Walk at Night

Just went for a little walk this evening...not to the liquor store.

Liquor Store - Washington Blvd.

Liquor Store - Washington Blvd.

I've always wondered about this glowing door, however.

Door 1

Door 1

I am a fan of night walks.

Crisp air. Weird shadows. Strange lights. 

Walking

Tokyo, New York, San Francisco, London, Istanbul, Paris.

I don't care what city I'm in, when I'm going somewhere I prefer to walk. Forget taxis, give me a sidewalk and I'm a happy guy. 

I have memorable walks in all of these cities. Sure, I'll take the metro/tube/subway or whatever else it may be called, but still, please let me walk there.

Walking allows me to get a feel for a city. It let's me see things up close. Stores, faces, dirt, grime, trees, buildings, I want to see all of it. In cars, everything just zips by. On bikes, I'm too worried about potholes, car doors, and just surviving in general.

When you walk a city, you see everything not in the guide books. You can feel when the pavement changes. You can tell when the sidewalks narrow. You can navigate your way around cafe tables, book stands, trash cans, lamp posts, blood, urine, snow, everything that makes a city its own. 

Walking through neighborhoods, through parks, through alleys, these are the things that make me fall in love. I want to earn my knowledge of a city by being a part of its structure. I don't want to just drive through it. Let me be a part of its core. Let me see the people that run through its veins. 

 

 

Photographs

I have this issue with photographs. I take them and then I don't do anything with them. They stay on my computer. They stay undeveloped. I have rolls and rolls of exposed film in my kitchen drawers and I have no clue what is on them. One day I'll get to them. One day... 

Photographs.

After they are taken, they ultimately don't do anything. 

It's up to us to do something. That's where the power of a photograph lays; after the picture is taken. 

Maybe taking pictures has become too simple. The thought process is gone when there is no value to each pixel. The picture is snapped, posted, liked, skipped over and forgotten. Good morning. Good afternoon. Good night. 

If pictures were alive, would they have this fear of being forgotten? I may have "liked" your picture yesterday but honestly, I've probably forgotten it already, you'll have to remind me of it.

So I think that's the problem I have with photography these days. Because I see so much of it. I forget so much more, including my own.

Reading

I wish I could remember the first book I ever read.

We begin with picture books and things of that sort. Teach us numbers and letters. We read about a very hungry caterpillar at one point in our life, then keep things moving with stories about a curious monkey, and a giving tree. We continue with some pictures and words about a Monday-hating cat, and read panels of another about a mischievous little kid with a stuffed tiger. And there you have my favorite writings all through my first 15 years of life.

I suppose if someone asked me to state my favorite book, I would say The Catcher in the Rye. However, I haven't read that book in years. It was my favorite book in 10th grade, at least. What was I, sixteen when I read that book? I mean, honestly, I've read and spent more time thinking about Harry Potter than I have Holden Caulfield. Can I say that Harry Potter is my favorite story? Is that allowed by a 33 year old guy?

Anyway, these days I try to spend about an hour each day reading something that interests me. Lately it has been more non-fiction than fiction, and sadly something with more words than pictures. However, when I think about reading and the joy that it brought me, I still think I need to make time for Calvin, for Hobbes, and maybe even revisit Harry, Ron and Hermione.

 

Super Mario Bros.

Some time in the late 80s or early 90s, my sister and I beat Super Mario Bros. for the first time. I recall the fire pits and those little axes that Bowser would throw/spin toward my Mario character, and I remember it driving me insane. I must have died a hundred deaths by those axes. I'm glad no one has ever thrown an ax at me in real life. I'd be a goner for sure.

After we beat the game, I went nuts with excitement. I remember running through our house and yelling to my mom while she was in the shower that we beat the game. I don't think she cared as much as I did.

Nevertheless, still a proud achievement of mine.

John Steinbeck

My first experience reading John Steinbeck was in seventh grade. It was The Pearl. I don't remember the main character's name and I don't remember the plot. For some reason I want to talk about dolphins but I'm pretty sure that wasn't in the book either. The more I think about it, I remember very little about that book. However, despite this, John Steinbeck and The Pearl are forever attached to a memory of mine.

One day after school, my mom picked me up and we made a stop at the local Safeway supermarket. We picked up a bag of those Mother's Pink and White Frosted Circus Animal Cookies, that I feel probably haven't changed all that much in style from when they were first invented by "Mother." Of course, I could be completely wrong about that.

Happy with the treat, I returned to the backseat of my mom's burgundy 1987 four-door Honda Civic, and we drove over to the high school where my sister was part of the tennis team. As we waited for her practice to end, I kept to myself in the back seat, eating cookies and reading my homework assignment, The Pearl. Those cookies were quite addictive, if I recall correctly.

Some time passed, I don't remember how much, but eventually my sister was done with practice and we made our commute back home. I remained in the back, still reading and still eating cookies. I did change position though, finding it much more comfortable to lay down in the back as if I was on my own couch, lounging in the living room.

Our house was a little far away from school back then, and it would be a solid 30 minutes before we'd get back in our driveway, so I had plenty of time to continue my lavish self-treatment of cookies and John Steinbeck. Unfortunately, about half way home I started to feel carsick. I was never one to get carsick, so this was a new feeling to me. I just remember wishing that the bubble in my chest would go away.

However, it didn't. When we finally arrived home, I fumbled my way out of the back of car and leaned up against the garage over a patch of white daisy mums my dad had proudly planted years before. None of that mattered though, because before I could help it, my stomach involuntarily clenched and I vomited a seemingly endless pink and white mixture of elephants, rhinos, camels and whatever other circus animals I ingested. 

I'm not sure which of the factors was at play. Was it the over indulgence of Mother's cookies? Was it the reading of a book laying down in a car? Was it John Steinbeck? Regardless of the culprit, I have forever connected John Steinbeck's The Pearl and Mother's Cookies with one of my more violent vomits.

Focus + Scale

I follow a lot of outdoor blogs and photographers. I love the adventure. I love the beauty of nature. I love the grandeur of it all. Truth be told, I wish that I were out there with my family and friends taking pictures of my own, exploring the trees and showing off how awesome the outdoors can be. But, at the moment, I am not.

Nevertheless, as I was sitting with my wife this past weekend, I wanted to take her portrait, but I wanted it to be different. I didn't want the traditional portrait of the face, nor did she want her picture taken. So I asked if I could take a picture of her hands. She obliged me. 

Robin's hands

Robin's hands

Robin's Thumb

Robin's Thumb

This got me thinking some more. I thought about opposites. Black vs White. Wide vs Close. I got to thinking that perhaps I should explore this world from perhaps a different point of view. Not so much from the epic scale of things like I tend to vision, but maybe instead from the parts of things. The smaller parts.. The components.

Lately in my head, I've been struggling with a vision. I'm taking pictures, but I haven't necessarily had an idea with what I wanted the final image to look like. I'd take the picture, and then just mess around with it until I thought it looked good enough to share. This didn't always make the entire picture process fun.

Wanting to experiment a little, I told myself to work with some limitations. Play with shallow focus and black and white. I didn't have the great outdoors, but instead Robin's childhood backyard. Nevertheless, there was plenty to see and shoot.

Tree

Tree

Snail Shell

Snail Shell

Rock + Crack

Rock + Crack

Bee Butt

Bee Butt

Anyway, I don't entirely know where I am going with this text, but I do know that I was happy with the pictures I took. I enjoyed giving myself a little project looking through the viewfinder with a different plan in mind.