Saturday, April 5, 2014

Another year older (pics and "Private in Public" sneak-peek)

Well, I just celebrated my birthday. It seems as though, as I get older, the years tick off a lot faster than they did when I was half my age. I know - not exactly a revolutionary observation, but it's one worth mentioning in light of another (counter-intuitive) insight I've had of late.

I'm TAKING time. Time to appreciate, to investigate, to create.

This apparent shortening of the days - which turn into weeks, months, and years - can easily become a mask that blurs, and eventually completely obscures, the fine detail of life. It can be a bit of a struggle to shake yourself out of that fog, especially when nature and the very environment you inhabit seemingly conspire against you.

  Photograph jobs jobs jobs by Instant Kamera on 500px
  jobs jobs jobs by Instant Kamera on 500px

The solution is, of course, change. Coincidentally, as we age we become averse to change and more set in our ways. Familiarity FEELS comfortable and safe. But it also stagnates our growth. Pay no attention to that voice that says "maintain status-quo". That's just the mist seeping through the crack under the door; that's more of the grey.
Change your perspective. Change your routine. Change your clothes, your hairstyle.

And if you don't like the changes you've made, change your mind.

Anyway, this post really wasn't intended to become pseudo-motivational drivel, so without further ado, here's a sample of a project I've been working on for the last year or so. It's called "Private in Public", and are, ostensibly, pictures of locks. More on that once it's complete, but enjoy.

  Photograph PinP #1 by Instant Kamera on 500px
  PinP #1 by Instant Kamera on 500px

Saturday, March 1, 2014

'2013 In Review' or 'The year the dSLR died'

So it's been quite a year. I intended for this to be a new year update, and it's currently March 1st.
Something something family ... something something work ... something something busy.

Whatever, let's just get to the point.

The most noteworthy event of 2013 (photographically speaking, of course) was the DEATH of the dSLR.

Ok, that's a tad dramatic, but this was the year that I finally embraced the minimalist movement and sold my "gear". All of it.

(Not pictured: the $600 tripod legs and head, $200 unused crumpler backpack, and sundry items that I also parted ways with.)

All of it was replaced with a Sony NEX-6 mirrorless and three small, cheap, fixed/prime lenses.

Crazy? Maybe, but my reasons were (and are) numerous:

-  I was tired of all the gear.

There's a burden that comes with owning every piece of equipment under the sun. It's one that actually LIMITS photographic creativity, beyond the oft-quoted "the best camera is the one you have with you", though that was certainly a factor. While it's possible to reach a level of familiarity with that much gear, I always felt an almost intimate connection with my f717 that I was unable to replicate with any of my Nikon stuff. This smaller mirrorless camera, while not perfect, is a good step towards a succinct setup that I can take everywhere.

- I also missed composing with a WYSIWYG viewfinder. 

As mentioned previously on this blog, I came up in digital, and was never burdened with the ridiculous idea that an optical viewfinder is the be all - end all. I enjoyed the (relatively) terrible EVF in my previous cameras and found that the trade-offs fit my style better than the traditional TTV OVF.

- I felt stuck in the ever shrinking world of 'crop dSLR'. 

DX specific lenses (in the Nikon world, at least) are scarce and it didn't make sense to incur the high cost of FX lenses (both monetarily speaking, as well as size-wise) to not even use them to the fullest of their capabilities.

- I know what I shoot, and I simply don't NEED all this shit to get those shots. 

I think there's a period in the photo enthusiast life-cycle that includes GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome); this especially true if you are into "gadgets". Thankfully, I've been able to get past that, and it's been extremely liberating.

So, for anyone considering doing the same, I say take the plunge.

Fuck it, you really have nothing to lose. 

And for those who may be suffering from "writer's block", this may be the creative unshackling that you so desperately need.

Me? I'm already looking to downsize even further ...

Till next time, have a few rando pics from my last visit to Montreal:

  Photograph Light in the Shadows by Instant Kamera on 500px
  Light in the Shadows by Instant Kamera on 500px

  Photograph Barrée by Instant Kamera on 500px
  Barrée by Instant Kamera on 500px

  Photograph Directing Traffic by Instant Kamera on 500px
  Directing Traffic by Instant Kamera on 500px

Monday, July 29, 2013

'Finding Home' or 'It Was There All Along'

Been a bit since my last update, and in keeping with the norm, lots has happened. Change, as they say, is inevitable.

