Maybe I’m foolish,
Maybe I’m blind
Thinking I can see through this
And see what’s behind
Got no way to prove it
So maybe I’m lying
But I’m only human after all,
I’m only human after all
Don’t put your blame on me
Don’t put your blame on me
Take a look in the mirror
And what do you see?
Do you see it clearer
Or are you deceived
In what you believe?
‘Cause I’m only human after all,
You’re only human after all
Don’t put the blame on me
Don’t put your blame on me
Don’t ask my opinion,
Don’t ask me to lie
Then beg for forgiveness
For making you cry,
For making you cry
‘Cause I’m only human after all,
I’m only human after all
Don’t put your blame on me,
Don’t put the blame on me
Some people got the real problems
Some people out of luck…
I’m only human, I make mistakes
I’m only human that’s all it takes
To put the blame on me
Rag’n’Bone Man ” Human”.
Here I am with three decent pictures from the old theme Western Landscapes and not willing to give up on it yet. I will continue this theme under different name West Land. It’s more broad and less promising and allows me to include whatever I want in it.
Of course, if I would pack my car and hit the Road to see nearby states it would be a different story. Meanwhile, I am staying where I live and photograph what I can find near my home.
I am exploring now our local park. I know, know that isn’t very exciting idea but to make it more interesting I started to pretend that I am a tourist – the crazy one – who fell in love with our park and since that walks there days after days sniffing, snooping and looking around.
Another day I was stopped by my neighbor and asked what I was doing by the river kneeling on my knees and answered that I tried to photograph creatively. He gave me a look like I was totally insane and lost completely.
Of course, to some degree it’s madness. It’s madness because every reasonable person would give up on the idea to take pictures with the cheap soft focus filter (costed seven dollars). Every reasonable person would go on the forum and would learn more about these type of filters before buying them.
Well, I will continue this theme and explore our local park hoping to get a few more decent pictures. And then I will hit the country roads and go to the same places which I know by heart. I don’t mind see the same places over and over again. I never get tired of them. Just a little bit bored sometimes.
I started the series of portraits of strangers a few years ago and I got accidentally a few good pictures at the beginning and thought that it was great. These few pictures inspired me with a cocky confidence which was short-lived when the bad pictures of strangers began to pile one after another. I gave up on this idea.
The idea returned back a few weeks ago during the car show when I found myself looking more at people than at cars trying to figure out how I can approach some of them and take pictures with permission and without.
Thus, were made a few new portraits of strangers.
First, I met Her. No doubts She was graceful and beautiful. And She was patient. For some unknown reason She sat still for fifteen minutes on a dry flower letting me to take her pictures. I suspect She was napping.
Third, I decided to torture myself and set my camera on manual mode and manual focus which I never used before. It was time to learn something about this mode.
What can I say about my experience? Of course, I struggled. I struggled with exposure, sharpness and shutter speed. When I tried to take pictures of a dragonfly (first picture), I couldn’t get it in focus which I blamed on my bad vision but then somehow things started to improve. Do I like the manual mode? I don’t know.
I think in street photography it’s useless because while you are trying to adjust the right settings the decisive moment would be gone and leave you frustrated and disappointed. If you are a nature and landscape photographer the manual mode probably is very helpful. You are in control with the whole situation. If you are an amateur photographer like me it’s still nice to know how manual mode works in order to understand better exposure, shutter speed and ISO. That is what I tried to do today.
It seems recently that I am running out of ideas. Thus, the idea of doing Western landscapes didn’t turn into something exciting. Why? I think because my blur photographs made the world dull and stagnant and it wasn’t my intention.
I didn’t say no to the idea of pictorial photography because I don’t want it to go away. And I don’t want to think that it was a wrong idea. Not yet.
I don’t know how you treat your ideas, I try to deal with them with all my respect and curiosity even if they are false.
Well, I am still holding onto the idea to continue my Western landscapes but not the way I began to do it. I don’t like the blur world and I am getting tired quickly of black and white colors. I want the world to be alive and a vital place.
Today I looked at a few pictures which I named Western Landscapes. They are actually not true landscapes in a sense of beauty and space. They are more like fragments where mostly trees are present and a river.
All these photographs were taken with the cheapest soft focus filter and it sometimes worked OK and sometimes everything came out so messy. Of course, it’s easy to blame the filter than myself but I made a lot of damn compositional mistakes.
Once an American photographer Sally Mann wrote that good photographs are gifts. Taken for granted they don’t come. I should more often remind myself of these words.
