Tag Archives: perspective

It’s All About Perspective

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The older I get the more I appreciate perspective.

I photographed this marker in a cemetery in Portland, Oregon early in July of this year. I didn’t expect to find such a marker in the Pacific northwest and was rather shocked when I saw it.  One just doesn’t think of Oregon in relation to the Civil War. I CERTAINLY wouldn’t expect to find one line this in the state of Georgia where I now call home. If I were north of the Mason-Dixon line one might expect to see such a marker. Not that many miles from where we now live is Stone Mountain with gigantic carved relief images of the leaders of the army of the Confederacy…but none of any of those mentioned on this stone who were the “saviors of our union”.  Nor would such a monument as Stone Mountain be found north of the Mason-Dixon line.

Isn’t that like so much of what we see going on in our country today?  So many of our differences are about perspective (not all, but many) and we’ve grown angry to the point of not even wanting to hear another perspective or consider its merits if it is different in the slightest from our own. We’ve become so cock-sure of ourselves and our own perspective that we immediately denigrate any other perspective – and those who hold them.

I fear we have much to re-learn as a nation. Instead of constantly insulting and castigating one another – no matter which perspective we hold – could we not at least treat another perspective (and the person who holds it) with respect as human beings?

I was a teen during the late ’60’s and early ’70’s, the age of “flower power”, Haight Ashbury, the “summer of love” and Woodstock. For all that may have been wrong about some of those things, at least people were by and large treated respectfully. Perhaps they were the “good old days” after all.  By contrast (perspective?) they sure seem better than today!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1715, a hurricane struck the east coast of Florida, sinking 10 Spanish treasure ships and killing nearly 1,000 people, on this day in 1715. All of the gold and silver on board at the time would not be recovered until 250 years later.

From 1701, Spain sent fleets of ships to the Western Hemisphere to bring back natural resources, including gold and silver. These groups of ships were heavily fortified against pirates, but there was little that could be done to protect them from bad weather.

On July 24, ten Spanish ships and one French ship left Havana, Cuba, on their way to Europe, carrying tons of gold and silver coins, about 14 million pesos worth. The Spanish ships stayed very close to the Florida coast, as was the custom, while the French ship, the Grifon, ventured further out from the shore. A week later, as the ships were between Cape Canaveral and Fort Pierce, in modern-day Florida, the winds picked up dramatically.

The hurricane advanced quickly and, one by one, the ships were wrecked. The Nuestra Senora de la Regla sank, sending 200 people and 120 tons of coins to a watery grave. The Santa Cristo de San Ramon went down with 120 sailors aboard. In all, somewhere between 700 and 1,000 people lost their lives in the wrecks. Meanwhile, the Grifon was able to ride out the storm; most of its crew survived.

In the following months, Spanish officials in Havana sent ships to salvage the treasure. About 80 percent had been recovered by April 1716, but the rest remained lost until the 1960’s.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: in the few signatures that have survived, Shakespeare spelled his name “Willm Shaksp,” “William Shakespe,” “Wm Shakspe,” “William Shakspere,” ”Willm Shakspere,” and “William Shakspeare”–but never “William Shakespeare”.

Perspective

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Click the image several times to see a larger version.

Perspective in life is nearly everything.  Today I read an amazing article written by a man who is dying (probably in 6-24 months) from incurable prostate cancer.  The title of the article was a shocker: “The Mercy of Sickness Before Death”.  I have to say that it was a much different perspective about cancer and being sick before dying than you typically hear or read.  It was thought-provoking, to say the least.

Is something good or bad?  And what makes it that way?  We tend to think only in terms of immediacies, and how we feel about something right that moment.  It’s totally understandable – I do it all the time myself.  I’m judging a certain event or happening based on what I can see and know at the time (and if we are honest enough to admit it, our human “vision” of thy whys, wherefores and becauses are skewed and limited.)  I don’t intend to diminish anyone’s grief or fear or suffering with this…but I think what I’ve written is true.  What we may think today is a bad thing, may actually turn out to be a good thing a few days, months or years from now.  We aren’t guaranteed that we’ll feel that way about it, but it’s happened enough to me that I think it’s true more often than not.

