the ukrop’s monument avenue 10k

Friday, March 28:  This afternoon, I leave my house at 3:00 for what should be a two-hour drive to Richmond, Virginia.  I’m planning to walk tomorrow morning in the Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10k along with my 29-year-old daughter Sarah, who’s planning to run.

I sit in barely moving traffic on I-95 south from Washington to Fredericksburg, at which time the traffic finally begins to move at more than a snail’s pace.  It takes me 3 hours and 40 minutes to make what should be a 2-hour drive.  When I arrive in Richmond, I stop at the Arthur Ashe Junior Athletic Center to pick up my bib and race packet, along with thousands of other people.

Traffic on I-95 South on a Friday night
Traffic on I-95 South on a Friday night

When I arrive at Sarah’s house in the Fan District, she’s making a linguine and Bella mushroom dish, accompanied by warm decadent garlic bread.  After all, we need to load up on carbs for the race.  Her friend and running-mate Rose, her roommate Daniel, and her annoying cat, Chicken Little, who insists on jumping up on the table at every chance, also share the meal.  We relax soon after dinner so we’ll be ready for the event tomorrow.

Saturday, March 29: According to the Richmond Time-Dispatch: Ukrop’s Monument Avenue 10K by the numbers,  36,365 people registered for this event.  Despite the rain, 27,404 participants finished the race, including me. 🙂

Sarah and Rose on Sarah's porch
Sarah and Rose on Sarah’s porch
Me with Sarah
Me with Sarah

Since there are so many people, there is no parking nearby.  We have to walk to the starting line near Harrison and  Broad.  When I MapMyWalk, I find the walk to the start from Sarah’s is one mile.  So, including the walk there, the 10k and the walk back, I cover a total of 8.2 miles.  In the rain.  Needless to say, I’m soaked like a wet puppy by the time I return to Sarah’s house.

Passing the runners on Monument Avenue as I walk to the start
Passing the runners on Monument Avenue as I walk to the start
I pass a church along the way
I pass a church along the way
Monument Avenue - one of the many monuments along the road
Monument Avenue – one of the many monuments along the road
Runners
Runners
A shop on Broad Street
A shop on Broad Street
A team in yellow runs by
A team in yellow runs by
Street art on the side of Club 534 along Broad Street
Street art on the side of Club 534 along Broad Street
Painted Wall at Club 534
Painted Wall at Club 534

There are a total of 90 minutes of wave starts.  I’m pretty impressed that the organizers, Sports Backers, do such a good job with the logistics of organizing such a huge event.  Sarah and her friend Rose are in an early wave of runners so she actually finishes running before I even start.  The walkers are at the back of the pack, and my wave, XB, doesn’t start until nearly 10 a.m.

My wave, XB, one of the last to start
My wave, XB, one of the last to start
At the starting line
At the starting line

Sarah meets her goal of finishing at 58:32.  She’s pleased with her results of finishing 7,420th out of all participants, and 613th place out of her division of women 25-29.

Mile 1!
Mile 1!

Since I am walking, I’m hoping to keep around a 16:45 minute per mile pace throughout.  My total time ends up being 1:46:58, about a 17.25 minute pace.  The first 3.1 miles of my walk is an average pace of 16:42, so I meet my goal in the first half.  In the second half of the run, it begins to pour, and I think that slows me down. I finish way at the back of the pack at 24,348th!!  I didn’t realize I was so slow. I finish 625th in my division of women age 55-59. I may be slow, but it seemed like a lot of work to me!

Margaritaville??
Margaritaville??
Jimmy Buffet land
Jimmy Buffett land

I figure that I walk a little over 3 miles every day, so it should be easy to simply double it.  However, I find that my back is really hurting in the second half, quite a surprise as I don’t normally have back problems when walking.  Maybe it’s the distance combined with the hard asphalt.  My toes also feel like they’re stuck with pins and needles.  It’s hell getting older!!

