Waterfall 2

Consistency in a time of contrast

It was to be a day in search of consistency, visual consistency. The intention was to learn some skills that would ensure, or at least increase the odds, that I would return from a field trip with a range of photos that would sit happily together. The only jarring would be intentional.

Instead, it was a day of contrasts.

7:30am. Before anything can distract, the camera gear lands on the backseat and I point the car south. The fog is thick, and the question that hovers as thickly for some miles is “When will it clear?”

8:45am. After stopping for caffeine, I eventually turn west, and the Point Hut sign is encouraging even if the view is not.

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Point Hut Road Sign Fog

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And then it’s suddenly gone. It’s as if the fog had not existed, not dulled my morning, not hidden from view the changing scenery as my little car climbed Corin Rd.

The light reminds of summer.

A couple of years ago, the facilities at Gibraltar Falls were upgraded. It’s not a huge picnic area, but I think the idea is to camp just down the slope at Woods Reserve and take a stroll up the 1.2km path to the Falls. A nice outing for the family … in summer.

The walk down to the Falls from the car park is much shorter. The sun sits before me, still low-ish in the sky. I remember that consistency requires the sun to be in the same position for each shot. I turn around to take photos of the path.  It means I will only have images of the ascent.

The railing appears to cascade down the slope.

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Railing

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But at the top of the metal staircase I face a dilemma. The patterns of the metal lines draw my attention and overpower the potential I can hear just out of sight.  This could be an interesting image, but the sun is now in the wrong position. It is no longer at my back. I take the photo anyway. Any ideas of visual consistency evaporate as quickly as the fog and old habits return. Frame; click. Frame; click. Frame; click. Frame; click. Frame; click.

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Stairway

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Past encounters with waterfalls have always been at pace. Never still for long. They are always something to see on the way to somewhere. Schedules dictate. Today is no different but it is habits not schedules that rule.

The rocks over which the water cascades are varied. Sharp angles. Round angles. Dark and light shades. There is even some lichen growing. The rays of the sun snatch at the beads of water, creating highlights. I see in my mind’s eye a selection of abstracts.

For these shots, consistency should be straightforward. I’m confined to this tiny viewing platform, four paces wide, the angle of the sun will be the same, so if I can just keep the camera settings the same … Click. Click. Click. I’ll crop them back home.

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Waterfall 2

Waterfall 1

Waterfall 3

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There it is … the ubiquitous piece of human rubbish, lobbed by someone who must mark and spoil, who must tear away at ideas or feelings they cannot identify with, cannot aspire to, do not understand … or maybe I’m being too harsh … perhaps a bird found this citrus peel in the picnic area and dropped it here.

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Citrus peel

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I turn back onto the main road and descend into the fog. There are people at work who’ve just come back from holidays. Perhaps this is how they feel, descending from a gentle place of bright intrigue, descending to the drab burly of routine.

But even the fog can engage us in its secret plot, if we dare to take the time to look.

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 Point Hut Fog

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Reference:

Ideas about visual consistency were drawn from “Achieving Visual Consistency” by Ming Thein, publised on 9 June 2014.

Is this the way to lose weight?

I’m such a child. I’ve been playing with my food again.

The Horizon documentary “Fat vs Sugar” was broadcast here recently. It explored some of the science behind arguments for giving up either fat or sugar.

Ignoring the extreme sides of that debate, the take-home message for me was that foods with equal quantities of fat and sugar suppress our “I’ve had enough” signals. In these situations, I keep eating not because I have no willpower but because my body cannot react the way nature intended. The food manufacturer has tricked me into eating not just more than I need but also more than I want.

In response, I’ve been experimenting. And while I was experimenting, I finally broke through the three kilogram barrier that has plagued me for years.

My three kilogram barrier

When I began fixing my eating habits back in 2012, I didn’t just go on a diet I’d found in a magazine. Instead, I progressively studied my way through the various food groups. When necessary, I bought new kitchen equipment. Change was gradual and sustained, though not total.

Eighteen months ago, I began fixing my exercise habits. I didn’t just go to the gym three times a week. I didn’t go to the gym at all. Instead, I progressively added more activity to each day and each week. I had a wonderful time, trying things I hadn’t done in years, getting back out into the bush, taking my camera with me. I admit, though, the amount of exercise does vary. The big set pieces aren’t as routine as I’d like, but I’m sitting less and moving more.

I feel a lot better, but doctors still frown at me because the weight didn’t shift. I see-sawed within this range of three kilograms.

