Thursday, October 23, 2008

Observational Photographer

I've always, like we all do, searching for the word(s) that describes me. It's the old question after we meet someone for the first time, "So, what do you do?" And we try to answer with short, cryptic words which summarizes our work to date. Like it really means anything?

For instance, I've always considered myself a geographer by education and a hydrologist by work, but it's really more than that. I'm innately a geographer. I'm a visual person, but more so, I see almost everything in terms of images and places. I see everywhere I go, not just seeing but remembering. I don't navigate by directions unless it's a place I've never been. I always navigate by scenes and places.

Geography is interwoven into my being, it's really that simple. And I'm a hydrologist by my career, but it's also more than that. I love rivers. Yes, I like being there and trying to understand them. But it's the flow of water that takes a whole new meaning to me. As a Taoist. It's a metaphysical thing. Rivers are just cool for themselves, and in and of themselves, and everything about them.

The whole dynamics of a river, the water, the landscape, the river course, the energy, and on and on. It's a Taoist experience. And that's interwoven in my mind.

But then I've always called myself a nature/landscape and street photographer, but that really not it. It was a handy description to use with people because they have an idea what and who that is. But then I found a term which fits the best. You know when something, like a word or a decision fits best when it both feels and thinks right?

And that is something Kent Budge uses. I'm an observational photographer. I take pictures of what I see. I try to capture and present that, what I saw. Nothing more and nothing less. Just what my photo-mind saw at that instant and decided to capture in the camera.

Almost all my street photographs are taken at eye level, looking in whatever direction I point the camera. The same is true of my nature and landscape photography, most are at eye level. I don't usually try to squat down or stretch up for a shot. I just see, capture and move on. Only occasionally will I spend more time looking for different angles or views, but almost always still photograph at eye level.

So, that's the best word I've found to date, I'm an observational photographer.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Ten years later

When I was 49, shortly after my birthday, I was in the best physical shape I had been in since my military days. I'm not much of an exercise person per se, just enough to stay fit. Partly because I discovered I don't have fast twitch muscles to build strength and my metabolism doesn't allow prolonged activity such as running or hiking. At 49 I peaked at running 4-5 miles 3-4 days a week with once a week weight training.

And then the proverbial bottom fell out at work, they added additional work on unrealistic deadline, and my fitness fell along with it. I ended up in six months later 20 pounds heavier losing all the fitness I had spent the previous 3 years working hard to achieve. By my 50th birthday I was back to about half the running and nearly the same weight training, but not the same anymore.

At that time I made the promise to get better every year and evaluate my progress every birthday, and see if I can get back to the same level of fitness (and health associated with that fitness) as I was at 49. And you can guess the results, and while I found I didn't gain much ground I didn't lose ground either. I was ever so slowly getting better.

Until my 57th birthday when I started losing. And now at my 59th birthday? Well, I didn't lose but I haven't gained either.

I remember reading a story with Alan Page, one of the famous Minnesota Vikings defensive players during their heyday. He said he quit football in his 40's when he discovered it took more energy and time to keep the same level of strength and fitness the year before. And experts have said after 50 the best you can do is slow the decline of your body, fitness and health.

And so for my 59th birthday I'm trying to make the promise I made at 49, to be better by my next (now 60th) birthday and ever so slowly get better, or at least not get worse. Or so that's the new plan. I have no ideas anymore if that is realistic, let alone possible, but considering the alternative, it's better than them.

As for progress, I'll keep you posted.