On a much simpler note, photography and images are a lot about perspective, too.  We easily settle into a full-length shot of someone or something.  One piece of advice that I read once that improves photographs is this: fill the viewfinder with your subject.  Leaving a lot of other things in the image only distracts and deflects from the main subject.  If you feel  you simply can’t do that, at least throw the background out of balance with a wide-open F-stop setting so the eye is naturally drawn to the subject you want to emphasize.

Today is another photo of the statue in Jack London Square that I posted about the other day.  Personally, I think this is a much more interesting photo.  There is much more majesty, motion, and mystery to it.  What is happening?  Where is the eagle going?  What is the hand reaching for or pointing towards?  What does the person look like to whom the hand is attached?

Majesty, motion and mystery.  Sorta sounds like life, doesn’t it?!!!

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY:  in 1865, Union war hero Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was severely wounded at Petersburg, Virginia, while leading an attack on a Confederate position. Chamberlain, a college professor from Maine (we toured his home when we lived in Maine – what a treat! – and visited his gravesite, too), took a sabbatical to enlist in the Union army. As commander of the 20th Maine, he earned distinction at the 1863 Battle of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, when he shored up the Union left flank and helped save Little Round Top for the Federals. His bold counterattack against the Confederates earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor.  (See the movie GETTYSBURG!)

His wound at Petersburg was the most serious of the six he received during the war. Doctors in the field hospital pronounced his injury fatal, and Union General Ulysses S. Grant promoted him to brigadier general as a tribute to his service and bravery. Miraculously, he survived and spent the rest of the Petersburg campaign convalescing at his Maine home. He returned to the Army of the Potomac in time for Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Virginia, and he was given the honor of accepting the arms of the Confederate infantry.

Chamberlain returned to Maine after the war and served four terms as governor. He then became president of Bowdoin College–the institution that had refused to release him for military service–and held the position until 1883. Chamberlain remained active in veterans’ affairs and, like many soldiers, attended regimental reunions and kept alive the camaraderie created during the war. He was present for the 50th anniversary of Gettysburg in 1913, one year before he died of an infection from the wound he suffered on this day so long ago at Petersburg.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The word “dream” is most likely related to the West Germanic draugmus, (meaning deception, illusion, or phantom) or from the Old Norse draugr (ghost, apparition) or the Sanskrit druh(seek to harm or injure).

We Could Learn to See Things Differently?

One of the things that fascinates me about my work with Medical Ambassadors is getting to meet and talk with people who live an work all over the world.  That’s fun.  But you know what is perhaps most fascinating about it?  Learning about how their culture operates – and why.  I can virtually guarantee that if you hear about some fascinating cultural phenomenon, behind it is a fascinating explanation of why they do things the way they do.  Cultures are formed, at least in part, by worldviews.  And worldviews are incredibly fascinating!

For instance, here in the US, we encourage our children to excel.  But in some places in the world, for a kid to be a lot better than other kids at sports or school or whatever, it brings shame on them rather than kudos.  There are reasons for that in their culture.

Americans value time.  Everyone has a watch, or smartphone with a calendar attached to it so we aren’t late, we show up where we’re supposed to be when we are supposed to be there regardless of what we have to abandon in order to get there.  Not so with many cultures.  They think that talking and spending time with someone is far more important than adhering to any kind of schedule.

What would the world be like if we could truly learn to see things differently – even if for just a few moments?  How much more might we be sympathetic to other viewpoints instead of jumping to call others ignoramuses, idiots, dolts or some other derisive name?  What if we really tried to see things from their viewpoint – even if we never wind up agreeing about those things?  Wouldn’t the world be a better place?  Might not politicians, for example, be much more civil to one another?  Might not better candidates be drawn to run for office if they thought they might be treated with less disdain and more compassion?

