Perception Filter

I am completely aware that I am living in a golden time, my son’s infancy. I reckon its more of a gift to the us the parents at this stage because he is still so young he won’t remember any of his beautiful beginning.

My wife and I have been always careful to be present, because complacency would have it that we dwell on all the wrong things until he leaves the nest and leaves us with avoidable regret.

Basically, enjoy it all because the moments pass by so quickly. “100 Ways To Take Better Photographs” by Michael Busselle in chapter 7 is “use a fast shutter speed to freeze movement”  which in practice ends up freezing moments. It’s one of the skills I’ve gotten good at. Since starting this photographic crusade.

Chapter 11 of “100 Ways To Take Better Photographs” by Michael Busselle is “use a warm-up filter”. It says something along the lines of our eyes compensate for the variation in colour but the picture of the same shot we’ve seen with our eyes will be faithfully captured by the camera.

My wife and argued this point because she said she looked paler than what she was in many shots and I agreed saying I looked as distorted and angular as a minecraft character. Looks and best angles aside, we both agreed we were happy that we had captured so much of his budding months.

Elizabeth Pantley’s “Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night the no_cry sleep solution” has a very sweet paragraph that encapsulates the whole experience. It reads as follows : “If you can, and when you can, put your baby down so that he learns she is able to sleep alone, as well as in your arms. And when you don’t put her down, hold her with your heart, too, and relish every gurgle, flutter and little sighing breath. Trust me when I say, ‘You will miss this’. You will. Even the dark, exhausted nights will take on a certain romance in your memories, and they’ll bubble to the surface when your ‘baby‘ drives off in his first car, graduates from school, gets married, and has his own baby. “

I must admit it’s all still vivid right now fo us, the rose tinted glasses have  been delivered to the wrong address (lol). I guess that can’t be helped, we’re in the midst of it right now. But I do feel as though snippets of moments are being weaved together for that moment of nostalgia that runs across the mind like a cinematic montage from one of those warm and fuzzy coming of age films we love to watch. Whether we appreciate how we look in the shots or not the film is still rolling, life, by God’s grace, is still ongoing.

It’s partly why I avoid going to the cinema on multiple occasions, I prefer to watch deeply once, like life, you only get one go round. The closest thing we have to a rewatch are our reminiscent fragments of media and memorabilia, and of course, our pictures.

And just like all the less than well reviewed films that gain a cult following and appreciation, our less than flattering snaps of the magnificent moments will grow in value and richness, as the past pays that present forward with something close to time travel, our pictures- the crystallised fragments of yesterday, suddenly a lot shinier than we remember.

Best of The Bunch

Much like a camera we’re both still trying to get to terms with just how much “stuff” the little one comes with. Obviously toys, clothes he has outgrown, a baby bouncer, a crib he ironically rarely uses in the wake of his co-sleeping with mummy, a billion nappies and even more wet wipes, three baths because (why not), Baby bath time products (that out number a city metrosexual) and as of today a family of rubber duckies.

We have a number of books on babies and pregnancy, none of which we actually read. It was more of a security buy to feel remotely prepared for the unknown. Much like our birth plan, it went off the beaten track and 90% of what we said we were going to do was ignored in favour of in-the-moment practicality.

One book I’ve been reading, to give my wife the TLDR (too long didn’t read) version, is Elizabeth Pantley’s “Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night the no_cry sleep solution”. It’s so far a very empathetic, knowledgeable and enlightening read that is equipping us with some new tactics to rearrange how we approach getting the little one to sleep without constant night waking.

The days I had off were meant to be spent practising my snapping skills but I was lucky if I got a hug with my wife before he started crying so we have been taking daily walks to the park and visits to the local diner for brunch and coffee (not for the baby, he doesn’t need any!).

I managed to grab a few shots with baby and mummy but to be honest most were breastfeeding shots that were not appropriate for the Internet. Chapter 4 of “Gentle Ways to Help Your Baby Sleep Through the Night the no_cry sleep solution” is “Review and choose sleep solutions” which like our parenting has been an agreed upon mantra of sorts. Do our best and pivot where necessary. It has meant being open-minded to suggestions and confident in our own descion making in equal measure.

Everyone has an opinion but we don’t need to validate everyone, we’re here to do our best in the role. Much like my snaps, I take 10 plus somti.es more and pick the best from the bunch. We aren’t perfect and neither were or parents but they did their best. We’ll pick what works and perfect it.

In Frame

As I write this our son is groaning and grunting in his battle to extract milk from mummy’s breast. He’s punching her boob with a flailing chubby fist like a student attempting to Jimmy a broken vending machine. His frustration and challenge mirrors ours, it’s been so trying

I haven’t reffered to my photograph taking manual tonight because its been such a long day and this evening I’m looking forward to relaxing with my wife and son.

It been quite a challenging month and a week for my wife in the sleep department so we’re trying a new schedule to hopefully be more efficient and snyc with the chubby one.

