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.



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:


Red-orange to yellow-orange:


Orange to yellow:


Orange to Yellow-green:


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


Yellow to green:


Yellow-green to blue:


Green to almost blue-violet:


Blue-green to blue-violet:


Blue-green to violet:


Violet to red:


Red-violet to red-orange:






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.


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:


It’s a whirlwind!

Does time move faster or do I move slower?

This daily prompt, Thanks, Hindsight,  reminded me of how often this year I haven’t been able to post…no time, no inspiration, no ability to pull things together and finish, or, on re-reading, deciding that the post, whether words, pictures, or both, is not worth viewing (I like to think that the effort itself is beneficial). For every time I hit “publish” this year there are about 3 posts I started and didn’t finish.

This year has been a blur. Everything feels out of control. So far I have made it to all appointments, but there have been numerous “wait, that isn’t this week is it?” events (event isn’t quite the right word, but I am going to barrel on and finish something for once).

When life is as out of control I try to find something to give it structure. This year’s efforts

  • Experimenting with Inkscape, an open source vector graphics program, a little every day.
  • Continuing to try and worm a few words of Chinese into my old, scattered brain, a little every day using YoyoChinese.com (which I have found to be really effective)
  • Working on trying to get my house in order.

My big house-in-order project this year is a remodel that will add a significant amount of built-in book shelving in the living room (something I have wanted for the almost 29 years we have lived here) and totally reworking kitchen cabinets (replacement of existing plus additional). The design is complete and they are scheduled to start de- and con-struction on May 2. That means getting everything out of the kitchen and a largish section of the living room, and creating an ad hoc kitchenette/dining area we can use for about two months (they say it will take 5-6 weeks).

The dust will settle and life will get easier: Our pantry is in the unfinished basement. We currently store many of our favorite books, like our Wodehouse collection, and a lot of kitchen equipment (including the food processor and baking sheets) there as well. It will be a slog through our mire of stuff, and probably some stress, getting there. One downside is that I currently go up and down the stairs a lot, I will need to try and make up for that exercise.

Chinese is growing on me and one source of ideas for posts that I never quite am able to finish is human communications. Specifically the differences between cultures and how much that is influenced by language. I hope that when I am housebound as they do the remodel maybe I can pull together some posts on this subject.

Inkscape has been fun. Here are a couple of Valentines I put together after viewing numerous “how-to” videos on You-tube:


“The numbing sensation of everything I lack.”

This Is Your Song

From the Brandi Carlyle song Late Morning Lullaby on her album The Story:

…Yesterday is gone now and panic sets in
With a weight upon my chest
and a ghost upon my back
And the numbing sensation of everything I lack…

Even though, on the whole, my life is pretty good, and I know it. I sometimes fall into depression, usually triggered by “the numbing sensation of everything I lack.” Not materially. It is a feeling of being overwhelmed and unable to cope. Other people seem to have so much more energy, strength, stamina and enthusiasm. They also seem able to have tidy homes.

For the last couple of years, a frequent depression trigger is feeling stuck in a quagmire of stuff. I am great at sorting and having it ready to leave, but “it’s not garbage anymore” (slogan for Seattle Public Utilities), so you can’t just throw things away. You have to figure out what class of things they are and take them to the correct place. I have a real problem with that hurdle. A lot of times I just stop but, when I do try, my husband goes through and finds something I put in the wrong bin…making me feel like I can’t get rid of anything. (He seems victorious when he finds things in the wrong place. I think is is because he knows his obsession with garbage is a bit odd and wants to justify it, not because he wants me to feel in adequate…but it does make me feel unqualified to get rid of trash.) So I can’t get rid of anything and he won’t.


The book about tidying up I mentioned in a previous post, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up, really made me feel it. She seems to measure success in how many trash bags of things to get rid of. But if those trash bags never get gone they just create a “weight on my chest and a ghost on my back and a numbing sensation of everything I lack”. Ancient cities, like Ninevah,  buried themselves in trash. Maybe someday archaeologists will dig out our house. I wonder what they will think.

Slicing and dicing

This post is a study of cropping pictures, inspired by Cee’s Compose Yourself Challenge-Week 15. Which is about cropping photos.

I chose, almost at random, a few pictures that are ho-hum, at least in part because there is too much in them.

Boats and birds in Morrow Bay California. Sock vendor in Kitui Kenya Man reading and petting a cat. Young man playing a guitar.

Then I tried a few different crops of each picture homing in on different subjects. (I did also tweak exposure, clarity and color vibrance a bit).

Here are the results (the captions contain my comments):

Boat and birds in Morro Bay, California:

Sock vendor in Kitui, Kenya:

The Empress and her favorite attendant:

My son playing guitar…and The Empress:

In general I think what works depends a lot on the subject you are after and how you plan to use the picture. The pictures I worked with all had too much busy-ness. They were generally better after cropping.


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