Sunday, November 05, 2006

No Pain, No Gain?

There have been so many conversations the last days, virtual and real, about how incredibly vibrant this autumn has been, everywhere! I took this pic today of the woods in front of our house. Even though their peak has passed, the trees are still amazing.

That got me thinking about why this autum has been so brilliant. I don't know about where you live but here in Atlanta we had an unusually early cold snap in September, followed by lots of rain. For some people, cold and rain in September/October are UGH days. But seriously, they're what gave us the autumn we're having.

Deep down we know that all kinds of UGH or painful situations bring the gain and growth we long for in our lives. On a somewhat petty level (in the big scheme of things), for instance, I'm experiencing some "painful" constructive criticism on my photoblog by putting myself into the arena of photographers much better than I. Don't get me wrong. I've asked for it because I really do want to get better. But do I want to get better badly enough to stay the course, in spite of my self-doubts? I hope so because of the expected gain.

I wonder how these trees feel, now that they're in the process of loss (after all their glory!). Are they able to relinguish themselves to the death-resurrection cycle they must now experience before the promise of Spring? And will we learn a lesson from them?

Hey. It's Sunday and a full moon. I can be as philosophical and emotional as I want right now!


  1. While constructive criticism is a good thing, you should also trust your instincts.

    I have read what people have written and, while agree with a lot of it, I still say that wall looks fantastic :)

    I am an artist rather than a photographer. I feel it is adds texture and balance.

  2. I meant to add - what amazing colours!! I wish had a clearer distinction between the seasons here. No great seasonal variation at all.

  3. It's a pretty fall photo there. As regards the comments you receive on your other photoblog, I think you need to consider who your audience is when you post a picture. Are trying to appeal to "a photographic elite" or are you trying to reach "the more common folks." I looked at a smattering of other photographer's photos on that photo blog hosting site. And quite frankly, many of those photos while meeting a high technical standard probably wouldn't reach or touch the rest of us. That's not to say there aren't things to be learned through a hosting site like this; one just needs to be aware of the perspective of the commenting person there (as well as here) are coming from.

    The real questions are - Who do you want reach? What do you want to communicate? What kind of qualities will most meet those goals? Are people's comments helping me or hindering me from reaching those goals?

    I think I spoke enough now save for one last two sentence statement. Whatever you do, have fun with your photography. If you at any point stop having fun with it, you are probably off the path.

  4. Fall hasn't quite reached its peak here and I'm not certain if it's any more vibrant than any other year, yet it is still breathtaking. Of course, California has never been known for it's season changes. And I've never witnessed a fall season outside of California, but I still love the changes fall presents and represents!

    I admire you for putting yourself out there for such honest criticism. I think we're fairly similar in our photography skills, if I may be so honest. Composition is definitely a factor whenever I have the time to dedicate to it. However, life doesn't allow for that much time usually, so I snap off as many as I can and do whatever post processing I want to at home.
    I, personally, really think if I were to put myself out there that much and recieve *that* honest of a criticism, I'd overthink my process and in the end, not enjoy it as much. And, truth be told, I never would have thought there was one single thing to critique on that photo and it wasn't until the other photographers pointed it out that I noticed anything out of place. The saturation and composition looked right on - to me. :) But for me, I certainly want to learn more and become better at photography, but at the expense of not enjoying my process?

  5. Hmmm. I see it has all been said by your wise commentors :-) I especially liked and support these words from Tim: "...many of those photos while meeting a high technical standard probably wouldn't reach or touch the rest of us."

    You know what that means, right! Go on and have fun while learning and keep the soul in your pictures! ;-)

  6. First, to all of you: Yesterday I was so very fragile, for some reason (the full moon, I'm quite sure), in regards to my photography. I was starting to get at what exactly it was I was feeling, but it wasn't until today, as I started reading your comments here, that I realized what's going on!

    I want to be a good photographer, yes. That's a given. BUT NOT AT THE EXPENSE OF MY SOUL! (Now I'm bawling like a baby!) Nor do I want to look at the photos of others and critique them. I do not believe that's my place in the world, nor do I aspire to do so. I'll leave that to others. I want to see what's important to other people for what it is to them. Not for their technique. Likewise, I wish the same for myself.

    If this new photoblog starts to diminish my own Soul and intention, I will stop it. It's not the path I will choose to go down any further. I'll just stick to my In Soul here where people accept me just the way I am. What a great feeling that is! And thank YOU who have helped bring me clarity!


    DW: Thanks for reminding me about trusting my own instincts. I needed that! Where you are in NZ is similar to California where there is no seasonal variation, esp. in southern CA where we lived for 12 years. I'd whisk you here in an instant, if I could, for you to experience it!

