DP Photo Challenge
Aren’t we all tired of article titles that describe a number of things you will read in the article? 10 Ways to Run Red Lights. 10 Ways to Avoid Income Tax. No? Maybe it’s just me. Yet, since I had never written a title like that, I thought I’d give it a try here. And now that I have, I’ve decided not to do it again: not because it’s difficult, not because it’s so cliché, but because it’s just lame.
Caveat: ok, if I travel to, say, Turkey’s Ionian coast and decide to write about 10 awesome doner stands, or 10 twenty-foot cliffs to jump into the crystal-clear-emerald sea from, or 10 hotels to avoid, then fine, I’ll write another title like this.
Some people might believe Bali is the kite-flying capital of the world. These three kids carrying their giant kite through a Bali rice field might agree. Other people might believe China is the number-one kite-flying country. Nobody thinks it’s Russia. Americans have been big fans of kites ever since Benjamin Franklin flew one with a key attached and invented electricity. Or was it lightning? Or maybe just established the link between the two?
If you’re American, you grow up seeing paintings or drawings of Franklin flying his kite, a key dangling from the string, lightning flashing ominously in dark clouds. Many Americans don’t know that Ben Franklin did not fly that kite. One of his illegitimate sons, William, flew that kite. In the mid-1700’s, they didn’t know much about lightning, or electricity. They didn’t have lightning rods (which, by the way, Benjamin Franklin later invented). Young people today may not be able to imagine this, but in the mid-1700’s, they did not have mobile phones. Hell, they didn’t have cars. Or passports. They didn’t even have—wait for it—peanut butter!
Nobody knew much about lightning. Franklin was a scientist, he did know something about electricity. He knew that if there were a connection between lightning and electricity, that someone holding a string with a metal object attached in a storm might end up looking something like toast. It wasn’t going to be Ben. You have to respect a man willing to sacrifice a first-born son for the greater good of the village. Americans have been flying kites ever since, and some people claim America is one of the top-five kite-flying countries in the world.
This is how easy it is for my ethereal (read ADD/Libra/4 with-a-5-wing enneagram) mind to change…I’m now thinking of writing an article using this title: Top 5 Kite-Flying Countries in the World.
Okay, this photograph really pisses me off. If you read my post a while back that included a photo of a blurred lovely woman in a black tank top walking down this very road, Jalan Raya in Ubud, Bali,
you’ll remember that I was standing in this very spot when I saw her walking my way on the other side of the street. And I was pissed off at the photo of her because it was blurred (I could have easily used it in this post depicting “blur”). In that previous post, I mentioned that when I noticed her, I was standing here in the road intending to photograph a family of five on a motorbike.And I also mentioned that I have never been able to capture one. This photograph is the proof of that.
And the weird thing is that I have taken numerous photos of people riding motorbikes, good ones, no blur. I have one photograph that I especially like: a young woman alone on her red Honda Scoopy leans into a curve, her long blonde hair coiled into a bun on top of her head, a few loose strands flowing at her ear, her white cotton blouse billowing, a pink yoga mat scrolled between her bare knees, a thick stand of bamboo at the side of the road behind her (it’s not rocket science, it’s shutter speed). But when there are five on that bike, the cosmos lays down its cosmic law against me (I must have some kind of negative karma attached to five on a bike?). I’m thinking I’m going to need an animal sacrifice to the volcano gods to get that shot, or make a deal with a devil that involves handing over some children.
I looked up the definition of “blur” and it did not technically forbid the use of a shallow depth of field to create the “unfocused” or “soft” or “obscure” texture of blur in a photograph. And really, if you look closely at the boys, they are not totally un-blurred either. It was a cloudy day; I had the camera at a low ISO. I was unprepared for any eventuality, yet once again. My lame excuse this time is that I was waiting to photograph the old woman walking with a bamboo cane and carrying a stack of wood on her head using no hands. Then, the boys drove along. When the woman got close, I photographed her, too. It did not turn out well, either. I have never owned a smartphone. However, now I’m thinking of buying an iPhone and blaming all the damn bad shots on the 8MP camera in the phone. Or better… I’m thinking the title of my next post might be something like: 8 Ways to Fook Up A Photo.
For some reason, I’ve been collecting meditation malas for quite a number of years now. Well, sure, for meditation, but how many malas does a person need? It’s one of those unexplainable “things” with me. I see one, I want to buy it. Why—I don’t know. I’m now wondering what it is exactly that makes us who we are. Of course, there is our personal experiences here on the planet, our history, our acquired tastes. But doesn’t it sometimes seem like something else, something spooky, has a hand in our lives?
Listen to this: I recently read an article that claimed they have now discovered that our DNA can store memories from our ancestors. Memories! And that you could develop a fear of, say, spiders or buffalo shit, from the memory your great-great grandmother had. Holy crap is all I’m saying, and cue the X-Files theme song here. It only seems logical then that you could possess some illogical or indefinable preference to things you want to have around you, or simply things you like, like light houses or books or prayer beads.
Here is an easier, and minus-the-X-Files theme song, explanation for my liking malas: (1) they are very compact and lightweight for a traveler to carry and (2) usually fairly inexpensive. If I’m in some country where malas are made, I’ll probably end up purchasing one. Or two. By now, I have quite a varied collection of styles, sizes, colors. I have a lotus seed mala from a Nepal monastery. A plum wood mala from Japan. An antique rudraksha mala from Tibet with leather tassel and silver “counters” (I’m thinking museum-quality…and it was not cheap). A huge rudraksha seed mala from Rishikesh. A sandalwood mala from Sri Lanka. A very tiny rudraksha seed mala with alternating tiny pearls from Pune. A lava bead mala with cat’s eye guru bead, which I designed myself and had made in Ubud. A tourqoise bead mala from Java. A teak wrist mala. If you hang a bunch of malas on your bedroom doorknob and take a photo without worrying about light or exposure or how steady your hand might be after downing a tall-neck Heineken at 5% alcohol, you might end up with a shot like this.
Find other challengers and instructions to join:Blur