Sunday, April 28, 2013

What if you just turned off the TV?

Just turn it off, Graffiti in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
32mm, 1/100 sec @ f3.8, ISO 400, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]
No, really.  What if you turned off the TV?

    Not - watch less of it.

    Not - just keep it on "in the background".

    Not - save it only for your favorite shows.

    Not - play it back from a DVR and therefore skip through the ads, on your own schedule.

    Not - only catch up on the news.

What if you just turned it off, and never turned it on again?

    "Oh, that's just not possible.  Why in the world would I do that?"

Ah, but it is.  At first I didn't think so either.

I knew I never really liked watching the tube.  For me, it was all consuming.

My wife, however, really could have it on in the background, and still do other things, like quilting, embroidery, and amazingly to me, even read a book.  Right there on the sofa, while the TV is blaring away.

But me?  I just could not multitask in this situation.  If the TV was on, I was watching.  Even stupid shows.  Mindless, lowest-common-denominator stuff.

And then one day, it just happened.

The TV was turned off, and it was never turned on again.  I credit my wife for this decision.

The TV wasn't evil to her; just a tool, like the internet.  But I guess she too noticed it somehow had become a time sink.  And so, when I came home from work one day, the TV was off.  After dinner, the TV stayed off.  And it was never turned on again.

And instead, in the evening, after an unbelievable home-cooked vegan meal (I am such a lucky man), we tend to read now.  And during the day, and on weekends, we have more free time to pursue our interests, or spend time outside in nature.

So did turning off the TV profoundly change our lives?  I'd say, "yes and no".

"No," because all we did was turn off the TV.  Anyone can do it.  In fact all you really have to do is not turn it on.  So really, it is the art of just saying "no."

And "Yes," because we actually did it.  The intention was made, and the decision followed.  Bravo.

And what I realize is, this is something that can be applied to any part of your life.  You really are in control of your life.  In this case, where and how you choose to spend your free time.

And if you can control that aspect of your life ... what other changes do you long to make?  Perhaps with the additional quiet time now available to you, there will be more time for introspection and reflection.

And this can allow you to create the life that you have always wanted.  Or just follow your nose to see what the next surprising decision might be.

Just by turning off the TV.



Tuesday, February 12, 2013

On Fearlessness

Don't Fall, Tel Aviv, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
28mm, 1/500 sec @ f3.5, ISO 100, -0.3 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Stop!  Don't Jump!  Or Slip and Fall!  Or get accidentally pushed over the edge!

Do you ever have that feeling of vertigo when you get near the edge of a top floor on a tall building?  What is that exactly?  I'm not sure, but it does lead me into my topic today.

And that is fear, and its alternative, fearlessness.  It's something I've been struggling with a little just under the surface of my everyday existence.  

Things going well, life arranged as one had planned, financial situation comfortable, family situation wonderful, etc. etc.  Pretty much the definition of happiness.  And yet there is the small tingle of underlying fear.  Nothing grave.  Just that lingering worry that at any instant, something beyond your control could completely topple your well organized life.  A major illness, or an accident, or a financial scandal, etc.  (I know, this is the kind of problem many people, facing real tangible crises and challenges, would like to have.)

I think these fears are common, but my sense is they are preventing deep, abiding inner peace and contentment.  This morning I received this article on fearlessness by one of my favorite spiritual authors, Thich Nhat Hanh.   My plan is to reflect on it and see to what extent I can work on addressing this underlying fear.  We'll see how it goes.

Oh, and have no fear ... no flowers were hurt during the photo shoot ;-)



Friday, February 08, 2013

Clowning Around

Clowning Around, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
72mm, 1/500 sec @ f5.5, ISO 100, -0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I was walking around seeing the bubbles coming from somewhere, so I figured there must be one of those machines somewhere shooting out soap bubbles.  Well, in a way I guess there was.  Only this one was wearing a clown suit and using two giant fly swatters.  Pretty clever.

This was in the finish area of the 2012 Honolulu Marathon.  Everyone was hot, sweaty, thirsty, and tired, but this guy managed to bring a smile to people's faces.  Who doesn't love a clown?

So the next time you or someone else you know needs a little cheering up, break out that rubber nose and start clowning around.  Laughter really is the best medicine and pick-me-up.



