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Photography

I'm getting more comfortable photographing city life, home life, life in general. Something that challenges me as a photographer is that I have to feel relatively comfortable, within the context I'm shooting, before I'm able to feel confident behind the lens.

That comfort is not physical. I've taken many photos with frozen fingers and cramped body positions, angling for just the right light. The comfort I speak of is emotional, spiritual, and intellectual. It's kind of complicated but it's a feeling that I belong where I am or I have a right to be there. I'm not merely an observer, but I'm a participant, and I've found my place.

Which means I generally don't feel comfortable taking photos of new environments, new situations. I don't think I could be a journalist photographer, and I've never felt the desire to take my photography skills and knowledge into the realm of portrait photography, other than dabbling over the years with friends.

If all else is well in my emotional world, if my sense of self and confidence is firm, I can over-ride my "I'm just new here" insecurities to photograph unfamiliar situations, sometimes rather handily. Thank goodness, otherwise I wouldn't have any photos of all the new experiences I've had.

I don't take photos out of curiosity. I take photos to remember and share the beauty of things/people/places to which I feel a connection, and generally in places (geography, relationships) where I feel safe.

Which is why I'm happy that I once again take my camera with me nearly everywhere I go and I'm not as shy about using it, as I was when I first moved here. This means I feel increasingly at-ease with city life. It's not that I didn't want to feel at ease, or even that I felt it was a bad fit. It's just that ease and familiarity takes time.

It takes time.

This is a truth I think about a lot, in fact it's probably one of the most dominant "truths" in my daily cognitive wanderings.

I am impatient with my personal growth and healing. Impatient with how long it takes the kids to learn long division and fractions. Impatient with traffic, the time it takes to make a nice supper, the time it takes to build a reliable income from self-employment.

I am impatient that I don't have exact career plans mapped out for the post-homeschool years. I'm impatient that I'm not a big picture person. There are a lot things I am impatient with. I was impatient with myself this summer, through my writing anxiety and photography hang-ups. I could go on and on.

But, in my more reflective (vs. reactive) moments of awareness, I am much kinder to myself, my kids, my family. Hence my desire to build a lot of reflective moments and practices into my life - reading, photography, meditation, journaling, outdoors, drawing, even something as simple as deep breathing. Oh my goodness I am a champion deep breather these days.

I'm reminded in those practices that life takes time. Periods of transition take time to adjust to, and life is simply a series of transitions. Transition, adjust, short period of calm (if you're lucky). Repeat.

I tend to live my days seeking out (gunning for, if you must know) those short periods of calm, of "arrival". Contrary to whatever you may perceive from someone else's curated life, also known as their online/social media presence, we are all living through this cycle over and over and over again.

None of us ever arrive, but we reach mini-milestones. Like feeling confident enough to stand on the sidewalk of a busy street in our pajamas, puffy jacket, and pink rubberboots (the easiest shoes to slip on when you're in a rush out the door) taking photos into the rising sun.

(Note about the photos: with the exception of the photo of Atwater market, second from the top, these photos are from my Rosemont neighborhood, including the views from our back porch and front balcony. I love where we live.)

I’m a little pressed for time this morning, we’re working on the PDF version of Eat This. The Kindle version is ready to go. The book will also be available at Barnes & Noble and iTunes. We’re aiming for a Monday release. Damien and I are a DIY publishing shop. We do it all. And yes, we are available for hire.

As always I have way more photos from the week than I have the space to share or the time to tell the accompanying story. There’s always a story.

Summer is a busy time for my camera and on any given day I might take upwards of two hundred photos, especially since we are living somewhere new and there is so much to photograph and remember about this time. I edit and post process all those photos (I shoot everything in RAW format); deleting many, keywording the rest, posting some here and saving the rest for posterity and other publications (our product reviews, online articles and blog posts).

I’ve whittled down the photos from the past week’s camera activity (we have two cameras) to just under two hundred. I’ve done well.

Québec has a unique circus culture, for lack of a better description. Montréal is home to the largest circus school in North America, there’s a circus school on the Gaspe peninsula even, and there is a general “theatrical arts” feel to the culture here. I don’t quite know how to describe it. I don’t think the locals or provincial natives notice this much, but as an outsider I’m really aware of it. It’s cool.

I’ve mentioned before that I have missed the raspberries from my old garden. I may have spoken too soon. The wild raspberries are in season now and they are all over the woods where we live. We live at the base of a ski hill and the raspberries especially love the sunny slopes. The photo above is from the woods nearer our house (not a ski slope) but this afternoon or tomorrow I’m headed to the slopes to go picking.

