5 Indistinct Photographs Depicting BLUR: duh

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.


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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.

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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,

GirlUbudStreet 0104 E1SMyou’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.

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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.

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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

72 comments

  1. Hey, Badfish, the boys carrying the kite don’t look blurred – they look like ghosts!
    The motorbike family – okay, that’s blurred!
    The woman – yes, I remember her – just an ordinary Ubud street scene.
    the old woman and the boys with the interesting teeshirt? didnt we have a photo challenge sometime back where we were asked to “front focus” or some other technical term that
    I’ve forgotten and dont need to know, where the background is all “soft focus” so we can concentrate on the forefront? So you got it back to front? No worries, Bali can do that too you.
    And the malis? Well, that’s just a good blurry photo.
    But then for many people (myself included) Bali itself just becomes one big blur. 🙂
    Well done on the extended writing and photography for the blur challenge.
    My favourite is a choice between the blurry old woman and the ghost boys. Think I’ll go for the ghost boys – they could be intriguing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Debbie, I think this blur thing is highly over rated. Do we really want to look at blurry images? I have to agree with all you’ve said here. Except the “woman” walking. You think that’s an ordinary Ubud street scene? That’s art walking there. Well…if it wasn’t so blurred. You like the boys with the kite! It is so fascinating to me how different photos appeal to different people. I like that one, but I really like the malas.

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  2. I dislike blurry photos … I delete them as fast as I can. If I wanted blurry, I would simply take off my glasses.
    Having said that, your photo of the boys carrying the kites reminds me of a photo I have from the Grand Canyon. The unintentional double image looks like ghosts and I’ve never been able to part with that image.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well…duh…who wants to look at blurry images, eh? And then what…call it art? I don’t buy it. But I never toss a photo. I have slides that are completely black, no image. I just can’t toss it out. Let’s not dive into my psyche to try to figure out just why, now, OK? I’d love to see your Grand Canyon shot…

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  3. You’re gonna make me do it, aren’t you? Write another book here, because I can’t help myself. You have a way with words, and illustrate them with damn fine photos! It takes a person out of their mundane, and puts them in a world to which they never expected to travel. You’re the Bad Fish Out of Water Steven Spielberg of the blogging world.

    That said, OMFGS!!! Where to begin. Let’s start with, now whose getting spooky??? That whole Mala Bead thing you have going on there. I’ll bet you know what I’m gonna say – and even if you don’t, you won’t be surprised… I have that fetish. Truly. I want malas, and rosaries, and it seems to be just them…. no wait, that’s not true (can you hear Anita’s voice from West Side Story?) There’s also the beads made by the First Nations here in North American (maybe South America too). I want walls hung with great swaths of Indian Silks, adorned by Malas and Rosaries. And yes, I want beaded curtains on every doorway, because walking through a doorway with beads is making music, not to mention a sensual experience of major proportions.

    About the blur… the kite fliers from Bali made me feel like I was on some very strong acid. Or at the very least, in Foreigner singing about ‘Double Vision.’ Weird, but interesting… the stuff of which flashbacks are made.
    The five folks bike thing… vertigo city. I swear, that picture was moving. My stomach along with it.

    BUT, now we get to what’s outstanding: The boys on their bike, in contrast with the woman walking behind, is purely amazing! That’s the kind of thing people with movie cameras do. That’s the kind of picture you have to have absolute understanding, which I know you do, of how it all works. Maybe you were thinking, it didn’t work, but it did. It’s a work of art (remember, it’s all in the eye of the beholder, so you don’t get to say boo – maybe creep, but not boo).

    And that is nothing compared to the masterpiece of the Mala Beads in Blur. The textures, and muted colors, mingling with … no, flowing, blending together. I didn’t know what it was, didn’t care what it was. All I knew was I could fall into it, and live there, swirling around inside the warmth of it. Then you say it’s Mala Beads! I’m screaming, I want my Malas!

    (I could show you pure stinky blur from an mp3 player that would make you wonder what was I thinking to take such a picture).

    *sigh* Dude…. you’re amazing. Just deal with it. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • First, let me say, I’ve NEVER SEEN WESTSIDE STORY!! I know. How lame is that? I’ve seen clips, so I know they sing and dance in the streets of NY (is it?).

      Second, I think it should be a law everywhere in the world that every person must become a Fim Fan. How else are egos going to grow, how else are people going to feel secure, how else are people going to stay motivated? I’m just saying. I’m saying anyone who can call a fooked-up blurry photo a masterpiece is either really disturbed or the kind of person we all need in our lives at some given point. I’m guessing the tarot cards would say this is that point for me??? So a very big thank you for being you right now.

      All I can really say is…cripes you have a mala fetish, too? I mean…yeah, spooky, but not that spooky (coming from you) any more.

      Liked by 2 people

      • No problem, I’ll let you slide on the never seeing West Side Story. Yes, it is NY, and it’s singing and dancing. I love musicals, or at least some. There’s others, not so much. But if you ever had nothing to do one week, and you were maybe in the states, because I’m thinking that WSS might not be in video stores (do they still have video stores in the world?) outside of the US… No, it’s not lame if you didn’t see it because musicals just aren’t your thing 🙂

        On the Fim Fan front, any man who was, would be a Fim Fan Man (play on words, yes, and a real groaner LOL).

