Me Too is insufficient

There is a current trend on social media of women indicating that men have sexually harassed or assaulted them. Occasionally there’s a story, but most often it’s two tiny words: Me Too. It’s not enough.

It doesn’t capture the reality of what your feed full of “Me Too”s really means. The horror stories that most women have should infuriate you. But perhaps you don’t realize what the constant pervasive sexual harassment does to those of us living with it. It often takes more energy to confront the hand grope on public transportation or the demeaning replacement of one’s earned title with a comment on our appearance than it does to call it out. So I push it aside, I move on, I let it slide because there are other things vying for my attention and energy. These encounters become background noise. But it adds up. Let me show you.

If you know me well, you’ll know that my dreams are vivid and my way of processing and coping with the stress of living. Sometimes they make me wake up laughing, sometimes I run with dinosaurs and run from lava, and sometimes I get on a soapbox and pontificate on ideas that I have. They’re often pretty excellent entertainment.

The past three months I’ve had repeated dreams of men entering my apartment, watching me while I sleep, and only when I wake up (in the dream) and catch them do they leave. For three weeks in August/September I was so convinced that there was someone in my apartment, watching me or standing over my bed and touching my hair, that I was waking up at 2am every night full of adrenalin. I had to turn on every light and look in every cranny to make sure I was the only person in my apartment. And then to try and go back to sleep. It takes a toll.

Last night, I dreamt the following:

I woke up (in the dream) from a noise in my apartment and caught some white dude in my apartment, watching as I slept, browsing my journals and my things. In trying to get him out, I get tangled in my quilts leaving my bed. He laughs as I try to yell but have no voice to tell him to get the fuck out. I follow as he pelts down the stairs, outside, and into a police officer who stands outside my door. The police officer laughs and lets him outside to join his frat brothers. Finally finding my voice, I ask the (white male) officer why the guy isn’t being arrested: he broke into my apartment and was watching me sleep! The officer shrugs, and says no harm was done to my stuff or to me, so there’s no evidence that I didn’t let him in. I start screaming as the frat bros circle, taunting me and mocking my hysterical anger. It’s only when one of the dudes pulls a gun on me, and waves it at the officer that they decide to arrest him and take my own anger seriously. But the frat bros try to sneak into my apartment behind the officers who are now going to investigate. I have to stand in the doorway, hands on my hips confronting them, because the police won’t do that for me. Upstairs the cops find a nest of blankets right next to my bed where they were camped out. They find months worth of notes on my sleeping behaviors and patterns from dozens of men who have been watching me sleep. The comments about my sleeping behavior are almost entirely sexually explicit. And yet still this is not enough to get all of them arrested. I am beyond angry. I am violated and furious and raging because to do otherwise is to give into the visceral feelings that my house, my body, my identity are unsafe. I spend more time trying to lock my doors, my windows, the doggy door they initially used to get in, and yet still it requires me hitting them, shouting at them to keep them from again invading my house after the cops leave. One guy makes it in through an upstairs window and I find him eating months of their notes to destroy what meager evidence there is of their violation. I scream for help, to try and get him to stop, and yet no one else is there. I have to handle their laughter, taunts, and physical intimidation on my own.

When I finally managed to wake myself up around 4am, my heart was racing and adrenaline was coursing me. It’s a half-hour before I can go back to sleep, which is better than the past few variations on this dream. I’m getting better at repeating my mantra to get myself back to sleep: my apartment is secure, I am safe, I have friends I trust. I’m getting faster at shrugging off this nighttime processing of the stress in the world around me. But I’ve lost a night of restful sleep. I have to force myself to remember what is real and what is not. I have to go bed tonight and remind myself that these dreams happen only about once a week, so tonight will probably be a full night’s sleep. Probably.

But let’s break apart this dream.