There’s not enough raspberries, or rather I don’t have the time right now, to stock the freezer. Nor do I have a freezer to stock. We sold it before we left Maine. I’ll get another one this fall or winter for next summer’s bounty. This is not a gardening summer for me, it’s a moving and writing summer.

We added the raspberries to afternoon smoothies and to our Saturday morning baked apples. We used to only eat baked apples, topped with cashew cream sauce, in the cooler months (October through April). But the mornings are cool in the mountains (though the days get summer hot, which we love) and with all our moving this past year this food ritual has made the four different places we’ve lived feel like home. Baked apples all year round. No one is complaining.

Last Sunday we did an epic hike day with the kids and Monday they were totally wiped out. They spent a lot of time in this position, till about 8pm, when the futon mattress was place on the floor for wrestling.

At our last house in Maine we never owned a dryer. I wrote a post about that and it’s one of the most popular here at FIMBY. During the course of moving, we had access to a dryer at each of our houses. That was nice. We used it all the time in our little chalet last winter because there was no room to hang laundry.

We are once again without a dryer and it feels good. Sure I miss the ease of drying laundry, regardless the weather but we have the space again for racks - indoors and out. And the kids do all the hanging and folding (in style I might add) so it’s no more work for me. I just load and wash.

We don’t encourage the kids to change clothes all the time (a few spots on a shirt or pants are no big deal around here), we wash towels once a week and sheets far less often than that, and there is no cloth diapers anymore. So, we only do about four loads on an average week. Totally doable without a dryer.

There is a river where we live. I’ve already mentioned this, one or two times (smile). The water is crystal clear and aquamarine in the pools. Maybe next year we’ll have some kind of raft we can float on. For now we dip our toes (the younger two actually swim, head under), splash around, and just enjoy the cool valley air on the hot summer afternoons.

There is a trail along this river, Damien walks it a couple times a week for his morning exercise. He’s a very disciplined “exerciser”, I’m not. He takes the kids with him on these hour long walks. Céline lost her sweater along the trail early this week so I did the loop with her yesterday to look for it. We found it, and a lot of deer prints too. I had no idea how gorgeous this trail was, literally right outside our door.

After walking with Céline, I hopped in the car with the younger two and drove to town to pick up our farm panier. The pick up spot is at a municipal park, right on the bay. The kids swam in the ocean while I rested on the beach.

I had thought about sharing some more of those photos but I have gone past my photo limit already. Come back this weekend to see what farm pickup at ocean looks like. 

As promised here are the rest of our photos I wanted to share from our trip. Only this time the focus, quite literally is on the sky.

Usually when we camp we are deep in the woods somewhere tucked between mountains. As lovely as this sounds it's nearly impossible to take stunning sunrise or sunset photos in these settings.

This trip to the Gaspe however we stayed most of the nights on a high point, a little mountain really, camped out in our friend's yard and then the last couple nights with my parents camped right at the ocean's edge in a lovely campground. The sky was spread out before me - day and night. I loved it.

Near the end of our trip, while camping by the ocean I got up very early one morning (3:30/4:00am) to photograph the sunrise. Don't worry I went back to bed but the sunrise was worth rolling out of my sleeping bag.

This sunset was a bit easier to photograph, sometime around 8 pm or so.

This next photo is right around sunset at our friend's farm. They live on the top of a ridge but misty air had risen from the ocean below and rolled over their pasture. It was breathtaking to watch. The contrast on this photo is boosted a bit for effect.

During the sunny days I was captivated by the sky and the ocean.

And here is where I want to share my little photographer tip. Ever since using a polarizer my sky shots have gotten much better. I bought it late last summer and every gorgeous sky/ocean shot I've published since was probably taken with that polarizer on my lens.

I'm not going to go into all the technical mumbo jumbo about how they work, I'm still figuring that all out. Quite honestly, when it comes to many things with photography I don't need to know why they work I just want to know how to use them. If you're of the same mindset you might like this article from Digital Photography School.  This short article is a bit more technical (but still understandable) explanation of why and how they work.

I use a Nikon polarizer. I didn't use the polarizer with the sunrise and sunset shots you see here, only with the midday blue sky shots (and any other midday blue sky shot you've seen on my blog for the past year). I love it and think it's a great tool for landscape/nature photography.

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