My experiment – Fat vs Sugar

My experiment was confined to a subjective assessment of appetite. It was limited by the fact that I couldn’t separate all my meals into only fat or only sugar. The aim, then, was to separate where possible and reduce the ratio where separation was not feasible.

Under the Sugar heading, the documentary included any food that we know to be sugar or that breaks down to the various types of sugars when digested. Under the Sugar heading were sugars (obviously), carbohydrates, vegetables and fruits.

Under the Fat heading were the meats and diary.

The results

The more time between the consumption of the meats/dairy and the carbs/sugars, the less I wanted to eat and the more sensible my appetite felt.

The further from equal the ratio of fat to sugar or sugar to fat, the slower I ate and the less I wanted to eat.

The closer to equal the ratio of fat and sugar, the more outlandish my appetite when I knew I wasn’t hungry. I ate more than I really wanted.

I took a closer look at the wrapper of the 100g of organic white chocolate I’d just finished. I ate it in one sitting while reading the paper this morning. My subjective view of the experience placed it in the Outlandish Appetite category. Sure enough, the information panel shows 9.6g of fats for every 12.8g of sugars. That’s a ratio of 3 to 4. That’s pretty close to equal.

The experiment also showed how difficult it will be to completely ignore all equal ratio foods. Manufacturers want us to buy more … and more. And that’s not just the packaged foods from the supermarket; it’s also the sandwich bar and coffee shop.

Next steps

The experiment over, it’s time to decide if … no, strike that … it’s time to decide how to implement change. The aim is to allow the body to signal “I’ve had enough thanks”, while maintaining appropriate nutrition.

The strategy, then, is as follows:

1. What am I eating that encourages appetite?

2. Which of those can I do without?

3. Which could be adjusted to reduce the ratio?

4. Look for new food combinations that don’t encourage appetite.

Here’s an example:

I don’t want to give up my glass of milk each morning, but I can’t abide the taste of plain milk. I’d already dismissed the three heaped teaspoons of flavouring suggested by the manufacturer as too sweet for me. One teaspoon proved ideal. I could drink quickly and smoothly from the tall glass. I’ve now reduced that to 1/2 a teaspoon. I drink from the glass a lot slower.

The other up-side is that that package of drinking chocolate will now last twice as long.

 

Relics Subverted

Weekly photo challenge – Relic

The word relic comes from the Latin reliquiae, meaning “remains” or “something left behind”.

In our image-saturated world, where the physical object gives way to its digital representation, the image itself becomes that “something left behind”, a relic of our engagement with the world.

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Relics Subverted

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In this image, I have placed three up-ended photos side-by-side. These old kilns at Bendigo Pottery are no longer functional and stand in a museum environment as reminders of how the factory functioned in years past.

My aim in this image is to subvert expectation.  I’m hoping your eyes will search the entire picture plane, rather than just settle on a key object placed according to the rule of thirds. A relic becomes a point of focus.  As such, the context in which the relic was created can sometimes become lost or distorted.  I’d like to re-establish context.

Series Notes

My approach to these WordPress photo challenges has evolved and seems to be settling into a pattern made up of three layers.

First, there is the challenge’s theme. Second, there is the photographic act. And third, because the resulting posts will sit in my blog, I want to also consider it’s overall theme.

What happens when these three ideas draw towards each other? What might be found at their point of intersection?

Today’s intersection

Our photographs, particularly our travel photographs, are our means of capturing something of an experience.  We know this experience will eventually be changed by all that we do, and become, after that momemt.

I’m not encouraging people to venerate those photographic slices of the past.  However, I believe they can be useful.

To be useful, they must be revisited.  Just as pilgrims take time out to embark on their journeys, so too we should take time to look back and reflect.  How did we come to be in that place?  What did it mean to us then?  What does it mean to us now?

What did we do, and become, after that moment?

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Clancys Track 1

Tracks – Circular reading into a sun shower

It’s winter. It’s wet. It’s cold, with wind that crosses snowfields before striking our suburban streets.

Reading a book about walking across deserts, while tucked away safe from this weather, creates an intense feeling of being locked in.

The feeling pervades.  The view from my desk at work doesn’t help.

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Not walking in the desert

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Pinned to my noticeboard is an opinion piece cut from the newspaper in which the author, Annabel Crabb, reviews her reading habits and reflects on her role as a judge in a writing competition:

“When you read as normal human beings read, you are guided by all sorts of unseen forces. You choose things you think you’ll like. You avoid things you just know you’re going to hate. You read things you have to read. And necessarily, it means that you miss out.”