Stonewall Jackson stands on his pedestal and horse on Monument Ave
Stonewall Jackson stands on his pedestal and horse on Monument Ave

Despite the rain, hordes of Richmonders come out to cheer on the walkers and runners.  Thirty-three small bands are set up along the route, under tents, playing jazz, R&B, classic rock, blues, folk, bluegrass, jammin’ oldies, Christian rock, funk and surf instrumentals.  Many participants and bystanders are decked out in costumes.  I pass some ladies wearing a pirate ship!  Some guys mime from a balcony in Superhero costumes.  There are people dressed in team costumes and holding signs and banners.  Thank goodness for all the people who came out to cheer on the runners and walkers on such a miserable day.  They kept our spirits up!

Superhero cheerleaders perched on a roof
Superhero cheerleaders perched on a roof
Falun Dafa
Falun Dafa

The VCU Massey Cancer Center is the official charitable fundraising partner of the 10k.  Participants take an active role in cancer prevention.

Some signs of spring - cherry blossoms?
Some signs of spring – cherry blossoms?
two walkers wearing a pirate ship
two walkers wearing a pirate ship

So after all that hard work, what do we do?  We head straight to the Star-Lite Dining and Lounge, where I order possibly the most unhealthy thing on the menu, biscuits and sausage gravy.  Sarah orders Crab Cake Bennies – “Classic Bennies with a pair of grilled crab cakes added to the stack.”  We also each have a beer. 🙂

I would challenge anyone to undo hard work as efficiently and thoroughly as I do!

 

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the hardscrabble side of baltimore

Saturday, March 22:  Today, in honor of Restless Jo’s Monday Walks, I take a photo walk in Baltimore with the Washington Photography Group. Granted, it’s not a Monday, but as Monday is my fruitless job search day, I have to go on the weekend.  A group of nearly 30 photographers heads out to explore and document the gritty side of the city.

Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and the 26th largest city in the country.  We walk through one of the more hardscrabble neighborhoods, with abandoned buildings, street art, and small neighborhood businesses in various states of disrepair.  Walking around this part of the city feels gritty and real, unlike the gentrified Baltimore Inner harbor and the generic, characterless suburbs found throughout America.  This is an American working class neighborhood at its most interesting.

Baltimore street art
Baltimore street art
Baltimore signage
Baltimore signage
more street art
more street art
Baltimore
Baltimore
Baltimore, Maryland
Baltimore, Maryland
buildings in Baltimore
buildings in Baltimore
fire alarm
fire alarm
building in blue
building in blue
happy boys
happy boys
Braider on duty
Braider on duty
street lines
street lines
monsters and old cars
monsters and old cars
A Tree Grows in Baltimore
A Tree Grows in Baltimore
tree trunk on a brick wall
tree trunk on a brick wall
strolling on a Saturday
strolling on a Saturday

We head into Lexington Market to explore.  According to Wikipedia, Lexington Market is one of the longest continuously running markets in the world, having been around since 1782.  Many people believe Lexington Market shows the “real” Baltimore’s personality, as opposed to the more generic and tourist-oriented attractions found at the nearby Inner Harbor.  The market hosts small eateries and stands selling fish, produce, meat, baked goods, and candy.  There’s plenty of local color to go around here, along with jazz and rock-n-roll music played at Friday and Saturday lunch hours.

After we leave Lexington Market, we stroll down to the Inner Harbor, where it’s a little dreary and not a great day for pictures.  We pass the castle-like turret of the old Emerson Bromo Seltzer Tower, built in 1911 and once the tallest building in Baltimore.  It was supposedly modeled after the Palazzo Vecchio in Florence, Italy.  Captain Isaac Emerson, the inventor of the headache remedy, built the Bromo Seltzer Tower.  It now houses studio spaces for visual and literary artists and is known as the Bromo Seltzer Arts Tower. (Bromo Seltzer Tower)

the old Bromo Seltzer Building
the old Bromo Seltzer Building
Olive Breweries Ltd.
Olive Breweries Ltd.
Outdoor tables at Oliver Breweries Ltd.
Outdoor tables at Oliver Breweries Ltd.
stop and go and leading lights
stop and go and leading lines
the Baltimore Waterfront
the Baltimore Inner Harbor
Baltimore waterfront
Baltimore Inner Harbor

The Inner Harbor is certainly nice, but it’s not what we came here to see today. If you want to see more of the Inner Harbor on a nice sunny day, you can check out my previous post: baltimore’s inner harbor {by day}.