    Tim: Considering the source/audience is always important, isn't it. Sometimes easier said than done. But I think I'm having clarity on this now. It's been kinda a rude awakening, in that I had no idea what I was getting into, I guess! I thought I was just getting to see my favorite photos in a larger format. HA. I didn't realize I was setting them up for tecnical criticism! You are so absolutely right. If I begin to detect that the site is taking me away from my purpose/intent, it is the wrong Path. And I will definitely get off it! Thanks for your kind counsel.

    Mad: Since you are in northern CA, you DO get seasonal changes that we didn't get in the San Diego and LA area. Lucky you!

    You are right about our similarity in photography skill. Because I DON'T know all the ins and outs of technically good photography, I have too much self-doubt to put out my pics into the den of lions, as it were. They will rip me apart and my Soul will be devoured in the process! So, I'm rethinking everything and putting it all under Trial. Soul is my intention; Soul is my purpose. If I lose it there, it's a no-brainer to leave it!

    CS: Fun and Soul. You all will be the first to know if I don't find it there any longer.

    Thank you, everyone!

  7. Ginnie, I just wanted to add a little personal note. You make so many readers happy by posting your photos AND adding a story behind it. Your thoughts behind one single shot brings the picture to life and tickles the imagination of every reader here (I think may say so).

    I guess what you were saying earlier is that you want to have photography as a passion, and not as an addiction. Good choice! :-)

  8. Hey, come on over to my photoblog site (my-expressions); I know I'm not a professional, so it's not about that, but there just seem to be positive comments. But as you've all discussed here, what is your goal? That's all that matters. And hey, it can change as well! I love your photos!

    In regard to what the tree feels, there is an amazing poem by James Dickie called "The Heaven of Animals"( that I find wholly wonderful but also strangely disconcerting. The point is that even in the cycle of life/death, they submit, knowing it is their "calling."

    (Tried embedding again, but it keeps breaking the tag; what's the secret?)

  9. CS: You are so kind to say that. Makes me want to cry for joy (different from the tears I had yesterday). I am definitely saying that photography for me (taking the pics or seeing others') is NOT about technique but about the emotions and passion and Soul of it. YES! Sometimes it's in something as "simple" as a social rendezvous, as you and O-X so often have and blog about. Thanks for knowing me.

    Ruth: HA. Maybe we could switch places :) Actually, I have received many positive comments there, don't get me wrong. But you know that tendency we all seem to have, paying more attention to the one negative comment than to the 9 posstive ones! Human nature. UGH.

    I will now go check out that poem! I do think the death-resurrection cycle IS one of submission. Things go so much better when we don't resist! I like the idea that it's their "calling." What can we learn from that!

  10. Hello Ginnie! Long time I've been on your blog! I stopped a lot of visiting this summer and I'm just beginning to return to my old blogger's friends, now that I have more time to.

    Yours is still so interresting, and I'm glad I came back on this post, because it's the kind of discussion I had with my sister, and with other bloggers too, specially the ones on Web-Pix.

    I don't consider myself as a professionnal, but I think I'm a good photographer. I know sometimes that my quality is not perfect, but what I intend to do with photography is an expression of something very intimate. And most of the time, my pics are very far from perfection, but it's not my objective.

    There is a word I hear and use often on Blogger: sharing. I love that word because it express exactly the feeling I have: we come on Blogger, we show what we do, we tell stories, we look to the others blog, we share. And I've learn a lot since last year. And one thing I've learned about photography, is that so many people use photo to express something special, that if I always look at the technical skills of the picture, I may miss what the person wanted to say. And so many people have so many fantastic things to say...

    It's funny because the last picture I post is exactly in that sens. It's a very bad picture if you look at it professionnaly, but I just love that pic, and I don't exactly know the reason why... :O)

  11. Clo: I've missed you! This is a good time for you to come back because you are the epitome of what this is all about for me--sharing what's soulful to us. Thank you, as always, for your wise words.

  12. Ginnie - YOUR pictures always take me to another place - it might be Nicholas' soccer game, Estonia, Hannover, one of your many concerts, a spider in a web, Don's tractor on the FARM or even MY own backyard. The one thing I know for sure about your pictures - I always feel better after I've looked at them so I don't give two hoots about the technicality of them. You've got a fan here.

  13. Judy, you have made my (new) day, of course. Thank you for your vote of confidence. I'm feeling much better (the farther we get away from the full moon :) and feel on a more even keel. What's clear is that if I want to be a photographer of sorts, I DO need to keep trying to better myself but without losing what's important to me (and you!) along the way. This discussion has been most helpful to me, so I'm very glad for the "pain." (Did I say that?)