  • First there’s my lack of voice when I find a white guy who has broken into my safe place at the point when I am most vulnerable. I discover a threat of intimidation and I cannot say anything about it. I struggle to verbally respond and physically react. If you know me, that’s absurd because I always have something to say. Sexual harassment often feels ill-defined because it’s a threat of something more and it leaves little evidence of the implied threat.
  • The police officer doesn’t believe me and is actually complicit in allowing the “boys to be boys”. My word, once I find my voice, means nothing. My voice is in fact mocked as being hysterical, like I’m overreacting. They are caught in the act of violating my safe space and the symbolic extension of the state laughs me off. The state sides with those who further hone their threat of violence. The boys learn that the state will ignore their behavior. The lack of repercussions encourages them to continue mocking me and further attempts to break into my apartment.
  • It is only when a gun is pulled and only when it is turned on the police officer that a handful of the frat bros are arrested. The state only cares about threats to itself. (We could go into the racism embedded in the state’s response, but that’s not explicitly part of this particular dream). I am no threat to the state’s authority, and they have no reason to respond.
  • Even after the cops begin to take my fury seriously, they do not protect me while they search for evidence. They do not become alarmed when the evidence shows that this invasion has been going on for months. They leave evidence in a place where it can be destroyed. The state has zero vested interest in pursing a case against this threat of violence. And I am alone fending off the same behavior.
  • There’s no reason in the dream they chose my house, why they chose to intimidate and harass me except that I was female.

This dream represents the pattern for those of us who choose to fight one instance – or the problem at large.

This dream, and its many variations I’ve been having the past few months, is just one effect of living in a culture of pervasive sexual harassment. When the cheeto-in-chief is tacitly (and explicitly) exonerated from accusations of sexual assault, it increases this background noise. It’s more fuel that I have to process and cope with. I have to balance a poor night’s sleep and spiked anxiety with whatever else goes on in my day.

When women speak up “Me Too” it brings to the fore the pervasiveness of sexual harassment in which I have to live my life. I just spent an hour writing this rather than get ready for work and enjoy the beautiful rosy-colored dawn. I did because I think one of the tools at addressing sexual harassment and assault is telling personal stories. I at least have the capacity to do this. It takes effort. Me Too is insufficient a response.

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A march for intersectional history

I went to the Women’s March on Ithaca. There are ~30,000 people in my town (not counting the influx of students arriving over the next 3 days that will double that number). The Ithaca police estimated attendance at 10,000. A full 1/3 of my town showed up to march.

As I suspected, folks were marching for a range of reasons that may or may not have matched the official (if contentious) platform. There were signs explicitly protesting the orange toad and signs protesting the tools of his campaign including misogyny, sexism, Putin, and the various *-phobias that populate current demagoguery. A kindergarten aged child carried a sign that said “Be kind to everyone.” There was my new favorite image of Leia saying “A woman’s place is in the resistance.” There were signs about reproductive rights and rape culture. Slogans and imagery reminding us that Black Lives Matter were clearly visible. The demand for human rights, LGBTQ* rights, religious rights, immigrant rights existed in words and images. One sign proclaimed rights for all women with images of various animals that are common food items. Some signs listed all the reasons why the participant was marching. One women had a genealogy tree pinned to her back that identified only her matrilineal ancestors. Science, climate change, freedom of the press, truth, and education were represented throughout the crowd. And there were folks without signs, whose reasons for being there were not on display on a poster. 10,000 people present, and each of them there because of issues that are most important to them.

In the year I’ve lived here, I’ve begun to grasp why Ithaca is a special place. It’s a bubble of progressives in a town whose identity was partially forged from the 70s hippy spirit and anti-capitalist-patriarchy. It is also a town with its own demons that mirror America’s demons elsewhere in the country. Gentrification is increasingly limiting town center residents to white folks with money. That whiteness was on display in our march. Which is to say we were a majority of white people marching for rights and issues that disproportionately affect non-white lives. Signs existed to try and explicitly call out this whiteness by emphasizing Black Lives Matter and immigrants rights. Perhaps this means we were 10,000 people trying to be good allies. But we were also 10,000 humans with blind spots, not saints or infallible heroes.