We head back up into the city, passing by more scrubby buildings.

Baltimore streets
Baltimore streets
more wall art
more wall art
steam
steam
China D LL Restaurant
China D LL Restaurant
George the Tailor
George the Tailor
Baltimore Street Art
Baltimore Street Art
more street art
more street art
abandoned Mayfair theater
abandoned Mayfair theater

We meet back at the parking lot at noon, and a few of us decide to return to John W. Faidley Seafood at Lexington Market to sample Baltimore’s best crab cakes.  I can vouch that they are in fact delectable. 🙂

Most of the group decides to go for pizza on the way to Green Mount Cemetery.  They must really enjoy their pizza, because when the three of us who ate the crab cakes arrive at the cemetery, the rest of the group is nowhere to be seen.  I’m tired by this time from all our walking, and so I only drop in briefly at the cemetery, after finding a few interesting buildings in the surrounding neighborhoods.

Baltimore street art near Green Mount Cemetery
Baltimore street art near Green Mount Cemetery
Street art near Green Mount Cemetery
Street art near Green Mount Cemetery

Green Mount Cemetery, officially dedicated in 1839, is the final resting place of more than 65,000 people.  According to the brochure, within its walls are the remains of “statesmen, captains of industry, philanthropists, artists, authors, military leaders, and even a presidential assassin (John Wilkes Booth) and his co-conspirators.”  Elijah Jefferson Bond, patentee of the Ouija Board is buried here.

Green Mount Cemetery
Green Mount Cemetery
Green Mount Cemetery
Green Mount Cemetery

I head back home after this, my poor legs feeling like rubber.  It’s one of our few days between snowstorms around here, so I’m happy I’m able to get out and explore a part of the city I’ve never seen before.

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great falls park & the patomack canal

Sunday, March 16:  Today we go for a stroll along Great Falls in northern Virginia.  It’s only about a half hour from my house, but it’s probably been over 5 years since I’ve been here.  That shows how little we pay attention to the treasures in our own backyards.  On sunny spring days, there’s often a long line of cars waiting to get into the park, but today is cool and overcast, so luckily we get in without delay.

Great Falls, Virginia
Great Falls, Virginia
Bailey and Alex
Bailey and Alex
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
me with Alex at Great Falls
me with Alex at Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls
Great Falls, Virginia
Great Falls, Virginia
Great Falls Park
Great Falls Park
churning waters at Great Falls
churning waters at Great Falls
Mike, Bailey and Alex with the high water line marks from previous hurricanes and storms
Mike, Bailey and Alex with the high water line marks from previous hurricanes and storms
Great Falls
Great Falls

Great Falls is spectacular because here the Potomac River gathers all its force and speed and tumbles over jagged and steep rocks before it funnels into the narrow Mather Gorge, named for Stephen T. Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, from 1917-1929.  He had untiring enthusiasm for the National Park idea, a philosophy of conservation which has spread throughout the world.

Great Falls
Great Falls
the path along the Potomac
the path along the Potomac
Mather Gorge
Mather Gorge
From the cliffs
From the cliffs
Downriver from Great Falls in Mather Gorge
Downriver from Great Falls in Mather Gorge

Swimming and wading are prohibited near the river due to dangerous currents and hydraulics.  According to the National Park Service, many people have died over the years swimming in the Potomac River Gorge, as well as from falling in the river along the steep rocky shorelines. More than half of all river related injuries in the Potomac River Gorge are fatal and 72% of river related incidents are shoreline based activities (not kayaking/canoeing).