Thursday, February 07, 2013

Moon Rise

Moon Rise, Berchtesgäden, Germany, September 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
225mm, 1/100 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

It was a beautiful crisp morning, and this photo was taken right outside our hotel.  We were very lucky to have such nice weather.  And officially, it's a moon set, not a moon rise.

But as happy as I am with this photo, it is not really why I brought you here.  Instead, I think you will be amazed by this Moon Rise video below.  Simply amazing.  And here is the description about the video:

Full Moon Silhouettes 
Video Credit & Copyright: Mark GeeMusic: Tenderness (Dan Phillipson)

Explanation: Have you ever watched the Moon rise? The slow rise of a nearly full moon over a clear horizon can be an impressive sight. One impressive moonrise was imaged two nights ago over Mount Victoria Lookout in WellingtonNew Zealand. With detailed planning, an industrious astrophotographer placed a camera about two kilometers away and pointed it across the lookout to where the Moon would surely soon be making its nightly debut. The above single shot sequence is unedited and shown in real time -- it is not a time lapse. People on Mount Victoria Lookout can be seen in silhouette themselves admiring the dawn of Earth's largest satellite. Seeing a moonrise yourself is not difficult: it happens every day, although only half the time at night. Each day the Moon rises about fifty minutes later than the previous day, with a full moon always rising at sunset.



Wednesday, February 06, 2013

Stud Muffin

Stud Muffin, Ewa Beach, Oahu, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
105mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.3, ISO 560, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Perhaps not the photo you were expecting from the title?

Trust me, this old man (I think he's 15 years old or something) truly is a stud muffin.  As in $500 stud fees.  I'm not kidding.  We spoke with the owner when we were visiting our daughter in Hawaii.

So what do they say -- beauty is in the eye of the beholder?  Apparently so.  Beauty, and some earning potential ;-)



Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Dancing Sunset

Dancing Sunset, Tel Aviv, Israel, February 2013, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/30 sec @ f13, ISO 1000, -0.3 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I'm not sure if you can easily see it in the photo, but look closely where the waves are crashing on the rocks, and you'll see the sunset dancing in the wave spray.  Cool.

But really I just wanted to use this photo to segue into this cool video I received a while ago of a sun that is truly dancing.  Now this is some amazing photography.  Note that this 17 second movie actually represents 4 hours of time-lapsed photography of this coronal mass ejection.






Monday, February 04, 2013

Before ... and After

Wild Stallion, Jaffa, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 50mm lens, 
1/15 sec @ f1.8, ISO 1600, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Now that is some impressive graffiti.  Certainly a talented artist made this mural on the side of a concrete bulding.  And I love how the artist ignored the depth and material changes in his "canvas".  I think it is really impressive.

Now if you take a look at the photo below, you will see what the building looks like without the mural/grafitti.


Now you might think this is a "Before and After" comparison, and it is.  However, the second shot is the "after".  Yes, for some reason, the building owner (I assume) decided to paint over the mural with this really attractive grey paint ;-)

Now I don't begrudge the owner doing whatever he thinks is needed.  Nor am I lamenting the loss of that great Wild Stallion mural/grafitti.  No, my point is that you must not assume things will always remain as they are.  Everything is impermanent.

That's not good or bad, it just is what it is.  So seize the day, and make your art while you still can.   Tomorrow, who knows?  Your mural may be lost, but everyone who has seen it will be the better for it.  And now look what you have -- another blank canvas.  What more could an artist hope for?

Sunday, February 03, 2013

Catch It ...

Catch It, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, March 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/1600 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Catch it ... and then let it go.  You must if you wish to ride it.

I love this shot, with the wind so clearly whipping the waves in the back of the frame.

This was a red-flag day, and you had better know what you were doing to be out in the water.

But if you have the skill, and the guts, you might just have some fun.

Don't cling.  Roll with it.  Go with the flow.  You know what works.  And what doesn't.

Saturday, February 02, 2013

The Unfurling

The Unfurling, Akaka Falls, Big Island, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 720, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Are you managing and controlling all aspects of your life?  Checking off your to do list?  Ensuring each day is crackerjack-full of productive activities?

Or are you letting your life unfurl before your own eyes?  Are you open and receptive to opportunities that might just be around the next corner?  Are you leaving space -- precious space -- during your day for something magnificent to unfurl?