And necessarily, it’s that last line that hits me.

Annabel recognises the impact of the omission because as competition judge she had to read books she would not normally encounter or did not usually have time in which to indulge.

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I read Robyn Davidson’s Quarterly Essay on nomads in 2006 and was quite immersed in the experience. So when I recently saw her 1980 novel Tracks displayed within arm’s reach of passers-by, I reached out and bought a copy. Promotional articles about the movie had tapped into an existing interest.

In the book’s postscript, added in 2012, Robyn acknowledges that the writing is a little rough. It was her first book, written when quite young. However, testament to the power of its subject matter, it has been in print since first published. Over thirty years ago she walked half-way across Australia, from Alice Springs to the Indian Ocean. She wrote the book two years later.

It wasn’t a similarily immersive experience, but the subject matter kept me reading and I occasionally noted down a page number so I could return to that section. Some things are worth dwelling upon.

For example,

“I did not perceive at that time that I was allowing myself to get more involved with writing about the trip than the trip itself. It did not dawn on me that already I was beginning to see it as a story for other people, with a beginning and an ending.”

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After weekends of rain, I was eyeing off two free days of sunshine in the weather forecast. Why do I plan? The meteorologists then scheduled showers. Nevertheless, a few hours on Saturday morning were clear and I headed out, not wishing to miss out again. Who cares that it’s somewhere between 5 and 10 degrees C?

Clancy’s Track was set up in response to the rise of a housing estate on the reserve’s border. The idea was to give the residents a formal trail to follow before they trampled their own assorted walkways into the bush. Gated fences funnel users through three designated starting points.

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Clancys Track 2

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I haven’t packed the PDF map I printed from the internet. It’s hardly necessary as there is no chance of getting lost. The drone of the Federal Highway is ever present.

Robyn variously relied upon, lost, chased, resented and at times avoided mapped tracks; umapped roads confronted and perplexed.

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The sun and rain battle for dominance, clouds briefly overflow with misty rain and I walk through sun showers. The path ahead is too crowded with kangaroos and I turn back. But not wanting to finish just yet, I circle back to my car rather than retrace my steps.

Annabel was right. I selected a book based on a pre-existing interest and find myself circling. The sense of being locked in didn’t abate. Yet, here I am, out and about, experiencing nature.

I note that the circle is, nevertheless, larger.  I’m doing something new.  In such cases, one can hope that the territory crossed by the extended boundary will create more fresh interests.

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As I finish writing this post, the iPod shuffles onto the theme music from the Man From Snowy River.

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Clancys Track 4

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Clancys Track 5

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Clancys Track 6

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Clancys Track 1

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Sorting the indistinguishable

Sorting the indistinguishable

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It’s a tricky balancing act … balancing the desire to be in control against the need to be adaptable.

With so many wanting the world to suit them, and them alone, regardless of the impact on others, I am reminded of how the jigsaw puzzle encourages the idea of everything its rightful place.

This idea of the rightful place grew from my latest puzzle. I noted that the dark corner on the left was slightly different to the dark corner on the right.

On the left, the grain of the canvas showed through the paint.

On the right, the paint surface was smooth.

Sorting the dark pieces into places of “belonging” did not sit comfortably with me. I thought of reservations, asylums, institutional care, segregation, compounds and gated communities.

In response, I set aside this idea of rightful place and pursued instead a creative alternative.

So, for my Mini Jigsaw today, I’ve tried to mix them up – the right and the left. It’s not an easy task in a puzzle where each piece is unique. Cardboard has limited capacity to be flexible.

Our society at the moment seems to be about as flexible as cardboard. It seems that everyone expects the other to show flexibility. Change. Agree with me. Be me.

Yet it is from an exploration of alternatives that new ideas and insights can emerge to solve the unsolvable.

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Series Notes

In the Mini Jigsaw photographic series, a selection of pieces from a completed puzzle are assembled to capture something of the essence of that particular puzzle.  The selection may be about the image itself or an idea that developed while working on it.

As the series develops, I’m finding that the technical choices – how to photograph the pieces – is becoming as important as the choice of pieces.  For example, here I’ve kept the natural light from the window and the shadows it cast.  It adds something to the theme.

The Puzzle

It’s a Ravensburger – “Home on the Toast Rack”, a painting by Australian artist John Bradley.