From the march, I eventually ended up at the rally on the commons. My place in the crowd had zero sightline to the stage, but I could hear the speakers without problems. So as I listened to the women on stage – for they were all women! – I watched the crowd and thought about the place of this event, and the other simultaneous events, in history. A history which archivists like myself across the country are actively documenting.

I wondered about the teens and pre-teens who were wandering about as hordes of friends, usually comprised of all girls except for the one boy who was tagging along. What were they seeing? What were they learning? Would this event inspire them in some way? Did they understand the true uniqueness of this event in the face of such abnormal behavior? How many of them will be shaped by the next several years (and the past 15) to become community activists and leaders in their future? Maybe they are already, and that’s why they were there in the first place.

I marveled at how unusual it was to stand in a public space where women were speaking to women about issues that disproportionately affect us without worrying about apologizing or acknowledging the experiences of the men** in the audience who may or may not have understood. (**A word. The trans experience complicates this apparent stark division between male and female experience. And I realize intersectionality means that men have a place in this march and this experience. But for this post I choose to explicitly ignore the latter. This was the Women’s March and I privilege women today of all days.) I may even call it an experience unprecedented in my life. I felt no need to apologize for taking up space when I stood in front of some dude. The speakers felt no need to apologize for talking about cramps and labor and birth control and poverty and motherhood in a public space. And even more incredible was the range of female identities that were on stage. Women with complex racial backgrounds, young and old women, women with political experience and women without, and a muslim woman who spoke so eloquently she moved many of us to tears. (I am the worst with names, so sadly I cannot share them.)

I thought about the place of this march and this rally in history.

When writing my masters thesis on the so-called Soapbox Suffragists I delved a fair amount into the reports and reflections and theories of how seeing women in the streets marching contributed to gaining the right for white women to vote. In particular, I spent a few days sucked into reading about the 1913 suffragist parade in advance of Wilson’s inauguration. Their effort to acquire the necessary march permit was monumental. They were passed from federal to district officials trying to gain appropriate security all while being mocked for their effort. During the march they were spit on, had objects hurled at them, were threatened, and by most accounts the official security refused to protect them and so local boy scouts stepped up to the task. If you want to read the official report of the Senate Committee Hearing of this event, it’s available on Google Books.

Yesterday’s march and our physical presence in the street follows in these suffragists’ footsteps. We weren’t spit on, and except for the sole sad soul who yelled at us for being baby killers no one threatened us. We marched in peace and a determined spirit with friends while occasionally picking up chants about human rights and the nature of democracy. When we stopped traffic it was with officers of the law – often female – negotiating our march with the cars who needed to get through. Unlike the suffragists of 104 years ago, I marched in pants, an independent highly educated woman with the right to vote, own property, have my own bank account and credit card, to divorce or marry who I choose. And although I still get harassed on the street by sad men with small lives, yesterday I was surrounded by a community of generally like-minded individuals. It was powerful.

But.

Here’s where the history of the fight for women’s rights and its legacy of whiteness casts doubt and mistrust on the legacy of yesterday’s march. This march also has historical roots in the Million Woman March in 1997 – a march for African American women’s self determination – and the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom in 1963 – the historic march and place of Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech. But neither of these marches were my first association when contemplating the historical place of yesterday’s march. That disconnect is a product of my particular academic historical interest for which I do not apologize. It is also a product of the historical whiteness of the fight for women’s rights, an education system that never gave me a chance to learn about these other marches, and my own whiteness that connects more firmly to the suffragists of the early 20th century than the battles of the mid-late 20th century by people that look less like me. The disconnect created by these structural problems is mine to challenge and my personal failure to rectify. When black activists, who have been protesting the violence that directly affects their lives the past five years, cry out at the sight of 3-4 million women marching yesterday and ask “Where were you when WE needed you?” I have to acknowledge my lack of prior visible in-the-streets engagement. And I have to do better.

