Hip Shots

October 15, 2010

Maine 2010

By Fiona Pepys

(Click images for larger views.)

The “Hip Shots” series of Doodlemeister.com photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise being to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method, the more frames  exposed, the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting—a related series that can be arranged as a three-image post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own pictures, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. Meanwhile, click on these images for a larger view, and click the “Hip Shots” tag above for more examples. For another post in the series, tune in next Friday.

Copyright © 2010 Fiona Pepys.

Hip Shots

September 10, 2010

Under The Table

By Fiona Pepys

(Click images for larger views.)

The “Hip Shots” series of Doodlemeister.com photographs will feature images that were grabbed “on the fly” with little or no regard for framing and focus. The object of the exercise being to create dynamic pictures, not perfect ones. With this ” shoot-from-the-hip” method, the more frames  exposed the better the chances are that you’ll come up with something interesting—a related series that can be arranged as a three-image post. If you’d like additional tips for using the technique, or to submit your own pictures, drop a question or note in the “Leave a Comment” section, below. Meanwhile, click on these images for a larger view, and click the “Hip Shots” tag above for more examples. For another post in the series, tune in next Friday.

Copyright © 2010 Fiona Pepys.

Volunteer Vacation

July 13, 2009

By Susan Middaugh

WaterBars2Photograph © 2002  Gretchen Sacotnik.

At least once a year, go someplace you’ve never been. One fall I went to eastern Arkansas for a volunteer vacation sponsored by the American Hiking Society. (They sponsor summer trips, too. For complete information click the AHS link in the sidebar blogroll.)

Although the week long trip would be work instead of play, it appealed to me for several reasons. Physical labor was a complete change from my office job. Being outside in the fresh air, in the woods, away from email and telephones seemed like heaven. Encouraged by a positive experience during a Sierra Club service trip to Maine a few years ago, there was the prospect of meeting nice people from all over the country. The trip also suited my budget; preliminary expenses consisted of a round-trip airline ticket to Memphis and a modest registration fee. Finally, there was a sweetener. Not all AHS volunteer vacations include free transportation between the airport and the work site, but this one did.

Gretchen Sacotnik, the enthusiastic and outgoing superintendent of Crowley’s (pronounced Crow-Lee’s) Ridge State Park, picked us up herself. In our airport party was Ben, a chiropractor from Ottawa; Sarah, a young professional woman from Washington, DC; and myself. Before heading 90 miles west across the flat Mississippi delta to Arkansas, we stopped for lunch. For this Yankee, that meal offered an introduction to Southern cooking: gravy automatically goes on top of the mashed potatoes — whether you like it or not.

The rest of our party of volunteers drove in from the South and Midwest: Dallas, St. Louis, Louisville, Beloit, WI, Edinburgh, IN. We ranged in age from 30’s to 70’s; several of us, including myself, were grandparents. Eight of the 12 members of our group had been on AHS volunteer vacations before.

Our accommodations, built by the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) in the 1930’s, were luxurious by backpacking and tent camping standards. We had heated cabins, indoor showers, and a spacious kitchen equipped with a commercial stove and refrigerator. Everyone took turns cooking and cleaning up after meals. Great grub!

Our day started shortly after 8 A. M. The work, repairing and rerouting hiking and access trails, was often strenuous. I used arm and upper body muscles I never knew I had. (One night in bed before 8:30 p.m.!) We lifted and hauled rocks, raked away leaves and topsoil, and created swales and water bars to prevent erosion. Usually we worked in teams with the more experienced volunteers leading the newcomers.

“Pace yourselves,” the parks superintendent advised. Snacks, water breaks, an hour-long lunch, and leaning on rakes helped. So did the two half-day field trips Gretchen planned.

At night we had campfires, conversation and the occasional board game. There were some surprises, too. A pet deer in a neighbor’s goat pen. And as the park’s law enforcement officer, Gretchen had to carry a gun. Working alongside a woman with a firearm on her hip was a new experience for me.

Also unexpected was the opportunity to experience new language and new meanings for familiar terms. I learned to use a “Pulaski,” a two-headed tool similar to a pickax. The Pulaski helped in removing roots to prevent hikers from stumbling up or down the park’s Dancing Rabbit Trail. When our crew leader told us to “ugly it up,” that meant covering the original trail with downed tree limbs, old logs and underbrush for diversion purposes, then creating a new path in its place.

The best part of the trip? Surveying our handiwork at day’s end. Although many of us were strangers at the start, it was heartening to come together for a common purpose and feel a sense of accomplishment, things one doesn’t usually expect to experience on vacation.

