Archive for the 'life' Category

06
Dec
08

An Explanation

Many of my friends often tell me, in regards to my photography, that I seem to always be in the right place at the right time, as if it were completely random.  Now, that does sometimes happen, but usually I have help.

You see, part of being a good photographer is knowing where “the right place” is, and when “the right time” is.  Predicting this kind of future can be a bit like playing darts while blindfolded.  It’s difficult, but if you do it long enough, your darts do start hitting closer to the center.

Take this photo, for instance:

Envy?

This shot of a homeless man with his cup outstretched to the man covered with shopping bags on the most expensive street in Boston is one of my favourites.  Sadly, it could be composed a little better, but I literally had a split-second to get the shot, and I didn’t have enough time for fine-tuning.  I was walking down Newbury street, when about 200 feet ahead of me I saw this man and his two daughters (in the blue jackets ahead of him), and then about another 50 feet ahead of *them* I saw the homeless man.  I knew that this meant they would have to walk past him, and I was almost positive that there was the opportunity for a good shot.  Despite the sidewalk being relatively crowded, I started running down the street, and right as the man passed him, I fell down to one knee and clicked off a shot.  While the shot is far from perfect, I was definitely rewarded for my running.

For another example, take this photo:

Jindo Island Beauty

Now, my desk is positioned in front of my huge window in my apartment, and while it’s partly so that I have a nice view, it is also so that I can keep an eye on the light.  There’s both buildings and mountains in my panoramic view, and that gives me a decent idea of what the light conditions will be on different parts of the island.  If certain atmospheric conditions seem like they might be good soon, I head down and get on my bike.  Now, sometimes after work, I ride a little randomly around the island, looking for potential future shots.  When I head down to get on my bike, I start trying to remember those spots, and think about what the light will probably look like in 10/20/30 minutes, and think about where I can get to in that time.  In this case, I noticed that the sky was particularly blue, the sun was not yet setting but was low enough on the horizon to create nice shadows and add dimension to the clouds, and I knew that I could probably get a reflection off the river just outside of town.  So, I drove over there, walked about 200 yards, and took this shot, when I saw the farmer and his cow.  I used my flash with a hand-held bounce card to create some fill so as to get the flowers in the foreground properly exposed in addition to everything farther away, but that was about it, and I always carry an index card (for bouncing) in my bag, so it wasn’t something I prepared specially for that trip.

For one last example, I’ll give you my favourite reenacting shot:

Looks so real...

I took this shot at a private WWII reenactment in Kentucky that my Soviet unit attended.  We were under attack and I, being the medic, was not attacking, and instead was laying down in a gully.  Since I was not shooting with a gun, I decided that I should probably be shooting with my camera, and I turned towards the friend in front of me.  He was crouched down a few feet in front of me, ready to shoot at the approaching Germans.  I figured he would do *something* interesting soon, and I trained my camera on him, focused it, and waited with my finger holding the button half-depressed (so that the reaction time of my finger would be even faster).  About 5-8 seconds later, he jumped up to take a shot, and I clicked the button.  It was a little dark in the forest, which meant that my shutter was slower, creating the slight motion blue that I feel really makes this photo look like an original, rather than something taken a year ago.

So, there you have it.  That’s my take on being “in the right place at the right time”.  It is partially coincidental; I did not place the shopper or the homeless man on the street, I have no control over the weather, and I did not know if the enemy would get close enough for my friend to attempt to take a shot.  But, the key here is that I was paying attention to my surroundings, was thinking ahead of time (by anywhere between a few seconds to half an hour) to try and make an educated guess as to what shot I could potentially get, and then attempted to put myself in what I felt was the best position for a good shot.  Those three things really are at least half, in my opinion, of what goes into creating a good photo.

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02
Dec
08

Update

3075946401_4aebe48144_oThings have been kinda crappy here for the last week or so.  Without going into detail, I’ll just say that I hate working for Koreans and that the exchange rate is at the bottom of the garbage bin right now.  In two months, my salary has dropped by more than 1/3rd.  It’s rather depressing.

At least I will be back stateside soon.  Exactly when is still under negotiation, but it looks like I will be headed back to the states either January 24th or 31st, and then will be heading back on February 28th.  I’m hoping I can convince my school to let me go on the 24th, but I’m not holding my breath.  But, even if I return stateside on the 31st, I still have essentially a full month back at home in DC before I have to return to Korea to go back to teaching for 3 more months.  It’s less time than my Korean co-workers get, but more than I will get in the US unless I can actually make a living freelancing, so I suppose I can’t really complain too much.

