Taking aim

Sunset on Mauna Kea

I aimed for the mountain top, but found only sky.

I aimed for the clouds, but found only air.

I aimed for the moon, but found only coldness.

I aimed for the stars, but found only emptiness.

Head bowed in sadness, I finally looked around,

To find a universe of wonder lying at my feet.

Stargazing on Mauna Kea

Taking wing in Hawaii

A few more shots from the photo archives…no scanner this time, though (yay).

These were some of the amazing winged creatures I met while traveling through Kona-Kailua, Hawaii about 18 months ago.

Use the Force NOT the force

Earlier this evening, I had dinner with a lovely friend of mine (yay). Eventually—like 3 minutes in—we got around to discussing our blogs, and my friend starting talking about feeling the pressure to post. Not that any of her followers had specifically requested she post, but rather that she felt like she was letting down the side by not posting.

I understand this feeling at quite a personal level, as I spent most of my life feeling like I had to act lest I let down the side. Eventually, though, I realized this was something I was doing to myself and not something that was being imposed on me by outside forces (or at least not most of the time). Those in my life who were going to be dissatisfied if I didn’t act were probably going to be dissatisfied if I did act.

As my friend discussed her blog, she felt there were nights when she would sit in front of her computer with nothing to say and yet the page was blank and she hadn’t posted in a few days. Should she force herself to post something or should she just remain mute until she had something to say?

From my perspective, we blog for ourselves not others—this was a conversation many moons ago with my friend—and so the decision to post should be based on whether we feel the desire or personal need to post, an internal urge to channel whatever thoughts or emotions or essence bubbles within us awaiting expression.

I think it’s that honesty with ourselves, serving our own deeper need to share, that attracts and sustains followers. People are smart. They can see when you’re pressing out blog content like so much blood from a stone…if not on your first post, then on subsequent ones.

I talk a lot about our Art and how my personal art channels through me like something from the ether, whether I’m talking about writing or photography. I am a lightning rod through which the spirits anchor themselves—make that mean whatever you would like it to mean. That’s why I think the metaphor of the Force is so strong (okay, now I’m starting to channel George Lucas).

You cannot force your Art. It will happen when it is ready to happen…when you are ready for it to happen.

You must practice it, of course, while waiting for inspiration to take you to new levels, much as a hockey player practices skating and shooting drills in anticipation of the game when he or she won’t have time to think about those mechanical actions.

Perhaps you can practice on your blog, but I have yet to read a blog that suggests people are practicing. To this point in my reading, our blogs are our Art…or at least, part of our Art.

I know this is true for me, and I am confident this is the case for my friend. Thus, any attempt on her part to force a post will be a lie—to followers, more importantly to her Art, and most importantly to herself. She deserves better than that.

Water course

Despite our best efforts to stage life with garden ponds, nature has a way of making them her own in very short order.

I find myself enraptured by the epic stories told in such confined spaces, losing hours of my life in these mythic displays.

(These photos were taken in Montreal; Volcan Arenal, Costa Rica; Kona Kailua, Hawaii)

Playing with light – Hawaii (big island)

As I play with my camera, empirically learning its ins and outs, I find pleasure in capturing different moments of natural light.

On my trip to Hawaii last year, I managed to capture some nice shots that really highlight, I think, the wonders of the sun (or other suns) at the extremes of the day.

Morning light in Kailua-Kona has almost an ethereal quality, especially when combined with waves.



As sunset approaches, it was fun to play with silhouettes that just barely capture the colours of the leaves.



With dozens of other hotel patrons, this girl sat patiently waiting for that perfect sunset moment. Her face had some quality that just made me want to keep taking photos of her.



And so I did, until I started feeling stalker-ish. This is my favourite of the group for the way the reddening light plays with the colour of her hair.



Photography mentor and friend Sam was a great target as the sun sets on his balding pate.



Another favourite, sunset on Mauna Kea. The colour strata were amazing and being above the clouds means not having to worry about poor photo conditions.



Go to paradise and freeze your buttocks off. Astral photography from near the top of Mauna Kea. This was a 30-minute exposure. I wish I could say I planned to get an almost perfect wedge of rotating space (okay, rotating Earth) but I got lucky.


Life in black & white – Hawaii (big island)

Back in the days of waning days of film photography, I was always frustrated when I would see a shot that I thought would be magnificent in black & white (b/w), but I knew my camera contained film for colour photographs.

I hardly wanted to ream off a dozen or more photos just to empty the camera so that I could change for one or two frames of b/w photos…and that assumed I could find anyone who even sold b/w film.

Ah, bless the advent of digital photography and photo manipulation software. While I appreciate that it is not the same, I can now take a colour photograph and make it b/w with a simple click of a button. At the same time, I realize I still have a lot to learn about special considerations for b/w photography, e.g., appropriate light balance.

A friend of mine once told me, if you have a nice photo that just doesn’t pop, try converting it to b/w and see what happens. Wow.

A year ago, I put that principle to work while traveling through the island of Hawaii.

Sometimes the object you’re photographing is already black and white, so making it b/w may seem redundant, but I found it softens things and adds depth to the image, in this case, a blow hole in the lava rock (Kailua-Kona).


B/w is also great when you want to focus the eye on the emotion of the image rather than have it distracted by the surroundings. I loved the expression on the dog’s face. The most active I’d seen him all week. (Kailua-Kona)


Same scenario here. I think the b/w helps simplify this image, allows me to focus on the key elements: the man serenading the Pacific Ocean, the white cross of commemoration, the crashing waves dancing to the song. (Kailua-Kona)


I think b/w can also impart a sense of history to an old building that otherwise would simply look derelict. The rust and decay are still there, but become a patina rather than a sign of decay. (Hilo)


The treatment can also add a bit of emotion to an otherwise ordinary image. Whereas I took a photo of a woman standing bored while her husband and son fish, the image becomes that of a woman from any era, possibly considering the plight of her family. (Kailua-Kona)


Cannery Row was the first thought that popped into my head as I walked by the back of this building, but in colour, that thought couldn’t be realized. (Hilo)


I call this image “Porcelain”. I was on the fence as to how best to treat this image. In colour, the flower is a gorgeous cream, but the flaws in the petals told me I had to make it b/w. I should really show the colour and b/w side-by-side here. (Kona coffee plantation)


Damned smartphone! To me, that is the only flaw in what I wanted for this photo. An aging warrior rests in a pool surrounded by lava stone, weary of life (and checking his ruddy email). (Kailua-Kona)


One of my favourite images from this trip. To me, it looks like the little tree is getting reamed out by the big tree, a la “What the hell were you thinking?” In colour, this image is meh. In b/w, it speaks volumes to me. (Mauna Kea)