Potomac River at Great Falls
Potomac River at Great Falls
Looking down Mather Gorge
Looking down Mather Gorge
stream feeding into the Potomac
stream feeding into the Potomac
tree growing from rocks
tree growing from rocks
lichen
lichen
Mather Gorge
Mather Gorge
view from cliffs
view from cliffs
tangles of fallen trees
tangles of fallen trees
dried leaves
dried leaves

The Patowmack Canal, including its series of locks, was built to bypass the rapids of Great Falls to make the Potomac River navigable as far as the Ohio River Valley.  This project was George Washington’s dream, but he didn’t live to see its completion.

According to the National Park Service: The Patowmack Canal:  Thousands of boats locked through at Great Falls, carrying flour, whiskey, tobacco, and iron downstream and transporting cloth, hardware, firearms, and other manufactured products upstream.

Construction begun in 1785 and took seventeen years to complete — six years longer than the time required to locate, build, and begin occupying Washington, D.C., ten miles down river.

Patowmack Company had to dredge portions of the riverbed and skirt five areas of falls.  By far the most demanding task was building a canal with locks to bypass the Great Falls of the Potomac. Roaring over the rocks, the river drops nearly 80 feet in less than a mile.

The work force was composed of hired hands, indentured servants, and slaves rented from local landowners. The river’s swift currents, solid rock, and constant financial and labor problems hindered progress on the Patowmack Canal.

The Patowmack Company succumbed in 1828, turning over its assets and liabilities to the newly formed Chesapeake and Ohio Canal Company. The new company abandoned the Patowmack Canal in 1830 for an even more ambitious undertaking: a man-made waterway stretching from Georgetown to Cumberland on the Maryland side of the river.

Here is one of the remaining locks.

Alex runs across the old locks
Alex runs across the old locks
Alex walks in the lock
Alex walks in the lock
locks
locks

The Company House was built in the late 1790s by the Patowmack Company.  It was intended for the canal superintendent and his family, but it took so long to build that only one superintendent lived there.  It was later occupied by the canal lock tenders.  This chimney is all that remains of it today.

the Company House
the Company House ruins

We walk back to the parking lot on the inland trial where we see tangled forests and moss-covered rocks.  To see a full-sized slide show, click on any of the images below.

To read more about Great Falls Park, see National Park Service: Great Falls Park.

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green spring gardens

Saturday, March 15:  Inspired by Ailsa’s travel challenge of gardens this week (Where’s my backpack? Travel Theme: Gardens) and by the momentary beautiful weather, I venture to Green Spring Gardens in Alexandria today in hopes of finding a glimpse of spring.

Inside the greenhouse, where it’s summer all the time, I find succulents and orchids, but outside, dirty remnants of snow still mar the brown grass and only a few crocuses peek out from the soil.  Nonetheless, the breeze carries the promise of spring.  Families stroll about and photographers snap pictures of brides and grooms.  It’s lovely to get outside for this fleeting spring day, as the mid-Atlantic is preparing for yet another snowstorm (3-6″) beginning Sunday night through Monday morning. Please!  Haven’t we had enough this winter?

orchid in the greenhouse
orchid in the greenhouse
orchid
orchid
orchid
orchid
in the greenhouse
in the greenhouse
succulents
succulents
succulents
succulents
succulents
succulents
cactus
cactus
succulents
succulents
cacti
cacti
succulents
succulents
crocuses
crocuses
other spring peepers
other spring peepers
gazebo on the pond
gazebo on the pond
gazebo
gazebo
Canadian goose
Canadian goose
path through the woods
path through the woods

At least we do have more daylight hours now, as daylight savings time began last Sunday. 🙂

I abandoned a book last night

I’m taking Andrea’s advice and quitting on The Winter’s Tale. One of the most frustrating books ever. I really hated it.