First off, I sold my entire camera kit. The whole thing. But I don't want to get into that now, so stay tuned for a brief explanation of why at a later date.

The focus of this particular post is my recent pilgrimage to my place of birth - Yarmouth NS. I've been sitting on this update since I got back (nearly a month now), because I wasn't really sure what I wanted to say (or how to say it). I'm still not so sure, but fuck it.

  I See the Light(house) by Instant Kamera on
I See the Light(house) by Instant Kamera

The last time I wrote about "going home", it was precisely that. Until recently, I believed that home was the place you were born and raised. Obviously, it's hard not to become attached after 20+ years; friends and family remain, and even those that left find it hard to stay away (thank-you social media for telling me everyone's business).

First off, for the record, this was a great vacation. Seeing old friends, new babies, and family members I haven't seen in ages was fun. Those friends I didn't see were SORELY missed. I'm happy to say that Arbor was well socialized and seemed to enjoy every new encounter. Karley made a new friend in the B&B proprietor - a fellow quilter and thrifty shopper after her own heart.
But there are two sides to every coin. Throughout the duration of the trip I couldn't help but feel something was missing. I had the tell-tale signs of homesickness. But how could that be?

Headless Watcher by Instant Kamera on
Headless Watcher by Instant Kamera

Wasn't I, in fact, HOME??

Leading up to this trip, I was pretty excited. It had always been a bit of a dream that we might someday move back, and we'd often talked about a summer home in NS. Since I only get down every so often, this was supposed to be a home-coming in every way. So what changed?

Well, it's not you, Yarmouth, it's me.

Obviously, there has been some change about town that threw me off. Staples of my youth are closing/moving/falling apart/being torn down. It's probably not as noticeable when you see this progress on a daily basis, but for me it was a bit of a shock. Perhaps though, this is just what it's like to get older; everything around you changes and all you can think is "When I was younger...".

That doesn't explain all of the odd feelings, though. Yes, Y-town has seen better days, but then again, it's never been {insert employment-and-event-filled utopian metropolis here}, so that really doesn't bother me. Some time after my trip I found myself commenting on a FB post about the economic situation in NS. At the time, I said:

"Yarmouth has changed AND stayed the same, both to the detriment of the town."

  Trapped, NS. by Instant Kamera on
  Trapped, NS. by Instant Kamera

But that's not entirely true. What is missing from that equation is personal growth, which can be hard to quantify and marches onward, often unnoticed. However, every once in a while you have events which throw progress into stark relief. Clearly, I was seeing the curtain pulled back, and it was startling. In the aforementioned discussion, I also remarked:

"It's easy to romanticize the place where you grew up, and it's also easy to feel like you are betraying it when you leave." 

  tasty... by Instant Kamera on
  tasty... by Instant Kamera

And I believe that 100%. It explains why I had trouble recognizing my feelings and why I still don't want to admit that I have moved on (and am quite happy). Nostalgia is a beautiful sickness, but it often conflicts with reality.

Sun sets on Arcadia School by Instant Kamera on
Sun sets on Arcadia School by Instant Kamera

  No Visitors by Instant Kamera on
No Visitors by Instant Kamera

On the drive home, I really tried to make sense of all these new thoughts and feelings. I looked through the images on my camera and realized that, for the most part, they embodied a more depressing and grim view of the town than I thought I was capturing at the time. Initially, this upset me more, but now I know it was all part of the process of letting go.

Were there things in Yarmouth I might have seen for the last time? Possibly.

Will I ever live there again? Not likely, but I won't say 'never'.

Meanwhile, there's something reassuring about facing my future with a clear picture of the past in my back pocket. With the car parked in our driveway after 5000km, 4 states, and 4 provinces, I'm sure of one thing:

I am home.

  Sun sets on Cook's by Instant Kamera on
  Sun sets on Cook's by Instant Kamera

 ***All images are my own. If you use 500px, feel free to follow the links, 'vote' on the images, or follow me.***