The Month of May


“No dog has ever said a word, but that doesn’t mean they live outside the world of speech. They listen acutely. They wait to hear a term—biscuit, walk—and an inflection they know… To choose to live with a dog is to agree to participate in a long process of interpretation—a mutual agreement, though the human being holds most of the cards.” — Mark Doty, “Dog Years”

I think I may have been a dog in a previous life. I do the same thing as Doty describes—listen carefully for certain words, separate the tone, which carries the true meaning from the content. I wait to catch the eye, to see if it lies, watch for tensed muscles, twitches, fidgeting, eyes that stray around the room or roll upwards, as mine do.

I’d actually trust someone more who is talking while looking at the ceiling. I know they are likely watching the thoughts scoot by like a school of fish, trying to time it to grab just the right one.

Conversations can be so complicated with so much information to gather. And unfortunately, unlike a dog, I don’t stay in the moment. One thought can take me off to another and another. But perhaps that is like the squirrels the dogs see outside the window, which cause them to hurtle off the couch and whine, begging to be let outside.

April is over and with it my daily bike rides and photos. So what do I do with May? Yes, May is actually National Bike Month, with more activities I can get involved in, but for me, May is also the month that I’m going to get away for a week to write, a scary prospect since all that empty time means I won’t have a [good] excuse not to produce something. If I don’t create, well, time won’t be the issue. It will be me.

And because one focus is never enough for me, I also intend to work my way through my camera manual this month, choosing one or a group of settings to work on per day.

Today I was trying out three modes – Program, Shutter Speed Priority, and Aperture Priority. All of those modes allow you to make adjustments without going fully manual. The camera still blinks at me if I have gone way off base with one of my settings.

I understand the basic principles of these camera adjustments, but I find that what I think will work in combination often does not. And the adjustments I have to make to get the shutter speed I need and have the depth of field I want often means upping my ISO to a degree I don’t want to go to, which results in a noisy image.

I’m hoping if I stick with trying this, eventually these settings will make more sense and the photos will improve. That’s the optimistic, hopeful side of me talking. In the past, I always quit my experimentation because the pictures look so awful.

Here’s an example of the interesting things that can happen when your shutter speed is too slow and you are not using a tripod. Certainly, the artsy side of me intended to do that…

Anyway, the plan is to do a daily brief post with a photo this month, which will work on both my writing and photography. If that ends up to be too much to keep up on, I’ll make some adjustments.

And so it begins…

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