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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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Weekly photo challenge: Infinite

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This bronze statue of a war-weary soldier was positioned in front of a mural of a World War I battlefield cemetery at the In Flanders Fields Museum in Ypres, Belgium. To me, it spoke of the infinite toll war takes on all involved.

 

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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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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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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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Help me make something out of this

101_6626My favorite writing prompt this week was WordPress.com‘s Daily Post for Saturday, Your Life, the BookFrom a famous writer or celebrity, to a WordPress.com blogger or someone close to you — who would you like to be your biographer?

I’m not sure my life story is interesting enough to warrant space on anyone’s bookshelf, but if there’s an author out there who I’d trust to turn the mundane into a page-turner, it would have to be Laura Hillenbrand. I admit that I’ve only read one of her books, Unbroken, but that one chronicle of a WWII POW’s survival sold me on her amazing abilities as a storyteller. The harrowing tale of Louis Zamperini, former Olympic runner, was presented with humor, grace, and sensitivity, and I was completely entranced from the very first page. Hillenbrand included so many details, from every aspect of Louis Zamperini’s life, gleaned from poring over letters and diaries, as well as countless interviews with family, friends, Olympic teammates and coaches, fellow POWs, and Japanese veterans. Her research and the resulting biography were so thorough that Zamperini has since called Hillenbrand to get details about specific events from his life so he can be accurate as he pens his own memoirs!

I’d like to hand over my story to someone who will take it on as her own, sifting through the minutiae of the past to create a path of words that allows the reader to walk right alongside me throughout my life’s journey. Someone who can sort out the jumble of events, emotions, relationships, and adventures of my past four decades, and make sense of how they’ve all worked to make me the person I am today. I think if Hillenbrand were in charge of this project, I would learn something about myself in the finished story!

 

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