Boondock Ramblings

Sometimes I like to convert my photographs into black and white, simply to see what they look like and what moments are focused on without the distraction of color.

Sometimes I see a photo in black and white in my head and sometimes in color. To me, photos are meant to tell a story and there are times that that story is better told if there aren’t a variety of colors, which can be a distraction, to pull the eye away from the story.

I don’t agree that just any photo can be converted to black and white, however. I’ve seen photographs of flowers converted to black and white and don’t get it. I think flowers should be in color. However, that’s only my personal opinion.

Native American dancers?

Color. (My photo of this was taken on film and I didn’t take the time to scan it in for this post.)

Photos from autumn? Color.

Flowers at a greenhouse? Usually in color but sometimes black and white tells the story better and the colorful flowers aren’t needed.

I thought I would share some of the “story telling” photos I took in the last few months that I thought told the story better in black and white. Even though lately I like most of my photos in color simply so the world doesn’t seem so dark.

I’ve rambled about black and white photography before.

And I’ve rambled about photography in general a number of times:


Capturing the Real, Raw Moments of Photography

What happened to my photography when I stopped taking photos for money

Photography Tuesday: The No Good Rotten Truth about Selling Stock Photography

Photography for parents: Five tips to photographing your children inside your home

About a year ago, I started to give up on photography as a full-time business. This may sound like a sad thing but sometimes it’s better to not transform something you love into something you make money from.

When I stopped caring if I got clients, I stopped trying to change my photography, and myself, to get business. Because I changed my mindset, my photography went back to capturing moments that made me happy and not capturing moments that other people considered “frame worthy.”

In the last year, I have started focusing only on moments in my photography that bring me joy, and much less on the scenes others might call “pretty.”.  I prefer capturing visual memories not photos if that makes sense. If my personal photos come out blurry or dark or “imperfect” I don’t care as long as I feel something when I look at the photo. What some see as imperfections in a photo are what I see as perfections because the moment was what I was after when I clicked the shutter – not the perfection.

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Like anyone, I’m more inclined to feel strong emotions about a photo if the subjects are  one of my children or a family member but I can also look at a photo taken by a stranger, featuring their family members, and still feel happiness, or sadness, or nostalgia because of how the moment was captured. Many photos trigger an emotion in me because it reminds me of something or someone in my own life. The image being technically perfect is irrelevant to me if it creates a strong emotion for me.

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With personal photos, there is always going to be a memory attached to the photograph but as important as the memory is the feeling the image invokes in the viewer. Personally, I can look at a technically beautiful shot of a high school senior and say “oh, that’s nice,” especially if I know the high school senior, but those photographs, no matter how well lit or sharp or colorful, rarely sparks any kind of passion or emotion within me. It doesn’t inspire me to live a happy life or enjoy the little moments or dance in the rain – it just inspires me to say “oh, isn’t she pretty?” or “isn’t he handsome?” or even “lovely lighting.” But I can walk away from that photo and not feel much of anything inside. I can scroll past it pretty quick.

If I see a photo that invokes emotion or offers something different visually, though, it will stop me in my tracks, hold my attention and make me want to photograph something similar or write something about how the moment captured made me think about similar moments in my own life, moments tucked back in the corner of my memories.

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Zalmy Berkowitz recently said on a podcast on Outerfocus that the photography industry, especially the wedding industry, sells on the idea of “pretty”, that everything has to be “pretty”. His photography, to me, is beautiful but it is beautiful because it captures moments and feelings over the idea of magazine perfection. And he’s right – the photography industry, especially in the area I live in, is focused on poses and smiles and heads tipped just right. It’s not a bad thing – it just is.

Clients in my area truly don’t want documentary photography. They don’t want to pay a photographer to capture moments for them because they have a cellphone and they figure a snapshot of their kid on a swing is all they need and that’s fine, that’s good, if it works for them, then I’m happy.

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As late as last year it irritated me that people, where I live, don’t enjoy the type of photography I produce.  I used to be depressed I couldn’t get hired for the photography work I wanted to produce but lately, I’ve realized I don’t want to try to sell someone on something they don’t like so I am content in taking photos for myself. It may mean our budget is tighter, family trips are almost non-existent and my children don’t wear fancy clothes but in the long run none of that matters as much as feeling like I’m creating the art I want to create.