Well, so far out of hundreds pictures taken yesterday I chose only five to publish here. And they are all about my personal vision of beauty which is sad, reckless and moody.
I live in Northern Utah and in spring and early summer everything is wonderfully green. We have tall beautiful trees, a few rivers which are icy cold, lakes and we are blessed with a few cool days in summer.
Lately I was thinking is it possible to tell through my photography about my little world where there are my favorite trees, the river which knows all my dreams and thoughts, and prayers. Is it possible to tell stories about what I appreciate very much and grateful to have in an poetic way. I decided to give it a try and see where it will take me.
There is a long wall in our park where our local street artists can express themselves in their stories about heritage and the history of our country.
Some people might find this art naive and childish like but that is what fine art stands for. Naive, romantic and a little bit primitive.
If someone would read about my little adventures he/she would say that I am exaggerating calling things that happened to me an adventure. Who would call an encounter with a young deer on a narrow mountain road an adventure? Nothing special happened. A young deer decided to cross the road in front of my car. Thank God that I wasn’t speeding and was able to stop on the brake right in time.
Later on the same mountain road I met a beautiful white dog (on the first picture), who was wandering on the road as he was lost or abandoned by somebody. I was ready to rescue this dog and bring him home but when I went to talk to him he shyly tried to get behind the bushes. And then I saw the sheep on the mountain and a dog whom I wanted to rescue was running toward them. First time in my life I met a shepherd dog. He was big. Shy. And very friendly. I fell in love with him from the moment when I met him on the road.
Then I met his twin – another shepherd dog- who also was very shy and smart. I talked to him much later and he listened carefully from the distance.
I had a great time in the mountains. I watched sheep. Took a lot of pictures of them. And even took pictures of osprey birds ( googled later and found out that they are osprey and not hawks).
My little adventures in the mountains weren’t special, just little encounters with sheep, mountains, two friendly timid shepherd dogs and the osprey birds. But because of them my world became a little bit BIGGER and more INTERESTING.
Street photography isn’t only about a decisive moment, it’s also about light which is constantly changing. Sometimes I am so obsessed to capture the moment that I forget about light and the result is an overexposed picture or underexposed.
I know that some street photographers use P mode (stands for Program) and don’t worry much about light. I have never used this mode. Next time I am going to give it a try.
When you go off the main road sometimes you can find an old abandoned house. You come closely and see shadows of old trees dancing on the wall, dried leaves hanging on the pipes and a window.
This morning I wrote a haiku about this house.
There is no cat in the window,
only shadows dance on the walls.
Abandoned house stands still
full of secrets.
There was a wonderful dominating red which I liked so much. There were the waiters on the first floor running forward and back. And most important there was an opportunity to experiment with shutter speed, ISO and aperture and not being concerned that someone eventually will ask you to stop taking pictures.
I don’t know how you can tell a story about people when you look at them down but I tried.
They are having a little break.
To whisper back to your cat all gentle and reassuring words when you half awake and half asleep also strange. But things like this happen and you are OK with them because you love your cat and she sometimes loves you back.
An hour later I was standing by the restaurant Rainbow Garden. I was passing this restaurant so many times and never actually noticed it. This morning I saw the green chairs. I don’t know for how long they were outside; this was something new.
Soon this place will be filled with buzz and conversations. People will be in and out. Meals will be ready in a few seconds. And everyone will be on GO,GO,GO. They will have their breakfast, get the bill as fast as they can and then would step into the day doing things. People fill their day with the unanswered emails, texts, to-do-lists, meetings, appointments, rush-rush-rush and at the end of the day they even will not remember what they talked about during their breakfast. Am I exaggerating? Maybe.
My father used to say to me when I was in a rush,
Slow down. The world still will be there revolving around. And things sooner or later will be done. On their own time.
Here is a deal I am making with myself. I will take a deep breath and will publish a letter I wrote to self yesterday. Am I jeopardizing my privacy as I was told by my husband? I don’t think so. And by the way there are days when I hate being private.
Here is my letter to self:
Hi, Kaya. Sorry that my letter will be chaotic and long. I didn’t write many letters. Can you accept it as an excuse? I know you can.
Your life for the past several months has been a silent struggle. Struggle with this blog, struggle being on social media, struggle with creativity. I am not going into details because I know you would not want me.
Yes, you were lately sending yourself into many different directions that hurt you more sometimes than helped. Some day you will be grateful for that because that is how we are gaining our experiences, getting wiser and stronger.