This brings me to the last half of my day. I went home and through the magic of the internet (Hello Living in the Future!) I watched the rally in Washington DC. I was blown away watching the extension of Ithaca’s rally. Women on stage speaking. Women back stage running the show. A fantastically successful march organized by women for women. A man here and there, but almost always in the supportive role, listening and watching. In a world where women are often portrayed as the sole representative for a gender among a sea of men, it was incredible to see women running the show and not apologizing that men weren’t front, center, or even left stage. Such moments are important even if they are not the entirety of the story.

Even better, most of those women were not white and not the benefactors of the legacy of the suffragists. They were women speaking their truths, their platform, their hurts and anger and fears with an urgency that until the outcome of this election did not usually affect my life on a daily basis. These were women drawing on a history stemming from their racial identity, their religious identity, their sexual and gender identities, their class backgrounds and their age. The march organizers wanted a march and a rally that demonstrated the strength of intersectionality and inclusivity that ought to be the bedrock of the progressive platform and political party I wish existed (which is NOT the one being touted by Bernie supporters). They fucking nailed it.

Not every speech spoke to me. Not every woman up there was supposed to represent my voice. There were statements I disagreed with or hadn’t thought about or weren’t my priority just as there were women whose words resonated with me and my passions.

That was the point.

No single speaker was supposed to represent everyone at the march. But I sure as hell hope that every single person in the crowd found at least one woman on that stage who spoke to them and who represented a piece of their history and their reason for marching. And that is why I’m glad I went. For me, the rally demonstrated the reason that representation matters. No single woman, no single person, no president, can represent the diversity of our country because that is impossible.

3.5-4 million Americans – 1% of the total population – largely women, were marching yesterday for a host of complicated reasons. At the heart, we were marching for local, state, and federal governments that represent us and our diverse histories. In order to make that happen, it means that our representatives have to represent us. They cannot look like the millionaire white dudes with no knowledge, no experience, and no wish to listen outside their privileged experience who were paraded through confirmation hearings last week.

As was emphasized over and over yesterday, the march is just a beginning. “Marching is a tool, not a goal.”

It is unclear, standing on this precipice, if a unified movement will spawn from the action of yesterday. If it does, I will do my best to document and preserve the history of the movements and organizations that may or may not be welcomed and incorporated into a more national or global movement. The history of the 19th and 20th century suffragists is a complicated history of separate national, state, and local organizations that often disagreed on purpose and tactics and priorities. I expect no less here. The suffragist organizations that most history books reference were led by white, wealthy women at the expense of the alternate organizations who were not. I expect my profession to do a better job of documenting the voices of the determined and demanding women who brought us to yesterday. The organizers and speakers of yesterday’s marches cut their teeth on organizing around issues that often go ignored by white women, by me. When the history of the early 21st century is written, they will have their place in it.

I will do what I can to ensure that my niece and nephew know that the history of this movement was founded on the theory of intersectionality, a term coined by African American civil rights advocate and critical race scholar, Kimberlé Crenshaw.

I will do my part to fight for a culture that internalizes the importance of representation and a government that actually represents the people it is supposed to govern. Even when that is full of conflict and disagreement.

As one of the speakers said in Ithaca yesterday (curse my inability to remember names!) “Why do we keep fighting these battles? Because they are the most important battles to fight.”

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Why I am marching

I will not be at the Women’s March on Washington on Saturday primarily because I struggle in large crowds where I have no quick exit to a quiet space. I will, however, be at the sister march in Ithaca on Saturday. Since the election, when I woke up to learn the orange toad had won and I promptly threw up, I have been soul searching about my commitment to the principles I hold and how to better participate in democracy (I know we’re a republic, that’s a debate for another time.) It is once in a generation that you see an opportunity to step up and speak up for the future you envision in such a public way. This march is one of those key visible moments.