2102576447_f43c91f808_b

I’m looking forward to being back in the states.  I have two kickass reenactments to attend in February, both of which are hosted by groups I am a member of (being the host is always great), and I will get to see some of my friends, and my family is going to come visit Marc and I in DC, and, of course, I will be staying with Marc for the duration of my vacation, which will be nice.  I miss him quite dearly, and I know for a fact that the sentiment is mutual, and it’s good that I have such a relatively long vacation.  By the time I see him, it will have been 6 months since I last saw him, and even with the strongest of relationships, that is a very long period to be apart.  I miss my Frenchman.  After I finish teaching here in May, we might spend some time in France, before he starts work.  We can visit his sister and I can work on my French, and we can just in general use that as decompression time; me from Korea, him from grad school.  I think it would be good for both of us.  Plus, after having lived for a year here in Korea where bread is pretty non-existent and cheese is unheard-of, I think my body would appreciate some good French food.

29
Nov
08

Why I Love My Hobby

One of my reenacting units (that I actually am a founding member of), the QRF, is hosting an AWESOME private Korean War event in February. I am so stoked about attending. Here’s Marc’s “ad” about how fun it’s going to be, to try and get more participants. The event isn’t really open to outsiders, but I figured this would give you a bit of an idea of why I love reenacting.  Enjoy:


 

Hiya guys,

A group that I am active with, the QRF (Quick Reenacting Force) is going to host it’s second annual Korean War tactical event near Danville, VA, in February. 

Generally, it’s an all-immersion, first-person, 36 hour tactical event which seeks to recreate the actions of early 1951 before the fronts stabilized. Last year we had a great time. 

This year we expect something on the order of 50 GI reenactors and 2-3 jeeps. Right now we are in the process of recruiting people who would be interested in doing CPV, or Chinese People’s Volunteers.

“Now hold on a minute,” I can hear you ask. “Why the hell would I want to volunteer to do a new impression with people I barely know with maybe half a dozen other Chinese reenactors? We’ll be butchered!”

Well you see, that’s just the thing. Because of our few numbers, CPV members are there to portray an OPFOR (opposition force) for the GI’s. We’re almost like event staff. We will be in constant touch with the American commanders (also members of the QRF) and as such we will be ready to strike at all times. That means that we will be springing ambushes, launching tactical strikes against static allied positions, and of course, spend the nights sleeping well and drinking Tsingtao around a fire while the Americans freeze their asses off wondering when we will strike next.

There will be full autos on our side. Booby traps. Flares. Grenades. Patriotic music and propaganda broadcasts over our bullhorn at 2am. Ambushes. Inflitration. Psy ops leaflets. Artillery barrages. And of course the inestimable satisfaction of making sentries shit themselves when we slink into their foxholes and slit their throats with rubber knives 😉

For equipment, all you need is…

  • An Ushanka without insignia
  • Telogreika trousers and jacket (preferably with nondescript buttons)
  • Some kind of old-timey civilian shirt
  • A canteen
  • Canvas sneakers/ “kung fu shoes” or leather low boots
  • an Arisaka, Gew98, M91/30, M44, M38, PPSH, PPS-43, K98, M1 Carbine, or M1 Garand.

Let me know if anyone is interested!

Marc



 

Now, doesn’t that make you want to be a reenactor?

16
Nov
08

Is that my brain I feel oozing out my ears?

I have been recently feeling like my head wants to explode from lack of use. When I’m not intellectually challenged for awhile, I begin to get physically antsy. My get this sensation almost like humming, in my brain, like it’s screaming “USE ME! PLEASE!”, and it makes me a little twitchy, and more than a little…weird. I try to deal with the feeling by going out on what I call “high speed” walks – it’s not really speed-walking so much as just wanting to walk so fast that I am only peripherally aware of my surroundings. I find it difficult to think while sitting still, for some reason, and so when I can’t take the pounding of my brain against its walls, I find that it is best to get my own self outside my own less-metaphorical walls.

But, it only helps marginally. When I come back, the feeling comes right back, often worse as I am now physically energized as well. This feeling of being intellectually stifled is bad enough in the US (and I have felt this, to varying degrees, since I was a kid), but it’s even worse here in Korea, where I can’t really talk to anyone (and even when I can, I don’t exactly feel “challenged”). I end up sitting around a lot of the time outside the Family Mart (convenience store), watching people and trying to figure out things about them, or trying to predict what they’re going to do. Sometimes I play little games with myself, even, where I do things like try to figure out where a person is going, and then I try to get there before them, via a different route, without running, or I try to get from point A to point B while always in a situation where my shadow is in front of me via the streetlamps.  Things like that which require constant observation and reassessment are my bread and butter.

