I loved photographing this beautiful barn. I didn’t dare go inside – fear of rats, nails, and sudden collapse.
In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “A Moment in Time.”
I am a traveling doctor and I have a new job for a few months, in Fargo, North Dakota. Brr. Everyone is really nice here, and the facilities are awesome. In the center of the hospital is an atrium that goes all the way up to the top floor, which is where I work. The first time I leaned over to look, I got dizzy. My next thought: I gotta get a picture of that! Then I thought: I will probably drop my phone over the edge! It took me two days to work up the nerve to take the pic, clutching the phone with both shaking hands, visions of the phone falling six stories and smashing into a patient at the bottom. Good thing the phone had vision stabilization.
When I was an infant, I had an aquarium. It wasn’t exactly traditional, and probably today it would not be sold, and the PETA people would come after it, not to mention all the shrieking there would be about the risks of infant strangulation. Plastic bags, and all that, you know.
My “aquarium” was a long, transparent bag, about 6 inches deep, and exactly long enough for its straps to tie across the rails of a crib.
I had a goldfish in my aquarium. I don’t remember if he had a name, but I am this minute resolving to ask my mom if he did.
The bag was tied low enough (I wasn’t yet sitting or walking) that I could whap (this is a family word – I think it is a good one) on that bag with my hands, and watch that fish scoot around above me.
I kind of doubt the fish was happy, what with all the whapping and all. However, apparently he did live for a good long time. Goldfish are pretty hardy, and easy to care for.
His demise was brought about by my grandmother. We apparently had to travel somewhere for some days, and she forgot to feed him.
I do not remember my fish. I don’t think. However, I am pretty sure my subconscious remembers my fish.
I dream a lot. About fish.
You know how there’s that one recurrent dream that everybody has, that they can’t explain why, and that they have various versions of it?
I dream about fish. And aquariums. Quite a bit. Not every day, or week, or month, but I have dreamt about them a LOT.
I am very happy in my dream, because I have many aquariums, which contain a multitude of exotic (and implausible) fish.
I am happy but concerned, because I walk into a room full of tanks of fish, and someone has neglected or forgotten them, but I can see there are some live fish, and I set about cleaning them up and rescuing them.
I am VERY happy, because I am in a shop, and I am there to buy (some) fish. These fish are WILDLY impossible creatures. I remember once there was a miniature underwater giraffe.
Occasionally, I am horrified because I have many aquariums, and somehow I forget I have fish, and now they look miserable and sick, and it is all my fault, and I have to make amends, and clean them up, and make them better again.
In all my dreams, the fish make me VERY happy. Except for the early on part where I find the forgotten ones, because they look sad.
In real life, I have owned goldfish, bettas, neon tetras, guppies, plecostomas (I may have spelled the name very wrong, but they are the little depressed looking bloopy ones who keep the tank clean), angelfish, fresh water sharks, and cichlids.
I love the goldfish the most.
Especially the fancy ones: the Black Moors, the Lionhead Orandas, the Pearl Scales, and those black Telescope ones who have the bulging eyes.
I have had some of all of these goldfish. I want to buy one right now. Alas, we travel too much.
So what does this mean? I have a feeling that I have a visual memory, or a stored feeling of happiness if I see a fish, from my infancy. I’m pretty sure.
Is this true? I don’t know, but I sure love fish. I really love them. And that makes me happy. Very happy.
Nothing much warmer than a hothouse full of orchids. One of my husband’s memories from his dad: he inherited an orchid and that started our collection. This bloom arrived in time for my daughter’s ninth birthday.
The question was posed: is it more dangerous to want everything or nothing?
I think desiring everything can be an indication of ambition, if what you want is intangible. Failure to narrow down these aspirations make one the proverbial “Jack of all Trades, and Master of None.” Those of us with this issue of course refer to ourselves as “Renaissance” persons. It sounds better.
I had no goals in high school. Except to survive.
Desire for things is a symptom of the commercialization fed to us every day; we are bombarded: ads on TV, ads online, the lure of a glistening store.