I march:

  • Because it is my constitutional right to do so and I will protect that right.
  • Because I will not live my life in fear of some faceless unknown or the “other”.
  • Because I am one voice among many and we do not have to compete for the limelight in order to validate ourselves.
  • Because my right to make decisions about my medical health should not be legislated.
  • Because I should not be denied health insurance in the future just because of my ongoing treatment for depression.
  • Because I should have recourse to hold trolls accountable to their words and actions when they tell me to return to the kitchen or otherwise threaten my physical and emotional self.
  • Because I went to a public school with teachers that helped shape me into a formidable woman. I believe a similar critical, inclusive education is fundamental for all children. It is fundamental for citizens to participate in a democracy.
  • Because I know that libraries are centers of community and hubs of information that must not be replaced by commercial interests.
  • Because education does not equal elitism.
  • Because climate change threatens humanity and it is past time for humans to take responsibility for our enormous impact on the planet.
  • Because I believe democracy should represent all people; not the wealthy minority.
  • Because I do not believe government is a business with a profit to maximize.
  • Because I believe an open government encourages accountability on the elected members of government that is necessary to a healthy, stable democracy.
  • Because I believe that the myth of the traditional nuclear family (as consisting of one (white) woman married to one (white) man to produce other (white, Christian) children) is something everyone should aspire to is harmful to this nation.
  • Because supporting art, creativity, and expression of difference means creating visions of the future for people who do not look like me.
  • Because I eagerly anticipate taking my niece and nephew camping in the national forests and hiking in national parks. I look forward to teaching them how to read animal tracks and showing them the wonder and brutality of the natural world.
  • Because my niece’s father was born in Turkey and is a naturalized citizen and my nephew’s father was born in Chile and is on his way to becoming a naturalized citizen. Neither child nor their parents should EVER feel they are not welcome in their country – this country.
  • Because my friends should not be persecuted because of who they are and who they aspire to be.
  • Because my friends contribute wonders to this country and should not be excluded because of their beliefs, their skin color, their sexuality, or because their genitals are interior instead of exterior.
  • Because I fear for the safety of my friends in the face of systemized racial violence – and I know their terror is greater.
  • Because my friend is a rockstar at her job and her disability should not be held against her by any employer.
  • Because my employer is unlikely to censure me for expressing a political opinion.

I march:

  • To honor the suffragists who marched in 1913 on the day before Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration to protest “the present political organization of society, from which women are excluded.” Their quest to acquire the necessary permits is inspiring and their movement was imperfect. But their actions are why I can live independently today.

I march:

  • For the children of Flint whose lives are altered because politicians decided to undermine necessary infrastructure.
  • For the courageous communities at Standing Rock who are fighting to protect their sovereignty.
  • For the mother who cannot because Saturday was the only day Planned Parenthood could schedule her breast exam after she found a lump.
  • For the woman who cannot because she has to save all her vacation so she can spend two weeks with her newborn before returning to work.
  • For the man who has to work two jobs because minimum wage is not a living wage.
  • For the father who is home with a sick child so his husband can march instead.
  • For the student who must work three part-time jobs while maintaining high grades so they can pay for public college in pursuit of their career aspirations.
  • For the next generation of children who should learn how menstruation works and how pregnancy doesn’t.
  • For the future where my niece and nephew can march to advocate for causes they believe in.

I march because the future I envision is inclusive of people who do not look like me, think like me, believe like me and that is okay so long as we treat each other with respect in our disagreements.

I march because the future I envision is fundamentally threatened by the orange toad, his cronies, and the government that used unconstitutional methods to limit voting, a platform based on fear, and a promise that fed a desire to return to the mythical past of the “great white man” so they could maintain control.

But here’s the thing.

