Relaxation, now or…?

relaxation

Our Learning Center photography students for the most part share a common trait. Their lives become more successful and more hectic. Squeeze this in and rush here and back there and… Busy! We incorporate meditation exercises out in the field especially for our “Zen and Landscape Photography; Open your Mind, Follow Your Heart” workshop. We will sense the environment with eyes closed mostly standing still feeling the breeze, hearing the gurgling stream, and smelling the fragrances. Then everyone is relaxed and their seeing increases, gifting them better nature images. Win-Win!

What to do at home though is a concern. Allow me to share. Relax more…and not with an iPhone in one hand looking over your toes at the TV. That may be entertainment and rest yet not relaxation. OK how then? Zen, yoga, meditation and other relaxation techniques come to mind. We are way to busy with multi-tasking, deadlines and a resistance to do nothing alone for an hour or so. How to start? No worries… Select a quiet environment (you knew that, right?) and develop a passive not active attitude. Select a comfortable position reducing efforts by your body muscles and this is the hard part…select a mantra or a word or a sound.

One way to accomplish this is sit in a comfortable position, eyes closed, then relax your muscles beginning with your shoeless feet and slowly work up to your head. Breathe through your nose. Best not after a meal then it becomes an unwanted nap, good or bad. Pick a short word to “say” or listen to a sound as you breathe in and out. Continue for 20 minutes…do not pass go. Plan this twice a day. Guaranteed to make you feel calmer yet more energetic and more confident to tackle those projects that seem to allude us all. You will be glad you did.

Persistence

persistence

There are 170, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000 ways to play the ten opening moves of chess. Maybe there are as many creative ways and more to capture the first ten images with a camera. Where to begin? Creativity is best experienced in neutral. Go with the flow. Listen to our inner voice. Awareness. A sound way to lose creativity, I have observed, is to desire it at the expense of everything else.

My profession challenges me to be prepared and able to work hard to achieve a goal when I believe the goal is true for me. Barriers need to be constantly broken down to connect with the right people to earn and obtain their understanding and consent of the need for what I do. I facilitate and gain entré for my students to enable them to pursue their personal projects. They listen, heed the counsel, and achieve measurable results.

My parents raised me to listen to my feelings and emotions, to be honest to myself. My mentor Saul Horwitz taught me business ethics and to be honest and fair. They all thought me persistence. nothing can replace persistence. Mix together education, talent, and smarts. They are nothing without persistence and determination.

A former photo workshop participant who taught at a local college took me aside one night and shared, “You teach us more than f-stops and shutter speeds. You teach us something of greater value. Persistence and determination.”

The secret ingredients are balance and trust. Our inner voice will guide when we are ready. Listen…

Image: Blue Rocks, Nova Scotia
Copyright, Robert Floyd, 2015
P.S. Our Nova Scotia workshop adventure was packed with experiences, once-in-a-lifetime subjects, good eats, and fun. One day we were determined to explore Blue Rocks. Our persistence rewarded us all.

Our Veterans

Our Veterans

Memorial Day is a holiday and there will be cook-outs. Remember the term cook-outs? Now, its barbeques thanks to Home Depot.

Today, we remember those women and men who have served and fought for the freedoms we have now. Towns and cities throughout America have parades, ceremonies, and remembrances. Here in Southampton, we are blessed with an outstanding Annual Memorial Day Parade, Center Cemetery activities, and more parade, with a most wonderful center of Town, yes, we do have a Town Center, tightly formed around a sacred triangle with memorial stone and benches, and a flag pole bearing our country’s colors.

I have witnessed for years and years, tireless efforts by our Southampton Robert Seher, watering, cultivating, and attending to the plants that decorate our sacred triangle. Often music comes from his parked truck, while he gives…and does he ever give!…for all our benefit as we whiz by in our vehicles or on our bikes. Thank you, Mr. Seher. I so admire you!

Our mothers and fathers, true military heroes, gave up their future so we can be safe in ours. Our preachers lead in our religions, yet it was the veterans who have gifted us Freedom of Religion. Our reporters present us the news, yet it is the veterans who gifted us Freedom of the Press. Our poets open our ears to wonders of expression, yet it is the veterans who gifted us Freedom of Speech. Our campus organizers have stood up to injustices, yet it is our veterans who have gifted us the Freedom to Assemble. Our lawyers defend whomever, yet it is our veterans who have gifted us Freedom to a Fair Trial. Our politicians spend money for our vote, yet it is our veterans who gifted us the Freedom to Vote. Our flag ceremonies, tomorrow, will give us all pause, yet it will be our veterans who will snap to attention and salute our flying colors.

Today, we assemble to pay direct respect to our Southampton brethren who have served through the centuries. Some of us will mourn loved ones who may not have directly served yet are dear to our hearts. And a few will be unable to stand over their parents’ veterans grave due to their loyalties and responsibilities to support our Southampton Annual Memorial Day Parade. We all have choices. That is our right.

__Robert Floyd, the photographer

Almost…

almost

There is no try, only do. Yoda taught us that. Now, almost…is another matter.

