Suffering for the ‘shot’ at Shaganappi

July 10, 2009
Green in progress at Shaganappi's first hole

Green in progress at Shaganappi's first hole

I have a new, profound, respect for investigative journalists. As part of my ongoing coverage of the renovations at Calgary’s Shaganappi Golf Course, I needed a shot of the progress being made on the first hole. But when I showed up with my camera, I found that someone had put a fence in the way. No problem. I’m a resourceful gal who doesn’t mind a little bushwhacking, so I dove into the shrubbery to find a better angle.

My backpack got caught and, less than three feet in, I was properly stuck. No problem. I ditched the backpack and pushed forward. My shins and hands got the worst of it. Dozens of prickly branches left dozens of tiny red welts (tiny being relative, of course). I thought of the poor reporters in Vietnam and gritted my teeth, thinking, “you’ve got it easy, girl, and you know it.” Then right in front of me… another fence!

Into the jungle

Into the jungle

Oh great, another fence!

Oh great, another fence!

No problem. I followed it until a gap opened up in line with the hole. There was a big, wobbly roll of extra chainlink blocking most of the opening, but I climbed up onto it and, perching precariously, took the shot you see above. National Geographic shot of the week, it ain’t. But it did allow me feel a certain kinship with the wild lensemen of yore, those brave souls who brought the trenches to life a hundred years ago, and all those since who’ve weedled their way into far tighter corners than I, for the sake of ‘the shot’.

Perched for the shot

Perched for the shot

I was ‘snapped’ back to reality when I went back to grab my backpack. As I tugged it free, a nasty little twig whipped straight up and hit me on the nose, right on the tender bottom bit. OUCH! It stung like mad! My eyes watered and I struggled, half blind, to get out of the darned jungle. Yes, a kinship indeed. I cursed the fences, and the builders who’d put them there. What on Earth did a plot of scraped up land need protection from anyway? And then it hit me… Oh, I guess from people like me~wink.


Why I don’t ride the bus to work…

July 9, 2009

I woke up to a grey morning today. The sky was grey, my sweater was grey, and my threadbare brown ‘cozy’ hoodie (because when the weather won’t make the effort, why should I?) has been verging on grey for years. I stepped out the door, already late, into a grey drizzle. It was a bus morning.

The rush hour bus is a grim way to start any day, stopping and starting and stopping and starting, all through downtown gridlock. But today, there was no way around it. I rolled up my torn cuffs as discreetly as I could in a bus full of business suits and shiny shoes, and stood by the back doors to wait for my stop.

I was well on my way to daydreaming myself out of my funk when the bus slowed and settled by the curb. I pushed the doors, but they didn’t budge. I pushed again, and jiggled the long handles… nothing. The bus hissed and I felt the jolt of the flyweel kicking in. Great, just great.

“Back doors,” I called out. The bus jerked forward. “Back doors, please!” I shouted over the crowd, who had all turned their heads to watch.

The bus driver glared at me in his mirror. I shook the doors again and glared back.

His answer came back biting: “Could you at least let me get to the bus stop first.”

This is why I walk to work ~ sigh.

How to capture a personality in a portrait

July 3, 2009

The two portraits below are of the same subject. The first uses setting, composition, and lighting to convey the subject’s personality. She is a quirky artistic type with hippie, as opposed to hipster, sensibilities and a great, snarky sense of humor. Photography is an excellent medium for portraiture because the subject can be directly involved in communicating how she/he sees herself/himself to the world. However, as in personality testing, this can also be a limitation. Honesty can easily become clouded by preconception.

The second portrait is a drawing of the same subject dancing. It was executed quickly, solely from memory. Both she and I were startled by the resulting resemblance. “Creepy,” she called it. And yes, the attitude and posture was eerily spot on. It’s a big risk to allow yourself to be seen through someone else’s eyes, and the results may surprise you, creepy or not. I invite you to try this exercise with someone you know. In our age of careful personal branding, there is an urgent need for the honesty of a pen, some colouring pencils, and a personal connection only art can prove.

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words...

Sometimes a picture can say a thousand words…

...and sometimes a drawing can say a million more

…and sometimes a drawing can say so many more

Soap operas and sweet potatoes in the produce aisle

July 2, 2009

I was in the grocery store the other day, when I happened to overhear an age old human drama play out over the sweet potatoes. One of the two men stocking the vegetables flagged down a passing produce manager to ask her advice on a logistical problem – I’m assuming she was higher up the food chain since she was wearing a classy full-length Safeway smock instead of lowly green apron.

Logistics resolved, the three got to chatting about the ol’ days:

“…Now, Harry,” said the older of the two men, “there was one heck of a produce man.” He spoke wistfully, with respect and an obvious, long kindled awe, the way other men speak of Winston Churchill, or Elvis.

“Oh,” cut in the younger man, turning to the woman, whose androgyny was cut only by a tight blond ponytail, “isn’t that your husband?”

Maybe it was my imagination, but I swear her whole body went tense under that smock. She suddenly had somewhere else to be and took off for the swinging doors behind the prepackaged salads.

“My EX husband,” she called back to the men, before disappearing into the bowels of the building.

I felt for her. How hard it must be to live in the shadow of a legend. Any man who can inspire such awe, such reverence, must pay a terrible cost. In choosing greatness, as Harry, and a hundred before him have done, our heroes must leave so many behind. A pickle any way you slice it.

Perfect picture of Canadian diversity for Canada Day

July 1, 2009

Three Canadian families watching three, equally diverse, families of waterfowl in Calgary's Prince's Island Park

Three Canadian families enjoying three, equally diverse, families of waterfowl in Calgary's Prince's Island Park- Happy Canada Day from SavingCymbria!