Pundits and people threatened by this vision may call the march a war on “insert cool adjective/noun combination here”. But wars have an end with a winner and a loser – or more often only losers.

I see this march as a chorus of people who are marching for reasons that differ from mine. It will be a chorus with dissonance which holds its own kind of beauty. Let us come together to demonstrate that we are not going to back down from building a future that encourages our participation and includes a diversity of voices and experiences. The march is a single day to powerfully amplify voices in the most literal way imaginable.

Building a future is an act that is always in progress, not a war to win or lose. The future I envision is not for myself but for my nephews and nieces and their potential children in 100 years. We can march on Saturday to advocate a particular future and on Sunday we can go back to disagreeing on priorities and methods for building that future. Disagreements lead to compromises. That is democracy, and if done respectfully it will be messy and wonderful and imperfect. But it is far, far better than accepting the demands of a government, a body of powerful and flawed individuals, that actively call for the removal of our chorus because it threatens their view of the future which is a pale, nostalgic vision of a past that was always a myth.

And so I and many others will march. We will march for different reasons. We may disagree on those reasons and methods to reach certain outcomes. But we will march together anyway because our voices are stronger, louder, and harder to ignore when in chorus.

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Day 10

Part of practicing photography and learning how to do it better is learning what interests me visually and trying to represent that in a way so it translates to others who may view my image. It’s hard and the practice feels abstract to my very logical, verbal mind. It’s not like writing a thesis, that’s for sure. So today’s images I’ve grouped into three distinct themes, two of which I’m starting to see in my work, and the last is something I’d like to get better at: shades, clouds/skies, and capturing people/stories.

I was out in Harvard Square over the weekend dancing with friends. I figured it would be an excellent time to bring my camera.

Day 10Day 10We were dancing in the mid-day light, so the shadows were incredibly striking. I decided that rather than capturing the people who were dancing, I’d try to capture the movement in their shadows. These are the two best examples I managed. One is a little fuzzy, but I really like this as a way to capture people dancing. I will have to experiment more in the future.

I like clouds and sky as a subject. But making them interesting and grounded (ironic phrasing for sky…) is difficult. Just pointing my camera upwards and taking a picture, even if the cloud formations are interesting, often loses the drama I find so fascinating in the sky. I’m learning, through all that book readin’, that it’s part of the challenge of taking a three-dimensional subject and turning it into a two-dimensional representation. The trick, I’m discovering, is finding a way to build in dimensionality by putting objects in the foreground and create that enhance the drama.

Day 10This first image I used a flag pole reaching up to provide a false-sense of scale. The blue of the sky and the gold edge around the dramatic cloud formation appeals to me. The balance between the puffyness of the cloud and the stark linearity of the pole creates a weird tension that is also appealing.

 

 

Day 10Day 10The other two images are from the same vantage point. The first taking in more elements to “ground” the colors of the sky, the second eliminates the building and focuses on the silhouette of the basket of flowers. The clouds in the second get at little fuzzy, but I kind of like it because it makes me focus on the colors of the sky rather than the drama of the clouds.

 

 

Finally, people. I’ve written a bit previously about my discomfort with taking pictures of people. It’s invasive and I feel like a voyeur. I’m also hesitant about the ethics of taking photographs of people and sharing them online. But I’ve also begun to notice how bland images can be without that personal element. And I want to get better in general, so I’m trying. This dancing endeavor was a perfect opportunity to practice because I know the people and I also dance which I figured would help me anticipate action to get a well-framed shot. I had some success. The following four images I consider pretty good. They capture motion or a story or the excitement of the music. A few even have some pretty good framing. I could find fault with all of them, but I’d rather let them tell the story of the experience and hope they transmit the emotion of the afternoon.

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The last image I’ll share, although I admit I’m hesitant to do so. The lack of permission from the two subjects, neither of which could give me permission for two different reasons, makes me nervous about the ethics. But I really like the reasons behind why I composed this shot, so I’ll make it public anyway and include the story behind it.