Might husbands and wives not fight as much?  Might children at least understand why mom and dad say no so often?  And who knows, maybe we’d learn to love one another a bit better, too.  And that wouldn’t be bad!

Here’s an example of seeing something differently.  I shot a picture of this barn up near Fiddletown, CA and developed it normally with Photoshop Creative Cloud, then made another copy that looked different as an exercise in a seeing things differently.  We might even find other people to be more interesting and appreciate them in new ways if we did that with one another!

_MG_6915_6_7HDRON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: on this day in 1901, President William McKinley’s assassin, Leon Czolgosz, was executed in the electric chair at Auburn Prison in New York. Czolgosz had shot McKinley on September 6, 1901; the president succumbed to his wounds eight days later.

McKinley was shaking hands in a long reception line at the Pan-American Exhibition in Buffalo, New York, when a 28-year-old anarchist named Leon Czolgosz approached him with a gun concealed in a handkerchief in his right hand. McKinley, perhaps assuming the handkerchief was an attempt by Czolgosz to hide a physical defect, kindly reached for the man’s left hand to shake. Czolgosz moved in close to the president and fired two shots into McKinley’s chest. The president reportedly rose slightly on his toes before collapsing forward, saying “be careful how you tell my wife.” Czolgosz was attempting to fire a third bullet into the stricken president when aides wrestled him to the ground.

McKinley suffered one superficial wound to the sternum and another bullet dangerously entered his abdomen. He was rushed into surgery and seemed to be on the mend by September 12. Later that day, however, the president’s condition worsened rapidly and, on September 14, McKinley died from gangrene that had remained undetected in the internal wound. According to witnesses, McKinley’s last words were those of the hymn “Nearer My God to Thee.” Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was sworn in as president immediately following McKinley’s death.

Czolgosz, a Polish immigrant, grew up in Detroit and had worked as a child laborer in a steel mill. As a young adult, he gravitated toward socialist and anarchist ideology. He claimed to have killed McKinley because the president was the head of what Czolgosz thought was a corrupt government. The unrepentant killer’s last words were “I killed the president because he was the enemy of the good people—the working people.” His electrocution was allegedly filmed by Thomas Edison.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The word “yardstick” is derived in part from the Old English word “gird” for the word “yard,” which translates to “stick.” As a result of this melding, we’re literally calling the measuring device a “stick-stick.”

Perspective…it Matters!

Today’s post isn’t so much intended to be cutesy, but more about photography itself.  Hopefully, you’ll still find it interesting, even if you’re not a photography buff.

In photography, as in life, perspective matters.  When we are faced with a challenge or setback in life, we can either let it get us down, get upset about it…or figure it was a learning activity and add that knowledge to our repertoire and move on to the next thing that crosses our path.  We have choices in how we respond to things that changes the way we think about ourselves and the world around us.

Photography is no different.  It’s really easy (believe me, I know ’cause I’ve done it way too many times!) to take the same old straight-on photo of someone’s face, or to pose people in the middle of the frame, to look and shoot downwards when photographing children or pets.  And, you can get some great pictures that way.  But you know what?  If you do that all the time, you’re really missing out on a lot of the fun of photography!

Take for example a picture of a dog.  You can shoot it from your towering vantage point, or you can get down at shoot it at the dog’s eye level, or even better, lay down on the floor and make the dog look like the second coming of Godzilla.  Each way of shooting has a story it can tell.  The question is: what story do YOU want to tell with the picture?

Human faces are another thing.  We often want to get the entire head in the picture.  But what if the think that really fascinates you is the eyes, or the lips?  Why not zoom in and get a real close-up?  Or, feel free to break the rules a bit and put the subject toward the far left or right in the image (there are rules for this – especially if motion is involved or the person is looking one way or the other).  Or, shoot from various degrees of all the way from a straight-on face shot to a 90 degree angle (profile), or 180 degree (back) photo.