The sellers know, the more we are dissatisfied with ourselves, the more we are likely to buy a product. “If I just bought this wrinkle cream, I would look younger and more desirable.” “If I bought this treadmill, I would lose weight and be sexy.” It is human nature to desire to improve, fit in, and of course, find a “better” mate. And society has persuaded us, tragically, that this results from conspicuous consumption, not from internal change.
Desiring many things can also indicate greediness, addiction, hoarding issues, and narcissicism, where people may spend more than they can afford, landing themselves in debt and jeopardizing their family’s finances.
I confess, I do want everything. Things. In my case, I want to improve my looks, and to fit in with my peer groups, and I have definite packrat tendencies. I love to shop, and sometimes I engage in retail therapy. I shop when I feel bad, I shop when I feel good, I shop because I love to bring home piles of lovely things to add to my treasure troves of clothing, art and jewelry supplies, books, stationery, eclectic decorating items. My interests are wide. And since high school, I have harbored the conviction that the more “cool” things I have, the safer from criticism and ostracism I will be.
Wanting no material things; that’s good. We could use more asceticism in life. A simple life is examined and confident.
But wanting nothing; that can be scarier still. I realized one day, a few years back, that despite hoarding my precious supplies of material things, that I have no goals left.
I had a goal to go to college; I finished with a whopper GPA . Check. Next goal: have fun. Did that in spades. Overdid that. Next stop, medical school. Made straight A’s my first two years, and nearly that the second two. Check. Next stop, residency. Chose a specialty and spend a grueling 4 years training, being hazed, overworked and psychologically abused. Survived it, and I never let them see me cry. Check, check, check, check.
I bought the car of my dreams, a Porsche Carrera, after graduating. Goal met. I wanted to get married. Finally met and married my husband at the ripe old age of 35. Goal met. We wanted children, and I produced a daughter with frightening speed.
And one day, I woke up and I realized there was nothing left. All those life goals, done. What else is there? What do I want now? What life achievement is out there?
I’ve given this a fair bit of thought.
Many aspire for grandchildren, which would be nice, but it is not a goal for me.
I want to make more friends. I guess that’s sort of a goal.
I’d like to simplify my life by divesting myself of these possessions. But I don’t really want to.
I want to improve my jewelry techniques and make selling my work more of a career and less of a hobby. It’s a dream I cannot realize, since the loss of income would be unacceptable. That would be a goal, but it is inconveniently imaginary.
I want to get in better shape, but do I really? I abhor gyms; they bore me, and I don’t go. Must not be much of a goal, if I’m not doing anything about it..
I would like to write a book. It may or may not happen. I know I do have one in me. It’s probably the only true goal I have left.
What I really want is to quit my job. Scarcely a positive move.
Not wanting anything is an abyss you stare into. There is nothing at the bottom of it, at the end of it. In essence, life is over. I feel I should just cede what’s left to the next generation.
Not wanting is the end of the road. It brings on an unsurmountable depression. I am reminded always of Peggy Lee’s song “Is That All There Is?” I learned it as a kid, but didn’t realize the sadness and truth in it until I was older.
If you want material things, at least you are alive in a small way. You are moving toward something, persuading yourself that amassing collections is a vital “hobby”.
I’ve always felt I want too many tangible things, but that never gave me this sinking feeling that there is nothing left to achieve. That is a special kind of hell. A bottomless pit. And when hope is gone, that is a very, very dangerous thing. A person with nothing to lose is a disaster waiting to happen.
This week I hit an amazing milestone – over 1,000 followers! I wanted to make a very special post to commemorate this and it struck me – I don’t know what to say.
I never dreamed I would have such a following. I started this blog as a way to hone my writing skills while ranting about mundane issues that no one else wants to hear me rant about.
This blog was started several years ago, but it has only been active the last two. I began with the near-daily postings when I found myself in a soul-crushing job that, thanks to the wonders of computers and “paperless” technology, had had its productivity slowed to a screeching halt. So while I waited for my nurse to do the hour’s worth of computer processing necessary for each patient, I was sitting and staring at my laptop. Miserable. Angry. And suddenly I remembered this little blog thing I had.
The more I wrote, the more I wanted to write. Funny stuff, indignant stuff, deep stuff, angry stuff. I learned how to add pictures – big advancement!