Let me also remind you that being vulnerable is better than is having a steel spine. Being vulnerable isn’t showing parts of you that are shiny and pretty. Being vulnerable is accepting yourself and being comfortable with it.
Finally, consider these crazy ideas I would like to share with you. Do what you want, write what you want to write, take pictures of what excites you and most important try to forget the word “art”. Don’t use it even in your vocabulary. Try instead to find that thing that moves you and go from there. Don’t care what others think of your photography. Just fucking do it. And some day you will be where you want to be. I promise.
At some point I wanted to photograph only birds. They are so awesome and it’s such fun to watch them but it didn’t work as I wanted. To take interesting pictures of birds you have to be patient. I am not patient. You have to use probably a special and expensive telephoto lens which I don’t have and can’t afford. And you have to be discreet. I am lacking this quality.
But when opportunity to take pictures of birds arrives I dive in it and do my best to get a few decent pictures with my 18-105 mm lens. And by the way, who said that birds should be big that you can see their every feather and every little detail.
That was a rainy gloomy day. We had plenty of those days early spring. I was returning home and suddenly I noticed a pole with a nest. I have never seen a nest on the pole. My first thought was it was a crane’s nest ( there aren’t cranes in our area), then I saw a hawk and another one.
I took as many pictures as I could hoping that I would get one decent picture. I got two. Awesome!
My happy place is close to my home. It happened to be in the mountains. You drive a few minutes to get there and when you out of your car you leave the world behind you. You leave your worries, your problems, your tears and struggles and you are only present for every single flower, for every tree and rock you meet on your way. It’s a hypnotic feeling.
In evening the light is fading fast in the mountains. It’s quickly getting colder and darker. Sun is a huge orange ball but soon it will be behind the mountains and you have only thirty minutes after sunset to get to the parking lot. And then darkness will cover the mountains.
I go into mountains alone. As often as I can; usually in evenings. And I always return back home happy. Happy that I didn’t fail to feel and see every present moment, that I tried to connect with nature in my own way. Happy that will be another day, another opportunity to create new memories.
Another day I thought why not to do street photography without people. William Eggleston did it and so did others street photographers. First, I would stop looking for people on our local deserted streets. And second and most important, I will try something I have never done before.
This morning I took my camera determined to find one interesting story to tell. I found two stories. First is about a red sneaky car (above) and second is about an old (1962) and proudly yellow Chevy.
Willard cemetery. Green was overwhelming. Rain was pouring non stop. Day was gloomy and grey. It brought so many different thoughts about death and life. About my father who actually never left me and whom I loved so much.
You want to believe that those who have gone and whom you dearly loved, who were important to you, are constantly within or around you. I often have a feeling that my father is somewhere near by. And it doesn’t matter that he’s actually there or not. What matters that sometimes I wonder what he would say about what I have done or want to do and that means he’s there. And if I think that he would probably say “yes”, then I do it. And if he would say “no” I would think twice about doing it.
Sometimes I think that street photography is about failure. The failure to have a courage to come closer to your subject, the failure to miss the moment, the failure to be invisible on the street. Yes, there many tricks and tips how to get a better shot on the street but in reality they are just tricks and tips because every situation is different. And what is working for someone might not work for you.
This moment was lost but I took a deep breath, approached the girls and asked them to walk holding their hands. I got a posed photographed. It’s OK because it’s a portrait right now.
Another day I looked at my old pictures and found in iPhoto the picture of the beautiful gracious lady – a photo above- and looked at her for a long time. I met her only once and I asked her permission to take her picture. And she kindly let me do it. She let me to step into her world.
I was mesmerized by her face. Her smile was so beautiful. I am sure that she didn’t have an easy life but she didn’t forget how to smile. There was nothing more beautiful that this smile which struggled through the years and tears.
I am emotionally attached to this picture and it’s my favorite.
I believe that everything we hear or read have some meaning but sometimes it’s difficult to figure out it right away. It’s like a puzzle. You try to put everything together to understand a hidden meaning and you can’t. And then one day you finally have an answer. Insight. Or call it whatever you want. And with it comes a huge relief. You solved your puzzle.
For a long time when I was asked why I chose photography as my hobby I answered every time differently. I used the word “self-therapy”, then I talked about meditation and felt myself quiet pathetic. Sometimes the words like “creativity” or “art” popped up but I tried to push them away.
Then one day I read how a photographer Robert Herman answered why he chose a photography as his favorite medium. He simply said that photography saved his life. Robert Herman has bipolar disorder. At that time I didn’t understand what Herman meant when he said these words. Today I believe I know.