  14. Oh man - I wanted to photograph that full moon but it's rain. It appeared for a second but I didn't bring out my cam..

    And yes the colors have been incredible here. I think it was the lack of rain and the dryness which gave them those special colors. I still can't believe I see some of the bushes and trees full of trees...

  15. Usually it takes a cold snap AND rain, ET, to bring out the colors. At least that's what I thought, but I could be wrong? Anyway, everyone has been saying autumn is just brilliant this year!

  16. Mom, I'm SO late to comment on this, but if I had been on earlier, I think I would have said much of what was already said! Such wise blogger friends you have! :-) It has been so much fun for me to watch you grow with your blog and your photography. YOU ARE REALLY GOOD at capturing a moment, an angle, a story, a thought, etc.

    I sense this blog is an outlet for you -- a way to communicate, both through words and through images. In both ways, you have connected with so many wonderful people who are all here for the same reason: to share (as Clo pointed out).

    If you find it soulful to share your images on a photoblog and learn through others and their critiques, then I'm certain you'll learn to hear the criticism with objectivity and it will indeed become a learning experience. If, however, you find you're having more days like you experienced on Sunday, then perhaps Tim is right -- if it stops being fun, then it's probably not the right path. You already know all this -- just wanted to add my support and sincere hope that you recognize just how meaningful your photos and posts are to me and so many others. Post on, woman!

  17. Amy! You have always had the knack of synthesizing things, which is what you have done here. I couldn't have done/said it better. Thank you for your support, which is at the top of the heap! I love you!

  18. Ginnie, I can see you and us benefitting from you participating in both blog forums as long as it doesn't start to weigh you down and time limitations don't get in the way. And if you need to weigh the value of participating in the new blog forum, I think one question I would ask is - Is it helping you to become a better storyteller?

    By the way, for several days now, I have been playing around in that forum. I'm not sure what my ultimate decision will be. But if you would like to take a look, the URL is

  19. I agree, Tim. Interestingly, I don't see Shutterchance as the place where I will tell my stories. In fact, as you know, I'm using much fewer words, concentrating more on the pics. But maybe I need to rethink that? I see THIS blog as the one where I tell my stories, not particularly caring if the pics aren't "masterpeices." The thing I do like about the photoblog is that you can archive the pics to publish automatically day after day without doing anything else except responding to comments.

    I have just visited YOUR new URL and am so glad you've taken this leap. Maybe we can hold each other's hand as we get used to the whole new atmosphere! :) And keep each other on an even keel.

  20. I once knew this couple that live in Northern California. They used to live out in the middle of nowhere. They could tell if someone was getting near their house before they could hear their vehicle. The trees, birds and animals would talk about the arriving visitor long before they'd arrive. They would go for long walks, and there was this one particular tree out in the middle of a meadow. I can't remember my friends' names, but one day she went for a walk alone and the tree spoke to her. It told her that it was going to die. She refused to believe it because the tree was in the peak of its life. Absolutely beautiful and grand. Well, little did she know, that her husband had also communicated with the tree. The tree told her husband the same news, that it was going to die. Well, niether of them communicated this conversation they'd both had with the tree to the other, because both could not believe there was any truth to it. But there was. One night, a storm came and struck the tree with lightening and killed it:( Although sad, the beautiful part of the story is that the tree had these friends to share its feelings with. And they listened!!!

  21. That is an incredible story, Rachel. I DO believe the trees can talk. And what's so cute is that Nicholas always wants to go out in our woods and "be with our friends." He will go up to trees and hug them. Of course, I do that, too. We feed off of each other, I guess, and it's such a good feeling to see a child learning about this kind of nature-love early.

  22. How precious and grandiose! I am glad I am not alone in my love for trees! Recently I read a poem in Parabola from the perspective of a cockroach. The basic message is that people never stop to ask a cockroach, "Who are you?" They just squeal, freak out, gross out and STOMP. After reflecting on this poem for months, I am surprised by the simple transition occurring in me. Everytime I see a cockroach, I wonder, "Who are you?" Gross as it may seem, the other day, I opened the medicine cabinet and there was a little one sitting on a container, peering over the lid at me. When our eyes met, he shrugged down quickly to hide. And I just laughed at how cute he looked. I could see his personality. Playful and curious, as if he were playing hide-n-go-seek with me. So, my love for life is growing in ways I never imagined it would:)

  23. Rachel, you are a constant source of inspiration to me! What a wonderful story to share. Thank you!