Expensive Tastes

Digital illustration: The Jeweled WhatsitMy magpie nature challenges me. I don’t see any particular inherent problem with being attracted to shiny objects or distracted by what sparkles and catches my wandering, curious, childlike attention. Most of the time, anyway. But when it comes to how I respond to those attractions and distractions, I think I’m pretty weak-willed. I’m easily enchanted by the handsome and impressive, the glimmering and magical Stuff that catches my eye.

What is complicated is not that I like such things, nor even that I waste many a waking hour on admiring them. It’s when I covet them. When I spend resources more precious than my pining glances on them. When I fill up space in my home, my bank account, or my heart with them that would be far better spent on more substantial things. Love. Sharing. Living.

I hope that recognizing the flimsy character of such tinfoil treasures as most Things are is at least a healthy step toward not letting myself be led too far astray by them. But there is always danger in admiring any sort of tempting prettiness. My inventory of belongings is proof enough, especially when I go about tidying the house and come to the end of the day with boxes or bags full of books, clothes, kitchenwares, electronic devices, decorative objects, or any other kind of trinkets that are no longer so shiny and have fallen not only out of my favor but completely off my memory’s radar. Perhaps what I need to do is to train myself to look at such tempting collectibles as catch my eye with a magical pair of glasses that allows me to see how short their lifespan of use and pleasure will be, and how little the return on time, money, and energy I spend on them can possibly amount to in real terms. My lifetime’s garage sale value must be worlds smaller than what I invested to amass all of the frivolous wonders that ended up in it.

…What was I saying there? I just happened to look out the window as a dazzling butterfly tumbled past, and of course I had to follow it, and then that made me notice something red and glittery off in the distance…

The Hooey Decimal System

photoWhen I sort and edit photos, it helps if I can create categories and subcategories that will help me to find and use them after the fact. If an event or occasion is short and simple in the relative sense of such things, the name of the event or occasion itself may suffice as filing ID, but what of things like our summer road trip that encompass 5 weeks, 6000 miles, a dozen states, 2 countries, 3 music conferences, a dozen members of the immediate family, a half-dozen motels and hotels, and ever so much more?

What I tend to do is create an all-encompassing title that all photos will bear, identifying them as part of the larger expedition, and then putting them into files and sub-files that clarify the who-what-when-where-why-&-how of them. This helps me have at least a slight hope of locating any single shot or group of shots from among the multitude that remains even after I’ve culled a multitude more. It also reminds me of what things became, either because of my continuing interest in them or by natural default of recurrence on the way, thematic in the event.

Not surprising, then, that this extended road trip would have obvious and substantial files of many very familiar subjects. To be sure, there are a quantity of such old favorites of mine that any moderately frequent or attentive visitor to this blog could easily guess. Given my blog header, I can start with my fondness for rusty, rustic old things (like me, naturally), mechanical bits and industrial loveliness. There are hints in that image, as well, of my magpie adoration of all things shiny-metal, glass, water, jewels, plastic and any other thing that glints to catch my avid eye.photoMy many obsessions also appear in nature: flora, fauna, sea, sky and stone. If there’s a noticeable cloud formation or special kind of light I am lured to admiration of it. Insects draw me like, well, the proverbial flame-drawn moth. I’m an ignorant admirer of all sorts of vehicles that strike me as different or novel when it comes to my everyday experience, so there are always photos in my stash of cars and trucks, boats and trains, heavy equipment and the slightest, lightest personal transport other than feet. Feet, for that matter, can make perfectly entertaining objects of my camera’s affections, since people in general are also on my list, and character-full feet or quirkily clad ones or ones that by position tell a story ought to make marvelous image sources any time.photoIn the case of human subjects, I do have something of a restrictive love, however. When I know the subjects of my documentation, I’d usually rather be interacting with them, so often, the camera sits idle and forgotten unless I have some sort of mandate to shoot. If I don’t know the people, I am bound by respect for their privacy almost as much as by my shyness not to photograph them at all. So aside from crowd shots and unidentifiably altered distant views, I’m not likely to include too many people in my panoply of for-art photographs.photoWhere people congregate or what people have left behind, that’s all fodder for my imagination, though. I love buildings–the older or odder, the better–and their endless details, and whether they are homes or hospitals, offices or auditoriums, farm sheds or factories, they all have stories to tell. Ultimately, I suppose, that’s the overarching guide to my photographic peregrinations just as much as to my poetry and essays and drawing and every other expressive form of art I attempt: I am trying to discern, guess, or invent the stories behind those things I’ve seen.

There are, you know, endless stories just waiting to be told.photo

Pop Peacock

Count me among the millions enamored of those strange birds Mother Nature garbs in the most exotic finery yet makes the comic relief when it comes to songbird status. Peacocks are hardly the scaredy-pants of the menagerie, but you’d never guess it when you hear their guttural squawks of Help! Help!! across the way. From what I’ve seen, this propensity for sounding the alarm does in fact make them rather handy gatekeepers for herd and flock, but as for any timidity, that seems to be far outweighed by their curiosity, which instead makes them as bold as their colors would imply.

digital artwork

The Love Song of Alfred J. Peacock

All of this makes them quite fascinating to me, and not only so because of my persistent attraction to all things gloriously colorful and iridescent. It also, serendipitously, makes them relatively approachable when they don’t feel threatened, so besides being photogenic they are also photograph-able. So I have a small but nice collection of peacock portraits and closeups of their dramatically beautiful details from which I can make playful peacock artworks. I share here a trio of my ‘recombinant peacock’ digital pieces using the same elements I’ve shot to create slightly different effects.

digital artwork

Psychedelic Peacocks

The peacocks gave their tacit permission. And I, magpie-type bird that I am, can’t help but oblige. Help! Help!! Help!!!

digital artwork

Peacock Moire