At work the following morning I refer to “100 Ways To Take Better Pbotographs” by Michael Busselle because not being consistent grates me. Chapter 5′ instruction is to use exposure compensation which in the chapter basically means taking the picture you want is about balancing the dark and the light in your shot.

Balance is something I feel we’ve been lacking with everything seemingly happening all at once. Having a schedule, a framework is already giving us the confidence to keep thing manageable dare I say enjoyable.

With picture taking its been no different. The many ways you can take one and all the jargon involved just felt like over complicating a process that’s already subject to so many variables. Remembering this new rule will help remind me that the infrastructure is there to help me take a good picture not hinder me.

I’ll be taking more pictures this weekend with invigorated zeal and optimism. Remembering to keep things within the frame of the lens will stop us both from spiralling out of control and remind us that we are capable and that we can confidently parent our way.

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Be Steady

The title of the first chapter of “100 Ways To Take Better Photographs” was titled “Taking Sharper Photographs”. It briefly and informative talked about taking photos with a tripod (ideally), at the right shutter speed (which basically means nothing to me) and take better shots by being steady.

I’m probably attempting to draw nectar from a rock here when I make this transition but it did get me thinking about life. The pace of life has been accelerated and deemed normal but it isn’t actually our original “setting” at all. The argument is that modern life is faster because of technology. That may be true but as with all tools, technology’s woes and wonders actually arise from the weilder. And evidence suggests we have welded this tool wantonly.

For the most part I have traded the fast life for a slower pace that allows me to breath and savour moments and heighten my experiences beyond and a microwave mentality of having it all and having it now. It isn’t to say that I do not desire a little more wealth, I do but not at the expense of my soul. That isn’t for sale.

The idea of being “steady” is incredibly attractive to me, especially as a father. Being reliable, solid and present, that’s actually the real currency of manhood. Everything else is elaborate window dressing. When you’re younger you think it’s about being cool, which will hopefully attract a mate (not to sound like David Attenborough). However, as maturity sets and solidifies it becomes about the internal fibre of a man’s integrity as opposed to his outer casing, his silver tongue, his worldly goods and credentials.

How did I go from talking about pictures to what it is to be a good man? Well, every young male has some sort of picture of what they would like to be or want to be. I held my phone, turned on the camera and attempted to focus on the book’s page. It was trickier with each thundering heartbeat.

I mulled over chapter one, one more time simultaneously thinking about some of my work choices and whether I had pursued my passion with tenacious clarity. Writing was my passion and still is. My first love that led me to my last love. I snapped the book shut, downed a can of coke and went back to work, digesting the first rule of this book ; be steady.

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Outside The Box

The sky finally cracked open. It’s been raining on and off for about nine hours and it’s showing signs of only getting stronger. Not the best weather for a glorious photo. In an empty charity shop with fifteen minutes to go I mull over the tenets of good photography and while I have an idea, I don’t have concrete points of reference to refer to. Scouring my head for something that isn’t really there is tiresome. I figured it was time to think outside the box.

It’s a good thing I’m at work, it’s the one place that has more helpful books than our local library or our house. If I’m going to learn about A-class photography, this will be the place that has a book on it.

I unashamedly acknowledge that I’m a predictable creature of habit. Most people would just have consulted a friend for basic pointers. I prefer consulting books. In my defence I do actually know a chap who happens to be an exceptional photographer. Unfortunately he’s just as fascinated by my wife’s picturesque architecture as I am so he was an automatic no.

I would ask my wife but that defeats the purpose of this photographic crusade. Her best friend Betty used to work down the road but has moved to Wales. Betty, and her work colleague Matt, had helped me price some cameras that had been donated to the store, with great aplomb.

I planned to ask Matt for advice in person over a drink (which I would buy him) because after two years of living here it had occurred to me that I hadn’t bothered to make any friends outside of work. Us creatures of habit get comfortable with a reliable cycle of predictable events. It’s why I work so well with timetables; there’s barely any room for error. Unfortunately it’s also easy to become stale, devoid of an adventurous spirit and overall less spontaneous.

I attempt to close up for the day, bang on 5pm but a lady, despite my disgruntled countenance, has forced her way into the shop as if letting herself into her own house and proceeds to browse. I take a deep breath, carry the sign in from the rain and lock the door behind me for fear of other petulant intruders avoiding the downpour. While she shops I take things upstairs and mull over what sort of text book might serve me best.

The lady was prompt and cheerful and left about five minutes later having spent a good amount of money. I was happy I hadn’t insisted she leave or I would have missed a sale. Sometimes not sticking so closely to the timetable pays off. Like the shopper I needed a book that was straight to the point. Poignant, purposeful and acute.

Having cashed up I was ready to go home, so I ventured to the book corner in hopes of finding something to fulfill this specific need. I often joked that our charity shop was secretly a genie; granting wishes of customers and staff alike from overeheard mumblings and half prayers. True to form I found exactly what I needed.

The book was titled “100 Ways To Take Better Photographs” by Michael Busselle. Honestly I didn’t need one hundred ways. Five would have been perfectly adequate but now was not the time to be snarky. I had found the perfect book! Now all I needed to do was read and practice!

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