It’s hard for a lot of people to remember the reasons why they started to love their hobbies.
Thus, for a former hockey player Peter, a character from the book Beartown by Fredrik Backman, “the greatest reason for his love of hockey, from the very first moment he stood on a pair of skates, was silence. Everything outside the rink, the cold and the darkness and the fact that his mom was ill and his dad would be drunk again when he got home… it all went quiet inside his head when he stepped onto the ice”.
That is what exactly is happening to me when I am taking pictures. I am stepping into silence and everything is getting quiet in my head and it seems that the world stops for a while and there are only present moments and you suddenly understand what they mean and how precious they are.
This advice came from the book Beartown written by Frederik Backman:
If you are honest, people may deceive you. Be honest anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfishness. Be kind anyway.
All the good you do today will be forgotten by others tomorrow.
Do good anyway.
What you create, others can destroy. Create anyway.
Because in the end, it is between you and God.
It never was between you and anyone else anyway.
I don’t know how I would feel in this place. I would probably look at the window from time to time but would be disappointed because there is nothing there particular interesting. There is the huge parking lot filled with many cars and that is it.
Could I be in the pizza place all by myself? I am not sure. I have never done that. If I had a laptop it would be probably a different story but I don’t have a laptop.
Actually, I am a very simple person. I don’t have iPhone either. I have an emergency cell phone. And that is enough for me. I know, know in our digital age it’s like being an extinguished dinosaur but I don’t care.
What I care about is that I can reach my husband on my cell phone, of course his cell phone is never turned on. He prefers an old fashioned home phone. And I also.
I don’t have Kindle or Nook and I can’t imagine not reading a real book, holding it in my hands, turning pages and feeling it.
Anyway, I took these two pictures staring shamelessly at these people through the window. Luckily, they didn’t notice me. And then I forgot about them for a few months. Today I decided to post them.
Why do we need someone’s opinion or advice? I believe for a very simple reason – to see what we are doing from a completely different angle, not being too emotional about our problems, failures and mistakes. And most important being able to distant ourselves from ourselves in order to see more clearly.
In these series Advice to Myself I am going to do exactly what I wanted to do for a long time – to distant myself from myself and look at some of my problems more clearly. I also hope that it may help someone. If that happens I would be happy.
The best advice about photography – I am going to talk a lot about it – I got it from David Duchemin, a fantastic photographer. I have never met him but I read his book 60 Lessons for stronger photographs a few years ago.
His advice was straight forward; if you’re serious about your craft and your art, then consider getting off the online forums as fast as you can. Why? Because you would listen to voices who would not be helpful, who may even hurt and discourage you from what you are doing.
I left recently Flickr. I left it for many reasons, one of them that I lost inspiration.
There are a lot of talented photographers on Flickr and there are photographers like me who don’t have much talent and opportunities and who try hard to do what they like to do. I found myself in a minority. That is not bad but it’s not good either.
Being in a minority makes you feel insecure about what you are doing. Thus, one day on Flickr I have a few new followers and another some people unfollow me. I used to wonder what is going on and then I stopped to wonder. I became quiet cynical about followers, about the numbers of favorites and the comments. I also became insecure about my own photography. I stopped to like what I was doing.
I think that the online social forums and the places like Flickr and Instagram in some ways are killing our creativity. They make us feel very insecure.
I like the advice which I am going to give myself today. It came from Eric Kim:
If people start unfollowing you, you are doing something right.
And I would love to add – something innovating.
Many years ago the monks found a place in Utah to built their monastery. In the middle of nowhere they also built their little Catholic church.
Today I spent a few hours in this church. All by myself. There wasn’t anybody around. I prayed, photographed, thought and prayed again. There was a thought in the back of my mind why is nobody in the church, why I didn’t see the monks. It was strange and a little bit uncomfortable.
Huntsville monastery once was busy. Right now there are only ten monks. Two things religion can’t control. Aging and new vocations. Father Brendan Freeman once stated that vocations are a gift from God and a gift cannot be coerced.
The monastery probably will die with the monks. And that is very, very sad.
The same friendly gulls were going to fight for their territory.
This time I tried to create in Photoshop the old vintage film look using video tutorial on Youtube. It’s not very complicated and it’s easy to follow instructions. Not sure that I got this old vintage film look but I tried and that is what counts.
The tutorial you can find here here.
Anyway, the same friendly gulls. Running, screaming and very alert.
There are people who all their lives are walking to their own drum. And there are also animals who do that. This horse was all the time by herself, did what she wanted and never joined the crowd. No, she eventually joined other horses but never stayed closed to them. Friendly and social horse. And beautiful.
