All posts by XingfuMama

Amateur photographer seeking beauty in both the memorable and the mundane. Sharing pictures, stories and meditations from here and there.

An Edgy Idea

I realize that this idea is over the Edge 😉 But it came to me when I saw the prompt.

In this morning’s Seattle Times there was an editorial titled “Hate speech is often free speech, but how can we stop it?” by Caitlin Ring Carlson, an assistant professor at Seattle University.

It was among other editorials about the presidential candidates and responses to current events. You probably know more than I about the issues, so I won’t bore you with them. I mention this one because I thought of a response, one that I haven’t seen anyone else put forward. Take the profit motive away.

We live in a ratings driven world. Part of the problem is not related to “free speech”.  The media today gives us more and more of what we watch (witness how many hours of “tiny houses” showed on the television yesterday, they must have shown every tiny house in the country!). Decisions about what to air, and how much face time various folks get, is profit driven, news today is entertainment, not a public service, and ratings drive what we see. We are seeing more hate speech because it is getting watched and advertisers need to promote their drugs for sleepless, depressed folks with low-T who need to have their closets organized and take a cruise.

Here is something anyone can do: Deny an audience to people who are guilty of hate speech. Flip the channel to HGTV or re-runs of crime shows when the TV shows hate speech, better yet turn it off. Turn off the radio, don’t buy the magazine, don’t go to the web site for more information. If a debate turns away from serious issues, then turn it off. When ratings drop these people will get less media attention (which is what they are after, running for president every time your name is put in front of people is free advertising) and they will have less power.

In today’s world silence is something we fear. It is a form of communication and it can, and probably should, be used to help curb the excesses of this somewhat surreal presidential campaign.

Spinning the color wheel

This post is a response to Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge-Week 17: Harmonious Colors.

I like color and seem to try to have all of the primary colors (red, blue, yellow) in a composition. I learned this years ago when I took an expressive painting class. My header is an example of a picture that goes almost all the way around the color wheel, it only lacks greens.

Real life doesn’t serve up exact matches to harmonious, aka complementary, aka analogous, colors shown on the wheel, at least not to my eye.

color-wheel

 

Never-the less here is an attempt to go around the wheel using various photos that, to my eye, come close to harmonious color combinations:

Red to orange:

KSM-20151017-CCy_Week17-03

Red-orange to yellow-orange:

KSM-20131027-CCY_Week_17-01

Orange to yellow:

KSM-20150224-CCY_Week_17-05

Orange to Yellow-green:

KSM-20150323-CCy_Week17-05

Yellow-orange (the bee) to yellow-green:

KSM-20150305-CCy_Week17-04

Yellow to green:

KSM-20160125-CCy_Week17-01

Yellow-green to blue:

KSM-20140826-CCY_Week_17-04

Green to almost blue-violet:

KSM-20140821-CCY_Week_17-03

Blue-green to blue-violet:

KSM-20150122-CCy_Week17-01

Blue-green to violet:

KSM-20150208-CCy_Week17-02

Violet to red:

KSM-20151015-CCy_Week17-01

Red-violet to red-orange:

 

sunset

 

 

Divided

I read blogs. Even when I can’t seem to put my own words and pictures on pa…screen, it is beneficial to read, and nowhere can one see more different styles of writing and photography on a broad variety of topics than in blogs.

This morning I read a blog that was well, even beautifully, done, and deeply disturbing to me: Edge of Humanity Magazine’s Social Documentary Photography – Becoming A Man In Omo Valley, Ethiopia.

It was good journalism, I think, the tone was educational, not judgmental (something I could not have pulled off had I been the author), and the photography was technically good and used well to illustrate the story. What disturbed me, and the reason I bring this up as a response to the prompt Divide, is that I live in a world where that rite is wrong…on many levels…and I do not believe that it is just “my culture” vs “their culture”.

Mostly I take a live-and-let-live approach to cultural differences and choose to keep my mouth shut for things I feel are weird but maybe I don’t get how things are in your world. However…

The idea of becoming a man by whipping women, to the point of severe lifelong scarring, is an anathema to me. As is the idea that these scars are a show of affection and devotion:

Backs of many of these women already have severe welt marks from previous ceremonies in which they had been whipped. Welt marks are considered a sign of love and devotion. The more welt marks a girl has the more it translates into her devotion to her brother and also help in attracting a potential husband.