Try playing around a bit this weekend with perspective.  If you don’t like the results you get to start with, keep playing!  With digital photography it doesn’t cost you anything except a bit of time and you just may come up with something you really love!

Today’s picture is a different perspective from one I posted earlier this week.  It’s the same Bliss Dance statue in Treasure Island, but shot from a different perspective than the typical front image.  I rather liked it and I think it tells an entirely different story than the front shot where you can tell the sculpture is supposedly dancing.  In this case, it almost creates the impression that the woman is trying to push someone or something away, to escape.  That’s a far cry from a Bliss Dance.  It is the same image, but a different story due to the different perspective.

_MG_4950ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1533, Atahuallpa, the 13th and last emperor of the Incas, died by strangulation at the hands of Francisco Pizarro’s Spanish conquistadors. The execution of Atahuallpa, the last free reigning emperor, marked the end of 300 years of Inca civilization.

High in the Andes Mountains of Peru, the Inca built a dazzling empire that governed a population of 12 million people. In 1532, Atahuallpa’s army defeated the forces of his half-brother Huascar in a battle near Cuzco. Atahuallpa was consolidating his rule when Pizarro and his 180 soldiers appeared.

Having just won one of the largest battles in Inca history, and with an army of 30,000 men at his disposal, Atahuallpa thought he had nothing to fear from the bearded white stranger and his 180 men. Pizarro, however, planned an ambush, setting up his artillery at the square of Cajamarca.

On November 16, Atahuallpa arrived at the meeting place with an escort of several thousand men, all apparently unarmed. Pizarro sent out a priest to exhort the emperor to accept the sovereignty of Christianity and Emperor Charles V., and Atahuallpa refused, flinging a Bible handed to him to the ground in disgust. Pizarro immediately ordered an attack. Buckling under an assault by the terrifying Spanish artillery, guns, and cavalry (all of which were alien to the Incas), thousands of Incas were slaughtered, and the emperor was captured.

Atahuallpa offered to fill a room with treasure as ransom for his release, and Pizarro accepted. Eventually, some 24 tons of gold and silver were brought to the Spanish from throughout the Inca empire. Although Atahuallpa had provided the richest ransom in the history of the world, Pizarro treacherously put him on trial for plotting to overthrow the Spanish, for having his half-brother Huascar murdered, and for several other lesser charges. A Spanish tribunal convicted Atahuallpa and sentenced him to die. On August 29, 1533, the emperor was tied to a stake and offered the choice of being burned alive or strangled by garrote if he converted to Christianity. In the hope of preserving his body for mummification, Atahuallpa chose the latter, and an iron collar was tightened around his neck until he died.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY:  The winds inside cumulonimbus clouds may reach a speed of 124 miles per hour, as fast as many express trains.

 

Perspective is Everything (Almost)

Have you ever notice how perspective can change everything?  I’m talking about physical perspective, but the same could be said for attitudinal perspective, too.

For instance, have you ever seen someone in a car or from behind that you thought was a girl, but when you got a change of perspective (i.e., you could see their face), the long flowing hair gave way to a full beard on the face?  It happened to me just today…I saw someone walking down the sidewalk and from a distance, i thought it was a girl…but when I got closer, it was an old guy with platinum colored long hair!

Even slight changes in perspective can give us new insights and appreciation for things.  Two people who witness a car accident from different angles notice different things – and sometimes that results in conflicting testimony between the two people when asked by the police.

Recently, when we were coming down on the aerial tram from the top of Stone Mountain, I was able to fire off a quick shot of the sculpture of Davis, Lee and Jackson from above and to the left of the image.  When I got it on my computer and saw what I’d capture, it really surprised me!!!  The difference in the perspective from viewing the diorama from at the park at the base of Stone Mountain was huge!!!!  It made the characters almost unrecognizable from closer up, but from down below, it’s very clear who they are.  And the variations in the depth of the carving into the rock surprised me, too.  So, as promised a couple weeks ago, here’s that changed perspective.  To get even a better sense for it, double click the picture a couple of times to see it larger.