Butterfly Mind

Line Graph depicting Age vs Unfinished Books on andreabadgley.com

I officially quit on a book last night. Shelved it under DNF (did not finish) on Goodreads, removed it from the homepage of my nook, and resumed the recurrent task of trying to find something gripping to read.

When I was younger, I refused to quit on a book. Even if it bored me to tears, or I hated the characters, or it took me places in the human psyche that I really didn’t want to go, I’d rally, and rally, and rally until I turned the last page. Some books were worth it. Like A Prayer for Owen Meany. John Irving drags the beginning of that book out forever, not just setting a stage, but shopping for lumber, forging steel for scaffolding, and then bolting the infrastructure of it together before finally showing you what its going to look like. Likewise, he develops his characters slowly (and…

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chasing freight trains & photos near henryton, maryland

Sunday, March 9:  This morning I get up at the crack of dawn to drive nearly two hours to an area northwest of Baltimore, Maryland.   I’m meeting a group of people for an outing along the CSX Old Main Line arranged by an iPhone Photography group.  I bring along my iPhone as well as my trusty Olympus PEN; it turns out it’s a good thing I have my Olympus along, otherwise I’d have no pictures to show!

CSX Old Main Line
CSX Old Main Line
Railroad track
Railroad track
closeup of the track
closeup of the track

We meet in a muddy parking lot beside railroad tracks that parallel the South Branch of the Patapsco River. Along the one mile path, we walk along train tracks, some of us in the middle of the tracks, some along the edges, and some in the gravely and ice-covered bed beside the tracks.  Suddenly, we hear the long drawl of a train whistle and the ground starts to rumble. We clamber off the tracks and watch as a long freight train barrels past, shaking the earth under our feet.  It’s a thrill to be so close to the overwhelming weight and power of the train.  I tell everyone this experience reminds me of the movie The Station Agent, in which three lonely people form bonds around chasing trains.

CSX freight train
CSX freight train

As we’re walking, Michael, photography guru and organizer of this group, asks me if I have HDR on my iPhone.  To be honest, I don’t even know what HDR is, but I soon find out it’s high-dynamic-range imaging.  It captures multiple photographs at different exposure levels and combines them to produce a photograph representative of a broader tonal range.  Michael tells me I should download the app HDR Fusion, and then Pro HDR to edit the images later.  I do this immediately.  I don’t have my glasses on to read about the app, nor do I check the default setting, but I do start snapping away.  The app takes two pictures, one exposed on the darkest shadows in the pictures and one exposed on the brightest spots, and then merges them into one great photo. I’m so excited to see the photos, that I just keep snapping away, thrilled with this new discovery.

The train tracks cross over the Patapsco River, and the concrete bridge is covered in graffiti, making for interesting shots.

concrete bridge before tunnel
concrete bridge before tunnel

We then walk through an old railroad tunnel, also covered in graffiti and frozen streams of ice and icicles.  I take a lot of pictures with the HDR fusion on my iPhone, but luckily I also take some with my Olympus.  I know, I’m cheating as this is an iPhone group, but oh well.

Click on any of the images for a full-sized slide show.

After we leave the tunnel, we come upon an abandoned power station.  This place is a photographer’s heaven, falling apart, covered in graffiti and peeling asbestos and probably a million other dangerous things, but we all go inside and snap away.  I’m having so much fun with this HDR fusion because I can take the pictures and the deep shadows inside are corrected by the camera.  I can see the pictures are turning out great.  I take a few shots with my Olympus, but the shadows are too dark and the pictures don’t turn out well.

the power station
the power station
overgrown with weeds
overgrown with weeds
inside machinery
inside machinery
inside the power station
inside the power station
shadows
shadows
decay and delapidation
decay and dilapidation
inside the power station
inside the power station
out back
out back
facade of power station
facade of power station
front door
front door
facade of power station
facade of power station
the power station
the power station

Back outside, we hear the distant bellow of another train and we position ourselves along the tracks to capture the train as it barrels past.  I haven’t had this much fun in ages. 🙂

preparing for the next train
preparing for the next train
the Patapsco River
the Patapsco River
here comes the train!
here comes the train!
Woo-hoo!
Woo-hoo!
the train barrels past
the train barrels past
train and winter trees
train and winter trees