We've been conditioned by time management experts and self-help gurus to shape our lives to fit our preconceived notion of success ... only to realize later in life that we may well have been sold a bill of goods (quite literally).  

What would our life be like if we followed our nose to see just what opportunities were ever-present that ignited our creative spirit, or touched the depths of our soul, or let us express our deepest compassion.

Life has its own way of unfurling, and will do so quite nicely without any help from us, thankyouverymuch.  Can we learn (or unlearn) to accept that unfolding, and consider what is the wisest response to each situation?  

You will be surprised the degree of peace that can arise from that unknowing, that lack of control.  Indeed, it is our desire to control our world that introduces tremendous stress and suffering (when things inevitably don't follow what we had in mind).  

So resign today from your envisioned job as master of the universe.  And watch the miracle of life unfurl all on its own.  And then ... be at peace.





Friday, February 01, 2013

Caught You

Shades 'o Green, Waimea Valley, North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 300mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 180, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Are you conspicuous or inconspicuous?  Do you like to stand out or let yourself fade into the background?  There's no right or wrong answer.  Sometimes either action is required.

But I would make one recommendation.  Ask yourself what your motivation is.  What is driving the decision?  The particular situation?  Or the ego?

And if the latter, consider trying the alternative approach.

My observation is the ego can get you into some trouble.  It might just get you caught.  Camouflage is an excellent evolutionary development.  Give it a try, especially whenever you see the ego looking for some extra attention.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Stop Counting

Time to Stop Counting, Big Island, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
76mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 640, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I came across this T-shirt while strolling through Kona center on the Big Island with my family.  It made me chuckle.  And think.

I really don't think of myself as being as old as my birthday would indicate.  After all, it's just a number.  Rather meaningless, actually, when you realize the standard deviation around average life expectancy.




Kinda like dog years.  Those never mapped very well either, as far as I could tell.

They say you are as young (or as old) as you feel.  I think that is absolutely true.

So in case anyone asks, I'm 33 years old (and that's actually quite a bit older than I've been in the past). Yes, I'm a bit more mature lately.  But not too much.

And if you want to apply some other yardstick to yourself,  perhaps it's a good idea to use dog years for your age.  That way you are sure to be far from "average" ... in fact, you'd be well off the charts ;-)


Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Impressed?

Impressed, Big Island, Hawaii, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
78mm, 1/30 sec @ f5.6, ISO 1600, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So are you?  Impressed, I mean.

No, not about the photo.  Although I have to tell you I really like this shot.  I was walking by an art studio that was closed, and saw this through the window.  What you might find surprising is that the piece is actually facing away from you.  It's the "negative" if you will.  And I really like the textures and the light.

But I was talking about you.  Are you "impressed?"

You know, with preconceived notions, parental biases, cultural taboos, and the like.  I would be willing to bet that you are, even if you can't discern them (much like the proverbial fish who can't see the water).  So the question isn't whether you can be completely unbiased or objective.  But rather are you tuned into detecting your biases before they cause you or others any suffering?

Take another look that the photo.  Imagine that is your impression.  And see how there is no person there now.  Imagine you have "stepped back" from the impression you just made, and now you can walk around it and truly examine it.  Now you can look objectively at both your perfections and your flaws.  And decide where you want to change, to grow, to improve yourself.

That's all we can do.  One day at a time, one step at a time.  And if we are guided by compassion, rather than ego ... well, then we just might make some progress.

And truly, I tell you, that would be impressive!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

What is your gift?

It's a Gift, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 2013, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
85mm, 1/80 sec @ f5, ISO 100, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Walking along the streets of Tel Aviv recently, and what did we come across?  Three colorful statues on a balcony appearing to sing to the folks on the street below.  Quirky?  Yes.  Unnecessary?  Perhaps.  Worthless?  Heck no.

It's a gift.  Something unique and compelling, that makes you wonder and think.  Why is it there?  What does it mean?

So what's your gift?  To the world.  To yourself.

No one else can say what it should be.  If you haven't found it yet, keep looking.  It's there, waiting for your discovery.  And the onlookers below are curious.  Just what are you all about?  Time to belt out your song for all to hear.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spice things up

Spice Things Up, Carmel Market, Tel Aviv, Israel, October 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 50mm lens, 
50mm, 1/30 sec @ f1.8, ISO 140, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

In a rut?  Doing the same thing over and over again?

