A New Project

A few winters ago, I noticed a man in a long red coat panhandling on the freeway off ramp where I exit for home in the evenings.   His dark, curly hair and beard grew out of control and, coupled with the attire, reminded me of a displaced Charles Dickens character.  His theatrical appearance sparked my interest, and I began watching for him.  

I noticed some patterns.  He’d arrive for “work” when I was leaving Bellingham in the mornings.  He had a shopping chart filled with belongings that he parked below the overpass.   Upon returning to Bellingham, I’d see him still standing there, or packing it up as though this was a full-time job.  Every now and then he’d yell furiously down the street at some non-existent passerby and throw his hands in the air like he was reliving some old, angry memory. When the summer arrived his unruly mane was trimmed, and he’d shift nervously from left to right as he held his cardboard sign in the heat.   It absolutely broke my heart.  I started thinking about how this mentally ill, most likely homeless man was someone’s son.  Someone’s brother.  Possibly someone’s estranged husband. 

Eventually he disappeared from his post, but I still think of him on occasion and wonder what happened.  Did he get help?  Medication?  Food and shelter?  And, how could I have possibly helped? 

In Vancouver, British Columbia this past summer I found the Hope in Shadows project.   A contest is held every year in which homeless residents in Vancouver receive disposable cameras, and winning photos are used to create a calendar.  The calendar is then sold for profit to help the homeless.   It got me thinking – this would be fun to attempt in Bellingham, understanding of course that the photographers would need to be carefully selected by the volunteers who work at the shelters.  The man by the freeway I mention above wouldn’t necessarily be capable of participating, but he could at least benefit from the profits. 

Of course, my idea stayed exactly that – an idea.  I’d talk about it with friends trying to figure out what I’d need to do to get started, but I never really got the ball rolling.  Then, this past weekend in Seattle I spotted the man pictured above in an alley.  He emerged to join a group enjoying some rare sunshine in Pioneer Square.  There was one face in particular that tugged at my heartstrings, and I decided I had to get serious about it.   I like photography, so why not use something I love to help others?  I have other ideas that would work in tandem with the calendar project, but more on that later.

The homeless live with such a stigma – that somehow they can help their situation but chose not to.  Maybe that’s true for some, but I don’t want to make assumptions.  I just want to help.   There are valuable organizations already in place that support this population.  However, I think this would be a creative way to raise more funds that can then be donated to them.   Not everyone can be helped, and not everyone wants to be helped, but even if just one person can benefit, then I think it’d be worth it.  Right?

All of these thoughts, just from a photo walk to Seattle!   Thanks for reading to the end of this longer than usual post.  If anyone has any ideas or suggestions, I’d be happy to hear them!

Spotlight on Libya

Imagine visiting a place that borders the Mediterranean and walking through ancient Roman cities.  Italy?  Think again.  Picture yourself wandering among 12,000 year old rock sculptures as the wind continuously reshapes the desert and then stumbling upon a secret oasis.  Where would you be?  Libya.  Despite  the country’s natural beauty and the capital Tripoli’s claim to be the “White Bride of the Mediterranean” and one of North Africa’s prettiest cities, it’s not somewhere most people add to their travel itineraries.  Politics and religion play a huge part.

Africa’s fourth largest country, and more than 95% Sunni Muslim, Libya survived countless battles and a devastating Italian rule before gaining independence in 1951.  Colonel Muammar Gaddafi arrived in 1969, and has been in power ever since.  That’s the Reader’s Digest version anyway.  Libya is one of several North African countries since the fall of Tunisia’s President Zine El Abidine in January and Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak last week to begin pro-democracy demonstrations.   The main focus of demonstrations thus far has been in Gaddafi’s home of Benghazi.   One report I found stated that 84 people have already died in the protests.  Hundreds more have been injured.

Yesterday, on our photo walk in Seattle we happened to pass a peaceful demonstration, where I snapped this picture.  This particular flag is not actually the official flag of Libya, which is a solid green.  The flag wrapped around the young man above is the original one to be flown after gaining independence, but replaced by Gaddafi in 1977.

