The Passion …

 

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                      John 18:37B-38

   “Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice”

       … and Pilate said to Him, “What is truth?”

 

 

The Year of the Sheep

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Hello again. I have been purposely holding back for fear of the same ole same ole. Me, myself, and I are the most critical of my photo’s. I am a realist and I know where I stand, I am not kidding anyone, least of all yours truly. I fancy myself as a solid ‘good’ photographer that is striving to get better… and I have been. It’s not like I haven’t been shooting, it’s just that I haven’t been posting. As I’ve said before, my photos appear to get better with age, they take on a maturity that only time can cure. I will look at them once, leave them alone, and return when the dust has settled …  Sooo, what I’m sayin’ is, these are better than I thought.

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My new direction, as of late, has been to photograph events …  Documentation with a fine eye. Not as easy for me as it felt while I was shooting amongst the crowd, but that’s OK, ‘it’s a process’, as I was kindly reassured by a close friend. These images were taken in Chicago’s Chinatown celebrating the Chinese New Year, the Year of the Sheep.

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untitled-125-EditMy wide-angle street shots were  disappointing as a whole, but practice will make perfect. I just have to keep on keeping on.

Because I am my worst critic, that small fact, my Dear Watson, keeps me on my toes.

Coincidentally, I am also my best fan !  Where I feel I hit a home run, in this shoot, were of the faces in the crowd. Detail, color, and texture …

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In order to get better, one must use their camera as much as possible. This is a basic truth … and one that I adhere to. Simple exercises can go a long way, and much is to be learned from the simple shot.

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The next stop? The St Patrick’s Day Parade … from the front of the line.

PUPPY LOVE …

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Lucky me ! I had the opportunity to babysit 5 adorable pups. These pups are future champions, bred from two of the best bird dogs around. My sister was in a pinch and needed my help … Hotlanta here I come. Actually there were two of us, two nursemaids that bent over backwards to make these pre-toddlers feel comfortable, full, warm, and loved.

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The day would start at midnight, 4 scoops of this and 2 scoops of that. The pups would chow like it was their first meal, their manna from heaven, and they ate like it would be their last. Holy moly! it was a sight for sore eyes. We, my partner in puppy paradise and I, would share the tasks. One would clean the dishes while the other played, handing the pups off one by one to their mother so she could give them the once around and lick them clean. The next step was the dirty job, but we wore smiles and giggled all the way. I must say it took a few of these sessions before we perfected our technique, but we never lost our humor, or joy, at the sight of these imps. Play time lasted ten minutes and not a second more. The pups were spent and would nap where they stalled.

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This routine was repeated every 4 -5 hours, their first last meal, poo poo’s galore, romper room playtime, and then their sudden drunken slip into oblivion. I couldn’t get enough!

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Each pup wears a different colored ribbon in order to tell them apart. There are 4 males and one sweet, although they are all candy coated, female.  In the 4 days that I pampered these pups they went from 4 scoops to 8, their personalities blossomed, and my heart began to ache even more. Their puppy breath kisses would linger for hours, lasting until the next feeding frenzy when it all would start again …

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When my tour of duty was over, when the day was done, I went home and slept for 13 hours straight! I dreamt of the pups, I heard the pups in any squeak … I missed the pups.  Was it worth my beauty sleep? ( believe me it was noticeable ) was it worth the smell that attached itself to me? would I do it again? would I be their surrogate?

In a Heartbeat !!

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“… and they called it puppy love
Oh, I guess they’ll never know
How a young heart really feels
And why I love them so!”

Donny O

 

The Art of the Ride …

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It’s that time of year again, the PBR is back in town. Today I thought I’d explain the art of the ride, and how it’s judged. Believe me, there is more here than meets the eye.

 

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The cowboy must ride the bull for a full 8 seconds to earn a score. The clock starts to tick when the bulls shoulder, or hip, breaks the plane of the gate, and it stops ticking when the riders hand comes out of his rope. These 8 seconds can be an eternity when straddled on top of a bull weighing approximately 1,600-1,700 pounds. The PBR bucking bulls very rarely weigh less than 1,200 pounds and can weigh as much as 2,000-2,200 pounds.

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Each ride is worth up to 100 points, 50 for the bull, and 50 for the cowboy if he successfully stays onboard for the full 8 seconds. There are 4 judges that can award up to 25 points each to the rider and the bull. Those points are added together and divided in half to reach a score between 0 and 50 for both. Those final numbers are then combined to reach a final ride score between 0 and 100. Any score over 90 points is considered a ‘home run’ of bull riding. The highest score ever earned in the PBR is 96.5, a feat accomplished by only 3. It amazes me, I never imagined that the bull was also rated. A beast is a beast, and a brute is a brute, but in the PBR that just isn’t so.

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The cowboy is judged on how well he matches the bull’s moves and maintains control of the ride. He must ride with one hand and is disqualified if he touches himself or the bull during the 8 seconds.PBR 2015-7

Extra points may also be awarded to the cowboy for style, such as spurring, which demonstrates a greater sense of control. The definition of spurring: to urge forward by digging one’s spurs into its sides.

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The bull is judged on his athleticism and difficulty to ride, his spin to the right or left, direction changes, kick in the back end, drop in the front, and body rolls. A body roll occurs when the bull is in the air and kicks either his hind feet or all four to the side. In essence, the more the bull kicks and hollers, the better his score, and apparently his worth.

