Friday, October 27, 2017

Honouring Our Selfless Heroes With 2 Photo Collections for Remembrance Day

Photo of the unknown soldier
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.

In 1914, as war had broken out in Europe, Laurence Binyon penned his For the Fallen while sitting atop a cliff on the north Cornish coastline. It is the stanza above, the fourth in the completed work, that was his starting point and that has become familiar from its use at Remembrance/Veterans Day services around the world.
Just a few months after Binyon's homage to fallen soldiers, Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae composed his poem, In Flanders Fields on a Belgium battleground following the death of a close friend, Lieutenant Alexis Helmer, killed by a German artillery shell. It is said that McCrae was asked to conduct a burial service as there was no chaplain and that evening he began writing what has become the most famous war memorial poem.

We are the dead: Short days ago,
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved: and now we lie
In Flanders fields.

Each Nov. 11 we are called upon to honour the selfless men and women who fought for our democracy, who gave their lives so that we could enjoy the best of lives. Their sacrifices gifted us freedom and comfort. It is, therefore, not just an obvious, but a moral obligation to my mind, that our thoughts are given to them in return, that our silence is offered to memorialize them. 
This knowledge pushed its way into my consciousness when I was quite small. Attendance at annual Remembrance Day services was as much a part of school life as the Christmas pageant. Somehow, whether a result of the solemnity of the occasion, or the parade of dignified grownups in uniform or the weary sadness of the bugle's lament, my classmates and I, if we didn't exactly fully understand, appreciated that this day marked something significant.

Regardless of what affected us, we responded appropriately. The occasion was celebrated with as much dignity as childhood allows. The images of the students' orderly march to the cenotaph, of a large group of veterans with heads bowed, of the crowd standing in silent stillness in recognition of sacrifice and valour, are easily recalled in mind. Youngsters, even before fully comprehending the importance, took it all in as veterans placed their poppies on a wreath and saluted, their memories clearly visible in their expressions. And I along with many of my peers was moved, despite, especially in the earliest grades, not fully knowing why.

Photo of a senior United States veteran saluting
There have been changes to Remembrance Day services from my childhood. Most notably, the number of veterans on hand with each passing year. Also, no longer is my attendance mandatory, nor do I lack any understanding of why we are there. There is no question for us that this commemorative day is to recognize those who fought and and those who gave their lives for our freedom. What this means and how important that is means as much now as it ever did.  

Perhaps more these days.

The time for reflection will soon be upon us once again. As the final days of October fade away and we move forwards into November, enjoying with thankfulness the pleasures and freedoms of democracy, we offer this collection of photos to honour the fallen and acknowledge the sacrifices of so many brave men and women ... Lest We Forget.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Capture the Joy of Music With These Tips for Successful Concert Photography

Clipart images of a closeup black and white illustration of a woman taking a photo
"Photography for me is not looking, it's feeling. If you can't feel what you're looking at, then you're never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures." — Don McCullin

From my side of the camera, at least when I'm taking pictures of my six grandchildren, there's plenty of feeling involved. This hobby began quite a while ago with our now teenage grandson and it has continued after a long dry spell with the bundle of adorable little ones who have most recently blessed our family. My ultimate hope has always been that their vibrant personalities are as evident in my photos of them as in real life.

Did the enigmatic gaze of our blue-eyed beauty shine through? Can people see the sense of fun and joy in the tow-headed charmer that is her brother? Are they compelled to smile at our dimpled sweetheart. Does my picture effectively show the gentle spirit of our tiny toddler, or the inquisitive nature of her baby brother? Is there a sense of the love that was there for me in capturing these images? With my heart so invested, I like to think that at least some of the time I meet with a level of success in that regard.

It is, however, when branching out to other types of photography that I'm less sure the feeling I have for a place or thing transfers through the camera lens.  In these the subjects are varied. There are my favourite places, landscapes that have become as familiar to me as the dearly-loved faces of family. There are, too,  the friends and acquaintances who have enriched my life.

And there is music.

I feel pretty fortunate to have grown up in the 1960s. It was an amazing, admittedly sometimes scary, time — a decade of growth and change.

A lot of that came from the music we listened to and the bands that created it.  They and the songs they gave us were our voice, speaking out politically and emotionally. They protested against violence, oppression and injustice. They praised love, freedom and unity. And we were thrilled to listen.

Concerts were big events for us as we took every opportunity and travelled any distance to see the groups we loved and hear the songs that moved us. Just as they are today these were chaotic places with wildly-excited youths crowded into darkened auditoriums. In our version of a mosh pit,  where fans, though loud and boisterous, were usually considerate of everyone's space,  we shouted and sang along to anthemic lyrics, gyrated and swayed to tunes that captured our souls.

What was significantly different than today, however, was the absence of cameras. They were not only too cumbersome, but not permitted. Now, we have the cellphone and  trying to stop people from taking pictures or shooting video is almost impossible, so we all have the potential to grab that "I was there" photo, once the exclusive right of professionals.

Not that they're usually any good.  Lighting conditions and sitting too far back in a room filled with other bodies don't contribute to award-winning pictures. Even if you're lucky enough to be at the front, it can still be a challenge. I know that any music photo I've ever taken hasn't been good, let alone conveying the feelings I had when taking it

This weekend, we're going to see our son's band play at a favourite venue. It's the perfect place for me to practise with a little help from these great resources:

DPG Photograph Rock Concerts

DPS Rock Concert Photography

Exposure Guide Concert Photography

Concert Photography Tips