Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Portlandia and Photojournalism

Recently I took a trip to Portland with a friend, who wanted to look at some cellos and pick up a few things while in town. I was basically along for the ride, but I decided that I may as well make the most of the opportunity, and use my camera a little. All shots taken below were taken with a 85mm f/1.8, mostly at f/2, and with ISO values between 1000 and 2000.

I've been thinking a lot about photojournalism lately. With my bicycle trip coming up in a matter of months, I'm wanting to hone my photography skills to effectively be able to tell the stories I find along my way. I recently even purchased a book on photojournalism, a 500 page 8.5"x11" book, although it has not arrived yet. Anyway, because of this interest, I've done my research, and determined that a 35mm, 50mm, and 85mm prime lens combination would make for an ideal setup for the purpose. I have recently acquired a fair quality 50mm at a steal of a price, and the 85mm is on indefinite loan to buy eventually, but that still leaves a 35mm lens to come up with. I have decided which one I want already, however, the cost is about twice what I've spent on lenses total to date. In order to justify spending so much, I'll have to prove that I really could put such a purchase to good use.

Recently I started noticing that the sharpness of the 85mm f/1.8 just wasn't enough. (The 35mm in question is about as sharp as lenses get). This is quite interesting, because it was the 85mm that first defined to me what sharp really was, which along with brightness, resulted in my giving up of the mediocre zoom lens I'd been using for a while by that point, basically for good.

Today I kept feeling that it would be nice to have a wider field of view. Again, while I did use the 50mm f/1.8 for a while, I never fell in love with it like I have with the 85. Now, I did take plenty of good shots even while wishing I had a wider lens, so it's not like I've lost all interest in this lens, but that I'm itching for a wider lens is telling. It's interesting how much a person can condition themselves to love something ahead of time, with limited experience with the subject..

Click on the below pictures to get a larger image.

Fifty violins. There, I counted them for you, so you didn't have to. :)

Perhaps $50,000 worth of cellos, in their own room. Merely 1/4th (and the cheap fourth at that) of the total in that room alone.

Close up of an old cello case, wood and metal construction. Didn't get a story. It would certainly be interesting..

Inside the Powell book store satellite.

We were "accosted" by two solicitors asking for support against school bullying. It sounded to be primarily geared at protecting GLBT children. Not that I'm opposed to protecting them, by any means. I didn't listen to their canvass particularly, choosing rather to quietly slip off and stage a shooting.. (needing about a 20 foot gap to shoot the group as it were..)

Detail of the ornamentation on the top of the car.
An armed security guard outside a bank. I thought I'd wait till he turned around to face me, but the anonymity of this shot strengthens the composition somewhat.

Sushi - this happened to be on an endless conveyer belt beside where we were sitting.

Perhaps not my strongest composition ever - I should have moved to my right about 2-3 feet. Maybe a 50mm lens would have been better here..

Monday, January 28, 2013

Writers Block

So here I sit, hands on keyboard, ready to compose some wonderful and eloquent piece of socioeconomic commentary. For the last week I've been really itching to write something, to keep this blog rolling. After all, what is a writer who doesn't write? and what is a blog that is never updated?

Alas, I am utterly and completely lacking in inspiration regarding subject material. I have ideas, but they are not sufficiently captivating my mind at the moment to produce any readable material. In the last week I've had no less than 3 strong ideas for posts, but in every case I was unable to act on the inspiration before it slipped from my mind, and once gone, it can only be revived on it's own whim. I made an attempt at starting over with the best of my ideas, and got fairly far along, but the resulting material just felt forced, contrived, unnatural, lacking in flow and direction, not having a clear idea on what I was ultimately trying to say..

And so, that idea is frustratedly cast aside, to not be touched again except by a completely new and equally captivating revival of the same or similar sentiment.

Oh, but why must inspiration be so elusive? Why is it that I cannot simply pull a subject out of a hat, and sit down and write my piece? Why is it that inspiration never seems more elusive than when I try to act on it, and record my thought? The fact that may surprise many is that it was coming up with what to say, not so much standing in front of a large group of people, that caused me to have so much difficulty in speech class.

Perhaps it's a matter of experience.. maybe with more practice my mind will flow more freely with ideas, my thoughts, past and present, will be more easily accessed, so that I can work from my entire history of thought, rather than merely the exact moment.

Reading up on the lifestyles of famous authors shows just how desperate the breed tends to be in chasing after that elusiveness, and clarity of mind and thought. Some would rise early in the morning, before the sun would rise, for the quiet and calm that exists at that time of day. Others would write late at night, for the same reason. Still others would wake up in the middle of the night, as they found that their sharpest hour. Schedules and order frequently get thrown out the window, as inspiration will virtually always strike while one is doing something else. And what good does it do to have ideas which one can never act upon?

Oh, I can come up with ideas on the fly.. but making them flow? That is a different matter entirely.. How can I preserve those ideas? How can I best act on the fleeting inspiration that comes? How can I improve my writing, if ideas never come at times when I can develop them?

Maybe the answer is that whenever I want to write something but cannot come up with something to say, I should look around for something else worthy of my focus, which has probably been captivating my mind quite effectively, just on a more subconscious level.. Maybe if I do this enough, the wheels of thought will be sufficiently lubricated, that writing will become much more natural, something that can be done without having to put hours and days of thought into the specific matter before hand, carefully preserving the idea till the right moment comes to act on it..

Well, not bad for a blog post on a subject matter picked out of a hat.. Maybe I can make this work after all...

I'd best get going.. Until next time!

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Always There

Always There

Lord, when I feel alone,
You are always there.

When I am happy,
You are always there with me.

When all seem turned against me,
You are always close by my side.