I’ve been taking a look back at my older posts and I would like to encourage you not to read them. They’re not very good. They’re not so well written, and they make me look like an irritable old curmudgeon. (Which I am, if a woman can be curmudgeonly).
As I wrote, I became aware of this little thing called “Freshly Pressed”. I had been nominated for a few other blogging awards, but this Freshly Pressed thing became my holy grail – my quest – a measure of my worthy blogitude. I never thought I would get it, but I kept writing. I even wrote a post about wanting to be freshly pressed.
I got Freshly Pressed. It was a blog about my daughter’s softball practice and you can find it here: https://beadstork.wordpress.com/2013/04/25/everybody-move-up/
It was personal to me – so much so that I cried while I read it to my husband. Maybe that showed. At any rate, It happened!
I was ecstatic. Wanted to tell everyone I knew. Didn’t. Told the people who count though. Then, the weirdest thing happened: I stopped writing. It seems that attaining my seemingly unattainable goal told my brain, “Welp, nothing more to do here.”
After nearly daily posts, months went by before I got back to it. I grant, I had just begun some fairly extensive traveling for work, which was a big adjustment, but I could have written. A lot of that work time was sent sitting in hotels waiting for a call from Labor and Delivery.
And suddenly, I wanted to write again. I felt embarrassed about neglecting my blog – I had put so much into it, and when success happened, I bailed. Reverse psychology.
But this week I hit it big. Over 1,000 followers! Holy crap! I will say, guys, that I wish you would comment a lot more. I love comments. It even says so right in my blog. I will answer them all.
I’ve been following my stats with some interest. Of course, my most popular post was the Freshly Pressed one. But I never suspected that this next post would make it so big.
I am a gynecologist, and I have written a number of posts on that subject, humorous or not, angry or not, or just plain boring. The MOST frequent search term BY FAR, the one that gets me multiple hits daily is some variant of “does my gynecologist care if I shave?” I wrote a post some time ago, the one that everyone on the net seems to read, which you can see here: https://beadstork.wordpress.com/2012/09/13/things-your-obgyn-never-tells-you/ If you don’t feel like reading the post, the answer is, no, we could care less if you don’t shave. We only notice that you didn’t shave if you say, “I’m sorry I didn’t shave.” Then, of course, we feel compelled to look. But we still don’t care.
My two favorite posts are silly, and they are pretty similar. They will be funny to you if you are a) a woman or b) have ever been involved with one. The first is funny things my patients have said to me: https://beadstork.wordpress.com/2014/01/11/things-my-patients-say-to-me/ and the second is about funny things that men have said to me: https://beadstork.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/things-that-men-say/ .
So. 1,000 followers. I am honored beyond belief. Looking back at some of my old posts, I’m not sure what on earth you see in there. But the presence of 1,000+ followers is sure a motivating factor to produce some writing of quality. So I am going to try my best. (Which may result in a drastically decreased number of postings).
So thank you for following! (Bows down multiple times). “I am not worthy! I am not worthy!” But I hope to be.
I know, we’ve all been tempted, right? It’s not what you think. If you want to accuse me of using a sensationalist title to draw in readers, fair enough. Guilty.I’m referring to photography. I am an amateur photographer. I like to photograph many things, but one of my favorite things to do is shoot kids. Think of it as going on safari. You stalk them, you grab pictures quick when they’re not moving, and do lots and lots of deleting later.
I am by no means a pro, but I have found over the years that there are some things that can help you get good kid pictures. (Or any pictures, for that matter).
First, closer, closer, closer. I have read this advice numerous times from photographers who are professionals, and I don’t think that this can be emphasized enough. Pictures whose subject is in one corner of the photo are not good photos. They look messy, and busy, and you really can’t tell what the picture is even supposed to be illustrating. Also, all sorts of photo bombs get in there. Make sure your subject (in this case, the kid or kids) completely fill the whole frame as much as possible.
You will also of course need to include at least a portion of what they are focused on – a ball field, a swing set, etc. But you really don’t need to include the whole object of attention – just enough to get an idea of what it is.
