A Wild Fourth

Of course Independence Day is not complete without a fireworks picture. This year, I actually had my very own tripod! No makeshift lens hoods made out of chips ahoy cookie containers, no propping up my camera with a phone and a wallet. When everything was set up though, the smoke had to ruin my fun.

Today was just one of those days. The ones where something can’t possibly go off without a hitch. I woke up with a migraine, so I went back to bed. Sleep nor medicine worked so I was desperate. A short trip to the 7-11 and a can of rockstar energy (I know, I know. BAD) later, I was feeling all hyped up and ready to go.

I had a few hours to spare before making the trip downtown for fireworks. So I browsed tumblr and twitter until I saw one particular tweet from my city’s fire department. Apparently, right in front of my home, there was a vehicle fire. I grabbed the camera and ran out the door. 

The heat, even across the street, was intense. I felt like I was right in the midst of a bon fire. The fire was eating up the bark, melting the light fixture right between the two trees that were on fire.

Not even the fire extinguishers on sight worked. Once they stopped spraying, the fire fought back.

I think the firefighters that responded were a little amazed at the size of the fire. They used up all of their resources, forcing them to pack up their truck and move to the fire hydrant.

And it wouldn’t be a fire without the whole neighborhood coming out to watch.

A row of iPhones lined the fence. Videos and pictures were taken. People pulled over, parked their cars and secured their own spot in the gawking line.

Firefighting with an audience. I hoped at the time we would all start applauding their hard work when they finished.

Then one of the gawkers looked at me and asked, “are you a journalist?”

I guess it’s a legitimate question when you’re the only one there holding a DSLR and a 300 mm lens in a crowd of iPhones.

When I said yes, there was that look. That look I always get. It’s a mix of “Wow, I’m impressed” and “Wow, please don’t talk to me.”

This happened in a rehabilitation center’s parking lot. Luckily, the fire was contained away from any buildings. No evacuations took place. There were workers there, however, who seemed pretty annoyed with the entire situation.

This fourth I got more fireworks than I expected. I’m thankful for our firefighters. I’m thankful for all our public service people.

Have a safe holiday, everyone!

In the middle of winter, there is spring

I was given a homework assignment from my journalism professor to go out and describe things in various ways. Listing items, and describing them with verbs and adjectives. Finding an aspect. Reacting to a thing. My only limitation was doing this in a single room.

And what better room to describe than the Geyser Conservatory at Manito Park? It’s a special place to me. It calms me down and it makes me happy. It provokes my allergies in which every spring and summer I regret. The air is humid, the fans are humming, and the colors refracting in my eyes are vibrant and luscious. A retina screen on a macbook pro can’t ever compare to this lively beauty.

 

Panorama I took with my phone. This isn’t even the full view.

I walked into the conservatory frozen to the bone. The windchill was hovering around -18 degrees Fahrenheit. In fact on my walk from the bus stop a man looked at me, bundled up with a scarf over his face he said, “you’re being as foolish as I?”

Of course. I wanted to do my homework assignment.

The fresh air and the smell of green welcomed me as I opened the glass doors. Tulips and lilies greeted me. Unfortunately, the smell of pollen greeted me and the sneezing began.

While I let my camera warm up, I shed off my coat and my sweater, my scarf and my hat. What aspect was I going to focus on? How could I describe things? I’ve been sitting on this bench and nothing was coming to me. So I just started taking photos. I did what I normally did when I came here.

This flower’s petals remind me of tissue paper.

All the thoughts swirled in my mind. “These plants look like fire.” “I totally get why this plant is called ‘Bird of Paradise’ it looks just like one!” And that aspect question? Why not describe this room from the perspective of a macro lens? Everyone has an idea what a greenhouse looks like, but not everyone takes notice of the smallest things. At least with my camera, I’ve come to love the little hairs on plants’ petals and stems. I like seeing pollen looking like powder. The veins in petals resemble my own. In fact, plants look a lot like humans, from veins to hairs. They’re worn and torn just like us.

This little ramen noodle looking thing is no larger than my thumb. I walked passed this thing four times before noticing it.

I guess these details are why I enjoy macro. There’s much much more to see than we do at a glance. Taking up macro has made me more observant. And I believe that knack is something truly needed in a time when our attention spans are shortening so quickly.

Overall, I am so thankful for this conservatory. It allows me to practice my hobby. It can be -20 degrees and I can still walk into this little piece of paradise and be warm. I can see the cacti and still wish to never fall in their beds of spines.

 

It’s my small slice of happiness.