And in the meantime, let’s all be careful about judging others since we’ve not walked in their shows and don’t have their perspective on things.

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: the Sioux chief, Crazy Horse, was fatally bayoneted by a US soldier after resisting arrest at Ft. Robinson, NE.  One year earlier, Crazy Horse had led combined Sioux-Cheyenne forces to victory over George A. Custer’s troops at the Battle of Little Bighorn in Montana.  Crazy Horse was killed when he was only 34 years old.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: a Club Med survey found that couples who dieted (or tried to) while on vacation were three times more likely to argue on their vacation than couples who didn’t attempt to diet.  Those who didn’t diet also had three times as many romantic interludes than those who dieted.  My guess is that this last statistic was more closely tied to not arguing than to any dieting or lack thereof!

Flower or Weed?

I don’t claim to have learned very much in life, nor to have learned my lessons well.  It seems that we have a belief that as we get older, we get “wiser” and people may come to you for some of that “wisdom” that has accumulated through the years.  I must say, I feel ill equipped to dispense anything close to “wisdom” to anyone!  If there is any wisdom that I have accumulated in my time on this cosmic sphere it would be this: I now realize how little I know about anything.

Once there was a time when I felt I was pretty smart, astute…that I had a handle on things.  What foolishness that is!  Things are not always what they seem, and our perspective on things is what often makes the difference in whether they turn out to be good things or bad things in terms of our lives and existence.  An injury may turn a career in another direction.  An accident can short-circuit many an aspiration. Yet are those things necessarily bad?  No, I don’t think so.  So much of life is what we choose to make of it, and of the things that happen to us in our lifetimes.

So, speaking of perspective.  What is the difference between a flower and a weed?  Today’s photo is one I shot early this week, macro-enabled (but without my tripod which was in the trunk of the car with my wife and her friend as they galloped all over Georgia) and tonight I want to know what you think: is this a flower, or is this a week?  I’ll let you know tomorrow what it is…

Flower or weed? What do you think it is?

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1865, John Wilkes Booth died in a shoot-out with federal troops 11 days after he assassinated President Lincoln.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: you probably always wondered about this one…a conveyor printing press is used to print the tiny white M’s on each M&M candy.  Because the peanut sizes vary, the press must be constantly adjusted when printing on peanut M&M’s to keep from crushing the peanut candies.  It’s much easier on the same-sized plain chocolate ones.

Perspective Is Everything

It is easy to fool the eye…and some things are very good at fooling, and confusing us!!!!  Escher was a master at this (check out some of his artwork that appears to be like a pair of pants with three legs, but which only has two legs – or does it?  Or stairs that continually go up and up and never seem to end, but which are all part of a closed system.)

Photographs can confuse us, too, if things are not put into the right perspective.  But that is also true of life, isn’t it?  We have to keep things in perspective to understand, and live, life properly.

Today’s picture is a case in point.  You might look at it to start with and ask, “Why is there a rack for glasses that has the glasses standing upright?”  It would be a good question.  The truth is that the actual rack is suspended from beneath a cabinet with the glasses hanging downward, as you might expect.  But, I was laying on the floor shooting up at the rack when I took the picture. It is so easy to have the wrong perspective on things!

I wonder how often we look at things incorrectly, thinking our perspective is right, when it is really quite skewed?  I’m sure it happens more often than any of us would like to admit.

Try to keep your perspective straight this week.  It’ll make your week go more easily and you won’t be nearly as stressed when the end of the week rolls around.  All this stuff that goes on is temporary!!!!  As that old saying goes, “This, too, shall pass!”

Keeping Things in Perspective

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1943, the world’s largest office building was completed.  It covers a total of 34 acres, has 17 miles of hallways and is found in Washington, DC.  It is known as The Pentagon.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: when she died in 1967, writer Dorothy Parker left  most of her estate to civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr.  She left her ashes to writer Lillian Hellman, who reportedly never claimed them!