Maybe it's time to spice things up.  Try something brand new.  Surprise your partner or your friend.  They have expectations on how you will behave -- see if you can catch them off guard.

Life's too short to be boring or predictable.  And how will you grow if you never stretch the boundaries of your behavior.  Why not challenge your habits once a week?  I'm willing to bet some of the new things you try will become your favorites.

Not all of them, of course.  But that would be too predictable and boring too.  Gotta keep everyone, including yourself, guessing.

Enjoy the change.  You know what they say ... "Variety is the spice of life."  How true!

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Too much drama

Storm Clouds Brewing, Herrenchiemsee, Germany, September 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
27mm, 1/500 sec @ f3.5, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Check out those clouds.  Looks like a big storm is brewing.  Better batten down the hatches; board up the windows.  Just listen to the folks on the news, they'll tell you how bad things might get.

Or you perhaps could realize that I tweaked a few settings on my post-processing, and just made things look this dramatic.  Nothing unusual going on.  The sun will still rise tomorrow.

It's easy, if we're not careful, to get caught up in the "drama" of a given situation.  Over analyze all the possible outcomes, and worry about the worst ones.  But that's lots of needless hand-wringing.  Better to not let yourself get "hooked" by the drama.  Carry every situation as lightly as possible.  Be free to let go of any worrisome thoughts.  Stay present with what is really happening, and just take things as they come.

So what if you see a sky that looks something like what you see in this picture?  I'd just grab my umbrella.  Simple as that.


Saturday, January 26, 2013

I'm happy ... Are you?

Happy Boy, Königsee, Bertchesgäden, Germany, September 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
180mm, 1/640 sec @ f5.3, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Are you happy?  As happy as this dog?

This guy just seems so content with his big stick.  He's smiling at the camera.

You know what they say ... you're as happy as you make your mind up to be.

So I'd say take your cue from this happy boy, and smile, smile, smile.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Gotta Run

Gotta Run, Maui, Hawaii, March 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/100 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]


All my bags are packed, I'm ready to go ...

Heading off on a trip today, where it will be warmer, and yes, beach running will be an option.

I've been slackin' (well, at least in terms of my running), so hopefully I'll get a few long and enjoyable runs in while I'm in Israel.

But for now ... let's just say ... I gotta run!  Bye.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Like water off a duck's back

Duck's Back, Sweden, September 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/100 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Ever have someone say something to you that didn't quite sit right with you?

It might seep into your thoughts, cause you some anxiety, and create some negative energy inside you.

Or, you could just let it "roll off you like water off a duck's back."

Unless you see the comment as something worthy of your time and energy, and useful perhaps for reflection and personal growth, then I'd probably recommend the duck metaphor.

Makes life so much lighter and more blissful.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Slow Down

Slow Down, Böblingen, Germany, June 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
195mm, 1/25 sec @ f5.6, ISO 1600, 0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Our world, it seems, just keeps speeding up.

Information from anywhere on the planet now arrives in the blink of an eye.

No need to wait for the evening news.  CNN put an end to that long ago.

Want that new bauble?  Order by 3:00AM and have it at your door before 10:00AM.

And while we can't teleport ourselves across the globe, we can, at modest price, get just about anywhere in the world within 24 hours.  Something our grandparents couldn't have imagined.

It is really all very amazing.  And I'm not complaining -- really I'm not.  These can be real conveniences in our lives.  Or not.

The beauty can be found in the snail above.

For while the world seems to be spinning faster and faster, of course it is not.  You can still choose when to slow down your life.  That power remains with you no matter what new, amazing, shiny, computer/stereo/telephone/GPS/e-reader/camera/etc you happen to have in your pocket this month.

You still have the choice to slow down.  Boil some water and steep some loose herbal tea.  Grab a book and turn the pages one-by-one.  Walk to your local market, choose warm bread and fresh veggies and make a healthy, homemade meal.  Savor it over candlelight and conversation.

So pay heed to the lowly snail.  For no matter its destination, he may get there slowly, but get there nonetheless.

And there is something very satisfying and very beautiful when we make the choice ourselves to just slow down.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A simple flower

A simple flower, Bebenhausen, Germany, October 2012, Nikon D600 with DX 18-55mm VR lens, 
30mm, 1/125 sec @ f3.8, ISO 100, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

If we could see the miracle of a single flower clearly, 
our whole life would change.
-- The Buddha --

We can glance at a single flower like this and think nothing of it.  A dime a dozen.  They grow like weeds in the summer time.