At the music festival, sitting and listening to one of the bands perform, I noticed this woman. She was clearly enjoying the music, dancing and bouncing around in her chair, and expressing her joy at the experience. She was also appeared to be non-verbal, but her smile was just so incredible that I was drawn into her happiness and wanted to capture her enjoyment. I was having trouble catching her smile just right. Then this infant got rolled up to listen to the music as well. But instead of focusing on the music, she began to focus on the woman. Her intense expression of consideration and uncertainty at this woman whose appearance is culturally non-standard was such a juxtaposition. It made an interesting story within an image. After a few tries, I got this great shot of the infant looking at the woman who was looking to her caregiver with such a smile. I’m actually quite proud of it. (The only blech part of the image is the stupid Mountain Dew bottle)
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Day 9

Moving is hard work. Which means I’ve neglected this project. But I’ve got a few days in the queue that I’ll try to get shared.

In my non-picture taking time I’ve been doing a lot of reading on photography and composition. I took a break one morning to wash dishes (glamorous!) and the light happened to create some interesting colors on the wall through my cider bottles. My attempts to capture the interestingly-colored shadows were largely unsuccessful, but this particular one was at least moderately interesting. The line of bottles with their shadows and the shadow of the soap bottle is pleasantly aligned. Otherwise, it’s a little bit meh.Day 9

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Day 8

I only took two pictures today. So rather than select a best, I took one of them and played with the color levels in Gimp. I’m not overly interested in manipulating images in photoshop – yet. But it’s fun to see what the technology can do.

Day 8This first image is the “original.”  It’s a tif copy of the raw file. The sunlight was just peeking through the clouds, making the blues intense and the golds vibrant. I decided to play with that effect.

The second image I focused on darkening everything except the stream of light. The third, I darkened the blues and lightened the lights. And the fourth image I tried to bring back the color in the foreground. Because I didn’t use any layers to separate changes in the levels to get some combination of the above, the last image is less striking. I still have the raw file. So perhaps some day when I’m feeling ambitious I can do that.

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Day 7

Day 7I took a very early morning walk today to the grocery store. On my way there I met an ambitious squirrel who was trying very hard to consume a piece of pizza that nearly matched him in size. It was the perfect subject, so I took a few shots of the happy creature. This one turned out the best. I’m still having problems with focus. This isn’t as clean as I’d like it to be. But I think I captured the memory behind the encounter.

With this guy to inspire me, and the sun finally breaking out and shining in my guinea pig’s cage, I took the time to play with shutter speed. Again, the white balance was set improperly and I didn’t realize it until later, but I actually like the warmth it gives Fred’s coat. These three are the best, taken from two different angles but mostly capturing his “I’m content and only interested in you if you have food” posture. The sun was hitting his white spot quite nicely. But sadly it wasn’t until I got the images to my computer that I realized just how much of his cute little face was shadowed. Relying on the viewfinder and lcd screen just isn’t enough. Oh well, they are still some of the best pictures I’ve taken of any of my pigs.
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Day 6

We’ve had a bit of rain the past 24 hours which added a new element to consider when composing my photographs today. Namely, water droplets on the spring flowers. I spent a great deal of today playing with trying to capture water and color with varying degrees of success.

Day 6Rather than leaving the best for last, today I want to highlight the one that turned out most successfully. This one was part of a set where I was playing with manual focus. I had several photographs that looked very similar, particularly when viewing them through the little review lcd panel on the camera. But when it came to pick the best this one stood out because of what was in focus (most of the primary flower) and what was out of focus. If I’d thought of it, I should have pulled out my lens that has macro capability and tried to capture interesting reflections through the water droplets which were so stable on the flowers today.

Day 6This one was part of the same shoot, but it doesn’t have as much activity going on in the image because it is a single flower. But I find the background, an unopened flower, pleasing. Finding the right focus is difficult for me yet through the lens. I may also need to get my glasses prescription checked.

