Comfort Zone = Cop-Out

The ocean in my memory

We spent the weekend at the coast and this truly is my happy place. It is the place that holds my heart, sweeps me into bliss and makes me feel safe. It’s my church. I always feel creative at the beach. I want to build sandcastles, write poetry, read classic novels, and paint. I did some of that–wrote poetry yesterday but today was “clean the house and drive 4.5 hours home” day…so I thought, “what am I going to blog today?” Hmmm…my fallback is my photography. I’m a photographer because I earned my MFA in Photography therefore, I should be a photographer, right? But, what if painting is calling me? Well, I didn’t have time to paint today so I leaned back on what I know and didn’t “create” something new. It feels like a cop-out because I didn’t exercise my creative mind. But, I still captured something I love, something that soothes my soul and something I’m proud of…even if it was captured with my iPhone (not my DSLR).

You have to be gentle with yourself too.

Lucy and Mr. Bean Clean a Camera

You know those physical comedians like Mr. Bean who crack you up at how exaggerated they are and how utterly nonsensical the situation they get themselves in seems?  Well, this morning I was Lucille Ball all over the place, but instead of melting into a puddle and bawling, I totally Mr. Beaned it and walked away as if there was nothing too see behind me (as the house was burning down).

This morning I was preparing my camera and lenses for a photo shoot this afternoon.  I had my primary camera at the beach all summer so I figured there was surely sand in every crack so it was due for a good cleaning.  I was so pleased with myself as I pulled out my lens baby and my lintless lens paper and cleaned all of the lenses and filters and brushed the dust off my camera.  However, as I was removing a lens from the camera body I thought, hmmm, maybe I should dust off the sensor real quick with this dusty lens baby brush I just used all over the outside of my filthy camera body, BRILLIANT!  Cue the clown music.

I put my 85mm lens on and looked through the camera—WHAT THE HELL?!  There’s dust and even a stray bristle like the kind that come off a cheap paintbrush all over my sensor, I felt nauseous.

Surely, all I need to do is open it up and blow on it now, that should do it.  Nope.

Imagine this, I’m wearing my lintiest cotton bathrobe as I feverishly blow, and now wrap Qtips up with lint-free lens paper and rub them wildly on my sensor…then replace my lens and gasp, ACK!  It’s WORSE!  Holy shit!  I have to leave for this photo shoot in 30 mins.  Maybe I should take a break and eat something, that will clear my head.

Egg sandwich consumed.

Now I’m googling “cleaning your Canon sensor” because I have plenty of time to figure this out.

By now you’re wondering (among other things) don’t you have another camera body you can use?  You’re a professional, right?  YES, duh, of course I have my back-up camera that’s missing a battery that I totally forgot about ordering.  No big deal.  This has been my “go-to” back up camera for a while but quite honestly, I’ve never needed because my camera is AMAZING and has never let me down…too bad that hasn’t gone both ways, sorry camera.

The flail continued even after I read the very helpful website on how to clean your sensor at home (step 1, order these exact materials)…then did the opposite and made a bloody mess of my sensor.  It was a like a techno crime scene.

One thing you have to understand about a photographer’s primary camera is that its an extension of your own hand.  You know the buttons, you know how to set it up with barely a glance, you know the feel of it.  Your back-up camera is like a clumsy teenage sex scene—awkward, unfamiliar but the job gets done.  Sigh, crap, I guess I’ll bring both.

On the way to the shoot I get the brilliant idea to buy some canned air—it just might blow all that shit off my sensor!  (FYI, the UPS store and Harris Teeter grocery store do NOT have canned air so don’t waste your time.  Also, Walgreens has tons of stuff I need and didn’t even know it.)  I am going to shock you now and tell you that the canned air was semi-successful and I may be editing out some spots out but the images are lovely.

Even Lucille and Mr. Bean get lucky sometimes.

PS. I’m sending my camera body off to be cleaned properly now.

PPS. My husband just read this from the other side of the world and is probably snorting a laugh and shaking his head at me…he loves me.

Can You Take Me to Agra?

Selfie with young girl in Delhi Station

Another rookie move, I thought I was “so hip” ordering an “Uber” driver to my Delhi hotel.  I gave the concierge a confident smile as I walked passed him with my luggage as he asked if I needed him to arrange transport today, “No, I have arranged my own transport, thank you.”

“Namaste, will you drive me to Agra?” I say to my punctual Uber driver. “Where? AGRA?!” he laughs…”too far, not uber!” “Oh, how about the train station?” “which one?” “Um, crap, any station that has a train going to Agra?” “You don’t have ticket?” “Um, no” “ok, get in.”

So, my kind driver took me to what I’ll call the main train station in Delhi and told me what to do, “ignore everyone who offers you a ride and ONLY speak with the ‘nice’ people who are at the ticket counter.” He was right; they were nice and treated me with such kindness. When they saw me standing in line, a man pulled me out of the long line and brought me into the office (where the employees sit) and told me exactly what time to wait in line for a seat on a train going to Agra. So, now I wait around, to wait again in line, to buy a ticket, to wait for a train…seriously? I’m just happy to have a plan.

Did I mention that on the way to the station I saw goats, cows,  monkeys and wild pigs on the side of the road? This is crazy, too bad my kid will never believe me since I, once again; don’t have photographic proof of my animal sightings!

I’m trying to look inconspicuous, like a well-traveled person would look—very purposeful yet casual–as I melt in million degree heat in a crowded, smelly station. I’m starting to think that I must be extraordinarily beautiful because everyone stares and points at me…yeah, that must be it. The sweat is literally running down my legs and back, its toasty here. I look at my phone again, only 40 more minutes before I can wait again, awesome.

I finally have my ticket and now I have to wait another 2 hours for my train. I figured out exactly where to go, I got some water and now I found a place to stand. Oh great, now I have to go to the bathroom, well, it had to happen, my first stop in a public toilet. I held it as long as possible…there’s no more holding back. I’ve traveled all over Europe, pee’d over holes in Bosnia, France and plenty of times in the woods, why am I anxious about this? Just go! I walk into the women’s toilet and the pungent odor hits my senses. I can’t accurately or properly articulate the rank smell but it’s enough to say that even after I wrapped my scarf around my entire head, I began to dry heave…

Back to the waiting…as I stood near the ‘women and children room’ (didn’t enter because, quite frankly, it was hot as hell and the air wasn’t moving in that space), several young women asked to take a selfie with me. I’m starting to wonder if I’m plastered all over India Facebook by now…and people are probably wondering, “who is this American?” I insisted on taking several of my own selfies with each person who took my photo—you can see a few favorites here. I must admit, I had a blast and it was a nice change from the toilet funk and the boredom of waiting. Finally, my train is here, off to Agra!


Selfie with Woman in Delhi Station