But if we begin to consider the amazing nature of this flower, how its essence is held within a tiny seed, and with nothing but some dirt, a little water, and sunlight, we have this beautiful blossom, and a process for continued reproduction and evolution.

How incredibly complex the inner workings of a flower are, turning sunlight into plant energy, the interconnection between the plant's pollen, the fertilization of other flowers, and delicate dancing of butterflies and bees to carry that pollen.

It's really unfathomable.  We know there are botanists and biologists that study such matters, and certainly they can describe these complex processes in great detail. But does anyone really know how it works?  Could any of us create such a process?

No, and in that lies the miracle the Buddha refers to in the quote above.  Sit back and enjoy the show.  For every single part of the ballet and the orchestration are simply unbelievable and truly awesome.  Such gifts for each one of us.

We are truly blessed to be able to witness them.  May we open our eyes.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Eye Am Beautiful

Eye Am Beautiful, Art show in Jaffa, Israel, date, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens,
 34mm, 1/25 sec @ f3.8, ISO 3200, -0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

We were walking around Old Jaffa, and came across this enormous art show in a refurbished building in the Old Jaffa port.  The quantity and variety of art was impressive.

This one really grabbed my eye (sorry ;-)  It was much larger than life-sized, and created by zillions of little applications of color, making it look something like a grainy close-up photo.  Really cool.

And paired with this quote below, I think also quite meaningful:

"When you look and look and look into another person's eyes 
you are looking at the most beautiful jewels in the universe." 
-- Alan Watts



Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Con


The Laundry, Zikhron Ya'alov, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
200mm, 1/250 sec @ f5.6, ISO 100, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So what do you think of this photo?  Nothing special -- just some guy hanging out the laundry to dry, right?  I'm afraid you've been conned.

I looked closely at this photo, trying to remember where (and why) I took it.  It wasn't until I went back to my photo collection to find the adjoining photo (below), that I remembered that is not a real person -- just a life size photo.  Boy, look at those hands.  To me they look like the must be coming out of that window.

The Laundry?, Zikhron Ya'alov, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 135mm, 1/250 sec @ f5.6, ISO 100, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So what's the point?  Just this.

The Con game is being run everywhere.  And our senses are limited in what they can discern.  Particularly when we are expecting to see (or not see) something.  Can you keep an open mind as you go through life, and try to avoid (or at least identify) your own biased perceptions?

That person isn't who you think he is.  Nor is your neighbor.  Nor that friend that has gone off the political deep-end.  Check your own biases at the door, or the e-mail, and receive them with sincerity and honesty and openness, and then see what you can discern about their nature.  

Life is so much easier when we are not defending our positions, validating our preconceived notions, and trying to control the outcome of each interaction.   Just let it be.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Is this the best we can hope for?

Is there hope?, Jewish Quarter, Jerusalem, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
72mm, 1/800 sec @ f5, ISO 100, -0.3 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Jerusalem is a wonderful international city.  With a Jewish Quarter, a Christian Quarter, an Arab Quarter, and an Armenian Quarter.  It's fabulous to experience all of those cultures in such close proximity, and to realize it's been like that for hundreds of years.

But then you see the barricades, the metal detectors, the armed soldiers and the barbed wire. And it just makes me wonder:  Is this the best we can hope for?  Is this the best we can do?

Clearly, we are an afflicted species, and conflict has been in our history since we left the tree canopies and began to walk upright.   But at the same time, I see in my mind's eye the potential for civility, for compassion, for understanding, and for tolerance.

Thankfully, we have examples of luminaries that embody these principles and other timeless wisdom.  The Buddha, Jesus, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr., Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, and countless others.  We do have examples to emulate and to learn from.

I do believe the best is yet to come.  As a species we've come a long, long way.  We sometimes lose sight of our progress (and the daily news doesn't help).  So seek out those stories and lessons that give you the motivation to follow the trails blazed by the saints and sages.  May you be able to help light the path of love for those around you.


Friday, January 18, 2013

Sunbeams and Breakers

Sunbeams and Breakers, Tel Aviv, Israel, November 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm VR lens, 
28mm, 1/800 sec @ f5, ISO 100, -0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Magical.

Winds had been crazy in Tel Aviv earlier in the week.  It was still a little rough on the ocean, and the clouds were moving fast.

But when the clouds collided with the sun, the sunbeams appeared.  Just like magic.

It was like witnessing a miracle.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Apology

Apology, Amsterdam, Netherlands, August 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
44mm, 1/200 sec @ f7.1, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

The scale is a little hard to see, but notice the herringbone walkway at the bottom of the picture.  This is some large, and apparently intensely-felt graffiti .  I love how some of the plywood fence is left natural.   I wonder if the graffiti artist suffers like the city's most famous painter -- Van Gogh.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Not for sale

Happy Buddha, Berlin, Germany, September 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
178mm, 1/80 sec @ f5.3, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

"Happy Buddha.  Not for sale."

Well, actually it is, as you can see by the yellow tag on the bottom.  In a quirky antique shop in Berlin.

I just loved the patina along with a hint of the cherry wood desk it was sitting on.

Maybe I'll frame the picture.  Even better.  "Just look, not own."

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

If you knew ...

If you knew ..., Berlin, Germany, September 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
52mm, 1/4 sec @ f5, ISO 1600, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I love this watercolor.  If I remember correctly, it was inside the washroom at a trendy vegan restaurant we dined at in Berlin.  In fact, I'm pretty sure this is a painting of the waitress who served us.

Can't speak German?  Me neither ;-)  But according to Google translate ...

"If you knew what I know you'd be vegan."  Love it (and so true).

Monday, January 14, 2013

Water Color

Water Color, Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/100 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

My eye doctor fine tunes my prescription by dialing in lens corrections until I can read the tiny letters at the end of the hall.  When he is nearly finished, he will make small adjustments and flip between them to let me identify the best.

He'll do this by saying, "Which one is better, number 1 or number 2 [flip] ... 1 or 2 [flip]"

I think of that when switching between yesterday's post, and today's post.  Yesterday or today.  Number 1 or number 2.  Please choose whichever is better for your life.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Same Ol', Same Ol'

Same Ol', Same Ol', Amsterdam, Netherlands, May 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
69mm, 1/40 sec @ f4.5, ISO 250, 0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So how's your day going?  What are you doing?  Same ol', same ol'?

Perhaps today is the day you shake things up a bit.  Add some color to your monochrome existence.

Rather than reaching for that upper corner window, perhaps redefine success.

Instead of fitting into the cookie cutter mold, innovate and recreate.

Instead of going pre-fab, try re-hab.

Instead of watching that classic black and white movie one more time, find some roses and blossom.

Instead of counting down the days, try living the only one that counts.  Today.  Right now.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Great Escape

The Great Escape, Böblingen, Germany, July 2012, Canon PowerShot S90, 
28mm, 1/250 sec @ f2, ISO 80, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Carol had been going through the garden on slug and snail patrol, and man, it was a bumper crop.  She put all the little critters into a large pail while she was checking out the other plants.

Well check out these felons.  They are making a get-a-way.  Can you see the one in the background, well on his way to freedom (and one of our garden plants).

Sorry to say I notice the escape while it was still in progress, so these criminals were (gently) relocated to some yummy vegetation on the other side of yard.

Sneaky buggars!

Friday, January 11, 2013

Sit, Stay, Good Boy

Sit, Stay, Good Boy, Ramstein, Germany, July 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
53mm, 1/2 sec @ f5, ISO 1600, 0.3 EV, with flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I took this picture the day after we had to put Frito to sleep.  You can imagine I was missing my buddy.

I was eating dinner in some restaurant on a work trip, and the owner of this dog decided he had a good audience for a show.  The dog was very well trained, and would not move until his master told him it was OK to eat the biscuit.  The shutter speed was 1/2 second for this photo, so you can see the dog was very still.

It was great to be surrounded by other dogs after losing the best dog in the world.  You can see more pictures of Frito by clicking that link, or by visiting his Frito-a-Day blog, which is still being updated (I have lots of Frito pictures ;-).


Thursday, January 10, 2013

Sun-drenched

Sun-drenched, Böblingen, Germany, August 2012, Canon PowerShot S90, 
28mm, 1/1600 sec @ f2, ISO 80, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

We grew sunflowers in our yard here in Germany this year.  Not sure we'll do it again, but it was fun to see them finally bloom and really soak up the sun.  Not to mention the birds and the bees that liked visiting them as well.

They are sure eye-catching against a blue sky.  Love it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Raised Eyebrow

Raised Eyebrow, Ramstein, Germany, July 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
158mm, 1/40 sec @ f5.3, ISO 1400, 0.3 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

One of the great architectural features of some of the older buildings here in Germany are these eyebrow dormers.

I'm not sure if anyone builds them anymore given the significant labor in framing and roofing.  But here is where architectural aesthetics really pay dividends.

I think that is just beautiful to look at.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Flowers with Wings

Flowers with Wings, Böblingen, Germany, July 2012, Canon PowerShot S90, 
105mm, 1/640 sec @ f8, ISO 100, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Butterflies have been in short supply for the past 3 years over here in Böblingen, Germany where we currently live.  So we were happy to spot this fella, which I believe is a Peacock butterfly (aka Inachis io, male), right here in our own patio garden.

We really love to watch the beauty and delicateness of these "flying flowers".  They are magnificent.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Painted Water

Painted Water, Xanten, Germany, June 2012, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
300mm, 1/200 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0.7 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

I love how this photograph looks (to me) like an oil painting.

I was out for an evening run on a business trip and just loved how the light was hitting this small harbor of sailboats.  These are the colorful masts reflecting on the rippling water.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Pink Flamingos

Pink Flamingos, Hilton Hawaiian Village, Waikiki, Oahu, Hawaii, USA, March 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 
18-200mm VR lens, 63mm, 1/60 sec @ f5, ISO 1600, EV -0, with flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Yes, I am aware of the 1972 John Walters movie by the same title, and must confess to having even seen it in a theater (back at Johns Hopkins University).  And for a bonus, we had the director himself stop by for a Q&A session (he lived from Baltimore, MD).   Quite a treat in a very bizzarre way.

Changing topics, I must also note that on our recent home leave visit to Hawaii, the flamingos were missing in action.  I certainly hope they return soon.  They are quite a treat to see.

Saturday, January 05, 2013

Faded Shutters

Faded Shutters, Venice, Italy, February 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
27mm, 1/160 sec @ f6.3, ISO 200, EV 0, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This is a pretty dilapidated building on one of the zillion canals of Venice.  You can see the stucco and paint peeling, and I think it would be fair to say it was an unsightly building.

And yet, with a small change in perspective, I think it makes for an interesting photograph.

Sometimes, it is all about changing one's perspective in life.  Everything is relative.  If you don't like how things are, try changing the lens through which you view them.

Friday, January 04, 2013

No Shoes Please

No Shoes Please, Piccadily St., London, UK, January 2011, Panasonic DMC-ZS7, 
25mm, 1/15 sec @ f3.3, ISO 400, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

This is a magnificent hand-made rug that was on display in a shop window in London.  I can only imagine the cost!  But it sure was beautiful.

Think of the hours and hours (probably years) of hand-work to make this magnificent piece of art.  Somehow I would have a hard time bringing myself to walk on it.  At least with shoes on.

It reminds me of a Tibetan sand mandala, the whole point of which is to be both beautiful and impermanent.  Interesting how one can get hooked on the idea of permanence.  Let's call it a spectacular lesson.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Lemme Outtahere

Lemme Outtahere, Eliezer Peri underpass, Tel Aviv, Israel, January 2011, Panasonic DMC-ZS7, 
25mm, 1/40 sec @ f3.3, ISO 80, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Tel Aviv (and Jaffa, and elsewhere in Israel) has some great graffiti artists.

This underpass pillar always intrigued me, so one day when I went out for a run on the beach, I decided to end my run with this photo.

Let's just say ... there were consequences ;-)

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Playing with Fire

Playing with Fire, Lahaina, Maui, March 2011, Nikon D5000 with DX 18-200mm VR lens, 
255mm, 1/15 sec @ f5.6, ISO 200, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Playing with fire can be dangerous, but also quite enlightening and exciting, don't you think?

This picture was from a Luau that we did not even attend.  Instead, we were having dinner at Betty's Beach Café in Lahaina, Maui (great place BTW), and just happened to be there when a Luau was going on at an adjoining property.

Not bad free entertainment, if you ask me.  And another reason to always bring your camera.

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Welcome Grasshopper

Welcome Grasshopper, Valley of the Temples, Oahu, Hawaii, USA, December 2012, Nikon D600 with FX 28-300mm
 VR lens, 44mm, 1/15 sec @ f4.2, ISO 1600, 0 EV, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Perhaps I should say, "Welcome Back, Grasshopper".

I've got a new approach for this site this year.

At least one picture per day, for 365 days.  Let's see how it goes.

I hope to hear from you along the journey.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Remembering Frito (2000-2012)

Remembering Frito, Tucker Pond, Warner, NH, September 2006, HP Photosmart R817, 
Exposure 1/155 sec @ f2.8, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp  [Click on the photo to enlarge]

A tribute to the best dog ever.  RIP ... Don Frito el Bandito Crisp.

Frito, you will be missed, but forever in our hearts, memories, and ... photographs.

And speaking of photographs ... here are 100 photos to help you remember Frito and his family through the years.

Also, as I was reviewing my photo collection over the holidays, I see there are still pending Frito-a-Day photos to be posted.  I intend to do that until they run out, so you can check those out in the days to come over at Frito-a-Day.

I hope you enjoy seeing and/or remembering all of the fun times we had with Frito.

Sunday, June 17, 2012

WotD: "Scrumptious"

Gone Fishin'Böblingen, Germany, May 2011,
Nikon D5000, 35mm focal length equiv. 300mm, exposure 1/320 sec @ 5.6 ISO 200, no flash 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

OK, so maybe this isn't the best picture for a vegan to post, but hey, it's just nature.

And that is one happy-looking heron.

But this morning Carol picked this word as we dined on banana-nut waffles, covered with sliced nectarines and maple syrup.  Oh. My. God.

Even the day was a scrumptious one as well.  Carol was taking good care of me on Father's day, not that she doesn't every other day as well.

And the weather was equally scrumptious -- sunny but with periodic clouds to keep us cool, and a nice gentle breeze.

Yep, scrumptious indeed.  And yummy!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

WotD: "Sublime"

Serene and SublimeTucker Pond, Warner, NH, October 2006,
HP PhotoSmart R817, focal length 5.6mm, exposure 1/354 sec @ f4, ISO 50, no flash 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Now this is a great Word of the Day.
sub·lime /səˈblīm/
Adjective:  Of such excellence, grandeur, or beauty as to inspire great admiration or awe.
And it describes how we felt about our day as we lounged in bed, at a late brunch on the veranda overlooking our garden, reclined in lounge chairs under the shade of a cherry tree, doing nothing and simply feeling at peace and at ease with the world.  Then an afternoon run over rolling hills through the open fields and woodland trails that characterize every town in Germany.  Followed up with a home-cooked healthy and delicious vegan dinner of cuban black beans, rice and pineapple, with roasted green beans and shallots, along with a bulgar salad with cherry tomatoes and cranberries.  So perhaps you can see why the WotD is sublime.  Yes, indeed.



Friday, June 15, 2012

WotD: "Delightful"

Simply DelightfulBöblingen, Germany, May 2011,
Canon PowerShot S90, 35mm focal length equiv. 28mm, exposure 1/60 sec @ f4, ISO 80, no flash 
 © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

So it's been forever, and for that I am sorry.

It's time to re-engage with Reflections of Beauty, but I need to find an easy path back in.

So I've decided to try a Word of the Day (WotD).  And with that, a picture -- that may or may not have anything to do with that word.  We'll just have to see.

My wife Carol and I are deciding on what our WotD will be when we wake up in the morning.

So stay tuned.  At least you will get some pictures, and hopefully they will be "beautiful", even if they aren't accompanied by too many "reflections".  We'll see how things go.


Friday, January 06, 2012

Resolutions good enough to eat

I'm not that big a fan of New Year's Resolutions.

But I've adopted one which I think is going to work out well.

I suggested to my wife Carol that we try one new vegan recipe each week.  Just as a way to expand our horizons.

And the good news is she agreed, since she happens to also be the chef.


So here she is with our first new recipe.  

It was a nice pasta meal with a white wine sauce.  Smelled and tasted delicious.

See, now that is a resolution that is good enough to eat.

I'm thinking this resolution might be an easy one to keep.  Thanks Sweetie.