Perspective

I call today’s photo, “Perspective”.  There is nothing about this photo that is really good technically, but I like what it illustrates for me – something that I needed to be reminded of today.

I took this picture a couple weeks back when I went out and was desperate to shoot something!!!!  One of the things that I’ve read many times is to change the level or perspective from which you take a picture for a change of pace.  So, as I was standing in the train tracks, I decided to put my camera down on one of the railroad ties and turn on the shutter timer.  This picture is one of the outcomes of that experiment.

But, like I said, this picture is all about what it is communicating.  Notice how some things are clear and others fuzzy?  Isn’t life like that?!  You look at things up close (the things that look like metal bolts toward the foreground of the picture) and they look huge, menacing, and like they could crush you.  In reality, they weren’t all that big, but the perspective and their closeness to the lens makes them appear that way.  Often, the things that frighten us so much aren’t really all that big – but they are very close to us and to what we’re doing at the moment.

Notice also how the rails converge in the distance, as if the tracks end right there?  That’s also similar to life – we can’t see the future and where it leads, and often it looks like things are closing in on us.  The truth?  They’re not converging at all…the continue right on down the train bed, but we can’t see it in the picture because of the lack of perspective.

It’s important to keep perspective in photography, but even more in life!

In life, as in photography, perspective is everything....

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1966, arguably the greatest rock band ever, the Beatles, performed live at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, CA.  Sadly, it would be their last scheduled live appearance before they disbanded in 1970.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: gray whales migrate more than 12,000 miles every year – farther than any other mammal, though some birds migrate farther.

Ah, Perspective

A lot of life revolves around perspective.  There’s a saying that “Life is what you make of it.”  Another saying is “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.”  Those both deal with perspective!  One person can have something bad happen and they see only the bad (the lemons), while someone with a different perspective on life sees the lemons just as clearly, but they figure out what they can do with what they’ve got to work with…and they make lemonade.

During WW2, an Austrian neurologist/psychiatrist by the name of Viktor Frankl, was in  a Nazi concentration camp.  He later wrote his best-selling book, Man’s Search for Meaning, in which he spoke of his experiences and observations.  It’s a fascinating book with some great insights, but one that stuck with me was his analysis of why some people survived the camps and why others didn’t survive.  His conclusion had a lot to do with perspective: those who survived believed that they still had something they were meant to do in life – and it gave them the ability to endure the horrors of camp life.  Those who died lacked that perspective.

We simply have different ways of looking at things.  Some of that is due to our background experiences, our upbringing, our belief systems and our general temperament. When it comes to physical things, perspective can vary just simply because of size.  To a tall person who can see what’s on top of the refrigerator the world looks different than for a person who finds that the refrigerator towers over them.

There are so many aspects to photography that it is amazing.  It is such a wonderful “get-away” for me and I find it endlessly fascinating.  One of the biggest mistakes that regular photo-takers make (and I include myself in that group!) is to always take pictures while standing.  There’s nothing wrong with taking photos when you’re standing, but if you kneel down, lay down, climb up on a ladder, etc., you see the world differently and the lens/picture tell a different story.

I took today’s picture while I was laying on my belly at Yorty Creek at nearby Lake Sonoma.  When you look at it, you’d never know that between where the flowers end and the hills beyond begin, there is an inlet from the lake that is probably 30-40 yards wide! The deep blue of the sky is due to my circular polarizing filter.  Perspective…it can change everything!

 

Perspective changes everything...

 

ON THIS DAY IN HISTORY: in 1996, an IBM computer by the name of Deep Blue, handily defeated world chess champion Gary Kasparov for the first time.  It was the first victory ever for a computer against the champion using regular tournament rules.

TRIVIA FOR TODAY: Proxima Centauri is the nearest star (outside of our own solar system) to the earth, but it is so small it cannot be seen without a telescope.