the devil wants my lenses


I take a French class every week. Recently, the topic of discussion was superstitions. We talked about Voodoo, Réne Descarte, rationality, culturally specific superstitions (French superstitions vs Turkish superstitions), etc.

I find all religions/faiths and many cultural behaviors to be superstitious, and while I claim to not be superstitious, I often question my claim as superstitious thoughts creep into my head all the time.

When something happens in a pattern, science explains that sometimes — we as humans — attribute these things to something larger than ourselves, like a deity or a devil or any other number of fairies, goblins or leprechauns.

Superstitions claim misfortune might be caused by breaking a mirror, opening an umbrella inside, walking under a ladder, being taught a lesson by a parental god, being tested by a wily devil, not praying the right prayer, or simply failing to knock on wood that one time I said, “I have the best lens choices in the universe!”

Knock on wood. 

Over the last couple weeks, I’ve had to replace two lenses. These are literal misfortunes, as I feel like replacements have cost me a literal small fortune.

One of the lenses was — in a general sense — inexpensive (around $600). The other one was for my Hasselblad, which is the rough equivalent of buying property in Trump Tower.

My Hasselblad is medium format camera. Working with a medium format system is like owning a luxury vehicle like a Ferrari. You don’t take the car in for anything without seeing your wallet lighten by many pounds.

I had to buy a battery for it recently and it set me back $375. A battery for my DSLR would cost between $40 and $65, for a generic brand or name brand respectively. There’s  no generic option for Hasselblad.

Buying a new 35mm lens — which I use most for interiors or architecture — would be $5200. On eBay, you can find used ones for $1500-$4500. But that’s risky as I found out. I ordered a used one off of eBay and it was dead on arrival. So I had to send it back to the seller, which ties up several thousand dollars until the return is processed.

Because we have a big interiors job next week, I ordered another one. I don’t use credit cards, so I’m basically tying up liquid cash.

Another unfortunate lens mishap happened in my studio. I was using a camera to videotape an update. Here’s a shot below of part of the space. There’s a long strip where I can throw a ball with my dog. We occupy the area behind where my camera is for photography.

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I had my dog with me last week. I was washing my car in the shop area and I had a camera setup to record an update for a vLog. The floor was wet and it’s already very slippery.

As I was about to throw the ball to my dog, she was headed straight for my camera on its tripod and her head was facing me as she ran away. “Nooooooo!” I yelled as I sprinted after her. She turned. Started slipping. And I slipped trying to get to the camera, but it went down.

If a camera is a face and a lens its nose, it landed smack dab on its snout. The lens shattered. Fortunately the camera was unharmed (cross fingers and knock on wood).

Ha.

On the surface, it’s tough not to see these financial blows are not some kind of message from an unseen force attempting to discourage my creativity.

Is this a message from the Lens Gods or the Productivity Gods saying, “We don’t want you to be productive?”

We want to use financial stress as a distraction! 

My view, though, is to not let those superstitions to prevent, paralyze, stymie creativity. I’m pressing on. These things happened. They just happened. That’s it. They were accidents. They were and are explainable by natural causes.

My human brain might try to attach mystical explanations or place more emphasis on them because in a pattern … lens lens lens lens + money money money money = stress stress stress stress stress — that somehow is attractive.

There is no amount of prayer, of self sacrifice, of worshiping the unseen that will bring back those lenses nor would it protect my other lenses that still work.

Shit happens. And it’s when I try to attach superstition to natural events that I get caught up in distractions from creative expression.

Well, fuck that.

 

 

 

contemplating getting back on the path to creativity


For about a year and a half, maybe longer, I’ve been in a creative slump. My goal lately has been to yank myself out using the tuft on my neck that you pick puppies and kittens up by when they’re getting into something they shouldn’t.

Creative slumps suck.

As an artist, it’s easy to point at all the extraneous factors that are at fault. Certainly there are external factors that come into play. For example: doctor’s appointments, an accident, or any other life moment that may distract from productivity.

I’ve seen other artists — people in general — complain about the current political climate and blame that for certain levels of anxiety and lack of productivity. I share that sentiment completely.

It may be too early to shout out to the world about getting out of this slump, but I’m putting myself on the path. And with hard work and perseverance, I hope to stay there.

I’ve been seeing a therapist lately, and we’ve been exploring my fears, insecurities and how they pertain to self-expression.

Like other artists, I allow fear to prevent me from creating something, for fear it’s going to turn out shitty. Not creating anything defeats the purpose of the creative.

I recently completed this self portrait.

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It is a motion portrait, btw, so look for movement.  It’s one of many things I hope to do to stay on the path. I’m not saying it’s the BEST image in the world. But it’s an image. It’s an executed idea. I had the vision. I made a version of it. I’m sharing it with the world. I’m moving on.

In a way, it’s a metaphor for how I want to grow out of this place of fear and become bigger in the eyes of my audience. Whoever that might be.

I designed the visual with a couple different people in mind as the subject. One girl didn’t respond at all to my request. Another one told me she wasn’t the one for the job. At least she responded.

The image is a compilation of eight images composited into one. I’m working on a behind the scenes video now to show how I put it together.

Enjoy.