Some people from group are going to go further to the now-demolished hospital complex of Henryton State Hospital, or the Henryton Tuberculosis Sanatorium as it was once called.  It was erected in 1922 as a facility to treat African-Americans suffering from tuberculosis.  However, Michael tells me he has to leave early to teach a photography class at Calumet Photo at Tyson’s Corner.  The class he’s teaching is about learning to use the manual setting on the camera.  I decide on impulse that I want to take this class, so I leave at the same time he does and head to the class.

When I arrive at Calumet, I can finally take a few minutes to look over my pictures.  I can’t seem to find any of the pictures I took with the HDR fusion.  Michael looks at my iPhone as well, and he can’t find them either.  He says they must be there somewhere.  I check the settings on the app, and I find the Auto-Save’s default setting is to NOT “automatically save HDR images to Camera Roll.”  I also find the Save Originals is set to NOT “save original images to Camera Roll.”  What??  Why would a photo app be set to NOT save pictures?  What photographer would ever want to snap pictures only to have them disappear?

When I write to HDR fusion support asking how I can find my photos, I get this email from Cogitap Software: Unfortunately, it’s not possible to recover unsaved photos. Regarding default settings, they were the opposite before but people were complaining. It seems that it’s very difficult to make everybody happy! 🙂

Hmmm.  Very strange indeed.

Oh well.  The great HDR pictures from my iPhone are gone, but I did take some with my Olympus.  The train tracks and tunnel will still be there, so I can go back, but I need to find a partner in crime as I wouldn’t feel safe going alone.  Also I want to go on to the Henryton State Hospital, so I think it will be a full day’s outing.

For anyone interested in exploring this place, the parking area is on Marriottsville Rd, between Henryton Rd and Driver Rd.  The parking area is next to the railroad tracks that cross Marriottsville Rd.

The closest address is 714 Marriottsville Rd, Marroittsville MD 21104, if you want to use your GPS.  This is a private residence so please do not park on their property. The public parking area is very near by.

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twenty things i learned about storytelling photography

Sunday, March 2:  Today, I attend a fantastic day-long seminar hosted by National Geographic on “Storytelling Photography.”  The two speakers are Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow, photojournalists who tell emotionally powerful stories through photography.

at National Geographic
at National Geographic
at National Geographic
at National Geographic

Ami Vitale’s work as a photojournalist has taken her to 85 countries.  According to her website, Ami Vitale Photography, she has “exhibited around the world in museums and galleries and published in international magazines including National Geographic, Adventure, Geo, Newsweek, Time, and Smithsonian.”  She’s done photo stories about protecting rhinos in Africa, rickshaw drivers in India and the conflict in Kashmir.  She knows it’s important to show the darker stories of life, but it’s also vital that she tells the story our humanity and the things that unite us.

Melissa Farlow has worked extensively in the American West for National Geographic and more recently, documenting mustang herds. According to the website she shares with her photographer husband, Olson & Farlow, Melissa chronicled “life along the Pan American highway for a National Geographic book titled The Long Road South. Other National Geographic Magazine stories of hers feature varied subjects—culture and climate change in the Alps and West Virginia’s mountaintop removal mining.  Themes of land and people are chronicled in Alaska’s Tongass Forest, Okefenokee Swamp, Hudson Valley, Meadowlands, National Road, Kentucky Horse Country, Invasive Species, and a photo-biography of landscape designer Frederick Law Olmsted. One story required four months traveling to many of the national parks for the magazine, and a separate piece on Olympic National Park.”

Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow
Ami Vitale and Melissa Farlow

As the seminar lasts all day, a wealth of knowledge is shared, but for this post, I’ll distill into 20 points what I learned from these talented photojournalists about creating a visual narrative.