Copyright © 2009 Susan Middaugh.

Susan Middaugh is a self-employed business writer in Baltimore who also writes the occasional personal essay. Her essays have appeared in the Christian Science Monitor, the Baltimore Sun and on the website New-Works.org. Susan is also a playwright with short and full length works produced in the United States, Canada and England. The One Act Play Depot in Canada has published her short play, Such Good Neighbors. Several of her personal essays have appeared on this blog. To find them, check out the archives in the sidebar, beginning in April of 2009. Also in the sidebar under the Blogroll, Business and Writing labels, there are links to Susan’s website, Have Pen Will Travel.


Confessions of a Camera Bug

March 25, 2009

camerabug2Dear Mr. Photo Magazine Editor:

My name is Asher. You don’t know me but it’s about time you got to. Us bugs who live in cameras are at the mercy of your readers—so-called photographers who always talk about “different angles” and such when in fact they can’t see nothing that doesn’t happen in the viewfinder of their camera—I mean about real life. Maybe hearing about my past history will wise them up some.

Right now I’m living in a Nikon but it ain’t always been this soft. In fact, when I was growing up (in a Hasselblad) things got to be downright tragic. See, my dad liked to tinker around up in the shutter release housing—as much to get away from us rowdy kids as anything. Anyway, he was bouncing on some sort of spring one evening when the “arty” type camera owner decided to do a time exposure of a snow scene at twilight. Dad was punched to death by the first plunge of the cable release. The mess that resulted jammed the shutter and it never did work right anymore. Mom said we had to move on to escape the bad memories—and the wrath of the snap shooter.

We relocated in a big old view camera belonging to a certain Mr. “A.” (I can’t write out his name because he was a big deal landscape guy and thought very highly of in ecological circles to boot.) One day while he was setting up a shot of a pile of rocks in Maine, Mom was munching on his diaphragm—the one in his camera. She claimed it was high-quality protein. Mr. A stopped down the lens and Mom got squished at f/64. Which goes to show when it comes to getting the picture they want, photographers have no consideration for anything else. Mom would be alive today if he’d settled for soft focus. We never did get all of Mom scraped off that diaphragm and Mr. A had to buy a whole new camera, which was poetical justice, says I. But I went into a depression after that— didn’t much care about anything. Popped tiny time pills and staggered from one camera to another with no discrimination.

Soon I was in the very depths of degradation, living in the camera of a sensualist! The picture-box this guy used was one of your reasonably priced SLR’s, but the way the dude handled it you couldn’t tell it from the higher-priced gizmos. All he shot was soft-focus-available-light art compositions of naked young stuff, if you get my drift. The guy always had at least two of them young lovelies hanging around his pad—plus his wife! It was a swinging scene, provided you could hack the company of a gaggle of skinny teen-aged girls with little on their bodies or in their minds. No matter—soon enough I had to leave anyway because I threw-up and clogged the mirror-action of the man’s brand new Minolta SRT-202. (For some reason I can’t stand the smell of a new camera.)

The weeks and months that followed was a blur of wandering. Once I even woke up in an Instamatic nestled between a fat lady’s boobs at Disney World—the very pits. I tried to end it all by frying myself on a hot flashcube but all it did was short out the battery circuit. That’s what finally decided me to shape up.

I’m sorta semi-retired now. It’s a much quieter life I lead in this Nikon than I have ever led before. The camera belongs to a former Life photographer who doesn’t get out much—mostly he just sits around and fondles his equipment and daydreams of past big-deal photo-essay assignments. And since he never uses his camera I can nap with no worry of being done-in by the film-advance lever.

Meanwhile, Mr. Editor, I hope you don’t think my only purpose in writing is to knock the guys and gals who expose their film and themselves for a living. No sir. While it’s true that I myself have it plenty good now, the fact remains I still got a bunch of relatives out there trying to survive under hostile conditions. So this missive is mainly to remind camera people to be more careful in the future—live and let live, so to speak. Us camera bugs may screw-up a mechanism from time-to-time, but we don’t go around steppin’ on photojournalists. And thanks for hearing me out. By the way, I’ll understand if you don’t have the guts to print this.

Sincerely, Asher.

P.S. The guy who typed this for me only thinks he’s a photographer. In my book that’s almost as good as not being one.

Confessions of a Camera Bug was originally published in the November 1979 issue of Camera 35 magazine. The professional photographers Asher references in his “letter to the editor” were the real deal back in the 1970s, all very famous pros in the field. If you think you can name any or all of them, please share the information with us via a comment on this post.

Copyright © 2009 Jim Sizemore.