Where do human rights fit into this picture? Is it okay because that is the “culture” of the people? The women look to no future if they don’t have massive welts…not exactly a true choice. I wonder how many of them die of alcohol poisoning trying to work up the courage to participate…or to try and numb the pain afterward.

Yesterday I read a blog article about PTSD. I can’t imagine that anyone in a place where this is a ritual doesn’t have PTSD. Either you have been injured severely or someone you love has. The need for massive amounts of alcohol to perpetuate the ritual is a major clue to this.

I can, on a cold, analytical level, see where the ritual may be a response to living in a harsh and dangerous world. Making a ritual of the pain is one way to take ownership of it. My world is temperate, soft and loving by contrast so I am shocked by this insight into a very different world. I wonder if I could survive in that world?

To avoid articles like that, which I sometimes do because they disturb me so much, is one way to let the world go along without change.

I found the article well-done, informative, thought provoking, and I think people should read this article as it sheds light on many important issues in our world, but I was really, really torn by hitting a “like” button for it. I wish there was a button for “Well done article on disturbing topic”.

Leap of Faith

Four years ago I was in Africa, celebrating the birthday of this dynamic girl named Faith:

 

I wonder what she is doing now…

That trip was part of a leap in my own life…in some ways more than one and, typical of me, I landed kind of funny. Nothing broken but a little wrenched out of shape with a pulled muscle here and there.

The trip was an impulse…I had visited the village in 2011 and intended to go back in 2013 or 2014 in order to space out our visits. My son and I were part of an organization, somewhat connected to our parish, doing “mission” work in the village. We had visited in the spring of 2011 and James, my son, had spent the fall of 2011, after his college graduation, volunteering as a teacher at the very new Secondary School and managing  several projects related to starting a community library and procuring books and supplies for the school and library, related to the Millennium Development Goals.

Going back so soon was not in our game plan, however, some folks in the group, most notably the woman from that village and her husband were going to attend a harambee she had arranged to support “girl child education”.   I was not particularly interested in the harambee, although I support the idea of funding education for girls and doing so within the community instead of outsiders coming in and dictating outcomes, the politics that were involved left me frigidly cold.

However, the library was desired by the community and needed a boost at that point in time if it was to continue to exist. So I went, along with books and money to buy books selected by young adults from the community.  (I sometimes think that fiction is the only way to tell the truth…someday, if I ever get things figured out enough in my own mind, I may try to write a novella about that “ministry”.)

Since 2012 was my fiftieth birthday year I decided to give myself a short safari as part of the trip. It was only three days, but they were the most incredible days of my life. It was also the reason why I bought my Nikon L120…and subsequently decided to learn more about taking better pictures.

If only I knew then what I know now about using the camera and composition…

The safari was time apart. I went on it alone. While my son accompanied me to Africa he went straight to the village with a hundred pounds of children’s books we had brought from the States, the books purchased and the librarian who had come to Nairobi to help select books.

Traffic jam in Nairobi Kenya.
“The Jam”

The return to Nairobi was to get caught back up in the tangle of confusion that seemed to always be a feature of doing what we did in Kenya. The “jam” is a good metaphor for it. That is what they call the traffic there. The whole city seemed to be near stand-still as people inch along. Vendors walk in among the cars selling newspapers, fruit, etc. We once saw a hand drawn cart passing all the motor cars as it wove in and out of the lanes.

When we got to the village things slowed down, okay “speed” isn’t quite what was happening in Nairobi. Maybe it would be better to say “the stress eased up”. A very few images of “typical” village experiences:

Again, I really wish I had known then what I know now about photography and composition.

One thing I had hoped to do when I started this blog was to explore my African experiences and play with the pictures from that trip. To try and digest the raw experiences and find meaning. I did not plan on that being my last trip, but I have now drifted into other responsibilities and projects.

When you take a leap sometimes you don’t wind up where you expect.

Leap

Am I getting warmer?

This post is a response to Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge: Color Basics, where she talks about warm and cool colors.

After reading her essay and reviewing many pictures, I realized that I do not tend to take pictures that are all warm or all cool. I tend toward taking pictures dominated by cool colors…but I like best ones with a pop of warm, or even hot color.

Here are some all cool pictures:

Here are some all warm pictures:

Here are examples of the pictures I tend to like, cool with a pop of warm color:

Occasionally I experiment with my camera’s settings and here are a two sets of pictures that I took with different color effects, regular, black and white, sepia and cyanotype. The sepia is warm and the cyanotype cool. To my eye the black and white also appears cool.

Grey day on Puget Sound:

Tree peony bloom: