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Category Archives: The Daily Post Prompt

Three-picture stories

Today’s prompt over at The Daily Post is photography-oriented, and totally captured my interest because it finally gives a name (and a sense of legitimacy) to something I already do. The topic is three-picture stories, and Daily Post contributor Michelle W. explains it like this:

WHAT IS A THREE-PICTURE STORY?

In simple and completely unhelpful terms, it’s a story told through three related images. (You’re welcome.)

Not just any three images, though — three related images designed to create a more complete sense of your subject than a single picture. Together, they capture both visuals and feel:

PICTURE ONE: THE ESTABLISHING SHOT

This is the big picture — where are we? For this shot, step back from the subject and put it in context. Think wide-angle.

PICTURE TWO: THE RELATIONSHIP

This shot starts to get at what it’s like to be in the place you’re shooting by showing subjects interacting. Often, this means people connecting with one another — talking, involved in an activity together, or just looking at the same thing — but it doesn’t need to be. Inanimate items and scenery elements can interact, too (as we’ll see below).

PICTURE THREE: THE DETAILS

The third image completes the scene by zeroing in on a detail, something you might not notice (or even be able to see) in the broader photos.

I do this. All. The. Time. Only I wasn’t doing it intentionally or even consciously. It’s only when I go back and look through the hundreds of photos I’ve taken when the hubby and I’ve been someplace cool like the Grand Canyon, or Uluwatu Temple in Bali, or the local fish pond that I notice my focus has gradually shifted from sweeping views to intimate details. I’ll share one example that happened completely by accident (click on any photo to see the full-size version).

In the coming weeks, I’ll post more three-picture stories from my archives. But I’ll also concentrate on intentionally capturing new stories, paying attention to the composition and interactions within each photo. I love photography with a purpose!

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Posted by on February 19, 2014 in Photography, The Daily Post Prompt

 

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I ain’t skeered…well, maybe a little

100_1262-001I’ve gotten in the habit over these past several months of choosing a random question to answer on “Deep Thought Thursdays” (some thoughts have been decidedly deeper than others). I’m not sure how deep this one is, but being the season of ghouls and goblins, I found a rather timely question at The Daily Post this morning, in their Daily Prompt: Fright Night.

Do you like being scared by books, films, and surprises? Describe the sensation of being scared, and why you love it — or don’t.

I’ll read a scary book (which may or may not have a lingering effect…see Tuesday’s post about It) and occasionally watch a scary movie (the hubby loves this, as he comes home from the theater with an armful of bruises where I’ve grabbed him). I can close the book or close my eyes if things get too intense. But I absolutely cannot handle scary surprises. Namely haunted houses.

I think I was about eight years old. There was a special party for all the kids who had collected money for UNICEF while trick-or-treating. My younger brother had filled his little cardboard house with donated coins, but was sick the night of the party, so I alone donned my costume and Mom and I set off. The school gym was filled with apple bobbing stations, bowls of peeled grape eyeballs and cold macaroni brains, and boatloads of cupcakes–all the things you’d expect at an elementary Halloween party. There was also a haunted house. Even at that young age, I was not fond of being scared, but I agreed when Mom asked if I wanted to go through it. I knew that with her by my side, I’d be okay.

Except when it came time to walk through the haunted house, Mom was not invited. An older girl, probably a high school student, was a guide for the haunted house, said it was just for kids, and promised she’d stay with me the whole time. I resisted, more than happy to skip the whole thing to stay with my mom and eat another cupcake, but was eventually coerced into going with the guide. Turns out other kids’ parents got to come into the haunted house. Also turns out the guide was not just a guide. She was an actor, and needed a young sidekick in a supporting role to sell the story that had been devised for this very elaborate haunted house. Way too elaborate for elementary kids. Way too realistic for young, impressionable children. Way. Too. Scary.

By the time we neared the exit, I was practically climbing up the guide to escape the hands reaching out of the darkness from all sides, no mean feat since I was simultaneously covering my ears to escape the screams and groans from the other actors and covering my eyes to escape the strobe lights and the frightening images revealed with each flash. I thought my hell had finally come to an end when the guide reached for the doorknob to let us out of the haunted house, only to find there was one last surprise. The knob was rigged to shock her, and she fell to the floor gasping with her final breath that we should leave her behind, save ourselves.

I was mad that she promised my mom to see me safely through and was now dying on the floor. I was scared to death being left to fend for myself. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. But there was no way on this earth I was touching that doorknob. Finally some other kid’s dad came bravely forward and we were free. I nearly trampled a ghost, a princess, and a pirate trying to get back to my mother, and nearly dislocated her shoulder trying to pull her out of the gym.

To this day, more than three decades later, I cannot walk through a haunted house. A couple months ago, the hubby and I went through the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussauds in London. By “went through” I mean that I ran as fast as the guide’s pace would allow, dragging the hubby in my wake. He wanted to linger and enjoy all the actors jumping out at us from dark corners. I wanted to get the hell out of there.

There was a commercial on TV the other night for a nearby theme park’s Halloween Haunt. Essentially the entire park becomes a giant haunted house. I’m not sure once you’re through the gates that there is anywhere safe to escape the “bloodcurdling horror and nightmarish madness.” Hubby asked if I wanted to go. I was instantly nauseous. Uhh, thanks, but NO. I’d rather stay home and reread It. Or maybe poke my eyes out with a stick.

 

 

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Bond of brothers

bImage courtesy of fromoldbooks.org

Barely able to see through the slits in his mask, Billy struggled to keep up with the others. Big brother Blake was leading tonight’s mission, setting the pace the other three would follow. Begging him to slow down was not an option. Blake had carefully scouted their route and rehearsed the timeline for this operation, and no deviation would be tolerated.

Besides, the older guys had all doubted his ability to see this through, and he’d already had to agree to give up half of his share of the take just to shut them up. Being personally responsible for their failure to collect as much booty as Blake anticipated was not appealing. Beatings would surely ensue. Bountiful rewards were within their reach, he just had to keep up for a little…while…longer.

BANG!

“Billy, you dumb-ass, watch where you’re going!” Blake hissed from the top of the driveway.

“But…but…I didn’t see it ‘cause-a my mask,” Billy whimpered as blood started to drip from beneath the rubber Scream face.

“Break your nose running into a truck mirror, and Mom is gonna kill me. Boy, I knew bringing you was a stupid idea.”

“But you had to bring me!  Boys in high school can’t trick-or-treat without a little brother or sister. Better be nice to me, or I won’t come next year, and you guys won’t get any candy at all.”

Blake smacked the back of Billy’s head as he fished an old napkin out of his coat pocket, hating when the little punk was right. Bending down, Blake wiped the blood off the front of Billy’s costume.

“Buck up, we’ve got two more blocks to go, and you haven’t got us nearly enough chocolate yet.”

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Tried to cram two prompts into this one story. First, I took The Daily Post‘s idea of choosing one letter, and starting every sentence of the story with that letter. Then I snuck in the third definition of Trifecta‘s word of the week, “ass.” 

 

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Daily Prompt: On the road to Orkney

orkney_mapMap from visitorkney.com

From The Daily Post:

If I could pause real life and spend some time living with a family anywhere in the world, I’d go back to Orkney in a heartbeat. I even know whose home I’d crash…Stuart, of John O’Groats Ferries, watch out!

The hubby and I were able to spend nearly two weeks in Scotland in the summer of 2012, and basically did a big loop of the country, from the southwest clockwise around to the southeast. At the northeasternmost point of our loop, we boarded a ferry and left the mainland for the islands of Orkney. We only had one day to explore, so we booked a guided day tour to maximize our sightseeing experience.

From the moment our ferry docked in the foggy, windswept harbor, I was hooked. Something about the place immediately spoke to some primal corner of my soul, long before our tour guide even introduced himself or began unveiling Orkney’s multifaceted story.

Our guide, Stuart, was not a native Orcadian, but he was married to one. As a result, he had extensive knowledge of the history, geology, geography, archaeology, people, customs, and culture of the islands. He crammed as much as he possibly could into the 10 hours we had together during the tour, and with every story he told I fell deeper in love with Orkney.

I’d dearly love to return to Orkney, to spend some time exploring and researching on my own. But at the end of the day, I’d like to crash at the home of Stuart and his wife, coaxing more anecdotes about the islands out of them, using their tales to guide my next day’s adventures.

 
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Posted by on September 30, 2013 in Monday Mix, The Daily Post Prompt, True Life

 

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Something about this picture seems familiar

readingBack on September 14, the instructions in The Daily Post‘s Daily Prompt were to “Grab the nearest book. Open it and go to the tenth word. Do a Google Image search of the word. Write about what the image brings to mind.” Ten days ago, I was afraid if I cracked open a book I might be accused of goofing off instead of unpacking and setting the house to rights, so I filed the prompt for a calmer day. Today wasn’t really calmer per se, but I have an ulterior motive for tackling this prompt now; if I write a post, I can purge the prompt from my email inbox. 🙂

I am cheating a bit, though. I am too lazy tired to get up off the sofa to go upstairs and grab a real book, so I fired up the Kindle app on my iPad, executed a fast finger swipe in the library, and opened the book that rolled to a stop at the top of the screen. The book, An Orkney Maid by Amelia Edith Huddleston Barr, begins with an introduction, so I dutifully counted ten words into that and landed on, ironically, reading

A Google Image search resulted in the above photo, supposedly from http://www.schoolimprovement.com, although I could not find it on the site for proper attribution. Of the thousands of images that popped up, this one spoke to me because that could literally be me sitting there surrounded by all those unread books. These days, I feel that about the only way I’ll get to read all the books I’ve amassed is to camp out by myself in the middle of the woods.

Over the past five years, each time I visited the States from overseas, I collected an assortment of hand-me-down books from my mom and haunted Costco in search of every new Nicholas Sparks (don’t judge) title to add to my collection. I read exactly none of them.

I was going to read lots and lots on the crossing from the UK to the US. I loaded more than a dozen new books on my Kindle, just in case the two dozen unread books already on there weren’t enough. I read exactly none of them.

A local library had a clear-its-archives book sale two weeks ago. For $10, I was allowed to stuff a cloth eco shopping bag with books. I took them at their word, and waddled out of there with twenty-two books threatening to spill out the top of my bag. I have read exactly none of them.

I signed up with BookSneeze, which gives bloggers free books in exchange for posting an honest review within 90 days. I received my first book August 26. You guessed it. I have read exactly none of it.

We won’t even discuss the five boxes of books I’ve unpacked in the past week and a half. Ninety percent of them I have not read.

Anyone have an unused acre or two of woodland I could borrow?

 
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Posted by on September 24, 2013 in How It Is, The Daily Post Prompt, True Life

 

No, I’ve got it, thanks

ask for helpThis week’s Deep Thought Thursday question was actually the writing prompt issued yesterday by The Daily Post. Is it easy for you to ask for help when you need it, or do you prefer to rely only on yourself? Why?

I am not good at asking for help. There are several possible reasons for this shortcoming, but I suspect the real answer is some combination of all of the below:

I have some control issues. It’s not that I think other people can’t do something as well, or better, than I could. I know they can. But as soon as I add something to my to-do list, I’ve also mapped out in my head exactly how I will do it and what the result will be. When I’ve given up control and turned over one of those items in the past, it’s like someone flips a switch on my personality–a pleasant, mild-mannered, don’t-sweat-the-small-stuff pacifist becomes a tense, hand-wringing, micro-managing witch with a capital B. It’s not a pleasant experience for anyone involved (anyone being, most often, the hubby–this Jekyll-Hyde transformation has never occurred at work). I don’t like who I become, and I certainly don’t like subjecting anyone to the dark side of my personality, so I very rarely ask for help.

I loathe being an inconvenience to anyone. I’m busy, you’re busy, we’re all busy. I don’t like adding to anyone else’s workload when they’ve already got a dozen balls in the air. I’ll juggle mine (and probably offer to take one or two of yours off your hands) and work myself into exhaustion rather than ask for help.

I fear looking weak or incompetent (even if no one sees but me). As a result, I have moved furniture up and down countless flights of stairs singlehandedly, I have tiled a floor with only Google by my side (I did cave and ask a sales person at Lowes to cut a couple weird shapes for me, but only after my blisters had blisters from using the tile nippers), and I have spent hours troubleshooting minor computer issues rather than enlisting assistance from others far more qualified than I. Although in reality it is probably nothing more than sheer stubbornness, I prefer to think it’s a matter of pride, a refusal to admit defeat. If I’ve tackled a project on my own, especially if it is something new and out of my comfort zone, I have an innate need to independently see it through to successful completion. Otherwise, I’d have to admit there is something I can’t do. And as long as humanly possible, I intend to work under the delusion that I can do absolutely anything I set my hand and mind to.

On the flip side, if someone sees me struggling and offers to help, I try to accept gratefully and gracefully. I mean I certainly wouldn’t want to look controlling…or lazy…or bull-headed…

 

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Daily Prompt: A to Z–The job switch

102_1171Annabel rose and peeked out the bedroom window. Barest hints of dawn were just visible on the eastern horizon. Curtains settled back into place as she turned away from the view. Days ago, she’d dreaded each sunrise, as it meant another eight hours shackled by a headset to a desk in a windowless cubicle. Eagerness was not a feeling to which she was accustomed. Finally, this morning she was waking with a sense of purpose and anticipation. Gently, so as not to wake her sleeping husband, Annabel padded down the hallway to get ready.

Her resumé had seemed woefully inadequate when, on a whim, she’d responded to the help wanted ad. Instead of waiting weeks for a call that never came, she’d been summoned almost immediately to the magazine’s head office for an interview. Just as surprisingly, she’d been hired on the spot and given her first assignment.

Ken, bless him, had been totally supportive since she’d first mentioned wanting to change careers. Loosening the plane ticket from her clenched fist the evening after the interview, her husband had cynically eyed her inaugural destination. “My, my, they’re certainly flinging you to the far corners of the world!”

Now, emerging from the shower, Annabel swiped the steam off the mirror with her towel. Outfits had fallen by the dozen last night as she’d agonized over what to pack and, more importantly, what to wear today. Piling her hair in a chic knot at her nape, she stood back and critically eyed her reflection. Quite respectable for a newly minted travel writer, she thought.

Retracing her steps to the bedroom, she carefully placed a kiss on Ken’s forehead as he slept. Silently she crept to the front door, slung her bags over her shoulder, and slipped off the porch into the waiting taxi.

“To the airport, please.”

“United Airlines flight 897 to Beijing is now boarding at Gate 37.”

Very nearly 24 hours’ travel lay ahead of her. Wheeling her carry-on down the gangway, Annabel contemplated the subject of her debut article. Xiamen Piano Museum had gotten enough positive reviews on tripadvisor that her employer had decided it worth a feature article in the upcoming issue. Years of banging the ivory at her parents’ insistence would hopefully ensure she had the background knowledge to do the piece justice. Zipping her Chinese phrase book back into her bag, Annabel settled into her assigned seat and envisioned a day in the very near future when she’d open the inflight magazine to see her own byline staring back at her.

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The Daily Post from July 27 instructed: Create a short story, piece of memoir, or epic poem that is 26 sentences long, in which the first sentence begins with “A” and each sentence thereafter begins with the next letter of the alphabet.

 

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