Author Archives: fstop10

Prickly pear of the sea

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In preparation for my twilight years – when I will unceremoniously drop – and later, without rhyme or reason, unabashedly pick up the telling of a story again…I will now continue my tale about inspiration. (see last week’s post entitled The blue lizard…excellently crafted moment of self-promotion…check!).      

Picture it, Sicily 1931…OK…had a Golden Girls moment there for a sec. (twilight years and all, see)      

Inspiration, she’s a tricky bugger. The hunt, the capture, the grossly self-indulgent gloating afterwards is made effortless by the subject matter at times. When the world you inhabit is filled to the very brim with dazzling colours, shapes, jazz-hands! (hehe…figuratively speaking of course)…and yes critters…it is nigh on impossible to suffer a bout of photog-block (kinda like writer’s block…but it rhymes better).      

The first 18 + an additional 4 years later down the road of my life were spent in paradise. At my doorstep I had at my disposal, a veritable cornucopia of fauna and flora…jewel-hued sugar birds (humming birds) performed aerial stunts outside my diningroom window over breakfast, whales splashed and whooshed plumes of air and spray into the star-filled sky, lulling me to sleep at night. Following their own mysterious and at times inconvenient schedule, the baboons would descend upon our garden, leaping from the tall, peaked roof in reckless abandon into the fig tree’s laden branches…sending my dog into an indignantly undignified and futile frenzy.      

What's purple and yellow and potters around on millions of suckers for feet?

 

My playground was dotted with sea anemones, nodding in rockpools like agreeable crayola flowers, and spiny starfish and punk rock sea urchins decorated every nook and cranny of the fertile and salty seascape.  The sky was huge and deeply blue, the waves resounding and frothy white.      

Parading on a rock ledge, the urchins gleam like predatory brooches

 

Gosh – notice the past tense up there?? To reassure you…it is all still there…this rose-tinted Utopia of my youth…I am the one in past-tense (no…not dead and blogging from beyond the grave…just across an ocean).      

So…whenever I have the occasion to make my much-anticipated pilgrimage back to the homeland…I capture even the most pedestrian detail of life. I suspect my folks reckon my brain has been irredeemably addled by lack of clean sea air and an over abundance of snow and smelly city…as in years gone by, I would never have gone sprinting for my camera bag at a sighting of a green grasshopper on the patio. I would simply have greeted him politely and implored my late, great cat to kindly refrain from making a snack of the poor fellow.      

Gorgeously green grasshopper graces...patio? Crap...lost it at the end there

 

I see you!

 

Now, today I make my home in an equally majestic place…but decidedly more subdued in terms of its local critteridge (nice…rather proud of that mangled word-ly creation). Few things come spiny or bright purple (of their own volition) in the animal kingdom here. But, to my delight…the birds dress up like Michael Jackson – sporting red shoulder patches! The hornets resemble sharp corner chevrons on the road (am I speaking foreigner again?…many apologies), and the larger beasts sport comically bulbous noses and outsized furry tiaras on their proud heads.      

The fact is though – as in a family with two offspring – one being the loud-mouth clown who dances a lively jig on the furniture of an evening, and the other being the nice sprog who vacuums its own room and thanks you for the clean clothes – the clown gets the attention.      

Therefore, the task at hand is: Look harder, be open to the possibilities, and sprint like the blazes for the camera bag when the MJ birdies parade across the lawn! And the dastardly snow and frost…is made beautifully ethereal and oh so photogenic by the rays of the rising sun.      

The autumn sun burns the frost away, leaving bedazzled blades in its warming wake

 

Project of the week pour moi…with a spot of luck I will furnish you with delightful captures of aforementioned feathered pop-star impersonators and any manner of lovely things.

The blue lizard

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I remain undecided about whether to post images I made of my family – which means that my contributions will inevitably be critter-based for now. Not so bad in truth – as fauna and flora inspire me endlessly. Aha…so that’s what this week’s entry could be about…inspiration!  

It is not unknown for me to be found sprawled on my front, a sheen of sweat glistening on my face in concentration, attempting to capture a nice, clean, interesting image of a lizard, a field mouse, or a bumblebee buzzing around a rosemary bush. I can now see how a hunter feels exhilarated by the kill. I choose to shoot my quarry with a long lens of course, instead of with a rifle. To follow the hunting analogy even further – my images can at times feel like much-prized trophies, to be admired over and over again.  

This blue dragon can fit in the palm of my hand...despite the fact that his look indicates the opposite

 

The bonus of my form of capture lies in being able to return to the same place to recapture the same critter doing something new – over and over again. The result being that I feel like I build a relationship of sorts with my subject…though I doubt the lizard would say the same about me.  

Reptiles most definitely do not hold the whole of my heart in their scaley little clawed hands. (funny…I love photographing lizards, but not snakes as much…wonder why) Most animals and insects interest me – as a child I would lie on my tummy in our garden path, observing the local ant colony industriously hurry to and from their underground nest. I’d place edible obstacles in their path to see if they’d accept my offerings in return for the intense scrutiny. I’d feel inordinately pleased if a morsel I’d given them was chosen to be dragged into their subterranean lair. Don’t possess any ant images though…no macro lens yet.  