I probably will never meet her again. I may come to the same place but there would be no more horses. That happened to me many times. Just wonderful fleeting moments. And nice memories.
I saw the gulls a week ago by a huge pool in a field. Every time passing this place I looked for the gulls and they always were there. The idea to take pictures of them came yesterday. But how? If I would approach them; the gulls would fly away. If I would bring with myself bread to feed the birds; they may stay with me.
To my surprise when I came to the pool the gulls didn’t fly away; they bravely approached me. For the first few minutes I fed them two slices of bread without taking pictures. Then I tried to take pictures feeding the birds with one hand and holding my camera in the other. It didn’t work well. I left the place frustrated and unhappy.
The only one who could help me to feed the gulls while I was taking pictures of them was my husband. And he happily agreed to do that. We returned back to the pool with more slices of bread. And fun began. My husband cheerfully talked to the gulls. “Are you ready, guys?..” he said to them loudly before throwing little pieces of bread into the air.
I will never forget the one brave gull standing in front of the “crowd”. She was so impatient. When she heard the words “are you ready”; she jumped up and then she realized that nothing yet was happening; she was down. It was funny to watch her. It was fan to watch my husband talking to the birds. Anyway, we had a great time and I was able to take pictures of the gulls.
Another day I read about writing workshop. There were a few assignments and one of them I liked a lot. You had to write a story of your life for the last three decades in only three sentences and each sentence had to have only three words.
I wrote my story about these pictures in three sentences:
He was cute. I was curious. Picture was taken.
On that miserable rainy Sunday there were two of us at the lake. A man who was fishing in his boat and I with my camera. Then a few days later I thought about the lakes I saw, where I stayed for a short time and vacationed. There weren’t many of them. Some I don’t remember, others are still with me.
I remember a big lake (I don’t remember its name anymore) where I was learning how to row. A boat was big and heavy and sometimes it was difficult to row; I had to take short breaks to rest. I didn’t enjoy much rowing and being in the boat. The only one who was excited about our adventure was my four years old daughter. She was overjoyed and happy being in this damn boat in the middle of the lake. Sometimes she was getting impatient and asking me to row more quickly. I tried. Unsuccessfully.
I remember this lake so clearly. I remember how I washed my little daughter’s hair with shampoo in the lake and they were so silky from the softest water on the Earth. I also did our laundry there and let them dry on the grass. It was a summer vacation filled with little adventures like rowing, riding a rented bike to the small village store, learning how to cook with women in the big kitchen with many stoves, listening to the great stories in the evening and wishing that days would not fly so quickly.
Many years after I saw another lake. It was a different country, different world, I was adjusting to my new life. The lake had the strange name “Bear Lake”. Apparently, there were a lot of bears in the area and when the Canadian fur trader and explorer Donald Mackenzie saw this lake he named it “Black Bear Lake”. In time the word “black” was dropped and the name of the lake became simpler and shorter.
The Bear Lake became the lake where three of us – my husband, our dog Shady and I – could spend a few days in the summer. We liked the lake’s vastness; its intense turquoise-blue color. We enjoyed swimming. Only Shady wasn’t happy, he was always hiding underneath of canvas chair patiently waiting when we would return back to our campsite.
“I fish because I love to . . . because I love the environs where trout are found . . . because I suspect that men are going along this way for the last time, and I for one don’t want to waste the trip . . . and, finally, not because I regard fishing as being so terribly important but because I suspect that so many of the other concerns of men are equally unimportant––and not nearly so much fun.” ~ Robert Traver
What can I write about dance and dancers? I can tell a story how my childhood friend and I took a class in the Dance school. My friend was fifteen; I was one year younger. He was tall and awkward; I was short, plump and very energetic.
We were accepted at the school without an audition, what we didn’t know that it didn’t mean anything. In a few days my friend was asked by the dance teacher to leave class. I left it in one week.
My dance teacher one day invited me into her office and told that I can’t attend anymore my dance class because I was lacking graciousness and plasticity. When I shared these news with my friend he became very angry at the teacher, he called her a jerk who didn’t know that you could learn graciousness and plasticity in time. My naive friend believed that this is possible and reassured me that some day I will be a dancer.
I never became a dancer but I adore to dance. I dance for myself when nobody is watching me, I dance for my dog Tasha who is always looks at me with a great admiration. Sometimes we dance together; I take Tasha’s front pows in my hands and we shift our feet from one side to another and we are happy. Without graciousness and plasticity.