Don’t look back in anger


 

EDIT: The original videos I posted are not available any longer. I’ll post videos I find when possible.

We’ve been watching the Manchester One Love concert today. You know, the concert organized by Ariana Grande after the attack in Manchester two weeks ago.

I’m sure everyone gets upset by these terrorist attacks. But I become particularly affected by them. I often cry as I weed through initial reports of unnecessary violence. Whether religiously motivated or just fucking dim bulbs with penchant for ruining a lot of good people’s day.

I’m not a fan of all of the music I’ve heard today, but the emotions and the power behind the artists, the art and the fans was a needed resuscitation from the negative bullshit commandeering all of our feeds/news cycles/screens.

Even the music from artists I don’t necessarily care for, I found my cheeks drenched with a mix of emotions, mainly in support of seeing this massive crowd bound in solidarity and love is therapy I didn’t know I needed.

Google the concert and listen to the stuff you love. Hopefully somewhere it’s being streamed again.

Fuck terrorists. Fuck terror. Fuck violence. Fuck hate. Fuck people who hurt other people and don’t have the decency to search out a way to fix/mend/ameliorate/listen/learn.

Fuck ’em.

become a better conversationalist? yes please


I feel compelled to share this post from Kottke in full:

10 ways to have a better conversation

Celeste Headlee is an expert in talking to people. As part of her job as a public radio host and interviewer, she talks to hundreds of people each year, teasing from her guests what makes them interesting. At a TEDx conference two years ago, Headlee shared 10 tips for having a better conversations that work for anyone:

1. Don’t multitask.
2. Don’t pontificate.
3. Use open-ended questions.
4. Go with the flow.
5. If you don’t know, say that you don’t know.
6. Don’t equate your experience with theirs.
7. Try not to repeat yourself.
8. Stay out of the weeds.
9. Listen.
10. Be brief.

Watch the video for the explanations of each point. I’m pretty good on 1, 5, & 7 while I struggle with 3, 4, and sometimes 6. 9 is a constant struggle and depends on how much I’ve talked with other people recently.

Information roundup!


Here’s a roundup of many things in the world that seem to attract my attention.

Best Podcast I’ve heard in a LONG time: S-Town. About a “shit town” in Alabama with so many twists and turns it’ll blow your mind. 7 episodes of “holy shit” and “I wish I knew John B Macklemore.”

The protests in French Guyana are likely a large world event you may not have heard of yet.

This religious scholar claims Jesus was a mushroom. Finally, someone makes some sense.

A few links from one of my favorite blogs TYWKIWDBI:

A modern equivalent of death by crucifixion

“The Nazi War on Cancer”

Questioning the Passover story

“Even if we take the earliest possible date for Jewish slavery that the Bible suggests, the Jews were enslaved in Egypt a good three hundred years after the 1750 B.C. completion date of the pyramids. That is, of course, if they were ever slaves in Egypt at all…

…one of the biggest events of the Jewish calendar is predicated upon reminding the next generation every year of how the Egyptians were our cruel slave-masters, in a bondage that likely never happened… I’m talking about real proof; archeological evidence, state records and primary sources. Of these, nothing exists.

It is remarkable that Egyptian records make no mention of the sudden migration of what would have been nearly a quarter of their population… Furthermore, there is no evidence in Israel that shows a sudden influx of people from another culture at that time.

…let us enjoy our Seder and read the story by all means, but also remind those at the table who may forget that it is just a metaphor, and that there is no ancient animosity between Israelites and Egyptians. Because, if we want to re-establish that elusive peace with Egypt that so many worked so hard to build, we’re all going to have to let go of our prejudices.”

Links from another favorite blog: Kottke: 

Cute illustrations of bread birds

Experiencing grief can feel like tripping on hallucinogens

Elegantly carved birds immersed in watercolor paint

Other miscellaneous links:

Melania Has To Nudge Trump To Place His Hand Over His Heart During The National Anthem:

Alex Jones’ lawyer argues Infowars host is ‘playing a character’

Within his first 100 days, Trump has played golf, not once, not twice, but 19 fucking times. 

Hot Damn Altruism. Dylan Matthews gave a kidney to a stranger


This video documents one guy’s decision to gift a kidney to a stranger.

A little bit About: 

I’d wanted to give a kidney for years — at least since I first heard it was possible after reading Larissa MacFarquhar’s New Yorker piece on “good Samaritan” kidney donors when I was in college. It just seemed like such a simple and clear way to help someone else, through a procedure that’s very low-risk to me. I studied moral philosophy as an undergrad, and there’s a famous thought experiment about a man who walks by a shallow pond where a child is drowning and does nothing, because leaping in to save the child might muddy his clothes.

If I kept walking around with two kidneys, when there were more than 100,000 people on the kidney waitlist who would most likely die in the next five years if they didn’t get one, was I doing anything different from that man, really? Wasn’t I, like him, letting another person die to avoid a small cost to myself?

I grew up in a Christian church that put a huge emphasis on social justice, on Christ’s message being one of radical empathy and selflessness. One passage that always stuck with me was Luke 3:11: “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none.” Well, I had two working kidneys. There were people with none. What to do next felt pretty clear.