Day 6I really, really like the veining in this iris. They are highlighted because of the way the droplets cling just over the veins in the petals, bringing focus to them. The focus isn’t as clear as maybe I’d like, but that’s okay. I also I like that I captured an open flower, a flower that was dead, and one that is just starting to open up. It speaks to me of stages.

Day 6The next one I just enjoy because shoes hanging in silly places hold a special place in my heart (thanks Wood St!) This pair of chucks were new to my daily walk to work, likely a product of some undergrad moving out nearby. I tried cropping it in a little bit, but every time I was disappointed because it lost the context: These are in a tree. So I left the frame as is.

Day 6Finally this picture of Faneuil Hall is okay, but the clouds aren’t as dramatic as I remember them. I love clouds. I love their colors and their shapes and their motion. This photograph doesn’t capture any of that really. Maybe the colors, but certainly little drama of clouds after a storm. That’s okay though, I’ll try again some other rainy day.

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Day 5

Finally, I’m caught up with images from today. Nothing really amazing came from today’s walk. That’s alright.

Day 5Day 5These first two I want to like more than I do. The light, the contrast between the very blue sky and the pink flowers and the white building is pleasing. But there is something missing that makes either a good image. I’m not sure what I’m missing. They are from the same angle, just different zooms (I can’t remember the technical term? Focal length? Something.)

 

 

 

The third I really like the colors an the play between light and shadows. But something keeps it from really popping. Perhaps focus? I may be too tired to really analyze what I’m seeing – or not seeing – today.
Day 5

The good news is that because it’s spring there are no shortage of beautiful flowers I get to smell while I take my photographs!

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Day 4

After spending a few days in Palm Springs I spent a day in Los Angeles with my dear friend Jasmine. Practically a native herself, she showed me around the city and took me to the Getty museum where I put my camera to good use.

A quick word, all of these images are on flickr to see them in their larger state.

Day 4First up is this image which I like because the slight frame inside the image. It doesn’t have a bottom to the internal frame though, which kind of drives me nuts. Lessons learned?

Day 4I didn’t have my macro lens with me, so trying to get a good picture of all the bees on the flowers was largely unsuccessful. But when I was reviewing the images I realized that this one captures the bee and the barest hint of a spider’s web. I had to crop it in quite a bit to provide focus to an otherwise lackluster picture, but the result was interesting. Because I’m still reliant on autofocus the focus is completely on the stem of the flower rather than the bee or the spiderweb.

Autofocus and its limitations is the game of the day.

Day 4Portraits and taking pictures of people in crowds terrifies me. It feels invasive even when I have permission. But I’d like to take better pictures in general and so Jasmine briefly allowed me to use her as one of my guinea pigs. The best shot I got though was this one before she had said yes and started posing. She may disagree, but I think it captures her real smile and personality.

Day 4I really wanted this image to work better than it did. Another problem with autofocus in that it focused on the bark instead of the images. I still really like the colors and the light shaft. It’s really a shame that the focus is weird.

 

The final two images from this trip I like for very different reasons and it’s hard for me to pick a best for the day. The hidden beauty of these flowers under the tree with the city in the background make this an interesting show. The one thing that bothers me is the branch that protrudes into the foreground and is so out of focus. I mostly don’t see it until all of a sudden BAM! it’s there, distracting me with its unruly greenery.

Day 4

The other is equally disorienting because of out of focus activity in the foreground, but I find it intriguing because of that. The yellow/red colors of the succulent are so striking that it’s the first thing  I notice before the out of focus-ness of them leads me towards the background and to the right where they are in focus. Then suddenly there’s the background, in focus, and such a darker color, that it leads me back to the foreground.
Day 4

Autofocus: super helpful, but it’s difficult to tell on the review screen whether it actually picked the point of focus I was trying for or something close but not exact. It makes a difference when doing these macro shots.

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