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Photography has never been “just a job” for me. Yes, I need money to help support my family but photography started to become something I hated instead of what it used to be for me, which was a way to document my family’s life, but also a type of therapy to calm and focus my racing thoughts. How can I calm my racing thoughts if every morning I wake up and try to think of a new way to make clients who have no interest in my work suddenly love it and want to hire me?

I couldn’t.

So I stopped trying.

And it’s been the best thing I could have ever done for my art and for me.

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In many ways, I feel like I totally missed summer. Part of the summer it was raining and part of it was humid and hot and the heat made me pretty sick and out of it. So here we are at the beginning of Fall and we didn’t do anything I had planned for the summer. We tried to cram some swimming in before the swimming season is over but one day the pool at my parents had too much chlorine and the next time it was too cold and then there was the invasion of the spiders, but I won’t go into detail about that one.

For the most part, our summer’s end was family time, construction of a shed my dad and son built over the summer and a little bit of swimming with the neighbors. And this past weekend we closed out summer with a picnic with friends. I can’t help feeling summer was a bust and flew by way too fast.

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Parents: “Let’s go blueberry picking!”

Almost 13-year old: “Yeah, fine. Okay.”

Almost 5-year old: “Yeah! Blueberries!”

Parents: “We’re here! Where should we pick? Here again? Like last year? Okay!”

Outside the car, all reflecting on how it’s as hot as it was last year and noticing arms and legs feel like licorce that’s been sitting in the sun too long.

Almost 13-year old: “”Och! Man! A gnat just flew up my nose!”

Parents: “Just keep picking! It will be fine.”

Almost 5-year old: “Look! A blueberry!” (eats it)

Parents: “No, no. We are picking the blueberries and putting the in the bucket, not eating them. Okay. Yep. That’s right. In the bucket.”

Almost 13-year old: “There is a gnat in my eye! My eye!”

Parents: “I forgot the bug spray. Wave them away.”

Almost 5-year old: “I’m hot.”

Almost 13-year old: “Can gnats get to your brain from ears?! They are in my ears!”

Almost 5-year old: “Did you bring snacks? I’m hungry.”

Parent: “I told you to get a snack before you came. Besides, you’re eating the blueberries. How can you be hungry?”

Almost 13-year old: “I just ate a gnat! It flew in my mouth! Blech!!”

Almost 5-year old: “Do they  have a potty here?”

Parent: “We’re in the middle of nowhere. Pee in the woods.”

Almost 5-year old: (look of disgust.) “Uh…no.”

Almost 13-year old, eating blueberries and swatting gnats: “mmmm..blueberries.”

Parent: “Put the blueberries in the bucket, not your mouth.”

Almost 5-year old: “I’m going to the car now.”

Parent: “You can’t go to the car now. It’s locked.”

Almost 13-year old: “I need water.”
Parent: (looks at phone) “We’ve only been here four minutes! Are you kids serious right now?!”

Luckily we found a port-a-potty, moved to another spot, and the sun went behind the cloud for about 20 minutes, letting us finish picking with minimal whining. We came home with seven pounds of blueberries, which were gone in less than a week. Not sure what that says about us.

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We haven’t done anything very exciting so far this summer, other than my husband starting a new job and our family looking at houses in the area where he’s now working. We have had some nice family time with my parents, especially on the Fourth of July, and my son helped my dad install a pool at his house and start construction on a new shed.

I thought I’d share a collection of photos from our summer so far since I haven’t shared a photo post in a bit.

What are all of you up to this summer so far? Or winter, if you are “down under”? Let me know in the comments!

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The last few weeks have been a mix of nothing and something days. Most of the days we did nothing and a few of the days we did something.

I thought I’d talk less for this post and share photos instead.

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I’m rarely drawn to an image where I’ve posed someone or something for a photograph. My eye and interest is almost always drawn to an image where the moment was unscripted and unprepared. I live in an area where most requests are for sessions where everyone is posed and since I enjoy photography as a way to earn some extra funds for my family, I accept these sessions, knowing I can cleanse my pallet later by photographing my children or a freelance job.