My young mind tried to sort out its meaning. Shy of a home run or a winning score, almost was meant to be a constellation prize of sorts. It did sooth or perhaps only distracted me. Yet my Mom never bought into it. Coming home with an 89 score instead of a 90, “almost doesn’t count” ringed in my little ears. Same word, different meaning. Little if any comfort. Almost invites the story of how close we come to …it, whatever it is. Almost makes me daydream of all the almost results. Sometimes its usage appears to warrant a second place finnish instead of victory.

Our Learning Center participants grow and grow at their own pace sometimes accelerated by a long term workshop commitment or two. Then there is the “I almost captured the image of the fox, if only I had a charged battery in my camera.” Hmmm… I believe in projects, committing and finishing yet I have more projects unfinished than makes me comfortable. The downside of finishing a project is the journey ends. Life is all journeys. I struggle with this and need to create more discipline, less journeys, more finished projects. What to do?

Much of my time is spent facilitating photo projects for others. it is what I often do through all seasons. I never push somebody completely out of their comfort zone yet challenge them constructively. Nobody needs to like me for this. Respect is another matter. Seven weeks ago I created a brand new project, committed to it, and finished it yesterday. No almost. Done. Finis. The project? Visit every single sugar shack for breakfast in the Pioneer Valley before end season. One capture only. Click. No looking at image. Eat well. Good Eats! I posted that one image for each venue on FaceBook immediately, sometimes from the parking lot. Yesterday, I captured a second image, one quick capture. There is lots more to life than maple syrup. Now onwards to those uncompleted projects. No worries…purchased lots to bottled maple syrup to last through my future almosts…

“The road less travelled—Western Newfoundland”

the road less travelled western NF

Hiking odysseys demand safety first, pleasure second, and learning opportunities always. There is work yet to be done to ensure our Newfoundland Eco-Adventure participants have ample time to reach their once-in-a-lifetime vistas. It’s a very ambitious trip and we cannot travel there this year as well as next year. What to do? Retaining wall replacements, guide rail installations, road upgrades, and trail reroutes will NOT be completed in time. Simple stuff can make big difference in satisfaction. A volunteer group, the International Appalachian Trail Newfoundland and Labrador enhancement crew will start next month to do some serious trail improvement for older blow downs and new trail reroutings. Present conditions will wear us down and either we give up some spectacular landscapes/seascapes or spend less time photographing and being in the moment with them. I do not believe in forced marches across less than smooth terrain.

I refuse to shorten the trip as well as reduce the many offerings. One solution is to only travel to Western Newfoundland next year instead of now. Some want to sign up already. Others need space between last year’s Newfoundland adventure. The Western roads and trails have not been reconditioned in years. This year’s improvements will facilitate our travels immensely. So…no Western Newfoundland trip this year. Same time next year.

Our expanded Eastern Newfoundland trip as scheduled will be held next year…a day earlier than this years schedule. Those wanting a streamlined experience this year will fly and join me in St. John’s during this June. Avalon Peninsula it is. Next year, the Bonavista Peninsula as well. I will interview potential natural history guides for next year in St. John’s. Canada is excellent in refunding deposits as is The Gallery & Learning Center. Good eats in Canada and breakfasts are on the house in St. John’s this year. Our maximum group size is five. I know that with me at your side egging you on… and with your passion and determination honed during many years of experience …you will create awesome images! RSVP.

Image: Our group led through the fog by a willing natural history guide towards 120,000 waiting nesting Northern gannets, black-legged kittiwakes, common murres, thick-billed murres, and razorbills, at Cape St. Mary’s Ecological Reserve, Newfoundland during our most successful 2015 Gallery expedition.

Revisit and Reward Yourself…

revisit and reward yourself

Return to your favorites places when you can revisit. No need to cherish your memories forever. They have served you well so far. We become better photographers when we return to a place and see it again. First impressions aside, we are now more attentive to detail. We know this to be true. My Mom often inquired when I was a teenager, “You went out last night. Why wold you want to go out tonight?” My response was something like, “That was last night, this is now.”
At The Gallery’s Learning Center, I have witnessed both philosophies. Certainly new experiences are most wonderful yet when it is about our photography, less visits do not generate more strong images necessarily. Today was no exception.

Leaving the penultimate day of sugar shack breakfast in Blandford, a revisit to the nearby Sheepgate Farm seemed like a good idea. My favorite shop on the planet bar none. Maureen is the holistic spirit that greets you with the most magical “hello.” Her earthy offerings delight all the senses. Kiefer now has an earth friendly natural herbal dog soap and the van a sheepskin steering wheel cover.

My eyes viewed a framed wildflower image that moved and humbled me simultaneously. It is one of the more powerful wildflower images I have seen. To think there is somebody that good locally that is under The Gallery’s radar stunned me. I walked away and became distracted with all the delights. As I was leaving and discussing The Gallery with Maureen she said, “Vern Wells.” I lit up and exclaimed, “Vern is a favorite and the best wildflower photographer winning several Gallery awards starting back in early 2002.” She smiled and pointed back to the wildflower image that so moved me. Vern Wells created that image. Smiles.