  1. Take your time to tell a story and probe beneath the headlines.  Every story has varied and sometimes contradictory stakeholders, as well as people who are impacted.  Sometimes, no matter how much research you do, you don’t know all the aspects and angles until you’re in the middle of the story, so be flexible and open to whatever angles present themselves.
  2. Gain the subjects’ trust.  Be forthright and tell them who you are and what you’re doing, in order to gain intimacy and spend time in the midst of the involved parties.
  3. Weather is your friend.  Make the most of any weather condition;  rain and fog, snow and dust storms can create great atmospheric photos.
  4. Light creates mood.  When the light is bad outside, go inside.  Use the manual settings on your camera to capture light streaming in through windows, or mold the light by using headlights of trucks or taking the flash off the camera and handing it off to someone on the side.
  5. Learn how to use action, motion and timing to your benefit.  Master the manual modes of your camera and think about the effects you want.
  6. Pay attention to perspective and layering.  What’s in the background is as important as what’s in the foreground.  Think of adding value and understanding by layering or by getting up high or down low.  Sit in a place for a long time and wait until the elements come together.  If you’re in a place for a long time, people accept that you’re just a part of the background and they start to ignore you.
  7. Be attuned to relationships and emotions.  Spend time with people so they trust you and allow you to be there for their intimate moments.  Be aware not only of relationships between people but also between people and animals or the natural world.
  8. Go early and stay late.  If you wake before dawn you get not only great light but people who are busy preparing for their day.  If you’re out on the street before other people, then you blend in with the landscape and people don’t take note of your arrival on the scene.  If you arrive early at an event, you can often go backstage and photograph performers preparing for the performance.  At the other end of the day, late at night, things come alive.
  9. Think about the image you will use that distills the story.  Make this your story opener.
  10. Capture subtle changes in time.  Photograph one person at different stages in life.  Go to a place in different seasons or at different times of day.
  11. Create a sense of place.  Photograph sweeping landscapes, people in landscapes, closeups and details, views from above and below.
  12. For portraits, focus tightly on the details that make the person.  Include the environment in the photo.  Include meaningful objects that the person is holding or wearing.
  13. As for details, notice what you notice.  Look for anything that triggers the imagination.  Mystery is good.  Hands and feet, beams of light, bottle caps used as game pieces.
  14. Find storytelling moments.  Mix the quiet with the dramatic.  Juxtapose a life event, like a wedding, with a conflict.  Wander and find moments that surprise you.  Humor is important.
  15. For the story’s ending, find an image that suggests closure: something moving away, a reflection, a time of rest, a person closing a door, frames within frames, images taken at dusk.  Have a visual story that starts in the morning and ends in the evening.
  16. Edit tightly.  Take a lot of pictures and spend a lot of time, waiting for the elements to come together.  Then be ruthless in culling your photos for the final story.
  17. Save all your photos because time tells stories.  Ten years may pass and something may happen that makes the ordinary interesting.
  18. Photograph close to home.  You don’t always have to go to foreign lands to find interesting stories. Get close with people and spend time with them.  Practice your skills on something you have easy access to.  There are beautiful stories everywhere.
  19. Find a story that makes you happy and that you love.  The longer you spend with a subject, the more it reveals itself.
  20. Be authentic.  Find your own way.  Be secure in who you are and what you’re doing.  Follow your heart.

I’m drawn to storytelling like a bee to nectar.  I always have stories brewing in my head, true stories about my experiences in Oman and Korea, about my travels.  Fictional stories about tree-huggers, stamp collectors, people whose dreams are thwarted and whose yearnings pull them to do outrageous things.  Having written numerous short stories ever since I was a girl, and now revising my novel, I can’t deny that I’m drawn to storytelling.  I also love the idea of telling stories with photography.

Inspiration.  I’m inspired to keep working on my novel, trying to make it the best it can be.  In addition I’m inspired to improve my photography skills by taking seminars and learning how to use the manual settings on my camera.  Practice, practice, practice.

Ultimately, I hope to find the way to my heart.

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