I have no idea why I do these things, but they really seem to be one of the only ways that I can keep from feeling like I want to bang my head against the wall out of a lack of stimulation. I sometimes suspect that this is at least partially the reason I generally prefer solitude over random company. Most people feel…odd…to me. Boring isn’t the right word; neither is characterless – I see characters in everyone. I think that uninspiring may be closer to the mark, but whatever the word I’m searching for is, it is a word which stands for a person with whom conversation holds little more intellectual stimulation than eating a ham sandwich.  I think I would enjoy the general populace much more if I didn’t have to interact, and could instead just silently observe.

I’d almost rather trade this for mediocrity, sometimes. I know that faced with that decision, I would always choose my current state – the world is so much brighter, more colorful, so much more entertaining – but, it definitely would be a tempting switch to make. I suspect that I would probably feel like a lobotomy patient, but sometimes as is, I feel like someone has the voltage on my brain turned up a little too high.

Anyway. Just some thoughts.

15
Nov
08

“Boston, you’re my home…”

I really miss Boston.  I miss Massachusetts as a whole, really.

It’s kind of strange, but the prospect of living somewhere other than New England, much less somewhere other than Massachusetts, is sort of scaring me.  Frankly, I feel like running around yelling and flailing my arms.  Other than the Texan bits that I can’t seem to excise, I am very much a New Englander, and I don’t really know how happy I will be to be elsewhere.  New England, really, for those who have never lived there, is sort of like living in a different country.  So, moving out of New England is like being asked to move to another country.

I feel like I’m staring into a bit of an abyss, at this prospect.

Anyway.  Just some thoughts.

 

(title from the song Dirty Water)
09
Nov
08

Relativity

As I approach the half-way mark here of my time here in Korea, I have noticed that time has once again slowed down again, unfortunately.  For about a month or so, time was speeding by.  My weeks seemed almost over by Tuesday, and before I knew it it was the weekend and another week was happening again within moments.  Time was going very quickly, which is good, because while Korea is interesting, I don’t particularly enjoy my time here, and I dearly miss Marc.

While my weeks themselves are still going fast, it feels like time in general has slowed back to a normal pace, which is to say, too slow.  When I look at my counter toward my hypothetical vacation date (I have not gotten my vacation time set in stone yet), which is also the date I get to fly back stateside and see Marc again, it never seems to get closer.  I mean, sure, it now stands at about 2.5 months, rather than the 5 months it was back at the end of August, but…that still feels like a long time.  Too long.  Really, anything more than a month feels not all that much more different than 5 months, I have found.  While the weeks go by quickly, looking at my calendar and thinking “Oh, I only have 2 months and 2 weeks left instead of 2 months and 3 weeks left” just isn’t all that satisfying.  Know what I mean?

Added to this is the fact that Marc has apparently been feeling what I have come to call “reverse loneliness”.  He has been hanging out with his female friends a considerable amount recently, but instead of it making him feel less lonely, it seems to only make him miss me more.  In his words, “They are nice, and they keep me company, but they are not you.  Their presence only makes me more acutely aware of your absence and makes me miss you more.” .  I am not a jealous person in the least, and I have no problem with him hanging around with other women or even having them sleep over (so long as they know his heart is taken).  But, it does pain me to see him so lonely, with or without other companions.  So, I want to get back to DC as soon as possible, a sentiment he very much mirrors.

Anyway.  Time needs to speed back up.  Now.  I need to get back to this:

Aw, we're so cute.

I miss my Frenchman.

05
Nov
08

What I would have paid to be there…

Aw, this made me teary. This was election night at my college:

My favourite part starts at about 2:45, when everyone starts singing the national anthem. Hampshire has traditionally been pretty anti-America (we made national news when we were the only school in the US to officially denounce the war and Bush) and prior to this, getting a Hampshire student to sing the national anthem was like pulling teeth. So, the fact that they were all singing it out of hope and joy is hugely significant, and very telling. Also, for those of you not from Hampshire, the bell that they ring starting at 6:55 is only rung after one has officially finished their thesis, and to ring it beforehand is considered extremely bad luck. So, I love that someone decided that it was worth it to ring it (or found an alum who was there to ring it for them). I also like the part at 1:15 where everyone starts running out of the buildings.

This is something I very much miss about Hampshire, and it very much matches my sentiment about yesterday. I was at school (work) all day, and I really wishes I could have been celebrating. As it was, when McCain conceded the election, I said “YES!” really loudly, and all the Koreans in the office turned to stare at me. It was worth it though.




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