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I know I’ve rambled about this before on my blog but I suppose why I enjoy unscripted photography so much more than posed is because of my journalism background. When I worked for small-town newspapers I never knew what a day was going to bring, no matter how well I planned it out. I might go in expecting a ribbon cutting in the afternoon and a school board meeting at night but by the evening I was writing about a car accident or a fire I had gone to or a murder the police had sent us a press release on. I grew accustomed to the unpredictable nature of small-town news, even though there were some days I longed for a “normal” day where everything went as planned.

I suppose that the spontaneous nature of my job rubbed off on my photography as well. When I was taking photos for a newspaper I preferred to capture the action because that’s what draws the readers’ eyes to the page – a well-captured image of the action – much more so than a person standing in one place and smiling at the camera (unless the person is someone famous or prestigious.) The desire to capture the action passed on to my personal photography as well and it’s essentially how I approach moments I plan to document through my camera.

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Although, if you throw something unusual into a posed photo – say a group of cows in the background – then that posed photo does become more interesting. It is moments like the one I experienced the other day with a herd of cows and a teenage boy when spontaneity can break into the posed. In fact, I often keep snapping the shutter because I know something unexpected will break the monotony of the plain ole’ stand or sit here and smile at the camera shots.

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My brain doesn’t seem to be wired for the organized and the planned when it comes to photography or art and as much as I would like the rest of my life to be more planned and organized, it doesn’t seem to work out there either. Admiring the spontaneity in my photography is something that has encouraged me to try to do the same in life and although I often find myself failing at embracing the unknown in my every day, I plan to keep doing it in my art.

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I thought I’d share a few photos from last week and this week. I meant to post this Saturday, but I was behind on editing and didn’t get a chance to catch up until yesterday.

We had a great week of a couple day trips, with my husband being on vacation, and then ended his vacation time with a date to see Avengers Endgame. Of course, my husband and son saw it opening weekend because both are legit comicbook fans (with my husband reading and collecting them almost his entire life) and they wouldn’t have survived waiting to find out how the epic movie series ended. I don’t plan to spoil the movie in case anyone hasn’t seen it yet, but it is well worth the three hours and really did bring the series to a satisfying conclusion, as star Chris Evans (Captain America) said in a recent interview.

Several of this week’s photos will showcase our trip to Animal Adventure Park in Harpursville, N.Y., which is about an hour and a half from our house. This is a trip we have been taking at least once a year for the last couple of years since April the Giraffe gave birth to her baby Tajiri. My aunt lives less than 30 minutes from the park so we usually stop to see her when we are there.

If you don’t know, the park, because of April, went viral a couple of years ago when everyone and their brother found themselves watching Youtube to see April give birth. Giraffes gestate for 15 months so the wait was a bit long, but finally, the baby was safely born.

It’s a fairly rare thing to see a giraffe have a baby since in the wild they do so in secret to keep predators away. Now that “baby” is about 3 and April has given birth to another baby. Tajiri, the first baby, was set to be moved to another facility this past Fall, but the other facility had not prepared properly and Animal Adventure Park pulled out of the deal and built a new home for Tajiri and a new mate, Jahari.

What is nice about the park is how close you can get to many of the animals, such as the giraffes. You can literally look up and have a giraffe nose right in your face as you feed them carrots from an observation deck. You can also hand feed many of the other animals, include antelope, goats, llamas and turtles.

So there you go – you now know more about the giraffes in this Upstate New York zoo that you probably ever wanted to know.  In case you care, Animal Adventure Park also features 49 mammals, 29 birds and 24 cold-blooded animals. Stats are courtesy of the essay I made my son write on the trip for his English class (he’s homeschooled).

(note: all images are copyrighted by Lisa R. Howeler, 2019. For permission to use or licensing please contact me via this site or at lisahoweler@gmail.com)

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I have no idea who this lady is but I loved watching her with the giraffes because she just chatted along with them as she fed them. She reminded me of my Aunt Dianne, who I miss very much.

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A few photos from the past week. All images are shot on a Nikon d750 and a Nikkor 50 mm 1.8. In the future, I’ll also be sharing these posts on my photography blog (soon to be my photography site, once I transfer my domain there).

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