, Baby, Vegas

Part Two of our holiday was a two-day excursion to Las Vegas, where Ash and I both have some family. My cousin took us out into the desert to Red Rock Canyon, just outside the city. It was a side of Las Vegas I did not know existed. (The "what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas" commercials do not cover this for some odd reason.)

Having just watched the Desert segment of BBC's Planet Earth, I knew that a keen eye can observe a surprising diversity of plants and little critters among the parched sand and rock of most of the world's deserts. I was not disappointed. In addition to the bright rock that gives the canyon its name, we saw bushes, flowers, cacti, grasses, crickets, lizards, and webs of some sort that I refused to approach because they may have contained spiders.

We stopped for a picnic lunch at midday and enjoyed the stunning views on all sides.

We did make the obligatory visit to the Las Vegas strip as well. We saw the fountain show in front of the Bellaggio Hotel, which was admittedly very impressive. (Ash asked me whether I would like to have the job of making the fountains perform to music. Yes, I think I would. How does one get into fountain choreography?) Then we cruised through the lobby of the hotel for a look at their indoor flower garden and the bazillion dollar ceiling of Chihuly glass sculptures.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

On Holiday

Yes, I have been on holiday. "Hols" as they used to call them in the British novels I read when I was a kid. (The Famous Five were always having adventures while on "hols.")

We fled New York's wannabe spring and headed over to the west side for some sun, fun, and family. We spent a week split between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Not two of my favorite cities I must confess, but as it happens that's where some of my favorite people live, and it's the people that make it a great vacation. And those favorite folks made every effort to show us a good time.

We saw old friends we had not seen in years.

We hiked in the mountains (where I captured this shot of a little ladybird).

We ate one massive meal after another, courtesy of our hosts, and still had room to sample the local cuisine at Randy's.

We spent about 3 minutes seeing Hollywood, where I saw Johnny Depp and Marilyn Monroe lookalikes posing with the tourists, and where people kept almost colliding with me because they were so busy filming and photographing stars and hand prints on the ground.

We headed out to Six Flags Magic Mountain for a day of riding the roller coasters. And because it was a Monday, we actually did spend all day riding roller coasters rather than standing in line.

I took endless numbers of pictures and practiced a few techniques (panning, for example).

We read books in sunny gardens (where of course I got sunburned). And we saw the sunset over the Pacific. It was lovely.