Here in the southeast US, winter takes two forms. The first is “the leaves are gone and it’s cold,” and the second is “OH !@#$%.” This coming weekend appears to be “OH !@#$%” and it isn’t even officially winter yet! The forecast is calling for 8-12″ of snow and low temperatures in the 20s. We’ll see, but it looks like the confidence is pretty high. Yikes.
One of the things that Kathy & I have been talking about for this winter is what temperature to set the thermostat at. Now that we’re home every day we don’t want to leave it set at 65 degrees like we did when we worked. But we don’t want to keep it set too high, as we’d like to keep from blowing the gas bill out of the proverbial water. So ‘what to do’ has been the question.
Perhaps not coincidentally, I have found myself somewhat more sensitive to the cold this year (yes, I know that it hasn’t gotten cold yet!). While my philosophy has always been to make sure I am wearing adequate clothing before turning up the heat, I’ve been finding it necessary to resist turning it too high this year.
At one point I told Kathy – jokingly – that maybe we should think about moving to Arizona. But at some point yesterday we decided that even if the gas bill doubled – which it won’t – it would still be cheaper than moving to Arizona! Although I will admit to looking at cruises leaving this weekend to see if we could escape to the Caribbean! But we opted to tough it out here at home, and turn up the thermostat if we need to.
A technique that I love to use at the beach is motion blur. This can take the form of long shutter speeds on a tripod, or panning the camera along the scene or with a moving wave. It can convey a feeling of motion, simplify a busy scene or just look “pretty.” It doesn’t work just anywhere, and I’ve become pretty good about knowing when to use it.
I hadn’t tried using motion blur much this trip until I was reminded of it in a recent Instagram post by William Neill. Bill originally inspired me to try using motion blur years ago, and his work continues to inspire me.
Last night while we waited to see if the moonrise would be visible, I tried using a slow shutter speed on the water, the sky and even some sea oats blowing in the wind. A few of them came out OK, so I thought I would share.
There was a recent post on The Online Photographer titled “How to be a Professional Photographer” where Mike Johnston commented about how difficult it was to make a living as a professional photographer. There were a number of comments both in support of his post as well as lamenting the difficulty of the profession. There were also a few humorous comments.
The joke that I’ve always loved about being a professional photographer goes something like this: An amateur photographer is someone who has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs. A professional photographer is someone whose spouse has a good job so they can buy nice gear and travel to exotic places to take photographs. Somehow that’s never worked for me – I couldn’t get the spousal support I needed to pursue my passion. I’m kidding, of course!
Kirk Tuck chimed into the conversation with a thoughtful comment and a post on his own blog. Most of Kirk’s post was his usual well-reasoned commentary. He is a professional photographer with a lot to be proud of. He has seemingly mastered the business side of the business while staying current with technology and changes in the marketplace. His is a voice to pay attention to when it comes to operating a photography studio as a business. The statement that got a little under my skin, however – probably because it is a bit of a sore subject for me – was when he said that “retirement is only for people who didn’t like their careers.”
Of course the publishing world is full of people writing about how everyone should be pursuing their passion/finding their North Star/determining the color of their parachute, etc., and that if they aren’t living their dream they need to (after buying the author’s particular book, of course) set off on their own path of self-discovery and do their own wonderful passion-inducing thing. Wouldn’t that be lovely? In my opinion, very few folks are fortunate enough to even figure out what they are passionate about, let alone have all the skills and (to a certain extent) good luck required to actually make a living from their work. And that assumes they figure out what they are passionate about early enough in their life to actually do something about it!
The rest of us get jobs. Even if it is banking or insurance or hospitality or something that isn’t terribly glamorous, hopefully our jobs provide enough of whatever kind of satisfaction we are looking for, pay enough to cover the rent and save with a little left over to spend on something fun. If we’re really fortunate we are able to keep our jobs long enough to call it a career while saving and investing responsibly so that at some point we can walk away from work and do something – anything – else. Not that our work sucks or that our careers have been a failure, it’s just that instead of “pursuing our passion” we found a good enough job that we were able to do long enough to finally be able to walk away. That’s not failure, it’s a different kind of success!