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In the photo below, do you see the man with the clown face? with his hands dangeling over the railing? That’s Mike Rowe from Dirty Jobs, he’s Built Ford Tough! Mike opened the show by singing the Star Spangled Banner, a man of many talents.PBR 2015-13

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

If the bull’s performance is sub-par, or if a foul occurs such as the rider being rubbed against the chute, the bull stumbles, or the flank strap detaches, the judges can offer the rider a chance to take a re-ride. I believe a bull is only allowed one ride in 24 hours. If I have anything twisted concerning the rules and regulations I am counting on Randy or Suzanne to set me straight. They are friends of mine that grew up in bull territory and know the rodeo inside and out.

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As far as I know todays athletes were OK, and the helicopters stayed grounded. The protective vests that the cowboys wear absorb the shocks and dissipate the blows to the body, helping to prevent injuries to their internal organs. The vest is made of leather and a thick foam and is built to tear away in the event of a hooking. The hat however is up to the rider. Some riders wear the cowboy hat out of tradition, but many choose to wear a helmet, although today I didn’t see one. These boys are built tough, Ford Tough!

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And lastly, the flank strap. The flank strap is positioned around a bull’s flank, in front of his hips. The strap is designed to give the bull a sense of timing when he bucks. A bull without a flank strap would lose his rhythm, and his bucking would become very unorthodox. The strap does not irritate the animals genitals in any way. With breeders paying as much as $5,000.00 a straw (vial) for genetic material, it would make no sense to risk the reproductive health of the animal.

I admit that I plagiarized most of this post from the the PBR ‘playbill’. I thought it better to be correct with the facts and admit my theft, than to be spreading around the ‘bull’.

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For comment on my photos, well they look familiar. The difference: I shot these at a speed of 5000 with minimal ‘noise’. The faster speed also allows more flexibility with my settings. Last year my top speed was 3200 limiting my setting choices and a greater amount of grain was evident. So today it was about the camera, a Nikon D610.

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I also love documenting behind the scenes, but because I wasn’t able to move about freely the photo’s resembled last years, same vantage points, same angles. In order to get different shots I’d have to get closer and wander into forbidden territory. Can’t fault a girl for trying! but when they caught up with me I was kindly asked to find my seat … so I did.

 

“If you’re worried, and you can’t sleep …

Holy Childhood 2014… just count your blessings instead of sheep
and you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings.”

Bing and Rosemary

 

A safe and Happy New Year, and may all your dreams come true.

 

God Bless everyone in 2015!

Leading Lines ….

Leading lines in photography are not to be confused with ‘leading lines’.

“Michelle, did you have Lucky Charms for breakfast?” 

 ( Why yes, yes I did ! Why do you ask? ) 

“Because you look magically delicious !”

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Those types of ‘leading lines’ are cute and corny, and they cut to the chase in a very sweet way. The leading lines I am referring to are lines within an image that leads the eye to another point in the image, or occasionally, out of the image. Anything with a definite line can be a leading line. Fences, bridges, and even clouds can lead the eye. This is not a new concept to me, but it is new to me because I am now consciously looking for it. I noticed that some of my street photo’s captured a pretty strong direction. Those are the images that spurred my interest to look again.

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Let me back up a bit. I have an ‘eye’ that helps me to hang pictures on the wall, and to proportionally balance a room. That is just innate to me, but now I want to understand what it is that I see, so I am looking with intent for  ‘leading lines’.

I went to my files to look at a few of my past photo’s, I was curious to see if any of my older images were guiding my eyes. Here are a few that I came up with:

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“Leading lines are used to draw the viewers eye through a photograph. They are intentional, or unintentional, natural lines created in the space of the photograph and are used to create a visual narrative in the composition. Leading lines are also used to draw your eye to a focal point in the shot that you would like to highlight.” wiki

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In early October I was photographing with my son when I saw a man walking through the woods, so I clicked away. I hadn’t noticed that he was between two very directional leading lines. Hmmm, sometimes you just get lucky!

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“Leading lines are one of the most effective and under-utilised compositional tools available to photographers. Our eyes are naturally drawn along lines and paths in photos, as they tend to make us feel as if we’re standing within the photo itself. These leading lines are a great way to experiment with the space and create relationships between the frames of the shot, the subject matter, and the space.” (google)

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I guess I had one up on myself, not realizing what I saw, yet something seemed right. And, as you know, the only way to get better is to keep shooting, so I’m gonna keep shooting …

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I’m Walking the Streets ….

……. hittin’ the road, and pounding the pavement.

 

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What for? For me. I wanted to shake it up a bit, I needed inspiration. So what did I do? I joined a Street Photographers Club, a meet-up that took place once a week in the Windy City. The group consisted of 6 eager photographers, ready, willing, and able… and one ‘real’ photographer that shared guidance and direction.

(real= makes a living with photography)

street photographyBut what is Street Photography?

Street photography is photography that features the human condition within public places and does not necessitate the presence of a street or even the urban environment”. 

That’s the way Webster defines it.

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As my instructor defined it:

Street Photography should elicit some sort of reaction in your gut and/or heart, and it’s not just about the homeless. He referred to photographing the destitute as picking low hanging fruit, it’s there, but there is so much more if you just look. So I looked …..

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Do any of these images elicit a gut feeling ?  Yes, to me they do, however that’s a must, it’s a pre-requisite. I also enjoyed fussing with these photo’s and trying out new post processing techniques. Some of these I processed in an ‘almost’ high-key style, where light or bright tones dominate the photo, I also ‘softened’ a few to create a mood.

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These images were taken over a two month period. My instructor promised his wife he would not shoot the streets alone, and I won’t either. I know I’m too timid to cause a stir, at least for now, but I’d definitely feel better with a companion or two …. 

 

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