Part of what inspires me about photographing animals other than humans, is in the challenge. Like children, animals rarely follow orders. The challenge of capturing a visually pleasing image of a critter is satisfying. There is also an automatic spontaneity built into the image – the opposite of which is what makes a human being less than inspiring to shoot. 

  

Poor baby mistook me for the lady who brings him his lunch

 

The incredible beauty and variety offered by mother nature compels to me commit their likeness to pixels. There are few things as beautiful as the face of baby white tiger miaowing for his lunch – like an overgrown housecat, sporting a fancy coat and vivid blue eyes!  

What inspires you? 

And now…for another baboon picture! 

No dogs or baboons were harmed in this chase

Innocuous beach chair

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Aaah, now…already a promise broken (one I made to myself). Thought was…this blogging endeavour being so pleasurably diverting – surely nothing would impede me from polluting this space with excessive amounts of thoughts and ideas – ramblings so numerous that they’d barely be worthy of sharing. Alas, last week happened…with nary a word contributed by yours truly.

Now that I am back in the proverbial saddle – what to share? My first entry spoke of my artistic passions, and the longing I feel to spend my days positively reveling in my art – making figurative snow angels and sand castles with it – all the while earning some decent cash for my troubles!

This week, how about I try to unpack a related topic: Topics…subject matter…things if you will! If you do perchance recall my first entry, you’d know that I am a photog. What we essentially do – after stripping out the artistry of controlling aperture, shutterspeed, ISO, composition and timing – is record things in a moment in time. What to shoot seldom seems a problem (on that later)…what to share is the tougher nut to crack at present.

You see, the most readily available subject matter remains my extended family with our rampaging horde of sproglets. The wee ones know…when FStop10 visits…you either make tracks, or you relent to the incessant snapping and blithely proceed with the serious business of eating cake, swimming or standing on your head. Some of my best work features a certain 4-year old.

The dilemma – do I share those images here? I have encountered a few exceptionally fascinating bloggers that use the space to not only discuss their families, but to showcase their very lives in prose and images on the internet. Is that for me…mmm, yet to decide.

So…while I wrestle that thought into submission…here is a perfectly innocuous chair!

Perhaps it would be prudent to continue to share images that I made, that do not include people. A challenge, you say?!  I heartily accept. For my next trick…

Thoughts?

A baboon on the roof

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It would be a crying shame to veer completely off the engaging and relevant train of thought sparked by my illustrious fellow floggers (first time bloggers…just trying the word…I know, I am ignoring the “t”…but it just doesn’t fit!…now I am wondering if it sounds rude, mmm).

So I won’t…veer off that is. I like ellipses…you will get to know that about me…

Anyhoo…career choices and all the various considerations that go along with that topic occupy my addled mind daily. Like John Malkovich, my brain has a 9th and a half floor (in my case this is where the slightly off thoughts go to procreate). And though my anxiety does not take the form of a walrus (fabulous imagery inkling7)…it does do an admirable job of turning my plump and shiny creative drive into a raucously deflating whoopee cushion, taunting me with self-doubt and derision! Is my art good enough? Can I monetize my passion? Which one of my lovingly fostered obsessions is most marketable. (the one I can charge the most for, of course!) Oy!

Luckily for me, the clear winner in that dubious contest is an abiding, lifelong preoccupation of mine. (I will expand on my beginnings in a later post) I am almost afraid of admitting what it is…as every man and his dog claims the same pastime as their own. Somehow the proliferation of this art form makes it difficult to admit to doing it – for fear of being lumped into some mediocre, pedestrian, meh group of blahness. I make images…with an SLR…I am a photographer.  (and yep…my name, if you know about aperture, is kind of messed up…there is no fstop 10 – it just sort of happened, OK!)

It isn’t my day job…yet? (I am so excited…I have successfully pulled Sachin and inkling7’s musings into my first contribution. Holy, preamble!

So, to clearly state my humble intentions – due to my walrus (© inkling7)/whoopee cushion conundrum – I would love to use this space to share my art…with you. Instinct kicks in and I feel compelled to blurt out an excuse about not being a pro, or utter “I know I am probably not worthy, but!” That would do a disservice not only to me, but to the bravery of my co-conspirators (gave up on the word floggers…it definitely sounds dirty!).

In our midst here we have the brave and inspiring muso (who puts the B in our blog at the very least!), an undercover creative writer (who I am yet to meet, but am confident is a genuine mensch) and our courageously thoughtful (yes I know it is another word for brave…but inkling7 is that too!) writer and philosopher and all round tremendous individual. And photog (me) makes 4.

My first share: An image I am rather pleased with. I took this with my 70-300mm lens, from across the road. He was sitting on my neighbour’s roof…surrounded by his marauding troop. These guys raid the gardens and kitchens of any house in their path. Their only there for the snacks though…no one usually gets hurt. (unless an idiotic human makes the wrong move)

Guarding the troop is tiring work – and my choppers can be pretty threatening!

My thanks…