Since my blog is for photography, it’s a lesser known fact to most of my readers that I’m interested in all things Africa.   Although I may not write about it frequently, I do think about it often and will definitely keep following the news on these events.

Stuck on You

Did you know, there’s a gum wall in Seattle?   According to Wikipedia, it is one of the top five “germiest” attractions in the world.   Hordes of people were gathered in Post Alley to take pictures (see David, above!), gawk, or add to the gooey layers (see random kid below).

The gum wall was one of the many stops made today on the first ever WordPress photo walk.   It turns out, some of the bloggers I follow are from the Seattle area.  So, David had the idea (at least, I believe it was him) that a few of us should get together for the afternoon.   Emily, Mike, David, and I braved the cold winds on an otherwise beautiful sunny day to explore the Seattle!  I’ll be writing about it over the next few days, so stay tuned…

Trespassing with Purpose

Andy and I took a long drive through Skagit County the other day for photos – and also to hit up the small shops in LaConner for a belated birthday gift I’d had in mind for a friend.   On the road to LaConner, we passed an old barn that had been marked, “no trespassing”.  Well, if you follow my blog at all, you know that I’m not easily deterred by trespassing signs.  I thought these two windows made an interesting shot, so I think it was worth the stop.  Plus, if you’re kind of in the road is it really trespassing?

After Dark Art

Tonight I pulled out the new tripod and headed to the marina for my first attempt at after dark photography.  Long exposures, low light…what fun, right?  Yeah….I have a LOT to learn.    I played around until a herd of skateboarders came barreling through and disrupted my quiet concentration. 

This shot was probably the best attempt, but had to cropped because of some lens flare I just couldn’t live with.  I know, David will hate be annoyed by this because the entire reflection of the large boat isn’t captured!   

Anyway, considering the slow shutter speed, how do I combat the flare from the lampposts and other light sources that will then become over exposed?   Suggestions from those with experience with low light photography?

I’m Being Good

Goal?  Lose a few pounds by the time I return to Ireland.   Stumbling block?  Finding pictures from a trip to Abbey Garden Tea Room a while back. 

I’ve often said, “I can’t be good all the time!”  But, I think giving in to temptation too often can create problems and add pounds.   So, instead of driving down to the tea room at lunch today, I saved money and my shrinking waistline by cooking for myself and keeping it healthy.    I also brewed my own Earl Grey tea, and you know what?  It tastes just as good as theirs anyway….

Everything is Beautiful

“I’m not that obsessed with making representations of ugliness. Everything I’ve seen is beautiful.”  ~ Otto Dix

I found this quote earlier, and I thought it expressed how I tend to look at life through the view finder!    I like the juxtaposition of old and new, life gently weaving through the jagged edges of history.

Cold Beauty

I’m losing interest in the cold beauty of winter.

I’d previously stated that photography had the power to make me forget about little things like…the cold…frostbitten fingers.  What was I thinking?   My fingers were so cold, I lasted 20 minutes the other day when I got this picture.  I’m ready for 70 degree temperatures again!

A Little Twisted

I cancelled a photo walk this afternoon so I could be responsible and study.  However, I still really wanted to take a picture of something

This twisty little tree is just outside my patio door.   The water droplets adorned it quite beautifully and quickly became my subject of choice.  The shallow DOF created sort of a smokey quality in the movement of the background branches which I kind of like.  

I hope everyone has had a great weekend, and I hope to get back to visiting my favorite blogs on a regular basis soon!


I have been lacking inspiration.  Maybe because it’s the middle of a dull, gray January, or maybe because math is killing me slowly.  Whatever the reason, my creativity has been zapped.  

I did manage to spot these steps on the way home Sunday.  Located downtown Bellingham, I remember not to long ago when they looked like a giant, dirty mess.   However, now that the design is complete, I can appreciate the pieces of rock and broken glass carefully arranged to look like streams running down a hillside.  

If only I could put my brain to some good use and create something beautiful…or write something.   Creativity can be such a curse sometimes.  It’s hard to summon and seems to appear when it wants rather than when I want.    I think my creativity is laying on a beach somewhere sipping margaritas.