Conundrum of the day: I’m ambivalent about email notices. I’m fairly new to the blogging scene, my site is only a few months old, I have only a handful of followers who actually follow me, but many more who “like” me from time to time. And this week, I learned a new word regarding bloggers: “power blogging.” OK, two words. I’m not quite sure of the definition, but I’m told if you google it, you can find a list of the “top 50 power bloggers.” I have not taken time to do that. Yet. But I might sooner or later, just to find out what the concept, and the hype, is all about.
One thing power bloggers do, I hear, is they post like a gazillion times in one day. I’m not sure I’m following any power bloggers, but I am following a couple folks who post—if not a gazillion—quite a few times in one day. And not just some uplifting quote from some famous author or another site, but a whole section or chapter of a book, apparently. And not one day, but every day. Those people, together with all the other people I’m following, have taken over my email.
I’ve got a gazillion email notifications telling me people I’m following have posted something, or liked something, or commented, or responded to a comment, or something. And I’m annoyed. Because, what if Tina wrote, and I didn’t know it because I haven’t deleted or sifted through all those messages? What if the IRS tries to inform me that I have a $5000 rebate coming? Oh shit, that reminds me, I have to do my income tax return. I’ve been out of the country for long enough that I don’t have to pay taxes, so I won’t be receiving any notice saying I’ll get a rebate. I’m just saying, what if I miss some important email buried in the effluvia.
I’m ambivalent because I like getting those email notices. I want to know what those people are doing. I want to see their photos, read their stuff, or see the map of where they’re headed next. I want to “like” their stuff. I want to comment on their choice of bokeh over a deeper depth-of-field background.
A couple of friendly followers have recently informed me how to deal with this situation, turn off the email messages, but, remember I’m that procrastinator I previously warned you about. So, now my laptop weighs like three more pounds than it should because it’s full of all those email messages—this is the kind of trick your brain tries to play on you when you’re stressed.
One reason I’m stressed is because I’m taking the Photo 101 course, and I’m supposed to post a photo a day relating to the theme of the day. Again this week, I have not posted daily, and therefore, I will submit all five theme photos today in this one post—not so much because I’m a procrastinator, but more because I’m busy; I have a sort-of-a life, dude, with responsibilities…apparently, quite unlike those power bloggers who obviously sit at their computers 12 hours daily posting one after another. And why?—is my question. Do they just want a lot of likes, or a lot of followers. Are they making money? Are they narcissistic (that is, more narcissistic than the rest of us who blog because we think someone might give some tiny flying freak about what we post)? Ok, on to Photo 101:
1. POP & COLOR:
Amsterdam’s 17th-century Canal Belt is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The Red Light District, which was the center of the city during medieval times, has been undergoing an extensive renovation. They say they will reduce prostitution by, say 30 percent, and highlight more of the historical aspects of the oldest part of Amsterdam (what is more historical than prostitution?). You can imagine how difficult it might be to perform any kind of construction work in such confined spaces as the narrow streets along these canals. Even collecting garbage is a fine art in Amsterdam. This photo is the Damrak, a canal just outside the Red Light District. I have wandered in to that district from here to see what is what (so to speak), but I’m not a customer—if you were wondering. And just so you know, I’m not old-fashioned, close-minded, smug or ostentatiously virtuous, nor opposed to the concept at all. I’m just shy. And maybe too cheap to pay for it.
Who knew you could rupture your belly button? An umbilical hernia—what is up with human bodies—just when you think you understand it, something like this appears. I don’t usually take, nor show, photos of posed people. But my best travel buddy, Lisa, flew from Minnesota to assist me when I had an operation and could not drive, move well, or lift anything for a couple weeks while healing. You gotta love a friend with that kind of devotion. And she’s the best house cleaner in the world, really. And she loves to clean. You walk into her house, it’s like walking into a brand new home, and still has that “new-car” aroma. If I dropped a grape on her floor, I would pick it up and eat it. I wouldn’t do that in my house. For a couple weeks while she visited, I had a very clean home. Plus, in the photo, there was that splash of fuchsia of her jacket offset by the green of my apartment building and the Arabian Gulf in the background.
- ARCHITECTURE & MONOCHROME:
Years ago, I read a pretty good book called Going Back to Bisbee, by Richard Shelton, a fairly famous poet and writer living in Tucson, AZ. The book is about his journey in a blue Dodge van (not-so-creatively named “Blue Boy”) outfitted for him to live in. He drives alone out of Tucson and winds his way on back roads through the desert landscape and history toward Bisbee. The book is more about his adventure on the road and people of the past, and less about Bisbee. Bisbee, now an artist community with fewer than 6,000 residents, was once known as “the Queen of the Copper Camps” and was one of the world’s richest mineral sites: copper, gold, silver, lead, zinc. In the early 1900’s, it was the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco, and very “cultured.”
Don’t get me wrong here, because I love dogs. But in this particular bungalow where I stayed the summer a couple years ago in Ubud, Bali, a guard dog lived on the grounds. Her name was Juliette; she not only barked, but came up to me menacingly growling every single time I came through the gate. Every time. I’m good with dogs. I’m good with cats. I’m good with horses. I’m good with hermit crabs. Vipers—not so much. I tried petting Juliette. Still barked. I tried talking to her softly. I tried kneeling. Still barked. Then, I started bribing her with dog food I’d buy at the Bintang Market. Still barked. But she did begin slinking over to my bungalow, and actually began sleeping by the veranda sometimes, waiting for food. She never let me pet her. Generally, dogs are not treated well in Bali; I imagine she had a terrible trauma when younger. Juliette refusing to befriend me was one of the worst experiences I’ve had in Bali, maybe anywhere I’ve traveled. This photo is the kitchen window of my bungalow. Juliette would not usually bark at me if I was in my bungalow, but she did a few times. Quite literally, a bitch.