Second, if your camera has a sports setting, turn it on. The ability to take multiple photos in rapid succession is very important if you are shooting kids in motion. If you take a ton, at least one or two of them will turn out well. If you only take a couple, you most likely will not get anything worth keeping.
If you are outside, turn that flash off. It will only delay the clicking of the shutter if you are in a hurry to get multiple photos. Often, you can get away turning the flash off inside too, if you have a good DSLR camera that can compensate with correct aperture and f-stop settings. Take a couple photos inside of the same subject, with and without flash. If the quality of the no-flash pics are acceptible, turn off the flash.
Don’t pose your kids, except maybe for a few final pictures of them all together, with a finished product. Say they are making a snowman. You want to catch as many action photos of that as possible. You can pose them at the end, with the snowman, to insure that all the kids are in the pic and facing the correct direction. Just remember that most kids quickly sicken of posing for photos. They want to be DOING something. They will soon ignore you, and the stupid faces and stupid poses will rapidly ensue.
Make as little fuss about the camera as possible. Don’t even mention that you will be taking pictures. Try to maneuver at as much distance as possible, with the lens zoomed in so that the subject is well framed, so your presence is unobtrusive. The kids WILL notice that the camera is there, and at first they will clown around and act crazy. Get a couple of pics of this – one of them might be cute. Don’t ask them to pose or not to make faces. They will soon acclimate to you and the fun at hand will soon take precedence.
Now, snap snap snap. Set up your photos by establishing yourself at a point distanced from them (this is where a long range or zoom lens comes in handy) and adjust focus and zoom until the kids are more or less filling the full photo frame. Test focus on one of the kids – that way the focus will be more or less established when you are ready to snap. Hold the focus, and pan after them with the camera. Adjust focus as necessary, and as soon as one turns their head so that their face is towards you, especially if they are smiling, snap, snap, snap. Stop when they turn away. Focus on a different kid if that one is faced away from you. Make sure you try to frame both kids if you have the opportunity to show them interacting, particularly if they are both faced toward you. Again, snap, snap, snap. Get ten or more pictures if you think you have a good composition. You will edit them later.
Just remember, especially you older folks, that the camera you have is now probably digital. That means you have NO FILM. Back in the day, only pro photographers shot this many pictures, since film development was slow and expensive, especially if 90% of shots are discarded. My mom has been an amateur photographer since before I was born, and she is still timid about snapping multiple photos. There IS NO FILM! Your picture taking now is only limited by the size of your SD card and your patience with prolonged review and deletion of photos. Make sure you have an extra SD card – you may fill this one. An extra camera battery is also a good idea.
Be prepared later on (preferably later that day) to download and look at a LOT of photos. The kids were in constant motion, and most of them will be blurred, or the kid will have turned away at the last moment, or they may have a weird expression on their face. Or, the composition of the photo may just be crappy. DELETE, DELETE, DELETE. If you wouldn’t want to show anyone else the photo, or wouldn’t want to look at it again, dump it. The other day was a snow day and I took almost 800 photos – filled an entire 16 GB SD card. You DO NOT have room in your computer for this many pictures. DELETE. Out of those 700+ pictures I took that day, I deleted until I had less than 100 photos left. Then I made a second and third pass and got them down to less than 50, but those were really good.
You don’t have to be an expert with photoshop to improve your photos. I certainly am not. Most computers come loaded with a photo processing program that is free and reasonably intuitive. All I really do is correct red eye and crop. You can accomplish so many improvements with these two edits! Never print out or upload photos to Facebook, or anywhere else, if the people in those pics have red eyes. Those photos are instantly crap. No one wants to look at vampire people. Red eye correction is super easy to do.
Cropping is the other massively useful ability. You may have a good picture, but it may have been taken from too far away, or there may be photo bombs around the edges of the pic. Crop. If you have a decent digital camera (and they’re all pretty much decent these days) the crop will still have good resolution and not be grainy. If you think the photo would be better composed if just a portion of it was used, crop. You can always undo this before you save. You will develop a feel for the most pleasing ways to crop pictures by moving around the crop box if you do it enough.
Hope this is helpful! Probably most of you don’t need my advice, but these are tips I’ve found useful. Happy hunting!