July 4th, 2016

Shaman - Horse

Blog - Pain and Procrastination

It is ironic that I’ve been meaning to write on the topic of procrastination, and one possible source of this affliction. I had an epiphany of why I delay doing things, and while this does not give me the means to overcome the root of the cause, it does give me a place of consideration.

I attended the 2016 Spring LEAF (Lake Eden Art’s Festival) event. I took lots of good pictures during the Friday and Saturday day and on Friday night. I captured on video the contra flash mob next to the main stage. The photo and video documentation I got would thrill many people. Posting it would honor the dance and arts I seek to promote. I’ve also not done anything with this material yet. Why?

The shadow side of the event was the overwhelming pain I found myself in. Old(er) age has left me with back issues, and these flared up and out across my body. By late Saturday afternoon the only parts of me that didn’t hurt were my head and my forearms. Moving hurt. Sitting hurt. Holding the camera to take pictures hurt. I could dance in short spurts, with adrenaline, joy, and muscle memory pulling me through, but the on the other side I was in that much more pain. I only had low dosage aspirin on me, no “vitamin I”. I took the aspirin with no visible impact. Sadly I did not think to reach out to my friends for something (much) stronger. My bad.

The weekend ended late Saturday afternoon when I packed up the van and made my way home. At the house I took stronger medications and the pain eased. This detour caused me to miss the Saturday night dances and events on Sunday. I don’t regret the choice in retrospect given how much I was hurting, and the exiting allowed me to recover, but I wouldn’t want to do it again.

What does this tale of woe have to do with procrastination? As I mentioned before, I took lots of pictures and video at the event. These were dutifully copied to a hard-drive to await processing. Time has come and gone, with the files not yet attended to. When I consider working with them I meet an invisible wall of resistance, something almost physical that pushes me to another task. Believe me, I always have some photo / video project waiting for attention. The LEAF work should be at the top of the list given the quality and magic of the material, but it takes backseat to less worthy efforts.

The answer to the question of “why procrastinate” came to me one day. The reply was “PAIN”. There is so much pain tied up in the material. The photos / video are joyful, but my experience during the capturing of them was a story of waking distress. The resistance I feel is purely psychological as I am not claiming that I will actually be in physical pain while I work with the material. In fact, I can’t truly “remember” the pain on a conscious level, but there seems to be some “stove hot” reluctance to approach the work. Some part of me is convinced, at an irrational level, that I will hurt again if I go there.

This was an epiphany to me because there are other areas of my life that procrastinate on. They involve cleaning up past situations that were painful, messy, and complicated in a tormenting way. Life would be better if I attacked them head on, but to do so is incredibly difficult. I’d rather end my life than take some of them on, and this is about as irrational as you can get, as well as being life threatening. The phantom pain feels like a wave that would overwhelm me, and to run is the only (in)sane choice I have.

I’m not being paid to put the LEAF photos and videos out. Their publication is based on my willingness. There is no outside prodding by interested parties. The same goes for the big things I procrastinate against. The world seems content to let the pain lay while rot sets in. This is irrational because there are almost always interested parties. Hundreds of people would love to see the LEAF material. I would be a minor hero to some. Yet this is not enough now, as I write this. The imagined wound, the implied suffering, out weighs these very real factors.

In the end I learn from the LEAF experience. It is the tip of the iceberg that threatens my life deep down. I still don’t know how to overcome this, but at least I am aware of the monster I face.
Shaman - Horse

Blog – Being at Peace With Your Art

I had a gut check on my photographing capabilities. A dance event featured multiple photographers doing their own style of work across the breadth of the weekend. The output of each photographer came out of the weekend, and I found myself second guessing the quality of my work. In the end I overcame this slight angst, happy with the work I had done.

Before I go into the details I must share some observations on dance photography. There are several contrasting techniques that can be used. The first determines if the emphasis of the photo is up close or pulled back. The latter captures the entire dance movement, with the viewer being asked to find an area of interest. The former takes the viewer to specific aspects of the dance while it cuts out peripheral details. I tend to do the big picture photos, trying to not cut off body parts. The second technique is the flash method: direct or indirect. The direct flash puts lots of light onto the objects closest to the camera. They are emphasized while the background is still in relative darkness. The contrast between these parts of the picture can be extreme. An indirect flash requires the light to bounce off of surfaces before illuminating the target. When done properly the room can be filled with light, with contrast between the foreground and background being lessened. I tend to use indirect flash lighting in order to have a “smoother” light treatment of my big picture photos. There are pros and cons to each technique. None are better than the other on the whole. They all require equipment suited for the task and proper application of photography methods during picture taking and after.

Back to my story! One of the venues featured a fairly tall and very dark ceiling. My usual technique of indirect flash was challenged. I still wanted to get the big picture photos. To achieve photos that were not too dark I had to up the ISO setting. I was still getting dark photos, but this could be compensated for in post production work. The focus was not spot on given the depth of field challenge. The depth of field was reduced, leading to photos that were not super crisp. One of the toughest parts of dance photography is maintaining a crisp focus while people move all over the place. I did what I could with the situation, hoping for the best.

Another photographer focused on direct flash and close-up photos in the same venue. Their photos were posted first and my heart dropped. I had done some of mine and the results were not stellar. I had to really work the contrast and brightness to get post-able results. My photos were washed out and blurry compared to the other photographer’s output. I wondered if the organizers had made a mistake in paying me to do the gig. I plodded on.

My confidence returned when I did the second night’s worth of photos at the same flash unfriendly venue. I had used the walls to bounce more light and the photos were better. I also better understood the way Lindy dancers move. These shots better captured the motions of Lindy dancing. Taking a dance photograph is more about taking a picture where the dancers will be instead of where they are now. This means that a dance is a set of sequenced moves. A follows B. Each dance style has its own sequence, and I was better understanding the probable sequence of Lindy. I was much happier with these photos.

The late night photos were even better. I was in my element finally. The first room had a ceiling friendly to indirect flash photography. This compounded with my better understanding of the movement. The second room was flashing dance lights and bodies in motion. This is a very comfortable place for me as I’ve done lots of dance photography under similar conditions. The photos came out very nice, on par with those of other photographer working the location.

In the end I came to peace with the difference in outputs at a location that did not favor my usual photographing technique. An artist cannot excel all the time, under all conditions. Artists have their strengths and their weaknesses, be theses because of preferred styles of working, training, equipment, or all of the above. I was super impressed with the output of my fellow photographer. I am also at peace with the work that I achieved.
Shaman - Horse

Poem - Poet's Mark

On Tumblr the quote “The right people will read all your chapters. The perfect person will help you write them” caught my eye. Through social media I am blessed with people reading my poetry chapters. The astute do learn something about me. This the nature of an artist’s sharing. Through my poetry I’ve celebrated those who have helped me write the chapters. That will be a topic for another poem.

Poet’s Mark

Read my book if you will
chapter and verse through the years
made plain on paper here
ready for those with heart to peer.

The pages turn as seasons passed
some are lost to winds of fate
others published for all to see
may the wheel be kind to those who read.

The joy flows from other pages
too bright to look upon unheeded
a mortal one should know this
that the rest of life must exist.

It was a journey with harsh remorse
of occasions cast to soul’s regret
even as the dice was thrown
without the chance of rewriting it.

The author does not know the end
when it comes or when life bends
to Father Time’s sharp sickle
harvesting all the physical.

Read the book after this has passed
of joy and pain scribed to last
ink spilled to write the place
of poet’s mark upon the world.

© 2016, Sean Green. All Rights Reserved, 20160704.