        Oh, you might be on to something there. I think I am really disturbed quite often, but I’m sincere in my passions! 🙂

        I can’t say what the Tarot would say about that unless I do a reading for you. Just say the word. 🙂

        Yes, beads, glorious beads, Malas, Rosaries, and others. Trying to sing a song here.

        Look forward to my next book here. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Love the meditation mala shot. And the boys flying kite shot is “awe”some … it should be called “ghost” effect than blur effect 😉 Jokes apart, wonderful experiment with camera!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. my head is spinning here. wait, no, i had to go back and check if you were writing about the WP challenge on blur and then thought, oh maybe you were writing about kites? or motorbikes? malas? you surely got my thinking blurred there for a moment! love the first photo with the kids and the kite though! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The mala shot is beautiful. Exquisite.
    I love the segue from Ben Franklin to peanut butter.
    I have an unblurred photo of 5 on a bike 🙂
    I have an unblurred photo of 6 on a bike 🙂
    Both in India. http://alisonanddon.com/2012/03/27/tiruvannamalai-india-part-7/
    I don’t think I mentioned it in the previous post but I really liked the photo of the blurred girl walking down the street.
    I love the movement and joy in the kite photo.
    I frequently have the same problems as you with camera settings – they are never in the right place when that spectacular photo op is suddenly in front or you – eg a fantail bird in NZ sitting on a bare branch with its tail fully fanned. I have a perfect blurry photo of it.
    I would like to see that photo of the young blond woman on her red Honda – sounds like a beauty.
    I have no doubt that something else has much more than a hand in our lives. We think we are the decision makers, the doers. Pfffft! We’re just being done 🙂
    Alison xoxox

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    • “Something else has much more than a hand in our lives” is right. I check my blog messages from the icon in the blog. Your comment did not show up there (usually it’s first!). I found it here in the blog itself. Outer Limits theme song, right here, please. I like the mala shot, too, it has interesting lines, but I never would have used it…it’s blurry, dude. I never would have used any of them…they are all blurry. But if Andy Warhol can paint a soup can and call it art, I guess I can mess up a photo and call it anything I want and use it in a prompt named Blur. And you could do a guest post and show me that bird. That didn’t come out right.

      I remember that photo of yours of six on a bike! And that peacock. And all those others on a bike. And yeah, dials on the camera. My new camera has the capability of setting preset settings. The faux manual that came with the camera says so. But it doesn’t not say HOW to do it. What’s up with these Japanese selling cameras without manuals?

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Brilliant! Here are 10 Reasons why this post is Brilliant… 😉

    “…how steady your hand might be after downing a tall-neck Heineken at 5% alcohol, you might end up with a shot like this.”

    Best line.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I like the photos with the boys on the bike. The person in the back is blurred but you can recognize the shape of a human with something on their head. That adds a sense of place to the photo.

    I agree with the list posts! I try not to do it, although I sometimes do. Some websites, like Cracked.com, do ONLY lists! It must be exhausting to write for them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yeah, you see posts (or regular article titles in magazines) all the time. I like the concept, really. But now it just seems overdone. Still, it is probably a good attention getter.

      I was so disappointed to have not gotten a good shot of the woman when she got up to me. Maybe she’s better off as background in this one, as is!

      Like

  9. Remember, the 1st rule of power blogging, “Never write once what can be written as five.” It’s a Confucius thing, I think. Or someone told me it was. Maybe?

    Liked by 1 person

    • don’t think it was the old boy – Confucius. He get’s misquoted a lot, really. 🙂

      But sounds like a good rule of power blogging!

      IN this case, however, Badfish has written a lot of different things about blur and space, and us commentators a whole lot more – my mailbox is stifling!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I think Debbie is right on this one because (1) she lives in China and (2) I’m pretty sure it was Moe from the Three Stooges who said that.

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        • Badfish, your insightfulness and humour never cease to amaze me.
          You are right, of course, but what you probably didnt know was that the Three Stooges Moe was a reincarnation of a prior Mo, called Mo Zi, who was born just after Confucius died – and didn’t like the old boy at all.
          As he was a carpenter by trade ( before he became a philosopher) and was very utilatarian ( he didn’t believe in decorating houses beyond their utilitarian function in providing shelter from wind, rain, and theives) , he decided to reincarnate in a similar sounding name, – hence the Three Stooges Moe – in order to lighten up a bit.

          There do exist some serious tomes about this Mo Zi – Moe theory. 🙂

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  10. I’ve often wondered if I was the only one that disliked article titles that have numbering in them. What is with that? I’ve stopped reading them, but I’m glad I read yours 🙂

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  11. I love the malas photo! I looked around my house to see if there is really anything I collect, and it appears I mostly collect cat hair. I think there might be some cats underneath all that. I guess I collect them, too.

    So the take-away from this post is that Ben Franklin invented toast??

    Liked by 1 person

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