When I refuse to listen to you,
When I want nothing to do with you,
You are always there waiting.

When out of desperation I seek you,
You're always there, drawing me to your side.

When no one can understand,
When no one cares to listen,
When I simply cannot put my thoughts to words,
You're always there, knowing exactly what I mean.

When I dream of the future,
When I try to do things on my own,
When I worry about the problems of tomorrow,
You are always there to support me, even when I don't know my need.

When I am actively seeking out evil,
When I chase after my own destruction,
When I throw all righteousness aside,
When I have no desire for any good thing,
You are always there, waiting for my return.
You are always there, begging me to return.

Lord, when you call to my heart,
I refuse to listen.

When you show me your love,
I turn away my eye.

When you give to me your words of inspiration,
I turn from them as though they were nothing.

When you give me directions on how to live,
I ignore them, and do what I feel is best.

When you tell me to care for your children,
I go do my own thing, and leave them to suffer.

When you show me your unfailing love for a fallen world,
I shirk the burden of responsibility.

When you set my task before me,
I run away and hide.

When you show me the path of life,
I whine and complain that it is too hard..

Father, forgive me for my indolence.
Forgive me for my stubborn selfishness.
Forgive my persistence to do evil.
Forgive my indifference to your extended hand..
Forgive me for my pride and arrogance, thinking I have a better way.
Forgive me for my carelessness in dealing with others.

Help me to be obedient.
Help me to let your love shine through me..
Help others to see you through me.
Help others to see you instead of me in my interactions with them.
Help me to submit totally to your will.
Help me to stand for right though the heavens fall.
Help me to fear only your look of disapproval.
Help me to only ever and always seek your face,
That through my hands your work may be accomplished,
Through my lips your words may be said,
Through my feet your message carried,
Through my life your love shown.

This is my prayer, that through me, in spite of myself, your name may be praised forever.

- Andrew Hendrickson, December 2012

I Want to Go!

I want to go! I want to go somewhere! I want to do something, to test myself to the limits. I want to throw myself at the world and see if I can hold up. I want to travel. I want to go places, to see things, to experience things that others only talk about, only dream about. I want to walk out the front door with $500 and a backpack, and see how far I can go. I want to hit the road, to see the world. Walking, hitching rides with trucks, trains, cars, riding a bike, whatever it takes to end up where I've not been before. I want to experience new things, to see how I manage, to see how long I can last, away from everything and everyone I've ever known.

I want to get out where the only thing keeping me from stopping, or going, is my own effort. Where what I eat, or don't, is totally dependent on my own actions. Where every bit of money I acquire comes from my own effort. Where I have to work to survive. Where I can't just fall back on the support of friends and family and lazily float along. Where even sleeping takes thought and planning.

I want to throw myself out there, and see if I can bounce. Out where no one cares whether I sleep during the day or night, whether I eat now or never, whether I keep working at what I'm doing or stop, whether I do anything productive or not. Where I can stop and compose my thoughts on the fly, not having to wait till a better time. Out where the only one to suffer from what I do or don't do is my own self.

I want to get out where interacting with people, or not, is my own choice. Where talking to strangers is something I must learn to do, or do without. Where going out of my comfort zone is nothing different, because it's all out of my comfort zone. Where I don't have to worry about looking bad, because no one would look twice anyway.

I want to learn what it's like to be cold and hungry, tired and lonely, where the only thing to keep me company is a prayer and a song. Where God is close, because, well, nothing else is. Where I am forced to trust in Him, because there is nothing else to trust in. 

I want to see what I can learn. How such experiences will help me. How such experiences will help me in reaching out to others. I want to see what sort of a person I could become, after learning to live with next to nothing, where the only thing sure and absolute is the Word of God. I want to see what sort of a benefit to humanity I can become. 

As far back as I can remember, I've always had a certain lust for adventure, a desire to pit myself against the wild, against the world, against whatever came in my path, to see if I could hold my own, to see if I could survive, how I could handle it, to prove myself, to test myself, to experience personally things others only talk about, only dream about.

During this time I've devoured every sort of real adventure story I could find. Teens sailing around the world solo, guys riding their bikes around the world, people traveling everywhere indefinitely, a man outfitting a canoe with a motor and traveling through all the major rivers in the lower US, a crew building a balsa raft to sail across the Pacific, a solo bike ride by an 18 year old covering the entire length of the Pan American highway, countless escape stories - prisoners of war, refugees, political prisoners - of every type imaginable, a Bible smuggler who visited every communist country in the world...

Additionally, I've consumed countless stories of another type of adventure. The man who walked into the jungles of South America to find an Indian tribe he wanted to be a missionary to, resulting in being made their prisoner; the missionary who was taken prisoner by Colombian guerrillas, and ended up bringing Christ to many of them; the protestant reformers, fearlessly taking on the Catholic church to spread the truths found in scripture; the soldier in Nazi Germany who would not carry a gun, showing from scripture proof that Germany would fall; the countless followers of Christ, from the Bible, from early Christian history, from the reformation, from the Great Awakening, who risked life, limb, and the pursuit of earthly happiness to follow their master; missionaries to every corner of the globe, foreign and domestic, who were ready to lay aside everything for Him...

Deep in my heart there is an insatiable longing for something far more than the boring, ordinary lives of the average earthly citizen. I want to go farther, higher, longer, deeper.. May I be willing also to risk it all for the Master.. May I put all on the line.. May I allow Him to work through my plans and schemes, to guide my planning.

This blog will serve as a chronicle of my adventures, of my musings, my wanderings, my wonderings over the next few years, as I begin to strike out on my own.

Adventure calls.

I can hardly wait to see what will happen.