Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Choices

A group of double crested cormorants along the flooded St. Johns River in New Brunswick were a perfect photographic subject for me and my newly discovered joy of monochromatic type images.
I'm not a fan of old country music, but there are some classics that I really enjoy and sing along at full throttle, putting my heart into the words. George Jones had some real tear jerkers, including "He Stopped Loving Her Today". But one of my favourites from George was "Choices". I've had choices since the day that I was born...

 

Like a lot of young people, I was facing university without a clue of what I wanted to do with my life. A friend mentioned a program called Finance and Administration and told me that there was an opportunity to have a job with a financial company every summer. Having a guaranteed job every summer to help pay for school sounded good to me, so I took the interviews and landed a spot with one of the big banks. For three years, I went to school and worked each summer at a different branch. That started a twenty year career in banking, all because of a chat with a friend and me not knowing what I wanted to do.

 

Those years were good to me in a lot of ways, and I worked my way up the corporate ladder rather quickly. From teller to manager of thirty people administering work for fifty branches, I was completely dedicated to my job. For several years, I lived and breathed work. If I wasn't on the job, I was taking courses for accreditation to further my career. That all came to a screeching halt when the trust company I worked for was taken over by a bank. A team of people from Toronto flew in one day without notice, and my department of thirty people, as well as dozens more, were given severance packages and told to pack up their desks and sent home. Not sure whether I was one of the lucky ones or not, I was left behind to help clear up things left behind. It was devastating, and a real eye opener for my working life. I struggled along for a couple of years, but my heart wasn't in it anymore and I was just going through the motions.

 

A couple of years later, when I was managing a branch and my job disappeared, I was given a choice. Take another job in the bank, or take a severance package. I didn't hesitate, took the package, and never looked back.

 

For the first time, I made a choice that wasn't the safe one. I decided to start my own company and went into the dog biscuit business. From banker to baker, I started by baking biscuits in my own home and selling them bag by bag to people at craft fairs. I landed my first wholesale customer, progressed to having people bake biscuits for me, then to having a commercial bakery. The business won the "Most Innovative Local Business in Ontario" award in 2001, and had lots of free press and exposure. Ten years, one hundred thousand bags of biscuits, and lots of happy dogs, and I was making my own choices about my own company.

 

There comes a time when decisions just feel right, and in 2007 I decided it was time to sell the business and fulfill my dream of living in Nova Scotia. That's when photography started becoming more important in my life.

 
There are lots of choices when it comes to hobbies. First, which hobby are you going to pursue? Then, how far are you going to go with it? My heart has always been with photography. So when I moved to Nova Scotia and needed to meet new people, I chose to join a photography club. Involving myself in club competitions forced me to take pictures of things that I wouldn't naturally be interested in and, in turn, my skills grew. Never a technical person, I have enjoyed taking pictures of things that catch my eye, in my own way of doing things.

A couple of weeks ago, I was working on a few projects that required me to go back over my photography files and try to organize them into something cohesive. It was quite an interesting task, as I have never specialized in any particular genre of photography. I tend to get interested in something for a period of time, and then go madly off in another direction and try something different. Looking back at old photographs can be very enlightening, and I'm sure most of us can see a progression of sorts as we move along the learning curve.
It can be easy to forget that we all have our own path, and our own successes and failures. The important thing is to keep learning and keep trying. Sometimes we can forget how far we've come, until we take a look back over our shoulder. One bonus with digital photography is that we can go back to our old files and work with them to come up with something completely different.

Once I selected my favourite images, I took a look at them as a group and had an epiphany of sorts. Friends in my photo club might have noticed already, but it took grouping my photos together to make me realize that I prefer almost monochromatic images. I had put together fifteen of my favourites, and only one of them had noticeable colour in it. I hadn't realized it before, because I take thousands of colour photographs every year. But it took looking at the ones that have special meaning for me to realize how much I leaned in that direction.

The weather on our recent trip to New Brunswick was drizzly and foggy and a perfect backdrop for my penchant towards colourless images. As I continue to work through those files, I can embrace my new found knowledge about my photographic choices. Our learning curves on this journey through life are always something good to focus on.

published in the South Shore Breaker, Bedford & Sackville Observer, Dartmouth Tribune - May 24, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

On the Road Again

Sometimes size does matter. Without a specialty lens, my moose would have been a small speck in the landscape, instead of an up close and personal image.
I know some people who have had a really tough time adjusting to retirement. They find their days long, and miss the structure of their old work life. My husband was worried that I would miss my business after it sold, but no. Not me. When I retired, I never looked back.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Bird-Brained

An early morning photo shoot of local osprey was ruined by forgetting to reset my camera settings. The images were all three photo compilations due to my camera being set to take multiple exposures.
I had an interesting morning recently, in which I discovered that bird-brained can have two quite different meanings. In my meandering way, I will tell you a bit about both my experiences.

Every morning, without fail, I am awakened by two impatient dogs who want to get started with their day. I cant be irritated with them, even if they decide its time to get going while I am still in a sound slumber, because they are just so deliriously happy that it tends to rub off on me. Okay, its time to get up and start the day. This involves letting them out, letting them in, feeding them, getting the coffee ready, feeding the cat and cleaning her box, getting the paper, and on it goes. When I finally get to relax with my coffee, I usually take a look at our backyard birds.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

When there's no turning back

A postcard from Lake Ainslie sent back to Ontario by my mother in 1967, during my first trip to Nova Scotia.
Do you ever wonder what could have been? If you had made a different choice, or followed a different path? If you stayed put instead of moving on? Or if you said yes instead of no to a new life challenge?

 

We are all making choices constantly in our lives. Small choices, like what to have for breakfast. Or big life choices, such as changing jobs or changing life styles. It's all the constant decisions that we face that can sometimes become overwhelming.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Stretching our abilities

"Eye of the Beholder" - my image for the South Shore Stories exhibit at the Margaret Hennigar Library, Bridgewater during the month of May
Learning any type of craft is good for the mind, and can be a lifelong learning journey. For me, a love of photography started early. I'm not sure whether I loved it more for the documentation process or to help cover up my shyness. For years, the only photos I took were what I would call documentary, chronicling life with my family and friends. Looking back, I think one reason I did this was to help with my memory, which has always been bad. 

When I was in my late teens, I was talking with my friends and reminiscing about early high school. They were laughing about something that happened and I didn't remember even being there. No, there were no drugs or alcohol involved. Forty years later,

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Reality versus illusion

If you are of a certain age, you may remember the advertisements with the tag line "does she, or doesnt she?", referring to hair colour. For the record, I dont, and am naturally "silver". It amazes me that young women purposely dye their hair grey. Does that mean I am fashionable? I doubt it.
 
These days, sometimes its difficult to tell if something is real or manufactured.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Repetition Doesn't Mean Boring

Going back to the same location time and time again can lead to a series of interesting images with quite different results. Timing is everything – a few hours after this photo was taken, the hay rows were gone.
Have you ever found yourself doing the same thing over and over again, expecting the result to change? Of course, doing the same thing countless times without variation leads to the same conclusion, even if we continue to hope for something different.

As so often happens to me these days, my mind goes back into the past and remembers long forgotten details. Many years ago, when we purchased our first computer we had one of those frustrating experiences that new technology often brings. Back then, setting up a new computer was a lot more complicated than it is now. We painstakingly followed the instructions and had no success. Over and over, line by line,