Thursday, January 16, 2020

Words And Pictures

My wife says writing comes too easily to me. Webb Chiles, an actual published author that people pay to read and enjoy reading says he is surprised by my one a day format on my web page. It's easy i say and my wife cuffs me 'round the head. My resolution for 2020 inasmuch as I don't do resolutions unless they are easy and a continuation of what I already doing, is to keep on keeping on.
 The photography I enjoy as it is a real challenge. Digital photography is way harder than I thought or expected. The problem nowadays is that cameras do everything and what they don't do the photographer has to do in a computer. In the bad old days of film the camera had two settings and you chose the film speed, but nowadays you can and sometimes do change everything for each successful picture! And if I were to shoot RAW which I don't I would have to spend ages processing and refining each shot. 
 To fill the gaps between the pictures I write words which may or may not be read. I have to be careful what I write so I only refer to local current events as reported in the paper and I never write down what I hear or what is not known publicly. that's is the short path to getting in trouble in a small town and I really want my pension. Besides which practical consideration I want my page even though it is small and inconsequential, to be a relief from advertising argument and Internet sniping. I am sorry Net Neutrality was washed away as every search now comes up as advertising giving pride of place to the organizations with money. 
But if you can find this page it is a place  that a friend once called the Seinfeld of blogs because its about nothing at all. I plan on keeping it that way, a simple stream of consciousness that is easy to write (for me) and rejoices in this strange place where I live and do nothing particularly spectacular. I am looking forward to turning this page into a travel diary and exploring places and history without restraint, thus creating a record of retirement that will stand me in better stead when my mobility leaves me and I find myself back in the hospital bed if I am lucky.
I have no idea how inviting such a prospect might be but time grows short and part of me is relieved. I have been too long in my job and even though i say Key West is a great place to work I have done my time. My wife and I were astonished to find we could get jobs with pensions in our forties and settled down to secure our old age. Most people see Key West as their vacation headquarters, where they come to let off steam and live a fantasy for a week or two. I have found the simple act of showing up gives you access to work and I was lucky enough to walk into a  job that paid regularly and offered health benefits and a pension. To do my job in mainland USA would be next to impossible for me, in the strait jacket of conformity that Key West avoids for the most part. I consider myself fortunate and hope I have given the city value for money over the past  16 years.
I look forward to coming back as a visitor, a snowbird perhaps, a temporary resident or simply as a year round pensioner. I have a chance at travel but I also see a chance with my preference for unconventional living to find a way to live on a boat, avoid hurricane season and spend some of the year on road trips. I see that possibility but we all know that man proposes and god disposes so I am not looking to far into the future. I just keep writing and studying photography.
 My camera has replaced my motorcycles, as I feel I can no longer expect sympathy from colleagues friends or most of all my wife in the event of another catastrophe. And let me tell you the standard of driving in Key West nine months of the year is appalling as people don't know their way around, aren't used to mixing it up with bicycles and scooters and often block short cuts known only to road rage triggered locals. It's maddening to find your carefully planned back route blocked by a  sightseer or confused lost rental car...That's when you know you are losing the plot. Key West is supposed to be home to the confused unsure and lost of all types.
The other reason I want to come back is to observe and write. There are stories to be told in this town and I just can't do it in my current situation. By that I don't mean uncovering terrible things but I do mean having the time to sit and talk and think and ponder rather than dashing from pillar to post and spending altogether too much time sitting at a desk answering phones. And yet for 2020 that is my fate apparently. 
 So no changes for now, more stream of consciousness and more of infilling pictures with words. It's what I learned years ago when I was writing news for radio. I took the recorded quotations I lifted from interviews I did in person and on the phone and wrote the narrative around the quotes. When I started this page I did the same, using photos instead of quotations. Often I take pictures knowing what I want to say around the story in the photo. Sometimes there is no story, be it ever so diaphanous and in those cases I simply throw up the pictures and let you make of them what you will. I am not pursuing perfection, its not my nature, what I am pursuing is a record of my life and the best pictures I can make to illustrate the path.
I am 62 years old and I have no idea where my life will lead, even with the active enthusiastic participation of my ever patient wife. I grant you that is a bit unusual in an Old Age Pensioner. We OAPs are supposed to be settled by now. I am excited this period of being settled is closing its door on me. I have no idea where the story goes, who I will meet along the way nor how it will end other than with my new friend Death. In the meantime roll on 2020.

Key West Street Photo

Whoa! I said to myself, that's a hell of a mural. And it is.
There is this annoying movement among hip photographers trying to define street and documentary photography and holding anguished online sessions discussing what is street photography and wringing their hands. The experienced YouTube voices reassure the hoi polloi that you don't need the latest and greatest equipment. "Use what you have!" they exhort encouragingly even as the reviewers and sellers extol the virtues of the latest and greatest cameras and lenses and stuff. I hunt down the famous decisive moment and blow it just slightly. I should have caught the cyclist at the apex of the "V" below.
In this one the rider has a plastic bag of something but he's holding it on the wrong side of his body, silly man, away from my modest super zoom camera but I still took the shot because I like it.
And so it goes. Looking back over this page with all the horrid early low quality digital camera pictures, small with terrible image quality and feeble night shots and ghastly white balance, I reckon i was doing, or trying to do street photography before it was a fashion.  I surprise myself.
Mostly my old girl Cheyenne the portly Labrador-grandmother in my life was my street subject lumbering through my pictures. But I was documenting the streets because it was fun. And something to do and I knew Key West was transmogrifying before my eyes. And so I took pictures. 
I still find things I love to photograph and apparently people like to look at them so I guess we can call Key West photogenic. Occasionally I glance at Instagram and look at the #keywest page and I end up after a few short minutes getting blurry eyed from the abundance of identical selfies and sunsets.
This is a small place but every street has its quirks and charms and I like taking pictures of those quirks and charms. Some of the noisiest voices on the Internet insist street photos must include people and if possible people and places must tell a  story. I understand that imperative in a  one photo moment on Instagram or Flickr but with my open ended format I often take pictures thinking ahead to what I shall write and I have no idea if that is street photography or documentary photography or something else.
I live deliberately outside the mainstream so I guess it's okay if I pootle around at the bottom of the peninsula that is Florida and limit myself to doing my own thing. God knows that's what I have been doing for ages so I might as well keep on keeping on. But I remain fascinated by the outside world's requirement that everything be categorized and labeled and archived. I see desperate amateur photographers asking the career experts "How do I get inspiration? What do I photograph?" And the answer is always find a theme, get inspired by others or just take pictures. Perhaps I am simply lucky that people like to look at Key West, especially my town which is not the one you will see anywhere else. But even if no one were looking I'd still be trying to get better at capturing the images I think I see. 
Take pictures. Post them. Have fun. I want to see other people enjoying photography without labels in their own home towns. Everyone has a camera in their pockets and there must be more to look at than faces and sunsets. I'm sure of it, even if its not strictly street photography.