Revisit whatever the reasons. You’ll be glad you did.

…ski…

ski

Brattleboro delivers the best graffiti outside of NYC. Today was no exception. The scene was overwhelming. My goal was to pull out a subject from everything around me. I distilled the scene walking closer and closer. Then one building. Then one wall. Then one large word on the wall. Then 3 letters in the middle of the one long word on one wall of one building. One click. Simple message. Lots of photographers do not give themselves permission to play, to distill at will without self judgement.

My mandate is to instruct photographers and challenge them to take their photography to the next level. Sometimes their new images are extremely strong yet out goes my challenge. Purpose? I want them to own their seeing, to defend their images, and yes to simplify and play. It is so much easier to challenge novice than advanced photographers. The former recognize they need to learn, the latter not so much at times. I want them to think for themselves not to allow others to think for them. People mean well yet they can heavily influence us away from our own natural seeing. Our seeing is formed by our emotion, imagination, and willingness to play.

So play, have fun, get close and …ski..

Dream…

dream

Last blog entry touched lightly on collecting. I know when a Gallery Visitor has found their dream and has to acquire it. Some actually have the hair on the back of their neck stand on end. Their heart pounds and their feet don’t move. My sentiments exactly when I discover my next art acquisition. I pay attention as this is the first step of being a collector. Second step? Ahh, thought you’d never ask. It is to commit, to obtain that artwork of our affection.

Dream. We all have the strength, patience, and passion to take the next step. We know what we want. What’s missing? What’s the second step? It is to commit. It’s easier when we recognize we are in the way. My experience with being in my own way too many times forges this into a truism.

This morning I committed to my adventure…visit all the sugar shacks serving breakfast in the area this maple sugaring season. I captured the obligatory sense of place image to share on Facebook. One capture. One image. Never look at the captured image until I am home. Acquiring some maple cream for future home breakfasts at The Sugar Barn, Norwich Lake Farm, I saw some signs. I did the opposite of my plan and captured a second image. Compose. Click. Home.

Now viewing the second image I see one sign is “DREAM.” May all your dreams come true.
P.S. These signs, hand made by Kim Tobin, are for sale. 413-667-8830

The Art of Collecting Fine Art Photography…

image1(1)

We have an Artist Gallery Conversation each and every Sunday at 3:00 pm preceded and followed by a wine and local crafted cheese reception. Sometimes when there is no scheduled artist, I substitute conversing on “How to Collect Fine Art prints.” We have portfolios of Julius Lester’s artwork and often out they come to delight all especially me.

Recently during a monthly visit to VCP, Brattleboro, VT, I was smitten with an artwork on exhibit. Walked around the room twice to be sure then shared my enthusiasm with Gallery director Joshua Farr. I invested in it promptly. I love investing in fine art, a personal pleasure even before I opened The Gallery nearly 15 years ago. This artwork appealed to my senses and invited me to play in the image. The more I instruct photography, the more I hear frustrations from photographers that their images do not look the way they wish plus do not say what they want them to say. I talked to the artist, Amy Rindskopf from Winchester, MA. Amy expressed satisfaction with her image. Simple. No embellishments necessary. It’s truly a personal creation. Her vision and intent are well realized here.

Photography is an art not simply a technical pursuit. Amy proves it is a creative and expressive pursuit. She understood what she wanted to say and most importantly how she wanted to say it. That’s vision not merely technical competence. (My new investment is lower right. It remains on exhibit through March 27…then it joins my diverse collection.)

Everything but the truth in photographs…

image1

It was hot. The sun was setting as I left the group, camera in hand and struck out letting instinct lead the way. Too many hours searching albeit successfully for prehistoric shark teeth in the NC sands left me visually spent. I wanted to become involved with a story…any story. Lots of families playing in the surf kept my attention until far from waters’ edge, I spotted a crowd. Then I remembered the spot had been marked off with pink fluorescent ribbon. A female Loggerhead Sea Turtle had deposited approximately 10 dozen eggs here nearly two months ago.

Topsail Center scientists and volunteers were digging gently in the sand to rescue turtles buried by deep sand one handful at a time. Documenting all, I stepped away to refresh and noticed this released turtle scampering across the sand to splash in the ocean.

There is no truth in photography. Our 3-dimensional world is flattened into a 2-dimensional print or screen regardless of the “truth” of the photographer. It’s all an illusion, always was. It is not real nor is it meant to be. We select the angle, the focus, the light, the shadows, the colors, freezing movement or not. To tell a story we edit out neighboring objects, select a background, pounce on an arbitrary moment. Accurate? Sure. Reality? No. Truth? No.

This turtle was moving fast. I wiggled quickly out of the crowd, slid parallel to its movement, pivoted at my waist to lower my camera yet not block its path. Clicked the shutter. Suddenly a hand reached down gently lifting this baby into a waiting bucket. There with other hatchlings, they wait until darkness when they are safely released into the ocean to imprint darkness and not light on their memory.

On to the Sargasso Sea. Females will return to this very beach, 20 – 30 years later. The truth here was only in my heart.

robertfloydphoto.com

Copyright ©2017 Robert Floyd