Retirement is a subject I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about and preparing for. I’ve had a great career and am proud of what I’ve accomplished over 40 years in banking. Even though I haven’t been “pursuing my passion” by someone’s arbitrary standards, I’m very happy with the direction things have taken and am looking forward to being able to explore the world with the person I love without the constraints and distractions of work. And that is something I’m very passionate about!
Last day at work – for both me and Kathy – is May 25! 🙂
Kathy & I just returned from a week in Nevis, a Caribbean island that along with St. Kitts is part of the West Indies. This was our second visit there, after thoroughly enjoying a visit there last year. It is a small, quiet and friendly island, with great people, a number of nice restaurants and plenty of scenic views.
This is photo is one of a number of blog-worthy photos that I will share as I get them processed. In the meantime I wanted to get something posted to break my drought!
This past weekend, Kathy & I paid a long-overdue visit to one of our favorite day-trip destinations, Chateau Morrisette on the Blue Ridge Parkway in southern Virginia. Those who know us well understand that most of our favorite destinations involve something to do with food and wine. Chateau Morrisette is one of the largest wineries in Virginia, and also happens to operate an award-winning, AAA Four-Diamond restaurant. Chateau Morrisette has both food and wine!
Our timing worked out that we were able to have a nice dinner, proceed to one of my favorite sunset destinations for photography, and return to the restaurant for dessert before starting the drive home. How hard is that?
The Saddle Overlook is a few miles north of the winery in an area called Rocky Knob, and is so named because the “saddle” is a low area between the two peaks of Rocky Knob. It has both easterly and westerly views, so depending on the time of day there are frequently interesting things to photograph. Most of my time there has been spent at sunset. The west view has an interesting panorama of the valley and Buffalo Mountain in the distance, but as with most sunset locations it is most interesting when conditions result in a nice sky.
When we first arrived at the parking area there were a few cars, mostly families returning from an earlier hike and a few people just hanging out in their cars. No obvious overload of photographers like some of the more popular spots in North Carolina. Not too much was happening in the sky, and with a general absence of clouds I knew that the best photographs would likely come after the sun had set.
The parking lot has a really nice view, so it is possible to just sit in the car and watch the sun go down. And I could have simply set my camera up in front of the car so I didn’t have to go far. But preferring to work alone and having been at this place before, I have a favorite spot down the hill and off to the side so I can get out of the way of the “tourists” and generally avoid the chatter that inevitably happens when the “drive-by cell phone photographers” start filtering in right at sunset.
Things happened pretty much as expected, and as soon as the ball of the sun sunk below the horizon, the engines started firing up, car doors slammed and in 5 minutes the place was practically deserted. Figuring that it was probably safe to retreat to a spot closer to the car before it was too dark to see, I gathered my gear and headed back up the hill toward the car to complete my evening’s work. I set up my tripod again and framed up a few more shots.
Pretty soon I hear a couple of guys behind me that were looking at the image on my LCD and commenting on the great color I was getting. One guy walked over and started asking me questions and repeated his comment about the nice color I was getting, and I explained that even though it was dark, there was a lot of color in the sky until well after the sun goes down, but that most people miss it because the best color often happens after most people have packed up and left. That they think the sun crossing the horizon is the “main event.” He seemed surprised to hear that but agreed that based on what he saw on my screen it must be true. Seeing is believing! With that, his buddy announced that it was time to go, and he ambled off with a “nice talking to you” and was gone.
I never mind chatting photography with an interested observer. I probably didn’t make a convert, but hopefully I spread a little knowledge. It interests me though the most people just don’t take the time to look, or to think about the things that we photography nuts take for granted.