- MOMENT & MOTION:
Komodo dragons “lick” the air with their forked tongues and can smell a dead body miles away. If you get bitten by one, but you escape, you will probably die anyway from the toxic bacteria that lives in their mouths. Komodo dragons can knock down a water buffalo with their tails. Komodo dragons will eat you if you lie down by a tree and take a siesta during an afternoon walk on the island of Komodo—it happened, they found only the man’s camera by the tree. I was using 50 ASA (ISO?) slide transparency film, and there wasn’t much light, so when I shot this dragon on Komodo Island in the far eastern section of the Indonesian archipelago, his head blurred as he turned my way. You can also notice his left front foot (to your right), or rather, his claws, are blurred. That dragon is about ten feet long, maybe 2000 pounds. This photo was always a disappointment to me because I never thought I’d be able to show it because of its “motion” flaws. But, hey if the theme accommodates a blurred foot, fine by me. This dragon seems a little miffed at me; I did want him to come closer, but minus that attitude. Only one thin strand of string attached to a circle of bamboo posts stood between me and those dragons. A circle of string, one strand! And maybe fairy dust? Or magic? Or just belief?
You can find all manner of art, restaurants, shops along Ubud’s main street, known as Jalan Raya. I was standing across the street from this shop, thinking maybe I could get a shot of a family of five riding on one motorbike, which is a pretty common occurrence here. But I’ve never been able to capture a good photo of one. I look across the street, and notice this young woman walking my way. There was something about her, some ge ne se quois that I can’t quite put my finger on, that instilled a desire to take a photo of her when I normally would not—she’s not wearing traditional clothing, probably a tourist, holding a cell phone, sewage grate in the foreground, lousy background, un-chic flip-flops. What’s to like? But something made me rip my camera out of my pack and quickly snap her photo. And I like looking at this shot for some unknowable reason, even though she is blurred because I did not have time to set my exposure. It’s not exactly what the 101 theme required for “motion,” perhaps, but it does offset the Komodo Dragon’s attitude.
- SCALE & OBSERVATION
They don’t call it the Painted Desert for nothing. This section is just south of Utah’s Monument Valley, just off historic Route 66 (for those of you old enough to know what I’m talking about), and very near the Petrified Forest. It took millions of years of settling and shifting and earthquakes and volcanic action to create this layered landscape. You can get views of the desert that stretch from where you stand to the horizon. You can get stunning shots of the desert with a fiery orange sky at sundown (I’ve seen those photos). I, however, arrived during the worst time, generally speaking, for photographers—mid day, with that kind of sun and light. If you look closely at the left, bottom third of the photo, you see two hikers whose shadows puddle directly below them.
Like most things on Bali, kite flying has a spiritual background to it. These days, flying kites has become a national past time. In July, Bali’s “kite flying” season, they hold a giant Kite Flying Festival in Sanur. But on any day when there is wind, you’ll find kids toting their kites into the rice paddies to fly them. Kites come in three varieties: fish, bird, anything you can imagine. Some look like Harley motorcycles. Some look like automobiles. Some need more than one person to fly. The kites make a rather endearing humming sound: endearing that is, after the first time you hear one believing it to be some giant creature with malicious intent circling your bungalow. The kites can be fairly small, or very large. Some kites may be 30 feet long, with a tail of 400 feet. This black kite above is maybe 10 feet tall, a fish model. The boy was happy to pose for me, and it took him and two friends to carry the thing into the field. As luck might have it, a short while after launching, their string broke, and their kite drifted miles away fairly quickly—the boys went screaming and running after it through chest-high rice.
- LANDSCAPE & CROP
Utah’s Monument Valley is home to the Navajo Indians. Monument Valley was created by nature as material eroded from the ancestral Rocky Mountains, and was deposited and cemented into sandstone. The formations you see in the valley were left over after the forces of erosion worked their magic on the sandstone. A geologic uplift caused the surface to bulge and crack. Wind and water then eroded the land, and the cracks deepened and widened into gullies and canyons, which eventually became the scenery you see today. Natural forces continue to slowly shape the land. The scenery in this photo reaches all the way to the horizon.
This is another view of the Painted Desert. Here in this part of the country, and a little further north, the Anasazi Indians dwelled. We’ve always called them Anasazi. But recently, it has been acknowledged that “anasazi” is the Navajo word for “enemy ancestors” and is now considered offensive by some contemporary tribes related to them. However, nobody agrees on just what else to call them. The Anasazi (sue me, I like the exotic sound of this name) cultivated this land from about 200 BC to AD 1500. The earliest phase of their culture is known as the “Basket Maker” period. They were quite developed as a culture: they farmed the land and built “apartments” in cliff-side caves.
While I’ve been writing this post, I fear my email has added at least 50 new messages. I don’t usually use words like “right now I’m going to”…do such and such. But if I were to say something like that, I’d start with: right now I’m going to stop blog notifications on my email. Check back with me next post, next week, and see if I procrastinated, or actually performed the physical act. Or decided to handle it a different way. If you hadn’t noticed, I did finally install my new super-badass Badfish logo to my header. Baby steps. Or as Ann Lamott says: “bird by bird.”
Oh, and I just took a moment and googled those top power bloggers. You are not going to believe this: one of them makes $20,000 a month. And get this: one of them makes $200,000 a month. Ok, I’m in. Where’s the HR office for Power Blogging?